INTRODUCTION: This section is dedicated to my personal ramblings – it can be about anything, from a favorite product or service, to an opinion I feel strongly about, to a personal essay, to an attempt at adding humor to my otherwise boring day. Whatever posted here will be highly personal and is my feeble attempt at exposing myself to the world as a writer, something that doesn't come easy for me. I welcome any comments from anyone who takes the time to read my ramblings and will respond back to you (unless you are being overly offensive, in which case, I’ll just ignore you.) I don’t know if you’d consider this a blog – blogs are written by people who have a particular expertise in some subject – I have no expertise in anything. Thus, my ramblings…
Any products or services mentioned here are my own personal opinion. I am not currently being reimbursed or endorsed by any company for mention of their product or service (however, it’s not out of the question for this starving artist writer. Any personal essays or opinions on this site are my own and I am fortunate to live in a country where I have the right to write about anything I so choose. You have a right to read it, or not. Thanks for visiting and I hope you come back often!
Posted: March 31, 2014
(Working on a 30 day writing challenge via specific writing prompts.)
Your character gets trapped in an elevator with someone he or she is afraid of (you decide why)…
Writing Challege Day 13: Dog Hater
Abruptly, there was a jolt, an eerie screech and flickering of lights. Candy looked to the left out of the corner of her eye. Her heart instantly lurched and felt like it was going to bounce right out of her chest cavity. She thought about how it’s was just her luck to be not only sharing this elevator ride with the one person she’d ever known who frightens her, but to have the elevator stall out as well, this was just too much misfortune for one day.
They worked in a ten story building where over a thousand people worked in various businesses, and here next to her stood Desiree, her only rival for an upcoming promotion to Director of Marketing. While they worked in the same department, their paths rarely crossed except while they were at their desks on the same floor. The only thing they had in common was they shared the same supervisor. They worked for an online company that sells custom dog collars. Pizzazz for Pets had been growing steadily for over ten years. Candy and Desiree both started with the company in the beginning, working to assemble the sparkling collars, but had worked their way into the marketing department, where they helped develop the company’s website and design ads and conduct promos. The current marketing director was retiring in three months. The founder and owner of the company, Roxanne Samples, had told each woman that they were being considered to take over that position, further expanding the rival situation between the two women. They had never gotten along, but they somehow kept pace with each other in their working world.
One of the things that bothered Candy about Desiree is that she once admitted while intoxicated that she didn’t even like dogs, in fact, thought the planet would be better off without the mangy beasts. She made fun of how Roxanne Samples brought her two Chihuahuas to work with her every day. The eccentric entrepreneur, not only loved dogs, but gave 10% of their profits to the local Humane Society.
What scared Candy the most about Desiree is that she once picked up Sparkles, Roxanne’s female Chihuahua, and walked her toward the microwave and threatened to fry her if she didn’t stop barking. The look in Desiree’s eyes was a dark one, like she had every intention of carrying out the threat. Fortunately, Roxanne came walking into the break room just in time. Desiree turned instantly and began charming Roxanne by telling her what good friends she and Sparkles had become. Candy wanted to rat on her lying co-worker right there and then, but after seeing the evil look in Desiree’s eyes, she was just plain spooked, thinking about how she had looked so deranged and how in an instant, she changed her mood.
Now, here they were stuck in an elevator together, not even speaking. Desiree had always treated Candy like less of a human being and never really bothered to converse with her unless she was forced by work situations, with the one exception when Desiree had consumed enough alcohol at their Christmas party to kill an elephant and had confessed her loathing of dogs.
Candy often considered telling Roxanne the truth, but couldn’t quite get up the courage, as it wasn’t her style to narc on people. Plus, she didn’t want the promotion knowing that she got it by default. She wanted to earn it by her own merits and she worked hard to make their company shine.
“What the hell! They better get us off this elevator soon. You know that I had a meeting with Roxanne at 10:00. I’m sure she’s going to tell me I’ve got the promotion,” Desiree bragged.
“Oh, what makes you say that. I understood that Roxanne wasn’t going to make her decision until June. That’s still two months away,” said Candy.
“Are you that naïve? She wasn’t going to announce it publically until then, but don’t you think she needs to prep the new Director ahead of time. There’s no way she’s going to pick a mousy thing like you over me. A director has to be able to speak up.”
“Mousy? Watch what you call me. Just because I don’t strut around with my fake boobs hanging out, doesn’t make me mousy. You know, may the best woman win, but I’m not going to give up until the decision is made and I hear it from Roxanne herself.”
“Oh you are so delusional! Roxanne isn’t going to pick you. You’re better off in your corner, where you belong. In fact, if you say one more word, my first order of business will be to fire you.”
