Birthday…

Oh God, I’m old.

Old.

Ancient.

Spinster.

Maiden.

Decrepit.

Useless.

Past my Prime.

Old.

How old am I?

26, (hides face in shame)

Don’t look at me.

Why are you laughing?

I’m serious!

Old.

You don’t understand.

I live with my mother.

I’ve never been in love.

No that one didn’t count.

Because, he didn’t love me back.

Old.

I don’t know what I am going to do with the rest of my life.

I’m considering going back to school, AT MY AGE.

I’m going to be that sad old lady hanging out in the middle of the class with 18 year olds surrounding me.

I drink coffee.

Regularly.

I have had a “career”, of sorts.

I have retired from that career.

Old.

I don’t have children.

I have no husband.

I have no plans or prospects for either.

You don’t understand.

In my town, I was behind the curve at 21.

That was five years ago.

FIVE.

Old.

A birthday is a celebration.

Celebration?

It’s a marker.

Of your age.

An age that is ever creeping upwards.

A cycle that will never end.

Twenty-six trips round the sun.

Trips I will never get back.

Old.

My baby brother is getting married.

He’s Twenty.

Twenty.

He proposed a lifetime, before his first legal drink.

He’s a smart man.

He found his love early.

Still makes me feel…

Old.

I spent the evening celebrating with the ladies in my family.

Laughing,

talking,

eating delicious food.

The waiter sang me happy birthday.

He had a beautiful voice.

The margarita was salty and delicious.

I drank half of moms too.

A great celebration, but still I am…

Old.

I have to be up in about six hours.

This thought makes me want to cry.

Six hours is not enough sleep!

I’m going to go play with babies, while parents younger than I am go to church.

I am old enough to be any of these babies parent.

Old.

I’ve decided that I am going to have adventures this year.

Maybe a new tattoo.

I might jump out of a plane.

I’m signing up for a 5K.

I’m going to go explore Austin.

I’ve started thinking about dating.

Still not certain on that one.

I’m blogging now.

All of this is exciting, but it makes me no less…

Old.

I am old.

Can we at least leave the candles off the carrot cake?

As if dead is better than being with me.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Connect the Dots.”

I understand what she meant. She meant to come up to me and say some off handed remark that everyone always makes in these types of situations. She thought that as I stared at the wall and tried to force myself to breathe that I was actually looking at her. That by looking at her I was insisting that she come over here and say those stupid words. She was feeling guilty I suppose. I don’t know what she was feeling. I don’t care what she was feeling. I don’t care about anything. I am however angry. No, I am not angry, I am furious! I am furious and I am in pain, and I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to be standing in this room, surrounded by flowers and pictures and stupid people who say stupid things. Someone else catches my and looks as if they are about to come toward me. I can’t bear it, I can’t stand through one more conversation and see the pity in someone else’s eyes. I quickly duck my head and begin walking toward the back of the building. That is where the bathrooms are, so no one will suspect that that isn’t my actual destination.

I burst through the back door, practically running, and thank all the stars in the universe that no one is out back having a smoke break. I quickly make my way to my car and pop the trunk. I open the suit case inside and rummage around until I find them. The old gray sweats are holey from love and use. I pull them on, one leg then the other, mechanically I go through the motions. I pull them as tight as they can go and tie them, still they hang loosely around my hips. Desperately I claw for the zipper on the back of my dress. I finally grasp it and yank it down. I hear teeth breaking and seams ripping as I go, but I don’t care. I will never wear this dress again. I ball it up and throw it to the ground. I slip the old t-shirt over my head and the worn cotton is soothing on my skin. I take off my heels and place them in the trunk, I may be inconsolably angry, but I am still me, and shoes are shoes. I slip on an old pair of flip flops, slam the trunk, get in my car and turn the engine.

As I back out of the parking spot I do my best to do as much harm to that dress as possible. I finally turn to the parking lot and see an attendant coming toward me. I wish that he was chasing after me to demand money. Surely I haven’t paid him yet, and he wont let me leave without what is due him. I know the truth though, he is concerned and he wants to make sure I’m alright. Well screw him. Screw them all. Of course I’m not alright. Nobody in the history of the world that has been through what I have been through is alright. I pray there is no karmic retribution as I practically run him over in my escape to freedom.

