Category Archives: Non Fiction

Milwaukee adventures

On July 12, 2018 I, and two friends, went to Milwaukee, WI for a day of fun and food. We started out at Float, a place that has sensory deprivation tanks. That’s right, you pay someone money to float in a pool of very salted water, in a pod that blocks out of all light and noise. You can choose to have light or music, but I wanted the full experience. We’ll get to that in a moment.

The place itself is unassuming and has very nice people running it. They were super chill and super nice. I like people like that. The guy told us how the pods worked, to shower before and after, and then let us get settled in. One of the things they told us about was to place a small towel by the pod so that if you get water in your eyes, you can immediately grab the towel and not have to stumble around in the dark room.

I absolutely did that as I knew I would probably touch my face at some point. I was super excited to get started. I have heard of sensory deprivation tanks for some years now and really wanted to experience it. What would my brain do? What neat things would I see in my head? I was ready to go.

Once left to our own devices, I showered, turned off the lights, and climbed into the pod. A gentle woman’s voice tells you when the experience is starting. I got into the pod, closed the lid, turned off the sound and turned off the light…

My brain, which had been working just fine that morning (wrote new material in an unfinished book) went blank. Which might be good for some, as that allows for relaxing, but I was bored. I wanted to DO something. It felt weird just lying there.

I moved around a bit, and realized my neck was in pain. I didn’t grab the ‘head halo’ as they called it. I thought I wouldn’t need it. Annoyed, I sat up in the pod, and immediately placed my rather salty hand to my face. Yes, I really did.

The guy helping us told us there was 1000 lbs. of Epsom salt in each pod. There isn’t that much water. There is a lot of salt to make a person very buoyant. And it is, but it also means it is very bad for the eyes.

Having placed my hand on my face and feeling the water start to drip towards my eyes, I opened the pod as quickly as I could, and grabbed the small towel I had placed close by. I was seriously not surprised that I needed the towel, by the way. I do things like that sometimes.

After making sure no salty water was going to drip into my face, I climbed out of the pod, and went to the bench on the other side of the room. I grabbed the floating head pillow, which is a thin Styrofoam doughnut ‘pillow’, and threw it into the pod. I climbed back in, closed the lid and settled back down, this time, with my head propped on the head halo. That helped.

Unfortunately, my MS really wasn’t cooperating. The rest of the time was spent trying to figure out why my left calf muscle was tensing, amongst other symptoms.

I also heard some interesting body functions that I have actually heard before. I heard my heartbeat, found out my tinnitus was not loud enough to be distracting in the no noise environment, heard what I think was my blood flowing through my veins. Towards the end, I heard my stomach growling. That was louder than usual but didn’t bother me.

I was able to relax well enough towards the end that I kept almost falling asleep, but right about the time I would, a limb would twitch and bring me back.

Looking back, it’s as if my insomnia kicked in and decided nothing would make me relax. All in all, it was interesting, but it wasn’t the WOW experience I was looking for. It was a bit disappointing. A part of me thinks that I might try again, to make sure it wasn’t just a fluke that I didn’t feel as relaxed as other people have.

My companions on this day had a better experience. One was able to relax fully, and I think said she fell asleep. The other decided to open her eyes to see how dark it was and saw images she is now planning on drawing. I’m interested to see how that works out. Since they had good experiences, I’m glad I went. And the rest of the day was awesome too. I’ll get to that shortly.

Side note, for women reading this, if you have your period when you make your appointment, it’s not a problem. I had no issues in the pod. If you want more information on that ladies, talk to me privately.

We did a lot more that day. The next place we went was lunch at Screaming Tuna. I had a roll called Rising Sun. From the menu: seasonal salmon, avocado, blackberry, cucumber, scallion, orange slice, black tobiko (fish eggs), spicy mayo, togarashi (spices). It was fantastic. No fishy taste on the salmon whatsoever. The fruit lent a bit of sweetness which I really enjoyed.

Next, we went to Indulgence Chocolatiers… Needless to say, I spent a lot of money. Which I don’t regret one bit.

Next, I got my second tattoo, by Nicole Hughes at Serenity Ink Tattoo. Nicole is a friend of mine, she used to work with me. The first time I got a tattoo, I knew what I wanted when I walked into the shop, had a picture and everything. Solvej did an awesome job at making me feel comfortable and helped me to have as good of an experience as you can when getting jabbed by a needle over and over and over again.

With this tattoo, though I knew I wanted a poison dart frog, that was all I knew. I gave Nicole creative control and when she asked if she could add some foliage, I said sure. Though I wanted to see the design before the tattoo appointment, she told me she doesn’t usually have the design done until the night before or the day of. I decided, since I like her art anyway, to be ok with it.

We got to Serenity Ink Tattoo, and she showed me the piece almost as soon as I walked in the door. I fell in love with it at first sight. It was and is beautiful. The frog looks like she’s smiling and has a glint in her eye! Like seriously! It’s beautify and adorable!

Let me tell you though, getting a tattoo hurts. It’s like having a cat slowly scratch you over a sunburn. It is not pleasant. Why did I do it twice then? Well, the first tattoo was small. It was over quickly. This one is big, but I really wanted a frog tattoo. I’ll tell you why a frog some other time. So I laid on this massage table with my companions sitting close by, getting a needle stuck into my over and over and over again for over an hour. I watched some of the progress, but as Nicole got closer and closer to being done, I stopped looking. I wanted to see the finished product.

