Just Another Blog

my random ramblings about crafts, writing, books and kids

Poetry from a friend


(c) 2009 Dean Searle via flickr.com

As I sit
by Javier Mendoza

As I sit alone on the edge of a cloud,
Whistling a heavenly tune,
While watching the beauty of nature surrounding me,
Feeling the love from everything of life,
I had to let go of things that
Society had blinded me with:
Corruption, ignorance, materialism,
the imitation of treacherous people.

I had to look away from all of the hatred,
The destruction of our planet,
The destruction of our country,
The destruction of our people,
Even ourselves.

As I sit here so blissful, meek, and enlightened.

I’ve known Javier since he was five years old–over thirty years now. He went to kindergarten with my younger brother, and they became fast friends. My mom sort of adopted him, and watched out for him growing up. He became a brother to us. I remember how devastated he was to learn that my mom had died. I think he cried harder than I did at her funeral. To this day he opens every message to me with, “hey sis…”

Looking at him you’d see this big, bald Mexican guy. He’s intimidating. But underneath he’s so sweet and thoughtful. You’d never suspect that he writes deep, beautiful poetry. I love him to death.

How to Procrastinate

(c) Peter O'Shea 2011 c/o flickr.com

(c) Peter O’Shea 2011 c/o flickr.com

1. Open a new document. Spend ten minutes setting the font, spacing, and indents.

2. Turn to a clean page in your notebook. Spend fifteen minutes sharpening your pencils.

3. Make a quick snack so you don’t have to stop writing. Spend a half hour loading the dishwasher and cleaning the stove.

4. Spend an hour organizing your writing books by height, then color, then topic, then height. Don’t read any of them.

5. Spend two hours searching online for inspiration. Spend most of the time looking at cat videos.

6. Make an update about your writing on Twitter. Forget the world exists for five hours.

7. Decide to take a little nap to replenish you energy. Wake up wondering why it’s dark already.

8. Jot down notes for a great story idea. Don’t actually write any of it.

9. Have kids. Enough said.

10. Make blog posts. Hey, that’s writing, isn’t it?

How to Write… Or Not

(c) Rubin Starset 2009 c/o flickr.com

(c) Rubin Starset 2009 c/o flickr.com

Recently I read an article on writing called, “Object Writing,” on the Writer’s Digest site. The part about “object writing” was interesting. It talks about picking an object that has meaning to you in some way and think of all the sense experiences associated with it–sight, smell, taste, sounds, and physical feelings. It also says there are two other senses: organic sense–“awareness of inner bodily functions”–and kinesthetic–“your sense of relation to the world around you.”

Sounds good so far. I really need to work on my description of senses instead of relying on a few terms or associations.

But then the author went into her advice on when and how to write. That’s where she lost me.

“Object writing works best when you do it for ten minutes, first thing in the morning.”

“Always wake up your writer early, so you can spend the day together.”

Yeah… that doesn’t work for me. I learned long ago that I am not a morning writer. I just can’t write first thing in the morning before my brain is functioning. And I can’t write during the day because of the constant interruptions. Between my husband and five children (thank god we don’t have any pets), I rarely go more than a few minutes without someone bothering me.

Of course, the author also says: “If your writer is anything like mine, “lazy,” even “slug” is too kind.” The key words there being, “anything like mine.” BINGO! My inner writer is obviously not like this author’s inner writer.

Okay, I get her point about getting up early to start your day writing because you will be more fresh and observant. At least I think that’s what she’s saying. But this does not work for me. I’m a night writer. Once the family is in bed, out comes the notebook and pen. I get more done at night than any other time of day. My inner writer spends the day soaking up experiences that go down on paper long after many people are sound asleep.

My other problem with the article is this little gem: “Guarantee yourself ten minutes and only ten minutes. Set a timer, and stop the second it goes off.”

No. Just no.

It goes on to say:

You’re much more likely to sit down to a clearly limited commitment. But be sure you always stop at the buzzer. If you get on a roll some morning and let yourself write for thirty minutes, guess what you’ll say the next morning:“Ugh, I don’t have the energy to do it this morning (remembering how much energy you spent yesterday), and besides, I’ve already written my ten minutes for the next two days. I’ll start again Thursday.”

I mean, obviously if you have a job and get up early to get some words on the paper, stopping when the buzzer goes off makes sense. Otherwise you might be late for work, but I’m a stay-at-home mom. I have all day to write (because only one child is home during the day and so is my husband). Also, my inner writer does not like being interrupted. Making myself stop at ten minutes just as my creative juices start flowing would make me weep. It would ruin my day. Not to mention when or if I wanted to continue what I was writing I would have lost the mood.

