So Many Things

Life has been busy since the last post. At least, busy for me.

*I got a new-to-me car. I knew my little pickup wouldn’t make it through another winter without some extensive garage time, & I didn’t have the wherewithal for that, plus, it was just going to keep nickel & diming me to the poorhouse. So –

I got some financing for Rosmerta – Roz, for short.

Rosmerta is a Goddess of luck and prosperity, so here’s to bringing this into my life. She’s a dream I’ve had since I was 6 years old. Having a Jeep, that is.

My mom’s cousin, Julie, came to live with us for a while when I was about that age. She was attending community college in the town next door, & had a boyfriend named Randy.

Randy – had a Jeep.

It was one of those soft-sided Jeeps that you could zip the windows up and down, or take it off completely, and to me, it was the coolest thing – EVER.

Of course, that was partly because Randy was a great guy. He was nice, truly nice, & liked little kids.

The summer I remember them dating, Julie & Randy took me to Valley Fair, in Shakopee, just outside the Twin Cities of Minneapolis & St. Paul, MN.

I remember getting a giant tissue-paper flower on a stick (so fricking cool, I had that thing for YEARS), riding the ferris wheel, and sitting on the chair of the Jolly Green Giant with Little Green, while someone took my picture. I remember thinking that this was the best day ever, & that it just didn’t get any better than that.

So, because of one happy childhood memory, a really good day, yes, but just one day, nonetheless, Jeeps have become a part of my secret wishlist in life.

And now, I have one.

Which, also, kind of scares me, to be honest.

I have people telling me all the time that I deserve to have something good in my life. That after all the shitty things that have happened, and after how hard I’ve worked over the last few years to overcome a lot of it, I deserve to have something, at least ONE thing, good.

But, I’ve never had anything last.

So, this new, good thing, scares me…

I don’t want it to go away, too.

So many things have happened, I just – I just want one good thing to last.

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Blowing Out The Candles in My Dreams

I woke up this morning with tears tracing down my face.

I’d had a dream, & I remembered most of it.

I had gone with my cousin to a bookstore. Now, this particular cousin is more like a sister to me. She & I grew up extremely close. We’re only 10 months apart in age (I’m the elder, not that that really matters, but I could see you out there, wondering).

We used to spend our summers together, my aunt (my uncle had died when we were very little) would send her to our house for a few weeks, then later, I’d go stay with them for a few weeks in southern Minnesota.

We squabbled like siblings, we laughed like best friends, & we ganged up our parents, & snuck around as teenagers do, just as though we were more than mere cousins.

So, when I talk about my cousin “L”, it’s more as though I’m talking about a sister I never had.

Back to the dream. L & I had entered this super cool bookstore, which came complete with its own specialty bakery &, of course, cafe/coffee shop.

You were even able to special-order decorated cakes for occasions, & the bakers would decorate them to your specifications.

In my dream, I hadn’t had my birthday yet. This is important, later.

We browsed a bit, found books to buy, & sat in the cafe & had some cake, talking about things, catching up, since I haven’t seen L for a while. (Truth, it’s been months, & we would do this naturally)

L talks a mile a minute, so I let her blow her steam, keeping quiet & enjoying my cake, knowing she’ll listen when I tell her about my life. She always does, but, as an only child, she’s used to certain things, always being able to go first in a conversation being one of those things. I don’t mind.

Some who think they know me might scoff, but I really am quiet. When I care about someone, I’ll just sit & wait for the other person to talk themselves out completely before I speak, giving them my full attention the whole time.

When we were finished, we packed up & got ready to leave.

But first, I went over to the specialty cakes area. I’d seen a cake I wanted for my birthday, which, in my dream, hadn’t happened yet. And all I wanted was for the decorator to do some simple words on top – nothing major or fancy.

I’d filled out an order card with my contact information, & gave it to the bakery for the special-ordered layer cake.

When I spoke to the decorator about the cake, she misunderstood me 3 times, pulling out 3 different cakes, none of which were the ones I wanted. So, I finally walked her to the case & showed her the exact cake I wanted & told her that all I wanted was a simple handful of words on top.

She told me “We don’t decorate that cake. You can’t do that. Why would you even want to?”

At this point, my cousin had walked off to talk to some friends, so I was alone, and frustrated with dealing with someone who just didn’t seem to get it.

“I just want someone to put ‘Happy Birthday to Me’ on top of the damn cake, is that so hard? I always spend my birthday alone, my kids don’t come home, my parents leave the state, my friends don’t remember, or don’t live close enough to be here…I just wanted something nice for myself. Forget it!”

At this point, I walked out, with cousin L scrambling to catch up to me.

She asked what was wrong, but I wouldn’t tell her.

