Learning To Not Be Over-Critical

For a little context, the picture attached to this post is (from left to right) December 8th, January 7th, and February 10th.

I have been working out consistently for two months now. I have been watching what I eat, having some splurges from time to time when I’m out with friends. Usually that’s about once a week. Still, I feel pretty confident in the changes I’ve made for myself in my life. Unfortunately, I am still overly critical. Yes, I can see a change, but a part of me tells me that it’s not enough of a change. That I should be further along, that I should be able to see more of a difference. So then I begin to chastise myself for every poor decision I’ve made. Now I should say right now that I have been using the “Lose It” app on my phone, and I love it! I use it every single day, and I’m almost always consistent with putting my food on there. But there are times when I don’t. Like when I go out and have a few too many Coronas with my friends (Thanks to Joan and Jose! Love you guys! :D).

So, after posting this picture on Instagram, I wanted that gratification. A part of me wanted to hear from other people that they can see I’m working hard, that they can tell I’ve lost weight. I was craving that. Why? Because I can’t look at myself objectively and be proud of what I see unless someone else tells me it’s okay? I don’t get it. I don’t understand where that mindset comes from or why I feel trapped inside of it. Is it just from years of self hatred that keeps me from loving myself? Is it so hard for me to show myself love that I can’t look at three pictures of myself and think “Damn girl. You’re working hard. I love you.”

I remember, when I was a kid, any time I would compliment myself or say anything positive about myself, my stepdad would always call me out on it, as if having a positive outlook on myself was being “full of yourself”, being arrogant. Any time I showed any kind of positivity where I was concerned, it was immediately met with sarcastic comments and taunts about my big ego and my arrogance.

I never remember what exactly I said to receive these taunts, but I remember the words spoken to me. I wonder if that is a part of why this all started in the first place? Thinking to myself that any kind of self-love or self-appreciation was selfish and arrogant. I was terrified that people wouldn’t like me because of that, that it was another personality trait of mine that, eventually (as I had been told on several occasions), would result in everyone that I loved turning their backs on me.

So finding it in me to look at these pictures and find pride in the progress I’ve made felt foreign, wrong even. And there’s that person inside me that tells me that if I voice those thoughts, someone will come around to tell me how wrong I am, and put me back in my place, back in that dark hole that suffocates me with self-hatred and depression. I don’t want to get back in that hole. I’ve spent too many years living there, and the world is too bright to ignore anymore.

So here it is. I am proud of what I’ve done. I can see my progress and I can say, with confidence, that I’m happy with myself. I will not stop working to improve myself, but I can look at these pictures and be proud of what I have done. Nothing can change that. Not even some jerk’s nasty comments. I refuse to give them that power. And I may be far from the point that it doesn’t affect me, but one day, it’ll just brush right off my shoulders.

I look forward to that day.

The Relique – Part 1 – Excerpt

So this story is within the same world as “Devil’s Breed”, but only a little over a year before. It’s a vast world with many possibilities, which is why I love writing it. I love to create something, to take bits and pieces from some of my favorite works and creating another world altogether.

This is probably the fourth re-write of this story. When I first started it, I was naïve about how extensive the plot should be. As the characters grew and the plot thickened, I found myself going back tot he beginning and rewriting many scenes that lacked depth. The characters in this excerpt are originally part of another storyline within this world called “The Half-Breed”. In that story, Tammy is definitely a supporting character, one that doesn’t show up until late in the story (although she is talked about often). She is a very strong female character, with a loud mouth and a taste for whiskey. I felt that Tammy needed a little more time in the spotlight, but that wasn’t going to happen with “The Half-Breed”, so I decided to give her a bigger role in this story. This is a scene between her and her boyfriend, after receiving a visit from Moiragetes, the God of Fate.

Chapter 8

8:00pm – Friday Night

Tammy tapped the counter anxiously as she waited for her drink. “How long does it take to make a fucking margarita?”
“Babe, relax. You don’t even like margaritas.”
She turned and glared at Stone. His eyes were an unnatural hazel and his dark black/brown hair seemed to almost glow. It was eerie sometimes when she actually thought about it. “I’m trying to look less threatening.”
“By ordering a margarita?”
Tammy shrugged and looked back at the bartender. “If I start taking shots of whiskey, I think I’ll look more intimidating. They may be more willing to talk around me if they see me as just some dumb chick.”
“And you think drinking margaritas and wearing a pink wig is gonna work?” Tammy fingered the hot pink strands thoughtfully. “Baby, I know you wanna find out what’s going on, but this isn’t the best way to do it. These are not good guys. If you start pokin’ around, they’re gonna think something is up, and if they start looking into you, they might find Dakota.” He leaned in closer, “Let’s go see your brother, like he said. Hawthorne would love to see you.”
“We will!” she spat out, then turned back towards the bartender. “I thought that bartenders paid closer attention to slutty girls. Where’s my fucking drink?!”
“Show him some cleavage.” The words were meant to be rhetorical, but Tammy obviously didn’t catch that. She leaned over on the bar, pushing her breasts up high in the tight, purple dress and motioned for the bartender. He caught her attempt and stuck his forefinger in the air before turning towards another patron.
“That bastard. If I wasn’t trying to not be myself, I’d go over there and kick him in the dick.”
Stone laughed as he began rubbing her back affectionately. “Baby, this is a different kind of bar. They cater to the vampires. The bartender is probably one himself, or he knows what goes on here, and he probably gets a lot of ass so he doesn’t need to work for it.” Tammy sat back onto her stool and sighed while Stone began fishing for something in his wallet. He casually lifted his hand in the air while a twenty dollar bill nestled itself casually between his fingers. The bartender looked his way, smiled, and came over. With a kind smile, he shook the man’s hand and dispersed the bill. “Would you mind taking care of my date here? She’s feeling a bit dehydrated. I believe she ordered a margarita.”
He passed a glance to Tammy and quirked a lip, “Of course. Is this your first date, sir?”
Stone almost wanted to cringe at the words. He smiled despite his aversion. “Yes, it is.” He knew Tammy could hold her liquor better than just about anyone. It made him wonder if every Zeotheon could hold their liquor.
The bartender, with his abnormally golden eyes, winked and turned to start Tammy’s margarita. She yelled out a thank you, then requested a cute umbrella. Stone simply shook his head, but the bartender seemed to find it quite amusing. Once Tammy had her drink in hand, she turned towards Stone, her brows furrowed. “What was that about? Why would he only serve you?”
Stone tapped the counter repeatedly as he thought of how to explain it. He glanced over to the bartender, who had made his way back to the other side of the bar. “First off, when the bartender here sees that you’re a vampire, and you have a hot young chick with you that no one knows, they assume those women are going to be food for the vampire later on that night. The vampire you’re with calls the shots. That’s how it works. His way of letting you know who has control.” Stone pointed to himself. “Second, they want to make sure they give the girl the right amount of alcohol. The more drunk a girl is, the easier it is to hypnotize her.” He stopped and looked into her eyes and gave her an honest, shameful smile. “When the bartender asks us if it’s our first date, that’s the sign to make the drinks a little extra strong.”
She nodded slowly. “So, he put a bunch of alcohol in this drink?” Stone nodded as he adjust his finely trimmed jacket. “And you just decided on your own that I would be okay with that?”
Stone froze, his eyes narrowing with an unspoken warning. “Baby, none of this am I okay with. You’re the one that wanted to do this shit. Live with the consequences.” He could see her natural desire to retaliate biting at her like a rabid beast. Instead, she turned away and sucked down half of her margarita. Stone closed his eyes and shook his head as he mentally prepared himself for the evening to come.