“Let me be clear. If you become the Director, I will quit. There will be no need to fire me. I refuse to work for a fake dog lover. There is no justice in the world, if you get to direct the marketing of this company when you can’t even stand dogs.”
“Oh, I love dogs. I love to stomp all over their hairy little paws. I love to grab their fur and twist it in my hands until they yelp. I love to kick them in the ass when they get in my way.”
Candy felt a sigh of relief, feeling fortunate that she had a few seconds ago, turned on the recorder on her cell phone. It was time for Roxanne to hear what kind of a dog hater she had working for her. Candy felt a loyalty to her company to turn her in…it had nothing to do with her rivalry now. It was about justice and integrity. “You are not going to work for this company another day. It would be a grave injustice to dogs everywhere.” Just as Desiree reached her hand back to slap Candy across the face, the elevator door rolled open. Just outside the elevator stood Roxanne. “Roxanne, can I please have a minute of your time?” The day was going to get better, no doubt about it. Maybe it was her good fortune that the elevator had stalled.
Posted: March 18, 2014
(Working on a 30 day writing challlege via specific writing prompts.) Write a story about a bad or unpleasant person. Make this person likable to your reader…
Writing Challenge Day 10: A Real Cowboy
“Hey, get the hell off my property before I shoot ya! Don’t you come snooping around here again, you little shit cha! Do you think you can just do anything you want whenever you want? That’s the problem with you young uns nowadays. No respect for privacy.”
The little boy with the big brown eyes stood frozen looking up at the man who was wearing a dusty cowboy hat, a red plaid shirt, and worn cowboys boots. He had white hair and rugged, dark weather-worn skin. He never saw a real cowboy before. They had just moved to this tiny town, Interior, South Dakota, from the east coast. No one out there ever dressed like this, at least not where he came from in North Carolina.
“What did I tell ya – get on outta here!”
The boy couldn’t move. He was too frightened by the tall cowboy’s booming voice.
“Dang it, boy, where’s your mama. Looks like I’m gonna have to have a talk with her. Is she this disrespectful, too, or do you just not listen to what your ma teaches you?”
“My mom died,” whispered the boy.
“Oh, ummm, I’m sorry to hear that. That’s a tough thing for a young boy to go through. How old are ya, son?”
“I’m nine. We just moved here from Florida. My dad is working for the park.”
“Oh, well, alright. Get on home then before I have to go a talking to your daddy.”
“What’s your name, sir?”
“Why the hell do you need to know my name? Name’s Hal. You can call me Mr. Jensen, you little shit cha. Okay, what’s your handle?”
“Name, son. You ain’t too bright, are ya?”
“Alrighty then, Brandon, we got the formalities outta the way, now scoot on home and don’t let me see you on my property again, unless I invite ya,”said Hal taking a swig out of something hidden in a brown paper bag.
“Are you a real cowboy?”
“Well, now, I reckon that depends on your definition of a real cowboy. I own a few head a cattle, so I suppose so.”
“Do you own a horse?”
“A course I do. You can’t run a cattle ranch without horses, not unless you’re one of them citified woosies that try their hand at ranchin’.”
“Would you teach me how to ride one someday?”
“Hell no, son. I ain’t running no training camp here, ‘sides, my horses are a little hard to handle, they gots lots of spunk. They’d throw a little tike like you to the next county. You stay away from them there horses, do ya hear me, ya little shit cha. I mean it, if you come near my horses, I’ll have your daddy thrown in jail?”
“Okay,” whispered Brandon as he hung his head down.
“What’s that? You poutin’, boy. We don’t put up with no poutin’ boys in these here parts. That’s just sissy. Suck it up, and get on home.”
Brandon turned to run on back to town, but he tripped on a little mound of dirt, twisting his ankle. “Ouch!”
“Oh, shit cha! What’s you go and do now! Here, let me see.“ Hal lifted up the boy’s pant leg. “Have your daddy buy you some boots, boy, if you’re gonna be running around out in the country. There’s rattle snakes in these parts. It don’t look broken. Probably sprained it a bit. And you best learn to read. Do you know what “No Trespassing” means? It means stay the hell off my land. See that there fence. You keep on the other side of it and we’ll get along just fine.”
“My daddy doesn’t have the money to buy me boots. He spent all the money he had for my Mom’s funeral. He got fired from his job, because he couldn’t go to work, because he was too sad.”
“Is that right? Here hang on to my arm. Come on up onto the porch. I’ll go inside and call your dad to come and get ya. Ya probably shouldn’t be walking very far until you put some ice on that thing. Give me his number.”
“552-8282. I’m not sure if he’s home from work. This is his first day.”