It takes 7 minutes going 40 mph to see my town, my home, in the rearview mirror. Once I hit the city limits I gas it. I’m driving 75 mph on the highway to my future. Snuggly wrapped in the warmth of my past I refuse to look back. People will talk, maybe that stupid woman will think, “Was it something I said?” I don’t care. I can’t be there anymore. My world is over, it is shattered into tiny pieces of glass, and I am bare foot. I can’t bear the thought of bending to pick up each and every sliver. So I walk away, my feet bleeding more with every cut. The scars will never heal, but I will survive. I will survive.

My Ideal Audience

As I sit down to write out my second post for Blogging 101 I have spent a fair amount of time thinking about what I wanted to write. More specifically who I am writing too, that was the assignment after all. Who is my dream reader? I had a list of different people who it might be. I thought about my friends and family who are being so supportive of this blog and reading my writing entries. I thought about that overworked publisher who leaves her 50 hour a week day job and comes home and opens up WordPress at night and reads my blog. She instantly recognizes my genius and calls me the first thing the next morning offering to publish my novel. I thought about myself. I have always maintained that I don’t write for others, I write for myself. I write because I need to, because there are stories in my head that need to be released. I write for therapy and I write for catharsis. So who is my ideal reader? I chose not to choose, I chose them all. I write for me, so it makes sense that reading my own writing and enjoying it should be important. When I post my blogs I have spent time going through and rewriting and editing in hopes of giving a final product that my friends and family will love. In the secret corner of my mind I would love for that publisher to be reading this very blog. So that is my answer, my dream reader is whoever is reading this blog right now. YOU are my dream reader!

With that in mind, and with the main purpose of my blog being fiction, I am including an excerpt of a story I have been working on for years. This is a piece of the first book in my collection of books that are hanging out in my laptop. It has been in my head and my heart for years. I hope you enjoy it…

My Mother’s Rings

As I stand facing the crowd of people before me my breath catches in my throat. A sea of faces look back at me, so many faces. The auditorium is full, and I have been told there are also people lining the streets. I recognize many of the people sitting in the audience; friends, family, coworkers, students… the list goes on and on, and they are all sitting here waiting for me to speak. I feel so many emotions, mostly love. Of all the people in this room, I am certainly the most blessed. With this knowledge and a smile on my face I take a breath and begin to speak.

I begin to tell the story that lead me here today. The story of the woman who raised me, loved me, and taught me to be fierce beyond belief. I see her off to the side, just in my peripheral vision, where she can always be found. Always one to work behind the scenes. She smiles and nods as I begin to tell my story, her story, our story.

I breathe deeply and begin;

“This is the story of my mother, Marina Marie Marsden, and how she made me the woman I am today…”

Oasis Calling

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Oasis.”

The wind whips through my hair, the ocean seems angry today. Choppy and violent with a menacing look, the ocean is reflecting my mood. I walk toward my secret hideout and think about the people making me angry. The kids at school are torturous as usual, my parents don’t understand and seem to be more frustrated with me than them. I know I am different, but differences make you unique, and parents are supposed to celebrate what makes us unique not quash our dreams. Ugh!

I reach the outcrop of rocks where my throne is located. There is a perfectly smooth stone right in the middle of the outcrop. From this seat you can see miles into the vast blue water, you can also see people approaching, though they can’t see you. It is the perfect getaway. I come here almost daily, to read, meditate, do my school work, or to think. This is the place where I find peace.

I climb onto the stone and curl my toes beneath me , wrapping my thick shawl around my shoulders I lay my head against the side of the rock and stare out into the abyss. My vision is clouded as the tears begin to flow. I am tired of the arguments, the fear, and the looks that I get. Why must everyone look at me as if I am a freak? The wind picks a tear up from off my cheek and blows it into the ocean. One little drop of salt water joining the rest. The waves welcome it home with splashing and dancing at the shore.

