Am I Dodging Responsibility or Making Way for Better? Let the masses decide.

The jungle is closing in! I used my income tax return to purchase the new Macbook Pro I’m typing on right now for the first article written on it. (Secret “Yay!”) It feels like I seldom purchase things with myself in mind, so it’s about time. and when I bought it, I did it with the wholehearted idea of bribing myself to complete Vermill!on Beach. After all, I’ve had a few people interested in shooting, acting, and creating the score for the trailer. That’s why I felt as if this computer would be an investment.

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A bit of a gear shift, but one that can definitely be mastered.

But at work, someone mentioned that with my annual review, I should contemplate furthering my education. The great news is that it’s monetarily paid for 100% through my employer and grants, (You can’t beat that!), with the caveat of maintaining a 3.0 GPA. When I graduated with a 3.7, that nearly seemed like all I needed to do was commit to the workload. Of course, then I was a substitute teacher, not working full-time. Bonus: as a student, I can utilize my brand new Macbook Pro as a tool for school as a tax write-off @ Ashford University!

Comcast wants me working as much time as I can afford, but I’m not sure how much time I can afford. It’s come to a decision of working tons of overtime to move into an apartment that doesn’t resemble the inside of a tomb and getting terrible grades, or remaining in this rundown apartment to do my best and hope for a better position.

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If being sulky were truly this delicious, life would be grand!

Meanwhile, I finally gathered someone’s attention with screenwriting and we’re talking about pairing up to create something mystifying. Finding time for that will be a chore. School is 20 hours a week; work is 40+. The last time I worked 70 hours a week, I was a truck driver. I had to choose between having a full stomach, sleeping, bathing, or doing laundry–never more than two. Drivers work their butts off — there’s a reason they’re pushy on the road.

Nikki met with her Big Brothers and Big Sisters representative for the first time. I hate to jump to conclusions, but something seemed a bit off. Nikki has a tendency of trusting adults, which sounds weird when I say it aloud, but there are some adults who don’t deserve trust — especially for the love of a child. I want to be fair but cautious. Tomorrow night she’s going ice skating with her new Big Sister and she’s excited. Could I simply be jealous of someone with free time?

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Cameron making his way back from yet another vendor. Lunchtime!

Cameron is a pretty great kid, but he’s also a teen. I think the only real reason he accompanies me to Costco is so he can frequent the sample trays. Of course he tells the service people he needs one for his mother–although I rarely see the samples close up before he devours them. But, like I said, he’s a teen. So when he’s up to something, it’s bad. I found out today he’s still communicating with a “nice” girl from Ogden named Olivia. Ever seen the guy with the tattoo of the name “Olivia” next to a phallic and half naked picture of a girl? Yep, that’s her! And he has some odd friend named “Stanton” I’ve never met or heard of except for Cameron telling me the kid is super tall, skinny, and has no friends. This is supposed to make me feel good? Ever heard of Slender Man? I wonder.

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Should we REALLY be nice to everyone?

And for Lucius fans, our cat still urinates on the toilet with no problem, but the splashing of the poo is another story. She’s gotten to the point she’ll literally hold it all day until we go to sleep and run behind the toilet to relieve herself. Without the luxury of full communication, I think we’re at a standstill right now with the full on toilet training.

For St. Patrick’s Day, we made it a point to visit our very old, but spunky Grandma Bev. We brought home delicious food after Grandma splurged at Apollo Burger and sat us down to eat. When we were finished, I grabbed a container to box up the 1/2 burger and fries she had left on her plate. As I maneuvered around the table to place the sandwich, etc. into the box, she quickly halted me. Instead of picking up the food, she determined trimming the edge off, so the entire plate could be placed into the container was a better plan. “Go for it, Grandma!”

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Grandma needs to make this plate fit into the plastic container. How else?

All of this brings us to the question I posed as a title. Am I attempting to escape reality by attending school or is my purpose truly to create a better life for my family? I wish I knew the answer. Instead of an answer, I hear my cat snoring at 11:50 p.m. as she awaits my disappearance so she can undoubtedly run for linoleum behind the commode.

