Sororities Suck

I don’t often slam people or things, but today I’m going to. Sororities suck.

I’ve never been in one and have never understood it, but now I know for sure that they suck. I never went to a school that had sororities, but I did spend one year on exchange at Washington and Lee University (the first year they took women) and got a taste of fraternity life. Partying there for two years (both freshman year when I went to a neighboring womens’ school and sophomore year while there on exchange), fraternities seemed like nothing other than a way to separate boys into houses. There were southern boys from Texas in one fraternity. Hippies in another. I hung out at the house with the surfer type beach dudes. It was all about partying and fun.

My oldest daughter wanted to rush a sorority last year when she started college here in Texas. I told her I’d support her in it even though I didn’t understand it and it was an extra expense for us. During orientation, we attended a session introducing the Greek system and telling the girls what to expect when they started rushing. When it was question and answer time, I was the mom who raised her hand to ask exactly what are they looking for when they accept new members. Honestly, I was trying to understand. The answer I got was totally strange, something like, “Well if we absolutely can’t stand to talk to the girl, she won’t be accepted.” Nothing concrete. No real information like they are looking for girls with academic strengths or a strong volunteer record or even possessing specific talents. I left the meeting with a sick feeling in my stomach and told my daughter it sounded like nothing more than a popularity contest. I didn’t understand why she wanted to join a sorority, but she did, so we supported her. She rushed and was accepted into ZTA (Zeta Tau Alpha).

Zeta Tau Alpha

Zeta Tau Alpha (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At first I thought it was a good thing. She was busy with all the structured activities, and they participated in philanthropic activities. She had an immediate identity and group friends. All sororities have a color and a theme, and her world was filled with teal and silver, crowns and strawberries. Why? I have no idea. But whatever, it made her happy so there you go. It made me happy that she was happy. We paid all the extra fees and bought her all of the things they told her to buy including specific color dresses, shoes and clothes to wear to special events. We paid over a hundred dollars so she could make a paddle for her ‘big’ sister (what the heck do they do with a hundred-dollar paddle?). She had to decorate coolers for her dates for parties. She was happy though, so we went with it and just paid for everything. We liked that they had a minimum grade point average and study halls built into their codes. While her grades weren’t stellar, she was keeping up with everything and proud that she was a ZTA. Last year, her freshman year, I was working full-time and had my fifth knee surgery, so I was never able to visit her for family weekend or ZTA mom’s weekend.

This year, I did fly out for mom’s weekend. The sorority house was impressive, and I was happy to participate in the activities. I wrote about it here. I had no idea what was about to happen next.

Then, she told me the lady in charge didn’t like her and she wasn’t allowed to rush any of the incoming freshman in the fall. It was troubling to hear about personal politics, but I’m aware that kind of thing goes on all the time unfortunately. I suggested she talk with the lady, find out what her concerns are, and then do whatever she could to fix the problem. Not being there on a day-to-day basis, I had no idea why my daughter wasn’t liked and wasn’t allowed to participate in rushing (even though she went to school early for rush and I still bought her everything she needed to participate in rush). Her grades this year weren’t stellar, but they were still above the minimum GPA.

Then the hammer dropped. She got financially expelled. Why? Because we had fraud on our debit card, and the bank shut it down and gave me a new one. It was the same debit card that we used to pay for her sorority’s account. They automatically withdrew money all the time to pay for dues and this and that. Apparently, my daughter had it set up so it emailed just her, not us, in the case of any problems. So, I never realized they needed a new card number or I would have gladly supplied them with the new one. She didn’t check her emails regularly and after two months of non-payment, they expelled her. Keep in mind this happened about two weeks after I was out there for mom’s weekend. When I talked to the lady in charge, she said that we shouldn’t have been allowed to participate in mom’s weekend. But we were. They allowed her to pick up her T-shirts, and we fully participated in all the events. Nobody told us there was a financial problem. I thought everything was fine.

She was very upset when she found out she got financially expelled, and I called the lady in charge and she said if we paid the bill, my daughter could reapply. So we did. We paid the bills immediately, and she went through the steps of reapplying to the national organization. We waited and waited, and then nationals wrote her back and told her that they denied her application because there was no support in the local chapter for her to be reinstated. I called the national office and spoke with the financial person, and she told me everything was fine on the national level. We paid her bill, and she was cleared through the national office. However, the local chapter voted not to reinstate her, but she didn’t know why. So, my husband called the lady in charge of the local chapter (the same lady I spoke to earlier), and she told him she had no idea what was going on. She told him there was no local vote and that she knew of no reason why my daughter would be rejected on a local level. She said she would look into it, talk to my daughter, and try to work things out to help her get back in.

She lied. Instead of doing what she said, she called my daughter down to the house and sat her down outlining reasons why they didn’t let her back in. Her grades weren’t very good (true but still above the minimum and never any disciplinary action taken), that her social media was a problem (again, never any disciplinary action taken), that they sent her to judicial before (which they didn’t) and that she didn’t participate enough (again, she was not allowed to rush and the lady in charge forced her to sit out). As far as I can understand, each and every reason they gave her was bogus. If they wanted her out for those reasons, why did they never state that? Why was she expelled for financial reasons and then kept out for other reasons? I will tell you why. Politics. Mean people. That’s why.

I lost my teaching job the same way. Completely blindsided with bogus reasons. No disciplinary action. No former notice. No help. Just lies and personal dislike. And when people don’t like you and don’t want you around, it’s not worth fighting to stay. It’s an ugly beast that you can’t beat with logic and reason and truth. It’s a tough lesson to learn.

