Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Recharging and the Condom Aisle

I think Bilbo Baggins said it best when he said, "I feel like butter that's been scraped over too much bread." Can you guys relate to that?

Like when you step off, and get swept away?

You have a job, you write, you read, you play with your dog, you make dinner, you sleep. Then you get an email from a company you're not familiar with and they say, "We just took $59.95 out of your bank account for your one year subscription" and you're like, "Excuse me, what????"

There gets to a point where your body and mind just can't handle it, and you pass out for 12 hours and then wonder why you're still tired when you get out of bed.

Well, I hit that point.

Thankfully, it ended up being my Half Birthday (6 months from my real birthday). For those of you unfamiliar with me, October 19th, 2011, I'd had every intention of killing myself. I'd set the date, set the means, started looking for a home for Baxter. So October 19th, 2012 was a pretty big deal, because a) it was my half birthday, and b) I am still alive. So I contacted some friends and asked if they wanted to celebrate with me.

They said yes.

Just as I hit Portland, Maine I saw this:
Always happens at the most inconvenient time

So I pulled off, got $5 in gas, donated a crap ton of clothes to the biggest GoodWill I'd ever seen, then continued along. Finally, I arrived in the lovely town of Biddeford where I went to college. It amazed me that you can spend YEARS away from home, and still remember each road, each way to avoid tolls.

Stepping out of my car, I inhaled. If you want to know how Biddeford smells, get a large cup of water. Add about two cups of salt to your water. Swirl, swirl again, put your nose inside the cup and inhale. You cannot escape this scent walking to or from class. This sticky smell reminds me that I am home, and acts like stitches to any emotional wounds I may have.

The Atlantic Ocean

I visited John, my college manager, who told me I looked good, which is always a compliment. This man saw me at my worst, when my weight slipped below 100 pounds, fully dressed, keys and a deck of cards in pocket, shoes on. When people would hug me, I could feel their arms go through me because there was nothing left of my body. I know he remembers this, and I know he worries I'll relapse or manage to hurt myself in another way.

It had been a few months since I'd seen him last, and I brought him up to date on my current living situation, my financial woes, and my hopes for the future. Then he told me about him, his kiddos, his wife, work. "Oh," I asked, "what do you guys want for Christmas?"

"Your presence," he said. My heart swelled. It was nice, and reminded me that I am loved, no matter where I am. He also threw some money my way, so I was able to get a full tank of gas and pay for my storage unit this month. (Which also helps me to breathe a little easier, so thanks for that!)

The beautiful sea
After parting from him, I made my way to the ocean, because though she and I have had our quarrels, I love her. The waves were crashing, hard. Even with the radio playing, I could hear the rumble as white foam broke away from the grey water. Growing up in Michigan, yea, we had lakes, and swimming pools, and ponds, but there is something hypnotic about the ocean. The sounds, the smell, the feel. I LOVE the ocean.

It had been raining all day, but I took off my shoes and socks and walked down the stairs and waited until the waves put my feet in the water.

Of course, when the wave finally came, it was a huge one that soaked through my jeans, and I sat for the next half hour wetter that I'd anticipated.

After that, I ran some errands and went to my storage unit. It was raining. Not a soft rain that somewhat makes it feel like you've been sweating mildly. Instead, it was a hard rain that made it feel like you've just jumped in the ocean. My boxes got wet. My helmet, my boarding boots, they all got soaked. Where I was going to try to dig out some books to take home, I just grabbed my snowboard (because Winter is just around the corner!) and threw it in my car and headed over to my friend, Liz's.

We went to our place (Olive Garden), and had a margarita. We talked about politics, gay marriage, my anger with what I believed when I was younger, and other various intense, and sometimes funny things. After, because she didn't believe me, we headed to a branch of the pharmacy I work at. Upon entrance, we were properly greeted (which I commended Chad, the very attractive cashier on), and I promptly asked, "Where are your condoms?" because the store's layout was much different from mine.

He led us in the direction, and I found the large purple box, and exclaimed, "I told you we sell these!" and she stood there, slack jawed, and partially in awe. "I feel like we should have placed a money bet. I did not believe you, at all."

And then we proceeded to laugh, loud enough that our voices bounced off the aisles.

When the adventure finished, we said our goodbyes, she wished me a happy half birthday, and I bought the Some Nights CD by Fun, and rocked it my entire drive home, feeling that feeling which always results in a visit to Biddeford, love.

For your listening pleasure, Some Nights, by Fun :)

It's like I'm a rechargeable battery. Life sucks all the energy out of me, makes me sleep, but doesn't exactly make me feel like I'll make it through the next few weeks with my head up. Time with John (my manager) and time with Liz is like being plugged into an electrical outlet (in a good way). I listen to them talk, smell the smells associated with a garage and a lovely house. I memorize my interactions with them in case I need to recall they way their presence makes me feel.

Then I hug, release, and it's like being unplugged, fully charged, ready to face the next few months/weeks/however long it will be before I need to recharge again.

I never thought I would need people in my life to help keep me afloat. I thrive on living by myself, and roommates freak me out. But there are people from past lives, who still call me by my first name, that I am incredibly grateful that they've been on this roller coaster with me.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Small Book Reviews

As I've started doing, especially because it takes up a blog post, and I like sharing what I've been reading with you guys, here is my October Segment of quick small book reviews.

By Jodi Meadows
Rating on Goodreads: **** of *****

Still on my "I want to read happy stories" kick, I bought Incarnate.

Talk about an underdog story. Ana has spent her entire life being beat by her hateful mother, and on her first day of freedom she nearly dies. Twice.

