Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ode to Katney: the Odd Couple

For me, friendship has always been an elusive creature. I’m not skilled at making friends, and I’m even less skilled at keeping them. I probably have several social disorders that compound my problem, but to put it most simply, I’m shy, awkward, and self-conscious. Not the best combination when it comes to social situations. 

High school was hell. The phrase “fish out of water” comes to mind, and boy, was I. Flipping and flopping and gulping for breath as I navigated a dry land that was foreign to me and impossible to grasp. Needless to say, I wasn’t popular. 

I had friends, though they could probably be described as acquaintances at best, because I could never quite let them in all the way. Anxieties constantly dictated my every move, and before I knew it, I was pushing someone away for some stupid reason or worry. It was the one thing I could count on. 

I can still count on it. 

But not too long ago, something changed. I made a friend...and have kept her for almost two years. 

As far as longevity goes, I’ve had friendships that have lasted longer, but what sets my relationship with this friend apart is its depth. She knows me, knows the flaws, the quirks. And yet, she still likes me. 

She knows my anxieties, too, can probably list them by name, and instead of judging me for them or cutting ties with me because of them, she accepts them all. Accepts me. 

I can say with certainty that only a few people have accepted me, me and everything about me. I guess it’s hard to love a neurotic, phonophobic, anxiety-filled, obsessive weirdo who loves and feels with her entire heart. But this friend, she loves me. 

We couldn’t be more different. She’s never afraid to share her opinion, never concerned by what someone may think. Our viewpoints and beliefs are as opposite as cats and dogs, and we fight over them like cats and dogs, too. But we’re still friends. 

And she’s taught me what true friendship is. She’s taught me that a missed phone call or a passionate fight are not the ends of a friendship but just the parts that make it real. And when I try to push her away, she pushes right back, unwilling to give up on me or on what makes this friendship the friendship of a lifetime, especially for a social pariah like me.

Author's Note: Whitney's the best buddy a girl could ever ask for. She's honest, insightful, and loyal. We clash on as many things as we agree on, and yet, it works. Much to Whitney's dismay, not too long ago, I even decided that we needed a "friend name" to seal our friendship forever...mwahahahaha! Our "friend name," cleverly, is Katney, and I'm pretty sure Katney will last until the end of time. Love you, friend!

This was written for the Write on Edge RemembeRED prompt: Exploring Friendship

For great writing, click on the button below:

Write on Edge: RemembeRED

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Motherly Meltdown

I won’t lie. This week’s A Flicker of Inspiration prompt had me stumped. I don’t like it when prompts stump me. In fact, I get down-right annoyed when that happens. In typical badger fashion, I growled and groaned around the house this weekend, as I wracked my brain for a story to tell. 

The prompt challenged us to write an "It's Not What It Looks Like" scene. A scene where a colossal misunderstanding leads to something funny or drives the plot in some way.

I thought about it. And nothing came to mind.

Not a thing.  

And then, as it so often happens with these sorts of things, an idea fell into my lap. Thanks in part to some home improvements and my parents being over for the weekend. I’ll explain that at the end.

Behold, an actual response to the most challenging prompt I’ve faced:

Motherly Meltdown

It couldn’t be true. It wasn’t true. Not her baby. Not her sweet baby girl. Never.

But it was true. The evidence was in her hands.

Sarah’s body shook as she stared down at the tiny plastic bag. Tears filled her soft brown eyes, and she surrendered to the tragedy of it all as they began to fall in great drops, dampening the tiny bag and her shaking hands.

Emily had always been such a good child. Quiet, sweet, never a moment’s trouble to her or her father. She supposed she’d just been hiding this secret life from them all along. The sneaky little minx.

Sarah stood up abruptly, let the small bag of pot and clean pairs of panties she’d been putting in Emily’s underwear drawer fall to the floor. A glance around her daughter’s perfect purple room made her anger dissipate and the nausea creep in. Emily still had teddy bears for God’s sake. Show jumper trophies and ribbons lined the shelves along her ceiling. A poster of that ridiculous-looking Justin Beiber hung over her bed.

