Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Way Too Tiny For Surgery

I will be leaving for Phoenix at 3 a.m. Friday morning, just me and my little Luke. Off to the surgical center. So my tiny guy can get both his testicles where they need to be.

It's not supposed to be invasive, they say. They just make an incision, go in, find the testicle that's hiding in the abdomen, bring it down into the scrotum, close up the scrotum from the inside so it doesn't leave the sack, and sew him up in the outside. Piece of cake, right?

The surgeon/urologist says he does more than many of these, and that it's pretty standard. In and out.

But that doesn't mean I'm not stressing over having my smaller-than-average, almost-eight-month-old knocked out with anesthesia and cut open on an operating table.

In fact, I'm pretty sick about it. I can't even let myself think about it for too long or I feel my eyes start to burn. To say the least.

I wish my husband could go with me for support. Or that I had some form of support there at all.

But the kids need him here, and I don't want them there.

So it's just me and Luke.

I've done it before. After all, when Sam had his 2nd surgery at 13 months, it was the same thing. Drive down to Phoenix, just me and him. Be there when he comes to, thrashing and disoriented. Comfort him, hold him. Drive three hours home with him, praying he would sleep on the way, since I could do nothing to comfort him in the car.

They say it's pretty standard.

But I'm freaking out inside. Worried sick. Praying it's as standard as they say, that it goes smoothly, and that God will bless him with quick healing and good health, as well as steady hands on the surgeon.

I pray I'll be able to keep it together and that my baby won't be scared.

I pray it will go well and be over before we both know it.

That's all.


Wordful Wednesday: Some Days

Some days are like a much-labored-over, fresh pan of lasagna falling face-first on the bottom of the oven...

Or like pencil, crayon, paint, and stickers on a freshly-cleaned counter top...

Or like bites taken out of school work...
Anyone know how to get an almost-three-year-old to stop eating paper? I'm desperate.
But then other days are like Nutella mustaches...

And cute, new baby teeth finally coming through...

And sunny, blue-eyed smiles.

parenting BY dummies

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I *Don't* Wanna Marry You

*Post inspired by the Lightning and the Lightning-bug Flicker of Inspiration prompt, "I Wanna Marry You."
For our next prompt, I'd like you to write about a wedding. The wedding can be fictional or real; the only requirement? That a wedding appears at some point during your piece.  

This is another segment from my novel, November Rain. For more, and to see where this fits in with the other segments I've posted, visit the page above.

The strangest scene played before Justice, and a faint, deadly tune was its soundtrack.  A funeral? 

No, there was no casket.  But is sounded like a funeral.  It felt like one.  There was a congregation, but she wasn’t a part of it, and every person sobbed.  She stood before them, at the front of a chapel, and a priest was there, too.  And so was Lily, Russell’s sister that Justice had only met a few times.  She and Justice were matching in dark purple gowns, the material stiff and constricting. 

A wedding?  The preacher started to speak, the deadly, funeral-like song still lingering in the background, and she looked around in order to find where it was coming from.

That was when she saw Raegan.  Justice couldn’t see her face, since Raegan was shrouded in a black veil, but there was no question in her mind that it was her best friend.  Justice sensed her, sensed her familiar dismal energy that had a long time ago killed her sunny soul.  Her dress was heavy and black, unfitting for the matrimony she was clearly a part of, but fitting for the person who wore it. 

Even stranger was the man, Lucas, standing with her, his large dog loyally at his side.  Lucas’s hands grasped Raegan’s tightly, and he looked desperate.  Happy, but desperate. 

Just as the preacher was about to ask Lucas if he took Raegan as his wife, Raegan shuddered with a sob and ran from him, down the aisle and through the large church doors.  Justice wanted to go after her, but she couldn’t move.  And that music…

That damn tune still played in the background, and none of it made sense.  Then her surroundings appeared hazy, the picture slipping away and leaving blackness in its place. 

Still, the tune played. 

She lay in her bed now, slowly coming to, and forced herself awake.  Her phone was on her nightstand, coming to life with Raegan’s personalized ringtone.  A few months ago, Raegan had stolen Justice’s phone and set it in an attempt to be morbidly funny: Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor—or better known as the Funeral March.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Dare to Share: Loss

*Post inspired by the Lightning and the Lightning-bug Dare to Share prompt, "Loss." One of the themes throughout one of my novels, November Rain, is Loss, so I thought it appropriate to share some of that. In fact, I'm posting the prologue to it--the introduction to the main character and her story, that sets the tone for the rest of the novel (though it's not all dark). It was a bit longer than this, so for the sake of too many words, I cut some out. As always, critique is welcome!

For more of November Rain, visit the page above.

Alone for the first time in days, Raegan Fairbanks dug her nails into the palm of her hand, staring into the blackened storm.  Through a thunderous crack of white, she hardly flinched.  She placed her hands on the frigid windowpane, absorbing the house’s vibration.  The lightning was close, just overhead, but her vision stayed loyal to the white bench, its luster holding her eyes.  It had been his, and hers, and now it was the storm’s.

Her mother was asleep upstairs, and Justice was on the couch.  It was the first time Raegan hadn’t been watched like a fragile infant since Russell died.  They hadn’t left her side the past three days, even laid next to her when she sobbed herself into a nightly coma.  But tonight was different.  Tonight they sensed her desire for solitude, and though their leash still choked her, she reveled in the temporary abandonment.  In that moment with the bench.

The thought of her mother in her own bed—their bed—brought some of her fury to life, and a piece of numbness flaked to the ground.  But she’d do anything to keep her mother at a distance, even if it meant tarnishing the place where her late husband once warmed her.  Besides, now it was empty, cold.  More fitting for the bitter woman atop it. 

Her late husband.  A woman in her twenties shouldn’t have to think that profane term.  It aged her, pulled her to the ground.  It gave gravity a win as it had its way with her.  Three days and she went from twenty-eight to eighty-two.

Rain pelted the glass pane in a sideways fury as it had the last three days.  It was unusual, but fitting.  The universe seemed to mourn with her, letting her know Russell’s undue absence was known to the heavens.  It seemed to threaten her fondest memory, consume the bench as though it was its own.

Three days.  It didn’t matter how short the time was; there was no way she could go back and change it.  He’d been there, in that very kitchen, and now he was…where?  

His things haunted her, the memories tearing through her.  She looked back to the sinister yard, puddles swallowing the browning lawn.  The white bench at the base of the cottonwood tree replaced the sting of trivial reminders with the throb of a precious memory.  It’d been her birthday surprise last year, handmade.  He’d apologized for its crooked panels when lifting the sheet, revealing the thoughtful token of his love.

She wanted to keep it forever, wanted to take it back from the storm. 

Riveted by the bright, crooked panels, she unlatched the back door and walked outside, shivering as the almost frozen November rain beat against her.  Russell had always said rain smelled of a cleansing shower, of a new start.  But tonight it reeked of loss.

