I once worked in an office with two other women, my boss, and our secretary. The secretary was having her first child. We’d all worked together for years and were intimately involved with every detail of her pregnancy.
I came into work one morning only to see that Wendy wasn’t at her desk. I could see that Faye was bursting with the news.
“Wendy had her baby last night!”
It was all very exciting. Wendy had predicted that she’d have a short and easy delivery, I asked Faye “How’d it go?” I couldn’t have imagined her answer.
“Everything thing was great until she was sodomized,” Faye said rather calmly. I gasped.
“At the hospital,” she replied nonplussed.
“Before or after the delivery?” I asked, the horrific image ricocheting in my head.
“Where was her husband?” I was distressed.
“He went out for a cigarette”.
I was clearly appalled and Faye, who was older than I and a mother went on to add “it’s very common”
It suddenly occurred to me that Faye often mixed up her words and her lack of concern for Wendy made me ask the next question.
“Faye, do you know what sodomy is?”
She replied patiently, “you know, when they have to make a cut”.
“Do you mean an episiotomy?”
I saw her look of confusion. Then her face fell as she said “oh no”.
“Have you told anyone else this story?” (I had to ask)
Chagrined, she admitted she’d just come from a manager’s meeting where she’d told everyone the same story.
“You might want to be careful when you tell this story” was all I could say once I stopped laughing.
This is a true story. I have changed the names because it seemed like the right thing to do. If you liked this story, stick with me. I’ve got a lifetime of funny stories to share.
This is the first writing challenge from BUGS (Blogging U Grads) and the challenge is to simply introduce myself by sharing ten things about me. Considering that I’ve shared quite a bit about myself in the last seven months, the challenge for me is to come up with things previously not revealed……
I’m left-handed. Proud of it and believe that my creativity springs from my left-handedness.
Though my husband and I are the only human occupants of my home (my two sons are cats – just to clarify), my pantries (yes plural), refrigerator, freezer, spice and wine racks might lead one to believe that I’m secretly running a personal chef service, opening a gourmet food shop or preparing for the zombie apocalypse.
I have extremely flat feet.
I love The Gilmore Girls! Have the whole series on DVD, watch it beginning to end once a year. It makes me happy.
My first job was as a cashier in a donut shop. Yes, I was a donut slinger, at age 16. Couldn’t eat donuts for many years after I left that job.
I live in the same home that my grandparents built, where my Dad was raised, in the same neighborhood I grew up in.
All my life I’ve been told I looked like both Grandmothers and my Dad.
My hair is naturally very curly, like Shirley Temple curly.
I am of 100% Swedish descent (to the best of our family knowledge).
I didn’t learn to text until I was 57 years old.
Tada! I did it. And I’m quite sure that I’ve not previously shared these captivating facts about myself on this blog.
So, that’s me. Nice to meet you.
BUGS is a writing group that was formed by those participants in the Blogging University Writing 101 workshop from earlier this year. This is the first of bi-weekly challenges they will assign us through year end. I hope you’ll find them interesting.
It is with both humility and appreciation that I accept my first award! One of my most favorite bloggers, Cupid or Cats, just nominated me and it’s pretty exciting stuff let me tell you!
As part of the process I must:
–Thank the person who nominated me and include a link to their blog – nominated by one of my personal favorite bloggers, check her out at cupidorcats.wordpress.comHer blog is full of humor and heart, it’s an absolute pleasure to see each new post on her blog. Thank you for your gracious nomination! – check!
–Display the award on my blog – check!
–Write seven facts about myself – check!
1.I bruise like an overripe peach. I kid you not. I can focus my eyes on a body part with enough intensity to make a bruise appear. Been doin’ it for years, no idea why – just do. I used to work in an environment where I wore skirts and would wear black tights all the time. I wouldn’t make this up.
2.My shoe size is Ladies 11. As a young woman at 6 feet and 1/4 inches tall and size 11 feet, my Mom used to say “a girl as tall as you would fall over with smaller feet”. Which was comforting except that I was also well-known for falling all the time. So big feet, very tall and a klutz. Attractive – not so much, endearing – perhaps to my friends. When someone of my height falls, it’s like a tree going down and rather spectacular (so I’ve been told).