She was just a little girl. Fifteen-years-old. A baby.

And yet, not a little girl or baby anymore. If she could smoke pot, she was neither.  Sarah’s head spun as images of Emily danced before her eyes.

Emily as a black cat at Halloween, at every Halloween since she could crawl. “What do you want to be this year, baby?” “A black cat!” “Again? Hadn’t you rather be a princess or maybe even a witch?” “No, I wanna be a black cat!”

Emily as a graceless ballet dancer, wearing a plush airplane costume and sticking out hopelessly amongst her fellow dancers on stage.

Emily as a bookworm and excellent student, bringing home a report card with straight A’s and begging for ice cream as a reward.

Emily as a pot-smoking hipster with a lip ring and pink streaks in her hair….but wait, Sarah was getting ahead of herself. Still, the lip ring and pink streaks were sure to follow. After all, her daughter was a delinquent drug user now. There was no telling what would follow.

Suspension from school. Pregnancy. Jail time.

Emily’s life was over. And, thus, so was Sarah’s.

The other moms from Bunco would pass down their judgment harshly. She would be shunned from the Bunco table, cast off into a cruel, Bunco-less world.

Her church friends would pray for her, then shake their heads behind her back, tsk-tsking to themselves and wondering where she had gone so wrong. Hell was a certainty.

Nosey and vicious co-workers would lament about Sarah’s situation in front of their boss. Bossman would then call her into his office on a Wednesday and tell her that she’s fired for being such a horrible mother and for having such a pot-smoker of a daughter.

The media was sure to get ahold of the story, and once they did, unwanted fame would follow. She would cry as Oprah admonished her actions on an ugly orange couch. She would wince as her name and face were flashed on Inside Edition and Entertainment Tonight.  The Bad Mother.

Sarah’s spiral into madness was reaching its crescendo, when Emily bee-bopped into the room. “Mom, hi!” Her voice was spunky, sweet, not at all what Sarah imagined the voice of a gruff, pot-smoking hippy would sound like. A second wave of nausea hit her, as another imagined nightly news headline scrolled through her broken mind:

Pothead Daughter of Ruined Mother Adopts Fourteen Pot-Bellied Pigs, Marries a Gang-Banger, and Moves to a Commune.

Oh, the horror!

Gathering all of her remaining composure, Sarah bent down, picked up the small bag of pot from among the pink panties strewn on the floor, and met her daughter’s beautiful blue eyes. But before she could open her mouth and begin the never-ending trail of curses that she would lay upon her daughter, Emily interrupted.

“You found Yuki’s catnip!” She chirped, snatching the bag from Sarah’s limp hand and running from the room in search of her obese tabby cat.

With jaw slack and mind still racing, relief trickled in, and Sarah sighed, comforted by the thought that she wouldn’t have to live in a Bunco-less world after all. 

As I said, this story was inspired by my parent’s visit to our house over the weekend. They helped us put up tile in our kitchen, and at one point, my Mama fumbled through my junk drawer (can't write those words without a shout out for Dawnie, you'll know what I mean :) oh, and VISIT HER BLOG, you won't regret it) looking for a marker to mark the tile with. In that junk drawer is a tiny bag of catnip that closely resembles another substance.

Thankfully, my Mama didn’t quite react like Sarah, but I did wonder what must have gone through her head at the first glance of that bag…

This was written for A Flicker of Inspiration prompt: "It's Not What It Looks Like." If you haven't already, check out this fun and engaging writing community by clicking the button below:

Saturday, January 28, 2012

These Hands of Mine

As I stood in the kitchen the other night, peeling potatoes and preparing supper for myself and my husband, I was struck by the motion of my hands. They slid over the potatoes confidently, quickly. They grasped the peeler with familiarity and determination.  They almost made me look as if I knew what I was doing.

And they so strongly reminded me of my mother’s hands that it caused me to stop for a moment and stare. I was mirroring the motions that I’d watch her make a thousand times before; it was almost as if they were her hands.

