People

A Sad Phone Call

I was sitting at my desk trying to find the motivation/inspiration to write when my cell phone rang. It was an old friend I hadn’t talked to in a while. Guilt set in instantly because the last time he called I was lying down and my phone was across the room. I was in too much pain to get up so I didn’t. Later I saw who called but I had to pick up my daughter from work so I put off returning the call.

Since being on all these medication and thanks to some weirdness with my thyroid, my short-term memory is awful. I kept forgetting to call back, for two weeks. I occasionally thought about it but was always too busy until it got to the point where it was completely forgotten, until the phone rang last night. This was bad because we only talk about once every six months or so. I felt awful!

When I answered I planned to tell my friend I was sorry and how he knows my memory is crap, etc, but I never got the chance. I said “hello” and he said “what are you doing”, I said “nothing much how about you” – which is how all our conversations begin. He said “I’m dying.”

I don’t know how long the silence from me lasted before I finally blurted out: “What are you talking about?” He calmly explained to me that he had a tumor and there were words like: ‘surgery’ and ‘chemo’ and phrases like: ‘moved into my lungs’ and ‘compromised immune system’. It felt like his words were bouncing around in my head and wouldn’t settle down enough for me to comprehend. Even now I don’t really know everything he said to me.

I was floored and hardly said anything at first. I eventually spouted out some standard crap, you know, the ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I hope they are wrong’ — junk people say when they don’t know what to say. Most of it I followed up with “I know it’s ridiculous for me to say that.”

I asked when he was having surgery and it turns out he’ll be in the hospital at the same time I go out of town for two weeks. I feel like the worst person ever. Right when he needs to be surrounded by friends I’ll be gone. When I get back I’ll going through the process of preparing for and having surgery myself and won’t be available much then either. It’s been so long since I’ve talked to him that he doesn’t know about any of that and I don’t know if I should tell him or not. He’ll worry but I want him to why I’ll be m.i.a. Lost time can never be found again. I’m completely at a loss about what to do.

I don’t know what I really wanted to say when I started typing this. Maybe I needed to get it off my chest. I do know that I wish I had answered the phone two weeks ago (when he got his diagnosis) or called back right away. I wish when we did finally talk that I had handled it better. By the end of the call I had him laughing, which is good because he sounded determined to stick with his out of character calm tone, but I feel like I should have done more. I guess all I can do now is be there for my friend as much as I can.

Pardon my long winded rambling.

The Making Of An Introvert

When I was young I was a show-off. I was almost a class clown but not quite. Being the baby of the family, I couldn’t really help myself. I loved attention and would go to ridiculous lengths to get it.

I have many examples. When I decided I was going to learn to play the trumpet I practiced all the time, in my driveway. My neighbors were probably extremely grateful when I finally got good at it. Once I dragged a milk crate full of very heavy petrified wood to school for show and tell because no one else even knew what it was. Talk about a terrible decision! My classmates were suitably impressed but I was exhausted by the time I got to school and even more worn out by the time I got home.

If I could have been any superhero ever, it would have been Storm. I spent many hours running up and down the block pretending to fly. Somehow I managed to do this loudly. Of course when my best friends and I decided to lip sync and dance for the talent show we practiced in the front yard for weeks to music that I now think is awful.

Eventually I stopped wanting all eyes on me, especially after the last time I consciously tried to show off. I was riding my semi-new bike practicing the no hands method of steering. I was actually really good at it. I noticed all the neighborhood kids were outside and since I was the best at the trick I decided to subtly educate everyone else. Finishing up, I had almost reached my house when several kids and their parents started yelling at me. I was confused because I was already looking at them. I would have asked what they were screaming about but at that moment I connected with the side mirror of my next door neighbor’s extremely large truck, with my face.

You know, the kind that are about a foot tall and stick out really far from the vehicle. I was knocked back really far and my bike kept going, straight as could be past at least three houses. Man that was painful! It even hurt my pride. Imagine the scene, most of my neighbors crowding around me while I lay in the street dazed and embarrassed. I let someone help me up and I staggered to my house and shut the door. Someone put my bike on the porch and everyone left me alone. I was pretty beat up and it sucked to have to tell my two older brothers what happened. And for the curious, yes they bring it up every few years at family gatherings.

I’m pretty sure I started down the road to becoming an introvert that day. I also kept my hands firmly on the handles when riding my back forever after.

It didn’t take me long to start withdrawing into myself. I quit band and track and basketball within a year. I became reserved and bordered on shy for a while. I got over the shy and stayed reserved. I avoided anything and everything that would put me in the spotlight. Anything to keep from getting embarrassed. I don’t know why one dumb move as child affected me so profoundly but it did.