Surrounded by darkness, she warily made her way to the bench, her bare feet sloshing through the muddy puddles.  Water cascaded relentlessly down her face and blurred her vision, the bench appearing as a smear of white.

She mindlessly sat, saturating her clothes—his clothes.  She ran her hands over the sopping panels, feeling the rough, splintery spots as affectionately as the pieces still glazed in glossy finish.  Her fingers took in every touch, extra sensitive to embrace the feel she once took for granted.

Her tears poured to match the vibrancy of the rain as she imagined his solid, sturdy figure, hunched to carve her gift.  She imagined white paint stains in his hair, speckling his arms and callused hands.  As if able to connect her to him, she laid against the uneven panels, planting her cheek against the sodden wood.  Creaking, it spoke of the many memories.  Sunny afternoons, late nights, and even an early morning.

In the fetal position she sobbed, trying to press every inch of her aching body against it in the hope its touch could heal her, in the hope that the material reminder would feed his void.  Like a roaring freight train, the rainfall intensified and buckets poured over her, attempting to take it back.  Attempting to revive a lost cause. 

Lightning flashed and thunder cracked—temporarily lighting her surroundings.  Strings of hair hindered her view, but she was sure a figure was beside her.  Unable to force movement of her limbs, unable to turn to see more clearly, she let herself believe it was him. 

“I’m sorry,” she hoarsely cried at the apparition, her teeth chattering.  She hardly noticed her fingers and toes numbing in the icy rainfall, hardly noticed as her swollen eyes closed and her body deadened in drowsiness.

She heard a murmur above her, maybe even her name.  And before blacking out, she dreamed the added pressure of a warm hand on her shuddering back was Russell—there to wake from her nightmare.

Friday, August 26, 2011

To Walmart Elderlies Everywhere:

I did a post similar to this already, but because unsolicited advice is thrown at me in a continual stream--and because just the other day I wanted to explode with some more "Eff Offs," and Just Jennifer created a new meme at just the perfect time--I'm going to vent. Again.

So here is my first installment of Fantasy Eff Off Friday. Got something you need to vent about, someone you want to lash out? Go link up!

If you're an avid follower of my blog, you probably know I hate Walmart. With a passion. I'm grateful for the convenience, but there's just something about being there that makes me agitated and on-edge. Beyond the vast spaciousness or the confusion that comes because they've moved something to a different aisle yet again, or even beyond the fact that the items I need always seem to be out of stock or off the shelves.

Or even beyond the fact that I ask Sam if he needs to go potty when we first get there, and every time he says no. And--every time--thirty minutes into it, he decides he does have to go...soooo bad. Now that I have my cart full of merchandise. And no merchandise is allowed in the restrooms. And I can't send him in alone. Or leave my cart with the other kids outside the restroom alone.

Even beyond that.

I turn into Momzilla as I'm pushing that cart down the aisle, trying with all my willpower not to ram into old women in motorized carts, slow people, or just those people who love to block the aisle in general. I. Just. Want. To. Get. Out of there. I'm alone with all three kids. And that says it all. Josh opening the shampoo and squirting it all over himself, the cart, and inside my diaper bag when I'm not looking: that says it all.

Oh, great. Another trip to the bathroom. Where I ask the lady employee giving me the evil eye to watch my cart, since I can't take it into the bathroom with me. She looks overwhelmed just from looking at my kids, and can hardly nod. I take that as a yes and leave her alone with my stuff. Trusting she's not some thief, since my wallet is in there, too.

So, if you see me at Walmart, with a red face, a sweat-gleamed brow, and steam coming from my ears, it's probably best just to keep walking. Keep your mouth shut, try to ignore my bad parenting, and whatever you do, do not make eye contact.

I ask myself, why does it seem like the unsolicited advice always occurs at Walmart? And why do I keep going to such a monopolized mall when I hate it so much?

Oh yeah. The convenience. They're cheap, and usually have everything. The less stops I have to make and the less times I have to drag my kids out of the car, the better. So you win, Walmart. Again. As always.

And Wednesday was particularly bad. We'd just gotten done spending an hour at the ER so they could followup on Josh's stitches--an hour of waiting, just so they could take a gander and tell me everything looked fine. It was just me and my kids, and when it's just me and my kids in settings such as doctors or hospitals, they love to make me miserable.

Even beyond the way they do at Walmart.

This time, they all decided to cry at the same time. Sam kept pulling back the curtain to the space next to us, where some sickly woman waited. He also had to yell and run around, since he knew it was a place he shouldn't.

Then there was Josh. When he wasn't crying from being back in that place, he was also pulling back the curtain, swinging on it, and dancing in it. And I tried to control them, people, I really did. But when I have the joyous background noise of Luke's screams, I have to weigh my priorities. Preserve everyone's hearing, or hold down my kids?

I picked preserve everyone's hearing. Especially because I heard the woman next to me tell the doctor she had a migraine. And when I decide to feed Luke, my kids know my hands are tied. And they become even more out-of-control.

Sometimes I just wish I had six arms. And that's what I wanted to say to all the silent watchers. That and, "No, I'm not a single parent. I just feel like it sometimes."

And, "Yes, I did have to bring them all."

Needless to say, all I got were either looks of pity or looks of chastisement.


And then to top it off, I had to lug all three kids to the car afterward during a massive monsoon. Massive.

Oh, and we were parked as far away from the entrance as we could be. By the time we got to the car, we were completely soaked through, Josh was crying (he hates water), and Luke was screaming. I guess there was one good thing though. Sam was laughing, since he loves getting wet.

That was when we ventured to Walmart. Stupid, you might say? Why not wait until someone is with you, you ask?

In our situation, it doesn't matter if all the kids are crying, it's raining, or I'm tired. If we are in town, we have to take advantage of Walmart. We have to knock down the shopping list, since we don't have the convenience of living close to civilization. We take advantage while we are there, before we venture 1.5 hours home.

We waited in the car for a bit, until the rain slowed, and when we finally got out, I put the baby, in the car seat, at the top of the cart, Josh in the main part of the cart, and Sam walking next to us (thought I wish he wasn't, since he runs up and down the aisles and gets into everything). Oh, and the diaper bag is in there with Josh, too, getting ransacked.

So, where do I fit the hoards of groceries I have to get?

My only option--unless I let Josh walk, too, which I try to avoid, since he wreaks more havoc than Sam, and I wouldn't be able to accomplish a single thing in that store--is to have Josh stand by the diaper bag in the cart and hold on tight.

And now that I'm typing this, I'm thinking that maybe I should get a leash. Hmm...good idea. Kinda wish I would have thought of it sooner.

Anyway, when the groceries start piling up, I did just that: made him stand. And that's when the looks of judgment come. And the comments. All from old people who haven't had kids in probably fifty years.

"Sit down, young man!" an old man told him, as though he was his guardian and I wasn't standing right there. As though I'm some dense breeding machine who isn't fit for parenting. "That is dangerous! There are hundreds of deaths each year by kids who've fallen out of shopping carts!"

