Historic day!

Today is truly a historic day and a win for equality! In commemoration, I’ve written a little something. Enjoy!

Rains of Change

Rain is lucky
when it falls
on your wedding day —
Or so they say.
But what about when it pours
Its blessings
and marriage is declared
A Constitutional Right
for every American?
The lines at the courthouse
undoubted long today
I would imagine.
Jubilations abound.
And the celebrations
at the Community Festival
aspire to a new level.
The world is sketched with rainbows,
or so it appears
when I check
my Facebook page.
No time for the haters.
Hush your nay says.
Negativity begone.
You are not wanted here.
For today is the day
that the rain came
and flooded us
with love.

Advertisements

Dear Me 2015

Sometimes I think it’s important to go back and read the things we’ve told ourselves in order to encourage us to meet our goals. Today, I was reminded of the letter I wrote to myself in January. Someone reviewed it and gave me a great deal of praise for the words I wrote within it, so I went back to check. What exactly did I write that was so powerful. And what I read was amazingly powerful. I’m sharing it here with you all in hopes that you will find power in it.

I’ve not been kind to myself. I’ve not been forgiving of my faults and my mistakes. I’ve held myself to a standard far and above any that I would hold another person to. My theme for this year was to be one of forgiveness and perseverance. I needed to be reminded of that. I needed to see how I can talk to myself and how inspired I can become when I do.

Earlier this week, I challenged myself to use my 750 daily words for only story words for the entirety of the rest of this month. And so far, I have 2324 new words added to a short story. By tomorrow it will be finished, in only four days. Those are the wins that I need to focus on at this moment.

Dear me was the reminder that I needed to be kind to myself most of all.

Dear Me,

First, let me begin this letter with an apology. I am sorry for every time I doubted you and for every time I questioned your drive and your motivation. You are an amazing person and I am so very lucky to be you. Last year you did the impossible. Though you had attempted for several years to write a novel, last year you did. And you did so in under one month. I am in awe of you. You are a blessing to yourself and to those around you. Bask in this knowledge. Allow yourself to wallow in it. Allow yourself to feel blessed.

Last year you gave yourself the permission to write, and you set writing goals for yourself. There were slip ups and there were days when you didn’t reach your goal. But overall, you soared. You have over eighty new works of fiction and poetry that you created in just one year. Be proud of that.

This year, we have a brand new start and the drive to get us through. For starters, we’ve set the goal of publication. Our plan for the year is to add published author next to our name. By the end of 2015, something that we have written will be published either in a magazine or in an anthology. It’s a big undertaking and it is scary. But we will feel the fear and we will do it anyway. We will submit a piece of our work every other month until we are published.

In addition, we will keep our momentum and will write at least seven hundred and fifty words every single day. So far in these first thirteen days we have accomplished this goal. We will continue to accomplish this goal. But if there is a day that we miss, or a week that we miss, we will shrug it off and we will write your words the next day. Even if they are rubbish and even if we can only think of negative words, we will write them. By the end of the year we will write a minimum of 250,000 words.

Next, there is the issue of the 70,000 words that we wrote last November. Don’t give up on this project. It is too important for you to walk away from simply because it will take a lot of hard work to get it to our standard. We can do this. By June of this year, we will have this project ready for a first read through by an editor. And then, we will find an editor and by December 31, 2015, we will have it ready for beta readers.

Currently, we have two additional novels floating around our heads. This year, we will write them. We will plot and then we will write. We will hold our scrutiny until they are finished. It’s only during editing that we are allowed to analyze every word, every punctuation mark, every scene. The first novel, we will finish in April, the second in November. We will use the momentum of NaNo to propel us toward these successes. In November, we will again participate and win National Novel Writing Month. We will write a minimum of 50,000 words either on a new project or on a rebel project.

This year, we will hold our head high as we tell people that we are a writer. Be proud of this. It’s a job that is as hard as any other. And when they ask us what we have published, we will keep our heads high and our bodies proud when we answer with whatever truth we have at that moment. If we are still currently unpublished, we will feel no shame in this. Being published is different from being a writer and we will recognize this fact.

Ultimately, though, this year, we will be kind to us. For far too many years, we have tortured us for our lack of perfection. We have held us to an impossible standard that no human could ever achieve. Forgive us, please. Those mistakes that we made yesterday, they are gone. The ones that we made years ago, let them die. They are not a part of us so do not hold onto them.

Therefore, the theme for our year will be letting go. No we will not sing the song, although, we can whenever we want. We are free from guilt and the other constraints we have placed on us. We will live our truth to the fullest. And we will enjoy life. How will we do that in a quantifiable way? We will write. We will write 750 or more words every single day (or almost every single day) this year. We will write our novels and we will write short stories. We will write query letters and letters to friends. We will pour our soul into poetry. We will pour our fears into fiction. But above it all, we will focus on our career as a writer and we will make it a success.

I wish you all the best this year and I look forward to going through all of this with you.

