Throwing Punches

Having a brother who is only 18 months younger ended up being a built-in best friend. But like every other sister-brother duo, we inevitably had our disagreements over the years. Brett quickly learned that I always fight back, and sometimes it isn’t pretty. One of the earliest fights I remember was a disagreement which took place in our backyard. Instead of thrown words in my face, he threw dog poop. I retaliated with a handful of rocks.

Another memorable scuffle took place early one morning when Brett decided he would try to scare me (which isn’t an easy feat). This was in the late 90’s, shortly after Scream was released. Brett thought it would be hilarious to mask himself as Ghostface and wake me up  by hovering over my sleeping self. I woke up and promptly punched him in the face.

The takeaway from all of this is that whenever I feel threatened I usually throw things; rocks, punches, basically whatever is convenient.

With this in mind, while I desperately wanted to experience Halloween Horror Nights in Hollywood. I was, understandably, hesitant as to what my reaction to being scared might be. Having zero idea what to expect, last October I finally found out. I clutched my Mom’s arm and found comfort in my bulky hoodie, wearing it like a protection shield. We quickly discovered, I find scare zones and horror mazes absolutely hilarious.

**Outside The Exorcist Maze**

The first maze we went through was Halloween : Hell Comes to Haddonfield. I was laughing so hard I had tears running down my face by the time we got through to the other side. It was wonderfully scary and ridiculously satisfying (please don’t ask me to explain why, because I truly don’t think I would be able to explain my reasoning).

We wandered through the scare zones, met Norman Bates (who so kindly complied when I excitedly asked to take a selfie with him!), and braved all six mazes. It was incredible! Each maze had unique elements that forced all of your senses to connect to the space you were in and really become a part of the experience. When we first walked into the Texas Chainsaw Massacre maze we were greeted by carnage and a BBQ. The air was heavy with the scent of charcoal and sickeningly sweet BBQ sauce. A man in a filthy uniform thrust a hand dripping with BBQ sauce into my face yelling for me to ‘open up’. It was disgusting and so beautifully crafted; every horror-loving bone in my body vibrated with satisfaction.

**Selfie Norman Bates**

We hadn’t even left the park yet and all I could talk about was coming back again another year. If you like horror movies and all things scary, Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios is absolutely worth every single penny. We splurged and purchased the ‘Front of Line’ passes and again, a very smart purchase and one I personally feel is almost necessary if you’re only there for one night.

I’ll definitely be back!

  **Blurry, grainy, selfie with one of the scare actors in the scare zone**

25 books behind schedule

Every year, I set a new reading goal through Goodreads. I’ve increased the total number of books I aim to read each year, and this year had it set to 80 novels. As of December 13th I am at 50 novels read. Which, according to Goodreads is specifically 63% of my goal, and exactly 25 books behind schedule.

In previous years it wasn’t uncommon to see me scrambling with a few weeks left before the end of the year and a few novels short of my end goal, but 30 books in 2.5 weeks might be pushing it…

So, how exactly does one get 25 books behind schedule? Well, let me tell you one really good hypothesis. First, you have very full-time self-employment. Then, in late June, right in the prime of your busy season, you decide it would be an incredible idea to return to University to take your Masters… which starts in September, your truly busiest season. Then, when September comes, you spend the next four months with your nose buried in Anthropological theory and research, while editing photos until 3am and shooting six days a week and before you know it, it’s December 13th and Goodreads is reminding you you’re 25 books behind schedule.

I’m a planner though, so that couldn’t possibly be the reason for my reading goal being so far out of reach.

99% of my life is thought about, planned out, and neatly scheduled in both a digital calendar as well as a paper copy, you know, just in case. Just ask my husband, it kind of drives him nuts. Every once in a while though, I get a crazy idea (such as applying to University without telling anyone) and then things just kind of happen. I had VERY different plans for myself in 2016. I had intended to write, and read, and work on personal projects. And I definitely did do the first two on that list, but it all went in a very different direction than I thought it would. Instead of writing fiction, I was writing about the language used by shamans in the Amazon and researching Fraz Boas, Margaret Mead, and Emile Durkheim, instead of voodoo, black magic, and witchcraft.

