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Holiday Amnesia

Of course the holidays were more fun when I was a child and could just sit back and enjoy them with none of the work. I have gotten a little less enjoyment each year in scheduling when we can possibly get a tree and how we will find some extra Jacksons to pay for it and ultimately slogging out the same decorations to adorn it.

I know I sound terrible. And the tree is my FAVORITE PART OF CHRISTMAS!

But I have reached a new low this year…

This year, I can’t even remember it.

That’s right. I can’t remember what happened.

It was a blur of buying gifts, wrapping gifts, buying ingredients for cookies, going to holiday events which seemed to be happening not only every weekend, but then every night of the week. I remember the holiday party at work, and how much I was looking forward to it. That night, we saw a listing for a dog online who would turn out to be part of the litter we would ultimately adopt our new pup from.

Then, there is a blur.

Puppy arrives

I know a dog started living with us between Christmas and New Year’s. We went to my sister-in-law’s New Year’s Eve party. We took the dog. I think. My husband and I had birthdays too, but I only remember coming out of a sickness fog to return to work.

Did this really happen?

I am finding items around the house that I don’t remember. They all turn out to be my son’s Christmas presents he received. I know when we got the puppy there was a mad rush to remove items from her path that she may destroy or eat. But having them out of site also put them out of my mind.

Maybe I am just out of my mind.

Has anyone else ever experienced this, or is it just me?

Maybe the 24 hour stomach flu that went through our house had a coma effect? Except, well, I am the only one experiencing this problem.

Oh well. I have always said that Christmas should be like the Olympics—we should take a break in between them. Even Christmas every other year would be more palpable.

Maybe the Jennifer’s Holiday Amnesia Episode of 2017 is Santa’s way of granting that wish. He managed to grant all my other wishes this year.

Your past shapes you. It can’t be undone.


The Love Bubble

I think I had an epiphany Thursday morning on my way to work.


Now, for awhile I have tried positive thinking, which is a continuous struggle with every thought that runs through my head, usually resulting in a weekend breakdown from all the tension that feels like it has built up within my brain and heart and body. Usually, I just give up and return to my default hopelessness, because it is comfortable like a worn pair of jeans, but uncomfortable in that way that your worn jeans are too worn and have a hole in the butt that gives you a draft and make you feel like you are on display for the world.

You know, like that.

Books and apps just haven’t seem to have been working for me. But this morning I came up with a visualization.

Not like a beach sunset or cool woods kind of visualization.

I am so tired of feeling like everyone is constantly judging me. I worry what my coworkers think, my neighbors, other drivers. I worry if I am hurting their feelings or making them mad or just generally repulsing them with my ugliosity. I wished with all my might that I had a way to block that (perceived) judgement out.

So, I came up with the love bubble.

I know, it sounds like some kind of sex toy.

It is a pulsating lavender/pink transparent bubble I imagine around my body. (If it was not transparent, then I would constantly be bumping into things, more than I already do now.) It has a selective membrane to block out all the things I would normally worry about. If they can’t get into my bubble, then I am not required to think about them! But I didn’t want to be closed off from the world, so I decided that love could reach me, and my love can reach people, animals, things on the outside, if they need it and are receptive. I have only been using this for like two hours as I am writing this, but so far I kind of like it. I have trouble remembering words and mantras. A picture sticks with me longer. I must be a visual person. And after all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

So, here is my crude illustration:

Here I am, inside my bubble!

Here I am, inside my bubble!

I picture my love bubble being similar to Bella’s shield from Breaking Dawn-Part 2, but it is resides about the same distance away from me as my personal space. It is really the same emotional concept my green-haired friend came up with many years ago, except hers involved a hoodie. On days she didn’t feel like talking to people, she would wear a hooded sweatshirt, putting up the hood and wrapping her arms around herself, to protect herself from the outside world, just like a cocoon would.

Just because we grow up and have jobs doesn’t mean we actually want to crawl out of our blanket forts or leave our security blankets at home and interact with other humans.

Go ahead, try the bubble. But you can’t share mine; get your own.

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!





iNsTaBiLiTy: a poem

I want to cut this pain
right out of me.
Take a sharp knife
and set it free.
There is no reason for this agony.
It is just my body
choosing to wage war
Against the everyday monotony.
And you can’t see it.
You can’t try to understand.
I hide the rolling sobs.
The hyperventilation is reserved
for my hiding place.
You only see the aftermath–
the red-rimmed eyes
the loud, ragged breaths.
You might be inclined
to want to help.
But you can’t.
There is no fucking way.
I have internalized
all of the bad in my world.
It boils inside of me,
robbing me of
my time
my youth
my sanity.
I want to roll up in a ball–
coccoon myself–
let the world just pass right over me.
Because I would rather feel nothing
than to feel this
instability every day.
–JLS 11/20/14


What I Learned This Week – 8/24/14

The last six weeks or so have been very trying in my life. There were events that others would be able to take in stride. There were events that would have crippled other people more. I have done the best that I could. I am still here. I tried to control my anxiety with exercise and, when I couldn’t manage to get more than a few hours of sleep on my own, sleeping pills occasionally. I read that lack of sleep actually makes anxiety worse. I tried to balance all factors.

