There are monsters

There are monsters in this world, and they look like you and me. There are monsters in the world and they live and breathe. There are monsters in this world that if you cut them, they will bleed. There are monsters in this world and they hide where everyone can see.

We are told to be scared of the unknown, but the unknown is not what hunts down our children in the streets. There are no vampires lurking in the dark. No werewolves waiting for the full moon. No, the monsters that rip babies from their mothers’ arms and burn families alive are not dark fae with enchanted wings.

No, the monsters that fill our world are not the same as the ones that fill our stories. The ones that we find between the pages and on our screens may have redeeming qualities. But the ones who slaughter pregnant women, murder old, and decapitate babies, those ones are not pretend. 

There are monsters in this world, and they look like you and me. There are monsters in the world and they live and breathe. There are monsters in this world that if you cut them, they will bleed. There are monsters in this world and they hide where everyone can see.


New School – New School Year

This year was different. Instead of walking into the Bear Den, which has been my professional home for the last three years, I walked through the gates of the Hawk’s Nest. To say I was apprehensive about my first day back on a high school campus is an understatement. Imposter syndrome had hit me hard over the summer. I know the work my future students can create and, to be honest, that’s not how my brain works. 

I can edit breaking news until I am blue in the face, but that’s not what I was doing. I was now in charge of the junior and senior film students. My strength is writing, not production. But that doesn’t mean I don’t know how to correct people’s work. I am a manager at heart. I love training people and giving them the tools to succeed. 

Accepting my new role was a two month long mental process. In July, I headed to a new classroom with my co-teacher and mentor for the last twenty years. The room was a hot mess. The cabinets were filled with abandoned papers, folders, and work that had been in here since the school opened in 2005. I didn’t know where to start. I felt like I would never be ready with how much I had to purge and set up. But God sent angels in the form of two of my former students. They just were at school with their mom/aunt. I lost count of how many times I would receive a text from that asking if I was going to be on campus and even if I wasn’t, they would go into my room and clean. I don’t think my room would have been done by the first week of August without their help. 

My mentor helped me transform my boring room into something fun because my brain was broken. I was struggling to figure out how to take three classrooms’ worth of stuff and fit it into one room. But fortunately, I wasn’t alone. My mentor totally had not been planning what room I’d be taking over for the last ten months or more. If you didn’t read that with sarcasm, I don’t know what to tell you. Walking into a classroom with functioning equipment felt strange. Knowing there was a budget at my disposal made the situation even more peculiar. However, the hardest thing that I will have to get used to this year is not being alone. Finally, I had a colleague in my profession, someone to bounce ideas off of. Which I will be forever grateful because right now I’m just trying to keep my head above water.

As time crept closer for the students to return to campus, I faced an additional problem. I had to make sure that my first-year students would live up to my mentor’s expectations. Once more, the lifesaver that eluded me during my initial three years of teaching was present. Yes, my mentor helped me out with getting ideas for my middle school students. However, I created all my lectures and developed my curriculum. I wasn’t sure what I was doing was right. I just knew that the kids were learning and could create content that was unexpected for them at the middle school level. But this year I had everything in front of me. A part of me desired to change it, but I didn’t feel ready.

I wanted to see how my mentor taught his classes. It had been twenty-plus years since I had been face to face with what he teaches and I am not that arrogant to think I know better. His system works. Students from this program win awards, they get jobs; and they are admitted into amazing colleges. Students who graduate from this TV Production Academy have life skills and I am proof of that. 

However, I’m basically sunshine mixed with a little hurricane, so of course after I digest everything from this year I’ll have to put my spin on it. 

This week my TV 1 students are learning about basic camera shots and shot composition. When I opened the lecture, I legitimately laughed out loud. I came face to face with the same images that I used in my lecture that I created three years ago. It looks like we had the same sources. Undoubtedly because he gave me a bunch. But he threw so much information at me I wasn’t sure what he used and what was just given as a “here figure it out” source.  

As we went through the lecture, I noticed something. I went way more in-depth on certain subjects. When reviewing the rule of thirds, he only had one slide. I have an entire lecture dedicated to the rule of thirds. It’s just funny what people focus on. 

The apprehension that I had with my upper classmen has also begun to fade. When I introduced myself to my first class, four boys sat there, radiating a “too cool for school” vibe. They underestimated me when I didn’t call them out. Instead, I intended to let their work speak for itself, yet their first project contained silly errors that a 4th year student should not make. When I could point out their mistakes, the laughing stopped. The next day, when I was bringing up the new assignment, they were all ears. I explained to the class what I would be challenging them with and everyone had a look of challenge acceptance on their face. 

We’ve only been in school for two weeks and I can already see why my mentor kept saying he needs a female in the academy. Some of these girls are intense. We are an arts program and that means we get some exceptionally interesting students. I have one who is interested in being a writer, however she hyper fixates on things. I could spot this out before he ever warned me. Another girl thinks she’s quirky and can get away with her unlying rudeness by squeaking. That shit will not fly. And then there are typical issues that girls face. A freshman who is being vindictive to her ex-boyfriend. Another who has a crush on a guy who doesn’t know she’s alive. Gossip is already flowing and I can’t say I hate it. I think the gossip keeps the day entertaining. 

So do I miss my middle school, in a way yes. I miss the professional friends I made. But graduating simultaneously as the students who I have been with over the last three years has made the change easier. I don’t doubt myself as a teacher like I did when I came into this field. I know my shit. Now comes the hard part and ensuring students can produce content that far outshines what the adults expect them to do. 
I always enjoyed a good challenge. 

Short Stories

Solar Storm

Disaster struck Earth at the beginning of winter. Satiates plummeted, eliminating nearly all forms of communication. The conspiracy theorists blamed aliens or a massive explosion from the sun, and the uncreative blamed Russia and China. However, the tech failures also affected everyone.

The big cities failed first. Many didn’t heed the evacuation warning. Instead, their inhabitants raided the stores. Stealing high-priced electronics, designer clothes, and other ridiculous items. They believed they would restore the power in a few weeks. There was no way the world could run without the internet or cell phones. Once the weeks passed, the looters attacked the few individuals who had snagged nonperishable foods. Eventually, word from the cities went dark. The government closed the borders, leaving them to die in the dead of winter.

I wanted to say I was shocked. But a year before, an alphabet soup agency approached me. It was the agency that didn’t broadcast its existence with a website, but they definitely had the credentials and knew all about me. The agent explained how the government was gathering instructors, high school students, and professionals who knew how to work with their hands. They needed out-of-the-box thinkers who solved problems on the go.

I laughed at the agent standing on my patio. “Sir, I teach TV production. Not sure what you want us to do if the world ends.”

He fidgeted with his suit. Wherever he was from wasn’t as hot and humid as South Florida. “Ma’am, you’re old enough to remember using technology without computers.”

“Okay, that’s rude. I am not that old.” I interrupted him.

“9th grade, your teacher showed you how to edit tape to tape.” He brought out his phone and showed me a picture of my now co-teacher, W.

