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My Only Child

Every year, this is a week of seclusion for me. This is when I hide from the world, not wanting contact with anyone unless it's necessary. Today is my son's birthday.



This is the true story that not many people know. This is NOT for the faint of heart. This is NOT for those who wish to pass judgement on those they do not know or understand.

I have a son. A beautiful little boy named Ethan who turned 10 years old today. He lives in Arkansas with his father. That's as far as I usually get when trying to share this story with someone. Even now I hesitate telling this story for fear that so many of you out there will also pass similar judgement upon me. I deserve a fair chance, and so do you if you are my friend. You deserve to know. My son deserves to be known about.

So many people take it upon themselves to pass certain judgement upon me within the first few moments of finding out I have a son living in another state. I will admit that my situation is less than favorable, but there is nothing about it that a single person alive fully understands, with the exception of myself. This DOES include my ex-husband.

When my son was born, I went through some very severe complications. It was within hours of his birth that I was rushed into an emergency surgery. From what I understand, my chances of survival were slim. I actually died a few times during the surgery. When I came to, something inside me snapped. It took a few months for the full change to take effect I suppose, but when it hit, it hit big.

What had made me a woman was ripped from me - the emergency surgery was a massive hysterectomy that left me seriously scarred for life. No small amount of plastic surgery can ever put me back the way I was. I lost every bit of the self-respect and confidence I had worked so hard to earn in the brief 2 years I had been away from my parents home and the horrible state of Utah that so desperately crushed my esteem while in my teen years. I was now well over 200 lbs, isolated from the world except for my dog and constantly screaming baby. I had no friends, no family, and no way out. THAT was when it hit.

Ethan was about 9 months old when I decided that it was best for all involved if I left and got a divorce. I had been previously unhappy in the marriage and had left my ex-husband before returning to him due to lack of choices. That was when I got pregnant because I was careless, stupid, immature, reckless, and desperate for love that I could return. My ex loved me, I know that. He still does, but I'll get to that later. It wasn't long before I realized that a baby was just too much right then. It was not a healthy place to be. I was feeling as though the only way out was death for myself or for that of my child.

The first time I picked up my screaming, angry baby and shook him, I cried so hard that I felt like I'd never be able to stand on my own again. I set him in the crib, still screaming, and collapsed on the floor in a bawling heap, wondering what I had done in this life to deserve to go through this at 20 years old. Why would I be punished so harshly - to be bed ridden for 7 of the 9 months of my pregnancy for fear of loosing the baby - to die after labor - to be revived, and to learn a part of me was taken away from me - to realize I would never have the choice of having another child again - to feeling like I was the worst mother in the known world, dangerous to my own baby. It was so utterly unfair.

I stood up that day and walked out of the front door to our shanty of a trailer, got in the car, and drove away. I went back about a half an hour later, but I just couldn't take it any more. I had to get out of there. Within a few weeks, I had a job and a girl lined up to be my roommate. I told my ex I was leaving and that I wanted a divorce.

He was fair and just in the divorce, and even made sure that I got "Any Reasonable Visitation" with my son. That was what I wanted. That and my freedom from my ex-husband. I had grown to hate him, though I freely admit that he is a good father.

For too many years I have had to miss my only child's birthday. In 2005 I went to Arkansas for his birthday, while married (albeit briefly) to another man. I was holding down 3 jobs at the time in order to afford the trip. I flew to Arkansas on a early flight after a late night at work. I left work around 2 a.m. and boarded the plane at 5 a.m, and when I flew home, it was barely in time to go to work only an hour later. I was able to spend two glorious days with my son, and I wouldn't ever change that for the world. That, my friends, was the last time I saw my beautiful child... until December of last year.

That trip in 2005 was gruesome for me. I had nowhere to stay since I could barely afford the plane ticket. My ex picked me up at the Memphis airport, and it had been previously arranged that I would sleep on his couch. Even though that's what we had agreed upon, that's not what he had in mind.

Due to a layover, I got into Memphis in the afternoon. As soon as I got off the plane, I was hoping for a hug from my little boy. I had a surprise. He didn't even know who I was. I was devistated. Instead, my ex wanted a hug from me. I patted him on the shoulder and told him that I had missed my little boy.

