Friday, August 31, 2007

Courage

Written by my friend John and posted here with his permission:

Courage

It takes strength to be firm,
It takes courage to be gentle.
It takes strength to conquer,
It takes courage to surrender.
It takes strength to be certain,
It takes courage to have doubt.
It takes strength to fit in,
It takes courage to stand out.
It takes strength to feel a friend's pain,
It takes courage to feel your own pain.
It takes strength to endure abuse,
It takes courage to stop it.
It takes strength to stand alone,
It takes courage to lean on another.
It takes strength to love,
It takes courage to be loved.
It takes strength to survive,
It takes courage to live.

Turning Over A New Leaf

New Things I've Tried Recently:

1. Fried frog legs (at the insistence of Mal who truly doesn't take "no" for an answer unless you just walk away...I am patently unable to walk away from a challenge - a fact he uses shamelessly).

2. Overnight date night with my hubby

3. Gourmet international cheeses

4. Keeping a straight face

5. Contact lenses

6. Driving the speed limit and coming to a full and complete stop at stop signs.

7. A new movie genre (based on video games that I've never heard of but oh well)


The Results:

1. Not half as bad as I expected but not nearly good enough to justify the price. Tastes a lot like rubbery chicken.

2. =) When can we go again? =)

3. Switzerland makes the most incredible cheese - sbinz. Yum!!

4. Why do I even bother?

5. Despite the occasional finger to the eye and folded lense slipping beneath my lid whose removal requires a small act of God, I love them. So much better than glasses. Now, to get one that look like cat's eyes....

6. Ummm, actually, I'd rather not talk about this one.

7. Pretty entertaining. So far, the movies have either completely captured my interest or they've been just cheesy enough to make it fun to mock. Either way works for me.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Apples to Apples? (No, wait, I hate apples....)

When I was a child:

*I collected teddy bears, glass figurines, carousel horses, and old pennies.

*I could (and sometimes did) beat up the boys.

*I read anything I could get my hands on (was reading Tolkien in 4th grade).

*I had to swallow lima beans and green beans like vitamins to get them past my gag reflex (and to adhere to my father's strict "eat all your vegetables" rule).

*I loved Christmas more than any other time of year.

*I played the piano and the clarinet...state band, marching band etc. and I performed in music/drama teams from sixth grade on.

*I only listened to my father's impressive collection of classical records (and I do mean records).

*I named every doll I had and made up elaborate stories for their lives.

*I filled notebooks with journal entries, poems, and stories.

*I owned four pair of shoes each year: sandals for summer, tennis shoes for play, leather flats for school, and patent leather pumps (tiny heel) for church.

*I secretly hated dirt, worms, heights, and risk but refused to admit it and would show up any boy by doing whatever he did better, faster, and with more risk involved.

*I loved competitive games.

*I had very little coordination but plenty of guts.

*My vocabulary was proliferously littered with descriptive words requiring a mini-thesaurus and a pronunciation guide to converse with me.

*I always got straight A's.

*I was never in trouble.

*My favorite tv show was Dukes of Hazaard. (Yee-Haw!)

*I didn't like apples, chocolate, or pizza.

*I owned purses and earrings at a young age...instinctively understanding the importance of accessorizing wisely.

*I was a terrible liar. I started laughing and was unable to maintain eye contact any time I tried to lie.

*I played with My Little Ponies, erroneously believing that I was destined to be surrounded by equines for the rest of my life.

*I always spoke my mind when I saw injustice.


Now:

*I don't collect anything that requires dusting. I prefer to collect books instead.

*I can still (and sometimes do) beat up the guys.

*I still read voraciously. I have an insatiable appetite for well-crafted stories.

*I uphold my own strict "eat all of your vegetables" rule but I have the good sense not to serve anything as nasty as lima beans, green beans, or God forbid, brussel sprouts.

*I still love Christmas more than any other time of year. Christmas, for me, starts the day after Thanksgiving and goes until New Year's.

*I haven't played an instrument in years but I write my own songs now.

*I still love to listen to classical music but I've significantly expanded my musical interests to include gothic alternative rock, blues, Celtic, rock and roll, hip hop, soundtracks, and hymns. However, as a hold over of my intensely musical childhood, I cannot stand anything without a discernible melody, an intricate arrangement, and well-crafted lyrics).

*I've traded my dolls in for characters that leap from my head to paper (okay, if we're being technical, they leap onto my computer screen) and have the most interesting lives.

*I still love the incredible possibilities presented by a fresh, blank notebook but these days I fill my computer every day with stories, journal entries, poems, and songs instead.

*I don't know how many pair of shoes I have at the moment (one less than I need??) but I no longer buy a practical pair of shoes to get me through a given season - I buy shoes I love and then search for an outfit to go with them. And forget a tiny heel. I like my heels four inches high and pencil thin.

*I still hate dirt, worms, heights, and risk but I still can't let anyone outdo me.

*I still love competitive games but the people in my life who are willing to compete against me are few and far between. = )

*Still no coordination (note the many head injuries and my disturbing propensity for walking into inanimate objects) but still plenty of guts.

*I still flex my vocabulary at every available opportunity (note last night when I asked Mal where the "overflow container" was for the extra ketchup and he just looked at me, laughed, and said, "you mean the 'jug'?"). I use my vocabulary, not because I want to sound snobby but because I am endlessly fascinated by the vast range of incredibly descriptive words available to me. And because three letter words are only truly useful in Boggle.

*I've transferred my propensity for earning straight A's to getting high evaluations at work.

*I am never in trouble. Really. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. And Mal doesn't count as trouble.

*My favorite tv show (and in fact the only one I really watch) is Lost.

*Still hate apples, chocolate, and pizza (a fact my hubby calls either "un-American" or "mental", depending on his mood).

*I am not fully dressed unless I'm accessorized. I've had to recently upgrade the size of my jewelry box...

*Still a terrible liar. Can't get away with diddly squat. I can, however, bluff anyone in poker because that's part of the game so to my twisted brain that doesn't count as lying.

*One swift kick to the head from that stupid horse while I was in college cured me of my fascination with all things equine. Besides, who needs a horse when you can have horsepower instead?

*I still speak my mind, loudly and emphatically if needed, especially if I think injustice is involved.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Note to Self

Dear C. J.,

Some things to remember:

1. It is not always wise to plot books, sing at the top of your lungs, and speed on the interstate at the same time. There's multi-tasking and then there's courting death.

2. Just because food is expensive doesn't mean it's palatable. A Fig and Nut cake costing more than a rockin' pair of stilettos tastes just as nasty as the name suggests.

