Me too

 

If you haven’t heard, there’s a new trend going around social media. Stemming from the Harvey Weinstein debacle, users of the various sites are prompted to type “Me too” or #Metoo into their statuses if they have ever been sexually abused/molested/attacked/manipulated/etc. The idea is to acknowledge the community of victims. To no longer hide in shame. And mostly, to support one another.

I would love to say I’ve never been sexually assaulted, but that would be a lie. The first time memory serves would have been around the age of seven. From a “friend” of an uncle. The next time around the age of twelve. From a man my alcoholic parents trusted. John Beard of West Palm Beach, circa 1973. He hired me to babysit his kids (how cliché can it get?). He and his girlfriend seduced my twelve-year-old self with manipulative compassion about my home life. After securing my trust, the fondling began. Which led to the inevitable. Then, they invited their friends to use me as well. For the next few years, it became my freefall into a childhood robbed of innocence, convinced that I was a full grown, sexy woman at the age of thirteen. That abuse messed up my life for the next thirty years, although I didn’t realize that the exploitation carried over into so many aspects of my fucked-up life.

Live. Learn.

Still, there are worse stories. Much worse. We all know the Catholic Church abetted and sheltered abusive priests. Those victims carried the pain into their adult lives with shame, along with an inability to foster trust again. In other places, there were children chained like dogs, whose lives knew nothing but abuse in every form. Then there are those victims who are forced to watch as their loved ones are abused, and can say nothing for fear the abuser might kill. Yes, there are much worse stories than mine. Does that limit the impact of abuse on my life? No. But those tales did help to keep mine in relative perspective.

Everyone has a story to tell. The people I’ve shared my story with have opened up and shared theirs with me. Sexual abuse, in all of its forms, has touched the lives of too many people. When the abuser is in a position of authority in the victim’s life, that power looms ominously over every action. Nothing the victim does is without the taint of fear. Abuse of power is evil incarnate.

Some have never had the opportunity to unburden their souls. Typing two words in a status update might have been the first time some of these victims have acknowledged their plight. You might wonder what good can come out of allowing the world to know you’ve been victimized. Do you skim by the latest Me too post with an eye roll? Folks jumping on the bandwagon, so to speak. I would like to challenge you to reach out to the ones you know who have posted, to see if you can be of some help. Let the person talk about it. Be a listening ear.

No? I get it. You’ll send thoughts and prayers instead.

After your thoughtful prayers, how about we drop our squeamishness over talking about sex? Predators love the dark. Each time we shut down any conversation we find uncomfortable, the abusers hiding in the shadows win, their victims trapped in the darkness of social construct.

My advice for the victims; go talk to someone you trust about the pain you have lived with for too long. Shame and fear keep us in the dark. And alone. That fear was evicted from my life many, many years ago. There is no anxiety or hesitancy for me to speak about sex with others. This post should prove that. But then there are the idiots who denigrate the conversation to a, “That’s what she said.” mentality. Those are the types of people victims are also hiding from. The insensitive, moronic clods who try to cover their own discomfort by making others squirm. Well, we’ve squirmed enough, thank you very much.

If you do not have someone in your life you trust to that extent, there is an organization called RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) waiting for your call. They can help steer you back to yourself. If you typed the phrase, and you don’t know what to do next, click the link, check it out, and then call.

My advice for the others; allow victims to know that you do not judge them for what they suffered. That first step is monumental to moving forward. Look at those who’ve typed those two words. If they are truly friends of yours, and you found that post surprising, text them. Call them. Make a date. Open a dialog for them to unburden the brutality they suffered. For their sakes, please, help them.

Typing Me too exposes ourselves as victims. But it’s not enough. Do you know what can be done to prevent sexual abuse? Nothing. As long as mankind is on this earth, abuse will continue. Let’s stop sheltering these fiends in darkness. Shine a light of love and understanding, and allow the victims freedom from the shackles the abuser put them in. Literally and figuratively.

Dying Since Birth

 

 

“…one day we were born, one day we shall die, the same day, the same second, is that not enough for you? They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more.”

― Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

 

 

In the last few weeks I’ve been contemplating life. This mental wandering is not new territory for me. Car accidents. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time. A few times doctors have told me that I had to have this surgery, or that surgery, in order to continue living. Each time the death threat was years down the line. Each time I opted for the surgery. If pressed, I couldn’t say why. Life had never been so fantastic that I would fear losing it. Never one to contemplate suicide, mind you. Crashing God’s party without an invite just seems rude.