Just as I am pondering the beautiful irony in that moment a crash is heard on the horizon.  I quickly lift my gaze and begin looking feverishly. There. Just to my left, not very far out at all. One, two, three bodies crash out the water seconds apart. I can see more just under the surface. The entire family is here today! Eight majestic creatures continue to swim and play just before the horizon. I am on my feet now, waving, yelling, and laughing. I begin to call to them and after a moment they respond. I imagine they are telling me about their recent trip. The whales have been off fishing for almost a month. I knew they would return though. They are always there when I need them.

I long to run to them, the swim isn’t far, and I would love nothing more than to be in the ocean dancing and singing with them. I know I cannot go. The water is far too fearsome, and my parents have made it clear that they will send me straight to the mainland if I attempt another swim. I know they worry about me, and my safety, but they don’t understand. The whales, they are family, they would never hurt me. Every time they come home to me they beg and plead for me to come to them. Soon baby sister won’t be a calf anymore, and I want to go enjoy her childhood with her.

I stand on my stone and watch the beauty and the majesty of their interaction. The joy I have seeing my beloved whales drowns out the bitterness of not being able to go to them. I stay until it is dark and my toes have gone numb from the chill in the air. I have to go or my parents will send out another search party. I whisper goodbye to my dear friends knowing that the wind will carry the message to them. I climb down from my outcrop and back toward civilization. Half way up the beach they begin their goodnight song. All of their voices mingling together, sending me love and wishes for a good nights sleep. I pause once more looking out toward the horizon, where my family, my oasis awaits.

Introducing…. SIDNIE’S BLOG! (an assignment from Blogging 101)

I have had this blog for a couple of months now. I started out completely clueless and with the best of intentions. I created my blog and vowed to write in it every day! That lasted less than a week. What happened? Distractions, life, excuses, the whole nine yards. I have written in my blog sporadically over the last month or two, but hadn’t really connected with the blogging experience. I logged in on New Years Day (Or was it the day after?) to write down a little snippet that had been skipping around in my brain, and I saw the Blogging 101 sign up! To me this just seemed like a perfect beginning to a new year! I would learn more about this medium, I would connect with other bloggers, I would have expectations to be met with the classwork, it all sounded like a win-win to me! So here I am writing my first blog assignment! The assignment was to introduce my blog and what I wanted to do with it. It also asked a few questions that I will answer along the way.

Who am I, and why am I here?

My name is Sidnie, I am a 25 year old from deep in the woods of South East Texas, and I am a writer. Not necessarily in my day jobs (I have three), but in my heart. I have loved reading and writing from the time I was a little girl! My great American dream and the top of my bucket list has always been to have a book I have written be published. I have always loved the saying, “To be a writer you do not have to have published a book, you simply have to write every day.” I don’t know who said it, but I love it! That is why I am here. To write everyday. Not necessarily to publish a new blog every day, but to sit down and put ideas on keyboard for a little while every day. This to me is public practicing of my art. I am here to hone my skills, to give the people who read this blog a sense of who I am and what my writing style is about, and to show myself what I can do with my writing. I hadn’t done much writing for a long while before I created this blog, and I wanted a place to start again.

Why am I blogging publicly instead of keeping a personal journal?

There are a couple of answers to this question.

To me a journal is a personal private form of writing that focuses on your life. What is happening with you mentally, spiritually, and what is going in your day to day life. For me that poses a challenge because I am a very private and very boring individual. I will let my emotions out in the stories I tell, but they wont be about my personal life. There isn’t much to tell anyway. Journaling and Blogging are two very different mediums in my mind.

Another reason I am blogging publicly is for the accountability and the community. I want people to hear me say, I am going to write and be able to say, “well, where is this blog I’ve been hearing so much about?” I also want to be able to connect with other writers and readers, I want others opinions of my work, I want to be critiqued. I don’t see how I can grow as an artist without being able to see what I am doing to hinder my abilities.

What topics do you think you will write about?

I am a story teller. I like to write short fiction pieces based on things that I see in real life, stories that pop into my head, or emotions I am feeling at the time. I love prompts and taking them and molding them into my own work. I do occasionally break from my preferred genre and write a blog about what’s going on in my life, but I try to keep them at a minimum. I would rather this be a place for me to hone my skills at story telling than a place to vent.

