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Fear is Weird

In the creative writing class I’m teaching, I planned a lesson on writing with fear/suspense. Admittedly, this isn’t something I’m great at. Still, it was a lesson I wanted to leave the students with.

We always have a in-class writing prompt, one that I practice a few times in advance to make sure it’s decent. The prompt was to pick a personal fear and explore it for 15 minutes using first person narrative and some techniques from the lesson. I completed the exercise three times and finally gave up after reading it aloud to Chris because he couldn’t stop laughing. Humorous writing, I can do. This? Not as much.

I’m posting it here, so I can look back at it next time I teach the class and hopefully make some personal progress of my own.

My pounding heart wakes me. SHIT. I sit up quickly and listen… nothing. I stay completely still, breathing as quietly as possible.

 Still… nothing.

 With a huge sigh of relief, I slowly fall back into my pillow. Instantly my pulse rate slows. I shut my eyes and take a few deep breaths to help induce sleep.

 Silence.

 Glorious silence… with the exception of Chris breathing deeply next to me, as he sleeps soundly.

 But wait… I hear it again. That slow scratching noise. This is not my imagination!

 I start to sweat with uneasiness. What do I do now? Wake Chris yet again and try to convince him there’s something in our closet? The first night he believed me. He leapt out of bed when I yelled that there was someone in the closet. He found nothing.

 The second night he shook his head in annoyance, and refused to even check the closet. “Honey, let it go… you’re not hearing anything. Stop reading weird books before bed. That’s all this is… I promise.”

 He promises? Puh-lease.

 Here we are again… night three. It’s awful, I know… but being single right now would solve everything. I could grab a sledgehammer and tear a hole in the closet wall. That would silence the scratching. Oh wait, would single me own a sledgehammer? Hush brain, that doesn’t matter now.

 I slowly inch my way out of bed. I can’t risk waking Chris only to be ‘mansplained out of hearing what I’m really hearing.

 My eyes quickly adjust to the lack of light, and I crouch down next to the closet door.

 Silence.

 I clench my fists and prepare to wait it out.

 The night is still. Until it’s not. “SKRREEEEEK.”

 My body trembles, but I refuse to jump back into the safety of my bed. I can do this. Wiping my sweaty palms on my pajama pants, I grab the closest thing to me. A heavy hiking boot. I stand back and gently push open the closet door.

 “SKRREEEEEK.” There it is again! Even louder this time.

 I flip on the closet light and start pounding the wall with my boot. “BAM. BAM. BAM.”

In a matter of seconds Chris is awake, standing next to me with a wide-eyed stare.

 “SARAH STOP IT! WHAT ARE YOU DOING? HAVE YOU LOST YOUR GODDAMN MIND?”

 I refuse to look him in the eyes. Instead I reply by pounding even harder on the wall. I pound until I’m certain the scratching has stopped.

 Finally, I look up with a satisfied smile. “Next time set a mousetrap like I asked. Otherwise, I’ll pound the damn mouse out of this house.”

 He tilts his head and looks at me, slightly confused. I know that look. He can’t decide if he wants to laugh or yell. I ignore the look and continue… “I think that little fucker is gone for the night. We should probably get some sleep.” He slowly shakes his head, laughs and follows me to bed, because what else is he going to do? Divorce me at 3AM?

Maybe I need scarier fears or something, but mice are absolutely terrifying to me. What? Don’t judge. I know people who are petrified of damn clowns.

Empty Carseat, Empty Heart

My daughter, while beloved, is not an easy child. She is very much her own person, yet I see glimpses of my own childhood in her. I know she’s not me, but goddamn this daughter of mine has so much Nielson running through her Millar veins that I can’t help but pity Chris. He now has two stubborn, impatient, always right and often hangry women in his life. No wonder he retreats to the basement so much.

I’ve shifted my entire world to spend as much time as possible with Francis while she’s young enough to still like me. The days she’s with me all day are the longest and most difficult days, yet the days she goes to school? I miss her. Like seriously, miss her.

Going to pick her up is the highlight of my solo days. Not my freelance work, getting things done around the house, child-free errands, having enough quiet time to listen to a podcast, or even finally using the rest room alone.

Nope.