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A little alone time (in the restroom) is what an adult needs at work to send a loving message.

Realization — People you work with on a daily basis are nice because they need to get along for functionality. They don’t generally give two stinks about your home life, and they certainly aren’t friends. However, if they invite you out to have fun after work — you may have the seedlings of a longtime friendship.  Be nice to the people you work with!

The Twisted Tail – Surprise!

For those who’ve never lost your mind, you don’t know what you’re not missing. And yes, I can tell you from firsthand experience. The hardest part about losing your mind is never knowing when you can expect it back again and if it will ever be the same. So far, it’s taken about 30 years and I’m still not who I used to be, but I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing. I certainly don’t appear the same—oh boy, I wish I did. I never knew how attractive I was at the time, or I’m sure I would have grown up much differently. But things are what they are – and here I am; a mom with two kids and a cat – all of which are toilet trained. That’s right, there’s not a lot of normal about our home.

This past week was pretty eventful. From all of us being deathly ill and using up part of my vacation at the beginning of the year recuperating, to finding out one of the days I missed may end up costing me my job. But that’s another story. What I will tell you is that we finally took Lucius to the vet to ensure everything was true about him when we got him. We bought him at the pet shop and got a card with a whole bunch of information about him and even told he had been fixed. That was a relief.

But Dr. Holly seemed not to agree. We gave him all of his shots, got a thorough exam, and were just about to tell Dr. Holly that we didn’t want to fish his stool sample out of the toilet because he was toilet trained when she broke some news of her own. Lucius wasn’t a male. He was a female. Or I guess I should say, she is a female. And obviously, none of her goodies have been removed. But, at least she’s toilet trained. We went through all the hair-pulling ideas of translating “Lucius” to Lucy or Luscious, but in the end, it’s the name she’s used to. I suppose if a guy can be called “Sue,” a female can be named Lucius. We don’t care, as long as the seat is down when she leaves the bathroom. (And don’t worry, she uses her own seat.) But now the quota is back to one solitary male again.

 

The Dyslexic Spider

Imagine if each person on the globe’s intention was a singular, silken strand of spider web. Everything a person did, you, for example, was recorded somehow with a shiny, glimmering strand trailing behind you from the day you’d exited your mother’s womb. Some of us would have strong and sturdy, yet simplistic patterns, signifying we’re home all day with an occasional trip to the store or the kids’ school. When our husband arrives, we twist about in our tiny area making sure all the towels are folded correctly and the dinner is pleasantly warm for his arrival. A tight-knit web with little flexibility–a cocoon of sorts, wouldn’t you say? A cocoon that may never open?

On the other hand, there are those more extravagant webs that stretch thin near and far, traveling to Paris, Cancun, Australia, and back to New York. These webs shine with a glossy finish, high above the others, for all the world to admire. Perhaps more like a dragonfly than an arachnid — but no, they’re still spiders, although they vaguely remember their starting point and seldom double back, making complicated patterns.cobweb-depth-of-field-spider-s-web-149224

Me? I’m what one would refer to as a dyslexic spider; my focus is a bit out of whack. Although I work hard and toward specific goals, sometimes they’re unrealistic and other times I don’t remember what I even started working towards or why. Take this blog for example; great intentions of sharing my life, but I’ve left out a huge and important portion because I allowed Life to get away from me. I need to hold on tight and keep focus. But the question is, why? What is my goal? (Leaning in while I whisper.) **I’m 52, have a degree, and work an entry-level position.** Sick, right? (Not sic) I’m disgusted with failing and the bad example I’m showing my kids. How can I expect them to earn a college degree if they feel as if their end may be the same as my own? I’ll reveal it.

The apartment we’re in is “very lived in”. If you’ve seen the other places we’ve lived, you’ll understand how clean we normally are and what the mindset is for our home now. We hate it here and it shows. The only choice we have is to move. The only way to do that is by making more money. The only way to make more money, as a “well-weathered” person, is by excelling in a craft where appearance isn’t comparable to skills — unless you’re Christie Brinkley who appears as a 21-year-old senior citizen. You may be asking yourself how I arrived at this earth-shattering conclusion, and I’ll explain.

