Friday, December 11, 2015

That Inner Realm

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are: hope ~ waiting ~ nervous ~ illogical ~ pandering ~ fantasy

They were submitted by: 


I live inside my own head a lot.


There in the recesses of my mind is a place where fantasy meets reality, where I can be found pandering to illogical scenarios of what could be if teleporters existed or there weren’t such things as moral implications when it comes to life and love and heartbreak. That fantasyland is filled to the brim with hope and wonderment, and some days those thoughts and daydreams and random naked-dance-party interludes keep me going when nothing else will.

Some days that place keeps me nervous and waiting and sure that I spend so much time living in my own dreams I’ve let things I actually have in front of me fall by the wayside. Do I prefer the impossible, I wonder? Do I dip my toes in the pool of real life and jump in the deep end of a dreamscape? Do I know when to come up for air? Do I have any idea what real life is like anymore?

It’s a difficult thing to manage, balancing real life with escape, reality with fantasy. Coming out of that world is a little like facing a blindingly harsh light after a long morning in a dimly lit room snuggled deep into the covers… You know you have to do it to get things going for the day, but there’s not a chance in hell you actually want to. And when you do finally step out of that little slice of comfort, you’re faced with a burning dose of regret knowing you finally left behind that cocoon where everything was easy and no struggles could be seen.

I often stay wrapped in the coziness of my headspace trying to avoid the starkness of the day before me even as tendrils of light force their way in the nooks and crannies of my mind demanding that reality take over. Writing takes place there. Characters live and breathe and beg to have their stories told. Interactions that will never take place, replays that I wish should have taken place, and intimate moments carved out of complete imagination dwell there, wishful thoughts that take wispy forms of nothingness and fill my heart with empty promises.

And sometimes those empty promises are still better than fighting the cold reality of the day.


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts: Baking In A Tornado Spatulas on Parade The Momisodes Sparkly Poetic Weirdo Southern Belle Charm Rena’s World Dinosaur Superhero Mommy The Bergham Chronicles Eileen’s Perpetually Busy Never Ever Give Up Hope Someone Else’s Genius Confessions of a part time working mom Climaxed

Friday, December 4, 2015

Everything and Nothing

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 15 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My subject is: Clippings. Dozens and Dozens of newspaper clippings. 
It was submitted by:


The little house on Clermont drive was filled with clutter.

Okay that was probably an understatement.

When Shannon walked into her mom’s little 3 room bungalow on the outskirts of town nestled under a canopy of trees, she really wasn’t prepared for how bad it was. She hadn’t been here in several years which is something, she thought, she would eventually have to come to terms with rather than letting the guilt eat at her. But she also knew why--she knew she couldn’t deal with the mental instability that plagued her mom over the course of her entire life and rather than be pulled down with a sinking ship, Shannon had jumped and for the last 7 years she hadn’t looked back. She had spent her time swimming to shore and setting up her own life on a relatively mom-free island. She had managed to phone her a couple times a year since then but that was the extent of their newly defined mother-daughter relationship.

Then she got *the* call.

Her mom, now 77, had fallen at home by herself and broken her hip apparently, but she had no way of getting help. She couldn’t get to the phone from where she was especially with all the clutter, and no one was around to check on her. Shannon was the only relative she had left really. She died there in the middle of a pile of old magazines and garbage. Alone and in pain and forgotten.

Shannon pushed her way inside the house and was taken aback by how much her mom had started collecting since the last time she saw her. Even then it was pretty bad, but that was nothing compared to this. The first room is the living/bed room. There were newspapers clippings everywhere covering every wall and every surface, faded and yellowed and falling apart. Crates of old magazines were stacked in every corner, on every table, and covered her mom’s bed in the far corner of the room. Where she slept was as good a guess as anyone’s especially since the couch was littered with old plastic cups from fast food restaurants piled high and overflowing the arms like ants turning out of an anthill, and the recliner was a storehouse for packets of ketchup and salt.

In all the house, there was only one tiny walkway that was clear of junk, flanked on either side by high piles of this and that. She took the tour being careful not to bump into either side out of fear of avalanche and felt more and more lost the further along she crept. The woman who had lived in this house couldn’t have been her mother. Not this bad. Could she? The woman who lived here had been so empty she needed to collect garbage trying to fill, essentially, a bottomless void.

The first room to the left was the kitchen. The doorway itself was open and free of her mom’s insanity, but she had no idea why. The room was impossible to navigate. None of the dishes were clean laying in haphazard piles on the floors and counters and spilling out of the sink. Garbage poured out of the garbage can, fermented and musty and swarming with fruit flies. Rotten banana peels, takeout cartons, bits of rice, and tiny maggots were strewn across the floors. Glass shards twinkled in the little bit of sunlight that pushed its way through the dusty window above the sink. There wasn’t a single spot on the floor not covered by filth and debris.

The bathroom was next and to the right. Magazines were stacked in the bathtub, water damaged and moldy. The toilet was black in spots and the smell alone was enough to make Shannon feel her insides squirming with threats. Toilet paper scraps covered the floor and paper rolls were stacked by the dozens in the sink and on the countertop. Toothbrushes, worn down and unable to be discarded, laid in heaps in front of the linen closet. The toilet might have been usable even if completely unsafe, but there was no way her mom had been able to bath in quite some time from the looks of things.

She moved on then unable to come to any real grips with the hopelessness of collected toilet paper rolls coming to the end of the hall, the back part of the bungalow. Every room had been checked, every room filled to the brim with nothingness, the desperation to walk away and pretend she had never seen any of this welling up inside her screaming at her to get out, get out, get out.

She should have listened.

There at the end of the path wedged against the cold, metal back door was a makeshift pallet of old nappy towels and a worn and yellowed pillow. This is where she slept, her mother. The woman she had loved despite her flaws had slept in her own house on rags in a back corner like a forgotten urchin, house filled to overflowing with trash she couldn’t bear to part with because she had nothing else.

She collapsed then on her knees crying and guilt-ridden and still knowing there was no other way this could have gone.


Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there: Baking In A Tornado The Momisodes Spatulas on Parade Sparkly Poetic Weirdo Southern Belle Charm Rena’s World Dinosaur Superhero Mommy The Bergham Chronicles Never Ever Give Up Hope The Angrivated Mom Someone Else’s Genius Confessions of a part time working mom The Lieber Family Blog Juicebox Confession Climaxed

Friday, November 13, 2015


Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are: 

money ~ turkey ~ clock ~ light ~ garbage

They were submitted by:

The title may be a bit misleading. 


She picks up the garbage strewn around the room and chunks it in the bin. It’s been a long day, and the last thing she wants to do is clean up, but she has a compulsive streak that won’t let her get any rest until everything is set back in its place and the cleaning is all done. The turkey or what’s left of it has already been tucked inside plastic bags and set in the refrigerator for tomorrow’s lunch, so all that’s left to do is wipe the counters and get to the mound of dirty dishes in the sink. It might take two runs in the dishwasher to clean them all.

She stands at the sink washing the leftover grime down the drain lost in thought over the day--the way the tension always hung in the room whenever the family was together, no affection or warmth. Everyone was mechanical. A family of androids not programmed with any semblance of human emotion.

Sometimes she lays in bed at night staring at the wave of royal blue light coming from the digital numbers on her alarm clock on the little table beside her wondering if she actually knows what love feels like. Has she ever been loved? Does she know how to love? Is that a natural occurrence or does love have to be nutured? She thinks maybe you have to be loved to learn how to love and marvels at how broken she is, how desperate to feel something, anything other than numbness.

There’s not enough money in all the world, she guesses, that could fix that sort of void, to breech that harbor of nothingness. How do you teach someone to love who has never felt it?

She finishes stacking the first load of dishes in the washer, turns it on, and looks around the kitchen. She takes her purple Scotch Brite sponge and a bottle of Fantatik and goes to work on the counter and table washing away every speck that is out of place. She leans back against the counter to take in the fruits of her labor, her sparkling kitchen. If only her soul could be feel this clean, this fresh and shiny… if she could take a sponge and soak up all self-hatred from years of never feeling good enough maybe she could start anew.


