Saturday, June 30, 2012

What's in a Word (Picture)...

My online blogging peer, Claire McAlpine posted this cool little thing one day and so I have to share it with all of my blog-writing friends!

Go to Tagxedo and type in your blog's URL or your Twitter handle and it will take the most frequently used words and turn it into a cool word picture! There are all kinds of customizations. It's pretty neat and of course it changes over time as you add content. Have fun!

Here is my blog's:

And my Twitter handle:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Woo-Hoo Wed. - Awesome Week, More Awards!

Well, let me start off my Wednesday Woo-Hoo by saying that it's so nice to receive an award when you're not feeling well. On 6/19/12, during the heat of my battle with whatever this funky cold Medina rash is, and the drugs to battle the battle, I received the Liebster Award from a fellow SheWrites member, Cheryl Fassett at Catching Fireflies. What a nice surprise to get an award from someone I was not acquainted with, another newbie like me trying to find her way in the world of the blogosphere. Thank you so much for your award. It did help make my day better!

Then on the very same day I hit 10,000 page views on my site, I received an unexpected NEW award from Sabeen at Mumchic - Where chic and fabulous is a default. I was very shocked to receive it and couldn't be happier to have received it from her.

Additionally, I received great feedback from the Don't Do a Damn Thing Award I created. Yes, you may give it to yourself. Yes, I'm giving it to all of you. Go take a nap. Then, if you feel like it, add chocolate or alcohol as rule #4, or both if you're feeling randy.

To share 7 facts about myself is my task... yay, another list! Ahem!

  1. I can tie a cherry stem in a knot in my mouth. An old bar drink trick I learned.
  2. I can make a dollar bill into a bow tie. Another old bar trick I learned. Hey, at least I got something out of the bar scene, right?
  3. I did a survey and found out that my tattoo is actually classified as a "Tramp Stamp" although I had no idea that's what it was called when I placed it there in 2001. Just wanted it out of the way where I could cover it if I wanted to, but I would know it was there. It's a cat, a paw print, and some text in memorial to a cat I had who died. It was before I had children and she was like a child to me. I cried for four days when she died and I still have her here on my desk cremated in a box. And yes, that's weird, but that's how I felt about her at the time.
  4. I still find it funny to repeat the phrase from a book I read in childhood by Judy Blume called Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret, "I must, I must, I must increase my bust!" However, I must have repeated it plenty, because my bazongas are big-e-dang-nough.
  5. I am not great at math, but guess what I am pretty good with... words!
  6. I would die without italics, underline and bold facing for emphasis.
  7. We ate healthier boxed pizza tonight for our family pizza night and it sucked. I'm thinking we need one night of luxury in our diet. Phhht! Yucky. But we are trying, so we get an A for the effort.
Now, to nominate others - I am a rule breaker and you KNOW IT! I am only nominating one deserving blog today for the Inspirational Blog Award and it is to my new bloggy friend Chris Dean of Life Your Way! Chris says, "Live well, Love much, Laugh often... despite chronic illness! Where health and humor meet in a head-on collision!" I love Chris' approach to writing and humor while living with Systemic Scleroderma and Fibromyalgia. She's very funny and I just like her!

I'd also like to Woo-Hoo that we sold our last puppy very unexpectedly, although I'm sad to see the last puppy go. It was a kind of wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am, in-and-out-burger kind of a quickie deal. There will be more puppies, however, in the future. Noooo problemo! I am arranging a candlelight dinner for Buddy and Penny right now, complete with violin music to set the mood.

Woo-Hoo that I also got asked to do another guest post (and the first one hasn't even hit yet), so I'm feeling uber-special (((blushing)))

My Alexa rating keeps going up and I just love writing so much ;0) and it makes me do a happy dance.

I'd like to Woo-Hoo that our truck broke down in the Wal-Mart parking lot last week, but that I was within sight of an Auto Zone, a ride just happened by from church, my husband was able to fix it in the parking lot, and my unexpected financial blessing from recently paid for it.

Both of my girls are healthy and happy and had a great time at church camps and on vacation and I'm undergoing testing to rule out all the funky diseases I'm afraid I might have (they swear the pathology doesn't show the Shingles virus, so I did blood testing for Lupus and other auto-immune diseases like that and allergy testing today where I have to wear these strips taped to my back for three days), plus I've started exercising and eating better and my family is on board with getting healthier. Go health!

There is some writing news to Woo-Hoo, too, but unfortunately, I'm sworn to secrecy right now! Ack! I know, it's totally killing me. I will give you all the details as soon as I can (when "they" let me know it's okay).

Be on the lookout for my guest post on around 7/8/12! I'm so excited, I can hardly see straight!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Don't Do A Damn Thing Award! I Just Like Your Blog.

