Monday, October 31, 2011

The Eighth Year

This post originally appeared as a guest post at one of my favorite blogs Narragansett No. 7, but I thought it was appropriate to share it here as part of "The Living Nightmare" Halloween prompt at The Lightning and the Lightning Bug

The Eighth Year

The sleeping patterns and habits of an eight-year old rarely make any kind of sense, and my sleeping habits were even more of an enigma than that of most eight-year olds. I know I gave my mom fits as a child. Constantly fighting sleep. Constantly crying out her name in the middle of the night. I can remember our mutual frustration in trying to figure out what was keeping me awake. Even so, sleeping didn’t become a major issue for me until my eighth year.

That eighth year was eventful. I remember a lot from my childhood then. I’ve been blessed (sometimes it’s a curse) with an active mind and can hold onto most memories well, and it seems that most of the memories from my childhood come from that turbulent and tumultuous year.

Daddy had just gotten laid off from his job. He is and will always be the hardest working man I’ve ever known, and during the time between his old job and what would become his new and better job, he did everything in his power to provide for our family.  As an eight-year old, I probably couldn’t fully appreciate the sacrifices that he and Mama were making during that time of struggle for our family, but looking back on it as an adult, I do. I realize just how much that period of my life shaped the person I am today, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the lessons learned then. To this day, I try to never take anything for granted.

When Daddy did land his new job, it was two hours away. Until we could all move to our new town, the family was separated, and the rock and protector of the house was missing. Thus began my sleeping woes. Or at least that’s where I think they began. I can still clearly see myself as if looking down from above. There I am, lying in my tiny twin bed, the ruffled and flowered bedspread covering my slight eight-year old form, an army of stuffed animals arranged around me in a protective ring. When it comes to the dark, I’m a chicken through and through. For as long as I can remember, I’ve feared not the dark itself but what may be waiting in the dark, what the dark hides from me. The dozens of stuffed animals that I slept with as a child were a form of comfort to me, a symbolic means of protection from what was hidden in the dark.

In addition to the stuffed animals standing sentry over me, I took the measure of pulling the sheets over my face when I slept. I still practiced this habit until I got married a few years ago. If I couldn't see the dark, then it couldn’t see me. To avoid looking into the darkness is the key. 

To this day, I avoid dark windows. When I look out into that cold expanse of darkness, I can’t help but feel that Something, somewhere is looking back at me. I have stood at windows for long stretches, staring hard into the night, looking for a glimpse of whatever is out there watching me through depthless eyes. Daring whatever it is to jump out and reveal itself. 

Lying in bed at night, the fear is of waking up and seeing Something or someone standing beside my bed, looking down at me. This particular fear is more acute, probably because it actually happened to me during my eventful eighth year. 

After what had already been a long night of going back and forth between her bedroom and mine, trying desperately to get me to go to sleep, Mama finally let me crawl into bed with her. The comfort and relief I felt when I snuggled up to her warm body was indescribable. You see, I had convinced myself as long as someone was in the room with me whatever was lurking in the dark would stay away. 

I was wrong.

I woke in the middle of the night, as I had before and have millions of times since, with the feeling that Something was watching me. I kept my eyes squeezed shut, unwilling to let a drop of the darkness in. I listened.  Mama's soft snores interrupted the silence of the night, but there was another noise, something I've never heard before or since. I don't think I can even describe it, other than it sounded heavy, as heavy and thick as the air in the room felt.

When I finally gathered the courage to open my eyes, a dark figure stood at the side of the bed, bent down over where Mama slept. It was watching her, and it knew that I was watching it. I felt its eyes transfer to me, and pure dread settled into my child's heart. I gasped. I snapped my eyes shut and scrambled to pull the thin sheet back over my face. I lay there for hours, too terrified to move, too paralyzed with fear to even wake my mother who lay sleeping peacefully beside me. I didn't open my eyes until I felt the warmth of morning sunlight on my face. It chased the black void from the room and closed that gateway to Hell.

