The Cassette Tape…

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As a 13 year old girl, I thought no one could hurt me. I enjoyed school, sports, band and hanging out with friends. I felt awkward at times as any new teen would but I felt secure with my surroundings, felt safe, and I felt invisible. My favorite thing to do was socialize with my friends and play sports.

I woke one particular morning in May, I got ready for school I listen to a mix tape a friend had given me, and I hummed and danced to the music as I picked out my clothes for the day. I remember putting on my favorite acid-washed jeans with a t-shirt and sweat shirts, I particularly remember that morning feeling like summer was coming soon as the sun broke through the curtains on the windows.

My sister yelled from the bathroom, “if you want a ride to school, you better be ready in five minutes.” I raced around my mess in our room, throwing things in my backpack, pushed stop on the cassette player that I had been listening to and remembered that my friend had wanted me to bring it back to her that week but I hadn’t gotten a chance to record it yet so, I left it on the player.

My sister and I drove to school, she dropped me that morning in the high school parking lot and I walked the short distance down the bike path between the middle and high school. The sun was out, warm on my face and I was excited for the start of a new week.

As I walked to school, I notice that just beyond the soccer field to my left, long yellow caution tape lined the tree line. It seemed to stretch almost the entire length of the field and I remember thinking it seemed strange and out of place but I didn’t really give it a second thought. I had been so excited to see the cute blonde haired, blue eyed boy I had a crush on.

I walked through the double doors at the end of the hall and I headed straight for my locker and as I fumbled with the dial to open my locker. A friend approached me with tears streaming down her face and asked me if I had heard. In my head, “I thought heard what.” I assumed it was something about her being dumped by the boy she liked. Why was she so hysterical?

Instead what fell from her lips, stopped time in my 13 year old life? I was still but trembling and I remember saying, “what are you talking about, how, why, what, where,” and my heart began to race. I felt light headed, sweaty, and nervous, my body was without response.

I walked to the band room and one of my favorite teachers’ was not in her classroom. I then walked the inner quad of the building and saw that on two walls outside my math room they were covered with white paper and I could see through the door that students and staff were inside her class. A few students retreated from inside, walked directly to the wall covered in paper and started to write something on the walls. Memories of …….. And on the other side they wrote, Feelings of ….. .

I leaned against the wall, felt my body collapse slowly down the side of the wall where I sat slumped over, my head in my hands. I was burning up, numb to everything around me. My favorite science teacher walked passed, he helped me up off the floor, hugged me with a tight long squeeze, he didn’t pull away and as my tears soaked into his light blue shirt, I said, “I need to see my sister, I need her, I need her.” In my heaving chest, racing heart, sweaty palms he aided me to the front office desk and gave me a pass, as I walked out the front door, he said “I will call the high school and let them know you need to see your sister immediately.”

I walked quickly to the high school, back down the bike path that I just walked earlier that morning and past the same yellow caution tape,. This time when I passed it, walking in completely parallel to whatever horror happened behind it, I noticed a few police cars and I started to run.

I made it to the high school, I threw open the door the students buzzed around inside, it seemed strangely loud and I walked into the office, announced who I was and through my hysterical state my sister walked to my side and I collapsed in her arms. I let go and the tears came like a heavy down pour as I tried to explain what was happening at the middle school and remember wanting an answer from her.  We moved into the principal’s office where we sat, she held me, and everything inside of me was empty.  I was so confused.

Did my friend really get murdered? How? When? Why? Who? My mind went to the mix tape I left at my house that morning that she wanted returned to her. The yellow caution tape told me where she took her last breaths and I looked to my sister, “Can we go home?”

We drove home, the car was silent, it seemed so hot but the heat wasn’t on and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My heart was broken but even now I can’t find the right words or perhaps the full magnitude of how it felt. We pulled in the drive way, my sister brought me in the house and I went straight to our shared room. I sat on my bed and my eyes fell to the sight of the mix tape sitting on my cassette player.