I try never to break a promise. Try is the key word. I told you that I would someday tell you what I really think about blog awards. Here goes.

Who created these things? They remind me of chain letters. I used to do chain letters when I was young. Sometimes, there were stickers involved or some fun thing like stamps or dollar bills that you stuff in an envelope and send off to fifteen people in the up line. I once got a grand total of a $3 return for a $15 investment, plus postage.

No, I know there's no monetary cost involved with blog awards. For writers, time is money. Cha-ching!

Let me be the first to say that receiving blog awards is a wonderful form of mutual respect and admiration among peers, but why does there have to be so much work involved with them? In my humble opinion, there should be no work involved with a form of recognition.

Speech? Sure, if you feel fly like that, go on, give a hearty speech! But, come on!

There are so many different awards and each one requires you to nominate 5, 10, or even 15 other blogs in return, let each of them know you nominated them, thank the person who gave you yours, link back to them, let the world know about your picks, put the badge on your site, and then answer 7, 10, or 15 questions about yourself or tell interesting things about yourself. It's extremely time consuming!

No offense to those giving me blog awards, but I already do this when I'm feelin' it. I talk about bloggers I like and give them a shout-out publicly in my forum and I talk about myself incessantly. Helloooo, it's my blog about me and my everyday underwear of life. You get me, warts and all, whether I'm receiving recognition or not.

One peer described blog awards as weeds and warned me, "Don't do them! Just don't even acknowledge them. It sounds cruel, but you don't have the time." I must admit, it's good, solid advice. However, since I'm new and too dang nice, I could never just totally ignore them at this point. I'm not that famous yet. Yet.

So my policy is to acknowledge blog awards in my Wednesday Woo-Hoo each week and I will give each new blog award credit one time if I haven't received it before, thanking the original blogger who gave it to me, and nominating one (or a few if I have a few in mind) special blogger(s) in return. Hey, I do want you to feel special if you receive an award from me, so I don't want to give out twenty a week! My peer is right - I really don't have the time for all the brouhaha and neither do you.

So, in response to the blog-award-a-thon-a-rama circulation and my perceived notion that we all need a break... in true Everyday Underwear style, I created my own award for you to pass along to your blogging friends. Former graphic artists can do crap like that.

I lovingly dub my creation:
"The Don't Do a Damn Thing Award... I Just Like Your Blog."

Here's the rules:
  1. Accept it.
  2. Do nothing.
  3. Take a nap.

You're welcome.

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Photo Post: If You Ever…


I swear, if you EVER tell me
to close my eyes and open my mouth and give me sour candy again, I will keel you!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Ah, Summertime... Cold Beer & Keyboards

There was a time when summer meant one thing to me... cold beer. I remember that time of my life pretty well, considering all of the brain cells I must have killed with cold beer and other summertime festive drinks.

It was only about 15 years ago, but when I think about the difference between then and now, it seems like a lifetime. It was a time in my life when summertime meant one thing and one thing only: What could we come up with as the next excuse to party?

Photo of Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale
at Bar Louie in Mishawaka, IN by Katie Shelton

It was quite simply the five W's of drinking:
Who, What, Why, When, and Where?

Who could we drink with?
What amount of alcohol could we afford?
Why were we celebrating?
When would the drinking commence?
Where would the drinking take place?

It was easy to answer these questions!

Somebody's having a birthday? Party with cold beer.
It's President's Day? Party with cold beer.
Really hot day? Party with really cold beer.
Dreary day? Go to the bar for a cold beer.
Housewarming? Party with cold beer. Wrap with bow.
Somebody got out of jail? Party with lots of cold beer.
Day off? Party with as much cold beer as we could afford.
Saturday? Party, probably with cold beer AND hard liquor.

You get my drift. I was a drinker. I believe I drank at least four days a week, minimum. I worked hard at my jobs and I always felt like I earned it. I had a computer, but I rarely touched it. I didn't even have Internet at home for the longest time. I would go to the library and check my Hotmail account once a week and that was the extent of my "networking." Boy, have times ever changed!

Last summer, I became a writer. I make money doing it, so I can claim that title. Summertime no longer means cold beer to me since I rarely drink. Summertime... now means keyboards. Cold beer, take a back seat.

Keyboard. Internet. Computer. Networking. The words make me salivate. I need it. I have to have it. I think I'm addicted.

Maybe I should call keyboards anonymous. Yeah, maybe, but I probably won't. I like this new obsession way too much and I'm not willing to give it up without things getting ugly. If all of my friends and family show up in a hotel conference room and try to pull an intervention, I will refuse treatment.