Once she was done, I stood, went to the mirror and fell in love with it all over again. I’ve included a picture of the tattoo so you all can see it. I love it. I can not say that enough. Thank you, Nicole!

After the tattoo, we went to MAM. Milwaukee Art Museum. I love art museums, well all museums, really. My favorite piece at MAM is one of the modern art pieces. There is a suitcase on the ground. When you look into the suitcase, there is a grate, and inside the grate, a few feet away, is water, and plants, and if you’re looking from the correct angle, you can see part of a person holding a baby. It’s like you’re seeing their lower half. It’s really cool.

Side note: if you’ve never been to an art museum, you should go. The amount of art in museums means that there will most probably be something you like. Also, it’s the history of humans in art form. It’s amazing.

After MAM, we went to dinner. Lucky Ginger. That was also really good food. We picked our restaurants mostly by chance. We did not go wrong.

At the end of it all, the day was pretty freaking awesome. Float may not have been what I wanted, but everything else beyond my expectations. If Float seems like an interesting idea to you, try it out. There’s no reason you won’t find it fun.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Non Fiction

Daily Prompt: Blink

via Daily Prompt: Blink

When I saw this Daily Prompt, I immediately knew I had to write a story. The start of the story, the first line kept, well, blinking in my mind. The story came slowly, forming over a few hours. When I finally had the short story mostly written in my head, the word “stalker” came to mind. The short story, included below, is a cute story about a woman being chased by a man. She likes him; it turns out well. But she does jokingly use the word “stalker”, which made me think.

When someone pursues another, and both like each other, we call it pursuit. When one does not like the pursuer, it is called stalking. That made me think of the story in a very different way. I had to write both stories. The first story is the nice one, the one where both like each other. In the second one, the woman does not like the man. It is not a nice story. Without further ado, I give you

Blink

Stacy blinked.

Let’s see if he finds me here, she thought with a smirk on her lips. An embarrassed look crossed her features as she realized she wasn’t alone in the alley. The couple close by rolled their eyes at her.

“God damned Dynamics.” The woman with her back against the wall looked to the man. “Told you we should have gone back to the hotel room.”

The man stammered for something to say as Stacy looked away and walked passed them to the head of the alley. At the head of the alley, she pushed the tourists from her mind and looked around. As she planned, she was about two blocks from her favorite café.

By the time Stacy arrived, there was a smile on her face. The sun was shining, the air smelled of food and the breeze was light. It was a perfect day. There weren’t too many people around and Caffe Rosa was not too crowded. She took a seat at a table outside, and nodded to a waiter as he made his way to her. She ordered an espresso and thanked the waiter as he walked away.

By the time she was taking her first sip of the strong drink, Kenny’s magic prickled the back of her neck. She smiled, then raised an eyebrow as he appeared before her.

“Found you. Took me a few tries, but here I am.” He gave her a boyish smile full of mischief.

She leaned back in her wooden chair, trying not to return the smile. “You know, there are rules. Appearing in a crowd of people can get you fined.”

He looked around at the disapproving looks of those around them, shrugged, then indicated the empty chair across from her. “If I get fined, it’s worth it. May I join you?”

The smile broke out on her face and she nodded. “Sure.”

He turned the chair around and sat in it backwards. She burst out laughing. He always sat that way.

“Why do you sit like that?”

He crossed his arms on the back of the chair. “To keep my elbows off the table.” He turned to the waiter who was frowning at him and smiled. “Coffee, please. Black.”

“There is a spell that allows you to speak the native language.” She ordered a black coffee for Kenny, in Italian. The waiter nodded and left them alone.

“Though I do know that spell, I had no idea what country we’re in. There aren’t any landmarks that I can see, and I can hear too many different languages.”

“That’s fair. We’re in Venice.”

He nodded. “I should have guessed. This is your favorite place to go, isn’t it?”

She took a sip of espresso. “Why do you say that? It is, but how did you know?”

He grinned sheepishly. “I cheated. I cast a spell that allows me to more easily track you. If you go someplace you’ve gone before, and I’ve been there as well, the spell lights up in my mind. There are a few places you go that light up like that.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Stalk me much?”

He blushed a little. “That’s not nice. You love that I chase you. Admit it.”

She gave him an annoyed look and crossed her arms as she leaned back in the chair. “You are one of the most annoying men I know.”

He stared into her eyes. “What was the first think you thought when you arrived here? No lying, the very first thing.”

It was her turn to blush as she remembered her thought. “I smirked and wondered if you would find me.”

“No annoyance, no anger, no fear?” He asked with gentle curiosity.

She found herself falling into the look in his eyes. Her voice was soft when she answered. “No.”

He gave her a lovely, hopeful smile. “Please go to dinner with me.” He held up his hands when she raised her eyebrow. “It won’t be like last time, I promise. We’ll meet in one place, stay there, and if we decide to go someplace else, we’ll walk, or drive or cast the spell separately.” He took a breath, stared into her eyes and gave her an imploring look. “Please?”