Still, the first part of my life did leave a lot to be desired. The third of five children in a lower-income family, it was my first duty to take care of the younger sibs. My mother and step-father were alcoholics, so physical and mental abuse were daily occurrences for all five of us. But I didn’t realize that until hindsight allowed.

This is not a unique story. Many other people have walked this path, and worse. Some came out better, some not so much. Some learn. Some didn’t.

For me, college was not an option, so I went for the next available way out. My first husband. He, too, had issues that inevitably crashed into mine. The fall out of the divorce seventeen years later was my first, true moment of introspection. Up to that point the days traveled past and took me with them. Childhood. Marriage. Two sons. Divorce. All happened without my thinking much in advance. I took comfort in the belief that this is the path the Lord laid out for me.

In the last few weeks I’ve been thinking way too much about all of this. The lump in my right breast became a signpost to reflection. The thing is, after all of the turmoil of my younger years, happiness is now my constant companion. There was a time I embraced life with a Pollyanna “it’ll get better” attitude, but now the joy is tangible. Life has gotten better. My second husband is a man who accepts me for all of my faults and all of the baggage that is me, and still loves me unconditionally. Four young grandchildren come to visit and share their unbridled, innocent joy. This is my life now. These are my reasons for living.

Once upon a time, I told my family if cancer was ever the diagnosis, I’ll let it take me. A lot has changed since then. Today, I cherish every breath allowed. I firmly believe in the spiritual realm, and somewhat look forward to joining it. This life is temporary. Our bodies merely suitcases to hold the soul as it passes the days until life comes to its end. Good, bad, or indifferent. But now, my life is a dream come true. The lump threatened to take it all away. Yes, we are all born astride the grave, dying since birth as it were. From the moment of our first breath, there is a date of death we are hurdling toward. But, I found myself praying that the date might still be years away.

After weeks of waiting, the call came. The screen read “Women’s Center for Radiology.” For a moment I hesitated. Perhaps hearing it in voicemail would make it easier to bear. Then I realized this call did not come from my doctor, as I was told it would, but from the Center. I snatched the phone up and answered. At first, the woman on the other end sounded distracted, which fueled my fear. Then, her voice smiled. (If you don’t know what that means, there is no other way to explain it.) She gave me the blessed news that the lump is benign. I tried not to cry from relief until after I ended the call.

The good Lord has seen fit to grant me another extension on life. Think I’ll throw a “Life is Good” party this weekend. My husband won’t mind.

 

 

The Biopsy

This post is for anyone who might be curious as to what a patient goes through for a biopsy of a tumor on the breast.

 

The Biopsy

 

I arrived at the Women’s Center for Radiology at 8:15am. The appointment was for 8:30. I checked in, sat down, and was not called until 9:00. Well, at least I got all of my daily challenge games on my phone done during the forty-five minute wait. Distractions help.

This time, the assigned nurse was a pleasant woman. She handed me the appropriate apparel to change into and left the room. After changing, I sat in the chair and waited. And waited. And waited. Bored, I checked out the equipment. There was the table for me to lie on, naturally, but the screen and the equipment tray held my interest. I couldn’t make heads or tails of what input the screen was waiting on. I moved to the tray. Not being in the medical field, each of the shiny, sharp objects eluded me there, too. So, for continued distraction, I gave them names. There was the curvy metal stick. The straight metal stick. The prong thingy. Just as I was tempted to pick up one of the tools for closer examination, the door opened. Dammit. That thing will go unnamed.

The paper covering the cushion on the table crinkled loudly as I got on. That always makes me wonder if the noise is due to how big I am. Does everyone wonder the same? Or does anyone? Yeah, I was deep in my own head at this point.

While reviewing something on the screen, the nurse said, “Uh-oh.”

Damn. That is one expression you do not want to hear a medical professional say.

“Uh-oh?”

“Oh, sorry. For some reason your left is noted, but the scan shows it’s the right. I’ll be back.”

With that she took a clipboard and out the door she bolted.

Huh. That can’t be good. At least she checked before the procedure began. Perhaps I should have been more upset, but instead gratitude for the woman checking was how I felt. Besides, someone would have noticed if there was nothing to do a biopsy on. Right?

