Thursday, October 27, 2011

Indie Ink: The Last Twenty-Four Hours

“You know, the ancient Egyptians had a beautiful belief about death. When their souls got to the entrance to heaven, the guards asked two questions. Their answers determined whether they were able to enter or not. ‘Have you found joy in your life?’ 'Has your life brought joy to others?’” – The Bucket List

“You’re going to die tomorrow.”

“Excuse me,” I said, glancing around the room nervously.

The old woman who moved like she was bent in half stepped closer to me.  She tried to take my hand, but I pulled it protectively to my chest.  She sighed, the type that said this-is-nothing-new, and said, “I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but you’re going to die tomorrow.”

“What?  How?”

“I cannot tell you the details.  I hope this information helps you.”


She’s crazy.  She’s crazy and old and weird.  And she smelled like tuna fish.  I am not going to take to heart the words of a woman who smelled of tuna fish.

But she was right about the lottery numbers.  And the flash of bright light in the sky. 

Dammit, what if she’s right?  Am I just in denial?  Should I be preparing?  After all, if she’s wrong and I’ve spent my day living to the fullest would I really be upset?


So tomorrow is the last day of my life.  It seems somehow wrong that I’m going to die on a Saturday.  It couldn't happen right before I was supposed to go to a long, dreary meeting?  I wish I knew a few days in advance as I would've totally called out of work.  Not sure what I would've done with the time, but it would have to be better than editing reports from co-workers that had never met a Grammar text book. 

Only one day left.  I keep repeating it over and over again as though it will finally make sense.  I’m obsessed with how it will happen.  Mostly, I hope it won’t hurt.  I want to be one of those people that others always say, “Well, she didn’t suffer” or “she didn’t feel a thing.”  Of course, with my luck, it’ll be some freak accident involving space garbage, which will make me infamous in death.  Please no fire.  That is not on my pre-approved list of ways to die. 

I must stop worrying about this. 

Why couldn’t the damn psychic tell me exactly how it would happen?  Is that messing with fate or something?  Worried that if I knew a bus was going to mow me down, I wouldn’t go near a street?  Okay, that’s probably fair.  If I could avoid dying, I would.

Anyway, I’m not really one of those girls who suddenly wants to climb Mount Everest – hiking, ew – or the demented type who thinks it would be fun to go on a crime spree.  I’m still me, just with an expiration date hanging over my head, and I’d be worrying too much about people’s feelings to ever steal, murder or whatever people on crime sprees do.  My big plan is to be happy. 


I've made plans with my sister and friends for this morning.  Breakfast and shopping – might as well spend that cash in my savings account on my friends – and enjoying the camaraderie.  I’m not sure if I should tell them.   My sister knows.  I tell my sister everything and she would be pissed if I didn’t mention something this huge.  Not to mention, she knew something was up when I returned home after finding out the news.  At first she was more than a little skeptical, but after I went through the list of all the things the lady was right about, she’s been taking it hard.  I guess that’s to be expected.   Death is always harder on those left behind.    The question is – do I tell my friends?  Is it better to give them the chance to say goodbye or is it okay to be selfish and behave like it’s any other day?  After all, I don’t want to spend my last day with lots of tearful goodbyes and further rumination on how it will happen.

If you can’t be selfish on your last day on Earth, I don’t know when you can be.  I don’t think I’m gonna say anything.   I want to have fun, dammit.  Enjoy everything that makes me happy and not allow fear to hold me back.  Sky dive – or is that how I die?  Dammit, stop thinking about it!  – dance, laugh, and play.  I want to focus on the good and not all the what if’s and never-meant-to-be moments.  I want to see all the movies on my must-watch list and skim all those books sitting on my bureau that I meant to get to.  I want to make the most of it, proof that I lived a good life.

I’d like to believe there is a heaven, where I can catch up with my parents and let them know I’ve moved beyond my anger (though, let’s face it, I’m sure a “remember that time you gave me food poisoning” conversation will sneak in there) and I’m just happy to see them again.  I’d like to believe there is this other realm where we are our best selves at all times – wise and kind and fearless.   But there is something oddly appealing about the idea of reincarnation too; a chance to get everything right with a clean slate.  Sometimes I like the idea of coming back and getting another chance at life, but it seems like a lot of work and can’t a girl have some peace in her after life?  I’ll wait to make that decision until it comes up.   The only thing I know for sure is that I do not want to become a spirit trapped on earth or end up on an episode of Ghost Hunters, accused of molesting red neck boys in their sleep. 

