The Safe Haven

First of all, I’m sorry for being absent for so long. Work has been picking up lately, and when I get home my mind is all but fried. To be honest I’ve been on auto pilot about ninety percent of this past week. The only time the auto pilot really kicked off was last night. 

My boyfriend and I decided to go bowling, something neither of us had done in a very long time. I’ll have you know he was better, but we had fun! On our way home, a good friend of mine called and invited me to a show at the gay bar a couple of towns over. I decided why not, after all the show was a spin off of my all time favorite, “Moulin Rouge”. 

On the way there, he gave me a brief rundown of the rules. Basically: no touching, stay off the dancefloor, and have fun. Simple enough, right? Yeah, no. I hate admitting to being wrong, but I was BEYOND wrong. 

We were about one scene away from the ending when the shit hit the fan. A straight guy decided that he wanted to dance, screw this skit that these people worked so hard on, and broke rule number two: stay off the dance floor. The emcee tried as hard as they could to get this moron to stop, even pulled his “attitude check” where the rest of the crowd aimed their loudest “Fuck You” to the guy, trying to get him to see that we weren’t standing for it. Finally he gave in, backing off the dancefloor, allowing the skit to come to an end. The emcee announced that the actors would be coming out for their final bow, and we watched them all file out one by one. My friend and I started cracking up when one of the actors stuck her middle finger up as she passed the moron who tried to trample on their hard work. We followed her lead, turning up our on finger salute to him. 

We figured things had calmed down once the deejay took over. Boy were we wrong. The group I found myself in decided to go dance and made our way to the white and red checkered floor. Suddenly we were all stepping on each other, due to lack of room caused by the one douche trying to ruin the skit. We shook our heads and before we could do anything, my friend was dancing on him, pushing him off the floor. 

It seemed like hours that we were out having fun. We finally decided our tired legs had enough, and took a seat. Unknown to us, we were sitting behind the idiot himself. As we were talking, we all gasped. The man had the nerve to throw his drink on my friend who danced him off the floor. Anger flooded me and I felt the alcohol induced rage present itself. The bouncers threw him out before I could find my footing, at which point I decided to have a cigarette. 

The man and his girlfriend d were outside the bar, shouting “bulldyke” “fag” and other unneeded comments. I lost my mind. I stormed in the building and nearly broke into tears. 

This place is a safe haven. This bar is for members of the LGBT community to come and feel safe around other people who are sharing the same struggle. We don’t come to your bar and scream “redneck” or “hick” or “white trash”. Leave us alone. 

I’ve learned something over the last few years. Not everyone agrees with your opinion. You can argue and scream, but they have the right to their opinion, as do you. Don’t come into a place and be against everything they do. The people in that area will come together as a team and make sure you never come back. Remember the DBAD rule. 

Don’t. Be. A. Dick. 

Lesson: you are entitled to an opinion, but don’t get upset when nobody else agrees. 

Baa Baa, Black Sheep -SoCS

We see you, sowing fear as if it were as easy as breathing. You tell us that this is for the best, hoping that we all become sheep and follow you blindly. You have forgotten one minor detail, in every group of snow white sheep, there is a black sheep. That black sheep will go against everything you preach, slowly dyeing the snow white wool of your followers to a shimmering silver. This is the power bestowed upon the black sheep, this is our mission.

Your anger flares, and while the white sheep crowd around you, polishing your crown, the black and silver sheep plot. We have no interest in conforming, we see your wrong. While the white remain silent, our bleats ring out as you speak. The only way to silence us is to sew shut the mouths that have the power to bring you down. We will not be silenced, despite the burn of your needles. You sheer my wool, leaving me silenced and exposed. You use me as a lesson before casting me away.

I watch as so many of my fellow rebels lose their shimmering silver glow, and once again I am alone. I flee in the night, faint bleat meeting the silencing powers of your thread. Fear will not consume me, despite what you fill the others with. You can turn me against my family, but I will remain fearless.

I am met with fellow black sheep, and they cut the thread that you carelessly sewed. My voice rings out once more, joined by other unwavering bleats from strong black sheep like myself. We are coming for you, so you better prepare. You will reap what you have sown.

This post is a part of SoCS

Today’s prompt: so/sew/sow 

Opposites Attract

You were strong,
Nothing seemed to break you.
I was weak,
Bending to the blowing wind.

