Too little, too late

Weekly Writing Challenge: Backward

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While I laid there staring up toward the ceiling on the cold operating table, the blinding surgical light overhead stabbed into my retinas like a thousand sharp needle jabs. The anesthesia had been administered, and it was just a matter of time before I lost consciousness. “Count backward from 10,” the nurse had said, and so I did.

Ten, nine; I was terrified. I felt cold, so very cold, inside and out. Eight, seven; the nurse smiled down at me. At least, I believe it was a smile. The corners of her eyes creased and her cheeks arched in a smiling manner, but her mouth was covered by a surgical mask. She held my trembling hand in hers as a calming gesture while she waited for me to drift off. It did nothing to steady my nerves. Six, five; tunnel vision had started to set in. A chilly darkness gnawed at the edges of my periphery. It wouldn’t be long now. Four, three; my eyes felt dry. I finally closed them as I let the effects of the anesthesia wash over me. Two. A deep, black void rolled in. One never came. My final thought as I drifted off into oblivion was:

Please stop. I’ve just made a terrible mistake.

I had never intended to get pregnant with my son. I had, however, stopped taking my birth control pills because my insurance wouldn’t cover the monthly cost of the drug, and I was convinced that I couldn’t keep up with the mounting financial strain it put on my wallet. I was intending to just ‘be careful’.  Use condoms and such. Great in theory, but we all know how well that works out in reality, right?

I was already a single mom. Well, sort of, anyway. It was in the respect that I wasn’t married at the time. The apartment was mine, and the boyfriend moved in with me, thus making the bills my problem. While maybe slipping me a few bucks here and there if he was feeling generous, he wasn’t a huge help when he would disappear on weekend long drinking binges every time he received a paycheck.

It was during a trip to Vegas that it happened.  Wait. What? Vegas? I thought you just said you couldn’t afford birth control. Why were you traipsing off to Vegas?

Well, the best answer I can give for that question is that I was young, stupid, and didn’t have my priorities in order. Tax time came, and when I got that check in my hot little hands, I just couldn’t wait to go off and spend it. Vegas seemed like the fitting place to do just that.

Thus, the trip was booked; for me, and the boyfriend. Okay, stop right there. You just said he wasn’t much help because he went off to drink away his paycheck, yet you decided to take him to Vegas? Where’s the logic in that?

Revert back to my comment about being young and stupid.

Off we went to sin city, and during a thoughtless night blurred by the effects of ingesting massive amounts of alcohol, and being enraptured by a buffet of wild, unbridled night life, careful didn’t happen, and Cameron did.

I knew the deed was done before I even urinated on the little white stick that would reveal my fate.  I had been overly tired for 2 weeks straight upon my return from the trip. I would drag my carcass home from work, flop on the couch in a drooling heap that would drift in and out of consciousness, and stay there until it was time to get up and do it all over again. Occasionally I would slither into bed when I bothered to stir. I don’t even recall now how my daughter got fed during those first couple of weeks. Either he did it, or I stumbled into the kitchen in a half dazed stupor and opened up a can of something that Chef Boyardee had been kind enough to cook up in advance.

Now, the first time I had gotten pregnant shortly after we started dating he had been happy about it, because we were okay then, but I miscarried about a month and a half later. Our relationship proceeded to turn to crap about a year after that. He started going out to bars and parties without me, often disappearing straight out of work without even coming home to change and clean up first. So I would either sit at home and stew, or I would get a sitter and do the same with a few of the girls from work, often hoping we would end up at the same bar so that he could see that I had decided to still go on with my life without his presence.

He wasn’t happy when he found out about this pregnancy. “How’d that happen when you just stopped taking your birth control pills last month? That stuff stays in your system for a while,” was his response. “Well, you know, a woman is more fertile the month after she goes off the pill,” was mine. He retorted with, “You’re full of sh*t, I aint never heard of that.” He had never heard this common knowledge bit of information; therefore it must not be true. Being a woman, I never knew what I was talking about and he never took anything I said seriously anyway. He’d never hesitate to tell me to shut up or call me stupid. Thinking back on it now, he had so many emotional issues and hang ups that he had to belittle me to bring me down to his same level of despair. It worked.

I don’t know what made us stay together when we were both clearly miserable. The sex wasn’t even that good anymore. It could have been fear of starting over, or maybe being alone. I really couldn’t say, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that our relationship was over long before it was officially over.

I remember the whole discussion scene over “what to do about it” vividly even now. We had taken his nephews and my daughter to Chuck E Cheese that day, and we discussed options over slices of greasy, barely warm peperoni as the kids toddled off with their buckets of tokens. Actually it was more like argued options, as arguing was all we ever did by then. The “a word” came up. It was an option, after all, and I had already done it twice by then.

The first time, I had gotten pregnant by a pothead that I knew from high school. We dated for about 3 weeks. I knew it wouldn’t be a lasting relationship after 2. I was not even fully divorced yet and was still hurting from the split. A second child was not something I was even willing to consider then. So I committed the unthinkable; I killed my unborn child and wailed face down on my living room floor most of that night, until head aching, eyes swollen shut, unable to breathe through my nose, I finally passed out from exhaustion. That scene played out exactly the same for several nights to follow.

The second time I did it, I was with him. I had already known by that time that I didn’t want to be saddled with him for the rest of my life, and I had caught the pregnancy so early that the clinic didn’t have to do an invasive procedure to end it; they simply gave me a shot in the rear end and a pill to stuff up there after I got home. I had convinced myself that because of the ease with which the termination occurred, I wasn’t actually committing murder. It wasn’t far enough along yet for it to be murder. I know better now, but back then, there was hardness in me. I don’t know if it was a hardness that was brought about as a response to his, or if life kicking me repeatedly when I was down was to blame. It was there nonetheless.

Was.

I can’t go back and change what I’ve done today, but I have changed my heart. I’ve become a Christian since, and have sought forgiveness. Though I try not to beat myself up over the past atrocities that I’ve committed, I’m still human, and the pain still creeps in from time to time.

Knowing the pain that stemmed from the aftermath of an abortion, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it a third time. My body had been through enough. My emotional state had been through enough. My fragile psyche had been through enough.

So my life went on with a growing belly. An undeniably growing belly. Undeniable for me, anyway. It took him a good 6 months before he would even acknowledge that I was pregnant. Then, slowly, he warmed up to the idea and started buying a few baby things here and there with the money that he didn’t go out and drink up. It wasn’t much, but it was a start.