And even more irritating was how stern his voice was, like Josh was being horribly naughty.

I. Swear. To. Hell. I will punch you.

Instead I glared, fuming inside. I stayed silent as he sent me his reproaching eyes and I sent him the eyes of a defiant daughter in return, and then he eventually passed.

Seriously, where does he come off?

Next, another old man, glaring at my rowdy kids in passing, jeers, "How many more are you gonna pop out?"

I laugh politely, not trying to hide the edge coming through, and move my feet faster, desiring to be outside those Walmart doors even more desperately now. Especially because I noticed Josh was tearing holes in all the boxes of pasta I just put in the basket.

Next, I'm standing there, comparing two products and trying to determine the best value with the coupons I spent too much time searching for, and the kids are taking advantage of my loss of attention. Because if I had my attention on them 100% of the time, there's no way I'd be able to shop. And they know that.

By this point, Josh is out of the cart because there is simply no room for him, and both he and Sam are racing down the aisle and knocking things down. I stop what I'm doing and sternly snap, "STOP running. NOW!"

An older couple passes, and the woman says under her breath to her Marlon-Brando-in-his-older-years-looking husband, "You hear that? You hear her?"

Really, woman? I will chuck this carton of eggs at your head.

Lastly, not even a minute later, I have the kids herded at the basket, my eyes still comparing products, and the kids decide to start crying, "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!..."

"Kids!" I yell. "Stop! For just one second!" I feel like Chris Farley as the bus driver on Billy Madison.

"Aw," the old lady next to me says, sending her mushy grandmother-like stare at my boys, "They just want your attention, Mommy. They're not misbehaving, they're just telling you they love you. Nothing wrong with that."

And there you have it: the WORST comment of that day. I felt my eyes twitching as my heart raced, and I clenched my fist in an attempt to keep myself in check. Before I could kick her in the throat, I stormed off, forgetting the eggs I needed in the process.

Because apparently I'm a self-absorbed mom who pays no attention to my attention-starving children.

Lady, you had NO idea what my kids were putting me through that day. In fact, you do not know my kids at all, or the way they misbehave vs. the way they show affection.

To all of you who felt it was your place to judge me on yet another stressful, hair-pulling trip into town on Wednesday, I say....

Eff Off!

Sigh. There. I said it.

Maybe next time I will actually get the guts to say it to their faces.

Probably not. Which means I will continue to use my blog as my venting platform.

Friday's Confession Booth: Satanic Dentists

First of all, I want to say I'm excited to be participating in Kristen's (at A Little Something For Me) new blog meme: Friday's Confession Booth. Got a juicy confession you want to unload? Or even a less-juicy one? Anything goes, so go on over and link up!

Confession #1: I haven't been to the dentist since (oh my gosh, I can't believe I am about to admit this out loud)...before I got married.


That's right. Eight years. Gasp, judge, cringe, think me white trash. I don't care.

I hate the dentist. I LOATHE the dentist. Not them, personally. I'm sure they're great guys. And you cute dental hygienist chics? Love you.

But get your hands away from my mouth. You ever think that just maybe I like my bacteria-infested mouth the way it is?

Okay, we both know I don't, or I wouldn't be there. But I want to throw a tantrum when I think about going--two-year-old style. And I know these are big words, but I think I mean it when say I'd rather give birth than go to the dentist.

And that's coming from someone who's given natural childbirth twice, and prefers it that way.

There's just something about my teeth, and people's hands, and sharp instruments that makes me want to run screaming. It's so unbelievably uncomfortable, sitting there with your mouth pried open and instruments scraping at your gums/teeth. So today I sat there, knuckles white, as I grasped my shirt in my fists and closed my eyes, willing it to be over...

...And made unflattering grunting sounds in response to the stories Mrs. RDH was telling about her son. They don't really expect you to answer, do they--with their claws, blades, vacuums, and hoses down your mouth?

But I don't have an excuse for not ever going the past eight years. I know, blaming it on the kids is a poor one, but I'm still going to use it. That, and I've always been told by every dentist that I had amazing teeth, so....if I have amazing teeth, why go?

Well, I learned a couple lessons today, and I'll get to those.

I went to the dentist every year before I got married, got the routine cleanings, etc. And in all that time, I've never needed braces and have only had one tiny cavity. Dentists have told me I'm lucky.

And then I got married and my parents could no longer force me to go. So I stopped. I thought, I never have cavities. My teeth are strong.

And then we come to confession #2: I never floss either. Like, hardly ever.

And confession #3? I usually never brush my teeth more than once a day.

And you thought I was disgusting in the beginning?

At least I learned my lesson, though. I'm telling you, people, no matter how satanic the dentist is, if you ever plan on going back again some day, do not skip your yearly/twice-yearly checkups! You. Will. Regret. It. It makes all the torture that much worse.

Torture at its finest. Pure, pure Hell.

Blood-squirting. I'm not making this up. It actually squirted, and by the end her latex gloves were covered in it. She says it might be because I'm still nursing and the hormones make your gums more sensitive. But I just think she needed to be more sensitive.

Gagging. I chocked on a mix of water, my own blood, and my own tooth crap, and ended up spewing it all over the front of me. Drenching my shirt, my hands, my legs, and my arms in pinkish, watery goo. Gosh, aren't you loving this post? I know, this could have happened to any regularly-going patient, but maybe if I had more practice going, I would know how to NOT breath the crap in that's running down the back of my throat. Little vacuum, you sucked. Or....rather, you didn't suck.

Scraping. Oh, the scraping. I swear, she was trying to sculpt the statue of David in my teeth with that little hooked dagger.

And the watermelon-flavored gel stuff? Do they think giving it a melon flavor is going to make it appealing? Well, it doesn't. I still gagged.

And seriously, lady? gums have feeling. Stop man handling and be a little gentle with the weapon in your hand. When I cringe and you see blood, that's my body's way of saying BE GENTLE!

So after eight years of dentist-free teeth, and an almost two-hour-long torture cleaning, here are the results: Aside from the massive tooth-aches from all the "work," I have four cavities. Dis. Gust. Ing. I know. It grosses me out, too. And one of those cavities will most likely be a root canal. Ugh, FML.

And on top of that? My wisdom teeth--the ones my old dentist (he's probably dead by now) told me I'd never have to worry about since they were coming in straight up? Well, they didn't. One of them is coming in straight to the side, gunning right for my molar. Who knew?

Not me. I've never had pain from it or anything. But regardless, I have to get it removed. And while I'm getting it removed, why not get all of them out? (Dentist's words, not mine)

Seriously. I'm almost twenty-nine and I'll be getting my wisdom teeth out. Ugh. Again, FML.

Did I mention I hate dental work?

But it's my fault. No more missing my daily flossing, or even my nighttime brushing. No more treating the dentist like the plague.

It's often those who have healthy teeth that think they're in the clear and don't care for them like they should.

Ah, thanks, Dentist. I should make that into a cute vinyl saying and put it on my living room wall.