Love,
Me

via Dear Me 2015 – Writing.Com.

The culture of busy-ness.

via isbw – The Murverse Annex.

Yesterday I listened to the I Should be Writing podcast while I organized the upstairs book/game cabinet.  It was a project that desperately needed done, but that I had put off for quite some time because I was “too busy”. During the opening minutes, Mur talks about the pride that we in this country take in being busy. When we ask each other how we are, the common response used to be “good” or “fine,” but now it has become “busy,” “crazy,” or “hectic.” And these are all said with a sense of pride.  How many times have you been around a group of people or talked to a friend or co-worker who has said, “oh yeah, I only got 4 hours of sleep last night”? How many times have you or I said it? How many times have we tried to one-up a co-worker or a rival mom because…why?  Has it really become that he (or she) who is busiest wins?

I really thought about this hard yesterday because as a full-time mom and aspiring writer, I do feel the pressure to justify my presence. I think it’s a big part of the reason that I get caught into the traps of being roped into doing things that I don’t necessarily want to do. And I don’t think that I’m at all uncommon in that area. If you ask most moms, I bet they feel that same pressure.  I’ve heard how lucky I am that my husband works a good job and that we can afford to stay home so many times it literally makes me want to vomit.  (And yes, I mean literally in the Webster’s dictionary I actually feel nauseated way.)

But, this post isn’t about my luckiness, it’s about my busyness. It’s about my need for you to take me seriously as a person and as a writer.  In our culture, it seems that the way to do that is to appear so crazy busy that you can’t possibly fit anything else into your life. It’s to show the world this exterior of the super woman who can juggle homeschooling her daughters while writing a novel in a month while keeping a clean house while running two girl scout troops.  I have to appear busy in order to seem like a worthwhile member of society.  We wouldn’t want to be the mom sitting at home eating bon bons and watching her stories now, would we?  We are so much better than that!

But, maybe our grandmas and moms knew what they were talking about.  Raising kids is hard.  Being a writer is hard.  Working a job is hard.  It’s time consuming.  The question we should ask ourselves is will this thing that I’m doing help to make my life better, more productive, more interesting, or happier?  And if the answer is no, then we should consider our choices.  What’s the point of it if we’re not enjoying it?

Does this mean that my schedule is going to free up any time soon? I highly doubt it.  I have two very active children and an itch for writing that demands to be scratched.  But, I have decided that this is what makes me happy.  This year my focus has been on cutting those things that stand in the way of my writing and stand in the way of my happiness. The only things I intend to keep around me are the things that matter to me.

What would this world look like if more of us did the same?

Authors and Self Promotion

via Please shut up: Why self-promotion as an author doesn’t work. — whimsydark.

I’m a newbie in this writing game. I haven’t sold anything. And in fact, I’m sure I haven’t written anything yet that’s worthy of sale. I’m still learning my craft. I’m still honing my skills.  But along with writing, and when you put out that that publication is your goal, you’re bombarded with a great deal of information about ‘building a writer’s platform.’

But, I don’t know if I want a platform.  I want to write. I want to create stories and characters that my readers think of as friends.  How can I do that if I’m so focused on having a ‘presence’ that it takes over?  And do I really want to blog every day about my writing process.

When I was a new mom, I tried my hand at the at-home sales stuff.  I was a Pampered Chef consultant and then an Avon lady and finally a Mary Kay representative. The problem was that I felt as if I was constantly harassing my family and friends to host parties so that I could make money. I hated it.  But, of course I had to play the part of the sales lady.  I am no sales lady.

Even now, I have friends who are in those direct sale marketing ploys.  I hide from them.  They text me about their “awesome hostess products” and I delete the texts.  I don’t want to be viewed as just another walking dollar sign. If I want their product, I know where to find it.  I know what they do for a living.

So, how does this relate to writing and self-promotion?  Well, I believe it has everything to do with it.  I will still promote myself as a writer, but on a much smaller scale.  I will still share my stories because that’s what I want to do with my life. And most importantly I will write. Every day. Sometimes several times a day.

What I don’t want is to be the desperate author chasing people down the street begging them to buy my book! If it’s a good story, they’ll find it.  If they’re interested, they’ll read it.  And in the meantime, I’ll keep posting my short stories and insights on here because I enjoy sharing them.

And, that’s the point that I believe the author of the article is trying to make.  Share your work.  Put it out there for the world to see, but don’t brow beat.  I hope to never be the author who brow beats her friends into reading my work.

Instead, I think I will stick with the tried and true method of GREAT BOOK + HARD WORK + TIME + LUCK = SUCCESS.  I can control three of those, but I can’t do them if I’m so concerned about my image as an author.  I’m me.  I love to write stories. I love to share my stories.  And I hope that luck is on my side.