My manager at work left. This created a full-time opening with a raise in pay that I could not pass up interviewing for, even though I find interviews highly stressful. I didn’t get that position. But another full-time position became available, so then I had to interview for that. And the decision-making process took longer. I had to plan several weeks of my life duly as “if I get the job” and “if I don’t”. I learned that I got the job. I enjoy it, although it has not all run perfectly smoothly.


This meant I went back to work full-time after 3 years. I had only ever worked full time when my son was 3-9 months old. My husband had been home with him then. M is now 3 1/2 years old. We had to enroll him in preschool daycare, a new experience for all of us. I have the same hour long commute that I used to have. But, I can no longer just roll out of bed a half hour before my departure time and hop in the shower, then run out the door. I have to pack lunches the night before. In the morning, I have to get myself ready, then wake up a boy who does not wish to be awakened. I have to get him to use the potty, wash his hands, and let me change his clothes. Then he wants to eat breakfast and drink. And I have learned that Sagittarius children cannot be rushed. (At least that is the case with mine.)

On the twilight of the second day of this new routine, my vehicle of 10 years decided to die. It was its time. I was not angry. Just, well, lost as to what action to take. My husband let me use his vehicle for a week and a half. But we had to car shop and get a new car. That meant less time for household chores and a few late nights getting to bed so that we could test drive and sign loan paperwork after work at the car dealership. I had to contact my insurance agent to switch over the policy.   Rediscovered how difficult it is to get anything done when you are unavailable at work 7:30AM-6:00PM Monday through Friday.

New Car: 2011 Jeep Patriot

New Car: 2011 Jeep Patriot

Speaking of which, we also had to get a new checking account, switch two direct deposits, and close the old checking account.

I had to clean out my old car, post a classified ad, then meet with people who bought it. We live in the city. They don’t take kindly to junk cars sitting unattended for very long.

I also had to postpone, then cancel a dentist appointment for my son.

I am still taking my mom grocery shopping every Wednesday night. Now we don’t leave til 7:00PM. My son and I don’t make it to bed until well after 10:00PM, which makes it very hard to get up come Thursday morning.



Yesterday was our 11 year wedding anniversary. The day started by us saying our first goodbye to one of the furry children of our union, Parker. We think he suffered a stroke a number of months ago, could be going blind, and has exhibited a change in behavior. We had him in our lives for 9 years. I have always hated that dog. Now I hate him for making me cry at his absence.  (A fuller obituary will come this week.)  He was such a challenge to live with in every way. Although, I have to believe that maybe he was sent to us to prepare us for the trails that M, our son, would present to us. Maybe Parker was the opening act.

My husband left with Parker. M, Dave (our other dog), and myself were in the backyard. When I went to go back into the house, I realized my husband, with other things on his mind, had locked us out. So then M & I had to walk the half hour to my mom’s apartment to pick up the spare key. I was fortunate that I could leave water with Dave in the backyard, and that the stroller was on the porch. It could have been worse. It could have been raining or snowing (this is Michigan, afterall…). It also could have been better. I just got off of 4 days on my feet at work doing manual labor to prepare for an event. I WAS SORE. And I had had no ibuprofen or caffeine yet for the day. My mom was able to provide keys and caffeine. By the time I got home, my husband had already returned.

It was so hard yesterday, to pet Parker knowing it was the last time. Knowing we would never feel his velvety brown head again, or his short hair, that was course when it was dirty and soft when it was clean. I am sure I will continue to find it stabbing me in the cups of my bras though. It was easier yesterday when he was gone. But then harder again this morning. Yesterday he was still in our lives, that stupid, miserable dog. Today will be our first full day without him in our home. I am sad that it seems empty. But I am comforted in my belief that no other family would have put up with his whining and peeing on the floor consistently for 9 years. And it is a much more peaceful and calm atmosphere already, without having to fight with the Parker over everything.

Yesterday we also attended our niece’s 6th birthday party. That was fun. I especially liked where I got to sit on my butt and rest. Then my husband and I went to dinner to celebrate our anniversary. We had alcohol and steaks. My son had a slight meltdown, so we went home after that. I then watched a NASCAR race on TV, which I almost never get to do anymore. I went to bed.