3. Snorting food hurts.

4. Snorting diet coke hurts too.

5. Snorting air, when not done properly, causes an odd hacking noise that tends to scare off potential friends.

6. When the sound of a cat puking mysteriously intrudes on your dreams, MOVE!

7. Being kind is better than being right.

8. Not everyone can easily track the frequent non-sequiturs in your conversations. Hold on to the friends who can.

9. Never question any substance in the boys' bathroom. Just don protective gear and sterilize.

10. Never overlook an opportunity to tell your friends and family that you love them.

11. Dream extravagantly and hold on to those no matter what.

12. Do not waste your wit on those who need a dictionary to define words like "valor" and "honesty".

13. Do not forget to act with valor and honesty.

14. Do not forget to check the toilet seat before sitting. This especially applies to nighttime visits.

15. Do not let others bully you into changing your mind, your appearance, or your art.

16. Drink less caffeine. Everyone knows you are wired enough without it.

17. Be a light in somone's darkness.

18. Speak out about adoption whenever the right opportunity presents itself.

19. Don't waste your time or energy on those without integrity.

20. Write with passion and discipline.

21. Make others laugh as often as possible (and here I must reiterate the "do not laugh with a full bladder" rule. And also the various "snorting" rules. And also a heretofor unmentioned "Do not laugh at inappropriate times" rule)

22. Smile often.

23. Don't try food that Mal likes just to please him. You know you'll probably hate it.

24. Have fun whenever possible.

25. Be a woman of your word.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tuesday's To-Do List

1. Discover a way to successfully remove hardened silly-putty from carpet.

2. Walk the dog, being sure not to allow him to poop on anyone's lawn (unless it's the lawn of that Lucy dog who keeps pooping on ours).

3. Do yet another load of laundry.

4. Read more of Katy's book and discipline self to slow down long enough to think of intelligent comments to make (Must Not Devour Book Whole! Must Not Devour Book Whole!).

5. Celebrate the end of a writing funk by detailing a synopsis and ruthlessly pruning a character from the manuscript...I'll bring him back in later.

6. Marvel that my boys have kept their rooms clean for several days in a row. Warn myself not to get used to it.

7. Convince myself that celery really is an enjoyable snack.

8. Send my nephew's overdue birthday card.

9. Iron, dang it. Iron. (Wrestles Captain Jack into position)

10. Work the closing shift at Cracker Barrel with Mal...try not to kill anyone with produce.

Monday, August 27, 2007

An Inconvenient Truth Indeed

I checked out the following story on snopes.com and found this very interesting - less because I support Bush than because Al Gore is such a pompous, lying windbag and it's a sorry thing indeed that he hails from my state. (You can check for yourself on snopes by clicking on "politics" then "George W. Bush" and as of today, it is the last entry on the page).

"The Story of Two Houses"


House #1 A 20 room mansion (not including 8 bathrooms) heated by natural gas. Add on a pool (and a pool house) and a separate guest house, all heated by gas. In one month this residence consumes more energy than the average American household does in a year. The average bill for electricity and natural gas runs over $2400. In natural gas alone, this property consumes more than 20 times the national average for an American home. This house is not situated in a Northern or Midwestern "snow belt" area. It's in the South.


House #2 Designed by an architecture professor at a leading national university. This house incorporates every "green" feature current home construction can provide. The house is 4,000 square feet (4 bedrooms) and is nestled on a high prairie in the American southwest. A central closet in the house holds geothermal heat-pumps drawing ground water through pipes sunk 300 feet into the ground. The water (usually 67 degrees F.) heats the house in the winter and cools it in the summer. The system uses no fossil fuels such as oil or natural gas and it consumes one-quarter the electricity required for a conventional heating/cooling system. Rainwater from the roof is collected and funneled into a 25,000 gallon underground cistern. Wastewater from showers, sinks and toilets goes into underground purifying tanks and then into the cistern. The collected water then irrigates the land surrounding the house. Surrounding flowers and shrubs native to the area enable the property to blend into the surrounding rural landscape.

HOUSE #1 is outside of Nashville, Tennessee; it is the abode of the "environmentalist" Al Gore.

HOUSE #2 is on a ranch near Crawford, Texas; it is the residence the of the President of the United States, George W. Bush.

An "inconvenient truth".

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Death By ... Flying Carrot?




Last night, like every Friday night, Mal and I closed down Cracker Barrel together. As usual, we'd had a few small skirmishes throughout the night - this time started by Mal who threw a wad a paper at me AND then threw ice down the front of my shirt within just a few minutes of starting our shift.

Naturally I did not let that go unchallenged. = )

However, we called a truce after about an hour and all was peaceful.

Until...

We took our dinner break around 10 pm. I can't remember how it started because we enjoy conflict so much that there is rarely a noticeable break but somehow Mal said something minor that called for a small show of force and so I grabbed a spoonful of tartar sauce and aimed it at him.

He grabbed the bowl of tartar sauce and aimed right back.

I backed down. I was unequipped for that particular battle. One does not aim a peashooter at someone firing a bazooka.

However, Mal took the opportunity to say "You never think through anything" to me at that moment and I will freely admit that I saw red.

I grabbed my glass of ice but he grabbed my hands and starting talking fast, trying to get out of what was coming. I grabbed his full glass of Sprite and he started begging. Clearly he knew he'd pushed me too far. He grabbed my hands again so I let go of the glass and snatched the only weapon left to me...my fork on which was impaled a cooked carrot.

I know what you're thinking.

As far as weapons go, a cooked carrot is about as threatening as a glob of baby food or a styrofoam peanut.

I didn't care. Mal had pushed me to my limit. I flicked my wrist and hurled that cooked carrot straight at him.

Now, when this particular altercation started, Mal was eating a bite of salad. Things escalated so quickly, he hadn't had a chance to finish chewing.

My cooked carrot missile soared through the air and bounced off his Adam's apple, causing Mal to instantly begin choking on his half-chewed piece of lettuce.

It took him a while to regain his composure.

Turns out anything can be an effective weapon - it's all in the wrist.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday's To Do List

1. Find a substance that will un-glue oatmeal from my table without also eating through my table. Try substance on the oatmeal that is mysteriously glued to my living room floor as well.

2. Firmly explain to my cat that entering the litter box but then backing up to the edge and depositing the goods onto the floor doesn't count as proper kitty etiquette.

