Podcast Recomendation

This is a podcast discussing mental health issues from the point of view of those labeled and subsequently stigmatized from as early as five years old.

Both hosts are young moms and want to do better by their children. I should clarify, I say “young” but that’s relative isn’t it? I mean they are no older than me. 45. They might very well be emotionally and spiritually older though!

Take a listen. I did and I found I needed to focus because so much of what these women were saying rang true for me. In fact, it was so true that my old defenses appeared, jumped in front of me like a soldier holding an AK47.

I’m glad to know this podcast. It makes me question myself and makes me feel supported at the same time!

Here’s a link http://thiscouldgetdark.com

If I Told You a Secret…..

If I Told You a Secret…..

If I told you a secret, would you promise to keep it? She asked. She was drunk. Derrick answered yes, unfortunately. She’d passed out before telling him. She didn’t know it but she had just taken a knife to their previously blissful relationship. Why would she ask that!? He was a self professed “obsessive mother fucker” and she knew that. But did she really though? What was the secret!? Had she cheated? Was she born with two sets of genitalia? He was laying awake in their bed staring intermittently at her. Enough! Get up, go for a run, and stop this nonsense!

Maya woke up with a massive hangover. She lay in bed with her hand over her eyes. The sunlight was painful. She was angry. The curtains had been opened on purpose. Derrick must be angry with her. Real fucking passive aggressive! They’d had a fight the night before and she’d stormed out to her friends bar. She’d been known to drunk dial, drunk post on Facebook, Twitter and worst of all Reddit. She couldn’t remember much after taking shots at the bar. She reluctantly reached for her phone. She felt a violent wave of nausea when she saw the screen. Oh no! She dropped the phone and stumbled toward the bathroom.

It could be nothing. But then why would it come up drunk! I bet she was holding that in for months! She has something, some confession, some horrible horrible truth… STOP! Just run. Breath. Focus.

He focused on the track. On the fog raising from the trees surrounding it. Classic Derrick, on this occasion, NOT putting his earbuds in. If I told you a secret, would you promise to keep it? Why would she do this!?

The last call she’d made was to Derrick. At 4am. She was horrified to see that the call lasted three minutes. She put the phone face down on the nightstand. Soooo many embarrassing things I could say in three minutes! There’s a lot she hadn’t told him.

He sat at the kitchen table going through everything he could remember about the fight they’d had. He’d gotten home from work, Friday’s were usually pretty chill but Maria had quit a few days before so his work load had doubled. He worked for a lawyer preparing wills for artists. It was mind numbing and stressful at the same time. You CANNOT make a mistake! When he got home he told Maya all about it, or tried to. She rolled her eyes and told him to “get over himself”. He was shocked! She’d never said anything like that, in fact, they’d never even had a fight! He should’ve just gone to a meeting.

Maya had managed to hoist her small frame out of bed and stumble back into the bathroom. She’d been dreaming about drinking every kind of fruit juice imaginable. She turned the faucet on and drank right from the faucet. She could’ve made it to the kitchen but she wasn’t ready to see Derrick. She was way too hungover to deal with the anger she would feel if he even thought about judging her. She’d be able to tell. Derrick was honest, she loved that about him but in situations like these, she hated it.

Derrick, you’re obsessing. Just talk to her.

Maya, get in the shower. You’ll feel better.

You can’t control the reactions of other people, only your own.

Maybe it’s not that bad. Maybe it was a pocket dial?

Make her a smoothie! It will help with her hangover.

A smoothie would be great about now.

But then I’d be enabling. No Derrick! No judgment! Not everyone who drinks is an alcoholic!

This is probably insensitive. He’s a recovering alcoholic.

Remember you love her. You love her.

Do I love him enough to change for him?

Maya turned the water on in the shower. She started brushing her teeth. She pushed all thoughts aside. There was no use making any kind of decision in her currant state. She needed to feel clean.

Derrick heard the shower running. She’d be in the kitchen soon. Maybe 30 minutes. She always had to be “put together” first thing before anything. He wondered if that meant he didn’t have her trust. She reluctantly shared a bed with him. Her parents didn’t share a bed either so he didn’t put much thought into it, until now. The secret!

Maya felt a little better. She wrapped a towel around her chest staring at the fogged mirror. She didn’t really want to see herself but she had to start the ritual of masking. Especially today. She reached a hand up and swiped the condensation away. As she studied her face, dark circles under her eyes, she thought how fitting it was. If she’d had a mugshot, this is what it would look like. The kind you’d have with a DUI. Shameful. She reached for a cotton pad intending to douse it with witch hazel. She stopped suddenly. You can’t keep hiding from your live in boyfriend. She reminded herself how different he was from any other man she’d ever known. If you can’t trust yourself at least try to trust him. She heard the blender.

Derrick was feeding pineapple into the blender. Pineapple is great for a hangover. He stopped himself. Don’t think about hangovers or drinking! Just fucking stop it! This was a slippery slope and he could feel himself spiraling. Suddenly, he felt Maya’s arms around his stomach. A life raft! He took a deep breath in through the nose. He loved the smell of her conditioner.