It was a fun book, with a cutesy relationship that I swooned over. Plus, it had dragons. Anything with dragons in it is a win for me.

It was a simplistic read, I didn't have to think too much for myself, which was nice. I'm excited for the next installment.
Tap Out
By Eric Devine
Rating on Goodreads: *** of *****

You know those hookers, that first line that grabs you by the eyeballs? This one had it. Immediately I thought I was going to LOVE this book. The writing was seamless, I was in the head of a teenage boy who swore a lot (LOADS of brownie points), and was in a really bad situation.

It was a roller coaster of a book, and an overall awesome read. Up until the last 25% of the book I would have given it a five star rating, however, I had a huge beef with the ending (which I actually contacted the author about and we had a mini discussion). I understand why the book ended the way it did, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

Either way, I will definitely invest in Devine's next book!

Anna and the French Kiss
By Stephanie Perkins
Rating on Goodreads: **** of *****

Residual happiness kicker. I'd had a million people rave about this book, saying it's so cute, and so wonderful. But if If I Stay, Where She Went, and Looking for Alaska really did live up to their hype, I assumed this one would be a bust.


I don't think I've ever laughed/giggled so loud/so hard because of a book in my entire life. It brought me back to high school and first loves, and misunderstandings  and jealousy, and oh gosh. It was wonderful. If you were apprehensive about this book, please read it. You won't regret it.

Though ***Disclaimer*** If you're not in to gushy/chick lit/romancey stuff, I'd say pass on it. I knew what I was getting into when I read it, but I LOVED it.

Also, are you my friend on Goodreads yet? If not, you should be :)

Sunday, October 28, 2012


And we have arrived at the Spooktoberfest blog hop. Five manditory words:
One spooky less than 300 word flash fiction piece. 

So, here is mine:

The cobwebs hang from the bookcase like a sweater begging to be tried on. If they were fake, they’d be charming. Instead, their ghost-like wisps send shivers. I know this place is haunted. The jack-o-lanterns we’d carved when I was seven are still here, preserved like we’d done them yesterday, rather than years ago.
Taking a deep breath, I wander the house I’d lived in.
“We have to cook the seeds first! Otherwise the witches will come and put you in their cauldron and cook you for dinner!” My mother scolded.
“How would they find me?” I challenged, chomping away at the uncooked pumpkin seeds.
“The seeds give signals…”
I shake my head and push the image away. It wasn’t the witches that found us. It was my father.
Outside, a twig snaps. My bones freeze. I can’t breathe.
I beg the ghosts, “Please make me invisible, protect me.”
A breeze floats through the curtains, and the door bursts open. He’s here, wild, drunk.
I’m frozen, a statue to be shattered. There’s nowhere to hide.
His line of vision meets my eyes, but it’s like he’s looking through me. He stumbles through what used to be the living room, and I back myself against the counter, hands frantically pawing for anything to use. A cool razor blade, the kind you’d use to cut open a taped box with, finds its way into my hands. I step forward, toward the monster rather than freedom.
As I raise my hand to strike, the man trips, and falls. A small trickle of blood escapes his mouth. Please let him have hit his head hard enough to have brain damage, I pray again.
Beside his crumpled body, I drop my weapon and venture into the night.
Who says miracles don’t happen on Halloween?

Friday, October 26, 2012

I Pee in the Shower

On October 16, 2012 one of my Life Goals had been accomplished. I was in attendance for a Post Secret event and got to meet the founder of the project.

Frank Warren (the founder of PS) has a theory that we all have secrets, and if we keep them secrets they become walls. But, if we're brave and we tell those secrets, it has the ability to turn those walls into bridges (his words, not mine).

One of the most common secrets he said he gets is "I pee in the shower." I'm not gonna lie, I pee in the shower. I feel like a) it's more environmentally friendly and b) it's a time saver and c) Haha, boys. I can pee standing up, too.

You just, you know, pee first, then lather, rinse, repeat.

Anyways, at the end of the event, Frank invites the attendees to go to the microphones and say something. It can be a secret, it can be a thanks for the project, whatever. And because a year ago last week, I found out I was pregnant, and suicide was a better option than having a child, I went up to the mic. I told my story, about writing "If I test positive I'm going to kill myself," and mailing it in, about having an abortion, chopping my hair off, changing my name, and moving 1,000 miles away.

Frank Warren! I got to shake his hand!
In that aspect, I did kill myself. But, I'm alive. Because I told my friends and my dog my secret, and they kept me alive when I couldn't breathe.

The last girl at the microphone was small, and adorable. She said something along the lines of, "You know, I've always been a goodie-two-shoes. And when I got stoned out of my mind, I realized I have the best friends in the entire world."

The audience cheered for her. I cheered for her. The fourteen year old version of me who believed that Harry Potter was demonic cried a little inside, but thankfully, her voice is getting smaller and smaller by the day.

On the way home, I called my mom. For the last year I've been hiding what happened, why I moved from North Carolina. And I told her. Then we hung up, and I exhaled. I assumed she'd tell me I was a huge disappointment, or that she was disowning me. Instead, less than five minutes later, my phone rang. It was her.

"Hello?" I asked.

"I just wanted to tell you that I still love you," she said.

I smiled. My relationship with my mother is a complicated one. I grew up hating her, moved to Maine to get away from her, and now we chat on a frequent basis. I didn't tell her I loved her back, I wanted to, but I couldn't. Instead, I said, "Thank you. Thank you a lot," and we hung up again.

So, for those of you who pee in the shower, who have holes in your doors from your parents trying to break in and beat you, for those of you who have cutting scars, or want to grow up to become the cat woman, I love you. Don't be afraid of your secrets. Own them, embrace them, share them, and exhale.