“And you expect me to remember something that I learned for a week twenty years ago?” I was laughing harder. “Since you know so much about me, you probably know. I’m running off of coffee, little sleep, and can’t remember what I ate for dinner less than 10 hours ago.”

Irritation was clearly written etched into his brow. “Ma’am, you can relearn this skill. You can provide a team of bright minds ready for the challenge. Most of your students are dual-enrolled in biology, construction, ROTC, and automotive. Your students are more qualified to handle a national threat than most.”

“Fucking spooks,” I groaned. “Dude, they are high school students. Are we done with this nonsense? I have a 45-minute drive to work. I now have to do in twenty.”

He stepped out of the way. “We’ve already contacted your principal about the matter. He seemed keen to be a part of the program.”

“Cool, I hope you brought me coffee,” I said, locking the door to my house. “And what about the other teachers? To be honest, they’d be more useful than me.”

He held my car door open. “I have read them into the project. You were our last stop.”

I stood between my car and the sweaty man. ” Look, I spent years trying to work for one of your agencies, and now I’m being ‘read into’ a project. I should tell you to fuck off, but I’m too damn curious.”

“It’s in your blood, ma’am.”

“Then, can I make a request?” I asked as he was about to shut my door.

His jaw clenched. “You’re not really in the position to make them.”

“If you want to use my students for your stupid project. That I’m fairly certain is far more necessary than you’re letting on,” I smiled sweetly at him. “I want you to grab two of my previous students, Dj and Bh.”

“Is that all?” He asked, shutting my door. I nodded quickly, and he walked to his car at the end of the drive.

“What the fuck ever,” I muttered to myself, turning on the radio, only to hear what I was trying to avoid. Traffic on the turnpike, accidents on the local roads, and my commute had just hit over an hour.

Four blacked-out SUVs were parked directly up front when I pulled onto campus. So it seemed the Spook wasn’t lying. I did not know what the government thought we could offer them. We’re a strange school in the country filled with rich kids and those whose parents work their asses off to ensure none stand out. The student body liked to pretend to be country or hood, even though most of their houses cost a million dollars or more.

I signed in at the front office. Nobody joked or made a comment about being a half-hour late.

The front desk receptionist smiled and said, “Mr. W has your students. He’s waiting for you.”

“Well, that doesn’t sound ominous,” I sighed.

“Pretty sure you’re going to be super busy. He had a handcart filled with boxes and all these weird things. I think I saw a dial-up modem hanging out of a box.” She called after me.

Jesus Christ, I thought. Tape-to-tape editing and dial-up internet. What kind of nightmare did I step into? Who did I piss off to be tortured like this?

The campus was oddly quiet. Students weren’t wandering around pretending to go to the bathroom, meeting up with each other for clandestine meetings, or smoking. I saw a few adults in black power suits with earpieces talking to each other across the courtyard. It was strange; I wasn’t used to this. I wasn’t used to being at a high school again, but here I was.

I opened my co-teacher’s door, and instead of greeting all my students, the classroom was empty. I made my way into the control room. The handcart of Doom was empty, and so was the control room. Through the soundproof glass, I could see them all staring at the ancient technology. One student held up a mini DV tape, not understanding how to insert it. Then again, I had just spent the last three years pulling SD cards out because he still couldn’t figure out how to insert that correctly. These spooks were in for a rude awakening if they thought high school students would be their saving grace.

Then the sound came. A crackling followed by a few beeps and then finally a very long tone. It was a thing of nightmares. A sound I thought I would never have to hear again unless it was in somebody’s reel making fun of how old millennials were. Dial-up internet attached to a computer I didn’t even know could turn on.

“Mrs. J.” One of my students burst in from the studio. “Mr. W said these were the same computers you worked on when he had you as a student. How did you guys get any work done? The computer takes 15 minutes to turn on.”

I smiled. “Patience, something you don’t have.”

In the studio, I came face to face with five cameras. I had asked my previous IT person at the middle school I had just left to e-waste them. He had never done it, which was apparently a good thing. Then I saw a beast of a machine hooked up to an old TV.

“Do you remember this?” Mr. W asked.

“You know I don’t.” I waved him over. “Did you apply for some grant or something that was just meant to torture me while giving funding to a program? Is this payback for me being the moody teenager in high school?”

He shook his head. “No, I thought you did. The government is kind of your specialty.”

“I gave up on those guys long ago. Once I figured out what, I didn’t have the grades to be considered a legacy, and apparently, my search history was a little too risky for their taste. I thought being a bloodthirsty writer would be something that would interest them.”

Our students were playing with the technology, trying to figure out how to attach the cameras to the computers. They waited for programs to open, sitting in earnest, watching how tapes were fed to one another. I thought our little ADHD monsters would be bored, but it entranced them. However, I was fighting the urge to backhand the next one, who called me an elder millennial. They weren’t wrong. It was just disrespectful to hear it over and over again.

Before the rang, an announcement came over the loudspeaker. “Tv, biotech, medical, automotive, construction, and JROTC students. Please make your way to the auditorium. All other students, please head to your normal class.”

There was a collective groan from the students. A few cheered because they had not studied for the test they would be missing. But my co-teacher and I looked at each other. Things were going to get interesting.

The spook that blocked my door stood center stage behind the podium. Our principal stood next to him, just as thrilled as the teachers about the assembly. With no authority taking control, the students chatted among each other, only growing louder.

“Hawks,” Principal H spoke clearly into the microphone. “Please give your undivided attention to our guest, Special Agent K.”

“Like Men in Black?” I giggled to myself. I did it at the wrong time because the entire auditorium had gone silent. Agent K shook his head at me while taking his position at the microphone.

“Thank you very much for having me here, Principal H.” The principal didn’t smile or look even halfway enthused about this intrusion. “Your school was one of ten selected for a very special pilot program. We are challenging all the academy students to perform their normal academic test with limited technology.”

The entire student body was in an uproar. Shouts about what they were supposed to do without laptops or cell phones. How were they supposed to compete with everyone entering college without having the same experiences? More than once, I heard someone say that they could not function without being able to Google an answer. This was all cruel and unusual punishment.

Special Agent K tried to regain control of the student body. It took the principal stepping forward and lashing out with unveiled threats about how if they did not participate, they could not go to homecoming or any sports activities and would lose their parking spot. All the teachers laughed. This man in a suit may intimidate the adults; however, he had nothing to threaten these teenagers with. The United States government was in for a real treat.

Six months passed, and all the students had acclimated to their limited technology. We were coming up to winter break, and a few told me how much they enjoyed not being pressured to study for the certification exams. I lost count of how many of them enjoyed the challenge of learning how to create transitions with their film.

“Mrs. J,” a tiny goth girl approached me. “This entire experiment is ridiculous. I don’t know what to do without a computer. I can’t figure out how to make things look good. Everything I do is absolute garbage.”

“Well, Mb, your projects aren’t garbage. You might not be the best editor. You have been able to pick up cameras and work just the same as you always have. And something else that you haven’t thought about is how well you have taken control. You’ve been able to delegate tasks and solve problems that your other classmates cannot. Just because you don’t have a laptop in your face doesn’t mean you aren’t excelling. I think that was the point of the experiment.”

