Posts from the ‘Realistic’ Category

Return Adulthood

Sometimes I don’t feel like I am making a difference. Don’t get me wrong, I bet all Americans would be lost without Target and the trusty return line, where you can return crap you shouldn’t have bought in the first place or a gift your daughter-in-law did not appreciate during that recent family gathering. But when I help people take care of their retail therapy regrets, I do not feel as if I’m making much of a difference.

I tell myself that maybe today will be different, as I stand behind the counter and notice three people moving toward my line. Yuck.

The first one is an old lady returning the shower curtain because it didn’t match the beige of her bathroom walls. She complains for about 30 seconds on our lack of color selection before seemingly taking the cue of my lack of response and heading out the door.

The next is a man, returning an embarrassing pair of boxers with women kiss lips on them. Apparently the wife didn’t know him well.. Or the mistress. Who really knows at this point?

The next customer is just a…nothingness. Then there is a whip of hair appearing over the side of the counter. She hands me a sheet of paper. It was a bit crusty looking, maybe a cereal spill. She had to reach to the end of her arm’s length to get it on the counter. She looked to be under ten. Maybe. I could never tell about ages.

“What can I help you with?” I asked, wondering what this was as I looked it over. It was a piece of notebook paper with a list called “Things that have caused me pain” in the upper right hand side of the paper it said the date and “RETURN” in huge block letters.

“Mom is returning stuff later. But I wanted to help sissy. Mom gave me slushy money but I found this in sissy’s room and wanted to return it.” The girl told me.

“Well, what were you hoping to return it for?” I asked, knowing this was not going to be something I could give her money back for. Well, maybe…. I looked over the list. It started with “My parents’ divorce = cost me a normal dating relationship because I always worry I’m becoming too much like my Mom and that then I will not be able to move forward with the relationship.” Also listed was “My brother’s drug problem = cost me trust in family.” Then, a few lines later, “My brother’s funeral = cost me emotional balance.” At the end, it said, “RETURN so that I can be a healthy child again. I do not want to be an adult anymore.”

I frowned at this list and then looked at the girl. She had her wallet open and looked ready to transfer money back to her sister.

“I can help you with this. Hold on.” I told my co-worker I was taking a break and walked over to the girl, “Let’s go get that slushy.” I ordered slushies for us and didn’t let her use her mom’s money. She might need it to buy a ticket to anywhere that wasn’t her crazy family. We mixed the blue and red in our slushies because she had never done that before.

“It was in your sister’s journal?” I asked the girl, wondering absently what kind of mom sends their kid off to get a slushy by themselves. We sat down at one of the mostly clean tables in the Target sit down area.

“Yeah, I heard her crying and I snuck in her room when she went to hang out with Lily.” The little girl leaned closer and said sincerely, “I don’t think she knows how to return things. I don’t know what those are but I know the word return from my Mom. She likes to shop for wrong things.”

I looked at the little girl. I grabbed a book from my purse, called “Rising Strong” by Brene Brown. It was the self-help book I was reading and I figured the sister needed it more. I started to write a note and the girl babbled on about her slushy. “Your sister really loves you and wanted to return the list that was making you cry. I gave her this book because I can’t return life experiences. I know it sucks. My little sister is gone, too. – Target return girl.”

I handed the book to the little girl and said, “When you return a journal page (which I had stashed back in the book), you get a book from me.”

I started to stand but the girl asked, “Most people don’t return pages, do they?”

I sat back down and looked at her eyes, which were so much deeper already than they “should” be. But who decided on what “should” be, when every day something happened that “shouldn’t.”

“No, most people do not. But I am glad you did.” I stood up and walked back to the line.

Sure enough, the mom showed up in my line with a few things to return, including the new Nicholas Sparks bestseller, a clearance cup with little balloons printed all over it and three newborn outfits. I wondered if it was from a family dispute or if another child had been lost.

Right as the mom was about to leave with the girl, I said. “You have a very well-behaved girl. If you ever need a babysitter,” I jotted my number on the receipt, “Let me know.”

She thanked me and absently looked at her daughter. Maybe she will call. Maybe she won’t. But today I hope I made a difference.

When I Die

When I die I don’t want a monument with my face on it. I don’t want a party, with all of my friends mourning/ celebrating my death and all the lousy things they remember about me. I want silence.

I want the world to spin faster, and I want people to be too preoccupied with their lives to remember I’m gone.

Okay, I’m lying.

But still, sometimes I feel that way.

When I die I really want to be there to watch them bury my body. I want to make sure their doing it right, that I’m wearing my favorite jeans and that t-shirt my little sister Kalie made in art class. The one with the uneven pink stripes. I don’t even like pink, but she’d spend a month making it for my birthday, so I don’t want to leave that behind when I go.