I have a crap memory. I forget what I was thinking hours, if not minutes, after I think it. I’ve taken to writing lists on stickies so I don’t forget things I want to do later. When I write, I do it fast before I forget, and still, sometimes I get frustrated because I’ll think of a great word that I’ll use in the next sentence, but when I get to that sentence, I’ve completely forgotten the word.

Any distraction breaks my concentration, and there goes everything I was thinking about. Just gone. It’ll take me another ten to fifteen minutes of thinking to figure out where I was in the story or what I was planning to write next. I’m the kind of person that will stay up writing all night because I’m afraid to stop. If I stop I lose the story, the voice, the inspiration. If I stop, the next time I come back to the story I have no idea what to write, and what I do write sounds completely different than the original. I don’t stop unless I have to.

So, setting a timer and only writing for ten minutes would ruin writing for me. Writing for thirty minutes wouldn’t make me not want to write the next day; writing for a forced ten minutes would make me not want to do it again because it zaps my creativity.

My advice to writers:

Write when you can or want. If it’s early in the morning before work while you sip your first coffee of the day–terrific! If it’s the dead of night surround by the quit darkness–fantastic! If it’s five minutes in between diaper changes and cleaning peanut butter off of your toddler or five minutes between supper and bath time–awesome! I used to write on butcher paper whenever it slowed down at work–back when I was much younger and my brain actually remembered things.

Write for however long works for you. If all you can give yourself is that ten minutes before work, then use it good. If you can fit more time during the day, then go for it. If you feel the need to stay up all night writing–probably not the best idea if you have to go to work or take care of kids the next idea.

Don’t listen to people that say you have to write a certain way because they aren’t you. Only you know what your inner writer likes, so listen to it.

So what time of day or night do you like to write? What techniques work for you?

Hatred Is Not a Religious Belief

Jen Connelly:

I couldn’t have said this any better. We need more tolerance and understanding in the world, not more fighting.

Even though I’m an atheist, I acknowledge how religion can be a comfort to believers, but when their faith begins to harm others…

Originally posted on Claire LaZebnik:

I don’t usually write about religion. I’m not the kind of person who wades into areas fraught with potential peril. I’m the kind of person who flees from fraught. But I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. So here goes.

I think people should be free to believe whatever they want. They should get to worship whatever god or goddess or many gods they believe in, alone or with others who want to join them. They should also get to NOT worship if they choose to, and their morality should never be questioned because of that choice. People should all be judged by their actions, not by their professed beliefs.

I will fight to defend anyone’s right to believe and practice what he wants to, so long as his religion doesn’t impinge on anyone else’s.

People should be allowed to practice their own religious beliefs in peace.

What people should NOT allowed to do is marginalize, disenfranchise, persecute, abuse or harm…

View original 239 more words

Original fic: After Effect

A story written for my fiction class. It had to be under 500 words. I chose to do another “ripped from the headlines” story. This one is based on an accident that happened in the Vancouver area a while back. A teen waiting for the school bus was hit by a woman who then neglected to tell police she thought she hit someone. He broke both of his legs and wasn’t found until an hour later when the tow truck driver showed up. He was lucky to survive.

(c) Mitchell Joyce 2008

(c) Mitchell Joyce 2008

After Effect

When they say that your life flashes before your eyes when you are dying, what they really mean is that your future is played out. It’s like nature laughing in your face. Oh, you’re dying, haha, here’s everything you’ll miss. Loser. When I tried to explain this to my mother after the fact she cried.

“Eli, don’t say such things,” she moaned. Then she fretted over the way my blanket lay across my jacked-up legs.

I never saw the car that hit me. I was late for the bus on a Wednesday. The wind stung like a thousand bees, numbing my exposed skin. I got to the corner, checked my watch, and woke up in the ditch, snow all stuck in my lashes.

“Hmm,” I thought, “this isn’t right.”

I tried to move, but the air was too heavy. I shouted for help, but my voice got lost in the wind. I prayed for the angels to come, but they never did. I don’t remember feeling much pain, just cold. They said I was lucky.

I never saw the car that hit me, or the terrified look on the driver’s face when she neglected to tell the police I existed. While I lay in the ditch, feeling almost no pain, I saw the image of a girl. She had brown hair, sort of curly, and blue eyes. Our future together sped past my eyes in a blur. I tried to tell my mother about it; she tsked me and told me not to be silly.