He was there for the birth, but he was drunk. I recall my father looking at him with disgust as he laughed, joked around, and stunk like a hobo. I also remember him telling me that I’d better not have to have a C-section, because then my stomach would “turn into oatmeal” and he wouldn’t want me anymore. Big loss there, right?

My squalling, red-faced, baby bobble head came into the world at 11:56 pm on October 18th, 2001. I call him my baby bobble head because when he was born, his head was enormous. I don’t just say that in gest. It caused quite a bit of concern with doctors for a good long while, and he had to go in for frequent checkups so that they could monitor his head growth. He also had to have extensive physical therapy because he couldn’t hold his massive head up or roll it from one side to the other while sleeping, so the side that he favored to sleep on was becoming flat and misshapen. He was also born with hypothyroidism, for which he was immediately put on medication, which resulted in frequent trips to an endocrinologist and more doctor bills.

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All of this was naturally my fault. He already had one son that was born perfectly healthy, so it had to be me. Several years of drinking and dabbling in every illegal substance known to man couldn’t possibly have led to any abnormalities in his child. No, it had to be my fault because I was on a low dose of Prozac during the last half of my pregnancy, since he just made me so very upset and depressed all the time, and my blood pressure was through the roof.

I had told my doctor during one of my regular checkups toward the end that I was done.  I had my girl from a failed relationship already, now I was having a boy with a man that I silently loathed a vast majority of the time, so that was good enough for me. One of each was perfect I thought. Why would I want to risk having another child in the future with yet another man? Imagine what people would think of me. Three kids, three different fathers. Slut, trash, tramp; those were just a few of the descriptive words that came to mind.

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I believe my exact words to the doctor were, “Snip it, burn it, rip it all out if you have to. Just break the baby making machine beyond repair, please.”

He scheduled me to have it done the following morning after delivery, since I would already be in the hospital. Then I would have time to heal from the birth and the surgery all at once. It was a done deal.

Never again. No more babies.

I realized that fact in a cold operating room just as black oblivion enveloped me. Never again would I get to experience the thrill of feeling a baby kick for the first time. Never again would I have the attention of people rubbing my belly and taking burdens from me out of care and concern. Never again would I bring a life into this world. Never again would I get to feel that first wave of overwhelming love wash over me as I stared down into the eyes of my newborn son or daughter.

Drifting off into unconsciousness as a surgeon readies his scalpel is a terrible time to reach the realization that you might have made a mistake. As the barely audible number two left my dry lips in a raspy whisper just before the darkness overtook me, that’s exactly what happened. Two. Too many bad decisions made to bring me to this point. Too much worry about what the future held. Too quick to act without thinking it through.

Too little, too late.

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Luxury? What’s that?

Daily Prompt: Luxurious

What’s the one luxury you can’t live without?

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Disclaimer: Due to the pathetic nature of this post, tears of pity for the author may be shed. Please have tissues on hand.

Luxury? What is that?

We pretty much live at poverty level with 5 kids. My husband is paid a fraction of what he should be making after 15 years of property management service with the company he works for. So, my idea of luxury probably isn’t what everyone else’s idea of luxury may be. I don’t think of luxury as fancy cars and expensive jewelry and the finer things in life. No, I consider luxury to be what others may just think of as standard living. I can’t pinpoint any one specific thing that I’d put above any others, though, so I’ll just list a few items that I consider to be luxuries.

Personal space. Now there’s a luxury. We live in a small 3 bedroom condo, which doesn’t seem bad in theory because we at least have a roof over our heads while many others don’t. It’s a nice place, too, so I’m not complaining about my home. It isn’t falling apart or run down or anything and it’s in a fairly decent area of the crime infested city we live in. However, when 3 teenage girls are crammed into a bedroom that isn’t even large enough to park a car in, it does become…problematic. The oldest is moving out next month, though, because she’ll be 18, so the 2 remaining girls will have a bit more space.

Then there’s food. Food is a luxury. This saddens me deeply, because I love to ingest food. What would I do for a Klondike Bar? Start selling off children or body parts because that’s about what it would take for me to get one.

We’re often forced to have small portions to make meals stretch, which often leads to whines and complaints from the kids because they’re still hungry after a meal. Well, of course they’re still hungry, they’re teenagers. They’d eat the furniture if it were deep fried and covered in ketchup.

We can’t afford decent food, either, because we’d have to take out a loan and put our vital organs up as collateral to buy fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats. No, we can only afford the cheap, unhealthy junk. Our weekly meals consist of stuff like hamburger helper, macaroni and cheese, ramen, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, and French fries. I can’t recall the last time any name brand items crossed our threshold, either. I have fantasies about Kraft macaroni and cheese, because that generic stuff, while not only a lovely shade of florescent orange when you mix in the powder, is like chewing on a dirty shoe. I stopped wondering why my intestines light up like a glow worm a long time ago, and assumed it must just be the generic macaroni and cheese.

Our kids are so sick of eating ramen for lunch every day (that isn’t an exaggeration), that they’ve started experimenting with different ways to make it. My daughter will boil it, microwave it, or sometimes fry it. She’ll mix it with teriyaki sauce, sugar, frozen vegetables, butter, or anything else she can think of to try. They have learned not to whine to my husband about how sick of it they are, though, after hearing, “You’ll eat anything if you’re hungry enough” any time that they do.

New clothing is a luxury, too. I have to admit, though, that it’s been nice working at a thrift store because we haven’t really had to worry about how we were going to get clothes for the kids. I’ll usually just tell them to bring in their outgrown items and exchange them for clothing that fits. We’ll be lost when we don’t have the thrift store helping us out with clothing anymore.

Now underwear, that junk is definitely a luxury. I’ve worn my sports bras right down to the point that they look like Swiss cheese. The elastic will be shot in my “drawahs” (that’s southern for underpants) and those suckers will be hanging to my knees before I finally get some new ones. Then my eyes light up like a kid on Christmas morning when I get that new pack of Fruit of the Looms.

Having a laptop and Internet to go with it is beyond luxury. It’s straight up extravagance. Lucy, my beloved laptop, is getting up there in years though. She’s an old girl as far as computers go. She’s like…5 or something. She’s a hand-me-down from my husband because he needed a new laptop for work. I’m happy to have her, though, she’s my baby. My husband has thought about cutting off the internet a few times to save money, but we don’t have cable, so if he did that we might actually be forced to…oh I don’t know…have conversations or spend time together and junk. How horrible would that be?