You were brave,
Facing danger with a smile.
I was frightened,
Shuddering with every step.

You found light,
In the darkest of places.
In a room full of light,
I was stuck in the shadows.

We were different,
In every possible way.
Yet you found something in me,
That I thought never existed.

You came to me,
With that smile across your lips.
I couldn’t understand your intentions,
Until you held me.

We are black and white,
Different in every way.
With each other at our sides,
We see with a new vision.

Color dances through our world,
Music plays from deep within.
We dance in slow motion,
As the world rushes by.

Our differences are not to be feared,
Together we will become one.
Your smile driving my fears away,
And my kisses bringing you to your knees.

The New Sofa

It isn’t often that my boyfriend gets things for himself. In all honesty, He’s too busy getting the kids and I things we desire, such as Legos or video games. I never noticed the pattern until recently, when he came home with a furniture catalog in hand and the biggest smile I’ve ever seen. He flipped to the page that seemed to hold a reclining love-seat with charging station built in. I now realize that my humor is a bit dry at best, and often times the signals are lost from what I meant to say to how it’s actually received.

“Look babe, we can sit together!” he said, the sheer excitement dancing in his eyes. “And, if your phone is dying, you can plug it in! How cool is that!?”
I chuckled a little, “Or I could just take it downstairs and plug it in, pretending it doesn’t exist!” – I was meaning this to be humerus, but I noticed the excitement dull a little. Great…there I go again. “Go ahead and get it,” I said a little too harshly, almost sounding like I wasn’t happy about it.

To be honest, I was excited to get a new couch, since ours was the exact opposite of comfortable. He thumbed through the catalog, explaining all the ideas that danced through his mind. “We could get the kids bunk beds, and I could set up a little desk underneath the top bunk -” I love when these ideas hit him, because he gets so excited.

When bedtime came that night, I almost forgot about the furniture purchase. He turned and looked at me, asking “so it’s okay that I get the couch?” Confusion crossed my face – we had discussed at length that I was fine with the couch, why was it still an issue?
“Yes babe, I already told you.” I said as I watched him look down almost like a wounded dog.
“I wasn’t sure.” I couldn’t believe this man, I have no problem with the new purchase, not only was it needed, but it was something that made him happy. He doesn’t do that too often, as a matter of fact, hardly at all.

I sat back and looked at everything had gotten over the last two years. I had a fitbit on my wrist, a tablet on the charging station, an xbox one and games connected to his t.v. that was in dire need of replacing, a car that was in far better condition than his, new clothes that were hardly ever worn, all while he had just the bare minimum. Our children had all new clothes, toys that they rarely played with, whatever their little hearts desired they got. How could we be so spoiled while this man worked to get us whatever we wanted?

He sent me a message today, excited that he made the purchase. Sadly he seemed to think that I was upset, given the fact that I just woke up and was barely able to text what I did. He apologized for making the purchase, and my heart broke. I told him that he had no reason to be sorry, he is always giving us what we want, even if we don’t need it. He never complains, he only gives. I told him that he needs to start getting for himself, even if it means that we don’t get things that we really don’t need.
Lesson ten: Put others before yourself. 

The Mind Never Stops.

I open my eyes, just begging for five more minutes of sleep. As I lay in my bed, my body starts jerking, twitching at the thought of being awake and being still. I groan to myself as I roll over, as if my restlessness has taken on a human form and is laying next to me. The twitching gets worse, and I finally cave. Fine…I’m up.

I grab the blue pack of “sanity sticks”, though most people tell me that smoking will only kill me faster. I fumble with the flip top before actually retrieving a cigarette, thinking to myself “one day, I won’t be a smoker,” but that day is not today. My feet hit the floor, nearly jump-starting my mind.
Clean your room – you have about 30% motivation today.
Check the child’s room – I think you should clean it this time.
Did we have coffee yet? – make a full pot this morning.
Don’t forget to eat today, I’ve told the body to shut down with me if you keep ignoring us.
Shower today, and let’s try for makeup. The face promised to be nice today.
Don’t forget to make a hair appointment, you’re looking like you don’t care again.
Can you wear something other than pajamas before you put on your uniform? 