I guess I should have just listened to my husband when he got on my ass about flossing every night. I bet you can't guess what his words were when I got home?

See, I told you so.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Night at the ER

We had an eventful night on Sunday. I was making dinner, our dinner guests had just arrived, and out the window I hear Josh crying. He falls a lot outside, so I didn't think anything of it at first. After all, I was busy. But after about thirty seconds, he didn't stop, so I looked out the window and my heart twisted inside my stomach.

Blood was pouring down his face and onto the ground (though Zeus did a good job of cleaning it up), and I immediately called for Dave. He's so much better at handling stuff like that. I kind of freak out inside and get queasy and wonder if my baby is going to live. But Dave is calm and knows what to look for and how to handle blood and injuries.

Turns out Josh had face-planted on the cement and cut his lip wide open on a rock.

Long story short, I ended up driving him to Prescott to get stitches, while Dave stayed to entertain our other kids and the dinner guests. As you can imagine, I panicked inside a little, seeing how Prescott is an hour and a half away.

But I held it together, for Josh. And geez, I didn't even need to. If anyone was holding together anything for anyone, it was him being strong for me. He was so good and brave. Of course we had to wait in the ER for 2+ hours, and that whole time he was his chatty, normal self, though his talking was impaired from his swollen lip (yes became "yesh").

The stitching process was a bit harsh, though. They had to wrap him in a sheet and while I held down his feet, one nurse held down his upper half, and the PA stitched him up.

And he screamed the whole time. Screamed and cried. And I soothed. While tilting my head in the other direction.

But as soon as it was over and they unwrapped him, he stood on the hospital bed--still sweaty, still semi-crying, and exhausted--and while doing the hand sign, said, "All done!"

And I have to say that other than the stitching-it-up part, me and Josh actually enjoyed our time together that night. Kind of like a little six-hour date to the ER, topping it off with an-almost-midnight run to Walgreen's.

A few minutes after it happened. The blood is covering it, but he had a deep slice at the bottom of his top lip, from the inside of his mouth to the outside.
Waiting in the ER for someone to look at it. But the three old women smokers in wheelchairs with oxygen got first priority.
That night when we got home, cuddling with Daddy. With a swollen, stitched up lip. Still, he was as happy as ever.
The next day, on the way to the park. And wearing Daddy's hat.
Today, day 4. When he woke up from his nap, the scab was gone! Stitches are still in tact and everything is looking good!
Except that scab I found in his bed. Ew. I still get the chills just thinking about it.
The injuries seem to keep piling up with my kids, and while each of them have had their fair shares (Sam: two surgeries before the age of 1, stitches on his ear at age two. Josh: the scorpion sting, other minor injuries, and this. Luke: upcoming surgery September 2), I feel like Josh is the most accident-prone. That kid is always having bad things happen to him.

And maybe it's because he's more daring than Sam and takes more risks, but he gets the brunt of it all. Last summer it seemed to be at its worst. The day after his scorpion sting, he'd gotten bit by a friend's hamster, then two nights later, he'd almost suffocated while sleeping, and three weeks later, he'd gotten his whole big toenail knocked off by a heavy door.

That was gruesome.

But still, no stitches.

And I thought we were safe this summer.

Lesson: Never think you're safe.

Yes, I do get overwhelmed sometimes from all the things that happen to my kids, but really, I feel like this is normal stuff every little kid goes through.

Then I have moms tell me they can't believe all I go through with my kids--moms with two kids, and even some moms with five kids, who've never had a bad thing happen to them. So, what's normal? That, or stitches, accidents, and surgeries?

Or is there even a normal?

Oh, and how do those parents with piece-of-cake kids not have things like that happen to them? What are they doing? Or is it just luck?

Anyway, regardless, I feel extremely blessed. While it's hard being a mommy and having to hold down your child in the hospital as they stitch up his lip/ear, while trying not to vomit from the queasy feeling in your stomach trying not to look, yet speak soothing words at the same time, and your heart's breaking for what they have to go through...I think I have it pretty dang good.

My kids are healthy. They have all their fingers, toes, and other limbs, and everything is fully functional (as far as I know). So I have no right to complain. I feel like the luckiest gal in the world.

And I'm sure I will have to endure many more stitches in the coming years. Maybe even some broken bones.

In fact, for sure some broken bones. Because they are boys.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Worst Memory

*Post inspired by the Write on Edge RemembeRED prompt, "Your Worst Memory."

I had to copy and paste from an old RemembeRED post for this, one about affection, because by far, this experience is the worst memory of my life: when Josh got stung by a scorpion last summer. And rather than rewrite the same story, I'll just paste my same words here:

Never had physical touch meant more to me. What if I never got the chance to touch my baby again, while life still flowed through his veins and his soul still resided in his new, perfect, cherub-like body?

The last hour had been Hell. The worst Hell I'd ever experienced as a mom, and I could only pray I'd never experience worse. We do all in our power to protect our children from the millions of threats in this scary, uncertain world, and all it took was five minutes without my attention. Five minutes for that little intruder to make its way into our kitchen and attack my baby as though he was the one trespassing.

They call them "bark" scorpions, and they are everywhere in Bagdad, Arizona. We usually spray on a monthly basis, but sometimes we go longer. Sometimes we miss a month because, really, what could go wrong?

Well, everything went wrong. And I will never miss a month again.

It stung my child on his finger, and when he first started screaming, I knew what it was, even though I couldn't see it. And there it was, hiding under his toys. I was worried, but because I'd heard scorpion stings weren't much worse than a wasp sting, I let him cry. And cry.

But he wouldn't stop, and I grew extremely worried.

Especially when he started trembling. He started seizing as soon as we got him to the Bagdad clinic--the last place equipped for this. His tiny, eighteen-month-old body jolted around in my arms, and I didn't understand how it could be so bad. But I later learned that the poison attacks the nervous system in bodies so small, and would attack it for over twenty-four hours if we let it.

I held him tight, my tears wetting his white-blond hair, while he moaned and his limbs moved about uncontrollably. They told me to hold his arms down, keep him tight, and I was in shock. In shock that I had to do such a preposterous thing.

Please, God, I prayed. Please heal my baby. I passed my love--strong enough to move a mountain--into him, telling the universe to make him better.

But it didn't.

An hour later the helicopter finally came to fly him to Phoenix Children's, because they were the best equipped for the situation. His seizing was worse, his eyes in the back of his head, and they took him from my arms. They burned, and so did my chest, and my round, pregnant belly felt more sick than it ever had. They told me his daddy should ride in the helicopter with him because it wasn't safe for a pregnant mother.

So I sobbed again, my soul in anguish and my heart throbbing.

And the 2.5 hour drive to Phoenix was the most painful 2.5 hours in all my life.

Please, I cried out loud, I will never complain about having to hold him again, I swear. I will never complain that he needs me too much. My arms were empty and I craved--more than I'd ever craved anything--his affection. His arms snug around my neck, his laugh in my ear.

