Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Wolf Inside

This was written by my 13-year son. Out of the blue, he decides to write a poem.

The Wolf InsideWerewolf_(HD_1080p)_Wallpaper_o1j0k
When the moon rises
You feel the heat
You taste the anger
You smell the meat
When the flower blooms
Deep in your heart
You feel the change coming
And it begins to start
When the blood is consumed
Get ready for a ride
Fur grows
Forming a mongrel hide
You lose control
A blood lust created
They razed the village
Which is why they’re hated
You can’t run
and you can’t hide
From the beast within
And the wolf inside

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Filed under Family, poetry, Uncategorized, writing

Large Wrecking Ball Required

May 20th, 2013. 5:15am.

I walked out of the house on time, really 5 minutes ahead of schedule, to catch a flight to a trade show for work in Atlantic City. Standing at the back of the car, just as I lift a piece of luggage into the back, my phone rang in my hand. A simple glance told me it was not my boss or co-worker also going on the trip with me. It was my mom. “No, Mom, no.” came out of my mouth and my husband moved from where he was standing at the garage door.

For .3 seconds I thought of not answering, but I needed to let my mom give me her message. I told my husband as he helped me with another bag but I could not pause for a hug, for his sympathy. I needed to get to the airport for this trip.

The days were busy and long. I stayed focused on work, and at the end of 3 days was utterly exhausted beyond my physical and emotional bounds. The flight from Philadelphia to Raleigh, and then the drive from RDU down to my hometown found me walking into the door of my childhood home and waking my mom slumbering in her recliner at 2am.

My grandmother’s funeral and subsequent time with my family are still a blur. My eyes teared up at the sight of my sister going through her emotions at the funeral and I grabbed her, staving off my own grieving to console her.  My family was already so weary from their own ordeals from the days before my grandmother’s passing.  We consoled ourselves with family memories and too many pieces of the obligatory cake or pie. A couple of days later when I stood up from my grandfather’s table to leave for my flight home, the weight of the week felt almost unbearable and I recognized my reluctance to depart as my denial of my own grief.

I drove the backroads to I-40, through the lands of my ancestors, full of emotional loss, physical exhaustion and sweet memories.  Arrival to my current home brought my nuclear family needs back in focus along with lots of work to be done at a new job. More time has passed but I have spent none grieving as I should.

The wall I built around the emotions of grief the last few weeks is tall, thick, well-constructed. I am an expert at building such walls.  I don’t know where to begin to grieve. I try to will the tears but the fear of pain, the fear of the tears never stopping, keep them from coming at all.  Someone told me that I am a strong woman. I see my inability to grieve properly as a weakness, a fault.

No one knows my inability to own my emotions is deeply seated in childhood pain and loss. I let a little bit of sorrow in and my world crashes in on me for months.  The wall around my current grief is part of a superstructure I have been building all of my life.  Whenever I mourn and tear down just one wall, the whole structure becomes unstable. I become unstable. I hate that feeling. I begin to lament every bad decision, every loss, every hurt, every pain my mind will not forget. I hate the overwhelmingness of it.

Just below the lump in my throat, sitting on top of my heart, is a massive structure of walls, hidden rooms, towers of secrets. One chink in the mortar, one removed stone threatens it. I do not have the strength to start the grieving. This is an advertisement for demolition needed. Large wrecking ball required.

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Filed under Family, Uncategorized

First Decision of 2012

Not 30 minutes into the year and it is already marked with an important decision. That decision is no looking back. No revisits or re-examinations of mistakes and missteps. Time was used in 2011 for analysis of those things and only that came into 2012 with me.

No big changes are being planned for the new year. My interests, pursuits and activities remain the same and will continue.  As a consummate learner, I’m sure to pick up new things, new ideas in the coming year but they aren’t on a list because I don’t know what they are yet.

Every year holds obstacles and challenges, good times and sadness. 2012 will hold plenty of all of that and I can only hope to meet it with understanding and peace.

Looking forward is so much more fun. What didn’t get done in 2011 has 365 days of 2012 for the possibility. What went wrong in 2011 is done and gone, and 2012 holds hope for another try.

All of 2012 belongs to 2012, the present and future.

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The Best Christmas Gift to Ourselves

The Christmas shopping season is upon us. As we make our lists and debate what to purchase for the people in our lives, consider spending most or all of your money on U.S. made items or local services.

This article from The Oregonian about buying American this year contains similar sentiments I received in an forwarded email from a co-worker last week. With issues of employment nationwide, it makes sense to spend locally, spend on goods and services that employ people here in America. It is an important issue to think through to action.

Our national security is intertwined with economic security. This article from The Christian Science Monitor identifies publicly what we’ve always suspected: we are under attack by Russia and China.  They’re not using missiles and bullets but they are hitting us where we live: our economic security. We all can play a part of mobilizing against these attacks, especially against China. Stop buying products made in China. Stop sending our hard-earned money to Chinese businessmen.

Photo Credit: photo of Front Street, Wilmington, NC

It seems an impossible task. Everywhere we turn, Chinese-made products adorn the shelves of our stores. Try searching online for U.S.-made alternatives. Consider gifts of local services people use every day. Most people don’t need more stuff, but they need to be employed and remain employed. Send a message to local and national businesses that carry Chinese made products that you want to buy only U.S. made products. Here’s a list of sites that might help you get started:

Some products have many components that come from multiple places around the world and get assembled in another place. Take for instance, the iPhone4. It is an international product that employees people in the U.S. though it is assembled in China. Does it mean you shouldn’t buy it? It’s up to you. A higher percentage of what you spend on it stays in the U.S. compared to other phones or items. I’m just saying you should stop and think about it during this Christmas gift-buying season.