This my friend, is why I need my “sanity sticks”. My brain never shuts off, it’s always throwing ideas at me non-stop. I tune it out and walk upstairs, making a cup of coffee. The Keurig has been a life saver, since I don’t have to do very much. As I wait for my cup of energy, I wander to the living room and begin cleaning. Dirty clothes – down the laundry chute, blankets – straightened out and folded. The table looks a little dirty, I should probably clean it off. I glance up at the T.V. – yep, that’s dirty too. The cat’s have their toys scattered around the cat tree – those need picked up. I am just about to lean down when my bladder all but screams at me. Oh…that’s right. I haven’t completely woken up yet.

Even in the bathroom I am bothered by my mind. The sink is dirty – clean that. I grab for the cleaner and rag, when I notice the closet is a little unorganized. Time to straighten this up. I shift the towels to where they are sitting straight, and work on shifting the washcloths and other odds and ends. I’m just about to shut the door when I spot it. Ooh, the vacuum, you know what to do. I throw my head back in defiance, but end up dragging the hunk of metal and plastic to the living room. After ten minutes, the living room is clean and I can put the vacuum back in its home…which stores the bathroom cleaner…which I didn’t use to clean the sink. I know…I’ll just pretend I didn’t see it…I can always clean the sink later. The thoughts kick-start again, this time in the form of small panics. FINE. I clean the sink and turn around. Might as well do the tub too, the toilet needs cleaned. My stomach growls in the midst of all the cleaning. Shit…I forgot to eat. I scramble to the kitchen and pop a slice of bread in the toaster.
Why is it called a toaster? Why not… – don’t you dare try to joke with me, brain. You have had me cleaning like a mad woman this morning. I haven’t even had a chance to…

MY COFFEE!! I throw my head back, wondering how I could forget about something that I consume every morning. I grab the cup and take a sip, nearly spitting it out all over the counter. It’s cold, of course. There are things in my life that just shouldn’t happen if you want me to like you. The most important rule, however…do not ever distract me from my morning coffee…EVER.

The toaster pops, as does my last remaining shred of sanity. Food is ready, I told you to eat. Now you – SHUT UP FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. I work at night, and I don’t want to be up at 9:00 am to be Cinderella, but since you woke me up, I’m going to have a hot cup of coffee and a cigarette. You decided to bark orders at me and I have cleaned THREE rooms in this god forsaken house, before the clock struck ten. Now if you don’t mind, I’m eating my toast, drinking my now cold coffee, and I’m going to sit here and do the one thing you never let me do…

Relax.
Lesson nine: Don’t be afraid to take a moment for yourself. 

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The Musk 

As I toss about in bed, unable to sleep, I clutch at your pillows. How I long for the moments we would go to bed at the same time, but we both know that we have to do what is needed for our family. 

As the tears threaten to free their blue-green prison, I catch it. The faint remains of your cologne dance along your pillows like a ballerina preforming a magical display. I inhale the musk, memories dancing in my head. I fall back to a time where I’d lay my head on your chest and your fingers would slip slowly through my hair, enticing the goosebumps to rise to the surface. You’d snicker and call me a whimp, playfully of course. I giggle as I fail to stifle a yawn. 

The musk lulls me to sleep and you are there in my dream. You stand proud in an impressive suit, your eyes dancing over me. I can’t understand why you are beaming like a child on Christmas until I look down. I’m donned in the most stunning of gowns, one that puts the Disney princesses to shame. I run to you, streets appearing beneath my feet and glass buildings appearing beside me. I turn to glance at the reflection in front of me and gasp. My hair is long, skin is glistening, and teeth are straight and close together. I am the picture of perfection with you by my side. 

You take my hand and we sway to music that only we can hear, in the middle of the busy streets. The drivers don’t honk for us to move, in fact, they take turns swerving around us. They create a protective barrier as we get lost in each other’s eyes. I rest my head against your shoulder, and there I am reacquainted with your wonderful musk. 

I fall deeper into the musk induced slumber, and the walls of our home begin building themselves. We are sitting on the porch, a hand built swing suspended from the beams of the porch. I watch our children play with their children in the sprinkler, while you tell stories of all the things you built for our home. The grandkids stop and giggle in tiny fits, exclaiming “don’t brag, papa!” I take your hand in mine and smile. We know the truth, every inch of this home was designed by you. 