Derrick turned around and wrapped an arm around her back and one around her shoulders. She loved when he did this. She’d never felt safer. She saw the smoothie in the blender and fell a little more in love with him.

He felt her pull away slightly. He kissed her head and let go.

She felt naked. Vulnerable. She could’ve at least put on eyeliner. He probably thought…

“Morning beautiful…”

He loved her eyes when she smiled.

She saw herself through his eyes. She decided she wouldn’t put on makeup today. Maybe in a few hours.

Derrick could see her smiling eyes starting to turn inward. He poured her a glass of his tropical fruit concoction.

“Pineapple….”

She didn’t say anything. He’d always equated pineapple with drinking and it wasn’t healthy for him to think about that. He’d said it was fine if she drank but she could see this wasn’t true. She took a sip.

“I’m sorry….”

He resisted the urge to start listing all the things that had gone through his mind from the time she called him to just before coming into the kitchen. Not now, be cool.

“For what?” He smiled.

He’s giving you a pass. She wouldn’t give herself one on his behalf. She took another sip of the smoothie, the dull pain in her head slowly retreating. She wouldn’t kiss him. Maya dropped her towel.

They’d both forget about the past 18 hours, for now.

The importance of being heard

The night before kindergarten. Special night, went to bed with toy lip gloss, painted nails and cat provided by mom.

When I was five, in kindergarten, there was another Cindy. To tell us apart, the teacher decreed that I be called by my full name, Cynthia, which I was not accustomed to. Didn’t sound like me. Especially because my twin brother was Bobby. Robert to be fair, but Bobby to us. Just like Cindy and Bobby on the Brady Bunch, a show I loved at the time. This happened on the first day.

Notice the placque. It says “ Cindy”. And it’s carved into a cat form, so it’s a big deal.

I was LIVID! I can’t even recall what this little girl looked like because I hated her so much for this. I remember it as hate, but now I see that it was anger directed at her being named Cindy not Cynthia like me because I had planned on introducing myself with my brother as Cindy and Bobby like the Brady’s. From the Brady Bunch. I had carefully planned this for a while, felt comforted by it because we had just moved to Rockland county, way across the Hudson River, and I hadn’t gone to pre school with these kids. We were a mystery only made cooler for the fact that we had the same names as celebrities.

I remember going up to my teacher and asking why that girl could be Cindy and not Cynthia. Her response was “Her full name is Cindy”. Nothing I could do, so I went about my business, coloring, playing house (reminiscent of an episode of Mad Men, I always wanted the brief case, never got it, don’t get me started on that) and doing crafts for which I could rarely complete because I was left handed and there was only one pair of left handed scissors (probably hoarded by Cindy).

A year went by. Same kids in the same class including faceless Cindy. We learned how to read and write. Eventually, I could read the special accomplishments board. One day, my nemesis had done a particularly good job at something and was up on the board as “Cyndi”. With a Y! I got so angry! I knew how to write my full name even in kindergarten! It didn’t add up. Why use a “Y” if her full name wasn’t Cynthia like mine?

I felt robbed, disrespected, and still couldn’t get my hands on that one pair of left handed scissors! I asked my teacher if I could now be called Cindy, but no. The precedent was set. In order to deal with this, I decided that in play, even out on an errand, my brother and I would be called Susan and Brian.

Me explaining Annie to my twin brother Bobby. He wasn’t receptive.

Bobby didn’t like this, but I not so secretly hated him anyway for being called by a name he recognized, and insisted, lest he have no late night (6 or 7pm) playmate, ever again, he reluctantly agreed and I introduced us as Susan and Brian to any stranger I came across. In the grocery store at the checkout line, at the bank, anywhere. Eventually, “Cyndy” disappeared from my memory. Don’t know if she moved, died, honestly don’t care.

In third grade, I was given the okay to be called by my name, Cindy. A little late to be honest, I was pretty into Susan and Brian and Bobby had grown used to it. The point is, I’d like to think I found a voice early on.

Whether it was listened to or not, I still had it and at least my brother heard it. Reluctantly but he did. So did the strangers I introduced us to. That was my cause, or distraction, for three years.

We all need to be heard, to be validated. And we all remember the first time. I’d love to know yours, better yet, post.

How to Create a Warm and Inviting Living Space on a Budget

We live busy cluttered lives in a good year. This past year, when so many of us were stuck at home, never was it more necessary to have a safe haven. A place to feel warm and free to breath without obstruction and fear.

I’m no professional decorator but I know for a fact that creating a pleasant atmosphere wherever you are (this is why office workers decorate their cubicles) make you happier, more at ease and ultimately healthier.

I live in a small NYC apartment and don’t have a ton of money, so I’ve discovered vignettes. Small moments around the room that catch your eye. They take a boring room and add color, interest and conversation.

Think of the New York City skyline. Famously thought to be stunning.

