Time To Vote For Your Favorite Story! (July 6th Story Prompt Challenge)

 

 

Story A

Yum, he thought, that hiker was delicious. And the new clothes were just the right size for him too, though the shoes and the hat were a little too shabby. Yep, he’d been a hiker himself — actually more like on the run, ever since he escaped that circus sideshow — but he’d found a place here that suited him fine. High in the mountains, isolated, plenty of unspoiled water to drink in the stream, and best of all the hunting for food was almost too easy.

 

Story B

Path of Seasons

In spring, the explorer jumps at the possibilities his map presents. One step, the flowers bloom, the rains fall.

Another step and summer blazes. His face is rugged now, the map unnecessary, compass barely helpful. The trail is his friend, adventure his companion.

One more stride and the leaves fall. A look at the map reveals wasted time – why didn’t he travel beyond the known? But now he tires easy and can’t travel as far.

Walking into winter, the explorer takes off his hat and boots. He drops the map, a few new trails marked by his own hand.

 

 

*Video for the winning story should be live by early to mid-August.

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Vacation!

Just a quick post today.

Monday Memoir and Friday Fun (Story Prompt Challenge) will return later in August.

Why?

In less than two days I’m flying out of state to visit family members for a few (or longer) weeks.  I hope to be able to blog while I’m there…but, in case I can’t, don’t worry, I WILL be back!

 

Monday Memoir: The Loser

 

Those of us who have been in long-term relationships and/or marriages know well the ups and downs that occur.  Some are more challenging than others.  My marriage to Jay is no different.

Jay comes from a dysfunctional family.  His Dad, a Vietnam vet (served in the 101st Airborne) who came back a changed man, became an alcoholic and abuser of his Mom (of which he witnessed several times).  They divorced by the time he was six (his younger sister Marcy was a year old); but then became mired in vicious child snatching schemes (before it was ruled illegal) that went on for a few years.  His father remarried, and Jay and Marcy went to live with him in another state, and Jay wouldn’t see his mother again for many years.

Jay’s step-mother was a drug-addict (addicted to pain meds) who was physically abusive to his sister, and vindictive towards him (at times she tried to have him arrested for stealing his own stuff).  His half-brother, Walter, was born during this time.

By the time I first met him in college, his father and step-mother was in the midst of a nasty divorce.  He wanted to help and protect his little brother, Walter, but in the end would lose and never see the kid again for a number of years when the step-mother split with more than half of his father’s earnings.

Right from the start, Jay and I had a connection even though at that time I didn’t quite understand it.  He had a girlfriend, Heather and I was dating his best friend, Shaun.  But, he and I became close friends.  When Heather suddenly broadsided him with vicious lies when he refused to sleep with her, he became depressed and well, lost.  I tried to be there for him, but in the end, he left college at the close of our freshman year to join the Navy.

The year was 1990.

I returned for my Sophomore (and final) year at that college for the fall semester.  It was either late November or early December, Jay came to the campus to visit his friends.  He stopped at my dormitory and we visited for a few minutes.  He had on his Naval uniform under a dark gray long coat.  I can remember thinking how handsome he looked.  At this time, there were rumors circulating of a possible war in the Persian Gulf, and they were anticipating high casualty counts. Knowing this, Jay wanted to see as many people as he could before heading overseas.

I wouldn’t hear from him again for the next eight years.

The training he chose while in the Navy was in the Meteorology and Oceanography field, and he was placed on an aviation crew on board a battleship. Since he also had combat training (was in the Army Reserve prior), once he reached the Gulf, he was assigned to a Marine unit that headed to land (to participate in the land assault called Operation Desert Shield/Sabre) after a period of air assaults. To this day, Jay doesn’t talk in detail about what went on during these days.  All I know was that he was with the Marines on Highway 80 (aka Highway of Death), and was responsible for calling in airstrikes on the trapped Iraqis on that road.  I also know that he went with the Marines after the airstrikes on a reconnaissance mission, and saw first hand of the carnage he had a hand in creating.

He was only 19.  Still just a kid.

 

Not too long after the end of the Persian Gulf War, Jay was sent to a Naval base on the Philippine Islands. As “luck” would have it, he experienced the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in June 1991. He and along with others participated in the search and rescue efforts, and then in the recovery.  From there he went on to Guam, and then to Alaska.

In Alaska he found solace in the rugged landscape of the Aleutian Islands where the base was once located.  Now fully entrenched in his military career as a Meteorologist for the aviation crews, he felt he’d found his true calling.

In October 1993, all that changed when his sister, Marcy (at 17 years of age) was involved in a serious single car accident where she sustained major brain injury, and was in a coma near death.  For this reason, he left behind his blossoming military career and went home to help his family and to be there for his sister.

Between 1995 and 1999, he came close several times to re-enlisting in the military (Navy and Army), but certain life events always interceded.

In June of 1999, we reunited, and then in September, we were married.

I encouraged him to return to the military; but he felt that I would not be happy living a military life. So, he decided against it.