I’ve always been ashamed of my hands. They’re slightly pudgy. Stubby looking, if you ask me. But looking at my hands as I peeled those potatoes, I saw my mother’s beautiful, elegant fingers, and I saw just how much of her I had inside me, even in my hands. It was surreal to look down and realize that such a simple thing, a thing that I’ve taken for granted a thousand times before had actually become a part of me.

Looking at them then, in the clarity of that moment, I realized that my pudgy and homely hands were in fact the perfect and beautiful combination of both her and my father’s hands, though they may not look like either.

From Mama, these hands of mine can confidently create meals for my family, meals that bring me joy and pride as I almost instinctively follow in her footsteps in the kitchen. And it’s so much more than peeling potatoes. I see her also when I tenderly touch the forehead of a sick husband, back of hand to skin, pursed lips, a softly spoken, “Are you alright?” And it takes me back to days when only a Mama could set things right again.  

And of course, l see Daddy’s hands, too, in every callus and scar on mine. When I was in high school, I had an after school job at a local barn. I cleaned stalls and fed horses and basked in every moment of it. It was a hard job. There were days when I didn’t want to go, especially when it rained. But I always went, and on those days, Daddy would work alongside me, knee-deep in mud and manure, his hands competently helping his teenager earn money to buy books and movies and all of the things she wanted and loved. He didn’t have to, but he did.

I see his hands in mine, too, when I take the hands of my nephew to either toss him towards the sky or to keep him from bolting away in the way that toddlers are wont to do. I remember holding Daddy’s hand like that as a child, hanging from his strong grip like a monkey and knowing that he would never let go.

When I look down now, I see my own hands travel furiously over the keyboard. They’re always racing to get the next word down and to breathe life into a character or a feeling. They are my hands, pudgy and homely at worst. At best, like me, they are the sum of all my parts and the parts of the people who raised me. 

Author's Note: Sometimes all it takes is looking at a "flaw" in a new way to realize it may not be a flaw after all. I don't think I'll ever see my own hands in quite the same light again. 

What do you think of your own hands? What do you see when you look down at them?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A January 26th Resolution: No More Excuses

In last week’s paper, a fellow local columnist wrote about her New Year’s resolutions. Her title even said so, “My New Year’s Resolutions.” I won’t lie to you; it was the last column in the paper that I read. I don’t typically participate in setting any New Year’s resolutions for myself, so they aren’t something that are terribly interesting to me as a rule. I think it’s great that you want to lose weight or take anger management classes, but I’d rather read about your journey doing those things...not just a declaration that you will be doing them. That’s just me. 

However, I’m glad I put my prejudice against New Year’s resolutions away long enough to read this column. To begin with, it was a typical New Year’s resolution column. Eat less sugar. Exercise more. This is going to be the year I get healthy and lose weight! Inspiring stuff, indeed, but what I found most inspirational about this typical resolution column was a “Finish What I Started” resolution that hit close to home for me. 

This particular columnist is a marketing writer, a freelancer. Her columns are written, much like mine, in her spare time. Her day job is writing copy for other ventures, but like most writers, she dreams of writing a book and being published. This dream relates closely with her “Finish What I Started” resolution. Because of her “day job,” she doesn’t have the time to finish a novel that she’s been working on for many years, but even more than the time problem, there’s the entire issue of going from writing copy for work and writing for pleasure. 

You’d think it would be easy. Writing is writing, right? Well, the more I thought about it the more I realized that that’s not entirely the case, at least not with this writer. 

I’ve told you how I sometimes transform into a badger when I write. This happens no matter what I’m writing, be it blog, column, or fiction. I get in the zone and just don’t like to be disturbed. It’s my little writing quirk, I guess. Interestingly enough though, I transform in other ways, too, depending on what I’m writing. Since realizing this, I’ve come to the conclusion that I have Multiple Writing Personality Disorder, a conclusion that’s given me reason to pause and reevaluate my writing habits. 

Allow me to introduce you to my different Writing Personalities, in no particular order. 