I still feel eyes watching me sometimes, resting upon me as I move through the darkness of our house, as I settle down to sleep at night. Over the years, I've grown more comfortable with these feelings. I have never seen a ghost, but I have experienced things, especially in my eighth year, that leave me knowing, without a doubt, that something else is out there, watching from the darkness.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Standing Still: a Reflection on Success

                                                                               Source: via Kari on Pinterest

The world rushes by in a blur, and I have to sit down because the movement makes me dizzy. I've always been susceptible to motion sickness, but I've never let it stop me from moving forward. Looking around, I see success. Success and promise for the future. People making their dreams come true, one step at a time. It's a true joy to see that. To see friends taking giant leaps towards their happiness. To see that happiness on their faces and in their smiles.

But what is success? That's a question that's been weighing on my mind a lot lately, as I look at my own life, my career, and towards my future. Sometimes, the world rushes by so quickly that you feel like you might be standing still. You may look at yourself and still see where you were five or even ten years ago and think, is this it? You may stare at those around you and wonder...why not me? It's a natural feeling. It's a feeling that, I think, we all have from time to time...myself included.

I'm twenty-eight years old. Young still, I know. But when I graduated from college six years ago, this is not where I imagined myself to be. Graduating on that December day so many years ago, I foolishly thought things would be easy. I thought I would graduate and start writing for a living right away. I thought I would finish a novel and have it published. I thought I would be a best-selling novelist by now.

But did I think those things? Was I ever really that naive?

When I chose to be an English major in college, surely I didn't believe that a career in writing would ever be simple. Back then, I can even remember joking with my parents and my friends that I wanted to be a starving artist when I grew up. So surely I understood that writing was some kind of a pipe dream, a happily ever after scenario that might never come true...

But I was younger then, and Lord knows, I was idealistic, a dreamer, so maybe I didn't know. Maybe I didn't understand that I would have to have a day job to keep things going, to keep food on the table. Maybe I didn't realize that success in the writing world would have to be measured in baby steps, in a barely perceptible movement forward that would eventually, hopefully move me forward. Maybe I just didn't know that sometimes I would move so slowly towards my goal that it would seem I was standing still.

For some, success might appear to come easy. You might blink and see them already winners in life...even though only a few seconds have passed. For others, success may come slow. It make take its own sweet time arriving at their door. But the fact of the matter is that success doesn't come easy or slow to anyone. As Marva Collins says, "Success doesn't come to go to it."

You may take baby steps to reach it, and you may take giant leaps of faith. You may find your own success in the smile of your spouse or child, in the warmth of your home and the food on your table. You may see success in the pride you take in a job well done or in the support of the parents who love you so much.

What is success?

To me, success is writing everyday. It's loving words and breathing through the characters and stories that form on a page. It's being part of an amazing relationship full of warmth and laughter. It's the dreams that an eight year-old, then seventeen year-old, then twenty-two year-old, and now twenty-eight year-old girl just won't let go of.

Success is around me everyday, and it's always there...whether I'm moving or standing still.

How do you measure success?
Linking up with:
The Blog Entourage

Friday, October 21, 2011

Text-a-Scare: Doors

To: Rebecca
From: Unknown Number
Sent: 3:06am
Received: 3:07am

I’m right outside your door. Which door? I can’t tell you. For your sake, hope you don’t guess wrong. 


Author's Note: This week at Write on Edge we were assigned to "text a scare" in 160 characters or less. Hope you'll come check out the great scares this morning, just click the link below!

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood

Monday, October 17, 2011

An Honor!!

I don't have much time (as I'm about to return to work for my first day after a week's!), but I just wanted to stop by and tell you guys that I'm guest-posting at one of my favorite blogs today (EEP!!!): Do Sweat the Small Stuff! Sweaty is a dear friend of mine and an awesome blogger and writer. I hope you'll visit and check her out! You won't be sorry!

