Tag Archives: family

Cesar the White Knight

I recently came upon a writing prompt from Hit RECord to tell about your first pet. Wow! The memory of Cesar came flooding back into my mind. This little tale is what I submitted.



At the age of fifteen, I came home from summer camp to find a ball of white fur curled around the leg of our kitchen table. It turned out to be a white German shepherd puppy named Cesar, given to me by my cousin. From the look on my step-father’s face, he wasn’t happy with it. I knew times were tough, so I promised all of my pay from my part-time gig to cover the expenses for the dog. If not for the gift coming from family, and a little goading from my mom, I wouldn’t have been allowed to keep it.

My step-father was an occasional bully and a belligerent man. He would strike me just for laughs, beat me when he felt it ‘appropriate’. But as Cesar grew, it became my defender. So much so that my wake up call for school changed from a profanity-laced roar in my ear, to a gentle clearing of the throat from the partially-opened bedroom doorway. Accompanied by the deepest of throat growls from my white knight laying on the floor at my bedside.

I loved Cesar more than I had loved any animal before or since. He was my constant companion. Admired by all (except for, well, you know), he was a fun, fun-loving, gentle giant of a dog.

One day I came home from school to learn that Cesar was gone. My mother told me that a man came to the door looking for the owner of the shepherd. He had said the dog bolted out in front of his car, and he couldn’t stop in time. I cried for days.

Whether truth or not, Cesar was gone. My white knight had been taken from me. No animal will ever come near the depth of love I had for that dog.


Do you remember your first pet? Care to share? Hopefully, it’s a little more uplifting than mine.  😉



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.

Diary of A Quitter – Phase V

Diary of A Quitter


Phase V – Bring it



It’s been One Hundred and Thirteen days since my last cigarette. But who’s counting?

We are now in February and, honestly, the constant struggle has now become random. There are moments when I realize my mouth is actually watering for a smoke. I know that seems odd, but if you’re a smoker, you know. The frustrating thing is, these moments seem to have nothing in common. Playing with the grand kids, quietly watching television, talking on the phone, none of it matters. My body wants nicotine. It’s a fact I have to live with. I did it to myself. No one made me put that first smoke to my lips. Speaking of which, I can now recall that moment without the pangs of addiction.

On that day, I was leaving high school for my part-time job at McDonald’s. As I walked toward the school’s parking lot a girl shouted, “Hey! You got a cigarette?” In my youthful sarcasm I shouted back, “Nah. You?” And then a third person said, “C’mon over here. I got a pack.” A gorgeous guy that I’d been dying to meet held out his pack of smokes toward me.

I am now fifty-seven years old. Still wishing I’d kept walking.

Nicotine is a beast. A beast to fear, and one that demands respect. Yeah, I’ll say it. Fearfully respect the beast. No matter how long it’s been since the last smoke, that urge, the demand for more, never goes away completely. Because as much as I’d hoped it would, it doesn’t die. Every time the beast taps me on the shoulder, every time the demon smiles seductively, the fight begins anew, but for a shorter amount of time, each time. I must be strong. No one else can do it for me. Nothing else can be blamed. My own weakness wakes the monster.

Today, 113 days later, I can say with confidence that I am a non-smoker. Yes, the fight rages on, but in odd and sporadic moments. I can handle that. Not the first time I’ve quit (but it will be the last).

I fear this scene may play out for the rest of my life:

Demon: I see you’re a bit stressed. Sheesh, deadlines, am I right?

Me: Go away.

Demon: Don’t be like that. I’m here to help. Let’s get you something to de-stress.

Me: (voice weaker) Go away.

Demon: Are you sure you don’t want to take a ride? It’s been long enough. All of the nicotine must be out of your system by now. One cigarette won’t kill you.

Me:  (whimper) True, but…

Demon: Just one, then we’ll throw the rest away.

Me: (Trying to catch my breath, hands trembling) God, help me! I’m so fucking weak! (Takes a deep breath.) No! Not again! (Clenched fists.) C’mon, Demon! Is that the best you got? I said GO AWAY!

Demon: (Smiles seductively.) Okay. See you next time.

Me:  (feeling a bit stronger) Yeah. Bring it.


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.

Diary of A Quitter – Phase IV

Diary of A Quitter


Phase IV – Frustration

It has been 64 days since I’ve told the next phase of the Quitter’s story. Allow me to explain.

Contained within those 64 days were the holidays that come to us at the end of each year. The magical time of year when we all live care-free, stress-free lives, enraptured in the joy that… (bleck!)

Meanwhile, in the real world… My fight with addiction continued. The friend that was to quit with me was unable to withstand the pressure of breaking the addiction. I couldn’t blame her. There were days that nicotine never entered my mind. But, of course there were the other days.