I knew her laugh, her smile, her generosity, and how everyone always laughed when they were with her. And she was gone. I would never see her again, never hear her voice, see her smile or never laugh with her again. I was in shock. I felt numb, empty, and in complete disbelief.

I would never see life the way I used too, never feel free from fear, and I learned that day and still to this day that no knows what life has in store for us tomorrow.

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Out of protection of the family and friends that had  go to through this and all the surrounding people that had to deal with this and still do. I cannot share any more of this real-life story out of respect. I pray for this family every day think of them often and every year that passes I visit her grave with that same cassette tape early in the morning and play that song. Every year I shed tears for her and her family.  Many prayers to you all. She will never be forgotten.

The Great Wall

My Sister by Reba

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She and I weren’t always close.  We fought all the time.  Our room was divided down the middle with masking tape.  I was the tag-along to her, always sneaking her clothes and shoes after she left for school, borrowing her eye shadow, stealing a quick spritz of her Colors perfume.  I was the typical envious younger sister who wanted so much to be like her big sister.

Sharing a room was difficult for her more than me. The masking tape served as a barrier like the Great Wall, for if anything of mine crossed that line it was thrown in frustration on top of my bed or hurled into my closet. This was a frequent occurrence in our red, black, and white themed room. A table separated our twin beds with a boom box that we turned on every night at bedtime, the music ran all night, so low that we strained to hear it and drifted to sleep. My sister used to hum and sometimes whisper the lyrics. I loved sharing a room with her. Although there was always a point of contention in our room usually because of messy me, I think that I loved being on her heels because it was attention she was forced to give me because I was annoying the hell out of her.

I wanted to be where she was, I wanted to be like her, and I longed to be included in her daily life.  Even if that meant being tied up knee socks and tights by her at the ankles, knees, wrists and arms while she and a friend laughed at me as I struggled to move or fell on my face when I did actually get to my feet. I do remember feeling upset but I don’t remember if I actually cried. I suppose I deserved the friendly torture after all the little sister pestering she had to put up with. It’s funny how now, when I write about it, I remember it fondly.

She had the perfect hair, the prettiest dresses when she went to school dances, she had the coolest clothes and this amazing leather jacket that I took from her closet numerous times she wasn’t wearing it, I would pack it in my backpack and put it on when I got to school then pack it home and quickly hang it back in her closet.

She was beautiful, had everything I didn’t because she was older, and she did everything first. She was the best role model a little sister could have. What an impression our shared room has left on my heart and mind. This box shaped space she shared first selflessly with me and it became so much more than just a room we shared that I annoyed her in daily.  This room where she and I shared our childhood gave me great understanding of how simple acts of love, torture, companionship, frustration, and laughter would propel our relationship to break down the Great Wall. I love my sister for everything that she is, strives to be, and the relationship we have is like none other.

I am often told by people that they are so envious of the relationship I have with my sister, the way I talk about her as if I see her everyday, sharing simple details as if we lived next door to each other. We lift one another up every day, every step, one foot in front of the other as the time passes between our visits.

Quiet Introspection

My Wish by Rascal Flatts

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Waking my children in the morning is my favorite part of my day. Maybe it’s because I can watch them in stillness like I used when they where infants.  They once shared a crib, swaddled together. Now they have their own rooms, full size beds, and their own interests cover the walls in photographs and décor, and shows in what they choose to wear everyday. In the quietness before I touch them to wake, I smile knowing they will always be the best thing I did this life.

One sleeps in the fetal position completely covered by one blanket and hates having a top sheet on his bed. He has wires, batteries, motors, duck tape, and nuts and bolts scattered about his night stand.  The night stand mirrors how organized he is in his bedroom, with his belongings, his locker at school, and his clear interested in engineering. His room is a beautiful mess.

