Mom’s Visit 2016

1-2-glasses-flip-phoneOn the eve of my 46th birthday, I picked Mom up from the airport. She’d come to celebrate both of our birthdays, hers being three days after mine, attend my art reception for The Adventures of Infinity & Negativa: An Adult Fairy Tale, and participate in the spoken word and storytelling event I produce, The Austin Writers Roulette.

She’s one of the funniest people I know even when she’s not trying. Check out the reading glasses propped on top of the shades while checking her FLIP phone! In true Virgo practicalness, she told me, “At least I can see what I’m doing.”2-wig-shop I whisked Mom’s luggage upstairs to my apartment while she waited in the car since she wanted to minimize the amount of walking up and down the stairs. Anytime she had to walk up and down those stairs she’d groan, “These stairs will beat you down.”

Then, I took her to several places to buy a wig. At the first two, she didn’t even try one on, but at this shop, the owner and I convinced Mom to try on a couple.3-wig-shopI was happy that she’d finally abandoned that rolling-up-the-hair madness after about 60 years of doing so.4-wig-shop Growing up, I’d always heard my maternal grandmother say a woman’s hair is her crown and glory.5-wig-shop Mom certainly takes that very seriously. Perhaps too seriously. I believe what’s going on underneath the hairstyle is far more important than the hairstyle itself.6-wig-shopThroughout her wig trials, she kept asking me if I was taking her picture and I kept saying no. Since I normally keep my phone on vibrate, it soundlessly took pictures.
7-wig-shop But who would want to miss the moment when their mother got a new do? Or in Mom’s case, a new glorious crown?8-wig-shop And for what became a ubiquitous sight, Mom sitting somewhere, talking on the phone.9-me-as-superwomanI sported my Superwoman T-shirt and tiara for my 46th birthday. Although I couldn’t do my job with my tiara on, I’d internalized the royalty.9-0-mom-works-out After work, Mom and I walked over to the fitness center. Notice how she wore her athletic shoes, but quickly settled onto a seat, with her phone, a recipe I’d printed out for her at the nearby business center and some ads when I’d checked the mailbox en route. Mom badmouthed me to whomever she was talking to since we’d walked over. Honestly, Mom has no problem walking when she’s shopping, but bulks at walking to work out.

She’d managed to get off the phone for a few minutes to lift a few weights, but nothing too serious. Still, just before we left, Mom wiped down the two pieces of equipment she’d used. I teased her that she was merely removing her fingerprints since she hadn’t broken out into a sweat. 9-1-my-bd-dinnerFor my birthday dinner, we ate at The Buenos Aires Cafe. Since it’s especially known for its empanadas and beef, we shared a veggie and a spicy beef empanadas. Mom indulged in the seafood platter. She no longer buys, cooks nor orders seafood because Dad has developed a shellfish allergy. 9-2-my-bd-dessert Although we split a chocolaty dessert, Mom and I stuffed down another chocolaty dessert, courtesy of our waiter. 10-moms-swimwear The day after my birthday, Mom and I went swimming. Of course she does everything in style! We went to an outdoor pool, where Mom did her water aerobic exercises while I swam a half mile.11-edible-arrangement-delivery The following day, someone knocked on the door.  To our surprise, one of my sisters had balloons, chocolate-dipped strawberries and fruit delivered.12-chocolate-dipped-strawberries That delivery happened right on time. I was on my lunch break, which started off with two dipped strawberries.13-basket-balloons I let Mom wrestle with the balloons and plastic to get to the fruit. I polished off lunch with a slice of pineapple.14-mom-rudys By good fortune, I got off work early, so I took Mom to one of my favorite BBQ places. Whenever I bring a visitor, I make sure to let the staff know. They welcomed Mom, allowed her to sample some things, but I already knew I would order a pound of extra moist brisket, some creamed corn and jalapeno sausage. Mom also wanted cole slaw, which went well with our brisket sandwiches.15-mom-rudys I tried to take a picture of Mom with food on the table without her chewing, but that never happened. After a while, I put away my camera phone and dug in as well.16-mom-rudysAfter eating, we went outside to see the peacocks. They were nowhere to be seen. Perhaps the heat had them in hiding.
18-mom-me-rudysFollowing dinner, we went to the mall, which was nearby despite the throes of rush hour traffic. Better to walk off dinner than to sit in traffic. Of course, since we were shopping, Mom had no complaints about walking.17-mom-wice-cream Before going home, we stopped by a grocery store since Mom wanted more fresh produce for her morning smoothies. I picked us up a treat that had been recommended to me by a cashier: chile pepper pecan ice cream! One of Mom’s all-time favorite ice creams was butter pecan. This took that flavor to a different level.21-hihat For Mom’s birthday dinner, we ate at Hi Hat. I didn’t remember seeing this drum kit chandelier before. 22-moms-bdOne of the reasons I chose this restaurant was it was in walking distance of the gallery. Once again, Mom complained about having to walk “so far” to get to the restaurant. When I reminded her of how she’d walked much farther at the mall, she replied, “But that was SHOPPING.” I told her it was all psychological and reminded Mom she should be happy she still has the ability to walk.
20-mom-with-readers-meThe women whom I’d invited to perform dramatic readings for four of the paintings, showed up at least an hour ahead of the performance–my usual curtain call.   23-mom-readers The two dramatic readers, who read the part of “Infinity,” both wore the character’s signature color, purple.24-mom-artists Continuing Mom’s 76th birthday celebration, she held court in the back of the art gallery. Before the dramatic reads began, I secured a chair for her in the middle of the room, so she could be in the thick of the action. To introduce the readings, I first stated that I’d chosen Saturday, September 10th for the date of the reception since it was Mom’s birthday.  I didn’t lead the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” to her, but everyone applauded. 25-mom-draining-alcohol At the end of the night, we cleaned up the food, candy and alcohol. Mom drained the drink dispenser of its apple martini. I imagined this was how she milked cows on her family’s farm.
26-mom-sipping-a-margFor Mom’s last evening, we ate at a local coffee shop and also attended a weekly artist workshop. Mom mostly drank water and smoothies while she visited with me.  I managed to take one picture of her sipping my margarita.

