In response to Viewfromtheside’s weekend challenge

I just thought I would try this after visiting TheOnlyCin’s blog and seeing the challenge and her response to it.

Thanks to Viewfromtheside for the opportunity.

http://viewfromtheside.wordpress.com/2010/09/17/weekend-challenge-17-september-2010/

© 2010 Kathy Larson

September 17, 2010

The Beat of My Heart

As the years slide on by

I question it more and more

This pulse, my life force.

What once felt trapped

And often raged, blindly,

Now feels caged. . .

. . .from time to time

There is a flutter within,

A pounding of fists,

And moments of joy

Of sorrow of anger

Swell the dams and burst

Through to memory.

And I, remembering why

Place a trembling hand there

And smile.  This is mine,

This uncertain beat.

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A Short Story — Rainbow Party

The following is a story I wrote for a competition last year (didn’t win, sigh) and I thought, considering the absolutely horrible story coming out of BC this week about the 16-year-old girl who was drugged and gang raped while people took pictures and video and then posted the images online, that it was, in a sordid way, appropriate.  A ‘rainbow party’ for anyone who doesn’t know is a party where girls give blow-jobs while wearing vibrant colours of lipstick — the guy who has the most colours on his cock at the end of the night wins.

I was utterly appalled by this when I found out about it, but sadly, it’s quite a common event with kids these days.  As are ‘friends with benefits’.  This latest incident in BC is not an isolated event — these types of assaults seem to be happening more and more frequently.  The truly sickening part for me is that there are bystanders who film it, photograph it and then distribute it.  To add to the yuck factor is the knowledge that there are many, many people who will search these disturbing images out, deliberately, and then pass it on to friends as though it were nothing.

What, oh what, is happening to our world?  To the youth on whom the future is going to depend?  It literally makes me cry.  All I can think about is that poor girl.  I pray she recovers, but really, how can she?  After being violated in such a terrible and public manner?

I need to stop now.

© 2010 Kathy Larson
All rights reserved

Rainbow Party

Kassie looked in the mirror and made kissy-fish lips.  Then, she sucked in her cheeks and made her lips wiggle.  Jess, perched on the edge of the toilet, laughed.

“You geek!”  she said.

“Just loosening them up,”  Kassie replied.  She didn’t smile.  Jess looked down at her fingernails.  Her nails were ragged and chewed on; the polish – orange on one nail, black on the next – was chipped and picked away.  She grimaced and folded her hands together, tucked them between her thighs out of sight.

“We could do something else, you know,” she ventured.  She looked up at Kassie quickly, then away.  She seemed to be studying the tiny vase of blue straw flowers that Kassie’s mom kept on the second shelf of the cabinet above the toilet.  That vase had been there, she thought, forever.  As long as she could remember, anyway.  They, she and Kassie, had been friends since Grade 2, when they were six years old.  Seven years.  A long time.

Kassie said into the mirror, “Don’t come, if you don’t want to.”  Her words were flat, but she darted a quick glance in the mirror at her best friend.  She didn’t want to do this alone, but if Jess bailed on her. . .  Well, she would.  She’d do it.  This party was their chance and she wasn’t about to blow it.  Her stomach tightened at this last thought and she was suddenly grateful she hadn’t eaten supper.

Laid out on the vanity counter was an array of her mother’s lipsticks.  From the time she was little she had loved to come in and rummage through the drawer where her mom kept her dizzying collection of cosmetics.  Why her mom had all this stuff, she couldn’t figure, because other than once or twice a year Kassie never saw her wearing any of it.  The drawer had a nice smell when you opened it, like flowers and powder, but of something else, too.  It was the smell of ‘grown-up’, and in it was a mystery, a secret something about the woman her mother was, not the mom part, but the other part, the part Kassie tried to find every time she came in and fooled around with her mother’s makeup.

“You know I want to go, it’s just. . .”  Jess’ voice trailed off.  She reached out and picked up a shiny silver tube, plucked off the top and rolled up the lip colour.  It was a brilliant shade of red.  She looked up at Kassie.  “This is wrong, Kass.”  A tear slid from the corner of one eye.