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts: Baking In A Tornado Spatulas on Parade The Momisodes Sparkly Poetic Weirdo Southern Belle Charm Rena’s World Never Ever Give Up Hope Dinosaur Superhero Mommy The Bergham Chronicles Eileen’s Perpetually Busy Confessions of a part-time working mom Someone Else’s Genius Climaxed The Angrivated Mom

Monday, November 9, 2015


I wrote this piece for a newsletter run by a pen pal and very close friend. I wanted to share it here for Sunday Confessions. Its about a term I coined called "interspection." The Sunday Confession prompt is "give" and since interspection requires you to give a piece of yourself to someone else, i thought it would be perfect.


I read a story not long ago about a man whose life was saved by something I like to call interspection. This man was fresh out of the military and subsequently entered a downward spiral ending with his decision to kill himself. The night he planned to commit suicide he walked around his neighborhood one last time taking in the sights when he happened upon a woman crying in the rain. Instead of going on about his business like many of us would do, he spoke to her, checked on her, and eventually asked her if she wanted to get out of the nasty weather and have a cup of coffee. The two of them walked over to a diner across the street and talked for a good long while about all sorts of topics. They laughed and pondered life, traded stories, and for a little while forgot about their respective problems. After he came back from a quick trip to the bathroom, he found that she had disappeared on him. In the article I read, this man had recently posted an ad looking to get in touch with this woman because after a full life, he wanted her to know he thought about her from time to time even more than 40 years later, and that the connection he felt in that diner is what gave him the will to go on living.

Interspection is powerful stuff.

We all know what it means to be introspective, to explore our own depths, thoughts, and emotions, but when two people (or more) apply that same level of exploration and scrutiny to one another, you get interspection. Like the man in the story I read, interspection requires letting down your walls and allowing a person see you for who you are and seeing them for who they are as well. It’s a process unencumbered by the usual detachments and baggage that we typically bring to social relationships after a lifetime of experiences. With interspection, you willingly make yourself vulnerable allowing another human being to see a part of yourself that very rarely gets recognition while simulataneously peeling back the layers to reveal that part of someone else.

In that process, you learn a lot about that person but you also begin to realize new information about yourself. You see parts of yourself reflected in that someone else, and you begin to notice things about you that need growth and improvement. It’s natural of course to compare ourselves to others as a way to measure our own selves, a process that begins typically in middle childhood, but this, interspection , is more than a simple compare and contrast type of effort. With interspection, you also form a bond unlike anything you’ve experienced before it. It’s not love or friendship though those can certainly be a side effect; it’s a strengthening of the ties of humanity that reside within us all and a true exchange of empathy.

We live in a world currently where people seem like shimmering apparitions lacking real substance and a full form. You friend someone on social media to get 140 character quips and anecdotes for likes and shares. Photo highlight reels scroll across tiny screens to show us a moment here and there, but is that humanity? Can you capture the full essence of a human being in a couple sentences and a photo here and there? Or even in letters that talk about what happened that week and what the weather is like? I don’t think so. I picture the people I know and even with my deep desire for interspective relationships, I mostly get flickering shapes of others built on the tiny bits of life they’re willing to share with us all… We are always too busy, too absorbed with our own selves and too caught up in daily life to stop for just one moment and truly let go with another human being. We love but keep secrets. We marry but keep up our walls and defenses. We have unbreakable bonds with our children yet still hold back the truths of our existence from them. We are all but ghosts to one another searching for a connection but not able to grasp anything solid.

The lack of connection we feel to others, that inability to full grasp onto those ties that bind us to other human beings is painful not only to ourselves but all of society. When very few people in the world take on solid form, when we fail to be able to truly put ourselves in another person’s shoes and see the world from their eyes instead of just our own, it becomes far too easy to dehumanize others even entire groups of people. It becomes all too easy to become desensitized to the plights other people might face and to care only for the things that are within our own reach. What we lose by focusing on ourselves and our own daily struggles is the critical piece to the puzzle that could begin to mend some of the violence and oppression that plagues our society as it stands now.

Interspection can change that. When we enter the world intent on letting ourselves be vulnerable and intent on strengthening our ties to other human beings on the deepest of levels, we foster empathy, compassion, and even our own humanity. We recognize ourselves in others, but, perhaps for the first time, we also begin to see what it could be like living their life and having their experiences. Opening up in such a way comes with its risks, but the benefits, for each person and all of society, could be incredible. Every interspective relationship could reach far beyond its own two participants rippling out and changing how each person interacts with others, shaping worldviews, and altering the fabric that connects us all to one another.

Take a deep breath, let your walls down with someone, and watch the world metamorphose.

Friday, November 6, 2015


Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 14 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My prompt is What would it be like to be a man for a day?

It was submitted by:


The feminist in me wants to take this question all through the ages and really dig deep into the political and sociocultural implications of what it is like in this world for a man versus a woman. Even the minor daily experiences can be extremely different between the genders.

I want to know what it’s like that. I want to know what it’s like to wake up and not be worried so much about fixing my hair just right, putting on makeup, getting every line on my lipstick absolutely perfect, to not be so concerned about getting a comment about my weight or to not be hyperfocused on how wide I look from the side for once. I realize men face similar pressures about appearance as women. We all have body issues and face issues and self esteem issues, but these problems seem compounded for women who face a horde of images and advertisements about staying youthful, staying fit but having a nice ass and a sizable rack, keeping thick, shiny hair and a perfect smile on our faces at all times. And we’re supposed to be personable and friendly and open to every comment and suggestion every man on the street makes towards us. So it would be wonderful to not have to worry just one day about unwanted comments, about not being told to smile, and about being seen as more than a comment box for suggestions of how I can better please men in the world that see me walking around thinking it’s okay to just be myself. I might be able to play video games online without feeling the need to disguise who I am. I don’t have to worry about rape threats or death threats for being a female gamer who vocally wishes for more strong, fully armored female protagonists.

I also expect that my ability to reason and to have a rationale state of mind would not be questioned nearly as often. I had a discussion on Facebook recently about a news article which was very controversial. And in the comments, a “friend” of mine made comments which I thought were completely without much thought which I think is unacceptable for such a highly charged topic. Either make a comment that’s well thought out or don’t comment. It’s pretty simple. Instead, though, he popped off at the mouth without reading anything else, without doing any research, and without looking into the matter at all—essentially the equivalent of commenting on an article you’ve never read. Instead, however, of actually doing the reading and the researching involved or commenting further on the actual conversation, when I called this person out, he said, “I’m sorry I upset you.” Would he have said “I’m sorry I upset you” if I were another guy? I highly doubt it. My vagina doesn’t make me any less capable of having a debate, and yes, his comments bothered me, but that doesn’t mean I need to be patronized like I’m an emotional wreck that needs to change her damn tampon.

Would I feel differently about the topic of rape? Would it be something that isn’t constantly on the forefront of my brain? I think not. I think I could go out with whoever I wanted unconcerned about the risks… I could be like those guys on Plenty of Fish who message me inviting me to their homes in their first message for drinks and whatever else. When I message them back about just how risky that is for a woman, they seem nonplussed like I am some kind of paranoid freak to be concerned about meeting a strange man in his home and plying myself with booze. And, as always, if I did and something terrible happened to me, I would catch the blame perhaps even by these same sorts of men. They would ask questions like why would I go to a stranger’s house and weaken myself with booze. Maybe if I had a dangler between my legs, I could go where I want without *as much* concern about my reputation or about being overpowered or about being believed if things go wrong.

But ultimately I think it would be eye-opening. Would the differences be all that noticeable, I wonder? Certainly, I assume so because identifying as a woman comes with a lot of social pressures and stigmas and oppressions. I think it would make me appreciate my own struggles even more, but I also think it would let me see struggles that men face that I can’t readily identify from my own position in life, and that, ultimately, would help my actions as a feminist—a benefit that could have a ripple effect spreading further with each person share my experiences with. No matter what it would be like for me to be a man for a day, I would come out better for having those experiences and understanding them.

Also, it would suck to have to stand up to pee. I rather like having that time to rest for a minute. 


Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there: Baking In A Tornado The Momisodes Spatulas on Parade Sparkly Poetic Weirdo Never Ever Give Up Hope The Lieber Family Blog Rena’s World Dinosaur Superhero Mommy The Bergham Chronicles Confessions of a part-time working mom Just a Lovely Day Someone Else’s Genius Climaxed The Angrivated Mom

Sunday, October 25, 2015


The deep oxblood-colored fluid bubbles up from the mud near the edge of the river and trickles over the edge of the bank right into the flowing water that runs through the middle of Sandersville, a sleep little town about an hour from the Gulf of Mexico and split in the middle by Port River. The river itself was the life of the town, a source of recreation, food (with its huge population of catfish), and history. An annual festival, River Days, was even held near the river’s banks celebrating the gifts it brought to the town’s population; without it, the place never would have existed in the first place.
The fluid, almost as if it has a mind of its own, defies the pulling gravity of the banks on the outskirts of town, pushing uphill before making its way over the bank away from the rockiest places as if it didn’t want any obstructions potentially foiling its plans. Every drop that hits the surface of the moving water is mixed, dissipated, and carried forward…


Nancy’s frying up a mess of catfish that her neighbors had given her from their haul that day when she hears the screaming. It’s close but not in her yard close. She has 10 acres of land, so she figures it must have been coming from one of the neighbor’s property that borders hers. She tilts her head tucking her thick brown hair behind her ear to get a better listen and hears it again, longer this time, more frantic.

She flips the stove eye off, wipes her hands on the green dish towel hanging over the oven door, dials 911 on her cell, and explains the situation to the dispatcher. The sheriff’s on his way out, but given where she lives, it’s going to take him a good 20 minutes. Curiosity overwhelms her caution, and she heads to the closet near back door to grab her flashlight, her .22, and some extra ammo. Just in case.

She never keeps the gun loaded even though she lives here alone and has no kids. The dogs aren’t going to break in and get the gun, but her daddy always taught her safety first, and those lessons stuck with her. No exceptions. She takes a moment to load 10 rounds, braces herself, and steps out the back door.

Outside, she hears another blood-curdling scream coming from the Myers’ place on her left. Never in her life has she heard another human being make that sound. It makes the baby-fine hairs on her arms stand on end. Even in the 80 degree Southern humidity, she shivers violently like she’s found herself standing in the snow in her skivvies. Another scream pierces the air before its cut off with a loud thud. She feels a wave of panic and fear well up inside her chest, sending her heart into a flurry of beats. The beer she drank earlier announces its desire to make a fast, messy exit from her body, but she swallows hard, takes some shallow breaths, and moves slowly towards the sound. Really, the direction of those screams is the last place she wants to find herself walking towards as the last rays of sunlight fade behind the trees across from her land, but she could never live with herself if she doesn’t at least scope it out and see if she can help.

She isn’t really close to the Myers but they’re neighborly enough. She’s given them eggs when her hens laid more than she could eat and let their kids, Tommy and Michelle, come pick plums and apples from the trees in back. They don’t really socialize much. The women don’t get together for brunch or social hour or any of that shit, and Nancy is fine with that. Hell, she likes it better that way. But they *are*neighbors and stay friendly enough, and if there’s a slight chance Nancy might be able to help them out, she’s going to. It’s just who she is, and she knows it. No sense fighting her own nature. Her daddy had told her that too late one night after one of her softball games. “Nancy,” he had said, “one of these days there’s going to come a time when you can either hide who you are and who you love from the world like a coward or you can be brave enough to be who you really are. I might not understand much about how the world works, but all I know, girl, is that I want you to be brave. Be you, bug, and screw what everybody else thinks, promise?” She was only 14 at the time, and she really hadn’t understood it then, but the first time she went out with a girl, that same conversation came back to her, haunted her when she spent a few years trying to deny her real self, but eventually, she kept the promise she made to her daddy that night. She is who she is, unapologetically, and there’s no use hiding out in the house tonight acting like nothing is happening.

She thinks the night will be born into quiet as she crosses the last yards of her tract of land before crossing onto the Myers’. The screams are gone. All she can hear is her own breathing and the rustle of the dying grass of Autumn under her footsteps. It shouldn’t be quiet like this in the country at dusk. Night creatures should be coming to life, crickets chirping, dogs barking at their shadows. The dark, reaching its tendrils around the last remaining remaining stretches of dimming orange light, is eerily silent.

When she gets right on the edge of the property line she catches some sort of noise. Finally. But she can’t quite identify the sound or the cause. It’s almost like a low growl but there’s a gravelly crunching sound mixed in as well. The closer she gets to the barn on the Myers’ land, the louder it gets, the wetter it sounds…almost like a pig on slop, smacking and slurping and rooting around.

She stands outside the barn doors, flashlight on now that the remaining light of day is asleep until dawn. The smallish circle of light is shaking as she moves it back and forth across the ground in front of the doors. Flecks of blood coat the grass like morning dew. Her own toes, unhidden from the elements in her plain black flip flops, are smeared with crimson streaks. Her breathing is fast and hard, heart thumping so hard she swears she is going to have a heart attack, but she pulls the bard doors open slowly and as quietly as possible. The rifle is still slung over her shoulder, but with her flashlight in hand, it’s hard to do anything with it that makes her feel any better about walking into that barn.

With a bravery she was unaware she possesses, Nancy sweeps the light first one way then the next but sees nothing out of the ordinary. The sounds are coming from a pen their pig Lord Byron used to live in before he finally passed from old age. The sheriff should be here anytime, and part of her knows she should just back out of there right now, but there’s another part of her screaming at her to keep going, to find out where those sounds are coming from. That part of her is thinking of Tommy and Michelle and knowing the difference between saving a life and burying someone can be just moments of time, and its that part that pushes her forward to see just what the fuck is going on in that pen.

And then she wishes she would have told that oh-so-brave part of herself to eat a bag of dicks because what she sees in that pen is a complete horrorshow.

Ted Myers is there kneeling over Sandra, his wife, feasting on some part of her that Nance can’t even begin to identify. Sandra is an all-you-can-eat buffet and Ted came to get his money’s worth from the looks of it. The light catches his attention, and he turns quickly growling and baring his bloody teeth before he turns back to his meal.

If this were a movie, she thinks, I would be wearing high heels and would fall, cut my forehead a tiny bit, rip my shirt so my boobs almost flop out, and become the second course to Ted’s macabre meal. She would be the part of Sunday dinner that would make Ted have to unbutton his pants to get some relief.

This isn’t a damned horror movie, she thinks, but are these shoes really any more sensible?

All the while she’s thinking, she stands frozen, light still focused on the unbelievable scene before her, her mind broken. Ted’s the kind of guy that holds his wife’s hand in the market. The man before her is nothing like the Ted she thought she knew.

Something within her finally snaps in place, and she starts to back away slowly being careful to move the light away from the scene without attracting any more attention from….that thing…than she already had. She struggles to open the barn doors without taking her eyes away from the back of the building but finally manages to get free and closes the doors behind her. A pile of 2 x 4s are stacked to the right of the door, and she slides one through the handles to keep whatever was in there from getting out.

In the distance she heard sirens and hoped it wasn’t too late for Tommy and Michelle.


Since it's the last installment of Sunday Confessions before Halloween, I decided to do a little campy horror. Hope it gets you all in the mood for frights and delights for the upcoming Halloween weekend. Be sure to check out the other contributions on More Than Cheese and Beer. The prompt this week is fluid. 

Happy Halloween.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

I Loved

Before I post this, I just want to say this is fiction. I have never dealt with this personally and hope that I havent done any injustice to the topic by writing about it. I like to explore characters and potential reactions to life's problems like grief and loss and love... And I honestly hope I never have to know what it feels like to be in this narrator's shoes because I'm not sure I would handle it so well personally.


“At least we aren’t that bad off yet, right? Fighting each other in the mud for a scrap of water. What kind of life is that?” I had asked her during the first parts of Mad Max: Fury Road. We were home that night, neither of us being too keen on going to the cinema anymore with people on cell phones the whole time, loud ass, disruptive kids, and the recent rash of theater shootings.

“Are we really all that different though? Aren’t we all fighting for scraps while the rich keep the power and the money?”

This was another reason we didn’t like going to the theater, these conversations.

“Well… we have water and no one makes us shave our heads.”

“Shaved heads notwithstanding, does everyone have water?”

“Not everyone, no.”