We do get to go on a cruise at least once a year compliments of my husband’s company. That’s a huge luxury for us. They take us every October, so that trip is coming up, too. I’m excited.

Through all the things I’m lacking, though, I’m content. Contentment is being satisfied with what you have and not longing for more. I don’t sit around in misery all day and say, “I wish I had this or that”. I like my home. I like the things in it. Sure, the kitchen table is in rough shape, but I found a nice table runner at the dollar store. Problem solved. Man, have I learned to solve some problems over the years with nothing but spare change, too…

I don’t look at what other people are driving and long for something better, either. I like Bessie, my minivan with the wired on bumper from getting rear ended by a texting taxi driver. She’s a sturdy old gal. Now if I could just get my kids to stop thinking she’s a trash can and laundry hamper on wheels…

Sure I get frustrated sometimes if there’s a need that can’t be met financially. I haven’t been able to visit a doctor in years due to lack of insurance, which is hard because I’m getting older and problems that I’ve had for awhile are becoming more prominent. We just can’t afford insurance, though, and I don’t qualify for Medicaid. So, I suck it up and cope when I have a medical issue. Ibuprofin is one of my closest friends.

I’m sad for the kids more than anything because they’ve had to miss field trips, birthday parties, and other events due to our financial situation over the years. They’ve gone without birthday presents for as long as I can remember and have pretty meager Christmases sometimes because we just can’t afford to buy them luxurious things.

For the most part, they understand, though, and they don’t complain as often as they have reason to. I think they know that we do the best we can with what we’ve got.

We get by, and that’s what matters.

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Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda

Daily Prompt: Regrets, I’ve Had a Few

What’s your biggest regret? How would your life have been different if you’d made another decision?

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As far as regrets go, I have many. Most of the major ones were brought to light in my previous post: Reflections of a Life Wasted. So, my regrets aren’t any great secret…anymore.

I probably wouldn’t be able to pick just one and call it my biggest, so I think I’ll just pick one of the earliest and touch on that. It’s a pretty big regret as far as my life’s direction is concerned, though.

You see, I have a talent. My mother has the same talent, and that talent has now been passed down to my daughter as well.

We’re not singers. Truth be told, I can’t carry a tune in a bucket. I can see people around me visibly cringe when I belt out the words to whatever the praise and worship team is playing in church on Sundays. Yeah, it’s pretty bad. I don’t think I’ve ever heard my mother sing out loud, and my daughter has a decent singing voice, but like her dear old mom, she’s totally tone deaf.

We’re not musicians, either. I played the clarinet for about 2 weeks in middle school and dropped out. I barely spent enough time at it to learn Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. My daughter “tinkers” with the guitar, but that hasn’t turned into anything serious.  She’s learned bits and pieces of a few simpler songs from Youtube. I tried my hand at Jingle Bells on my step daughter’s keyboard once, because she’s a total piano prodigy and makes it look so easy. I can assure you, though, that it isn’t. Not for me, anyway. I failed miserably. Never even made it past “Jingle all the way.”

No, our talent is solely artistic. We can draw, paint, craft, and create like there’s no tomorrow. We’re full of imagination, all 3 of us, and our ideas flow like spiked punch at a Junior Prom. Projects that my mother did over the years always amazed me, and at 16, my daughter is as talented as I am, possibly even more. Here is a sampling of some of my daughter’s projects:

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Yep. We’re those crafty, creative do-it yourself types. Anyone I know can come to me and say, “I need an idea for this,” and I’ll have several almost instantly. It just comes naturally to me.

I exceled in all of my art classes throughout my entire school career. My peers would always marvel at my creations. I remember working on an undersea perspective scene in colored pencil at one point during my senior year.  I had some free time in history class one day, so I got out my pencils and did some work on it. I remember the entire class gathering around me ‘oooing’ and ‘ahhing’ as I worked. I even received several offers from people to buy that piece.

When my friends, peers, and co-workers would discover that I had artistic skill, they would always come to me for favors and with job requests. I’ve been the go-to ‘art girl’ in every circle that I’ve traveled in. At the factory I worked in fresh out of high school, a co-worker hired me to do a pencil drawing of her mother. I was asked to do some wacky “over the hill” pictures to hang up for our Supervisor’s birthday. I also designed the front of our March of Dimes Walk America Team T-shirts for one of the many years that our group participated.

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The requests still pour in quite often. My husband’s office assistant paid me to do some posters for her to use in a skit that she was doing for the kids at her church. People at my church have come to me with project requests, such as signs that I was asked to make to promote our daycare. I did some signs for a friend for her skit, and I even reworked some pieces of an old desk that I found into paintings to hang in our youth room:

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Now, don’t think I’m complaining. I love art, and I love doing projects for people. I just started teaching my own small art class at the co-op that our homeschooled kids attend, and I really enjoy it. If I could just get the kids in my class to enjoy art as much as I do and take the projects a little more seriously, it would be like a dream come true. Their lack of enthusiasm reminds me of myself at a young age…

Which finally leads me to one of my biggest regrets; that I never cared enough when I was young to make a career stem from my talent. I had opportunities, of course. I entered a scholarship contest once in which they picked 3 lucky students out of 300 to receive a free ride through Kendall College of Art and Design. I certainly wasn’t chosen. The 3 that were picked that day, well, amazing would have been an understatement when describing their talents.

So, I walked away full of self-pity, convinced that I didn’t even have skill enough to turn my talent into a career. I did and still do have skill, of course, but it wasn’t the level of skill that those “winners” had. So, I just simply gave up.

There were other scholarships out there that I could have gone after, and other ways I could have made it into college to pursue a career in the art field, but I just didn’t have the ambition after that. I had allowed doubt and discouragement to creep into my head and replace my vision and focus. Now, my lack of ambition in youth has turned into regret as I find myself pushing 40.

Had I just applied myself at the time in my life when it was most crucial, I believe now that I could have gone places with my gift. I could have made a decent career for myself. I could be helping support my family financially better than I am. I could be proud of myself and have something to show for my talent, other than a bunch of artsy favors done for friends and miscellaneous craft projects around my house.

I can’t go back and change it, though, so there’s no use crying over wasted skill.  I’ll just pour the knowledge that I’ve picked up over the years into teaching my art class, and hope that at least some of those kids will have the focus and ambition to further their careers and never give up.

