30 June 2010

Break In

The summer before I started junior high we took a family trip to California. My little sister is enough younger that she was still in a car seat. The van fit our seven person family quite comfortably but with the car seat, it made it awkward at times. Someone was always stuck next to the car seat. My memory has me being the willing sacrifice to sit next to her. (But that could be completely wrong.)

On the ride home we stopped off at Hershey California. We bought some souvenirs, as was necessary when stopping at a chocolate factory. As with all our trips, we brought most our food along though we didn't normally eat in the car. When we had lunch, my little sister had a drink she kept as we continued. The drink ended up all over my lap and on the seat.

That night we camped at Yosemite. All of our food was stored in a bear box. The next morning we learned that our van was visited by a bear. It broke through the large side window, climbed into the back, opened up a plastic box, pried open a soap container, and licked the soap. (It may have also licked the seat where my sister spilled her drink. It was damp.) Luckily none of the seats had been damaged but there were paw prints and broken glass everywhere. We drove the rest of the way home with cardboard duct taped to the window. Very exciting indeed.

My older brother's theory on the broken window was Yogi Bear used the door to the van and the paparazzi broke the window trying to get a good picture.

27 June 2010

*Writer's Bio

Intro: This is kind of biographical. It does represent my writing process when I'm stuck. (I actually didn't have a difficult time writing this one. No web surfing involved. Then again, the computer didn't have internet when I was writing it.)

Henrietta paced around her the computer room, avoiding the room's namesake. After nearly half an hour of puttering, she dragged herself to her chair and stared at the glowing screen.

“I can do this, it's just writing about me.”

For nearly an hour, she wasted time 'researching' the appropriate style. It depressed her. With nothing better to do to waste time on, Henrietta opened the word processing program. In another window, was an example of a professional biography.

How hard could it be to write about herself? Regarding the professional bio, Henrietta's fingers froze over the keys. Qualifications. Previous publications. Oh, dear. She typed, then deleted several sentences. Even more depressed, Henrietta went back to surfing the web, looking for more examples.

With a large bowl of ice cream, Henrietta sat back down, more optimistic than before. The first sentence was written in a vaguely specific manner, as a writer not an author. Education was important. She had a degree, that wasn't a problem. But how could it compare to the specialized field or multiple degrees. Being a writer was great but her degree was to ensure she didn't starve. How was that suppose to help make her more qualified? It took another hour of internet exploration for her brain to figure out what to write.

With a sentence to write about her family and where she was living. Henrietta felt much better. After reading it through, she deleted half of it and went to bed. The next morning, she sat down at her computer and deleted the other half, unimpressed with it in the light of day. As she worked through the day at her job, to prevent starvation, ideas filtered in. At the end of the day she sat at her computer and typed something out. Pleased, Henrietta checked it against the professional biography and sighed.

It had to be re-written in third person and Henrietta nearly deleted it again, now she'd read it for the thirtieth time. Before she could convince herself otherwise, she pasted it into an email and sent it off to the small magazine.

When the magazine came out the next month, Henrietta avoided it for a whole month before finally opening it and glancing through.

“Henrietta Jeppsen is a writer of all things fathomable, and many otherwise. With a practical degree in the art of paying bills, she enjoys her free time. Living only with the voices in her head, Henrietta enjoys her apartment on the planet Earth. Soon, she hopes to have enough for a down payment on a cute little cottage on the edge of Wits End.”

Henrietta set the magazine down and smiled.

23 June 2010

Cheap Art

I can't believe it is already Wednesday. Lately I've been prepared. I write the post Tuesday night and get everything ready so it posts automatically at Blogger and I just have to drag the new files over when I get up for the website. Yesterday I was distracted and it didn't cross my mind at all that today was Wednesday. Enough of the reasoning for being late.

I have been unemployed for just over a month now. I've actually enjoyed it more than I should have. I have quite a few hobbies and it has been nice to have the time to actually do what I want. This last week was the annual community music and art festival. I entered an art contest. On Monday I signed up and then I had until Wednesday morning to paint a scene or two from the valley. So Monday and Tuesday afternoon I spent trying to use my water colors.

With the pictures framed, I took them back to be entered into the judging. Apparently there was also a silent auction. I had to chose a starting bid price and a buy now price. I had no idea what my art was worth. Certainly not very much. I decided to have the starting bid price cover the frames and the buy now at twenty-five.