2016 was a tough year. I did a lot of soul searching, trying to decide what I want from my life, and what I’m meant to do and as scary as it is to say it out loud, I think I’ve found it.

I’ve been dreaming of doing this kind of work since I was a little girl, but I had no idea at that time it was Anthropology that I was looking for. I have had this crazy dream of working for National Geographic, of travelling, writing, and doing photography, and Anthropology will take me right in that direction. I’m excited and terrified all at the same time, but I made it through my first semester without any major meltdowns so I’m taking that as a hint I’m on the right track.

Leave of absence

I really want to share the story of why Facebook has now been deleted from my phone and my social feed disabled on every computer I own…

If I’m being honest, lately, hasn’t been awesome. Not that there has been anything specifically ‘wrong’ per say, but my schedule has been abnormally chaotic and my anxiety through the roof. All of this combined, leaves my skin paper-thin and everything I see/read/hear pierces that vulnerable layer and some days, the pain is just too much to tolerate.

Social media feels like a ‘trigger’ for me. It’s a wonderful space to keep up with friends and family and an absolutely invaluable tool for my business. However, I have a love/hate relationship with it. While its benefits far outweigh its faults, sometimes my anxiety riddled head just can’t walk away from it; even when I know it would be much better if I did.

Case in point, the article that has finally caused me to take a ‘leave of absence’ from my personal presence on Facebook.

The other day an article titled “Pets Are Not Children, So Stop Calling Them That” (I’ve linked to it there so feel free to read if you haven’t seen it yet. Plus this post will sound even more nonsensical if you haven’t read it; granted the title does sum up the main point quite nicely) was quite popular online. Numerous friends shared this article, all laughing about how funny it is, how ‘true’ it is. People called it adorable and hilarious. Tears blurred my vision while I was reading it but they definitely weren’t from laughter.

What so many people read as funny I can’t call anything other than self-righteous and entitled. I know that many will disagree with this statement, and that’s ok. But what isn’t ok is this person calling people out solely for the titles they use within their family unit. M.A. Wallace notes, “I have two children, and when I meet people with pets who equate their experience to mine, I don’t know how to react.” You know how you should react, kindly. Why? Because all that person is trying to do is have an amicable conversation with you. No, they’re not delusional and under the impression that their pet is actually like having a human child (however some humane societies make you go through more of a process to adopt a pet than anyone I’ve ever know has had to go through to give birth to and keep their own child, but that’s a conversation for another day). They are simply trying to find something through which they can relate to you, because their family unit is different than yours.

More days than not I’m meant to feel ‘other’ or incomplete due to the fact that my family unit looks different than those of so many of my peers. That hurts, but now, I’m being criticized because of the titles we use within that family unit. It seems that no matter what I do it’s never going to be considered ‘right’ and always miles away from ‘normal’.

With all of the mean-spirited articles and anger out there, why, for the love of all things good, does someone have to write a hate-filled article criticizing the names we choose to use within our family units? Telling my dogs to go and sit with their ‘Dad’ does not undermine the Dad of human children. It’s just a title we’ve chosen to use within our family. It’s one of love, not disrespect.

 

Stephen King

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved horror everything. Movies, books, basically anything I could get my hands on. As such, my love for Stephen King started at a very young age.

I can’t remember how old I was, but I’m guessing it was around 8 or 9 and tucked into mine and my brother’s Easter baskets were paperback copies of Christine and Carrie. We tore through them, traded, and did it all over again. Since that day, I rarely go for more than a few months without reading something by Mr. King.

Seeing him, hearing him speak, has always been something I knew I needed to do. As my husband put it, he’s my Elvis. It has been on my ‘life’ list for well over twenty years now. He has gone on book tours over the years, but between University, work, and life I’ve never been able to make it happen. Finally, dates aligned and and I was one of 650 lucky people to get tickets to an event which sold out in less than 15 minutes. I bought a plane ticket to the middle of nowhere (says the girl from Saskatchewan) and I was on my way to Omaha, Nebraska.