"Didn't you miss me at all?"

I wanted to say no, and knew that if I didn't say yes, I wouldn't have a place to stay while in the state. So, I did all my stomach would allow me to.

"Well, I'm married again. You know that, right?"

"I know, but does that mean you can't hug me?"

"Alright, fine." I gave him a very short, fleeting hug. He
moaned in my ear.

"Oh Baby, I've missed you so much! You feel so good!" I jumped back. My skin was crawling under the fully covering clothes I had on in the August southern heat. I felt slimy...

We immediately took Ethan to the zoo.

Ethan got more used to me and eventually reached out to hold my hand several times. So did my ex. Again my skin crawled. When he reached out and patted me on the bottom, I nearly turned and slugged him. I felt violated!!! It got worse that night when he asked me to sleep in his room.

"Oh, come on... it's not like we're strangers, you know."

"I'm married to someone else!"

"So? What he doesn't know wont hurt him. Come on..."

Appalled, I grabbed a pillow on the couch to fluff it a bit for myself.

"Then," he murmured, "can I at least have a kiss?"

Of course I turned him down, but that was far from the end of his advances. He insisted and forced me to allow him to kiss me on the cheek at one point.

He pawed all over me and fondled me any way he could that entire trip. If I was to be with Ethan, I had to put up with him being there with me, all the time, making advances, trying to kiss me, wanting to touch me, telling me he loved me. Otherwise it wasn't 'convenient' for him, and that's what he interpreted 'any reasonable visitation' to mean.

By the end of the trip, I felt like a cheap trick, bought and paid for with a chance to see my son. He treated me as though I was his property. I couldn't keep his hands off of me, and things blew hot and cold. If I refused a hug from him, I couldn't take my son to the store or to my grandmothers house. He would be so upset with me that you could cut the tension in the house with a knife. I was pawed all over and treated like I was his personal whore. I felt so filthy when I got back that I wouldn't get out of the shower until I was afraid I was going to be late for work. When I got home from work that night I went straight back to the shower. I couldn't look at my (then) husband.

My husband grew suspicious of me after my return. He began accusing me of things I hadn't done, and his jealousy got the better of him eventually. His suspicions of that trip and of other instances eventually destroyed our marriage, and I have never taken insane jealousy well. He became obsessed over the matter and eventually I left him and filed for divorce.

I cant go back to Arkansas alone - and this year I dont have a grandmother there to meet me. I cant afford to go anyway - though there is nothing more in this world I would love than to see my beautiful little boy again. He means so much to me that every year on his birthday I can be found sobbing my eyes out, hugging my knees on the floor beside the couch. I used to wish somehow that I hadn't survived that surgery after all.



I will be nobody's puppet, no matter what the personal cost may be. I made a sacrifice, and I pay for it every day of my life. It's worse than putting your child up for adoption because you know where they are. It's not worse than having your child die, but from my own point of view it's almost as bad. I know where he is - I just cant reach out and touch him. I would give anything - almost anything - to be with him, if only for a few hours. I just wont give my self respect or my body to someone like my ex-husband. I didn't on that trip, and I never will. I am worth more than that.


Now, if I knew my child were in danger, you better believe I'd be singing a different tune. But he's not in danger, and so I suffer alone. Every year. Every month. Every day. EVERY BREATH. I ache with the pain. I see him when I close my eyes and try my damnedest to sleep longer just so that I might see his face again because I know that when I open my eyes, he'll be gone and I'll be left with this gut-wrenching feeling of loneliness, longing for the only child I will ever have... that precious life that once only existed inside of me. He's a part of me, even now. I've never let go of that, though I feel like I'll never have it again.

Now you know the real story. Do you presume to pass judgement on me as well? I have shared my story - now do you dare share your opinion?


American Law Makers

Real Laws

These are real standing laws from around the United States of America.



Alabama:

1. It is illegal for a driver to be blindfolded while operating a vehicle.


California:

1. Community leaders passed an ordinance that makes it illegal for anyone to try and stop a child from playfully jumping over puddles of water.


Connecticut:

1. You can be stopped by the police for biking over 65 miles per hour.
2. You are not allowed to walk across a street on your hands.