Flying into NYC, isn’t it amazing when the pilot takes you close to the buildings so you can see it as if you’re a bird gliding through the skyscrapers? There’s a reason why this skyline is so visually pleasing. It’s layered, has peaks and valleys much like a view of a mountain range. There’s always something to look at.

This is an antique wooden secretary In my small living room. It’s the first thing I see when I step out of my bedroom and it makes me happy every time. Even when it’s not lit up.

I added the card for Christmas.

Notice the levels. I used books as a riser for an antique tea cup I normally put an led tea light in, but, here, for the holidays I put a couple small ornaments. Behind it is a plate from the same incomplete set of China. Don’t sleep on garage sales, stoop sales and thrift stores when looking for home decor. You can easily find small things like this that can become a center piece. Different sized candles, a snow globe and a bracelet add interest in the cubbies and surfaces. That’s a mason jar on the right that I stuffed some twinkle lights into, the rest of the string frame the vignette. The mirror, I got at a craft store with a plain unfinished wooden frame. I decoupaged some Indian sheets of paper I found in the scraps bin of a decorative paper store.

This is on another wall in the living room. It’s a cheap three shelf bookcase. I used a table runner on top for color and to soften the wood, the lamp I’ve had for over ten years and now has a smart bulb. I tried many colors but settled on this warm golden yellow. A couple candles add those layers I talked about and the moment is finished off with a set of yin and yang stress balls.

This is my kitchen. It’s not exactly my aesthetic, dark brown cabinets, black stove, I like light colors. This is why the kitchen table is decked out so that’s where my eye is drawn.

Starting from the bottom right, I used a colorful trivet as a base for that sparkly gold Pilar candle I light twice a year. I made a calendar on vista print with pictures from my trip to Scandinavia (always a great conversation) and propped it up on a table top easel. Every month I flip the page. In front of that is an image of a tarot card from an old magazine pasted to a piece of cardboard. The vase is filled with all my pens and pencils. On the wall, a framed New Yorker magazine cover and a holiday fake deer head I keep up year round (got that at pier one imports).

I moved the kitchen table to the living room.

Here you can see the secretary, the bookcase and table set for Christmas dinner. Moving the table in here was the most wonderful thing especially since we haven’t been able to dine in for so long. It also made me love my apartment more knowing I can transform it into something completely different at any time.

Here’s my living room not decorated for the holidays and before the smart bulb.

Here’s another iteration of my living room. Believe it or not, the tree in the left corner is a cat tree! It’s from Chewy and looks like a potted plant. Not crazy expensive either. This is what it looks like when people come over which can hopefully happen again very soon!

What are some interesting things you do with your home decor? Let me know in the comments!

Remember the light

Sarah was flying way above the stratosphere. Her long brown hair flapping in the wind like a cape around her head. She was moving fast but the air felt like a gentle breeze. She felt as though she were wrapped in a soft blanket that smelled of cinnamon and cloves. Like Christmas in Colorado. She closed her eyes hoping to savor this feeling. She’d remember it always. She’d use it to feel safe. This feeling would stay with her until she she didn’t need it anymore. She slowly opened her eyes.

Darkness. She thought maybe she hadn’t actually opened her eyes, so she tried again. This time she squeezed them shut. She kept them closed for a moment then opened them, slowly. Darkness! I’m Blind! Panic made its way up from her stomach to her chest. Or was it dread? Her chest heaved. Oh my God!! She sat up. This is a dream, has be a dream, I’ll wake up. I’ll wake up, in my bed and be grateful. For everything! One Two Three Four Five Six….

She waited. And waited. And waited. Six, Five, Four, Three, Two, One. Come on bitch! Wake the fuck up!

She realized she had been sitting in an awkward position, her spine cemented in a rigid straight line. Her legs had gone numb. Or were they! Oh shit! Just touch them, they’re right in front of you, if they’re there. NO! Can’t freak out about something that hasn’t happened yet. Just touch them. She raised a hand and held it over where her upper thigh should be. She hesitated. Just fucking do it! She brought her hand down and felt pressure on her thigh. Thank God! She touched her other thigh, pressure. She lifted her legs one after the other by the back of the knees. They just needed a bit of circulation.

She made a point to breath deeply. In and out. In and out.

Okay…. legs, check, arms, check, hands, check, eye sight….

She thought maybe it’s just that the lights were out. Those black out shades really work! She’d simply get up and turn on the lights.

She crossed her legs and started the precarious task of standing up. It took a minute but she was now standing. Okay, turn on the light. She suddenly realized she couldn’t find her normally impeccable sense of direction. She held both arms out in front of her and took a step forward. Think Sarah, think! I come into the bedroom and the first thing I do is turn on the light. What hand do I use? She pictured herself standing in the hallway outside her bedroom door. She turned the knob and opened the door. It opened inward which is something she’d always hated. It left no room for the blue velvet armchair she’d dreamt about reading in. Turn on the light. She reached across her body to the left with her right hand and flipped the switch.

Now, just reverse, take a step. She started moving slowly toward the light switch.