You're in good company here :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Letting Go

Whew. Sorry I'm late. Thanks for checking back (if you did :) ). So, the Letting Go Blog Hop is hosted by Kyra Lennon whose novella, If I Let You Go, just came out. You can buy it on Amazon, and you should :)

The hop consists of writers telling their stories of Letting Go. So, here's mine...which is also an excerpt from my memoir :)

The End of the World
The world doesn’t end in fire and brimstone. It doesn’t end by nuclear explosion, or oil spills, or Mother Nature finally getting pissed off and having a hurricane/tornado/tsunami/landslide/earthquake. Well, maybe actually it does. But not the end of my world. My world ended close to the start of my sophomore year of high school.
I was sitting at the computer, still working on my masterpiece. The phone rang, and my mother called for me.
“Hello?” I asked, grabbing the phone from her.
Laura’s voice rang through on the other end. “Steph, Kellie’s been in a car accident.”
The breath in my chest fell out, like one of the times I’d slipped through the ice when I was younger and unsupervised. I’d been waiting for her to get online. “Is she okay?” I asked, careful not to think anything bad.
“We’re not sure. Everything I’m hearing is sketchy. I’ve heard she might lose her legs, I’ve heard she’s in a coma, I’ve heard…” there were a million possibilities. “The only thing I’m sure of is that she was in a car accident, and it sounds pretty bad.”
What if Kellie can’t walk? What if she dies? Though I tried to fight it, I began to cry. I can’t live without Kellie, I can’t live without Kellie. She’s fine, she’s fine, she’s fine. “When you hear anything…” Let her be fine, let her be fine.
The tattoo I got in honor of Kellie
It reads:
It's just a moment of change KLW 10
“I’ll let you know as soon as I know more.”
I went to the kitchen, sobbing and handed my mom the phone. “Talk to Laura.”
“What is going on?” Mom asked when she saw my face.
“Talk to Laura!” I screamed, before running up the stairs. Alone in my bedroom, I sat on the edge of my bed, writing Kellie’s name in ink just below my thumb. I’m not going to wash this off until I know she’s okay.
I cried for hours, praying, God, please let her live. Let her be okay. Please let her live, while grossly thinking, Well, if she dies, at least I’ll have a reason to be depressed any time I want.
I half slept that night, waiting for the phone to ring and tell me anything, ideally that Kellie was okay and really it was just a rear ending. They happened every day in the school parking lot. No one was ever seriously hurt. It wasn’t a bad accident. It couldn’t be a bad accident. Kellie had to be fine, I can’t live without her.
In the morning, in a haze, I showered, ate breakfast, and as I put toothpaste on my toothbrush, the phone rang. My blood froze in my veins. She’s dead, she’s dead, she’s dead.
“Hello?” I asked, not bothering to check the caller ID, I knew damn well who it was.
“Steph, I’m so sorry,” Laura’s voice said, much more gently than when she’d told me about Kara. “Kellie didn’t make it.”
My legs were unable to bear my weight. I threw the phone away from me as though I could unheard the words. “No!” I screamed, over, and over, and over, collapsing to a heap on the floor.
My mother woke to my screams.
Me and Laura
Until our friends passed away, we kind of umm...
hated each other
I went to school that day and cried almost every second of every class. When a friend asked, “Why are you here? Why aren’t you home?” I laid on the floor in the commons in the fetal position, and continued to cry. “Because if I wasn’t here, forcing myself to keep moving, this is what I’d be doing.” 
Days later, I called my youth group to tell them that on October 6, 2003, I didn’t need a ride to church. I wouldn’t be in attendance, because I’d be at my sister’s funeral instead.
That morning, I woke up on the floor of a mutual friend’s house. Laura and several others were scattered around me before I remembered that Kellie was dead, and we were burying her today. While we got ready, Laura read a poem I’d written our loud, causing me to cry harder and harder.
“Steph,” one of our friends said, “you should read that at the funeral.”
I cried harder. “I’m not sure I can.”
“If you can’t, I’ll read it for you,” my sister offered.
I nodded gratefully. When everyone was ready, we made our walk to the funeral. It was held in the same church that Kara’s had been. In the middle of the road I stopped moving.
“You ready to do this?” Laura asked gently.
            “As ready as I’ll ever be, I guess.”

It took years before I really said goodbye to Kellie. As it is, her anniversary passed this month and, as always, it was difficult to get through. I miss her, on a daily basis. I have let go of the hope that'd she'd come back, and that maybe, like a soap opera this is all fake and she's been kidnapped by an evil ex lover, and is getting brain washed only to come back to us. I've let go of the guilt associated with outliving her. And I've let go of the anger associated with her death (ahem, mostly).

The reality is, she got in a car accident. It wasn't her fault, and though she was only 17, maybe she lived enough life. I know her influence is seen in me every day, whether it's just because I stop and enjoy the color orange, or because I listen to a Godsmack song. She was in my life, and I am grateful for that.

I will never, never, let go of the love that I still feel for her.

Monday, October 22, 2012


If you're here for the Letting Go Blog Hop, please don't hate me! It'll be posted Wednesday, I fell behind on all the blog hops I've signed up for! (Sorry!)

This week's portion of Express Yourself is the Top 5 Favorite Monsters

So, without getting in trouble for copyright issues, here are mine:

There are reasons I never went
to art school :)
5) Godzilla
When I was a kiddo I used to read the books. If I remember correctly, he was kind of always the hero, battling the bad monsters, and kicking their ass. 
Then in 1998, Hollywood released the movie. (Spoiler alert) There's a scene after they blow up Madison Square Garden, where all the little Godzilla baby bodies are strewn about. Godzilla sees them, and pushes on this with his/her nose, and wails because it's kiddos are dead. It's heart breaking. So of course, he/she goes on a rampage.