First, there’s Katie the Columnist. She writes for a small-town, Conservative, Southern paper. She shares personal stories of cooking disasters and hanging out with her husband, opinion pieces about how politics annoy her and the joys of pet adoption and rescue. She has to remember her audience and keep some things to herself. Not everyone in her hometown wants to know EVERYTHING. She’s a pretty happy gal, and her voice reflects that happiness to her readers. Amazingly, she always manages to get her point across in about 600 words, which is her limit for the paper. 

Second, there’s Katie the Fiction Writer. She’s weird. Imaginative. Kooky. Dark. She likes to write about ghosts and murders. She pretty much is all over the place and likes things that way. There’s no reigning in anything with this Katie; whatever crosses her mind goes onto paper and becomes a story. She sometimes even dabbles in bad poetry, because with her, there are no boundaries. Writing is a passion, an art form, and she covers the canvas with her words, be they good or bad. 

ALMOST all Katies converge with Katie the Blogger. She’s the same Katie as Katie the Columnist but a little more...Katie-like. She doesn’t worry about over-sharing in this space. She shares neuroses and worries, self-doubt and self-reflection. She tells everyone about her cats and her dinners, the way she’s bitchy and weird and sarcastic. She even shares her fiction and poetry sometimes. Mostly, she writes about life, the good days and bad days, the boring and exciting...anything and everything. 

But then, there’s Katie the Freelancer. This Katie is living the dream: getting paid to write!! To think, someone would actually give her money to do what she loves! She works hard at her craft and manages to squeak out decent work under her deadlines...despite a lifelong struggle with procrastination. She gratefully accepts her editor’s assignments and pours everything she has into every article. To put it simply, she writes within the lines. 

Unfortunately, Katie the Freelancer is starting to take over all the other Katies. I no longer have the time I used to have to dedicate to writing for my blog and writing my fiction...particularly the novel I’m working on. Time constraints aside, it’s difficult to go from following-directions Katie the Freelancer to write-outside-the-lines Katie the Fiction Writer. My fellow columnist was right. The transition is strangely hard. I get in a certain mindset, and it's like I forget how to write anything else...

But that may just be my excuse. It seems like there's always a reason to not do something. 

Through writing, I have been able to be myself and to love myself...all four or five versions of me. :) I love how honest and open writing let's me be, and I love that I'm able to do even a little bit of it professionally. But as I move forward into a new year, I'm going to set more time aside for finishing what I've started. Novels. Short stories. Dozens of blog drafts. I'm going to work on making that transition from Katie the Freelancer to Katie the Everything Else a little easier. No more excuses. As far as resolutions go, I think it's a pretty good one. 

Author's Note: Do you have a hard time juggling your different writing roles? Do you ever find yourself making excuses for yourself when you can't finish a certain project? Do you have any January 26th Resolutions?

Linking up this week with one of my favorites, "Thoughtful Thursday"! Be sure to click for great blogs!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


I have seen four generations of you.

The first made me. With strong and sure hands, he crafted me from white oak and memory.  A humble artist weaving and twisting, weaving and twisting. Until, there was me.

The second watched from a distance as I was made, too busy to pay me much mind. Fiery in spirit, she had her own sense of self and creativity. She was the force to be reckoned with, the dreamer with too many dreams and too much passion.  I would never know her so well as I knew her child.

I was gifted to him, the child of the second, the beginning of the third. And I took my place in his home, where I watched his family grow. At first, it was just me, him, and his wife. Then there were children, a dog, and a cat. Years passed, and I grew older. I watched this third generation provide for and love his family, and I knew that the love and pride that had been woven into me by the first was present in the third.

Looking back, I have lived a full and long life, though my handle has worn thin, and my splits are stained with time. Recently, I became a gift again and now find myself at home with the fourth. She looks at me often and with pride. I’m placed on a handmade stool in a prominent spot, where I watch her weave much like her great grandfather did so many years before. This fourth generation doesn’t weave wood to make baskets. Instead, she weaves intricate tales with a voice that is her own…and yet, she is a part of them all.

She has the artistry and skill of the first. The passion and dreams of the second. The love and pride of the third. She is you, the fourth.