Marcy survived, but has permanent brain damage, and must live in a group home setting.

I’ve always regretted not pushing him to go back to the military as he has never truly re-acclimated to the civilian life. He was also a different man than I knew when we were freshmen in college.

More serious. Cautious

It’s no wonder though given what he’s gone through.

Also given his family background, he was always considered by certain family members (as well as old high school and college mates) as the “loser” who would never amount to anything.

Instead of allowing this and all the past dark experiences break him, he fought back.

One of the things he did was to go back to the same college where we first met, and finished what he began in 1989.  He graduated with double degrees in Psychology and Therapeutic Recreation with a GPA over 3.0 in December 1998.

He worked in the Therapeutic Rec field the first years we were married, but being a relatively young field that no one took seriously, he decided to get out of it.  After working odd jobs for a few years, he went in to the Banking industry which he hated (Corporation ideology).  From there, he was a middle school teacher teaching all things Science which he absolutely enjoyed in the beginning.  Then everything became so bureaucratic where the teachers ended up spending more time working paper works than actual teaching, plus the salary went no where, so he opted to get out.

Jay tried working at a credit union for over one year before being laid off due to the recession.

Enough was enough, he said.  He decided to go back to college, and earned another double degree in Bio-pharmaceutical and Environmental Science Technology, and graduated with high honors in 2014.

This guy never ceased to amaze me.

Everything he tried, he’d master it, and then excel.  It doesn’t matter how much he struggled, he just never gave up.  He’d had this “prove them all wrong” mentality that blows me away.  I so admired his spirit, and tenacity, and secretly wished I could be the same way.

I mean, this guy basically came from nothing, and became a someone.

He’s my inspiration to never giving up on myself.  The reason why I decided to keep trying no matter what obstacle stands in my way.

So, here we are, living up in North Dakota, on a small farmstead in a rural community full of great people.  Jay now working in the USDA, but is getting ready to make a major move to an entirely new direction that excites the heck out of me, in a direction that pulls all his past life, work, college and military experiences together in to one package.

Life works in mysterious ways.  Never count yourself out.

 

 

 

#IWSG: The Ultimate Writing Goals

Click on the image to access this group’s official page

 

This month’s question: What are your ultimate writing goals, and how have they changed over time (if at all)?

 

Ultimately, like many other writers, I’d love to have a book published. But, fearing that I’d be penalized by Social Security (am on disability benefits for my progressive vision loss-called Usher Syndrome) I can’t earn very much so I’ve tabled that…for now.  In the meantime, I write poetry and short (as well as flash) fiction of which some are published in various zines.

Another one of my goals is to learn the playwriting craft, and attempt an one-act play.  I already have a title, just need to write it.  I then would love to see it performed through a local Council for the Arts performance group. Having moved to North Dakota back in 2015, I haven’t made too many friends yet; I figure what better way to get to know people in the community than through the local arts.

I don’t think my writing goals have changed much over the years (started writing seriously in 2007) since they usually involve being published in some capacity which I have done with several of my short works.

 

What about you?  What are some of your biggest goals that you would like to fulfill?

 

 

#YouTube Tuesday: Man’s Hands

I wrote this poem not too long ago about my thoughts on nature, and how man tries to imitate it with his own creation.  Below you can either read it, or watch in video format.

 

Beauty and magic

are found in nature

where the urban

landscape

only hopes to

emulate

 

 

Guardian, keeper

of sacred and pure

unmarked, noble

from man’s

immoral hands

these peaks stand

 

 

This world darker it

grows, compelling me

to the mountains

in search

of what my heart,

soul yearn for

 

 

No city or wealth

created by man’s

hands can provide

the hope

and harmony

crafted by earth

 

 

Now I understand

the soldiers’ need of

retreat to the

quiet

after wars

to a place where true

healing exists

untouched, unblemished

by man’s hands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday Memoir: Marriage and Family Challenges

 

 

After Jay and I married, we moved to a small town near Buffalo.  There I worked in retail (cashier at a local grocery store) which was  just a short walking distance from our apartment.  I didn’t care for the job; however, I liked the fact that I could still get myself to and from work.  A year later, we moved back to the Ithaca area (in a hamlet just outside the town); the apartment we lived in was located on a bus route into Ithaca.  Handy for me 🙂   Jay worked for a short time at Cornell University, and I got a job in the banking industry (I felt I needed to get out of retail into something more “professional”).  I could have went back into the fitness/sports area, but I couldn’t find anything that wasn’t minimum wage or part-time.  I continued to run/bike when I could; but eventually gave up on them.  Jay kept fretting over me going out on my own and  insisted that he come and watch as I work out.  I became more and more limited to where I could go and such, so I just gave up altogether.

A few months later, Jay was laid off and couldn’t find work so he headed down to the Raleigh NC area to look for work.  I wasn’t too keen on the idea of moving out-of-state, and so far from my family; but if we couldn’t afford to make it then we needed to go to a place where we could.