Deep down inside I was an attention whore for years. How else can I possibly explain all the black clothes and weird hair I sported in high school? I call it my passive aggressive showing off years. Yes, I was one of those kids. The weird ones who dress up to get your attention but get mad when they catch you staring.

I eventually outgrew all that. I’m still reserved, until I get to know someone. Now I see myself as somewhere between an extrovert and introvert.

The biggest issue I’ve carried over from that time in my life is the fear of being embarrassed by my own actions. The fear of trying something new and failing can be incapacitating. It almost stopped me from becoming a writer, but I’ll cover that issue in another post.

I will say when I write something and share it with anyone I am anticipating an oversized side mirror knocking me off my bike.

On the plus side, I’m really good at doing scenes where my characters make fools of themselves. Show-offs are easy to write and creating protagonists and antagonists who suffer due to their arrogance is a breeze.

So was I born an introvert? No way. Am I one now? Yes, although I’m a social introvert. Would I have become one if I hadn’t shown off that day? I’ll never know. Many other things contributed to this but that day all those years ago was the beginning.

Flash Fiction – What Lives Under The Bridge?

Sam planned carefully. He would say the most intelligent things ever said. He would show them all his opinion carried more weight than the idiot on center stage. His comments were more important. The sword of his words would impale the other jerk and leave her bleeding.

With each new sentence he would bully the bully who had dared to contradict him. How dare her call him immature for stating his opinion. He stamped down the guilt that reared its ugly head. It didn’t matter who started it! Sam would flay her with carefully thought out vitriol. She would walk away crying. Such thoughts reigned as he pounded out the words, patting himself on the back for his cleverness.

Wait, did she just laugh at me? Bitch. Her comment shattered his argument. This could not be allowed. Quickly he changed the focus, accusing the woman of being the real drama queen. He threw out as many of her transgressions as he could remember. That would put her in her place and stop Sam from losing the argument.

He waited patiently for the response, for the detractor to slink away, tail between her legs, firmly beaten. The notification popped up. Sam nervously clicked on it and read the comment: “rolls eyes.”

With an inarticulate gargle he threw his laptop across the room. He had been out-trolled.


This story is as dumb as the internet fights that inspired it. Now I’m going to go write something about ‘real’ troll who lives under a bridge.


Photo by Ryan McGuire

Writers Are Weird

I was working a lesson in the writing class I’m taking and I had a moment. You know, one of those breakthrough moments. I was making a mind map about why I want to write. I came up with many things that surprised me but one in particular struck me.

I wanted to be able to justify my weird. I’ve been odd my entire life. I’ve always seen things just a little differently than the people around me. I over-analyze everything (I don’t advise this). I add theme songs to daydreams. I bring up books constantly as examples of…well everything.

I often came across as distant. I wasn’t really, but when you’re in the middle of making up a cool fight scene it’s a little difficult to give others your full attention. I’ve lived more in my head a good portion of the time.

I was/am one of those types I like to call fringe people. You know, the kind that like to be in a group but stay on the edges. I’m not anti-social but I’m too busy watching everything to truly participate. I enjoyed this a lot but everyone else tried, unsuccessfully, to get me more involved. Every time someone came to the realization that I was content where I was, they thought I was weird as hell.

One guy thought I was the strangest person he’d ever met because I really truly listen to lyrics in songs. It probably didn’t help that I said things like: “This song talks to me.” Another said only weirdos and the British drink tea!

I’ve been accused of being strange because I read science fiction and fantasy. Or even just for preferring reading to whatever it is that someone else wants to do. My coworkers at previous jobs never could understand that reading IS doing something and no I really didn’t want to stop to talk about nothing with them. The readers out there get that one. Ever heard this while reading: “Since you’re not busy….”

No matter what anyone thought or said, I stayed weird. It’s part of me. It is me. However, when you hear something in a negative light for years and years it eats away at you. I didn’t know that until this lesson. Somewhere in the back of my mind I wondered if being weird was good. There was some guilt insidiously hiding there. Sometimes it made me stupidly put down my pen. I got over that but there was still a need to prove myself.

If I was this weird then I damn well better be a writer or the weird was for nothing, unjustified. Well frack that! I am weird, and I will wear that title with pride. I will write because I want/have to, not just because I feel like I should just to prove something to someone.

It boils down to most people think you should be exactly like them and if you’re not then you are branded with these terms: weird, strange, odd or bizarre. I looked up the definitions and I fail to see how of these things are bad.