“But isn’t there enough money in the world to make sure they do?”

“I’d have to do the math on that, but most likely.”

“And isn’t there some random rich white person that decides on occasion to do some charity and bring medicine or food or water instead of everyone pulling together and actually resolving the issues that cause it? Sort of like raining down water from a gushing pipe every now and then?

“I mean…I don’t think those people are necessarily as evil as this guy, Sadie.”

“Some famous guy somewhere said something about the biggest evil being inaction.”

And with that her point had been proven for the most part, I guess. We enjoyed the rest of the movie, but the conversation was done. That’s the kind of thing I remember about her most, the thing I might miss the most except smelling her in bed beside me, feeling her heat, being able to put my cold toes against her calves and start a wrestling match in bed. I miss those moments beside her in bed the absolute most, but I also miss that quick intelligence, the snapshot conversations that didn’t take a debate or hours worth of back and forth. She dropped in and made her point, and that was that. It was like that idea was waiting inside her perfect little brain just for the right moment to show itself.

I’ve dated since Sadie.

Let me rephrase that. I’ve been out with other women since Sadie, but ultimately I end up comparing them to her or her to them, and it never works out. And even if I like someone, she inevitably asks me how I deal with it—having been with someone who committed suicide.

Is there an answer to that question, though? Truthfully, I haven’t dealt with it. Truthfully, every time I sit down to dinner with some other woman, I feel like a lying cheat. I hate myself for it. My heart still belongs to a woman that never wanted to be in this world in the first place, and all I can do is lay awake at night and think of all the things I should have said or done or not done even while knowing there was nothing that would have changed it. Rationally, I *know* it wasn’t the first time she tried to end things and that it was a constant battle for her. I *know* that it was going to happen sooner or later because even when she got the help she needed, it was only a temporary fix. But, the part of me that doesn’t give a shit for rationalization, the part of me with all the feels…that part of me is always and forever going to search for something I maybe could have done differently that might have made all the difference.

I love her. Even now after 2 years in this world without her, I think I love just as much as the first time I ever told her. Or maybe just as much as the 12th time I told her. I did kind of rush into things, but the first time I met her I just kind of knew that I would fall head over heels in love with her. I don’t scorn her memory for leaving me with all this baggage, and I don’t think she took the coward’s way out of things the way her family seems to… What I do think is that I was lucky enough to spend 6 long years with her through the hard times and the best times, through the tears and the depression and through the days when we laughed so hard together that my face ached the next day. It hurts to be without her. It hurts more than I ever thought anything could hurt me, but she was honest with me from the start, so how can I fault her? She told me on our 3rd date that one day she would probably commit suicide one day, and if I was going to date her, she needed me to understand it would never be forever. It was a serious conversation, but I already had a serious crush, and I thought naively that maybe it wasn’t as bad as she made it out to be. That’s when I told her that life isn’t worth living without taking risks, and that I needed to know what falling in love with her felt like despite those risks.

She kissed me for the first time that night and cried softly into my neck afterwards.

So how do I deal with it?

I don’t.

I don’t think there’s a way to deal with losing the love of your life. Sure, life goes on and all that. I don’t cry every day anymore, so there’s improvement to be had, but there will never be a time when her memory fades, that I don’t fall asleep at night wishing she was here, and I’m okay with that. I took the risk with her and saw it through, and for at least awhile I knew how it felt to love someone more than I loved myself.


I hope the strength of my narrator shines through instead of this being seen as bleak and depressing... thanks for reading and be sure to check out the rest of the link ups and the More than Cheese and Beer blog!!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Relationship Anarchy

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are: deviant, haunted, desolate, transparent, wretched. 

They were submitted by:


Matters of the heart require a person to be completely transparent. I don’t mean that you have to tell someone you don’t like the way their eyeshadow looks that day (because maybe its not about your preferences), but you do have to be perfectly clear about what you want and how you feel.

I am, always. Transparent.

But, that doesn’t make things any easier for me.

You see, I’m sort of aromantic. That doesn’t mean that I can’t fall in love with someone. It doesn’t mean that I’m some sort of wretched creature haunted by the past who has had her heart stomped on one too many times or a desolate, lonely cat lady who can’t find love. I’m not some deviant who only cares about herself and has no regard for others. But, I can’t be in the confines of a traditionally defined relationship without feeling like I’m suffocated. I get depressed, anxious, lose all sense of self in relationships that come with all these expectations of how people are supposed to act and feel, what they do and don’t do, how they relate to one another.

The first reaction I get, typically, is a statement that I haven’t met the “right” man yet which doesn’t even make any sense to begin with since I don’t *only* like men. Regardless, the idea that everything I know about myself can be resolved or changed because of a man is a bit absurd. And then there are the people who assume I have a broken heart that just needs to find love to mend itself or that I need to get laid. There’s always a few people who believe I don’t really know what I want and need to figure myself out, or that I need someone to sweep me off my feet or that I have only had shitty relationships. I’ll come around. I’ll want to get remarried one day. I’ll stop wanting to have my cake and eat it, too. No matter how transparent I am about my thoughts and beliefs, rarely can anyone accept that they might just be the truth. Instead, how I feel and what I believe is treated more like a challenge to prove me wrong.

Not being heard is quite an annoyance to say the least.

The thing, for me, is that I don’t really need the labels. I don’t necessarily have problems being monogamous, but I don’t want someone thinking I’m not allowed to be my flirty self, that I can’t call on others for the conversations I crave, that I shouldn’t spend so much time on the people I write or my hobbies or writing period. And, in my own experience, even when the idea of a relationship is (even falsely!!) a remote possibility, I am expected to make changes that really aren’t me. I am perfectly willing to make comprises and sacrifices for someone I love, but I am not, absolutely not, going to lose myself in someone else’s insecurities while they attempt to control aspects of my life, theirs, and ours together that are truly beyond both of our control.

To me, any social relationship, even one without clearly defined labels, is existential in nature. It’s going to end. One way or another, the relationship will either run its natural course or at least one member of the relationship will die. It’s a fact of life. There is no escaping the fact that forever is sort of an arbitrary term that doesn’t mean what it implies. To me, and in my experience, promising someone forever is taken to literally mean forever, and both parties end up trying to control every little thing they can to ensure the other person’s promise is upheld. Controlling another person’s behavior, though, is really sort of impossible without a pretty severe level of emotional abuse. See, I can make a commitment, a promise, and focus on my own behavior, what I do, how I behave, and how I treat the other person, but I can’t *make* them treat me the same way, behave the way I do, or not sleep with anyone else. I can’t make them love me and only me for the rest of life. As human beings, it seems like controlling things is what we want to be able to do….but it’s just not the way things work.

My existential responsibility, then, is to enjoy what is in front of me while I have it because I really have no control over how long that person is in my life. All I can do on my end is love them, treat them fairly and with affection and the way I want to be treated. I can choose monogamy and hope that person does, too, but there’s no way I can put a metaphorical chastity belt on them with a label or a piece of paper. I can tell that person what I want and what I expect, but I can’t enforce that in any way, so why should I spend the time we do have together worrying about it? I’d rather just *be* with that person for as long as we decide it’s good. And when it no longer is, we can agree mutually to go our separate ways. Does that take a label or a marriage certificate? Maybe it does for other people, but it’s not what I want. I just want to appreciate what I have for as long as I have it with someone and live life instead of spending all my time worried about what the future with that person holds.

I concede that may be odd in the world today, but it doesn’t mean I don’t know exactly what I want and how to get it or that I need someone to come along and show me everything I knew about myself was wrong. In fact, I don’t *need* anything except coffee in the morning, hugs from the kid, and Halloween candy.


Thanks for reading! Here are the links to the rest of the participating blogs: Baking In A Tornado Spatulas on Parade The Momisodes Sparkly Poetic Weirdo Southern Belle Charm Rena’s World Confessions of a part time working mom Never Ever Give Up Hope Someone Else’s Genius Searching for Sanity Climaxed Dinosaur Superhero Mommy The Bergham Chronicles The Angrivated Mom Eileen's Perpetually Busy

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Teenage Wasteland Mixtape

In my teens, I thought I was a real rock rebel.

I wasn’t.