There’s a good lesson for my art students, right?

Don’t be a quitter, kids. It will catch up with you, someday.

In the form of regret.

Reflections of a Life Wasted

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I’m coming up on my 39th birthday here in…umm…

*Cue awkward silence as I count on my fingers and mumble under my breath, “Let’s see. Multiply by 5, subtract 96, carry the one and…*

5 days.

Now, there’s no big fuss made over a 39th birthday. It isn’t even a milestone event in one’s life. Next year, however, the big 4-0 will hop up and bite me in the backside like a snake that’s been hiding in the tall, overgrown grass of my life. I look toward this event with trepidation.

I guess the approach of what society has deemed to be the “over-the-hill” mark, rendering my last official year of youth as methodically ticking away, has caused me to really start reflecting back on my life. Replaying the mistakes that I’ve made. Weeding through the “what ifs”. Gritting my teeth against the “could-have-done-betters”.

I’m a dweller. I try not to be, and the Christian crowd will tell me that I shouldn’t be, but I’m just so very human. I think that mulling things over again and again and reworking them in my mind is probably in my blood. I can agree, though, that without God in my life now, I would have completely reverted back into my head and might otherwise be found drooling in a corner somewhere rocking and mumbling to myself. Clinging to faith and hope keeps me upright.

I didn’t always, though.

Fresh out of high school, I viewed the world as my playground and had very little determination to seize any kind of future for myself. I entered one scholarship contest to an art school that I was mildly interested in, but when I showed up with portfolio in hand, I took a look around at the other 300 applicants and their work, and was instantly discouraged. I packed up and left that day thinking much less of myself than I had when I woke up that morning. Afraid and unsure of my abilities from that point forward, the portfolio found its way into the back of my closet, thus closing the doors on any further attempts to try to be somebody and make a career stem from my talents. I never looked back again.

Instead I gave in to the calling of my social life, got a little apartment above a house lived in by the woman renting the place, and held killer parties. I figured maybe the parties were getting out of hand when people were vomiting out the windows onto her car below. She was understanding enough, though, and gave me the opportunity to stay as long as I toned it down.  Soon after, the roommate moved out, the boyfriend moved in, and I did behave; as much as a young single girl shacked up with her boyfriend possibly could, and for a while, at least.

I traded one boyfriend in for another when that one enlisted in the military. He was a good guy, but I was wild, free, and simply didn’t want to wait for him.  So out went the old, and in came the new. With the new, I fell instantly head over heels. Or so I thought. Reflecting on it now, I had no concept of what love really was back then.

Then the bad break-up happened and I ran from my hurt. I packed up my apartment, quit my job, stuffed anything that wouldn’t fit in my car into my parents’ basement, and took off to a place 8 hours north of home to escape seeing him. I had met some people there the summer before, and my grandpa had a cabin there that I broke into once I arrived. It was quickly discovered that I was staying there, though, and I was tossed out on my bad decision making backside.

After a month of living in my car because I had no other place to go, and a job that quickly went south because I either didn’t show up for my 12 hour shifts or came in hung over, I threw in the towel, pawned my entire CD collection for gas money, and went home.

I got my old job back. The boyfriend and I got back together. I became pregnant at 21, and we got married to the urgings of family members to “do the right thing.”

Well, the right thing essentially turned out to be the wrong thing.

At the ripe old age of 23 I was a divorcée that was looking for love in all the wrong places to try and ease my pain. I traveled in all the wrong circles and spent nights with forgettable men. Some of them so forgettable, in fact, that I couldn’t even be bothered to learn their names to begin with.

I had become your average barfly because I just couldn’t bear to sit home alone with my thoughts, wallowing in my self-pity, so I had sought out ways to drown them. Cheap alcohol and the attentions of the opposite sex became my crutch.

Until a long island iced tea bought for me by a dark haired stranger, and a one night stand, turned into ‘a regular thing’.

Age 26 then saw me stuck in a loveless relationship with an alcoholic compliments of my bar hopping habit, (and that long island) that thought nothing of disappearing on a drinking binge for an entire weekend, while I sat home wondering where he was with a 4 year old and another baby on the way. Well, what did I expect from a guy that I picked up in a bar?

I also had 2 abortions under my belt by this time. I wasn’t a Christian then, and in my panicked worldly ways and unwillingness to change, I did then what is now the unthinkable to me. Those uncaring and heartless murders have slowly gnawed away at me like a flesh eating disease for all of the years since. Anytime that word is even mentioned around me, it becomes a knife stabbing at my heart all over again.

So, age 27 found me deeply wounded by my own choices, with 2 different children by 2 different fathers, desperately trying to find a way out of the nightmare relationship that I was in. I tried the direct “get out” approach to no avail. He used the fact that I now had his child as an excuse to drag out the misery for both of us.

Once again I sought ways to drown my sorrows, this time settling on church and video games. I found God to the tune of the alcoholic’s snide, ridiculing comments, and I also found a virtual reality world where, for a while every night, I didn’t have to be me. I could forget how low my life had sunk.

It was through those online games that I finally found my current husband and rescuing hero, and how I coincidently was able to finally end the relationship I was in. He didn’t stick around long once I was finally able to profess my love for another. He then decided to deny our son out of his anger toward me. My husband has since stepped into the role as daddy, though, so my son’s biological father denying him hasn’t really affected him much. Yet.

My husband is one of the few things that I’ve done right in my life.

At 28 I married him on a cold January day to the joyous melody of everyone telling us that we were wrong. “It’s too soon. You barely even know each other,” they would say. The courtship started with his first pixelated words to me across my computer screen in September, ( ‘happy birthday’, coincidentally) and spanned over 4 months of nightly phone calls, webcam chats, and 2 visits in person. By the beginning of December, I was shopping for a wedding dress. Maybe we didn’t know each other completely yet, but we had the rest of our lives to get to that point. We knew it was right, and that’s all that mattered.

That marriage brought with it 3 young step-children. I admittedly haven’t always been the nicest person as far as they’ve been concerned. I couldn’t really pinpoint why, though. Likely petty jealousy over the attentions of my husband. I saw him as this treasure that I wanted to keep all to myself, and I didn’t realize for the first half of our marriage that I couldn’t. His youngest is very needy, too, when it comes to her father, so I’ve had to really struggle to work through my sharing issues.