Florida:

1. Women may be fined for falling asleep under a hair dryer, as can the salon owner.
2. A special law prohibits unmarried women from parachuting on Sunday or she shall risk arrest, fine, and/or jailing.
3. If an elephant is left tied to a parking meter, the parking fee has to be paid just as it would for a vehicle.
4. It is illegal to sing in a public place while attired in a swimsuit.
5. Men may not be seen publicly in any kind of strapless gown.


Illinois:

1. It is illegal for anyone to give lighted cigars to dogs, cats, and other domesticated animal kept as pets.


Indiana:

1. Bathing is prohibited during the winter.
2. Citizens are not allowed to attend a movie house or theatre nor ride in a public streetcar within at least four hours after eating garlic.


Iowa:

1. Kisses may last for as much as, but no more than, five minutes.


Kentucky:

1. By law, anyone who has been drinking is "sober" until he or she "cannot hold onto the ground."
2. It is illegal to transport an ice cream cone in your pocket.


Louisiana:

1. It is illegal to rob a bank and then shoot at the bank teller with a water pistol.
2. Biting someone with your natural teeth is "simple assault," while biting someone with your false teeth is "aggravated assault."


Massachusetts:

1. Mourners at a wake may not eat more than three sandwiches.
2. Snoring is prohibited unless all bedroom windows are closed and securely locked.
3. An old ordinance declares goatees illegal unless you first pay a special license fee for the privilege of wearing one in public.


Nebraska:

1. A parent can be arrested if his child cannot hold back a burp during a church service.


New Mexico:

1. Females are strictly forbidden to appear unshaven in public.


New York:

1. A fine of $25 can be levied for flirting. This old law specifically prohibits men from turning around on any city street and looking "at a women in that way." A second conviction for a crime of this magnitude calls for the violating male to be forced to wear a "pair of horse-blinders" wherever and whenever he goes outside for a stroll.


North Dakota:

1. Beer & pretzels can't be served at the same time in any bar or restaurant.


Ohio:

1. Women are prohibited from wearing patent leather shoes in public.


Oklahoma:

1. Violators can be fined, arrested or jailed for making ugly faces at a dog.
2. Females are forbidden from doing their own hair without being licensed by the state.
3. Dogs must have a permit signed by the mayor in order to congregate in groups of three or more on private property.


Pennsylvania:

1. A special cleaning ordinance bans housewives from hiding dirt and dust under a rug in a dwelling.
2. No man may purchase alcohol without written consent from his wife.


Texas:

1. A city ordinance states that a person cannot go barefoot without first obtaining a special five-dollar permit.
2. It is illegal to take more than three sips of beer at a time while standing.


Vermont:

1. Lawmakers made it obligatory for everybody to take at least one bath each week - on Saturday night.


Washington:

1. All lollipops are banned.
2. A law to reduce crime states: "It is mandatory for a motorist with criminal intentions to stop at the city limits and telephone the chief of police as he is entering the town.


West Virginia:

1. No children may attend school with their breath smelling of "wild onions."






Perhaps before we wonder what someone has as a "law" in another country, we should look at our own back yards. Literally. I mean, look back at Kentucky.

I'm No Rita Hayworth.


I'm certainly no Rita Hayworth
Or some glamorous beauty queen
But he looks at me each day
Like I walked off the silver screen.


With a two day growth, he's gorgeous
Though he feels like he should shave
It's these moments in our lives
I wish I could box and save.

The world may not understand us
The way we get along,
But he is my prince charming,
I knew would come along


He's perfect for me in every way,
Like a gift from far above.
I am so supremely lucky
That he returns my love.

I'm certainly no Rita Hayworth
Or a glamorous beauty queen
But who cares about MY appearance,
To me, it's HIM whos the dream!


Fry Guys


Who among you remembers the McDonald's Fry Guys?


When the Fry Guys first made a lasting mark in my memory, it was about the mid 80's if I remember correctly. I just loved the plush, funny faces with bug eyes, mops of hair and legs coming straight from their heads. After all, that's how I drew people when I was really little. I forgot they had bodies! Arms would stick out from where the ears should be, legs came from the neck, and the body was completely forgotten. The Fry Guys were an instant hit with me.


