Friday, September 30, 2011

Aurora's Story-Part 1

"Oh please," Aurora snapped her Anne Rice book shut and glared at Isabelle, her best friend.  "What do you think is going to happen?"

"I don't know.  Where did you meet this guy?  My mother always taught me not to trust strangers.  How do you know he's not a serial killer?  Or a rapist?  I'm not going to some random out of the way house to hang out with some guys I've never met.  It all sounds weird."

"Whatever.  You're impossible."  Walking over to mirror, Aurora adjusts her blond curls.  "I am going.  You have fun here.  Alone.  In our tiny apartment.  Doing nothing."  She sits on the plush chair facing the vanity and touches up her makeup.  When she is satisfied, she pulls out a bright red lipstick and precisely applies it, bringing out the fullness of her lips.

"I'll go get that." Isabelle slowly walks towards the door and opens it.  She shudders involuntarily as a chill sweeps through the room.

"I'm Ian.  Enchanted to meet you." The strange young man bows and kisses her hand.

"Um, you're here for Aurora?  She's almost ready.  Hold on." Isabelle rushes back to the bedroom, where Aurora is checking out the fit of her little black dress in the mirror.

"Is he here?" she asks, not even glancing at her friend.

"What are you thinking?  He is weird, Aura.  No normal person acts like that.  He kissed my hand, he has a weird European accent thing going on, he is going to turn out to be some international serial killer guy and you should not go anywhere with him."

Aurora rolls her eyes.  "Seriously, Izzy?  You're being a drama queen.  I said you can come.  He lives with some friend.  And I will not stay home.  He is a hot, polite European who wants me to come to his house.  I wouldn't miss it for the world.  Have fun here, okay? She snaps her fingers, pointing at Isabelle, and leaves the apartment, grin on her face."


"This is where you live?" Awed, Aurora stares at the giant house rising out of the foggy evening.  "It's incredible."

Stepping out of the Saab convertible, Ian opens Aurora's door, takes her hand, and helps her out of the car.  Gesturing towards the house, he shrugs. "It is nice, yes, but nothing special.  Please,  come inside, it's starting to rain."  He leads her over the cobblestones, onto the porch, and into the house.

Aurora is awestruck.  She stops dead in her tracks and gasps, staring wide-eyed at the interior of the house.  She is in a grand foyer, complete with elaborate spiral staircase and paintings, some that look like originals, covering the walls.  "It looks like a museum," she whispers.

"Welcome to my home.  I hope you will be spending a lot of time here with me."

This post was written in response to to this week's Red Writing Hood prompt from Write on Edge.
This week, we want you to be inspired by pictures.  Write a piece – fiction or creative non-fiction – based on your reaction to either of these photos. Or both.
Word limit is…600
This is the photo I chose as inspiration
 This story is one I started writing in high school.  I'm maybe going to try rewriting it on my blog.  However, it was really hard for me to write a piece of creative fiction.  I am more than a little rusty.  I think that because I have done so much with screenwriting, it is difficult to write descriptively and out of screenplay format.  So please, all constructive criticism is welcome.  I swear, I wrote the beginning of this story better when I was 14 years old, and that is sad.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


I'll admit it.  I label my kids.  I was also labeled as a kid.  I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing.  Maybe it's both.  But it's really hard not to label my kids, and some of the other kids they are in contact with.

I was always the "smart kid".  From an early age, I was at the top of the learning curve.  By 1, I knew over 200 words.  By 2, I memorized poems and could recite the Pledge of Allegiance.  By 3, I was writing and illustrating my own stories.  In school, teachers always expected a lot of me.  And they got it from my work.  But I was also the "shy kid" to teachers.  I would never raise my hand in class.  I never jumped into a conversation.  I didn't do well in groups (unless I did all the work and everyone else left me alone).

It was also a lot of pressure.  If I didn't do well on something, I felt really bad about it.  I had a hard time in 10th grade math and it was the only time I ever failed anything.  I remember being humiliated that I only got a 510 on my French SAT II.

Overall, I think it helped me achieve all I could in school.  I held myself to a high standard because people looked at me as the "smart kid" and I didn't want to let them, or myself, down.  And, well, I've always been shy and I always will  be.  I'm slightly more assertive now, but only when I need to be.  It is what it is.

I do label my kids.  T is complicated.  He's kind of my "problem child," even though I feel really mean saying that.  It's not his fault.  He has the speech problems and it affects his behavior.  He throws bunches of tantrums every day.  He hits and kicks me when he's frustrated.  He punched the baby in the kidneys tonight because I told him he had to either wait until my show was over to watch his DVD or go watch it downstairs.  He's unpredictable-one second he will be lovey and cuddly, then all of a sudden something sets him off and he's screaming, throwing things, hurting people.

When he is behaving, he is the sweetest kid you'll ever meet.  He's always asking questions about everything.  He loves posing for the camera.  He shares his toys with the other kids.  Adults love him because he is adorable and warms up to everyone right away.  He cuddles with me at night and, since school has started, he's been sleeping at the foot of my bed with his dragon Happy Napper.  I adore him.

Princess is my "drama queen" and "Daddy's little girl".  She already has Daddy wrapped around her little finger and can anything she wants from him, usually by throwing a tantrum.  I ignore her.  I'm sure she thinks I'm mean because I don't cater to her every whim like her dad.  She will scream and cry and bang her head on the floor to command total attention from Daddy.  Oh, and she's jealous too.  She'll throw a tantrum if he pays attention to the other kids or me.

When she's just with me and Daddy's not around, she's a little angel.  She is so well behaved.  I can take her to the store or to run errands and she is perfect.  She's the only one of my children who I can take to a restaurant.  It's like she has two totally different personalities depending on who she's with.