As the dream fades to an end, I stretch and find myself in our bed, alone once more. I turn and take a deep breath, a smile breaking my lips. Even though I’m alone, you are still here. Your pillows were always my favorite, because of how well they preserved your scent. 

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It’s OUR son

When I first met my son’s stepmother, I believed that she rose from hell. Just one look at this woman made every ounce of my blood boil. I know what you’re thinking, “you thought that because you still loved your son’s dad,” and to that I have to say you’re wrong. My son’s dad and I fell apart in a peaceful way, so the fact that I thought he was dating the devil’s reincarnate had nothing to do with a possibility of “still loving him”. No, there was something about that woman that I just couldn’t stand. Maybe it was because she seemed so put together, or maybe it was because she was trying to make an impression on my son, whatever it was, this woman was doomed to be my enemy.

When we first met, I noticed she was the opposite of me in every way imaginable. I was a ticking time bomb of emotions, and she was calm and well minded. I was tired, having just stayed up all night with a child who was very sick, and the bags under my eyes told the story of how I struggled to maintain sanity. She had no bags under her eyes, and her hair wasn’t sported in the messiest ponytail known to man-kind. I was wearing my favorite outfit, well slept in pajamas, and I’m certain now I hadn’t showered in about three days. She looked clean and crisp, almost as if she had been preparing for this day.

Looking back now, I’m sure she had her moments of not wanting to meet me that day, after all, she almost didn’t leave the vehicle. Whether that was my ex’s decision or not, I will never know, but she sat quietly in the seat waiting. Being quiet wasn’t and still isn’t my strong suit, so I asked my ex who she was. When He told me they were dating I laughed it off as if I were saying “Yeah, if y’all are dating, why is she in the car,” and with that little snarky chuckle, he waved her to come up to him. Oh fuck. It’s over now. She walked up to him, taking her place by his side, and it wasn’t until my son reached for her that my hatred began.

My son, the same boy that laid in my bed, body hot from a mixture of the fever and his screaming until the baby Motrin kicked in, reached for this unknown woman. He didn’t reach for me, the woman who was so exhausted that she could barely stand up straight, who gave birth to him, who made sure he was fed and bathed. No, he reached for the unknown, the new face that would probably be gone in a month. A switch flipped in my mind, and it took everything in my power to not scream in her face and take my son from her greedy clutch. I watched as she held him the wrong way and smiled that toothy grin. Jesus, even her teeth were better than mine. I slammed the diaper bag into my ex’s hands and blew my son a kiss. He was to infatuated with the new face, this new person that could be his new mommy that he ignored his real mommy.Once they were gone, I lost my nerve. I cried the ugliest cry, honestly after all these years I can’t top it. That woman took FIVE minutes to steal the heart of my son, while I had taken the last year and few months raising him, fetching his bottles, changing his diapers, bathing him. FIVE MINUTES and she was already more important than I was.

My hatred for her grew, especially when a health issue of mine presented its ugly head. I didn’t want to admit to his father on the phone that I was sick to the point that my mother needed to take my son, and I certainly didn’t want to tell her, because who knows what she may have done. So I bent the truth and told them that I would be cutting his time back with them. I felt like a piece of crap the day I met her at the gas station to pick up an old laptop of mine I let them borrow. The fear and anger flashed in her fiery gaze, and it wasn’t just her pain. My ex was distraught, and deep down I knew it was my fault. All I had to tell them was that this illness was going to prevent me from driving, it would prevent me from being a good mother. It didn’t help that I was dating a real piece of work either. But I opted to keep that a secret, and instead, I made them feel like I didn’t want them around my son.

I’ll have you know the medical issue cleared itself up, and I left the worthless person I was dating. I got my son back and called his father, all but sobbing while I apologized. I was the worst mother in the world, keeping my son from him. His dad seemed ecstatic to have him back in his life, and he said that she would be happy too. I choked back the reply of “I’m not doing this to make her happy” and I’m glad I did. We worked out an agreement on when he would get my son, and he was upfront about the fact that she couldn’t stop thinking about my son. Anger boiled in me to the point I couldn’t hold it back. I remember shouting “she is NOT his mother, I am. She is NOT to try to be his mother, she is a step mother. I AM THE REASON THIS BOY BREATHES, NOT HER.” There is was, out on the table for everyone within earshot to hear. I hated this woman because she was a better mother. This woman wasn’t the reincarnate of Satan, I was. That weekend I locked myself in my room, hating her for being so perfect, hating myself for not being a better person.