Please, give me at least one more opportunity to see him again. Please, please, please. Please don't take him from me.

His song--the song I sing to all my children--came on the radio, track eleven's turn, and my trembling hands turned it off. Prematurely mourning, yet fighting with all of me to will him to live. But in the silence I heard the helicopter overhead, reminding me my baby was way too far away, in the sky with his father...too close to living with his other Father.

And, many tears later, his Father heard my prayers, knew I simply could not survive without my Joshua. The Children's hospital was the only hospital in the state that had any vials of scorpion anti-venom--four, to be precise.

And four just happened to be the exact amount he needed.


I think not. A miracle, in its fullest.

And within two hours, his muscles relaxed, and I held that lethargic, perfect baby as long as I could. And even all night wasn't enough.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Red Writing Hood: Home

*Post inspired by the Write on Edge (formerly the Red Dress Club) Red Writing Hood prompt, "Home."

Your assignment: You must begin your story with the words “We had to leave immediately” and end it with “And then we realized we were already home.”
The middle part is up to you.

This is the third installment of the Red Wheelbarrow. For the first two "chapters," visit the Red Wheelbarrow page at the top. Comments and critique are welcome!

We had to leave immediately. I was five then, and Mama was pregnant with Rose. I didn’t want to go, even though the place smelled bad. I was used to the smell, used to playmates and packed cots.

Now, years later, I realize the scent that permeated our “home” was burnt flesh. And body odor, too. And I’m ill from the thought that the smell had once been comfortable to me.

There were too many of us crammed inside, hiding from the soldiers. Most were sick or injured.

But then we got word that the virus was there, the one that had started on the East Coast, and Mama wouldn’t stay another night.  She took me away in the night, when the only thing lighting our escape was the full moon and the smoke-lit sky to the east. Where a place called Denver used to be.

We hid from the soldiers for days, squeezing into small, tight places, until we found a dirt road—one Mama said was in the middle of nowhere. She said she wanted me and the unborn baby as far away from civilization as possible. Or at least what remained of it.

I didn’t understand then. I was only aware of my fear and Mama’s hand, and the fact that I hadn’t seen Daddy since the day the soldiers ripped him from Mama’s arms one month before.

Mama had cried for days when he’d left, and so had I, even though I hadn’t understood that he was gone forever.

And now all I have of him is the sound of his jaunty laugh when he’d spin me until I was dizzy. I had liked feeling dizzy then, but after he’d left, and when Mama and I were on the run, it made me homesick. For the man I hardly remember. And sometimes even for that old warehouse we and so many others called home my first five years of life.

Mama and I traveled for days. She had to stop a lot to rest, sometimes to throw up. And sometimes nothing would come out and she would gag until I felt sick, too. She said it was the baby, and I hated the baby.

But then Mama had her, and I didn’t know how to hate something so tiny. I loved her then, especially because Mama let me name her. I named her Rose, because to this day, I’ve still never seen one. Mama used to talk about them all the time, about their beauty and their perfume smell.

A few days after Mama had Rose, she bundled her up in her jacket and we continued to travel. I whined a lot, but Mama told me there was nowhere safe.

Then we saw the abandoned house. It was the only one we’d seen without broken windows and doors. The only one that hadn’t been ransacked. The mountains on the evening we found it were majestic, and not so far from the house. And in that moment, I imagined I was a normal little girl, with a normal house in a normal world.

The cupboards weren’t bare, and there were some clothes and supplies. There were even chickens and farming equipment outback, a shiny red wheelbarrow catching my eye. And it wasn’t until our second day there that Mama found the body. The man was white and covered in wrinkles, and Mama said he’d died from old age. She buried him out back, behind the chicken coup, and I helped cover him in dirt.

And she shed tears. When I asked her why she was crying, she said it was because she wished I knew the value of a life, wished that seeing a dead body wasn’t something so normal for me. And again, I didn’t understand.

For the first few weeks at the house, I missed the company and stability of the warehouse. And so did Mama, I think, because she cried a lot, almost every time Rose did. When I asked her if she thought they were all still alive, she cried harder. And that told me she thought not.

Then eventually tears turned into smiles, and smiles into laughter. I wasn’t so homesick for Daddy anymore, or even the warehouse. We were happy, and Mama even swung me around until I was dizzy.

And then we realized we were already home.

"Not Me!"

Ah, the "Not Me!" Ghost.

I always love when it comes to visit.

I grew up on Family Circus comics. And the "Not Me!" ghost was always one of my favs, even as a little kid. And until I was a mom, I never realized just how true to life it was.

And you think the "Not Me!" ghost is sneaky with just one kid? Well, it's even more cunning with two.

When I was cooking dinner last night, the three kids were in the family room watching a Brainy Baby video, being quiet and wonderful in the process. Then, all the sudden, Luke started crying out of nowhere. He's teething and, well...he's Luke, so I thought nothing of it. He cries like that quite often if I'm not holding him.

So, with my hands all slicked up in raw hamburger, I continued to labor away stuff the manicotti shells, quickening my pace so I could silence the piercing, damaging-to-your-eardrum screaming come to his rescue.

Fifteen minutes went by, and he was still crying. Of course. I felt bad, but it's Luke. And I had to make dinner. I have to earn my way around here somehow.

When I finally had dinner in the oven, the counter washed off, and my hands washed, I rushed into the family room.

And I felt horrible.

Luke was covered in water, from head to toes, drenching everything and even running down his back. And he'd been sitting that way in his bouncer seat for the past fifteen minutes.

Immediately, I looked to Sam and Josh with narrow eyes, the both of them standing back with arms behind their backs and pleasant looks on their faces. That was when I noticed empty sippy cups. Then water all over the couch, and floor, too.

Luke was still screaming during my assessment, so I picked up my soaking baby, dried him off a little, and snuggled him (feeling bad for not coming to his rescue sooner), and then the questioning started.

Me: Who did this?
Sam: Josh. Josh did it!
Me: Josh, did you do it?
Josh (shaking his head): No!
Me: Did you pour water on your baby brother, and all over the family room?
Josh (shaking his head): No.
Me: Sam, no lying. Tell me the truth. Did you do this?
Sam: No, Mom, it wasn't me. It was Josh. He did it.
Me: So am I to believe it was some mysterious ghost? I'm not stupid. There's water everywhere and you two are the only ones in here. One of you did it. I'm giving you both one last chance to tell the truth. One. Last. Chance. Sam, did you do it?
Sam: No.
Me: Josh, did you do it?
Josh: No, Mommy. No pour water, baby.
Me (looking around for the "Not Me!" ghost, shrugging his shoulders and running from the room): Fine. Then you will BOTH go to time out.

Damn that "Not Me!" ghost. He got me again. And those poor kids had to suffer for it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Defy Gravity

*Post inspired by Mama Kat's writer's workshop prompt, "Write a short story prompted by your favorite song."

Though I have way too many favorite songs, all for different reasons, my all-time favorite is Defying Gravity, from the Broadway musical, Wicked.