I’ve tried to mend my relationships with them, with some success. They essentially tolerate me now, and the youngest one is even loving toward me, though she’ll argue with me ceaselessly over anything that I ask her to do. I think sometimes that it’s her way of showing animosity toward me brought about by past hurts, but then I realize that it just comes with the territory when you have teenagers.

Regardless, though, my husband was a package deal and it took me awhile to figure that out.

At age 35, I almost lost him. We were so heavy into our online gaming addiction that we had fallen away from church, and each other. In our emotional separation due to distraction, I regrettably strayed. He gave me a choice to leave or stay. I stayed, and it took hard work on both of our parts to make our marriage fully functional again. Counseling. Church. New friends that were good for us. Turning away from our addiction and turning to God.

I’ve made so many mistakes in my lifetime thus far. Lord knows I have. They weigh on me like chains draped across my shoulders at times.

Sometimes I think to myself, “You never went far. You never made a name for yourself. You really have nothing to show for your life but a barrage of bad choices. That’s your legacy.

Then I look at my daughter, who’s about to turn 17, and my son who’s about to turn 12, and it seems like only yesterday, but in another dimension entirely, that I spent 19 and 22 hours respectively in sweating, screeching labor to bring them into this world…

And now my daughter will sit and talk to me and confide in me like I’m her friend…

And my son will hug my waist and hang there like a boy-sized belt…

And my husband will wraps his arms around me and kiss my forehead…

And my step daughter will call me beautiful…

And I’m assured that they all love me in spite of me…

And I feel safe from not only the world, but my own tendencies toward destructive behavior…

And I’m reminded that I’ve made it this far…

And I know I did something right in the midst of my messes…

And everything is okay…

So that brings us to the here and now. Time isn’t stopping, and it certainly isn’t slowing down. I am older and I am wiser, but my life will likely never be mistake free. I’ll keep on making them, but they’ve at least been getting noticeably smaller over the years.

I’ll wish me a happy birthday this year, and my biggest gift will be the knowledge that I’m a survivor.

Of myself.

Opinions Are Like…

Businessman with Taped Mouth

In today’s world, with all of the different social media and just plain social platforms available, there’s all of these wonderful opportunities for the people that we know and love (some by default because they’re family) to annoy us.

I have one. You have one. That friend, relative, acquaintance, person that we exchange pleasantries with in a hallway or share a crowded elevator with on a daily basis, that feels the need to chime in on every single subject. Their voice simply must be heard, and they view every word that comes from your mouth or keyboard as their own personal debate forum.

I, in fact, know several of those people. The ones that you silently wish came with a mute button or that you’d like to block from interacting with you at all about 95% of the time, but can’t for whatever reason.

Or maybe you ARE one of those people. Society’s Know-it-alls.

Well, folks, you know what they say about opinions.

It just so happens that I have a few points to make on the subject. An opinion on opinions. Friendly advice for those people that couldn’t keep a thought to themselves even if they had their lips stapled shut and their hands tied behind their backs. They would still find a way to add their 5 cents to everyone else’s statement , because 2 cents is just never enough.

Point #1: Did I ask?

So, Heywood U. Hush posted this statement as his Facebook status:

Boy, it sure was a hot one today.”

Anita B. Heard then chimes in with something along the lines of:

“Well, hot is actually no longer the politically correct term to use while discussing thermogenic atmospheric climate conditions. Due to a 3.4 percent increase in global warming temperatures over the past 2.4 years, scientific studies that pertain to planetary heating increases have found that…”

Whoa. Slow your roll there, Einstein. No one asked for you to deliver an entire dissertation on heat waves. Seriously.

I stopped reading that reply after the first 4 words. There wasn’t even a question mark at the end of the original status, so what made you think that such a simple little statement was even open to some lengthy opinion in the first place?

That’s one of those statuses that you simply like, or if you’re absolutely bursting at the seams with your non-stop need to interject, make it something short, sweet, and to the point:

“I agree. My sweat was sweating today,” or, “I disagree. I found it to be quite pleasant.”

Then leave it at that.

Now, had the original poster actually wanted a lengthy opinion that opened the floor to some major debate on global warming and political correctness, they might have written something more along the lines of:

Boy, it sure is a hot one today. What do you all think?”

Instead, you added your opinion where it wasn’t even needed or asked for.

There’s a time and place to give in to your incessant need for debate, learn it.

Point #2: Gauge Intellect.

Heywood U. Hush: “Boy it sure was a hot one today.”

Anita B. Heard: “Actually, as stated in the popular publication, “Theories of Relativity in Direct Relation To Recalescent Climate Conditions”, the heat index connected with a substantial zephyric density of the atmospheric stimulation within the tidal pull caused by the oceanic pressures created by a solar anomaly is simply just a matter of human perception pertaining to the overall ventillatory limitations created when the planetary temperatures rise above and or exceed those within certain levels of anthropomorphic comfort.”

What.

Is there a translator somewhere that I can download for junk like this?

A reply like this may be perfectly acceptable amid the group of uptight brainiacs that you meet with for coffee every other Tuesday, but you just lost everyone else.

When you deliver a response like that to a person that functions on about the level of “I can haz words” you’re just making yourself look like an idiot, rather than impressing them with what you are so certain is your superior intellect.

It’s great that you have an I.Q of one million, but by all means, feel free to dumb down your frequent little impromptu lessons for those of us that don’t care to waste our precious time trying to decipher what you just said.

Point #3: Don’t be That Guy.

Heywood U. Hush: “Boy it sure was a hot one today.”

I. M. Happy: “It sure was, but summer is just the best. I love to spend time at the beach and in the pool, don’t you?”

Heywood U. Hush: “I’m still on the fence about beach trips. Last time I was there, I think a seagull took off with my beach towel! LOL!”

Anita B. Heard: “Actually, due to the disproportionate size of a seagull’s beak in relation to the overall mass of the rest of its body, it is theoretically impossible for a seagull to carry anything larger than a small fish or item weighing more than 25 grams.”

Well thank you, Professor Killjoy. You just went and ruined a perfectly good conversation that 2 other people were enjoying because you just couldn’t refrain from adding your 2 literal cents.

Learn when not to jump in, or at the very least, learn when someone is simply trying to make a joke and doesn’t require the use of your automatic humor correct.

Life can be fun, Opinionheads. Learn to have some.

The bottom line here is this: Your opinion isn’t always wanted, nor does it always matter, especially when you’re constantly forcing it upon everyone that dares to make a statement in your presence. Take a step back and see the big picture. Do you tend to shoot down more conversations than a band of plaid-clad mountaineers at a quail hunt?