Back in my 20’s and 30’s, (no internet in those days folks) I would dare you to find a ladies size 11 shoe unless you drove an hour north to a “specialty” store. As a result, I crammed my feet into size 10’s for years. Then someone alerted me to a size 11 section at a Payless Shoe Store! I drove there immediately in spite of the sketchy neighborhood – next to strip clubs and known for well…..hookers. Undeterred, I was on a mission, found the 11’s and began trying them on with glee. The lady next to me, sensing my delight asked “isn’t it amazing to find your size?” I looked at her, noticing she was a good 3-4 inches taller than I, was in the size 12 section and sounded like Bea Arthur from Maude. “Yes” I agreed, admiring her flamboyant dress and wig. And yes, she was a drag queen.
3.I have diverse yet specific tastes. I like my wines dry, my beers dark. I watch Downton Abbey, Walking Dead, Gilmore Girls and Justified with the same unbridled enthusiasm.
I find it impossible not to dance to Love Shack, Uptown Funk, Blurred Lines, I’ve Gotta Feeling and every Fallout Boy song but have nearly broken my wrist turning the channel if a Bruce Springsteen song comes on (sorry, I know he’s The Boss – just not my boss).
I find the idea of frog legs to be gross (yes, I’ve tried them, they taste like chicken but they’re frogs – green, slimy frogs with legs big enough to eat) yet I thoroughly enjoy escargot, crawfish, octopus, calamari and raw oysters. Go figure.
4. Not a fan of driving over big bridges. Being tall, people assume I don’t have a problem with heights. They’d be wrong. For instance, if I were still single and on the Bachelor, I would leave the show if asked to go in a hot air balloon, repel down the side of a skyscraper or into a cavern, go up in a helicopter or bungee jump. I’ve tried to live by “never say never” but these are things that would be deal breakers. Lucky for me, I’ve been with Spence for 24+ years and he doesn’t make me do scary stuff to prove my love and devotion. And on road trips – he drives over the big bridges.
5. Golf and me. When I was 12, my Dad took me for a golf lesson. The pro took one look at me, a tall, skinny, long-legged (probably bruised, see #1) girl with glasses who was terrified. The lesson was painful (I’m pretty sure he doesn’t remember me) and at the end, I heard him tell my Dad “save your money man, she’s hopeless – and left-handed“. Well that was just plain unnecessary. Dad got in the car, I burst into tears. I think we went for ice cream.
Years later, I love driving golf carts. During my first marriage I did so at an accelerated speed, going airborne as the cart crested a hill. Upon landing, my husband’s golf clubs flew helter-skelter as he screamed obscenities at me. Every time he almost caught up to me, I sped off. Good times.
I do enjoy watching golf on TV and one of my favorite movies ever is Tin Cup with Kevin Costner.
Here is the lesson: you can enjoy something that you have no talent for and save yourself years of therapy induced by mean golf pros.
6. Love food – live to eat. Not a surprise to those who know me. I’m always thinking about my next meal with anticipation. My travel journals include vivid descriptions of scrumptious meals I’ve enjoyed and I frequently whip out a camera at restaurants and at home to photograph culinary masterpieces. I subscribe to countless food magazines, watch the Food Network as though I’m being paid and created special built-in shelving for my cookbooks when I re-did my kitchen a few years back. And if you go to @spencesgirlblog on Pinterest, you’ll see my love of food represented in multiple boards. With the exception of only a few things (frog legs being one, see #3) I enjoy all food. Obsessed? Maybe just a bit.
7. My favorite nickname. I’ve been given a few nicknames in my life, many by Spence who is known for assigning nicknames to those he loves. My favorite is when he called me “Private Snuffy of the Flying Monkey Brigade”.
Though lengthy and a bit odd, it has stuck. After he first said it, I proclaimed “I just want 5 minutes inside your brain to see where you come up with this stuff“! He cracks me up.
–Nominate fifteen people for the award – not quite 15 but here are 8 of my favorite blogs, check!