Do it: call me a theater geek. I dare you.
Click here to listen to the song.

I've heard it my whole life. I've heard it from everyone.

And now, I've heard it enough.

The same words resounded inside me, thrown from my mind and into my heart at every turn. Every wrong choice, every action that only expressed my individuality. But individuality is wrong, they told me.

I believed them. I had to be like the rest, be perfect. I had to love the boy who pretended to be perfect, too, but on the inside was deteriorating. Being worn to nothing because his mistakes had made him worthless. His mistakes that he vowed to forever hide.

But that boy would marry someday. Not me, since I didn't measure up. Instead he would marry a girl who is naive and perfect, just as they push me to be. 

And that boy will be a man, a man who no longer can hide his mistakes. 

And that girl will be a woman, crushed by the opening of her eyes, by the reality that this man was never in fact perfect like she, and so many others, were lead to believe. The reality that no man ever was. 

And he will become "not good enough."

No righteousness, no straight behavior, no obedience could ever make him that way.

And that woman will sob. She will cry every night, wondering how she was fooled. Wondering if she could find someone better. A better man, with a cleaner past.

But I know she will be wrong. And that their marriage will fail.

So I consider myself lucky. I consider myself saved from such repression. I see it now, see the way they are. See them for what they are: the imperfect people, quite beautiful in their self-acceptance, and the facade of those who think they are perfect.

And no longer do I feel the guilt that destroys so many others. No longer do I let their standards repress me. No longer do I think I'm unworthy and ugly, because of past mistakes, or even things I love.

Because those things make me me. Those things make me the beautiful individual I was always told to avoid. The one everyone shunned. The one I was told would never truly be happy.

And to them I say you're wrong. Away from them I fly, high and far away, where judgmental eyes no longer penetrate and self-righteous words no longer scar.

I am free.

I am me.

Defying Gravity

Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I'm through with playing by the rules
Of someone else's game
Too late for second guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It's time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes...and leap!

It's time to try
Defying gravity
I think I'll try
Defying gravity
And you can't pull me down!

I'm through accepting limits
'Cause someone says there're so
Some things I cannot change
But 'til I try, I'll never know
Too long I've been afraid of
Losing love I guess I've lost
Well, if that's love
It comes at much too high a cost!

I'd sooner buy
Defying gravity
Kiss me goodbye
I'm defying gravity
And you can't pull me down!


So if you care to find me
Look to western sky!
As someone told me lately:
"Everyone deserves the chance to fly!"
And if I'm flying solo
At least I'm flying free
To those who'd ground me
Take a message back from me
Tell them how I am
Defying gravity
I'm flying high
Defying gravity
And soon I'll match them in renown
And nobody in all of Oz
No wizard that there is or was
Is ever gonna bring me down!

I hope you're happy!

(Citizens of Oz)
Look at her, she's wicked!
Get her!

What a powerful message about rising above the people who bring us down--the people who judge us and try to steer us in a certain direction. What a powerful message about being yourself and staying true, no matter what it brands you as!

I've always gotten the chills from the power of this song, but as I watched it for the first time last summer, it brought tears to my eyes. What a moving experience to watch Elphaba literally rise in the air, cape nearly covering the entire stage, and sing those final notes of the song with such a power that even her enemies could no longer pull her down.

It was moving in more ways than just great theatrics. It was moving because of the message it portrayed.

Though the above "story" I wrote comes from a fictional place (mostly), I think we've all experienced some kind of "rising above the pressure." Maybe some more than others. But in one way or another, we can all relate.

In fact, I could have dedicated this post to a certain loved one of mine, because she has experienced this to the fullest. Finally, as a full-grown adult, she came into her own. And she's happy. And I love her for that.

That's why this song is my favorite. Not just because it's beautiful, that Elphaba's story is inspiring, or even that it's fun to sing to, but because of the message. Defy gravity.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A New Tooth!

Here's what we've been up to the past couple weeks:

Lots of playing outside...

And watching from the inside...

"Building campfires" (in Sam's words)...

My Zeusers is getting bigger every day.

At least I had some pretty flowers to look at while doing it last night, thanks to the hubs. :)
Being beautiful and cute...

And lastly: getting teeth!

Or, tooth, I should say. Yesterday I finally noticed Luke's first tooth coming through. I was surprised because he's getting them much sooner than Sam and Josh did, but I'm not surprised because that explains his grumpy behavior and why he hasn't been sleeping.
I know it's really hard to see, but it's coming up on his left side.
Hooray! I will miss those baby gums though. There's something about toothless baby gums that just makes me grind my teeth (because they're so cute, of course).

Link up with Amanda and Angie for your Wordful Wednesday!

"Paging Doctor House"

I've lost faith in doctors over the years. The more I watch dramatized doctor or hospital TV shows, and the more I experience the doctors in real life, the more I realize how most of them actually couldn't care less about their patients. They make their money the moment we walk in the door, so why try? Move along so I can get to my next number patient who'll fork out the dough.

I'm not discounting anyone who's had great experiences with doctors, or who've been saved by a doctor. My husband was one of them. Nor am I trying to offend anyone who is a doctor or knows one personally. I just hope, for their patients' sake, they're good at it. That they care.

I'm just saying there needs to be more of the caring. A LOT more. The way it works is messed up. But it's always been this way. And it works for them because as mortal human beings, we need doctors. And we will always come back. Even though we are paying them.

I hear amazing stories from people who've had doctors find things wrong with them, or cure them, and it makes me grateful for modern medicine. I really am. And I'm glad for those miracles in people's lives. Like I said, my hubby was one of those people. Thanks to a doctor's "hunch"--a doctor who wasn't just mindlessly going along with the motions and actually cared--my husband's cancer as a teenager was caught early enough to eliminate it. I will forever be grateful for that.

So why does it seems near impossible to find a doctor that still goes by "hunches"? Is it too much to ask that a doctor actually take careful consideration of his patients' problems, instead of viewing them as just another number?

Again, we are paying them. So why does it feel like they are robbing us we are wasting their precious time?

It's absolutely maddening, and quite effed up.

Did they really go through the hell of medical school, just to blow off a patient's issues? Just to forget about them and their problem the moment that patient walks out the door, not even giving them another thought until the next time they walk in that door? And then, when they know the patient is miserable and desperate for an answer, not even call with certain test results?

"Hey, receptionist, let's mail the results instead, make him/her wait a little longer, and then when he/she calls to get more information, tell him/her I won't talk to him/her unless he/she makes an appointment to see me and pays me another $100...just so I can tell him/her I don't have a clue what's wrong!" Evil, evil laugh.

As exaggerated as that seems, I don't think it's too far from the truth.

Are there any doctors out there that still care about the patient, and that when the patient says he/she is going through hell, they actually believe them--even though it's a problem they've never heard of?

After so much evidence to the contrary, I say no. If there are ones who do, we've yet to find them. Just because they've "never seen that issue" in all their thirty years of experience doesn't mean it's not legit. Figure it out. Diagnose. Care, just a little.