If you’ve been feeling socially isolated, there may be good reason for everyone’s withdrawal from your opinionated presence.

Kenny Roger’s once said, “You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to speak, and know when to shut up.”

Okay, well maybe he didn’t use those exact words, but you get the point.

Until next time, readers…

Stay Unopinionated.

Happenings in the Hood: Entitled Much?

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So there I was, still painting at 8:30 at night when I normally wrap up my work day no later than 6. There was a rush on this particular apartment, however. It needed to be move-in ready by tomorrow morning, so that meant a full day of getting to know brushes and rollers on a deeply personal level. I got a few phone numbers and a date next Tuesday.

Anyway, I was diligently plugging away at the last room that needed to be finished, the bathroom, so I could clearly see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I had just started thinking about rounding up some of the roaches so we could break into a can-can chorus line number and toss some confetti, when I heard a snarly, snappy voice come through the open kitchen window like a dark cloud rolling in to ruin my sunny day.

“Hey. You. Come here.”

I turned to peer through the bathroom doorway toward the kitchen at the perfect stranger that had just brazenly barked an order at me that I wouldn’t even tolerate from my immediate family.

There, at the open window, stood a dark skinned woman of about my height (short enough to walk under the bottom rung of a ladder without having to duck, in other words) possibly in her mid to late twenties, wearing nothing but a tiny bikini top, shower cap, and cut off shorts so small and tight that I could see pink…and curlies. She stabbed an angry finger at me, and reiterated her command.

“Yeah. you. Come here a minute.”

My first instinct was to place the hand that wasn’t currently holding a paintbrush on my hip, raise one eyebrow at her, and rather irritably say, “Excuse me?”  Being the non-confrontational person that I am, however, I put down my brush, wiped my paint smeared hands across the front of my t-shirt, and proceeded to take the dozen or so steps from bathroom to kitchen.

“Yes ma’am. What can I do for you?” I asked.

“Yeah. I live next door. I want my bedroom door painted. It’s just plain wood, but I want it painted. I pay to live here, so I paid good money for it to be painted, and it aint.”

Now… not only am I already there 2 and a half hours after my normal work day, busting hump to try and get this job finished, but I am contracted by the job.  I don’t blow my nose because a resident asked me to without clearing it with hubby-manager guy first.

Then there’s the other problem with her request; we normally don’t paint the doors to which she’s referring if they aren’t already white to begin with. They look quite nice in their natural wood color, so they don’t need to be painted. They shouldn’t be painted. She wishes to ruin a perfectly nice door.

So I actually had to suppress my laughter at this woman that is all but snapping her fingers at me wanting me to step away from the job that I’ve already stayed late to finish, and go paint her bedroom door. Right now. At 8:30 at night. When most people are…oh I don’t know…at home in their jammies shoving fistfuls of popcorn into their faces while they watch some over-hyped reality show.

Even were I able to decide to take on the task myself, there’s no way on earth I’d have tackled that junk that late, and I was fairly put off that Princess Demanding-pants was expecting me to.  I was tired. My feet were killing me. A hot shower sounded be more appealing than a lifetime supply of chocolate.

Never mind, let’s not go that far.

I wanted to snap back with some snarky comment hurled at her in the same tone with which she was addressing me, but that’s just not who I am. I’m usually a doormat to the point that welcome will regularly appear in big letters across my forehead.

So, I responded with, “I’m sorry, but you’ll have to put in a work order for that tomorrow when the office is open, and then I’d be happy to do that for you.”

“No. I tried that before and it dint get done. I need it painted.”

She needs it painted?

What she needs is a lesson in manners.

“Well, I really can’t do that without permission, but the office opens at 8 and you’re welcome to…”

She grunted and mumbled something under her breath as she stomped away. I’m pretty sure I caught an expletive or 2 and quite possibly the “B” word somewhere in there.

I grabbed my brush and went back to work. I wanted to get out of there now more than ever.

I stewed over the encounter for a few more minutes as I wrapped up for the day.

I’ve seen small children behave with more tact.

I thought to myself, “What a pleasant woman, and what a fitting end to an already delightful day.”

I shouldn’t really be shocked, though. I’ve learned to expect nothing less out of many of my fellow Americans over the course of my lifetime.

Welcome to the land of the free, and the home of the entitled.

Salute.

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Oh Stop. On Second Thought…Don’t.

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So it happened again today.

This award winning thing is practically an epidemic. We keep passing it around in certain circles like a bad case of measles.

I’m flattered, though…and so shocked that I was nominated for not one but 2…count them…2 shiny virtual honors today that I almost choked on my cherry limeade.

I’m going to try to roll both acceptance speeches into one here, because well…I’m lazy. So lazy, in fact, that my pet rock has more ambition than I do. He’s way cuter, too. Now if I could just housebreak him…

Anyway, from my newfound penning pal Alienora over at alienorajt, I received this snazzy new ego booster:

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And from my long lost sist…blogger type person that I just met but find to be pretty awesome, Margaret over at Along Life’s Road, I received… a brand new car! Or not. Dare to dream. This little pride promoter isn’t bad, though. I’ll take it!:

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Many thanks for the awards, ladies! I didn’t realize that I was paying you enough to read my ramblings and promote them, too!(Your checks are in the mail, by the way.)

So as far as acceptance speeches go, I guess I should start out by thanking the little people: smurfs, fairies, gnomes, Lilliputians…though I really don’t know what they ever have to do with anyone’s success. Why does everyone thank them again?

I’d also like to thank everyone that keeps liking and following my mindless musings, thus making my ego so big that it can no longer fit through my front door. I have to blog on the lawn in a tent now. Thanks guys.

I’d also like to thank that really big bug that lives in my shower. He’s been a huge help in getting me to this point in my virtual success. I couldn’t have done it without him.

Now then, let’s get down to business.

For this Liebster thingy, the rules are as follows:

You must link back the person that nominated you.
You must answer the 10 Liebster questions given to you by the nominee before you.
You must pick 10 bloggers to be nominated for the award with under 200 followers.
You must come up with 10 questions for your nominees to answer.
You must go to their blogs and notify your nominees.

The other award doesn’t seem to come with a set of guidelines to follow other than nominating 10 people that you feel are deserving of the honor.