Hal dialed the number. There was no answer. “Who’s supposed to be babysittin’ ya, there Brandon?”
“Dad can’t afford a babysitter. I’m old enough to be by myself.”
“I don’t reckon so, if you’re gonna go running around all over the place like that. I bet your daddy told you to stay inside, didn’t he?”
“Well, now, that karma’ll bite ya in the ass every time, son. If you’d a listened to you daddy likes ya supposed ta, you wouldn’t have gone and gotten yourself hurt, now would have ya?” Hal took another swig, this time a longer one.
“No, sir. Please don’t tell my dad.”
“I ain’t no liar, son, and besides, he’s gonna know you got hurt, you’re gimpin’ around. How’s ya gonna explain that to you’re ole’ man? “Well, stay sittin’ there a bit then until I get ahold of your dad. Wait here, I’ll be back in a minute.”
Hal went back inside the house. He took another mental note of how much the place needed painting. The house was falling apart, just like everything else had in his life. He should make some time to spruce it up, but who the hell cared. He had no one to share it with.
He went down the hallway and opened the door to a back bedroom, flipped on the light switch, and noted how dusty the room had gotten. He hadn’t been in it for three years. He walked to the closet, picked up a pair of boots and pounded them together, knocking the dirt off them. He went back outside. “Here, ya shit cha, these’ll probably fit ya.”
Brandon’s eyes lit up with excitement. “I can have these? Wow. I’ve never had cowboy boots before. Where did you get them?”
“They were my son’s when he was a little tike like you.”
“Are you sure he won’t mind?”
“Naw. He’s not here anymore.”
“Where did he go?”
“I think I’ll call out to the park for your pa, what’s his name? Don’t be puttin’ them boots on yet – you’ll have to let that sprain mend first.”
“Stay here.” Hal came back outside. “You’re pa’s on the way home. I told him I’d run ya back into town. Can ya walk yet?”
Brandon winced a little, but was able to hobble to the side of the truck. Hal hoisted him up into the cab and shut the door. “Tell me where you’re staying, ya little shit cha.”
“We live in a trailer behind the grocery store.”
“Oh ya.” Five minutes later Hal pulled into the boy’s driveway. “Go on inside. You’re daddy’ll be here soon.”
“Don’t you want to come in and meet him?”
“Naw, you’ve already put me way behind schedule, you little shit cha.”
“Okay, well, thank you for the boots, Mr. Jensen.”
“That’s okay. Now, stay away from my property, ya here. I don’t need ya getting yourself hurt again out there.”
“Will you come visit me sometime?”
“What would ya want to visit with an ole’ man like me for?”
“Because you’re nice and I like you.”
“Aw. I dunno. Maybe. I gots chores to do.” Hal drove off as soon as the boy got inside his front door.
“Daddy, you’re home! I met a real cowboy today.”
“This place is crawling with real cowboy’s son. You mean Mr. Jensen? You stay away from him, do you hear me, son. The talk is that he’s a cranky old man and he just wants to be left alone. He’s always threatening to shoot people and he drinks lots of alcohol. The word is that his son drowned in the White River years ago and the man’s been a miserable old coot ever since. His wife divorced him, claiming it was his fault the boy drowned. He had the boy out riding horses with him and the boy got bucked off, hit his head on a rock and drowned before Mr. Jensen found him. You stay away from the river and from Mr. Jensen. I know I’d be a miserable old coot if I lost you, son, so just stay in the house like you’re told.”
“Okay, Dad, but he was nice to me. He gave me his son’s boots.” Wayne turned and ran his finger through his son’s hair. With tears in his eyes, he thought about how maybe this old cowboy town is a good place for Brandon to grow up. He hoped his wife approved as she looked down from heaven.
Posted: March 14, 2014
(Working on a 30 day writing challenge via specific writing prompts.) Your character has a date but decides not to show up. Your character believes he or she has a very good reason for this decision (you decide the reason). But your character's date is furious and decides to make your character sorry…
Writing Challenge Day 5: Revenge
“I’m not going,” said Christy.
“What? I thought you were meeting this new guy in twenty minutes. He’s probably already on his way,” said Cassandra, Christy’s roommate of several months.
“What do I care? I’ve decided he’s not going to be up to my standards. He’s got an ex-wife and three kids to support. I want someone who can support me. I might want a family of my own someday, but he won’t be able to afford one. Sure, he’s a little sexy in his photos, but I’m just not interested, I’ve decided.”
“I guess you know what you want. Are you going to contact him and cancel?”
“No, I don’t need to see his whining messages. We were going to meet last week, but I broke it off and he bugged me until I agreed to meet him tonight. It’s his fault, really. He should have just left it alone.”