The there's Goober.  I really don't have a label for him, but I can tell you that I spoil him.  He is my little baby and in my eyes, he can do no wrong.  I probably spend more time with him than I do with the other kids.  I love having him with me, and I hog him.  His grandparents really don't spend time with him and he's never spent a night with them like the older kids.  In fact, I've only spent one night not sleeping in a bed with him since he was born.

If I could predict it, I think Goober will either become the "spoiled brat" or the "Mama's boy."  Both of those labels are okay with me.  I love my kids.  They are my life.  I don't have friends I go out with, I don't have any hobbies.  I'm home all day, every day with my babies.  I love all the ins and outs of their personalities, even the not so good parts.  So I don't mind labeling them.  I'm sure their labels with change as they grow up.  But one label won't change-I will always label all my kids my "baby," long after they're grown up.

This post was written in response to a prompt from Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop.  I chose 5.) What’s your stance on ‘labeling’? Were you labeled as a child? Have you labeled your own children? How do you feel about this?

Mama’s Losin’ It

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Decision

It is sunny.  People mill around in summer clothes, hurrying in or out the main doors.  As the door opens, a young WOMAN in her early 20s, holding an infant carrier in one arm and a TODDLER'S hand in the other, exits.  Her hair is unkempt and her face is puffy and red, like she has been crying.  She steps into a waiting taxi with the children.  It drives off.

The woman stares at the INFANT in her arms.  She cries as the infant looks at her.  The toddler is distressed by his mother's tears.
Mommy?  Don't cry.                                  
She reassures him with a hug.
It's okay baby. Mommy is okay.  She's just
thinking.  About what to do.                        

Where are we going?                                  

Back home, baby, back home.                    

Is the baby coming too?                             

A HUSBAND and his WIFE walk to the car parked in the driveway.  It is a typical colonial, on an average tree-lined suburban street.  The lawn is manicured well; the yard is landscaped with flowers and shrubs.  The couple are in their early 40s.  Both are upset.  The wife's face is tear-streaked.  She sits in the early 80s model white Toyota as he loads luggage in the trunk.  He enters the car and they drive away.

The woman sits on a bench with the toddler and the infant.  She fidgets, looking panicky.  The airport is busy. All walks of people rush around with their luggage.  The woman stands up, carrying the infant, toddler in tow, and finds a nearby pay phone.

I changed my mind.  I don't know what to
do.  I can't do it.                                          

Where are you?                                          

The airport.  But you have to come.  I can't
take her.                                                       
   LAWYER (V.O.)
I'll be there as soon as I can.                         

The woman returns to the bench and sits with the children, exhausted.  She puts her head in her hands and waits.

The lights are off.  No one is in the small kitchen.  The phone rings until the answering machine picks up.

I have very good news for you.  Please call 
my office immediately.  I will try your other
contact numbers on your application.  Please
call or come to my office as soon as you get  
this message.                                                    

We watch a plane take off.

The LAWYER, a middle-aged man in a suit, walks to a waiting car, carrying the infant carrier.

The office is clean but small.  The room is full of bookshelves and file cabinets. A large desk is in the middle of the room.  The infant is in the carrier on the desk, asleep.  The lawyer sits in a chair, signing papers.  There is a KNOCK, followed by the husband and wife entering the room.

I'm glad you finally got my message.  I've
been trying to reach you all day.  I would  
like to introduce you to your daughter.       

The wife, tearful, stares lovingly at the baby in the carrier.  She cries joyously.  Her husband stands behind her, looking lovingly at the baby.

I've waited my whole life for this.  We're
naming her Alison.                                  

Congratulations to you both. I'm very happy
it all worked out today.          
The wife gently picks up the baby and kisses her forehead.  The infant opens her eyes and serenely stares at her parents.

This post was written in response to this week's remembeRED prompt from Write on Edge.  Congratulations! Your best selling memoir has just been optioned by a major motion picture studio, and the producers want you advising on the script.  Write the opening scene for the movie.  Would you begin with a visual montage?  Voice-over? Flashback or forward? A conversation? The trick here is to look through a lens. The camera needs to tell the story through visuals, action, dialogue.
I was really excited to do this because I majored in screenwriting in college and haven't written any scripts for over 5 years.  Although I took dramatic license to write this, it is a true story.  I was adopted as an infant and it almost didn't happen.  I know my birth mother almost went home with me and took me to the airport.  I also know my parents really couldn't be reached because they were distraught the adoption fell through, so I spent the better part of a day in the lawyer's office.  I am really happy I got to write this story of how I came to be.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ooey Gooey Chocolate Cake

For Goober's birthday party last Saturday, I not only made the French Vanilla Cake Pops I posted last Monday, but I also made the best chocolate cake ever.  And it is easy.  I originally found the recipe here.

This is not your average chocolate cake.  It is rich, and gooey, and you can only eat a few bites.  It reminds me of fudge, almost.  I love it so much I will make it again for every holiday in the foreseeable future.

I did mess up the frosting, which looks awful.  It was the first time I bought buttercream in a can and I should have bought icing gel or made my own pastry bag and done it with the homemade whipped cream  I served the cake with.  Oh well.  Now I know what not to do.

10 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (I used most of a bag of chocolate chips-there was about 1/4 cup of chips left over)
7 oz. butter
5 large eggs
1 cup sugar

-Preheat the oven to 350.
-Butter a 9-inch springform pan and then dust it with cocoa powder, throwing out the excess.  Wrap outside of springform pan with foil to make sure it is watertight.
-Melt butter and chocolate together over a double boiler.  You can use the microwave also.  When it is smooth and combined, remove from heat.
-Whisk together eggs and sugar, then add chocolate mixture and whisk until combined.
-Pour batter into springform pan and cover with foil.  Place inside a roasting pan and fill roasting pan with water until it is halfway up the springform pan.
-Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
-Remove from water bath.  Remove foil.  Cool completely on cooling rack before serving.