Later, I get a phone call from the bookstore. Could I please come down & pick up my order?

I told the lady on the phone I didn’t have an order, but she was adamant, & that I needed to pick it up.

So, I went.

When I get there, the cake is done, exactly as I ordered, and when I go to pay for it, she won’t let me, saying someone else already took care of it, although she won’t tell me who.

I take my cake & go home, wishing I had someone to celebrate with.

That’s my wish every year.

Does making wishes on candles in dreams count?

The Land of Fire

I’m walking in a land of fire

Coals scorching my feet

Sparks flying through the air

Smoke choking my lungs

I know that this trial is somehow necessary, that in order to grow, I must burn away that which has become burdensome. That I’ve come to another crossroads in my life, & I have to fight, to strive, to prove to myself that I am ready for the next step, whatever that may be.

But, Goddess, the fires are intense.

I’ve cut ties with someone I was speaking to. He wasn’t going to live up to his words, anyway. And, my heart was elsewhere.

It’s been tied up for years in someone else’s ribbons, & I don’t think it’ll ever change.

I’m probably destined to spend my life alone, because I gave my heart away to someone who will never show up to fully claim it.

But, if that’s the way it is, I’ll live with it.

My brother tried to make small talk through text about my birthday, as well. *sigh*

After years of issues between us, I’m not going to just forgive and forget everything he’s said & done. I’m not a “sweep it under the rug” kind of woman.

He wounded me deeply, and cannot admit his culpability.

So, I finally said as much back in a text, and – lol and behold – *crickets* since then.

If you cannot admit your responsibility for your actions, if you cannot admit your own wrongdoing towards another person, and apologize, sincerely and wholeheartedly for hurting them, then obviously, you don’t believe you ever did anything wrong.

Update – I just received a text that says “I have no idea what you’re talking about”.

My point exactly.

I’m done.

Convenient how they “forget” the words they use to wound others with.

But I will never forget how he said his “little sister died years ago”.

He’s right.

He killed her.

I’m not that little girl he once knew.

But then, he never bothered to get to know the grown-up woman.

Whatever.

I don’t have time for him.

I’ve got embers in my eyes, and smoke curling around my hands.

Time to take a walk.

Dim The Lights

And so we come once again to November, one of my least favored months of the year, containing my least favorite holiday.

Actually, I could do away with Thanksgiving altogether, and never miss it.

I think I’ve borne a deep-seated resentment towards this holiday since I was a child, to be honest, and I’ll tell you why.

As a kid, Thanksgiving meant having to dress up, and stay dressed up, All Damn Day. As a tomboy, this was one of the worst possible punishments you could inflict on me. I loathed wearing dresses, and having to wear one for a whole day… Not being able to climb trees with the cousins, or scurry up and down the cliff behind our house – hell – simply having to stay clean all day… It was hell.

And OK, the food thing was alright, but I was always a picky eater, so I pretty much stuck to turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing & corn. No funky salads, no strange fruity jello things, nothing unidentifiable, thanks. Pumpkin pie for dessert, with plenty of whipped cream, & I was done.

And then… Ultimate boredom set in.

The menfolk took over the living room to watch football, while the women ruled the kitchen.

There was nowhere for a tomboy cursed to wearing a dress for the day to go!

Gah!

I usually ended up sitting in my room, playing records on my record player, wishing I could change into my ratty jeans & scuttle down the cliff to the freedom of the river below. 

No joy. The maternal police in the kitchen guarded the stairway & would’ve caught me.

As a grownup, I became resigned to the holiday – until my brother destroyed it a few years ago for me with his hate-filled email one year, & a ranting phone call another year.

I… Quite simply… HATE … Thanksgiving with pretty much every fiber of my being.

And yet – every year, I’m forced to partake in this much-loathed ritual, to make my parents happy.

*sigh* 

At least I don’t have to explain why Mom asks me to make the pumpkin pie every year anymore, since my sibling & his family moved away. 

I wish I could say no.

I wish I could be far away this year & not have to “do” Thanksgiving.

I’ve never really seen the true need for this holiday. A secular holiday “celebrating” something that ended up being basically a farce? Pilgrims & natives eating together in thanks? And then European settlers basically trying to destroy the natives in their greed for land and domination? 

Why are we giving thanks again?

I’m thankful most of the year for what I have, I don’t need this one freaking day to remind me to give thanks – thanks anyway.

And shitty things always seem to happen at this time of year, so I walk around, cringing, waiting for the other shoe to hit me on the back of the head.

I’d like to just fit a dimmer switch on November… Turn it down, gradually, a bit at a time…until that day rolls around… And I can just dim the lights & pretend to not be home?

Monster Man

Papa’s a Monster Man.