When we went back that night to the little reception, I learned I won an honorable mention for one of my pieces. My art was definitely the cheapest there, by a good fifty dollars. Granted some of the art was done by professionals and I could see why they were priced in the hundreds. The happy thought is I sold one piece for the buy now and someone bid on the other one. I am planning on entering next year and I'm thinking of pricing my art a little higher.

20 June 2010


Intro: It was odd. I finished the group of stories and drew a blank on what to write for this week. I hope you enjoy it. It wasn't what I was planning on writing.

I was miserable and I was envious. The party was not for people like me.

The punch was watery and a sickly green color. An appropriate color for a Halloween party yet completely unappealing. If the color didn't put anyone off, the skull and crossbones sticker on the side of the bowl should give enough warning. Although I'd ignored it, should have known better. The goblins, ghosts, movie characters, and random storm trooper did not help liven my mood towards anything.

“Maria, have another drink.” Stacy said, holding up the dripping ladle invitingly.

“Of the ghoul's blood, no. Thank you.” I replied tossing the glass into a trashcan, the plastic rubbing against my calloused hands..

“I added too much ice, didn't I?” Stacy said letting the ladle sink back down. “I was too excited, made it too early, and added too much ice.”

I couldn't think fast enough on my feet and settled for an encouraging smile. Stacy's lower lip trembled and she wandered off, apologizing to everyone she met that she ruined the drink. I followed dully after her, not wanting to be a lone wallflower.

It wasn't my intention to come to the party. I don't do costume parties but Stacy insisted and I thought it would be better than watching a movie with my parents which would be interrupted by a incessant string of trick-or-treaters. Half the costumes paraded by the door were really neat, great thought and time was obvious. The other half of the costumes, well, it wasn't worth pausing the movie. The problem was not knowing if the doorbell was signaling a worthwhile reason to answer the door.

“Nice costume, Maria.”

I grunted nondescriptly and kept following Stacy who was headed to the kitchen. While dressing like Wednesday Adams had its advantages, I was tired of the braids, the never ending quotes, and people avoiding me.

In the kitchen Stacy was going through the cupboards looking for something to help add flavor to the punch.

“Not the grape.” I cautioned.

“Why not?” Asked Stacy, Kool-aid clutched in her fingers.

“It may improve the flavor, but green and purple won't make an appealing sight.”

“I shouldn't have added the food coloring.” Stacy sighed, putting the packet away.

“It was a good idea.” I said softly.

“Are you even having fun. I invited you and you're not even enjoying yourself. I'm sorry, Maria. I've ruined your evening.”

“Stacy, please. Let's not worry about the punch and play some games.”

“Are you sure?”

“Sugar isn't good for us anyways,” I reasoned.

Stacy threw her arms around me and with a quick hug, smiled brightly. “Thanks, Maria. You always know what to say.” With a little laugh, Stacy pulled back and headed back out the kitchen. “Come on, Maria. There's a game I want you to play.”

People moved out of our way as Stacy led the way outside. I was hesitant at first but after a little encouragement from Stacy, I made my way over to a small booth. There was a wooden dowel with several strings hanging down. Stacy waved to guy running the game who smiled in return.

“You want to play?”

“Yes.” Stacy replied.

The guy waved three others over and then tied four doughnuts to the string. I tried to keep the disappointment from my face as the three people readied themselves. Stacy looked at them and at the four doughnuts.

“Excuse me.” She said, tapping the guy on the shoulder.


“There are five of us.”

My face burned as they regarded me. I fidgeted and played with my braids. This was why I didn't want to come. Carnival games were difficult at best.

“Maria?” Stacy said, moving to my side. “You can have the one on the end.”

“It's okay, Stacy. I'll just watch.”

Stacy tugged on my arm, “No. I checked everything when we were setting up. You can do this.”

“Stacy, it's fine. Don't worry about it. I'll watch. Go ahead.” I kept my eyes down but Stacy crouched down so she could look into my eyes.

“Don't you want to?”

With a gentle prod, I moved next to a low hanging doughnut. It was at neck level. I could see the glaze glistening in the sunlight and looked at Stacy hesitantly. She gave me the thumbs up and clapped when the guy running the booth explained the game. First one to each the doughnut, without using their hands, wins.

There was a short count down and from the corner of my eye, I watched the other contestants position themselves. At go, I closed my and took a bite. The doughnut was delicious and as the crowd cheered, I got into the swing of things. As soon as I swallowed, I took the next bite and continued. I only stopped when the empty string brushed against my lips.