More than anything I was a misfit, insecure and scared on the inside who paraded around like some kind of badass bitch hoping that everything I thought of myself and everything I felt wasn’t as blaringly obvious as I feared. That was me in a nutshell--always pretending to not give a shit, always hiding behind what I wore and big, scary words. A heart of glass masquerading as a heart of ice, me.

I can say that now that I’m 34 looking and feeling better than I ever have, but then? If this me traveled back in time to give young me some advice, young me would flip the bird and tell this me where to stick it. Young me thought of herself as wise beyond her years not realizing that years are a requirement. Maybe everything I went through did make me a little more mature than some of the other people I knew back in those days, but in no way did I have all the answers I thought I did. No one that insecure in her own skin has the answers to much of anything. Getting over that insecurity, an ever-present battle, is something that comes with time and a whole lot of effort, and maybe just maybe I will have half the answers I thought I did when I was young and full of it.

The songs you might find on an autobiographical mixtape from my adolescence are just as eclectic and confused as I was. In those songs, you can feel my rage from the turmoil and upheaval of my parents’ divorce and the aftermath of death threats against my mom and foolishly moving back in with my dad despite his history of abuse and drug addiction problems. You find evidence of my drug experimentation, of the friends loved and lost, of unrequited love and a budding sense of my own indefinable sexuality. There’s an air of melancholy to it all, to being such an outsider. But, simultaneously there’s a heavy forcefulness that shows just how much I *made* myself an outsider. It’s a soundtrack of contradictions, changes in tempo, and every over-the-top teenage emotion possible. Every song brings up a well of emotions and memories crawling out of locked boxes and dirty hampers and shadowed crevices to both electrify my senses and make me cringe in embarrassment.

It’s time travel that leaves you breathless and nauseated and weirdly nostalgic for days that you’re glad are over.

Teenage Wasteland Mixtape

1. Smells Like Teen Spirit—Nirvana

Did you call that? I bet you did or at least you could have because didn’t everyone who wanted to stand out think that listening to this would do the trick? I think it was supposed to be like some magic pill to take to instantly be about a million times cooler than you actually were at least until everyone took that same pill and it was no longer the edgy thing to do. The lyrics were nonsense, but that made it better somehow. More mysterious to explain to parents. And the naked baby on the cover outraged them which is exactly what made me buy it. I hadn’t even heard of the band, but I was fucking angry. I don’t know that I was angry about the divorce necessarily, but it was so much change, so much fear when my dad came around, so much guilt when I visited him, and so much resentment about my mom moving on so quickly and adding yet another element of change to the chaos and all I wanted out of life at that time was to make her just as angry as I was. Now, I’m not saying that was a fair attitude to have, but that revelation came with time and a whole lot of growing up. Back then it satisfied all my misery and channeled my anger into something I could deal with. That whole album was one of the first times I realized that music could do more than entertain for whatever brief time a song lasted; it can make you feel alive, make you want to keep living--which is something I contemplated a lot in those days.

2. Me & Bobby McGee—Janis Joplin

I moved back in with my dad not long after my mom moved in with her new boyfriend (who has been my stepdad for almost two decades or more than two decades or something like that). It was too much change for a kid my age (12/13) to take one, I guess. I don’t even know why I wanted to in the first place, but I missed my room and the dirt roads I grew up on, the familiarity…I missed home. My dad had his own bar in his house. He built the actual bar and the shelves behind it with his own hands. There were lighted beer signs on the walls and random things to do with dicks. It was definitely an adult area situated essentially in our living room. And, man, did he have a killer sound system. He had progressed from a turntable to cassettes at that point, and eventually got a CD player, but I remember listening to a Janis Joplin greatest hits cassette with one of his many girlfriends over and over and over. This song in particular takes me back to sitting on the kitchen counter laughing it up with her in some of my dad’s old clothes. She told me that day I had a little bit of Janis in me.

3. Say It Ain’t So--Weezer

I listened to a lot of stuff in the year and a half I stayed with dad. Most of it was his music—lots of Allman Bros and the Eagles, Floyd, Zeppelin, the Marshall Tucker Band, Little Feat…all the Southern Rock. But I branched out, too. I had a boyfriend (if you can call it that when you are 13ish) that introduced me to Alice in Chains and Korn and STP. And then my dad got himself a side chick whose son and daughter were a few years older than me. I started hanging out with them when I was just 13 and many of them were 17 or older. It wasn’t exactly the best parenting decision my dad made, but it was far from the worst, I’d say. Trying to kill me was probably the worst. The girl’s boyfriend was in a band, so I started going to their shows pretending I was about a lightyear cooler than I actually was. My life started to resemble something like Dazed and Confused… The parties were in fields, and I was with the band, but I was still Sabrina having bitches like Parker Posey telling me to air-raid when I just wanted to look like I might actually belong there. The band did a cover of this song that was remarkably mediocre, but I loved it anyway. Every time I hear it, it takes me back to the first few times I ever got stoned, listening to music in the middle of a field with people who thought of me as a tagalong they had to babysit while I pretended they actually wanted me there.

4. Glycerine—Bush

I lost my virginity the weekend I before I turned 14. It wasn’t a decision I made or had any control over; that choice was taken from me just like my innocence that night in front of my dad’s bar. I didn’t deal with it very well for a long time. Do you ever really deal with something like that “well?” Maybe not. Either way for a long time, I bottled it in, and lost all respect for myself, for sex, for the idea of choosing to have sex with someone you really love and care about. It warped my ideas about sex in general. I never saw it as special until I was old enough to have sex with someone I really truly loved, but that didn’t stop me from doing it, from seeking attention that way, and from making terrible decisions about my body. In some way, I think I was attempting to exert the control that I didn’t have that night in the worst possible ways. The first person I did choose to have sex with was just a friend, an older boy who was a friend of a friend that I started talking to on the phone regularly and flirting with. That’s the thing of it though. We didn’t even meet in person until the night I snuck out of my dad’s house to screw him in his dad’s shitty white Cavalier. I enjoyed myself in so much as it is possible to enjoy oneself while also being scared shitless about getting caught. Sixteen Stone, Bush’s debut album, was playing in the car and this song in particular always takes me back to that night. I stayed in touch with that guy for a long time, and even now I might hear from him every now and again. There’s a part of me that fell for him in my own way over the years, and a part of me that will always love him.

5. Low—Cracker

The stupidity in my decision to move back to my dad’s didn’t take long to figure out. My dad had moved yet another woman at the house that looked at me like the competition. His drug use had progressed to the point where he was doing coke all the time and sometimes meth. He was drinking more, smoking more weed, and then he got caught trafficking. He was in prison for awhile and married the woman when he got out, literally the moment he got out. They drove straight to the courthouse in the city he was doing time in and tied the knot. He was ever the romantic. He came home worse than ever before, and I knew it was either go or get beaten more. Go or get in an accident because of his drunk driving. Go or let him kill me. So here I was making another move after having dealt with all that and having been raped. I became a really apathetic mess. Truly. I was still getting all As, but I was high more days than not, drinking a lot, still dressing in my dad’s old clothes. My mom and her husband didn’t know how to deal with it, and I didn’t know how to deal with everything going on in my own mind. Depression, zero motivation, a complete and total lack of regard for them and myself. I was a fucking wreck. Taco Bell put out a completion album around this time. Do Something it was called and it was supposed to be full of alternative tracks. This one captured my don’t give a fuck attitude at the time while soothing all the chaotic swirls of emotion. I could listen to it over and over and sing the lyrics and actually get some peace from myself.

6. Loser—Beck

This one, like Glycerine, makes it onto my life soundtrack because it was such an instrumental part of my life. When I moved back in with my mom, she and my stepdad had moved into one of the nicest neighborhoods in this town. It was at that time, at least. Everyone I had become friends with had parents who were struggling to make ends meet. Most of them had single moms barely scraping by. And then there’s me living in this neighborhood with rich kids… So this became my theme song. It was a way to put down the thing that most of us actually wanted—some sense of security and a bit of status—if I had to guess, but I just know it made me feel like an imposter with everyone I knew and strangers alike. I hated it when I should have been thankful my mom met someone that could give her the financial security we never had with my father. You don’t see things like that though when you’re 16 and hanging out with a bunch of stoner kids. I do know that singing along to this song riding in the backseat of a car passing a joint around made me laugh and feel like none of that shit mattered.