Lying on the table, I wasn’t sure if I could get up, or stay put. Deciding to remain where I was, I took the opportunity to self-exam the left breast, and then the right. Nope. Still couldn’t tell there was anything amiss. Good thing they have machines for this.

When the nurse returned she apologized and explained the original mark on the forms had been checked wrong. It was the left side of the right breast, not the left breast. Huh. Well, that moves it from an out of the way hiding spot, to the cleavage. Dammit. I like my cleavage. The actual biopsy shouldn’t leave a mark. But if the damn thing is malignant, that’ll leave a visible scar.

As if that’s at the top of my worry list.

While cleaning the area, the nurse took the time to explain to me everything that was about to happen. First, ice the spot. Then, a shot to numb the area. Then, a deeper shot to numb the area under the skin. Then, the biopsy consists of yet another needle-type apparatus that would retrieve the tissue sample.

Well, that clears things up. Thanks. Please know that I only thought those words. Concern for my sarcastic side coming out kept me from speaking aloud. But, I am an organizer, and I like to know what’s on the agenda, so her description did give a measure of comfort. Had I spoken, however, she would have come to a different conclusion.

The same doctor who was on staff for the sonogram came in and repeated everything the nurse said. Again, concern for my sarcastic side kept my mouth shut. Not everyone understands my humor. Smile and nod, just smile and nod.

Ice held against my breast for a minute or two did lessen the sting of the first shot. That, in turn, lessened the pain of what was a larger needle for the second. The three of us waited for the numbing to take effect while chatting about the recent hurricane, as if I weren’t laying on a table with my shirt open to two strangers.

Needles are not unfamiliar to me. At one point in my life, every six months, I’d had cortisone shots in my wrists to alleviate the pain of rheumatoid arthritis. Now that HURT. One time I actually screamed. You might call it a short burst of uncontrolled expression of discomfort. But yeah, I screamed. With that as a benchmark, I figured this couldn’t be so bad.

And it wasn’t.

Even with my (shudder) needle experiences, at the moment of actual penetration, I looked away. There were numerous ways to avoid direct eye contact with a sharp object puncturing through my skin. In this case, the screen on which the needle was being recorded caught my eye. For some reason I found that fascinating. Perhaps because the actual feel of the needle was absent, or perhaps because I wondered at the technology. Either way, it was like watching a TV show about someone else having this procedure.

On the screen, the needle remained in place as a chamber slipped over the barb. The chamber pulled back as the doctor told me that was the first tissue sample. Three or four more times the chamber slipped into view, and then retreated. It put me in mind of the pump action of a shotgun. I’ve got to say how glad I am to be living in an era that allowed me to disconnect with the reality of having tissue pulled from inside my body, and just watch the screen as it happened. Surreal.

With all complete, the doctor reasserted her belief that this mass is benign, and this I hold onto that belief with both hands (folded in prayer).

I’m told the results can take up to seven days, but will probably be done in four. Now, I just have to find something to keep me occupied for the next week.

I wonder what the grandkids are up to.

A Lump

 

Every woman with breasts knows that we’re supposed to get mammograms every year. The accepted time to start this annual torture is the golden age of forty. I was a hold out. Of course, I checked myself often. Admittedly, I was scared of the test. From what was reported, the girls are flattened beyond recognition, and I’m no small bra size. There’s also a kind of not-admitted-to mindset of ignorance is bliss. To add to that, there’s no family history of breast cancer. At least, to the best of my knowledge.

Pressure from my doctor and my husband made me relent by the age of fifty-one.

The first test revealed an “area of concern.” They wanted to do a re-test. Freaked out, I researched and reached out to those who knew more on this subject. Once comforted with the suggestion that the first mammogram may be used as a baseline, I waited patiently for the next test.

Okay, patiently may have been an overstatement.

So the day came and I in went to get my boobs smashed. Again. The results showed that the area was “clear of any unknown abnormalities.”

Whew! Decided right then I’m not gonna do that again any time soon.

After a year of considering, the decision was reached to have the test again. (Thanks, honey.)

Fortunately, that was as uneventful as any test could be. (See? I told you.)

It would be three more years before I subjected myself again to the great mammy mash. Okay, yes, the doctor started nagging me. Sometimes I hate her.