3. Take the dog to the groomer's and wish them luck.

4. Wash my umpteenth load of laundry for this week.

5. Iron at least 30 items (*wrestles poster of the Fabulous Captain Jack into position for motivation but leaves the rum safely in the cupboard*).

6. Read a few more chapters of Katy's fantastically entertaining novel!! (*poster of Captain Jack not needed but travels easily to the office anyway*)

7. Plan to avoid getting a bucketful of ice dumped on me tonight by Mal, who has threatened me with certain doom after my clear, cinnamon-scented triumph on Wednesday....haven't shared the details here but it was a thing of subtle beauty which he will busily argue never happened.

8. Plant a body in Alexa's office just to mix it up a bit.

9. Spend about an hour with my hubby between his work schedule and mine.

10. Clean every toilet in the house wearing a hazmet suit, three pairs of gloves, and a Yankee air freshener around my neck.

Should be a productive day!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Thought

today I overheard someone say

there's something wrong with the world today

when babies cry and no one comes

when we kill each other by the thousands

and we stuff our face while millions starve

and devour news of every broken heart

we see pain, suffering, and look away

lest it sink beneath our skin to stay

we hear the atrocities and shake our heads

congratulate ourselves in our comfortable beds

that we escaped another's fate

then complain we've got too much on our plate

and maybe it's right, maybe we're a mess

maybe we can't get out of this

maybe all of life is meaningless

unless

we see the child without a home

and throw open the doors of our own

we choose to spare when we could cause pain

we grieve with the one who is suffering

we open our eyes, we seek and find

the ones beside us who are dying

for compassion, for mercy, for someone to stand

and be their voice, be their friend

maybe we travel across the world to see

or maybe we look across our street

and find the courage to meet the need

find the mercy to help someone believe

that nothing's wrong that can't be undone

when we come together and stand as one

Possible Prologue?

Below is a poem I wrote for an upcoming series (whose characters are getting louder and louder in my head - between this and Alexa, it's getting crowded!).


Darkness

beneath the careless pace we keep
beyond the nightmares in our sleep
crouched in our sorrow, grave and deep
the Darkness grows
inside the worry we won't admit
shrouding the hurt we can't forget
breeding in blood, warm and wet
the Darkness knows

we hear its voice but close our ears
we sense the horror but dry our tears
we do not recognize our fears
and the Darkness gathers strength
we see it but choose to look away
refusing the shadows that blight the day
we let our courage slip away
and the Darkness does not break

it feeds us its seductive lies
promising if we just close our eyes
turn our heads as an innocent dies
the Darkness with be our friend
we turn the key, open the door
shadows spill in, become our core
we hunger insatiably for more
and the Darkness knows no end

we offer our honor as sacrifice
we barter our souls to pay the price
in a prison of our own device
the Darkness leads us all the while
and so we hurt, we fight, we hate
we glory in death until it's too late
we blind ourselves to our own fate
and the Darkness smiles

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Beware The Golden Lasso

Mal, my hubby, and I were out Sunday night when we happened upon this license plate. Too perfect. Mal can't escape his alter ego...it was just meant to be.



Mal's Birthday Cake

My hubby made Mal (aka bluedragoon25) an awesome birthday cake! The sword is buried in an anvil with emeralds exploding out of it. The Chinese characters on the side stand for "Strength and Honor", the name of Mal's blog.



Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Keeping Current

Here is what I'm in to right now:

BOOKS:

THE FACE by Dean Koontz

THE PROMETHEUS DECEPTION by Robert Ludlum

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS by J.K. Rowling


MUSIC:

THE HEART OF EVERYTHING by Within Temptation

FINALLY AWAKE by Seventh Day Slumber

END OF SILENCE by Red


FILMS:

Fracture

Shooter

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Inner Beauty

I am grateful for my life - the sum total, no exceptions.

It seems strange to say so, given all that I've experienced but still, it's true. If I had a magic wand that could erase everything that ever hurt me; if I could go back and fix all my many mistakes - I wouldn't do it.

I've decided that pain is important to learning how to live well. Mistakes are essential to shaping our core, cutting away the stuff we never needed and showing us what really counts.

And living well counts. Loving fearlessly, with everything you have and finding more when you need it, counts. Trusting others even though you know they're human, counts. Standing up for what is right, even when you have to stand against yourself, counts.

We need the heartache, the bittersweetness, the awful mistakes we still regret. If we didn't, we would be shallow, empty shells skimming the surface, never knowing the fierce beauty that lies so far beneath our skin.

And there is beauty beneath the skin. I see it in others everyday.

I see it in my friend who fights to provide well for her son, to put a roof over his head, to afford transportation and yet still laughs freely, gives generously to others what she needs for herself, loves fiercely when she has been deeply hurt.

I see it in my friend who opened his eyes to what true strength is and selflessly gives of his love, his time, and his heart to others even as he fights his own battles with anger and fear.

I see it in my friend who knew her baby wouldn't live but gave him every chance to do so - displaying the rare courage and tenacious love of a true mother.

I see it in my friend who looked in the mirror and saw a drunk and found the inner strength to walk away from alcohol on his own.

True beauty, the kind that is soul-deep, surfaces when we face our worst fears, our hardest roads, our most agonizing grief. We couldn't have all that is rich and wonderful in our lives if we didn't also embrace all that is painful and messy and scary and dark.

It helps me to remember that whenever I doubt myself. I can't erase my past and I don't want to because through it, God is shaping me and the kind of soul-deep inner beauty that comes from Christ is all I ever really want.

I am content.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Things I'm Grateful For Today

1. For my incredible, hard-working husband who is having a "non-stop" day that started twelve hours ago and has no end in sight - but who still made time to meet me for lunch because he loves me.

2. For the 2 1/2 ft. poster of the swashbuckling Captain Jack Sparrow that I found on sale at Blockbuster. For the sister poster that features Jack Sparrow, Will Turner, and Elizabeth "Hide-The-Rum" Swan. Aye, matey.

3. For friends who keep in touch with me and forgive me when I take forever to get back to them.

4. For the gift of writing.

5. For the ironing pile....oh, nevermind, that's a lie. I HATE ironing.

6. For my boys.

7. For my daughter whose arrival comes closer by the month.

8. For my sense of humor.

9. For a library full of truly excellent books.

10. For feeling confident that I'm where I should be in life.

Stop. Drop. And Roll.

This past Thursday I succumbed to the summer cold germs floating around my workplace and spent most of the day lying on the couch, praying for more comfortable kleenex and considering the merits of snorting salsa as a way to clear out my sinuses.

I don't always come up with great ideas when I'm sick.