I have seen four generations of you. I have witnessed the stories of your family, woven together through time and through me, a flawed and sturdy white oak basket, a holder of memories. 

Author's Note: This was written for the Write on Edge RemembeRED prompt: Personification. It went like this:

Do objects have a memory? Does a rocking chair hold the essence of the snuggles it has witnessed? Does a pottery mug remember the comforting warmth it offered a struggling soul?

The dictionary defines personification as “the attribution of a personal nature or human characteristics to something nonhuman, or the representation of an abstract quality in human form.”

This week, tell a piece of your story from the point of view of an object who bore witness.

The white oak basket my Papa made long before I was even born has wanted to tell its tale for awhile. I thank Write on Edge for giving it the chance. 

Write on Edge: RemembeRED

Sunday, January 22, 2012

All the World's a Cage

The steps led nowhere. Like some kind of an empty promise, they intrigued you, filled you with hope, and then left you standing disappointed and alone. Ada stood now, disappointed and alone, at the top of the steps, looking down at a valley of nothing in a country of nowhere.

Countless paths had led her to the same conclusion, and yet, in her particularly hopeful and naive way, she kept going. Always looking for a means of escape, a different kind of ending to the story she’d been living over and over again.

But there was none.

She was as disappointed and alone as she would always be, stuck in a world where steps led to nowhere and paths led to nothing.

Dwelling did no good, though, so Ada turned around and went back down the steps to nowhere into the valley of nothing.

It was time to eat. Although what they passed for food could barely be called that at all. Tasteless and vile cardboard, at best. At first, she wouldn’t eat it. She refused and instead searched the aimless paths for other options. After finding none, she forced the garbage down. Their prison food provided her with the nourishment she needed to keep fighting, keep searching for an escape.

A water source was located in the valley as well, dirty and contaminated water was better than no water at all. Ada drank thirstily and then started when one of her captors squealed and called her name.


The little girl couldn’t have been more than five. Innocent and bright-eyed, an obvious victim herself. Ada felt towards this small child and didn’t blame her at all for her own imprisonment. In fact, she suspected the child might be a prisoner herself. And Ada thought that was a real shame indeed.

With empathy in her heart, she looked to the girl and smiled.

And the girl squealed again. “Mama! Mama! Ada just smiled at me!!!”

Ada’s smile faded as the girl’s mother suddenly approached. She was tall, lean, and had vicious look in her eyes. She was the most feared of Ada’s captors, the most hated.

She spoke, and her voice was filled with a mixture of exhaustion and mild distaste.  “Elizabeth, darling, don’t be silly.” She sneered down at Ada; her derision and disgust obvious. “Rats don’t smile.”

Author's Note: This was written for a Lightning and Lightning Bug Flicker of Inspiration prompt: Shuffle. We were supposed to have a major shift in tone within our story. To read some great stories, visit:

Friday, January 20, 2012

When You Lose a Follower...

My worth is not measured in the number of Facebook "friends" I have. Nor is it measured by my Klout score or the number of followers or subscribers to my blog. The amount of comments I receive on a particular blog post does not reflect my importance or value as a person. I am not equal to the sum of my social media parts.

I should tape the statement above to my mirror. It's just one of the many things that I should read daily as a mantra, because YES, each part of that statement has been a lie at some point during the time that I have had an "online presence." I'm nearly ashamed to admit that, but I suspect I'm not the only person who has struggled with this sense of their online self.

When I first joined facebook, I was excited about the prospect of connecting with friends, both old and new. And, at first, facebook was just that: an opportunity to catch up with old friends and learn more about new friends. Then, it started becoming High School All Over Again. I worried over my friend count. I worried over the amount of likes on my status updates. I worried that So-and-So didn't like me for whatever reason.

I was disgusting.

And I have to admit I've almost always been That Girl. The girl who wants everyone to like her, the girl who wants no enemies, the girl who measures her self-worth by how others see her. This is not an easy thing to share with you (although, I've shared it before), but this space is for truth and honesty, and this is Who I Am.

Lately, I've been working on making this Who I Was.