“Maria!” Stacy yelled as she threw her arms around me, “You won.”

I turned and looked at the others, still trying to bend far enough down to eat the gooey pastry. One of the contestants stood and wiped his mouth on the back of his hand.

“Nice job, Maria.”

People patted my back and I received a small plastic spider ring as a prize. I slid it on my finger and laughed. As Stacy walked by my side to the next booth, she bubbled.

“I knew you'd win. That's why I wanted you to play.”

Feeling better than I had all evening I chuckled softly, “Someone accused me of cheating. Said it wasn't fair to be on eye level when everyone else had to play limbo.”

“How exciting.” Stacy replied. “Someone is envious of your wheelchair. Did you ever think that was going to happen.”

With my sticky, calloused hands, I pushed myself along and smiled.

16 June 2010

Blood Suckers

This weekend I had an experience I hope I never had to repeat. Late Friday night, my husband felt something odd on his side. He had me look and I came face to face with a tick. Not a pleasant surprise in the least. We called around, woke several people up, and asked what we should do. When I called the emergency room, they told me to check their website. I was not amused but looked anyway. While my husband talked to his grandmother, I consulted the website.

I was pretty freaked out when I first saw the tick but after a few minutes I calmed down enough to attempt to remove it. Luckily it hadn't burrowed in and I could still see the head. That little sucker really held in tight. The biggest piece of information I got from the website was not to crush it when I pulled it out with the tweezers. After an especially hearty tug, I pulled the critter off and stuff it into a plastic bag. I cleaned the wound and was worried when my husband said the head was missing. I could see a little black spot in the opening and we decided I needed to try and get it out.

Ironically I cleaned a knife my father gave to my husband as a gift. It had never been used and had a sharp blade. So, I stabbed my husband with a knife from my father. Okay, not really, I didn't have the courage to break the skin and after I while I resorted to cleaning it out again. As I was cleaning my husband looked at tick again and realized that the head had no come off. About that time, I got the little black spot out.

We had a difficult time sleeping that night. We actually sang a song to try and calm down. It's not as if my husband went hiking or picked it up in a field. He was at work all day, in the shop, working on cars, though he is pretty sure he knows which vehicle it came from. He's sworn off working on that vehicle ever again. I'm inclined to agree vehemently with him. I never want to do that again.

I bet you thought this was about vampires. Don't even get me started. There is a time and a place for them, but I don't believe cults should form about such creatures. Than again, I don't believe there should be cults around anything.

13 June 2010


Michael's 2nd Story (#10)

Even after two days, the world still hadn't returned to normal. We retreated to Jake's place because it was so well stocked. Since his father is always preparing for the next nuclear attack, there are plenty of supplies laying around. The third night, Ty tried to call a meeting but it wasn't going too well.

“We need to figure out what's going on.”

“Right.” Tyson said, waving a drumstick in the air. “And how do you suggest that?”

There was a pause and Steve tackled Blake and they started a wrestling match. When every saw the twin brother wasn't even paying attention to Ty, they dispersed.

The next morning I was desperate to get out of the house. Though I didn't want any company, I didn't mind Clint, Jake, and Sam as much as I minded the others. And I knew better than to wander off by myself.

Around the beanstalk smaller stalks were growing creating a small forest. We paused at the edge and peered in, confused. There was a small rumbling and snake like vines shot up from the ground and wrapped around our ankles. Pinned in place, we watched as the beanstalk forest grew up and blocked the buildings from view.

Clint pulled free first and then found a sharp-ish rock to cut the rest of us out.

“What do we do now?” I asked, looking around at the nearly identical green plants.

“Find out way out.” Sam said.

“How? By leaving a trail of breadcrumbs?” Clint retorted.

“We could, if someone hadn't eaten all the bread.” Sam replied cheerfully.

Jake waved his hands. “Wait. We came from that direction. As we head out, we'll mark the trunks with arrows.”

“Sounds good.” I said and bent to pick up the rock Clint dropped.

Jake could always keep a level head.

As we headed through the forest, I scratched arrows as best I could in the thick skin of the vines. When My hand cramped from using the rock, Jake took over. It was hard pushing through all of the greenary. When we reached the clearing and saw the house, I turned around and headed back into the trees. The other three were close behind me.

“Hey, guys. Come back.” Ty's voice drifted from behind us.

I reluctantly turned around and saw the rest of our group standing by the house waving.

“Are they nuts?” I asked, disbelieving. “After all we've been through, their standing by a gingerbread house like nothings wrong.”