I want to hover around in my ghostly form, and watch my mom cooking pasta in the kitchen, my father messing with the car in the garage, and when all of my aunts and uncles and cousins come over to cry over my ugly picture on the mantle, I want to stand off to the side, silently. Because it’s familiar, not being noticed I mean.

I wonder if anyone will even know I’m dead. Or if I’ll have moved too far away from everyone for them to reach me. Maybe someone will find me ‘sleeping’, smelling up the place and finally decide to call the cops or something.

Or maybe I’ll be on a cruise – like that’ll actually happen, but hey, I’m still young so I may learn to love those old people things. I’ll be leaning on the railings, and fall, and because I’m just so damn quiet, no one will realize I’m drowning until they’re miles away. And I can’t swim, so, there’s no way I’m getting back to the boat.

When I die, I want my death to be loud and obnoxious, something I never had the guts to be in life. I want fireworks, and arguments over what flowers to place on my grave, and the satisfaction that every time someone thinks of me, they want to scream – either from the pain of missing me, or frustration, or anger because they hated me so damn much.

I want a 6am parade that wakes up those people next door, the ones who always told me to pick up my pants because they were hanging too low and showing my ass. They know they loved looking at it, those pervs.

And I want thick socks, because they’re probably gonna put me in that part of hell that actually freezes over.

When I die, I’m giving all of my Pokemon cards to Charles, because hes the only one I know who still plays the game. I want my clothes burned so no one can look as good as me, and I want to give my stash of money to my mom so she can finally get her hair done by professionals. My dad can have my phone, because god know he needs something other than his ’90’s flip phone, with half of the buttons no longer working. Everything else I have, they can do what they want with it. I never really cared for it anyway.

And when I die, I want to die peacefully and painlessly.

I don’t want a heart attack, or those weird parasite that you can only get from the Amazon that eat your brains or something. I want to be like those old people who know their going, and kiss their grand kids’ foreheads, hug their children, then fall asleep.

That’s what I want.

Gratitude in Life

by: Rebecca Taylor

The call for submissions to a magazine a while ago gave me the opportunity to reflect on a lot of things in my life – of the people who I have met along the way, of the path I am currently on and the places that it leads. As the administrative assistant at the front desk of a senior’s home I deal with dozens of people in a day – both in person, on the phone and through e-mail. While some encounters may seem insignificant, I’ve learned that even the smallest tasks can have a big impact on the lives of other people – to dispel loneliness, to find someone the information that is going to make their day easier. The simplest thank you can make a big difference and change someone’s day and a smile may be the sunshine in the rain.

 

We can complain all we want about certain things in our lives, but the truth is that everyone is dealing with something. It is so easy to wallow in “me” but it is the little reminders that pop up all around us that help us see that maybe things are not so bad. We have many choices which we can make – one of which is to accept a situation and move on from it. This is a lot easier said than done sometimes for a lot of reasons – maybe because moving on means that we are leaving some people behind, or that they are leaving us behind. Some friends are only really with us for a certain period of time, we may try to keep in touch and we read each other’s status updates on social media – keeping us in the loop of events in their lives – their weddings, the birth of their children, the deaths of pets and people close to them, but our own lives and kilometres may separate us and we lose touch. With some people, we may be grateful for the time we had with them. With the more difficult people we encounter in our lives – we can either become annoyed or take it in stride as an exercise of patience.

 

Everyone comes into our lives for a reason, we have to be grateful for the time we have with the amazing ones and if they leave us – because their time had come to take a different path or God calls them home, we have to realize that they didn’t abandon us, but left us with memories to warm our hearts. When we think of these people, and smile, or hear their voices in our dreams, we know that we have been given gifts. Instead of being angry that these people are no longer in our everyday lives, we have to be thankful for the time that we had together. It is often our outlook that can make the biggest difference in our lives. Brian Tracy an American author said, “ Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.” If we can try to be thankful for the things that happen to us, for the chance to live a life surrounded by kind people or memories of them and beauty which sometimes surprises us in the most amazing ways, we can take on life. Gratitude and positive thinking walk hand in hand helping humans to open doors to amazing possibilities in this journey known as life.