This time, it was not an “area of concern.” No, the good people at the Women’s Center felt their mammy machine wasn’t strong enough to penetrate the dense tissue that is my breasts.

A sonogram was suggested. Not ordered, mind you, just suggested.

(Wait. We can look for lumps with a sonogram instead of turning the girls to pancakes? Why isn’t that the standard for breast exams?)

I signed myself up for the next available appointment. I wasn’t worried. During my two pregnancies, I’d had a few of these slimy experiences.

The ultrasound technician was a serious sort. As she slid the wand across the areas, at least 20 stills of each breast were snapped. Perhaps my question “is it a boy or a girl?” annoyed her. Probably not the first time she’s heard it. Once the examination was completed to her satisfaction, I was instructed to get dressed and wait as the doctor reviewed my file.

Still feeling confident that all was right with the ladies, I did as instructed. Then, going to the designated waiting area, I pulled out my phone and started checking messages and playing games. It did seem to take a long time, but the waiting room was filled when I got there, so the doc’s probably got a lot of work to catch up on.

As the minutes continued to tick by, I’ll admit the fear that began niggling at me. But, I had come in here with a confident swagger, and that persona is what gets me through the roughest of times. There was no way I’d let it go now.

The same woman who performed the test stepped into the waiting area and told me the doctor would see me now. It felt ominous walking into the dimly lit room, where X-rays hung against the lit backdrop on the wall. The doctor on staff put her Big Gulp down long enough to shake my hand at our introduction.

Be cool. I told myself. Smile and nod.

The giant cup back in hand, the doctor pointed to a darkened mass in one of the stills. She explained that this spot needed to be addressed, but it was her ‘gut feeling’ that the growth was benign. A biopsy is the best…

She kept talking. I glanced over my shoulder to see the tech standing rigid. Our eyes met, and she glanced down. The doctor was still speaking. Her voice didn’t convey confidence. Maybe it was my imagination, but she seemed conciliatory. I then realized that many, many women have stood where I stood, with a variety of reactions between them. The two employees of this facility must have witnessed enough of these to understand the need for soft lights, easy speech, and delicate approaches to information. Along with back up.

I almost felt bad for them. Pulling myself back to hear the doctor’s words, I repeated what she’d said. “Yes, single mass, probably benign, sure.”

Okay, maybe not her exact words.

Then the biopsy was scheduled. One week and two days later.

One week and one day has now passed. During this time I have waffled on whether I should talk about it and to whom. I spoke to a very dear friend who has faced this and came out well on the other side. She was encouraging and supportive. I thanked her and she said to call anytime I feel like I want to talk. I told her I didn’t want to even think about it again until the day arrived.

Nice try. Yeah, I’ve tried to block it. But the worry comes back bigger and badder every time. Still, I got my swagger.

The biopsy is tomorrow. The results, of which I’m sure will be benign, another three or four days after that.

I hate waiting.

 

Gratitude

 

Gratitude is an internalized emotion, which does nothing until externalized.

 

A birthday for a young nephew came around, but my husband and I live in a different city. As it was a ‘big’ birthday, we shipped him a special present. After several weeks, we’d not heard anything as to whether the item was appreciated, or even received.

When I spoke to my sister about the present, it was apparent I’d hit a nerve.

“Yes. He got it.”

“Did he like it?”

“Yes.”

Long pause. Then she said, “Didn’t you track the package? It would have shown we got it.”

“Yes.” Then I sighed. “I had hoped to speak to my nephew. Maybe hear that he liked it.”

“You mean, ‘thank you’? Is that why you sent it? You wanted to hear thank you?”

Stunned, I didn’t know how to respond. Needless to say, the conversation ended on a sour note.

I recall this exchange thanks to Hurricane Irma. She rattled our home, snapped our elm tree that fell across the driveway, and disconnected us from the grid. It was a rough night. But, we woke the next morning whole, and with a roof still over our heads. Thank you, God!

Without power, we faced the option of (what we now know to be) seven days of no air conditioning, refrigerator, stove, etc. Of our two sons and their families, only one had power. We all went there. With four children under the age of four and six adults under one roof, we had to find a way to make it work. “Please” and “thank you” were expressed by the adults to encourage the children as well as one another.