Angrily Kassie snatched the tube from Jess.  “I told you, don’t come, then.”  She couldn’t believe this.  Her best friend, the one person she counted on, the one who knew, was chickening out.  “You don’t even have to do anything, for crying out loud.  If you don’t want to. “  She leaned back against the door and slid down to the floor, her knees tucked in tight to her chest.  Her flat chest.  She sighed.  Now she felt like crying.  “You were all excited about this when they asked us.”  Her voice trembled, and when she looked up Jess saw the tears brimming in her eyes.

“I know, but I didn’t know.  You know?”

Kassie looked at her.  “That was stupid.”

“Yeah.”

They burst out laughing.  And for a moment it was just like it had always been, just the two of them having fun, messing around in the bathroom.  Kassie twirled the tube of lipstick between her fingers.

“What would we do instead?”

Jess scooted down on to the floor beside her, wrapped her arms around Kassie’s knees and leaned in so that their faces were inches apart.  She was smiling.  A big wide-eyed, happy smile, full of excitement.  “We could stay at my house.  Rent a movie, or surf YouTube.  My mom would let us order a pizza.  I need to change my polish.”  It came out all in a rush and she rocked the two of them back and forth in her exuberance.

Kassie leaned her head back against the door.  “We always do that.”

Jess released her hold on Kassie and sat back, cross-legged on the floor in front of her.  “I know.  It’s lame.”

“No, it’s not,”  Kassie replied quickly.  “It’s just, . . . oh, I don’t know.”  She pulled the top off the tube of lipstick again and studied the beautiful shade of red as it emerged.

“It’s kid stuff.”  Jess whispered.

“Yeah.”

They sat not speaking for another minute, then Jess looked up into Kassie’s face.  Kassie looked into her friend’s eyes.  “Did you check it out online?  How to do it?”

“Yeah.  It’s pretty gross.”

Jess’ eyes looked so big and blue in her pale face.  There was a look caught in them, a frightened little girl look that said:  Please, don’t make me do this.  She wondered if Jess was seeing the same thing in hers.  She closed her eyes, in case.

“I have to go.  I told them we’d be there.  But you don’t have to.  Go, I mean.  Really.”

Silence.  Then the sound of Jess standing up.  Kassie kept her eyes closed.  There was the sound of a brush being pulled through hair.  Jess’ long, straight blonde hair.  Kassie suddenly thought of them playing ‘My Pretty Pony’ and how Jess’ long hair streamed behind her like the flaxen tail of a Palomino when she ran.  She got to her feet.  Gently took the brush from her friend’s hand.

“Here, let me do that.”

It’s Friday!

I made it through the week — yay!

I’ve got a busy but pleasant weekend in store.  My grandkids are coming for a sleepover and then the youngest is celebrating his first birthday on Sunday.  Lots of fun, which is exactly what I need.

Hope everyone else is looking forward to a relaxing time, too.

Oh yeah, for anyone who cares to know — the temperature here this morning was a balmy – 10 degrees C.  Brrr!  Yesterday we actually saw snowflakes!  Can you say early, cold winter?  Believe it!

Tuesday . . . and a shift in perspective is in order

I woke up this morning and said:  Today is the start of my new life.  All good things are coming to me today.  My problems will be resolved in my favour.  I feel love and joy in abundance all around me.

For those of you familiar with The Secret you will recognize my paraphrased words.  I read the book a few years ago; not generally the type of thing I would have ever picked up, but something prompted me to.  Since then, I’ve tried to live my life with what I learned from that small book always in my thoughts.  It’s more about feeling positive about your life, about what you have in your life, than it is about any form of religion.  Although, I do feel it fits in well with nearly any form of religion you could name — well, except maybe extreme, on the fringes type of things — and those aren’t religions, anyway — they’re cults.

Okay, so, I’ve digressed. . .

. . . not unusual.

I have been having a really tough time of it lately.  Lots of stress related to work.  Not the actual job, but my role as President of our Union.  As with any employer, employee relationship there are always major differences of opinion when it comes to what each side expects.  Suffice it to say that things are not going smoothly and I have been feeling incredibly overwhelmed of late.