“I don’t know. How would you like it if someone did that to you?”
“It’s called life, Cassandra. It’s a tough life. That’s what it comes down to, to be blunt about it. I want someone who can support me in the style I’m not yet used to, but deserve. I’m an attractive woman. I work hard to keep my body in shape. These are my instruments to attract a generous man of wealth,” said Christy as she grabbed her boobs and hoisted them higher in the air.
“Well, you’re sure he can’t find you? What if he’s psycho or something and hunts you down?”
“He doesn’t even know my last name. I’m always careful when I meet these guys. He has no idea where I work or live.”
“Good. But remember we have our photos on our work website under contacts. What if he somehow recognizes you from that?”
“What would a divorced father of three be doing on our website, silly girl. I’m sure he has no interest in buying a home. He can’t afford toilet paper right now.”
“You never told him you work for a realtor?”
“Nope. He thinks I am a hair dresser. I always do that, because a woman can’t be too careful in this crazy world. I guess I’ll go in my room and check to see if I have any other matches. It’s time to look for my next victim. Come watch me. I’ll show you how it’s done.”
“No thank you. I believe Mr. Right will come along when I least expect him. I don’t have to go searching the Internet for him.”
Christy closed her bedroom door and sat down on the bed. She opened up her laptop computer. There were already three messages from the loser? “Where are you? Did you have car trouble? I can come and fix it for you.” Then it was, “I’ve been waiting for twenty minutes. I hope you’re okay.” The final message said, “I’m feeling in my gut that you’ve stood me up. I don’t like being stood up. You’re too nice of a girl to do that to someone, aren’t you?”
Christy decided to respond. “Look, Jeremy, I’m not coming. I can’t believe you waited for over an hour. What was your first clue? I’ve decided that we are not right for each other and there is no sense wasting my time. I’m sure there are plenty of women out there willing to coddle your cheap ass, but I’m not one of them. I need a real man - one who doesn’t have to beg for a date. One who doesn’t have all the extra baggage you’ve got. One who can spell, because you can’t even spell two words in a sentence correctly. Did you even finish high school, by the way? Goodbye, Loser!”
Christy knew she was being harsh, but it was required, otherwise, he would keep trying to communicate and she had no intention of spending another second on him. She learned this from the last six guys she almost met. She finished reading mrclassy’s profile and he sounded intriguing and it was obvious he likes the finer things in life, like she does. Maybe he was the one worth her time.
Jeremy read Christy’s response. He thought about how it took her a long time to get back to him. Reading her message, his face became flushed, and deepened to a dark red, as he felt an uncontrollable anger build up. He had never felt this angry before, not even when his wife told him she was in love with another man. Christy was a bitch. She was not going to get away with doing this to him again. He thought about how he could make her pay for this humiliation. He wanted to kill her, but he had three kids to support, so he didn’t have that luxury. He needed to stay out of jail. He knew he’d get his revenge someday and he’d do it legally, but she’d never forget what hit her. First, he’d have to find out her identity. All he knew was she is a hair dresser and her first name. He thought he knew her well, but looking back he realized that she gave him minimal information and seeing her true colors, he realized she was probably a liar, too.
All he had was a photo. There weren’t that many beauty salons in the city. He’d go to every one of them if he had to. He’d take her picture and pose as a detective and see if anyone knew her. He wasn’t sure what he would do with her when he found her, but he was certain his plan would work.
The next morning, with printed photo in one hand, and the Yellowpages in another, he set out to visit hair salons. He had no luck with the first five places. He gave each one of them the same story. He was a detective. His client hired him to find her, because she had an inheritance coming to her. She was his client’s long lost niece and he wanted to put her in his will, but she had been adopted out of the family when she was a baby. He would tell the same story over and over until he found her.
At the sixth salon, one of the hair dressers heard Jeremy’s story and recognized Christy’s photo. “Yes. She’s actually my client. I cut her hair. She’s not a hair dresser. She is a receptionist at a real estate company. Why don’t you leave me your card? She’s got an appointment next week. I’ll make sure she gets it. I wouldn’t be able to give you her phone number without her permission.”
“Oh, sure. I don’t have a card with me. Just tell her that I’m Detective Johnson and here is my phone number. Tell her that a rich uncle of hers has found her and wants to put her in his will. From what I understand he’s extremely rich and has very few family members left. She could stand to gain a substantial amount of money. I don’t know if she’s aware of it or not, but she is adopted. This will change her whole life.”