Thanks, Sweaty, for the honor of guest-posting on your blog!!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Girl With Glasses

                                                                    Source: via Jessica on Pinterest

Growing up, I loathed the fact that I wore glasses. It was a curse that I just couldn’t break free of, not even during my high school years when I could have probably switched to contacts. Nope, not me. I stuck with the glasses.

I can still remember that faithful moment riding in the car with my mom, when she discovered my issues with sight.  I was eleven years old, maybe twelve. We were on our way back from some unknown destination, waiting at a traffic light. I don’t know how it came up, but Mama asked me to read the license plate of the car stopped in front of us. It was no more than fifteen or twenty feet away. I couldn’t do it.

Within a week, I was the proud owner of a brand-new pair of glasses. Of course, I picked out the most fashionable worst pair possible. They were blue with some kind of crazy pattern of purples, yellows, and reds and the biggest, roundest lens you’ve ever seen. Nice and inconspicuous. The perfect glasses for a preteen with major self-confidence issues.

I guess at the time I thought they were pretty cool, but God only knows why we make the fashion choices we do.

From the moment I put them on, I hated my glasses. I hated being the girl with glasses. It seemed to define me…and not in a good way. My classmates didn’t tease me over them like you might think. At least not to my face. The real problem with my glasses is that when I put them on I felt completely invisible. And as my school days lingered on, the feeling became more of a reality.

In high school, I remained the girl with glasses. While my classmates and friends graduated to contacts, I didn’t. I couldn’t. I gave up after only a couple of tries at the eye doctor and resigned myself to spending the rest of my days as Invisible Girl. And I wasn’t cool super-hero Invisible Girl with magical powers. Nope, I was self-conscious, nervous, painfully shy Invisible Girl with nothing going for me.

Or so I thought at the time.

Adding to my high school misery always were the taunting words of Dorothy Parker:

“Boys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses.”

And in my little town, that seemed to definitely be the case. Of course, looking back it may be more true that boys don’t make passes at girls who are invisible and always fade into the background…

Nevertheless, high school graduation finally rolled around, and four years of being invisible and hating myself came to an abrupt end. During the summer before college, I got contacts. I was determined to reinvent myself in college and NOT be invisible, and if that meant being the girl without glasses, then that’s who I would become.

My college days were much improved. Whoever says that high school is the best time of your life is lying. Things typically get better. At least they did for me. Without my glasses, I became more confident, more outgoing. If glasses gave me anti-magical powers, then contacts did the exact opposite. But if I’m being absolutely honest here, it probably wasn’t the lack of glasses that made my college days so much better.

For one, college had a much more diverse population than high school. There were more geeks like me. And more book nerds and word nerds. A whole English department full of them in fact! I found my place among them, still myself, still individual and probably still that girl with glasses underneath it all…but reinvented! Comfortable with who I was and who I was becoming. Finally.

The irony of this woeful tale? I’m now married to a man who loves glasses. In fact, I sometimes think he prefers me with my glasses. And so, here I sit, writing about how much I used to hate my glasses while wearing a brand-spanking new pair of glasses that are a hundred times cuter than that first pair. Thank God.

My husband is still sleeping in the next room. Today’s our fourth anniversary.

Turns out, Dorothy Parker was wrong. 

Do you wear glasses now? Did you as a kid? Were you teased or invisible? Or did you love wearing glasses?

Linking up with:

Found the Marbles

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Back in the days before my neuroses.

Brrr-ringg! Brr-ringg!

At the shrilling of my cell phone, my hands begin to shake, palms itching madly. But this is not the typical reaction of a woman in love. My sweating and shaking is more from fear than flirtation.

I’ve been expecting this call, dreading it. I want to answer, but physically, I just can’t. I can do nothing but stare at the phone until it finally beeps, signaling my missed call.