It was taking longer than it should. She stopped and pictured her bedroom. She saw her full sized bed in the middle, taking up the majority of space, she smiled when she saw her black and white cat curled up in a tight little ball. She saw her 40” flat screen TV on the opposite wall then the slightly opened door, the light switch to its right.

She moved forward again. Nothing. She had a sickening thought. Maybe she wasn’t in her bedroom. Maybe she wasn’t even in her apartment! She could feel her eyes opening wide but the pitch black darkness only grew more dense.

She turned her head hoping to hear something, anything, but nothing. Oh my God am I deaf too!? She opened her mouth to scream for her roommate but her voice never made it past her windpipe. Or did it?

Kevin sat at his desk, scrolling through Facebook on his new iPhone 12. He hated all political posts but couldn’t help reading them. This was a light day. Only two or three. He jumped a little when he heard movement coming from the hallway outside his tiny office. Hardly anyone ever came down there. He listened for a while but heard only the buzz of the fluorescent lights above his desk and the ticking of his watch. “Oh shit. I’m hearing things.” He had heard of this happening. Spend all your time alone and you go a little nuts. He shook it off and went back to his phone but this time typed in – Long term affects of being alone.

Sarah had been standing in the darkness, she didn’t know how long. She felt that time wasn’t moving. There still hadn’t been any noises, she was too afraid to try finding the light switch again, so she waited. As she stood, she had a thought. I must’ve been kidnapped! But by whom?

She searched her mind for clues. She couldn’t remember the last thing she saw or felt. Nothing. She ran through what she knew to be fact. My name is Sarah Jackson. I live in a two bedroom apartment in Queens. I have a cat named Mimi. Mimi! She saw a flash of her former life. The cat looking up at her, raising her paw like she did when she was hungry. Oh my God! I forgot to feed her!

In a moment of desperation, she began to move her arms, there must be something she can touch, a wall, a door, anything but there was nothing. There didn’t even seem to be air around her. She knew she was somewhere. She curled her toes expecting to feel a floor, she’d been standing on something hadn’t she? She started to panic again finding it hard to breath but why? Was there even air? Fuck this! She bent down on her knees and felt for a floor and then suddenly, a memory.

She was in her bathtub. She saw her hand come out of the water and grip the side of the tub. She heard a faint knocking on the door. It took all her strength to turn her head toward the sound. A tear ran down her face when she realized she wasn’t going to be able to get up. Then, she took a painful labored breath in and blacked out.

Kevin was busy scrolling through information on his phone when his alarm went off. Thank fucking God! He checked his watch and sure enough it was time to go home. He slipped his phone into his pocket and stood up. When he got to the entrance of the hallway, he realized he didn’t know which way to go. “What the fuck?”He looked down the hallway to the left. Same as always, empty, stark white walls, the ceiling lined with those awful fluorescent lights. He looked to the right, the same. That’s strange. That’s where the door to the staircase was. But it wasn’t. How the fuck am I supposed to get home!?

He heard something like a cart rolling toward him from the opposite direction. He took a step back and looked slowly toward the sound but there was nothing! The phantom cart rolled right past him, through him? Alright man, calm down. It’s just your imagination. You work in a morgue, you think it’s haunted but it’s NOT! He suddenly got very angry with his ex girlfriend. Every time she heard a noise she’d swear it was a “spirit” that had followed him home. He brushed it off but there was always a little part of him that believed her. God damn it Mona!! He took out his phone and googled “Can a ghost follow you home from a morgue.”

Sarah was sitting now. Legs crossed, eyes closed? She didn’t know anymore. She was trying to breath in and out. Counting, a trick she’d come up with to help her relax when she felt a panic attack coming on. One, two, three, four, five, six. She thought about Mimi. Hopefully her roommate Jen, decided to all of a sudden give a shit about their cat and fed her. Yeah right! She didn’t care! Wait! Jen’s a good roommate! Sarah remembered something. She and Jen outside a pet store window. Jen, wearing that adorable blue and grey knit hat, kneeling down making kissing noises at a tiny grey and white kitten. It had reached up and put a paw on the window. Just like Mimi! Mimi. She remembered something else.

Kevin was now convinced he was in fact being tormented by a spirit. He couldn’t figure out how. I work in records! I’ve never even seen a dead body! He gasped. That wasn’t true. He remembered walking down the aisle in a church. He was trembling. He looked up at his father who held his hand, tight. Whatever they were getting closer to, it was terrible and he desperately wanted to run the other way. That’s right! My brother, Johnny! He had died. Kevin didn’t know how old he was at the time. Very young. Young enough to have forgotten all about this. He closed his eyes and remembered his father falling to his knees when they reached the alter. It was an open casket. I refused to look! He remembered feeling like the people in the church were angry at him. Suddenly, Kevin had tears streaming down his face.