The move enabled us to buy a home and some land (something we wouldn’t be able to do back in New York with taxes being so ridiculously high).  Those years here have been challenging to say the least.  I stayed in the banking industry; but Jay moved from one job to another (it seemed like he changed jobs once every three to four years).  I’ve wanted to make the move back to the fitness/sports industry, but the opportunity never came for me, or the transportation logistic was impossible for it to be feasible.  Our house was also far enough away from everything which made it not possible for me to come and go as I needed or wanted.  If I need to grocery shop, or anything, I relied on someone to get me there.  Even though I had my home, if anything were to happen to Jay, I’d be home-bound as a shut-in who’d be completely dependent on others.

I’m so fiercely independent, the mere thought of relying on others in order to meet my needs frustrated and scared me.  It seemed to grow worse the older I got.  This was a daily battle for me.  I’ve been left alone once when my first husband died.  A few years after we first moved down south, I nearly lost Jay.

 

 

Two months after we moved to our house, we learned I was expecting.  The pregnancy went without any issues…until the last two months.  I was almost 8-month pregnant when Jay began to have difficulty breathing.  He dropped me off at work one morning, and then went to see his doctor, Dr. Salerno.   It was mid-morning when I received a call from Dr. Salerno who calmly told me that Jay had been admitted to one of the local hospitals.   X-rays shown that there was fluid building up  around his heart-Pericarditis.  They couldn’t determine if it was bacterial or viral (if viral, he may fully recover; bacterial, he may need a heart transplant).  The immediate danger was that there was so much fluid around the heart, it had enlarged to at least twice its normal size.  They were in the process of prepping him for an emergency surgery to drain some of the fluid from the heart.  Before we hung up, she strongly recommended that I do not come to the ER until after the surgery because of the added stress since I was so far along with the pregnancy.  She would call me once Jay was out of surgery.  I said, okay.

I felt quite thankful to be working as it kept my mind from wandering too much to certain negative implications of Jay’s sudden illness.  I wasn’t completely alone in the city, thankfully, as I had my brother and his family nearby.  They picked me up after work (and once I received the “green light” from Dr. Salerno) and took me to the hospital.  Jay was in the recovery room, just coming out of being under anesthesia.  I was told that they managed to drain as much fluid as they could, but twice his heart stopped and they had to resuscitate him.  There was a hole left in his chest just under the sternum where a tube had been placed to continue to drain the fluid from the heart.  The doctors planned to aggressively treat him with various antibiotics in case the pericarditis was bacterial in hope to limit the damage to the heart while they ran multiple tests to determine whether this was truly bacterial or viral.

For the next week, we waited on the final result.  In the end, it was determined that Jay had the viral kind.  Thank goodness.

Jay remained in the hospital for a total of two weeks.  I spent some of the nights at the hospital (just so I could be near him), and other nights with my brother.  I worked every day throughout this ordeal just to keep myself from completely stressing out.  Finally, both he and I were able to go home.  Jay was quite weak so I had to help him dress, eat, and shower.  I was just thankful to have him back with me.

It wasn’t too long after he came home that I noticed my feet and hands were swollen.  The doctor kept tab of my blood pressure which stayed below the dangerous level; until my water broke two days past the due date.

After I was admitted to the hospital’s birthing center, the doctor quickly realized that I was showing signs of pre-eclampsia. My blood pressure was all over the place (soaring high then crashing and then soaring high again).  My contractions weren’t consistent as well.  They gave me an IV to control the blood pressure as well as to force the contractions.  I was not a happy camper.  Seventeen hours in, it was time to push.  I pushed for three hours but the baby couldn’t get beyond my pelvic area.  The doctor tried both the suction cup and clamps to no avail.  Then I began to hemorrhage.  By this point, I was so exhausted and barely lucid.  I remember the doctor pushing the baby back into the birthing canal, and then they literally ran me to the ER.  After that, everything went blank.

Karl was born over twenty hours after my water broke.  A beautiful, healthy boy.  Jay was there to hear him howl as they pulled him from my belly.  He told me it was the most precious sound he’d ever heard.  I woke up two hours later and then wheeled into a recovery room where I held my son for the first time.  I’d suffered severe blood loss, but they decided not to give me a blood transfusion.  My vision for the next few days were out of sync because of the blood loss.  When I looked at anything, in one eye it looked normal while in the other eye it was grossly enlarged and distorted.   By the time I was released (four days later), my vision improved.

For the next few months, Karl had two parents recovering from their hospital experiences.  Before my maternity leave ended though I learned that I lost my job with a particular bank.   During this time, I struggled as a mother and as a wife.  I grew more and more emotional (weepy), and uncontrollable anxiety seized me.  I literally felt like I was losing it.  Jay made me go to the doctor, and I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. Jay’s mother came and spent a few months with us to help me with taking care of Karl-bless her heart.  My condition slowly improved; it was even better when I was re-hired back to the same bank that previously laid me off.  I gladly accepted the offer as by this time I was quite ready to get out of the house!

To say that I was happy to see that year come to a close was a gross understatement!