“Sham.” Out of the Mouths of Babes…

“Here, honey.  Hand me the pillow sham.  Your hands are clean, right?”

“The what?”  Little Geoffrey asked.

“This is a pillow sham.  It covers the pillow.”  Shawna took it from him and inserted the pillow.

“Daddy said your diet is a sham.  I don’t get it?”  Geoffrey scratched his head.

Shawna grimaced, trying not to react.  “Okay, perhaps it is.”

“So what is a sham?”

She fluffed and smacked the pillows.  “It covers the truth.  Like this covers an ugly pillow.”

“Your diet covers the truth?”

She turned to him.  “I guess so.”  She laughed.  “It’s a sham.  Just like your dad’s and my marriage.”

This is my entry response for the Ragtag Daily Prompt, word of the day: sham.  Intrigued?  Visit https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/08/08/rdp-thursday-sham/

two panel painting of palm plant
Photo by julie aagaard on Pexels.com
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Weekend Coffee Share. A Day Like Any Other, in a Beautiful World

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Iceland, the countryside, and me, circa 1972.

Welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Allison at eclecticali.wordpress.com

This is the post in which I celebrate, or bemoan in a humorous attempt, the addition of another candle on my birthday cake. I am now not as old as dirt, but officially older than dirt. 😉 It happened Weds., sandwiched in between Memorial day and the last day of school, two other things I like to enjoy.

This past Wednesday was a day like any other, except it was the day I celebrated having made another trip around the sun! As”trippy” as that sounds, it makes me feel better about being a year older. So, let’s look back. I was fortunate enough to live in five states before turning eight, thanks to Dad and his Navy career. The dissolution of Mom and Dad’s marriage ending up with her putting her feet down and not having us follow him to the next station after Jax. Such is life. I got schooled in school and then got truly educated in college; I am so greatful for that! I have lived in Jacksonville since age eight, and I’ve been married, pregnant, a mother, divorced, engaged, rebounded, freed. Raising my son was a whole other story, but I did it, all while engaging in a teaching career.

I have raised a son, mostly on my own, but I will acknowledge the help of my mother, my church, and my long-time boyfriend in helping him be part of a community and to learn things I couldn’t teach, like changing the oil or driving a car with a clutch. I know he appreciated that. My mom has been helpful at those times I needed to have a social life and my son couldn’t be left alone, and they were very close when he was younger, since Grandma never had to be the stern one or the disciplining figure in his life, but I’m sure there are many other reasons they had a special bond! I have seen him through some hard times and I hope I helped him out. He has grown a lot just in the years since he turned eighteen.

Then, to put the icing on the cake, or maybe to find my moorings and to not lose myself in the midst of a storm, I finally got a dog and published a fiction book. I am still publishing fiction books! This was part of fulfilling my bucket list, and I am so glad I stopped letting ‘life’ (read that as ‘survival’) get in the way. I started spending a little time now and then with an elderly church member who is in a home, which teaches me a lot about patience and attitude. The gratitude she gives me is humbling. To be honest, I didn’t know I would be doing that; it just struck me as something I should do when volunteers were enlisted. At any rate, here I am in life, not yet a millionaire and haven’t made it to Europe. That’s not bothering me yet. Well, I never did expect to be a millionaire. 😉

I am so much more accepting of myself now, yet I’m still a little bit enslaved to culture’s dictations on what is acceptable. Bralessness is still not accepted. Eyebrows are a must, and that can be a problem for women of a certain age. A pencil is no longer sufficient; now I must have an eyebrow kit. Yes, there is more than one step to ‘doing my eyebrows.’ In fact, I hate spending too much time getting ready in the morning, so most days now, I skip the eyeliner or eye makeup and consider having eyebrows to be my makeup. Plus, clear mascara goes a long way and doesn’t leave raccoon eyes after a day in the humidity of the good old Southeast, U.S.

If I look to my mother and how she has aged, then I have nothing to worry about! She is having fun and has made more friends this last five years than I have ever seen her enjoying. Too many years her life was just work and church, then work, church, and the internet. It’s great to see her enjoying life and aging well, and we still get to spend a good amount of time together. Life is good!