Sarah was still sitting cross legged, thinking about Mimi. Jen never knew her. Her precious kitty had died back home in Colorado. She was devastated. That’s why they were looking for a cat. Jen thought getting a kitten and calling it Mimi 2, or, Madam Mimi the second, as she would say, like she was announcing a Medieval member of high society at a ball. Sarah laughed out loud. You funny bitch! Jen seemed like a memory now. Someone she’d known in a previous life. Known? It was more. She had one final flash, laying in bed looking at Jen, her beautiful smiling face illuminated by early morning sunshine. The light grew brighter and brighter along with it a sound like electricity. Sarah shut her eyes and covered her ears, she knew it would be unbearable in a second. Now, silence. And darkness. Just as she was about to lay down, she heard something. Purring!

Kevin was back at his desk, his head in his hands. Thank God no one comes down here. I must look fucking ridiculous, crying like a little bitch! He picked his head up. He looked at his watch, it’s face flickering in and out of clear vision. He rubbed his eyes. The nagging sound from the fluorescent lights was becoming to much to bear. He got up and flicked the light switch. “Fuck!!” He remembered that switch had been for something else. The lights were turned on and off by a technician. Rich! That fat piece of shit! He stomped down the hallway to the staircase. He stopped. The staircase! It’s here!

Sarah was overcome with happiness as she saw a pair of round eyes with light reflected in them. Mimi! She could hear the pitter patter of feet as the cat ran to her like she always did when she got home. She scratched her little head and bent down to kiss her. That’s when she realized it. There’s light! Sarah looked ahead of her and saw rays of light coming through what looked like a cracked wall.

Kevin stood at the door for a moment. He didn’t trust it. Did he really want to go home? There’s nothing there except bills. Mona had been gone for a couple months, she left a plant but It had died. You know what? First thing I’m gonna do is throw that thing out! He gripped the door knob to open it but it was stuck! He tried again, it wouldn’t budge. The door could be locked automatically if there were some kind of security breach. Of course! Rich! He started banging furiously on the door. “Rich! You fat fuck! Open the FUCKING door!!”

Sarah got up. She moved slowly toward the rays of light. She could feel warmth. She heard a sound getting louder as she moved closer and closer.

Kevin was now kicking the door. Those damned fluorescent lights! The sound had changed. It was a rhythmic beeping. He recognized it. He saw himself as a teenager looking at a hospital bed. A priest standing over it, praying. Last rights. A nurse reached over to a machine. He recognized it as a respirator. Kevin’s chest heaved as he saw his father laying there motionless with tubes coming out of everywhere.

Sarah held her hand in the warm soothing light. Whatever was blocking it fell away. She was now bathed in glorious illumination.

Kevin opened his eyes gasping for air. He saw a fluorescent light flickering above him. He saw the outline of scrambling human forms dressed in full body white suits. Something was being pulled out of him. The humanoids hovered over him as he struggled to breathe. He could see that they were cheering.

Sarah was flying, way above the stratosphere. She could smell cinnamon and cloves. She looked down and saw her lifeless body laying in a hospital bed. A nurse by her side, weeping. She felt sorry for the nurse but it was okay, she didn’t need that body anymore. She looked further and saw Jen slumped over on their living room floor, sobbing, holding a grey and white kitten. Sarah blew a kiss. Jen took a deep breath and looked up. Sarah knew she didn’t see her but she felt her. She could feel something so inviting above her. She knew what she had to do. She flipped over in the air, and drifted upward toward the light…

2020, You Bitch!

This year was shit. We can all agree across the globe about that. A virus spread like wildfire. Remember early 2020? Most people thought corona virus wasn’t really a thing or argued that the seasonal flu was worse. Even with mounting evidence to the contrary, there were still many people who said things like “it’s no different than SARS or Zika.”

Then we saw refrigerated trucks used to store dead bodies because morgues were at capacity. Massive ditches in NYC were built to throw dead bodies into with authorities saying “we just need a place to store these bodies until we can provide proper burial.” BULLSHIT! Those bodies were most likely prisoners or inmates at city jails who died and other than their families, no one cared about them.

By springtime, we couldn’t deny the enormity of this virus. Well, some could. Some people have a great capacity for denial. It’s a common defense mechanism.

The cracks in every system showed, racism reared its ugly head (it was always there but our president made it okay to come into the light, even recruited some on the fence just like Hitler) Those of us who were previously blind saw it with our own eyes, the vicious murder of George Floyd, how he was pulled over, he didn’t know why but yet pleaded with the police officers not to hurt him. How he begged for his mother when the life was being ruthlessly snuffed out of him.

They didn’t care. To them, he was a criminal who they were charged with taking down.

This would have started an uprise in any year to a degree, but because it happened when it did, more people were home, out of work with their eyes wide open and their tolerance for injustice at an all time low.

Now, there was the Corona virus and the virus that was never really addressed, systemic racism.

The media may treat this like yesterday’s news but sadly, we’re not much better as a society now than we were then despite growing unrest. This particular virus has no vaccine yet.

Over the summer there were protests that were thwarted by white supremacy groups to make them look like terrorist attacks to prove that black people are violent and unreasonable. It worked.