“Seriously, Tammy, did you have to drink five margaritas? He probably put triple the normal amount in them.” Stone had his arms tucked under Tammy’s as he attempted to drag her to one of the private rooms. “You know, I realize I’m a vampire,” Tammy stumbled again, causing Stone to topple forward slightly, “but you dragging your feet is fucking exhausting.”
She clumsily tapped her finger to his lips. “Oh, stop it. You just…” she stared blankly at his face for what seemed like an eternity, while he fought to keep her upright. “You know, you have pretty lips.”
“What?” He pulled harder on her until her feet were back on the ground.
She touched his lips again and smiled as the hot pink strands of her wig fell over her face. “Your lips, they’re all pouty… kissable.” She leaned in and smiled, “Are all Asian men so kissable?”
Stone couldn’t help but laugh as he dragged her closer to the booth. “Depends on the region, the country… Most of my ancestors had the ‘pouty lip’, as you call it.”
“You were from Japan, right?”
“No. My family originated in an area called Gaya. It was of the Southern most part of Southern Korea, closest to Japan. We left because—”
“Stone!”The suddenness of his name in front of him made him stumble slightly, losing a bit of his grip on Tammy.
Stone turned towards the voice and stiffened. “Hello, Gerald.” By the entrance of the private room he had purchased, the man stood in a finely tailored, cool green suit with an easy smile and bored expression. He had his right elbow bracing himself against the wall while his other hand casually brushed the suit jacket aside to tuck gracefully into the pocket of his form-fitting pants. Stone gave a slight bow as he began pulling Tammy closer. She looked up and gave the man a sloppy smile as she attempted a seductive stance. He shook his head and turned back to Gerald. “Apologies for my date, sir. She chose not to heed my advice when I told her two of the ‘first date’ drinks were enough.”
Gerald laughed, “The easy ones never do.” A couple of dark strands fell out of his low-sitting ponytail as he nodded towards her. “Would you like a little assistance?”
“Thanks. That would actually be nice.” Gerald pushed himself from the wall and grabbed Tammy by the waist. She looked at him and smiled before her eyes started to drift. They moved themselves into the room and stopped as Stone took in the furnishings. A long, half-oval couch in pure white fit perfectly along the curved walls with matching, oversized chairs adjacent. A thick, black marble coffee table sat in the middle with a red-violet vase filled with white and black roses. The walls matched the color of the vase, giving the room a seductive feel when coupled with the elaborate lights that fit snug against them. They actually reminded Stone of antique candelabras. He swallowed hard as he and Gerald slung a limp Tammy onto the couch. Sighing heavily, Stone looked around and squinted curiously. “White furniture? Really?”
Gerald smiled. “Try not to get too messy.” Stone hated what was going to happen next. “Do you mind if Keegan joins us?”
Just then, the other owner of the bar stepped in. Dressed in a smooth black suit ad golden colored shoes, the man was the epitome of elegance. His hair was dark brown on the sides, cropped short with highlights on the long, wavy lengths that rolled together on top to create an intricate pompadour. “Hello, Stone. It’s been a while.” His green eyes danced with curiosity as he glanced between Stone and Tammy. He tugged thoughtfully on the lapels of his jacket, then the cuffs. “To what do we owe this pleasure?”
Stone didn’t miss a beat. He shrugged, sat on the couch next to Tammy and pulled her towards him. He dark chocolate eyes were hazed over with alcohol, but he could see that she was lucid enough to understand what was happening. “Sometimes you just need a change of pace, one that won’t get back to your girlfriend.”
The two men smiled and slowly sat down in the chairs. Crossing his leg and leaning back, Keegan answered, “don’t worry, discretion is of the up most importance here at ‘Dreamers’.”
“Yeah, I never did ask you how you came up with the name?”
Gerald laughed, “There wasn’t much thought to it.” He glanced over to Keegan who smiled mischievously, “I mean, how many of us mythics aren’t ‘Dreamers’?” He turned and stared at Tammy who had currently laid her head against Stone’s shoulder. “Plus, it makes Dreamers more comfortable showing up here. A place just for them. And if one of them ends up missing? Well…” Gerald shrugged as if it was the difference between having a sandwich or not.
“The cops don’t give you shit?”
Keegan stared mischievously into Stone’s eyes. “They’re too scared.” He then lifted his hand and gestured towards Tammy. “Bon appetite, my friend.”
Stone knew he wouldn’t get far if he didn’t do what was expected of him, what all vampires did in those rooms. He turned to Tammy, who looked up at him with wondering eyes and smiled. He brushed the soft pink strands from her face and kissed her lips. When he pulled back, he made sure to use his powers to persuade her, even if he knew it might not work. Although, her inhibitions were definitely down. “Let me see your neck, beautiful.” She grinned ear to ear and sloppily tilted her head back. Watching the pulse skip down her neck, he found himself tracing it with familiar interest. It was that way each time he fed. But, this time it would be from Tammy, and he had never fed from her before. Sucking up that feeling of guilt, he leaned forward and licked her skin. The taste of it made his beast arise, awakening him from his slumber. He took in a deep breath and felt his eyes turn to that swirling silver as his teeth protruded just slightly.
Before he could talk himself out of it, he plunged his teeth into her skin. He felt her inhale sharply before that euphoric trance took over. Then her blood began slipping into his mouth, warm and sweet, with the bite of that Zeotheon blood… and something else he hadn’t prepared himself for. Thoughts ran through his head, making it difficult to hold back his irritation. He’d just have to talk to her about that when they were alone.
From his peripheral, he saw a black cloth dangling in the air. He reached out and pulled it from Gerald’s grasp, swiping his tongue along the wounds, tidying up after himself. Pulling away from her neck, he used the black napkin to dab at the blood around his mouth and the tiny droplets that had escaped and were currently running down her neck. He caught her glance, a glazed weary glance that held understanding within them. He leaned toward her instinctively and kissed her lips. “Thank you for the napkin, Gerald.” He gave a lazy nod of the head while Stone took the drowsy Tammy and gently laid her head on his lap. “I didn’t take a lot. She should be fine soon.”
“Even so,” Keegan smiled, “there’s orange juice and other provisions in the small refrigerator in the corner.” Stone glanced around curiously, surprised he had missed it. He finally saw it, black and hidden in the corner, to the other side of the white chairs. “So, Stone, we haven’t seen a lot of you lately. We usually only see you when you’re making deals.”
Stone shrugged, “I do a lot of dealings with the Fae. They’re a shady bunch of assholes, and I prefer not to be the next vampire in one of their experiments.”
“They have to work on their craft. It’s how they make money.” Keegan explained as he rubbed his fingers against the hem of his pant leg that was draped over the other knee.
“Yeah, well, they can experiment on another vampire.” Gerald and Keegan both smiled knowingly at each other. Stone grew more uncomfortable by the minute, but he’d had 1,500 or so years to perfect his poker face. “In fact, the last time I was here, I was meeting up with some Fae, they had tried taking a chick from the bar and I ended up in a fight with them behind the club. Happened to see someone I hadn’t seen in ages.”
“Oh yeah?” Gerald furrowed his brows. “Who would that be?”
“Hypnos.”
Keegan pursed his lips and squinted his eyes, mocking true thought. “Hmmm…. You’ll have to be a little more specific. I mean, I do know of the Greek God, but I don’t recall him being here.”
“I saw you two talking to him.”
Keegan’s eyes then turned to a swirling mercury. “You must have been mistaken.”
Gerald cleared his throat, “Can I ask… why are you so interested in what Hypnos is doing?”
This was when Stone would have to be clever with his words and he knew it. He glanced between the two, determining which path he should take. “Is he going against Victoria?”
Their expressions never faltered as they stared him down for a moment. Keegan finally spoke, “Are you Victoria’s little lap dog, Stone? Coming to check and make sure no one is misbehaving?”
Stone snarled his nose at him. “Fuck no. I try to stay as far away from her as possible.”
“Then why are you worried about whether Hypnos is trying to create problems for Victoria?”
“’Cause if he’s starting shit with her and it leads back to you, I need to hightail it the fuck out of this state. I’m not interested in Victoria suddenly remembering me and using me as one of her little drones.”
“You’ve made it this long. You have to have some kind of resistance to her, don’t you?”
Stone shook his head, “Only distance makes it weaker. The closer she is to me, the easier it is to control me. So tell me, what did he want with a couple of club owners?”
Keegan stared thoughtfully at him, searching his eyes for lies. “How do I know I can trust you?”
“What?”
“How do I know I can trust you?” Keegan spoke slower that time, biting his teeth at the end as his teeth began to elongate.
“I think what my associate is trying to ask you is, what information do you have to give us?” Stone looked questioningly at Gerald who responded with a laugh. “You obviously want to be in the loop with what’s going on, but information isn’t cheap. We have plenty of money, so the next logical thing you can barter with is information. Do you have any information that we might be interested in?”
Stone had to bite back the desire to growl at them. Leaning against the solid white couch, he fingered Tammy’s wig with careless caresses. “Okay, fine. You want some juicy information that you can sink your teeth into?” The both hummed in recognition. “How many vampires do you think Victoria can control at once?”
Gerald huffed audibly. “I fought under her during the Battle of Seminara. I saw her control over two hundred vampires and the minds of almost a hundred human soldiers.”
“Exactly.” Stone rested his arm against the back of the couch. “Now, tell me you aren’t scared shitless of that woman and that you aren’t even the least bit interested in finding out how to keep yourself from being controlled by her?”
“She doesn’t do it lightly. It takes a lot of energy out of her.” Gerald stiffened and began to shuffle nervously. Stone fought the smile that tickled his lips as he watched him move uneasily. “But let’s say there was a way… How come nobody else has figured it out before now?”
“Do you remember the legend?”
Keegan curled his lip, “Of course we do. I’ve been around longer than you have little one.”
Stone nodded slowly. “Right. And what would you say if I told you that she wasn’t a legend?”
Gerald and Keegan both laughed loudly before Gerald sobered and tucked the loose hairs behind his ear. He leaned forward and rested his elbows on his thighs and squinted curiously at Stone. “Are you trying to tell us that there is truth to the Maiden of the Dead?”
“Yes. The only vampire to ever resist Victoria’s control. And her name is Mia-Ka.”