Irma wreaked havoc on our state. My family was richly blessed. The worst of it was the loss of power. So many others lost so much more. We are grateful beyond the pale, and expressed it several times each day.

My daughter-in-law, whose home we commandeered, is an amazing woman. During the time we were there, with all of the commotion and activity, she received a phone call. A woman from her church asked if she could come that evening and help with distribution of hot meals. Not only did she agree, but she made cupcakes and cookies to add to the meals. Then she took one of the four kids to the church with her, so that they could see gratitude in action. (Do you think the angel wings tucked into her shirt makes her itchy?)

When we express gratitude, it not only encourages those who give, but it connects you to that person on a spiritual level. By making cupcakes, or helping clear debris, being a nurse, working at the shelters, the doctors, firemen, police, these people understand that their work is satisfaction enough. But to hear and see the gratitude of the person for whom you do these things is to form an emotional connection. Sure, whine a little. Pout and/or cry for the tangible things lost. Even if all of your possessions remain undamaged, a traumatic experience such as surviving a hurricane is a legitimate reason for shock. Just don’t drone on for too long. Those around you trying to help will begin to feel frustrated that their assistance is unappreciated.

Gratitude feeds the giving spirit.

One moment you are in the position of giver. In the next moment you might be the receiver. To offer gratitude in action or word is to complete that circle.

Even if it’s nothing more than saying thank you.

 

 

Fearmongers

Fearmonger (a/k/a: scaremonger): Definition:

Psychological manipulation that uses fear-based tactics (scare tactics) including exaggeration and usually repetition to influence the public in order to achieve a desired outcome.

 

If you’ve been following me in any way, you already know that I am a fourth-generation Floridian. South Florida was my home for the first twenty years of my life. For the next thirty-six years, Orlando has been home. Florida is a wonderful place to grow and live. Our state motto should be: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

 

A few hurricanes have hit my home state in my lifetime. Prior to the ‘net, we depended on the three available TV channels for updates. My dad became so frustrated with the talking heads of the time he turned it off and told us to go outside if we wanted to know what the weather was doing. Wise man.

 

Today, Hurricane Irma is making a beeline for us, after leaving a trail of devastation across the islands as a Cat 5. The warnings issued would have the entire state evacuated. But, hold on a sec. If there is any concrete fact about hurricanes and the direction they take it is this, we just don’t know. Sure, there are more than a few educated guesses. But there’s a reason it’s called a “projected path” and that’s because we just don’t know.

 

One of the forecasts now show a decrease in strength to a Cat 2 as it reaches Central Florida. At the risk of offending every hurricane-fearing reader out there I’ll quote an old saying. “Don’t wake me if it’s under a Cat 3. That’s damn good sleeping weather.”

 

Now, for the scaremongers. Look back at the beginning of this post and re-read the definition.

 

The first part is the most important to understand. Psychological manipulation. They work to keep you afraid. Why would the powers-that-be do this? To keep the general populace tuned-in, and look to the government for assurance. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but certain individuals may indeed benefit from your fear. How much money have you spent over the last week prepping? Yes, there is a genuine danger. Look at the islands that Irma crashed. But they do not know any more than can be guessed. A theory is an educated guess, and that is what we are seeing on screen.

 

The second part of the definition is fear-based tactics (scare tactics) including exaggeration. Not one to point fingers, but come on. Tuesday saw the forecast as Irma shredding the East Coast of Florida as a Cat 5. Did that drive you to collect all things hurricane related? Of course it did. What sane human (who has never been through this) wouldn’t? Yes, have a disaster package ready. At all times. Put up shutters when the storm turns in your direction. But mindless panic of buying every bottled water on the shelf is a bit extreme.

 

Now, for the media. The part of the definition that makes the biggest impact on our lives is, repetition to influence the public. In no way, shape, or form would I consider the genuine warnings of an oncoming hurricane fake news. However, there are those who allow anxiety-driven newscasts to become a part of their minute-by-minute lives. Compelled by fear, their anxiety is amped up to the point of not realizing what they are doing to those around them. Loved ones look on in dread, not knowing how to communicate with that terror-filled family member.

 

If this is you, please, stop. Step back. Take a deep breath. Look around at the faces of those who love you. Including your pets. Anxiety is unintentionally shared. Do you want to see everyone around you becoming bat-shit crazy as well? No? Then turn off the hurricane updates for an hour. Your nerves will thank you. Your family will thank you. Your four-legged friends (read: pets) will thank you.