 

 

What are People Saying and Should You Repeat It

This week I decided to share an article that I had written with you. Feel free to comment or share. Thank you.

by: Rebecca Taylor

Communication can be a great thing but sometimes the wrong messages are being sent out. In this age of social media, e-mail forwarding and just plain talk around the town; certain problems have been known to arise. While it can be great to be interested in other people’s lives – sometimes things get out of hand. Rumours tend to pop up – and they can be hurtful. Some rumours are simply misunderstandings because someone didn’t get the whole story, or through the telling the details got skewed like a game of telephone that children play in elementary school. However, some people seem to derive pleasure from making up things and spreading them around. I would like to remind everyone about the importance of getting the facts right before talking about someone else. Before you spread something around – think about the other people involved. Is what you are planning to say going to cause harm, difficulties in relationships etc. Some rumours lead to allegations which could lead to slander.

George Washington said, “Serious misfortunes, originating in misrepresentation, frequently flow and spread before they can be dissipated by truth.”  Think before you speak because while the story might seem interesting now – what if you were on the other side? It is too easy to speak before we think.

For the person dealing with the effects of the rumour – it can be extremely difficult and in some cases severe emotional and relationship difficulties can take place. If you think it is important for someone to know a rumour for whatever reason – you need to think carefully. Sometimes, a rumour can easily be sorted out by going to the person that the rumour is about but this could be problematic as it would mean letting the person the rumour is about – know that there is a rumour and this could cause hurt. This gives us a vicious circle. Shana Alexander (journalist) said, “Trying to squash a rumor is like trying to unring a bell,” so once something is out there, the stigma may be long lasting even though there is little or no truth to what is being said.

We are all responsible for bettering our own lives and that of our communities – rumours are not helpful – they cause unnecessary aggravation. If we all make a conscious effort to think about whom and what we are talking about, we can help minimize the effects of idle gossip. None of us want to be the topic of a rumour and we don’t want the people that we care about to be either. It’s time to take back the conversation by considering what people are saying and should we repeat it or at least question it. You cannot believe everything you hear or read.

The Exchange Policy

Christina Aguilera crooned on my car’s radio: Say something – I’m giving up on you. I quickly shoved my key to ‘off’ position and sweet silence reigned. I sigh, peering through the rain at the shop across the street from where I parked. Bridal and Tux.

Seven months ago, I parallel parked in this very spot, accompanied by my maid of honor and bubbly bridesmaids, all of us smiles and happy tears. That was my dress fitting. Today was the day before the wedding. The now called-off wedding.

The “called-off” part brought a rush of angry adrenaline into my system and I leapt out my car. I lugged the plastic-covered, puffy, fluffy dress out of the backseat. Carrying it in front of me, I couldn’t see a thing, and after almost getting hit by two different taxis and trying to push the pull door, I made it to the front counter of the shop.

A bright blonde in a tight pink dress stood behind the cash register.

Huffing and puffing, I leaned the dress against the counter. “Hi, I’d like to return this.”

The blonde nodded as if completely understanding, but uttered the words: “We have a strict no return and no exchange policy.”

I remembered that from my dress fitting. “Can’t we overlook that for a minute?” I asked, with a pleading look in my eyes. “It’s just been a… crazy few days, and I need to get this off my hands.”

She half grimaced but half smiled at me. As if there was anything even half happy about returning a wedding dress. “Strict policy. Sorry. There’s a consignment shop two blocks over.”

Consignment shop? But I wanted a receipt that attested to the return transaction. I wanted to be sure I had something in return. Something for me to figuratively shake in his face to tell him that I would not leave this situation broken and empty handed. He may have exchanged his love for me for some other younger, blonde woman, but he could not take everything.

The fake blonde with her plastic smile disappeared into the back room, leaving me with the big, fluffy, plastic-covered mass in my arms.

Why did this whole thing seem so backwards? My fiancé told me he’d love me forever, and then he returned his love. Isn’t love the thing that is supposed to have a strict no return – and no exchange –policy? For him, love had no limitations on returns, but I can’t return anything. I’m left cheater and a giant reminder of him in the form of this lacy, itchy, wedding dress.