And that's it!  There are only a few ingredients, and it is so easy!  It was the first time I ever cooked anything in a water bath, which always seemed a little daunting to me, but it wasn't hard at all.  Serve this cake with whipped cream on the side and enjoy.  I promise you this cake is worth making!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Little Overboard

"Hey! of these!"

"Are you seriously ordering another martini?"

"I'm not drunk!  I'm just a little...inebriated...I am, I swear."

"What is this?  Martini number 15?  You need to cool it."

"I'm fine, I'm just here to!  Your birthday."

"You're drunk.  Are you really ok?"

"I'm fine.  Thank you...oops!  giggle I just spilled the whole thing...lemme get another one."

"No, you're cut off.  Do you need help getting home?  Should I call you a cab?"

"I am good.  And I am not drunk!  And I am going home.  And I can drink more-I'm just okay because...because it's your birthday."

"Get home safe, thank you for coming to my party-you made it-interesting."

"You keep having fun.  Goodnight.  And I'm still not drunk."

This post was written in response to Jenny Matlock's Saturday Centus prompt.
This week we are doing a DIALOGUE story.  All dialogue. Period. Word Count-150 words plus the six words of the prompt. Style of writing-Dialogue Only. No pictures-paint the story with your words. The prompt this week is: "Are you seriously ordering another martini?" 
A conversation like this actually happened at my friend's 22nd birthday party at a bar in Philadelphia.  I am the drunk in question in the story.

Jenny Matlock

Friday, September 23, 2011

Would You Know Any Takers?

Brash and impulsive woman seeking a man to cater to my whims.  I love having fun and spending time with my friends.  Every night is a party!  You can find me in the bar every night-I'm the loud girl and the alpha dog.
I enjoy my independence and work two jobs to support my lifestyle.  I'm devoted to being the boss and assistant manager at a retail store, where I can boss around my subordinates and lay low since I'm frequently hungover.  I live for my friends and my ill-mannered dogs.
I need a man who knows that I run the show.  I will do what I want to do, an you will accept that.  It's my way or the highway.  I hate being second-guessed or told what to do.
My perfect man is a doormat who spends a lot of time away from home.   I would love an active military man who will be deployed, or someone who works a lot and takes frequent business trips.  I need my home-alone time, if you know what I mean.
If you like to party and have no backbone, I may just be the woman for you!  Be prepared to do what I say and stay in the shadows.  I can't wait to walk all over you!

This post was written in response to this week's Red Writing Hood prompt from Write on Edge.  We want you to write a personal ad for your character, like one you would find on a dating site. The ad should tell us about your character, but should not be a laundry list – and no cliches about walks on the beach.
My personal ad is for the boyfriend's sister, and I think it's clear that we do not get along.  Her divorce is newly finalized, since she couldn't deal with living with her husband after he left the Navy-and all the cheating didn't help either.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Humiliation in Science Class

I was absolutely mortified.  If I could have hidden under my desk and disappeared, I would have.  We were in 9th grade.  Our Earth Science teacher started maternity leave and our teacher for the second half of the year was the formerly retired Mr. Makower.  He was old, he was fat, and as far as I'm concerned, he was evil.

I spent a ton of time working on my project about the striations in Bear Mountain State Park and how they related to the glacier that covered the area during the last ice age.  My dad had driven me to the park on a few occasions and helped me find, measure, and check the orientations of all those scratches in the rocks.  It was a lot of effort and calculations on my part, and I was proud of it.  I did solid work, and I didn't choose an easy project like many of the other kids in class.

He destroyed me.  It was his first day teaching our class, and apparently, he was an expert on striations.  I have always been very shy and prone to panic attacks.  I hated speaking in front of my classmates; I didn't want to get made fun of, so I spoke quietly.

Mr. Makower made fun of my for being quiet.  He pretended to search for a microphone.  He told me he didn't like mice in his classroom (get it, I was quiet like a mouse-so not funny).  He stood further and further away from me and made me repeat myself.  He made a big production of changing the seating arrangements in class so I was directly in front of his desk. 

I tried so hard not to burst into tears, but didn't really succeed.  That's when he really pounced.  He started asking me questions about glacial striations in other areas.  I didn't know the answers, since my project only dealt with the striations at Bear Mountain State Park.  He asked me some questions I could answer, and then kept trying to one-up me.  He mocked my answers and made sure he proved to the class that he knew more than me.  Of course he did!  I was 14 and a student-he was in his 70s and the teacher.

I have never been so humiliated in school.  He took a project I was proud of and turned it, and me, into the butt of his joke.  Throughout that half a year, he made sure to embarass me on many other occasions.  I wasn't a dumb kid-I got all As, and took honors and AP classes.  He made me feel like I wasn't a worthwhile person.  He made me hate going to his class-and I had always loved everything in school, even math, which I wasn't really good at.

I still don't know what I did to him to make him treat me like that.  He was mean to some of the other smart girls in the class, but he picked on me every day.  I can remember him giving me a B- on a paper, and the only comment on the entire thing was my misspelling of Massachusetts in the bibliography.  I despise him to this day, and the way he treated me still haunts me.

There is no excuse for a teacher treating a student like that.  They are there to help kids learn and grow and become better people.  They are not supposed to tear kids down and make them feel worthless.  I wish I hadn't been afraid to tell someone else in school about him.  That man should never have been allowed to be a teacher.

I pray my kids never ever have to deal with someone like him.  And if they do, I hope they will tell me.  Because I am not that scared little girl anymore, and now, I would rip someone like him apart.

I wrote this post in response to one of this week's prompts from Mama Kat's Writers Workshop.  I chose 4.) A time you felt wronged by a teacher. (inspired by Great Fun 4 Kids).
Mama’s Losin’ It

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fate Intervened That Night

I relax on the cheap old futon, its bars poking painfully into my butt.  Gulping down most of my bitch beer in one shot, I slam the empty bottle on the floor, grinning.  The others in the room nod at my accomplishment.  There is a constant hum of conversation in the air.  Even though it is a cold March night, the sliding door is open to let out the heat from all the bodies crammed into the basement apartment.