At the end, they trap Godzilla on the bridge, and shoot at him/her, and then he/she dies. Everyone cheered, but I didn't. It actually made me want to cry. All he/she wanted to do was live, and eat, and make babies, you know? And we (people) killed him/her.

4) King Kong
The same goes for King Kong. He was just really big, any maybe misunderstood. I thought the movie did an awesome job of why he fell in love with the girl, though, and I enjoyed the movie a lot. One of the things that really bugged me about this movie (and society in general) is that they were all, "Wow, we found this really huge thing, let's capture it, enclose it in a tiny habitat, and then shoot it when it goes crazy!" 
I don't like that ending. I'd like to see the monster win, at least once.

3) The Hulk
He's big. He's angry. He's green. He also likes to smash things and destroy stuff, so you know, it's pretty epic. PLUS most people don't run screaming, and, as far as I'm aware, no one is trying to kill him just for being alive.

2) All X-Men
Some are "monsters". Most are just plain Bad Ass.

1) Baxter
He may seem all cute, and sleepy, and cuddly. But his tail leaves bruises. If he's running at you, and you don't stand still, he can lay you out.
But you know, he is still kind of cute and cuddly :) Plus, he's my monster.

What are your favorite monsters through history?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Mid Month Goals

It's Mid October. And look at this! I'm still alive!

It's like being on top of the world!

I'm still breathing!


With that said, now that I'm almost through the Month of Hell, it's time to start looking forward. National Novel Writing Month is November (that handy little #NaNoWriMo tag you see floating around twitter), and thus before I delve into a new novel, there are some things I feel I must do:

Wait for it....wait for it...

1) Finish editing the memoir. Find a cohesive ending that feels complete to me, and that chapter of my life. Take a deep breath, find a stiff drink, and keep my chin up.

2) Finish editing After Elizabeth, which...has been edited about a million times, but when agents say, "This is what I have a problem with," well, I'm going to listen.

3) Think. Do research. See if any voices start speaking to me. Take notes.

4) Start doing writing prompts to get the juices flowing. I recommend Old Friend from Far Away, and The Pocket Muse 2, and The Writer's Block.

5) Time management. Money management.

But really the big stressers are the editing. The memoir gives me anxiety attacks and insomnia. The novel just makes me feel overwhelmed. But once those are done, FULLY done, I'm ready for #NaNoWriMo

What about you guys? Any last minute things you need to tie up before diving in?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Did I Notice Your Book?

Alex J Cavanaugh and Ciara Knight came up with this blog hop. Been browsing through Amazon? Goodreads? The library? See a book that really caught your attention? Here's your chance to give it a shout out.

I've been spending a lot of time in my local library. To the point the other day during my lunch break, I came in to ask a question, freaked out because all the computers were taken...and they handed me a laptop asking, "Where's yours?" (I'm pretty sure they know me now...and they know I write...and I owe them $3.30 in paper fines...still.) Anyways, so all this library dwelling leads to staring at a book case...which means that each time I come in I usually spend about 5-10 minutes browsing, seeing if I'll use my library card again.

So, the book that I've recently noticed was:

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin.

I was drawn to this book because it has a beautiful cover (don't you think?). Then I read the inside cover and was like, "Man, when I'm not drowning in my TBR pile, this one's getting added!" (May have added it to my Christmas list :) ). I don't think Zevin is a NYT best selling author (I googled her and didn't see anything telling me she was) so this book fits the criteria for the hop. And now, I'm excited to read it!

So what about you guys? Any books you've wandered by and fallen in love with?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Speaking Languages

For week three of the Express Yourself Meme, they asked, "What language would you like to speak, and why?"

My answer to that is Polish. And here's why:

This is my Babcia (pronounced Bop-Cha, basically):
Isn't she adorable?

She is my grandmother on my mother's side of the family. As previously stated, I met her very late in life. By the time I was actually standing awkwardly in the same room with her, she'd had several strokes. She could walk, but it was incredibly slow, and her memory was being lost by the day.

Currently, she rocks out in a nursing home in Massachusetts. I haven't seen her in about two years (three, maybe?) The last time I saw her, she was in a wheelchair, withering down to skin and bones. She repeated questions like, "How is your mother?" "How is Jacci?" and she talked about her husband who's been dead longer than I've been alive. Now she is usually in a wheelchair, she can barely feed herself, and she watches reruns of I Love Lucy or whatever else is on the television.

Because her mind has regressed so substantially, I can say few words to her in her own tongue, How are you? and I love you. Her mind carries her native language, and I, as a product of the melting pot of America, have lost my cultural identity. My mother, formerly bi-lingual, also fails from time to time to remember a Polish word. She never taught her children how to speak another language (it's something I'm incredibly bitter with).

At some point in life, I would like to study Polish, to learn the language of my family. Sadly, I don't think I'll learn enough of the language fast enough to be able to have a coherent conversation with my babcia, but at least I'll know that that grain of culture resides in me, somewhere.

For now...It's English for me. (I'm so uncultured).

Friday, October 12, 2012

Goals and Maple Syrup

Partner in Crime and his girlfriend
I quit drinking for a month and a half. I ran before work, after work, at a track, in the road. I sprained my foot, iced my shins, got shin splits, and blisters, and was tired, a lot. And all the hard work was for one day and one goal. October 7th, 2012, to be under 24 minutes.

Of course, as I got in my car, confident with my stopped working. I had no idea how to get to the race, so I called my Partner in Crime and he gave me bulletproof directions. Soon, I met him and his girlfriend at the registration tent.