Jeremy left the salon. As soon as he was past the window, he did a little happy dance. He smiled at the thought of the selfish witch getting excited about her news and the prospect of becoming rich and pondered how she’d take the news that she’s adopted. He wondered if that would mess with her identity. He imagined her reaction and he grinned. He pictured her calling the phone number he’d left and envisioned the look on her face when she realized it was a fake number.
He had his revenge and he didn’t even have to physically touch her. Ah, life was good.
Posted: March 9, 2014
(Working on a 30 day writing challenge via specific writing prompts. This one said to write a story that included a tombstone, bufferly collection and first kiss.)
Writing Challenge Day 2: Butterfly Kiss
Samantha opened the cedar chest her grandfather, who died several weeks ago when his crop dusting plane crashed, had left her. Inside was his most prized possession…his butterfly collection in five wooden boxes with glass lids, all in perfect condition. Tears gushed down her face as she carefully picked up the first display box, remembering how she used to love running through the prairie grass trying to keep up with Grandpa Pete while he chased down his next specimen with his butterfly net.
That was before they moved to Minneapolis when she was ten years old. Since moving, she hadn’t seen her grandfather but a handful of times. She missed him every day after they moved and now, the agony of knowing she would never see him again was unbearable. When her mother came into her room and told her about Grandpa’s plane crash, she screamed and cried so hard, it hurt her lungs and breathing was painful for days. The funeral, back home in Beaver Creek, was the worst thing Samantha ever experienced. She couldn’t understand how people could be crying one minute and sitting there stuffing their faces the next. She hadn’t been able to eat for days. In fact, her skinny jeans were getting baggy.
Being twelve years old in a big city junior high school wasn’t exactly gratifying. She didn’t know where she fit in. All the girls she had been hanging out with were boy crazy now and Samantha didn’t know what all the fuss was about. Boys were okay, but somewhat obnoxious and stinky. She certainly didn’t’ want to kiss one. The girls in her class all bragged about how they’d kissed a boy, some of them many boys. Some of them even did things with boys she couldn’t think about without blushing. A couple girls even said they lost their virginity. Samantha didn’t hang out with those girls anymore. She didn’t want to be like them. She felt lonely in a world where young girls obsessed over athletic, smelly jocks.
Samantha had her Mom help her hang the butterfly collection in her bedroom on the expansive wall beside her bed. She liked the idea of being able to gaze at them every night before she fell asleep. She often watched Grandpa after he caught a butterfly carefully handle them, while he prepared them to be displayed. He would allow her to watch, but not touch. He had tweezers and pins and solutions and display boards all over his office. Grandpa loved all things that could fly – airplanes, birds, and butterflies, but the butterflies fascinated him the most. Samantha didn’t feel quite the same about them, but she enjoyed watching her grandfather talk about them – his eyes would twinkle as he told her stories about collecting his first specimens when he was a boy back in Iowa on his grandfather’s farm.
Tomorrow, she and her mom were going back to Beaver Creek as Grandpa Pete’s tombstone was going to be set in place. On it was inscribed, “The butterfly is a flying flower... ~Ponce Denis Écouchard Lebrun,” along with an outline of his favorite insect. The thought of going back there knowing grandpa wouldn’t be there waiting, made her sob until she fell asleep.
The next morning, her mom hollered at her to get up and get showered and ready to go. Samantha did as she was told. As she stood looking in the mirror, blow drying her strawberry blonde hair that hung to the middle of her back, she realized that her eyes were the same green as grandpa’s had been. This realization only brought more tears. She slipped into her khaki shorts and put on a bright yellow tank top and stepped into her blue flip flops. She threw some clean underwear, her pajamas and a pair of jeans and t-shirt into her backpack. They would only be gone one night.
A few hours later, she and her mom pulled into Beaver Creek. They were at her Aunt Gena’s house. Samantha wasn’t looking forward to seeing her five cousins. They were all boys between the ages of five and thirteen. They were mean and always teased her about her red hair calling her Carrot Top and Strawberry Shortcake. It was going to be a long, uncomfortable day.
The first thing everyone did was load up into Aunt Gena’s van. She drove everyone to the cemetery on the edge of town. Surrounded on all three sides of the cemetery, was open prairie with tall grasses that waved in the wind, speckled with yellow wild flowers and weeds with purple tops. It was a sight that grandfather loved.
At the cemetery, everyone jumped out of the car, the boys pushing their way past Samantha running toward grandpa’s grave. “Stop you idiots! Don’t step on Grandpa’s grave!” Samantha hollered at them.