It wasn’t until my son was half-way through first grade that I called her and said the one thing we were both hoping for: “Let’s put everything out there, why I don’t like you and you don’t like me. We have to for him.” It felt like forever that we were talking, apologies being thrown back and forth to each other. She apologized for hurting my wrist that day at the gas station, I apologized for provoking her. I apologized for taking him away, and she apologized for overstepping boundary lines. We went silent for a moment, and I knew then I’d have a life long friend, bound by the hands of time. We were all in this together, and our son needed us to get along.

Despite the fact that we hated each other with every fiber of our being, we are getting along well now. There are times I’ll call her when I’m on my way to work, and she will call me to talk about things other than our son. And who knows where we will be when our son is old enough to leave the nests, but I’m sure it won’t be where we were before. She doesn’t know it yet, but if my son ever starts calling her mom too, it will be alright by me. After all she had to deal with when it came to me, she has earned that title.
Lesson eight: Sometimes it’s best to set aside your differences with someone.  You never know the good that can come from it.

Lend me an ear

Christmas has come and past, bringing with it new toys and new responsibilities. My boyfriend and I decided that with the wave of interest in Pokemon, it’d be a great idea to get the kids Pokemon inspired piggy banks to hold their hard earned allowance. The kids were to put the banks in a safe place, where their fragile ceramic bodies could stand with pride.

After almost a month, I came home from work and noticed the left ear on my stepdaughter’s bank was broken off. Living in a home of bleeding hearts when it comes to our five feline friends, I knew this was bound to happen. I decided that the next time I was at Walmart, I’d just pick up another one, since everything that is made anymore almost seems to be made to throw away.

It wasn’t until the weekend after the initial break took place that my own son, being only seven, taught me a lesson. But first, let me rewind to the trade-off. I was at work, and can only imagine that my son used the broken ear as leverage when he asked my stepdaughter to trade. When I left home that evening, Eevee was still on her dresser, broken ear and wounded glory. When I returned, a fat yellow Pikachu stood proud. I shrugged it off, thinking that Eevee no longer held my stepdaughter’s allowance and was now resting in the garbage can. I tiptoed into my son’s room to pull the blankets over him, and when I turned to leave, I caught the glassy gaze of the Eevee in question. She sat in pride on my son’s dresser, waiting for her ear to be carefully glued back on.

When I woke up the next day, my son beamed with excitement. “Mommy! Sissy let me have her Eevee bank, now all we have to do is fix her ear!” I stared at him, almost dumbfounded. He willingly took a broken piggy bank, despite it’s previous owner disregarding it like yesterday’s newspaper, and loved it even though it was flawed.

The Eevee is now fixed, both ears standing proudly on her head, patiently awaiting her eager owner’s response.
Lesson seven: Just because something or someone is flawed doesn’t mean they are less desirable. 

 

The holes in our laundry

It’s funny to me that a simple family chore could teach me to love and appreciate my boyfriend far more than I previously did. Let’s set the record straight for a moment; I despise laundry. I read an article on Facebook about six months ago, talking about a machine that would fold your laundry for you. Sadly, I’ll never be able to afford such a luxury, so of course I’m still folding the clothes of a small army by hand.

My boyfriend and I pick Sunday to do laundry. On good days, the laundry is wash, dried, folded, and put away by their owners. However, about a month ago, there was one Sunday that the laundry was just washed and dried, stuffed into baskets, and placed at the foot of our bed. My boyfriend threw himself into bed that night and asked me that one question no mother/girlfriend ever wants to hear: “Can you fold those tomorrow?” I nodded, though I knew full well I’d have to study all night to learn to force to make those clothes fold themselves.

Boy was I devastated when I woke up the next morning and the clothes were still in their baskets. Damn you, George Lucas, you made me believe the force was real. I dashed upstairs and made myself some coffee, trying to find anything and everything to occupy my time so I could say that I was too busy to fold clothes. Sadly that opportunity never came and I departed to the basement. I knew I’d need all the help I could get, so I turned on some music and started to sort the clothes by owner. Once one person’s clothes were folded, I delivered them to their room so they could do the deed of putting them away. After about an hour and a half, all that was left was my boyfriend’s.