Whatever waits for me, I like to think that I’ve lived a good life.  I was kind and generous more than I was selfish and mean.  That while I made mistakes, I learned from them and constantly tried to be better.  Isn’t that all any God can really ask of us – to learn and grown and continue to be our best selves?   

I’m not as scared as I expected I would be in this situation.  I’m still not sure I like knowing exactly when it’s going to happen, but it does give me time to spend my last day living and not worrying about the small things that can invade our lives.  

I guess I’m ready.


I ended up telling my friends the truth.  There was some disbelief followed by crying and hugging.  I think I hugged more in that one hour than I did throughout my life.  I didn’t really want to say anything, but it came babbling out.  Besides, I didn’t want to make my sister carry the burden of that knowledge alone or get blamed for my selfish choices.  That seems like a shitty going away gift to someone.  “I’m dying and everyone is going to hate you.  Bye-eee!”

I bought my closest pals Coach bags with my savings and made them promise to find me one day in heaven and tell me what happens with Jason and Sam on General Hospital.  I don’t know if any other planes of existence get ABC.


The good thing about death is that I have no recollection of the very last seconds.  I don’t have to carry the memory of a horrible death – was it horrible? – around with me for all of eternity.  The bad thing so far is that there is a lot of paperwork to fill out in the afterlife before you can officially “move on.”  I still don’t know what that entails, but at least I avoided the poor bastard line that led to some scary looking shadows.  I’m faced with one final choice as myself – do I take a leap of faith and go to heaven or do I go back to what I know and try living again?  It’s a big choice to make and I’m still not sure I know the answer.  I purposefully left that line of form 22-B blank until I talk to one of the transitional counselors.  I’m leaning toward heaven.   It would be nice to see people I’ve lost and loved again, but even if that’s not possible, the idea of heaven is a lot more appealing at the moment. 


So it’s settled.  Transitional counselor thinks my best option is reincarnation, and after mulling over our conversation, I agree.  There are still a lot of things for me to learn and according to his thick file folder on me, I have not fulfilled my true potential, so off I go.

I just hope I don’t come back as a jackass.

For the Indie Ink Writing Challenge this week, Sarah Cass challenged me with "Tomorrow is the last day of your life. If you live it well, you will go on into heaven (or your version of it) - or hell depending on the life you've led. If you live it how you WANT to spend your last day, you will be reincarnated as anything you want. What do you chose? And what is the outcome?" I challenged Major Bedhead with "Around mid-morning one day, you realize that everything that is happening seems really familiar. After much thought you discover that you are reliving a day from your past; OR a dream/nightmare that you have had is now happening for real."  You can read Major Bedhead's great response here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Time to let go of the past

It's been a crazy week thus far.  Early Sunday evening I started to feel icky and have proceeded to be down and out with a stomach flu.  I missed two days of work and am now just started to re-enter the world of the living.  Still feel drained of energy, but slowly improving.

And it's Wishcasting Wednesday and today Jamie asks:

courtesy of we heart it

I wish to let go of the anger I've been carrying around.  For the longest time, I've become convinced that if I forgive that means that I'm okay with the bad things that were done to me, but it's more about accepting that it happened and letting it go.  I want to stop carrying around all this garbage in my head and heart even though the wounds are scarred over.  It's time to let myself off the hook and to let go of the past and focus on my now. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Truth is Thursday

The truth is I really didn't want to come to work today.  I was sleepy and suffering with stomach issues and still fighting off a cold.  If my kitty hadn't kept meowing at me to feed him, I probably would've reset my alarm and called my office to let them know I wouldn't be in.  Instead, I came in.

The truth is I am having one of those days where the simple things are just causing me so much trouble.  I had to double back to my house twice after I left my deposit for the bank home and then my coupons for Whole Foods for my lunch shopping trip.

The truth is I was almost tempted to say, "Who needs coupons?" but really I'm frustrated, not crazy.

Indie Ink Challenge: A Day in the Life of a Rebellious Non-Rule Breaker

Entry 1, 8:14 a.m.

Today is a new day!  Forget embracing ennui and have fun.  It’s time to throw caution to the win, ignore the rules, seize the day, and many other clichĂ©s that I can’t think of at the moment.  Rule number one to break:  the idea that any clear thoughts should be expected this early in the morning.