She rolled her eyes at the praise. “Why do they care if we can operate without technology? It’s not like it’s going anywhere. They’ll probably just start embedding chips into our heads, and we won’t even have a piece of technology in front of us. It’ll be inside of us.”

“I’d rather not think about becoming a cyborg, but thank you for the post-apocalyptic depression trip. Are you done taking up my oxygen, or do you need help with something?”

“No, I’m good.” Mb smiled. “I feel better when I bitch. I mean, complain to you.”

“Well, I’m always here to be a soundboard if you need me.” I looked at the clock, and the bell was about to ring. ” All right, monsters, pack up your things. It is time for you all to go to your next class and torture another adult.”

Students picked up their backpacks, dropping pens and pencils in their zipper pouches. Others unlocked the cell phone jail, pulled out their phones, and checked to see who sent the messages while they were busy in class being sequestered from technology. But more and more, my students would forget that their phones were in jail and eventually have to come back to my class and pick them back up before they left for the day.

When we left for Christmas break, everybody had expected to return. But just like COVID, the world came to a stop. Sudden bursts of energy could be seen across the sky on Christmas Day. “The end is here,” the occultists screamed in the streets. “The end is here! Repent, and your soul will be saved.” Teslas weren’t driving. In fact, any car that was made after the 1980s was dead on the road. Planes fell from the skies, and trains simply stopped. Telephone lines were jammed. Cell service was nonexistent, leaving only those with landlines with corded phones to communicate. They dropped news newspapers off in front of every home two days after the event. That was the only way that information was being spread. I’m not entirely sure how they got the information; probably radios and other forms of “ancient technology.”

Then, right before New Year’s Eve, Agent K showed up at my door.

“It’s time to get to work, Mrs. J.” He didn’t wait for me before he headed back to a heavily armored truck that looked straight out of World War II, only with modern upgrades.

I rolled my eyes. “You asshat,” I shouted. “You knew this was coming. What the fuck is wrong with all of you up in Washington?”

“That is why we had contingency plans, ma’am.” He said, holding the door open for me.

I climbed into the back of the truck and was met with the grumpiest group of high school students. The only thing positive about this whole event was it happened in December, and while it may not have been the coldest month for Florida, it sure as hell wasn’t the hottest.

“Mrs. J,” whined a female student with auburn hair. “Is this why they made us do all the stupid work?”

I shook my head. I hadn’t had coffee yet, and I didn’t have an answer for her or the other twenty-something teens searching for answers. I scanned the crowd, looking for my co-teacher. But he was nowhere to be found. The windows were blacked out. Students complained it wasn’t necessary or fair for them not to know where we were going. A few mutter things about how the government didn’t have the right to force them to do anything.

“The government can do what it wants.” snapped Cs, a blonde male whose twin sat next to him.

Ms, the class clam of the two, had his face plastered against the window. “Just like they made the satellites fall from the sky, and they control the weather.”

After what felt like an eternity, we pulled up to a gate. I only knew this because we stopped, and I could hear it being moved over the rumbling of the diesel engine. Everyone got quiet as we crossed over the track, and the gate closed.

“Are they going to kill us?” asked a nervous brunette.

“No, Pt, I don’t think they would have wasted all that time training you just to murder us.” I shrugged. “Then again, this is the government, so who knows?”

The Auburn student sitting next to Pt squealed. “That’s not funny!”

“You’re right, but we know nothing, so let’s not waste our time trying to think what if.” The truck rolled to a stop, and heavy boots were marching up to the back of the truck. “Ag, I think you’re about to get our answer.”

The doors opened, and I knew exactly where I was. “Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.”

The government had transported me and my students to the news station I left for teaching. Standing in front of the glass door were my former boss C and my co-teacher, W. They had worked together during their news career before W took a different direction.

“Not happening,” I muttered, sitting back down.

“If she’s not going, I’m not going,” Ag said, folding her arms across her chest and joining me. Pt nodded and returned to her seat as well.

Agent K walked up to C and W and shook hands. All three men must have been on it from the beginning. I shouldn’t be mad. I knew the station still had ancient tech. They never removed any equipment; many employees still knew how to work with it. I wasn’t one of them, but I guess I was good at wrangling cats.

“Nope, let’s go, ladies. They have coffee here.” I jumped out of the truck and right passed the three conspirators.

I said hi to a few of my former co-workers and ignored those I didn’t know. I walked by my old desk, stole back my blanket, and robbed CD of her coffee cup. If she wasn’t here yet, I knew she would be soon after I poured a cup of dark, caffeine-fueled goodness. I re-entered the newsroom, waiting for the station meeting. JB was still in charge, and I saw him sitting in his office, giving himself the pep talk.

“Thank you, everyone, for coming in to help during this unprecedented time,” he said once all the staff and students gathered.

“We didn’t have a choice,” called out Ms.

I did my best not to snicker, but these people highly underestimated the teens.

“All of you have been trained on the technology to survive the sun blast. While some of you have been working in this field for years, others of you are very green. We will pair up students and professionals together. Those who show they can handle the responsibility will be in the field while the rest of you will work in-house. All jobs are important. They have assigned our station to broadcast the news covering the entire southeast. That means from Key West until wherever singles reach. I believe the last test reached North Carolina, though the single was weak.”

“It was twenty minutes down the road. How is this possible?” I asked WW, a director friend I used to work with.

“I don’t know, but sat trucks are still feeding things in.” He pointed to the least favorite thing I trained him on. “Guess what you get to do?”

“You suck.” I groaned.

Ag and Pt stood next to me. They were equally unamused as I was about the situation we were in. However, I knew these girls would work their asses off with whatever task I handed them. Even though they were responsible enough to go out in the field, I wanted them where I could watch them. I had read about those who were attacking reporters and military officials. I knew the girls’ moms; they scared me more than any spook.

“Mrs. J, nice to see you back,” was the sly remark from C, my former boss. “You ready to pick up that morning shift again?”

“I pick my team, and you guys leave me alone. You know I’m fine.” I smiled at him.

He nodded. “I figured. That’s why I asked for you students specifically.”

“Who is going to watch this? None of the TVs are working?” I asked with genuine curiosity.

“Remember rabbit ears and those brown box TVs?” He asked. “The government has been stockpiling them since the scientists predicted the sun bursts were coming sooner rather than later.”

“You know, you could have called. Give me a heads-up. I could have brought my shit because, let me guess, we’re working hurricane hours, aren’t we?” He just nodded. “So, high school students? You think this was the best option?”

“Why not? College kids are too arrogant, and you know the field is short-staffed. Besides, W has a reputation for what students come out of his program.” C looked over at JB talking with W and was waved over. “Good luck, J. You better wrangle your kids.”

“I hate you,” I hissed under my breath before putting on my happy face.

It took about twenty minutes for me to pick which students would work under me. Most were strong editors, a few were decent at directing, and we could train the rest on how to use a camera. But the thing that I knew all of them could do well was work under pressure. They didn’t break when things went wrong. They may whine, bitch, and moan, but they would complete the task. It wasn’t easy to convince them they needed to go to bed before ten pm so they would be rested for the 2:30 am wake-up call. Even though it was a battle, I knew this group would be the best to work at such ungodly hours.