What?! I've earned my chips. I've already completed a 12-step treatment plan:
  1. Admitted I had an interest in writing.
  2. Met a man who self-published and read his book. Thought, "If he can do that, so can I."
  3. Encouraged him to start a writers group.
  4. Joined his writers group and remained an active member for two years. There were snacks!
  5. Took over the writers group and my husband and I ran it for another two years. There were still snacks.
  6. Quit writing for a year and a half after moving and being forced to give up the group.
  7. Missed writing and grieved its loss.
  8. Began freelance/ghost writing online.
  9. Started a blog, gauged the success. Saw that it was good.
  10. Started building an audience through social networking and self promotion.
  11. Found accountability and support partners.
  12. Prepared to start my first book.

The probability that my obsession will continue to be problematic is pretty good. I mean, really, the warning signs are all there. I can't wait to wake up and hit the keyboard. I go to sleep thinking about typing things on the keyboard. I think about how soon I can get back to the keyboard when I'm away from it. I sneak away during family time to use the computer. I have an extra laptop hidden in the toilet tank just in case someone takes mine. I'm joking. It's actually behind the clothes dryer.

If I'm at a birthday party, watching TV, or out to lunch, my mind is always connected to the keyboard somehow. I miss it when we're not together. I try to think of ways to take my laptop along so I can use the keyboard while I'm out doing summer things. Can I take it to my daughter's cheer practice? Can I take it to the beach? Will it get a sunburn?

I can't contain myself. The river of words must exit my fingertips! The ideas flow like living waters from the mountains, cold filtered through my soulCan I control the urge to let it consume me? Now, why would I want to do that? Well, I suppose I wouldn't want to type any drunken drivel. Why, I myself was just scared straight the other day by a bizarre drinking and commenting incident I witnessed.

Public service announcement: Never drink and type! You could have a horrific consonant crash and the grammar police are an unforgiving bunch. There will be no mercy.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Proving Your Doctor Wrong Can Be Quite Gratifying!

Okay, if you have never had Shingles (not the house kind, but the kind your soul lives in - the body kind) , consider yourself a lucky, lucky, lucky ducky. This is actually one condition I would never wish on my worst enemy. The other one is Labyrinthitis, a lovely inner ear infection which makes you lose your balance and feel like you just got off a carnival ride 24/7, which I also had the pleasure of suffering through once. But the Shingles, I've had them multiple times. This time, I nearly got into it with my doctor about it.

I am currently 42 years old. I got my first case of Shingles when I was in my late 20's. I had thought I was age 28, but the fight with my doctor the other day proved me 4 months off. My bad.

When I got them the first time, I knew nothing about them. Never heard of them, didn't know what the heck they were. I thought that I had been bitten by a strange poisonous spider or something. I had been having terrible stabbing pains in the back of my head. I'd just be sitting there talking to you and all of a sudden, I'd double over and grab the back of my head and not be able to do anything but freak the other person out because I couldn't explain my sudden pains. It felt as though someone was stabbing me in the back of the head with a  butcher knife.

I went to the dermatologist because I had three spots in that area hidden under my hair (they felt like large mosquito bites). I told her about the pains, she looked at the "bites" and then she decided to take a scrape and test it. Sure enough, she was surprised to find that I had Shingles. Then I got the full smack of them. Oh... my... lord. Like I said, you don't wish these things on your worst enemy. I broke out all over the right side of my face with blister patches which itched to high heaven, oozed, crusted, then turned a bright reddish purple, and were accompanied by a combination of dull pounding and searing pain.

You see, Shingles is an infection of your nerve endings, making your skin feel pin-prickled and so sensitive I couldn't even have clothing touching it the first time. Quite a nasty assault on the body. Pair all of this with horrible fatigue and then post-herpetic neuralgia (which can last from months to a year) which is pain that you can't see, but feels like someone is punching you as hard as they can and/or you just got hit by a Mack truck and you will get my drift. They suck. And unless the blisters are present (for a short period during the attack), you can't see them, so people have no idea what you're going through.

Here is what the rash looks like (not the horrible purple stage, which thankfully I didn't get to this time).

They attack one half of your body because they follow nerve endings, although I have had a few tiny patches do an occasional jump to the other side and they're nearly always in a quadrant of your body (waist, face, etc.). It is a basically a form of what you are familiar with in childhood - Chicken Pox. It's a form of Herpes (gasp!) Zoster that stays dormant in your body until it erupts (usually after age 50) if you are unlucky enough to get it. You're only supposed to get it once. Bullsheets. I have probably had them once a year since the first time. Luckily, all subsequent cases since the first one were mild enough to be masked as something more akin to Poison Ivy. I've learned over time to tolerate them without medicine, but the pains I experience beforehand (various places on the body) are a dead giveaway.