I’m going to take a mental health day from work.  I’ll have a chocolate milkshake for breakfast with a handful of chocolate chip cookies.  I’ll dance around my house in my underwear like the female version of Tom Cruise in Risky Business, except without the prostitutes and my song of choice would be “Single Ladies” by BeyoncĂ©.   I’ll color outside the lines…on purpose.  And when I finally leave the house, I’ll jaywalk and drive way over the speed limit.    

Carpe Diem!

Entry 2, 8:32 a.m.

I’m starting to feel anxious about taking a mental health day.  There is flop sweat and shaking hands.  What if my boss finds out?  What if I don’t look sick tomorrow?  I think I might need to steal my grandmother’s oxygen tank.

Entry 3, 8:42 a.m.

I’m not sure this milkshake for breakfast was a good idea.  There was no nutritious value and a whole lot of sugar.   Somewhere, Jillian Michaels is crying out in pain and my stomach hurts.

Entry 4, 9:01 a.m.

Dancing around in your underwear is not as easy as it looks.  First, my stomach has been in revolt since I had the double chocolate breakfast of milkshake and cookies, and then as I pumped up the music and shook my booty, I could feel my cats judging me.  Way harsh.

Entry 5, 9:56 a.m.

I’m getting the hang of this no rules thing.  I’m wearing clothes that don’t match and I didn't bother to shower.  I did have a momentary lapse where I wondered if I would look homeless rather than rebellious, but decided a true rule breaker just didn’t give a damn.  It’s time to jump in the Honda Element, or the speed machine, and go somewhere wild.  Rules of the road, I laugh in your face.

Entry 6, 9:57 a.m.

I just can’t do it.  Despite my Jersey upbringing, I’m not comfortable barreling down the road way over the speed limit.  What if I killed someone, or worse, got pulled over by a cop?  On a no-rules type of day would I be expected to respond with smack talk and spit on the officer’s shoes?  Is crying to get out of a ticket still allowed?  Telling the truth is definitely out – that screams one-way ticket to Crazyville and I have plans this weekend.  Maybe some rules were not meant to be broken.  Maybe I should stick to jaywalking as a sign of my disdain for traffic regulations everywhere.  I guess that’s something.

Entry 7, 10:22 a.m.

Okay, jaywalking was a huge mistake.  A man-child on a bicycle in a bright red helmet nearly ran me over and shouted obscenities in my general direction.  How rude!

Entry 8, 10:25 a.m.

I’m doing this all wrong.  I need to get serious about breaking the rules and defying social norms.  It’s time to pull out the Johnny Cash albums for inspiration.

Entry 9, 10:31 a.m.

Wow.  Did you know that Johnny Cash once killed a man just to watch him die?  That’s a hardcore rule breaker.   No wonder prison inmates loved the man.

Entry 10, 11:13 a.m.

Listening to “Boy Named Sue” on repeat has worked wonders for my bah-humbug! to rules day.  I drove to Starbucks and parked like an asshole.  And I don’t care.  If other people don’t think parking spots exist for a reason, why should I?

Entry 11, 11:15 a.m.

Gotcha, Starbucks Barista!  She asked me how my day was and I defied social norms and babbled on about how I really was feeling.  I told her all the sordid details of my financial woes and plot to (not) rule the world!  So what if my financial woes aren't helped by the purchase of a five dollar drink?  I’m taking a trip on the wild side.

Entry 12, 11:31 a.m.
I cut an old lady off in line at the bank and I didn’t thank the teller after I took my money. 

Entry 13, 11:47 a.m.

I littered.  What is wrong with me?  I don’t even know who I am anymore.

Entry 14, 12:10 p.m.

I worked on the latest draft of my novel.  Forget you, Strunk and White’s Elements of Style.   I've got this under control.

Entry 15, 1:00 p.m.

Is it sad when you don’t understand your own writing?  He be da fugly man like big tattoos and bald head and he took her traveling through time in a thingy-majig.  What does that even mean?

Entry 16, 1:03 p.m.

I can’t take this anymore.  Rules exist for a reason.  Do I want to live in a Lord of the Flies sort of world?  No, I certainly do not.  I remember what happened to Piggy – oh, poor fat Piggy. 

What was I thinking?  I’m a Virgo.  Rules were hardwired into my brain at birth and fused together with a dash of perfectionism.    Sure, maybe I could learn to let go a little sometimes, but I’m okay living in a world with rules.   I wish I could say I had some sort of epiphany like characters from John Hughes movies always have about mundane things, but mostly, I just want to put on some clothes that match and pull my copy of Elements of Style out of the garbage can.  