Next to me, there is a sizzle as the blunt is lit.  The air fills with with the heavy, thick smoke of weed and a vanilla dutch.  I twist open another bitch beer, ripping some skin off my thumb in the  process.  Shrugging it off, I chug half the drink, the carbonation making me gag.  I have to swallow hard a few times so it doesn't come right back up.  I know I would never live that down.

The blunt makes its way to my  hand.  Puff, puff, pass.  I inhale deeply, the smoke penetrating my lungs.  My eyes water; all attempts not to cough are in vain.  Laughter fills the room as I'm reassured coughing makes you higher.

I get off the futon and walk to the door.  I rush outside, slipping on the ice.  My arms flail as I try to regain my balance.  I fall hard, jamming my hand and wrenching my back.  I know that when I'm sober again, it is going to hurt.  I am helped up by someone I've never seen.  He is with the birthday boy, the reason for tonight's party.

I look him over, head to toe.  He is wearing a too-big black hoodie with large yellow letters spelling ARMY across the front.  An Army keychain hangs out of his pocket.  His dark wash jeans are a little too long, the hems faded to white and torn.   His sneakers are generic, black, and beat up.  We talk about how he's going to join the Army in the summer, since he just turned 18.  I'm no longer interested (since I'm 23) until he mentions the bottle of Johnny Walker in his trunk.  After he retrieves it, we sit on the futon to talk.

His hands wander to my leg.  I want to move it, but end up letting it be.  He is not my type.  He is too young, his nose is to big, his crewcut is too short.  I make it clear that I do not want a relationship.  He is still pushing his luck, and I feel a little bad for him.  He boasts about how good he is in bed.  I laugh.

We head to the only secluded place left in the house; the laundry room.  The floor is damp.  It is cramped.  He pulls an old blanket from dryer and covers the cement to make a "bed".  I tell him I will never even see him again after tonight.
This post  was written in response to this week's remembeRED prompt from Write on Edge. 
For this week’s memoir prompt, we’re going to let narrative take a backseat. Choose a moment from your personal history and mine it for sensory detail. Describe it to us in rich, evocative details. Let us breath the air, hear the heartbeat, the songs, feel the fabric and the touch of that moment.
If you didn't guess, the boy I was never going to see again is my boyfriend and the father of our kids.  The post is about the night we met.  And he never ended up joining the army-less than 2 months later, I was pregnant with T.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

French Vanilla Cake Pops

Goober turned 1 on Friday and we had his party Saturday afternoon.  It was a small party, with family and a few close friends.  I think T and Princess got more presents than Goober did, but that's okay because everyone was happy.  Anyway, I made an awesome chocolate cake and also some french vanilla cake pops, which were awesome!


1 box french vanilla cake mix (I chose Betty Crocker, but you can choose any brand, or make it from scratch)

7 extra-large egg whites
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 bag cake pop (or lollipop) sticks, at least 6" tall
2 bags melting chocolate, in your favorite color (I chose vanilla flavored light blue chocolate)
floral foam or styrofoam block

-Preheat oven to 350

-Prepare cake mix according to package directions.  Add batter to a 9"x13" pan or a large round cake pan (mine is a 13" round).  Bake 30 mins or until light brown on top.
-Let cake cool 10-15 minutes.  Using a dull knife, scrape all the brown off the top.  Cut around the cake edges and remove.  Flip the cake onto a plate and scrape the brown off the bottom, so all your cake is a uniform white color.

-Crumble the cake into a large bowl.

-In a large heatproof bowl set over (but not touching) simmering water, whisk together egg whites and sugar until sugar is melted and mixture reaches 140 degrees, 7 to 10 minutes.  Transfer mixture to the bowl of an electric mixture fitted with the whisk attachment; beat on high until stiff peaks form, 12 to 15 minutes. Add cream of tartar and beat for one minute more.  Reduce speed to medium and add butter, a few pieces at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla extract; beat until well combined, about 2 minutes. Transfer to refrigerator; chill for 15 minutes .

-Mix frosting into cake crumbs a big spoonful at a time until the cake and frosting mixture is really moist and can be rolled into balls and hold together.  You will not use all the frosting (I mixed the rest with the cake scraps and let the kids eat it).  Chill for at least 30 minutes.

-Cover a tray that will fit into your freezer with waxed paper.   Roll cake mixture into uniform balls (mine were about 1 1/2"  in diameter), then put a stick in them, about 3/4 of the way through each ball.  Lay them on the waxed paper and freeze 20-30 minutes.

-While the pops are in the freezer, pour melting chocolate into a heatproof bowl over simmering water like you did for the frosting.  Stir constantly until melted.  I usually turn off the burner once the chocolate is melted and it stays warm for a while.

-Take the pops out of the freezer and dip them in chocolate so all the cake is covered.  I use a big spoon to help drizzle chocolate over the part near the stick.  Shake off excess chocolate so the pop is evenly coated.  If the cake slides off the stick, you need to freeze it longer.  Stick pops into the styrofoam until the chocolate is set.  Refrigerate finished pops until 1-2 hours before serving.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Best Friend I Ever Had

Erin and I met on the first day of preschool.  We became best friends, and spent all of our time together.  When we were 5, Erin was diagnosed with leukemia.

I can't imagine how hard it was for her, but it was also rough for me.  I couldn't really understand everything that was going on.  Erin was in the hospital and there was nothing I could do but visit her.

When she came home, I went over to her house as often as I could.  She couldn't go anywhere because it could make her sick.  We played Barbies and American Girl.  She had a Nintendo with Zelda.  I was jealous that she had 9 stuffed golden retrievers, 2 of which were bigger than us.

Whenever I came over, the first thing I did was put on a mask and wash my hands.  We both knew I hated the mask.  It was stifling and made me feel like I couldn't breathe.  Every time Erin left the room, I ripped it off and gulped all the fresh, cool air I could before she came back.