Why Writers Are the Worst Procrastinators — The Atlantic

I have a confession. I am a cheater.  One time in college, I was given the task of interpreting a poem without using an outside source. I was an English education major, so this was to be an assignment that I would likely give one hundred times over. Yet, I stared at that poem and couldn’t for the life of me tell you what it was about. So, I googled. It was the early 2000’s, and I’m not quite sure I was aware that I was googling.  But, I did. I turned in a paper with another author’s interpretation of the poem as my own work. And I did it because I was afraid to fail.  I was afraid that if I couldn’t do this assignment, then my whole grade point average would tank and I would be found out as the fraud I was.

The funny thing about all of this is that I was found out. And, with fear gripping me, I lied. I said that I had not done the thing that I had so clearly done. And my professor gave me another chance. She gave me a new poem to interpret as per the original assignment. And I did it and I didn’t once look anything up online. I had been discovered as a fraud once, and I didn’t think I could handle it happening again. But, in the end, I got away with my crime and even did pretty well on the next interpretation.  My facade was in tact.

When I read this article, all of those fears and all of those feelings rushed back. And it all made sense to me.  I was the kid in English who wrote her papers the night before and received rave reviews on them. I was the girl who never edited anything I wrote. I was the proof-reader for my friends. I had (and still have) built this persona of this person who knows the English language and who knows how to write well. But I don’t.  I mean, I have a pretty fair understanding of English and I think I’m pretty okay at catching mistakes and suggesting edits in other people’s work.  But, I want it to be my own work that I am pushing toward publication. I want it to be my own stories that grace the shelves of the library and bookstore.  I want people to read what I’ve written and fall in love with my characters. I want to bring the story to life.

The problem is that I’m not sure I’m capable of that. The part where the author of the article says that we’re all talented English students here and so the standards are much higher hit very close to home.  It was easy when I was in the general population to distinguish my writing as good.  But among the greats, I have judged myself as substandard and lacking, forgetting that they also had rough drafts and sloppy copies that needed a great deal of work in order to make them palatable. I forget, as I judge myself as less than worthy, that many of them were heavy smokers and drinkers and drug users, relying on these outside stimuli to reduce the pain and insecurity they felt. I cannot be at their standard because I am not them.

It’s so easy to get tied up in each word of a story and forget that there is a larger, more beautiful picture if we would only take a step back. I am me. I am sometimes good with words and sometimes the stories flow and they’re beautiful.  But most of the time, they’re flaming piles that need a great deal of finesse and attention to turn them into something palatable. And that is okay.  This isn’t English class and I don’t need to prove that I can knock out a 3 to 5 page essay in under 24 hours. Instead, I can prove that this really is my dream and I am here for the long haul.

Here I am world. The facade is stripped away and the nitty gritty is what remains. Let’s do this!

via Why Writers Are the Worst Procrastinators — The Atlantic.

The Cubicle – A daily life flash fiction

Inspiration can come in the most unexpected of places.  This piece was written after hearing about my husband’s experiences in his job at the time.  I hope you all enjoy this small slice of life fiction piece.  

The Cubicle

“I have to get out of this place,” Hugh said to the stale air that surrounded him. Florescent light beat down into the padded walls of his cubicle. For eight to ten hours, five days a week he saw no natural light. Some days he’d walk out into the sun for lunch, but he had a mortgage and kids, so most days were tuna on wheat in his cube.

Hugh’s eyes blurred as he stared at the black computer screen. The white letters of the code he was employed to fix – well, not really fix, just spruce up a little – caused his left eye to throb. He felt a familiar itch and knew that yet another blood vessel burst in that eye. “All of these aneurisms will kill me one day. I need to just leave. Just walk out, Hugh.”

Sighing, he rubbed his eyes in an attempt to force them to focus. He’d stared at this code for ten hours and the only solution was to trash and start over again. Unfortunately, the bosses would never go for it. “What if I just deleted it all? They’d fire me, but all the bad code would be gone.” He laughed at the thought and momentarily allowed his imagination to run wild. It brought a small measure of comfort, at least until he opened his eyes.

The phone sitting next to the keyboard played a familiar song. Hugh smiled and looked at the beautiful face of the woman he suffered this torture for. He shut his computer down and answered the phone. “Hi honey,” he said. “I’m leaving now. I’ll be home soon.”

He exhaled as he walked toward his car, relieved to leave. “I’m not coming in tomorrow!” He yelled, ecstatic that he’d made it to the weekend.

Desperation a flash fiction piece

I’ve found throughout my writing journey that writing flash fiction, or very short stories, is a great way to tighten up my own story telling. This piece was one of the first that I’d ever written.  It’s around 300 words. It’s meant to tell a whole story. I’m not sure how well I do that in these few words, but it is a piece that I feel I have done well on. I hope you all enjoy. 

Desperation

“But, I need more money, Frank.” Josie said. “How am I supposed to raise three kids on the pittance you give us?” Josie motioned around the sparsely decorated living room. A threadbare couch sat in one corner.

“I suggest you get a job.” Frank’s voice was cold. He’d heard the song and dance before from Josie and he was a bit tired of it. She was always asking for more. More time. More money. More clothes. More, more, more!