When I log onto my computer hours later, I receive an instant message from him. Safely hidden behind my screen, I’m gutsier than I was earlier. I always am. The computer turns this shy girl into a compelling and confident woman. I wish I could hide behind it in every aspect of my life.

I tried calling earlier. His message carries a hint of his frustration, or maybe I’m just imagining it. I don’t immediately respond.

I should tell him that I’m a neurotic mess. I should tell him that my nerves have gotten the best of me. I should confide that I hate phones, that my social anxieties turn me into a sweaty, blubbering mess. I should reveal that I’ve avoided past relationships because of this anxiety.

And while I’m busy thinking of what I should tell him, my phone rings again.

My pulse quickens. He’s caught me this time, cornered me and removed avoidance from the equation.


His instant message pops up on my computer screen as the phone continues to ring, and despite all of my fears, I gather my courage and answer.  


Our first conversation is awkward. As expected, I sweat a little, but I keep talking anyway...for hours. And when he calls again the next day, I answer without hesitation, knowing that to this guy I’m compelling and confident even offline. 

Author's Note: This memoir post is in response to the Write on Edge Remembered prompt this week:

In “On Writing” Stephen King wrote, “The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.”

Write a memoir post – first-person and true – inspired by that statement.
Word limit is 300.

I still have a phobia of talking on the phone, but thankfully, my now husband was able to alleviate those fears then long enough to make me fall completely in love with him. Our online relationship evolved to a telephone/long-distance relationship after that fateful phone call. We're celebrating our four-year anniversary on Thursday of this week.

Happy Anniversary to my Once and Future Geek!! I'm glad I answered the phone. :)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

No Mister Sandman

Author's Note: For this week's Flicker of Inspiration prompt, we were to be inspired by The Dark of Night. We could go scary or not, and of course, being Goth Girl, I chose scary. What follows is a character sketch. I've written about a character called The Dreamkeeper for a long time. He's a creature that hands out dreams at night, keeping them all tucked away in boxes in the clouds, each with a neat label and ribbon to identify it. He's always a very pleasant character. The character below is his exact opposite, and trust me, he's no Mr. Sandman. 

No Mister Sandman

In the dark of night, he waits. He waits for everything and for nothing all at once, hiding in the shadow in the corner of your room and waiting, always waiting. You’ll soon fall asleep, and then he’ll be at your bedside, leaning down at your sleeping face, stealing your thoughts as if they were the most precious of jewels.

And then, you sleep, and he waits no more.

In his limited amount of time, he snatches away your dreams. He eats them one by one, savoring each sumptuous bite. You won’t know he’s there, because in many ways he’s not. He’s just a figment of your imagination, a product of the darkness and too much spicy Thai. At least that’s what we tell ourselves.

But we all know that he’s there, waiting in the darkness, eating up our dreams.

He replaces each dream with a nightmare, constructed with purpose, handmade just for you. In a few hours, you’ll wake with a start, eyes searching wildly in the darkness, mind desperately holding on to the last vestiges of memory from your nightmare.

Mercifully, he lets you forget most, but not all. Sadistically, he leaves threads of remembrance, a flash of the face of the man chasing you, a glimpse of the monster under your bed. These threads of memory are how you know he’s there. And though your gasping breath masks the sound of his frenetic giggles, you still know he’s there.

He’s always there, and when the lights go out, he appears, a soul with no purpose but to terrify you, to awaken your nightmares. He’s no Mr. Sandman, but he does bring you dreams, dark and terrifying dreams that will haunt you long after you wake.

He waits through the day and longs for the night, longs for that moment when your lids feel so heavy that you can’t fight sleep anymore. He lives for that moment, waits for it always.

In the dark of night, in the shadowy corner of your bedroom, he’s waiting. Won’t you go to sleep?

Do you still have nightmares?

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Cathedral

                                                                                  Source: None via Bobbie on Pinterest

The smell is what you notice first. It permeates the air, invading every breath you take, sinking into your hair and skin. It’s offensive, not something that you would spritz on as a perfume, and yet, I kind of like it. I relish it and the feeling of the crisp morning air.