You may recall my mantra from Phase III.

He will not win.

I’ll not give in.

He won’t prevail.

I will not fail.

Yeah, I gave that shit up after 4 days or so. Talk about an earworm. It really got on my nerves. Reciting it through clenched teeth made me realize the mantra probably wasn’t performing its original intent. Which would be to calm me down. Right.

It seemed everything provided an extra heap of helping on what remained of my nerves. My four grandchildren, perfect as they are, really seemed to piss me off throughout December. No one would have been able to tell, because I kept my irritation to myself (I’m sure I did). Besides, there were so many other little things that annoyed me, no one could have noticed my impatience with the kids.

I was a real jewel to be around, no doubt about it. Several times I tried to write an installment of Diary, but talk about writer’s block! Whenever I considered just the title, a wave of desire for that one hit consumed me. One of the ways I distracted myself was trying to remember my first cigarette. I’m pretty sure it was 1975. I was in high school. My parents were chain smokers, and I remember the odor… hmm, that one drag sure would be nice.


Since the holidays have passed, I’ve been finding fewer and fewer things to blame my stress on. The remarkable thing is, I have fewer and fewer reasons to need that scapegoat. The whispers of temptation still come, but they are rare. And random.

Frustration had been the rule of the day throughout the holidays. Looking back, I beat myself up over my behavior. I tried to apologize to my husband for things he doesn’t remember happening. God, I love that man.

My last smoke was October 25. It’s now February. I’ve reread my Diary, and am ready to embrace the fifth, and final, step to smoke free living. As a refresher, the opening tale, I Quit Smoking. Again. Then came the Phases. I – Busted, II – Truth, III – Struggle, and this Frustration is IV. I’m now ready for V.

And I promise, I won’t keep you guessing another 64 days.


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.

Diary of A Quitter – Phase III

Phase III – The Struggle



I’m not gonna lie. This has been tough.

To recap the story, I lied to my world of people about the fact that I had started smoking again. Then the ONE person I truly wanted to spare the knowledge of my weakness, discovered the sham. The first phase was Busted. The second phase was me facing the Truth. Which brings the next phase of The Struggle.

I’ve wrestled the demons of addiction before. Some are stronger than others. Cocaine was a rough one to beat. But, I did. There is not a hint of desire for that demon to be back in my life. The last time I fought nicotine though, it only played dead. I know because the sensuous seduction returned when I was at my ultimate weakest to resist. Which means, unlike cocaine, it was never truly beat.

Perhaps you’re thinking there is nothing sensuous or seductive about a cigarette. Congratulations. You, my friend, are a non-smoker. However, there are others who might understand the allure of the first smoke of the morning, the after-lunch-deep-drag, or the twilight puff while watching the sunset. There are other times that are just as powerful, but these particular moments are ingrained deep in my psyche. These are the moments, for me, that the demon of nicotine is the most sensually seductive.

October 25 saw my last cigarette. Thirty-four days and counting, so far. There have been times that it never crossed my mind to have a smoke. I don’t know the why of that, or else I’d certainly share the information and engage it permanently. Because there are other days, when all of the stress just boils over.

We’re human. There will be stress. Sometimes in an overabundance. On one of these occasions, while alone and pacing through the house, I found myself looking in all of the places I’d hidden cigarettes before. None were to be found (Curse you, past self!). The car held another hiding spot. I checked there two or three times. Once with the keys in my hand, temptation to go buy a pack at the breaking point.

Between all of the searching, the question, “Why are you even looking?” screamed through my brain. The question seemed ludicrous. I tried to ignore it. The next question, “What are you going to do if you do find one?” was not so easily dismissed.

Shocked, I stopped looking. Because the answer to that question was obvious. “Smoke it. Then pretend it never happened.” I stepped back and realized what I was doing…


Demon: I see you’re stressed. A hit of nicotine might help ease that up a bit.

Me: Man, it really would. But I don’t have any on hand.

Demon: Are you sure? Have you checked?

My Spirit: Why are you even looking?

Me (ignoring Spirit): Yes.

Demon: Let’s check again.

My Spirit: Why are you even looking?

Me: Still nothing.

Demon: Did you check the car?

Me: Yep (rattle keys).

Demon: Let’s –

My Spirit: What are you going to do if you do find one?

Me: Smoke it. Then lie.

Demon: [Smiles]


This is the weakest I have felt, and the fight wages on. I cannot let the demon win. To smoke would be to allow the cancer-causing, foul-smelling, breathing-inhibitor, not to mention lie generator, back in my life.