Now, this time I knew it was different. The rash was more widespread, then pain more severe, I could feel the fatigue setting in. I could tell this was no ordinary case. I called the dermatologist. She was out. It was Friday and I'd be damned if I was going to suffer through these all weekend, so I insisted on seeing someone. Her physician's assistant was booked up. They suggested my regular doctor, who could see me an hour away since her PA (much closer) was also booked up today. I leapt at the chance and went.

I told her "I know these are Shingles, without a doubt." She looked me square in the eye and said, "I don't think that's what they are. I think it might be some kind of dermatitis, but not Shingles." I kept my blood from boiling. I said, "I've had them before and I know what they are. It should be in my records, I came here to Dr. Schmidt and she diagnosed me." She replied, "We have no record of that here. How long ago was it?" I told her I was 28 when I got them. She said, "Well, that's impossible then because Dr. Schmidt didn't come here until a year after that."

At this point, I was getting upset and frustrated. And I love my doctor! I was getting pissed. The doctor didn't believe me and they couldn't find my records. I said, "Well, I know I came here. I know I saw Dr. Schmidt. And I know she did a scrape and diagnosed me with Shingles and gave me medicine for it, so you must have it in your records somewhere around that time." She replied, "She wouldn't have done a scrape here." I was about to cry.

As I showed her my rash, all clearly visible without disrobing, she demanded suddenly, "Take off your shirt." I told her they were just where I showed her and she demanded again, "Take off your shirt!" I was sitting in the dang chair where you get your blood pressure taken, not even on the examining table behind the door and there was no curtain to hide me if a nurse suddenly opened the door. She had to demand a third time, "I said, take off your shirt," before I finally sheepishly obliged. I think she wanted me to prove that it wasn't Poison Ivy and that I wasn't lying about it not being other places on my body. She hurried out of the office, disbelieving me, and I was clearly able to hear the conversations between her and the other staff members trying to catch me in my "lie." I was fuming. But I had to be patient and persist because I knew I had to get the medicine.

Finally, she came back with what appeared to be an old faxed report and said, "Well, we finally found the record from December of 1999." She said it as though I had been horribly mistaken, even though it was only four months after I turned 29 (not 28 years old as I had stated) and said that Dr. Schmidt would have just gotten there and yes, it did say that they did a scrape at the office. Well, huh. "I told you so!" I shot the words and a pointed finger at her.

THEN, she called me up onto the examining table to do a scrape, which is a rather unpleasant thing in itself. They literally take a blade and scrape your skin raw to get cells to test. THEN, they scrape it as hard as they can with those long Q-tips. It hurt. I was insulted. And I didn't even get an, "I'm sorry," about me being right and her being wrong.

I got my meds even without the definitive test results (which I was supposed to receive today and didn't), so I don't care. At least I'm being treated and it's better than it could be. I just feel drained. I hope I don't get the post-herpetic neuralgia this time. The first time, I would have to wake up in the morning, take the strongest pain pills they could give me and go back to bed for four hours until they really kicked in and I could move my body enough to get out of bed and shower and then put in a half-day of selling caskets to funeral home directors.

I felt miserable and half-dead and my boss said, "Well, you don't look or seem sick," because I looked okay and he had no experience with Shingles, so no sympathy there. Oh well. I've learned it's a personal battle and I just have to make do. I worry that people might think I'm lazy because they can't "see" the illness. People with things like fibromyalgia will know what I'm talking about here.

It also scares me a little, because one of the reasons people get frequent bouts of Shingles is because they have an auto-immune disease or cancer. I've not been diagnosed with anything, but who knows what is lurking in my body and has yet to rear its ugly head? Doctors miss so much. Heck, I had to convince them I have Shingles!

As for the stigma that comes with them, that's another story. People are afraid of things they know little about. I found that Shingles can be passed to others who have not had Chicken Pox in childhood, for instance, when the blisters are in the popping/crusting stage. And to look at the rash on a person in that stage of Shingles is a bit freaky. The first time I got them, I was still in bar-crusing mode, so people would literally stay on the other side of the bar from me so the wind wouldn't blow them on them or something (ridiculous) - either that, or they wanted to go get their grandkids so I could give them the Chicken Pox so they could get it over with.

So when I was debating whether or not to go to church this past Sunday (the rash was barely visible by then thanks to the meds), I was prepared to tell people I couldn't be hugged due to my Shingles. My husband wouldn't let me do it! He said it would freak people out. I know when they are contagious and I know what to do. I'm not stupid. I did left-facing hugs only even though I was not in contagious stage and to appease my husband, I didn't mention it to people, which made me feel like I had something to hide. You know me, I hide little! Look at the picture I posted of Friday's rash! No makeup, hair pushed behind the ears. Not many people do that. Pretty much just me and my new friend Chris Dean, who will post anything funny about her own traumas, like me ;0) Love ya, girl!