My topic: A time you had victory over a problem or fear
Probably the first thing that comes to mind was one of the scariest things I faced, though at the time I didn’t quite acknowledge it because I was heavily medicated.
You see I’d torn my rotator cuff in my right shoulder, had bone spurs that had severed one of my bicep tendons and the only solution after MRI’s, X-rays, physical therapy etc – was surgery.
Thinking, “it’s only laparoscopic” I nearly didn’t call my Dad in Florida so as not to worry him. “Oh honey” he said “that’s no small surgery”.
Undeterred, I went in thinking positively, accepted the offered shoulder block which would essentially make my right shoulder and arm like dead weight. I was wheeled away and remember my surgeon (who I call Dr. Cutie Pie) saying everything would be fine.
When I awoke however much later, the first thing I recall is two male voices seemingly right in my ear stating “I don’t mind telling you I crapped my pants a bit when she flat-lined”.
“Who are you talking about” I mumbled, as my eyes opened.
“Oh welcome back, you gave us a little scare” they said.
They confirmed it and by a stroke of divine intervention, my cardiologist who was on the floor was called after the code blue and agreed that they should finish the surgery but that I was to go to cardiology intensive care after recovery.
The following day, I coded again and now it became not if but when they’d give me a pacemaker. In my heavily pain-medicated state, I worried about missing work with two arms down and said, “can you put it in the right side?”
The better answer would have been “no honey, your heart is on the left” but they took my question as my wish and proceeded the following day to do one and a half hours of torture inserting a pacemaker into the bad shoulder – without anesthesia. It was not good and I recall asking someone to find my mom as I was being wheeled back to my room.
Now seven years later, I’m still ticking and have made peace with this chunk of metal that resides in my shoulder, a reminder of what might have been a surgery gone wrong.
376 words in ten minutes
I was recently invited by another blogger to participate in a Free Style Writing Challenge.
“Sure – how does that work?” I asked.
Here’s the way it works.
Free Style Writing Challenge
Here are the cut-and-pasted rules: Open an MS Word document (or Pages) 1. Set a stop watch or your mobile to 5 minutes or 10 minutes whichever challenge you think you can beat. (Not sure what that meant so I just set the timer for 10) 2. Your topic is at the foot of this post BUT DO NOT SCROLL DOWN TO SEE IT UNTIL YOU ARE READY WITH A TIMER. 3. Fill the word doc with as many words as you want. Once you began writing do not stop even to turn. 4. Do not cheat by going back and correcting spellings and grammar with spell check in MS WORD (it is only meant for you to reflect on your own control of sensible thought flow and for you to reflect on your ability to write the right spelling and stick to grammar rules) 5. You may or may not pay attention to punctuation and capitals. However, if you do, it would be best. 6. At the end of your post write down ‘No. Of words =_____’ so that we would have an idea of how much you can write within the time frame. 7. Do not forget to copy paste the entire passage on your blog post with a new Topic for your nominees and copy paste these rules with your nominations (at least 5 bloggers).
I’m now going to follow suit and nominate 5 fellow bloggers to participate. And I hope they do. This may not have been my best work but it stretches the writing muscle like the writing class I took last year which required us to write, on the spot and then share with the class.
mangoes to mutts
cupid or cats
the view from the porch
lucile de godoy
I will reach out to these five bloggers, if you’d like to participate, great – I will send you your prompt. If not, I get it – this may not be your thing and if so, that’s cool. Just know that I enjoy your writing and thought of you!
Okay, for those who accepted the challenge, here is your topic. First however, set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes, then scroll down, get your topic and go!
Seventh thing: As I said when I started this series, my 59 things are in random order. Just wanted to be clear since the reality is that I put my marriage at the top of the list of things that make me happy.
It took a long time to find the right man and longer still to marry him. I was so afraid that things would change. And guess what – they did. After eighteen years together, our wedding day created a shift in our world. I felt more nurturing and protective of our relationship and this life we’ve made. I’ve never regretted it for one day.