My new mantra is;

He will not win.

I’ll not give in.

He won’t prevail.

I will not fail.


My poetry may be weak, but the struggle sure as hell ain’t.



JL Mo is mother to 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.

Diary of A Quitter – Phase II

Phase II – Truth



The mental gymnastics we perform in order to convince ourselves to do something that we don’t want to do are amazing. You cannot deny, at least once in your life, you’ve lied to yourself in such a convincing way that you even came to believe it. That is, until the whole thing blew up in your face.

To light a cigarette, and take that first, deep drag was my end goal. That’s all I wanted. Just that first hit. I told myself the one lungful of tar and nicotine had a calming effect on my nerves. With stress piling up, just that one hit could set me right again. Buy a pack, take that hit, then throw the rest away.

I hate smoking. I hate the way it tastes, the smell it leaves on me, the expense. All of it.

This takes strength to admit. I am strong.

I lie to myself quite well, don’t you think?

Lies. The truth and strength I’m searching for are layered in them. I put them there. Layer after layer, it had grown thicker and thicker, until the truth became unrecognizable.

My husband, in a hurt and sardonic tone, threw the spotlight on the congealed mess I’d made of things. “So, you’re lying to me.”

No! I should have screamed in protest. I’m lying to me. Not you! Me! You had nothing to do with this.

Now, the backward gymnastics begin.

I was hiding the truth. From me. And from him. I was lying. To myself first. Then him, and then just about everyone else in the end. I lied about smoking. I lied about where I was going when I went to buy that destined-for-the-trash pack. I ate something strong to cover the hideous, hated taste the cigarette left behind. Can you see all the layers I’d hidden the truth in? Because I didn’t.

As an aside to those who might wonder: I have battled the demons of addiction in many forms. The demon of nicotine is the strongest by far. No shit. I hate him.

The time had arrived to quit smoking. This time it’s permanent. (Stop snickering.) This is not new ground, it should be easy by now. It is not. Dammit, this will be the last time.

I still didn’t see the truth.

Weak from the struggle and humbled by the strength necessary to overcome my base desire, I began to pray. Scoff if you will, but I prayed hard. Prayer buoys me. To rise above the flesh and see the problem from a detached, matter-of-fact level offers more hope than I can explain. Besides, if I’m really lucky, I’ll get a God-smack of truth out of it.

While in prayer, I’m given the knowledge that this hated, hateful demon would be beaten back. Encouragement coursed through me. I am strong. That is not a lie. I will be made free of this demon. That is not a lie. God is with me (I really should pray like this more often).

I quit on a Wednesday. The first day I did pray for strength. And that prayer was granted. No secret trips to the store. Yea! The second day went smooth enough, but I did a lot of praying. I mean, a lot. My friend wasn’t going to quit for another week, and I hoped that the first couple of days would be okay for her.

Day three was a Saturday and we were going out with a few friends to a Halloween party. My soon-to-be-quitting friend offered me a nicotine patch. She reminded me that while drinking, the urge was strong, and the mind was weak. Her logic made sense. I accepted the crutch/patch gladly. The end of the night found me exhausted from dancing, inebriated, and laughing all the way home. Not a thought for a cigarette the entire time.

The morning after. I woke up with a slight headache, but attributed that to the alcohol. Duh. But a cigarette! I could think of little else. The concentration for prayer escaped me. The demon had sidled up and whispered everything would be fine with just one, deep, drag. If I had been alone I can’t say that I would’ve made it through the day smoke-free. But I wasn’t alone. My husband was there. I turned to him in my weakness, instead of sneaking off for a covert meeting with my hated demon.

Then I remembered. The nicotine patch was still adhered to my left arm.

I yanked it off, cussing.

In that moment, the realization of the ineffectiveness of this crutch hit me hard. This system is not for me. My approach to quitting is stop. Just stop. No chemicals, no bargaining, no backsliding. The inner battle is my own to deal with. This nicotine patch system still puts the drug in my body, just not through the lungs. What the F good is that? I’m fighting this addiction with every tooth and nail, and then I gave the demon exactly what it demanded? Argh! Once the delivery system on the patch ran dry, my body wanted more, and flooded me with the need for more.

It was on that Sunday the truth blew through the layers of lies.

Truth: I love the demon named Nicotine. But, if I don’t get him out of my life now, he will kill me.

As with any other abusive, toxic relationship, this must end.

God-smack received.



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.

Diary of A Quitter – Phase I


Phase I – Busted

I noticed an odd phenomenon when I gave up smoking back in 2000. At first, if someone lit one up around me, it smelled so good. I’d find that person and go stand near them, just for the second hand smoke. Afterward, a year or so I guess, the odor started making me turn away. To this day, I never know how my body will react to the smell of tobacco burning. Whether it is appealing or repulsive, the reactions are polar opposites, much to my chagrin.