The other rests in a queen bed, covered in Seattle Seahawks sheets, blankets, wearing matching pj’s, 5 pillows, and a light dusting of décor around the room for anything that has to do with cars, engines, and the Dodge Helcat. His arms and legs are spread reaching for the sides of the bed. I see his face and I see me. On his night stand there is a glass of water, a book, IPad, and a lamp his great grandfather made from an antique candlestick.

I still remember the crib. I remember what they wore home from the hospital and how it felt watch them sleep at night back then. They used to wake me.

Maybe this chance I am gifted with every morning is because of the opportunity for introspection before I take hold of another day just to help them get closer to who they will become.

Book Covers??

It is getting closer.  There have been some delays. Some stressful days waiting to hear that the phone didn’t ring when it was supposed too and the emails didn’t come when stated.  I am still learning about patience.  Another 7-10 days, I am not counting the time.

I was given three cover options because I requested the options. I wanted something to compare to what, I thought I wanted.  I should have gone with my gut right away.  What I thought I wanted is exactly what I wanted!! (HA!) These are the covers that didn’t make the cut – not my CUT! They are wonderful and were discussed but hey, you might get to see these illustrations again.

It has been months and months. I am done with the sequel and on to another book.  A different style of writing, a different voice, and a story I have always wanted to tell!

I am so blessed!

 

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On her good days he is there.

When she feels like the weight of the world is baring down on her shoulders, when taking another step seems impossible, and when she feels empty inside he passes through her in her mind, her body, and her heart, she feels nothing.

There are a million little things about life to cheer for to be excited about and to be present in every moment this is required.  Let your shit go and just live. Who you are drifts – back like a heavy fog in the trees or across the highways and you slow to a crawl because you cannot see.

She can see but not in color. Everything is grey. Every once in awhile there are faded rainbow shades of color that sneak back in, then she blink and it’s gone.  There isn’t a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow but quick sand that pulls her deeper and deeper. She swims in cold water and something keeps grabbing her ankles and pulls her head under. She can’t breathe and  she is stuck in the darkness.

On her bad days he leaves her. Its been happening for years and he has lost something in her and she in him.  The heaviness in her chest bares down and she drops to her knees, holding herself up by her arms locked at the wrist in the rain covered cement.

Please come back her.

Free Write\ing

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Recently, I have become very aware of how busy life is, no, I didn’t just wake up yesterday and realize it. Over the last few years my twin boys have gotten older thus a lot busier with activities.

I don’t know if it’s just my twins but since the beginning mine have been completely attached at the hip.  I constantly ask adult twins or people who know twins…. if they still get along as adults.  I have heard way more no’s thank yes’s.  I would say there is something special about having multiples…my twins are something else.  The connection is crazy real, crazy intense, and I hope it’s always crazy close!

This weekend we rocked the Yamaha Twin Engine for about 12-16 hours and two tanks.  Sun was awesome…like therapy for me. Burning energy, no worries…completely blissed out.

Sunday, we had our longest and closest friends come with their children for the day.  They live about an hour away with two kids about our ages, not twins, but just as busy as any other family out there, maybe even a bit busier.

So, I don’t get to see this friend of mine very often…I think one year we went 7 months without seeing each other maybe longer.  It’s tough as children get older and move up thru the grades in school. It gets harder and harder to plan and see friends especially if you live an hour from each other. Even friends that live miles away somehow find their way back to each other.

Yesterday, in my complete blissed out state I realized I was in these… numbered hours of perfection (and I have written in my blog about perfection not existing, so here I go contradicting myself). Sitting and laughing with my friend, screaming over the boat engine and the yelling kids. It was heaven! And oh, did I laugh.  The good kind, the belly laugh.  The kind of laugh where a few hours later, that moment pops into your head again and you start laughing out loud.

I can’t really give you (my readers) one specific example of the joy that occurred yesterday on the river in a boat with our friends.

I will try a few words/phrases:

Being in the water (I love the water)

Playing with a foam football in the river

Splashing a dry person before they splash you

Cruising in the boat, good music, drinks

Good company…

Jumping off the boat mid float

Laughing so hard you almost wet your pants

Chasing kids in the water

Splashing….