“I don’t want to end up in the hospital again. That was embarrassing.”

“I thought I had the spell down. Obviously, I didn’t. I’m forbidden to use that spell for the rest of my life. We won’t end up looking like conjoined twins again. We can’t. Please, Stacy. Every time I think about you, all I see are wonderful possibilities.” He sighed. “And every time you raise that eyebrow, I want to kiss you.”

The look he gave her was full of hope. She had to admit to herself that she liked the way he looked at her, liked the way she felt around him, too. She sighed and rolled her eyes. “All right.”

Joy exploded on his face.

“But!”

He sobered.

“We’re going to a restaurant in my neighborhood. You can meet me at my apartment, ring the doorbell, do not just show up inside my apartment. We’ll walk around the neighborhood until we find a restaurant we both agree on. If we decide to do anything else, we will be walking. No more trying to zap us to a different location at the same instant.”

He gave her a sorrowful look. “I told you, I can’t use that any more. And I won’t. I didn’t like that night either, Stacy. Well, I liked most of that night. That’s why I’m still trying. I want to show you that I don’t usually act like that.”

She gave him a steady look. “I already said yes, I’m just laying down the parameters.”

“Right, you did, didn’t you?” The smile was endearing. “So, when?”

“How about Tuesday?”

“Not Friday or Saturday?”

“No. I’ll be at a conference this weekend for work and you are not allowed to find me. We’ll meet Tuesday. 6pm. My apartment.”

“Ok. Tuesday.”

Stacy stood, pulled money out of the air and placed it on the table. At some point, the waiter had appeared with Kenny’s coffee. She hadn’t noticed when. She paid for both drinks and looked to Kenny as he stood. She raised her eyebrow. He noticed and licked his lips.

“Screw it.”

Kenny rounded the table, took Stacy in his arms and gave her a gentle kiss on the lips. She waited only a second before slipping her arms around his neck and kissing him back.

When they let go, Stacy giggled. “Tuesday.”

“Tuesday.”

They smiled to each other, then Stacy walked away. He watched until she literally disappeared into thin air. She made sure there weren’t too many people around before casting the spell. Once she was gone, Kenny cast the same spell and disappeared without finding a good spot. No one knew who he was, it was a good chance no one would report him.

The End

 

There you go. A nice little story of magic and being chased. Kenny’s not so bad, seems like he enjoys pushing boundaries, but he’s not really an asshole. If that were it, I wouldn’t have written that introduction. What happens when the pursuit is not wanted? And one or both are magic users? Keep reading…

 

Blink

Stacy blinked and looked around quickly. She ran to the head of the alley, completely ignoring the couple screwing close to where she landed. At the head, she continued on in a rush. She needed to get to a populated area. Hopefully he couldn’t find her. Kenny had a way of finding her, but she wasn’t sure how. Though the jump spell allowed a person to move from one place to another, it rarely allowed a second person to find the first. She worried he had a finding spell cast on her or something else.

To her disappointment, Caffe Rosa wasn’t crowded, at least not outside. She went inside, asked for a bottled soda at the bar, paid for it and sat in a corner table. She probably wasn’t staying long enough to finish it, but she preferred the quick energy the soda would give her. There were more people inside, and she hoped the people would deter anything Kenny planned on.

A few minutes later, soda bottle empty, she felt magic and cringed. Kenny appeared at her table and smiled.

“Thought you could hide from me?”

“I was hoping to. I have a restraining order against you, Kenny. You can’t keep following me.”

“It would be funny if they could prove it was me.” He sounded like he was smiling, as if he thought all this was a joke.

“What are you talking about?” Fear gripped her heart.

He smiled. She hated that smile. “People can see you talking with someone, but they don’t really know what I look like.”

“That’s not a legal spell.”

He shrugged. “I don’t know how I’m supposed to talk to you, Stacy. You keep trying to run away. When are you going to realize we’re meant to be together and go out with me?”

She stood, fear turning to anger. “Think of the words you just used, Kenny. Your words: I keep trying to run away. You’re right. I’m trying to run away. I don’t want to date you.”

He gave her a confused look. “Why not? Our first date was so much fun!”

“We ended up in the hospital! I only went out on a date with you because you tricked me! You used the same spell you’re using now to make me think you were someone else. When I figured out what was going on and tried to get away, you tried to take us both to an ice cream shop. The spell backfired, and we ended up as one person. The doctors said we could have died! You almost killed me that night. I don’t want to go out with you.”

He looked taken aback. “As long as you come with me willingly, that won’t happen again.”

“I don’t want to go out on a date with you, Kenny. You scare me.”

He giggled. “There are spells for that.”

She backed up. “Oh my god.”

She blinked and was gone. Stacy went to her apartment, half the world away. She ran to her second bedroom and stepped into a plastic box. This was a prototype, but it worked. A year ago, a friend of hers got it into his head that a jump to the moon or the bottom of the ocean would be possible, if they could take a container with them. He didn’t want to use a suit, as he felt it separated him from the environment. He wanted to be able to look around without his periphery being blocked.

The box worked on the moon, but not in the ocean. It was too deep. There was too much pressure. Her friend was working on a spell that might balance out that pressure. He had found a spell to balance out the pressure of the vacuum of space. It worked well, and both had enjoyed the trip to the moon. He had made a box for himself and a box for her to avoid what Kenny did to her on their first date.