7. Stickshifts and Safetybelts—Cake

When I think back on being young and stupid and trying to hard with the people I called friends, this song always comes to mind. I can listen to it now and have a few flashbacks of riding around in a little red pickup with a couple of my friends looking for a place to get stoned and listening to it back to back, over and over. Every single one of us would hold that long note towards the end then bust out laughing and do it all over again. I loved those nights when the song was all we needed.

Stumbleine—Smashing Pumpkins

“Nobody Nowhere Understands Anything….About Me. All My Dreams Lost At Sea….” That line still gets me even now, but in my teenage years the melancholy notes of this song and that particular lyric made me feel less alone in the world. I still get goosebumps when I hear it. I still feel that little swell in my heart from feeling the absolute bitter truth in that lyric while simultaneously hoping that maybe the person who wrote it really does understand what it might be like to be me. I needed that more than anything at the time I got really hooked on this band. I needed that feeling of connectedness especially when I could go into a room full of people and still feel alone.


I wish there was something I could share, some powerful melody that showed that I made it out of my adolescence relatively intact and unscathed and all would be fine like the triumphant moment at the end of an 80s high school movie, but there’s not. Finding music that connected me to other people and that made me feel less alone in the world was the only triumph that could be had back then. It took me a long time to deal with it, to process everything from those years in a way that left me stronger and better than before, but that’s where I eventually ended up—an improved version of me that made it in spite of and despite everything that happened earlier in my life and a version of me that still embraces her rebellious roots with purple hair, tattoos, and skulls on her clothes. No matter when it happened, it's a win in my book, and I still love laying back, hitting play on a nostalgic playlist, and traveling through time.


So today is, as always, Sunday Confessions with More Than Cheese and Beer. I hope you will check out her blog and the rest of the link ups. The prompt was low so be sure to join in if you have something to add. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Not So Happy Reunion

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 15 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is:

High school reunion. You are not only expected to attend but to get on stage and talk to your former classmates about real life after school. Share your speech with us!

It was submitted by:

Just so you know, this probably wasn't the kind of prompt that goes well for somebody like me. Consider this your fair warning. 


Growing up in rural South Georgia as a bit of a weirdo, a social outcast, didn’t necessarily give me good experiences in high school.

Allison from John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club was my teenage spirit animal. In a way, she still is.

I had hippie parents growing up that had been more into records and drugs (the latter part was true for my dad not my mom) than Jesus and football. We didn’t spend Sundays dressing up to go to social hour at church only to dress down and worship the pigskin afterwards. It was a bit of anomaly here in the Bible belt where high school football teams get police escorts and the principal of our high school openly talked about Jesus at every pep rally.

I can’t say that I didn’t have friends. I did. The lot of us had very little in common and looked, at least on the outside, like the Misfit Toys from that old Rudolph Christmas special. Our common bond was the fact that we didn’t fit in anywhere else. We weren’t nerds though many of us were intelligent. We weren’t jocks though some of us could play sports. We definitely weren’t princesses though some of us had a little queen in us. And, there was a little bit of a criminal in a few of us. Weirdos. That’s what we were and in a lot of ways that’s what I still am.

In school that mattered more than it does now. I made a conscious effort to make sure everyone knew I didn’t want to fit in. I rebelled. I wore black lipstick and laughed when someone asked me if I was a witch. Rumor had it that I sacrificed goats at lunch. I was a vegetarian at the time, and I let the rumor get to me. The times that I was called dyke bothered me. The note that was stuffed into my locker featuring crudely drawn dicks and magazine cut-out letters that told me to take my fag friends to San Francisco where they belonged bothered me. Every time my friends, who did happen to be gay, were mocked and threatened, it bothered me. The whole thing was a massive trial in just how much a person can be tested, I think. I was coming out of an abusive home and recovering from a rape that took my virginity, and none of the people, you all, that pointed and laughed and spread gossip on a daily basis bothered to get to know that. The more you pointed, the more outlandish I got like it was a competition to see who would break first.

There is some part of me that would like to think I won, but the truth of it is that it just stopped mattering. I started going to college full time when I was a high school senior and never really looked back.

I had friends that would have probably walked by my side in school if I had shown up in an alien mask and an Elvis jumpsuit, and I still have some of those friends today. Outside of learning and increasing my knowledge, the only thing that matters are those friendships I made, the connections I still have, and the fact that I know in my time there I took up for people around me I loved whenever they were as heavily picked on as I was. That’s what I learned about life after school—that the things that happened there really were inconsequential. I was already going to be the strong free spirit I am today, and no amount of hillbilly finger-pointing was going to change that.

The thing of it is, a lot of us still live in this same town, a lot of us see each other on a regular basis running errands and picking up groceries, and I smile and wave and accept the friend requests on Facebook because life is a lot more complicated than bullying and high school dances and football games, and sometimes we have to play the part even when we don’t want to. But, I don’t have to stay here and party down at this reunion with people that never gave a shit to know me when we were kids, and I’m not going to. Who wants to celebrate with a bunch of assholes that I never should have let bother me in the first place, assholes that, once high school was over, really didn’t make an impact on my life whatsoever?

Now you guys can all go fuck yourselves because life after high school doesn’t involve giving a shit about what you all are doing.


That's the way she goes. 

Alright, be sure to check out the other contributions to the Swap below. Enjoy! Baking In A Tornado The Momisodes Spatulas on Parade Sparkly Poetic Weirdo Southern Belle Charm The Lieber Family Blog Never Ever Give Up Hope Confessions of a part time working mom Someone Else’s Genius Cluttered Genius Small Talk Mama Rena’s World Climaxed Dinosaur Superhero Mommy The Bergham’s Life Chronicles

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Plan

“You’ve put me in a bit of a difficult position here, Ms. Fernandez.”

Simone looks at him a moment with a half smile curling the left side of her mouth upwards. She runs her olive-skinned fingers through her jet black hair being careful not to snag her expertly manicured nails in her waves and slides out of the maroon silk sheets to grab a hairbrush from the master bathroom.

“Are you back to calling me Ms. Fernandez so soon? What happened to ‘Simone’?”

Her back is turned away from him, but she can still feel his eyes roaming every inch of her naked body taking in the sights of the skin his mouth and hands had just finished exploring. She lingers there letting him look a little longer hoping to break a little of the resolve she heard in his voice. Surely a man this weak, a man that had given in to her, his boss’s wife, in less than 10 minutes, would cave with just the right amount of pressure.

“Well, Ms. Fernandez…”

“Jimmy, call me Simone. You’re naked in my bed. I think we can safely agree that at this point we should be on a first-name basis.”


“No buts, Jimmy. Play nice and I might let you stay for a second round.”

She turns then tossing her hair back over her shoulder and makes her way slowly back to the bed. His pale blue eyes soften a little, and she knows she has him. A fly in her web. He licks his lips nervously, watching her climb back under the sheet. His hair had been pulled back and now fell in messy tangles around his shoulders. The sandy blonde beard that covered a portion of his cheeks and chin was a little patchy, but it disguised a weak jawline. He spent a little bit too much time in the gym for her tastes, but she liked the roughness of him. Her husband, Enrique, was a bit too meticulous about his looks. Too smooth, too polished and put together.

The fact that she hated him, her husband, probably didn’t help things either.

The two of them had been married since she was 19 and he was 22, roughly 17 years now. At that time, he was young and full of passion. He had goals. He wanted to open his own restaurant, cook the food himself, and keep things low-key and simple. They talked about having a small family and still living in the city so he wouldn’t have to commute to work. She would stay home with the kids, but they had agreed never to take each other for granted—he wouldn’t act like she didn’t work just because she was at home and she wouldn’t hold the fact that he always had to be at work against him. They had seen those very problems ruin marriages. Simone’s parents had succumbed to the very same ones themselves.