If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

If this class and this next year is a successful blogging adventure I am hoping for a blog full of short stories that are well thought out, insightful looks into my writing and what my future books might look and sound like. I am hoping for a well read and critiqued blog with an audience that will appreciate my work, and be happy to express their opinions.

That’s it in a nutshell. A very large nutshell. Perhaps a walnut. Forgive me, I try to be funny. I am looking forward to what we will learn and teach each other with this class! Until next time, have a great day!

What are you doin New Years, New Years Eve…

The sights and sounds around me were deafening, almost numbing, there were strangers pressed against me from all sides. I was disoriented, overwhelmed, and completely in love. To be fair, I was hopelessly lost. I knew Kev was around here somewhere, this was the pen we were waiting in. I had to run to the restroom and when I got back Kev was nowhere to be seen. This was the right pen, wasn’t it? Everything was so big, and loud, and confusing. I was a million miles away from home, but it was where I wanted to be. I had dreamed my whole life of being in times square on New Years Eve. This trip with Kev was months of saving, planning, and begging. Kev was my best friend in the whole world, but he loved home and would rather be there popping cheap fireworks and sitting around a bonfire drinking a beer. He was a country boy through and through, and to be honest it’s one of the things I loved the most about him. That and his willingness to abandon all that for one year for my happiness. I was finally going to get to see the ball drop up close and personal! Now where on earth had Kev gone? After what felt like a century I finally found him, pressed up against the edge of the pen looking uncomfortable.

“Hey you! I thought I lost you there for a minute!”

He turned to me and a smile as big as Texas flashed in my direction. “I found us a better spot, much closer view! Whadaya think?”

“It’s perfect!” and it was.

We spent that last hour dancing, talking, practicing taking “selfies” and hanging out. I bought him a beer from a roving cart, and offered it to him as a little gift from home. He smiled and thanked me. The sights and sounds of that hour were wonderful. The music wasn’t what I normally listened to, but it had a good beat. The people were amazing! There were so many different outfits, heights, groups. There were lovers, gaggles of giggling girl friends, groups of professionals still in their suits. There were older couples, and young families. All walks of life were gathered here on this special night, in this special place, to bring in a new year. It was pure magic.

Before I knew it the countdown began.

10

9

8

I chanted along with the crowd…

7

6

I turned to look at my best friend, he was chanting along too, looking up at the ball making its descent.

5

4

3

2

This moment was perfect!

1

HAPPY NEW YEAR! The entire world shouted together as one. I shouted so loudly I knew I would be able to hear myself when I played the event back on my DVR. I looked around at all the couples sharing a New Years kiss, it was a great moment! I felt myself leave the ground as Kev picked me up and twirled me around, hugging me tight.

“Happy New Year Bailey girl!”

“Happy New Year Kev-o!”

My life is made up of Fluff and Fillers…

I am in a mood.

It’s not a great mood.

I have been in this mood for a couple of weeks. I have a seemingly good day and one comment/person/situation interrupts my happy and BOOM, bad day. My temper/feelings have been right there at the surface, and I’ve taken to clenching my jaw again. Which causes headaches, which contributes to my mood.

I wasn’t going to blog tonight. I haven’t in a little bit because every time I sit down to write, whatever comes out annoys the patooki out of me. I was trying to come up with something to write about and I asked a friend to give me prompts. After rejecting her ideas I explained about my mood and that being why I didn’t respond to her thoughts, she then told me I should write about my mood. She explained that when I try to fill my writing with fluff and fillers, although I’m not feeling fluffy, the writing comes out flat. I responded by saying my life is made up of Fluff and Fillers. Which for the most part feels true, and might be contributing to the mood.

Perhaps it’s the weather, I mean 60’s and 70’s in December, this is unacceptable.

Perhaps it’s my co-worker that has a challenging personality and no working knowledge of what is and is not her job.