The box was made of plexiglass, was an inch taller than she was, and barely wider than her shoulders. She had to be touching all sides in order for the jump spell to work. Now, as she waited for Kenny to show up, she hoped she wouldn’t have to use it. She was pretty sure she would kill him if he followed her.

*****

Back at Caffe Rosa, Kenny frowned when Stacy disappeared. He moved to the spot she vacated, and allowed her magic to surround him. He used the dissipating magic to cast his own spell. It took a few minutes, but he jumped to Stacy’s apartment. He called her name, but when no one answered, he walked around until he felt her energy. He smiled. She couldn’t get away that easily. He would find her. It was easy, since he was using her energy and her magic to move around and find her.

In the second bedroom, he was surprised to see Stacy in the odd box. He frowned but didn’t think about it too much. “Found you.”

“Yeah, I guess you did. I don’t want to go out with you, Kenny. I want you to leave this apartment and leave me alone.”

He frowned. “I love you.”

Her eyes went wide. “You tried to kill me.”

“It was an accident.”

“How are you able to follow me?” With all that was going on, this question weighed heavily in her mind. It seemed that if she knew this, all else would be clearer.

He gave her a school boy grin. “I really shouldn’t say.”

She took a deep breath and gave him a sweet smile. She didn’t like doing that, but needed the information. She wasn’t recording this conversation, but a Wizard Elder would be able to read her mind and see her past with the right spells.

“Kenny, please tell me how you follow me. I really want to know.”

He giggled. “I’m using your magic. The residue you leave behind. It makes it really easy to follow you. I like using your energy. It feels good.”

“We’re not really allowed to do that, Kenny.” What he described was classified as energy stealing and was against the law.

“I know, but I can’t tap into my own energy. I wasn’t born with that ability.”

She looked at him for a long moment. He wasn’t even a witch. She didn’t know how he had figured out how to do everything, but that didn’t really matter. It was illegal and that was the end of it. Something he said at the café occurred to her, and she carefully asked another question.

“If you don’t have your own magic, how are you going to change my mind with spells?”

He smiled. He looked so innocent. “If you go out with me, I’ll make sure you never leave me. You’ll never be afraid of me again. It won’t matter if I’m not a witch.”

Stacy didn’t want to use the box, didn’t want to take the last step, but his words worried her to no end. She had no idea what his answer meant. “Are you going to use magic to change my mind and make me fall in love with you?”

He took a step back and looked as if he didn’t want to answer. Kenny looked around as if searching for something. “Are there cameras in here? Are you recording this? Are you going to go to the police with lies?”

“No, no cameras. Only me and you.” He apparently didn’t know enough about magic to know that a Wizard Elder could read her past.

He smiled. “Doesn’t that sound nice? You and me. Forever.”

“Maybe. But I don’t want you to change my mind.”

“Oh, you won’t notice. I’ll use your energy. No one will ever know, and you’ll be mine.” His voice was completely innocent. It scared Stacy to no end.

Her eyes went wide, and she stepped further back into the box. He lunged at her. Not having time to cast the right spells, she simply blinked and left the apartment.

Stacy made several jumps, staying no more than one minute at each spot. It usually took Kenny two to three minutes to find her. Staying for a minute allowed him to find her more easily, but it also allowed her to gather her own energy for the next jump.

She jumped three times, and stopped. She was in Venice again and ran to a nearby restaurant. She was ravenous. Stacy bought a sandwich and ran a few streets from where she landed. Once far enough away, she jumped back to her apartment.

Stacy ran to the second bedroom. Kenny was gone. She stepped into the box, closed the door and locked it with a special spell. It sealed her in, with enough air for an hour. She spread her legs a foot apart, making sure to touch two sides with her feet. Her back went to another wall, her right arm touched the right side, her right hand touched the front panel. Her left arm touched the left panel and the ceiling. It didn’t take her too long. She had practiced a great deal in the past months since Kenny started relentlessly pursuing her.

Once touching all sides of the box, Stacy recited a difficult spell and appeared on the moon, inside the box. She held her breath as long as possible, then let it out slowly and took a careful breath in. When she was able to breathe, she stopped herself from sighing. She had to be careful. Kenny was probably following her, but she wasn’t sure. She needed to conserve her air. It usually took him a few minutes to jump to where she was.

She could continue jumping from one place to another, but jumping took a lot of energy. She would have to eat after every third jump. It was better to have one clever jump than to take many small jumps. It took less energy and usually, the pursuer was not able to find their prey.

Stacy hated thinking of herself as prey, but didn’t know what else to think. As she stood in the box, waiting for Kenny, she wondered if he would follow her. She didn’t know if he could see where she was before he jumped. Stacy almost didn’t want him to follow her, but she also didn’t want him to try to pursue her. The Wizard Elders said a few times that she could go to them, but she was starting to wonder if anyone would be able to help.

When they had been talking in the café, no one seemed to notice what was going on. That scare her too. If he could hide what he did it was possible no one would believe her. Hoping to right the situation soon, she waited for Kenny to arrive. He showed up a few minutes later. He gasped for air, then seemed to recite a spell. He looked to be ok after the spell. He glared at her.