At 6 pm, I suddenly recalled that it was, indeed, Thursday and I was due to meet my friends at Applebees in an hour to send off one of our own who was moving to Georgia over the weekend.

I couldn't not go. You don't miss the going-away send-off for one of your girlfriends unless you are dead or something very close.

So, I hauled myself off the couch, bypassed the salsa in favor of the maximum doseage of decongestant and four Ibuprofens. Those of you who recall my inability to tolerate hard liquor will not be surprised that this drug cocktail made me slightly loopy.

Okay, more than slightly but hey, I was off the couch. That counts for something.

My hubby and the kids were out and about so I changed my clothes, slapped some makeup on my face, and left the house.

So far, so good.

Disaster struck when I rounded the front of my van and headed for the driver's door.

I park on the far side of the driveway so to get to the door, I have to step off of my driveway and onto the grass. No big deal. I can assure you that I have performed that simple piece of coordinated activity any number of times with excellent results.

Of course, I've never done it while flying high on decongestant and ibuprofen and that, it turns out, makes all the difference.

I stepped off the driveway and the grass simply wasn't there.

I don't know where it went. I didn't have time to thoroughly consider the oddity of this occurance as I was abruptly flying toward the ground.

My feet couldn't find the ground. My knee had no such dilemma.

I slammed my left knee into the ONE hard object around...an aggragate stepping stone.

Ouch.

Unfortunately for me, the lawn on that side of the house slopes downward toward the street. Gravity being what it is, I became living proof of whatever law in physics which states that once a woman, high on decongestant and ibuprofen, gathers enough momentum, she will not stop her forward plunge until she has well and truly humiliated herself.

I flipped off the stone face-first, did a complete roll in the air, and slammed into the ground on my back.

Double ouch.

Now I was a woman, high on decongestant and ibuprofen, with a possibly broken knee, no breath in my body, and no end in sight to my forward momentum.

I kept rolling.

My purse went flying, including my cell phone.

I ingested dry grass.

I wanted to use some colorful vocabulary but I lacked the air to do so.

When I finally came to rest, sprawled spread-eagle on my back, the only part of my body I hadn't hit was my head and, as I'm sure my regular readers now know, that was a shame because my head is the hardest part of me to hurt.

My side yard not only slopes downward toward the street, it is easily viewed from the front yards/windows of three out of four neighbors' homes on my cul-de-sac. As I lay there trying to get my breath back, trying to figure out if my knee was broken, and trying to spit out stray grass (not easy to do when you can't really breathe, incidentally), I expected at any second to see a concerned neighbor looming over me.

This was a valid assumption on my part as a) it was still daylight and b) no one on this block has forgotten the poorly installed privacy glass on our master bathroom window and all the, ummm, interesting things unknowingly put on display there over the years (check the archives if you missed that one) so it stands to reason that my neighbors would frequently glance at our home in search of more entertainment.

No one came.

I could have died for all the help I got. Why live in the suburbs if you don't have nosy neighbors waiting to catch your worst moments on film and turn them into $10,000 on AFV?

Eventually, I was able to breathe, able to ascertain that my knee was simply badly bruised, able to stand up, and able to scour the yard for all the items that flew out of my purse when it hit the grass.

Because I didn't break anything and I didn't die, I'm rather grateful none of my neighbors withnessed my graceless stop, drop, and roll routine. I sort of bobbled the landing, after all.

It is a bit humbling to be one of the youngest members of the "Help, I've Fallen And I Can't Get Up" club, though.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Writing Process: Setting

Creating a vivid setting in the reader's mind is paramount to excellent writing.

I've been thinking about setting recently and comparing some of my favorite authors. It's been interesting to note that their methods varied widely. =)

J.K. Rowling is hands-down one of the best at "world-building", which, to my mind, is more intricate and involved than merely creating a setting. What I love about her writing is that she just dives in without undo explanation and before you know it, you are captured by her voice, her world, and it unfolds in glorious brilliance in your mind. You find yourself unfazed by moving portraits, leaping chocolate frogs, and patronus' (is that the correct plural?) winging through the woods.

Rowling adds description at the beginning of each new location, sprinkles additional details between her dialogue, and, one of her best qualities, always tags on a phrase or two with the entrance of each character to ensure that the reader instantly identifies with each unique character on the scene.

Dean Koontz approaches setting with languid, lovely prose. He takes two pages at the beginning of a chapter to slowly build his scene and his gift is that his imagery is so captivating, the heavy description doesn't interrupt the flow of his writing. He is one of few writer's I've read where two pages of description never elicits an eye roll from me. He is the consumate story-teller, unafraid to take his time and talented enough not to waste mine.

J.D. Robb builds the setting for her In Death series in short, pithy observations from the POV of Eve, her main character. Since the series is set in the future, Robb skillfully weaves details (paying with credits, tubes of Pepsi, riding a glider, soy dogs) throughout her dialogue and action so that the reader is completely submerged in her futuristic world seamlessly and completely. There are few long paragraphs of description - that would hinder the pace of a murder mystery - so she carefully crafts sentences that deliver both setting and tone.

So, I'm curious. What works for you as a reader in creating a vivid setting in your mind? What do you admire in other authors? What do you use yourself?

Where Do We Find These People?

Sometimes the people I wait on say the silliest things.

Last night, one woman kept me at the table for two minutes to expound (passionately!) about the fact that we offer biscuits or cornbread and not rolls. Apparently this is a travesty of no small dimension. She was of the opinion that we were standing firmly in the wrong and I needed to contact our Home Office and explain to them that we really needed ROLLS.

Yeah, let me get right on that.

Two things, lady. First, you are telling the wrong person because a) the decision makers at Cracker Barrel do not wear aprons and b) I completely DO NOT care. Why people think they can walk into a restaurant and complain about what isn't on the menu is a mystery to me. If you don't like the menu, go somewhere else. Problem solved.

Next, I had a man order tea. In the South, there are two kinds of tea. Sweet and Unsweet. As the names would seem to indicate, Sweet Tea contains a teeth-achingly large amount of sugar. Unsweet Tea doesn't contain anything but tea - hence the "un" part of the name.

This man ordered tea and when I asked what kind, he said "Unsweet". I brought it to him. Minutes later, while I was at another table taking an order, he began to swivel in his chair and try desperately to catch my eye. I nodded at him, finished taking the order, and stopped by the table, thinking they must want bread before their meal or something.

No.

He wanted to tell me that his tea wasn't sweet.

Well, duh.

So I said, very politely, "No, sir, it isn't. You ordered Unsweet tea."