Though we talked and chatted, and Baxter got to meet other dogs, my nerves were in my stomach, very aware of the tuna sandwich I'd eaten on the drive over. My hands were shaking, it was hard to breathe. I'd had a knee surgery last year. My foot was sprained. But...

I'd trained a month for this race, and it was finally here.

And, it wasn't even raining.

After a warm up, and a hand off of Baxter to the Partner's girlfriend, we stood at the starting line. "If I beat you, you owe me ice cream," I told him.

He chuckled. "If you beat me, I'll buy you ice cream." Days before we'd both said we wanted to defeat the other. He'd been faster than me each time we'd run. I wanted to beat him. I also wanted ice cream.

Then suddenly, the line started moving. We were off. I manged to weave through the bodies first, but within the first two minutes I saw his green shirt pass me. "Son of a bi@#$!" I yelled, while people turned their heads.

 Us looking like thugs
before the race
By the first mile, my foot hurt. My knees ached. It's just a run, I started telling myself. You don't have to beat him. You don't have to prove anything. But I did. I had goals (both realistic and unrealistic). Not only that, but this time last year I was planning my suicide. This race, the fact that I was alive to run it, meant more to me than words can express.

So I talked myself out of slowing down...until I hit the hill.

Take it hard, your legs will have time to recover after. turned out, I lied to myself. Because right at the bottom of Mt. Everest, was the turn around point...and having to go back on the stupid hill. My legs did not get a break. They did not recover. Breathing was harder. I'd hit the wall. My mind started coming up with every reason why I should stop:

Goals don't matter, just run the race. It's just another run. Who is going to care if you ran a 5K in 25 minutes? At least you ran! 

My feet began taking walking-length strides. My speed slowed. I'd given up. Ahead of me I still saw the green shirt I'd been trying to pace myself with, but I didn't care as he moved farther and farther away from me. I couldn't care. I was in too much pain, I wanted to give up. I seriously considered walking. And then more hills came. Then I considered crying.

But I stayed in motion. The sissy-jog turned back into a somewhat faster jog/run.

And then I saw this:

The finish line
My legs stopped being tired. I threw my arms as if they were independent from my body, as though they were wings carrying me when my feet couldn't. Just as I crossed the finish line, I saw the time: 23:58.

No way. No way!!! I crossed the line smiling. Beaming. Welling with tears of pride rather than pain. I'd reached my goal. Though my Partner in Crime had finished nearly two minutes ahead of me, and though I didn't beat my sister's time, I'd done what I set out to do. And no one was happier than my biggest fan:

He was cheering :)
I was very excited.
After a few rounds of chili trying (and Baxter getting into my cup), and a dog trying to attack Baxter later, we decided to wait for the race results because the PIC was hoping he'd placed. They announced the chili winners first (it was a cook off), then the kid's fun run. Then the announcers separated the ages and began calling out the top three runners for male and female. When they got to the Women's 20-29 division (not 100% sure that that was the age bracket, don't hate), I didn't even flinch. Until they said, "In third place with a time of 26..."

 My eyes popped open. "Sarah, did they just say 26 minutes?"

"Yea," she answered.

"My time was in the 23's..."

Her eyes got big, too. "You placed!"

We did a mini jump while they announced the second place woman. Her time was also in the 26's. My eyes nearly fell out of my head. "Lynne! You got first!!"

Then over the loud speaker, I heard, "In first place with a time of 24:01, Lynne Schmidt." And I giggled (possibly allowed a joyous yelp). HOWEVER, you'll see the time said 24:01. Not quite accurate considering for the first few seconds the PIC and I had to stand still while the people moved in front of us (this is why I don't like un-chipped races). My watch says 23:57, so that's what I'm going with.

Either way, I went to the tent and received my batch of maple syrup and a medal, which I promptly put on Baxter.

"Purple is really his color," Sarah said. We all agreed.

Then, as predicted, the Partner in Crime also placed! The crowd went wild! (Okay, not really, but our small group did!)

We walked away victorious that lovely day in October, our heads held high. The people we loved with us (for the PIC his girlfriend, for me, my pup) to celebrate our achievement. And then I went home, ate a bag of popcorn and a dinner of oreos and napped for four hours.

Cue We are the Champions

And for those of you who say you can't reach your goals, this is living proof that sometimes without meaning to, you can exceed your goals, without even trying :) Keep your head up. Even if you're tired.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tingly Movies or Books

This week for the Express Yourself Meme is:

List the five books/movies that caused the hair to stand up on the back of your neck. This also works out, because I love lists :)

So here we go:

5) Paranormal Activity 1
Okay, in all fairness, this one wasn't so creepy. Until I got home that night, and there was an attic connected to my bedroom, and I was like "OMG, did the bedsheets just lift?"And then I curled into the fetal position, clutching my Eeyore. Not a pretty sight.

This is some terrifying stuff
4) Harrison Bergeron, by Kurt Vonnegut
Okay, so it's not a novel, but it's a short story that scared the crap out of me. It's a dystopian short story where everyone is average. Smart people have things in their ears to break off their thoughts. Athletic people are weighed down by sandbags so they're no faster or better than the people beside them.
And just as the uprising starts, it gets shot down.
This story ripped my heart out of my chest, and made me fall in love with Vonnegut's work.

3) Pet Cemetery 2
First off, the step dad killed the dog. And then there was the motorcycle scene? This movie still gives me nightmares, but really, as soon as an animal dies, I start crying.