 

Yes, Irma is to be feared. But, if you have done everything in your power to protect what is yours, no amount of fear or worry will change anything. So, take a minute to relax and appreciate the camaraderie that a storm like this can bring to the general public. Do not allow Irma to tear apart relationships, as well as property.

 

As for me and my family, we are prepared. thanks to plenty of advanced warning from The Weather Channel app, MyRadar app, and The Orlando Sentinel. The people in tornado-ally don’t get near as much warning as hurricane-prone states. An earthquake in Mexico struck with no warning, and has left dozens dead. In that light, we should consider ourselves fortunate.

 

I’ll write another post once Irma passes through. It’s now projected to come right on top of us. Most know that once a hurricane is over land, it quickly decreases in strength, not increases. But, whether a Cat 1 or 5, there is nothing more we can do.

 

Just so you don’t think I’m completely cavalier about Irma, I’ll close with this:

 

Hold on tight, folks. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.

 

 

 

 

 

PSA: Ethanol is Bad

 

In case you missed it, America runs on Ethanol. This is a corn-based fuel additive that has been around since the 1970’s. Pushed by Agribusiness as an answer to the oil crisis back then, it has become big business endorsed (read: required) by the US government.

The problem is that it doesn’t work. In fact, it can damage engines.

Personal experience: In 2009, I purchased a brand new Impala SS and still drive it today. Shortly afterward, Ethanol appeared at every gas station. The label on the pump states: May contain up to 10% Ethanol. Other labels read: Contains at least 10% Ethanol.

I knew nothing of the biofuel except that it was the next best thing to happen to cars since fossil fuel. So, I filled up time and time again without a thought.

Then, my engine started to die. Literally. There seemed no rhyme or reason to it. Driving the highway at 70 mph, or along a residential area at 25 did not matter. With no warning, the engine dropped in power. My speed declined to ten miles per hour. Doing 25 in a residential wasn’t an issue. However, 70 on the interstate can be quite traumatic.

The dash display read: “Engine Power Reduced.” Followed by “Service Stabilitrack.” By some miracle, I survived each of these sudden power failures. Once able to get off the road, I turned it off, and waited. After several restarts, the error message on the dash disappeared. To add to the frustration, my mechanic reported no code errors recorded. So he couldn’t fix what wasn’t broken.

Then I found a forum on Edmunds.com with identical complaints. One member suggested Ethanol as the cause. He’d had his gas analyzed and found 45% Ethanol in his tank. Stopping the use of the bio-fuel has eliminated the problem for him.

I found one gas station, Wawa, which sells Ethanol-free gas. After three fill-ups, the problem has not returned. Perhaps the answer is that the computer couldn’t compensate for the half-gas mixture it was trying to draw power from. A few more trouble-free tanks will prove the point. (One can hope.)

Engine problems are not the only issue. Another demon of Ethanol is the diversion of actual food to third world countries going into our first world vehicles. How did we agree to feed our cars over our fellow starving human beings?

Here are some great articles if you’d like to read more about it, before you decide to stop using this piece of corn that is force-fed to us by the Feds.

It’s Final — Corn Ethanol Is Of No Use – Forbes

The Ethanol Scam – Rolling Stone

Can E15 Gasoline Really Damage Your Engine? – Popular Mechanics

 

And lastly, for my number-crunching peeps, here’s the word from the IMF on the situation:

 

Impact of High Food and Fuel Prices on Developing Countries

 

Ethanol-free is a bit more costly. So ask yourself, is an extra fifty cents a gallon worth protecting your engine, the environment, and helping to feed your fellow man worth it?

I choose yes.

***

JL Mo is a mother of two full grown geeks, and Nana to their geeks-in-training. She is also the author of the McShane Mini-Mystery series, and has had a number of stories published in various anthologies which can be accessed on her Amazon Author Page.

Lost Wallet

 

Another short story (of panic) in this life.

This last weekend was fabulous. My husband and I spent Thursday through Monday at the beach. To make it even more astounding, an Atlas Rocket Launch and a partial eclipse made the whole thing a genuine celestial event. Wow, what a blast!

Tuesday found us home again, with all of the catch-up, clean-up, and errands that needed our full attention. With my to-do list in hand, I got in the car and checked that the appropriate payment methods were in my wallet…

Oh, shit.