After our multiple moves through Family Promise, we settled into a basement of a home in a questionable part of town where I didn’t feel as if we fit. I’d also noticed more and more families are sharing a single dwelling. They’re pulling up their pant legs and renting their basements either full-time or as an Airbnb for extra cash. As you may remember, I don’t socialize with my family and am not very quick to trust people, placing us at a huge disadvantage.Messy Bedroom

Now we’re in another place that will have to do, at least until the lease is up. It certainly isn’t as pretty as what we’d grown accustomed to living in and so we’ve let it go to hell before we even completed unpacking. Then again, I’ve certainly had it worse.

I grew up with a family of seven and one bathroom. And we weren’t “spoiled” with boxes of tissue planted skillfully around the house. We all used toilet paper for our noses, but my father was the only one who wore twisted strands up each nostril resembling a big woolly mammoth. And when he blew his nose, he sounded like one too. There were days where I would emerge from the restroom to a line of people with runny noses. That was about the time my father taught us kids to use our sleeves or bottom of our shirts for tissues. Yeah, quite gross, and completely unsanitary. It’s amazing how little things from our childhood impact us. I don’t think there’s a room in our place that doesn’t have a box of tissue in it. art-blur-close-up-1826029

Now you may be asking what kicked this writer in the ass to get in gear with writing again? My one-year anniversary is nearly up at the office, meaning I can apply to move elsewhere within the company and “sow my wild oats” with my degree — finally. But this dyslexic spider has determined that with this weathered countenance, I can’t wait for someone to notice me anymore. It’s time I set out on my own and sink my fangs into real sustenance. The desperation of the winter months are quickly approaching for this black widow, and it’s time to either roll over and die or make it happen. I’m not ready to die.

 

 

The Good, the Bad, and the “Why Me?”

087DACE8-9FB6-4C66-B3C6-972AC81C8F74The best news ever reveals the biggest reason to why you haven’t received a post in the weekly manner of which you’ve grown accustomed. We’ve stayed in various churches of a three month course, weathering week-long mournings, three-day weddings, bathrooms shared with as many as twenty people (and one shower), and meals created for us every night. Sometimes the food had to be experimental leftover creations, but the gamble was well worth the golden nugget of a meal that never failed to surprise us. Even still, we didn’t fit in; we used napkins, said “please and thank you,” and cleaned up after ourselves. Unfortunately, when one family grows accustomed to this behavior it makes blending with other homeless families crushing. I’m certain they felt the same way about us. Parents who call their kids names and casually smack them in the head proves incredibly testing to witness without saying anything.

But, minding your own business in such situations is a survival tactic. Our family kept to ourselves except during dinner where everyone convened in one dining area. The hosts and food donating individuals were a godsend with patience and kindness beyond belief. Two designated hosts would remain through the night, leaving when time to leave at 7:00 a.m. Another couple arrived at 5:00 p.m., when the families returned, the meal was brought by yet another group at 6:30 p.m., and following cleanup the night team arrived. On a weekend, staff remained in shifts; some would keep to themselves, while others crawled on the floor with children or played board games with families. But each church had its own personality. Nevertheless, all of them had dedication too awesome to imagine.

Some of the other families came from places where defecating in the waste basket and urinating in the toy box are acceptable practices—only worth mentioning if caught in the act. Not somewhere you’d choose to live if given a viable option. And still, the keepers of the church maintained the premises.

But without options, we were fortunate to have food and a private sleeping area.

Some provided multiple gender-specific showers, where others required the perfect-timing of one shared amongst the group during a few short hours. These were the times having a vehicle that drove to Flying J was appreciated. Some families had no vehicle and waited for the company van to pick them up and drop them off with each transition. They’d spend the day in a mutual room watching television, showering, or doing laundry at the facility. The ones who worked, maneuvered their two hours per night with caution. Lights out and doors locked at 9:00 p.m.

