My Flirtatious Muse

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It always starts innocently enough. I take a step out the back door into the crisp night air. I leave the porch light off so I can count the stars or just stand there and drink in the moon.Taking a deep breath and a few steps into the yard, I give my mind to that great abyss we call the heavens. At first it lingers just above my head, afraid to go too far, but that’s never enough. Before long it glides through the upper atmosphere, playfully circling aircraft as they drift by unaware, then zipping past the moon and weaving through planets as if they were road cones in an empty parking lot. In the next blink we’ve crossed the eons between our tiny blue dot and the massive cluster of sparkling champagne that makes up our galaxy. That is where the good ones linger. The better than average ideas that might get you killed or could make you famous; maybe both. Once we’ve attained cruising altitude and the seat belt light blinks off, while my head is turned into the depths of some passing nebula, she leans forward from the seat behind, softly touching my shoulder and as her glossy, painted lips nearly brush against my earlobe, I know I’m in trouble.

She lies to me.

The whispers are faint, nearly inaudible, at first. That’s how she draws me in, making sure she’s got my attention. As I strain to hear, maybe leaning in a little, she’ll giggle and back away. What was that she said? Why is she laughing? Now she’s got me asking questions. That’s good. The gears are engaged. The stewardess comes by and offers some peanuts or a drink, but when I turn to respond she’s not there…but the giggling is. Now she’s at the other ear. A gentle touch, a soft caress, and a nearly mumbled word. Then silence. Now I’m passing a bright planet that almost looks like home. No, too much green, not enough blue. As I start to contemplate the possibilities of life, she breathes on my neck. Not the way the creepy guy in line behind me at Seven Eleven does it either. No, it’s smooth and exhilarating like an unexpected summer breeze blowing in from the lake shore on a needlessly hot day. That’s when the gloves come off. The cloak and dagger small talk is over and now she’s ready to lay it on thick. From the left comes a premium magazine article about that quaint little vacation spot I visited last summer. Next she throws down a prize winning short story I could probably have ready by the upcoming entry deadline. It’s so hot it burns my snack tray! Without regard to safety or airline regulations, she comes at me with a scandalous political essay that could bring the NSA to shut down my entire blog. From journal entries to best selling novels, she comes at me in a relentless fury until finally I collect enough wit to grab a pen and paper! I turn around and grab her arm as I will myself back into my yard and run full speed into the house; where in the hell did I leave that pen? Is there a scrap of paper left on this planet? Why aren’t the kids in bed? Where is my wife? Ah! There’s a pen! Paper, paper, there’s got to be some paper somewhere! Does the damn T.V. have to be so loud? The printer! There’s paper in the printer! Through all the confusion, the onslaught of ideas keep streaming through my head until finally I have something to write on and THEN…

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silence…

Where did she go? I had her by the arm just a second ago and now all that’s left is the faint echo of a giggle, a house full of wild children up way past their bed time, a T.V. that can be heard in the next county, and the screaming absence of any useful idea whatsoever. What, for the love of holiness is that smell? And it seems I found the dog’s latest landmark at some point in my recent journey to worlds unseen. 

So you see, it always starts innocently enough. A quiet stroll in the back yard, a little imaginative tour of the galaxy, but it always ends with this: A pen in your hand and nothing to write, but your next to-do list which begins with – ‘clean up dog poo in back yard’. 

 

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Rev Up Your Writing with Our Blogging U. Challenge

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To any fellow writers out there, (You know who you are, don’t be shy!) you may find this as inviting as I did! Take a look!

The WordPress.com Blog

Lots of us start blogs with the intention of writing regularly, but quickly find ourselves struggling to sit down at the keyboard. Cultivating a consistent writing habit isn’t as easy as starting a blog — but we can help!

Writing 101: Building a Blogging Habit is a write-every-day challenge designed to help you create a writing habit, publish posts that mesh with your blog’s focus, and push you a bit as a writer. It’s also a great way to make new friends and find new favorite reads. All bloggers are welcome, whether you use WordPress.com, are self-hosted, or use another platform entirely.

Here’s how it works:

  • We’ll post a new writing assignment just for Writing 101 each weekday in June on The Daily Post. Assignments will publish at 10:00 AM EST (14:00 PM GMT). You can follow The Daily Post to get assignment notifications.
  • There are no weekend assignments — you’re…

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I Called Her Mom

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As a writer, you sometimes get a story lodged in your soul that just needs to be released. If left alone it will just flutter around the corridors of your mind like a butterfly trying to escape a car window, tickling your conscience and making your fingers itch until you just have to sit down and type. I call it writer’s itch. My itch started around Mother’s Day.