By the time I dropped Mom off at the airport early the next morning, she actually was high–from that wonderful feeling of a vacation well spent.

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Art Reception: The Adventures of Infinity & Negativa

0-rehearsalOne spectacular thing I did in preparation of my very first art reception was to invite four dynamic female artists who had performed on The Austin Writers Roulette to read some of the chapter openings that accompanied my paintings. Fortunately, three out of four came to the actual rehearsal and the fourth rehearsed with me on the phone. As an added bonus, I pointed to the paintings they were emoting since I had not taken them to the gallery yet. 1-preview I’d taken the sight of my paintings hanging in my apartment for granted, but once I walked into the Link & Pin Art Gallery, I was nearly driven to tears. To see the paintings professionally hung and lit in such an intimate, yet public space made all the effort worth it.2-previewI previewed them the Sunday before the official reception on Saturday. The 24 chapter openings of my second novel, The Adventures of Infinity & Negativa: An Adult Fairy Tale, unfolded around the room.
3-previewAs one walks around the room, reading the opening of every chapter in which the title characters feature, one learns of Infinity’s and Negativa’s adventures.
4-previewYet the main story is still to be discovered. 5-previewIn this spatial context, I saw a new beauty in the paintings and their openings.6-candy In one adventure, Negativa tells Infinity about how candy, AKA “women bait,” are used as symbolic logic. So, Mom and I arrived hours before the reception to set up the candy display. 7-candy Despite the labeling, this was the biggest crowd pleaser. I don’t truly believe most people were into S and M. This was the “good” candy. Even men, who didn’t bother to read the labels past the bold print, made a beeline to the pricey stuff.8-candy The most enthusiastic eater of these non-chocolates mixed a small cup of blueberries with Reese’s Pieces and made his own candy-fruit mix. 9-candy Honestly, I was impressed how many people gravitated to Twix. Again, I’m sure it wasn’t the labeling.10-candy If the popularity of Twix impressed me, I was flat out flabbergasted how the Almond Joy goblet stood empty at the end of the night.11-candy Poor Hershey Kisses, which I thought would be the bell of the ball, stood the most full by the end of the night. Not so much for the labeling, but compared to the other chocolate-rich candy, was demoted to ugly stepsister status.12-candy Only the second non-chocolate choice, these little dandies were popular among peanut lovers. As a matter of fact, when an Australian visitor looked at all the choices, she chose a Payday since she’d never tasted one before. Then, she took a second one, remarking she had to branch out and try more American candy.13-candy As much as people giggled about its labeling, KitKats were the second least favorite chocolate choice.14-candy By contrast, Special Dark were the second most chosen chocolate. People were somewhat familiar with it, but it still stood in the shadow of Dark Chocolate with Chili.15-candy Although the actual candy received a mediocre reception, its painting depiction, a mostly nude, buff medium-brown hunk, was nearly everyone’s favorite for painting #17.Day 19 17-candy Logically enough, the candy display stood underneath its motivational painting, along with the “key” of what each candy symbolized in the book. 18-blueberries As a wonderful surprise, Link and Pin Art Gallery owner, Debra Watkins, arranged a blueberry, cheese, cracker and muffin display underneath its motivational painting, where Infinity tells Negativa of her favorite blueberry pancake recipe, using ingredient ratios. 19-sign I even loved the sign Debra placed between the painting and the display. I zeroed in on the fresh blueberries and the blueberry-laden cheese.  As big of a cheese fan as I am, I’ve never had it with embedded blueberries. I put a chunk in a cup with a cracker for Mom.20-blueberries 21-tribe For a rare moment, I thought like an entrepreneur and brought a few of my first novels to be sold at the reception. 22-readers-meAll the dramatic readers who I’d rehearsed with two weeks before the reception showed up at least an hour ahead of time–my usual call time for performers.