The event was general seating so I knew I would need to wait in line for the better part of a day if I wanted to get in anywhere near the front. So, six hours before my idol was set to take the stage, I lined up outside of the venue. There were seven people in line already, four others who showed up shortly after me, and we all made quick friends. We spent the afternoon looking at pictures of baby animals, taking photos for ‘the’ Facebook, and talking about all things Stephen King. We bonded quickly over our shared love of Mr. King and their company made the long wait an enjoyable one.

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The afternoon sun was harsh. It was a humid 43C and unfortunately for us, there wasn’t a patch of shade anywhere in sight. A few hours into our wait, just as we were all beginning to feel delirious from the heat, the sky dropped buckets of rain. It was coming down sideways and in a matter of seconds we were drenched. I had puddles in my shoes and the only thing we could do was laugh. The clouds parted after a few minutes and we compared sunburns as the hours flew by. Before we knew it, we were finally invited inside the building.

When those doors opened I felt the same feeling I do walking up to the ticket takers at Disneyland. Actually, that’s a lie, because I was more than Disneyland excited. I had reached a new level of excitement I didn’t even know existed. Me and my new crew claimed the front row as we had claimed the front of the line and fidgeted through the final hour countdown.

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Finally, (and I even have goosebumps typing this) Stephen King was announced and walked out from behind the black curtain wearing a red Nebraska Huskers t-shirt, jeans, black runners, and three pens in the right front pocket of his pants. The second he rounded the corner, the tears began to fall from my eyes (I’m tearing up again, ugh). I couldn’t help it. That moment, was something I had dreamed about for my entire life. I don’t even think I realized just how badly I wanted to see him until he was right there, six feet from my face.

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Naturally, he made fun of people who say seeing him is on their ‘bucket’ list. I call mine a ‘life’ list though, so I’ve decided it’s different, and surely he would agree if he heard my story.

His talk was casual and about his genuine intrigue with Nebraska. He walked the stage, telling stories about driving through Nebraska and the things its never-ending expanse inspired. He talked about his Mom, his childhood, and Bruce Springsteen (great story, if you’re interested to hear the funny details, let me know and I’ll fill you in!). About how he found a horror novel atop a box of his father’s possessions and it ‘opened a box’ within him. He expressed his lifelong love of horror movies and novels and laughed about dragging his kids to the type movies where you aren’t cheering for the characters to live, but rather for the “fucked up ways they’re slaughtered”. He opened up about some of his novels, his favorite fan encounters including numerous cases of mistaken identity, and the three very different ‘Steve’s’. He instilled a fear of back seats, shower curtains, and poor cell reception in the audience, and after every macabre statement, he would finish with “but of course I would say that”.

Toward the end of the night he sat on the front of the stage, quite literally four feet in front of my nose, and answered questions from the crowd. He told stories and took a few side-streets with his answers, exactly like one would expect from Stephen King. He thanked the crowd for putting his children through college, smiled for his fans one last time, and disappeared behind the black curtain again.

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I laughed and cried and my entire body tingled with a numb happiness throughout his entire talk. It was everything I could have hoped for and then some.

Being the first ones into the event, meant we were also the last ones to get out. As the line slowly moved forward, we heard excited screams from lucky fans who received a signed copy of his new novel, End of Watch. 400 books were signed prior to the event to be distributed at random as we were all leaving. I was the last person out of the event. They cut my wristband, handed me a book, but I was terrified to open it. The security guards watched over my shoulder as I cracked the spine. I looked at the first page, then the second, third… nothing. The security guard took it from my hands and pointed to the title page. “That’s where he signed them”, his finger on autograph-free paper. My heart sank. Ultimately, I got what I came for, to see Stephen King, but I wanted that signed book SO badly!

Aside from staff, security, and volunteers, I was the lone fan standing among the piles of clipped wrist bands. There were two more, possibly signed, books sitting on the table. I asked if it might be possible to purchase those two books in the hopes that one of them might be signed. Understandably, they weren’t unable to do that. I dropped my head and shuffled out of the building.

My new friends were all waiting for me outside, a few of which were lucky enough to get a signed copy! They asked if I ended up with an autographed one and I nearly burst into tears again, telling them that I wasn’t one of the lucky ones. Just as I’m saying this, Rob, a man who met me that afternoon in the lineup handed me his book. His signed book. I looked at the book, up at him, back at the book, and started sobbing. He gave me his signed Stephen King book. Seriously people, this restored my faith in humanity; there truly are still wonderful people out there. That morning we were complete strangers, and here he was, handing me a signed Stephen King novel. It was the most kind and generous gesture and my emotional self collapsed into a puddle of tears and ‘thank you’s. I looked around our group and half of them were crying too!