Well, life goes on and the chores of the household beckon. So I must get outta this chair and do something. Hope you are all Shingle free for all of your lives! But if not, you can surely tell me all about it and I will sympathize!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Cattitude and New Content!

One thing I want to give you, my faithful followers, is variety. If I wrote about the same crap (or "carp," which is what I typed before I corrected it) all the time, you would get bored and go away. Far, far away from Underwear land. So, I'd like to introduce some new content! In the future, you will see new things like interviews with very interesting people, posts with opposite point of view response, and captioned pics done by little old me, Miss U. Thank you, Mike, for giving me that nickname. I just love it!

I love photography and I take a lot of pictures. I also love making picture captions, so here is the first Everyday Underwear blog picture and consequently, the shortest post I've ever done:

To my cat, Precious... you are now semi-famous. "Precious" is a boy, by the way. Don't underestimate his ferocity based on his name.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Woo-Hoo Wednesday - Good Fortune Abounds!

Well, here we are again. I do have things to woo-hoo about this Wednesday, so here we go!
  1. Woo-hoo to only one puppy left. She is a sweet little girl - loving and loyal - and quite the tomboy. She loves to play in water and loves to get dirty. If I had to keep her, I wouldn't be heartbroken... just pocket-broken. It's expensive to feed large breed dogs! I get quite a workout hauling dog food in and out of the car.
  2. Woo-hoo that I exercised yesterday. I've been slacking (the dogs hate it when I slack) and it is high time to make working out a priority again because I'm feeling the pudge. Oh, the dreaded pudge, it creepeth upon me in the night like a stealthy tiger. Growr! Ready to devour me, the fatness is, but I must keep it at bay. So every time I reach 160-165 range, I kick it into gear. Taking the tiger by the tail, I walked yesterday and then ran to the creek - all the way! It's not that far, but that's an accomplishment there. And then you know the routine. Look left. No dead bodies. Look right. No dead bodies. Woo-hoo to that. It was a good trek.
  3. I mentioned before that I got my Everyday Underwear business cards and today, I ordered a nice engraved card holder to carry some in my purse. In the meantime, I got into my wallet to find a place to put them. I found a card slot with no cards in it and pulled it open to shove in a few of my my cards and guess what was in there... a fortune. Look at this awesomeness:

  1. It made me start a new number list when I put that picture there. WTH? Anyway, isn't that cool? Once in a while, when I receive an interesting fortune cookie, I stick it somewhere in my purse just for fun. Me and my Everyday Underwear sure hope this one is true!
  2. I received an unexpected financial reward this week, which was just so timely! It's funny. Our church prays "financial blessings and unexpected checks to come in the mail" over the congregation and I thought it was kind of a silly prayer. Not now, by golly! I have received more unexpected checks in the mail since repeating that affirmation prayer... it's freaky! I have a feeling I will be repeating that prayer more robustly from here on out! One of the checks was expected, but the amount was higher than expected. One was totally unexpected. One was just shocking, really, even though it was only $12.00. And I got news that there will be more financial blessing to come later this year, so that's exciting. I can't share exact details, but it's all good, people, it's all good!
  3. I did get a date set for my guest post on RachelintheOC and that date is tentatively set for 7/8/12, so be looking for that! I will be promoting it as it approaches.
  4. I got an award kicked back my way from the lovely Cara Lopez Lee - she gave me the Versatile Blogger award, even though you're not supposed to give it back to the person who gave it to you. She's my little rebel. Gotta love that!
  5. I got all the cheerleading crap shopping out of the way for my girls. They're happy with their new stuff! I also got my husband some new clothes so I can parade him around in all his hotness. Yay for him and me on that one.
  6. My in-laws shared some great news recently about their antique business growth and as it turns out, my kids will be getting a trampoline out of the deal, due to some bartering. And no, you don't have to worry about the safety of my children. It is not an antique trampoline.
I hope you all have a wonderful Woo-Hoo Wednesday of your own! That's all for me today!

Friday, June 8, 2012

WWJD, Part 1 - An interesting church visitor

Due to extenuating circumstances, a post I previously wrote and some of you have read, was taken down and revised in the following manner:

My church had an interesting visitor last night. I almost didn't go to bible study this week. Usually, my daughter and I go together, but she was at camp, which meant I would have to go alone. I hem-hawed around. Picked up my purse. Put it down. Thought about it. Picked up the purse. Decided to go. Decided to screw it. Decided I'd better go to church and pray after that last thought. Okay, I'm going! I ran out the door and was a good ten minutes late. Oh boy, am I glad I went.

Had I not gone, I would not be able to tell you about a very intriguing visitor to the church, which prompted the question in my head, "WWJD?" What would Jesus do?