“Please, Frank. I’m working two jobs now. I already don’t see the kids. Plus, how am I going to afford all of those tests they want to do on Emily? She’s sick, Frank. Surely you have to care about that? You have to care that your daughter is sick.”

“Working a regular forty hour week isn’t two jobs Josie. Goddammit, she’s my daughter and I do care. But, I can’t help you.”

“What about your parents? They have lots of money. They could help.”

“No.”

Josie felt the panic rise in her as Frank turned to walk out the door. She would have to do it. He wasn’t leaving her much choice. She decided to give him one last chance. “I need more money, Frank.” She said as she raised the gun.

“Then you’re going to have to work for it like the rest of us, Josie.” Frank called over his shoulder, not even bothering to turn around. He stopped as a thought struck him. “Or you could rob a bank.” He turned and Josie saw he had that stupid grin on his face as if he thought he was being clever. The grin faded quickly, though, as soon as he saw the gun pointed at him.

“My thoughts exactly.” Josie said, a cold smile spread across her face. “Let’s go for a ride, Frank. We have a job to do.”

Just One More Chapter

My husband says I have an addiction. He says that I read too much. This fact has inspired my next story which I entered into a Seven Deadly Sins themed contest and won Third Place. I hope you all enjoy. And for the record, it is not an autobiography.

JUST ONE MORE CHAPTER

“Are you for real going to start another book at ten o’clock at night? You know what happens when you do that!”

“Oh posh!” I waved my hand at Austin in a dismissive gesture. “I was only going to start the first chapter. Those things tend to be boring anyway, so I figured I’d get it out of the way tonight. Besides, I’ve been dying to read this one!”

Austin laughed humorlessly. “That’s what you said about the last five books. Seriously Caroline, you haven’t come to bed with me in a month. I’m starting to feel really neglected over here.”

I raised my eyebrow at Austin, sometimes the man could be a real drama queen. He shook his head at me and walked up the stairs, shooting daggers with his eyes as he went.

“He’ll get over it,” I sighed as I opened to the first page. “I’m only going to read one chapter anyway.” I snuggled into the couch cushions and immersed myself into the Scottish highlands and the McGregor clan.

The next thing I knew, I had finished my adventure with the Laird Ian and his new English bride. I blinked as my eyes adjusted to the world around me. The boring one. The one where I’m just mom and wife and nothing exciting ever happens to me. The sun was coming up here. “Oh, I did it again,” I groaned. “Austin’s going to give me a real earful this time.”

“How was that one chapter?” my husband who had the worst timing ever said as he came down the stairs with our children in tow.

“Long.” I said, standing up. I stared at the rows of books adorning my shelf and placed my highlander back in his rightful spot. My fingers lovingly stroked the spines of each novel as I considered which to indulge in next.

“Breakfast?” Austin’s voice cut through my thoughts.

“None for me, thanks.” I said, choosing a vampire romance from the stack. I shivered in anticipation.

“Caroline, really?” Austin’s voice twinged with anger. “You just stayed up all night reading. Please tell me that you are not going to start another book right now!”

“Oh Austin,” I said. “I’m just going to read one chapter.”

There was no rebuttal to my reply and I found the silence confusing, as if the real world had actually vanished. When I looked up, he stood there in that kitchen staring at me. The look on his face was unreadable, so I shrugged and turned back to my book, which was totally readable.

When I was halfway through chapter two, Austin said, “The kids and I are going to the zoo today. Would you like to go with us?” I could tell this was his way of extending the olive branch. “Or would you rather stay home and sleep? You haven’t slept in three days Caroline. I’m worried about you.”

I looked up from the beautiful page with hundreds of glorious words and blinked. Sleep. Of course I’d slept. Hadn’t I? “I’m fine, Austin. But I do think I’ll stay here today. You guys have fun with the animals.”

“I don’t know why I put up with this!” he practically screamed. Did I mention he has a bit of a temper? Drama. Queen.

“Okay,” I said, waving to him. “Love you, honey. Have fun at the zoo. I’m just going to read one more chapter and then I’m going to sleep. I promise.”

I didn’t quite understand Austin’s reply, but Cat just met Bones and they were fighting, so I couldn’t leave them just yet to ask. After I’d finished reading the sexual tension, I asked “What did you say, honey?” But only silence answered. I glanced up and took in the noiseless house. “Huh,” I said. “They left already.” I thought of my promise to go to bed after reading one chapter. Of course now I was halfway through the book. “Just one more chapter and then I’ll nap.” I said, turning back to those wonderful pages.

Several hours later, I blinked and rubbed my dry eyes and shut the back cover of the book. Cat and Bones were together and all was right in their world. For now. I smiled and felt warmth surge through my body. Oh what would it be like to have a love like that, I wondered and looked around to see if my husband was home. He may just get some attention after all. The silent house told me that I was alone still, so I shrugged my shoulders and wandered to my bookshelf.