“Come over here.” Ty called again.

I looked at the other three and we hesitated.

Sam pushed a small strand of hair off her forehead and called out. “I don't want to.”

“Let's go inside.” Ty replied.

Tyson stepped back. “What? You want to go inside?”


“Why?” Steve asked, backing away.

“Because that's how the story goes.”

“We don't live in a fairy tale, Ty. We have a real home.” Blake replied. “Let's just go.”

“But we are in a fairy tale.” Ty huffed.

“Just get away from there.” Clint said.

Everyone but Ty edged away from the house. Before they reached us the front door opened and a dark shape walked calmly out of the house.

“Going so soon?” It was not an old crone, in fact I wouldn't mind being seen on her arm. Not at all.

We froze as she stepped near Ty and gently touched his cheek. Tyson murmured something about a wolf and fidgeted with something in the pack he had slung over one shoulder.

Ty turned towards the woman, a goofy smile on his face while he called over his shoulder. “You want to give this up. A world where magic exists.”

“Shut it, Ty. I want my life back. I don't want to live in a fantasy! I want to make my dreams come true. And believe it or not, they don't include magic beings or being royalty.” I exploded.

The woman hissed and grabbed Ty pulling him towards the house. Brad reached into his pack and pulled out an egg shaped object. He raised it up to throw but hesitated.

Even more irritated than ever, I ran forward and grabbed the grenade from Brad's hand. Keeping up my pace, I continued forward and pulled the pin. The woman screeched as I chucked the explosive through the open door and grabbed Ty by the shirt, hauling him away.

As we ran past the others, they followed us into the forest. The explosion knocked us all to our knees. I covered my head as debris rained down. When all the sounds of the explosion stopped I raised my head. The forest was gone. We were laying in the middle of the street and people were staring at us. A car horn honked and we quickly moved to the side.

“Great thinking, Brad, bringing the grenade.” I commented softly.

“Just don't tell my Jake's dad. I don't want to get Jake in trouble.”

“Don't worry, I'm never telling anyone.” I assured him. “This has all been one awful nightmare.”


I never thought I would write this chapter but I owe it to everyone. It's been five years and though some of us are doing better than others, Jake managed to bring us all together. He and Sam are finally getting married and this collection of stories is our wedding present to them. It's best not to forget even the troubling parts of our life.(Though it had better not ever happen again.)

09 June 2010

Great Old Movies

A couple of days ago, I visited my parents. They let me borrow a couple of movies. My mom had one in particular she wanted me to see.

“It's silent. Do you want it?”

I couldn't believe it. My mother asking if I was okay with a silent movie. I love silent movies. “Thief of Baghdad” with Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. Really makes me happy. I mean old movies are great. I grew up watching the Marx brothers, and Danny Kaye. There are days I really wish that more newer movies could compare to the older ones. Though don't get me on remakes, there are only a few that even compare with the originals, let alone surpassing them.

Bring on the invisible rabbits, painted on mustaches, metal eating birds, men climbing clock towers, magic wishing dust, flying cars, and magnetic jousting.

06 June 2010

*Lustrous Locks

Sam's Story (#9)

A couple of weeks ago, I would have been pleased to see Ty beside himself. Today, not so much. The world has been flipped upside down, multiple times, and no one knows when it is going to right itself. A little consistency would be nice, but I disprove the one constant we were holding on to.

Ty was just starting to accept the fact that Jake and I were dating. Though Jake tried not to let it get to him, it bothered him when his friends didn't like me. Jake invited me to come to the skate park, I was giving him motorcycle lessons.

“Hey, Sam?” Ty asked, shuffling closer to me as we watched Jake take the bike around the lot.

“Is there something you need?”

“We've never seen Jake so animated. He was always just stuck in his drawings.”

I looked at Ty and then at the others who were hanging around the half pipe.

“Or maybe it was someone else who was stuck.”

Ty frowned. “What do you mean.”

“When you were stuck in the basement, did anyone specific come to mind? And what was the first thing you said when you got out, I'll get to see my show.”

Jake was headed back and Ty wandered off, not saying anything. I almost felt bad but I liked the new, thoughtful Ty, and didn't want to risk bringing the old one back.

“Nice job, Jake.”

“Thanks, Samantha.”

Jake parked the bike and pulled off the helmet. We wandered over to the others, hand in hand. Though Jake is the most artistic one of the group, it always made me laugh how he stood over all of them. He wasn't the artistic looking type, unless you count permanently colored and stained fingers.