All the families had to get along when a crying infant or ill child was present, we all suffered and dealt with it. In one instance, 3/4 of the “community” awakened to new haircuts following a lice infestation. Because of our unsociable habits, we were spared, but don’t think we weren’t paranoid. For about three days, there were periods I swear I felt something climbing through my hair. I’d inspect, have someone else investigate, and shower. It was horrible! It could only have been worse to actually find them.

Screen Shot 2018-10-15 at 10.56.28 PMA month later, we’ve managed moving into a home converted into a duplex. The commute to school and work begins at 7:00 a.m. and ends about 9:00 a.m. at the office, unless I get there earlier for some much needed overtime.

Now one may think traveling from one end of Salt Lake Valley to Lehi and back a total waste. Honestly, I did too. Between fuel and time spent traveling, I could drop the kids at the train station and gain five hours a week in overtime without stepping foot inside on the weekend. Of course, the ride back to my employment from the school takes the kids a couple of hours each night. But they’re troopers.

At first, I felt all the traveling as an unnecessary waste of time and fuel. But then I realized something vitally important; with the kids trapped in the car with me for an extra ten hours per week going from and to home, they had to communicate or at least hear a fraction of what I spewed. I chose the quality time in cussing at other drivers—in unison—a rare family activity solidifying our bond.

We got a pet. Sure, a dog would have been grand, but we wouldn’t have the time to train him during the school year. Instead we got a cat. His name was Moon when we got him, but “Lucius” got a unanimous vote—even by the feline. This paragraph brings us to “the bad.”

Understanding I had a bit of a physical reaction to cats, I was careful about how much I held Lucius or allowed him to snuggle me. It wasn’t until Nikki helped me prepare for work one day by saying, “I brought you a different coat to wear today. Lucius was using it for a bed but he can do without for a day. I know how much you like this jacket.”

Merrily, I put it on and padded off to work. But that isn’t all—oh no, that isn’t all! I draped the jacket around the back of my chair like some fool tempting Fate. Halfway through a phone call, I got a scratch in my throat and attempted to clear it. It didn’t work. In fact, my voice was nowhere to be found. Some people would have liked me that way. Although I usually had a bottle of water on my desk, there was none now. I could barely breathe, much less carry a conversation.

I politely asked my customer, through a hoarse whisper, if I could call her back in a moment. I quickly maneuvered to the water fountain and got a drink. “Are you okay?” a passing supervisor inquired.

”Well, that was weird…” I managed before gasping like a astronaut without a helmet. “My windpipe feels as wide as a stirring straw.” The supervisor turned back, grabbed me, and guided me to a chair before calling an ambulance.

Even though a stretcher, a crew of paramedics, and the supervisors gathering around were necessary, I wish they weren’t. We were in a semi-secluded area, but passerby paused on occasion to take a bit of commotion with them.

Several times the paramedics asked if I wanted a ride to the hospital for additional treatment after the instant nebulizer. The only thought absorbing into my mind was the cost. An ambulance would probably cost another thousand or so—plus the humiliation of being wheeled away. Turns out the reason they kept asking me to ride to the hospital comes down to the time being about eleven a.m. and the treatment lasting about four hours, a doctor explained later. She followed up with information leading to another attack if not treated properly. I drove to the hospital knowing I’d be working late to make up my time.

The following three hours were spent being examined before enduring the doctor’s voice of reason explaining how ridiculous it is putting an animal ahead of my own health. “Would your kids rather have a mother or a pet?” she asked me. My prescriptions are for an Albuterol inhaler, a plastic device that lessens the shakiness it causes, and Singulair. The plan is that I will acclimate. Sounds crazy—but it’s the one commonality we have as a family we can all talk and laugh about.

My last bit of news comes after a phone call I received at work today. It was the military school—you know, the one Cameron’s anticipating his pilot’s license from? He was caught sluffing yesterday. They suspected more because of the kids he was associated with in the car. So he’s suspended for tomorrow. Needless to say, the television remotes and his phone have been confiscated and his visit to his father’s denied. All that aside, he’s mostly upset that he’ll miss a kid’s birthday party Sunday—his one chance to truly make friends at his new school. His father’s even more upset. Not with Cameron but with me for not allowing the visit. He feels I’m “taking my frustrations out on” him. I explained my decision wasn’t “about him” at all but directed toward my son. Dave didn’t get it—surprise. I’m unreasonable.

