Life Got In The Way

bangheadI was going to write today. I was going to write yesterday. I was going to write tomorrow. Because yes, it’s that time of year where I can just go ahead and presume that my life will not be my own again until after the ball drops in Times Square…

I was going to blog about it. How I ran all over tarnation today and got nothing remotely resembling a Thank You from the residents of Tarnation.

Instead, I post this. A nod to the past. And why exactly a writer doesn’t always get to write. Same story. Different day. Slightly different reasons. But the basics are there…

Now I’m going to go cook, do laundry, call my mom, check homework, lecture a teen, do more laundry, check on a friend, console another friend, crank out an article before the midnight deadline, and maybe just maybe squeeze in time to go to the bathroom.

Happy… crap, what day of the week IS it?!



“May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been, The foresight to know where you are going, And the insight to know when you have gone too far”

~ Irish Blessing

Ah yes, all those times we should have shut our mouths and actually listened to what was being said to us. With an open mind. Either by others or our own internal narrators. Shoulda, coulda, woulda. Hindsight, that’s the crux. Learning after mistakes rather than in lieu of them. Hindsight that could have easily been foresight but for the lack of insight. If we even learned something from them…

My mom rocks. Sure you guys hear me say that a lot, but you need to understand just how serious I am. Those that have met her will agree 100%. Those that haven’t should be jealous. She’s full of hindsight that can be turned into insight, and yes, foresight. And after one particularly important phone call last spring I went and found this image. And then summer happened and life got insane and I forgot all about it until today.

The thing with hindsight is that it comes with an evil step-sister, fear. Fear is a funny thing. Hindsight makes you feel silly. Fear makes you pause. Keeps you from moving. It holds you in its clutches and preys on your worry to do exactly as it wants: nothing. Hindsight and fear work in tandem to pick scabs rather than letting things scar over.

Fear never met my mom.

During that phone call last spring, I requested she be a friend, rather than a mom, and had one of those really serious adult conversations we have with our parents as we age—you know, like the one where you realize you didn’t know everything, they weren’t stupid, and you are compelled to apologize… sometimes through laughter, sometimes tears. As is true of the wisest woman I know, she was dead-on accurate with both her assessment and advice. And I’m old enough and wise enough myself, to listen to advice when I hear it. One particular gem from that day is this week’s garage talk: Forgive yourself.

She told me to forgive any and all guilt associated with anything in the past that I didn’t actually have control over. To let it go. To clear the blackboard of misplaced blame and be able to move forward. It wasn’t about forgiving those who had wronged me, but forgiving myself for being naive, for listening, for believing, for falling for whatever I should have been wise enough to see for what it was. I listened. I heard her. I nodded, though she couldn’t see me. And when I hung up I sat quietly and contemplated what exactly she meant and how to put it into effect. Hindsight. That’s what it boiled down to. Accepting hindsight and moving forward with it tied up in a pretty little bow, a Bitter Box™ of sorts. A lesson learned. A hindsight to be used as foresight for future situations that may be similar.

For garage talk this week there is no question. I want no stories or tall tales, no tears or anger. I don’t want to know what you chose, only that you chose. Nothing beyond that silent nod I won’t see. This week, I want you all to forgive yourself for some 20/20 hindsight mistake.

Get your coffee. Go sit on the stoop, porch, couch, wherever, and think of one thing from your past that that holds you, but has no business doing so. Forgive something you feel guilty or stupid about, something that shouldn’t be a scab from but a well-healed scar. Something unhealthy to your psyche, to your chi. Perhaps that one thing that is forever a trigger of anger or anguish. It’s in the past. Let it be the past. Allow yourself to have been wronged or a victim or just plain naive about something. Forgive yourself for whatever it was and your part in it.

And then move forward…

I’m a frog

frogSo, I was watching a movie, and as the actress walked through the room I noted that she was tall and slender and graceful—and for whatever reason my brain equated her to a gazelle. A sleek beauty. A tower of head-turning porcelain skin that flowed like water with feet that never seemed to touch ground. My mind wandered father into that thought—what animal people emulate. She was a gazelle. I have a friend that is, without a doubt, a Lipizzaner stallion—shiny, show worthy & always ready to perform. Another that is quite possibly the last remaining phoenix—just when you think crash and burn will be the end, they come back stronger, taller. What the hell am I? Hmmm…

A few moments later, I jumped up to get more coffee—and acknowledged I am not a gazelle.