Life is so unfair that way sometimes, but unfortunately that’s just the way it is. It’s left a very bitter taste in our mouths, and it shows how sly and conniving people are. It’s sad to me that an adult woman would use personal politics against a college aged kid. It’s sad to me that she would be dishonest to both me and my husband when we tried to get information about what was going on and how to help. I’m calling her out on her lies and manipulation of the situation.

Shame on you lady! How can you sleep at night?

All I have to say is I was right. Sororities are stupid. They are nothing more than popularity contests and an organized way to party.

Mean People Suck

Mean People Suck (Photo credit: Steven-L-Johnson)

 

Friday Ficton #16: Without You

created by Kelly DeBie www.debiehive.blogspot.com

created by Kelly DeBie
http://www.debiehive.blogspot.com

My Friday Fiction Friends and I write different stories based on the same prompt. This week, I provided the prompt. This is episode sixteen in an ongoing series. If you missed the first fifteen episodes, here are links:

7. Love
__________
Amanda dreamed about Richard every night for a week in a row.  There were bits and pieces of flashbacks to previous memories like the first time they met and the last time they made love. She usually didn’t dream about him, but since he passed away unexpectedly, it was almost all her subconscious was working on.  The press of his lips, his muscular arms holding her, and the sound of his voice all seemed so real.  Other times, the dreams took place in surreal surroundings with imaginary people. This time as Amanda slept alone in her king size bed, he told her he loved someone else and wanted a divorce. There was no emotion, no remorse, just simply stating the facts. He wasn’t attracted to her anymore and found someone else he wanted to be with.  That was it whether she liked it or not.She begged and pleaded with him to stay with her and was so mad at him she even tried grabbing him and slapping him in the face to bring him to his senses. “I know I’m not as young, hot, and cute as she is, but Richard we have children together! I will try harder to lose weight and get in better shape. Please stay with me. Don’t do this!”But it was to no avail. Richard and his mistress, a thing yet curvacious long-haired brunette who looked no older than 25, held hands as they turned their backs to her and walked away. Amanda cried and felt completely defeated as her husband literally walked out of her life.  The woman turned back to give Amanda a sly smile as if to say, “he’s mine now.”Crying out in her sleep, she awoke to see her familiar bedroom windows and realized none of it was real. Her heart pounding and her breath heavy, she told herself it was just a dream, blinked her eyes a few times to focus and rolled over to look at the ceiling.  The fan turned around and around as her mind adjusted back to this earthly realm.Sunlight poured in through the window and lit up her wedding picture on the opposite wall from her bed. She didn’t know what to think. Her new normal included a quieter house with fewer chores and nobody to fight with or blame her for the death of their children. But her new normal also meant life as a single mom. Nobody would be there to comfort her when she had a bad dream. Nobody was there to help with the kids or to share happy times with. It felt like being alone in a crowd. Life would continue around her, but inside she knew she was alone and could only count on herself.

Her book of boudoir photos sat next to their bed. Richard died the day before the pictures came in, so he never got to see them. Amanda scoffed at herself as she picked it up and looked through all the pictures of her scantily dressed in provocative poses.  She wanted so badly to surprise him with something special and to put a spark back in their relationship. She remembered seeing the picture of his mistress wearing lingerie on his phone and a sick feeling came over her. While her nightmare wasn’t real, Richard was cheating on her in real life and wanted to leave her. Plus, she looked way better in lingerie than Amanda did.

How could he stay with me if that’s how he felt? When was he planning to leave? Was there anything I could’ve done to stop him or change his mind?  We made love the morning he died.  Everything felt nice between us. I knew he was distant sometimes, but I didn’t know…

She got out of bed, showered and went to the cemetery after she took Robert to school. Richard’s grave was right next to Anderson’s. It had a lack of green grass growing on top, just a sandy rectangle of disturbed earth. All the flowers from the funeral were gone.  It was obviously a new grave compared to the other two. She placed single roses on each one, pink for Ella, red for Anderson and Richard. She still needed to order him a headstone, so the temporary marker identified the place where the love of her life lay. She realized that’s where she would also spend eternity, next to her husband and kids. But for now, she was still free to live her life.

Angel 013

Angel 013 (Photo credit: Juliett-Foxtrott)

She sat down on his grave. Her legs felt weak as noodles. Her body ached with exhaustion and grief.  Her heart overflowed with emotions.  With a pen and paper, she started to write:

Under the earth you lie

Still as a statue
Frozen in time
Resting forever

Body entombed
Spirit free as a bird
Flying through space and time
Living in the next world

Everywhere and nowhere

Watching and waiting for us

You were so full of life
I didn’t know how fast it would end
Now the story’s told
And I’m here without you

Living, breathing, loving, learning

In the sunlight with the wind in my hair

And all I want is to be near you

Can you hear me?

Can you see me?