So, I’m just going to kill 2 birds with one stone, here, (again with the lazy. Look it up in the dictionary, my picture is there) and pick 10 bloggers out of the infinite number that I follow to give both awards to. It’s going to be tough. There will be tears. Mostly mine because I can’t just nominate them all, but still…I may have to just put all of you in a boxing ring and make a death match out of this. Last 10 standing get chosen!

I won’t, though. I’m a nice enough nutcase that I can think stuff like that with no follow through.

Anyway, here goes:

Cue Miley Cyrus…no, wait, she’s off somewhere making an idiot of herself…cue Chris Evans to center stage with the envelope of award nominees. After getting down on one knee and publically proposing marriage to my best friend, which she joyfully accepts (she’ll appreciate this, trust me), and after a lengthy kiss in front of millions of viewers, (sorry, ladies!) Chris rips open the envelope, turns to the camera and in a deep sultry voice says,

“And the nominees are:”

1. Artsy Susie. She’s my bestie, and blogger extraordinaire.

2. Freak of Fandom. A take on life through a fangirl’s eyes.

3. It’s a Wonderful F’N Life. She weaves amazing stories with pictures.

4. katzrambles. All kinds of fun rambles.

5. beautify inside and out. A fabulous new blogger. Let’s show her some love!

6. Oldest daughter & Redheaded Sister. A little of everything and a wonderful read!

7. I Left My DNA There. Passionate about travel? Let’s bring this site some followers!

8. Quarter Life Lauren. She’ll make you chuckle AND make you think.

9. Let There be Peace on Earth. Peace, poems, and passion.

10. Walk the Self-Talk. Well written short stories and positive thinking!

A big round of clap for these amazing writers!

Okay now, for these 10 questions. Ya’ll are gluttons for punishment, aren’t ya? Alright, you asked for it:

1. What was your first memory?

Choking on a gumball at the Laundromat. My mom and the attendant lady each took a leg, turned me upside down, and proceeded to beat me senseless until it came out. Heimlich who?

2. What is your favorite color?

Green. Not that terrible florescent junk that goth people put in their hair, though. I Like a deep, sexy forest green. A lime green isn’t bad when paired with purple, either.

3. What kind of music do you like best?

The kind with words. Hey, I’m easy.

4. What musical instrument/s do you play?

A finely tuned, cherry red, black and gold accented, autographed by the great Gene Simmons of Kiss, Fender Electric…nothing. I play nothing. Unless a fork counts as an instrument. I took clarinet for like 2 weeks in 8th grade but dropped out because practice started too early in the morning and I wanted to sleep in. Hey, I never said my laziness was a new development.

5. What is your all-time favorite film?

Frequency. The idea of being able to get in touch with one’s dad in the past is intriguing to me. If I could do that, I’d say something along the lines of. “By the way, don’t use your toothbrush. The dog had bad breath.”

6. Who is your favorite fairy tale character?

The Swedish Chef. Okay, maybe Muppets weren’t fairy tales, but still…you can’t deny his awesomeness!

7. Who do you love most in the world?

Okay, I gotta get serious for just a sec and say that God always comes first. After that, it’s a tossup between my hubby and myself. Let’s go with him, he’s cuter and cooks better.  

8. Read or watch television?

TV, of course. What is this “read” business you speak of? Never heard of it.

9. What is the very best thing about you?

I have this funky brown stripe that goes down my thumbnail. It’s actually embedded in it. I don’t know where it comes from or why it’s there, but it’s pretty cool and my kids are fascinated by it.

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10. What made you become a blogger?

This goes back to the bug in my shower. He threatened me. Said he would move all 1,586,970,584 members of his family into my house if I didn’t do it.

Well then. Without further ado, my questions for the nominees are as follows:

1. If you were the last person on earth, which food would you wish to have an endless supply of?

2. Which of the following celebrities would you like to grab hold of, shake, and scream, “You’re ruining your life!” at?
a)Lindsay Lohan  b)Amanda Bynes  c)Miley Cyrus  d)All of the above

3. How many licks DOES it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?

4. If you could be any animal, which would it be and why?

5. Will Ferrell, or Will Smith?

6. Do public restrooms creep you out?

7. What’s the first thing you’d do if you had a million dollars?

8. French toast, French fries, or French bread?

9. You’re running late for an appointment and you come upon a turtle that’s trying to make its way across a busy street. Do you:
a) Pull over, run out into the street when it’s clear, snatch up the turtle and bring him safely across;
b) Keep on truckin’ along. You’re not one to be late…for anything;
c) Decide that he’d make a great stew and toss him in the trunk of your car.

10. You rub your hands against your starbucks cup to warm them, and a genie pops out. She declares that you’ve been granted 3 wishes, and that your macchiato is a little bland today. What do you wish for?

 There you have it, folks. Now please excuse me while I go squirt acid into my eyes because I just witnessed another Miley VMA video.

Ta ta!

The Classic Clown

Daily Prompt: Funny Ha-Ha

Do you consider yourself funny? What role does humor play in your life? Who’s the funniest person you know?

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Do I think I’m funny? Well hmm…

Does a Chihuahua run down the middle of the trailer park street with a cigarette dangling out of its mouth?

Yes.

The answer is yes.

I know this for a fact because I saw it with my own 2 eyes last Wednesday.

This is just how my life goes. The crazy stuff that happens to me on almost a daily basis makes me shake my head and say, “this could only happen to me.” But hey…blog material…there’s always a fresh supply.

I let my freak flag fly as often as I can. I’m a self-proclaimed clown. A real jokester.

See, my mother glares. A lot. At everything. She doesn’t laugh, either. It’s scary. So I decided that I don’t want to be scary. I’d rather be funny. I can laugh at myself, too. Some of the best chuckles I get are at my own expense.

Now, I’m not necessarily one of those “A termite walks into a bar and says, “Is the bar tender here?” type of people.

I roll my eyes at those people.

No, I’m more or less one of those people that have a snappy comeback for everything. Like Bill Engvall.

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My husband or kids will ask, “Whatcha doin’?” when it’s more than obvious what I’m doing; like writing a new blog post.  So, I’ll shoot back with something along the lines of, “Chasing chickens, can’t you tell?”

I crack me up.

Which brings me to the funniest person I know…

Me.

I’m shallow enough to admit it. I’m fall-off-your-chair hilarious. To myself, at least.

I might be the only one in the room laughing at my silliness sometimes, but that’s just because I’m the only one in the room.