“Only God knows what is in store for us.”

“Maybe God gave me the vision. To show me what to fight for.”

I got tsked again for that. Then fretted over while she attempted to hide her tears.

I never saw the car that hit me, or the terrified look on the driver’s face, nor remembered the man that found me. He came to tow away the wreck and heard moaning in the trees. I read about it in the paper–how he vomited at the sight of my mangled legs.

They say I may never walk again. That makes my mom cry. Everything makes her cry. I tried to tell her I was okay; I was alive. She can only sees the things I’ve lost because she didn’t see my future flash before her eyes–she didn’t see everything I will gain. Starting with the brown-haired girl visiting the kid in the room next door.

Original Fiction: Bad Kitty

Another story from my fiction workshop. This one is based on an incident that took place in my small town in 2011–an anti-government gun hoarder killed his family, set his house on fire, then had a shoot-out with the police. All of this took place blocks from my kids’ elementary school. I listened to the gunfire and watched the smoke from my yard about a mile away. It was intense.

(c) Betsy 2007

(c) Betsy 2007/Flickr

Bad Kitty

Her grandmother considered black cats to be harbingers of doom, Julia Carlson recalled as she left for work. Otis, the local stray, zipped across her yard, his black tail disappearing under her porch. Silly cat, she thought. She skipped down the rickety stairs, digging through her purse for a stick of gum. Alex would be at work today–he had dreamy chocolate eyes.

A cobalt blue car idled empty in the middle of the street, coughing up exhaust. She looked around for a driver. A man dressed in a business suit scrambled away from Mr. Peterson’s front door as the window of the car exploded, peppering Julia with shards of safety glass. Someone screamed; she didn’t think it was her.

Read more…

Buffy the Vampire Slayer fic: All I Want for Christmas is You

buffyspikeAll I Want for Christmas is You
by jennickels (aka Jen Connelly)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
1322 words
rating: PG

Set in season six. Buffy’s back from the dead and still having a hard time dealing with life; Christmas is almost more than she can handle. While her friends take a break from the chaos that is their lives, Buffy sneaks out, only to find Spike doing his stalker routine. But things aren’t always as bad as they seem, and neither is Spike.

don’t own… wish I did, but I don’t. No infringement intended.

The door clicked softly behind Buffy. She pulled her sweater tighter around her as she sat on the back steps. Her breath hung in the cool December air. From inside, she could hear her friends singing carols, buzzed on too much spiked eggnog. She leaned her head into her hands; everything was so hard.

After a moment, she took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. “What do you want, Spike?”

Spike chuckled. “You always seem to know where I am, love.”

“I could smell the smoke.” Read more…

When You Know You’re Doing Something Right as a Parent


Christmas this year was sparse to say the least. With my husband not working because of an injury, we’re surviving off of his meager worker’s comp. Thanks to food stamps we had a wonderful dinner on Christmas Eve with my dad and brother, but the real test was Christmas morning. I didn’t know how the kids would take getting only two gifts each (one from us and one from Santa).

I think my thirteen-year-old’s reaction sums it up: “Oh my god, this is so awesome; it’s exactly what I wanted. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

He got two small Lego sets that together equaled $30, and apparently, it was the best gift in the world. That was his Santa gift. From us he got a sweater and pants from Goodwill.

Having five kids is always tough money-wise. This past year has been a challenge. Having to admit we couldn’t do things on our own was tough–sitting in the waiting room at social services to get food stamps was a bit demoralizing. We’ve been getting by, though.

I worried about the disappointment I might see on Christmas. In all each kid got an outfit from Goodwill, pajamas, and a $30 gift, plus a couple small things in their stocking (each under $5). We also got two board games for the family which were on sale, and I have an amazing friend online that sent me $50 which I used to buy four movies. I thought about skipping the pajamas, but I’m glad I didn’t because my twelve-year-old wouldn’t leave me alone on Christmas Eve until I gave her hers, even though they weren’t wrapped. It’s a family tradition.

My fourteen-year-old got the least. Her pajamas were just bottoms, her outfit was just a top (with an IOU for pants later), and she got a gift card instead of a Santa gift. Her only comment: “I looked in my stocking and almost died; thank you for the coffee.” I got her a package of instant Starbucks coffee.