There was a penny lying in the grass and I stopped.

“Nice, I can always use a bit of luck.”

My fingers brushed the shiny copper face and my ears buzzed. I straightened and rubbed my forehead. The ground began to shake and a rock pushed up on my feet. Jake was thrown backwards as a larger rock shot up between us.


Before I could move, I was entrapped by large boulders on every side at chest level. Placing my hands on one, I pushed myself up but fell backwards as I stared down at the tiny figures of my boyfriend and his friends. After catching my breath from the initial vertigo, I climbed up again and carefully looked down. The face of the stone tower was smooth and I couldn't see an imperfection anywhere.

“Rapunzel, Rapunzel. Let down your long hair.” Steve called up.

“In case you haven't noticed recently, your hair is longer.” I heard Michael reply.

The sun was hot, and I don't do well in the sun. I was already feeling dry when I hollered down. “You'd better come up with someone. You don't want to blow your chances at being the hero for once.”

“The hair isn't an option?” Steve asked.

“First off, I am not staying in the tower long enough for that to happen. Secondly, there is no way on earth I would agree to anyone climbing it. I like my scalp attached.”

“Wait. I have an idea.” I wasn't sure if it was Ty or Blake that spoke.

“Samantha, we'll be right back.” Jake called up.

“Stay there.” Ty added.

I slumped against the wall, with the sun nearly directly overhead, there was no chance for even a sliver of shade to hide in. The sun inched by and at one point, the tower shook and I clutched the walls but it remained standing.

“Are they trying to kill me?”

I stood up and leaned over the wall but they weren't in sight. Exhausted and thirsty, I slid back to the floor and sat down.

I was laying in a small sliver of shade when there was a loud thumb and the tower shivered.

“Hey, be careful. We don't want to knock it down.” Jake said, angrily.

“I thought getting grenades from dad was a great idea.” Brad retorted with a laugh.

“Knock it off, get over here and help me.” Clint yelped and there was another thump.

“You sure this is going to work, Blake?” Tyson asked.

I struggled to my feet but the pain on my arms and legs were excruciating. I wished I was wearing trousers and not shorts. The hours in the sun had left my skin a wonderful rose color. As I tried to pull myself up to see over the edge of the wall something large and green poked over the top of the wall. A breathless Jake poked his head over the top.

“Are you okay? Sorry it took so long.”

“Why didn't you call the fire company?”

“We tried. You need to see this for yourself.”

Jake climbed over the wall and gently put his hands around my waist to help me up. He was careful when lifting me but there was no other choice but to kneel on the wall. I bit my cheek and looked down. A large green plant was resting against the side of the tower and the guys were holding it steady at the bottom. I carefully climbed down and sank to the grass when my feet finally touched ground. Jake jumped down part of the way and took off his shirt, carefully resting it on my legs then stood so he cast a shadow on my arms and face. Tyson handed me his water bottle that he always carried with him

“So why didn't you call the fire department.” I asked hoarsely after taking a drink.

“The town is empty. Everyone's gone.”

02 June 2010

Job Hunting

A bane of my existence is job hunting. I don't know if there is anyone out there who actually does it enjoy it but if they do, hey, more power to them. Luckily, two of the times I have been looking for a job included a severance check from my previous job. Not as good as a steady pay check but it does help the process a little. It gives me more time to procrastinate, ahem, I mean, do adequate research to find the best possible job.

Okay, seriously. I have no idea when I'm going to find time to go job hunting. I've been spending the last couple of days learning if I am capable of working at home. So far the answer is yes. I've accomplished a lot, and not just increasing the number of novels I can read in a week. I honestly don't know how to accomplish everything I needed to and go to work. Sigh.

So for my post today I want to tell two funny things I learned in my most recent job hunting experience.

1. Some call center jobs are no longer for the bottom of the pool. They now expect people to have at least a year of sales experience. It doesn't matter how old or experienced you are otherwise. (They told me to get a job as a sales clerk somewhere and come back in a year. Part of me was miffed.)

2. Applying online can be great, if you don't stumble upon an application page that is only being tested. (I thought they should have thanked me for testing out their process by giving me a job. Oh well.)

Anyways, I guess I'd better stop playing around on the internet and look for a job. Although, job hunting has been a great motivator for other things. I can't look for a job right now, I'm editing. (Something else that I don't enjoy but hey, anything is better than trying to market myself in this economy.)