That’s my dad.

He “rescues” monsters from under beds, detangles them from closets, and saves them from the horrors of dark, drafty basements, then returns them to their natural habitat – The Dump.

Haven’t you ever seen Nickelodeon’s classic cartoon “AAAHH!!! Real Monsters!” ??


When EldestDaughter was little, she adored this show, & lived its tenets religiously. Monsters lived at the dump, and went to school there. They only came to human homes to practice their scares, and if they were still there by daylight – well – they had to be rescued – of course.

When EldestDaughter ended up with one caught under her bed… She knew.

Time to call Papa.

And of course, he came right over. Because what else do Papas do when their granddaughters call? I ask you?

So, he “rescued” the monster, stuffing it deep in his pocket (so the daylight wouldn’t hurt its eyes…duh…), and EldestDaughter then announced that she simply had to go with him to the Dump to make sure the monster was properly released.

Uh… Ok… 

Well, he took her, anyway, & they released the monster, which promptly scurried off into its proper hole to get back to “class”. 

Or so EldestDaughter informed me when she got home. I’m trusting her imagination on that one.

But the tale doesn’t end there…

Papa’s reputation as a Monster Man was solidified when EldestDaughter retold the story to one of her friends.

Cut to a couple of years later….

Papa gets a phone call from said little girl’s mother. 

(By this time all the kids in town called my dad Papa because EldestDaughter called him that. It stuck for many years until he retired from his janitorial position at the local school)

*Mother of Girl*: “Papa? I need you to come to the house”

Papa: “Oh, MoG? What’s the problem?”

*MoG: “Seems there’s a monster in the basement, and Girl says you’re the only one who can rescue it. I can’t get her to go down to the basement -at all. Please?”

Papa: (laughing) “Sure, MoG, I’ll be right over.”

When he got to the house, he had Girl stand at the top of the basement stairs with a laundry basket.

Papa: “Now, Girl, don’t you move. You stay right here at the top of the stairs. I’m going down there, and I’m gonna catch this monster…but if it gets away from me and runs up here – you be quick and catch it with this laundry basket…OK? But whatever you do…don’t come downstairs!”

Girl: “Ok, Papa. I’ll wait for you!” 

So, Dad clomped down the stairs, banged around some, hollering & clanking things together for a few minutes…putting up a fight, you know.

And when he came upstairs…lo and behold, there was a suspicious lump in his coat pocket, which he kept confined with his hand, telling it to “settle down & behave” because he was “taking it home”.

Girl was all smiles, & made sure to watch as Dad drove away in his pickup – and HE made sure to drive in the direction of the dump, and stay away from their house for a little while before returning. (They were close neighbors, had to make the timeline believable!)

Another satisfied customer of the Monster Man.

But the story still isn’t over…

The Dump closed a couple of years ago.

And Girl is now a grownup…who recently got married & lives out of state.

And my dad likes a website called ThinkGeek.

Ever hear of the Eviltron?

Well, its a tiny, magnetic speaker. That makes various, creepy noises.

Dad built a small box, & attached this doohickey to a rare-earth magnet inside the box.

And mailed it to the unsuspecting new, young bride.

After turning it on…of course.

He included a note telling her that, since the Dump had been closed, SHE WAS GOING TO HAVE TO BE ONCE AGAIN RESPONSIBLE FOR HER MONSTER – SO HE WAS MAILING IT BACK TO HER.

Is 20 years a long enough time to dedicate to a joke?

My father received a beautiful thank you note in the mail later, telling him that this was the single most memorable and original wedding present ever received.

And she would be opening it far…far…

Far…from the house.

Thank you very much.

Signed – Girl, and her Boy.

I am now in possession of the last of my Dad’s eviltrons, and having used it on all of my coworkers, successfully…

I think it’s time to return it to Dad.

Seriously – I think he needs to build one more monster box – for EldestDaughter.

The originator who gave the Monster Man his reputation to begin with.

Get her, Papa. She’ll love it.

3, 2, 1… #MeToo

I gave an interview a couple of days ago.

On camera.

Scared shitless and shaking, anxiety riding me like a cowboy strapped to an 8-second bull.

But I did it.

One of the local TV stations had posted to Facebook on Monday that they were looking for people willing to share their stories about sexual harassment and sexual assault, all in light of Alyssa Milano’s viral Twitter #metoo, where women and men could come forward about their experiences.

I messaged them about my story that night, and didn’t think much more about it.

Tuesday morning rolled around, & I received a message back, from a reporter at the studio, wanting to know if I’d be willing to talk, on camera about my experience, to possibly help others.

Before I could psyche myself out of it, I said yes.