I sat in my usual spot. I noticed two strangers in the front pew, a young adult man and a woman I assumed (correctly) was his mother. At first, they were unremarkable, but as the minutes ticked by, I could tell something was wrong. Very wrong. I don't exactly know if I saw it so much as I felt it. There was a presence of something being very wrong and although I couldn't put my finger on it, I stared quizzically at the back of this man's head.

His head was shaved. It's a predominantly black church, so I will point out that the young man and his mother were both white. He was wearing a Grateful Dead t-shirt which was cut down both sides, exposing his sides all the way down to his camouflage shorts. We don't dress fancy for Wednesday night church and nobody would have cared on Sunday either. That's not the point. Come, we'll love you, that's all. If your church disses you for the way you dress and you're sitting in there in earnest, you better find another church. I'm just sayin'. That's not the love of God. Run, don't walk, to somewhere that accepts you for you.

He had tennis shoes on, but took them off at some point, revealing short grey sport socks underneath. He was tattooed from head to toe. I mean literally he had tattoos on his head, down his exposed sides, arms, neck, everywhere. I was interested in the content of the tattoos. I wanted to know the story behind each one. There's a story behind every tattoo.

I hope you're not reading me wrong here (that has been known to happen). I don't mind tattoos at all. I have one and I forget it's there until someone notices it. I swear, I had no idea what a tramp stamp was when I got it and I would never call it that, but I digress. I'll post a pic someday with a story. Anywhooooo, this young man's tattoos were hard not to see. It wasn't the tattoos that drew my gaze, however. I was mesmerized by that feeling I referred to earlier.

His mother rubbed his back as they sat there and she spoke softly to him. I saw her mouth say, "Do you want me to? I'll do it," and he managed to nod in agreement.

Our pastor was taking testimonies and people were sharing their stories of goodness from the week. The house was filled with the presence of thanksgiving and virtue - a palpable presence - and you could tell the young man was feeling it, as was his mother. I watched the young man intently, drawn to the very interesting story I knew resided within him.

There were other signs that the young man was in distress and I felt a strange sorrow for him. He stood up unexpectedly. He paced. He seemed agitated and confused. He sat on the platform stairs. He began to cry several times, but kept stopping himself. He sat down again. He covered his ears and rocked. The presence of the tattoos told me that he had unimaginable stories to tell.

He stood again and turned to the left, facing no one in particular. He had a rubber band twisted around his wrists. You know, the kind kids wear as a bracelet that are colored and form into a shape in their natural state? He began to lift his hands, as though reaching out to God. The rubber band was twisted in a figure 8, one loop over each wrist. It was as though he was handcuffed. He noted it and sat back down.

At one point, he stood abruptly, turned sideways, and thrust his arms out wide. The rubber band broke. He looked at it in dismay, as though he had just been unsure of what was on his wrists in the first place and why it was now in pieces. He handled the rubber band with puzzlement. Why was it on his wrist? What was it? What did it mean that it was now broken? It seemed symbolic to me, but to him, it was a mystery.

He sat back down. His mother got up and gave a testimony and I hoped she would share his story. Instead, she talked about a product she sells that she was excited about and the fact that she felt it was sent by God to heal the sick, and then she brushed over a mention of her son, who was having "issues" and "definitely going through some stuff" and needed prayer. It was blatantly obvious that he needed more than Jesus Juice and that he was in distress. She said that she had raised her kids to know God and that her son knows God and wants to share that with people as well. He stood up and unexpectedly attacked her with a huge hug in the middle of her sentence and she warmly reciprocated, then he just as abruptly sat back down.

As the congregation participated in some prayer and thankfulness time, he covered his ears and his face contorted. He was in pain. I could feel it! He turned around and stared intently at the woman behind him. His face reacted with great animation to what he was seeing. It seemed as though she was telling him something very profound or disturbing and that he couldn't believe what she was saying. Later, she told me that she hadn't said a word to him. I realize now that he was looking at someone or something else in his mind. Margo just happened to be in the way.

After his attempt to get up on stage and several times of wandering about while looking panicked, they decided to escort him to a room in the back to talk to him privately. He felt affronted by this action, even though it was meant with no malice whatsoever. He was visibly paranoid and I understood that, especially since he had never been to the church before. They attempted to take him to a room, but he hesitated at the door, putting his hand out, finger pointed, and a look on his face as if to say, "Wait, I think you're out to hurt me and I'm not sure I want to go." It was about then that I started praying intently.

I could feel that there was a possibility that he might blow at any moment. I didn't know what his need was. I didn't care. It was just clear that he was in need. Period. It became clearer and clearer that he wasn't in a good frame of mind for some reason. They got him to go back into the room and he shot back out of there within a few short minutes. They re-directed him to another room, away from the congregation, where a dear lady was trying like heck to give a presentation on the sins of the flesh. Her subject was "wrath." I was up next with "envy." We both made it through our presentations without further upset, as they had succeeded in getting him to the back dining hall area. I knew one thing. I didn't envy my (thankfully very large) black brothers one bit for the task of calming this poor soul who was obviously not having a good day.