I should be mad at you

I should want to leave you for what you did

But I’m not glad your gone

The truth is

I wish you were here with me

I miss your smile

Your beautiful eyes

Your soft lips to kiss

Your strong arms around me

Your sense of humor

Your heartbeat

I miss you, all of you

It’s hard to be here

Without you

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUsa77MfVpI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3TWpWf798s

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUe8uoKdHao

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hat1Hc9SNwE

__________

Here is the prompt:
Use the cliche, “absence makes the heart grow fonder” in your story (when you are not with a loved one, you tend to miss them more). You decide how to use it and if your character agrees with it or not. As an added optional challenge, use the literary device, “antithesis” (used when the writer employs two sentences of contrasting meanings in close proximity to one another. Whether they are words or phrases of the same sentence, an antithesis is used to create a stark contrast using two divergent elements that come together to create one uniform whole. An antithesis plays on the complementary property of opposites to create one vivid picture. The purpose of using an antithesis in literature is to create a balance between opposite qualities and lend a greater insight into the subject.
Example: When Neil Armstrong walked on the moon it might have been one small step for a man but it was one giant leap for mankind.

Visit the other blogs to see what they wrote with the same prompt:

http://www.clearlykristal.com/

http://www.worldsworstmoms.com/

http://www.mollyfield.com/

http://www.katbiggie.com/

Follow us on Twitter:

@SusanneNelson1

@clearlykristal

@worldsworstmoms

@MollyFieldTweet

@katbiggie

Follow us on Facebook:

Susanne’s World

Grass Oil

Clearly Kristal

World’s Worst Moms

No Holding Back

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Self Care Sunday: Balance

20130414-221855.jpg Life is all about balance. To be healthy people, we have to learn to balance the many aspects of our lives. I found these three graphic organizers that display different facets of our overall health. It’s so hard to balance just the five things in the circle graph above. We need enough sleep, yet we also need to exercise and relax. We need to feed ourselves well and exist within a social support network of some sort. Whether that’s family or friends, time together is just as important as time alone. If you are a mom like I am, you are also in charge of making sure you meet and balance these needs for your children too. No pressure!

Last week, I worked on the sleep section of the pie, staying home two days in a row to take naps instead of running around during the day. This week, I’ve been exercising more; physical therapy twice this week for my knee and two days in a row of swimming laps at the pool this weekend. Our pool is at our gym, and the aquatic area includes both indoor and outdoor pools with lap lanes and fountains and water slides for the kids. There is also a sauna and two jacuzzis and steam rooms. The weather was super nice this weekend, so I also took advantage of the opportunity to relax in the sun both yesterday and today.

Nutrition is always a challenge for me because I’m allergic to/intolerant of wheat, corn, sugar, and eggs. I know how to eat clean but it is very hard to sustain it meal after meal, day after day. I’ve focused hard this week on eating foods that agree with me instead of foods that make my inflamed and reactive. It’s really hard though. I mean really hard.

 

20130414-221910.jpg

This Venn diagram is interesting because it shows that different parts of our lives are interrelated. It’s helpful to see that there is overlap between varying aspects of our well-being. I spend a lot of time in the mind and emotions sections and am learning to spend more time in the spirit section. Working some, but not too much. Taking care of my body and working on nurturing relationships.

 

20130414-221928.jpg

This thinking map identifies specific ways to work on different parts of our lives. This graph suggests that by working on these individual components of ourselves, we can achieve balance and feel happy and healthy, free from depression and anxiety.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star: My daughter’s fiction entry won an award!

English: Twinkle Twinkle little star (English)...

English: Twinkle Twinkle little star (English) Lullaby from the Lullabies of Europe education project (see http://www.lullabies-of-europe.org/) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am so proud of my daughter (12). She won Honorable Mention in the Coppell Gifted Association fiction writing contest. Below are two pictures of her work. I’m so impressed with her writing skills overall and the vocabulary choices and sensitive personal references in her story. Enjoy!

20130412-162042.jpg

20130412-162049.jpg

Looking back I realize I lived a good life. Sure, there have been a few bumps in the road, but that’s normal, right?  I’ve made some mistakes but overall it was a good run.

I remember being a child; being so innocent and oblivious to all the bad things in the world. I remember my mother singing to me; my mother, how beautiful she was.  She had flaws like anyone else, but she tried her best to be perfect.  My father; always a strong man, yet he had a soft side for family.  My gorgeous sister; she was the funny one, the light of our family.  My baby brother shone brighter than the sun with his eyes full of wonder and curiosity.  Then there was my big brother; strongest of all fought for our country, and is my hero even through he doesn’t wear a cape.  This was my family, the best of the best.

As time went on, age took its toll…and my parents.  My siblings remain, but age is gripping the eldest the tightest and I know they’re on their way out.  As for me and my little brother, we’re doing alright for now.

I remember being a child; running around the yard playing tag with the little one.  I used to go to the nail salon with my big sister.  Sometimes I would travel to go see my big brother.  I remember being a teenager; and not quite being able to drive, and being mortified that my mom had to take me everywhere.  i remember my first kiss and my first date with a boy.  I remember growing up and realizing that my parents had been right about everything.  I remember my wedding day, and then my first child being born.  I remember both my parents’ funerals, and how tightly the despair gripped me, how emotionally damaged I was.  I remember my little girl turning 5, and all the tea parties we had together.  Then I remember the symptoms, terrible eczema rashes.  I remember going to the doctor and being diagnosed with cancer;  the doctor said it was spreading and I had 1 year to live.  All these memories are laid over me like a blanket.  That doctor appointment was 1 year ago.

Lights out, days end.  Close my eyes, dare to dream.  I remember my mother’s melodious voice singing, “Twinkle, twinkle little star.”  Suddenly I am being lifted out of my body.  “How I wonder what you are.”  My mother kept singing.  I saw the light come closer.  “Up above the world so high.”  I’m now looking down over my very own body.  “Like a diamond in the sky.”  Something isn’t right.  “Twinkle, twinkle little star.”  My eyes begin to open.  “How I wonder what you are.”  My eyes open, and I”m in the arms of my mother.  I’m a little girl again.  My eyes fill with tears.  I’m not dead; I’m surely alive.