Marriage is work, love, compromise, passion, more work, silliness, health crisis’, exploration, love, discovery and knowing you belong to someone else.
Yesterday I celebrated my 59th birthday and thought “whew, those first 58 years went by fast”.
I think back on friends and family who didn’t see their 59th birthday and realize that the greatest gift we get is waking up each day, a fresh slate. And as I mark my 59th year, I’ve decided instead of 59 candles (which face it – is a fire hazard) I’m going to share 59 things that make me happy, in random order (and over the next few weeks so I don’t create a novel…..)
First thing: Since I retired, just a few months before my 58th birthday, I’ve slowed down and am more aware and observant of things around me. A few weeks back, while floating in the pool at my stepmom’s house, I looked towards the sun and clouds and saw a rainbow, inverted so that it looked like a big smile. I asked her if she saw it, she did not. I took off my glasses – and though near-sighted, I could still see it. It lasted for quite a while, regardless of where I floated. I like to think it was my Dad sending me that rainbow. Rainbows have always been one of my happy things. I wish I had a picture to share with you, but the picture in my mind is there forever. Just because I was paying attention.
Second Thing: Just the other day, Spence and I were at an amazing place, having a couple of cold Shiner Bock and enjoying beautiful waterfalls. I looked down and saw the coolest thing and shot this video. At first I thought it was a piece of neon colored yarn…..
A few years back, you surprised me with a special Christmas gift. Home movies taken over a span of years of two young, carefree sisters converted into a home video. Those home movies were taken well before anyone imagined home videos or youtube and were the only thing available to capture more than still-photos of our childhood.
Converting these movies with the addition of beautiful music was both unexpected and very moving. I remember that Spence and I stopped opening any other Christmas gifts and watched it immediately. Tears streaming, it brought back happy memories. I know I called you that day and thanked you.
Now that you’re gone, I often wish I’d thanked you more for this gift – and for all the things you did throughout my life that made it better. So today, I’m sending this letter out into the universe, hoping it will reach you and remind you that I love you and miss you everyday.
Day Fourteen: To Whom It May Concern
Today’s Prompt: Pick up the nearest book and flip to page 29. What’s the first word that jumps off the page? Use this word as your springboard for inspiration. If you need a boost, Google the word and see what images appear, and then go from there.
Today’s twist: write the post in the form of a letter.
You have a number of options: you can write a letter to the word or an image, or an open letter to the world inspired by the word. You could pen a series of imaginary notes between you and a friend, or between two fictional characters, or between old you and young you.
My word on page 29 of a random book was “home video”. Yes, I realize it’s two words but it is my blog and I’m late with this assignment so there you have it.
As I approach my 59th birthday and inspired by the prompt for Day 20 of Writing 101, I have to write about someone who’s been with me through it all.
Baby Teddy, One Good Bear
Baby Teddy today looks much the way that I remember him since I was old enough to form memories. His appearance is beyond “shabby chic”, he went through a lot in his early years. There are no known pictures of him as a young Teddy so we can’t be sure what he looked like when he first came into my life. Diminutive in stature, about 9 inches tall, I’m guessing his name came from his small size but it could be because I preferred teddy bears to baby dolls. But I digress.
I’m pretty sure we don’t even know who gave him to me; I suppose it doesn’t matter. He claimed my heart and in spite of my parents trying to entice me with a Winnie the Pooh bear (which I loved, don’t get me wrong) and numerous other pretty fluffy stuffed animals, I wouldn’t part with him. I think they were embarrassed by his shoddy exterior. It didn’t matter to me.
Baby Teddy’s Disappearance
This was a tragic day, I was about three years old. Carrying him with me everywhere, I remember awaking from my nap only to realize he wasn’t with me. Where was he? I searched, I sobbed and was completely devastated. This went on for several days and I wasn’t getting over it.
One evening, my Dad came home and called for me. With puffy eyes, I stumbled into the living room, looked up and stopped in my tracks.
“Look who I found walking through the flower garden” he said, holding Baby Teddy by the paw. Not noticing that he was worse for wear, his eyes sewn back into place, the majority of his fur missing, I hugged him with all my might and sure enough, he smelled like flowers. It was a miracle and at age three, you just accept miracles without questioning them.