“What. The. Fuck?” He mouthed the words.

She held up her hands and a white board appeared in front of her. There was black writing on it. It read, “Agree to leave me alone and I’ll take you back to Earth.”

He moved closer to her box, placed hands on the wall and stared at her as he mouthed words. “You will be mine.”

The sign changed, and she put it in front of his face against the glass. “Never.”

Stacy lowered the sign and watched as Kenny recited a spell. Worry clouded his eyes when he didn’t leave. She frowned slightly and put the sign up for him to read.

“Agree to leave me alone and I’ll take you back to Earth.”

She could see him struggling. His air was running out. She put the sign up to the glass again, but watched him. He shook his head and mouthed the same answer as before.

“You. Will. Be. Mine.”

Terror filled her body. She didn’t want to stay, didn’t want to kill him, but he wasn’t changing his mind. She did the last thing she wanted to do. Stacy cast a spell to read his mind. She invaded his thoughts. For a moment, all she could hear were his struggled breathing. A moment later, there was a sigh in his mind. She could hear what he was thinking.

“See, you love me. You don’t want me to die.”

He wasn’t supposed to be able to tell she was in his mind, but he could. She tried to pull out of his mind and found she could not. He had her trapped somehow.

Stacy watched from her box as he smiled. She struggled to get out of his mind as he struggled to stay alive.

“You will be mine.”

Stacy heard this in her mind and felt something odd. She liked him. She should take them both back home.

Stacy screamed and used all her energy to rip out of his mind. He stumbled back and the last of his air disappeared. The vacuum of space claimed Kenny, but Stacy didn’t watch. She crumbled to the floor of the box and cried out, screaming her pain. He had managed to change her mind, but it wasn’t permanent. His death gave her back her thoughts and mind. With the last of her energy, Stacy jumped back to her apartment. She fell to the floor and cried for a long time before calling her Elder Wizard and the police.

The End

 

… So there you have it. I’m not sure I illustrated the stalking as well as I wanted to, but it’s a bit hard to do in a short story. Feel free to let me know what you think of the stories. I’m open to suggestions.

Leave a comment

Filed under Non Fiction

Daily Prompt: Shock

via Daily Prompt: Shock

Shock. I could have gone a lot of ways with this one. I’ve decided to introduce you to Birdemic: Shock and Terror.

My fiancé and I like watching bad movies. Especially things like Sharknado, Sharktopus and many movies that end up on MST3K and RiffTrax.

We have found some absolute gems, indie movies that we thought would be terrible, but were decent, except for the special effects. Low budget, indie doesn’t always mean bad movie. But sometimes it does.

Now that I think about it, we did watch Birdemic though RiffTrax. They introduced the movie by saying it was an “homage” to The Birds. They used air quotes for the word homage. It was well used. Goodness, that movie was terrible.

They took most of the movie to get to the birds. They used most of the movie for character development, if you can call it that. The character development only showed that the two main characters were shallow. I spent the entire movie hoping one or both of them would die, and wondering where the hell the birds were.

When the birds did show up, holy fuck it was terrible. They birds were paper cut outs of mostly hawks. The wings flapped on what looked like paper folds. It was so bad.

At one point, several actually, they filmed a tense fight scene along a road. Two men were firing guns into the sky, and cars were calmly driving by, as if nothing was going on. Now, I have a lot of friends that film. I know how hard it is to obtain rights to film in certain locations, but really, if you can’t obtain rights to film somewhere, go where there is less traffic. Or you know, don’t do a road scene.

I could go on, but it would be more of the same. If you feel like spending some time with a terrible movie, watch Birdemic: Shock and Terror. But make sure it’s being show through RiffTrax. At least they make it funny.

Leave a comment

Filed under Non Fiction

Agile

via Daily Prompt: Agile

 

Penguin: waddles around,
heavy body swaying to a song,
only it hears.

It travels miles to water,
finally arriving,
falling into the ocean,
where a new creature is seen.

Agile and swift, it flies,
no more gravity to impede it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Non Fiction

Daily Prompt: Loophole

via Daily Prompt: Loophole

This is a tough one. This makes me want to talk about my job, but due to its delicate nature, I don’t think that’s a good idea. Suffice it to say: if you get caught using a loophole, and are told it’s against policy, don’t do it again. It makes you look like an asshole if you try to slip through the loophole again.
I don’t have anything else to say about that. I suppose that means, today’s blog is short. Have a great one, and remember, if you have a choice between being nice/good, and being an asshole, don’t be an asshole.

Leave a comment

Filed under Non Fiction, Uncategorized

Study

via Daily Prompt: Study

1) To study: to prepare for an exam by reviewing information.

2) A study: a room in a house that has a desk and is usually used for work/homework

3) To be in a study: pertains to a group of people who are under a doctor’s care and willingly (hopefully) trying experimental medicine.

These are my definitions of the word. No dictionary used.

Today, the prompt made me think of the different ways we use the word “study”, which is why I wrote out my definitions. As I’m really not sure where to go with this one, I’ve decided to write something about each definition.