Tubing, floating, food

My twins finish school this week for the summer and my house is buzzing with excitement!! I hope you all have the kinds of friends we do and get to experience these moments of joy, bliss, and enchantment throughout life with them.

Enjoy your week, my friends!!

 

 

Yes! Agriculture!!!

Happy by Pharrell

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Today, I went back to a place that I haven’t been in awhile. Rather, I went back to an activity that I haven’t done in awhile. I found myself in three different classes in Turner, Oregon.  Each class was about 30 students and I found a passion ignite in me that I thought I didn’t have anymore or at least, I forgot that I had.

Side note #1: Back November 2015, after many years at the same job I painfully came to the decision that I needed to leave.  Not because I wanted too but because my children were struggling with school and had just moved to the middle school. It was a difficult transition and I knew if I didn’t leave my job I couldn’t give the amount of time and energy to what was my #1 job…being a mom. I remember the day, crying and saying, “I have to resign.”

I left something I loved doing and something I believed was important for students to know about (agriculture) because I knew I could never get this time back with my children. Years pass by so quickly with children and every day that passes, they change, and with the difficulties they were having I couldn’t possibly not leave my job.  Today, I know I made the right choice.

Yesterday, I went to the middle school and found that both of my boys were chosen by two different teachers’ for a “Teacher’s Choice” award.  They both were recognized for their smiles, positive attitudes, their drive, and they never quit when it gets tough – this made me very proud.  The assembly went on and without really paying attention I heard one of my son’s names called for Honor Roll.  I was shocked, fumbled for my camera and got one picture. This showed me I made the right choice.  Both of my sons are thriving!!

The job I left was with Oregon Agriculture in the the Classroom. I worked there for quite a few year’s and I loved it!  Still to date, my favorite job! I loved the people I worked with. I believed in the message of the program to share agriculture with students in the state of Oregon and to educate students about what agriculture means to all of us.

There all things about every job that we like more than others but for this job, it was simple. For me, it was teaching students about agriculture. I could be having a rough morning; the kind you really don’t want to get out of bed but when I walk through the door of almost every classroom I have been in I thrive! The curiosity in their eyes when they look at me gives me such a rush, I know that I will be able to teach them something they didn’t know before they arrived that morning and I know each one of them will take a piece of that information with them!! It’s a challenge. I walked in those rooms today, I knew how to present, how to grab their attention, what to talk about, and I knew they would listen.  It was awesome!!!

Side note #2: During my job interview, I couldn’t define the word “agriculture”, like at all! I couldn’t say farm, dirt, truck, tractor….and I actually requested that we come back to that question.  (Oh, the embarrassment!)

I have always had a goal to make sure I get an “ohh” and an “ahhh” out of a teacher during my presentations.  When I run out of those, I need to educate myself more. (Or at least that is what I think.) I research and I find something else, sometimes it takes a lot of digging.  Politely, I love having a teacher ask me a question I know the answer to and seeing the surprise in their faces.  This was always something I did in my job.  I wanted teachers to know without them noticing that I was one step a head. I took so much pride…. real pride, in teaching about agriculture and the importance of it when I was working!

I am confident that I am able to teach students something new but when I can teach the teacher something…that is what I want to do!! That is the good stuff – the sweet spot! I love love teaching students but when I can stump the teacher…that, is the sweet spot!

The students are amazing (not all of the time) but I know how to command the attention in the room…I’d like to say I inherited that from my father (a teacher for over 30 years).  He was an awesome teacher not because he was my dad but because now at 39, I still have people on the street ask me about my dad and what he is doing and they always, always share something about how my dad impacted their lives. Now, that is a good teacher! Who wouldn’t want to be remembered that way. I only wish that as I get older and when I perhaps pass that people talk about me the way they talk about my dad.