But nothing worked out like that. When he was 24 and still taking business classes at the local community college (the plan being to get his associates in business then go to culinary school), she worked at a Hooters type restaurant to help pay the bills. She would work to put him through school then they would start their family. The work was shitty. Customers always coming on to her, following her when she left, demanding her phone number. The store’s management wasn’t much help and told her it was par for the course. The tips were good though. She couldn’t make the kind of money they needed to get them through this without that job. So, she convinced the owner, Steven, to hire Enrique as a type of bouncer on weekend nights when the crowds were the worst. He would seat people, bus tables when needed, and if someone got out of hand, he would essentially kick their ass out. That was the nice way of putting it anyway. Enrique had a bit of a temper and was especially rough on the guys that put their hands on his wife. But, he built up a bit of camaraderie with all the women after awhile watching over them like a protective older brother. It didn’t take long for him to get a bit of a reputation. That’s when Adolfo Machado started coming in the club with some of his goons.

The first night, one of those goons took it upon himself to grab Simone’s ass. When Enrique tried to throw him out, the two got into one hell of a brawl which is exactly what Adolfo had wanted. That was his plan all along, and the thug on his payroll had acted on his orders when he made that ass grab. Adolfo wanted to see if Enrique lived up to the reputation. He did. Unfortunate, that.

At first it was just a fight here and there, underground fights that paid a few thousand dollars a pop—well more than she could make in a week’s time even on the best weeks, even when she flirted too hard for tips and overlooked the comments and the touching. She didn’t like, had told him she didn’t like it, but he always said it wasn’t a big deal, that they needed the money, and that it wouldn’t be forever.

All of that was a lie. It WAS a big deal. Anytime you get involved with someone like Adolfo Machado, it’s a big fucking deal. They didn’t need the money bad enough to get involved in shit like that. And here they are all these years later with Enrique entrenched with that man more than ever. Their entire lives revolved around Adolfo. What started out as a fight here and there turned into fight nights every weekend then bare knuckle fights once a month, then Enrique was traveling with Adolfo on jobs as protection, taking orders…doing things to people who owed money. She used to ask him questions about what exactly that meant, but he wouldn’t answer, didn’t want to involve her in what he knew. The risks to her life if she knew certain things wasn’t worth sharing those secrets.

So that’s how they lived. She was his wife, but she knew next to nothing about his life anymore. Enrique had risen up to be one of Adolfo’s most trusted. He was gone more than he was around, and when he was around, the two barely spoke. He mocked her when she asked for more of his time and told her if she was so unhappy she could find some other chump to buy her $2000 purses and $5000 gowns.

The man she fell in love with had gone a long time ago, the man who would have understood she would have been happy working every day beside him in a little sandwich shop making bread at 4 am and getting her hands dirty, coming home smelling like garlic and onions and grease. She wanted her Enrique not this stranger who came in, patronized her, then waltzed out to cater to one of the young women Adolfo provided or do God knows what on Adolfo’s orders.

The last time she packed her bags to leave, Enrique told her if she left, she was as good as dead. As far as she was concerned, she had no choice given that Adolfo, she was told, had been diagnosed with and advanced stage of pancreatic cancer and had chosen Enrique to take his place when he was gone. If she ever wanted a life of her own, Enrique had to go.

Simone snuggles up closer to Jimmy nearly purring in his ear about how good he makes her feel. She runs her hand along the smoothness of his chest enjoying it but knowing this charade is just a means to an end, her way out. All she had to do is convince Jimmy that taking out Enrique would earn him the top spot. It was just the distraction she needed to get out of there. She could clear enough money out of the account to set her up for a few months and leave the rest of this shit behind right.

“Jimmy?” she says.

“Yeah, Ms..I mean, Simone?”

“Why don’t you do more for the business? You seem like you should be the one running things, you know.”


Well, I just finished up an Elmore Leonard novel which might have had a bit of influence on this piece. The prompt was Position. Thanks for stopping by for another Sunday Confession. Be sure to check out the other entries on the More Than Cheese and Beer blog

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Miscarriage of Justice

The justice system in the state of Louisiana is inherently flawed. I can say that without a doubt. Since 2002, 49 death sentences have been reversed and 5 people have been exonerated. Since the reinstatement of the death penalty in Louisiana, 10 people total have been exonerated—10 people lucky enough to get someone to fight and help them prove their innocence. Most estimates suggest that at least 4% of the people on death row are innocent, so given there are 85 people currently on death row and 28 who have been executed, that leaves at least 4 people who are either innocent and fighting for life or have already been wrongly executed by a state that messes up pretty damn often considering how many exonerations and reversals have happened in the last 13 years.

Not only is the system there often erroneous, studies have also proven it to be extremely biased. 32% of Louisiana’s population is Black, but Blacks make up almost 66% of the death row population. Studies have found that if a minority defendant is accused of killing a white person, death is given almost twice as often as if the victim is black. If the victim is a white woman, the likelihood of death is 12 times greater. Even though more than 70% of murder victims in Louisiana are black, only 33% of the victims in death penalty cases are. Those differences are glaringly obvious to even the amateur statistician.

Of the 12 death sentences that have been handed out in the last 4 years in Louisiana, ¾ have come from 1 county, Caddo Parrish, and 2 prosecutors. One of those prosecutors, Dale Cox, has gone on record saying that more people *should* be killed by the state and that death row inmates spend far too long behind bars before being executed. Still, he spent almost a year waiting to sign forms to release a man when evidence exonerated him from the crime for which he was sentenced to die. Time is only important when it comes to killing inmates not when it’s about actually handing out justice. He also loudly denies the existence of racial disparities in the justice system proudly pushing forward to seek more death sentences despite the fact that in his county a white person has never been sentenced to death for killing a black person. Not one.

As I said to a new friend of mine recently, Louisiana fucks up a lot.

In the past couple of months, I have had the pleasure of getting to know one of those innocent men that reside in Angola at Louisiana State Penitentiary, a man sentenced in, of course, Caddo Parrish and whose case was prosecuted by none other than Dale Cox. I originally read an article about him published in the New Yorker and was compelled to reach out to see how I might help. And now, I would like to share with you some of his story and a little about the man himself.

Rodricus Crawford, Hot Rod to his friends, is a well-spoken, comical, and easy going guy that loves to make people laugh. He adores his daughter and lights up so much when he talks about her that you can hear it in his voice. You don’t hear him complain much about anything which is astounding given everything he has been through, but he puts his faith in God and has a huge family that continues to love and support him through the fight of his life, for his life.

About a week after Rodricus’ son Roderius turned a year old, Rodricus woke up to find the baby unresponsive. He called for his mom to help him out while his brother called 911. It took 20 minutes for an ambulance to finally show up to help the child despite the fact that the family frantically told 911 dispatchers that CPR was having no effect. In fact, the ambulance drivers dispatched to the house, when asked what was taking so long, responded without concern that one of the 100 people living in the house probably slept on the kid. When they finally did arrive at the house, the baby was taken to the back of the ambulance, the doors were closed, and the EMTs refused to provide Rodricus or even anyone else in the family with any respect or any answers.

From the start, race played a factor in this case.

When the police arrived, Rodricus was treated like a suspect from the start. He was almost immediately put into the back of a police car without any answers about how his child was doing. Instead of being taken to the hospital to check on their child, both Rodricus and his son’s mother were driven to the police department instead and questioned about bruises on the child’s lip and head. As both explained, the injuries occurred the day before when the baby being clumsy like babies are fell in the bathroom. He busted his lip but after a little ice and the some affection from his dad, the kiddo shook it off and, as his mom told the police, was happy and playing like always.

The police, though, had made up their mind anyway. It didn’t help that the forensic pathologist in this case decided after an autopsy of the child’s body that he had died by asphyxiation due to an acute episode of smothering. He also found bruises on the child’s bottom.

Rodricus was brought in for questioning again that day and again grilled about his treatment of the child. Again, he told the police that he had fallen in the bathroom. He also stressed that he would never spank or hit his child. When the police told him the cause of death was smothering, Rodricus was in total disbelief and shock. He had just woken up the day before to find his child unresponsive and not breathing. In the span of little over 24 hours, he not only lost his child but he was being accused of killing that child himself.

He was arrested for murder, first degree murder, and Dale Cox, of course, immediately decided to seek the death penalty for what he believed to be a most grievous transgression.

There are a lot of problems with the above information, however, considering that there is no physical or scientific way the child could have died in an episode of acute smothering.