2) Night of the Living Dummy, R.L. Stine
There is NOTHING more horrifying than an inanimate object coming to life. And when you're in middle school (or elementary), and a dummy starts torturing know it's the end of the world. The Chucky movies rival this place, but either way, dummies and dolls scare me to death. Dummies and dolls and clowns. And then to have them trying to kill you? No way. No effing way. I never had dolls growing up because I was scared they'd cut me when I slept. I had stuffed animals, because if they were gonna come alive, they'd defend me, and if they tried to eat me, at least they'd be cute.

1) Paranormal Activity 2
This one made me about pee my pants. Where the first one wasn't so scary until you got home, this one made me TERRIFIED to go home. I literally shook for about two hours after the movie, went to my boyfriends house, where he (also scared crapless) stated, "We're watching a funny movie, and sleeping with the lights on. Whoever falls asleep first, wins." He fell asleep first. I was afraid to leave the bed and go to the bathroom.

The Amityville Horror, and Haunting in Connecticut are also great scary movies. The woman from the Haunting in Connecticut actually came to my school to talk about what actually happened. I still get goosebumps.

And if you're wondering, I haven't forgotten about the post from the race. I just haven't had time to upload the pictures and write about it yet. Should be up Friday!

ALSO--I saw that there is a blog hop, something like "Did I notice your novel" and I think it happens October 17th....Um...Does anyone know who is hosting that one? I can't seem to find it again....(My bad)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Unhealthy Relationships

"You're being a fucking cunt."

Yep. You read that right. (Sorry I'm not adhering to my PG-13 status right now). But that quote is what I woke up to at 8:00am. I heard it through my ceiling in the basement. I also heard a million f-bombs, and screaming. Lots of screaming. Though I heard her voice a few times, it was mostly his, yelling f-bombs, calling her the b or c word, and it was just awful. All around.

I ventured upstairs since sleep was no longer an option, got a bowl from the cabinet  and poured some Lucky Charms cereal (because I'm five like that). Then the dude (now standing in the kitchen, too) screamed, "I'm not the one being f@#$ing inconsiderate!"

And because I'm me, I couldn't help it. As I poured the milk in the bowl, I said (not in an angry voice), "Actually, you are being inconsiderate. There were still people sleeping."

He proceeded to redirect his anger at me, and tell me to shut my f#$ing mouth. Then my older roommate (the girl's aunt) also told me to shut my f#$^ing mouth, and that I don't think of anyone else. Um. Right. Then about fifteen minutes later, she asked me for dishsoap...which I got, pissily. 

Moral of this story is, yet again, I cannot cohabitate with people and it brings us to another list.

Signs that You May Be in an Unhealthy Relationship

5) They don't support your dreams.
If you want to be an astronaut, and they buy you a cowboy hat for Christmas, things may be in the fritz. 

On my 16th birthday, the boy (who you'll read about in #1) I was dating made me breakfast in bed, and then gave me presents. There was a large pack of pretty metallic colored gel pens. 
"I saw you were running low," he said, like he wasn't sure I'd love them.
I was speechless. He knew me. He got me. He supported my journaling, my writing. Me.
He also wrote, but he was terrified to speak or read in public. By the end of our relationship, I was in attendance when he decided to read at an open-mic night. Even though he barely spoke loud enough to be heard through the microphone, I'd never been so proud in all my life.
Recently, I was talking to a boy (who'd been asking me out), and I mentioned being in the newspaper. I told him, "You should be impressed, I'm a pretty big deal."
And he laughed. It didn't feel like he was laughing with me.

If you think you're a pretty big deal, your SO should think you're a pretty big deal, too. Because you are :)

If this was in real time,
it woulda hurt
4) You are genuinely afraid they'll hurt you
Safety is a huge thing in a relationship. Maybe you want to reproduce with this person. Maybe you want to adopt. Maybe you want to know that when you come home there won't be knife marks in the couch and your tires won't be slashed in the driveway. If you start to feel afraid of your partner, chances are you should trust your gut instinct and bail out. 

3) Dominance
People like to say, "We can see who wears the pants in that relationship," like it's a bad thing. And it can be, if the same person is always wearing the pants. The pants should be traded back and forth. There should be an equal amount of give and take. If one makes the dinner, maybe the other does the dishes. If one does the laundry, maybe the other gets to pick the movie. If one wants to go to a club, and the other HATES clubs, maybe make a trade. Next time you'll do something you don't like because they like it. 
You don't own someone in a relationship. It's not meant to be my way or the highway. Talk things out, build a life with each other. Come to an even playing field.

2) They don't realize they've hurt you
"Hey, hey, look!" From the driver's seat, I reached behind me, and pulled out a pink covered book. My Friend Leonard, by James Frey. I'd been gushing about it for weeks, and I'd finally gotten it back in the mail. That day!
My boyfriend, in the passenger seat looked at the cover, put the book back in the backseat, and said, "Cool."
He didn't open the cover to see the signature, and the kind words James had written. He didn't act excited that I'd been checking my mailbox religiously to see if the book had come. I was crushed. I almost started crying at the steering wheel. I'd told him about that book and what it meant to me a million times. It's okay if he didn't remember why the book was so important to me, but it wasn't okay that he didn't ask why I was so excited. 
He didn't even notice I was upset.

If people love you, they'll want to know why you're happy, know why you're sad. They want to celebrate with you, they want to help pull you out of the gutter. So if they're not asking why you're beaming and throwing a book in their lap, you may want to look into why they aren't.

1) Fights.
"Maybe if you hadn't been born your father wouldn't have left."
Yep. I said that. In high school. To the boy I was head over heels in love with. And after the words fell out of my mouth, I stood there, hand over lips, with a look of shock on my face.
Sometimes fighting is fun.
Sometimes it's not.