My wallet insert, with three debit cards and my driver’s license, were nowhere to be found.

If you’ve ever lost your cards, I know you’re familiar with the panic. Lost? Where? How? Stolen!

One time I lost one of my bank cards, and the person who found it used it for gas immediately. But, the online banking service showed no unknown activity. So far.

And so it began. If you can relate, you’re familiar with the drill. The suitcases, my bag, the dirty clothes, coolers, garbage cans, and my car were searched two to three times each. No luck.

Tamping down the panic, I decided the insert had to be where we stayed at the beach. No one was there now, so I had to drive back there to look for it myself. The anxiety doubled since I didn’t have my license.

All of the fears and imaginings played across my mind as I drove. Identity theft. Robbery. Dealing with the banks to replace the cards. Dealing with the State to replace my license. Ugh!

Then, while driving within every legal parameter for forty miles into an eighty mile drive, a thought hit me so hard I gasped. I called my husband.

“Hey babe,” my voice sounded cooler than I felt. “Can you look in your car and see if my wallet insert is there?” We had driven separately to the beach, but we used his car to drive around town.

“Sure,” he says. “I’ll call you back.”

He knew of the situation. I felt certain he would look as soon as possible. But with an office gig, you never know how “soon” that might be. I kept driving toward the beach, heart in my throat, wild thoughts still bouncing around my brain.

A few more miles down the road and the phone rang. My husband’s caller ID didn’t get through the first tone.

When I answered, he said, “I hope you didn’t get too far.”

First, the sigh of relief. Then, the nervous laughter. Why did I not think to check his car?

While driving back home, I decided that all things must balance out. For now, I feel I’m still on the positive side of this one. Let’s hope it stays that way.  😉

Getting old sucks.

***

 

JL Mo is a mother of two full grown geeks, and Nana to their geeks-in-training. She is also the author of the McShane Mini-Mystery series, and has had a number of stories published in various anthologies which can be accessed on her Amazon Author Page.

Welcome to the Land of Unemployment…

Welcome to the Land of Unemployment…

 

No doubt, this is a very harsh land to find yourself in.  No matter how you arrived (strutting, kicking and screaming, just woke up here), you will first traverse the Field of Terror.

 

In the Field of Terror you will hear shouts of “How did I get here?” “What have I done?” and, “I can’t believe this is happening to me!” as well as cries to various deities.  Some of those shouts will be coming from you.  You might get through this faster or slower than others.  Try not to judge.

 

Once you get through Terror, you will find yourself in the Alley of Depression.  It is a dark and scary place where the walls are closing in on you and failure is imminent.  Acceptance that you are fully in this land, and determination that you will not live here for long, might help speed the passage of this particular Alley.  The best advice is to look up.  The sky is still there and the walls are not really moving toward you. Once you recognize that you are in the Alley (and that can be very difficult) try to see the faces of possibility at the other end and get through this dark place as quickly as possible.

 

Once you leave the Alley, you should find yourself in the wide Valley of Resignation.  This is where many people linger for too long.  It is a somewhat comfortable place after the Terror and the Depression.  Here your fellow citizens will mutter phrases like, “I should have seen it coming,” or “I could have done things differently.”  This will be the place to stand in line for something while not really trying or wanting to try.  Swapping horror stories of the Field of Terror or the Alley of Depression with those around you eases the monotony.

 

Once you’ve decided to get through Resignation, you will find the Foothills of Job Seekers.  Here the going will be easier, for you are filled with determination, and friends and family will be cheering you on.  These Hills are easily traversed for there is refreshment to be found at Interview Fountain.  After a single sip your confidence is restored and you are strong again.  You are motivated to find your niche in the upcoming Mountain of Employment.  You shade your eyes as you look at the towering peaks and see the eagles soaring majestically along the craggy face.  I can do this! you decide.  It is shortly after that you find yourself standing before the Cliffs of Frustration.

 

The Cliffs of Frustration have sent many back to the Valley of Resignation.  The handholds that must be used to climb the face are rough and torturous.  No matter how firm a grip you feel you have on the situation, either your fingers will slip, a fellow citizen will step on you on their way up, or one of those damn eagles will buzz you so hard and fast you wish you were never born.  But if you can get past that, if you can hold fast, ignoring the pain, the insults, the crippling assaults to your ego, you just might find your very own Comfortable Niche on Employment Mountain. And congratulations to you!