Rage Against Limits of Age. #poetry

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Rage Against Limits of Age, (c) 2019 by Pamela Schloesser Canepa

 

Lines at my eyes don’t bother me,

‘cuz I already fell from the tree.

I’ll raise a glass and tell you my age,

Since that makes lying men run away.

 

Some say to wear more makeup,

Some say you should wear less.

Which will make me look younger?

I supposed it’s anyone’s guess.

 

When out, I’ll wear hoop earrings and my Blondie tee

With those special fit jeans that cost a pretty penny.

I’m ‘wowing’ the town in my not-cougar ensemble,

But I’ve gotta wear Nikes, so I don’t take a tumble.

 

Though I no longer do Ben-Gay-Zumba these days,

I still do the plank pose, modifed, okay?

And some may think I count for less,

Rage against the whimps who can’t handle this mess

Who raise a brow at what I wear,

question the true color of my hair

 

Rage against high-priced age creams

Products promising to fulfill our dreams….

Rage against those who try to limit me with age

I decide how much to do before turning the page.

Do  not sit quietly and age.

Do all you still can, and hysterically.  Girl, rage!

 

Squawk! #fridayfictioneers #amwriting

                  PHOTO PROMPT © Douglas M. MacIlroy

 

I should’ve known that bird would be trouble.

On the way home from the pet store:  “Hurry up Bi#$@!”

I jumped.  Why do I go for charming rogues?  He’d shown no signs of this tendency at the store.  Figures.

At home:  “I’m f*&%^g hungry!”

Geez, he reminded me of my ex, Wade.  We hadn’t spoken in years.  Was this a reincarnation?

This went on for weeks.  He’d eye me while eating his food, and blurt out “b*&^%” one more time.

No woman should put up with this.  I sold him for two bucks in a garage sale.  As is.

*100 words*

**To find out more about Friday Fictioneers or to post your own flash fiction, go to https://rochellewisoff.com/2017/10/11/6-october-2017/  to preview the weekly photo prompt, rules, and guidelines.  Click the “InLinks” froggy button to share your own or to read other flash fiction tales.

 

An Author Discovered: W.T. Fallon

I’ve decided to share, at least once or twice a month, posts about the authors whose books I am reading (or have read).  I found my latest discovery while searching Author/bloggers on Goodreads.  I have begun reading W.T. Fallon’s Fail to the Chief, an interesting novel with a premise that really drew me in.  So far, it is wonderfully absurd political satire and a little like the movie “Idiocracy,”  where the President will be elected via a reality TV show. I am really enjoying it so far and look forward to perusing Fallon’s blog a lot more!  The following is W.T. Fallon’s guest post.

W.T. Fallon: Why I Wrote Fail to the Chief

The day I came up with the idea for my novel, Fail to the Chief, I was running on the treadmill, and watching a 24-hour news channel. I realized election coverage is a lot like a reality show—candidates are followed 24/7, commentators yell questions at them, and just when you think you know who’s going to win, someone throws a wrench into things and everything changes.

So if it’s pretty much just a reality show anyway, why not go all the way and let people vote from their couches like we do for other reality shows? I read years ago that more people voted for American Idol than voted for president in the last election. Wouldn’t voter turnout be better if people didn’t have to drive to the polls and stand in line?

Of course, the idea of online voting isn’t new, and usually, the answer to that is, “But, hackers!” But the idea of making the election an actual reality show where people could vote without leaving the couch? That interested me. (Measures to prevent hacking are addressed in the book.)

What would this reality show look like? I immediately pictured the shows I watched, but with candidates for contestants. You’d have your typical reality show host, the obligatory well-tanned guy in a tuxedo introducing the contestants, giving them a shoulder to cry their totally fake tears on, and basically expressing no opinion whatsoever, because that’s what reality show hosts do, right?

Now, enter the contestants. This was around December of 2015, so the 2016 presidential race was just heating up, and there were tons of real candidates on both sides of the aisle for inspiration. I imagined various characters competing on this reality show to elect a president. What could happen on a reality show that couldn’t happen in real life? What would we learn about the candidates if we really followed them around with cameras 24/7?