23-checking-out-candy Here’s just one example of how effective the “women-bait” display was. To be fair, men hovered around this table just as much as women did!24-poetsThe evening was filled with a lot of my fellow artists and a remarkable showing from my fellow yogis, who I practice with four times a week.
25-crowd 26-crowd Before the dramatic readings began, I brought a chair in the center of the room so the woman of the evening, my mother, who sported my tiara in honor of her birthday, and let the crowd know I chose my mother’s 76th birthday to have my reception. The very reason I’d chosen that date was to lure her and my father to visit me since the excuse was always, “But, Teresa, you’re the only one in Texas.  It’s easier for you to come to us.” Unfortunately, at the last minute, my father wasn’t cleared by his doctor to fly. 27-ch-1-reading For the dramatic reading of Chapter One from the Adventures of Infinity & Negativa, Donna Dechen Birdwell (in black) read the part of the Narrator, Mackenzie Irick (in yellow) read the part of Negativa and Udelle Robinson (in purple) read the part of Infinity.28-ch-16-reading For Chapter Sixteen, Stephanie Webb read the part of Infinity.29-ch-16-reading Although we’d rehearsed reading the parts, the artists couldn’t help but add some acting and blocking.30-ch-17-reading I’m actually happy they got into the reading. After all, the audience could read the words for themselves.31-ch-19-readingThey brought the colorful energy from the paintings and the power of the words together in their performance. 32-after-the-readings Afterwards, this concluded my first production inside my first art reception. What made this experience even more significant, this was my Mother’s first art reception.  What a way to spend a birthday.33-candy-resultHere’s the results of my unofficial candy survey. Can’t really tell anything about women’s relationship choices, but the crowd loved the pricey candy and barely touched the most popularly known candy.

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Dipped My Big Toe

Twenty-fifteen was the year I unintentionally dipped my big toe into poverty. I didn’t attempt to be a poor, starving artist, but since necessity is the mother of invention, I reinvented myself many times, juggling jobs in this great circus act called the gig economy: editor, writer, tutor, adult basic education instructor, call center agent, insurance agent, spoken word and storytelling producer, painter. Everything I needed to be to exist in a financial niche.

I actually thought I’d make it as a freelance editor and writer, especially since I had some money saved up for the in between contract times. What I discovered, like being an entrepreneur, it’s harder than first blush.

Just before running out of money, I landed a part time job, teaching Adult Basic Education in the evenings. I absolutely loved being back in the classroom with the added benefits of motivated, adult students, my mornings free, very little lesson planning, virtually no grading, and a less than 10 minute commute.

I still had the fantasy of landing a freelance writing/editing job or going full time with the teaching gig. As months rolled by, neither happened. One way I responded to the financial reality of my underemployed situation was by reducing my grocery budget from $50 a week to $30.