 

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Friday Fiction #15: Wings to Fly

created by Kelly DeBiewww.debiehive.blogspot.com

created by Kelly DeBie
www.debiehive.blogspot.com

It’s Fiction Friday and a new month with a new theme: cliches. Starting this month, we are going to rotate giving prompts by the week. This week’s prompt is from Clearly Kristal. My Friday Fiction Friends and I write different stories based on the same prompt. This is episode fifteen in an ongoing series. If you missed the first fourteen episodes, here are links:

7. Love
___________
The next day, they started packing up Anderson’s and Ella’s bedrooms. Once they finished those two rooms, they could start working on the rest of the house. The house was already nicely decorated and usually kept tidy since Amanda was a stay-home mom. It had been four years since anyone touched the two empty kids’ rooms. Bravely, Amanda got to work with all three of her sons, starting in Ella’s room with Brad, while Steven and Robert started in Anderson’s room. Deciding to pack everything away temporarily and not throw or give anything away, it was just a matter of putting things into boxes.
Little Cassidy played on the X-box downstairs in the living room while everybody worked upstairs. She made noises as she swiped left and right to chop fruit on Fruit Ninja. Jumping and laughing, she was totally oblivious to the serious tone of her family upstairs. “Woo hoo, high score daddy! Look!”
“Cass daddy’s busy upstairs now. Good job, I’m super proud of your high score. Try to beat it again!”
Picking up Ella’s bedazzled dance bag by the strap, Amanda zipped it and packed it away as it was. They took the pictures off the walls and carefully bubble wrapped them. Her jewelry went into Ziploc bags, and her posters were carefully rolled up. One by one, they cleaned out her drawers and emptied her closet. Next to her bed sat a small framed picture of baby Ella, taken on her first day of life in the hospital. She wore the generic pink and blue stretchy baby hat that all newborns receive as a welcome gift. Her little face was pink and puffy, but Amanda could see her big girl in that baby’s face, and it was all too much for her. She reached her limit. She sat down on her bed holding the picture frame, hung her head, and started crying. Steven hugged her then took the picture frame from her hands and put it back down on the bedside table.
Charlotte's Newborn Session

Charlotte’s Newborn Session (Photo credit: Christine ™)

“Mom, take a break. I got this. Why don’t you go hang out with Cassidy for a while?”
Nodding her head and taking a few breaths, she agreed with her oldest son and left Ella’s room to check on her granddaughter. Cassidy was still slicing fruit, making samurai moves and grinning ear to ear. “Grammy look I got a high score! Want to play with me?”
Amanda couldn’t help but smile and laugh in return. Such innocence. “Oh honey, I don’t know if I feel like playing now. I’m not feeling so great.”
“Let’s go outside! Daddy always tells me to go outside for some fresh air when I’m not feeling good. We could ride my new bike! You know, my pink one with the bell that you keep here for me to ride? Please Grammy, please?” She smiled a convincing smile and opened her eyes wide with anticipation.
How can I resist her? “Sure Cass, let’s go outside, why not? Get your sneakers on and I”ll go look for your helmet.”
Cassidy had her own bike at her house and was in the process of learning how to ride it. Amanda bought her an extra bike so she could practice when she took care of her. They just took the training wheels off the last time she was over a few weeks earlier.
Outside, it was a beautiful sunny day without a single cloud in the sky. Amanda and Cassidy brought the bike around to the front of the house so she could practice on the sidewalk.
“OK, now remember how you did this last time? Remember to keep the pedals moving forward and handlebars straight. Find your center. Balance.” Holding her gently from behind, she counted to three then pushed Cassidy slightly forward. Cassidy pedaled, and the handlebars wiggled. She put down her left foot to keep herself from falling over to the side.
“I’m going to crash! I can’t do it! Grammy, I’m scared.”
“It’s ok honey, you can do it. It just takes a little practice. You’ll get the hang of it; I promise. Come on, let’s try again. Let’s move your pedal around to the top of the cycle so it’s easier for you to get started. Ready?”
Reluctantly, she tried again. This time she pedaled, and although the handlebars wiggled a little, she straightened them out and kept going straight past the next house on their street.
“I’m doing it! I’m doing it!”
“Yes, you are! Keep going and stop at the alley!” Amanda watched as Cassidy continued down the street and to the alley. Cassidy stopped, turned around and called for her Grammy to help her get started again.
“Try it once on your own and see if you can do it!” she encouraged.
Cassidy paused for a few moments, then started pedaling her way back. Her blonde curls blew in the wind, and her sweet smile was mesmerizing as she approached and stopped her bike. Elated, she jumped into Amanda’s arms. “I did it! I’m so happy!”
“You sure did. I knew you could. High five!” She congratulated Cassidy and decided to bring out her portable chair to the front yard. “I’ll sit here and watch while you do it again.”
www.dreamstime.com
__________
Here is the prompt:

Use the quote below to tell the story of how your primary character comes to the edge (a cliché). Note: Your character may/may not fly. However, he/she encourages others to start a new beginning – i.e. to “fly.” Spring offers new beginnings to grow and soar. Tell this story in no more than 1,500 words (no less than 800) with a balance of dialogue and imagery. Now let your story fly!