This story starts near the ending of a larger tale. A young man and his young family had just re-rooted from Arizona where, until he was laid off, he worked in a copper mine, to Wyoming where he found work at a medical supply company in Cheyenne. After three long months of unemployment, he was glad to have the work, but after three months on the job, he found it held for him only long hours at a wage that barely compensated for cost of living. The stress was mounting. One night near the end of a particularly long day, the phone call came. She’d been sick in the hospital, and in and out of nursing homes, and the verdict was finally in; it wasn’t good. His aunt informed him his mother had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and had days left. The tears came in a sudden wave as he hung up the phone while in route to his final stop for the night. Crying out in anger and frustration, the weight of work and now this came crashing down around him like a demolition man had just hit the red button on his life. He pulled it together to finish the day and called his wife to share the news.

They celebrated their oldest son’s eighth birthday a couple of days later in a small hospital room in Provo, Utah. She seemed in good spirits, given her circumstances and they could tell she was glad to be part of the celebration. They shared some smiles and laughs masking the tense undercurrents of heavier things that tugged at their ankles. In the coming days, family members from around the country arrived and decisions had to be made.

Some people are lucky. Growing up happens slowly over a span of decades filled with learning moments and growth opportunities. For others, there’s a fleeting moment when you have to dance on a knife’s edge, grow beyond your limits, and be more than you are. One of those moments took a hold of him by the back of the neck and dragged him kicking and screaming through the rest of that week. In retrospect, he could not have done it without his wife who stood firmly at his side, an anchor to his taut lifeline. His situation was unique. His mother had been born without a thyroid gland and before this was discovered, her brain had been damaged. Her cognitive skills would never stretch beyond someone in their early teens. She could not make critical decisions without help and it was his role to help her.

The first decision was the hardest. Do we fight this thing or surrender peacefully to the unforgiving laws of nature? According to her doctors the attempt to fight would most likely kill her. Her kidneys had shut down and other organs were soon to follow. The first step would be dialysis, which she was not likely to survive. Her body had become toxic. He, his aunt, and a couple of other family members went to her bedside to help her plan her remaining days. She had started twitching, her body’s response to the toxins flooding her impaired immune system. All things considered, it was decided she would best spend her remaining days in the comfort of her own home, surrounded by friends and family instead of in a hospital bed connected to giant kidney machine. Not knowing if she would regain consciousness after the stress of transport, they said their goodbyes. That was the last time they would speak.

Hospice was very kind and efficient. They made her transfer home as easy as could be expected. The hospital bed and oxygen supplies were delivered promptly and everything was in place for her arrival. Once they got her settled in, she rested peacefully. Now he faced the reality of planning her funeral. There were thousands of decisions to make and a few short days to make them. Those days passed in a blur of long stressful hours and very little sleep. She soon developed what they call ‘the death rattle’ and they knew her time was close at hand. As he and his uncles were priesthood holders, they gave her a final blessing of comfort in hopes of easing her fears about her last trip home. The family members stayed late into that evening before finally retiring to their hotel rooms. Those who remained at his mother’s house sat and watched helplessly as her breathing became labored.

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Death is the master of us all. We will all meet him at the end of our mortal journey. Some of us catch an early glimpse as he passes by. Seeing she was in distress, I went to her side and took my mother’s hand one last time. Sitting next to her on the bed, I watched as she struggled to hang on. Knowing it was time, I leaned in close so she could hear. “It’s ok Mom. You go where you need to go.” I could almost see her spirit leave her body and I knew she was at peace. I often stop to ponder, ‘Did I do the right thing? Should we have fought for her life? Did we give up too easy?” These questions will always haunt the back of my mind. I don’t know how doctors do it. They make life and death decisions every day, seemingly without fear of being wrong. But whenever I face them, a comforting hand touches my heart and confirms that all is well. It was her time and she was called home.

Sometimes I feel that death cheated me that day. He took my Mom before I was ready to let her go. That feeling is usually short lived, truncated by the realization that I was fortunate to be there for her to guide her through this world’s final transition. I have seen my share of death throughout the years. Mom would be the third family member I would see laid to rest. She would, however, be the first I ever saw pass in person which provides a unique kind of closure. Losing a loved one is never easy, but I was honored to have shared her experience and that memory will live with me forever.

What The Hell Can I Eat Around Here?!?

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In today’s world, nutrition seems to be a nationwide focus. ‘It’s important to eat healthy’, they tell us. ‘You’ll live longer, feel better, and be healthier.’ I’m not a nutritionist, but it seems like sound advice to me. In the same breath, however, we’re warned about the lurking dangers of Monsanto, MSG, GMO, additives, improper packaging, and a plethora of other hidden, harmful products/bi-products that no one seems to want to talk about. Should I even mention fallout effects from Fukushima?!? ‘Isn’t that why we have the FDA, Mr. Moore, to protect us from greedy corporate shortcuts that could be harmful to our general well-being?’ That’s a good question! We’ll broach that topic as well!