Yesterday was rough.  But last night I finally said:  Enough!  Pull up your big-girl panties, Kathy and get on with it!  So, I did what I was able to do and then I walked away for the night.  Sat and had a cup of tea, nursed my cold and watched a little of So You Think You Can Dance, Canada and a half hour of MasterChef.

I slept great last night (with the help of Benylin night-time cold formula) and when I woke up this morning  the first thing that popped into my head were the words I wrote above.  These were followed by a sense of calm, and I knew that everything would be okay.  I’ll get through this mess, will put it all behind me and start focusing again on the really important things in my life:  family, friends, writing.

So, that’s it.  Sometimes, I wonder why it takes me so long to get around to remembering how to stop and breathe and put things in perspective.  Especially when it’s such a simple thing to do.

Have a wonderful day everyone.

a beach in the Dominican -- warm breezes and trouble-free

Monday Morning 7:17 a.m.

It’s early Monday morning.  Getting ready for work.  Well, not really . . . I’m sitting here trying to rush in a few words before I go.

Had to break down and buy a new fridge on Saturday — the old one stayed fixed only temporarily.  Came down with the sniffles while I was out shopping and wound up in bed at 6 o’clock on Saturday evening.  Slept for something like 14 hours!  Crazy.  But am feeling somewhat better — I think (knock on wood) that I may have staved off a cold.

Does anyone know what that means?  to ‘stave off’ something?  I’m sure there’s some archaic, interesting meaning behind it.

I’ve got another busy week ahead — but, then who doesn’t?  Life, it just keeps getting in the way.  LOL.

Don’t know if I mentioned this before or not, but I recently read the book, Atonement, (author escapes me at the moment).  Very good book.  The theme keeps coming back to me at the oddest moments.  Sign of a good book — when you can’t quite shake it.  If you get the opportunity, read it.

Am reading a piece of juvenile fiction right now called The Blue Roan Child by Jamieson Findlay.  It’s a fable about a young orphan girl and the wild, mystical horse she befriends and their quest to rescue the horse’s foals who have been taken by an evil ruler to be used in battle.  Quite a good story, so far.  I find there is a lot of really good juvenile fiction out there that doesn’t get the hype or press of Harry Potter, it’s just a matter of looking.

A writer of juvenile fiction I truly admire (and read all of his books) is Jerry Spinelli.  At the moment we’re doing Maniac Magee with our class.  Love this story!  Check it out if you’ve got a chance.  It’s a ‘tall tale’ about a boy who brings together a community divided by racism.

Well, I think that’s all I’ve got time for this morning.  Need to go do something with this mop of hair on my head — am looking a bit like an afghan hound!  Good day, all.

Thursday, Sept. 9th, 2010

Rain, rain go away. . .

Well, it’s been one helluva long time since I managed to find some time for blogging.  Work and Union business is eating up my life!  Sigh.  Huge sigh.

Things are settling down on the work end of things — we’ve got a great class this year, all wonderful kids.  We’re gettin’ into a groove, gettin’ to know one another and it’s all good.

It’s the Union stuff that is bogging me down right now.  It’s always like this at the beginning.  Give it another month or so and things will begin to simmer down.

Hmm. . . simmer down?  Is that possible?  I think that’s one of THOSE sayings.  But I’ll stick with it, anyway.

The weather here in Alberta has been absolutely atrocious!  I don’t think we’ve had more than a day’s worth of sunlight in the past week and a half.  Rain, clouds, wind, more rain, more clouds, more wind.  It’s been wonderful. (Can you hear the dripping sarcasm?  Sorry for the pun.)

Our motorcycle trip was a bit of a bust this weekend.  The weather.  And, one of our friends got sick and couldn’t continue on.  We made it to High River.  That was on Saturday.  There was some sun that day.  By the time we’d finished supper in High River it had begun to rain, and by Sunday morning it was literally chucking down.

After getting the weather report for the mountains — 2 degrees and raining in Kananaskis, snow flurries in Banff — we decided to just head home.  We rode in the rain from High River to Crossfield.  It stopped raining while we drove through Calgary.  Whoopee!  However, it was quite windy, so that made it fun.  Once out of Crossfield, the rain let up, but there was very little sun until closer to Leduc.  And the temperature never got much higher than 13 degrees.  On a bike, that’s pretty cold.  We were all pretty chilly and tired by the time we got home.