Once Stone had Tammy secured in the car, he got behind the wheel and headed to the mountains of Northern California. “What the fuck was all that about?” Tammy’s speech was stronger, more clear now. It made him wonder if she had even been drunk at all or if she had been faking it.
“What are you talking about?”
She slapped the console in between us and began to pull the pins out of her hair. “I’m talking about you giving them all that information on Mia-Ka! That was for us! That was to help protect Dakota, not use as a bargaining chip to get information on a fucking God that may or may not be pissing off Victoria.” She groaned angrily, tossing the pins onto the floor.
Stone cursed at her. “Do you mind not throwing those on my floor?”
“Are you even listening to me?” She finally had it loose and pulled it from her head, tossing it into the back of the car. Stone threw out several more obscenities before she continued. “If they find her, they could direct Victoria to her, or worse? Use her for themselves.”
“Seriously, Tammy? You think a woman that has been around for nine thousand plus years is going to be controlled by a couple two thousand year old vampires? You know the legend. Mia-Ka was the only reason why the French didn’t succeed. If it wasn’t for her, Victoria would have taken over Italy.”
“Then where is she now? Victoria’s obviously up to something.”
“Of course she is. She lost her latest pet fifty years ago and wants him back.”
“Exactly. And if she finds him?”
“I don’t know. Nobody knows much about him, but rumor has it that he’s the first vampire that didn’t die in order to be made. If that’s the case, I wonder what he is, exactly. If she successfully turned an elf, or some other light mythic, we’re screwed.” Silence fell between them as thoughts filtered through their minds. “Speaking of which, what exactly are you?”
Tammy turned to him, the light of the dashboard illuminating her strong features, making her look regal. “Excuse me?”
Stone shrugged, “Your blood. You’re not full-blooded Zeotheon.”
“Oh.” She leaned back in the chair and sighed. “My real father was a Thilatheon Guardian. My Guardian side is really strong.”
“Wow. I didn’t know that about you. What about your other siblings?”
“Just Hawthorne… and Dakota, of course.” She stared off into the night’s sky which turned a meek burgundy against the city lights, hiding away the wonder of the stars above. “James, Mike, and Julie are all our Dad’s kids. Hawthorne and I were both Lewis’ kids… biologically, anyway.”
“You’re the oldest and Hawthorne’s the youngest.” She nodded. “But your mom and Kevin, they were married?” Again, she nodded. “So…”
“Yeah,” she breathed heavily, her nostrils flaring with idea. “My mom’s a slut, what can I say?” Before Stone could even think to stand up for her mother, she turned with an outstretched finger as anger filled her gorgeous features. “My Dad committed suicide, and then she has the audacity to not only bring the leader of our flock, Elton, into the family as if he could be some kind of replacement, but she tries to act as if Dad meant fucking nothing to us, and then, when they found out Hawthorne was gay, they kicked him out of, not just the family, but the entire flock! And she stood by and let Elton do that! How could she?!”
“What about your other siblings?”
She snarled a lip. “Mike is just as bad as Elton. He can fuck off, too. Julie? She’s too co-dependent on my mother, so she’ll never stand up to her. And James…” she bit her lip and looked away. “He hasn’t been the same since he came home from war.” She shook her head slowly as she thought of her brother, sadness overwhelming the small area they were confined to.
“What war was he in?”
“He was off-world. Elton’s idea. He sent James to Gar-Ag Olk. They’re cruel people, and they hurt my brother. They hurt him in ways that I can’t even begin to think about without my stomach turning somersaults.” She closed her eyes as a tear fell down her cheek. Stone reached out and held her hand, knowing too well how violent the Olkeans could be. “I don’t think he’ll ever be the James that used to drive me nuts as a kid, who always tried to act like he was a tough guy but deep down, he loved everyone more than they deserved.”
She turned towards Stone and sighed. “James, when he finally got strong enough, left. He’s in Hawthorne’s pack, technically, but he’s a recluse. He doesn’t talk to anyone, he doesn’t touch anyone. The only one that he’ll let close to him is Hawthorne. He’s the only person he trusts.”
“Well, at least they have each other, right? I mean, James isn’t alone.”
“What do you know about Zeotheons?” He shook his head stiffly, signaling his lack of information. Tammy looked out of her window and sighed. “We need love, affection… physical touch. I don’t know if it’s the animals inside of us or what, but the longer we go without it, the more reclusive we get, the more our soul sort of… dies.” Her voice had slipped into a whisper, mental thoughts that had escaped through her voice… a crack in the facade of the strong woman she always let everyone see. “I don’t know how long James can last like this. How many more years can he go, hiding away in some cave and refusing any sort of touch before he eventually…” A tear slipped down her cheek, then another, and another until a river of tears slid down her cheeks onto her purple dress. “What if he commits suicide, too?” She covered her mouth as a sob escaped.
Stone pulled the car over on the side of the brightly lit highway, cars passing them quickly in the early hours of the morning. “Hey, look at me.” She turned slowly towards him, her eyes rimmed in red from the tears, her lip shivering with the drops she held back. “There’s gotta be a way we can pull your brother out of this, okay? I’ll look into it. I know people, and maybe I can—”
“Wait, are you talking about a fae potion or something?”
He shrugged, “It’s an option.”
She shook her head, “No. I don’t want you owing them, Stone. It’s bad enough that you do business with them.”
“It wouldn’t be a favor. It would be a business transaction, Tammy. You never want to owe a favor to the fae. I’m not that thick.” He smiled wide at her pinched expression. “But that’s not the only option. There’s a rumor that a wizard lives in Seattle, pretending to be homeless. Apparently he’s really good. I could go see him first, see if he has something that can help him.”
“You’d do that for me?” Her eyes widened with surprise. “You’d help me save him?”
Stone smiled, “I just risked my neck with two of the most notorious vampires on the west coast, and now I’m going out to the boondocks with you to visit your little brother despite the fact that I may be thrown out on my ass when they smell me and realize I’m a vampire, so yes, of course I would do this for you.”
Her expression grew solemn as another set of tears fell down her cheeks. “Thank you, Stone.”

