Random Wednesday: Brain Dump – Better Hearing Month and Cinco de Mayo Left Overs While Being White

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Several years ago I had a weird ear thing. It wasn’t painful. Just annoying as weird ear things often are. I felt like everything was underwater and sounded miles away. I defined that as weird. I called my doctor, went in, he placed a tuning fork on my head and asked me what I heard. To this day, I have no idea what he was trying to accomplish. Still, we figured out there was nothing physically abnormal going on as far a sinus or ear infection. I moved on and the problem went away. Kind of. It came back from time to time but knowing it would clear up after a few days I just moved on with my busy life.

About two years later I noticed the issue happening far more often. I complained to my husband about it all the time.

“You know, I don’t think this is normal.” He said.
“Yeah, it’s weird.”
“No, that’s not what I mean…” And he would give me that look which can only be described as, stop fucking around, you know damn well what I mean.

I called my ENT and started off with an audiogram.

As I would find out I have progressive hearing loss. There are many types but mine fits the genetic profile. He found it surprising no one else in my family is hard of hearing or deaf. Well, I was surprised to find out I’m losing my hearing. I guess it was just a day of surprises.

The weirdness, was pressure changes in my sinuses which can be caused by weather or illness. It’s a normal thing that happens to everyone but due to my low level of hearing I’m unable to compensate the pressure changes therefore – that underwater type hearing. The weirdness.

While the sound had turned off, the lights turned on. I suddenly became aware of how people were reacting to situations around me. I couldn’t hear things other people could. It was, sobering, to put it lightly. At one time I went out to dinner with out of state friends. We sat at a small table in a moderately busy restaurant. I sat in the middle, one friend on one side, one on the other. They talked back back and forth, as if ping ponging details of their travels and work stories over the past several years since I saw them last. I could only hear the one I was facing. It was a difficult moment because I realized it wasn’t just the noise around us. These two woman, on opposite sides of a table, furthest away from each other, where having a normal conversation and I was finding it difficult to follow along. Their mouths were moving but almost nothing was coming out unless I stared directly at the person talking and strained myself to pick up sounds or facial cues. I continued this for about a year, understanding more and more of my limitations I had been previously been ignorant of.

May is Better Hearing Month which I found out just by chance when another hard of hearing patient in the waiting room said loudly, “Hey! See that poster! It’s Better Hearing Month!” to her husband. The elderly couple held hands, her husband squeezed hers and responded, “Honey, you’re talking loud.”

Pretty sure I glimpsed into the future in that moment.

The reason I was at this appointment was to trial hearing aids which, being Better Hearing Month, seems accidentally appropriate. The experience of the trial was again, sobering. I had been weighing my options on if it was necessary. My hearing is just at the “recommended hearing aid” level and I do fine or okay in most situations. My husband and I are also learning ASL to help in situations where I’m doing less than “okay.” Yet I became obsessed with what I was missing and the weirdness. I’ll be honest, the moment the audiologist turned them on I was blown away by the sound of the audiologist’s voice. I had no idea how clear and crisp every sound of every letter of every word she spoke was suppose to be. I’ve been decoding mumbling this entire time apparently. I might owe my daughter a few apologizes on the mumbling thing.

Next week I get my permanent pair of hearing aids. I am just as excited as I am frightened to what this experience will be like outside of an office. I don’t know what sound will be like in my home, around my friends, or how terrible my singing really is when I’m driving by myself. We’ll adjust and adapt to my new hard of hearing life, while my hearing aids give me a second chance at hearing again and my husband continues to google how to say naughty words in ASL.

And while I can leave this post on this note, I’m not going to. There are more serious things in this brain dump I can’t ignore:

My half Mexican husband makes fun of me for my “taco salad.” And that’s bullshit.

mbtuqea

It’s a good salad! Listen, we have so much goddamn left over food in our fridge from Cinco de Mayo I should be able to do my white thing and make something magical with it. Let’s break this down:

-Everyone loves Doritos
-Catalina dressing is a thing

I see no crimes here with mixing Mexican left overs with the above two items. It’s a salad. It tastes really good. Also, don’t Google home made Catalina dressing because it adds nothing of value to my argument of “taco salad” being a normal thing. Just trust me when I say it is.

To my readers, I love you and here is a recipe for “taco salad” because it’s amazing.

While you’re now eating taco salad, please visit the great people below for their Brain Dump.

Bronwyn Green

Kris Norris

Siobhan Muir

Gwendolyn Cease 

 

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Random Wednesday: The Perfect Lazy Day

I don’t know if I have lazy days.