1) I’m very glad I’m done with school and don’t have to study any more. Once I graduated college and had my B.A. in English in hand, I threw up my hands and promised myself I was done with school. I don’t like the classroom settings and usually fall asleep in lectures, even if they are fascinating. Until rather recently, there wasn’t anything that made me want to go back to school, either. I still learn new things, but I don’t want to be in debt again, or make time to go to classes. And school takes so much time. I’m not sure I have the energy. If I did go back for my Masters, I would get a Masters in Mythology. I didn’t know that existed until I saw an add for it. I wish I had the time and money to get a Masters in Mythology, mostly just to say I have one. Which is why that’s on hold, indefinitely. But boy, I would have fun with that. I love mythology.

2) I want a study one day. I imagine an antique desk with lost of drawers, hidden and not. The desk would be in a room surrounded in shelves. On the shelves would be books. Lots and lots of books! Floor to ceiling books. It would have low lighting. Probably nothing natural, to make sure the books are protected. I would adore that type of room.

3) I’m in a drug study. I was diagnosed with MS in 2006. I 2009 I started on an experimental drug. It has since been approved by the FDA, but I’m still in the study, as the drug company wants information that can only be found through long term… study. I have learned a lot from being in this study. Not only about how it works, but also about those pesky side effects and what they really mean. If one person is diagnosed with a different illness while on the study drug, even if it is not related, since it MAY be related, it is listed as a side effect. For instance, I developed a thyroid issue while on the drug. A lot of people did, but my doctors aren’t sure if the medication caused it, or if we all would have developed it anyway, and it was only caught because they test for it.

That’s three definitions of the word “study”. I could probably expand on #1 and #3, but not today. I have actually written about the medical study I’m in before. If you want to learn more, read this .

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Non Fiction

Entertain

via Daily Prompt: Entertain

That prompt is great timing. It means I get to talk about what entertained me last night.

Last night, I went to a show at a local bar to hear a band called The Saps. It was their last show in my area. They have one more show before they break up. They have been together for more than 10 years. I don’t know when they started, but I know it was before 2004. I love that band. They’re fun. Their songs are about crazy stuff that happens in life (one song is about a hard on, a few are about women, and one is about a heart attack). Their songs should be depressing and embarrassing, but the songs always have a fun beat to them. Here’s one called Coup de Grace.

The Saps mean a lot to me. In 2004, my late husband and I got married. The Saps were one of two bands that played. The Saps were the “headliners”. It was an amazing show, as always. And not just because we got married, but because The Saps don’t put on a bad show.

Last night, I went to the show with my finance. He and I knew it would be hard to be there, because of the memories. My late husband, Jason, and I went to almost all their shows in our area together. If I missed a show, it was either due to work the next morning, or illness. I did not miss many shows. I knew there would be some songs that would just tear through me. I was worried about ugly crying. Because that does happen with certain memories. But I didn’t want to miss their last show.

We went. There were a ton of people I haven’t seen in ages. It felt good and bad to be there. I heard a ton of songs I loved, but the memories were there, too. It was amazing. I cried a little. I thought I would break down and cry all evening, especially when they played a song called Jason.

The song is about a booking guy named Jason who was terrible at his job. It was not about my Jason, but we (late husband, myself and all our friends) thought it was hilarious that they had a song about a person with my late husband’s name. It became even funnier when my Jason became a booking guy as well. The Saps, especially after my Jason became a booking agent, were quick to note that it was not about OUR Jason. It was great. Pretty sure they played it at our wedding.

There were some tears last night, but mostly just good friends, and good bands. They’re breaking up because the main singer is leaving the area. He, and the other members of the band already informed me that they are planning on playing in the area again, but who knows what will really happen. They are an amazingly fun band. I love their sound and I love the guys in it. I call them “my boys” or “the boys”. They feel like family, and I will miss them tons, but I will cherish all the memories, and hope that we have new ones in the future.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Non Fiction

Static (Electricity)

via Daily Prompt: Static

This is my first Daily Prompt. I figured it might get me writing more. These might end up being stream of consciousness, or boring or whatever. I’m trying and that’s all I care about.

I live in the Midwest where we have very cold winters, snow and more cold and more snow. Ugh. Don’t get me wrong, when the snowflakes are big and fat, covering everything in pristine shimmering white, it’s gorgeous. But then there’s the shoveling, the shivering and all the rest of it. I hate winter.

Take the added fun of static electricity and I’m a recipe for disaster. Almost every time I touch someone during the winter, even after not moving much, I shock them. I’ve jokingly said I have an “electric personality” during the winter due to the amount of times I’ve shocked someone. It’s not pleasant, for them or me.

It turns out, I drag my foot when I walk. Bad idea during the winter, as the air is drier and it can cause static electricity, especially when walking across carpet. This winter, after my fiance stated I needed to ground myself before touching him, I knew I had to change something. Even when we use a humidifier, I still end up shocking him.

I realized I had two options: stop dragging my foot or don’t wear socks.

My feet get cold. Even during the summer. Not wearing socks is not an option. So, I’ve stopped dragging my foot. I don’t know why I drag my foot; it may be a lifelong habit, or it might be due to MS. Foot dragging is a symptom of MS, and the foot I drag is the left one. My left side is affected by MS more than my right. So it could be MS. But I’m not really sure.