Hell, I'd take Dr. House's horrible bedside manner any day if it meant having a doctor who would obsess over the problem until he figured it out actually try to solve the medical problem instead of forgetting about it just because it was something he didn't normally deal with.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Happy Eight Years

It's that time of year again, where I'm nearly thrown on my back by just how fast time has gone by. Our anniversary. It seems like just yesterday we met at the church, went through a rocky, but cherished, relationship, got married, spent precious time together, just me and him, and realized we were expecting our first child. After three years of late nights, late mornings, and only worrying about ourselves.

Now, all the sudden, we have three kids and eight years have flown by. It's CRAZY, I tell you. We aren't even the same people we were back then.

We are better now, more seasoned (ha! I'll be saying to myself ten or twenty years in the future as I read this). Our marriage doesn't go without its hiccups, and things definitely aren't easy anymore.

But I love Dave more everyday, and I am so grateful for the man, husband, and father that he is. I mean it when I say that I really, truly could not picture anyone better for me than him. I am the luckiest gal alive. I'm so grateful for the eight years of marriage we've had to grow as individuals, a couple, and as parents, and that we could build such a perfect little family.

Eight down, the rest of eternity to go. I love you, babe. MORE.

Monday, August 15, 2011

What I Miss Most

1. My family. On both sides: mine, in Utah (my parents soon-to-be), and Dave's in Colorado. And no, I'm not just saying that to avoid offense. I actually happen to love my in-laws, for realsies.
The Coltharp Clan (my fam) last summer. Dave, Me, Josh, Sam, Cindi, Braxton, Aaron, Heather, Mike, Reagan, Jonah, Jordan, Mom, Dad, John (his wife and kids were missing that day), Brian, Leslie, Alexa, Ayla, and Brigham.
The Meyers girls: Jen, Mary, Mom, and Jess (Dave's sisters and mom), and us. 

2. My bestie. Am I allowed to use that word even though I'm not a teenager? Doesn't matter, because I just did. I haven't seen her in four years, minus the one hour I got to spend with her last month--an hour of chasing after and disciplining our kids instead of deep, meaningful conversation.
My brother, John, and Chloe, when she lived with us our senior year of high school. No, it's wasn't Halloween. That's just another example of the craziness that is my family. And I love it.

3. Colorado.
Castlewood Canyon, one of Dave and I's favorite spots when we were dating. We even carved our name at the base of a rock under the little waterfall. It's hard to see the waterfall, but it's there. And I know it looks tiny here, but it's really not. We had to repel down the canyon side to get to it, and the waterfall itself is actually about fifteen feet tall.

4. My body.
Oh, gosh, how I miss my pre-baby body. Before my boobs deflated, my stomach stretched, and my hips widened.
That's a climbing wall harness around my waist.

5. When Friday night actually meant something. Like a date, a late night, and a late morning of sleeping in the next day. Sometimes naked. Yes, I said it.
6. Living close to civilization. Like doctors or a mall or normal restaurants or fast-food, or even Walmart.
7. My pre-baby hair. When it didn't fall out just from running my hand through it. When I wasn't worried I might go bald. When it wasn't horrid.
From blond and pretty, to dingy and flabby (I'm talking about me, by the way, not Dave). Man, we were young.

8. Bauer. My cat and Jack. 

Back in the day, during season five of 24, when the Holidays and us would have "24 night." And I'm comfortable showing a picture of me stuffing my face with popcorn here, because I know I'm not the only one who loves to stuff her face.
Bauer, on Easter.

9. Me time. Having time to myself that isn't at eleven o'clock at night.
10. This. I know I already said my family, but this is separate than that. I miss the crazy, wacky, silliness that is me and my siblings.
Cindi, John, Me, Brian, and Heather.

Flicker of Inspiration: Sea of Yellow

*Post inspired by the Lightning and the Lightning-bug Flicker of Inspiration prompt, "Sea of Yellow."

I had this post written yesterday morning, but I'm late on getting it up because all of yesterday I thought a hacker ruined my blog forever and I was too scared to get on. Every time I did, it told me my site was infected by malware by some third party site. I was PISSED. And sad. But then I realized it didn't say this if I went to it from Internet Explorer or Firefox--just Google Chrome. And a friend of mine said Chrome does that sometimes and I shouldn't worry. So to any of you with Chrome who had to get through a warning message to get here, I'm sorry. And I don't know how to get rid of it.


Last week, I wrote the Red Wheelbarrow for my Flicker of Inspiration post, which was a short fiction piece told from Charlene's POV--a story I made up on a whim. But I recently decided I wanted to keep Charlene and her family's story going, so this segment takes place after that, and I'm hoping to write more continuations in the future. This week was a picture prompt, where we had to write a piece based on this:

And I just now realized, as I went to post it, that we were supposed to stick to 500 words or less. Crap. My bad. But I'm too lazy to change it now. Sorry about the length. :/

The sun is heavy, and so are my eyelids. But I walk anyway, stumbling really, since my feet are heavy, too. My boots absorb the heat like an iron skillet, and I feel the dirt inside them turn moist between my toes. It's been three days since we left, three says since the strangers forced us from the only place we've ever called home. It was the first time I ever made eye contact with a gun, me and the double barrel in a stare down, and Mama went hysterical.

She fell to her knees in that moment I thought was the end, between me and the shotgun, and cried until the woman with ratty hair and crazy eyes shoved her aside. That was when they found our white chickens, and Mama says those white chickens saved my life. And because Mama wouldn't put up a fight, they let us go. Made us leave everything behind.

Just like that.

Mama might be too passive to put up a fight, but in that moment I was desperate. It was the only place Hank and Rose ever knew, and the only place with walls that I ever knew. It was small and lacking, but it was ours. And so were the chickens.

I grasped the barrel of the shotgun with both hands when the woman-beast was distracted, but she kicked me in the stomach, knocking the wind from me. I fell into Mama, and Mama's arms imprisoned me as I screamed at the beasts.

The rabid woman just laughed, as though I was a joke. In two years, maybe one, I wouldn't be. Maybe I'll even be stronger than Mama by then.

We carried nothing with us through the mountains, since the beasts took everything from us. Mama and I took turns carrying Hank, and sometimes my arms tingled until I felt nothing at all. Rose cried a lot, and so did Mama. She tried hiding it, but I know the sound well.

I'm better at hiding it. I don't sniffle like her, or blubber like Rose.

"We're almost there," Mama says, and I almost jump, even though her voice is soft. Hank was asleep at her shoulder, but now he stirs. It's the first any of us have spoken in hours. She's talked about the Sea of Yellow ever since I was little, about the place she and Grandpa fled to many years before, when all Hell broke loose on the civilized world--a world I know nothing about.

I manage to harrumph between breaths, my feet still trudging over rocky terrain. The sun burns my neck and my moist shirt clings to my ribs and back.