I have exhaustion. I am always hauling ass either at work or at home (most of the time both). Typically this leads me to pass out mid conversation with my husband as we discuss of favorite moments on the D&D podcast we listen to. Yes, we listen to podcasts during work, or while driving, and catch up on them usually over dinner because we have to set aside “date nights” to do so much as watch a movie together. And why do we have this conversations over dinner? If we have it any other time, I’m going to fall asleep.

There are also the days I dead weight it and say “I don’t want to!” This is why dryers have timed cycles to re-fluff clothes. I could fold the laundry. I can also re-fluff later. It’s the most difficult when I have a “dead weight” day at work. That project that you don’t want to work on at all but you have to because a due date is looming and you’re out of excuses on waiting for information. Yeah, I power though those days as best I can and before you know it I’m back to the above paragraph.

So, what is it like to be lazy? I haven’t the slightest. My husband and I are always on the move and our kids are the same. I can’t think of a time recently where I did something lazy. Something truly self indulgent that wouldn’t be considered taking a rest or a break. Even in the coming weeks, I have a day off the kids and my husband don’t. You know what I am going to do? Clean the fuck out of the house. I do this every year and I remember cleaning last year specifically because I fell. Hard and on my ass. I was moving bedding from upstairs to the laundry room downstairs. This is when Elsa and her polyester fabric Disney crap sheets started sliding all over the place. I stepped on a corner and thump thump thump thump all the way down the stairs.

My husbands response was, “Are you alright?” and “It’s your day off! Why are you cleaning?”

Because, when you have a busy life like we do, you take advantage of the time you have to get shit done.

Then, how do I have a lazy day? How do I make that happen? How do I have a day where I do what I want, guilt free, and self indulge more than, “Tonight, I’m totally going to play Mario Kart.”

I’m sure there will be a day in my life where I can afford lazy days to dream up what the perfect one would look like. However, at the time of this writing, any dream of mine for a lazy day is in a shoe box and buried in the backyard.


Jessica Jarman

Bronwyn Green

Kris Norris

Torrance Sene

 

Random Wednesday: Best and Worst – Writing Process

Let me introduce you to the Emotional Writing Process: The Justin Timberlake Super Bowl Half Time Show Theory.

At it’s worst: It’s 2005, the people you look up to are faking it for money, the one person who is actually putting in an effort is, of all people, Kid Rock, and a sudden boob appears. You feel odd, out of place, and like you’ve exposed too much. The “Justin Timberlake” of the group. You’re trying really hard but your existence in the writing world seems like an afterthought. Plus you feel the one thing people will remember you for is what can only be described as an poor judgement call.

:cough: Titty Sprinkles :cough:

I can only describe it as the worst part of the process. Not what you are actually doing – because you are trying your best and giving it all you got – but how you feel about what you how are doing. It’s the darkest moment and it can happen at any time of the process. Plotting, word smithing, editing – at some point it just feels wrong and you don’t know why.

At it’s best: It’s 2018, you’re on your own. There is no one else to measure your work up to because it’s simply you. You have a voice you enjoy writing and reading. You have the right tone, the right arc, the right words at the right time. You’re also wearing a stupid shirt and everyone is distracted with other things but hey, it’s not about that – it’s about you. It doesn’t matter how you do it. Writing doesn’t have to be a ritual that can only be done at a certain place and at a certain time. The best part of the writing process is the moment when you let go. The best part of the writing process isn’t the process, it’s you being comfortable with your ideas, your talent, your willingness to practice, your willingness to learn, and most of all – the willingness to be who you are.

I love you guys. Keep writing.

Even you Kid Rock, I guess. Even if you are wearing an American flag poncho. You do you.

Don’t forget to visit the other ladies and below are the videos for reference.

Jessica Jarman

Bronwyn Green

Gwendolyn Cease 

Siobhan Muir

 

 

Random Wednesday: Brain Dump

There is something I haven’t told my husband about. It’s not that I’m trying to keep a secret from him. I’m not. It’s just one of those situations where the conversation just never came up. The thing is, I wondered if he had something to tell me and he wasn’t saying anything either. I just got this feeling, every time I drove down that road, that he had the same feeling I did.

When I came to work this morning I deleted what I had written to address this topic. Not just a “brain dump” post of random thoughts but rather, to tell my readers what happened today and why it’s important.

This morning I was sitting at the dinning room table eating a poptart while my husband was sitting with my son, helping him get ready for school, Paw Patrol playing on the living room TV. Other than the moment when we talked about how shitty our toaster is we hadn’t said much. We did agree we needed a new toaster. One that didn’t burn poptarts randomly, could toast four slices of bread at once, and maybe had a bagel setting. Our American Dream: Being the proud owners of the Cadillac of toasters.