McDonald's took the huge hit character and began marketing it all over the place. First came the clothing line. The Fry Guys were on kids T-shirts and socks. The printed faces could occasionally even be seen on flannel pajamas and night dresses for children. I loved those little guys! I wanted a Fry Guys thing of my very own.




I remember walking through the BX on Little Rock Air Force Base one of the few times we ever went there with my mother. Rack after rack of clothing could be seen with the McDonald's merchandise hanging from it. Hamburglar and that big purple guy Grimace were even being marketed those days. Kids everywhere in school had some sort of McDonald's caracter clothing. As much as I loved the Fry Guys, I knew exactly what I wanted.



"Manda, we already have all of your school clothes," Mom said to me that blustery Arkansas fall. Halloween was coming up and we were looking for pumpkins to put our candy in. I stood on the back of the cart and let my mom push me in that direction. I really wanted some of the Fry Guys stuff.




"Oh Manda," My mom said, suddenly wheeling the cart down one of the aisles, "Look at these!" Bright red and yellow slippers with the heads of Fry Guys on the toes were hanging in front of my face. "Aren't these cute?!"


My face lit up. Mom had seen the light! She knew how badly I wanted those Fry Guys for my very own, and now she had picked something out for me!

"Mom, can I have 'em?" I asked politely. "Puh Lease!"


"Manda, you already have some slippers. You don't need more. I just thought they were cute."


My face fell and I don't remember much else about that shopping trip. We found the plastic orange pumpkins and left with our purchase. The Fry Guys slippers remained behind.


Several months went by and I stopped asking for the Fry Guys. I knew there was no way I was going to get them. That Christmas, a miracle happened.


Brightly wrapped gifts lined the floor under the small tree we had put up in the living room. McDonald's even had their own wrapping paper that year, and the Fry Guys were on the occasional package. So were Grimace and Hamburglar. I loved the shine of the foil backgrounds, the brighly colored characters, the golden arches advertising the franchise. There was also Santa paper, snow man paper, bright blue and gold ribbons, red and silver bows. Everywhere I looked was like seeing the northern lights in our living room.


Dad was away that year in Alaska. He had told us about the Northern Lights in one of his letters. Back then there was no email or internet... we had to send hand written letters to him as he did to us. There was no other way. Having a year remote tour in the military was much harder in those days without web cams and instant communications methods. I still don't know how my mother survived that year with us two kids and no husband, but somehow she pulled through. Because Dad was gone on Christmas, Mom wanted to set up the video camera and show Dad our faces as we opened our bright packages. She would mail him a video tape the very next day and his Christmas wouldn't be nearly as bleek then. That's what she had hoped. I'm sure it was still very hard on him, being that far away from the people he loved most in the world on a day like Christmas.


We had breakfast first. Dad always had a tradition of making pancakes on Christmas morning, filled with blueberries or chocolate chips. We would spread loads of butter on them and smother them with sugary syrup. Afterwards, slower than we would have been because of a carb overload, we were finally allowed to open our gifts. That year, Mom upheld the tradition in his place. Our feet were cold on the hard linoleum floor of the kitchen, but we very much looked forward to the warm carpet of the living room, sitting close to the tree.

One by one we began to open the packages. The pile of torn wrapping paper and used gift boxes grew little by little. We piled our gifts neatly to one side, the paper on another, and any materials worthy of using again in yet another pile.

I got Lurkey that year. Lurkey was a brown plush toy that was inspired by one of the bad guys from Rainbow Bright, another toy of the 80's tv era. His long brown nose looked very much like a potato, and his eyes were like two ping pong balls with black dots. He always wore red tennis shoes. When I opened Lurky, my heart melted. Instantly I grabbed him up and cuddled with him. I completely forgot about the other gifts waiting for me to open. Lurky was the only thing that mattered. I loved squeezing his soft plush body. Something about him reminded me of the Fry Guys, with his arms protruding where ears should have been and feet coming from his neck. He was my favorite toy that year.

Mom reminded me of my other gifts. She gently prompted me to put down my Lurky doll and continue opening my presents before the camera battery died. She moved the camera over to the kitchen door way to get a better angle on the rest of the gifts and positioned the tripod on the hard lynoleum surface. She zoomed in on us kids as we opened the last few presents under the tree.