There have been multiple distractions, movie premieres, ect., to take away from what’s really going on. Our lawmakers made some mistakes IMO by allowing places like gyms, bars, restaurants and hair salons to open, creating a sense of false security and bringing back a premature return to normalcy causing the previously cautious to drop their guard and get together with people they haven’t seen in a while for very good reason. Cases spiked as a result and continue to today.

Make no mistake America! Your government doesn’t give a shit about you!

It doesn’t care if you live, or if you die!

You are at best, a commodity, at worst, a target.

I wish this wasn’t true because your neighbors care about you! The ones overseas and the ones next door.

This is the one good thing about this Asshole of a year. We realized that we’re all humans, we were all going through the same thing at one point then banded together when a group of fellow humans was targeted. Well, a lot of us did.

I hope we can appreciate this lesson and be there for each other as humans when our government won’t.

And, I hope we don’t forget what we saw, and felt, no matter how horrible it was and how much we want to forget it.

I think 2021 will be a test. Did we grow or were we just surviving? When we all go back to work, will we be sedated by the 9 to 5 daily grind?

I can’t wait to find out!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Inside Christmas: The Main Event!! Ep. 11

The reindeer barn where Santa’s sleigh takes off from. Thousands of years ago, elves hadn’t perfected time manipulation so they had to build the barn to look like a church of the times.

Shimmy

Susan approved my plan. It’s pretty brilliant! Elves have been documenting their everyday experiences for thousands of years. I’m going to ask some elves to give me their documents and I’ll send them back just a few weeks, maybe even two months. I’ll send them over the internet to Fluffypants’ mom! She gave me her email. In the email, I’ll tell Mrs. Fluffypants, all about our ability to manipulate time. This is ancient elf magic and we use it so that Santa can reach ALL children in just one night. I don’t personally know how to work this magic, I’m an all trades elf not a time magic elf, but Pears has a cousin who is. I’ll get her to talk to him and we’ll see if I can send the documents to her along with some pics. I bet she’ll know what to do! We’ll see on Christmas Eve if it worked. There should be extra Christmas cheer and it should make the reindeer move faster and the bells ring louder!

Leafhoppers

It’s CHRISTMAS EVE! The most magical moment of the year! We all gathered in the reindeer barn. Santa does the same thing every year and I never get tired of it! First he makes a speech…

Jingles

He looks at me and winks and says “Here goes nothing!” It really is something! He raises his arms like he’s going to hug everyone…

PebbleBrooke

I started to run to Santa because he made the hug sign but I remembered what Susan said. “Don’t run to Santa during his Christmas Eve speech. You can have a hug from me after.” I wrote it down.

Leafhoppers

He thanks all of us for our hard work. All of us! Seriously, it takes foreeeevvvveeerrrr…

Jingles

Then, he gets into his sleigh.. I make sure his bag of presents is properly secured for the hundredth time….

Leafhoppers

He invites us all to say the words to make the reindeer fly, some don’t actually know it so they say wrong names or just move their mouths….

PebbleBrooke

On Donner! On Blixen! On Cupid! On Vixen!

Shimmy

Vixen is the best. She rolls her eyes when they shout her name! Ha!

PebbleBrooke

On someone! On someone! On someone! On someone!

Jingles

Then they start moving! They run in place for a moment and kick up some sparkly snow around their feet. It looks like a snow cloud that’s rising from the ground!

Leafhoppers

Then you can hear when they all get in sync, there’s this sound like drumming!

Jingles

They all rise above the floor as they gallop in place, you can only see their antlers and the top of Santa’s hat because they’ve kicked up so much snow that it surrounds the sleigh but you can hear them! The bells are all you hear as they get faster and faster! It gets so loud that some elves with bigger ears have to cover them!

PebbleBrooke

It sounded like a million elves marching really fast on a wooden floor like the one in the break room! When they started to move, all you could hear was the bells! This is so much louder than I ever imagined!

Leafhoppers

There’s a whoosh of air as they pull out…

Jingles

You can hear the bells and the wind gaining speed all the way up to the northern lights. I love watching Santa’s sleigh slip through them even as the barn doors are closing!

PebbleBrooke

When Santa disappeared into the lights Susan played music!

Shimmy

I created a play list on my phone. Susan gave me the nod and I pressed “play”. It worked!! It’s an all night sing along!!

Jingles

We all cheered and hugged each other. This is why we do it! Year after year! MERRY CHRISTMAS !!

Leafhoppers

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!

PebbleBrooke

MEEERRRYYYY CHRRRIIIISSSTTTMMMAAAAAS!

Inside Christmas: Ep. 10

The view from Mrs. Susan Clauses’ workshop office. It faces the indoor courtyard connecting all the different official offices safe from snow storms.

Shimmy

I’ve been “posting”, that’s what it’s called when you talk to others by typing words to the internet, on Facebook and Instagram and now Twitter! It’s been 4 days and I have friends! Human friends and two cats! How these cats can type, I have no idea but I have to admit, Bunnycat and Mr. Fluffypants are actually my favorite! Susan says to focus on the humans. I’m doing that but secretly, I do check up on the cats ALOT. Fluffypants had a tummy ache today. I just have to know what happens with that! I feel like I have a tummy ache!