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Fast forward to the morning after the event; I wake up to a private message from The Bookworm, the independent bookstore who hosted the event. They said they had heard through the grapevine I might have walked away with a signed book after all, but if I hadn’t, to please give them a call, they wanted to talk. I told them the entire story about Rob’s kind gesture and thanked them profusely for thinking of me! I don’t think I’ve ever met a store with such exceptional customer service and kind hearts. It made me cry, again. I stopped by their store again before leaving town and when I walked in, the staff recognized me right away and made me feel like a regular loyal customer, it was amazing. For anyone in the Omaha area reading this, PLEASE shop at The Bookworm for all of your bookish needs, they treat their customers like royalty.

I went to this event, expecting to see Stephen King speak. What I actually got was so much more. These are the type of life experience I live for. This entire trip was a life highlight for me and I’ve made some incredible new friends who I know I’ll still be talking to for many years to come.

I’m currently on my final flight home after a whirlwind three days and my eyes are brimming with tears again. I’m just exploding with happiness; I’m so grateful this entire experience and feel incredibly fortunate for everything that has happened to me in the last few days, but of course I would say that.

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31, Happily Married, Childless

Someone recently shared an article with me. Its title surmises it well, “Why your choice to not have kids is awesome”. If you’re interested in reading it you can find it here.

One line that really struck a chord with me was, “You want to open yourself up to a huge stinking pile of judgment? Just be a childless female over 30. Even worse, a married childless female over 30 — a woman who chooses not to have a child.” Over the years I’ve encountered many who question my life choices and others who are much more concerned about my fertility than I am. I’ve had people question me, wondering what I’m going to do when I’m old and don’t have children to take care of me or what I’ll do if I change my mind one day. Besides being completely inappropriate questions to ask someone you barely know, these aren’t the things that I struggle with in my choice to be childless.

The judgement is something I’ve always been prepared to deal with. Yes, sometimes it’s exhausting, but I’ve learned to just brush it off and keep doing my thing. What I was never prepared for was how lonely being a childless woman in her 30s would be. And that, is why I’m writing this.

My husband and I are very much in agreement about our decision, but I don’t feel like he can relate to being a 30+ year old woman in my position. When his friends call him to get together, they go for beer, play music, go to concerts, and play hockey. Their children, aren’t involved in these activities. When my friends ask me to get together it’s usually at a park, so the kids can play, or for a walk, while the kids sleep in the stroller, or to a first birthday party for someone’s child, a party I’m positive my ‘kids’ aren’t invited to as they would likely eat the cake single-handedly and destroy the bouncy castle in mere seconds. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate children. Not even a little bit. I’m just at a point in my life where all of my female friends have children, so a relationship with them usually means a relationship with their children too. My friends have some pretty incredible minions, but every once in awhile I just want to drink wine and talk about cats (am I right, Jenny and Haley!?).

When I was newly married and in my 20’s, telling people we had made the decision to not have children read a bit like a joke. Most people chuckled when I told them (I’m not sure why it’s an amusing statement, but that was a common response). I feel like many people didn’t take my statement seriously and were silently thinking that we were still young and had plenty of time to change out minds.

My husband and I have had a lot of very serious conversations about having a child. I often wondered if maybe we had made a mistake, maybe we should have a baby? Everyone else was, maybe we were missing out on something we didn’t even realize we might love? Maybe we would love being parents? The logical part of me stops there though and realizes that the fact that I MIGHT love it, doesn’t even come close to resembling a good idea. In fact, that’s probably the worst reason to have a kid – because it might be ok. What if I hated every second of it, it’s not like I can just give a baby back. I’m stuck with that person for the rest of my life, and there’s still a 50/50 chance it might hate me and not take care of me when I’m old. It’s basically a recipe for disaster.