It won’t be easy but we didn’t fall into this pit overnight. We’ve gradually walked down the steep slope of the pit since the 1970’s. We can walk back up that slope, slowly but surely one Christmas gift at a time.

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2BorNot2B: Transforming Language

Language is fascinating. The way we choose to communicate with one another is constantly changing. Some think that language is formal, predetermined and set in stone. Ebb and flow of spelling, pronunciation, grammar and even popularity of words is a timeless art of mankind across all languages.

Think for a moment how texting and Twitter have changed how we express ourselves in shorthand, symbols with what seems like automatic forgiveness of incorrect grammar and praise of creative spelling. Truly it began with email addresses. The @ symbol hardly was ever utilized in my memory until I had an email address thanks to Ray Tomlinson. An English punctuation mark derived from Old English shorthand, amazingly @ still maintains its original meaning.

While many industries have long used proprietary shorthand or abbreviations, electronic texting has ushered in the wide use of shorthand, creative spelling, symbolism and use of punctuation to express our emotions into our every day language.

If any of us thought reading Chaucer and Shakespeare was difficult in school, kids being born today will barely grasp Frost and Twain in their literature classes in a few short years or revel in the full blown environmental descriptions they find. Some think we will not confuse our language on certain communications devices with other modes. We’ll see.

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Your Power, Your Choice

(I wrote this last week before seeing the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2 movie. My son asked what was my favorite part of the movie. It was all so good but I told him it was when Harry went back into the fire to save Draco Malfoy, who had just tried to kill Harry. It goes back to what Dumbledore told him in his second year at Hogwarts, “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” I know that is true.)

Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not. – Samuel Johnson

The above quote was stamped on my heart long before I ever read it or knew it was attributed to Mr. Johnson. Not long ago I had a surprising opportunity to live this quote. Let’s look at it closer.

If you’re not sure about the beginning of the sentence’s difference from its end, think of it this way: never, ever does someone’s actions, words or personality dictate a change in yours. The damnable thing is that we often let them. It is an easy, bad choice to make.

If there is one choice in the world that belongs to you and no one else, it is the choice of the kind of person you want to be. Don’t let anyone take that away from you with stupid words, ignorant actions and impossible personalities.

It’s easy to desire it, to say it and even commit to it until you’re face to face with your own judgement of that other person. How you react, respond and treat a shallow, pitifully ignorant, hypocritical, soulless shell of human tissue is not about them. It is about you.

It is in your power to be you no matter how other people treat you. Seems like such a simple choice until our natural instinct of defense, retaliation or revenge kicks in. Who is to say kindness is not a defense?


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Filed under Life, Uncategorized

Secret Summer Memories

Not all summer memories are about vacations, sports camp or reading encyclopedias in the hammock by the pool, though I have lots of those, too. Some are gruesome, awful and more than most people can bear. Luckily, I only have a few of those kinds of memories. This is just a memory of a storytelling I happened to overhear when I was much too young to handle the wretchedness of it. 

It was the end of a very long summer day in 1978. We had visited a friend at Clarks Hill Lake near Augusta, Georgia, now called Strom Thurmond Reservoir. My sister and I were visiting our Dad and his 2nd wife, Brenda for a few weeks that summer. They lived in Wrens south of Augusta on US Highway 1. We had visited the lake with another couple who were in the car with us on a long drive back home in the sticky heat of a typical Georgia summer night. Dad and the other man were in the front seat. I was in the back seat with the two women.

I’ve tried to remember where my sister was. She may have been in my stepmother’s lap or up front between the two men. I never can place her in my memory save for earlier in the day when her water skis split and she went face first into the water while the boat dragged her along. I see her face behind the wall of water forced up out of the lake by her chin as clear as I see this screen, but I can’t remember where she was in the car that night. I’ve often worried she heard this story. But if she did she’s never said and I’ve never asked.

Though I’m older now, I feel like I’m getting ready to tell on myself and in a way, I guess I am. You see, I wasn’t suppose to hear this story. I was so tired, so drowsy and I probably fell asleep. But the music on the radio, the smoke from my Dad’s cigarette and the summer heat left me in the shallows of sleep. Then the woman began to tell this story. I pretended to be asleep after both women checked to make sure I was because the story wasn’t for my ears. Oh how I wished I had not listened! But the woman knew how to tell a story.

I’m not sure anymore but I always had it in my mind that this story was about the man we had visited at the lake that day. I don’t remember hearing when this story took place or where but I remember the details of men breaking into the home of his parents, the ugly details of torturing them in front of one another and how they were killed. Whispers of the particulars formed moving pictures still in my mind.  And, I remember the son found them in their home. 

I remember the telling of the awful, very specific, unspeakable acts committed by monsters as though I had stood in the room and watched. Most of details of the story I remember aren’t in any news articles of the day accessible on the internet. Those things just weren’t mentioned back then I guess. My memory holds ugliness of rape, cigarette burns and prolonged torture. 

Not wanting this to be my secret anymore, I post it here. After all these years, I have names, dates and places to the unspeakable events. A main member of the Dixie Mafia had played a part in the story I heard. I had hoped to have expunged my brain of the awful scenes by writing about them but they are etched on my deepest of wrinkled gray matter. 

My heart breaks over and over for the Fleming family now that I know their name. Summer heat floats those horrific scenes before my eyes like my dad’s cigarette smoke. Pungent, displeasing and unhealthy in every way. I’ve hated summer ever since.  

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Filed under Past, summer, Uncategorized