My husband turned to me, while putting lotion on our toddler’s arms and said, “There is something we need to talk about. I feel like we’ve both seen it and for one reason or another, we haven’t talked about it.”

“What?” I asked.

“The house on 4 Mile. The one with the snow pirate ship.”

I jumped out of my chair. “I have seen it! During Christmas they had lights on it and everything. It was amazing!”

“I know! Why didn’t we tell each other about it though? We could have been talking about it!”

“I don’t know. I guess I always saw it on my way into work and by the time I got to work I just didn’t think about it anymore. I’m not sure how. I mean, it’s a giant pirate ship in the middle of someone’s yard.”

“Where did they get all the snow?” He asked.

“I have no idea!”

“Neither do I!”

“Do you think they asked their neighbors or offered to clear driveways to get enough?”

“Maybe. They had to get it from some where. It’s a lot of snow. It’s a pirate ship!”

“Do you think they will do it next year or make something else big?” I asked.

“I don’t know.” He turned to me. “Maybe this was just a one time thing. You know, ‘remember that one year we made a pirate ship’ type thing.”

I hope not. I could use more pirate ships in my life.

UDPATE: Photo below. Guys…guys…it has cannons.

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Jessica Jarman

Bronwyn Green

Kris Norris

Siobhan Muir

Kellie St. James

Deelylah Mullin

Torrance Sene

 

Random Wednesday: Promptly Penned – Cake

It’s the time of the month where we have our promptly penned posts. As a group, we’re given a quote, sentence, or an idea and asked to write a short story around it. I can’t remember the last time I did one of these. It’s been a while because I’m a terrible person. Here are the less terrible people participating today:

Jessica Jarman

Bronwyn Green

Soibhan Muir

Deelylah Mullin

Kris Norris

Please, pay them a visit and give their stories a read. Today, I present you my short story below titled, Cake.
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Fondant is the bane of my existence. The moment a cake is set down in front of me the first thing I am going to look at is the frosting. If there is fondant on it, I will peel that son of a bitch off of there and throw it under the table like it never existed. Fondant is gross. Starch packing peanuts are less gross. Those are actually kind of fun to eat. Take a starch packing peanut, put it on your tongue, close your month, and it will dissolve instantly.

Didn’t know you could do that with starch packing peanuts? Find that weird? Well let’s talk about the asshole who invented fondant.

Let’s make a dough, but we can’t use flour, it’s not sweet. We’ll need to use something else that is elastic enough to keep it’s shape when rolled and formed. Gelatin! We’ll use gelatin and sugar with food coloring plus a few odd and ends like glycerin. Brilliant! Because the weird skin that forms over your best attempt at home-made jello jigglers is exactly what people want on their desserts.

That is why fondant is weird. And gross.

For the curious, the second thing I look for the moment a cake is set down in front of me is if it has a layer of fruit jelly, or filling, or whatever that mysterious layer of fruit is. Because at that point, it’s game over. If I wanted fruit with my cake I would have ordered a goddamn pie.

“Take a baking class.” My husband said.
“It would be good for you to get out more.” My husband said.
“You love to cook, why don’t you try something new? Baking sounds fun.” My husband said.

But there I am, sitting in a high school class room after hours with a hot mix of other Parks and Recreation sign-ups. The desk I picked said fuck Tom in pen dug deeply into the wood. I don’t know who Tom is but I’ve already sided with the author. The room smelled of sweet vanilla and had me under a trance as soon as I walked in. While the class settled in I took a moment to look around the room and I spotted them. In the cooking area were a row of small cakes cooling. One for each person in the class plus a few extra. I’m pretty good at math.

The instructor, a cheerful woman named Ms. Kim, set her reusable shopping bag on the front desk and started to pull out little plastic wrapped bundles.

“I had a few of my students stay over for a little extra credit and bake some small cakes for every one so today we could practice decorating. Everyone go ahead, grab a cake, and pick a station. You should already have tools out at your station, if you don’t, let me know.”

I left my desk, and that fucking Tom guy behind, and went straight for the cakes. Each of the cakes were perfect. The golden exteriors we smooth and silky. I picked up one of them to take to a station. The smell was heavenly. Absolutely heavenly. I don’t know which fifteen year old made this cake but they have a solid future ahead of them and a happy marriage if they keep this solid performance of cake perfection up.