I scanned the spines of my best friends, looking for one to spend the rest of the afternoon with. Did I want saucy damsels in need of rescue? Or would another vampire hot fest quench my reading appetite? I sighed. There were just too many choices. I settled on an old favorite about a cemetery for pets and settled back into my comfortable spot on the couch.

The sky was growing dark very rapidly and I looked up from page two thirty five to see if I had missed Austin and the kids coming home. A shadow crossed in front of my window and a shiver ran down my spine. Someone lurked outside my front door and every instinct inside me said that it was not my family.

Suddenly my front window exploded and shards of glass flew at my face. I screamed and cradled my head, peaking out to see what had destroyed the panes. A very large wolf stood on top of my coffee table, panting and looking wild eyed around my room.

Adrenaline filled my every pore and my brain screamed for me to run, to get out of that space as quickly as I could. But there was something about this wolf that when he turned to look at me, I felt no fear of him. He seemed familiar, almost human. I stood up with my hand outstretched as if to pet him, but when my fingers were mere inches from him, he growled and snapped as if to warn me away. I stepped back and fell onto the couch in a most unladylike fashion.

A pounding on the front door broke the staring contest between the wolf and I.

“Who – Who is it?” I called out. Perhaps the owner was looking for his strange dog.

“FBI, open up! We need to use this house!”

“What?” I said, walking to the door. When I opened it, thirty people in dark uniforms stood on my small front porch. “What is this?”

“Ma’am,” a short redheaded woman said. “We are tracking a serial killer in this neighborhood. We believe he has the Senator’s daughter. Please, can we set up base here?”

I looked at them all, my mouth hanging open. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t speak. I stepped back into my house and they seemed to take that as an invitation to come in. I watched, body numb, as the agents invaded my house one by one.

“A serial killer in my neighborhood.” I whispered as a shiver ran up my spine.

“Excuse me, please” said a gravelly voice to my left. I looked to see the man strapped to a dolly, the leather mask over his face preventing him from fully opening his mouth. “Would you happen to have any fava beans?”

I screamed and raced up the stairs to my bedroom.

“What the hell is going on?” I said after I had slammed and locked the door. I walked over to the window and watched the sun set between the houses. “Where are they?” I looked up and down the street, but there was no sign of Austin’s car. They should have been home hours ago. I felt the bile creep into my throat. I needed to find my cell phone.

“Would you mind closing those curtains? I really am trying to sleep here without being roasted, thank you very much.” a smooth and sexy voice said from the bed. When I turned, a tall, pale man lounged on my pillow. He wore no shirt, exposing his muscular chest and a patch of hair that looped around his nipples and traveled all the way down his stomach to his…

I shook my head, attempting to clear the carnal thoughts from my mind. I was married. There was no way I should be thinking of another man like that.

“Who are you?” I asked a little too harshly. “And what are you doing in my bed?”

“Oh Caroline,” my name poured from his lips like warm butter and caused my toes to tingle. “I’m hurt that you don’t know me after the hours, no days we spent together.” He flashed a seductive smile and fangs peeked out.

“Eric? Wait, what? How is that possible? You’re not real. Oh Heavens! I’ve done it. I’ve cracked!”

The tall, lanky, and dripping with sex appeal vampire sauntered over to me and placed his hands on my shoulders, steadying my body as my brain continued its mental breakdown. Eric either wasn’t aware of my mental state or he didn’t care. He leaned his face into my neck and I felt his tongue flick out and lick along my collarbone. My body became a mass of nerves firing rapidly. I couldn’t move and I couldn’t breathe. I was completely under his spell.

“There,” he whispered and I felt the stinging brush of teeth being dragged along my skin. The slight pain jerked me back to reality and I stepped out of his embrace.

“No!” I screamed. “No! No! No!” Eric stood still with an amused, and sexy, grin on his face. It took every bit of control for me to back away from him and retreat to my closet, but somehow I managed. I sat panting in the dark for several minutes when he knocked on the door.

“Are you planning to come out any time soon?” he asked, laughter rimming his words.

“No!” I called back. “No, I can’t. I just. I can’t.” I heard his laughter and realized how silly I was being. After all, wasn’t it I who said that I much preferred Eric to Bill. And here he was in my bedroom while all I could do was hide in the closet waiting. Waiting for what, though? For Austin to come home? At this point, I didn’t know if he ever would. I had no idea what happened to him.

My heart continued to thud in my chest and the stale closet air really made breathing difficult. I couldn’t stay in here all night. I would have to find a way out somehow. And then I saw a light shine above me around the attic door.

Up, I thought. That’s it. I’ll head up. I reached above my head and pulled the ladder down to begin my ascent to the safety of the desolate attic.

I pulled myself up the ladder and settled into the lush green grass. Wait. Grass? I looked around me, my hands feeling for the fiberglass insulation that I knew should be here. Instead I was met with grass and trees and hairy legs. I slowly looked up the pair of legs to find a man standing over top of me in a plaid skirt. Or, a kilt rather. His red hair was tied back and his linen shirt opened at the chest to expose a thick patch of red.