Facing the Demons Within

by: Rebecca Taylor

The minute his hand came across her face, Dan Shore took a step back, shocked at what he had just done.
“Kirsten, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to hit you.”
“We’ll talk about this later,” said his wife quietly, her hand still against her cheek where moments ago his hand had been. “You’d better have some coffee,” and she turned and left the kitchen heading upstairs. Dan heard a door close, and knew that it wasn’t the one to their bedroom, but to the spare room.
Why did I have to start drinking again? I knew that, that wasn’t the answer to my problems, why didn’t I say no to that first drink when the guys from the factory were going out after work, to try and have a good time, to try and forget that most of us could be out of a job within a few months. Not being able to stay in the same room, where he had struck the women he loved the most in the world, and knowing that she did not want to see him just now, Dan got himself a cup of coffee and carried it outside.
A few hours later, her face tear stained and still feeling shaking from the events of the earlier part of the afternoon, Kirsten walked downstairs wanting to talk to Dan. His actions scared her, she had never felt threatened by him before and now….She saw that he was not in the house, and seeing the late hour, and the fact that his coat was still there, she put her own on, and picked up his and went out to find him, hoping that he hadn’t done anything rash. Before his hand struck her, she wouldn’t have worried about his emotional state, but everything had changed in a second. Kirsten found Dan in his favourite place, sitting on a rock overlooking the lake.
“Hi, mind if I sit?”
“No, here,” he said moving over to give her more room.
“I brought your jacket, I thought you might be getting cold,” she said handing it to him.
“Thank you. Are you okay?”
“I will be, I hope, after we talk.”
“I love you, Kirsten, and I can’t tell you how sorry I am about what I did.”
“What made you do it, Dan? I know that you’re worried about work, but starting to drink again, just when things are so good between us, when we were thinking of starting a family, and now this.”
“If I lose my job, it means that I won’t be able to support a baby. A bunch of us just went to the bar, I didn’t mean to drink but it started as one and then it led to more. I got a ride home and then you asked me about it, and ….”
“I asked you if you’d been drinking because I love you, because I don’t want to lose you to the alcohol that takes over the man that I love like some demon. You know what it does to you.”
“I know, and I promise you, I’ll go back to AA again. I’ll start again, seven years sober and then one time I screw up and I hit my wife. I hate myself for what I did to you, for the look you have in your eyes right now, the fact that there is a space between us, when we used to be able to sit touching watching the sun set.”
“I thought we had something together, but to think that we could bring a baby into the world, it’s impossible, what if you had hit our child?”
“But I’d never,” replied Dan, the hurt showing through in his voice.
“Before this afternoon, I would have said you could never hurt anyone, but I was wrong. How could I know that leaving our baby alone with you would be safe? How do I know you wouldn’t be feeling sorry for yourself and take a drink? Now that you’ve had a drink, your body has the taste again, you’re going to crave alcohol again and if you couldn’t be strong enough to say no to it this afternoon, how do I know that you can do it now.”
“I’m going to get the help that I need to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.”
“But you’d had the help, you’d had seven years of being sober and bingo, one minute destroys that. I did a lot of thinking this afternoon. A long time again, when I was in high school in social studies class, my teacher taught us about domestic violence. I promised myself that no man would ever hit me and get away with it, that I wouldn’t put up with the excuses that so many women do, the I’m sorry, the it’ll never happen again, that if my life ever came to that, I’d pack my bag and leave. I wanted to do that this afternoon, but I found out that making that choice isn’t as easy as I thought it would be when I was sixteen. You were turning your life around when we met, you were in AA, and when I married you, I accepted that I was marrying an ex-alcoholic. In the five years that I’ve worn your ring on my left hand, I’ve never had a reason to doubt you. Today is one of the worst days I have ever had.”
An apology was on the tip of Dan’s tongue, but he didn’t say anything. He didn’t want what he said to sound generic. He watched the tears streaming down his wife’s cheeks. He wanted to brush them away, but was afraid that his hand near her face would frighten her. He knew that no matter what happened that what he had done would always be there. Kirsten had turned her face away not wanting him to see her tears, but what he did see was the bruise starting to form.
I am a monster, I’ve become any alcoholic’s worst fear, to hurt the ones we love. How do I make this right? I’m going to prove to her that I’m worthy again, that I’m the man she married, the one she loves. The possibility of losing my job is nothing compared to the possibility of losing my wife. Slowly, he reached out his hand and set it on hers. Kirsten turned, her green eyes looking into his brown ones, the pain he felt obvious. She took his hand, and felt his wedding ring and rubbed the silver band with the tips of her fingers.
“Let’s go home,” she said after a while. They stood and walked back up the gravel path, hand in hand.
Dan started out the night in the guest bedroom and Kirsten in the master, but neither of them could get much sleep. It was two a.m., when Kirsten knocked on the door of the guest room. She knew that Dan was awake; she had heard him moving around.
“I don’t want it to be like this,” said Kirsten when Dan opened the door. “We aren’t going to fix this if we avoid each other, and I can’t sleep without you beside me. I know that you’re sorry about hitting me. I know you didn’t know what you were doing when you lifted your hand to me, and I will stand by you while you get help, but if it happens again, I won’t have a choice but to leave because I’m not going to live in fear of you.”
Together they made their way back to the master bedroom, where they spent the rest of the night in each other’s arms, each of them trying to let go of the hurt they felt.
In the days that followed, Dan and Kirsten began to count Dan’s days sober, as he attended AA meetings and tried to make things right with his wife. Another battle had begun; Dan would have to start his fight against alcohol again, and to regain his trust with Kirsten. It was going to be a long road to travel, but they were determined to travel it together.