When I logged into my Blogger Dashboard a few days ago, I noticed that I'd lost two followers. This isn't the first time I've lost followers, and it won't be the last. I may even lose followers because of this post. I've learned that this is a fact of blogging, and I'm mostly okay with that. And with Google Friend Connect possibly going away, eventually, it won't matter at all.

As a writer, I want to be validated by my readers. I want to know that what I'm writing is interesting, easy to relate to, fun to read. But at a certain point in this journey, I had to ask myself: even if I didn't receive a single comment, even if no one read my blog or my writing, would I still write?

The answer was unequivocally "YES." I would write and have written without a single reader's eyes seeing my words. I would write and have written without any followers, subscribers, or facebook friends. I would write and have written if my ever-important (please read with the sarcasm that was intended) Klout score  didn't exist.

I am forever grateful for the people whom I have connected with through social media. I am forever grateful for every reader and follower and comment. I will always be grateful that someone is willing to read my words.

But I will not be defined by any numbers or scores. I will always be me whether you like me or follow me or not. Now excuse me while I go and try to forget all my friend and follower counts, so I won't get my feelings hurt again.

Author's Note: I think we all struggle with insecurities from time to time. This is a reflection on one of my struggles. I'm not saying that I obsess over this all the time, but I would be lying to say I've never been affected by it in some way. 

Now it's your turn: how do you handle your online presence? Do you ever memorize friend counts? Or refresh a page a million times in ten minutes to see if you've gotten a new comment?


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

In the Badger's Den: Living with a Writer and Living to Tell About It

Living with a writer is hard. I know this because I've lived with myself for twenty-eight years, and trust me when I say, I'm not easy to live with. Ask my husband. We both consider ourselves experts on the subject. I'm difficult to live with despite the fact that I'm a writer...and the fact that I am has only managed to complicate things.

The complications don't come from my words or my work. They come from within, because when I write I become someone something different.

Most of the time, I transform into a temperamental and pissed-off badger (my husband's description, not mine), hell-bent on getting a story down on paper and not caring who I hurt to make it happen. Once transformed, even a sneeze can provoke a particularly evil version of the stink-eye and annoyed little huffs and sighs. And no, this badger doesn't want to hear about a particularly cool part of your video game or that the cats just did something incredibly cute. To put it simply, when I write, I'm usually a bitch.

Cute but deadly.
But sometimes...sometimes I transform into something a little different. Sometimes, I become needy, helpless. Sometimes I want you to speak, to edit my work, to provide me inspiration. And don't you dare look back at your video game until you've given me what I need...or else the badger will return. Yes, that's a threat.

I feel sorry for my husband. Even as I write this, he has withdrawn to his respective corner of the couch, as far away from me as possible, careful not to move too much in one direction or the other, lest he should disturb the beast. As self-aware as I am about my problem, I can't do much to stop it. I know what a bitch I can be, but when I'm writing, it's like I can't control it. Just call me Ms. Hyde, I guess.

And Jeremy puts up with it all! He not only puts up with it but is the most supportive and wonderful husband I could ask for. I'm one lucky badger. He deals with my crap, supports my writing in countless ways, and is a continued source of inspiration. Just this morning, he helped me with a writing prompt.

Now, I haven't technically participated in this prompt, so I'm not linking up, BUT it did inspire this post, so I'm grateful to Write on Edge for such a fun writing exercise. I encourage you to check out this community if you haven't already. It's filled with talented and probably less-temperamental writers who will dazzle you with their words.

This week's RemembeRED memoir assignment was to write a Title and Tagline that captures your life. On our way to get breakfast this morning, I told Jeremy about the assignment, asked him what he thought. As usual, he provided me with interesting feedback.

"The title should be: 'Jeremy and Katie Go To Waffle House.'"

I laughed. It was not quite what I had in mind. "No, I think you're missing the point. It's not supposed to be a title of what I'm doing right now. It should be representative of my entire life."

"Actually, I think that title is a perfect microcosm of your life and our lives together. We get along. We fight a little, and in the end, there's a always food." Ah, there's the tagline. The guy never misses a beat.