“Who ‘re ye?” He asked with a thick Scottish brogue. “And what ‘re ye doin’ on my lands?”

I looked down at myself, but I was still wearing the same clothes that I had on yesterday. “I, umm.” I said, searching for the words, but it seemed my brain had completely deserted me. “I’m Caroline and I don’t know why I’m here. I’m supposed to be in my house.”

The highlander threw back his head and let out a deep laugh, as if what I said humored him. He offered his hand to help me to my feet. When I was eye level with him, I looked into his deep blues and asked. “Who are you?” Although, I had a feeling I knew the answer.

He stepped back into a slight bow and said “Laird Ian McGregor at yer service.”

“Laird…” I whispered and covered my mouth. It couldn’t be. There was no way. How in the world? I turned to look where I had just climbed, but the ladder and the opening to my bedroom closet had completely vanished. Tears stung my eyes and I thought about Austin and the kids. Would I ever get to see them again?

“Ye look like you could use a hot bath.” Ian said. “My keep is this way. We’ll get ye right in no time.”

I nodded and followed him. It was all I could do. The sun had set and I didn’t want to see what the night would bring if I stayed out here.

Several hours later, I was dressed in a very constricting corset and yards of fabric. I had always envied the women in my books who dressed thusly. Now, I would give anything for my t-shirt and yoga pants.

After a hearty dinner, I was shown to a bedroom. It looked a bit too large and ornate to be a simple guest room. I studied the rough features around me and walked over to the bed. It looked small, but clean. My body felt weary and I hoped that sleep would bring me out of this breakdown that I was suffering.

The sound of the door closing made me jump and turn around. Ian had entered and stood in front of the door. “I hope the room is to yer liking,” he said.

I nodded. “It’s very nice.” I paused and looked around. My hands fidgeted with the fabric of my dress. “Is there someone who can help me get this off so that I can sleep?” I asked, hoping that Ian would leave to find them and I’d again be left alone.

A fire quickly flashed through his eyes and he appeared to take my question as an invitation. “I’d be happy to help.” he said walking toward me.

“Oh!” I said, straightening. “No, that’s not what I meant.” But Ian had spun me around and was unhooking the buttons on the back of my dress. He then put both of his hands onto my shoulders and shook me, hard.

“Ouch!” I said, my head flailing back and forth. “Not so rough, Ian! I’m really not in the mood.” I gave him a stern look over my shoulder.

He stared at me, puzzled and then shook again. I squeezed my eyes in an attempt to control the dizziness of having my brain shook to bits.

“Who’s Ian?” I heard Austin say through the fog in my brain. “And why would you not be in the mood?”

“Oh Austin,” I sobbed, hiding my head in my hands. “Don’t harass me when I’m so sad that I’ll never get to see you again.”

“Caroline?” Austin sounded concerned and so close. “Open your eyes honey. You’re dreaming. Those books have taken over your brain!”

“Austin!” I felt annoyed with him. Why couldn’t he understand that I was locked in a room with a Scottish laird and that I would never see him or the kids again? I looked up to tell him that in plain English and blinked at the brightness of the room. Instantly my annoyance was gone and I threw my arms around my wonderful husband. “You guys made it back!” I giggled. “I was so worried. Wait. Where’s the werewolf? And the FBI?”

Austin raised his eyebrow and shook his head, laughing. “I am glad to see you slept. Maybe you can take a break from your books now. Just for a little bit?”

I nodded. That was certainly the strangest dream I’d ever had. “Definitely,” I agreed. “No more staying up late reading.” I looked at the pile of books lining my bookshelf and then at the discarded book on the couch next to me. “Then again, what harm could there be in one more chapter?” I nibbled the bottom of my lip and looked from Austin back to the book. “I mean, I was almost finished.”

Austin threw his hands into the air and screamed. He looked at me and said, “woman, you are an addict if I’ve ever seen one!” Then he walked out of the room.

I stared at him and started to follow when my book fell onto the floor. I picked it up and glanced to see if my husband was coming back. When the door frame stayed empty for a bit, I shrugged and opened those sweet pages to the place I had left off. There was no harm in one more chapter I decided.

Twelve years living the dream

Today’s post is an homage to the greatest wedding I’ve ever participated in; my own. I hope that you enjoy the story of my best memory. 

February 14, 2003 started like any other in our young lives. Paul and I had moved to Columbus six months before and we were becoming settled in our routines. He was working as an IT Developer and I was splitting my time between substitute teaching gigs and a stint at a women’s clothing store. Our life was far from glitzy, but as 23-year-old recent college graduates, glitz was never expected.

Paul had proposed to me a few months earlier at my Mom’s townhouse. He had gotten down on the one knee and everything. And of course, my dense self was irritated that he had blocked the door I was trying to go out of and I didn’t see the ring right away. Then he asked the biggest question of our lives. I forgot my irritation and felt like a jerk for feeling it in the first place. Of course I would marry this man. He was my best friend and the one person I knew I could count on through anything. Thus, the wedding planning began.