An old bell alarm rang at 2:15. Even I, the queen of staying asleep after setting fifteen alarms, could sleep through that noise. My team shuffled past the night crew, replacing the first set of zombies. None of the high schoolers looked ready to function.

“Mrs. J,” Ag and Pt whined when I saw them. “There’s no Celsius. They only have coffee.”

“There hasn’t been Celsius for months. Did your moms stockpile it before the burst?” I asked, pouring my cup of go-go juice. They both poured their own cup and dumped an obscene amount of sugar and cream into their coffees. “You realize that’s more of a dessert than coffee, right?”

“So what’s the plan?” Ag asked.

“You’re partnering up with a photographer and reporter, and you’ll be editing or shooting.” I smiled as her mouth dropped open. “And Pt will be in the control room learning how to old school direct.”

“No,” Ag groaned. “That’s not fair.”

Pt laughed. “You have to edit.”

“I shouldn’t have to edit. I edited all your projects for three years.” Ag tried to smack Pt’s cup from her hands. “You should have to edit everything.”

“Is this for a grade?” Pt asked as we left the cafe.

Ag rolled her eyes at Pt. “There aren’t grades anymore. School is over. The world has changed. Forget about grades. We aren’t going to college.”

“First, there are going to be grades.” Ag’s mouth dropped open. “Second, there have been colleges for centuries. Just because the world has shifted doesn’t mean things won’t return to a new normal.”

Both of the girls sighed.

C came in, his hair disheveled, looking like he detested his high school employees. “Look, whoever creates the best news package or directs the best show will earn a prize.”

The girls stopped. He piqued their interest.

“What’s the prize?” Ag asked.

“There is a rumor that electrical rations will go to theme parks.” He told them.

“That’s stupid,” Pt said.

Ag hit her arm. “Shut up. He’s talking about Disney, the happiest place on earth.”

“Disney didn’t win the bid, but Universal did,” C corrected them.

“Whatever, I’m still winning this,” Ag announced to the room.

Three weeks went by. I wish I could say things were interesting, but they weren’t. I swore I would never return vampire hours or work in the news again. But then again, no one ever thought we’d be going through another world-altering catastrophic event again.

The world was the same when it came down to the nuts and bolts of things. People were still robbing each other. They exploited the naïve, and the news cycle kept spinning.. We never had a chance to really breathe. There were press conferences held in our spare newsrooms. Politicians came by at all hours to address the ongoing situation.

At first, the students were star-struck at who walked through our doors. But that quickly faded as life at 3 am became routine. They truly fell into line. I couldn’t imagine that less than a year ago, I would have had to fight tooth and nail for some of these kids to complete a simple editing challenge, but now with little handle holding, they were in lockstep and key with seasoned professionals. It was by far the easiest transition, be it the sassiest and sometimes the whiniest transition I had ever experienced.

I wondered how students from the other academies were fairing. Had their instructors prepared them for a world with “ancient tech?” I had suggested that maybe we should do some fluff pieces on them. But Agent K turned down the idea. No one at the station liked the government having the final say in our news stories. However, they kept the power on. Without them, we’d be like the others in the outside world, where people were getting shot over farmland. It was the wild wild west, and we at least got to pretend it was the 1980s, just with more equality in the control room.

“Mrs. J!” Ag came bounding into the newsroom far too perky at 3 am. “Who won?”

“Who won what?” I asked, trying not to shout at a truck that refused to come into focus.

“The competition! Who’s going to ride roller coasters?!” Pt squealed.

“Oh, my god? Really. I’m trying to do actual work, and you two are making my coffee cold.” Ag stole my cup and came running back with fresh warm happiness. “Thanks, but it’s not up to me. It’s up to C.”

“We were just in his office. He wasn’t there.” Pt flopped down in the chair next to me.

“We’ve been playing the ‘Where’s C Game’ for years. He just vanishes and shows up when you least expect it.” WW told them as he walked out of the control room. “Whoever finds him first will probably be the winner.”

The girls immediately left the newsroom in search of C.

That meant I had about fifteen minutes of peace before there would be shouts from ten students complaining about the results. I finally got the shot from the twins’ truck online, and the moment they were live, I heard my favorite photographer chastity them about how they couldn’t tie each other up with mic cables.

I sighed. I guess some things never changed.

After the morning show, my team gathered in C’s office, waiting for him to announce who had earned a family group passes to Universal. He tried to do his typical ghost routine; however, Ag and Pt had blocked the two exits he liked to use.

C fidgeted with the passes in his hand. “I would like to say you all have done an amazing job. If things were different, I’m not sure I would have thought about having a group of 16 and 17 years running my morning show. However, this has been one of the hardest working group of people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. That is why this decision is so hard.”

The girls crept closer to him. Looking like lions ready to kill their prey. C didn’t falter. He had a survived his only child, a girl who graduated from college a few years prior, and her mother. The man was used to being outnumbered by women.

“I have decided the student has taken the most initiative in learning how to operate not only all the cameras in the studio, out in the field and edit, all while driving everyone around her slightly insane, is Ms. Ag.” C handed her the passes while Pt’s mouth hung open. “She has even crossed over into learning more about producing and directing. I’m looking forward to seeing what she does when she puts more energy into her work with this whining.” He winked at her.

Ag jumped around, waving the passes in Pt’s face. “You better watch out, C. I’m going to take your job.”

Mommy Blogs

D is for Depression not Demonic possession

Please excuse any errors. I wrote this at 3am when I couldn’t sleep.

I find it easy to believe that people once believed depression or other mental illnesses were considered a demonic possession. I mean, do you really want to take responsibility for the thoughts of wanting to drown yourself and wonder if anyone would miss you? No, it must be the devil messing with your head. But I didn’t blame any evil forces for those thoughts. I sought professional help. I probably should have also sought spiritual help, but that’s for other issues entirely.

Since being on summer break, I’ve really had the chance to reflect on some of the differences in my postnatal life with Bennett compared to Adelyn. The first and biggest was being emitted back into the hospital the day after being released and told I would be separated from my newborn son. My logical side knew how dangerous my condition was, but that didn’t mean my emotional side could process what I was going through. Instead of trusting the healing process and getting better, I was bitter. I was alone in a place I detest and fear. To make matters worse, I was about to spend my 36th birthday alone. I have issues with my birthday. My cousin died on my birthday. I’ve had multiple years of people being flaky and disappointing me that I would leave the state so no one could make me feel less on an already horrible day. Physically I was recovering, while mentally, I felt myself breaking and falling apart the longer I stayed in bed with wires attached.

When I came home, I didn’t trust myself to be alone. I knew something was wrong. I loved my children and husband but felt like a shell of myself. There were a lot of moments that I know were faked. Holidays were taxing. Finances were tight. I was only bringing home 60% of my paycheck, and the extra insurance I’d been paying for the last three years just told me my coverage didn’t cover C-sections. Apparently, to them, they were an elected surgery, and they didn’t pay out the hospital stay like they would have if I had a vaginal birth. So that was 600 dollars I had budgeted that disappeared along with three years’ worth of payments.