I had to Google how to walk properly to find out what I was doing wrong. A part of me wanted to feel embarrassed for doing so, but I’ve obviously forgotten if I’m dragging my foot. Changing a habit like that is going to take some time, but I hope that it benefits me in other ways, too. Maybe walking the right way will help strengthen muscles. I have no idea, but at the very least, I’ll stop being full of static electricity. I hope.

Leave a comment

Filed under Non Fiction

Life doesn’t always suck

This was originally written in early July 2017.

TL;DR: My friends are amazing. I am lucky to have them.

I’m home with MS issues today, but I have been feeling strong emotions lately and wanted to get this out there. While on my trip to AZ, I read an article by a fellow widow. It was based on the fact that Patton Oswalt, a widower, was getting a lot of negativity surrounding his recent engagement announcement. She was letting him and everyone else know that there is no time limit for grief/dating after losing a spouse. The article led me to a wonderful Facebook group (closed group) entitled Young, Widowed & Dating. I asked to join, answered some questions and not more than a day later, I was accepted into the group.

I have never felt more at home than when reading some of the posts these women and men share. I no longer felt as if I were alone. Because I did feel that way. The other widows I know are not dating and feel they never will again. To each their own, but I needed someone to talk to, someone who would understand. The people in the group understand and have written things I never felt I could say to my friends.

Here’s the other part of that: in reading their posts, I see that there are a lot of assholes out there, trying to date widows/widowers who just don’t fucking understand our pain. Who try to tell them how to act, how to feel. There are even some family members who refuse to allow the widow/widower to be happy in their new relationship, questioning how the grieving spouse could possibly still be grieving and missing their late spouse if they are now dating. Those posts were hard to read, but in reading them, I realized something again: my friends have never once questioned my desire to move forward.

You folks have always been there for me, and I cannot thank you enough. My life is filled with amazing people and I want to thank each and every one of you for being the wonderful, caring people that you are. Without you, I see that this world can be a very cold, hard place.

Thank you for being there. Thank you for being my friends.

Leave a comment

Filed under Non Fiction

The Future’s so Bright…

The first time I remember hearing “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades” by Timbuk3, I was getting ready to leave for high school. This was somewhere between 1989-1993. The TV was on, to a rerun of Head of the Class. I had my trench coat on and my backpack was slung over my shoulders. My trench coat was probably either bunched up under my shoulder straps, or at my lower back, under my back pack. Happened every time. As I adjusted my coat, the song came on as a video the kids created, and I stood there watching it until it was done. I loved it. It was catchy and cool and fun.

It didn’t become an anthem for me, but it was a moment I remembered years later, when my late husband told me he booked Pat MacDonald to play Brio (now Abreo) in Rockford, IL.

I didn’t know the man’s name, but then Jason told me Pat MacDonald used to be a part of Timbuk3 and played “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades”. I was super excited and couldn’t wait to hear him in his new band, Purgatory Hill.

I remember the first time they played Brio, and the beautiful cigar box guitar Pat played. He didn’t use it for every song, but he used it enough. In the low light of Brio, with the new tunes of Purgatory Hill being strummed from that fantastic instrument, I fell in love with the band. The music was amazing, the instrument was magical, and it turns out, Pat MacDonald and his band mate/girlfriend MelanieJane were amazing people.

They played Rockford several times, and I went every time I could. I loved the band every time I saw them. One April, Jason and I were invited to Sturgeon Bay, where they live at the Holiday Music Motel, for an interesting event. I don’t remember what year, but it was after 2006. (I was already diagnosed with MS at the time of the event.) The event was called Purgatory Hillton. We were invited to see Purgatory Hill record in their living room. The entire thing was a bit magical.

One of the nights we were there, after the recording session, we were invited out to an Irish pub. We were offered Irish stew, which was thick and rich. Perfect for a chilly spring night. I sat and watched mostly, listening to the music and the people around me.  It suddenly occurred to me that I was hanging out in a bar with a one hit wonder from the 80’s. I was blown away by the entire experience.

Fast forward to May or June of this year 2017. (Jason has been gone 4 years.) I have Pat MAcDonald and MelanieJane, as well as Purgatory Hill on my Facebook feed. I see that they are gathering money for Begging His Graces, the Songs and Sins of Pat MacDonald by the artists of Steel Bridge. If you’ve never heard of Steel Bridge Songfest, it’s pretty awesome. It’s a festival put together by Pat MacDonald and other people who were interested in saving an old steel bridge in Sturgeon Bay. Read about it here.

The artists wanted to put together a 3 volume 8 CD set of music from all the music Pat has written during his lifetime. It’s a tremendous amount of music; many artists contributed their talents. I wanted to donate. I looked at all the options, but didn’t know how much to donate. I didn’t know what perks I wanted. I went back to it a day or two later, and saw the guitar.

At first, I mistakenly thought it was Pat’s guitar, the one he played. In that moment, I had to have the guitar. It was a lot of money. I told myself I couldn’t afford it, then I realized I could. I had just finished paying off my car, and I didn’t have much on my credit card. I COULD afford it. And if I did donate, the guitar would be mine, even if they didn’t reach their goal. It was on a site that allowed the funds to go through, regardless if the goal was met.