At the baking station was butter, vanilla, and tools that I don’t think I’ve ever seen in a kitchen before. I pushed the tools aside and picked up the instruction sheet. It was the moment my day went from 10 to 11. It was the recipe for butter cream frosting. Moaning is not appropriate in these situations but there might have been a little moaning.

Making frosting from scratch is much easier than I thought. Ms. Kim questioned if I measured the vanilla correctly. Which I did. I had put in exactly what was on the instruction sheet and then I added exactly what I felt it needed. While we worked on frosting our cakes Ms. Kim started to microwave the little plastic bundles from earlier and pass them out a few at a time. I should have been listening but I totally wasn’t. I paid for the class and I was there to learn but, you know, buttercream frosting on a majestic cake, I had other things on my mind. But the word “frozen” caught my attention.

“…never put cake in the fridge. Always freeze it first. I’ll give you instructions on how to prep a cake properly for you to take home. We’re going to skip that step today for the sake of learning. This is only introduction and a little bit of a play time.”

A plastic bundle was set on my station. I looked around the room and everyone was unwrapping theirs. I decided to follow along feeling a little behind. My neighbor with the perfect hair and a smile full of gums was dusting her station with powdered sugar.

“Mine’s a little sticky. Is your’s sticky, too?” She whispered.

No idea. “A little.” I answered. To save face I copied her and dusted my station. Once I was done I finished unwrapping my bundle to expose a smooth and warm dough.

Ms. Kim handed out the last bundle and walked back to the first station she visited. She took a rolling pin and held it up to the class.

“You’re going to want to roll out your fondant until it’s 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch thick. A few of you have some textured rollers. Feel free to play and experiment. Share with your neighbors too, please. You should have plenty to both cover your cake and to make some other decorations with. If you see bubbles let me know, I have an xacto knife to use to release the air and work the bubbles out.”

“Oh, for christ’s sake.” I didn’t mean to say it out loud but Gums heard me.

“Something wrong?”

“No.” I left it at that. I kneaded the fondant a little and it was just painful. I though, okay, take a little bite of it. Maybe, it’s just a situation were I only ever had commercial fondant and home made is better. Like when you hate pork chops because your mom always cooked the shit out of them. They were so dry you had to saw through them with enough vigor to shake the dining room table. Twenty years later your college roommate throws a few chops on the George Foreman and you realized, oh shit, that’s how pork chops are supposed to taste.

I braved it as best I could. One small bite. A little square. A tiny piece. A squat white turdling. I put it in my mouth and chewed. The best way I can describe it was the chalky feeling of heart burn tablets combined with the off tasting sweetness and elasticity of whatever the white gummy bears are. I’m not sure what my face looked like exactly, I wasn’t aware I was making one. But Gums was watching me and looked away when my eyes caught hers.

“Alright everyone, watch me real quick for this next step. Do you mind?” Ms. Kim was staring right at me. In her hand, a rolling pin. Wrapped around it was layer of 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch thick fondant.

I regret to admit this but, natural instincts took over and I slid the cake off my work station, into the palm of my hand, and backed away several steps.

The majority of the class giggled though a few straightened from their work station, rolling pins frozen in their hands.

“It’s okay. I’m not going to hurt your cake.”

More giggles from the class.

“Take one more step closer, and I swear to god, I’ll drop this cake! I’ll do it! Don’t test me!” I yelled.

Everyone was roaring now but Gums. She slipped under her station and hid. In hindsight, it’s funny. At the time I thought, you might avoid the cake splatter but there isn’t a safe spot in this room the follow-up powdered sugar bomb can’t reach. I had no qualms about popping a bag of powder up in the air and hitting it with a rolling pin like a roided-up slugger. “You don’t like fondant?” Ms. Kim asked her face a little pink from laughing or embarrassment, I didn’t know.

“I, ah…” Shit. Shit shit shit shit shit shit. “..am vegetarian.” I was not going to win any Oscar’s for that one but I managed a quick save. “Of sorts. I’m okay with eggs and milk because those naturally occur from animals but fondant uses gelatin which is a slaughtering byproduct.”

“Oh.” Ms. Kim lowered her rolling pin for a moment only to lift it back up at the ready. “Fair enough. How about you? Do you mind?” She asked as she walked a few stations away, locking eyes with a husband and wife team.

I waited a few until everyone watched her demonstration and was distracted trying to cover their own cakes. I took my cake, casually grabbed my bag, and slipped out the door. I’m sure I didn’t go completely unnoticed. Either way, I didn’t go back. I suppose I could say I was embarrassed but that’s not really my style. I just, was no longer interested in the science of baking.