Jingles

Wow! What a difference! Ever since leafhoppers made the stuffing elves go faster, we’re almost caught up! In fact, Apples did the same thing to the doll making elves and now they’re moving faster too! Haven’t seen much of Santa, I usually don’t at this time. He’s with the reindeer and if he’s not with them he’s with the sleigh maintenance elves or dressing elves for his uniform. I ran into him briefly yesterday and he said “Jingles, It’s crunch time!” That’s what he says every year. The fact that neither Clause is really talking to me means we’re doing well! I love the rush of the week before Christmas!

Leafhoppers

I did it!! Since we’ve been working so hard, we all get a very long nap every night! I’ve been drinking more and more cocoa every day, actually I started a couple day before overnights, so I’ve got plenty of energy! No one noticed! Well except Mrs. Clause. She called me into her office, a few days ago, after I got the elves to work faster. She congratulated me and I got so excited that I jumped up on the chair! She said that maybe I should slow down on the cocoa because a lot of elves do that in overnights and then they just need more and more and more and more and more and more and more!!! Anyway, because of the cocoa, I stayed up all night a couple days ago and I TALKED TO THE BOX!!!

PebbleBrooke

Guess what!? This is the first year I get to go to Santa’s take off on CHRISTMAS EVE!! Every elf hears stories about it but they all have this ending, “You had to be there.” I get to be there! I’m going to bring my blue quill! Susan said I could and Shimmy showed me how to put it in my hat so I can use my hands when I don’t need it, but it’s there when I do need it!

Shimmy

Update, Mr. Fluffypants is OK! Turns out it was just a bug! Phew! I got so worried that I sent a DM (a direct message) to Fluffypants so he could let me know if there was any change in tummy. He sent a message back and said he’s okay, then he told everyone, this is Twitter, about the bug. I meant to just post back but ended up in a DM. Actually, it turns out that Mr. Fluffypants has a mom that types his posts! Apparently, his mom is a human! I asked her if he was adopted, he was, but it started a long conversation about Christmas time! I think I have an idea on how to spread Christmas cheer and I’m going to ask Fluffypants to get his mom to help!

Leafhoppers

Jingles made a drawing of the computer (box) for me so I’d know how to use it. Turns out, you just press a button to turn it on but I still walked slowly and said “ahem” just in case someone had already pressed the button and it was just sleeping. I got up on the chair, I went to press the button but I think I moved something maybe with my sleeve because it just lit up! I almost fell out of the chair! It had words on the screen that said “You have a message from Mr. Fluffypants.” ??????? I moved the “mouse”, Jingles told me about that, and I clicked on the message. I used the keyboard to talk to Mr. Fluffypants. He asked if I was Shimmy, I said no but I also typed in all my questions. Mr. Fluffypants answered all of them! I get it now! This computer is used to keep information, like Santa’s master list, and to communicate with people and in this case, cats, EVERYWHERE!!

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, I’m going to the elf management academy after Christmas.

Jingles

OH BOY OH BOY!!! We’re done!!!!!! We did it!!!!! We’re all going to the chocolate shop to celebrate then in just a few hours, it will officially be CHRISTMAS EVE!!!!!

Inside Christmas: 1892, Worst Year Ever! Ep. 9

PebbleBrooke’s go to spot when playing hide and seek outside his North Pole home.

Shimmy

I got my cell phone today! That’s what it’s called. It’s short for cellular telephone. It’s bigger than I thought it would be but that’s okay because I LOVE IT!!!! It’s wearing a purple coat, Susan said it’s a “case”, but I think it’s cuter to call it a coat. It makes me smile! I never want to put it down! I showed it to PebbleBrooke and the first thing he said was “it’s wearing a purple coat just like you!” Ha ha! That’s true!

Leafhoppers

Mission accomplished! That’s what I’m going to say when I talk to the box and become friends with it. I told Jingles that on the way over with our overnight bags. He thinks I should hold my finger pointed at the ceiling when I say it. He says that’s what all humans do when they accomplish a mission. Apparently Santa shows him lots of videos, those are moving images of people doing funny things that show up on a “screen”. He stopped explaining when we got to the workshop so he didn’t get to tell me what “screen” is. By the way! We started our Christmas over night week today! AND, I’m not saying any of this out loud!

Jingles

The pressures on! Oh boy oh boy!! Christmas is just seven days away and we’re still behind in bears and dolls! I don’t know how we’re ever going to finish in time! It’s going to be another 1892. We were so behind that the last toy was being wrapped as Santa was pulling out of the reindeer stable! I ran after him and I almost missed him! I thought 1892 was the worst year ever but now I think it’s 2020! I’m going to call an emergency meeting.