When all the gifts were open, it was time for the stockings. We had hung them from the wall since we didnt' have a fireplace, but somehow Santa had managed to find his way in the house and locate the stockings anyway. Good job, Santa. The first items to come out were always identical between my brother and myself. It was usually an ornament my Grandmother Irene had made by hand. They were identical always, but with some minor difference so that we could tell which was meant for my brother and which was meant for me. That year was knitting baskets, his with a blue ball of yarn, mine with pink. Tiny knitting needles poked out of the tiny yarn decorations up towards the tiny handles of the tiny baskets. Proudly, we hung our ornaments on the tree. Grandma was wonderful at making things.

The next items to come out were Macintosh apples. They were my dads most favorite apples, the only ones he would eat. Whenever Mom bought them, we weren't allowed to have any because they were for him. They were more expensive than the other apples, and we ate those just fine while he didn't. It became a running tradition in our family to eat Macintosh apples together each year for a long time. It was the only day of the year my Dad was willing to share that treasure.

Candy poured out next. A mixture of Hersheys chocolates, chocolate kisses, a box of chocolate covered cherries, and other assortments poured out into our hands. Then, all the way at the bottom, there was usually one special gift waiting for us. Mine felt like a miniature mop.
I pulled out a familiar bright red and yellow soft texture in my hands. The ankle cuffs were the first thing I saw, with the tight knit ankle band striped with crimson and gold. My heart jumped. It couldn't be! Could it?

They were the Fry Guy's slippers!! Mom had gotten the Fry Guy's slippers for me!! Right away I tore off my old torn slippers with the hole in the toe and shoved my foot into the new Fry Guys. The knot that held the brightly colored Fry Guy in place was right over my toes. I could feel the weight resting on my toe nail. I couldn't believe I was finally wearing the Fry Guys. I had gotten what I wanted after all. I wiggled my toes and watched the heads bob up and down, their eyes wiggling around freely. Their hair was made of yarn and I watched it bob like dread locks. I couldn't believe my luck. Someone had listened. I had the Fry Guys.

Mom told me to run grab the camera from the kitchen so she could take a couple of pictures to send to the rest of the family. I jumped up in my lovely new slippers and dashed off to the kitchen. My feet hit that slick lynoleum floor and the next thing I remember was waking up with the breath knocked out of me laying flat on the floor with a lump on the back of my head. I don't think I was out very long.


The Fry Guys slippers didn't have any kind of gripping surface on the bottom. When my feet hit that lynoleum floor, whatever I had been carrying went flying through the air. The only part of this the video camera caught were the sudden surprised eyeballs of some fuzzy mop headed creature zipping up, looking the camera straight in the lens, and falling down just as quickly. If we didn't know what it had been, we all would have sworn a green, fuzzy, yarn haired alien wearing glasses had just landed in our very own living room and made faces at the camera.


The World is a Funny Place

The world is a funny place.



Take Mr. Bean for example. I sat watching Youtube clips of Mr. Bean all day today before work. While most Americans 'get' and understand the humor of Mr. Bean, we as a closed minded nation are incapable at times at understanding other UK humor. We understand Mr. Bean because his comedy is purely physical. He is the Three Stooges rolled into one man. He's brilliant, he's funny, and the whole world loves Mr. Bean.



What about "Are You Being Served," an English comedy that was on the BBC channel here in the states when I was a kid? Few people I've ever talked to even know what it was. "The Vicar of Dibley" was another of my favourites, and again, Americans have never heard of it.



My own nation blew me away when I returned from Scotland. I was defending the wonderful people of the proud nation steeped in history and progress against young adults that had spent more than 2 years in college already.



"What did they wear?"

"What do they look like?"

"What do they do for fun?"

"Do they wear kilts all the time? That's so cool."


I couldn't believe the reactions I got when answering these same questions with the honest answers. Well educated American youths were amazed that the people of Scotland wore wind breakers and blue jeans like us. They were disappointed when they found out people didn't wear kilts every single day, and actually looked very much like the majority of Americans, since that's where the majority of our ancestors are from. What do they do for fun? Again, I was met with shock and awe when these college students found out that the people of Scotland watched TV, read books, played video games, went out with friends and flirted with the opposite sex like any American would. We're all human.