Aunt Gena walked over and grabbed two of their ears and pulled them into a standing position in front of the tombstone. The boys instantly settled down. They, too, had loved their grandfather, but everyone somehow knew that Samantha had been his favorite. Samantha stood next to Bryan, the oldest boy. She was surprised to see he had tears in his eyes. Until this moment, she hadn’t thought about how grandpa’s death had affected her cousins, as well. The kids stood looking at the grave, while their moms pulled weeds and arranged the bouquet of flowers they’d brought to brighten up the spot. Twenty minutes later, the kids were ordered to get back in the van.
Back at Aunt Gena’s, the younger boys went off down the street to play at the school grounds. Bryan invited Samantha to go for a walk. They went in the opposite direction as the rambunctious littler cousins. As they ambled along, a boy came riding up on his bike. “Hi, Bryan. Who’s this? Your girlfriend?”
“No, you dunce. This is my cousin, Samantha. She lives in Minneapolis.”
“Hi, I’m Johnny.” Samantha glanced at him. She couldn’t help but notice that he had a butterfly net, much like her grandpa’s strapped to his bike.
“What do you do with that?”
“I use it to catch butterflies. I’m searching for an American Lady. I saw some yesterday, but didn’t have my net with me.”
“Oh, that’s cool. I used to go with my grandpa looking for butterflies.”
“Do you guys want to come with me?”
“Hell no, you sissy! I’m gonna go play some baseball at Hal’s. Samantha, are you coming with me?”
Samantha looked at Johnny with his black hair shining in the sun. His blue eyes looked pleadingly at her, and she felt something she’d never felt before. It was like an electric jolt ran through her body. It was scary. It was nice. It was weird. “I guess I’ll go with Johnny. It’s a nice day to look for butterflies,” she said as she smiled toward the boy.
Johnny said, “Here, hop on up here,” pointing to the bar on his bike, “I’ll give you a ride.” Samantha scooted up onto the bar surprised at how strong Johnny was as he peddled them both off down the street toward the cemetery. Right outside the gate, Johnny stopped the bike. “Let’s get off here. This is where I spotted some American Ladies yesterday.”
They started walking through the grass, getting taller with each step. It felt cool against the bare skin of her feet. Johnny walked quietly by her side. All at once, several butterflies flew up in the air right beside them flitting off over toward the cemetery. They began to trot after them, Johnny with his net flailing in the air and Samantha following close behind him.
For twenty minutes, they chased one American Lady, but every time it landed, Johnny would just miss catching it with his net. They would both giggle at the failed attempt and chase off again after the beauty in the air. Samantha became winded and slowed down, but Johnny reached back and grabbed her hand. It was the first time she’d held hands with a boy. To her surprise, she became conscious that she liked it. Her stomach kind of did a flip. She chuckled to herself when she thought, is this what they mean by butterflies in your stomach?
Finally, the American Lady they’d been pursuing landed on a tombstone. Johnny flung down his net and this time it worked. “I got her!” Samantha squeezed his hand in excitement. He smiled back at her, let go of her hand and secured the butterfly. He then sat down in the grass and pulled her next to him. She looked up and was shocked to realize that the butterfly had landed on her grandpa’s grave. “This is strange. This is my grandpa’s grave and he loved collecting butterflies, too.”
“Wow. Really, that’s cool. I know the guys all make fun of me, but I’ve liked butterflies since I was a little boy.”
“So did my grandpa.” She turned her face toward Johnny smiling. Then it seemed as if the world stopped. She felt her breath catch in her throat. Johnny leaned down and gently brushed her lips with his own. It was quick. It felt almost like the butterfly kisses her grandpa used to tease her with, brushing his eyelashes against her cheeks when she was little. It was over. It was her first kiss. It was heaven. Maybe boys weren’t so bad overall, she supposed.
Posted: March 5, 2014
“One Nation Under God” (written January 2014)
Growing up, beginning with first grade, until I graduated from high school in 1976, we said the “Pledge of Allegiance” at the start of every school day. I have been out of school for thirty eight years and I can still recite it word for word. Each day, students would stand up and face the United States flag, place their right hand over their heart and say these, not only patriotic, but faith-based words, and there was never any doubt about being “one nation, under God.”
The government (by the people) of the United States of America was formed on this religious principle, so there is no reason why we as a country should deviate from that. There is no justifiable reason why we shouldn’t continue with this pledge in our schools. Yes, citizens of this country were granted freedom of religion by the United States Constitution and there were students who were excused from saying America’s pledge, for that very reason, that it was against their church doctrines. No one else was excused. If you didn’t participate, you would be in trouble with the teacher and/or the principle, not to mention the fact that your fellow students would look down on you for not giving respect for the flag and the USA.