Dress up may have been our favorite thing of all.  She had a huge bin of clothes, and I brought some of mine over too.  I always wore my mom's pastel green, floral bridesmaid dress.  Erin always dolled up in dresses, boas, and hats.  She always went to the bathroom to change.

One day, we wrestled in our dress up clothes.  We were laughing and squealing.  I tackled Erin and her hair fell off. Time stopped.  I was sure I made all her hair fall out.  She was embarassed.  We both cried.  That incident made our bond even stronger.

Erin relapsed.  We went to the hospital together.  I came with her to her doctor appointments and physical therapy when her legs atrophied and she could only walk on her toes.  We watched the Sound of Music while she got weighted casts on her legs (I can't watch this movie now because of all the memories it brings back).  We were together through every step of her illness.  Although she was the one physically experiencing it, I was affected too.

She came back to school when we were 9.  Everything changed.  We drifted apart.  She had other friends and I was no longer needed.  By high school, we spent no time together.  I haven't seen her in 10 years.

My memories of childhood are bittersweet.  I love how close we were, but I'm sorry it was because Erin was sick.  I'm sorry no one else wanted to hang out with the girl who had cancer.  We had so much fun together, but much of the time we were both uncomfortable.  She had to deal with chemo, and medicine, and countless other things.  And that mask still haunts me to this day.  I can't wear a scarf or a turtleneck because I get the same stifling feeling of the mask.

The experience made me a better person.  I learned the world was bigger than me, and that bad things happen to good people.   I had an amazing friend, and our bond was incredibly close.  I  learned compassion and empathy.  I learned that other kids can be selfish and mean because they don't understand something.  When we grew apart, I learned what it felt like to have my heart broken.  Not even my broken engagement 5 months before the wedding hurt as much as my lost friendship with Erin.  But if I could do the whole thing over again, I would.

Friday, September 16, 2011

My First Heartbreak

I liked him from the moment I met him. I was in 9th grade and he was in 8th. I was trying to join the varsity ice hockey team and was the first girl to do so. I was getting a lot of crap from everyone, including the athletic director at school. The whole school knew I had to take the fitness test that afternoon and pass to be allowed to try out. I was going to do it if it killed me, just to make a point. It was lunchtime and he wished me good luck in the cafeteria.

After school, a bunch of guys came down to the track to hassle me as I was taking the test. I was a chunky kid, and everyone knew I couldn't run a mile and a half in 11 minutes-I couldn't even run a mile in 11 minutes. As I ran, tears streaming down my face from the harassment, I heard him cheering me on in the bleachers. I never would have finished if it weren't for him.

After all was said and done, I didn't meet the boys requirements, but I did meet the girls, so the school had no choice but to let me try out. Did I mention I had taught myself to ice skate 4 months before the season started? I wasn't good at all. Most of the guys had been playing hockey for 10 years. It turns out he was one of the best players on the team, even though he was only an eighth-grader (he was assistant captain by 9th grade). He helped me a lot that first season. My playing improved 200%, even though I never even dressed for a game (I sat and took stats until my junior year, when I was allowed to dress for games-in 4 years, I actually played in 6 games, for a total of less than 10 minutes).

Everything was great until one of the seniors realized I liked him. It spread like wildfire through the team, and everyone started treating me differently. Most of the guys stopped talking to me. He refused to help me at practice. I got made fun of when I couldn't do something or missed a pass. I took a slapshot to the back of my knee (that a guy did on purpose) and I had a bruise for 6 months. It was humiliating, but I refused to give up. I didn't want to give them the satisfaction.

So I played for 4 years. I took crap from everyone, in school and out. I vividly remember him and his friend shoving me into a locker one day at school. I kept thinking that maybe it would all blow over and he would be nice to me again. It never happened. My pride was the only thing that kept me from slinking home and never going to another practice. I cried in the dressing room (or bathroom, depending on where practice or the game was) every single day.

He never liked me back. He never talked to me again. And it hurt. My only consolation was when we played the top-ranked team in the league finals and one guy checked me-hard. There was a bench emptying brawl after that. It made me feel like he still cared. Like my whole team actually cared. All the heartbreak and tears made me a stronger woman. I eventually found someone who loved me for me, and that is what matters. But I have never forgotten him, and I think he will always hold a place in my heart.

This was written in response to this week's Red Writing Hood prompt from Write on Edge. Since my story encompassed 4 years, I couldn't write it in the moment, so I hope that's alright. I just wanted to tell the story of the first boy who broke my heart.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Locked Out!

I'm finally living in my own apartment after a hellish year in the dorms where I went through 3 sets of roommates. The first set almost got me thrown out of college because one girl was evil and hated me because I had my own bedroom, and she had to share.  The next roommates were really nice, but they all did jimson weed one night, freaked out, ended up in the ER, almost died, and got thrown out of the dorms.  The third roommate was awesome, but after the year was over, I did not want to risk another bad roommate experience.

My apartment is in an iffy neighborhood between Center City and South Philly.  It's a ground floor one bedroom with bars on the windows and a pay phone connected to the front, and is next door to a pizza place on one side and a convenience store on the other.  My new best friend who is in my major only lives half a block away, above a Jamaican restaurant run by an older lady named Mama. 

At night, the drug dealers are out in force.  There are a couple who hang out right outside my windows.  But they don't bother me.  I leave Philly every weekend to go home, and when I pack or unpack my car, I know they will watch it for me.  I can leave it wide open with the keys in the ignition and no one will touch it.  They know that if they need to, they can knock on my window and I will open the door and let them out into the back alley.  It may not be the smartest thing I've done, but it's working.

After class one day, I go home, drop my books inside, and run to get some pizza next door.  I chat with two police officers who patrol my area.  One shows me all the crap on his belt.  The only thing he doesn't let me touch is his gun.  I eat my pizza and go home.  My building door is open.  My apartment door is not.  I swear I left it unlocked, since I was only leaving for a few minutes.