He appeared to be tripping on drugs. I know this because of my own experience with drugs in my "colorful" past. He mentioned to someone that he had done mushrooms and everyone then assumed that was the cause of the distressed behavior, but after a conversation with him yesterday [the following Sunday - this post has been updated and edited due to circumstance], he was not on drugs that night at church and the mushroom experience was in 2003. What he was experiencing that night, but could not convey in the state of mind he was in, was extreme sleep deprivation. I have to tell you that it reminded me of a bad acid trip. There are good trips to la-la land and there are bad trips to la-la land. Bad, scary trips. Trips where you wonder what in the heck the dealer put in your batch. That's where I thought this guy was.

I felt truly sorry for him. I could tell he was afraid of something and the church members present were a bit on edge as well, sensing his discomfort. I wasn't afraid myself, but I was fully prepared to duck and cover if necessary. Who knew if he had a "nine" in his pocket? Not me. I had seen people in that state before, so at least I knew what I was seeing. I knew that the man I was looking at wasn't the man I was seeing with my eyes. He was a body inhabited by something else. He was possessed, gripped, and tortured by something unseen to the naked eye of those around him. If you have ever been tormented by a lack of sleep - I mean a debilitating lack of sleep - then you will understand this and sympathize. I sometimes think my insomnia is a curse. I mean, for real!

His mother was very supportive and agreed to stay with him until his condition improves. She said he had just gotten out of jail and he wasn't like that before he went in. She said he was a good person. She said they'd been to the hospital to try and get him something to calm his nerves, but for whatever reason, he was denied. In our subsequent conversation on Sunday, I learned that he had not slept the entire time he was incarcerated - three weeks. Three weeks! No wonder he was in a hallucinatory state!

She said that they didn't know anything about the church and that they had been driving by and she said, "There's a church and there are people there. Do you want me to go back?" He did. And just that easily, if he had been in possession of a deadly weapon and mistook our congregation's motives to move him to another location to give him personal attention, we could have all been statistics in an unbelievable tragedy that night. What we witnessed instead was a broken man in his greatest hour of need. Although he may not recall it well, I will never forget it.

It's funny how much his state resembled that of being on a drug trip. But being an insomniac, it made complete sense when he told me he hadn't slept for three weeks. I am practically a non-functional basket case when I get very exhausted. I can't think straight, can't make decisions, and am emotional. It made me remember the drug trips, though, and I had to give pause to a funny/scary memory.

Once, eons upon eons ago, I went on an acid trip where I thought our toilet was trying to eat me when I went to the bathroom. I called my boyfriend into the bathroom to verify that it was really reaching out to grab me and whaddya know? He said it tried to eat him too. We decided to hold our pee until the drugs wore off a bit. I remember parts of that night very well. I remember looking at a picture of he and I on the bookcase and saying, "Do you think we'll ever be those people again or do you think we'll be stuck like this forever?" It was scary as hell. I'm so glad I'm not that person anymore and I never tripped on acid again. One bad trip is enough. It's a wonder we hadn't killed somebody that night driving to the house, the drugs already in effect. In our eyes, both the truck and the road were bending out of shape and things were distorted and the colors were all wrong.

What do you see? It's all a blur...

I can only imagine what this man was seeing. I wonder, what will that man remember about Wednesday night bible study? Did we appear as horrifying zombies out to devour him? Was our toilet trying to eat him? Were his chains broken that night? Did God begin to grant him with the rest he desperately needed that night?

As they exited the front doors, the pastor said, "You two come back again. You're welcome here."

I love my church. But I wondered, would most churches allow this visitor, who by all presumption was drugged, to stay in the church that night and then welcome him back with open arms? Mine did. And he did come back on Sunday with both his mother and his child, in a better state, although still slightly confused. He was not yet ready to give a testimony, but willingly shared his story when asked.

I had the opportunity to speak to him for quite a while on Sunday and that is why I updated this post. Circumstance necessitated the change. The way he had worded his experience with the bad mushroom trip made it sound as though it was current and so the presumption the church had was wrong, but I felt they handled things right. The church deserves credit for that and he deserves credit for entering the church when he most needed to get help from a higher power, even though he wasn't in a state of mind any of us could easily understand.

He loves God and wants to do all he can to change his life for better circumstances and to serve God and God's people and to spread the word, but he has many struggles. I'm asking those of you who are Christian followers to pray for him. I'm asking those of you of other faiths or atheism to give a moment of silent reverence or just send positive thoughts and vibrations his way. I surely do appreciate it. And if you already read this post the first time and are now reading the revision, thank you for taking the time to do so.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Woo-Hoo Wednesday - No Awards (Whew!)