PebbleBrooke

Guess what! There’s going to be a meeting today! That means cookies! Now that I can hold the tray with one hand I’m going to try something new. I’m going to put a cover over the cookies so no one can see what’s on the tray. Then when I get inside the meeting hall, I’ll pull it off! COOKIES!!!! Everyone will love it! Also, I get to sleep over at the workshop! I invited Leafhoppers to go outside for a quick snowball fight before bed but she said maybe the next night because she has something important to do. Maybe Susan told her about the management academy and she’s practicing what she’ll say on her first day? That’s what I’d do. Tomorrow night then! But first COOKIES!!!!!

Shimmy

I can’t put Adaline, that’s what I named my cell phone, down! There’s so much to do! Susan said I have to go on social media, that’s where humans talk to each other and show pictures. I have to promote Christmas cheer so I created what you call a “profile” on this thing called “Facebook”. That worked but then I tried another thing called “Instagram”. When it asked me my name I typed it in and it said my name was taken! I’m named after my great grandmother but she’s been gone for years! Maybe she’s in the cloud? Susan told me all about that. It’s where the information is held. Maybe retired elves too? How big is this cloud!? I can’t believe there would be another ShimmyUpendown! We’re the only Upendowns in the North Pole and no way a human would be called that!?

Leafhoppers

We had an emergency meeting today. Jingles was pacing back and forth talking about how we can’t let this be another 1892. I don’t know why? 1892 was hilarious! That was PebbleBrooke’s first year and he kept sweeping the floor with the broom upside down! Also, Jingles grew his hair, he said he was so busy that he forgot to get it cut, but I think he just liked it! He kept a comb in his pocket and brushed it every five seconds! Too funny! I guess we were behind though. It didn’t even matter because PebbleBrooke came in looking very serious with a tray that was covered! We had no idea what was on it. Then, he pulled the cover off and smiled at the same time! It was really impressive!

Jingles

The meeting was pointless! There was some great cookie magic, but no one listened! Not even Santa! I went directly to his office after to ask him to call a meeting but he just laughed at the covered tray cookie switch! He said that would make a great video that people would like! Does no one else remember 1892!? I’m starting to think they don’t! I was so mad that I stormed out of his office and went to talk to Leafhoppers. As soon as I mentioned staying up all night to catch up, she jumped up on her work table and told all the other stuffing elves to hurry up or they’d never sleep again! She pointed her finger up at the ceiling like she had accomplished a mission and I think she did! They all gasped and stared at her with their mouths wide open, then she brought her finger down and and said “Get to Work!” They did! Faster than ever! She really does listen to me!!

PebbleBrooke

Susan said I could spend some time stuffing bears to help catch up. Leafhoppers gave a really great speech! I did it for Susan in her office. I jumped up on her desk and I pointed my finger to the ceiling. She was very impressed. I think it was the pointed finger. That’s what got me! She said that would be fine and I’m supposed to send Leafhoppers to her office. She’s in for a real treat! Susan made chocolate chip cookies today! She was already putting them out on a plate when I was walking out.

The Beauty of Getting Old

I’ve always held my worth in the way I look. Am I desirable? Do people want to look at me? I’ve been effectively trained to think these things.

It has been said that middle aged women are ignored in most situations. I’m dangerously close to this and it’s a shock to the ego. I pride myself in people remembering me. By my face, I think. I remember randomly, I saw someone , had a brief exchange but they recognized me, years later. I thought it was because of my distinct personality, but now I think it wasn’t. Scientists have done studies where babies react positively to symmetrical faces. They’re thought of as “pleasant”. Isn’t pleasant smooth? Youthful? Our narrative would have you believe yes!

Could this be the human want to keep everything compartmentalized? To keep safe mentally? There can be nothing out of place?

When I thought about who was remembering me, I realized I had only met the person once. It might have been that person focused on my symmetrical face. Flattering but also wierd.

I think of my mother. A great physical beauty. Blonde, blue eyed, big tits, small waist. I remember hearing my dad talk about the day they met. On the subway. “She had great legs” is what he remembers.

It wasn’t what made him propose to her, it was the person she was. Smart, passionate, open minded. I should mention this was the mid sixties. She was white, Anglo Saxon, he was a Puerto Rican from the Bronx. Not exactly acceptable a match in those times. Both their families disapproved.

Their souls connected. Today, my dad is 80, my mom is 77, they struggle through quarantine but it’s clear. No matter what, no matter political beliefs, they’re there for each other. They’ve supported each other through worse. Leaned on each other. A lot, but at the most crucial time, the loss of their only son weeks after his 19th birthday. My twin.

My point is, I’ve put so much pressure on myself to look young, “beautiful” as if this was the end all be all, but I see now it isn’t. Well, kind of. I go back and forth but forget I said that and read the next paragraph.

It’s who you are, deep inside. You find people throughout your life that appreciate you, and you hold tight. They are your true family. You’ll always be beautiful to them and you should look at yourself through their eyes. Because, if you’re me, your eyes can’t always be trusted. I can get there though.

Wether you choose them or were born with them.

I’m going to recommend something terrible. To me at least. Look closely in the mirror. Closer than you’ve looked since you turned 40. Respect those wrinkles. You’ve earned them. Redefine what “beautiful” is.

You’ll be a better person for it.

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