I felt a little panicked. This guitar, this instrument, which reminded me of good times with my late husband, could be mine. I didn’t know if I wanted to spend the money, so I thought about it, asked for some opinions in person and on social media. Though some people thought I should not buy it, most were encouraging me to get it.

Before finally making the purchase, I reread the description and found that it wasn’t Pat’s guitar, but it still reminded me of his and it still brought memories of the Purgatory Hill Shows. When I made the purchase, a week after first seeing it, I felt good. I was helping artists make music and I was getting a pretty sweet guitar from the deal.

Funding ended, and the progress updates were emailed out, letting us backers know things were going smoothly. I have to say, this is probably the fastest fundraiser I’ve backed. I already have all the music and the guitar.

And getting the guitar is a story in and of itself.

My MS was acting up a bit more than usual at the beginning of August. I felt awful for five days and missed two days of work due to MS fatigue, which is not normal, but has happened before. Unfortunately, it’s pretty much par for the course with MS, or my MS anyway. Nothing to call the doctor about, but fucking irritating anyway.

I get back to work on a Tuesday and am told I have a couple packages. One was the CDs and t-shirt from Begging His Graces. I like the t-shirt. It’s simple and the fabric is soft. The CD box is signed by Pat MacDonald and there’s a Thank You note inside. But there was no guitar and no indication of where it was. I didn’t mind. I knew it would probably take longer. I figured I’d give it a week and then email them.

I didn’t have to. The next day, Wednesday, I received an email from Anna, the woman taking care of sending out all the perks. She wrote the craziest thing to me.

Between purchasing the guitar, and getting the email, I had had this wild thought: Pat MacDonald and MelanieJane live in Sturgeon Bay, WI. It’s not that far from me. Wouldn’t it be wild if they decided to drive it down to me? I always dismissed the idea, but I loved that idea. I wanted to see both of them again. I’m bad at keeping in touch with people, even the lovely ones, but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss people or don’t think about them. The idea of seeing them both gave me a smile.

Imagine my surprise when Anna said they wanted to drive the guitar down to me. I cried in happy surprise. Pat would be in Milwaukee at the end of the week, and they thought it would be fun to drive down. I let them know I loved the idea and we worked something out. I felt it easier for them to drive to my job, which is half an hour closer to Milwaukee than my home. Also, I kind of felt like showing off. I mean really, an 80’s musician wanted to deliver a handmade cigar box guitar to little ol’ me. Hell yeah, I wanted people to see that happen.

There was one possible hitch. Pat unfortunately has cancer and is going through chemo. That’s why he was in Milwaukee. It would be him and an assistant driving down, but if Pat didn’t feel well enough, he probably wouldn’t come. Which of course, after five days of my MS kicking my ass, I totally understand.

The date was set for that Thursday, 3pm. They showed up a little late, but that happens. Some of my co-workers were wondering how in the world I wasn’t waiting at the door for them. For one, I was at work. Even though I didn’t have much going on that day, I wasn’t going to neglect my duties. Also, I am not good at waiting so I needed something to do.

Finally, I went downstairs because a co-worker said she saw a truck driving back and forth as if looking for something. I go outside and see a completely different vehicle stop and a guy I vaguely recognize gets out of a vehicle. He nods and then I go around and see Pat MacDonald. We reintroduce ourselves and head inside the office. I was hiding my nervousness quite well, I think. The next few minutes are a blur of pictures, guitar and introductions. I couldn’t stop smiling.

I invite Pat and his friend Brett to come back to the cafeteria and chill for a few minutes. Yes, my job is that cool. Guests are allowed (with warning) and they can sit and chill. I also pointed them toward the snacks and drinks. A co-worker, also a musician, sat with us as well. Brent Shelton from Mana Kintorso sat with us and talked with Brett while Pat and I talked. I could not have asked for a better situation.

Pat and I talked a little about his health, a little about Jason and then he spoke of one of the artists on the CD set. He spoke so highly of her. I cannot wait to listen to all of it and hear her. She is the woman I was emailing this entire time. It’ll be interesting to listen to her sing with the emails and the nice words Pat said about her in my mind. Like listening to a friend in a band.

At one point, Pat asked if I knew how to play the guitar and I said no, but I wanted to learn. Including the cigar box harp, I have three guitars. I should learn how to play them. Pat said if I come up to Sturgeon Bay again, he’ll teach me. I loved that idea.

Though I work for a very awesome company, I knew I had to cut the meeting shorter than I wanted. Also, Pat and Brett had to drive back to Milwaukee. It’s about an hour from my work, when traffic is kind. We said our good-byes and they left; I felt like I was floating on air.

The entire experience left me on cloud nine for a couple days. Thinking about it is bringing back that feeling. This wasn’t like meeting Pat while he was playing, this was he and I talking about life. It was a short talk, but it was memorable to me and meant a lot. One of Jason’s wishes was that his friends make new memories. I made new memories that day to add to the ones he and I made of Purgatory Hill.

I’m not the sort of person to assume people will remember me. Life is too big for that. We meet too many people in life to be able to remember everyone. Pat may or may not remember our meeting, but I will. And that’s enough for me. That day is etched in my mind as one of the many fascinating days I’ve lived. I hope to add many more to that list. Otherwise, what’s the point?

 

5 Comments

Filed under Non Fiction