For the Indie Ink Writing Challenge this week, Carrie challenged me with "Ignore the Rules! Doubt Everything! Some rules are meant to be broken" and I challenged Tereasa Trevor with ""It's hard to believe it's already been a year since it happened."

Note:  I spent Sunday through Wednesday panicking and pondering what I could do with this prompt.  I was over-thinking it, but couldn't stop myself.  Finally, I turned to a friend who is also a creative type and said, "help me."  Best decision I made because talking to her helped me slowly formulate this piece.  And I kinda like it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Time, time, time...look what's become of me...

What is with Wednesdays being rainy, dark days this month?  I don't care.  I love fall and yesterday, when I stepped outside and took a deep breath, it smelled of fall - a mixture of leaves and wind.  Aside from being a rainy day, it's also Wishcasting Wednesday!

Today Jamie asks:

courtesy of we heart it

I wish to make time for my health. I want to get back to regularly exercising and planning meals so that I can control what goes into my body.  I was doing so well for awhile, then I hit some trouble and fell apart.  But over the past few weeks, I've picked myself up, brushed myself clean of the debris of the last wreck, and am ready to get back to it.  I joined SparkPeople, since that's free and seems to have a great community.  I've researched some not-too-hard recipes that I can make.  Now it's just about giving myself the time to do these things for myself.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Indie Ink: How She'll Be Remembered

One day her epitaph will read, “Here lies Maggie – she was a beautiful mess” and she’s made her peace with that.  It’s just a fact of life, or her life anyway.  One of those things that was born out of a did-that-really-just-happen moment and over time metamorphosed into a dictionary-like definition of who she was.  At least in his eyes, and as much as she likes to believe she is this fierce independent woman, his view of her matters the most.

Besides, there are worse things a girl can be known for in life.

It used to bother her.  She wanted to hate him for it – who wants to think her entire existence can be narrowed down to those three words? – but he was always so damn aww-shucks about it that it didn't feel right to get mad.  Now those words are like an elixir when she's spazzing out about mundane things.  When she forgets where she leaves her keys or misplaces the glasses sitting on top of her head, he tilts his head back with a hearty laugh and says, “Sweetheart, you’re a beautiful mess.”  She smiles, breathes in and out and calms (and usually notices the glasses on her head and cringes in embarrassment).

He never says it with an ounce of unkindness or sarcasm.  His gaze is always adoring as he looks at her like “how did I get so lucky to have this beautiful mess in my life” and sometimes she thinks it’s just too much and there must be something more sinister, but it’s hard to fake his sincerity.  It’s another reason they’re a bizarre mishmash of a life thrown together.  She’s frazzled imperfections wrapped in a snarky cloth.  Sincerity has never been nor will it ever be her forte and he’s earnest and thoughtful and optimistic.

Somewhere in the universe, someone made a mistake and some sweet farm girl is suffering through a day with a surly fellow reading the Sunday paper and complaining about all that is wrong with the world.  She thinks maybe she should feel bad about that, but it’s not in her nature.

Sucks to be you, farm girl, but this beautiful mess is going to hold onto what she’s been given.

For the Indie Ink Writing Challenge this week, Random Girl challenged me with "she was a beautiful mess" and I challenged Kelly Garriott Waite with "start a piece with the line, 'One day of work was all that stood between me and...'" and her wonderful response can be found here.

Note:  This piece definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone.  Work has been busy the past two weeks again and I've found myself blocked in some ways, so this was a great time for this type of challenge.  My goals with this were to try something new and not to over-think it too much.  Not sure if I succeeded yet, but I tried.

a simple wish this wednesday

It's a rainy day.  I've got therapy in about forty-five minutes and I'm lamenting it because my therapist suggested I do this one thing last time we met and I just couldn't bring myself to do it.  I know that I should give it a chance and see what it's like, but every time I would look into it, I'd feel anxious and immediately come up with a billion excuses for why I couldn't do it.  Surefire sign it's probably something I do need to do.  Dear universe, please send me some courage!

Today is also Wishcasting Wednesday, and Jamie asks:

How do you wish to be loved?

courtesy of we heart it

"Do you want to meet the love of your life?  Look in the mirror." - Byron Katie

I wish to be loved without judgement and embraced for my imperfections.  I wish for love that oozes trust and laughter and understanding.  I wish I could love without fear of loss and panic about things I can't control.  I wish to love completely, holding onto the smiles and the tears.