I’ve never been a gazelle. I will never be a gazelle. I will never be that stunning beauty that turns heads when they walk into a room. I will never be the fair maiden that men stumble over each other to talk to. I will never be the girl that lights up the room. I’m friends with those girls, but I am not one of them.

I’m a frog.

I don’t light up a room when I walk in, because I’m already in the room, playing pool in the back corner. I’m not the fair maiden they stumble for, I’m the one that points those out to them, the one they call in the middle of the night for tough love. And while I may be able to convince myself—in a dress, with the right hair and makeup applied—that I might be pretty, I will never be the beauty that stops discussion in a room when I enter. Instead, I’m the one with that last half of a shouted sentence when the rest of the room goes quiet. Nothing about me is sleek. Olive and porcelain are at the opposite ends of the complexion spectrum. And I do not have legs that go all the way up.

I am a frog.

I have no muscle in my arms, but can kill a man with my leg muscles. I’m short and jumpy, cute and spunky, and rumored to be an endangered species. And I’m ok with that. For the first time in my life, I’m really comfortable with the fact that I’m a frog.

For years I thought I was a tomboy. Once upon a time, one of those silly internet memes asked “which movie character are you?” I always thought I was Watts, Mary Stuart Masterson’s character in Some Kind of Wonderful. A tomboy. The girl that helps the guys get the pretty girl. “Just a girl.”

I may have been wrong about that.

I know what I am now, and I’m happy with it. Really happy. Happy with me–who I am, what I am, where I am. I have a better outlook on life, on me, and how I see myself.

A part of me is a little angry that it took me forty years to figure it out. I could blame society for telling me I have to mold into some sort of tall, sleek, gazelle (Barbie complex, anyone?). I could blame people in my past for pointing out I was not a gazelle, but never telling me it was okay to be a frog. I could blame my friends for acting just like the rest of the cast of any bad 80s movie and making me feel that my part was Watts. But it’s not their fault. None of theirs. It’s mine. For allowing those thoughts to supersede my own inner voice.

I found that voice–on a Tuesday at noon, for no good reason, when slapped with the gazelle on screen. And it’s a strong voice. It chirps in the rain and sings while it cooks. It blows bubbles and has anal towel-folding rules. It’s short, but a lot of good things come in little packages, plus Nana always said the short will inherit the Earth. It’s spunky—not loud and obnoxious. Those are other people’s words.

I’m done being ruled by other people’s words. I thank them for their input, because without it I may not have gotten here, but we’re done now. I am not fat, ugly and stupid. I’m a frog. There’s a difference.

A world of difference.

The spring peeps are out, and this little frog, clinging desperately to a branch in the wind and rain, has a life to live, books to write and a publishing industry to take over. If you don’t mind, I’m going to back to my lily pad now and work on that.


Empty Coffee Pots

I threatened reinvention. I was serious. New year, new direction, new design.

I like new. New is shiny and fun and different. And a little scary. But hey, anything worth exploring should be a little scary, right?!

Not only is the skin of the site a little different—which could be a blog in itself but I’m going to sum it up in one sentence, “horror writer” does not have to equal black pages, dripping fonts, etc.—the guts will be as well. First up, the death of coffee talk.

Yep, I said that.

It’s time.

“Coffee Talk” was a term I originally used for two very specific people—in another world, another time, another place. Times change. People change. Long live caramel creamer and flavored coffees, but you’ll have to stop by Starbucks to get your fill from now on. This drive-through is closed.

So what’s the new category going to be called? hmmm… well, it’s going to be about strange little things. So I could go with ‘gypsy magic’. It’s going to include oddities that we take for granted, pithy things seen/heard, silliness in the face of insanity. So I could go with ‘garage talk’. It’s going to be all encompassing, yet not quite serious like the other blogs I post. So I could call it ‘awesome porch’ or as the Princess suggested, ‘from the porch.’ Yeah, it could be anything, and I have no idea what to call it yet. But even though it doesn’t have a definite title, it’s got a direction. What it won’t be is a standard question every Thursday or thick with caffeinated themes and catch phrases. What it will be is new.