  • Weird — fantastic; bizarre
  • Strange — unusual, extraordinary, or curious
  • Odd — differing in nature from what is ordinary, usual, or expected
  • Bizarre — markedly unusual in appearance, style, or general character and often involving incongruous or unexpected elements; outrageously or whimsically strange; odd

I don’t need to justify my weird, I need to embrace it. I’m a writer and writers are weird. We have to be and if we weren’t then there wouldn’t be so many books out there to enjoy.

So I’ll keep reading and getting way too into music. I’ll continue writing and I’ll always be weird

If you’ve ever been saddled with these labels, well it’s probably true, and so what? What exactly is it that you have to prove? All you have to be is you. Be weird, embrace strange, believe in bizarre. Normal is just a setting on a washing machine anyway.


I’ll call this my six minutes of writing for the day, but it took much longer. Now I’m going to do some writing in 10 minute bursts for a while. I love productive days!

Sidenote: When I did a spell check, frack didn’t come up lol!

Teenager Discrimination

Not everyone believes that age discrimination is really a thing, at least not when applied to teenagers. I myself have practiced it when I worked retail. I might not have accused any young people of anything but I certainly kept an eye on any large group of them that came into my store and I’ve had to ask a few such groups to leave when they started damaging things. What I’m wondering today is, is that fair? Sure it’s fair to be thrown out of a store for behaving badly but what about the being prejudged part? No, probably not.

Today my fourteen year old daughter had a bad experience in a store at our local mall. It was a party supply store, yes a national chain. She went in with a large group of friends, that was the first check off the list against her. It was all girls, add another check. Ten teenage girls aren’t really capable of being quiet so I have no doubt they were being loud – check. In a group of people who large, the ones actually shopping are going to want different things but they wanted to stay together so they went down every aisle. It didn’t really take long for an employee to get so suspicious she had to say something.

Did she tell them they were being too loud or disruptive to other customers? Nope. The exact quote as repeated to me was:

“I hope you guys know this is not a playground, it’s a store and if you’re not going to buy anything we’re going to kick you out.”

A playground. Can you get any more insulting to a teenager? I think not. I know the employee had no way of knowing if these kids were paying customers or not, but isn’t that the point? As a matter of fact, five of them did make purchases, even after being humiliated.

Now as a parent of a well-behaved kid who has rarely done anything wrong in her life (she’s a people pleaser, poor thing), I’m furious with that lady. As a former retail employee I understand, to a point. I think she handled it badly and that perhaps she needs to not work weekends. I, for one, have never been into a party store on a weekend and Not seen teenagers in it.

My daughter also told me the store was actually FULL of teenagers, mostly in groups, so the party pooper in the party store probably has way less hair than she did this morning.

What would you have done in the employee’s place? For the parents out there, would you be angry?


Sidenote: I wrote for much longer than six minutes today and I’m very happy about it! What’s next for me? Why a story about a fictional grumpy, job hating, teenager loathing villain of course.

My Happy and Sad Experience While Shopping Today

I have a lot of writing to do today. I have a class to work on any and all the creative writing I can fit in. However, I feel the need to take of moment and share my experience from this morning. I had a few places to go today so I decided to do it all early so I could have as much uninterrupted writing time as possible.

Let me back up for just a moment and tell you a little something about me. I’m in a hurry, all the time. I don’t know why but I tend to do things fast. I write fast, I walk fast, I drive fast, etc. I have no particular reason for this habit except I don’t like to move slow, (I think this is why I like action movies instead of drama).

So I was at Sam’s, having picked up the five things I needed and was walking towards the exit when an elderly man ends up in front of me. As I said before, I’m not known for my patience but it’s different in a situation like that. This man was walking very slow and deliberately. I got the impression he couldn’t go any faster.

I supposed I could have sped up and gotten around him but suddenly I wasn’t in so much of a hurry. I watched as others whipped around him and I could tell by the set of his shoulders he felt bad about his snail’s pace. Coincidentally, he was parked next to me. By the time we got to our cars the man was clearly exhausted. He didn’t have a lot of things but he did have some heavy items and I was going to offer to help him but he grabbed them quickly and easily and threw them in his trunk, so I put up my things and took back my cart while he finished up loading his car.

When he was done I asked him if I could take his cart for him and the look on his face was troubling. He was shocked, and grateful. He said thank you and I took the cart. When I got back he was still standing at the back of his car waiting for me. I told him to have a great day. He flashed a huge smile and told me I was very kind and he left, still smiling.

It made me happy and sad. I was happy because he genuinely needed the help. It was easy for me to push a cart six or seven car lengths but would have been hard for him. I was sad that he was so surprised. From one expression and then his deep gratitude I could tell my offer was rare. I got the sense most people found him a nuisance or at the very least a road block to get around. Most of the people rushing past him in the store today didn’t take the time to see this man was doing the best he could and wasn’t trying to inconvenience anyone. He is just a very old man doing everything for himself, by himself, for as long as he’s able. I felt like he not only needed, but deserved the help.