The forensic pathologist in this case, for one, knew that little Roderius had pneumonia at the time of his death, but this was a fact that he completely disregarded as having anything to do with the cause of death in this case. Nevermind, he must have thought, that pneumonia is the leading cause of death by infectious disease worldwide for children under the age of 5. The pathologist found cerebral edema (swelling of the brain) and concluded this was caused by smothering.

Several experts have since taken a look at the forensic reports in this case, experts hired by a law firm that has taken on Rodricus’ case pro bono to try and help him prove his innocence. I want to include some key statements from several reports below.

Dr. Janice J. Ophoven M.D., a forensic pathologist with 30 years of special training and experience in the evaluation, investigation, and interpretation of injuries in childhood:

  • · “onset of brain swelling takes time and typically peaks at 48-72 hours after hypoxic injury. Presence of brain swelling indicates that the boy’s brain damage did not result from an acute episode of smothering inflicted at the time of cardiac arrest. Complete occlusion of the airway will result in loss of consciousness in 1 ½ to 2 minutes with irreversible damage and death in 4 to 5 minutes. Brain swelling will not develop within the short time period in such an occurrence.

  • · “the boy was suffering from a condition [pneumonia] that led to brain swelling over a period of hours”
  • · “My review of the autopsy photographs shows a small bruise on the inner aspect of the right lower lip and linear discoloration of the margin of the left aspect of the upper lip. The discolorations have the appearance of superficial bruises. These bruises are not specific for the inflicted injury”
  • · “The significant evidence/basis for the diagnosis of smothering came from the finding superficial bruises to the face and lips. In my opinion, the explanation for these bruises was from the fall the preceding day with these injuries verified by the baby’s mother the day before his death. Simple falls are exceedingly common in children in this age.”
  • · “Because this injury was considered to be a critical finding in the determination of cause of death, microscopic sampling of the injured tissue to determine the presences of inflammation in the tissue would be a critical aspect of the autopsy”
  • · “None of these areas of bruising showed a pattern indicative of abuse and did not contribute to the baby’s death.”
  • · About the one tissue injury which was microscopically examined: “this could not have occurred at the time of his death”
  • · What was described [in the forensic pathologist’s reports] as early bronchopneumonia in fact shows multifocal areas of acute, purulent pneumonia with an area of abscess formation…that most certainly could serve as a source of bacterial sepsis or spread of bacteria into the bloodstream. 

Daniel J. Spitz, M.D., forensic pathologist and toxicologist, Chief Medical Examiner for both Macomb County and St. Clair County in Michigan

  • · “It is my determination that Roderius died secondary to septic complications associated with bilateral pneumonia and pulmonary abscess”
  • · “Bacterial pneumonia is a very serious condition which often develops in the background of a viral illness. The symptoms associated with such an illness are often quite subtle and non-specific, however, the infection can be rapidly progressive to the point of causing a child to become gravely ill or die over a period of hours”
  • · “The pneumonia that affected [the child] was a very serious condition which resulted in sepsis as indicated by a positive blood culture”
  • · In relation to the bruising: “the injuries are of relative minor severity and not what would be associated with causing death”
  • · “The small bruises involving the lips are also non-specific injuries and thus to conclude that these injuries represent asphyxia is without scientific basis”
  • · “The idea that this child just happened to be suffering from bilateral pneumonia and pulmonary abscess with a positive blood culture at the same time that someone purposely caused his death by suffocation is simply implausible. Furthermore, the facts of this case simply do not support such a conclusion”

It should also be noted that Mr. Spitz was retained during Rodricus’ original trial but did not provide attorneys with information about cerebral edema in his original report. Both attorneys provided affidavits claiming they did not know cerebral edema was not associated with acute smothering and would have brought this information to light at trial if they had known. Dr. Spitz later stated in a second affidavit that, “it is my opinion that cerebral edema is not consistent with death due to homicidal suffocation. Cerebral edema may develop over the course of hours and/or days in response to hypoxia where the patient survives the hypoxic event, but does not develop when an individual dies during or immediately following the hypoxic or anoxic event.”

Margarita Silio, M.D., M.P.H., Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Section of Pediatric Infections Disease, Tulane University Health Sciences Center. Affiliated with Tulane Clinic for Children, Medical Center of Louisiana, and the Ruth Fertel Community Clinic.

  • · “Based on the autopsy report there was evidence of bilateral bronchopneumonia with focal microabscess in all lung fields with an area of necrosis in one lung field”
  • · “It is my opinion that there is sufficient evidence of infection to support a conclusion that the child died of overwhelming sepsis”
Robert C. Bux, M.D., board certified forensic pathologist, elected Coroner and Chief Medical Examiner for El Paso County, Colorado. 29 years experience.

  • · In regards to the fall both Rodricus and Roderius’ mother stated occurred on the day before Roderius’ death: “ Given the known history of the reported fall in the bathroom with subsequent ‘busted’ lip, microscopic sections of these injuries must be taken in order to substantiate or refute whether the histological inflammatory changes that can be observed microscopically and develop in a systematic way over time are compatible with the history offered as to how these injuries occurred”
  • · “Biopsies of tissue samples taken from these injuries to the inside of the lip would have revealed whether they occurred on the prior day…” The indication here is that if these injuries were the major evidence of smothering as indicated by the original pathologist, dating should have been done on the injured tissue in order to substantiate or refute the claims that the child fell in the bathroom. 
  • · “There was no fresh blood found on the bedding which supports the conclusion that the injuries were older injuries”
  • · “Older infants, toddlers, including a one-year old, and children will struggle against the effort to prevent them from breathing, and in doing so I would expect to see areas of abrasion on the exposed areas of the body such as the shoulders, buttocks, and iliac crest areas. In my experience the forensic pathologist would expect to see more evident trauma in the older infant or toddler such as bruised on the arms, chest, and legs where the child is pinned down”
  • · “Only two microscopic sections of the brain were taken. This is an inadequate number of areas sampled and thus potentially valuable evidence was lost”
  • · Brain swelling does not occur in smothering as the individual dies very rapidly. Brain swelling is due to brain hypoxia/anoxia and can occur from prolonged hypoxia such as in cases of bronchopneumonia with sepsis. 

These findings shared above are only from *some* of the experts who have reviewed this case in an attempt to help free Rodricus. Not a single one of the pathologists and doctors consulted in this case believe there is any indication at all that the child died from an acute trauma like smothering and report that the evidence shows without question that the illness, bronchopneumonia, is the cause of death. It takes hours for a brain to show signs of swelling and any pathologist *should* know this and should not use cerebral edema as proof of death due to acute smothering. The pathologist also did not date tissue samples. Given how much the case rested on these bruises as proof of smothering, these injuries *should* have been tested. At no time was this case treated rationally or scientifically. In fact, from the 911 call forward, Rodricus was pigeon-holed and stereotyped.

An innocent man is giving up the best years of his life to a very racist system, sent to his death by a prosecutor that wants to execute as many people as possible, by a forensic pathologist who is completely incompetent and biased, and by a jury who was mislead entirely by “evidence” that actually should have shown that no crime was even committed.

At the bottom of this, I am going to include links to a petition and the original New Yorker article as well as some links where I gathered the information about Louisiana’s system. But before I leave you with those, I want to ask for your help in spreading that petition and the article. Show your friends. Tweet it to every media outlet you can. An innocent man shouldn’t have to die in a county that prides itself on carrying out legal lynchings… With that, I want to leave you with Hot Rod’s own words:

“There has been a major miscarriage of justice and now is the time to right this wrong. We need your help. Please read the attached information provided by some of the top medical experts in the nation.

We are not asking you to take our word. We aren’t asking you to believe what we are telling you. We want you to read these reports and reach your own conclusions.

Read this information and try to imagine that it was your son, your brother, your father, your firend, your nephew, your loved one sitting in a cell 23 hours each day. All it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.

What are you going to do?

I thank you in advance for any assistance you may provide. I believe in the goodness of human kind.

Sincerely yours,

Rodricus Crawford.


I often use Sunday Confessions to talk about subjects I feel passionately about. This case and the well-being and freedom of Rodricus, someone I now consider a friend, is one of those things. The prompt was Share and I felt there was no better time to share this story than now. Thank you for reading.