Baby Teddy never strayed again and was with me through all the highs and lows of my youth, my teens and had his fair share of tears cried onto his tiny shoulders as he gave me comfort.
The Family Secret……..
Many years later, I was at work and fell into a daydream thinking of Baby Teddy, remembering his mysterious disappearance many years before and his trek back to me through that flower garden. Now an adult, it occurred to me that there was clearly another part of that story that had remained a family secret. And I had to know what the truth was, no matter what, no matter how hard it was to hear.
I called my Mom. “Hi” she said in her cheery voice “What’s up?”
“What happened to Baby Teddy, I have to know!”
I’m sure she was caught off guard (what, no hello?) Where was this coming from after so many years? She was quiet for a long minute. (I think she was suppressing a nervous laugh) But I’m sure she knew this day would come.
“Well, you carried him everywhere” she began “Everywhere. Even into the bathroom.”
She went on to say that I’d placed him carefully on the toilet tank and that when she next went in, he’d taken a plunge – into the less than pristine toilet. While I was sleeping, she’d fished him out and taken him to the trash.
Then I woke up from nap time and all hell broke loose. I began the search and was in such a state that she and Dad made the decision to discreetly rescue him and put him through the washing machine. That explained the eye mishaps and the nearly total loss of fur. Apparently, they next placed him somewhere to air dry, high enough that I wouldn’t discover him. (I imagine after they saw what the washer did, the dryer might have been the end for him.) Dismayed by his appearance but seeing that I was still distraught after several days, they came up with the “walk through the flower garden” story, first spritzing him with perfume and reunited us.
“You threw him in the garbage???” was the first thing that I said thinking, “arghhh the humanity!” (I’ve always been a bit dramatic)
Sometimes you just can’t handle the truth.
Here is a picture of my Baby Teddy today – still with me and holding a million memories and secrets, one good bear.
Day Twenty: The Things We Treasure
Today’s Prompt: Tell us the story of your most-prized possession.
It’s the final day of the challenge already?! Let’s make sure we end it with a bang — or, in our case, with some furious collective tapping on our keyboards. For this final assignment, lead us through the history of an object that bears a special meaning to you.
A family heirloom, a flea market find, a childhood memento — all are fair game. What matters is that, through your writing, you breathe life into that object, moving your readers enough to understand its value.
Today’s twist: We extolled the virtues of brevity back on day five, but now, let’s jump to the other side of the spectrum and turn to longform writing. Let’s celebrate the drawn-out, slowly cooked, wide-shot narrative.
If you enjoyed this, check out: https://spencesgirl.com/2015/06/17/like-my-dad/
As days become ever warmer in Michigan, my dormant garden is waking up.
Slowly at first, the small amount of grass snaking between the flower beds “greens up”. Too early to do much, I spend a day doing clean up of stray leaves, pruning and picking up remains of last years annuals.
Soon after, the first flower appears – a miniature iris.
Following that pale pink snow glories planted in an old fire pit burst into bloom.
Pink and purple hyacinth and multi-colored daffodils emerge, seemingly overnight. Winter creeper and violets, reliable thick ground cover are bringing forth green with their tiny purple flowers.
Walking around, I observe beginnings of hostas and lily of the valley sprouting, my peony tree, iris and bachelor buttons are showing their greens, blooms are weeks away.
Tulips are above ground though tightly closed, holding back blooms until temperatures are more favorable. A sign of spring is my small patch of bluebells which are just blooming, returning briefly but faithfully each year.
I spy the first tiny buds on my clematis and lift the sprouts up to the trellis that they will climb spring through fall. Several bleeding hearts (white and fuchsia when they bloom) are out of the ground and double in size each day. My poppies are making their presence known as their prickly greens fill in the flowerbeds.
In my herb garden, only chives are showing themselves however if past years are an indicator, cilantro and thyme will follow. Flat leaf parsley, rosemary, basil and sage will be planted as soon as there’s no danger of frost.