I wish more people would see it that way as well. I know there is a lot of nice people out there who would do the same as I did. I’m not saying everyone is a jerk. However, what if you’re the only one there who could help? Would you? I hope so.

Even though it made me a little sad, I’m glad this tiny thing made his day, and his beautiful smile certainly made mine.

I’m off to work on my class. Maybe I’ll write a happy story today.

Too Much Anger In The Air Today

Any of you ever had someone confront you after they caught you shake your head at their terrible parking? It happened to me a little while ago. I was about to pull into a spot and realized there was a car taking up half of that spot and the one in front of it. I drove around and went to another spot and noticed there was a lady in the badly parked car. I shook my head and thought she was an idiot.

That was the end of the story for me. Not her. As I walked in front of her car to get to the store she partially got out and said “Why did you shake your head at me?” She was pretty agitated, and waving her phone at me. I was so surprised I only said “Excuse me?” She repeated her question, which seemed to anger her even more.

I stopped and stared at her for a second before responding. “Look at your parking job.” She turned bright red, and I continued on into the store, (I’m pretty sure I was still shaking my head). I have no idea what she said after that, but I could hear her practically yelling into her phone, bitching about me I’m sure.

So after I walked in the doors I turned back and watched as she corrected her parking issue and I laughed, which of course got me weird looks from the people near me. Did I leave out that this lady was a much older woman, like 80? She was also half my size, so I was somewhat impressed that she had to guts to confront me.

I felt a little bad, because I didn’t have to even respond but she caught me off guard. However, I think it’s ridiculous to yell at someone for noticing when you mess up. I did see her in the store and she pretended like I didn’t exist. This time I kept my head under tight control.

I feel like I should somehow turn this into a short story or flash fiction, or even a small scene. Either way I wanted to share it; this was too weird not to. Has this kind of thing ever happened to any of you? How did you handle it? I can’t be the only person that has that issue where words come out of my mouth before thoughts are completely processed.

Changes

Sometimes people just need a change in their lives. It could be little, like a man shaving off his beard or growing a goat-tee. Other times it’s bigger, like a mid-life crisis car, or a major wardrobe overhaul. For me, it was a haircut.

This was no ordinary haircut. Oh it started out that way, but changed quickly, and often. I went into the salon and explained that I wasn’t absolutely positive what I wanted to do, but I wanted the back of my hair a little shorter than the front, then I asked for the stylist’s advice.

Her name was Elyssa and she was almost good at keeping a straight face but I caught the ‘oh crap’ look in her eyes. I found out during the cut that she was new, not only at the salon, but she had recently graduation from cosmetology school.

We started with a bobbed style. I hated it. That’s a lie, it was super cute, but it wasn’t really what I wanted. Too bad for her, I still didn’t know what I wanted. She made a few suggestions and she cut a bit more off. This cycle repeated a few times until my hair was sitting right along my jaw line, which was three inches shorter than when I got there.

I would have left it like that but Elyssa wasn’t stupid, she could tell I wasn’t really happy with it. I assured her that she had done a fine job. My hair looked great. She modestly agreed but told me she wasn’t letting me out of her chair until I was satisfied.

She called another stylist over and we all discussed my hair some more, looked at a few pictures and I finally made a decision.

I feel the need to explain myself a bit here. Normally when it comes to my hair I’m very decisive. I go in knowing what I want. I tell the person cutting what I want, ask for advice if they don’t think it will work, then get the haircut. Simple, quick, easy.

My hair backstory this time changed all that. I wore my hair short for most of my adult life. Then four years ago I decided to grow it out. Two months ago I cut nine inches off. Ever since then I’ve been trying to find the right length, all while trying to avoid going back to really short.

Did I say people sometimes need a change? Well in this case I needed a change back.

When I told Elyssa exactly what to do I thought she was going to fall over. What I asked for was basically the opposite of what I’d originally told her I wanted, and complicated. Let me remind you, she had little experience. I wasn’t scared, she’d done great, not only with the cutting, but the dealing with her indecisive customer. Plus, my hair grows fast, so even if I didn’t like it, it would look different in a couple of weeks.

She had to get advice a couple of times and I had to point out things she missed a couple of time but we got it done. It’s short in the front, extremely short in the back. I love it! In a way I look like myself again. It’s no wonder I was never happy after the first big cut months ago. I’m glad I finally stopped avoiding what I wanted all along.

Haircut I hate taking my own picture, but I wanted to show the results.