He nods in agreement and says. "Yes, but I didn't think it wouldn't be sweet."

Ummm, what part of "Un-sweet" did you find difficult to grasp?

Seriously, some nights on this job shake my faith in the general IQ of mankind.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Interview With C.J.

I just completed an interview on another site and thought I would post the transcript here as well for those of you not on my facebook page!

What is your favorite song of all time?
Blessed Be Your Name by Tree 63

What would you do if you are going to die in the next minute?
Pray and prepare my heart...say I love you to those around me.

If you had to rule your empire/country/city with an iron fist, which dictator would you model yourself after?
Machiavelli

Least favorite song in the world?
Anything with yodelling, spelling out a word (yes, Fergie, that means you), or where beer is mentioned even once.

What is your favorite movie quote?
"Never tell me the odds" - Han Solo

Mozart or Salieri?
Mozart. Don't mess with the master.

What would be the soundtrack to the movie about your life?
Evanescence meets Harry Potter

If you had to make a movie about your life what would it be called?
Stranger than Fiction

If a tree fell down in the forrest and hit a mime, would it make a sound?
I don't know but it sounds like a worthy experiment

What is your favorite Shakespearean play?
Hamlet, no question

If you fell off a cliff what would be you last thought?
Darn it, that's going to leave a mark!

Are you happy to have single-handedly destroyed the earth?
Oops, did I do that?

Would you rather be an elf, dwarf, or hobbit?
elf

If you could make any junk food super-nutritious, which one would you pick?
Hot Tamales!

Do you like to go online everyday?
yes!!

What is your favorite kind of cheese?
Swiss

What do you want?
to rule the world as the unanimously acknowledged Queen of Sequins, Stilettos, and Style

Where were you born?
California

Die with wealth, or a loved one?
a loved one!

Last film seen
Underworld 2

What was your SAT score?
I can't remember. over 1400 but I don't know the exact score.

What is your ideal pizza?
No pizza for me. Hate the stuff.

Look to your left: What do you see?
My gorgeous cat

What are you wearing right now?
Shoot, I knew I forgot something today.

Star Wars or Star Trek?
Star Wars!

Scotland or Italy
Oh that's a tough one...castles or Italian shoes?? I can't pick.

Is/are your animal(s) spayed/neutered?
Definitely.

Apple juice or orange juice?
orange. I don't do apples.

Have you ever popped, locked, and dropped it?
Of course. Hasn't everyone?

Where in the world do you feel the safest?
with my family and close friends...location doesn't matter.

Relationships or hook ups?
relationships

cheereleading or gymnastics
Well...I was a cheerleader (on accident) for two years but I really prefer gymnastics.

Ice Cream or Sherbert?
Oh ice cream, of course. Preferably peanut butter moose tracks. Sherbert is just a waste of time and calories.

Sex before marriage or after marriage??
After. Totally worth the wait!

Two sports I played in middle school?
Basketball and volleyball

College degree in what?
BA in English with a Single Subject Teaching Credential

Musical instrument I play?
Clarinet. Piano (a little). Itunes.

Favorite hard liqour?
Oh I don't do hard liquor. I prefer to avoid walking into walls and sounding like I have a mouthful of marbles when I speak.

Favorite NFL team?
49ers, baby!!!

Family or friends?
What's the difference?

Who Are Your Best Friends?
Clint, Paul, Kelly, Leigh, Tricia, Sandy

Who is the person you love the most?
Clint

imagine your homeroom teacher with a bikini on
OMG. There isn't enough medication in my cabinet to take care of that mental image.

What I dislike most about the general public is...
That they don't tip their servers, they can't find their gas pedal, and they follow the mainstream media like mindless sheep.

Looks or Personality?
personality!

East Coast or West Coast?
West Coast

What is your biggest turn on?
A sense of humor combined with integrity

Would you rather be stabbed by a knife or a sword?
Well, honestly, I'd rather not be stabbed at all.

Rap or Hip-Hip?
Hip-Hip?? What is hip-hip?? That old lady in The Wedding Singer? I'm so down with that.

What motivates you?
A desire to rule the world (a la Pinky and the Brain).

When will you be in Chicago next?
What am I, psychic?

what is love?
Jesus Christ who laid down his life for people who couldn't find a way to fix their own mess.

Jeans or shorts?
Jeans...they go with stilettos much better than shorts, unless, of course, you're Daisy Duke.

Are you a good friend or not?
I'm a good friend

Biggest turnoff in the oppisite sex?
Dishonesty, lack of integrity, cowardice, perversion, disrespectful attitude towards women, lack of deodorant

Do you have to go to the bathroom?
Not at the moment but experience has taught me that this is but a temporary state of affairs.

do you currently like anyone?
I like all kinds of people.

If you look at the color blue, what does it make you think of?
Paul

What is the meaning of life?
To love and be loved by our amazing Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and to share that love with others.

Favorite perfume?
Victoria's Secret Slice of Heaven because it doesn't smell like perfume.

Do you like thunderstorms?
yes

What is your favorite grocery store?
I'm supposed to have a favorite grocery store??

Orlando Bloom or Johnny Depp?
Both!

What do you think they eat in heaven?
unlimited supplies of our favorite foods with absolutely no consequences to our waistline... =)

Do you like/drink coffee?
I like it but I don't drink it often.

Do you like to bake/cook?
yes!

Winter or summer?
autumn

If you could pick anyone dead or alive to have lunch with, who would it be?
Winston Churchill

Do you have any piercings/tatoos?
Yes - ears pierced

What kind of car do you drive?
A totally hot Dodge Caravan, circa 1994, with peeling paint and a window that likes to fall out at inopportune moments

if you were one of the seven dwarfs, who would you be?
Is there a dwarf called "fabulous"?

Do you believe in heaven and hell?
absolutely

Rolling Stones or Beatles?
rolling stones

What colour are your eyes?
hazel

Coke or Pepsi?
Diet Coke with Lime

If you were on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition; what kind of room would you ask for?
a huge library with built in book cases floor to ceiling and medieval tapestries and sculptures all around.

If you were one word, what word would you be?
Unexpected

What is the name of your truest friend???
Clint, Paul, Kelly, and Leigh - can't just pick one when I need them all!

If you could time travel, what would be your first stop?
Medieval times!

How many people are in your family?
Oh, too many to really count. We adopt in friends and call them family all the time. I love a huge family!

Favorite Rapper
Whichever one is currently silent.

Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt?
Oh ick. Neither.