 

Regrouping After The Holidays

The holidays can be the worst when you are trying to change your life. Everyone wants to celebrate with delicious and unhealthy foods, and it seems that people don’t understand that you still want to make healthier choices, despite the festivities. If I had an apple for every time someone told me to forget about my diet during the holidays… I would have lots of apples. I mean, at least a bushel!

But seriously, people don’t seem to understand that it’s not a diet, it’s about being a healthier, smarter, stronger version of yourself. It’s not about denying myself food! It’s about being able to see the food for what it is. Food is fuel, and the type of fuel you put in makes a difference in how your system works. This isn’t a “just until I lose xx pounds”. This is a lifetime commitment to myself to make healthier choices so that I can do all those things in life I’ve always wanted to do. I want to enjoy life, and not just the food I put in my mouth.

The types of food I put in my mouth isn’t happiness. The result of that food is what will give me long lasting happiness.

I’m not saying that the only thing important in life is being skinny. All I’m saying is that there are things I’ve wanted to experience in life that seemed hard or impossible to do at the weight I was. I may miss the food now, but I won’t be thinking of that Big Mac I missed out on, or the fattening potato salad I didn’t eat on Christmas when I’m on the top of that rock wall, looking down at how far I’ve come.

So I guess I need to find new ways to celebrate that doesn’t include food.

Finding time for excercise

I am addicted to food. I’m addicted to potato chips and cookies, sweet coffee drinks and cheesy anything. That’s me.