And new is shiny and fun and different…

Welcome to the flip side!

Bitter Grounds

Ohhhh yeah, it’s coffee talk time—but I’m not serving up fresh roasted goodness.  Oh no. See, I was a 3rd shift truck stop waitress once upon an eon ago, and I know what foul coffee can be like. Made at 6am, left to cook and congeal and get downright bitter throughout the day. 2nd shift doesn’t clean it or dump it, they leave it. And that last cup sits at the bottom like tar, just waiting for some sucker to think it’s fresh and take a swig… so their esophagus can bubble and crack and peel, as liquid skunk slithers down their gullet to land in their stomach and give even the most vile forgot-to-eat-before-you-got-drunk-and-puked-through-your-nose acids a run for its money as “King of the Ewww”. Yeah, it’s that kind of coffee day…

We all have dreams. We all have happy memories of some great dream, whether conscious or not, that played out just the way it should and woke you with a smile. But what of the nightmares? What of the things, much like that coffee, that were left to fester and rot in your brain? The stuff that chases you into sleep and finds life there, to torture you, make you question where it came from, and whether or not you’re even sane anymore. The stuff that causes cold sweats and screams in the dark and those crazy times when you’re actually crying in your sleep and wake with wet cheeks… I wanna know about those. What was your worst nightmare?

Now, I’m not talking about your average nightmare. I’m not talking about losing your job and your house burning down and your dog getting run over. I’m talking about the ones that come back, either as reoccurring nightmares that make you afraid to sleep, or the kind that haunt you for days, weeks, years because they upset you on such a level. Those.

Dig deep, girls and boys, and show me what’s behind your dreams… tell me what your mind is capable of doing to you.

Bras, Cops, and Stray Dogs

“I had to put my bra on before the cops came this morning.”  Yes, I promised to explain this, but this was actually near the very end of the story, so let’s back up.

I have a puppy.  He’s adorable, wonderful, cute, sweet, fun… and occasionally for sale.  Said puppy, Maximus Somethingus, does not allow me to make coffee, smoke, or even pee in the morning before I MUST take him outside or pay the consequences.  As such, I’ve gotten in the habit of leaving a pair of shorts on the chair that is pushed against the gate and locks him and his little bladder in the kitchen at night.  I put the shorts on, then move the chair and gate, and immediately open the back door to greet the world with one eye open and no glasses on yet to even help that bloodshot orb.

On this particular morning, Max thought it would be a good time to chase those damn birds… no wait, a bunny!… no, look-a squirrel!!  Have I mentioned that puppy has ADD? Yeah. So off down the alley he goes. Running after him with no shoes, no glasses, and let’s not forget no coffee, I take off—screaming his name the entire time, trying to get his attention. And yes, at this point, I should publicly apologize to anyone and everyone that I woke up at 5am that morning.

Get the puppy, scold the puppy, fall under the spell of puppy’s eyes and decide not to put puppy on a leash up front with a ‘free to good home’ sign and go back in to make coffee.  Some coffee and several smokes later, hubby wakes up.  Does his rumble through the house thing and heads to work.  And there’s my cue.  See, because I had the day off.  So the second he leaves for work, and remember my kids are off camping, I whip out the laptop for some much desired alone time.  A whole day to myself to work.  Joy.

Oh yeah, I have a puppy.

I play with puppy and his squeaky, furry duck in hopes of wearing him out, until I realize that he has far more energy than me and he will win this contest.  It’s a beautiful morning and I decide that he and the adult dog, Moose, can be in the kennel.  So out they go.  The cats are AWOL, as usual. I imagine they were having a powwow upstairs trying to figure out just what step they need to sleep on so I don’t see them and they can take me out in the morning by sending me shooting down the flight of narrow stairs and out through the lead-glass front door.  Ok, so the hubby is gone and the pets are happy.  Now then, laptop.

Cue the phone.