I peer inside through the windows.  They're open.  I see my keys, sitting in my bag on the couch.  I try to maneuver my arm through the bars to see if I can reach them.  I am so close, but I can't.  My cats come the window, purring.  I pet them as I wonder what to do next. 

I go to my friend's apartment.  We go back and try to get the door open with a credit card.  No luck.  We ask Mama if she can help, and she tries to get the door open with a giant kitchen knife (which worked to open my friend's door when she got locked out-Mama was very helpful), but we can't open it. 

I borrow my friend's phone and call a locksmith.  He tells me it will be 4 hours before he gets there.  What the heck am I supposed to do until then?  I go up to the second floor of my building and ask my neighbor to come help.  He tries the credit card thing again with no luck.  He tries for a good hour before he gives up.

The more we try, the more annoyed I get for locking myself out.  It's a 3 ring circus in front of my door.  There are now 6 people trying to figure out how to open it for me.  My friend gets a call from another kid in our major, and when she tells him what is going on, he comes to my apartment also.

He tells me he will open my door with a credit card.  I tell him we have tried that so many times and it hasn't worked.  He takes out his school ID card and starts working at the door.  Two tries later, the door opens.  The door opens.  He actually unlocked it.  He did what the rest of us tried and failed to do.

I am so grateful.  I'm thrilled I can get into my apartment.  I buy him and my other friend dinner.  Life is awesome again.

This was written in response to a prompt from Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop.  The prompt was Locked Out.
Mama’s Losin’ It

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Being Online

The computer in front of me is a rental.  My dad, a chemistry teacher, borrowed it from school.  It is white and new and a major improvement from the beige Apple with the black and green screen that I  play Frogger on.  I love it.

I turn on the modem that sits above the printer.  I click the button to log on to AOL and listen to the familiar and long beeping sound of the dial up.  I'm so happy we just got a new phone line for the internet last week because I don't have to worry anymore that my mom will miss an important phone call.

Once I'm online, I look up Hanson fan websites.  I love Hanson.  I've loved them since 1997, and let me tell you that I still love them today (actually, MMMBop was playing in Toys R Us today when I went to buy T the Power Ranger car, and I stood in the video aisle and sang it-out loud-and I didn't care that other people looked at me like I had 10 heads).

School is really rough for me.  I get bullied a lot and I really have no friends.  I also just found out I needed glasses, and they are pink and ugly, and I only wore them in one class and got so made fun of so much I stopped.  It's so hard for me to see the board to take notes, and all the squinting I need to do gives me a headache (but I learned to write fast-everything the teacher said, and that has served me well in life).

I am learning HTML so I can have my own fan site.  I spend hours every day reading about Hanson, and finding all the fan stories I can.  I adore them, and I can't wait to write my own (And I still love writing, although I no longer know any HTML and I am awful with computers now-my boyfriend had to set up most of this blog for me, and I used the template).

This is the only part of the day that I'm happy.  I can be in my own world.  I get home, sneak some alcohol to try and forget the pain of school, and hop online until my parents get home (they were both teachers).   I'm alone in my basement, but being online brings me together with other people who like the same things I do.  I don't get made fun of by them.  We have a bond with each other, even though we've never met, and probably never will.

The internet has opened up a whole new world to me, and I feel less left out.  I can finally meet people who have no preconceived notions about me and won't judge me like the people at school.  I have finally found my sanctuary.

This post was written in response to this week's RemembeRED prompt from Write on Edge.
We want you to recall those early memories of being online.
But there are two catches:
Please do not use the phrase “I remember…”
Also? No laundry lists. Try to focus on one small memory and share that with us. Tell us how it impacted your life and what it meant for you.

Monday, September 12, 2011


I sit on the old pale green sofa, tugging on my knee-high purple rain boots.  My sister is rifling through stuff on the indoor porch.

"Hurry up, sister!" I call to her through the giant glass windows that separate the living room/kitchen from where she is.  I absentmindedly fiddle with the cord of the rotary phone on the stand next to me.

"Ah-ha!" My sister walks through the door, carrying a big net.  She's also wearing rain boots.

We walk over to our Oma, who is baking a peach tart in the kitchen.  She hands us two mason jars.

Giggling, we run outside, jumping down the giant first step.  We continue to run as fast as we can in our boots all the way down the lawn, until we reach the brushy area at the bottom.

We follow the path cut in the brush, up and down small bumps and large rocks, until, out of breath, we finally reach the pond.

I slowly walk around the edge, my sister following closely behind, holding out the net. PLOP! The bullfrog jumps in the pond, out of reach.  PLOP!  We giggle as she tries to catch this frog, but she only manages to stir up a bunch of mud.  Now we can't see much of anything.

For a while, we try our luck at catching the newts near the shore.  They're a lot slower than the frogs.  We put our catch into a mason jar.

But I really want to catch a frog.  I walk back to  the part of the of the pond that is the most shallow.  It is where the spring near the house trickles all the way down to the pond.  My dad recently had an excavator dig a trench so all the runoff goes into the pond, and it is the perfect place to walk in.

I feel the suction on my soles of my boots as I take my first step into the muck.  Brown muddy swirls spiral up from the bottom.  I slowly take another step, trying not to stir up too much mud.

"Sister!" I hiss, motioning her near me, "I need the net!"  She gingerly walks to the edge of the trench and leans over until I can reach the net.  Ever since she tried to walk all the way across the pond and her boot was sucked off her foot, never to be found, she has been wary of going in the water, even at the edge.

I eye the pond in front of me.  SPLASH! The net sweeps through the water and I bring it out quickly, grabbing it closed.  And there he is, struggling to find a way out.  I walk back to the grass where my sister is, and take the frog out of the net.