Sometimes, the worst part about working out and getting fit is finding time to work out and get fit. It seems that, the closer we get to the holidays, the busier we all get. And the holidays are the worst! People justify letting go of your diet because “it’s the holidays” while also being hard pressed to find time to work out. Adding those two things together, and you’re just asking for a whole lotta weight gain. And how discouraging is that?!?!

I have lost 25 pounds so far in my weight loss journey, and I’ll be damned if I gain it all back within a couple of weeks. So, now the dilemma is trying to find ways to not only resist the temptation to eat Christmas cookies and candies, but to also resist the people in your life that are trying to convince you that it’s okay. Just one, right? No, it’s not that easy. And if they persist enough, you start to think “well, I have lost weight. I’m doing good, what’s a tiny little cookie going to do to me?”

I’ll tell you what it’s going to do to you. It’s going to give you a green light for justifying more. A cookie here, a cookie there, maybe a tiny slice of pie, and then maybe a tiny slice more when that one is done. It starts the snowball effect. I am soooo guilty of this mindset, especially after I’ve seen some results.

I am addicted to food. I’m addicted to potato chips and cookies, sweet coffee drinks and cheesy anything. That’s me. And when I am feeling good about my weight loss, my brain tries to convince me that have those periodically is okay. But it’s never a periodical thing for me. It always ends up being more. So now I have to find a way, after doing so well, to stop this snowball before it takes all of my hard work away from me.

I don’t want to go back to the drawing board. I don’t want to start back at square one. But here I am, a full and busy weekend, thinking to myself “I’m barely going to find time to go grocery shopping! How am I gonna workout?”

Grocery shopping is a must right now, because without it, I’m going to be eating whatever I can afford, which is basically fast food. That’s not a part of my diet plan! But, despite all of that, I can not go the entire weekend without some form of exercise, and since the YMCA closes at 5:30 tonight, I highly doubt I’m going to be getting that cardio in.

But… there is this lovely sight call YouTube. Ah, yes, the place where you can find just about anything. That’s what I will be doing. In fact, I believe I will look for some Yoga for beginners, get some stretching and flexing in, ya know? Something different from my typical routine. I’ve been itching to learn some Yoga, because I know it’s very beneficial in so many ways, including the aspect of weight loss. Maybe my goal should be to get flexible enough that I can do a back bend. I had always wanted to do one, but I never could. That should be my goal, before I get to my bigger goal of being able to climb the rock wall. I think I can make it.

Well, I better get off of here. I have to go do that grocery thing.

(This literally took me less than 10 minutes to jot down, so sorry about any typos)

Work in Progress – “Tri-Corac Acid”

I could feel the heat of the sun against my back as the room I couldn’t block with my pillow was cast in bright afternoon sunlight. A sudden burst of power tried pulling my pillow away from my face, but I held on for dear life. “No!” I yelled as Kylie pulled harder. The next thing I knew, she jumped on top of me, sitting there as she continued her assault on my pillow. “Kylie, I’m gonna kill you if you don’t stop!”

I woke up to the feeling of an extra body in my bed. The scent of vanilla and oranges assaulted my senses, causing me to cringe. “Seriously, Kylie? That fucking perfume is assaulting.”

“No worse than your mouth.” I growled, pulled my pillow from underneath me and swinging it. It was caught with ease but I still felt better doing it. “You need to get up. It’s almost two in the afternoon.”

I turned around and pulled my pillow from her. In the darkness of my room (thanks to my blackout curtains) her pink hair looked almost blond. The rest of her seemed to fade into the darkness. I shoved my pillow against my head in an attempt to block out her voice. “In case you were unaware, I don’t get home from work until almost four in the morning, asshole.”

I felt her leave the bed and sighed. Maybe she was leaving me alone.

Nope.

I could feel the heat of the sun against my back as the room I couldn’t block with my pillow was cast in bright afternoon sunlight. A sudden burst of power tried pulling my pillow away from my face, but I held on for dear life. “No!” I yelled as Kylie pulled harder. The next thing I knew, she jumped on top of me, sitting there as she continued her assault on my pillow. “Kylie, I’m gonna kill you if you don’t stop!”

The pillow slipped from my grasp so I attempted to use my bare arms to cover my face. “Come on, Cora. Get your ass up!” She smacked me with the pillow several times until I moved my arms to grab my extra pillow and smacked her back. I couldn’t help but laugh with her as a pillow fight erupted between us. She fell off of me as I pulled myself to my knees. With louder wails of laughter, we continued our childish assault on each other until my mood felt permanently lightened. “Feel better?” She spoke between exaggerated breaths.

“Actually, yes. I do.” I pulled her into a hug and smiled, “Thanks.”

“No problem. What are best friends for?” Apparently a lot. She was the one person in my life that knew me better than I knew myself. My Mom did too, but that’s just a given. Kylie has been in my life since my father walked away. My Mom had always worked third shift, and when my Dad walked out, it was Kylie’s parents who happened to live next door that offered to let me sleep over at their house. Spending every night in the same bed as your best friend sent you into a tighter relationship than most siblings. But that’s what she felt like. She was a sibling. She was my sister. And her Moms were my Moms. I’m definitely not lacking in maternal influences.

“So, why are you forcing me out of my bed?” I asked as I stood for a deep stretch. The sun felt good against my skin, my crop top lifting just beneath my breasts. I wanted to bath in that warmth like a cat, but I had a feeling Kylie had other plans.

“Besides wanting to find out what the hell happened at the bar last night?” I groaned at the reality check. Damn-it, why can’t I just forget and move on? Because no one would let me. “I want to go have lunch with you.”

“No work today?”

“I’m playing hookie.” She proclaimed with an heir of ease.

I turned and looked at her as she played with her hot pink hair. Her dark blue eyes stared up at me innocently, and had I not known better, I probably would have bought it. Her strange steam punk attire seemed to create a sense of innocence on her tiny frame which I’m sure was the the intended result. “What’s going on?”

“Nothing! Geesh.” She protested as she hopped up from my bed. “Get dressed. There’s this new Asian-American fusion place right outside of Atlanta I wanna try.”

“We’re driving forty-five minutes or more to eat lunch.” I stated, as if the sound of its ridiculousness would help drive home my need not to go.

“You don’t have to be to work until eight. Get ready, wear what you wanna wear to work if you’re worried about being late.”

“I’m not worried about being late, I’m worried about why you wanna drive me forty-five minutes away from home just for lunch.”