Before I speculate on the loyalty of a government organization, like the FDA, to the American people who they are in place to serve, I’d like to wander down memory lane for a moment. Don’t worry, I don’t intend to bore you, this will be a short trip. I was born in the late 70’s and spent most of my childhood navigating the 80’s when everyone still seemed to be coming down from the acid trip. Even then eating healthy was a prime focal point. Sure, we were warned about pesticides and such, but the solution was simple; wash your fruits and vegetables before you eat them. Today, before you even get in your car to go to the store, you have to read up on all the latest poisons and preservatives food companies are pumping into your diet by the megaton. Perhaps after a few months of solid research and a college degree in nutrition, you might be ready to start a grocery list, right? Put simply, it’s not just processed foods we have to worry about anymore. They’re genetically modifying our produce and meats, subtracting from nutritional values and causing all kinds of havoc for our body’s natural processing systems. Add that to new mass farming techniques like hydroponics, which sucks every ounce of flavor out of your food before it even reaches the shelf, and before you know it, you’ve got volumes of material to read before you can make any kind of educated guess, much less informed decision, at the grocery store. What they are doing to food at the production stages can’t simply be washed away anymore.

All this and we haven’t even addressed the atrocities presumed by the fast food industry. In the early days, a cheeseburger was just a cheeseburger and nobody gave a frak what was in the chicken nuggets because they were delicious with a little barbecue sauce. Now you can’t escape the bombardment of warnings about the mysterious ‘pink goo’, the over-processed beef patties, and whatever that stuff is they call cheese. Did I mention the cooking oil? Does anyone know what’s in that? You can put it in the tank of a semi truck and drive for miles and that’s after it’s been used. That tells me it’s either really good for you or really bad for you. You decide.

Someone in the back row mentioned the FDA. What is their role in all of this? If you don’t know what or who the FDA is, this is the description from http://www.fda.gov:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It consists of the Office of the Commissioner and four directorates overseeing the core functions of the agency: Medical Products and Tobacco, Foods and Veterinary Medicine, Global Regulatory Operations and Policy, and Operations.”

In short, they and the attorney general are supposed to ensure the soundness of essentially anything designed to enter our body for nutritional, medical, or recreational purposes. If there were so many harmful products crossing our grocery store shelves every day, shouldn’t they be sounding the horn and shutting down any company putting out questionable products? They’re not. This tells me there’s really nothing to worry about and all the hype is just that OR they’re hiding something. Again, I’ll leave that to you to decide.

This piece is intended as a musing based on what I’ve seen floating around the web and coasting the airwaves, so take from it what you will. As I said before, I’m not a nutrition expert, nor would I consider myself well read on the subject, but you can only ignore the hype for so long before it draws some level of curiosity. Are GMO’s harmful? Is Monsanto trying to kill us all? Are there really that many things lurking in our food that could potentially kill us or make us very sick? I don’t have a definitive answer for any of that. I’m just begging the question, what the hell can I eat around here?!?

Thank you for reading and keep that thinking cap bolted tightly to your cranium!

 

Declutter Your Prose: Three Phrases to Avoid in Your Posts

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Some great editing tips for your everyday writer’s toolbox!

The Daily Post

On The Daily Post, we want to help you improve your writing and offer concrete advice to craft clear, crisp prose. As an editor on WordPress.com, I read many, many posts each day on our platform; it’s worth pointing out words and sentences that might detract from your writing.

Here are three ways to copy edit your writing and declutter your prose:

1. In this post, I will explain . . .

When we draft posts, we naturally dump our inner monologues onto the page. And that’s good — that’s the beauty of free writing and cranking out first drafts: we have material we can later rework, cut, and move around.

Before you hit “Publish,” scan your intro for phrases like “In this post, I will explain…” or “Today, I will write about…” and similar phrases. In your drafting process, just let go and type. But when you’re…

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Welcome!

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Hello everyone! Just thought I’d drop an introductory post to get the ball rolling. I’m new to blogging, but figured I’d give it a shot and see how it goes. This is just a place where I’ll drop random thoughts now and then and share some of my writing. I hope to have time to update the page at least two or three times a week, so keep an eye out for new content! If you feel there’s something missing from the page or have suggestions for improvement, I’m always open to ideas. Just leave a comment. Thank you for reading and I hope you come to find this page an enjoyable place to be!