The last few days I’ve been spreading pine bark nuggets and mulch to cover areas that will fill in with perennials. I fill the bird bath and bring out my “garden art”. I’ve added eight new solar lights along the little pebbled path that borders the largest flower bed.
At this time of year, my palms get itchy in anticipation of gardening. I can’t wait to feel the soil as I dig bare-handed into the dirt, without concern of bugs, worms and toads. With warm days (and soon warm evenings) our home seems to double in size as we spend more time on the deck, enjoying the beauty of nature. Lilies, sweet peas, columbine, sedum, hydrangeas, roses and other perennials will join this bloom fest. The palette is ever-changing.
It is my haven, my sanctuary.
Writing 101 Assignment: Day Nineteen: Don’t Stop the Rockin’. Today is a free writing day. Write at least four-hundred words, and once you start typing, don’t stop. No self-editing, no trash-talking, and no second guessing: just go.
I did 400 words – on the nose – but had to add pictures as I don’t see how I could talk about this beauty and not share it. I hope you enjoy it!
As a child, I was painfully shy. No one who meets me now or has known me as an adult believes this statement. I was the tallest girl from kindergarten through graduation. Add glasses in the third grade for my near-sighted eyes, I was gangly – ridiculously long skinny legs, klutzy, insecure, not wanting to draw attention to myself.
Once an adult I challenged myself, pushing out of my comfort zones. I made career choices and changes which kept me from complacency and forced me to develop new skills and knowledge. I got comfortable with public speaking and presenting to large groups of people. I could walk into a room of strangers and not feel that paralyzing gut-clench. I still had to work on self-esteem and that universal desire to have everyone like me. But the desire to be fearless grew stronger.
Once I turned 50, I found my fearless, extroverted self after accepting two profound truths.
#1: Shocker – other people don’t spend their precious time thinking about everything you say or do. They have their own lives.
#2: Age is irrelevant. Regardless of my actual age, I feel like a goofball a great deal of the time, hurtling myself into situations with abandon and don’t care if anyone approves. I’m not afraid of making a fool of myself.
For instance, karaoke.
I’ve always harbored a secret wish to be a rock singer and karaoke is a gift to a wannabe chanteuse. But other than endlessly singing on my road trips while Spence drives (to every song ever written, impressive, right?) my fear of what others would think kept me in my seat for years. Then I turned 50 and went for it. Though he missed my first time singing “Mercy” by Duffy, serenading Spence to Lady Gaga’s “You and I” at the bank’s Christmas party may have been more than he’d expected but I found it exhilarating. I also rocked out to Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock and Roll”. (I have a few friends who’re still talking about how brilliant I was).
Having been quite the comedienne for years, I tend to be increasingly witty with the addition of alcohol. I love to tell a story and watch my friends erupt in laughter (and I have some pretty good true stories).
Then there’s the dancing. I literally can’t stop myself from dancing full throttle when I hear a favorite song or three….my kitchen frequently converts to a dance party when I entertain.
A few weeks ago I attended a friend’s wedding dancing like a woman possessed the whole night. Several replays of Bruno Mars Uptown Funk, Cupid Shuffle, Love Shack and Boot Scoot Boogie (to name a few) nearly landed me in traction the following week. Knowing the pain of recovery that was to follow wouldn’t have deterred me. When I’m inspired, my heart, body and soul are 21 again and I’m a dancing queen.
Even this blog was a leap of faith for my formerly shy self. I decided to do it because I love writing and felt compelled to add my voice to the blogosphere. I didn’t know how it would be received but I jumped in without fear of criticism. And the reception from those of you who are following me has been gratifying. You inspire me every day and though I may never meet you face to face, I send you a virtual hug and my heartfelt thanks.
Writing 101 – Day Thirteen: Serially Found
On day four, you wrote a post about losing something – I wrote “Losing the Ability to Sleep”.
Today’s Prompt: write about finding something.
Today’s twist: if you wrote day four’s post as the first in a series, use this one as the second installment — loosely defined.
I chose to make this a loosely defined series about my own struggles – with insomnia and shyness.