While I struggled with this back and forth battle, making pros and cons lists, pretending this is a situation where that might be an appropriate response, I sunk deeper and deeper into a lonely darkness. Social media constantly reminding me that my four-legged children will never dance in competitions, sing in Christmas concerts, or graduate from high school. I’ve always struggled with feeling like an outsider and not quite fitting in, but now it couldn’t be more obvious that there is a very big part of life that looks nothing like that of so many of my peers.

I know that I’m just at that stage in my life where women my age are having babies and focusing on their families and I’m so happy for each and every one of them. I love that they’re all doing what makes their hearts happy. And, while I’ve struggled a lot with the loneliness this time in my life has brought, I’ve decided it’s time I embrace it and find the things that make my heart happy and work toward that too.

The decision to have children or not have children should never be taken lightly. It’s a life altering decision, either way. I just hope that the few people who have scoffed at my decision over the years or who have called me selfish, understand that this decision, the decision to be childless, was not an easy one. And just like those who have chosen an alternate path from mine, there are days when I question if I made the right choice. It’s taken me a long time and a lot of soul searching, but I’m finally coming around to a place where I’m confident in my choices and living the life I need to live to make my heart happy.

Mr. T.

Eight years ago, I met a man who, on our third date, came to my work and brought me coffee and a mixed tape (actually a mixed cd with a mixed tape drawn on it). Aaron, you won my heart and it was on that day I knew I never wanted to live a life without you in it.

Five years ago, you, and our families played along with my crazy idea to travel all the way to Richmond Virginia (somewhere not a single one of us had ever been to) so we could get married in the gardens at the Edgar Allan Poe museum. We held hands and promised to love and respect one another until the end of our days.

Today, we celebrate another year married, another year with my best friend.

You have humored me and encouraged a life of love and spontaneity; a life of laughter and adventures. I can’t thank you enough for being a man who understood the importance of driving hours out of our way to follow a billboard to a store called the Mousehouse Cheesehaus for no other reason than, we simply wanted to see what it was all about. You are the man who took off his shoes and socks to follow me through a river because I wanted to see how deep it was and you didn’t want to be ‘out adventured’. The man who didn’t hesitate when I told him he needed to drive around the block again solely so we could drive by a house with a front window filled with bulldogs. For always remembering to hide the cookies because, well, they like cookies.

The past eight years have been filled with so many wonderful moments which seem to get better year after year. Mr. T. I love you more than anything. Thank you for being you, encouraging me to be me, and for the most amazing eight years of my life. I can’t wait to celebrate so many more!

Truck got stuck

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Well it was truck after truck, we all got stuck

‘cept the big old four by Hutterite truck

We all thought lord are we in luck!

But he wouldn’t come anywhere near us,

Mighty neighbourly, mighty neighbourly. – Corb Lund

 

I don’t know, Aaron. This road looks like it might be kind of squishy.

We have 4-wheel drive!

No, we have all-wheel… (Sorento starts to fishtail and slowly slide into the ditch)

We rocked, pushed, and pulled, but she was stuck.

Up the road we could see an older couple walking toward us. We were in luck, someone to help us out! They were within earshot but instead of extending a hand, the gentleman raised his eyebrow and bluntly asked us if we were blind.

I wanted to tell him that, yes, clinically, I’m pretty near to blind, but I don’t think he would have found it funny. And, in our defence, the road truly didn’t look that bad. But, a peaked gravel road and a patch of slippery mud didn’t work in our favour.

The couple kept walking, offering us nothing more than disapproving glares. Mighty neighbourly.

The harder we tried to get ourselves unstuck, the more stuck we became so we figured it was time to call in the professionals.

One thing I’ll never understand is why people choose to own businesses but then act as though you’re inconveniencing them to provide the service they’ve chosen to provide. Anyway, long story short the tow truck finally showed up and Dave was a lot happier in person than on the phone. A lot happier until…

Well it was truck after truck we all got stuck. – Corb Lund

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Processed with VSCOcam with wwf presetDave sure knows how to cuss. I’ve never heard profanities yelled as loudly or with as much gusto as I did when his first tow truck also got stuck. Personally, I was impressed that our Kia Sorento managed to make it much further into the mess than his tow truck. I didn’t bring this up though, I was scared about how Dave might respond.