The funny thing is I actually considered using that title and tagline for the linkup. In fact, I agree with him that it does pretty much sum up our lives. Of course, it also makes us sound incredibly boring. Trips to Waffle House aren't exactly something that set us apart from everyone else. What does set us apart is the fact that I sometimes transform into a badger and that Jeremy usually lives through it, and really, what more could you ask for in life?

Are you a temperamental writer? Do you "transform" when you write?

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Frenemy


From the first moment I saw her, I didn’t like her. Mainly because she was everything I wasn’t. Confident. Brash. Impulsive. Petite. Her tiny stature and birdlike limbs made my plodding and gangly figure look like a giant next to a delicate flower.

In class, she would sit with her arms and legs crossed, leaned back in her desk, chin tilted defiantly. Professor nor student would dare disturb her, and if she spoke, everyone listened.

What made it all worse was how smart she was. Sharp and witty, nothing got past her. When she deigned to speak to the rest of us, her voice carried the short abrasiveness of a New York accent and seemed to demand that you pay attention and believe every word she said.

Nope, I didn’t like her one bit…until she started paying me a little attention. Typical. As a card-carrying People Pleaser, I craved the attention of those who were popular, important. And she was important…at least in my eyes.

She came into my life like a furious, brunette tornado, turning everything upside down in her wake and changing me forever.

 I don’t know why she would have liked me. I still can’t say that I understand it. I was shy, withdrawn, understated. Everything she wasn’t. Looking back now, I suppose it’s because every girl like her needs a girl like me. I was her sidekick, her devotee, her number one fan. I fed her confidence, and strangely enough, she fed mine.

We found common interests. Writing, theatre, cute English professors. We started taking the same classes, going to lunch together. It didn’t take long for us to become friends.

Our friendship was a whirlwind of new experiences for me. Parties, dates, bars. Long conversations that would wind into the night about her latest conquests. Men were as attracted by her as I was. She was elusive, an enigma that they all wanted.

I soon learned that she wasn’t as perfect as she seemed. Without fail, she always chose the wrong man. She seemed to have a knack for it. She’d fall for the married guy or the drug addict. The 18-year old jail bait. As smart as she was, she was clueless about relationships.  I was just as clueless and, on top of that, lacked her experience. When out on the prowl, we made quite the pair. She, over-the-top. Me, under-the-radar. But we always had each other.

Or we did for the duration of our two-year long friendship.

As our relationship developed, we realized that we shared more than the fact that we were fellow English majors and had a crush on a couple of our professors. We were both passionate, opinionated. Together, we were combustible. Our friendship came to a crashing halt soon after she moved back to New York.
It couldn’t have lasted. We were too much alike and too different. I wasn’t willing to be her tag-a-long, and she wasn’t willing to be my hero.

But for that tiny little island of common ground that we shared for those two precious years, I am grateful. And because I knew her, I am changed. 

Author's Note: This was written in response to The Flicker of Inspiration prompt "Common Ground." Check out some of the great posts linked up at The Lightning and the Lightning Bug.

Female friendships are definitely strange animals. Have you ever had a friendship where you were the hero or the tag-a-long? Have you ever had a frenemy? Why are female friendships sometimes so hard?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Confessions of a Picky Eater

Growing up, I wouldn’t eat sandwiches. I hated them. The only thing I would eat between two slices of bread was peanut butter. Not peanut butter and jelly, not peanut butter and honey. Just peanut butter. And for me to eat a peanut butter sandwich, the sandwich had to be just right. No crust, not too much peanut butter, just right. I was what you might call a picky eater.

Most of my meals consisted of the handful of items I deemed good enough to eat. Usually, those items were snack foods, much to my parents’ dismay. Moving into a house of my own, with limited food funds available, my picky eating habits changed drastically. Suddenly, things I had never tried before became staples in our household…and this included sandwiches.