Perhaps it’s all these conflicting thoughts/convictions/feelings floating around in my head. I often describe myself as a liberal modern feminist, and a 1950’s housewife all mushed up into one. These two different women spend day after day going toe to toe about every topic you can think of. Some battles have already been won, and some opinions cemented. Some weren’t even battles but preconceived automatic opinions that couldn’t be argued if you tried. These constant battles of will tend to tire and confuse me. Who is right, who is wrong, who will win the argument?

Am I crazy?

That fun little bugger of a thought almost constantly tortures me. I think the answer is yes, but I also think that everyone is crazy in their own special way.

I also have conversations with other people in my head. I’ll insert myself into a situation and have an entire conversation with this other person, what each of us would say, and how the conversation plays out. It’s a past time of mine that I use to work through certain thoughts, or practice small talk as I am terrible at it. I was recently engaged in a “conversation” based on a dream that I had, and the ending of this conversation stopped me in my tracks. I thought, this should punch me in the gut, what this person just said should really impact my view on this subject. The fact that it didn’t made me uncomfortable. Why didn’t I feel more deeply about what this person said? Why didn’t I feel terrified after realizing that I wasn’t as impacted as I perhaps should have been? What does that say about me as a person?

So maybe that’s what this mood is about.

Me being utterly confused and uncertain about the trajectory of my life.

Or maybe I am suffering from some hormonal imbalance.

Maybe I’m just in a bad mood.

Choices

I have been in a reflective mood of late. I don’t know if it is the time of year, my ever increasing age, or the brand new baby I just met for the first time yesterday, but something has me thinking. Thinking about me, my life, and the choices that have led me to where I am today. I often wonder what would have happened if I had made one different choice. If I had applied myself more in school, if I hadn’t hidden behind my sister socially most of our lives, if I hadn’t run away from college when things got hard, or if I had run sooner. My dreams and my writings are littered with them; All the what if’s that have collected in my life just sitting around on little scraps of paper in my mind. Would I change my life right now today if I could? That is the question.

For all the pondering and wondering that I do, the answer I come up with the most often is no. However I got here, whatever short comings I feel I may have, I wouldn’t trade where I am for anything. This life of mine is pretty awesome, and I am happy in it. Of course there are days when I wish there was a nice boy holding my hand through it, or that I could take off and go spend a week in Italy just because I want to. I think we all have desires to be something and have something more than we have given ourselves so far. That doesn’t mean that I would change where I am. My life is full of family, friends, love, contentment.

Looking at my past is a jumbled mess of happiness, heartbreak, longing, disappointment, fun, craziness, mistakes and triumphs. I have battled through many things in my life, and I have come out the other side stronger with a great support system. If I hadn’t made those mistakes, had those good times, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I am living a life made up of all those little choices, and if I changed even one of them I don’t know what my life would look like today. Would I be friends with my friends, would I be in the job I am in, would I still live at home?

What mundane and ordinary choices will I make today, and how will they effect my future self? How I deal with the next big challenge life throws my way could change the course of the rest of my life. If a year from now that guy that I have such a crush on shows up on my doorstep and asks me to go see the world with him, will I say yes? If I take the new job opportunities that are coming my way, will I have found my forever career? Life is made up of a series of small choices, what I choose today could easily change my forever.

I don’t know what my future holds. I don’t know what the next choice is going to be, or how it will effect the rest of my life. I know that the choices I have made so far have led me to a pretty great present, and hopefully the choices I make from here on out will lead to a happy and content future.

A Life Well Lived

I am an old man. I have lived many lives in my lifetime, I have been many things. I have been a son, a man, a soldier, a patient, a drifter, a sweetheart, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a widower. There have been rough patches and pain, but the love and good times have made my life worth all of them. I wouldn’t trade one minute of my life.

I started life as a son, that part of my life was long ago, and seems to me too short of a time. Sooner than I wanted I became a man. That’s what happens when your father dies in the garden and you are the oldest son of a family of nine. At the young age of 14 I became the man of the house. I spent the next four years running the farm, teaching my brothers, and doing school work by candle light because I was determined to learn.