Whats the First Thing You Notice In A Boy/Girl?
Their sense of humor

What language would you like to speak fluently?
Chinese

Whats your favorite sport?
Anything I can win

Are you in love?
Yes!!

How many kids (or any at all) would you want to have?
5

Chocolate or other candy?
Anything but chocolate. Can't stand the stuff.

Sour or sweet candy?
sour

Favorite hot drink?
mocha latte

Which religion do you choose to follow?
I don't choose to follow any religion. I choose to follow Christ.

Performing Arts, Fine Arts, or Sports?
all three!

Riding horses or riding dolphins?
horses - as long as they don't kick me in the head again.

Are you fed up of all these questions?
Oh, I can take anything you dish out.

What came first, the chicken or the egg?
God

What is your favorite color?
red

How much wood could a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood?
Just enough to irritate me into disabling his wood chucking abilities permanently.

beach or mountain?
beach

left handed or right handed?
right

Why are you taking this interview?
Because I'm avoiding cleaning my shower

Who do you count on when feeling down
Clint, Paul, Kelly

Do you plan in advance?
ummmm, well, Yes! I mean, maybe. Oh alright, no.

What attracts you most?
Integrity and a passion for Christ.

Do you hold hands when you walk in public?
With whom? Myself? Some random stranger? =) I hold my hubby's hand whenever I can.

How many hobbies do you have?
Reading, playing games, movies, music, trying to take over the world....

Close your eyes for a moment, who pops into your head?
Alexa Tate

Do you say "I love you" in the relationship?
As often as possible.

Aliens have landed and selected you to visit their home planet. Do you go with them?
Naturally but I must insist on piloting the space craft.

If you could be successful at any job in the world, what would that job be?
Published author

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
Ireland...on a cliff overlooking the ocean, in a gorgeous, gothic castle

If you could be someone else for a day, who would it be?
Jennifer Garner

If you have friends coming for supper what would you cook?
Whatever we were in the mood to eat.

What is your favourite word?
Loquacious!

What makes you cry?
Not much. Has to be a huge grief to make me cry.

What makes you laugh?
My friends. Other people's idiocy. The strange thoughts in my own head. Snorting chicken.

If you were an animal in the wild, what would you be?
A panther

If you won the lottery, how would you spend your millions?
Adoption! Adoption! Adoption! And a closet just for shoes.

If you could time travel to the past to correct any mistakes you feel youve made would you?
I don't think so. I think everything I've done has made me who I am today and I'm content.

Do you believe that the cup is half empty or half full?
half full

Who was your hero as a child?
Wonder Woman!! ; )

What do you do for fun?
Oh, I'd love to answer that but my lawyer says I really shouldn't...

Are you an outdoor or an indoor person
Both

If you had only six months to live, what would you do first?
Make videos of everything I want to say to my kids as they grow

What 3 words would your best friend use to describe you?
loving, honest, persistent

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Surrounded by family and friends and hopefully published

What are you most proud of in your life?
My marriage and my kids

Do you own any pets, and if so what do you have?
Chow Dog - named Bear, and a black and white cat named Taz

Who do you admire most?
Jesus Christ

Do you have any tattoos, and if so what and where?
Like I'd really give you a road map...

How do you feel?
Content, creative, and pretty invincible at the moment

What size shoe do you wear?
Whatever size it takes to fit into the current pair of gorgeous stilettos I'm craving

Water or 100% Juice?
Water

Would you rather be hot or cold?
Cold!!! I get sick when I get too hot and it really isn't a pretty picture.

Favorite Place to Eat?
Cracker Barrel - because my friends are there!

Opera, Musical, Concert, Play, Performance, or Other?
Concert (as long as it ROCKS) and any well-rendered Shakespearean plays.

What is your favorite clothing brand?
I seriously do not care about brands.

Most Memorable Past?
Everything I do is memorable.

Most embarrassing moment?
Just one?? Oh, I don't think so.

If you had to pick one car, which would it be?
A convertible Ferrari - tomato red with a totally kickin' stereo system

Your favorite Disney Film?
Mary Poppins

Why did the chicken cross the road?
He was being chased by a goat.

Do you support Paris Hilton?
I make it a habit to never willingly support spoiled, simple-minded brats.

Where is Waldo?
Well, I'd love to tell you, I really would, but then I'd have to kill you too.

Favorite element?
Fire

What was your last thought?
I wonder if it will take more than 3 hours to catch up on the laundry?

Who are you going to vote for in 2008?
Whoever lines up most closely with my values...which means definitely not Hilary "I'm-on-loan-from-Satan" Clinton.

Juice and crackers or milk and cookies?
milk and cookies! Who chooses crackers over cookies? Get real.

Favorite fruit?
berries - any kind

Which is worse? A bad laugh or a bad cough?
Bad laugh. I've heard people who sound like a bull moose might sound if he snorted pond algae while getting kicked in the goodies.

Are you a cat or a dog person?
Both!

Define yourself in 3 words...
honest, loyal, creative

Do you eat cold cereal at night?
not very often but it's been known to happen

What is your favorite TV show?
Lost

Kill the spider or let it out?
Kill!

Do you shower every single day?
pretty much. I'm a big fan of personal hygiene.

Walking past a beggar, spare change or ignore?
depends

Boat or bus?
Boat. Who likes to ride in a bus?

What is your favorate Pj Fabric
I'm supposed to wear Pj's?? I missed the memo.

Where do you want to travel next?
China!!

What would you do if Michael Jackson asked you out?
Force myself to stop vomiting long enough to knock him out with one well-aimed kick to the groin.

What is your favorite food?
Shrimp.

Do you read Harry Potter books?
I don't read them - I devour them whole.

What is your favorite place?
Home

If you could have one super human power what would you choose?
The power to become invisible

Have you had a beer in the last week?
Nope.

Vitamin Water or Gatorade?
Vitamin Water. Gatorade is just nasty.

Favorite body part?
the spleen. Who doesn't love the spleen? What a ridiculous question.

Flip flops or sandles?
Does a stiletto count as a sandle?

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Happy Birthday Malystryx!

Malystryx is celebrating his birthday today (and also entering the next decade of his life!). My hubby is finishing a really cool birthday cake for him with a sword buried in an anvil and spilling shattered gems out of the anvil and around the hilt of the sword. It's amazing.