“Come to the edge, He said. They said: We are afraid.Come to the edge, He said.They came. He pushed them,And they flew . . .” — Guillaume Apollinaire French poet

Visit the other blogs to see what they wrote with the same prompt:

http://www.clearlykristal.com/

http://www.worldsworstmoms.com/

http://www.mollyfield.com/

Follow us on Twitter:

@SusanneNelson1

@clearlykristal

@worldsworstmoms

@MollyFieldTweet

Follow us on Facebook:

Susanne’s World

Grass Oil

Clearly Kristal

World’s Worst Moms

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Playing Guitar

I took my first guitar lesson in eighth grade. That year, I learned how to play several popular songs like Stairway to Heaven, I Love Rock n Roll, Leroy Brown, and If. I played on and off through the years and got my first electric guitar at forty years of age. ln college, I took another beginner guitar class and recorded Driver 8 (REM) and Uncle John’s Band (Grateful Dead) as projects. Although I could play the chords pretty well, I’ve just been learning more about soloing and music theory over the past couple of years that I’ve been taking private lessons.

Electric Guitar

Electric Guitar (Photo credit: DaveOnFlickr)

 

 

 

Guitar 2

Guitar 2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Once a week, my teacher comes over to my house to give me a lesson. He also gives lessons over Skype and has a website with an extensive library of video lessons. I’m learning some easier songs as well as some difficult theory and solos. We’ve been having fun using the app called JamUp to slow down the music and play along with it. I don’t practice every single day like I want to, but I do make some time to play during the weeks and at least the weekly lesson holds me accountable. This Friday, we will be recording me playing “You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC. Here is his website for future reference:

www.mikesguitarlessons.com

You Shook Me All Night Long

You Shook Me All Night Long (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For now, you can enjoy these songs I’ve previously recorded:

I’m not that confident with my soloing or improvising yet, but I’ve recorded a few songs on the acoustic guitar and posted them to my YouTube channel.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HCfcZoRgT4&list=UUVRzQa075-_RL8XgP1J8Igg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0t1iVv_cbw&list=UUVRzQa075-_RL8XgP1J8Igg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQUio6cwN6E&list=UUVRzQa075-_RL8XgP1J8Igg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USkwnR9pGQE&list=UUVRzQa075-_RL8XgP1J8Igg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmQ-wMpUWzA&list=UUVRzQa075-_RL8XgP1J8Igg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CBYgLWSSSA&list=UUVRzQa075-_RL8XgP1J8Igg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=738jD2WDCXI&list=UUVRzQa075-_RL8XgP1J8Igg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIrMYihShFY&list=UUVRzQa075-_RL8XgP1J8Igg

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Fiction Friday #14: Moving On

created by Kelly DeBiewww.debiehive.blogspot.com

created by Kelly DeBie
http://www.debiehive.blogspot.com

It’s Fiction Friday and a new month with a new theme: cliches. Starting this month, we are going to rotate giving prompts by the week. This week’s prompt is from Molly Field at Grass Oil (see below). My Friday Fiction Friends and I write different stories based on the same prompt. This is episode fourteen in an ongoing series. If you missed the first thirteen episodes, here are links:
7. Love
___________
Amanda decided it was time for a fresh start. There were too many memories in the Keilsth family’s four thousand five hundred square foot home. They bought it when their oldest son, Steven, was a baby with hopes of filling up the rest of the bedrooms over the years to come. They wanted a big family, and they wanted to grow roots in a big house where their kids could grow and return as college students to their old bedrooms. They thought of retiring near the ocean eventually, but with their youngest son, Robert only thirteen years old, they thought they would stay in the big house for a while. But everything changed when Richard died; Amanda decided it was time to put the house on the market and start over in a smaller house. She couldn’t stand to sleep in their bed alone or to see the pool where he died every day .

Anderson’s and Ella’s rooms remained untouched since they died unexpectedly four years ago. It was too hard for Amanda to clean out their rooms or to change the decor. A part of her wished that if she left the rooms the same as they left them, parts of her kids would stay alive. She often spent time in their rooms wondering what would have been had they gotten a chance to grow up.

Posters of Justin Bieber still hung on Ella’s walls, and her dance bag still sat on the floor unzipped with ballet and tap shoes sticking out of the unzipped opening on top. Medals and awards lined her shelves. Recital and competition pictures covered the pink walls. Notes from friends lay folded on her dresser, and candid pictures of her and her friends smiled from a bulletin board hung over her bed. Her favorite pink baby blanket waited patiently on her bed for Ella to come back from school that day. She used to joke about her attachment to her baby blanket, claiming to be unable to sleep without it.

Anderson’s room was dark blue. Toy dragons and legos decorated the corner next to his wooden bookshelf. Baby books, handed down from his older siblings were mixed in with stiff toddler books and picture books. The Superman sheets and comforter reminded her of how often little Anderson used to run around wearing a superhero costume. He loved airplanes and anything else that flew. His Taekwondo uniform sat out on top of his dresser waiting for his next class. Portraits of a happy baby boy hung from the walls in the room where her youngest child was growing up, subtle and sad reminders of the potential of his young life.

This was not how Richard and Amanda planned for their lives to unfold. She decided to put the house on the market and downsize to a smaller place. Obviously, their vision for the future had been crashed into tiny pieces, and staying in their family house just didn’t make sense any more.

She called Steven, now 21 to ask him to come over for dinner so they could talk.