Everyone always says that wedding planning is hard work. What they fail to mention is that every person in your life is going to have an opinion on what you should have at your wedding, but very few are going to be willing to help financially. As young adults playing house, the spare money was very difficult to come up with. We had saved $700, but that was nowhere near enough for the wedding we, and everyone around us, were planning.

That Valentine’s morning I happened to have the day off from both jobs, so I was wasting time at my computer when he called me. I had planned such glamorous tasks as cleaning the bathrooms and the kitchen to fill the hours until he came home that evening. I had no idea what lay ahead of me.

“Hi honey,” I said when I answered. “Make it to work okay?”

“I’m not there yet,” he replied. “I just heard something on the radio that the courthouse is doing like a mass wedding because it’s Valentine’s Day. What do you think about getting married today?”

“Are you kidding?” I practically screeched into the phone. “Paul, we’re planning our wedding. I’ve picked out my dress! No, I don’t want to get married today.”

Then I hung up the phone. I was so angry at him for suggesting that we throw off all the planning we’ve been doing in order to just run down to the courthouse. How dare he? I wanted my wedding. I wanted my dress. I wanted to be the center of attention for once in my life.

I needed to talk to someone about this, but as it was still early, I didn’t want to call and wake anyone up, so I logged onto the computer to see who was online. My friend Christy was there and I told her everything that had just happened.

Me: Can you believe he called and asked that?

Christy: Yes, he loves you and wants to get married. The bottom line is, what’s important to you, the wedding or the marriage?

Those words were like a punch in the gut. Paul and I were already stressed and fighting about the wedding plans. My mom had convinced me that we should hold the wedding in my hometown instead of the town where we lived now. And, if I was truly honest, Paul, who had initiated this whole endeavor, seemed to be getting dragged along for the ride.

I sat at that computer desk for several minutes staring at nothing in particular as I processed my feelings and came up with my decision. In all honesty, it wasn’t the elopement that I had the issue with. Instead, it was the quick change. I wasn’t upset that Paul wanted to marry me that day. I wanted to marry him that day and every day, too. My issue was that it was sprung upon me with no warning. Gemini’s, typically, are supposed to be great with change, but I was strange in that regard. It took me time to warm up to ideas. Fortunately, my soon to be husband understood this about me and he picked up the phone when I called him back.

“So what time are you picking me up?” I asked him.

“What do you mean?” He sounded confused.

“Well,” I said, “It really doesn’t make sense for both of us to drive downtown today, so what time are you picking me up?”

“You want to get married today?” Paul asked, and I understood the hesitation. I was so angry at him for even suggesting it only thirty minutes earlier that this change of heart must have seemed out of place.

“Yes,” I said. “I want to be married to you, that’s the most important thing to me. Weddings are fun and exciting, but they’re also expensive and stressful. I want to do this our way, where we both get a say in what happens.”

I could hear the gratitude in Paul’s voice as he spoke. “Okay, I’ll take a half day. Be ready to go around 12:30.”

“Will do,” I said. “Love you.”

“Love you, too.”

And with those few words, the decision was made and our lives changed. I ran upstairs to get ready for the day. I mean, I knew that I wouldn’t have a wedding gown, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t look fabulous on my wedding day. I had a new white outfit that had pants and a tuxedo type top. The tails on the top came all the way down to my ankles, so it felt like a real wedding outfit with a train and all. I then twisted my long, blonde hair up into a French twist, my most sophisticated way to wear it and meticulously applied makeup. I was ready to leave by 10:00 am. Unfortunately, Paul wouldn’t be home for two and a half hours.

After what seemed like an eternity, Paul walked through the door. He darted to the bedroom for a quick shirt change and tie application. Then, we were ready to do this. We didn’t drive downtown right away, though. Instead we decided that we needed to buy rings first, so we headed to the jewelry store. We each found modest rings that were not very expensive, but were perfect for us. Paul was able to take his ring with us, but mine had to be sized and would be ready later that day. As I already had my engagement ring, I wasn’t terribly worried about not having my wedding band.

The drive to downtown was fairly quick. It was one thirty in the afternoon, that wonderful, magical time between lunch hour and rush hour when the traffic is light. Paul and I found parking quickly, which is another miracle downtown, and walked to the courthouse. Filling out the paperwork took a little bit of time, but we were eventually ready to get married. It was 2:30 pm. We walked into the Judge’s office to wait our turn to have our ceremony officiated.

“I’m sorry,” the judge’s secretary said. “These couples here are our last weddings for today.”

Paul and I were crushed. We did all of this in order to be married today. We spent our savings on wedding rings and a marriage license, and how long was an unused marriage license good for anyway? What on earth were we going to do? We had no contingency plan as it never occurred to us that we wouldn’t make it in time. We stood there for a good while staring at each other with the words what are we going to do written all over our faces.