Now out of our two children and ourselves, my boyfriend has the least amount of clothes, yet he has just enough for the week. Some of his jeans are worn, with holes either by design or by the wear and tear of his job. I giggled to myself as I held up his most recent pair of jeans, the ones he bought from Walmart after telling me “these will be just fine”. Being the snarky female that I am, I thought to myself “once again, I was right about the quality of the jeans,” as I tossed them onto the folded pile. His shirts were folded quickly and all that was left were his socks. That’s when I noticed them.

Holes. He had just bought a new pack of socks, and the new ones had holes in them. I shook my head in disbelief, and glanced at his briefs. Those had holes too! His undershirts, flannels, new jeans, socks, briefs. Everything had at least one hole. I shook my head and thought back to the last time he bought himself clothes, good quality clothes like the ones we try to find our children. My heart began racing because in the two years we have been together, he only bought cheap clothes to get him by. But it didn’t stop at the clothes, his shoes were often cheap Walmart specials that wore out after three months use. His work boots were full of holes as well! I couldn’t understand how I didn’t notice.

How could I not notice that his clothes were slowly falling apart, and he was more concerned about the children, about me. How could I not notice that he knew I cared about how I looked, and sacrificed a new wardrobe for articles to add to mine that I’d probably never wear more than once.

My heart dropped to my stomach. This man wakes up every day, goes to work where he has to lift heavy furniture, and come home to help take care of the kids. On the weekends instead of relaxing, he is cleaning around the house, doing laundry on Sunday afternoons. I choke back tears, knowing the last year I have been hoping and pleading that people will see that he and I are the same in terms of working. That just because I’m not as physical at work as he is, doesn’t mean that what I do doesn’t help the family. I was ashamed that the first thought I had when I saw his jeans with holes starting to show their presence was a chance for me to be right.

That night, when he came home and tried to fight off sleep in the recliner, I looked at him with new light. He works every single day to always give our family what we need, and often what we desire. He does this without a single complaint. Meanwhile, I am sitting back arguing with people, saying that my job is just as demanding as his. I walk over to him and kiss his forehead, being cautious not to wake him. I see him with new found love, and the love I feel for him has come full circle.
Lesson six: Love is not about one person, love is two people becoming one. 

Patience, Pig

I can hear the wind blow outside, making the loose snow collide with my window. Even though the snow is but a fine dust, it’s enough to keep me awake. I turn on my side, locking my gaze on the pink Instax mini that I received as a graduation present.
“Summer is almost here, Pig,” I think to myself, almost as if I’m speaking to my camera. “We just have to be patient.” Laughter pours from my television, signaling that Youtube is cycling through videos, hoping someone is watching.

I don’t like the winter as it is difficult to learn with Pig. There are certain lighting settings to make your pictures darker or lighter than what Pig decides, and special tricks to make sure that the pictures aren’t over exposed. It’s also extremely difficult to capture the beauty of winter when the snow is mixed with road salt and sand, turning the pure white snow to an ugly greenish brown. No, the prime time for learning how Pig operates is summer, that way we are both prepared for autumn.

Pig and I have learned that it’s easy to say summer is just around the corner, but we know what we really mean. Summer is for wandering, finding beauty around every corner. It’s for early morning dew, measuring the blooms of the apple trees through Pig’s lens, and breathtaking sunsets that she tries to capture. It’s for a black bikini covered by white shorts and my favorite maroon wanderlust crop top. It’s for once tanned-now paled skin begging the sun for its luminous kiss. It’s for a freckled face beaming, and blue eyes hidden by too-large sunglasses. Summer is two young children splashing carelessly in shallow waters, picnic lunches, and fresh picked strawberries. Pig knows that the summer is her time to shine. She knows her job is to capture all of the summer memories to keep me warm during the bitter cold winter.

In a sense, I’m sure she feels as though she failed me, but it’s the other way around. I let Pig down by not knowing how she works, not knowing what makes her tick. I’ve done the research and I made a promise. Pig and I have big plans this summer, and she can finally show me what she’s made of.