Wed-nes-day is here again, just like every week, humping its way in between Tuesday and Thursday. And so I must Woo-Hoo.

I must say that I am glad to NOT have received any awards this week. Not that I am ungrateful for such things, but it is a lot of work to run the award circuit. If you've been a multiple recipient, you know what I mean and you are nodding your head vigorously right now. I will be dedicating a whole blog post to the subject of awards someday and I have an idea to create my own award. You're gonna love it, especially if you get one. All I have to do is come up with the name, which is far more difficult than I imagined.
Note: The piece ended up being featured by BlogHer. Read it here.

I am grateful that I have sold a puppy this week and since the lady forgot to bring cash and wrote me an out of state check, I hope that it doesn't bounce. She drove two and a half hours one way to pick it up, so I couldn't very well make her run back home for cash. There was a scripture on the check, but you and I both know that doesn't mean diddle. Note to self: add "CASH ONLY" to eBay Classifieds ad. Also, I have someone driving nearly five hours on Saturday to pick up the other dog, who will become an Alpaca guard dog. How sweet! I love my puppies. I will be sad when they're all gone, but I will be less busy until the next litter.

This ten week old puppy towers over our full-grown mini-weenie!

This little girl will be all alone after this weekend - sniff, sniff!

I want to Woo-Hoo about the fact that I had to see the woman whose rights we terminated and whose children I adopted (my husband's ex-wife) this weekend and all went well. It was a stressful decision to put ourselves and our children in that position after about 7 years of purposely keeping distance. I looked hot, so that helped, but at the cost of wearing high heels. Now my back is killing me. Still, totally worth it.

I want to Woo-Hoo that my first guest post will hit this month on See the post here. I honestly couldn't be more excited to be featured by a #1 Amazon Bestselling author! I know you will be shocked, but it isn't a humor piece either (by request). Yeah, there is more to me than funny fluff, people! This piece will not be suitable for young readers or those who don't want to hear a story about a really crappy thing that happened to me in high school, so consider yourself warned.

I want to Woo-Hoo that I have some really awesome posts planned in the future. Funny ones, controversial ones, serious ones. I always love hearing your comments, so please don't hesitate to put your two cents in. I will respond to every one until I'm too famous (ha ha - wait, I was just dreaming there for a second). I just received some business cards for Everyday Underwear. Now I can just hand those out when my husband brags to people that "my wife's a writer." I love that guy. P.S. I will do a whole post about him someday too. I couldn't be more proud of him either.

And how was your week?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Someone Used My Toothbrush!

Did you ever go to get ready for bed and realize that someone else had recently used your toothbrush? You can tell because if it's wet and you haven't brushed recently, that means somebody used it. Yeah? Well, me too. It happened to me just the other day.

There are three other people in the house, so I can't necessarily say who the culprit was, but I have my suspicions. I am mainly suspicious of the hub, but with two kids, who can really be sure?

This wasn't just any accidental toothbrush using, however. This one was one of the worst I've ever experienced. The offender didn't just use my toothbrush, they left - gulp - debris in it! Gross!

Hock, ack, urp, hurl, ouck, oaghuh.

I'm sorry, but this kind of thing cannot be taken lightly.

I didn't even bother trying to approach the old whodunnit line of questioning. Nobody will ever admit to it, especially with debris left behind, so I knew it would be fruitless to even ask. So, I did the proper thing. I went out and bought a new toothbrush.

You would think that I would throw away the old toothbrush, but no. I was nice and thought, "Okay, somebody obviously mistook this for their toothbrush and now they might continue to use it. Fine. I don't have cooties. They can have it." I decided that way, they could accidentally use it at any time and I would not be offended. I cleaned up the debris and put it back in the holder.

I then took my new toothbrush and put it in a new secret location so that nobody could ever accidentally use my toothbrush again and leave debris in it. I was so wise! It worked like a charm and boy, did it ever feel good to have an undefiled toothbrush again!

Last night was another late night and I groggily dragged myself into the bathroom do my evening routine and get ready for bed. I looked at myself in the mirror. Oh no. It couldn't be! Sadly, it was. Out of habit, I had grabbed the old toothbrush. My stomach turned slightly and then I thought, "Oh well, it's already in my mouth and my teeth are half brushed, so I'd might as well finish."

I wonder, does this make me as bad as the debris depositor? I mean, if they really had thought it was their toothbrush, they might have been using it daily, I didn't know. And that would make me just as guilty for grabbing their (my) new (old) toothbrush!

Luckily, I was able to go to bed without any further distress and my plan is to continue to use my new toothbrush. What would you have done if this happened to you?