My return to the world of smoking began during one of the times when the smoke smelled really good (duh). Also, pain and frustration from a recent surgery. Also, stress. Also, I can come up with at least four or five other good/bad/embarrassing reasons/excuses for putting the nasty thing to my lips. Basically though, addiction. There are any number of excuses I had for lighting up. None of them good, and I knew this to be true.

During this rough patch, I invented a game to play with my own psyche. I bought a pack at a convenience store. Then, I took one out, and threw the rest in the trash can at the store. Only one, I told myself. Just to get the monkey off my back. This happened once a month. Then, twice a month. Then, once a week. Finally, I hid the pack in my purse, instead of throwing it in the trash.

Yes, the reason was addiction. I’ll also admit to a slight thrill. Since a ‘thrill’ is excitement with an element of danger, the experience of sneaking a smoke with no one knowing was a small thrill. The fact it could kill me might have added another level.

After a while I admitted backsliding into the realm of cigarettes. She’s the only one who still smoked among my group. She gave me a ration of shit about it.

One day, she and I were at my house in the middle of the afternoon. I decide to have a smoke. Our conversation turned to the guilt I felt about hiding it from my husband. “This is my last pack,” I announced. While half-way through that smoke, my husband opened the back door where we sat.


No ranting, raving, scene-making for him. Nope. He said five words that hit me like a punch in the gut. “So, you’re lying to me.” Then, he left.

We can all speculate what he thought, felt, or what else he could have said. I call all irrelevant. Those five words will haunt me for life.

I quit that day. Of course, I started again in six weeks. But for right then, I quit.


Six weeks later…

I bought a pack at a convenience store.

I lit one, threw the rest away.

Bought another pack two days later. Told myself this would be my last pack. Put it in my purse.

About two days after that, I told my husband I’m a smoker. It didn’t go well. But, the gut-wrenching idea of lying to him again, for any reason whatsoever, made the admission necessary.

Fast-forward. After several heart-to-heart conversations, I offhandedly told him that this would be done by my birthday, which was about six weeks away.

I gravitate between, “What was I thinking?” and “I can do this,” for the next couple of weeks. My friends, with whom I’ve shared this dark patch of life, are supportive. My husband has stopped his sarcastic quips and he looks forward to the day I quit.

Being honest with myself, I’m not happy. About smoking. About having to quit.

My smoking friend and I have agreed to quit together. She’s trying one of the nicotine drugs to quit. I’m going cold turkey.



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.

Dear Suzy

Dear Suzy,

I’ve waited long enough. I’m sorry, again, for what I did and said. I was wrong. Yes, I’ve already apologized, and we (kind of) got past it. But at two hundred and fifty miles apart, getting together is a challenge for “hugging it out.”

But now, there’s something I need to say to you. Since you’re not standing in front of me, this letter will have to do.

We met when we were around three. Throughout our childhoods, our home lives were strikingly similar. Alcoholic Mother and Father (for me, step-father), who might lash out at a moment’s notice. In your family, the kids might’ve been spared, but the grown-ups fought each other, sometimes violently. For mine, the kids were not spared. Sometimes violently. You kept me steady throughout that nightmare.

Your birthday was only two weeks before mine, and you made sure I remembered that you were the elder. Suzy, even though we were only two weeks apart, I admit, you did teach me so much. Which brings me to why I’m writing this letter.

An ancient soul who loves to laugh is the way I’d describe you. Thank you for teaching me how to laugh. Your contagious joy infected me and it runs through my veins to this day.

Thank you for teaching me what a Sister is and does. Yes, I have three by blood (and one brother), but we were all in a strained situation. Fostering close relationships was not our parent’s goal.

Thank you for teaching me to be proud of me. Growing up, there were a number of authority figures in my life from whom disrespect and shame were daily lessons. You taught me that self-respect, and pride, weren’t dirty words.

Thank you for teaching me dependability. No matter where you might’ve been, should the need arise and I called, you came to my side. You were there for me. Physically. Not just a phone call, not platitudes. You arrived on my doorstep, if for no other reason but to offer moral support (and rum). There are people in my life today that know if the need should arise, they only have to call me and I’ll come (with rum, most likely). You taught me that.

Thank you for teaching me that the truth ain’t nothing to fuck with.

Thank you for teaching me spontaneity. One phone call from you in the middle of an ordinary Friday afternoon, and we were checked into a beach hotel to watch the sunrise Saturday. And, speaking of that…

Thank you for all of the sunrises we spent on the beach together.