I want to wish Mal a HAPPY BIRTHDAY and give my top ten reasons why I'm glad he was born:

1. He is one of my best friends and I can't imagine my life without him.

2. He not only loves the concept of a code of honor, he lives one.

3. He is constantly trying to take over the world. (never a boring moment!)

4. His loyalty to God, his family, and his friends is absolutely unshakeable.

5. He makes me laugh.

6. His comptetive streak is insane. (and is a match for mine! yay!)

7. He is a deep thinker and isn't afraid to dig into ideas that others might find too "out there" to contemplate.

8. He is unapologetic about who he is: Take him or leave him, he'll be fine.

9. Once he loves someone (fiancee, friend, or family), his commitment to loving them, protecting them, understanding them, and taking care of them is unswerving.

10. He shares my warped sense of humor.

Happy Birthday, Mal!



Heads Up!

It's always good to have strategies in place when we're out on the town. Something that isn't on this list but that I do is hold my keys tightly in my hand with the longest/sharpest pointing out so I can gouge anyone who attacks me.

Also, slapping doesn't stop anyone who is attacking you. It's much better to keep your arms and legs closer in to your body and send short, powerful chops at vulernable areas like the throat and crotch.

Here is a list of other safety measures you can take (recently emailed to me by Mom -thanks!):

1 Tip from Tae Kwon Do : The elbow is the strongest point on your body. If you are close enough to use it, do!

2. Learned this from a tourist guide in New Orleans: If a robber asks for your wallet and/or purse, DO NOT HAND IT TO HIM. Toss it away from you.... chances are
that he is more interested in your wallet and/or purse than you, and he will go
for the wallet/purse. RUN LIKE MAD IN THE OTHER DIRECTION!


3. If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car, kick out the back tail lights
and stick your arm out the hole and start waving like crazy. The driver won't see you, but everybody else will. This has saved lives.

4. Women have a tendency to get into their cars after shopping, eating, working, etc., and just sit (doing their checkbook, or making a list, etc. DON'T DO THIS!)
The predator will be watching you, and this is the perfect opportunity for him to get in on the passenger side, put a gun to your head, and tell you where to go.
AS SOON AS YOU GET INTO YOUR CAR , LOCK THE DOORS AND LEAVE.

5. If someone is in the car with a gun to your head DO NOT DRIVE OFF, repeat:
DO NOT DRIVE OFF! Instead gun the engine and speed into anything, wrecking the car.
Your Air Bag will save you. If the person is in the back seat they will get the worst of it . As soon as the car crashes bail out and run. It is better than having them find your body in a remote location.

6. A few notes about getting into your car in a parking lot, or parking garage:

A.) Be aware: look around you, look into your car, at the passenger side floor ,
and in the back seat

B.) If you are parked next to a big van, enter your car from the passenger door .
Most serial killers attack their victims by pulling them into their vans while the women are attempting to get into their cars.

C.) Look at the car parked on the driver's side of your vehicle, and the passenger side. If a male is sitting alone in the seat nearest your car, you may want to walk back into the mall, or work, and get a guard/policeman to walk you back out.

IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY. (And better paranoid than dead.)

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Brain Blast!

I've been stuck in a mess of my own making in the middle of the Alexa book. I introduced a character and then watched my plot run away in a direction I never intended.

Five chapters into that and I could see that it just wasn't working.

I left it alone for a week, examining the situation, trying to figure out where I went wrong and how to get the book back on track.

Two nights ago, I went to see Bourne Ultimatum with friends and halfway through the movie, I figured it out.

It was a little hard to concentrate on the movie and replot/reposition my characters but, like many writers I know, once an idea took hold and I could feel that it was right, I couldn't let it go.

Unfortunately, I have to scrap five chapters but it's worth it just to get it right!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Where Do I Hide The Body?

Tonight, I entered the seventh circle of Hell that is Back to School shopping.

I, like about ten thousand other local moms here in Tennessee, decided to take advantage of the "sales tax free" weekend to find all the items on the somewhat lengthy lists of needed supplies sent to me by each child's grade. I had the opportunity three months ago to purchase these supplies from our school's PTO and I turned it down, convinced that if I did it myself I could save money.

This was one of the stupidest ideas I've ever had.

Next spring, when I'm offered the opportunity to pre-buy school supplies and I mention wanting to do it myself to save twenty dollars, somebody slap me.

Hard.

I entered Wal-Mart at 8pm, deluded into thinking that most moms would be done with their shopping or having dinner with their families or tucking their children into bed or just somewhere else.

This was not the case.

Not only were there plenty of other moms in Wal-Mart at 8 pm, they were toting all of their spawn with them. Wal-Mart allocates a measly three aisles to school supplies and those aisles were fifteen families deep with carts, screaming toddlers, grade schoolers darting in and out of tiny gaps to grab items their mother had just specifically told them not to get, and teenagers smacking gum, glancing coyly at the opposite sex, and - my ears are still ringing - squealing like baby pigs over pink furry lunch boxes that I'm guessing are the next "thing".

Two minutes of this and I was ready to hurl some of those pink furry lunch boxes at the people in my immediate vicinity just to see if I could drive a few of them away.

My left eye began twitching - never a good sign. My jaw clamped tight. I began to feel more than slightly homicidal.

I wished a particularly nasty strain of belly-button plague on the entire crowd, glanced at my lists and quickly wished even worse on the teachers who thought it a good idea to ask for folders (pocket only!) in shades of teal, white, black, orange, purple, and red.

Wal-mart had folders (pocket only!) in orange. Period. If the other colors ever existed, they were long gone. As I stood and tried to decide if I should just buy 12 orange folders or check Target before making a final decision, some enterprising mother shoved her adorable four year old in front of me and had him snatch up the remaining folders for her. Right out from under my nose.

It hit me then.

Back to School shopping is war.

The rules of shopping that apply to polite society do not apply to war. Anyone will tell you that. In war, those who hesitate are dead. Those who take too long deciding, have the decision wrenched from their hands. Those who walk too slowly down the aisle, get rammed from behind.

I got into the spirit of things.

I knew scissors were on my lists. I wasn't sure how many but I snagged an entire handful as I went by the display. Same with the erasers. The crayons. The colored pencils. The Expo Markers.

I saw a light of frenzied ferocity reflected on every mom's face. It was a race to fill our carts with anything within reach. We'd sort through it later and toss out what we didn't need to those poor souls just joining the fray.

I dodged children, whipped around the corners on two wheels and when one woman turned her cart horizontally across the middle of an aisle as she perused the sharpies, thus denying the rest of us access to binders, pencil cases, and notebooks, I rammed her cart out of the way and tossed a half-hearted apology over my shoulder.

Amateur.