Fortunately, the secretary saw this and took pity on us. “Okay, I know this may sound crazy, but the Big Bear grocery store in Clintonville is doing a special promotion today where they are holding weddings in the store. You may be able to get in there.”

We had our answer; the Big Bear Grocery store. We thanked the secretary and ran, well as fast as my high heels would let me run, to our car. When we made it outside, we noticed that the cloudy, overcast day had turned to a cloudy, snowy day. But, we didn’t care as we were on a mission to make it to Clintonville to become official.

We made it to Big Bear and raced into the store. The man performing the weddings was a guy named The Marryin Man. Paul and I laughed a little about this as we headed to the setup they had for the weddings. Mr. Marry Man’s assistant was incredibly nice to us as she told us that the other couples had registered, but that she would have time to squeeze us in right after the couple that was getting married at that moment. Paul and I squealed with delight. We were actually going to do it. We paid the assistant the $50 fee which included our own wedding photo and headed for the floral department to buy my bouquet.

Before we knew it, we were standing under the makeshift gazebo reciting our vows in front of the Marryin Man. My heart pounded with the thrill of it all. As we kissed for the first time as husband and wife, we noticed a bright light coming from our left side. When we turned, we were introduced to a channel 6 camera and online personality. He said they were doing a news spot about the weddings in the Big Bear that day and would we mind if he interviewed us. Of course we said yes, the excitement of being newlyweds was too much to contain and we had to share it with someone!

After our brief brush with fame, the assistant took our wedding photo and we left the store. The snow was really coming down by this time and we still needed to pick up my ring and find a place to celebrate our marriage. The drive got a little hairy at times, but we made it to the jewelry shop and picked up my ring. It all suddenly seemed so real, so I took out our paperwork while we sat in the jewelry store parking lot to admire our marriage license. Unfortunately, in all the excitement with the news crew, the Marryin Man had forgotten to sign our license. We weren’t really married yet.

We quickly made the decision to head back down to the Big Bear store to track him down and make everything official. When we got there, Paul ran inside to find the Marryin’ Man and his assistant getting ready to close shop for the day.

“Oh,” he said when Paul showed him the paperwork. “We were just saying that we had missed one today.”

“Less talky, more signy” was my new husband’s reply, or at least that’s what he tells me it was as I stayed in the car. My feet were throbbing from making mad dashes while in high heel shoes.

Once everything was signed and Paul and I were finally, legally married, we headed back North to our reception location; the Red Lobster restaurant. We decided that since we didn’t have to buy food for 200 guests, we would order whatever we wanted from the menu. It really is amazing what $700 will buy for a wedding when only two people are involved. The dinner was beautiful and delicious. We went all out with champagne and appetizers and lobster feasts. By the end, we were stuffed, happy, and oh so ready to head home to put our feet up.

Each year as we plan our wedding anniversary celebration, we question the wisdom of getting married on what is deemed the most romantic day of the year. It’s often difficult to find places to go for our anniversary dinners as most of the restaurants are booked well in advance. But after twelve years married to the man of my dreams, I’ll never regret choosing the marriage.

via (1) The Greatest Wedding Story – Writing.Com.

Happy Groundhog Day

For your reading pleasure…a flash fiction about today. Enjoy! 

“Morning, Beaver,” Deer said, munching on some dry bark. He longed to again taste the sweet green grasses and the rich moss. He shivered, attempting to warm his aching muscles. “You’re out awful early this year.”

“Morning, Deer,” Beaver replied, searching under a mound of snow for something. “Ahh, yes. My food froze inside my storage room, so I gotta hunt for something more. This winter has been especially bad.”

Deer nodded. “That it has. My does have lost several babes.”

Beaver’s furry brow furrowed sympathetically. “I’m so sorry to hear that.”

“Well,” said Deer, shrugging his shoulders. “That is the way of life. It could be worse.”

Beaver gave a quizzical look. “How so?”

“Well,” said Deer, leaning close to whisper. “We could be Groundhog.”

“What would be so wrong with being Groundhog?” Beaver asked.

“I guess you wouldn’t know since you’re normally sleeping right now. The humans have this strange tradition of pulling poor Groundhog from his slumber every year around this time. They say he can predict the weather. It’s the darnedest thing!” Deer guffawed.

“Oh that’s terrible. Poor Groundhog.” Beaver lowered his head. “How does he predict the weather?”

“I’m not quite sure. Something about his shadow. The humans keep raving about whether or not he sees it.” Deer rolled his eyes.

“Is he in his den,” Beaver asked, concerned. “We should go check on him.”

The two friends trudged to Groundhog’s house and found the place deserted. They searched for him, but with no luck.

Rabbit hopped by as they were about to give up. “Whatcha doin?” he asked.

“Looking for Groundhog,” Deer replied.

“Didn’t you hear? He saw his shadow. The humans have turned him into stew.”

Deer and Beaver stood, dumbstruck at this news.  “How many weeks of winter will we have now?” Dear wondered.