Why are American's so closed minded? Does this nation really believe that the sun rises and sets on our heads? Do Americans really believe that we're so much more advanced than other cultures that there's no possible way they've evolved to having cell phones, microwaves and digital cameras?



The Scottish are not only a proud nation of brilliant minds, wonderful hearts and kind spirits, but they're steeped in a history of invention and success! Had it not been for the people of Scotland, the world itself would be seen through entirely different eyes.







Let me explain.


The raincoat, patented by chemist Charles Macintosh from Glasgow, Scotland. Well, it's no mystery as to WHY a Scotsman invented the raincoat.... It rains quite often in Glasgow.


The street surface you drive on every day, discovered by John Macadam of Ayr, Scotland.


The tires on your car were invented by John Boyd Dunlop of Dreghorn, Scotland.


The steam engine, invented by James Watt of Greenock, Scotland.


The coffee thermos, invented by Dewar, a Scotsman from Kincardine-on-Forth.


The Post Office adhesive stamp, invented by James Chalmers of Dundee, Scotland.


Even the telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell, born in Edinburgh, Scotland. I am entirely ashamed to ask how many of you did NOT know this fact. I'm equally ashamed to admit that I myself didn't know that until it was pointed out to me.


The bicycle, invented by Kirkpatrick Macmillan, blacksmith of Dumfries, Scotland.


The TELEVISION, an invention of John Logie Baird of Helensburgh, Scotland.


The United States NAVY, founded by John Paul Jones of Kirkbean, Scotland.


The first man mentioned in the Bible is a Scot, King James VI, who authorized its translation.


Even when it comes to disease and the medical profession, the Scots are leaps and bounds ahead of their time. Penicillin was discovered by Alexander Fleming of Darvel, Scotland. The anaesthetic was discovered by Sir James Young Simpson of Bathgate, Scotland.



We seem to think that the English are a civilized people and mystery surrounds those of Scotland, but get this: the Bank of England was founded by William Paterson of Dumfries, Scotland.



So why would Americans be so dumbfounded to find that the Scots are NOT daily kilt-wearing, heavy drinking, screaming, wild heathens? They are not straight out of a horror movie like Deliverance. They don't sit on their porches and pick banjos. They wear Abercrombie and Fitch shirts, they drive nice cars with wooden panel dashes like the Jaguar, they love comfortable jeans, have some of the nicest Universities in Europe, and work regular jobs, just like us. They worry about their children, kids rebel against their parents, and life in Scotland is not that different than life here in the States.


I always though that Americans were such open minded people. That is, until I returned from my vacation abroad. We, as Americans, are some of the most closed minded, opinionated and ignorant people in the world when it comes to other nations.



It's time to broaden our horizons. Take a look around you. There's more to life and the world than your own back yard.



The world is a funny place. Go enjoy the humor.

Doors, Windows and Bridges

They say that when one door closes, another opens. If that doesn't work, in the past I found a back door, a window to climb through or a sledge hammer with which to make my own door. That would be a method otherwise known as burning bridges. I've learned not to use that last method anymore.

Telling the stories in my blog that I've been able to share has become my way of opening up and telling the world where I've come from and what I've been through. It's also taught me some valuable lessons over these past 150 days. The truth in its entirely isn't always easy, but it's always worth it in the end.

I do tell the truth - but I've never gone out of my way to do so. If people asked me a question, I would answer it truthfully, but I never spoke up before voluntarily. Now, I'm actually seeking out the people I want to tell my story to and sharing it with them freely. Before this I would have been worried about hurting feelings, but it just doesn't matter when it comes down to it. Not telling a friend something important can actually serve to hurt them later on. I'd MUCH rather come out and tell them in person than just waiting for them to find out and come to me with questions.

It's not easy, going to certain people and telling them about how much my life is going to change in 6 months time, and I'm having to be selective with who it is I tell for good reason, but I know that if I don't come clean with certain people before everything happens, I'm going to end up with a lot of very hurt friends wondering what they did wrong for me to keep such a big secret from them up until the very end.

I'm going to dinner with a friend tonight and I'm going to have that long, much dreaded talk. Sure, I'm not looking forward to the reaction I'm sure to get, but it needs to be done.