To me, the Pledge of Allegiance speaks to the flag that represents the founding principles of this country. While it cannot be denied that there were massive injustices that came with our European ancestors settling here, they were seeking better lives for themselves based on the principle that they wanted to be able to worship their way. Ironically, the Native people they tried to eradicate, but couldn’t, were stripped of their right to worship their way and were, in many cases, forced into Christianity, when in fact, if left alone to live in their own spirituality and culture, would have many less problems as a people. Our country has never been perfect, but it does eventually strive to right its wrongs (however feeble the attempts might be, because afterall, there is no monetary value to be placed on the damage that was done to our First Americans). I believe, because we are a country run by its citizens we try to better ourselves as a country and government, with each new decade and new leaders. Our government did eventually admit and try to compensate for its past mistakes (albeit forced by legal proceedings - another Constitutional right that makes this country great). Many believe more work needs to be done in this area and I don't deny it, but because we are a united people, I believe “justice and liberty for all” will now, more than ever, mean the same for everyone, no matter their race, religion or origin, as promised in the United States Constitution.
But there should be no denying now, in this day and age, that we are all bound together in this one nation under God, whether you believe in Christianity, the Great Spirit, the Creator, Higher Power, Allah or any other Divine Deity. If you are a citizen of the greatest country in the world, being patriotic to it and promising an allegiance to it via its symbol of our proud stars and stripes, only instills in you the duty we each have to honor our country, preserve its heritage (all ethnical heritage), protect its borders, for our fellow citizens and in honor of our God, who allowed us to become the nation we are today.
People try to blame this country’s right to bear arms as the reason why there have been so many horrific shootings in our schools, public malls, and events. I personally believe that the violence of today has nothing to do with this Constitutional Amendment. I believe it could be, in part, a lack of teaching all of our kids to respect others, our country, and to pledge to something outside themselves for the greater good of all, which must be taught not only at home, but in our schools. I believe it could possibly have to do with not teaching enough about faith in God or the Creator or having a belief system in something meaningful to sustain our kids during troubling times, no matter what culture they come from. I believe it is our responsibility as adults to give our children the tools they will need in this crazy world. We can teach them about respect, honor, love of country, love of fellow man, etc., and then when they are forming into young adults, they can decide for themselves what they want to stand for and believe in. Each culture has its own ethics to teach, but I believe if we are living in the United States of America, we have a moral duty to not only allow for all cultures, but to bind us all together in this “one nation, under God.” We are all separate in our individualities and cultures, but as Americans living under our country’s flag, we need to give allegiance to it and to each other. I think that is why we don’t have to have a draft in the armed forces any more. Most people in this country, no matter if they are Native or their ancestors immigrated to this country or their ancestors were brought here against their will as slaves, know that we have a responsibility to it as Americans, and one way that we maintain that is by having the Pledge of Allegiance in our schools.
But that’s just my opinion, and I’ve been granted the right to state it, just another reason why I think we should be proud to Pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. That and because I know, I am blessed by God to have been born in this awesome, powerful and abundant land of the USA!
Today, I learned that the State of South Dakota is passing a law about this very subject:
Link posted from Rapid City Journal:
Posted: March 1, 2014
What a Difference 25 Years Makes…
After just celebrating a birthday where I’m over a half a century old plus some, I can’t help but contemplate on all the changes I’ve seen in the past twenty five years. I wonder if the changes are all what they are cracked up to be, and yet, I personally don’t want to go back to a life with much less technology, and without the bells and whistles that we take for granted now.
The most obvious technology that wasn’t common twenty five years ago is the cell phone as it is today. Sure, bag phones were available, but the reception was spotty, the phone clunky and chunky, and the average person didn’t own one.
I, somehow, managed to raise three daughters without the convenience of a cell phone. Had they had one, I could have saved myself enormous blocks of time that was spent tracking them down. Not that they were bad girls, but if they were at friends or off playing in the neighborhood, it would have been so much more handy to just call them on their cell and tell them to get their little butts home, rather than to stick my head out the door and holler their names, disturbing the peace with my loud, barky, and somewhat demanding voice, a method that usually didn’t work anyway, and then required either digging up a phone book, riffling through the pages searching for their friends’ phone numbers, which would take up another ten to fifteen minutes, and then having to get up to walk to the phone and dial the number (as at that time, I couldn’t afford a cordless phone).
Imagine that back then, the majority of homes in the world had a landline phone. Now, one in four homes have ditched their landlines (frankly, why would anyone keep it – about all you ever get are aggravating, unsolicited phone calls.)
So now, not only do we have cell phones where we can make calls to our kids, friends and other family, we have cell phones that do just about everything you can imagine, with aps available to assist you with your banking, your business contacts, to controlling your home’s safety, lights and temperature, to helping you find a place that serves your favorite food, to showing you how to design an outfit, to helping you map out your next vacation, to taking voice commands and finding us almost instantly facts and figures that would have required twenty five years ago, a trip to the local library for answers.