The highlight is when that empty carseat in the back of my car is suddenly filled with very loud sass.  I’m usually this giddy on my way to pick her up…

empty carseat, empty heart

I don’t even know who I am anymore, but I’m soaking it all up because she won’t be little much longer. And while I won’t miss the screaming tantrums, I’ll really miss the fifteen hugs she gives me once the screaming subsides.

 

My Post Election Plan

I’ve given myself adequate time to mourn the election results – now it’s time to get to work. Rather than letting myself remain sad for the next four years, I’ve created my post election plan. Sometimes being slightly Type A is helpful!

My plan started forming while in the shower, so here’s the first draft. Yes, that’s a photo of my shower… it’s often where my best thinking occurs.

post-election-shower-planning

After spending a few more days thinking and planning, I now feel like I have the start of a solid plan. OMG it feels good! Here’s my second draft:

Family and Tribe – the most important people in my life deserve more of my attention and I don’t want to lose sight of that

  • I’ll show more love and offer more support, even if I don’t always agree with them (Hi Republican family, I love you like crazy and fully accept we will likely never agree on politics and that’s ok. XO)

Community Work – find like-minded people in my own area and donate time within my community

  • Joining Utah Women’s Democratic Club (I’m waiting until January, so I only have to pay the fees once. Hush, I’m a freelancer and no longer work full-time)
  • Currently a moderator for the Utah Chapter of Pantsuit Nation Facebook group

Cause Work – donate time to organizations I support, and donate money to political campaigns I believe in (focusing on reproductive rights, human rights, and female candidates)

  • I signed up as a volunteer for Planned Parenthood and start in March
  • I’m currently researching female candidates on a national scale

Educate – read more on feminism and life experiences of minority populations

  • My to-read list is overwhelming in the best way possible
  • I need to find podcasts that support this goal (current fav thanks to Danielle is CYG)
  • I need to compile a must-watch in 2017 documentary list

Create – it’s time to create a little of my own little legacy here

  • I’ve got a plan that I’m really excited about, but won’t discuss quite yet

Lots to do, but also I need to remember to laugh. My current giggle is how much the word ‘election’ looks like ‘erection’ in this post.

The Relationship Between Bourbon and Elections

I sent this snap to a close friend over the weekend, and sadly it’s exactly how I spent most nights after putting my daughter to bed. Not a good picture, whatsoever, but it’s important for me to document my feelings right now… and this sums it up.

Bourboning my way through election results

Post Election Thoughts

I, like many, are distraught over this week’s election results. I’m still somewhat in shock… but I need to start documenting my post election thoughts sooner than later.

My heart aches and I can’t stop with the tears. This makes every painful breakup feel like a damn picnic. In fact, my pain is on par with losing my little brother to police brutality… it truly feels like a death.

I didn’t see this coming – I absolutely expected Hillary to win. I naively had no idea women were so hated and untrusted in our country. The fact I’m raising a daughter in this toxic environment keeps me awake at night. How am I supposed to tell her she can grow up to be anything she wants, when I stopped believing that myself this week? Hold please… more tears.

I’m tracking my thoughts in list form, because I will be adding more as my hurt turns to rage.

  • An unqualified, ignorant, racist, misogynistic, homophobic bigot was elected over an incredibly qualified woman who has spent her entire career serving the greater good. Don’t tell me it’s not a gender issue. I’m so sick and tired of hearing that people don’t trust Hillary, if she were a man it would be a completely different story – without a doubt. SO MUCH MORE ON THIS LATER.
  • The number of white women who voted for Trump makes me crazy angry. How dare you not support another woman? If she weren’t a good candidate of course I wouldn’t be upset over this, but she was THE candidate.
  • Bernie bros admitting to not voting? Unbelievable to me. Had he won the nomination, I would have been disappointed sure, but still supported with wholeheartedly. I voted Hillary over Obama in the 2008 primary, yet I’ve done nothing but support and adore President Obama and all the incredible things his administration has done.
  • I’m terrified of what this means for those who don’t fit into Trump’s white-straight-male-Christian mold, especially members of my own family and tribe.
  • I’m horrified at the bullying in schools and general acts of cruelness that are erupting only days after the election. What does this mean for the next four years?