Here’s how I see it: I’ve only got one shot at getting this motherhood thing right—sort of like skydiving; no way to fix a major error after jumping.

What would YOU do? We’ll check back later for the end results.

I Can’t Take it Anymore!

You know when you watch a movie and the main character does something totally unthinkable leaving you scratching your head in confusion?

After having no manageable sleep for four nights, working full time, having curfew restraints, and being unable to shower for nearly a week—while working overtime on the weekends, you’d think I would be thrilled to move to another shelter. Not when it’s in Bountiful and the kids attend school in Lehi.

We’ve located four units to move into over the past month, searching only during my free time on the weekends. Each time it’s lost because the shelter isn’t open during the weekend when all of the listings are posted. By the time the shelter calls Monday afternoon to check on the vacancy, the new resident has signed, sealed, and delivered their agreement with the securing payment. And I just can’t pretend anymore.

 

I will not be searching for anything more than a temporary shelter providing us more than safekeeping. Still, the late night customs of religions one week and an incessantly crying newborn baby the next is enough to drive my sanity over the brink. I can only imagine how my kids are surviving. Think calm thoughts—think calm thoughts. Be grateful for food and warmth. But sleep is paramount to survival; look it up.

Every night, as we go to bed, an endless stream of our own muffled laughter ends our day in good spirits, with hopes that tomorrow offers a promise for the future.

Everyone’s Days are Numbered

Unsure of whether it’s considered “unhealthy” or “mentally strong” when someone mentions dying and I realize it’s part of the natural process. Everyone dies, it’s only a matter of when and what has been accomplished in the lifetime–people aren’t typically aware of the “finish line.” But every day poses new challenges and another opportunity to learn something spectacular. Here’s your chance!

Family Promise is an incredible opportunity for people to reach out and help others without making a huge commitment of time or money. Although I’m not religious, I still believe in the Golden Rule and Karma–or anything else you want to call it. Perhaps it’s best considered Yin and Yang where it all evens out, but the good begets good and vice versa, coming back around in the end. And my personal philosophy is that everything that can create a learning experience is in a sense “good.” It’s the “bad” we repeat.

For those who aren’t familiar with helping others through resources like Family Promise, I urge you to educate yourself and have your church leaders welcome them. This is an opportunity to prove what your God has been instructing all the while. Watch and see.

If everyone’s days are numbered, as are the days of the families in this program, as well as the hours people have in dedicating themselves to others, is there a better time to start than now? How would your God answer this question? Everyone’s days are numbered, and we’re hoping our number comes up soon.

A Bet on a Dime to Win $20 Costs over $5,000 to Repair

 

It was a quiet night at the church as Nikki and I left to pick up Cameron from his dad’s. The church members prepared food and entertainment while we sneaked out to get him.

 

Up late the night before, without a washing machine or a way to purchase “superfluous” haircuts, we must either go scraggly or see what creative styles we can conjure up. Following giving myself a haircut, I washed my hair and Nikki’s uniform in the shower. I used a blow dryer on both of them for cleanliness the next morning. With little sleep, I was ready to crash after getting Cameron the next day and having a relaxing meal.

 

Homecoming had Cameron psyched beyond excitement as he prepared everything to go off without a hitch — unfortunately, not exactly what he ended up with by the time the next 36 hours had passed. Because the shelter we’re staying at has a curfew of 9:00 p.m. and Homecoming was in Ogden, special arrangements needed to be made for him to go.

Screen Shot 2018-09-30 at 7.56.06 PMHomecoming was certainly not ending by then, Cameron arranged to stay at his friend Jarom’s. Sunday morning, his father would pick him up. After Nikki and I did our weekly move to the new church at 2:00 p.m., we’d swing by and grab him from his father’s. All went as well as could be expected. That is until we had delicious tacos for dinner that evening with our new church friends.