Fuck fondant.

And Tom.

 

 

 

 

 

Random Wednesday: Risks you say?

Today’s topic is risks, what you gained or lost.

I often weigh in on whether or not I should have paid for my own site on wordpress so it would not have to say “wordpress” in the address. However, their formatting sucks a big tough log so I’m still on the fence. Risk not taken and not sure I lost much.

Because this is a blog devoted to writing (mostly) it’s worth mentioning that writing takes risks. For me, I feel the risk is extremely heavy for the most irrational reasons and a few logical ones.

I’m going to name drop Jenny Trout. I know Jenny personally. When we hug our boobs touch, all in the name of friendship. I like Jenny and Jenny is far more socially conscious than I am. To that note, I learn a lot from Jenny. She tethers me to the world outside of my own. When it comes to writing, she can clock a bullshit author from a mile away and rip any manuscript a new asshole. Not just in the name of industry but also in the name of social issues and insensitivity.

What I learned from Jenny, is you have to be aware of what you are writing. There are more risks involved outside of the words on the page. Don’t write what you think people want to read, write what motivates you to write. More so, be prepared to defend yourself if people don’t see eye to eye. It’s easier to tell the truth and accept differences than to dig yourself out of the bullshit you created.

Writing what motivates you also means you have to be honest to yourself. The best writer I’ve ever read is unpublished and writes mostly for herself, sending me bits and pieces here and there. Her name is Katie and while we don’t see each other on the regular, I’m sure our boobs would also touch in the name of friendship when we hug all the same. Katie is very open about an aspect of her life that has made her who she is and that’s the suicide of her father. Katie’s writing is passionate, dark, gritty, and highly personal. She holds nothing back. While others, including myself, might find it a risk to be that open, Katie has no problem taking those risks and it shows with her undeniable talent in bringing real emotions into her characters.

No, I’m not outing something secretive about Katie and her personal life. There is nothing to out about Katie because Katie is Katie and if you are unsure of this, Katie will tell you about Katie in the most Katie-like fashion which involves a whole lot of Katie.

Logically, I feel the risk in writing is I could expose too much of me, more so than I’m comfortable exposing. Katie is well over that fear, me – not so much. While, irrationally, I’m worried writing has the risk of making me a total failure and Jenny Trout will end up calling me out for my bullshit. That’s not a blog I want to be on.

Eventually I’ll figure out the balance, how to write what’s true to myself and something I’m comfortable with even if boundaries are pushed slightly. Right now, I can’t say I’ve gained or lost anything because, I haven’t fully taken any risks. I probably should.

Also, I’ll try to hold back on the reigns of bullshit writing….

HOPE YOU ENJOYED THIS POST!

Bronwyn Green

 

Random Wednesday: Rebels!

Today’s topic: The most rebellious thing you did while growing up.

Wonderful topic, however, I plan on taking those secrets to my grave.

Instead, follow me while I make a tangent to being a “rebel” and picking fights. Now, no one picked a fight with me personally. Not that I would I recommend it. Rather, someone decided to be cheeky on the internet and write a letter which started out, “Dear America.”

This post was forwarded to me from Awesome Jim and Awesome Jim simply asked, “Thoughts on the topic?”

 

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My immediate reaction?

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And here, readers, is my response:

Dear Britain,

In response to your picture in question of an useless mug with your useless monarch (Edward VIII is it not?) seems slightly, ironic. America is a country of intrigue, beauty, and is quite sexy even with a sloppy history. Edward VIII has experience in this himself falling in love, and leaving his seat on the throne, for our lovely Wallis Simpson.  
But I digress, while Britain is full of history far more grandeur than America ours will always be passionate, more exciting, and eye catching to our distant and somewhat jealous cousins across the pond. Our history is also fresh in the minds for us who live here and this is how I know the following:
Edward VIII abdicated in 1936. 
The Confederate statues in question were all erected in the late 1800’s.
I applaud your effort in wit but as always the old chap, a wee bit rusty on execution. 
Sincerely yours,
The United States of America
Will Mr. Lopez see this? Probably not. The fact that this situation involves two individuals with very clearly Spanish sir names having a dick measuring contest about which Anglo-Saxon based country is better is not lost on me either.
To this I say let’s all raise a glass of sangria and a toast:
May today’s troubles teach us to get our heads out of our ass, it’s not a hat. Tomorrow may we encourage others to seek education and vote wisely because between Brexit and Trump, this shit is bananas. In the wise words of Mr. Lopez, together let’s “get a fucking grip.” 
Cheers to you and my mates.