4 AM

A lot happens at 4 am, usually I arrive home, change from my work clothes into pajamas, turn on YouTube and I’m on my way to winding down. However, lately that hasn’t been the case. 

YouTube plays in the background while I am slowly spacing in and out, as if I’m slipping from my skin, in search of answers to questions I haven’t even asked yet. I question my purpose, and wonder if I’m slowly losing my mind. 

At 4 am I refuse to find my reflection in the mirror to the left of my bed. 4 am is not the hour to admire your appearance. 4 am shows all the worry lines and dark circles, the redness in your cheeks from giving your all on your shift, it shows the worry in your eyes because you said the wrong thing when you meant something different. No, 4 am seems to be the hour of over thinking and wondering. 

I come back to earth, glancing at the man sleeping next to me. Tears threaten to break through and flow down my cheeks as I wonder how he does it. How does he handle someone like me? My constant snarky commentary, my constant need to be accepted, and my inability to ignore the hurtful things people throw my way. He watches my panic state while I figure up bills, even though we both know that our income is enough to pull through with extra each month. That’s just another thing I do, worry too much. 

His alarm will go off in an hour, yanking him from his slumber to send him off to work once more. He does it with no complaint. He turns slightly but doesn’t wake. Thank goodness, I’d hate for him to see me without the mask I put on daily. I pretend to be in control, when really there’s a storm brewing in my mind that never seems to calm. Between the constant worries and stress, I’m surprised I haven’t lost all my hair. 

I tell myself that one day things will be different, one day I won’t be as stressed and I’ll be able to ignore the hurtful things people throw my way. One day I’ll come home and be able to fall asleep without my mind roaming the world for knowledge that isn’t meant for me to know. Until that day I still come home and sit in bed until the alarm sounds, waking my boyfriend and ending my day. Until then, I’ll avoid mirrors and lose myself in thoughts at 4 am. 

Reality – Augmented part 1

Last year, around June, Niantic launched the much awaited, highly anticipated augmented reality hit – Pokemon go. For any 90’s child that grew up eagerly watching to see how Ash’s journey would unfold, this was a slice of virtual heaven. Finally we could catch them all. Finally we could be the very best. In my small town, there was at least fifteen to twenty people roaming about, finding the virtual characters, collecting much needed items, and of course, pitting their prized creatures against rival teams. It was perfect in every way, minus the many bugs that popped up. 

Sadly, with any craze, the hype train for Pokemon go started dwindling. For the active players such as myself this was a good sign. The servers crashed less, pokemon still spawned in abundance, waiting to be caught and trained, and less people to swoop in and steal your gym. 

With the warm weather we have been having lately, and the latest dump of generation two creatures, I grabbed a good friend of mine and went a couple towns over. The stops were plentiful and there were many different spawn areas for these creatures. We were in heaven! As we walked and collected items from stops, we deposited our eggs and anxiously waited for them to hatch. We found more generation two creatures than generation one, but we were far from upset. 

The best thing about this virtual world is that you can turn on a mode called Augmented Reality, which makes the game feel even more lifelike. It allows you to “see” the creatures in your phone, wherever your camera is pointed.

A wild ledyba appeared!

For instance, my friend and I returned to our small town and went to the stops we knew of. I turned on my AR mode, and suddenly busted out laughing. I begged my friend not to move as I calmed down. Unknown to him, he had a Ledyba sitting on his shoulders. 

Even though this game has seemed to have dropped off, I still play it, and find much enjoyment from it. Plus it makes me be active. If I want my eggs to hatch, I have to walk. While I hatch eggs I can collect items and catch all the pokemon! I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon, though the cold weather does slow me down. I am currently planning to get a group together during the summer to see how many silly pictures we can get! Until then, I’ll be collecting as many as I can! 

The Master Planner

With each and every day, the members of my home get a little more restless. The cats pace in front of the glass doors, impatient for their feathered friends arrival. My two children are filled to the brim with cabin fever, just itching for the sun to tickle the waters of their favorite swimming spot. My boyfriend and father express how they can’t wait to start their latest project. They plan on redoing our porch and opening up a wall in the living room, giving new life to the unloved side door. My sister, full of hopes and dreams, plans on moving this summer, down to the city where she can become whatever she wants. 

I find it a little odd that I’m not joining in on the celebration of the arrival of summer. The weather will be nice, perfect enough to walk around my small town. But I’m not one to be excited over things like birds or swimming, warm days, or even moving. No, I’m the mother, meaning I know my position. 

With every exciting feature there is hard work before hand. My boyfriend wants to take the kids to the zoo, meaning I have to find a couple days I can take off in a row, plan for us to sleep somewhere, plan the food and gas spendings, and of course whatever else is needed for the unpredictable mother nature. And of course for the car ride down I have to make sure the kids have tablets that are fully charged, their snacks are healthy and something they like, and let’s not forget the potty breaks. 

I’ve never been one to be excited over things, as I am the planner. I plan everything out, making sure that everything we need is something we have. By the time I’m done planning, it’s as if I’ve already been on this trip. Once you’ve gone once, it’s the same thing over and over. 

People often tell me to chill out, just take things as they come. I smile and tell them you’re right, then add it to my list of things to do. You see, I can’t just take things as they come. Perhaps that’s why I see the positive and the negative in every situation, I plan ahead. I’m often looked at as the “party pooper” since I second guess everything. 

I even second guess my drive to work. I know I have about 32 to maybe 35 minutes worth of driving, yet I still leave an hour before. I stop at gas stations to get a pack of smokes and a blueberry redbull – a combination that could easily stop my heart but never does – and the entire time I’m calculating. I’m spending about $10 and this stop has taken about 10 minutes off my driving time. The traffic is light for now, meaning if I maintain the speed limit of 55mph, I should be at work by…

“Ma’am? Was that credit or debit?” A voice snaps me away from my unnecessary internal debate. Shit. There goes another minute. I pay for my items and am right back to the debate. 

This is a never ending cycle. Plan, think, replan, rethink, plan again and again, undermine all planning by overthinking. It’s a wonder anything gets done with me. 

Some days I wonder how my boyfriend stands it, or how he has dealt with it for two years. The constant thinking, the constant replanning because the original plan is just not right. However he deals with it, I wish he would tell me. Instead, he just watched as I slowly descend into the pit of despair that only I have dug. He is a free thinker with an ability to start and finish something “when the time is right”. For him, the time is always right. I stare at my laptop on the floor, filled with half-assed poems and would-never-be-finished stories that played out like beautiful scenes in my head, but lost its glamour once it hit the keyboard. For me, the time was never right. 

My family tells me that my writing used to be so good, and I’d write all the time. It kills me to tell them that my inspiration and my motivation packed up and moved out when I became the boring planner and mother that I am today.

For some reason, I’m just afraid that writing will take away time from my growing family. The family of cats that eagerly await birds, or the two children that can’t wait to dance and splash in the warm water, or the men in my life that can’t wait to transform our home, filling it with all the potential they see in it. 

Meanwhile I will continue planning, I’ll continue being proud of every single one of them. After all, that’s what I do. Plan, worry, and be proud. 

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.