Shortly after dinner, Cameron approached me, “I swallowed a dime for $20.” Now remember, he oftentimes creates his own imaginative clichés and I thought this was one of them. So I said, “Okay…?” urging him to get to the punchline.

He rolled his eyes and repeated it again. “Okay, Cameron, just spell it out. What are you trying to say?” I was tired. We’d been to the storage unit in Ogden and back, we’d moved all our belongings, and I was ready for bed. “I ate a dime for $20 when a couple of guys I didn’t know dared me to.” My eyes squinted and shifted back and forth. “I wanted spending money, but I couldn’t ask you.”

“You have ingested a dime—a metal coin?” I was certain I was misinterpreting what he said. I mean, what type of teenager confuses himself for a piggybank? Buttons and dog chow is what kids eat when they’re learning everything small doesn’t belong up our noses, in our ears, and down our throats. And I understood being without money. Then again, I wasn’t a teenage boy trying to show a girl a good time on a magical evening.

Looking at me as if I’d just swallowed my own head, he nods his head. “You’re kidding!” I screamed horrified as he described feeling its movement in his chest. “That’s the most asinine thing I’ve ever heard!” I forgot to mention everyone was clearing the tables from their own families as I unloaded on my teen. “Get in the car!” I commanded him, “And get your sister. The rules state we need to stay together, so she’s coming with us.”

I went into the room to get my purse, and the deafening whines of a preteen girl filled the air, “Why do I have to go? Can’t I stay here while you guys go?” Nikki had no idea where we were going. That was the next question, but I shooed her along as I stopped by the evening host and quickly blurted out I’d text him with what was going on. The others stared on dumbfounded, not having a clue as to what was happening except that I was fit to be tied. They’d only seen me helpful and cheery. I wasn’t either.

We went to Jordan Valley Hospital since it was the closest. After a few x-rays, the doctor asked a few questions as to why Cameron hadn’t mentioned anything to anyone for over 24 hours and asked what we’d done, if anything, to try and get it out. Hard-shelled tacos wasn’t, surprisingly, a recommendation by the doctor.

 

 

Apparently, my son felt that eating hard-shelled tacos would force the dime down his throat. The only problem was that the dime got stuck at the top of his esophagus where his lungs paired off. The metal coin fluttered at the top of his lungs with each breath. Needless to say, he was sadly mistaken. Since the procedure required in-depth maneuvers, they referred us to attend Murray’s Intermountain Healthcare Hospital.

 

But because Cameron isn’t yet an adult, there was a question of whether or not he should be seen at Primary Children’s or if there was the danger of the coin damming up a lung, requiring immediate attention. They decided transporting was not a good idea and settled on treating him there. They performed a “Bronchoscopy.” Try saying that 3x fast!

 

 

And because we were all spent when they finished the procedure of removing the dime, I called into work. There was no way I would be able to function on the stress and lack of sleep. The families must exit the church by seven a.m. throughout the week, so we found a parking lot and went to sleep in the car. Nikki across the back, Cameron reclined in the front, and I was tucked neatly behind the steering wheel with the car facing the west for just a little more shade.

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For anyone who ever considers indulging in a really stupid dare – instead of dreaming of your friends patting your back for the next five minutes in congratulations, you might want to ponder $5,000 in hospital bills isn’t worth the twenty bucks. Plus, you have a stranger – even a kind doctor– invading your body. Not saying doctors are “bad” people, but you don’t know if they’re a Jekyll/Hyde combo! Halloween is just around the corner!

But the next morning, I swung into Smith’s up on the east side of the valley and ran into this guy who made my week’s adventures a memory to look back on. I deserved a break! Check out his name. It’s “Dug E. Phresh!” Stop into Starbucks and tell him MJ sent you.

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BTW- we’ve taken two additional trips to the hospital for infections and an onset of pneumonia since, but Cameron’s hit the trail for new adventures.

Have you ever won a bet just to lose big in the end? Share!