“Mom, I don’t know I’m awfully busy. Do you want all of us to come? Althea has class I think. I’m supposed to be taking care of Cassidy tonight.”

“Steven it’s important. Please I need to talk to you. I know you’re busy, just thirty minutes, that’s all I ask.”

He worked part-time as a physical therapy aide while he also went to college, majoring in physical therapy. He had experience as an Army medic and wanted to use it to build a career in the medical/health field like his dad. He was getting used to the role of fatherhood despite its challenges, and he was working toward the idea of a long term commitment (engagement and marriage) with Althea. There was just so much going on in their lives, and they had only gotten back together a few months ago, he wanted to take things slowly and not make emotional decisions. Althea was also in school and working part-time, struggling to make ends meet and get an education at the same time as mothering her little girl. With his father gone, Steven felt more responsibility to help with his mom and stopped by to visit her more often since the funeral.

“OK mom what time is dinner? 6:30 as usual?” He was used to 6:30 being family dinner time growing up and knew it was his mom’s favorite time to eat a family meal together.

Nineteen year old Brad took a year off after graduating high school after the drama of losing his two younger siblings and was accepted to start college at the University of Texas in the fall. He would be moving out of the house and into a freshman dorm on the university campus. He had no idea what he wanted to major in, but he felt it was time to pursue higher education and was looking forward to a whole new life as a college student.

Thirteen year old Robert was Amanda’s youngest child. He still had several years left living at home. Amanda wanted to find something with three bedrooms (instead of six) so she, Robert, and Brad could finish this school year and then it would just be the two of them, Robert and Amanda, living together after that. It would be a tough conversation to have because life would be so different, but she needed to have it with her boys.

That night when they sat down to eat dinner together, she told her sons what was on her mind. Little Cassidy watched Spongebob as she ate her dinner, spilling peas onto the placemat.

“I decided to put the house on the market boys. I know this is the only home you’ve ever known, but it’s time to move on. There is too much sadness, and there are too many memories here. I called my realtor earlier today, and tomorrow we will start getting the house ready to show. I know this is going to be hard for you, but it’s something I feel very strongly about, and it’s something I need to do…for me and for us.”

The boys were surprised but took the news pretty well. In between bites of mashed potatoes with gravy and roast chicken and peas, they took turns asking questions.

“What about school?” Robert inquired.

“We will try to stay in the same zone. I don’t want to disrupt your lives any more than they already have been. I need to think about the finances, and this house is just too big for us. I also…” Amanda broke into tears, “…I also need a whole new reality. It hurts too much to stay here after everything that’s happened. Daddy left us insurance money, but I’m probably going to have to go back to work, and we won’t be able to afford living in a house this big. I need to make a fresh start in a smaller place, and I’m hoping you will both support me in my decision. Our family needs a fresh start.”

“What about Ella and Anderson’s rooms?” Brad couldn’t imagine the thought of his mom packing both rooms away. “Do you want my help in there?”

“Brad, that’s very sweet of you. Yes, I would love your help. I will need your help. It’s been too hard for me to change them so far, but we need to accept the past for what it is and go for it. It’s time. Life is telling us loud and clear it’s time to move on.”

“I’ll help too mom.” Robert added.

Steven agreed it was a good decision and also offered to help. “Mom, maybe you should let us take care of the packing for you. Dad would want us to take care of you. He wouldn’t want you to pack up their rooms alone.” His green eyes mocked Richard’s glances as he waited for an answer. His lips smiled in Richard’s familiar way.

Amanda was so proud of her young men. They all shared a piece of their dad with her and carried on his life in his absence. Amanda imagined all of them together, although there were three empty seats were at the dinner table that night. “Thank you. I love you guys so much!”
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___________
Here is the prompt:
Your character (new or old) has been stuck in a rut of inaction or stinkin’ thinkin’, encumbered by doubt or memories s/he has been unable to shake. In a moment of whim and unbridled mirth, who knows: faith? s/he decides to throw caution to the wind and just go for it, do what s/he has been avoiding out of fear, or just sheer bad timing or dumb luck. The stars have aligned: this is the moment. S/he goes for it… you decide if the venture is successful or not.1,500 words max. 50% Dialogue optional, but suggested

Visit the other blogs to see what they wrote with the same prompt:

http://www.clearlykristal.com/

http://www.worldsworstmoms.com/

http://www.bulamamani.com/

http://www.debiehive.blogspot.com/

http://www.mollyfield.com/

http://neargenius1.blogspot.com/

http://www.quirkychrissy.com/

http://www.katbiggie.com/

http://theincompetenthausfrau.wordpress.com/

http://temorgan.blogspot.com/

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Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Daily Prompt: The Transporter

Tell us about a sensation — a taste, a smell, a piece of music — that transports you back to childhood.

When I hear the Bach Concerto for Two Violins in E major, I am immediately transported back to childhood. I started playing violin when I was three and quit when I was thirteen. The “Bach Double” is such a familiar piece because I spent a very long time learning it and then performed it over and over again.

Just as the title says, two violins play this song. I learned the part of violin #1 (the first violin you hear in the song and the prevalent violin in the song).

It reminds me of Suzuki festivals, two hour long practice sessions, and private lessons with a violinist from the National Symphony Orchestra.

Check it out!
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=x0daRRpLRJ4

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Daybook 4/2/13

http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com

Outside my window…It’s getting dark. The sky is a soft pale blue gray with clouds and the sun peeking through as it sets. It rained lightly today, so the ground is a little wet. Yesterday it was sunny and 80 degrees! It’s still warm today, but it’s cloudier. It’s warm enough for the outside pool to be open at our gym. I fell asleep outside there this weekend while I was waiting for a lap lane to open up.