This moment of silence at sunrise is the most magical part of my day. It’s filled to the brim with possibility, with just a hint of excitement.

I can feel their own early morning excitement and energy as I make my way down the hallway, hay and cedar shavings crunching under my boots.  Hushed nickers greet me, begging for the apple treats they know are in my pockets.

The barn is massive. It reminds me of a cathedral, with its soaring ceilings and the filtered sunlight streaming in. I worship here daily.

Marveling at His gorgeous creations, as they nudge my back pocket or carry me over fences and fields.

Praying for peace and patience, as I begin a new day.  

There is no finer religion than losing yourself in His work and beauty. I soak it in now, along with that unmistakable smell of manure and sweat.  

Author's Note: This week's Write on Edge assignment was to describe a setting, to take our readers to a certain place. The word limit was 200. 

If you enjoy writing, consider stopping by The Lightning and the Lightning Bug: a Community of Writers. We are a small, supportive network of writers, both experienced and new, sharing our words weekly. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Pants on Fire

It’s a real wonder that this blog post exists at all. I barely had time to type a word or two between scratching my nine fire ant bites. Yes, I have nine fire ant bites, and this is probably the third time I’ve found myself standing in a fire ant bed this season. I’m not having good luck with ants this year.

I had just arrived back at my parent’s house after a lovely day of shopping and Mexican food. It was an extremely successful shopping trip. I purchased a new writing desk at a really great price at a local furniture store. That’s the other reason that this post almost didn’t get written. Despite the fact that a writing desk should be used for writing, I haven’t been able to stop staring at it long enough since I bought it to actually get any writing done. It’s so pretty, and I’ve dreamed of having my own writing desk for a long time. But I digress, as usual.

Anyway, I was back at my parent’s house, loading up my Volkswagen with all of my new treasures. I typically park my car in the yard at their house to avoid taking up driveway space. I happen to know that their yard has several fire ant beds. In fact, my Daddy, just before we left for shopping, had warned me to avoid the fire ant bed beside my car. But it had been an entire three hours since that fateful reminder, so naturally, I’d forgotten all about it.

I remembered soon enough though. When surprising things like getting attacked by hundreds of fire ants happen, you tend to react as if in slow motion. I know this because it seemed to take ages from the time I looked down at my foot, realized it was covered in fire ants, and actually moved away from the bed. And fire ants don’t need ages to climb all over your legs and start biting you. Trust me. Again, I know. 

As I discovered my grave mistake, I started shaking my right leg as though it was on fire. At this point, I hadn’t realized that both legs were covered in ants. So I continued to play hopscotch up the driveway, slapping at my leg and squealing at my Mama to come “help me!” For those who know me best, you may know that coordination is not one of the blessings I possess, and the coordination it takes to knock fire ants off your legs while running to your mother for help is impressive to say the least.

When I reached Mama, I found that my left leg was covered in ants as well. This increased the amount of awkward dancing exponentially. Mama’s protective instincts kicked in pretty quickly though, and soon we were both slapping at my legs and stomping the ground in perfect synchronization.  Cue more awkward dancing.

In our fit of slapping and stomping, we realized that my neighbor, who had probably been enjoying a nice nap in the rocking chair on his front porch before all our racket, was now curiously watching our antics. The only thing better than finding yourself in a fire ant bed? Having an audience for the occasion!

I’m just glad I had the presence of mind not to rip my pants off in the front yard, although that might have saved me from getting bitten nine times. At the end of the day, nine fire ant bites is still better than getting arrested for indecent exposure. And mark my words, the next time I visit my parents I’m parking on the driveway, someone else can take the grass. 

This morning I'm linking up with The Lightning and the Lightning Bug's Dare to Share prompt. The prompt theme is: Embarrassment. Come check us out!

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