Which brings us back to this letter. I think that’s what went wrong the last weekend we spent together. There was no beach nearby. Granted, November isn’t exactly beach weather. But, we let angry words and actions go too long. The phone calls helped get us through the roughest patch. By February we were making noise about the next beach day.

But then you hit me with your final lesson. How to live without you.

You died so suddenly. You left this earth without as much as a goodbye. You went to sleep one night at the age of fifty-four and didn’t wake up the next morning. Your husband, daughters, friends, family, everyone whose life you touched, went reeling like a taught cord snapping. With your beautiful, ready smile, and filthy sense of humor gone, how could life ever be the same?

The answer is it can’t be the same. Ever. Your quick wit, your laughter, intellect, unending support, and effervescent encouragement are gone.

Our life-long friendship is over.

Sometimes, when I find one of those random greeting cards you’d sent (with a hand-written, Love, Suzy) or drive by a hotel we’d stayed in, or mention your name in a conversation with others, my breath catches and I have to pause to keep myself from crying. Dammit woman, I miss you.

Life will never be the same. But it is better because you were here.


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.


The Snowflake Generation

The title is used as an insult to those who have newly achieved adulthood, and have the nerve to voice concern over the atrocities committed by their elders. It’s also popular to bring into account the “trophies for participation” which the snowflakes were given for showing up at any given function.


Here’s a condemnation to those who condemn. Do you know who encouraged those trophies? Their parents. Why, you might ask? Because those parents (my generation) suffered an uptick in divorces through the ’80’s and 90’s. Guilt-fueled presents were offered when the non-custodial parent came to visit. More gifts were given to those poor, unfortunate children of broken homes when that parent left, and the custodial parent refused to be one-upped.

To see a moment of unhappiness cross those kids faces was to rip the heart from the chest of a divorced parent.

So, those parents may have gone a tad overboard in trying to ease the suffering of their young ones. No, not me, but I’m sure my boys would have liked it if I had.

I would offer this piece of advice to those labeled snowflake.

My generation found the Vietnam war to be particularly offensive, and we let the establishment know. We were then called “flower children.” We embraced the title. My suggestion is for the new grown ups of today to do the same. Be the snowflake. Each of you. Share your outrage of the human condition in this our world of 2017. Join together in mutual frustration, and brainstorm how we can get to the other side of 2018 in one piece. Find your place and put your intellect, and your frozen hearts, together. Let the rest of the world know that the snowflakes have gathered, and Winter is Coming…

I dare you.


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.


The Day After Halloween


I am a HUGE Halloween fan. Always have been. But not so much the morning after.

Today is the day after Halloween and we now suffer the “day after syndrome.” It’s the day after dress up day for kids and grown-ups. It’s the day after the silliness of embracing childhood fears. It’s the day of reckoning. It’s the day after. It’s clean-up day.

In the year 2016, Halloween fell on a Monday. An awkward day of the week for any holiday, as everyone hates Monday.

Didn’t really matter. All of the parties and the festivities for the big day were held on the previous weekend. There were kid parties with candy, and adult parties with candy drinks. We’ve had quite enough candy by the time the damn day actually gets here. We certainly aren’t going door to door to get one more piece.

And on a Monday, no one really expects you to. Except, of course, your kids.

We decorate the house every year starting October 1. All the kids in the area know our place as the cat eyes house. Through the years, we’ve watched the number of trick or treaters rise and fall. Whether the holiday is on a Monday or a Friday makes a world of difference in the numbers as well.

This Monday saw a pound of candy leftover from the five and half pounds I’d bought. For my neighborhood, that’s a real thinning. I’ve bought more before and ended the evening handing out quarters because the candy was gone.

I want to believe the dwindling numbers are a balance. The holiday had gone through the roof in popularity, and now, it’s balancing out. Monday is just another weight on that scale.

But still, for me, the door to door experience is the biggest and most fun part of Halloween. The children are so adorable in their costumes, with parents nearby, beaming. And the teenagers are grateful I even opened the door. I have a chat and a laugh with all of them.

I remember when my kids were young and I got to help them with their costumes. Every year, without fail. Halloween meant trick or treating. Even on Mondays. Good times.

But then there’s the clean-up. If you’ve put a bunch of décor up around the outside of your house, November 1st comes with a stigma, doesn’t it? You’ll be the laughing stock of the neighborhood if you don’t pull it down by the end of All Saints. All of those Styrofoam gravestones in the garden, and the muslin ghosts dancing in the trees, all of that must come down the next day.

Looking at the chore being done as soon as you get home from work Tuesday is what’s laughable. Enjoy the day after!