So what’s next? Well, I’ve been talking about getting involved with local politics and Planned Parenthood for two years, but haven’t. This is a much needed wake-up call. I’m joining a group for female democrats in Utah and I’ve started the process for volunteer work with the local chapter of PP. As for donations, I plan to make an ACLU donation in my daughter’s name.

None of this will be enough, but it’s a start. I need to feel like I’m doing something positive instead of hiding in bed and ugly-crying my way through episodes of “Gilmore Girls” for the next four years, even though that’s all I want to do.

My #Herstory Failure

I called my little brother on election day, to make sure he hadn’t voted for Trump. I know, I know… but I seriously have no boundaries. He mentioned something that’s been bothering me for days. Someone asked him if the only reason I was a Hillary Clinton supporter was because she was a woman. He knew that wasn’t the case, but apparently my Facebook posts led someone to think that.

I failed. I was so excited about shattering that goddamn glass ceiling with posts like the one below, that I neglected to post my thoughts on the fact Hillary was (AND STILL IS, DAMMIT) the most qualified individual on that ballot.

SHAME ON ME.

Lesson learned, next time I will discuss the merits of my support and not just discuss my excitement over making #herstory.

#herstory

Did Franny or freelancing ruin my social life? Maybe both.

I’ve been freelancing for a year and for the most part I’ve absolutely loved it. It’s so nice not stressing about missing important client meetings because my kid is sick. And more importantly, it’s been fantastic having this time with my daughter. My only regret, it not quitting my job sooner… but the silver lining there is that I ended up being promoted to VP post maternity leave.

The biggest drawback to freelance, however, is not having co-workers. I’ve always known working was a social hub for me, but didn’t realize just how important those day-to-day relationships really were. Sure, I have absolutely amazing friends, but it’s not so easy to get together with them as it was pre-Franny.

I miss coffee dates with my office husband and lunch dates with work friends. I have two days a week where Franny goes to school and I try and make that time as productive as possible, between freelance work, errands and getting my house in order… I don’t make friendships a priority like I used to. I need to figure out a way to change that. And soon. Otherwise I might not have any friends left and will start thinking characters from “The Mindy Project” are real life pals.

Why the Comcast Tech Might be my Daytime Soulmate

I’m racing around the house trying to find a jacket, so Franny and I can get to the library in time for story hour when I hear someone ringing the doorbell.

FUUUUUUCK.

All hell breaks loose. The pugs are barking and scratching at the front door in hopes of finding a pizza delivery on the other side of the door. Franny is screaming because, well, she’s a toddler and they don’t need reasons to scream. It’s just their job.

I finally get things settled down enough to open the door to find a Comcast tech who needs access to our backyard to fix connection issues for the neighborhood. I track down the key to the gate to let him in and he looks at me with the kindest eyes and says, “I think you’ve earned your morning drink with that chaos. What’s that saying, for every baby cry do a shot of whiskey?”

It took every ounce of self control not to grab a bottle of whiskey and do shots in the backyard with him. Had I not left Franny alone in the house with the pugs, I might have… but today isn’t the day to make sure the pugs make good nannies.

I laugh and thank him for encouraging motherhood inspired alcoholism. I walk back inside to make sure my lovable chaos is still intact.. and truthfully, to make sure I have whiskey for 5PM. I suspect I’m gonna need it.

 

 

My Daughter’s Stalker

Yes, my daughter who will be two next week has her first stalker, and I couldn’t be prouder! That’s how weird parenting is… you finding yourself prideful over the oddest things.

  • OMG my kid can drink out of a cup. Alert the media, I have a genius on my hands.
  • OMG my kid can say dog. She’s a future vet and will make me the future proudest Mama.
  • OMG my kid moved a stool to the sink to wash her hands. She’s clearly the most independent child alive.

Back to the stalker though, because how cool is that?! I’m gushing with pride.

Last week, I stopped to pick Franny up from school and she was still napping. I went to her classroom to wake her up and found a little boy sitting next to her cot watching her sleep. The little boy, an adorable oafish fella, always follows Franny around and constantly wants to hug her. Kinda cute, but she truly hates it. When I woke her up, she looked up at her stalker and let out a giant sigh. Franny looks like her Dad, but she’s sooooo my kid sometimes.