RIBBIT! He jumps out of my grip and makes a beeline for the pond.  My sister tries to get him, but he gets away from her too.  We chase him to the edge of the water, where he jumps in ans swims out of reach.  He stares at us, and we stare back.  We giggle.

A whistle breaks the moment.  We look up towards the house and see Oma on the porch, waving at us.  We know that means it's time for lunch.  My sister grabs the net and I take the mason jar full of newts.  We race each other back up the hill to the house.

Swarovski Crystal Link Bracelet

Here's a tutorial for my favorite bracelet ever.  I wear one every day, and I also sell them in my Etsy Shop.
6 3-inch long pieces of 24 gauge craft wire
6 8mm Swarovski round beads, in the color of your choice
40 4mm Swarovski bicone beads, in coordinating colors (10 each of 4 colors)
40 24 gauge headpins
1 TierraCast spiral toggle clasp set (choose either type of toggle in either copper, silver plated, or gold plated-make sure links, wire and headpins are all the same color-I used silver)
2 TierraCast spiral ring components in 16mm
2 TierraCast spiral ring components in 19mm
1 TierraCast spiral ring component in 25mm

You will also need:
a wirecutter
chain nose pliers
round nose pliers

1. Take a piece of the wire and made a loop about an inch down.  Add a the bar side of the toggle clasp, and make a wire wrapped link.  Add a 6mm round Swarovski crystal, then make another loop, add a 16mm link, and complete the wire wrap.  The loops should be on the large side, since you will be adding wire wrapped beads to them.

2. Continue to make wire wrapped links with one bead per link in this order: After the 16mm link, connect to a 19mm link, then the 25mm link, then a 19mm link, the other 16mm link, and finally, the other end of the toggle clasp.

3. String a 4mm bicone bead on a headpin and make a small loop.  Wire wrap this to the first link attached to the 16mm spiral ring component.  Continue to do this with the other 3 colors.
4. Continue to do this on all of the remaining links except for the loops attached to either side of the toggle clasp.  You will wire wrap 4 beads on each link.  There are 10 links.

Voila!  This bracelet should take about 3 hours from start to finish.  If it is too loose on your wrist (it tends to be on mine), you can put the toggle bar through a 16mm link so it is snug.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Remember

I remember it like it was yesterday.  The day that changed this country: September 11, 2001.

I had just started going to school at the local community college.  I hated high school and I was smart, so I was given the option to do my senior year at college.

That morning, I got up and went to my 8am Economics class, with the African professor whose accent was so thick I couldn't understand most of what he said.

I walked across campus to my gym class, weightlifting.  The teacher told us that she knew some of us were upset about the accident that had happened in the city, so we could skip class and not get penalized.

I had no idea what was going on.  The radio was on and I heard bits and pieces, but all I gathered was that a plane crashed somewhere in the city.

When I got home after class for my break, I turned on the TV, just in time to see the first tower collapse.  I stayed glued to the TV for the rest of the day, horrified.

People's parents worked near there.  I live in the suburbs, but Manhattan is only 20 miles from my house.  I knew tons of kids whose parents were New York City firefighters, or stockbrokers, or myriad other occupations which put them in the vicinity of the tragedy.

I was in shock.  I called my parents at their schools to talk to them.  I  didn't go back to school that day for my afternoon classes.  All I could do was watch the news.

Thankfully, no one in my family or my friends' families were injured or killed that day.  But so many were, and so many people in my town, and at my school, were suffering from losses.  The tragedy impacted everyone so heavily, and continues to do so still.

Now, on the tenth anniversary, the news is airing all the footage from that day.  I refuse to watch it.  I saw it once, and, as far as I'm concerned, there is no need to open the floodgates of feelings that day by re-airing it.  And honestly, my kids are too young to see that, and way to young to understand it.

I can remember without the footage.  All I have to do is look at the skyline.  It's forever changed.  And just because I won't watch anything about it doesn't mean I don't care.  I will remember in my own way.

9/11 really affected me and made me grow up a lot.  I was 17, and it was one of the first times something so big had an impact on my life.  I realized the world was bigger than me.  I cried for all those who were trapped in those buildings and their families, who suffered at their loss.  I remember all the brave volunteers, firemen, and policemen who stepped up to the plate to help.  I know many of them are suffering now because they decided to help.

I'm also proud my city and the country moved on.  Everyone showed they were so strong and could still function and survive in the face of adversity.  I will always fondly remember the Incubus concert my dad and I attended in the city 3 days later.  The people who were there, and who were going about their business in the city at all reminded me just how resilient we New Yorkers are.

I will always remember the Twin Towers and the people who lost their lives on 9/11.  I will always remember those who selflessly helped.  I refuse to live in fear of another terrorist attack.  I will always remember how strong New Yorkers are, and how the entire country banded together in the face of adversity.  God bless America, and all those who were affected by 9/11.  My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

This post is linked to MommyNaniBooBoo and A Dollop of My Life

Saturday, September 10, 2011

School and Bees

Yesterday was T's third day of preschool.  I picked him and we went home.  I left him with his dad and went to Costco, where I bought enough school snacks to last until the new year.  Then I came home.

We were hanging out in my bed, watching Scooby Doo, even though it's the new one and I think it's a little too scary for the kids.  T got upset and was pointing to his leg.

"Mommy, ing, ing, ow!"  I looked at his leg, and lo and behold, there was a bee sting.  It was not there in the morning, and he didn't get it on the way to or from my car, which means he got it at school.  I double-checked with the boyfriend to make sure that it was, in fact, a bee sting.  It was, and he had to get the rest of the stinger out.

Needless to say, I was livid.  Thank God he wasn't allergic.  I have a huge fear of bees, and I have never been stung.  I am terrified I will be allergic.  When I see a bee, I scream and run.  Sometimes, there is also crying involved.  I'm just happy T was ok.  I asked him where he got the sting, and he told me it happened at "ool".