The beauty of being a math teacher was that I understood chunking. For a grocery budget of $30, I’d buy 15 $2-items. If I knew I had to buy an item that cost more than $2, then I’d buy fewer than 15 items. I always celebrated the weeks when my grocery bill was under $25. Then, as far as math was concerned, I could buy up to $35 worth of groceries for the following week although I’d still only write 15 items on my list.

I had a list of weekly grocery lists on my phone. I never put more than three nonedible things on one list. So if I were running low on shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste and toilet paper, I’d have to make a decision about which three out of four things I’d buy. I became much better at portion control since using a little less of everything was better than having none of anything.

I applied that logic with edible things as well. Gone were the days of two-egg omelets when one egg would do. As a matter of fact, my cheap sources of protein became eggs and peanut butter. Not together, mind you. I embellished ramen noodles, a cheap carbohydrate, with a scrambled egg, fresh produce sautéed in toasted sesame oil, a toss of frozen peas, and a drizzle of sriacha. Of course, I’d only use half of that ramen noodle flavor packet because of how much sodium it contained.

In reality, all cheap foods are bad for you. What makes them so inexpensive is the low nutritional content. I’ve never read that correlation on any nutrition label. I just know it to be true. This country despises poor people and wants to help us shorten our lifespans through poor diet—among other things.

I’d buy most of my spices and grains in the bulk aisle. I clipped coupons and based my weekly meals on which grocery specials were available. I’d already had the habit of cooking one big meal a week and packing it up in Tupperware to take to work for lunch. Yet, the ante was upped since all my meals had to be rationed out. I marveled at how preoccupied with food I became. Even when I wasn’t actually hungry, I still thought about food.

I knew my rent would be paid, I still maintained my yoga membership since I could go in the mornings, but I stopped training capoeira. Part of the reason was the conflict of scheduling since most the classes were in the evenings when I worked and I was ageing out, but financially, it was another monetary sacrifice, especially since I could still practice some moves on my own at the fitness center in my apartment complex. Trips to get a mani/pedi fell by the wayside along with getting my car washed, dance classes, and thank goodness, I’ve never liked shopping.

Even shopping for costumes to host my show became a creative opportunity to see how economically I could make them. This pursuit was aided by some of my female students since we’d trade clothes among ourselves. I’d always maximize the costuming angle with every piece of clothing someone gave me, along with sacrificing clothes and material I’d had for years but hardly ever wore.

Anytime I started to throw a private pity party, I reminded myself that I other people, especially other women, have come back from much more extreme circumstances. I was merely a middle class, college-educated woman who was temporarily underemployed. I had students who couldn’t control the number of children they birthed. Students, who were employed, but lived out of their car because they had to make the decision between paying rent and maintaining a car. You see, a car will take you to a job, but an apartment won’t.

I had a student who’d be chronically hungry and had to leave class a little early in order to find a safe place to park her car so she could sleep in peace and still, she struggled with passing the English reading and writing tests. I always gave her the optimistic advice that with more reading practice, she’d eventually be successful. Yet, I suspected that chronic stress suppressed her academic achievement.

So, I know I’ve not sank as financially low as I could possibly go. There is no bottom limit. I’ve dipped my big toe into poverty. I’ll spend the rest of my life, avoiding a bigger plunge. This experience has helped confirm two ideas I’ve always thought: first, money does buy happiness when you have the right set of priorities; and secondly, poverty sucks!

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Red Sleeper Sofa

red sofa copy

For my parents’ impending visit, I had to make a couple of upgrades to my apartment, the largest was buying a new sleeper sofa. Since their last visit six years ago, the recliner loveseat had fallen into embarrassing disrepair.  Still comfortable, but not presentable for my parents. Plus, now that I work from home and my desk is in my bedroom, it just made sense to not disturb them when I started work.

I took advantage of one of my credit card’s 0% APR for 12 months checks to buy the sofa. The big gamble is that within a year or less, I’ll be working full time or at least I will have paid it off with the three part time jobs I currently have.