Instead of thoroughly enjoying the time with my family, I was bombarded with emails and text messages from my students. The person left in charge was less than a glorified babysitter. He didn’t assign the detailed work I left, and the chaos students shared made me feel like I failed them. I know I couldn’t pick their sub, but good Lord, it weighed on me.

For nearly two months, I was at my doctor’s office battling an infection in my incision. Apparently, a small part of my body was reflecting the stitches. There was a laundry list of other things my body was doing, but I don’t fully remember them. I remember thinking everything was happening so fast and slow all at once. I remember, at three weeks, I was sitting in my doctor’s office telling her about how I needed something. Something to help me heal the wounds that no one could see. She said I couldn’t take anything while breastfeeding. I guess my body knew this before I did because my milk had dried up two days before the appointment.

I was nervous about taking a daily antidepressant. I didn’t want to lose myself. But the little voice of my logical self reminded me I was already lost. The shell I was presenting to the world wasn’t me. She ordered me Zoloft. I was warned about weight gain, and it possibly blocking my ability to climax, but I should feel like myself again. I had to fight with the crazy person inside my head, telling her that I could return to normal. Things would just have to change.

Slowly the unexplainable tears stopped. I was more in control of myself. However, instead of weight gain, I had to remind myself to eat. I was dropping weight fast and waiting to the point where I would get dizzy and nearly pass out. Being an appetite suppressant is not one of the side effects; however, I got it. When my cycle finally returned, my PMDD was under much better control. I was far less of a bitch those few days before my period. But I started noticing something strange.

A girlfriend, who used to be a nurse and was prescribed this drug, warned me about a side effect that the doctor didn’t address. Or maybe I didn’t think it would be an issue. I was starting to forget words. I’ve always had small moments when I forgot a word or two. However, while on this little happy pill, I forgot far more than a word or two. It was slowly progressing and becoming more difficult for me to explain things because it felt like a block between my mind and my mouth. A few weeks ago, it went fast passed word. There were moments in my day gone.

That was it for me. It didn’t matter how stable the medication was making me. What was the point if I had no memory? I no longer wanted to kill myself, and I had picked up my house that my depressed state destroyed. I felt better. So I stopped taking the pill of happiness. I was on the lowest dose, so there was nothing to ween off from.

For the last few weeks, things were good until the other day. Adelyn and I were talking, and she told me how her feelings were hurt by someone she thought was her friend. The friend said some really nasty stuff. It reminded me of the fake people I’ve encountered in myself. Only I was much older than her. I had to hold back tears because I hurt so much for her. I never wanted her to feel that way, especially at six years old.

The over feeling of sadness for others’ pain was something new and definitely not something I felt while taking the medication. I’m not sure how I would have felt on the pill. That mental state already feels like years ago.

I’ve also started to dream again. My dreams stopped after having my son. I guess being trapped in a hospital for a week was a living nightmare that my imagination didn’t think it could do better. While on the pill, I’d have dreams but not remember them. They would fade away as soon as I would wake up. Now I’ve returned to the moves that fill my head. Only they are disjointed and not yet useful for me. I wonder, once my brain is fully detoxed, what weird shit it’ll come up with.

But being off the happy pill has brought back my PMDD. I was not prepared for the emotions to be so strong. The rage is the worst. Everyone is doing something wrong by existing. I’m trying my best not to lash out. The kids do not deserve it. It’s not their fault their mother is unstable. I guess that’s why God gave me Bennett.

He’s the happiest little chunk. However, the only time he truly cries and gets upset is when others raise their voice or cry. Bennett is pure innocence. He’s a baby who only knows love, and when others are upset, he doesn’t understand why and will cry too.

I’ve had a few small outbursts that have brought him to tears. It has broken my heart, but it has also quickly changed my mindset. I can’t stay in the negative space because I have to comfort him. And it has to be me because he’s a pure momma’s boy, and Dad just isn’t good enough. Even though his first word was daddy… Which he said clear as day, yelling at Tyler.

So now I’m learning how to be me again without the outside chemical change. It’s uncomfortable, but I no longer feel like I’m fighting a demon whose main goal was to take me to the underworld. The only monster is me, and learning how not to release the angry red panda on my kids or husband. I’ll get through it. I’ve already survived once I know I’ll do it again.


Day 40: 40 days and 40 nights of not interacting with social media

After 40 days and 40 nights of not interacting with social media, I don’t think I’ll be adding it back to my life. I woke up and checked my notifications. There was nothing that I truly missed. There was nothing on any of the apps that required my attention. I added the apps after Easter dinner and deleted them before midnight.

I finished reading book two of the new series I started last week and picked up my phone. Instead of checking to see if I turned my alarms back on. I opened Instagram and Facebook. I didn’t even really interact with the app. I just cleared my notifications. It all just felt like an empty habit. I got no enjoyment from what I was reading, and as I scrolled through my timeline and saw people’s pictures pop up, I felt sick. Everything about it felt voyeuristic and empty.

I discovered a friend of mine had a baby while I was on my detox. I also learned another friend had been pregnant and delivered the daughter she so desperately wanted this Easter morning. Out of the two women, I only knew one was pregnant. I thought it was strange how I felt nothing while looking at their tiny cute babies.

However, I’m not a cold-hearted ice queen. One of my longest friends gave birth to twins a week ago. I knew they were due on a Monday; however, I couldn’t remember what Monday. Time slipped by, and I texted her about the babies on Thursday morning, asking when they were arriving. Instantly bombarded with pictures of two adorable faces and a phone call. My friend apologized for forgetting I gave up social for lent and not letting me know the twins arrived. It baffled me. If anyone should have been apologizing, it was me. She just brought two tiny humans into the world. The least of her concern should have been the weird person breaking away from social norms.

We talked. We caught up. She sounded amazing. It felt real and meaningful. Nothing like I felt when I reconnected with the thing marketed as the best way to communicate.

My time away has been healing. I don’t feel the need to always have my phone on me. I am less anxious when I see my notification light go off. One of the biggest things is I feel my interactions are more human. What I know about my friends is what they want to share with me, not what I stalkers learned about them while silently watching their lives through a screen.

I’m not deactivating my accounts, but apps aren’t going on my phone. I will randomly check things on a web browser, but nothing like I used to. For the short time I had the apps on my phone; they were trying to occupy my time. I turned off notifications. However, whenever I opened an app, it asked if I wanted to turn on notifications. I don’t need that kind of bullying in my life. I already told it no multiple times. It was forcing itself on me.

So here’s to newfound freedom. I hope we all can break away from this false reality someday.

Lent, Teaching

Day 38: The danger of misinformation, especially with school safety

Today was a shit show and a half. But the chaos started the day before. 

We were in code red before the first period was over. Only this time, it wasn’t a drill. My students were outstanding. We all went to the secure location, and everyone was silent. While we waited for a clear, all I could think about were the students out filming. Not even five minutes after the code started, the all-clear was called. 