Reflections of the Rose

Inspired by this week’s writing prompt

Mrs. Wilson, my fifth grade teacher, was the first one who noticed I was different. While she was a very considerate teacher to begin with, she was especially gentle towards me.

I’d stayed after school one day for help on a science project, and my somber attitude and disheveled appearance made an impression on her. She sat down in a desk beside me and folded her hands. Sitting that way in front me she looked much like a storytelling grandmother. “Have I ever told you about the story of the rose? I mean about a rose flower, not about you, my dear.”

I shook my head, but grinned slightly at the pun on my name.

“Well. There was once a crimson red rose who lived in a garden. Do you like roses?”

I shrugged. “They’re pretty enough.” I really just wanted to understand my science homework.

“This particular rose was beautiful, but its petals always drooped in sorrow. And do you know why it was so sad? The rose believed its whole life that it was ugly. Now. Next to the garden was a pond, and in it the rose could see its reflection. It stared at its reflection all day long, but the only thing it saw were the thorns, those dreadful, black thorns.  It could not see its petals of beauty or the delicate green leaves along the stem.”

I sat and listened. I had realized that if I humor her story, Mrs. Wilson might let me finish my homework and I could get out of there.

Mrs. Wilson leaned forward in her desk. “Then one day something great happened. A nearby yellow rose told the red rose of all that the red rose couldn’t see in the reflection. The red rose began to understand all that it had missed. Very slowly, but surely, the red rose grew to be a smiling, flourishing rose.” She blinked at me with kind eyes. I gave her a half smile but said nothing. “Do you see?”

I didn’t. Flowers didn’t have feelings. My name was Rose, I was fully human and thus not the rose in the story, and so I didn’t – or chose not to – see the connection. I nodded anyways. “Can we get back to my photosynthesis experiment?”

Mrs. Wilson pushed her large glasses back on her nose. “Yes, my dear, of course.”

Seven ugly years passed before I would fully grasp Mrs. Wilson’s story. She must have sensed I was having family problems, and that was why she chose to mentor me so. But I wasn’t having problems at home – not anymore. I didn’t have a home. I’d left only the night before the story of the rose. I knew that if I hadn’t left that house, I wouldn’t be here. My makeshift home switched from either under the bridge that arched over Highway 5, or under a spruce tree in the depths of a city park. Throughout most of the year in San Diego, California, the weather is wet, and so I spent most nights under that bridge. While I preferred the forest, the bridge kept out the rain better.

Those were dark times – but back to the present. I just graduated high school – it took me an extra semester, but I’d done it. I had just moved into an apartment with two other girls, a new home within walking distance of the Pacific Ocean. All three of us were part of a homeless transition program.

One night I walked along the California beach, just to try something new and take time to think. The December air was biting, and the sand was cold under my bare feet, yet I chose to soak in the sight of the pink sunset instead. I hadn’t thought of Mrs. Wilson in years, but that night her story came flooding back to me. The rose, the pond, the thorns. All through my life I’d never allowed myself to slow down – perhaps because I hadn’t caught a break.  For whatever reason, I could never see what lay underneath my past. I could never see what Mrs. Wilson saw. Back in fifth grade, I saw myself as a wandering waif, alone, dehumanized by the rest of society, and left utterly alone. I believed I was unwanted because that’s all I could see.

Now, walking across the cold sand and looking across the shimmering water, I could see so much more. I saw a dolphin fin appear and disappear somewhere in the distance and my heart leapt for joy. I’d known for at least at least two years now that marine biology was calling my name. I’d just been offered a paid internship at the Marine Biology Research Center.

I was going to accept it. The Rose that existed a few years would have turned it down, no matter how much I knew I’d love the experience. For I was unwanted, and I thought that’s what I’d always be. I was unworthy. Who would want a former homeless girl as an employee? When they offered me the internship, the marine staff had looked past the potential stigma. They looked instead at my report cards, which showed particularly outstanding grades in biology courses.

Because of my new employment, I was on my way to earning enough for college tuition, which meant that I was closer to my future as a marine biologist. This was cause for celebration, if I’d ever had one. I chuckled and hopped around awkwardly in the sand. I twirled about in the water, expressing my new-found freedom. I didn’t care if danced like a chicken or if the bottoms of my feet were numb with cold or if I looked a fool. Mrs. Wilson had no idea how right she was. I was choosing to see the petals, and I’d never felt so complete.

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