She crossed her arms, her stiff brown jacket bunching awkwardly around her chest. “We don’t have any Asian-American fusion restaurants in this pee-hole town.”

I laughed and shook my head. “Fine. I’ll go.” She hopped up and down with excitement. I sighed and went to my closet, ready to grab my typical tank top and jeggings when I stopped. The thought of seeing Tri again left me standing there, baffled. I looked like a bum last night. That strange girlie feeling took over and I found myself terrified. Why am I worried about what to wear to work on the off chance that he might actually think about trying again? There’s no way he would be willing to go back and deal with my crazies. He’s done. He has to be.

“You know, if you’re looking to spice up your wardrobe, there’s a Hot Topic not far from this restaurant.” Of course there was. I looked at her speculatively. She simply shrugged with her Faux innocence and turned around, skipping slightly as she headed to the door.

Damn-it Kylie.

By Five in the evening, we were browsing through my favorite store, our bellies full of Asian cuisine which didn’t help the butterflies that had started there. “Hey, Cora. What about this?”

I turned and looked to find a rather adorable sleeveless shirt with a warm red color that donned Tri’s favorite band. Despite knowing what Kylie was trying to do, I did like the style. And it would definitely get his attention, although I wasn’t sure why I wanted or needed that from him. “What size is it?”

“Size Ten. You can fit in a size ten, right?”

“My tits, yes. My ass? No.” She scowled at me and tossed it in my direction. I huffed, “Fine. I’ll try it on.” I slipped it over my current tank top and it surprisingly fit fine. It rode up in the back a little bit, but most shirts did that. I turned just in time to catch a pair of black and white striped shorts that Kylie decided would go with my top. “Okay, I might actually need a dressing room now. I’m not trying these on in the middle of the store.”

A woman with hair brighter than my new shirt and at least ten piercings in her face came up behind me. I actually envied that about her. I was too terrified of needles to even get my ears pierced. “I can set you up with a dressing room if you’d like.” I nodded and thanked her as she led me to the back.

By seven, the two of us were in the car headed back. I had slipped on the red shirt, put some stocking on that bordered on fishnets with my new black and white short shorts on top. I had thrown on my charcoal grey sports coat I had gotten from Goodwill to stifle the slightly chilled air. You would think that sixty degree weather would feel warmer.

“So,” she began as she got onto the highway headed home, “We just had lunch and spent the rest of the evening clothes shopping for you so you could look good for work tonight, which is something you have never done since you’ve worked there. I’m sure you know what my next question is going to be, right?” I turned around and looked out the window. “Cora,” she chided, “are you ready to talk about last night yet?”

“What’s there to talk about? Tri came in, I freaked out and threw bottles at his head. Then I go home and he’s outside my car and he tries to tell me he wants to get back together.”

“He what?!” She almost screamed, “You better spill woman!” I did. In fact, I went into even more detail with her than I did with my Mom. After I finished, she chewed on it for a moment as we got off the highway onto a smaller one. “Okay. First thing’s first. The reason everyone called you guys Tri-Corac acid was because it sounded cool. Not because you two were disastrous together.” She drummed her hands on the steering wheel, “Second, you and I both know that you still love him.”

I leaned up to protest but she held her hand up until I shut my mouth. “Don’t go on and tell me that you don’t. You’ve had a total of two boyfriends since him, and both of them you held up to him. Trust me, I was the one you called with all of your doubts. Every doubt you had came back to Tri. So, let’s talk about him telling you that he still loved you. Or almost told you.” I sighed and leaned my head against the head rest of her car. “How’d you feel when you knew that was where he was headed?”

I thought about it for a moment before speaking. “I felt scared. Weak. Hurt.” I sat up straighter in her car to pull my make-up bag in my lap. I opened the sun visor and flipped on the light on as I tried to busy myself with my makeup. “I didn’t want to hear it. I wanted him to not be in love with me so I can move on. My biggest problem, as you’ve told me so many times, is that we didn’t really have any closure.”

“That’s one of them.”

I ignored that hint of insight hidden in her tone. “Anyhow, I think maybe I should talk to him. Ask him what the hell happened. Why he didn’t come back, all that shit. Maybe I’ll be able to finally move on and get over him.” Silence ensued my comment until Kylie began slurping her drink so loudly it made me wanna shove the straw up her nose. “Why do you do that?” I groaned.

“Because I know it irritates you.” She grinned. I laughed and continued my make-up, taking care to do the best job I knew how. I wanted Tri to see how awesome I am. What he lost. Like Dave said, it’s what I always do with my other ex-lovers. Why not him?

With five minutes to spare, I hopped out of her car and bolted inside the back door. I decided quickly to keep my jacket on knowing I could slip it off when I get too hot. I was feeling suddenly very self-conscious. My hands were jittery and my legs felt weak as I went to the computer and clocked in. “Whoa, Cora. You’re lookin’ hot!”

I turned around to see Joe standing at the end of the hallway that led to the bar and growled at him. “Don’t start with me, Joe. I’ve had a rough week so far.”

“Clearly.” He looked me up and down, smiling as he continued past me back to the grill. “You hungry?”

“No. I had a late lunch with Kylie.” He nodded and I headed to the front of the bar. As I entered the main area, eyes turned to me, at first in angst as they worried what I was going to do, but then in surprise as they saw the way I was dressed.

Oh, this was a bad idea.

Then I saw those caramel eyes and I wanted to cry. Tri sat on the far end of the bar, his toffee-toned skin glowed against the harsh bar lights. His eyes glistened against them as he stared at me. Damn, he was beautiful. And he used to be mine. What happened? How did we get to this point?

I had to have been staring at him for a couple of minutes before Dave walked up behind me, “Cora, you alright?”

I jarred myself away from Tri’s gaze and turned to stare into Dave’s. “Yeah, I’m fine. Thanks Papa Bear.” I winked playfully and turned to get behind the bar.

He followed me in and grabbed a couple of dirty glasses. “You look beautiful tonight, Coralynn.” I turned to him with shock. He had never told me that before. Not like that, anyway. He smiled thoughtfully, “I think you definitely got his attention.”

He knew what I was doing. Of course he did. He knew me too well for that. I looked behind me and caught Tri’s gaze who had clearly still been watching me. He didn’t look away or try to mask his desire for me. It was smoldering and hungry.