Yet, I think the original gamble will pay off since I’ve already successfully passed my insurance agent’s license exam. I crammed 15 chapters into my head over two and a half weeks; mostly motivated in the short term by the bonus money I’d receive. In the long term, I’ll most likely go full time, get commission, and expand my skill set.

About two months ago, I came to a radical conclusion: remain on the right side of natural selection. In the past, I’ve been conscious of my dire finances. Unlike before, I’m no longer comfortable with carrying credit card debt for any amount of time. There’s something so satisfying about paying off the balance every month–just like getting a little exercise every day. Financial health may be just as important as body/spiritual health since without the proper finances, very few other things are possible.

After taking the plunge of purchasing the red sleeper sofa, I bought new sheets and pillows, new matching towels for my parents and some other minor things to make my apartment look less rundown.  Normally, I only shop for gas, groceries and costume accessories for dressing in character to host The Austin Writers Roulette.

Given the proximity of my 46th birthday to the arrival of my new sleeper sofa, I can call it my birthday gift to myself (even though I wouldn’t have bought it if my parents weren’t coming). We certainly believe in celebrating our birthdays for at least a week in my family; so it’s not unusual to count every positive thing into the observation.

One bittersweet note: due to health reasons, Dad won’t be able to join Mom on the red sofa. Although his health has improved, the doctor didn’t clear him for flying. Yet, Mom and I are making lemonade with our lemons. Her birthday’s three days after mine.  We’ll have plenty to celebrate for her week’s visit. In addition to our birthdays, the main draw for her visit is my art reception for the paintings I created for my second novel, The Adventures of Infinity and Negativa: An Adult Fairy Tale. As an added bonus, Mom will attend the roulette.  She’s seen videos for the show, but this will be the first time she’ll be present for one.

I’ve focused so much on getting my apartment parent-ready, making final preparations for the reception and putting together my costume for the roulette, I hope the everything comes together well.

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Marching to Jubilee

Don’t slow me down

With all the hemming and hawing

And blah, blah, blahing

Ain’t nobody got time for all that

Think of what you need to say

Then edit it down

I got somewhere else to be

I’m marching to Jubilee


Don’t weigh me down

With worn out clichés

Those verbal equivalents

Of genuine faux diamonds

Unrecyclable words

Dredging up old imagery

I got something else to see

I’m marching to Jubilee


Don’t try to hold me back

With your fears or labels

You can’t scare or define me

So you can keep your voodoo

Your fire, your brimstone

It’s your hell, you burn in it

There’s another destination for me

I’m marching to Jubilee


Don’t distract me

With your personality

You’re nothing but

Click-bait incarnate

I’m staying focused

Immune to your hijinks

I’ve gotta a greater activity

I’m marching to Jubilee



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Laser Tag, You’re It!

1 Brandi & me Periodically, the company I work for hosts a gathering, invites all its call center agents (CCAs) to change out of their pajamas, and leave the cozy confines of their homes to have fun and food. Obviously, I like free food, especially the crazy selection of delicious desserts we had at the end, but what I most looked forward to was crossing laser tag off my bucket list. I’d initially made a beeline to the upstairs of this family playground extravaganza to check it out. There was a long line, but I didn’t see another CCA in line; so I returned downstairs, thinking I should at least fulfill the whole “meet-and-greet” aspect and socialize first.

That plan worked out well since I met another CCA who also wanted to play laser tag. After eating a couple of pieces of pizza and talking, we entered the laser tag line. While waiting in that slow-moving line, I learned that her educational background was in archeology, she’d participated in several digs around the world, and she was also studying for that grueling insurance agent exam like I was.

During our conversation, one little kid, around the age of 8, kept dashing past us for some unknown reason. I said under my breath to my fellow CCA, “I’m going to enjoy shooting that little kid.” Never, outside of the context of laser tag or a water gun fight, would that ever be an acceptable thing to utter.

2 questionable graphics Once we were close to the entrance, we could see a screen that displayed the do’s and don’ts of laser tagging. Yet there was one image I couldn’t quite figure out what the rule was. A woman with breasts that were far too big for her frame or necessary for the point of conveying some rule stood in front of a kneeling man.
3 questionable graphicsI tried to capture a good shot of this larger-than-life breasts phenomenon, but this was the best I could do. I still don’t know which rule was being depicted. Perhaps, “don’t poke anyone in the eye with your lethally-enhanced nipples”?