I had been writing satire about politicians for my local Gridiron Show since 2012, and in December of 2015 there was no shortage of colorful characters in the presidential race, all ripe for satirizing.

Then there are the challenges you see on reality shows. I remembered things I’d always wanted to see in a presidential debate: A boxing match between candidates, a debate where the contenders were hooked up to polygraph machines, candidates being forced to work at real jobs like us regular people, a debate where the candidates had to play a drinking game instead of the audience choosing to do so. Who wouldn’t want to watch a debate where the candidates had to take a drink every time someone said something trite, overused, or eyeroll-inducing? None of those things are going to happen in real life, but I was able to make them happen in my book.

I had been writing about a chapter a week, and would probably still be writing it if I hadn’t lost my job. I was unceremoniously fired two days before my birthday—because nothing says happy birthday like a pink slip—and replaced with a ten-buck-an-hour intern. My employers promised I had done nothing wrong, they were just, “going in a different direction.” Yet when I went to file for unemployment, they claimed I had been fired for cause. At that point, I said, “Screw it, I’m going to finish my novel.”

So I took all my anger and frustration and put it into my book. There are a lot of scenes where regular people describe their problems with unemployment, the economy, etc. Many of those were inspired by my life as a two-time college graduate, living with my parents and struggling to find a job in a bad economy. Going into debt for a college degree that turns out to be worthless, working multiple minimum-wage jobs as a college graduate, and the unemployment office’s efforts to help people “find jobs” were all things I explored.

In one scene, an unemployed worker tells a candidate how the unemployment office required her to attend a “find a job” type class. She was given instructions on how to get her GED (despite having a college degree), how to go to trucking school (despite the fact that for some people, backing up a large truck is a public safety hazard), and how to learn English as a second language (although she already knew it as a first language). That’s the kind of help I encountered at the unemployment office, and it was of no use to me, or anyone else in the room. But that’s our government for you, and I decided to write about its futility through the lens of a reality show to elect a president.

Book Blurb

After years of emceeing insipid singing competitions, TV personality Bryan Seafoam can’t wait to host “American President,” the world’s first reality show to elect a president of the United States. Finally, an opportunity to be a real journalist, digging up dirt and playing hardball with the top ten candidates.

But it doesn’t take long for the contestants to start slinging mud at Bryan – literally, when billionaire candidate Ronald Chump is challenged to dig his proposed moat along the Mexican-American border himself. Forced to work in a fast food restaurant, an anti-minimum-wage-hike candidate learns his coworkers are struggling to survive with multiple jobs and claims to have solved the unemployment problem in his state-leaving Bryan to duck ketchup bombs from customers. To make matters worse, Bryan’s producer pressures him to be nicer to the candidates, and his former crush, now an experienced political correspondent, shows up-and shows him up at every turn.

When a cheating scandal rocks the show, Bryan begins to suspect it’s just the tip of a very underhanded iceberg. Will trying to expose a plot to wreck the most hysterical, er, historic election in history cost Bryan his career-and his personal life?

T. Fallon’s Bio

T. Fallon believes if you can’t say something nice, you should say something funny and totally true. She has few marketable skills, but is highly talented in the areas of sarcasm, satire, and snark. For the past several years, she has written for the local Gridiron Show, and last year she started a blog called Sharable Sarcasm. The 2016 election provided so many opportunities for humor that she decided to write her first novel, a political satire called Fail to the Chief. She was recently published on The Satirist, and has been writing for Humor Outcasts since September of 2016.

Follow on Social Media:

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/wtfallon/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/wtfallonauthor

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/58625570-w-t

Blog:

https://sharablesarcasm.wordpress.com/

 

Excerpt:

 

Bryan tapped the tablet again. “Here are the suggestions. Number one comes from Avery L. on Facebook, and it says, and I quote, ‘We spent almost ten million in taxpayer money last year for upkeep on the White House, including half a million on flowers alone, and almost three million on annual holiday decorations. Is all that really necessary? I mean, how many flowers do you really need in a ginormous mansion? Couldn’t you cut that spending down to five million?’”