Tim and I unloaded the bike, got in our pj’s, I threw a frozen lasagna in the oven and we sat on our butts and watched TV all night.  Under blankets.  It was wonderful.

So, I never got any stunning pictures of the mountains to share with anyone.  But we are going back up to Miete around the end of the month.  It’s our 31st anniversary!  Yay us!  Hopefully, there will be some sense restored to our weather by then and we’ll have beautiful, warm fall days to go hiking and sitting in the hot springs in.  Then I will bring back pictures.  I promise.

My granddaughter started Kindergarten this year.  I talked to her on the phone last night and asked her what she thinks of school.  “It’s good, grandma!”

“Are you learning anything?”  I asked.

“Hmm, no.”

“You’re not!  You’re not learning to spell, or anything?”

“Well, yeah, that.”

“What have you learned how to spell?”

“Words.  Graaandmaaa.”

“I see.  What else are you learning?  Are you learning to read?”

“Nope.”

“How about numbers?  Are they teaching you numbers?”

“I already know numbers — umm, Grandma, when can we have a sleepover at your house?”

Shades of her father; my heart just bursts.

Good night all — hopefully it won’t be so long between posts next time.

Friday, lovely Friday

This is todays read:

http://madamelibrarian.wordpress.com/2010/09/02/hey-read-this-thing-i-read-and-watch-this-thing-i-watched

It has been a very busy week.  Meetings a couple of evenings, massage and dinner one night (that was nice), a 7 a.m. start to one workday when we served students and parents a pancake breakfast, a couple of after-work sessions at Curves, and then this morning — chicken wrestling before going to work.  I am ever so glad the weekend is here!

I got my lovely chickens all government inspected and nicely packaged when Joe and Rita delivered them this evening.  I can hardly wait to put one in the oven, but that will have to wait until next weekend.

I need to tell you about this great place Tim and I went for pizza last weekend after the football game.  It’s called Famoso, and they serve Neapolitan style pizza.  Which means:  thin crust, fresh mozzarella, low acidity tomatoes and wonderful, fresh, authentic toppings.  Next to Grimaldi’s in New York, I would have to say that this is some of the best pizza I’ve ever tasted.

We went to the downtown location.  There was a bit of a wait, but nothing terrible.  It’s a small place, and busy, but not frantic and noisy like some small restaurants tend to be.  The manager was extremely friendly and brought out some of their roasted flat bread for those of us toughing it out in line.  Delicious.

When we were seated a pleasant young waitress came and explained the Famoso concept to us and then left us to decide.  Tough decision!  We settled on a traditional pizza with spicy Italian sausage, mushrooms and roasted red peppers.  I had red wine, (I believe it was a  Cab/Shiraz/Merlot blend) and Tim had an Italian beer.  Which he enjoyed immensely.

The manager checked in with us and thanked us for giving them a try.  I told him I had used a Groupon (this really cool discount network that I joined) and he seemed pleased to hear it.  Enough so that he offered us dessert on him.  I was thrilled because they had this great selection of gelato at the front.  So, my choice was avocado-lime;  Tim had salted caramel.  Both were to die for.

Then we trundled our full and happy tummies home and turned in early (for a Saturday night).  Surprisingly, I did not wake up in the middle of the night with a stomach ache or gas pains.  That often happens, especially if I eat later than 7 p.m.  Apparently, Famoso uses a special, ultra-refined blend of flour for their pizza dough which prevents that heavy in the gut feeling you get with so many other kinds of pizza.

I can’t rave enough about how good their pizza is!  And the prices are not out of this world — in fact — I would have to say that they are much less expensive than most traditional (read North American) pizza restaurants.  Give them a try (those of you living in Edmonton or close to it).  You won’t be disappointed.

Anyway, I think that’s it for me.  We have an early day tomorrow and I need to go get a few things done before heading off to bed.

Have a great long weekend everyone — enjoy what little bit of forecasted good weather we’re supposed to get.