I was awakened at 11:30PM by Dave barking, my husband on the phone, and a police searchlight shining in our front window shortly thereafter. It seems a drunk guy couldn’t find his way home, so he decided to sit on our porch and smoke, try to flag down cars, then lay down on our deck. My husband called the cops. They took the guy home.

Finally. Our totally weird anniversary day was done.

And also, hopefully, our messed up last few weeks.

Then this morning, we find the dude’s cell phone. It was dead, so we put it on our charger. We checked his contacts. We snooped through his Facebook and found out his name. My husband was almost about to call the number for “Mom”, when the guy called his own phone from his friend’s phone. He came to pick it up. He half-assed apologized. Apparently, if my husband and I REALLY wanted to celebrate our anniversary, we should have been at the same bonfire that dude went to.

Also, my asbestos friend, who is like family, has lost her dad a few weeks ago. Her family (who is like family to me) had a car accident last week. Their car was sadly totaled. Since they were just across town, I went and gave them a ride home. I would have anyway, but I figured I could use all the karmic pay-it-forward I could get. (It worked. My mom had not yet gotten in the shower when I knocked on her door for my spare key yesterday.)

What I Learned This Week(s):  I have to admit, in the long run, everything is probably working out for the better. It is just not always easy to see that at the time it happens. And, can I have peace and quiet now, please? Can I have some sense of a schedule and normal?

Oh wait, next week we are only working/daycare for a few days, because then we will leave on vacation. And, of course, screw up our internal clocks so that we will be all off schedule by the time we return. Oy.


What I Learned This Week – 12/8/13

This week I learned the hard way to put the customer’s purchase in the bag first, then the freebies we are supposed to give away.

At my retail job, if I were to do it as my boss does, I could easily ask someone 9 questions in a single transaction. NINE! Also, we have items we can give away to our customers. Sometimes these are flyers with the sales going on today or the designated charity info. They might also be free samples.

By the time I did all that, and remembered to check for the appropriate security features on his credit card, I completely forgot to put his purchase in the bag. And he didn’t even realize it til the next day, what with all the freebies in the bag INSTEAD of his purchase. I had his name. I notified other staff members. He got it back the next day.  I still feel terribly guilty about it.

Lazy Hippie Mama is always reminding us how servers/waiters/waitresses in restaurants do so much for us, even if in the end our meal still may come out from the kitchen wrong. I have noticed customers are getting grumpier with me in direct proportion to how soon Christmas Day will arrive.

I am not asking for tips (because that would be against the rules). But if the cashier at your store seems a little frazzled, cut them a little slack. They are not only trying to get your transaction right, but they are also getting slightly sweaty in the armpits as they are watching the line grow behind you. And the clerk is trying to be pleasant to everyone. If you decide that day to go off on the lack of electric scooters available, well, you are just making the clerks day a little bit worse. Ask for a comment card, fill it out, and be on your way.

A little peek at how all the magic happens...

A little peek at how all the magic happens…

This week I also learned that once I am done writing and editing my five book trilogy (Don’t ask, because I won’t explain it to you. Yet.), I do not want to get it traditionally published.

This week my asbestos friend and I went to a free program at the Ann Arbor District Library Traverwood Branch by Dan Johnson on how to revise and get your writing published. I had to take M, my three year old son with me. I was shocked and delighted that he played nicely and stayed quiet for the whole two hour PowerPoint program! When I told him he couldn’t talk because the man up at the front of the room was and a room full of people were listening to him, M would reply, “I want to talk.” But he seemed to understand and would be quiet for the next half hour until he started to make train noises again and I had to remind him why he could not.

Mr. Johnson talked about how you love the book you have created. And the people who might read it someday will love it. But all the people in between, such as agents and publishers, just see your creation as business.

And he recommended joining a writing group, where people could critique your writing and make it better. He said you should re-read your writing hundreds of time. You should cut scenes.

I have a weak soul. I can’t take a lot of criticism. I believe everything that I write is great on the first try (Yes, I realize I am delusional). I also try very hard to add in as much as possible to make my stories as long as possible. Why would I want to go back and cut that out?

Going to the program made me realize my end goal: To have my books out in the world for people to find and read, and to have a hard copy in my hand with my name on it, to feel a sense of accomplishment.

The first can be accomplished with an ebook. The second can be accomplished by ordering one or two boxes of my own self-published books. And it may end up not costing me anymore than an author would have to pay for self-promotion if they got a publishing deal with a small publisher.

I also figured out what the motivation was for my mean character to be mean. So that is good.

After a very depressing two hours, he ended with the statement below. I think maybe he should have started with it.

Write for love…or because you can’t not write.

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