I couldn't believe I'd just said that. It was the most hurtful thing I'd ever anyone. And I said it to the boy I loved! I knew I'd hurt him (and I'd like to think I apologized, but I'm not 100% sure I did....because it was high school and it was my way or the highway).

There are constructive ways to fight, and non constructive ways to fight. If you're feeling belittled or attacked, chances are it's not constructive fighting. Once the name calling barrier is broken, the relationship is usually gone. If you're sitting there crying (like my neighbor used to do when her boyfriend insulted her and called her worthless/an idiot/etc), chances are, it's not good fighting.

Remember, if you love someone, you still want to protect them. Calling them names does NOT help put the fight into remission. Making someone cry harder doesn't help, either. Neither is helping reach the goal of the end of the fight. It's escalating it. 

Also how often are you fighting? What are you fighting about? Fighting is a normal part of a relationship, but if it's happening every day, chances are there is a serious problem that's not being addressed. If you're just trying to hurt each other, that's not a good thing.

Moral of this post is if you're being treated poorly, please remember that you deserve better. You should never tolerate being called names, being yelled at until you cry, or people saying you'll never reach your dreams. 

Keep your head up. Happy Monday.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Don't Be An Athlete, You'll Look Like A Boy

I met my mother's side of the family late in the game. I mean, LATE in the game. Most kids at the age of 12 (or whatever age I was) knew their grandmother, their aunt, their cousins. Most of them grew up with them, played with them.

Not me.

But when we Schmidt Sisters finally met our estranged family after a road trip from Michigan to Massachusetts, we fell in love with them. Well...most of them.

Laura before an Intramural college game
For a long time, I believed Laura would grow up to play in the WNBA. She was an awesome basketball player, and most of my middle and high school memories consist of playing with her, or hearing about her games. That is, until she went to Germany on a foreign exchange program and (playing basketball) tore her ACL overseas. The dreams kind of faded after that. She still played, but didn't push herself as hard. Now, a few more intense surgeries later, she takes things kind of easy.

Meanwhile, Jacci and I had always been runners. Sure we'd play other sports, but the thing that really drove us was pounding out 3.1 miles on trails.

The three of us found our calling in sports. It calmed us, made us happy, and gave us a feeling of support which was lacking from our home life.

After that first visit to my mother's family's, my sisters made a pilgrimage to Massachusetts about once a year. The one year Laura couldn't make it, Jacci and I decided to travel south for a week, stopping wherever we wanted. We lived in a car, I got stung by a jelly fish in Virginia Beach, and then headed north to spend a week with my mom's family.

My family!
It's dark but from left to right:
Walter, me, Lucy, Mom, Martha, Edge
Cousins, and all around awesome people.

Our aunt fed us, our cousin probably took us on some huge adventure, and for a faint time in our lives, we felt real familial love.

Then, our great aunt invited us to her house, and though the family said, "Think about what you're doing," we said, "Sure! We'll come for a couple nights!"

After hanging out for a few hours, Jacci and I put on our shorts and shoes, and set off to go running. Only before we got out the door, our great aunt stopped us. "What are you doing?" (read that with a thick Polish accent).

"Going running," we said.

Jacci, in her wedding dress...
Picking me up..
"Nonsense. Don't be an athlete you'll look like a man, with the broad shoulders and flat chest. You're already starting to look like a man," she said pointing to Jacci. Then she turned to me and said, "And you, you look like a little boy. No more running. No boy will want you if you look like a boy."

Jacci and I stood in the kitchen of our great aunt's house, not sure to believe what had just been said. Later that night we'd also get lectures about using deodorant, bras, and shaving our legs (the moral was to not do/use any of these things). Needless to say we barely made it 24 hours in that house by the time we returned with our bags back to our aunt's.

At the door we were greeted with our cousin, Adam laughing and calling in to the house, "Who said today?"

"What?" we asked.

"Oh, nothing. We were just taking bets on how long you girls would last over there..."

Turns out our great aunt has a knack for scaring family members away.

As previously stated, Jacci still runs. She ran when she was pregnant, and she's incredibly active. Laura takes things a bit easier, but I still consider her an athlete, too. And I...I've been training for the road race on Sunday. As of September 26 (when I actually wrote this post) I ran my 5K in 23:57, which falls into my "Realistic Goals" category. I'll let you guys know next week how the race actually turns out!

As far as looking like a boy goes...well, in high school I always had a hard time fitting into prom dresses because either my shoulders or my hips were too wide. But sometimes, I look like this:

I think that means I can pass for a girl, right?

Moral of this post, like the one where I told you guys that Harry Potter is Demonic, is to be yourselves. Run if you like to run. Write if you like to write. Sacrifice kittens if you like to sacrifice kittens...

Actually, yea, don't do that last one.
But be happy. Be yourself. And wish me luck for my race, because I'm still running :) (Please)

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Character Names (Express Yourself)

After doing some blog catch up, I stumbled across the Express Yourself weekly meme. And because it's weekly, there are posts each week to let bloggers get to know you, and your work a bit more. Sounds fun, right?

This week's question is,
Character Names: What was your process for acquiring it?

I've already talked about why Claire is named Claire in After Elizabeth, but I'm not sure I've touched on Allie in My Sister's Memories, so here's that story.

I have bad hat hair. Allie looks awesome.
At work they called her Little Allie, because there was Ali, and Allison, and Allie. We needed a way to get everyone correct because if you said the name, "Allie" you could be referring to one of several. She was the youngest crew member, and though she was young, she was wise beyond her years.

"Big Ali or Little Allie?" people would ask when you said the name.

Then everyone would be on the same page.