I am thinking…my foot hurts. There comes a time during the day when I have to sit down. We just got back from Thomas’s Taekwondo class. He goes twice a week. Zoe is at dance for five hours tonight.

I am thankful…for life, for my husband and my kids and my relative health.

In the kitchen…dinner is almost ready. Tonight, we are having chicken, vegetable, and rice noodle soup. I roasted cauliflower, broccoli, red pepper, and asparagus then put it all in the food processor. The soup is very thick and chunky with veggies. Yum!

I am wearing…light blue sweats and a black t-shirt from Painting with a Twist (that I won from the weirdest thing in your purse contest during ZTA mom’s weekend).

I am creating…this week’s fiction episode. I have the prompt and am thinking about where to go in the story with it. This week, I compiled all thirteen episodes in one document, Handle with Care, and it was over 14,000 words. I also entered a fiction contest with a $1000 prize and publication with just under 5,000 words.

I am going…to PT twice a week for my knee. I hurt it a few weeks ago. Apparently, my kneecap isn’t tracking right. It hurts to walk and to move it, so I’m focusing on it for a couple weeks to see if it will improve. I’ve learned that kneecap tracking issues can be related to quadricep insufficiency and to stretched ligaments. Although it also hurts on the back of my knee, the surgeon said there is no more meniscus left on the lateral posterior side to tear. He should know because he did the last two meniscus repairs (out of five total on the right knee).

I am wondering…how Zoe did on her STAAR writing test today. She said she thinks she completely misunderstood the prompt. But it’s not like her to be off base during testing. In fact, she generally scores in the advanced categories and sometimes has perfect scores. She said she wrote a personal narrative, and other people told her they wrote expository pieces. Not sure what to think about that.

I am reading…fiction written by other bloggers in our group, Friday Fiction Friends. There are thirteen of us now, and we all write fiction based on the same prompt. It’s interesting to see the different interpretations of the prompts and to meet all the different characters. I’ve also been reading some non-fiction about music theory. I’ve been learning about key theory and what chords go in the different major keys.

I am hoping…we are able to go to Virginia this summer. Our friend is getting married, and we would like to have beach week there attached to that trip instead of going to Destin, FL this summer. We haven’t made any plans yet, but I sure hope we are able to make the trip! It’s been five years since we’ve visited Virginia.

I am looking forward to…summer. I hate getting up early in the morning. It will be so nice to get more sleep in the summer time. I also can’t wait to spend time at the pool with the kids and lying in the sun. The kids can take swimming lessons at our gym too. They’ve done it in the past, but not every summer!

I am learning…the solo for “You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC. I can get through it, but not as fast as the recording and not as good at all. I need to work on speed and techniques like vibrato. It’s hard, but I enjoy it, and I have a guitar teacher who comes over for a lesson every week.

Around the house…got caught up on the laundry today. Rescued a remote-control helicopter from the roof this morning. Refrigerator is majorly full. Sierra’s room is empty again; she went back to college yesterday after spending Easter weekend with us at home. Lots of pictures to frame and hang.

I am pondering…how to get more sleep. Took a nap today, and it was wonderful. I think I need to do that more often. Once I have coffee, I’m usually up for the day and don’t ever try to go back to sleep once everybody leaves for school and work. Bedtime is usually after ten (sometimes I crash earlier) and when the alarm goes off in the morning, I am never feeling rested. Weekends I do sleep in, but getting through the week is rough. I don’t know how some people function on less sleep. I’m just one of those people who needs more than average.

A favorite quote for today…”Seduce my mind and you can have my body. Find my soul and you can have me forever.” ~Anonymous

One of my favorite things…massages (had a sixty minute one today).

A few plans for the rest of the week: gym/pool tomorrow, PT Thursday, tutoring Wednesday through Friday.

A peek into my day…

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Shattered Dreams

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“I was weeping because Richard Parker left me so unceremoniously.  It broke my heart.” ~ Life of Pi

Every two years, our high school runs a program called Shattered Dreams. Today is the day again. I’ve been seeing the signs around town giving notice there will be a mock accident scene this morning. I attended the program in 2011 when my oldest daughter (19) was a senior at the high school. Here is a link to some information about Shattered Dreams.

http://www.coppellisd.com/site/Default.aspx?PageID=939

Juniors, seniors, and parents assemble in the gym to begin the program. The student media center KCBY made a movie depicting high school seniors going to prom and partying, and it ends with a car crash. Then students, faculty, and parents quietly walked outside to the parking lot where a mock accident scene was enacted, crashed cars and all. EMS arrived on the scene, sirens blaring, and a helicopter landed in the parking lot. It was all very dramatic, as if it were a real accident scene. Onlookers watch while bodies are extracted from the cars. Survivors act out the scene; it’s projected on loud speakers. Some of the kid didn’t survive. They were covered in white sheets and later taken away in hearses. The others were taken from the scene via the helicopter and the ambulances.