So, today after teacher three classes. I am honored to do it again. Monday, in fact I am lucky enough, I get to teach again. Not because it’s my job any more but because I truly love it.  I am passionate about it and it makes me see the world differently.  Seeing something through the eyes of a student or young person can change your life. I know when I am teaching about agriculture, I make an impact and I know I am good at it!

Today, I made a difference.  I taught about 90 students, three teachers, and someone peaking threw the door.

Metal Gate

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We drove for miles, tracing the road with one headlight. In the front of the car there was chatter of fumbles, passes, and touchdowns during that night’s game. The asphalt curved around a bend in the road beneath the 80’s Honda Hatchback.  A dent in the front bummer from rear-ending someone.

The night was so dark, the windows were down and I could see my breath in the crisp moonlight.  She sat next to me, long locks of blonde hair curled around each ear, she smiled and giggled at the conversation in the front seats.  I never knew why because the conversation wasn’t funny.

She was so much fun and for a shy girl who never really knew where she fit, this was the girl everyone wanted to be around.  She was something!  She was beautiful, she was my friend, and her energy and laughter were magnetic.

Maybe that is how I found myself in this car. She liked this boy so much and I came with “her” to keep her company. The driver turned his conversation to her and he reached back with one hand and stroked her leg.  I was so cold, the window still down and the first words I spoke were, “please, roll the window up.”

The other guy, there to amuse me, I assume, didn’t seem to want to talk but I guess, neither did I. The road turned to gravel and it felt like we were driving on uneven ground for miles but to tell you the truth I have no idea where we even were…at all.  I had this uneasy feeling as we started up a hill and around a corner, the car slowed and we stopped in front of a huge metal gate like the entrance to a spectacular home.

We all got out of the car, it was still and quiet. Tree branches crackled under our feet, overgrown with weeds we found our way around the gate. He held her hand and the other tried to hold mine but I pulled away. Bats above our heads and the wind blew threw the trees sending the fall leaves to the ground. We continued on the incline up the hill, I was shaking partly from the cold and partly out of fear.

We broke off into couples and as we walked further we found the foundation of what looked to be the beginning of a building. We stepped further, he grabbed for my hand and this time, I took his. We crested a hill and found what seemed to be three walls of a home.  We stood there on the wooden floor in the center of this building.  The floor was covered in leaves, branches had fallen, two-by-fours cast about…I looked up to the darkness and closed my eyes. Whatever this place was, it had been abandoned and it seemed like years since anyone had been there.

The Douglas fir trees whispered around me and I caught a glimpse of the moonlight. I heard giggling from somewhere in the darkness. I turned around to face him and before I could speak he kissed me.

We never spoke again.

You Can’t Win Them All

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Do you ever get into a conversation that is going no where? After a few “back and forth” across the table, you resign yourself to the fact that there is no point.  Yet, in some sick and twisted way you still engage and can’t walk away. I think it is hard for me because I can’t just walk away when I don’t believe in something someone is saying.

I strive to be heard – the real me.  For someone to truly know me inside and out, the good the bad, the ugly. Also, all the warm fuzzy parts of me – what I think is a sense of humor, kind, full of love, and a dreamer.

Somewhere across the table there is a personification of the strength of Thor – there isn’t anything breaking through no matter how much there might be a shock and aww moment.

For me, it’s not about him winning or me winning…. it’s about compromise and the tug of war that continues to go on seems to get you no where. He pulls, you pull. What is this actually helping you either of you – defiantly not seeing more clearly.

I hate to say it but I have seen my clearest sense about me when I am put under extreme dangerous situations or on any days of trauma. There have been deaths that came unexpectedly, illness, accidents, near death experiences for me and in the eye of the tornado, I know I am the calming force.  As the tornado dissolves I usually end up with heavy emotions weighing on my shoulders the way “Atlas” held the weight of the world on his “Shoulders.”

Some days you don’t win them all, some days I don’t win at all. Sometimes there are a lot of deep breaths where I have learned to quite my mind. And take a long moment to pause and realize I am blessed with.

 

** Keep watching for my book to order later this month!