Run Away

So, her old Jeep left little to be desired in the world of the Middle-class, but Stephanie couldn’t imagine being them. She couldn’t imagine waiting impatiently every single day for a vacation that was always too far and too few between just so she could escape hell in a fiendish attempt to feel alive. She would probably have gotten married, had a couple of kids, worked first shift while her husband worked second or something, leaving her alone with her devices, and her sexual desires, eventually resulted in something that would resemble an affair; and all the while feeling guilty about the affair, enjoying every minute of it, because it was the only thing that made her feel something. Yeah, she would probably love her kids. She would hopefully love her husband. She would hate herself, though

Run Away

Part 1 of 2

This is how I sometimes feel, trapped in this place with no escape.

Stephanie sat quietly listening to her music. The wind whipping around her face was still not enough to mask the deathly heat in this horrendous place. Perhaps if she had just stayed in Nowhere, Middle America and used that money for a new car, she wouldn’t be in this predicament. But then, she wouldn’t be her, would she? She would be stuck in some dead-end factory job spending the rest of her days surviving uptight, cocky supervisors and arrogant, perverted co-workers. She would be her mother. She would be the one thing she loathed. So, her old Jeep left little to be desired in the world of the Middle-class, but Stephanie couldn’t imagine being them. She couldn’t imagine waiting impatiently every single day for a vacation that was always too far and too few between just so she could escape hell in a fiendish attempt to feel alive. She would probably have gotten married, had a couple of kids, worked first shift while her husband worked second or something, leaving her alone with her devices, and her sexual desires, eventually resulted in something that would resemble an affair; and all the while feeling guilty about the affair, enjoying every minute of it, because it was the only thing that made her feel something. Yeah, she would probably love her kids. She would hopefully love her husband. She would hate herself, though. No, on the road was where she needed to be. She had to be away from it all. She grew weary pretty fast, listening to her family tell her to “get a real job”, which translated to “go get a factory job. They pay well. The work sucks, but you get the weekends off… unless you get mandated… but then you get those nice overtime checks when you end up working those 50 or more hours a week.” Stephanie cringed at the thought. Who in their right mind would want to devote 50 hours of their time to some shitty company based out of Japan (probably) who could give two flying fucks whether you were happy, as long as they were making a profit! She looked around her at the desolate Earth around her, and smiled. With as dead and hopeless as this place looked, she felt more alive than she ever did back there. Here, she was free. True, the temperatures were scorching, and as she drove down the road with a car which currently had no running a/c, she didn’t mind. She would put up with moments of blindness as her hair whipped her viciously in the face, and she would deal with having to go through a stick of deodorant a week. Hell, she would even put up with walking around like a wet mop, because she was free.
She looked down into her purse as she continued down the blistering highway… Only $500 of spending money left, not including the money she put back for an apartment once she got to wherever she chose to stop. She had to make it last. She would just have to sleep in the car again that night. She’ll just find a rest stop on the way and take a sponge bath in the sinks. She would wash her hair the best way she could with it as well, and she would rinse a few of her clothes out, too. It wasn’t like she hadn’t done it before since her travels. She threw her cell phone out about two weeks prior; her mother’s neurotic calling had started ruining her escape. A part of her did miss the people she had left behind. She had missed getting up in the morning to the smell of maple syrup and French toast on Sundays, and a fresh pot of coffee every morning. She missed her Mother coming home at exactly 4:00 every afternoon after her shift at the factory, washing up and asking her what she wanted for dinner. She missed her Grandpa most. She would miss their fishing trips and their secret trips to White Castle so he could get some cheeseburgers and red cream soda. And she would miss Garrett. She cared about him. Hell, she had loved him at some point. They dreamed about a different life together. They dreamed about leaving and running away to start a new life away from their oppressive homeland. But then he chose not to go to college, which she didn’t care. He kept working at the grocery store after that. It was when he quit the grocery story to go work at his father’s factory that made her heart ache. She fought so hard for so long to resist assimilation. She didn’t want to become their robots. That was when she had decided to leave. When she turned 21 and her grandfather handed her the money he had been saving for her, she bolted. She bought a cheap car and some new clothes, and left as fast as she could. She hadn’t even second guessed the decision. Even after the arguments and fights with her parents, and the tears that fell from her Grandfather’s eyes, she still had to do it. She had to figure out what it was that she was missing.

Society and Today’s Social Media.