It’s a hard-hitting simulation aimed at scaring kids out of drinking and driving during prom season. While the Shattered Dreams program lasted a few hours in the morning, other students were removed from class throughout the day in fifteen minute intervals by the grim reaper and pronounced dead. They painted their faces white, put on black t-shirts and returned to class and remained silent all day, in class and in the hallways. They serve a visual reminder of ‘what if’ that person suddenly wasn’t there anymore because of an accident. There were fake obituaries, written by pre-selected students’ parents hanging in the hallways. and read out loud. It’s like giving the students a chance to think ahead to what it would be like if suddenly a chair in class goes empty because of a student death. It’s a way to show the kids how serious the consequences are and how much those people would be missed by their loved ones and the community.  Here is a link to a slide show:

http://www.scntx.com/articles/2009/04/22/coppell_gazette/news/50.txt

Unfortunately, this town has seen its fair share of teenage deaths, and while they haven’t all been attributed to drinking and driving, there is an epidemic of tragedy here that warrants all the effort that goes into Shattered Dreams. I have utmost respect for EMS officers who respond to the scenes of emergencies and do everything they can to save people. In just six years since we’ve lived here, our town has lost many young people:

Veronica Sheer died sixteen days after she was hit by a car crossing the street. She was fourteen years old. Now there is a fence there to keep high schoolers from crossing the street there after school. 2006 http://www.mydeathspace.com/article/2006/10/27/Veronica_Sheer_(14)_died_sixteen_days_after_being_struck_by_a_car_while_attempting_to_cross_the_street

Carter Jackson died when he was eighteen years old, and his little sister was friends with my oldest daughter at the time. I took her to the funeral during our first school year here. It was heartbreaking seeing all the pictures from his life and to see his lifeless body in the coffin wearing a Hollister jacket. It didn’t seem right that someone so young was already gone. 2007

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=17795354

carter

Travis Masters died instantly when his car went under an 18 wheeler. He was a nineteen year old college freshman. 2008

http://www.scntx.com/articles/2008/05/13/obits/masters0507.txt
http://www.star-telegram.com/2008/04/25/604344/man-dies-in-crash-on-texas-121.html

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Cristina Coker was found hanging from the swing set at an elementary school. She was an eighteen year-old college freshman and died within a few hours of Travis. 2008

http://www.coppellgazette.com/articles/2008/05/03/coppell_gazette/news/01.txt

cristina

Adam Hartwick drowned when he lost control of his truck and flipped upside down in a backyard pool. He was just nineteen years old and one of my good friends. Out of all these local tragedies, he is the one person I knew and was close with. We met after I took College Algebra at the local community college in 2007. He texted me the night before his accident, and I never answered him. It was so hard to believe when I heard the news about what happened the next day. It all went by so fast, I’m still trying to get used to the idea that he is gone forever. He would be 24 now, finished with college and moving on with a career and perhaps a family. Adam was good friends with Travis and grieved his loss just a few months before his own unexpected and untimely death. He also knew Carter and was at his funeral a year earlier. He went to the Shattered Dreams program when he was in high school. Little did he know just a few years later, EMS would arrive on his accident scene, unable to save his life. 2008

http://www.mydeathspace.com/article/2008/11/20/Adam_Hartwick_(19)_drowned_when_his_truck_flipped_into_a_swimming_pool

http://www.scntx.com/articles/2008/09/10/coppell_gazette/news/48.txt

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Ryan Sullivan was 22 when he died/ His little sister is friends with my oldest daughter. 2009

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/dallasmorningnews/obituary.aspx?n=ryan-sullivan&pid=133287315#fbLoggedOut

Justin Henry died when he was nineteen years old. I met him once with a mutual friend. 2010 http://coppell.tributes.com/our_obituaries/Justin-Lee-Henry-89594969

justin

Corrine Peters died when her mother, our mayor, shot her (before she killed herself). She was nineteen, about to be a college freshman and was on the high school drill team with my oldest daughter. 2010

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/community-news/coppell/headlines/20100715-friends-say-corinne-peters-never-had-a-frown-on-her-face.ece
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2010/07/14/texas-mayor-teen-daughter-shot-dead-home/

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Taylor Storch died after a tragic skiing accident on spring break. She was just thirteen years old. Today, I got a “Taylor Blue” manicure to support organ donation. 2010

http://www.taylorsgift.org
http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Teen-Dies-During-Ski-Trip-87961662.html

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Keifer Smith died of mysterious causes, found in a decorative pond in his apartment complex. My oldest daughter knew him from high school. He was eighteen years old. 2011

http://www.tylerpaper.com/article/20110715/NEWS08/110719839

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Jacob Logan died from cliff diving at Possum Kingdom Lake. It took three days to find his body. He was a seventeen year-old football star. My oldest daughter knew him through the high school. I saw a boy at the middle school yesterday wearing Jacob’s shirt. It’s blue and it says “the hybrid, the legend, the guardian angel.” 2012
http://www.dallasnews.com/news/community-news/coppell/headlines/20121018-body-of-coppell-football-star-jacob-logan-recovered-from-possum-kingdom-lake.ec

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Jonah Blackwell shot himself just a few days after Jacob’s accident in a local park. He was also a high school senior. 2012 http://www.pegasusnews.com/news/2012/oct/18/coppell-teen-shot-death-park-carrollton-jonah/
http://www.wfaa.com/news/local/dallas/Two-deaths-in-three-days-devastate-Coppell-HS-174663651.html

jonah

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I’d like to take a moment to remember all these young people whose lives were tragically cut short. Unfortunate accidents and events shattered their dreams in an instant. May they rest in peace forever. And may the future be bright for those still lucky enough to have their lives.

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“In the end, the whole of life becomes an act of letting go,

but what always hurts the most is not taking a moment to say goodbye.” ~ Life of Pi

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!