Mostly, I just wish, right now, that I could love myself in all my splendid (and slightly crazy) glory.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Artist's Way Check-In: Yes, I'm still on the journey

I've been incredibly lackadaisical about posting my progress on my Artist's Way journey and offering support and encouragement to my fellow travelers.  One of the things I wrote about in my morning pages this morning was how I was going to make a better effort on both of those matters.  I fell behind a few weeks ago - never really recovering from the idea of a break from reading and such...and just flailing at my own inability to give it up and wondering if my fighting the need for the break is a sign that I really need to do it or just hey, I love reading and it's one of the ways I relax after crazy work.

I've been doing the other chapter work.  Chapter six's tasks were different for me because it wasn't just writing and pondering so much as doing things.  I managed to go through some clothes and picked up bags to finally go through all my mom's stuff.  UGH!  I have put this off for so long, but it's like this albatross around my neck.  I'll feel more free once it's done, but it seems so permanent and hard in a way.

Chapter Seven, I'm still working on some of the tasks even though we're into chapter eight.  I'm trying to take my time with each exercise but I also go through periods of time where I want nothing to do with the journey.  My censor is trying to hold on tight to things.  But this chapter...I highlighted and notated so much.  Everything about perfection and risks, I can truly relate.  I always find myself dissecting sentences that I write simply because I imagine it could be so much better.  Whenever I go to continue to writing on a project, I feel compelled to read back over everything from before.  And risks - I like to hide behind being a Virgo and practical by nature, but I often fear the simplest risks.  It was good to read this and not only go AHA! I'm not alone!  but to know that I can combat it, no matter how hard.

Morning pages:  i've missed a few random days since July, but I'm usually really good about getting up and doing my pages first thing in the morning.  It's become part of my routine.  It's mostly a dumping ground for dreams and things I need to do and blahs, but it does help to unclutter my mind.

Artist's Dates:  I've been horrible with these over the past month or so.  My sister, who normally works Saturdays, has been off the last couple of Saturdays and we end up doing some of our couponing.  I know she would understand if I was like, "I need to go do my artist's date" but I never bring it up.  I'm still struggling with this idea of playtime just for me and doing things that don't cost money (as it's super tight).  Can going to Barnes & Noble, buying a new release you've been waiting for, and reading it in one sitting count?

This process has helped me in some ways.  I'm more open to being crafty, even if it's not my forte, and just trying new creative things that in the past I viewed as off-limits.  I am setting up a small craft area in our family room in the corner.  We're going to make some shelving and put in two tables - one for the sewing machine and one just to play on...and organize all the crafts and materials.  I'm excited about this, just need to clear out the space.

Now I'm off to do some work and then check in on everyone's journeys.

Edit:  In my long-winded update, I somehow managed to forget to answer the weekly questions on this week's check-in.

1) Morning pages:  have you been tempted to read back?  Yes, I have.  I'm onto notebook three of my morning pages and I was thinking this weekend it might be interesting to see what I wrote, but I don't know if I'm quite ready.  There is a lot of negativity in those pages and I'm not sure I'm far enough away from it yet.  Also, as is the case on many days, i sometimes find myself writing, "Not sure what else to say"

2)  Artist's Date:  Terrible with these.  I have to get out of my own way with this.  The whole "perfection" theme of the chapter works well in regards to this.  I put so much focus on the need to do something fun that I get anxiety and do nothing.  I just need to find some really cheap, fun and creative things to do.  No pressure.

3)  See the whole long diatribe above.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

wishcasting: one day the world will know...

Today is a good day.  I feel it in my bones.  I'm not sure what makes this day so good, but I'm going with the flow and I'm not going to let anyone steal my joy.  And it's Wishcasting Wednesday, which is always wonderful.

Today Jamie asks:

courtesy of we heart it

My immediate answer was a book signing with a line of people out the door because they love my book and want to talk to me about it.  I dream of that a lot.  

But I think that's only part of the answer.  What I want, more than anything, is to wish to be comfortable in my own skin and be happy with myself and my life.  It's also the thing that terrifies me most.   I'm on the journey toward it.  I know it's there, in the distance, lost behind the fog and the mountains.  I just need to keep traveling up the trails and not freaking out about getting lost or what will happen or when.  I just need to keep doing.  And have a little faith in the universe.  

So I wish to one day look in the mirror and not wince at my own reflection or to immediately start thinking horrible things about myself.  And with that, I feel like the rest will fall into place.