Before I turned 18 a war broke out, The Great War they called it. I was drafted in the day I came of age and began my life as a soldier. That period of my life was long and painful. I try not to remember it too much, but in nightmares it comes back to me. To this day I will wake sweating from a dream screaming for my platoon brothers. They never answer, they didn’t that terrible day either. After that horrendous day I entered a time in my life where I was a patient. A grueling time that I would also love to forget. It was hard work getting back on my feet, but with great perseverance I made it.

After I came home from the war I came back to my mothers home and took over the farm, during that time I was a drifter. A dreamer. I didn’t know where my life was going, and I didn’t care. In this day in age all the docs would have called it depression, maybe they’d be right. All I know is that I didn’t have a plan, I didn’t have any dreams, and my well of hope, it had run dry.

All my life I had been dragged from one phase to another. I was born a son but by the age of 14 I was forced to become a man. After four hard years of running my family I was forced by my country to go to war. After that day when the world blew up around me I was forced to become a patient. I was sent to a hospital and they healed my body and discharged me because I could be of no more use to them. They forced me back home into a civilian life. I was lost, I had choices now, but I didn’t know how to make choices. I had never been taught.

After a long hot summer in the fields my dear sweet mother convinced me to take her to revival in the next town over. I bathed, put on a clean suit, and drove her to the church. That night I walked into that white clapboard church and led my mama to a wooden pew half way down the aisle. She insisted I go in first, and not being one to question my mama I complied. I shuffled into the seat and sat down, the girl sitting next to me turned and introduced herself. The minute our eyes locked I was swept into a new phase of my life, I went from being a drifter civilian to a sweetheart, I hadn’t even heard her name yet.

Mary, her name was Mary, and she was exquisite. She had shiny dark hair, and deep brown eyes. Her olive skin was set off by her cream dress, and her voice was like a bird. We chatted a little before the service that night, and every night after we sat next to each other at the services. At the end of revival I had certainly been revived, but I really think that had everything to do with Mary. I asked her that night if I could come a calling after her. She agreed and I spent the next month on her porch drinking sweet tea and getting lost in a world where only she and I existed. I finally plucked up the courage and asked her to spend the rest of her life with me. That day she said yes, and a short two months later I entered the time of my life called husband. It was the first choice I had been able to make for myself, and the greatest choice of my life.

Two years after she made me a husband, Mary ushered  me into the phase called fatherhood. It was and is an amazing phase. We spent the next 13 years adding 5 more jewels to the crown of parenthood. Our children, Carl, Bo, John Thomas, Eddie, Clarey, and Ellie were the greatest blessings she ever could have given me. We raised our babies on my family farm, I taught the boys the ways of the land and Mary taught all the children how to love learning. We made sacrifices to make sure our kids received a proper education, we sent them all to the local high school in town. That is where our oldest boy Carl met his high school sweetheart, Sarah.

We knew the moment we saw them together that they were each others forever. It seemed like only yesterday that he had been born, and there I was standing beside him while he was marrying his love. Ten months later my first grandchild, Billy after his grandpa, was born. Mary and I were grandparents, what a miraculous phase. One by one we watched each of our six children find the kind of love we had and begin new families and new lives. Our children blessed us with 24 grandbabies over the course of our lives. The day our last daughter Ellie married and moved out we started our final phase together, empty nesters.

What a wonderful moment in life that was, full of togetherness and laughter and some of the sweetest times I have ever known. We cherished that time together, it was a beautiful fall season of our lives. Every day was lit with the golden light of love, friendship, and caring. Days were filled with reading, cooking, some traveling, but mostly being together. It truly was the happiest time of my life.

My beautiful Mary died 11 short years into our fall, plunging me into winter, and forcing me into a phase called widower. It was the first time since I met her that I hadn’t made an active choice bringing me to this phase. With her passing my old friend depression came back to visit, only this time there were doctors and pills and other people to take care of. I have been muddling through this cold foggy world for fifteen years. I have seen the world enter another war, I have buried my oldest boy Carl, and I am tired. I have lived my life, I have had great love in my life, and  am ready to enter into eternal rest. I await the day anxiously that my Mary will come to me and lead me home.