Two hours later, I gathered the supplies I could (no teal folders, no white folders, no black folders, no 3x5 cards, and no pencils...) and stood in line. Both eyes were twitching at this point and I was muttering dire threats under my breath at anyone who looked my way. I noticed the woman in front of me yanking out her own hair and understood completely.

From Wal-Mart, I went to the grocery store (who had no teal, white, or black folders, no 3x5 cards, and no pencils either). Spent some time in there grabbing milk, eggs, cake mix (Mal's birthday is Thursday!) and wondering why everyone in the store gave me such a wide berth.

I loaded up the car and admitted that I was done for the day. It was late. I would start fresh tomorrow.

Anyone who knows me will be impressed with this next bit: I actually looked at the gas gauge and noticed it was near empty. This is no small achievement on my part.

I stopped for gas, filled the tank (making the dire mistake of leaving the driver's side door open while I filled it), and headed for home. I was in the act of turning onto the main street when I saw it.

A MOTH.

In my car.

Fluttering along the dash board, coming steadily closer to me.

I froze. Literally. I froze in the act of driving my car and nearly forgot to complete the turn.

Those of you who read this blog regularly know that while I can handle spiders and wasps, I am deathly afraid of moths. Horrible little fluttery creatures. I hate them.

I hate them and one of the was flopping around on my dash board.

I stopped looking at the road and began hunting for something to smash it with. It's not actually a good idea to drive while looking around on the floor of your car.

I realized this and quickly yanked my attention back to the road.

Somehow, in the space of time it took for me to glance around my car and then look back, the moth was gone. No where to be found.

This was not good.

I knew it was still in the car, I just didn't know where. Unfortunately, that situation was quickly remedied as the moth FLEW DOWN THE FRONT OF MY SHIRT.

I drove the car off the side of the road.

I must have looked like a lunatic, hopping out of my vehicle and repeatedly slapping myself in the chest while doing a graceless little shimmy.

The good news: I didn't hit a tree, a telephone pole, or a ditch and my car is unscathed.

The better news: I killed the moth.

Now I think I need a little dose of that Everclear-soaked cake.

Congratulations!!




My hubby entered the county fair's cake decorating competition this week with a 2 1/2 foot high cake sculpture of a bride and groom dancing on a hardwood ballroom floor and (drum roll please)....

He won first place!!

I'm so proud of him. It makes the Cake Siege worth it.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

3 Down, 2 To Go

The month of July marked 3 years of being "in remission" for me. Two more years and I am officially pronounced "cured", although my oncologist is quick to remind me that no one is ever truly "cured".

I know that. But three years down the road, I don't worry about it so much now.

I used to.

When I first woke up after my first operation and saw my husband's face, I knew something was terribly wrong. I've never seen his face so white, so strained. He could barely speak.

I thought he must have misunderstood the doctor.

Then my doctor entered the room and I saw his face too.

I knew.

My doctor said it would take 3 days for the test results but I saw his face, I heard his voice and I knew.

I spent the next three days comforting my family and convincing myself that I couldn't possibly have cancer. I was thirty. Women at thirty didn't get cancer, did they? It was something else. Something easy. Something non-fatal.

When I called the doctor's office three days later, asking for my test results and heard the nurse's chipper voice turn suddenly solemn as she told me the doctor himself would give me the results, I felt like I'd swallowed ice.

My doctor picked up the phone and suggested we come in to see him. Like I could stand to wait another day to hear what I already knew. I told him I was better off just having it all upfront and he said, "I'm sorry. You have cancer."

The next few days were foggy as I kept staring at myself in the mirror and trying out the words "I have cancer" - trying to make them fit.

They wouldn't.

It just didn't seem real. I was a mother of young children. A wife. A woman with her whole life ahead of her. I couldn't accept the diagnosis and I decided that there must be different levels of cancer where some types were deadly and others were merely annoying.

When we met my oncologist for the first time a few days later, I trotted out this theory. I said something enlightened like, "This isn't so bad, is it? I mean, you said it's a slow-growing cancer so it's not like I could die from this anytime soon, right?"

The pity on his face told me more than his words as he assured me that if I gave it a few more weeks, I might be beyond help.

That got my attention.

In the space of time between that appointment and my hysterectomy, I faced the fact that I might not live. I might not see my kids grow up, get married, have families of their own. I might leave my husband with no one to love him, no one to help him, no one to anchor my family.

I kept telling my hubby to double my life insurance before the operation but he refused. He wouldn't even consider it. It was like the more I looked at the possibility of dying, the more he stubbornly looked away. He wouldn't speak of anything but me growing old with him.

The night before my surgery, I couldn't sleep. I sat up and began to pray that God would give me another fifteen years, at least, so I could finish raising my children. But if He wouldn't, I prayed that He would bring another woman into my family's life who would love my husband and adore my children in my place.

I didn't grieve. I wasn't afraid. I faced that night with peace.

The next morning, it hit me. They wheeled me into the surgical prep area, just one more patient in several rows of patients. Different hospital staff kept coming up to me and asking my name, my diagnosis and if I could explain my upcoming procedure to them as they poked me, prodded me, labeled me, swabbed me and examined me.

It was nearly the most humiliating experience of my life.

I felt like an animal, a curiosity, a medical speciman.

I started to cry and since I absolutely hate to cry, this made it worse. I couldn't speak to them anymore. I couldn't look at them. One woman took pity on me and asked if I had any family I'd like to have with me and I asked for my husband, knowing it was useless. We'd agreed that after they brought me back to the operating area, he would run the errands he needed to run and be back before I woke up.

He was already gone.

That was the most "un-me" I think I've ever felt. I couldn't stop crying. I couldn't find the spine to tell them to just leave me alone. I couldn't snap at the team of residents who kept coming back to examine my chart and poke me and discuss me as if I were deaf and blind.

The week after my surgery was a blur of morphine, percocet, and pain but I remember my visit with my oncologist the next week and the welcome news that all the cancer had been removed.

My experience with cancer changed me. I couldn't just pick up my life again. It was like I had all the same hats but my head was a different shape and nothing quite fit.

I quit running my own business. I wanted to be home when I was home. Not expecting a phone call. Not focused on business.

I started making dinner with my kids a priority for every night we had together.

I made sure my husband and I had at least one romantic date a month.

I still do.

I used to feel sick to my stomach with nerves days before every check-up with my oncologist. Now, I don't feel nervous until I walk into his office.

I'm grateful to be three years out. I'm grateful to have more time with my family. I'm grateful to know what is really important and what isn't.

I'm just grateful.

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