When my students returned to my class, I asked them where they had gone. Some entered other teachers’ rooms, some entered the bathrooms, and others headed to grade-level offices. Two students told me they left the camera rolling when they ran off. I said that’s fine; maybe you captured something interesting. However, a few told me they were worried about the equipment. I reminded them I could always buy new cameras. I couldn’t purchase their life back if the unthinkable happened. 

Finally, the last three students returned to class. And boy, did they have a story. They were recording as the incident began. A male student had become hostile and was verbally threatening a teacher. The girls were packing up. They didn’t want him to break the camera. He was punching the doors and shouting at any and all authority that came near him. Before that could return to class, the code red started. They left the gear and went to a secure location. They could still hear the student yelling and threatening as the Administration detained the hostile student. Two of the three girls said they were concerned about his behavior, and my third said she wanted to stay and get footage because it would be a good news story. I joked and said, “Well, we know who the future newscaster will be. But in all seriousness, your safety is the number one priority.” 

We all went about our day, and aside from thinking about how well our students handled the situation, I gave little thought to it. 

This morning we had our monthly faculty meeting, and we found out the teacher didn’t mean to activate the code red. Although I think it was good, who knows if the Hostile student could have lashed out at an unexpected student walking in the halls? We learned that pressing our emergency badges three times, pausing, and then pressing them three times again counts as six times. And if they were pressed after that, it activates a code red. We all assumed that pushing it three times would alert the administration that they were needed in the room, and if we waited a moment or two in between that, it would just reactivate the administration call. Most of our teachers didn’t realize that even if there were moments between the three punches, it would activate a code red, which is what happened. 

When we arrived at school today, there was more police activity on campus than usual. Most of them chalked it up to the code red. That was until the principal told us the suspended student had posted a threat on social media. The principal wasn’t even aware of the danger until he arrived on campus. We have an extremely good system where parents and students can report social media threats or any threat. However, our local police force was on our campus faster than the reporting system this time. Somebody had notified them about the student making a threat to our school. Our principal had just found out this information not too soon before our meeting started. Our principal is amazing and very transparent with the teachers, the students, and their parents. He composed a message to inform us that there was a report and that the police were already handling the situation, which he sent out once our meeting was completed. However, that wasn’t soon enough.

Students were already making their way to campus in the morning. Those who travel by bus leave insanely early, and many parents drop off their students before school hours because they have to go to work. So while we were in the meeting, students were already on social media sharing the post that the student had threatened the school. And they panicked without knowing that the situation was being handled. They did not give us a chance to calm the storm before it took place. The rumor mill had already begun. 

This was probably the most dangerous part of the day. Teenagers gossiping. Students are not talking to adults but to each other, exaggerating and making the situation worse. Kids were already calling and texting their parents, asking to be picked up. Parents calling the school jammed the phone lines, limiting communication. 

But while there were kids that were worried and calling their parents, those who wanted to be sure the Administration saw every single post made. They wanted to ensure everyone was aware of the situation, and I was so proud of these things. They wanted to make sure that there was no possibility of anything wrong. Unfortunately, things became worse when rumors grew.

This was when I started getting emails from parents asking me what was happening. I told them everything was normal, and we were all fine. I asked where they heard things, and they said a teacher told their children the suspended student had returned to school. Which I knew was not true. I reassured them that everything was safe and that even though everything was safe, out of an abundance of caution, we had an excessive amount of police force on campus. Then some parents sent me screenshots of the local community input people were saying. Some parents didn’t even have children on our campus and were spreading lies. And then the thing that pissed me off the most happened. My former news station reported that we were in a code yellow. Code yellow is when teachers are still teaching but restrict the movement in the halls unless absolutely necessary. We were not in a code yellow. We were not in a code anything. It was a normal day being blown out of proportion by people spreading lies and rumors. This was ensuing chaos. One mother complained that it took an hour for her to pick up her child. Not only was there an excessive number of parents picking up their kids, but they must vet every single person who was picking up a student. The administration was not just going to allow anybody to come to pick up kids randomly. It always has to be checked, and there were parents complaining about that. 

Today was a fucking joke, and it wasn’t because of our administration. They were doing more than necessary to be open with all the parents. They did everything possible to ensure safety. And they were trying to keep the students on campus calm. Unfortunately, worried parents made the situation worse.

I fully understand the concern, but social media’s gossip mill made things awful. News stations reporting with false information made it even worse. Adults and students alike spreading lies and gossiping made things atrocious. Teachers were with the students all day. We were calming nerves dealing with those having panic attacks. This put us under a lot of stress and pressure to make sure all students were okay and safe. Not just physically but mentally as well. Some teachers taught while others, like myself, turned on a movie and tried to distract the students from thinking of anything negative.

Adults need to be smarter. They need to stop gossiping and spreading rumors, and inciting horrible comments about things they do not know what is going on. Some parents were saying how their students were telling them a different story than what the principal was saying and calling the principal a liar. Our principal is anything but a liar. The students’ safety is his number one priority, and today he took every precaution. Our administrative staff in the front office were dealing with hostile parents, who were making the situation worse than it needed to be. Parents need to remember these are middle schoolers. There is a total no chance that their precious little babies would exaggerate the situation. I heard them exaggerating the situation. There were rumors spreading that an administrator got into a fight with the suspended student and was in the hospital, and there were people that actually believed it. Which I found absolutely absurd, since the man was walking around campus unharmed and obviously not in a hospital.

I truly understand people being concerned and worried. But they need to be smart. They don’t need to make a situation worse. And that is all that happened today. Gossip, rumors, news stations sharing false information. All of this caused more chaos and is not helpful.

I can’t believe this is my second post in less than 40 days about the chaos in schools.

Lent, Mommy Blogs

Day 33: Tea Party

On a Sunday, Adelyn and I joined a friend of mine for her birthday. She had high tea at a cute little tea house downtown. While the other parents grabbed a babysitter and enjoyed an afternoon child-free, I took her with me. Adelyn has been my tiny shadow since she arrived in this world, and I wouldn’t start leaving her behind now. Especially after how fascinate she has become with tea parties since watching the new Alice in Wonderland.

Adelyn, who is a connoisseur of fancy dresses, had originally picked out a dress with a long tulle skirt and long lacy sleeves. It was a lot of work; however, I convinced her to pick a more stubble fancy dress. It was a pink knee-length dress with a bit of tulle and a lacy tank top. She topped off her look with a teal tulle headband. Although I’m certain she would have worn her tiara if she could have found it.

We arrived at the teahouse before everyone else. There was a Victorian-looking settee in the lobby. Adelyn excitedly sat down before quickly standing up again to inspect the tea sets on the coffee table in front of us. She surprised herself when she picked up the pot’s lid and found dry flowers inside.

“Do people drink these?” she asked, returning the lid.

“No,” I told her, pointing at the wall behind us filled with jars of tea. “But they drink these, and they make some from flowers.”

She scrunched her nose. “I don’t want to drink flower water. Can I have chocolate milk?”

Just as she asked me about the chocolate milk, the teahouse owner walked into the lobby. “I think we can do that.” She told Adelyn with a smile.