We’d pull one truck out and get another stuck in

And motors would roar and tires would spin

We’d sink right down, down to the diff, and we’d all take turns and do it again

Till no one could move, we’d call one more friend,

Come on out here, we need you, bring your truck – Corb Lund

As Dave hooked up the chains from his second tow truck to arrive at the scene, he laughed and told us he hoped we won the 649 last night. I told him that we didn’t, but we did have snacks with us! He wasn’t impressed.

Spilled antifreeze, mud trenches nearly waist deep, $15 in change at the car wash, a few ticks, and two and a half hours later, we were out of the ditch and back on the road.Processed with VSCOcam with wwf preset

What started as a geocaching day date turned into a hilariously fun grand-adventure. We couldn’t help but laugh about the entire situation and both agreed it’s one of the best dates we’ve had in our eight years together.

The geocaching website warns that, like all outdoor adventures, it can be dangerous. So please follow Dave’s advice and stay on the pavement kids!

Conversations with my Mother…

Conversations with my Mother…

First, allow me to introduce the participants in said conversation.

Brett – My brother, Corey – Brett’s best friend, Emily – My niece, Kyle – Emily’s boyfriend (He’s from Ireland; which will be an important point for later), Aaron – My husband, Me, and Shelley – My mother

Scene – We’re at a party in a warehouse.

Me – Corey, is Kelly (his girlfriend) a tidier roommate than Brett?

Corey – Oh, no. Definitely not. She’s a collector of… things. She’s basically a hoarder of trinkets and… stuff.

Shelley – Oh!  Like Scrotchies! No, scrunchies, crotchies, scorch, scrunch…

We all look at her, puzzled.

Shelley – Kyle!  You probably know! I think it’s an English word, like scotchies!

Me – Mom, Kyle isn’t English… he’s from Ireland.

Shelley – Well, it’s practically the same thing!

Me – Except that it’s a different country.

Shelley – It’s like…. CROTCH! (she screams at Aaron while slapping her leg triumphantly). No, that’s not it.

Laughter fills my eyes with tears while my bladder threatens to betray me.

Kyle’s parents are leaving the party so Emily and Shelley go say goodbye to them.

Shelley – I’ll ask them, they’ll probably know!

Emily – Oh please don’t grandma!

After embarrassing Emily, Shelley and Emily join our conversation again.

Shelley – We should just google it. Just google it Aaron.

Aaron – We probably shouldn’t google search crotch…

Corey – Oh God please don’t image search that!

Shelley – No, just do it!  Google scrotchie!

Aaron wisely googles synonyms for trinkets.

Aaron – ….you guys aren’t going to believe this. Tchotchke, it’s a word for trinkets.

Shelley – See; crotchskies! (smirking and proud to prove us wrong she gets up and walks away)

You get what you pay for

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In nearly every aspect of life, you get what you pay for. Nose-bleed-section hockey tickets are no exception.

We’ve purchased seats up against the back walls of many rinks and the energy up there is always unique and unsurprisingly, much different than next to the glass. If you aren’t close enough to see the blood dripping from the fights on the ice, then you’re usually in the middle of an entirely different kind of chaos. It’s prime real estate for eavesdropping and people watching.

As the neon lights above center ice wind down, the number of beers consumed increased. I watched as my section companions stumble up and down the stairs for beer runs and bathroom trips. By end of the game I’m sure I completed my daily 100 squats simply from rising to allow the drunk frat boys in and out of the aisle.

One of the groups of college kids brought a responsible adult with them. However, I think they wound up babysitting their chaperone at the end of the night. By the beginning of the third period he was screaming for the players to fight, or the refs, or the men shoveling the ice. He didn’t care who fought, he just wanted blood shed. Beer and spit flew from his mouth as he cursed at everyone on the ice for doing their job, not doing their job, and anything else he could think to yell at them. Half his beer ended up down the back of the woman sitting in front of him and he was much more quiet from that point on.

Around that same time, the action picked up on the ice and across the aisle from us. Tequila mini bottles were scattered across the cement floor and as the height of the plastic beer glasses grew, so did the volume of chants coming from a fan. It began harmlessly, but ended up with him calling everyone in our section pussies because we weren’t humoring him enthusiastically enough. Most in attendance would rather have watched the game than his antics, vulgarities were thrown, individuals were restrained and, I’m sure you’ve all seen these scenes play themselves out before.