"We're almost there?" Hank groggily asks, and I imagine him rubbing his eyes in the way he sometimes does. But I don't turn to look. I'm ahead of them, still giving Mama the silent treatment.

"It'll take your breath away, Char," she says, trying to soften me up. Nothing has ever taken my breath away. I've read stories, Mama's old books, where women's breath gets taken away all the time, mostly by men. But it doesn't make sense.

The brush gets thick then, and as I shove it aside and make a way for Rose, it scratches at my forearms. I push through and my hair gets caught, but I ignore it. Rose grasps the back of my shirt in her fists, whimpering. Probably over the bugs. They were small and non-threatening, but they were everywhere.

Then I see it. A clearing ahead.

Is that...yellow?

I shove through faster, telling Rose to keep up, and once in the clear, I freeze. A meadow, hidden away. Just for us.

Mama's Sea of Yellow.

And something strange happens inside my chest. Almost like a thud, and my breath seems to catch deep in my throat. I understand now, about Mama's claim that it would take my breath away. And the feeling elates me in a way I never experienced.

I close my eyes, and before I can help it, I'm smiling. At the breeze against my face, at the feeling inside me, at the image inside my closed lids. I open them again, just to make sure it wasn't my imagination.

I feel Mama behind me now. She's sniffling again, and Hank is cheering. There's a cabin at the other end of the clearing, probably the very one Grandpa built, but that's not what catches my eye. It's the openness, the freedom, the new start.

The Sea of Yellow.

My eyes follow the dancing wings of a butterfly. It seems drawn to Rose, for it lands right at her feet. She giggles, extending her finger to it, and I shake my head, my mouth still turned in a smile. One minute the insects are her adversary and the next, her kindred spirit.

The flowers are everywhere, coming to my knees. As I remove my boots, Hank jumps from Mama's arms, and my eyes burn. And when I run my swollen, sweaty feet over the grass, I sigh. Refreshing, green blades between my toes, promising reprieve.

I fall to the ground and let them envelop me, and so do Mama, Rose, and Hank, and we all laugh.

We have nothing, except the cabin and each other.

And Mama's Sea of Yellow.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Battle of POV...along with some music.

*Post inspired by the Lightning and the Lightning-bug Dare to Share prompt, "Music."
We’d like you to share a post, new or old, that focuses on music in some way. You can post a poem, fiction, memory, or essay. Dare to Share is anything goes link up…as long as you stick to theme.

This is the first installment I'm posting to my second novel, November Rain. No, I didn't steal that title from Guns N' Roses.

The reason I'm posting this is not only because it fits with the music theme, but November Rain needs more work than any of my other manuscripts. I'm struggling with a POV issue and I could really really use some help.

I keep going back and forth on the issue. I originally wrote this novel in omniscient POV--back when I was even more of a rookie than I am now and I thought omni was actually an accepted POV in modern fiction. Turns out it's not, except for very rarely, or if it's done very well.

And though sometimes, when reading through the novel, it feels choppy, sometimes it feels to flow pretty well, so I think if I can work out the parts that don't flow, it just might work.

And this piece below is one of those scenes that feels a little choppy to me. So having some outside eyes looking it over would help a lot. The opinions I've gotten from others, who've read the piece as a whole, are that it works, and they feel, as I do, that it would take away some of the depth if changed to third person.

And that's my dilemma. The subject matter of this novel is grave (not so much here, however), and both main characters have equal part in the emotion and story. So, unlike my other novels, this one feels impossible to convert to third person without losing some of that emotion. So I struggle.

Okay, enough rambling. I need some feedback. I know this is only a small segment, and a very raw one at that, but I'm not sure my omniscient POV works, and I need you to tell me if this small bit feels disconnected or choppy, because that might give me an idea for the rest of it.

And be nice and tell me it's perfect truthful. I wouldn't be asking if I couldn't take it.

Just a little background: Lucas and Raegan have both experienced some harsh losses in their lives and, through the deaths of certain loved ones, have built a strong friendship, to say the least. But certain complications prevent them from exploring beyond that.

Raegan stood at the bar with a Grey Goose martini as her friends danced to the slow rhythm of the band.  She tried ignoring the man from her peripheral vision that had been steeling glances at her all night, his eyes mysterious over the rim of his glass.  She tried ignoring Lucas and Hannah.  She tried ignoring the ping of disappointment that betrayed her once firm desire to remain single the rest of her life. 
Instead, she lingered on the moment, her atmosphere.  She lingered on the overwhelming excitement that she would be published.  She lingered on Russell, how extremely unfitting, but attractive, he’d look in this club as they bore it together.  She let her mind imagine him there.
The end of the song easily segued into the next, the band barely pausing to change the tempo.  Only a short second passed before Raegan recognized the tune and she immediately looked to Lucas, her heart sinking.
As if connected once again, he stopped dancing with Hannah and turned to meet Raegan’s gaze.  The vocalist started the evocative lyrics to Come Rain or Come Shine, her voice oddly similar to Billie Holiday’s, and a whirlwind of emotions hit the both of them.  Raegan smiled feebly, trying to read the intensity of the storm in his sapphire eyes.
Lucas looked down in thought, hardly aware of Hannah inquiring of his sudden concern.  He brought his eyes back to Raegan at the same time that a man removed himself from the bar and offered his hand to her, smoothly speaking unheard words.  Raegan shook her head ruefully and turned away from the stranger, her back now facing Lucas.
There was no question in his mind, no doubts or reservations as he approached her.  Sensing him, she turned.  “Rae?” he asked, raising his hand.  “Dance with me?”
“Of course,” she murmured, somewhat reluctantly.  As she took it, his heat thawed her.
Neither of them noticed her admirer gritting his teeth as he turned away in disappointment, or Hannah standing on the sidelines with cross moisture in her eyes.  Lucas softly pulled her into him, only aware of the spell she put him in, the power of his parents’ song as it became theirs, and the memory of them dancing to it with the same level of adoration his eyes now held.
It didn’t matter how much he tried to bury his love, or that he used his desire for her to fuel his moments with Hannah.  Raegan was the first and only woman that, since Adele, would hold his heart, and she was here in his arms—a vision in canary satin. …
He could almost taste her as he brushed his lips against her cheek and buried his face in her hair, the locks falling onto her bare shoulders in a wave.  He consumed himself in her energy as he held her close, let it flow through her back and into his palm, then through his other hand and into hers—a cycle of renewal.  In response, he tightened his fingers through hers and held her hand close to his heart.
Closing her eyes, Raegan slightly angled her head, willing the warmth of his breath against her neck as it weakened her knees.  Fused together, she melted into him, forgetting in that much too brief a moment that he was merely her best friend friend.  He was Lucas, the man that held her heart in a way she didn’t understand. 
Both were speechless, communicating through the lyrics of the music and the simultaneous rhythm of their hearts.

As the amazing writers you all are, what is your opinion on omniscient POV? And to those of you who are just readers, do you notice the head-hopping enough to break you away from the story? If this isn't working, what might make it better? Thanks everyone for the feedback!