Those that don’t laugh at me and my antics were clearly born without a sense of humor gland. It’s located right next to your funny bone at the base of your elbow. To find out if this applies to you, simply go whack your elbow on a hard surface. Go ahead. I’ll wait…

Now, if you didn’t tear up, you’re fine. It means that your sense of humor gland is intact because it cushioned the blow. Or you just didn’t hit it very hard. Or you didn’t even hit it at all, which is also acceptable. If you did tear up, though, you’d better get that checked out by a doctor immediately, since there’s clearly something wrong with you… for whacking your elbow hard enough to cry after some random blogger told you to.

Okay, so I have the maturity level of a 5 year old, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

My husband pouted at me when I broke the news to him that he wasn’t #1 on my most funny list.

He said, “You don’t think I’m funny?” I said, “Oh, sure you are dear. You’re a riot to nerds everywhere. I just don’t speak nerd.”

See, he finds stuff like this to be shoot-liquid-out-your-nose hilarious:

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I just stare and say, “I don’t get it.”

Not because I’m not intelligent, though.

I’m just way too cool.

Freshly Unim-Pressed

Daily Prompt: Secret of Success

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The Queen is Clearly Unimpressed.

What would it take for you to consider yourself a “successful blogger”? Is that something you strive for?

Nope. Why would I strive for that? I write so that my adoring one and a half fans have something to read while they’re sitting on the porcelain throne. I would never wish to branch out and bring my musings to the masses!

Yes, that was sarcasm. What a silly question. Well, the second one, anyway.

The first one is fairly simple, though.

Finally, WordPress powers that be! I thought you’d never ask!

I strive to one day be pressed. Freshly Pressed, that is. Not my clothes, silly, I don’t iron!

I have no shame. I’ll admit it. I’m fairly certain that there isn’t a WordPress blogger out there that wouldn’t greatly appreciate the same honor.

My friends don’t help, either. They get me all fired up.

“You’re an awesome writer,” they say.

“You should write a book,” they say.

“Stop staring at me like that, it creeps me out,” they say.

So I get this big ego, and think, “Yeah! I’ve got this! Thousands of eager fans waiting with bated breath until my next installment of awesome goes live? Piece of cake. I’ll still have time left over to work on winning that Nobel Peace Prize while I cure cancer and write Def Leppard’s next big hit.”(Oh come on; you know you want to see them make a comeback just as much as I do.)

And then the next batch of Freshly Pressed posts go up.

And I read.

And then my over-inflated ego doesn’t just fly around the room like a balloon that’s been filled and let go of, it audibly pops. My neighbors knock on the door and say, “What was that noise?”, and I’ll say, “Oh just my ego bursting. No biggie.”

I’ll go off after that to sulk and shed a few tears into my box of Nilla Wafers (comfort food, hello…) and say to myself, “Self, you really aren’t all that. Now these people, they’re all that, and a bag of lightly sea salted organic vegetable crisps.” (That’s for all of you health conscious folk. You’re welcome.)

So, maybe I’ll just save myself some heartache and make my goal somewhat more realistic:

How about I just shoot for my one and a half followers to someday become two, and reward myself with this award:

Not imPressed Award

And if any of you one and a half readers want this snazzy award for your blog, too, simply add an image widget and link the following image url into the correct slot. Enjoy!

For Me?! You Shouldn’t Have!

No, really. You probably should’t have. Things of this magnitude, when placed in my hands, can’t go well. I mean really. I once killed a cactus. Not entirely my fault, though. Darn thing jumped right out in front of me.

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So wow. I’ve never been nominated for anything before! Unless you count that one time I was named ‘Mother of the Year’ by…well…myself.

So this really amazing blogger/woman/hottest-thing-since-sunburn nominated yours truly (among others) for a crazy little thing called the Versatile Blogger Award.

I admittedly jumped up and down and shouted like my pants were on fire.

I’m flattered to be nominated, and I’m rather shocked that someone finds my musings interesting enough to give them a second glance! So a big thank you goes out to snoogiefisk over at mostlytrueramblings for the nomination!

So Here’s how it works:

1. Display the Award Certificate on your blog.

2. Announce your win with a post and thank the blogger who nominated you.

3. Present 15 deserving bloggers with the award.

4. Link your nominees in the post and let them know of their nomination with a comment.

5. Post 7 interesting things about yourself.

And the nominees are:

The envelope, please, Bob.

Bob?

Wake up, Bob.

Bob’s a little slow on the uptake but good help is so hard to find.

Ah, there we go.

Artsy Susie (She’s my bestie and she’s, well…the best.)

The Dimwit Diary (I laugh until I pee myself. Seriously.) 

buffalotompeabody’s blog (He’s blind and he blogs. How amazing is that!? He’s the reason that I now laugh in the faces of my kids when they tell me “I can’t.”)

Communication Made Simple (He’s a fellow Jacksonvillain, and he has some great tips for success.)

IT’S A WONDERFUL F’N LIFE (Her pictorial stories will amaze. And F’n doesn’t mean what you think it means, either.)

It’s time to SHINE (And shine she surely does.)

WHIMSICAL ECLECTICIST (His daily…err hourly…err minutely bouts of whimsy make me smile.)

alienorajt (Musings that are fresh and well written.)

LOVELETTERSTOAGHOST (Touching poetry from the heart.)

Kerry’s Organized Chaos (Chaos has never been this cute.)

My Life In Color (She paints her life colorfully.)

Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss (She loves to write, and she loves her cats…and I think her cats love to write, too.)

The World’s top 10…of Anything and Everything!!! (Okay, so maybe he really doesn’t need more awards but how can I resist? His pictorial lists are fabulous!)

Blue Loft (Beautifully written works of art.)

Ben’s Bitter Blog (He makes me laugh. I like that in a blogger.)

And there, folks, you have greatness.

Now, about these 7 interesting facts. Do you really want to know?

Should I tell them Bob?

Darn it, Bob, you’re really throwing me under the bus here.

Okay then, here goes nothing…

1. I once swallowed a bee while riding my bike.

2. I once got stung in the big toe by a bee while doing laundry in my parents’ basement.

3. I once moved a tire that had a nest full of angry bees in it.

4. Bees hate me. Obviously.

5. I recently watched a YouTube video of a bee giving some guy a high five.

6. I once got a “B” in high school. I was devastated. Let’s not talk about it.

7. I’ve been called the “B Word” more times than I care to count. Or admit to.

And there you have it. Pretty intense, I know.

Now on with the show!