As we waited for our friends to arrive, Adelyn peaked into the tearoom. “Mommy, we don’t have a fancy hat.”

“We don’t need a hat,” I told her. “Besides, you have a beautiful headband.”

That seemed to put her nerves to rest. Also, so did Rebecca, walking through the door. Adelyn got up from the settee and hugged Rebecca. Shortly after, they guided us to the table the tea party was going to be. Rebecca, Adelyn, and I were all there early. Even with kids, I do my best to arrive at places early. Also, I blame my father and husband for still functioning like they were in the military and making sure we are always fifteen to ten minutes early for everything we do. Rebbecca used to be an officer in the Army, so she is also inflected with this same mindset.

But our early arrival allowed Adelyn to inspect every seat at the table. She chose a cushioned flower seat with a white and gold tea cup. But as she bounced on her chair, I noticed she was inspecting every place setting. Even though she was happy with her seat, she was not pleased with her cup. Especially after she looked at mine. It was a forest green cup with golden details, and on the inside was a pattern of a dragon. Adelyn asked if we could trade. As much as I like the cup, she is five, and this was not a battle I cared to have. Her satisfaction with the cup did not last. She now wanted my flowered tea cup. I told her no; we have already traded once. While Adelyn was inspecting the other cups, Rebecca claimed the dragon cup for herself.
Adelyn looked around at the other place settings and chose a pink cup with a golden handle and roses encircling the trim. Thankfully, she decided on her cup before everyone joined us. That would have made for a quiet show, having her switch cups with a table full of adults.

Adelyn’s teapot of chocolate milk arrived with the other guest. We would have to wait until everyone picked their teas before the sandwiches and desserts arrived. I felt bad. Everyone was hm-ing and ha-ing over their choices. I could hear her tummy rumble. Eventually, the pots of tea arrived, and everyone began talking. Adelyn did her best sitting still and acting like a proper little adult. She would lean in and ask me questions about the conversations everyone was having, and she made friends with the person sitting next to her. He was a dad of a little girl just about her age.

“What are they doing?” Adelyn asked when the tea staff returned and started moving pots out of the way.

I leaned over and kissed the top of her head. “I think they are going to bring the food.”

“Finally!” She sighed dramatically.

Three-tiered tower filled the sports on the tables that were once taken up by the tea pots. The first tier had hot cranberry & orange scones with clotted cream and preserves, they filled the second with small sandwiches, and the third held desserts. Adelyn’s eyes got big, and she reached for the desserts.

“Um, no,” I told her as I placed a cucumber sandwich on her plate.

She sniffed the sandwich and turned up her nose to it. “No thank you, I’ll just have a brownie.”

“What are you talking about? You like cucumbers.”

Adelyn lifted the bread and scrunched her nose at what she saw. “But it has the creaming stuff on it.”

“It’s just an herb cream spread.” As I peeled the cucumbers off the bread.

She ate that no problem and before she could reach for another dessert, I already had grabbed a turkey & cranberry sandwich.. She nibbled it up and asked if now she could have the better food. I finally relented and filled her plate with sweet treats. She ate them all and emptied her chocolate milk from her teapot.

After two hours of being a sweet angel baby that I barely had to correct, she leaned into me and whispered. “Can we go home? I’m tired.”

I leaned down and kissed her head and said soon.

Every wrapped up their meal shortly after her request. Not because she asked to go home but it was closing time. We hugged everyone and said our goodbyes. She held my hand as we walked to the car and I looked down at her and smiled.

“Did you have fun?” I asked opening the door for her.

“Yes!” she beamed, climbing into her seat.

“What was your favorite part?” I asked once I started the car.

She thought for a moment. “Spending time with just you.”

It made my heart feel good to hear that. It’s what I wanted for her since she has been so good with her little brother. I wanted her to feel special and the tea party did just that.


Day 34: Between the pages of a book is a wonderful place to be

It’s funny what the love for a good book will do for your mood. I usually know within a few pages if I’ll enjoy the book, and because of Kindle Unlimited, I’ve certainly read some books that I may never have taken the chance on if I had to fork over ten bucks. It’s probably why I keep my book on Kindle Unlimited. It allows readers to take a chance on my book. While my blog gets pretty regular views, that doesn’t mean that readers will like my fictional writing.

However, I know the last book I read probably should have joined the very few DNF pile. It took me three months to force myself through the 350-page book. Usually, I’ll finish that in a night or two, depending on how much sleep I’m willing to sacrifice. However, this book made me look at my Kindle and sigh. Reading this book felt more like homework than being enjoyable. The plot was something that interested me, the angelic world and the human world intermixing. But the author’s writing style was not my favorite. I love dialogue and there was nearly none. I managed to get through a rushed romance that was very hard to believe and the dialogue was quite stiff. It took a sleepless night to finish it.

Stil unable to still my mind, I started reading another book. Not by the same author, but another indie author. I had forgotten what the story was even about because I added it to my Kindle library so long ago. When I started the book, the clock read midnight and the next time I looked at my phone it was nearly 4am and I was halfway done with my new book. Begrudgingly, I fell asleep. I could have stayed awake until the sunrose but I wouldn’t have been in the best spirits as a mom or a teacher. For the last few days, the characters have haunted me. I haven’t wanted to watch tv I’ve only wanted to read. I love the feeling of diving into a fictitious world and never wanting to leave.

My husband knows when I am reading a good book. If I don’t have a good book, we’ll stay up after the kids have gone to bed and watch a few episodes of whatever show we are binge watching. However, if i have a book to read, I have a not-so-subtle cue for him.

Either while we are cleaning up dishes or settling down after putting the kids to bed, I’ll say. “You should play a game tonight. I think I’m going to go to bed early.”

“Uhhu, you aren’t going to sleep.” He’ll tease. “You’re going to read. Why don’t you just say that?”

I’ll just give him a big smile, to which he’ll head into his office shaking his head. “I always know when you have a new book. It’s the only time you’ll ever suggest that I play video games.”

I love my husband, and how well he knows me. I don’t always have to say things and he’ll just know. However, what has surprised me the most about him is how much he loves to read books. I’ve dated other men who read, but it was magazines or articles mostly for knowledge, not entertainment. Sometime in January, we were talking, and out of nowhere, he talked about different tropes within the books he read or shows we watched. I just stared at him and in mid-sentence he stopped talking and asked me, “What?”

“Did you just say tropes?” I could feel myself flush. I don’t know why him saying that word suddenly made him even more attractive.

“Yes,” he laughed at him. “Why you think because I was in the army that I don’t know why tropes are?”

“I mean, not the army, but more of the fact that you skated by your senior year of high school because everyone knew you were going to war.” I teased him. “I just never expected to hear you, or well anyone bring that up.”

As much as I love reading, movies, and tv, I never really had someone in my life before to discuss them at a deeper level. It’s just been wonderful to share that enjoyment with someone else.

Lent, Mommy Blogs

Day 35: Downward Spiral

Last week I didn’t have the energy to write. We returned to school from Spring Break, and all my students were going insane. While I spent the week paying attention to my students’ needs and trying to get them back into the swing of things, I should have been paying attention to my mental health. I didn’t want to write and couldn’t focus. I was just diving deeper into a darker space, and it wasn’t until Saturday did I get a slap in the face. 