 

Yes, there are some who just cross the boundary of the Land of Unemployment and are swept up by the wings of those eagles before they even get to experience the Field of Terror. To that I would say, “Congratulations.

On behalf of all the citizens of this nightmarish place to be, we would like to add…Go to Hell!

***

JL Mo is a mother of two full grown geeks, and Nana to their geeks-in-training. She is also the author of the McShane Mini-Mystery series, and has had a number of stories published in various anthologies which can be accessed on her Amazon Author Page.

WoManapause

 

WoManapause

By JL Mo

 

 

At the dawn of civilization…

 

The cave was dark. She woke with all the animal skins being thrown on top her. She pushed them off and reached for her mate of thirty summers. He flung her arm off of him, as if it were a snake.

“Grok? What happened?”

“Nothing,” was his terse reply.

“Is it.. .you know?”

“Yes, it’s you know,” he whispered harshly.

“I’m sorry. I’ll leave you alone.”

“Sure, run away. I can’t escape.”

“Do you want me to stay with you?”

“What good would that do, Gyrll?”

“You’re having a moment. I’ll just—”

“I know what I’m having! I’m lying in bed, sleeping soundly, only to wake up and break out into a sweat like I’ve been running from a saber tooth for the last freaking hour! I know what I’m having!”

Gyrll knew nothing good could be said right now. Grok would only give her a nasty remark. She got out of bed, intending to get him something to drink. He said nothing to her as she left the cave.

The stars shimmered in the night sky. The tribe’s starman, Degraasy, said a wishing star would be sailing across the sky, and he was right. A bright light, with a long tail, seemed to hover just above the horizon. Anything wished on it would become so, according to Degraasy, and she hoped it was true. She locked her eyes on the sky light and closed her eyes, thinking of Grok.

They had seen the medicine man, even though this was normal for all men of his years. Each man handled WoManapause differently, but the symptoms were all the same. Hot flashes, mood swings, forgetfulness. Her friend Brock’s mate was a dream according to her. He never woke her once when he went through the hot flash stage. Although, she still occasionally had to listen while he cried about how his mother was crushed by a woolly mammoth. At least he only told the story two or three times a week.

Gyrll had listened to plenty of Grok’s sad stories, but it was the complaining that drove her crazy. She’d suffered childbirth and not griped half as much.

Help me, star. Help Grok.

“Gyrll.”

She jumped at his quiet approach. “Grok, you startled me.”

“I’m sorry for everything I said. You’ve been awesome through this. I know I wouldn’t want to live if a cave bear ate you or something.”

A wave of love washed over her. He seemed so sincere. “Thank you, Grok.” Gyrll looked into his beautiful eyes shining in the star light, and felt her heart race. Maybe the star can help.

“It’s getting late,” she said. “Look, it’s already two stars past the moon. Let’s go back to bed.”

He took her in his arms and hugged her gently.

“Come on, big guy,” Gryll said as she pulled out of his arms. “Let’s get going.”

“What?”

“Let’s go to bed.”

“No. The big guy comment. What’s that supposed to mean?”

“What? Nothing!”

“You’re saying I’m fat.”

“No. I’m just – ”

“Oh, forget it, Gyrll. Why don’t you just sleep in the other cave like you wanted to do in the first place?”

“What the—what do you want from me?”

“I want you to take a minute and consider how I feel. What I’m going through.”

“Sure baby. I’ll pause for a minute and try.”

“You’re doing it again!”

“What? Doing what?”

“Talking to me like I’m an idiot! Stop! I can’t change what I’m suffering!”

“I know that! If I could take it all from you, I would!”

“Oh sure. You’d take on the searing heat, the blinding rage? As if a woman could handle it!”

“Blargh! I’m sure we’d do a better job of handling it than you guys! I wish all women could take it from man.”

At that moment, the star flared brilliantly.

     And that is how women came to suffer Menopause.

***

JL Mo is a mother of two full grown geeks, and Nana to their geeks-in-training. She is also the author of the McShane Mini-Mystery series, and has had a number of stories published in various anthologies which can be accessed on her Amazon Author Page

 

 

Life. One Short Story at a time.