I should have known there was a problem when I saw the caller ID.  Jenny-from-the-block [I have a lot of Jennys in my world, they all have nicknames] never, and by that I mean never, gets up before nine.  We call her princess sleeps-a-lot.  But there she is, on my caller ID.  I answer the phone to incoherent screaming and run to the bathroom to see if her house is on fire—she’s across the alley from me.  Nope, no fire.

“What?”  I shout into the phone just as I realize that the streak that went through the alley was her… in a tank top and her thong.  Apparently, she does not have shorts on a chair by the kitchen for just these occasions.

“That damn, good for nothing, my husband is so going to shoot it, freaking dog is back!”


See, we have this stray dog.  He’s very nice and very pretty—golden lab I’d say but he’s very tall so I think there’s a mix of something in there.  And he’s been roaming the neighborhood.  He’s been roaming it for weeks.  And if it weren’t for the fact that he craps wherever he wants, shreds our garbage cans every week [thus we’ve dubbed him Oscar] and has gotten into my garage a few times, I would let him be.  But we can’t.  Our husbands are armed and angry and we just can’t have that.

“Rotten bastard shredded my garbage again.  He was just in my yard. I saw him doing it!”

So now I’m looking out the window to see if I can see said stray dog.  And lo and behold, Oscar is pissing on my dogs’ kennel.  Bastard.  Now you’ve gone too far.  You are not allowed to mark my dogs’ territory when they are trapped inside the kennel.  That’s just rude.

“He’s in my yard.”

“I’ll catch him, you call Kali!!”  Kali would be our humane officer.  I have her on speed dial.  Don’t ask.

“I have a tie out on the tree in the back—”  And the phone goes dead.  I still don’t know if she hung up or just threw it to the side to chase the dog.

Of course, Kali picks up on the first ring.  And informs me she’s on vacation.  “Call the sheriff.  They’ll come get him and put him at the kennel until I get back.”  Ok, fine.  But first, I should probably put a bra on before the cops get here. [ta da! There it is.] Quick throw a bra on and grab shoes.  Cell phone in hand, smokes in short’s pocket, I head outside as I dial.

No Jenny by the back tree.

And another streak goes by.  She’s chasing Oscar up and down the alley.  She now has shorts on, and he thinks it’s a game.  If dogs could giggle, let me tell you…


“Yes, we have a stray dog that we need picked up.  I called Kali, she’s off and said to call you guys.”

“And your name?”  Which I answered, as well as my address, social security number, shoe size, gross yearly income and highest level of education completed.

I hear, “Got him” as I cross the alley into Jenny’s yard.

“We’ve captured him for you.  But now we’re across the alley,” and I give her Jenny’s address, shoe size and favorite movie.  “He’s tied to the porch with a—”

What is that?  Jenny doesn’t have a dog, so it’s not a leash.

Jenny looks up at me, all proud of herself and says, “Extension cord, baby.”

“Ok, we’ve got him secured with… with an extension cord.”

At which point Jenny yells into the phone, “It’s not plugged in!”

Dispatch now thinks we’re nuts and promises to send someone over. I can hear what I swear is her flipping through a rolodex, as she’s looking up the number for the men in white coats.

Fifteen minutes later, Mr. Friendly shows up.  He not only believes that Oscar has been roaming for weeks, he tells us that he has had other calls from around here, and that just half an hour beforehand, on his way into work, he saw the dog cross the street and head this way.  He informs us that they’ll house the dog and when he’s claimed, the owner will get a fine for “animal at large.”  Great.  Take him now. Please.  I have an empty house and a laptop and a big scary Lumpy that will beat me come Necon if I can’t look him in the eye and say I’ve finished this novella…

But of course, Jenny was up now.  Long before she should have been.  So there was coffee and smokes and lots of chuckles about her streaking through the alley half naked with an extension cord.  I finally got back to the laptop to have an epiphany about the novella hiccup and deal with two short story rejections.  Stray dog completely forgotten until I shared my morning with someone else, who giggled and said it sounded like an opening for a chick lit book.

I fully expect Oscar to return next Tuesday, just in time for the garbage to be put out again.  I think I’ll remind Jenny to leave shorts on a chair.

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