I began my love affair with sandwiches in spring of 2007, when my soon-to-be husband dragged me into a Subway for the First. Time. Ever. I went, kicking and screaming the whole way, which for me is more like some serious pouting. As we approached the counter to order, my pouting powers were in full swing, but they were useless against my man’s sandwich cravings. I surrendered helplessly to the Sandwich Artist and ordered a toasted ham and cheese with black olives, fully expecting to hate the thing and eat only the bag of Cheetos that came with my meal.

Alas, it was love at first bite.

From that moment on, my sandwiches became larger and more experimental. I added onions to the next order. And then green peppers to the next. At home, I tried exotic fairs like Spam sandwiches and grilled Pimena cheeses. With each bite, I became more enamored with the sandwich; it seemed that my hatred of sandwiches had left the building and with it so had my finicky eating habits.

Sandwiches were just the tip of the iceberg of what I’d been missing out on with food. Turns out there was an entire world that I hadn’t tasted. Things like homemade macaroni and cheese entered my life. Previously, I had believed that the best version of mac ‘n’ cheese was out of a blue box. Little did I know that there was something as wonderful and creamy as the homemade variety. It seems almost silly to say such things now, but my Mama and Daddy can readily corroborate the fact that I was unmoving in my picky eating habits and could never be convinced to try something new.

This was a point of much frustration with them. Try as they might, they could never make me understand just what I was missing out on. Now, they are simply amazed that I eat things like turnip greens and sausage gravy, broccoli casserole and cole slaw. Even nearly five years after my “food awakening,” they still look at me with amazement when I order something like chicken and dumplings or a roast beef and cheddar sub.

I’m woman enough to now publically admit that they were right. All of those years misspent missing out on such great foods fill me with regret and sadness. Mama and Daddy, I should’ve listened to you earlier; you were wise in your knowledge of food. I was wrong. You can gloat later, but for now, I can tell you just how glad I am that I’m a proper Southern eater. Just last weekend, as I was enjoying a homemade biscuit with my Mawmaw’s pear preserves (which in another lifetime I would have never even tried), I counted the many blessings in my life, not the least of which are the great Southern meals I can now enjoy.

Are you (or were you) a picky eater? Do you have a picky eater in your life?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Beans, Greens, and Good Luck, 2012

I've been lucky enough to be off work for the last week and a half. I've been unlucky enough to be sick for the majority of that time off. That's life, I guess. Ups and downs, bad luck, good luck; it's all part of One Mixed Bag (which also happens to be one of my favorite blogs, shout-out, Bernie!).

We're starting our next year off the same way, too. Instead of eating a traditional Southern New Year's feast of black-eyed peas, greens, pork chops, and cornbread, we're substituting butter beans for the peas and mac-n-cheese for the meat. We can't ever do things quite like everyone else, after all. Plus, being so sick I haven't had a chance to get to the grocery store and get the items for our normal meal. I've come to terms with this...mostly. I'm Irish and pretty superstitious, so I struggled with the fact that the traditional luckiness of the black-eyed peas would be skipping us this year, but as superstitious as I am about a lot of things, I still believe that you make your own luck most of the time without any aid at all from legumes.

2011 was filled with its share of bad days and of good for the Ross family. I'm not particularly ready to bid it farewell, anymore than I've been about any year before it, but I'm not saddened to see it pass either.  Like our meal today, a year is what you make it. It might be a cheesy theme song, but The Facts of Life had it right. "You take the good; you take the bad."

As 2011 comes to an end, I'm grateful for the love of family, the relative prosperity that surrounds us, the roof over our heads, and the simple things, like this blog and the wonderful friends it has brought me. I dream of a New Year that yields more writing opportunities, that sees my husband through college, that brings my parents a happy and peaceful retirement, that overwhelms my sister with happiness, that delivers improved health for loved ones. I hope for all of these things, all while remembering the things we already have, the things we're already grateful for.

In 2012, there will be more ups and down, more bad and good days; that's life for you. One Mixed Bag of joy and sorrow, happiness and regret, but I wouldn't trade my mixed bag for anything in the world.

Happy New Year!

What do you dream of for the New Year? Do you have any New Year's traditions like "peas and greens"?

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