Let’s face it. If you’re reading this, chances are you have a social media account of some form. Most of us started using it as a means of staying in touch with distant relatives, distant friends, or (As Facebook was once meant to be) to keep in contact with friends from college. Times have changed since then, leaving us with a dire need to check our friends’ statuses, stalk people we hate or who you once used to be friends with. Yes, Social media was morphed into something very much unrecognizable from the days of “old”. How did it happen, though? What part of our psyche has us scrambling for the phone at the mere thought of another status update? What part of us does it feed? I think I have an answer, and I think my answer is exactly why I may leave facebook.As a young teenager, I remember sitting in the lunchroom, hoping and praying that someone else would sit beside me. The brightness of the room could not diminish the sadness I felt inside, seeing others flock towards another table as if I were the plague. Those moments of my childhood have haunted me to this day. It’s about acceptance. We all need love, in some form or fashion. We looked towards the popular kids because they were who we wanted to be. We wanted to be the one that everyone wanted to talk to. We wanted people to fight over who would sit next to us. It’s a way of feeling accepted for who you are. That you, as a person, are good and make people feel good in return.Now, not all of us are those people yearning to be the popular kids. In fact, the mere thought of “popular kids” tends to make me laugh. What makes someone popular? The amount of friends they have? The type of friends they have? The brand and/or style of clothing they possess? I would have to say it’s all of the above. Those are all factors that play into a person’s “Popularity”. Truth be told, a “popular” kid has a particular number of friends, a particular number of acquaintances, a particular number of enemies, etc. How many close , true friends do they actually have? If you took away the glitz and glamour of popularity, how many of them would still be there? Probably not as many as you would hope for. That’s why so many people fight hard to keep their status. It’s the fear of everything falling apart before them. We put too much into others accepting us that the mere thought of losing that acceptance will put people into a panic. I honestly think that I am better off, having not been able to feel the rush of popularity.So, how does that play into social media? It has EVERYTHING to do with social media! How many friends or followers do you have? “Oh, only 100? Wow, I have like 450 friends.” That’s actually something that someone said to me once. Popularity has escalated into a worldwide scale. Not only are we fighting for popularity from friends, families and old acquaintances, but we are fighting for the attention and acceptance of complete strangers. We, as a society, are wanting the attention of people from countries that we’ve never even been to! Why? Is it now the popularity control of “the further the reach, the high the score”? Is that what we have come to? Determining our self worth by how many likes, retweets, shares, +1’s or comments we get? So what, if you don’t get any likes, are you going to get more wild and dramatic with your posts in hopes to catch the attention of those you are striving to reach? Will you suddenly stalk friends of yours, finding jealous creeping its ugly head into your mind because they have other friends?Social media feeds our need for acceptance, and when we don’t achieve it, some people tend to lash out at others in order to get it. Troll? They just want your attention. They like starting a fight because guess what? Then you’re talking about them, thinking about them. Girls put erotic photos on the internet, why? Because they want the attention of those people. They crave it! Why do people put controversial topics on social media or controversial pictures? Because they know it’s going to get attention. The more wild, the more crazy, the more people flock to it. And why does society flock towards those things? Why do we run screaming towards the posts, telling others of our hatred for what they have done? Because we want to be heard. We want others to hear our voice.So, what do you do when people stop listening to you? What do you do when your friends and family stop caring about what you have to say? I have noticed lately, that my status updates tend to go unnoticed. Out of over 100 people, I might get two or three likes. And why is that? Are my statuses not interesting enough? Am I not popular or cool enough? Am I not controversial enough? Perhaps it’s all of the above, but I’m just not willing to change that. I don’t want to change the person that I am in order to get more likes, or to get more comments or words of encouragement. I almost did. And a few times, I attempted to push my own personal social media boundaries. Still, I didn’t get what I wanted out of that, and left me swimming with thoughts, chaos spewing from my pores. Who do I want to be? Who do I want people to remember me as? What part of me am I willing to compromise in order to get the attention of those I care about?None of me. I’m not willing to change a thing.  So, from this day forward, I have decided that it is in my best interests to step away from facebook. Yes, facebook is my downfall. So I will keep my account open, but I think my posts will stop, because I can not continue to hold my breath, hoping that someone cares enough to read what I have to say.

The Struggle of Being a Human

Who am I to declare that I am better than someone else so much that I have the right to belittle them for my own self gain? I’m not. I am nothing. I am just another Human Being doing my best to try and make my life mean something.

Everyone’s struggles are very real to them. You look at a girl of merely 15 and she struggles with the reality that friends aren’t always what they seem to be, but a woman of 30 has already learned that fact. We look at her struggle and smirk at her lack of knowledge, her lack of realistic views. Yet, we can turn around and look at our own struggles and wonder how we are surviving. Perhaps it’s because our view is in the first character. You feel that severity of your own struggles because they are relevant to you. Yet, we look at another’s struggles and we don’t see the value of theirs. Are we truly so self-centered and arrogant as to not see each other as fellow Human beings? Do we not see that their flaws and their pain make them Human? Perhaps their flaws or struggles are that of mere wishing on our part, “Oh, I wish all I had to worry about was who’s gonna ask me to prom!” “Oh, look at him driving that fancy car! I bet he doesn’t have a care in the world!”, but you truly don’t know. You look at another’s life and feel disgust or envy, either wishing you could have what they have, or snarling your nose up in pride because they aren’t up to your personal standards.

Let’s take a look at the struggles of others for a moment. I encourage everyone to go to a public place, and “people watch”. I want you to sit quietly, and look around you. Take those first judgments that you feel and listen closely to them, and then strip them away. Clean your mind of those initial stereotypes and self-centered thoughts, and truly look at the person. Look into their eyes, look at the way they walk, the way they hold themselves when interacting with another person. Take a step back and envision their life. What was their life like, do you think? Are they from a loving family? Do they have both of their parents in their lives? How many deaths have they had to endure in their lifetime? How many snarky people have given them the same reaction that you had initially given them? How would you feel in their place?

Taking a step back and removing yourself from your own selfish thoughts and stereotypical ideals is how you can find the empathy that this world is lacking. We don’t look at each other as Humans anymore. We look at each other as black, white, old, dirty, trashy, slutty, nerdy, ugly, arrogant, dumb, fat, scrawny, retarded, faggots, disgusting, etc. This list can go on forever, and yet they  continue to happen day in and day out. Every one of us will automatically judge a person on either appearance or looks. My own insecurities cause me to look at attractive individuals and despise them. I immediately expect them to be rude, full of themselves and dumb. That’s my first reaction, and I hate being that way. True, things in my life have pushed me into this way of thinking, but I chose to adopt that stereotype. I and I alone have chosen to use that stereotype to give myself a boost of self-esteem.

Truth be told, it really doesn’t make me feel better. It only shows my own ignorance. When I remove myself from those views, I find that many of those people are hurt, just like me. They have had pain, sorrow and insecurities themselves. So, who am I to add to another Human Being’s pain? Who am I to declare that I am better than someone else so much that I have the right to belittle them for my own self gain? I’m not. I am nothing. I am just another Human Being doing my best to try and make my life mean something. Will it? I don’t know. Personally, I am just hoping that it will mean something to me when I die.

I am not trying to say that we are nothing in this world, but we are all Human Beings trying to find happiness. We all want to feel good about ourselves, and to feel as if someone’s going to remember us when we die. As for me, I want others to remember my kindness. I want people to not remember that I was fat, or that my skin was pale and blotchy. I don’t want others to remember my struggles with depression, or my religious struggles. Instead, I want them to remember my warm smile, my listening ears, and my words. What do you want others to remember about you?

The Immortal Mermaid

she's a butterfly, pretty as a crimson sky, nothing's ever gonna bring her down.

jessica

This is Jessica.

She is Cayce’s older sister, who was one of my childhood friends & fellow classmates. She was 3 whole years older than me, but she didn’t seem to know that when it came to friendship.

She (and her glorious hair) became my object of worship. I loved that girl; she was second only to Ariel as the mermaid queen of my heart.

She was only 10 years old the day she died; I’m the only one who saw it happen.

August 18, 1995 — 19 years ago today. With Cayce’s permission, this is our story.*

—————–

Summer was drawing to a close in Whitefish, Montana. I was soaking up all the lake days with my friends that I could, but there was one particular, special, day that I was looking forward to.

Swimming Pool on the Mountain Day.

My mom was planning on attending a Big…

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