Watching them play with their Legos Christmas morning, I realized I was worried about nothing. My kids might be a huge pain in the ass a lot of the time, but when it counts, they are understanding and appreciative of what little they have. They know we’re poor and weren’t expecting much so they were excited for what they got. None of them even cared that their clothes came from Goodwill (might have something to do with the fact they got brands we could never afford from the stores).

We must be doing something right if two small gifts at Christmas made for one of the best Christmases ever.

Firefly fanfic: Cap’n Scrooge

Cap’n Scrooge
by jennickels (aka Jen Connelly)
200 words

rating: PG

Christmas on board Serenity.  Just for fun.

don’t own… wish I did, but I don’t. No infringement intended.

Despite Mal’s insistent protests that Serenity wasn’t a democracy the crew voted six to two in favor of celebrating Christmas. Jayne was Mal’s lone support, grumbling something about wasting money on people he barely liked before skulking off to his room.

Two days later, as Kaylee and Shepard Book tried their best to decorate the common room with some twinkly lights and gaudy baubles they picked up at port the day before, Jayne strode in with several horribly wrapped packages and dumped them on the floor at the foot of the tiny flocked tree.

“Maybe I like ya’ll a bit,” he said with a smirk.

“Hmph,” Mal scoffed from the corner.

“Don’t be such a Scrooge, Cap’n,” Kaylee said.

That night Mal slipped into the common room as quietly as he could. Carefully, he laid out eight small boxes covered in brown paper and tied with twine. He arranged them neatly with the other gifts around the little tree then leaned back on his heels with a sigh.

Suddenly the lights came on. “Ha,” Kaylee said, “we caught you Cap’n.”

Mal felt his face flush. “We’ll y’all are family,” he mumbled.

“I knew you couldn’t resist,” Kaylee said, hugging him.

Christmas While Poor


Me, my kids, and my brother last Christmas

Being poor sucks all year ’round, but it seems doubly bad come the holidays. If you’re Christian, or like me, an atheist that celebrates Christmas, there is a lot of pressure to give gifts to everyone and their uncle. It can cause a lot of stress when you barely have money to put food on the table, and many poor families go into more debt trying to give their children even a small Christmas.

This year is exceptionally hard for us. In 2013, my husband hurt his shoulder at work and went on worker’s comp. It’s been over a year since he worked, and since then, we’ve had to go on Medicaid and food stamps. We’re below the poverty line for a family of four, but there are seven people in our family. Our rent is over half of the disability income my husband receives, and we barely scrape by every month. If it wasn’t for the refund from my student loan that I get every two months, we’d have lost our house already. Or we’d have no lights or water.

As Christmas crept closer, the more anxious we’ve been. It’s not that we want to go all out. We’ve been poor our entire relationship, but the last couple of years weren’t as bad–we had some disposable income and were able to give the kids nice Christmases. This year is going to be bad because there just isn’t anything extra.

So far we’ve spent $30 on each child. The four younger kids each got two LEGO sets; the oldest got a Target gift card. We had to charge it to my husband’s emergency credit card (the only one we have). Normally my dad gives us $50 for each child which we use for Santa presents along with a gift from Papa, but this year he moved and can barely afford to eat so there were only be cards from him.

It’s hard. I know the kids will understand. They’re good kids and will appreciate what they get. Sure they’ll be disappointed, but they know we’re poor–we’ve never hidden it. How do you even do that? How many times have they begged for money to do something with a friend? How many times have I had to tell them to suck it up when they outgrow their clothes (thank goodness for hand-me-downs)? How many times have I had to use their birthday money to buy things for the house? They get it.

But we still want them to have something. It’s Christmas! So they’ll have their $30 gift from Santa. I’m going to pick them out each an outfit from Kohl’s which will be charged to my card to be paid off at some unknown time–they need the clothes anyway. And I’ll get some stocking stuffers using what’s left of my student loan money.

We do have a bright spot for Christmas. I have a friend online that I met through Livejournal that sends a gift for the kids every year. I’ve never asked her to do this, she just surprised us a couple years ago. Today she emailed me to let me know she’s sending a gift card this year. I cried. She’s amazing, and that will add one more Santa gift to the mix (the older kids all know that the gifts come from her–she’s our own special Santa).

I know we’re not the worst off–there are many other families in the US that have less. Things could be worse, so I’m not really complaining. The tree is up and looking all festive. My dad and brother are coming over for Christmas dinner–pork roast, yum–for our first full family get together. It’ll be a lot of fun even if the space under the tree is going to look really bare this year.


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