On Saturday morning, we finally took a break from baseball…so of course, that mean we headed to the baseball fields to support friends who were playing against each other and later met up with a group of boys so they could have fun, practice a bit and just be ten-year-olds causing chaos. I would never have questioned our Saturday plans if I were mentally sound. It was a beautiful day. There were daughters at the games that Adelyn is friends with. I would have never had a moment of uncertainty. However, that was not the case. 

When Tyler came into our room to ask me what I wanted to dress Bennett in, I just stared at him.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

I fidgeted with whatever was in my hands. “Are you sure I’m not intruding?”

“What? Why would you be intruding?”

“I don’t know.” I felt uncomfortable even voicing feelings, which is something I rarely have a problem with. “You’re just going with the dads, and I don’t want to feel like-”

“Stop,” he interrupted me. “Have you taken your pill?”

I shook my head no.

“Okay, well, take that.” He watched me and waited until I did. “You’re not interrupting. We’re going to Jeffery’s and Reese’s game. Their moms will be there, and Deanna will meet us afterward and bring Hailey. You need to get out of the house. You aren’t staying here. Alex, you never intrude, ever. You know this. If I wanted just time for Mark and me, I would have said so.”

He was right. He has never had a problem saying he felt, and until I had our youngest, I never experienced this issue either. I thought I was getting better, and I was feeling normal. But this weekend just proved that the medication wasn’t a miracle drug. I mean, logically, I know antidepressants don’t fix things immediately. I’m not even five months postpartum, so I don’t know why I would think everything is fine. 

All I can be grateful for right now is how attentive my husband is to my mental state. I appreciate how well he knows me. Even if it can be annoying, especially when I think I can hide that I am irritated by a situation. But I will forever be grateful that he knows me well enough that I might need‌ help, especially when I may not see it. 


Day 32: Reflecting on Biblical verses: Writing Prompts

I didn’t know what to write for today and was looking through different writing prompts for March. I couldn’t find the original chart that had the prompt about my classroom, so I kept searching. Everything that I was finding felt empty to me. It wasn’t until I found the prompt asking me to reflect on Matthew 6:14 – 15 did I feel compelled to write. This compilation was strange since I usually dislike reflecting on just one verse. Knowing the entire chapter the verse I was reflecting on came from was important to me because a verse on its own can be taken out of context. 

I will not pretend to be a biblical scholar who can recite scripture. I had to look this one up just like I had to do for the other two suggestions of Isaiah 53:9 and Ephesians 2:10–12. Matthew 6:14 – 15 in the NIV (the New International) bible says. “‘ 14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  I was curious how the NIV version differed from the Catholic Bible. “* If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”

Not much of a difference, just an easier understanding for some readers of what a transgression may be. 

I think the reason Matthew 6:14-15 stood out to me over the verses from Isaiah and Ephesians has a lot to do with where I am in my life. The older I get, the harder it is to have the energy to hold grudges. I see no point in wasting my energy and time thinking about those who have negatively affected me in life. The perfect way to rub it in their face is that they have power over me, and my decision is to live the best life possible.

It was difficult to get to this point. There are plenty of ex-friends and boyfriends that I have wished ill on. If people would mention their names, I’m sure I’d spit just at the thought. However, I gained nothing from this besides a sour mood. It wasn’t until I got divorced from my first husband that I put this thought into action. If people would bring him up sometimes, I would discuss things, and other times I found myself saying, “I wish him nothing but to find happiness.” It was an odd way to think. My marriage had fallen apart, and I vocalized that my ex would find health and happiness. It was a much different way of thinking from wanting some of my ex-boyfriends to get run over by a truck. You would think that I would want the same for someone I thought I’d commit my life to. But how could I ever heal if I held onto hateful and negative thoughts? 

“14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

I remember the first time I went to confession and the lightness I felt after admitting my sins. Even though the sin was something I committed, I had never forgiven myself for what I had done. I held on to that pain for nearly a decade, and it did me no good. It just filled me with pain. 

After understanding how freeing it was to truly forgive myself, I never wanted to live with that toxic pain in my soul again. 

Until reading that verse today, I never gave it much thought. However, it makes sense and still makes sense for those who don’t believe in God. How can you let go of that animosity and pain if you never forgive the person who inflicted the pain upon you? You can’t because it will always linger in the back of your mind. 

Another reason this verse stood out to me over the one from Isaiah and the Ephesians had a lot to do with how digestible it was. I could read the verse and understand what it meant without reading the entire chapter.

The NKJV of Isaiah 53:9 reads, “And they made His grave with the wicked— But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth.” Since it was only the verse, I looked up the Catholic Bible chapter to see the differences and try to understand what was happening before and after the verse. “He was given a grave among the wicked, a burial place with evildoers, Though he had done no wrong, nor was deceit found in his mouth.” This verse varied more than Matthew’s did, depending on which bible you read it in. I also found the King James version harder to understand without reading the entire chapter. In my opinion, the verse from Isaiah is a lot harder to reflect on as a standalone verse. The book of Isaiah is from the old testament, and because of that, it has a Christian and Jewish interpretation. Isaiah was a prophet, and while Chapter 53 never identifies the suffering servant, many believe the chapter is prophesying Jesus. I am not really sure how anyone could just reflect on the verse without reading the entire chapter. 

I could have reflected on the other two verses from the new testament, just like Matthew.  Ephesians 2:10–12 from the NKJV reads, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” VS Ephesians 2:10–12 from the Catholic Bible: “For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them. Therefore, remember that at one time you, Gentiles in the flesh, called the uncircumcision by those called the circumcision, which is done in the flesh by human hands, were at that time without Christ, alienated from the community of Israel* and strangers to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world.”

To me, the verses from Ephesians are lacking as standalone verses. You could read them and say, “yes, I understand the meaning of these words.” However, out of context, these verses are only a gentle reminder from Paul about our life before Christ. It doesn’t really stress the love of God and what the darkness was before salvation, which was the meaning of the chapter and the letter Paull had written. 

I guess I ended up reflecting on all three verses, though only truly relating one to my life. It’s not just the verses that I relate to but all of chapter six from the book of Matthew. It has always been one of my favorites, especially when we get around the time of lent. Matthew Chapter 6: 1 – 8 

1 “[But] take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. 

2 When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites* do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. 

3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,

 4 so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. 

5 “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. 

6 But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. 

7 * In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.* 

8 Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

After the verses, it leads into the lord’s prayer. 

While I share my faith here on my blog, I speak little about my faith in person. I don’t need to share it with everyone I meet. Everyone has their own relationship with God, and in south Florida, there are a lot of different churches with their take on Christianity. If the conversation comes up naturally, I will have no problem discussing my faith and how it has affected my life, but I will not scream it from the rooftops. I will not shove it down others’ throats because I don’t find it to be effective. I find living my life naturally and letting my actions show beliefs to be a lot louder than forcefully demanding those to listen to me and my journey in Christ.