There was only one other adult in the arena with us and a bunch of kids. Not too much strategy needed, given who we were up against, especially since my only real competitor was on my team. Yet, I tagged the little kid who’d stepped on my foot in line several times, along with all the other kids. That’s all that really counts in such a mindless game.

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Spinster Redefined

“Spinster” used to be defined as a childless, older woman beyond the age of marriage. Times have changed. The “old maid” has been put to rest after a long run of shaming and guilting women into a desperate marriage to avoid being her. My definition for “spinster”: an educated, childfree woman of any age who supports herself financially and has not prioritized getting married. With new definitions come new rules.

When asked why she’s never married, the confirmed bachelorette doesn’t bow her head in shame and mumble about how she’s never met the right man. Instead, she proudly rounds her shoulders and says, “Just lucky, I guess.”

A girl’s best friends are no longer diamonds. She only wanted those because she had very few viable financial means to support herself besides marriage, inheritance and jewelry. Nowadays, a girl’s best friend is generating her own income since money can buy happiness when she has her priorities right.

The contemporary spinster knows that her hair is her crown and glory and she prefers her crown to turn silver, celebrating all her collective years of glory.

If she suffered a disfiguring accident, then she’d have reconstructive surgery, but aging is no accident. It’s a blessing. The practical spinster wants single men to know sight-on-seen that as an older woman, she isn’t going to tolerate the same bullshit as in her 20s. Gotta grow up some time.

The modern spinster’s fashion is ANYTHING she wears. After surviving decades of misogynistic fads, she knows confidence and happiness are true timeless styles, which go with any accessory.

To set the record straight: older single women don’t chase after younger men. We just can’t run fast enough when they chase after us.

And here’s a piece of silver spinster advice: If your buff boyfriend goes to carnival wearing hardly anything except a severed stuffed animal horsehead on his dick, you can’t be jealous when other women take pictures with him.

Lastly, there’s always a silver lining if you’re not too angry to see it.


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Creating a Clean Spot

After two months of unemployment and slowly drained savings, I checked an online jobs listing morning, noon and night. I’d checked more often than that some days until I found a halfway decent job to apply to every day for a week. Part-time, full-time, telecommute, entry level, writing, editing, teaching, tutoring.

Welcome to the gig economy.

The next week, I had four interviews. I was nearly dizzy, keeping up with who wanted what. And still I applied to more jobs just in case. After getting two part-time jobs, both telecommuting, I threw myself into two intense trainings. One I had to drive 40 minutes out of my way and cram procedures into my brain, the other I had to watch online videos and refresh my basics on English, reading, math and science.

Then I had to do some real heavy lifting—as in rearranging my bedroom furniture. None of that feng shui shit. My desk had to be closer to the Internet outlet, which meant moving my bed. The surprising amount of dust I vacuumed from under the bed was actually less than the dust I wiped down from the surface of the desk. That was the easy part. Organizing the desk was the real battle.

One thing I discovered was, for the rest of my life, I never needed to buy another box of staples. I uncovered so many boxes of staples, I embraced the idea of creating art with them. I will certainly never need that many to actually staple anything. I cannot even remember the last time I’ve stapled anything.

Setting up that desk to function as a desk rather than a convenient flat surface to pile shit on top of and breed dust bunnies, created a clean spot, or should I say, an uncluttered zone. Suddenly, I wanted to be free of all the clutter, starting with the dead spots in my bedroom. And I was serious. After moving and vacuuming under my bed, it remained clutter free to facilitate weekly vacuuming and prevent the growing of dust bunnies.

I employed large trash bags to recycle stuff I thought I needed to save at the time, but over time, had grown obsolete. Then, I used my second favorite piece of office equipment besides my laptop, the paper shredder. It’s not enough to close long past chapters of my life, but to turn them into paper pasta and toss into a recycling bag enhances the sense of closure. Even the sound of shredding my past brought a smile to my face. Let the heavens ring with disrupting sounds of cleansing!

The top of my dresser was next. What had taken years to clutter up, took mere minutes to repurpose into a clean surface where I neatly stacked the reading material that I’ll eventually work into my active stack of reading material on my nightstand.