Twenty five years ago, if you wanted to watch movies at home, it required either paying a premium price for a movie channel (HBO was new and big at that time where I lived), or getting in the car and driving down to the video rental store to browse, rent and bring home to view. I have to admit that I miss those days of browsing through the isles with my daughters picking out movies for the whole family to watch. It gave us special time together. It seems that nowadays families all have their noses into their own cell phones, i-pods, or reading/viewing/gaming devices and they don’t sit down and experience family movie nights completely together. Oh, they might be in the same room, but they are definitely not on the same page, so to speak.
Twenty five years ago, without many electronic gaming devices available for the average family, my family and I actually had to sit down at a board game and play together. In fact, Thursday night was game night in our house, and sometimes, it was like pulling teeth to get my girls to settle down and settle in for a game of Monopoly, Life, Yahtzee or Uno, but once they did, we all had a blast. Now it seems that there are so many different electronic gaming devices that each member of the family gets one and they don’t interact with each other that much. Now it seems that many teenagers can’t fathom doing anything that isn’t electronic based. They can’t hardly be bothered to pull away from texting their friends.
According to About.com, 500 million people use Facebook and half of them log onto facebook each day. My personal new favorite, Pinterest, is used by over 400 million people a day, says Brandigity. Families have to enforce strict rules in order to have time for family interaction or they fight a losing battle.
Twenty five years ago, people didn’t text each other. You had to pick up a phone and call someone or visit them in person. While texting enables us to expand our list of “contacts” and to communicate electronically and briefly with them either individually or in groups, it doesn’t ensure that our contacts are quality, humane interactions with our fellow human beings. While I admit that texting is a huge time saver, there have been numerous times, where I’ve misunderstood a text from someone, because I either didn’t understand the texting lingo, or there was no punctuation and without face to face contact, it’s often hard to read the emotion of a conversation and easy to misinterpret the intention of a particular text.
When my husband moved back home, it was hard for us to communicate in person, as we were used to texting frequently when he worked away from home. We had to relearn how to talk to each other. I’ve heard many people who start with computer dating and find they get along great with texting and conveying their feelings that way, but when actually they meet in person, they can’t seem to get the flow of conversation. It’s a sad deal.
My daughters each text me now more than they call. I used to get upset over it, but now I’ve joined in using texting as the preferred method –that way I don’t have to worry about whether I’m interrupting something – they can just respond when they have time.
While all these new technologies have certainly made it easier for me personally, an introvert by nature, to gain more friends than I normally would have, I’m not sure how quality some of those relationships might be in person, although I always appreciate the advice, the encouragement and the sharing of stories via social media.
Twenty five years ago, not many people had home computers and desk top computers were just becoming the norm in office situations. Another technology that wasn’t readily available to the public twenty five years ago is the Internet. Back then it was only used by the government, universities and scientists. Now, 90% of households in the U.S. have access to the Internet. Oh how much easier helping my daughters with their homework would have been back then, but also, it would have been another distraction to keep them off task. Twenty five years ago, when they needed to do research, it meant getting in the car and driving them to the library and going inside and helping them find the materials they needed. Of course, it was another opportunity for us to spend time together and I miss those hours in the library. I don’t think I’ve stepped into a library but a few times since they’ve grown up, now that I can order books electronically, another option that didn’t exist back then. I can’t imagine how much more time consuming it was to do research as a writer before the Internet. Today, we are definitely blessed with better ways to find information, organize it and use it.
The DVR wasn’t an option twenty five years ago – I can’t imagine going back to watching television with commercials again. I tape everything I watch so I don’t have to sit through 3 to 5 minutes of advertisements bombarding my brain, however, I must admit, that before the DVR, I used to clean house during commercials and it’s amazing how much you can get done in those time slots. But I wouldn’t give up my DVR for anything! You can tape two shows at a time, so you never have to miss your favorites.
There are a few other conveniences that I love having nowadays – the ability to roll down my car windows electronically, the ability to start my car from inside, and the GPS technology that enables us to find places with little stress. Can we live without them? Of course, but I hope I don’t have to ever again.
As I look back at the whirlwind of change that’s happened over the past twenty five years, I can’t help but wonder what’s next and will I be able to keep up. Probably not, but it will sure be exciting times to see what new technology brings. I’m all for anything that makes life easier as long as it becomes affordable for the general public. Bring it on…maybe I’ll be writing for my website from Mars in twenty five years. Hey, did anybody think 25 year ago, that they could use an electronic search engine to find out information about Mars in about a second. All things are possible!
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