I feel we got our money’s worth, a hockey game and an episode of Game of Thrones really was worth the price of tickets. The Bruins lost this one, but we were thoroughly entertained from start to finish.

After the game, we hopped the T to get back to our hotel. A few stops before ours, an immaculately dressed couple, both sporting grey hair, boarded the packed train. Aaron and I rose from our seats to let them have our spot for their ride. They expressed their gratitude, but the man refused to sit while I, a woman, stood. He admitted he knew most people would want to “punch him in the nose” for insisting a woman, completely capable of standing, sit, while he stood, but I told him I respected him for being a gentleman. We had a great chat with the couple. The husband noticed our Bruins apparel and told us stories about going to Bruins and Red Sox paying $3.25 to see games as a kid. He recalled watching Milt Schmidt play, who just recently celebrated his 98th birthday. We left the T, smiles plastered on our faces, having ended our day on a wonderful note.

Cup and Handle

I’ve been reading Stephen King’s Bazaar of Bad Dreams and he introduced each story by writing a bit of background about it and how it came to be. He describes the process as needing to find a cup and handle, and then putting them together to create something that works.

A few years ago I was driving through my hometown and walking down the street was this old lady and a few feet in front of her was one of the roundest, fattest cats I’ve ever seen. It was unexpected and hilarious. I tucked the scene away, knowing it would come in handy at a later date. Earlier this year I received a text from a good friend with an concept for a story, a witch who steals laughter. Almost immediately, I knew I had both my cup and handle and that is how this story began.

This is the first witch story I’ve written this year and I think it will be one that receives more attention in the future and possibly added to my book (eee!!!).

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Her stocking-covered flesh oozed between the thick straps of her orthotic sandals as she waddled up the sidewalk. Gnarled hands gripped tightly to a walker she stole from the man who lived down the street from her. She didn’t need it’s assistance but she knew it added to the charade. Last night she added sparkly cat stickers to the frame, they covered up the name Cooper and added just the right amount of color to the prop.

Her shadow fell hard against the pavement and sweat slid over the dents and grooves that made up her face. A few feet in front of her stark outline was the boulder-like shadow of her cat. Frank’s mass of fat and fur waddled over the cracked pavement in a comical performance. This was, of course, all part of her plan.

Single file, they made their way up the block like camels through a desert. Fragrant sour cabbage filled her nostrils. While it was one of her favorite dishes, the scent wasn’t as pleasant when seeping up from beneath the layers of her loose cotton dress and wool cardigan.

Cars slowed as they passed, laughing and pointing as the pair cautiously made their way over the broken path. She nodded and waved at each car, gaining strength from their smiling faces. She took only a little from these victims, such a small amount that they would never miss it nor feel it.

Rainbows danced off of the cartoon cat stickers under the late morning sun. Her grip on the walker loosened as her weathered body soaked in the giggles bouncing on the hot air around her. She felt her body grow stronger; younger. Over the years she experimented with a variety of tactics, but she always favored the ones that involved Frank. Once a mere tool used to her benefit, she had now grown quite fond of the cat. His plump frame welcomed the fuel she required, he made this process easy on her and for that, she was grateful.

There was once a time when she would steal from one soul at a time. Spells woven to squeeze every ounce of happy chatter from her victims and leave them a black withered shell to wander their remaining years lost in perpetual melancholy. And, while that would always be the method she favored, unwelcome attention followed closely beside it.

Her heart quickened as she approached her final destination. It was nearly noon and she knew she would only need a few minutes to restore the last five years of aging. The wheels of Mr. Cooper’s walker twisted sideways before straightening over the horizontal lines of the crosswalk. She lifted the light frame back up onto the curb and followed Frank through the opening in the chain-link fence. She spun the walker around, pushing the wheels up to the metal lattice and eased herself onto the hard plastic seat. Frank lazily looked back over his shoulder at the witch and flopped hard against the tarmac rubbing his whiskers against the warm ground. The school bell sounded and within seconds children spilled from the doors. She lifted her chin to the sun and sucked in all of their delighted squeals.