Next, my attention turned to two file boxes, one plastic and the other fireproof. Before I could even open the plastic one, I had to first go through the foot-high stack of loose papers on top of it. Things that I’d convinced myself I’d one day file, found their eventual demise in my shredder. Life had passed them by while they languished, waiting to be filed. Another week would past until I mustered up the energy on a Sunday afternoon to go through both file boxes.

I set my laptop on my bed, continued playing the Netflix movie I’d began, pulled up a chair and cleaned up my files. The ol’ school way. Starting with the fireproof box, I shredded things that no longer pertained to my life. The running theme was most of those papers no longer reflected my life and didn’t have to be kept.

Tackling the contents of the plastic file box, I found yet another box of staples! And a real treasure, a red Sharpie. And it still worked, unlike the bottle of white out. Two tall kitchen bags of recycling later, my files were purged. I’m not sure if the energy now flows better in m bedroom, but my mind’s no longer preoccupied with the existence of that clutter.


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He’s the kind of guy you never kiss in public. Not because you’re ashamed to be seen with him, but if you close your eyes while kissing him, and you surely will, just look at those luscious lips, you’ll open your eyes and discover you’re naked. In public. Wondering how you got there.

He’s a skilled lover. Like the best tango dancers. They don’t lead women to dance. They invite women to take a step to the rhythm, either the beats, the spaces between the beats or the words.

It all starts with an inviting kiss, but not on her lips, not just yet. He’ll make like he’s greeting her as usual with a ceremonial kiss to the cheek, but at the last quick second, dip his head to kiss just below and perhaps slightly behind her ear. Or even lower on her neck. And he waits, lips at the ready, calm inviting smile. If she accepts the invitation, he’ll kiss her again.

He’ll invite her skin to his caresses. He’ll invite her to remove her clothes. He’ll invite her nipples into his mouth. He’ll invite her to receive him. And invitation after invitation after invitation. Then he’ll say, “You’re welcome.”

Providing, if she accepts the first invitation, which of course she won’t. Call it self-castigation or abnegation or one of those words that don’t quite convey that she’s not really trying to punish herself or deny herself pleasure, but is it too much to ask to do things behind closed doors?

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The Making of Dorothy Shoes

1 stacked shoesFor my latest costume endeavor, I set out to make Dorothy shoes after quickly discovering that most prefabricated glittery shoes were either gold or silver. I hit up a couple of thrift stores first. For some silly reason, I thought I needed to start off with a red pair of shoes, but in reality, they could have been any color since I’d planned to completely cover them in glitter.2 water stained shoeThanks to the six metal pins in my left ankle that foot is slightly bigger than the other; so I had to humanely stretch the left shoe with something other than my foot.  Of all the methods I’d read about, I liked the “plastic bag of water, placed in the shoe, then in the freezer” method the best. Not only does water expand, but it also molds itself into the proper shape. Apparently, my downfall was once I’d taken it out of the freezer, I’d let the water melt too much, staining the shoe. Not really a problem in the long run since glitter would cover it.
3 taped shoesPainter’s tape covered the bottom and heels of the shoes since those parts didn’t need to be glued and glittered.4 bling supplies I’d set everything out on the balcony before I began. Unlike every other video I’d watched, I sprayed on adhesive rather than painting on a thick glue. The plastic bowl captured most of the fallen glitter and the spoon helped re-sprinkle the shoes. 5 stuffed shoesAlmost too late, I remembered to stuff the shoes with newspaper. Although not a perfect solution, stuffed shoes helped minimize the amount of loose glitter entering the shoe.6 glittered shoes By the time I finished glueing, glittering and shellacking those shoes, my flip-flops were glued onto my feet! Another good reason NOT to use spray adhesive. At least the glitter stuck to the shoes with glossy acrylic finish to hold it in place.7 extra blingA bag of these little gems were on sale. I never understood what drives a sale at a crafts store, but I’m not complaining about saving money. I hot glued them on for some additional flair.
8 finished shoesThey looked so beautiful, I feared they’d hurt my feet. That’s the women’s fashion industry at play. Anything that’s sexy for women has to hurt or cause discomfort. Yet, the only challenge to wearing those Dorothy shoes was tracking loose glitter everywhere.
9 Dorothy shoe Once I had them on, I was free to follow the yellow brick road!

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