I knew of her but I didn't really meet her until I started working more at the store. If she was working on the same level that I was, I would read her chapters/paragraphs of the novel I was working on. "That sounds great!" she'd say, and I'd beam.

One night, she and her best friend, Jenna, came over. "Hey, you write, right?"

"Um, yea..." I answered.

"Would you mind reading our college entrance essays?"

"Sure!" I said, and got to work.

Allie's essay was honest for someone so young. It talked about being straight edge and why that's so important to her. As I read her words, it reminded me a lot of me when I was her age (you know, outstanding kid and all ;) ). I gave her back her edits, and she sent her submission off.

From then on out, Allie, Jenna, and I became friends.

Me, Ana, Jenna, and Allie
She was in attendance when I did an open mic night, I was invited to her open house, I visited her at her college, and she once helped tow me and an idiot boyfriend out of a sand bar.

"Let's be pen pals!" she suggested before she left for college.

"That sounds awesome!" I agreed.

Well, she wrote me a letter, sending me a button saying, Train Wreck, on it...and well...I never wrote back.

When things went downhill, Allie was the first one I freaked out on as she and her sister sat on my couch. Then in a psycho-like fashion, I peer pressured her to come to someone's house where I lost it on him, too. She then sat with me on a beach access in the middle of the night while I bawled my eyes out watching the moon dance on ocean waves.

I felt the stairs shake before she said anything. "You're cold?"

"Do you mind if we leave?" she asked in shorts and a t-shirt in the chilly October night.

I wiped the tears away and stood to drive home.

As I left the island, she and her sister were the last people I saw in the state of North Carolina.

In the following months, Allie was on the phone after something really bad, or something really good happened. I snowboarded on the phone with her, moved across the country on the phone with her. And this year, at long last, we are finally pen pals. (I've actually been writing back this time :) )

I love Little Allie like a sister. She's my BFF. I try to give advice when I can (still reminding her that I'm more of a train wreck than a role model), and watch out for her. Because of this, when I needed a name for the little sister in My Sister's Memories, Allie was the first thing that came to mind, and it fit with her personality pretty well.

So that's why Allie is Allie.

How do you guys come up with your character names?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Religious Rants: Suicide

The Bridge at Sunset
Today is October 1, which for the last nine years has been an incredibly difficult day for me. In 2003, my best friend, at the age of 17 was killed in a car accident. It only makes sense then, that I would post about something death related...

It was Winter in Maine when Laura (my sister, I'm just going to start referring to her as Laura from here on out, okay?) and I were chatting on Facebook. She was in Michigan and I was supposed to be studying for Final Exams (Organic Chemistry, to be exact), but decided to slack off a usual.

"Whoa," she typed. "Sarah Hunter (name change for respect) committed suicide."

I stared at her words, and stared at the name. Sarah was a girl I'd attended youth group with. She'd driven me a couple of times when no one else could. We were friends. And she killed herself.

"What happened?" I typed back as tears stung my eyes.

"I'm not sure, I'm looking into it."

At long last, the dam burst, and I started crying, sobbing. I cried for Sarah, who had always been soft spoken and slow to smile. I cried for me, who only a few months before had been committed to a psych ward of a hospital for "attempted suicide". She was so pretty, and so young. We would sit in her car and chat before and after youth group. And she was dead.

The Mackinac Bridge
In Michigan, there is a lovely place called Mackinac Island. I've been there once and tried a million different kinds of fudge (and got a horrible tummy ache). But to get to the island, you have to cross the Mackinac Bridge.

Just before Christmas, and either just before or after her birthday, Sarah had driven her car to the bridge, walked, and then jumped into the icy water below. To my knowledge her body wasn't found.

"Did you know her?" Laura typed, as I sat on my beaten in couch crying.

"Yes, we went to youth group together."

"I'm sorry. I didn't know you knew her."

We chatted for awhile longer while I sat there crying. Eventually I made my way outside and started chain smoking. This could have been me. This could have been me. My mind was reeling. Though I'd been committed for attempted suicide, I maintained that I wasn't trying, I'd just cut myself too deep. But just because I wasn't trying that day didn't mean I hadn't tried before. It also didn't mean that I wasn't considering it on a daily basis.

Months later I was on the Outer Banks of North Carolina when PostSecret shared a voicemail. It was the last phone call a young girl made to her boyfriend before she killed herself. On it, she stated, "I'm so sorry, please know this wasn't your fault. There was nothing you could have done." Her voice cracked as she spoke, and I listened to the voicemail on repeat, fighting my own urge to cry.

The voice mail removed any doubt in my mind that before Sarah jumped she was looking at the black water, sobbing. I know this because as I walked to the beach my sophomore year of college to drown myself, I was sobbing. She might have screamed on the way down, or maybe she was quiet. She could have jumped feet first, or head first.

But the church we'd gone to told me that suicides go to Hell, and I was supposed to believe that my friend was now burning for eternity for committing this grievous act. Not only had she had a rough life and lost her battle to depression, now she was going to suffer. Forever. Even though she probably cried on her way out of this world.

My faith at that moment became something like a pencil and snapped in half.

I've known God my entire life. I've loved him, prayed to Him almost every night. And yet I was supposed to believe that this Being that I've loved would torture someone who'd already been tortured?

No. No way.

And so like my belief that Harry Potter is demonic, I stopped believing that suicides go to Hell, simply because I need to believe in something that would take compassion on my friends. I need to believe that He would understand why we made these decisions, and that He truly is as epic as the Bible tells me He is.

I think this song pretty much sums up this entire post:

"What about me and all my friends, are we all sinners if we sin? Does it even matter in the end, if we're unhappy?"
~Noah Gunderson

Happy Monday.

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