It was awkward, and uncomfortable, being in front of the camera, and talking about it brought my anxiety back full force, & I’ve been having major issues with it ever since.

Especially since my mom caught just the tail end of the interview on the news…and texted me, wondering what it was for…

When I told her why I’d done it, all she said was “Got ya,” and immediately changed the subject.

Because to this day, we still don’t discuss it.

Another reason for my anxiety to flare.

I hate how I looked on camera, as though I was almost ready to burst into tears… I wasn’t, it was just my nerves were so taut, I was strung so tight I was surprised I didn’t make snapping noises when I walked.

But I did it.

I finally spoke publicly about my assault. 

And that counts for something.

#metoo

The Woman in the Mirror 

I’ve had self-esteem issues for as long as I can remember.

When I was very little, I had no worries. I was a total tomboy, who didn’t care what other people thought of me. I was happier dressed in clothes I could climb trees & get muddy in. And often did just those very things. I climbed up & down a cliff behind our house on a daily basis, snagging my hair on tree branches, and chewed my nails down to the quick, making my mom lament of me ever being a “girly girl”. 

She has often told stories about how she would wait until we were literally on our way out the door for church to get me in my dress, or I’d get something on it.
But, little girls grow up, and as they do, they eventually start to care about how others see them.

I was no different.

By the time I hit 6th grade, I cared about how I was perceived by my peers, as well as by adults. 

Alas, also by this time, we’d moved from Iowa, where I had friends, to a small town in North Dakota, where… not only did I know no one, but I was a complete outsider.

I was, and still am, a nerd. I read a lot, was good at school, & got good grades.  I wasn’t a troublemaker. I’m not good at sports (my nickname in volleyball was “jello-wrists”, no joke) except for horseback riding, and our small town lived for its sports. I wasn’t considered pretty enough to garner the “pretty new girl” attention, & I didn’t have the “right” last name. 

All of these things pretty much signed my social death warrant there.

In high school, at 5’7″, 125-130lbs, I was considered the “fat girl”.

I smiled here because I knew it was almost over. 

My saving grace through high school, was that my best friend had faith in me. She was a total extrovert, who moved to our town when we were in the 8th grade. She was good at sports, & was/is gorgeous & skinny. And she believed in my writing.

She sort of adopted me, & pulled me out of my shell, got me to leave our small town, & we went on adventures to other towns where we fit in much better, & made our own fun.

Even with that, I still stood in the shadows. I was always – “Oh, you’re S’s friend, right?” 

*sigh* yes, I’m her friend. 

I did make some friends of my own, separate from her, we did each gave our own groups that we’d hang out with, occasionally. And I did have boyfriends from those other towns that had no connection to her.

But I never felt as though I was enough.

Every relationship I’ve had has ended with me feeling as though I wasn’t enough for the other person. I always felt as though I was lacking, somehow, because of how things ended. Every. Single. One.

I’ve never really, truly, felt good enough.
And that includes my writing.

I’ve had certain friends tell me for years that I should write a book. That my words are worth more, that they have value.

I’ve always kind of just pooh-poohed the notion, telling them that I write my blog for me, to get the words out of my head.

After all, friends & family are supposed to say nice things to you, right? They’re supposed to back you up no matter what, right? Even if it’s trash?

Nephew… You live too far away to smack me on the back of the head right now, so sit back down.

I love you.

And I’m not done talking yet.

Because right now, I’m standing on the edge of a cliff.

I’m terrified – and exhilarated – and about ready to puke – all at the same time.

Because… I’m taking a leap of faith, & I’m going to try to build a pair of wings on my way down.

A little over a week ago, someone that I’ve admired & respected from a distance for a long time, but who has had zero idea that I existed, contacted me. 

We started talking, & in the course of becoming friends, I introduced this person to my blog. They liked my writing, & started telling me that I should write a book. 

I told them to talk to my Nephew, because it sounded like an echo.

My self-esteem still needs work – I know this.

I still look for acceptance & approval from others on my work, whether it’s my writing, my crafts, my remodeling I’m doing on my house. I’m never sure that what I’m doing is good enough, and I flounder in indecision about the choices I make unless I get feedback from people I trust.

I don’t know if it’s just a Gemini thing, or just a Jen thing… 

Even today, when I spoke to one of my coworkers about the possibility of me writing a book, she called me crazy. And I immediately started to doubt myself.

It’s easier to believe the bad stuff.

The woman in the mirror every morning looks at me with bleary, disbelieving eyes.

The woman in the mirror at night usually tells me it’ll be better tomorrow.

I’m hoping there’s a bad ass bitch hanging around somewhere in the background who’ll kick both their asses, smash the mirror, & yank me up by my collar one of these days.

Till then… I’ll be shoveling sand.