“That sounds like the fiscally responsible thing to do.” Morganstern straightened his tie and turned to face the nearest camera. “When I was the head of Cheatham Bank, the largest banking group in the country, we didn’t waste money on unimportant things like decorations or paid vacations for employees. I even limited the amount of money we spent on toilet paper each month. If the employees ran out, they just had to find another solution.”

“Actually, according to an exposé into your inhumane HR practices, it just caused them to use more expensive printer paper for, ah, alternative purposes.” Haverty stepped between Morganstern and the camera. “I understand some also used the widely-distributed company newsletter with your picture on every cover.”

“Yes, and I installed security cameras to catch every employee who took that newsletter to the bathroom, and I fired every last one of them.”

“Perhaps now would be a good time to hear your plan for job creation,” Haverty shot back.

Bob Fuller stopped twisting his hemp necklace around his fingers long enough to groan. “I hope you at least printed that newsletter on recycled paper.”

Morganstern made a sound that was somewhere between a grunt and a chuckle. “Hmmph. Of course not, recycled paper costs twice as much, and it’s used.”

 

Book Link:

 https://www.amazon.com/Fail-Chief-W-T-Fallon-ebook/dp/B01LYON1F2

 

FailtotheChief

Yoga, Stream of Consciousness, My Exercise Evolution, Pt 4

I like the pained look on this woman’s face in the photograph.  Not because the yoga hurt me, but because my stressed out body was not ready to let go of the stress and relax this time.  I want to be honest, and this photo totally represents my attitude tonight.  I didn’t feel too evolved, but in actuality, I guess I’ve evolved to be able to not push myself too far.

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I hate Triangle.  This is what I was thinking when the instructor told us to set up for our triangle pose.  Then, I immediately felt guilty for my negative thinking.  Sadly, I’ve fallen a little out of tune with my exercise routine, but perhaps for good reasons.  I obviously don’t have the attitude I had built myself up to, and I really need to work to get it back.

I am , however, going to give myself a free pass and just thank myself for showing up to the class tonight.  I knew it would help me, and it did, despite my almost losing my balance and falling once or twice, needing to modify my lunges.  So I modified.  I went easy on myself; it’s been a rough few weeks, with a hurricane passing through, a family friend dying, and the ex-husband in town for a few days.  My emotions have been pulled, and I had cause for anxiety with the ex-husband based on his last visit.  Now it’s all over.  The ex went back home, the funeral has happened, the hurricane dispelled.  Yet I am still at the bottom of the well.  I need to work on coming back up.  I was very mindful to remind myself of that all through class.

On a brighter note, here’s more on the topic of wandering minds during yoga: why do so many instructors use phrasing such as, isn’t that a yummy stretch?  That is mostly used by female instructors, I’ve noticed.  While I haven’t had that many male instructors, there is one most memorable instructor who would say, “Feel that stretch, isn’t that delicious?”  This was said in his beautiful Calypso or Caribbean accent.

“No,” I said, honestly.  It wasn’t delicious as his hand holding my leg steady was, or as his honey dripping accent, or as, let’s say, chocolate.  That’s the part I didn’t say. 🙂 He just chuckled when I said that and let up a little.  I wasn’t being mean, I half smiled when I said it so that he knew, it wasn’t him.  It was me.  I loved having him as an instructor.  But alas, he was just a sub that night, as he normally would teach the early morning class, one I could never make.  At least he wasn’t pushing us to empty our minds.  He must have known the delicious comment was pretty suggestive.  Hey, it made me think of chocolate, or his awesome accent, all things I find very relaxing.  Unfortunately, I no longer attend the studio where this man with the wonderful accent instructs; it is just part of life changes.  I had to choose somewhere closer and I do truly love the new studio I currently attend.

I am not complaining about the wording used by instructors; I love the yoga community.  But calling any of these stretches “yummy” just accentuates the fact that I am not at home eating the goods I am trying to stay away from.  If you are an instructor who wants us to empty our minds, please don’t use the word “yummy!”  I do have to add, though, it always makes my busy mind chuckle while I’m in a resting tree, downward dog, or even pigeon pose and I hear such comments.  Thank you, dear yoga instructor, for giving me that inward chuckle, for coming by with your relaxing scents, and for playing that wonderful music.  I really needed it tonight.