I know the kids all have time on the school playground.  I'm assuming that is when it happened.  I'm also sure that T would most likely have screamed and possibly cried when it happened, and he definitely would have showed it to an adult.  Even if they couldn't understand what he told them, the sting was obvious.  It was on the side of his leg, just below his knee.  I know that by the time I saw it, it was red around the edges and swollen.

So why did no one tell me?  Someone at the school had to realize he got stung by a bee, or at least that something happened on the playground.  This is supposed to be a wonderful school.  The longer I reflect on it, the angrier I am. 

I would understand if he fell down and didn't get hurt and no one told me, but a bee sting?  It is ridiculous.  I am going to give the principal or whoever is in charge an earful on Monday, because what they did is not ok.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Red Writing Hood- My Evolution of Jeans

I used to hate jeans. When I was in elementary school, most kids didn't wear them. By middle school, most did (this was the mid-90s). They never fit right, and were uncomfortable. I was also a chubby kid, and the only jeans they made in my size came from Sears. I had a pink pair, and a black pair, and I only wore them because other kids made fun of my leggings with foot elastic.

By high school, I dressed like a boy. I was getting bullied a lot, and it made me feel less noticed. Girl clothes embarrassed me since I looked fat and awful in them. I lived in JNCO jeans, then Kikwear jeans (that had 30-56 inch leg openings) and men's T-shirts. I loved those Kikwear jeans.

Throughout college, my jean size fluctuated a lot, depending on how many drugs I was doing. I loved the rush of getting skinny and fitting into smaller and smaller jeans. By the time college was over, I not only fit into a size 5, but I went clothes shopping every single day. I racked up a huge credit card debt and was so thin from drugs that I had bruises on my hips from my mattress, and on my knees because they touched each other when I slept. I didn't care at the time because I looked good.

Once my horrible relationship was over, 6 months shy of the wedding, I stopped the drugs and met the boyfriend 2 months later. I could still fit into my size 5s.  A few months later, I was pregnant with T, and my jeans of choice were the maternity variety. These jeans are super comfy, but not much to look at. I guess that mirrors how I felt at the time-even though I was obviously pregnant, I did not like being back at my high school weight.

After having T, I slowly downsized my jeans until I was the same weight as before I was pregnant, but 1-2 jeans sizes larger. It didn't really bother me, but I got pregnant again right away with Princess and didn't realize it until I was 20 weeks along.It took me longer to lose the baby weight this time, and I settled in to a comfortable size 9. I bought a lot of new jeans. I felt pretty good about how I looked.

Then I had Goober, and the weight didn't all quite come off.  The strange thing is, I'm finally happy with how I look. My whole body shape changed, and I'm comfortable with myself, even at a solid size 12. I look good in dresses, I have hips where there were none before, and my butt looks awesome in jeans and leggings (except for the pair of capris I ripped this week, right between the side seam and the back pocket; I guess my butt was a little too big for them). I recently bought a couple new pairs of flare jeans and I love how I look in them (if you want really flattering jeans, go to ).

The types of jeans I've worn through the years have really shown how confident I am with my body at any given time. And the older I get, the more I realize it's better to be happy with me, whether I'm a size 5 or a size 12. I'm so much happier as a person now than I've ever been, although if you told me 5 years ago that I would be content wearing a size 12, I would have laughed in your face. So, here's to me being me, and wearing awesome jeans while I'm at it.

This post was written in response to this week's Red Writing Hood prompt from Write on Edge.
The assignment this week is to write a piece – fiction or creative non-fiction – in which jeans play a prominent role. You can even write an ode if you’re so inclined.
Ok, so maybe this isn't a super creative post, but I found it interesting when I reflected on jeans about how much the type of jeans I wore through the years was such a mirror of my body image.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

T's First Day of Preschool!

Wednesday was T's first day of preschool.  I took it better than I thought I would.  Unfortunately, he wasn't feeling well Tuesday night (we either brought something in the house or used a cleaning product that gave him really bad allergies) and didn't sleep well.  Thank goodness he is in the afternoon class, because I couldn't get him out of bed until 10:45.

T reading a book before class
At first he was excited to go to school, but changed his mind once we stopped at my parent's house to get his backpack and school supplies.  I'm so glad my mom took care of it, because I totally forgot he needed anything.  I have been really stressed about school and not being with him all day.

He drank his school snacktime milk at my mom's house

Thankfully, after a tantrum and tears, he let me take some pictures and we were ready to go.
He is definitely a ham when he wants to be
I'm so happy we left early, because I got the last parking spot.  After I got there, parents were parking crazy: on the grass, in the middle of the street, in the aisle between rows of parking, and other odd places.  We had to wait inside to find out where his classroom was.

Thankfully, there was this to keep him occupied while waiting
I took him to his classroom and he was immediately playing with some toys, so I gave his backpack and supplies to his teacher and hi-tailed it out of there before he changed his mind about staying.  I'm not even gonna lie; I cried a little when I got back to my car.

When I went to pick him up, I realized he is the biggest kid in his class.  The other kids look younger than Princess, who is a year younger than T.  I don't know if T's just really big and the other kids are his age, or if his speech is so bad that he is with kids a lot younger than him.  I guess it doesn't matter as long as he improves.

He threw a giant tantrum on the way out of school and I had to carry him to the car.  I will never wear 5-inch platform shoes in the rain to his school again, because I thought I was going to trip and kill myself in the parking lot.  Now, my feet are killing me, but T is finally happy because I bribed him with library DVDs.  And I finally picked up my rhinestones at the post office so I can make some deco phone cases.

Hopefully, he gets into the school routine and likes it, since he will be going 5 days a week.  I think it will be easier for me when his busing starts in November.

Mama’s Losin’ It

I wrote this post for this week's prompt from Mama Kat's Writing Workshop (although I probably would have posted the pictures anyway!)
3.) First day of school pictures…let’s have’em!