These are the times that we find out who our true friends are. Those that are happy for me are the real friends. Though it's still too early to find out what the reaction will
be at the end of dinner, I'm certain that I'm doing the right thing in telling them. It wouldn't be fair to such a long-time friend to just keep them in the dark.

Wish me luck, everyone... I leave in 10 minutes.




Nice Shoes!

I wanted high heels at a very young age. No matter how much I begged and pleaded, I wasn't ever allowed to have any high heels. Most of the time, the story was that they didn't make high heel shoes small enough to fit my feet. For a long time, that was actually true. Then my mother made a friend who had large knots on the sides of her feet. When my mother asked where they came from, she explained that it was from wearing high heels all the time. Apparently the human body wasn't made to walk on 4 and 5 inch stilts, balancing all weight on the toes.



Mom refused to get me any high heels, even once my feet were finally big enough to find my size. I had never even had any on my feet. Oh, how I longed to be like the other girls in school, wearing high heels with dresses, looking pretty and girly, feeling feminine and dainty. Instead, my dress shoes were what mom called Saddle Oxfords. They were horrible. I'd been wearing the same type and style of shoe with all of my dresses for years. For once, I wanted a pair of dress shoes I didn't have to tie.



Jodie's Mom had a closet FULL of beautiful high heeled shoes. She had every color, shape and size you could imagine. She had tall ones, short ones, ones of solid colors I hadn't ever seen, ones with pictures and paterns on them. She had shoes that looked like they were 200 years old and some that were still in boxes with tissue paper. I loved her shoes. I could stand for hours in her shoe closet and just look at all the colors and shapes and paterns on them. The only problem was that we weren't aloud into her room. If she had ever caught us in there, both of our hides would have been skinned and tanned.



Jodie's Mom finally gave her some of her older high heels. When that started to happen, it became an avalanche of shoes. Jodie had more shoes than she knew what to do with! It turned out that her mother and I (when I was 12 years old) had the same size feet! Jodie had one pair of black high heels that were just a little too small for her. When she had me try them on, they fit like a glove. It was a tight glove, but I could squeeze my feet into them.



They were a patent leather sleek black with only a few scuff marks on the toes. I tried to walk through Jodie's room wearing them and tromped about like an elephant. I stumbled and fell over, rubbing the sides of the shoes together and creating a dragging feeling from inside the shoes. Terrified I had damaged them somehow, I sat quickly on the bed and pulled them off of my feet. I looked closely at them to inspect the damage. Thankfully, there wasn't any.





At the end of the day, Jodie told me that she wanted me to have those shoes. I couldn't believe my ears! It was the best gift any friend had ever given to me! Jodie was practically a sister to me before that, but I certainly loved her all the more afterward. I had wanted high heel shoes for so long, and my 'sister' was the one to give them to me.





I hid them in my closet and only wore them when my parents weren't home. I wouldn't have been allowed to wear them to school in the 6th grade anyway. It wasn't appropriate. Besides, surely my parents would see them and then I'd be in big trouble. I wasn't supposed to have them, and I didn't want Jodie to get in any trouble for it either. So instead, I hid my secret treasure carefully and pulled them out every day, even if only for mere seconds.





One day I came home from school and found my mom in my room.

"Manda, where did these come from," she held up my treasure by the toes.


"I found them" I lied, not wanting to get Jodie in trouble.

"Tell me the truth," she said, obviously very angry at me. "Don't you lie to me."





"I'm not," I protested loudly. I knew I was in trouble, but I wasn't going to drag my 'sister' down with me! Jodie was supposed to come over to dinner that night. If I told on her, she wouldn't be able to come over!





"Manda, I'm going to count to ten." All kids know that threat. These days it often means a time out, but back when I was a kid it often meant a belt across the back side. Still I held my ground.

It wasn't until the second swing that I spilled my guts. I told everything - including how we used to go into Jodie's Mom's room together just to look at the shoes. We wouldn't touch anything, we just wanted to look - but we knew we weren't supposed to be in there anyway. Jodie was the one who had given me the shoes, I wailed.





Mom called Jodie's mom right away and she came over to the house. Pretty much everything I had told my mother had been forgotten except for where I said the shoes came from in the first place.





"Beth," she said to my mother, "those are a pair of shoes I gave to Jodie. She said they were too tight on her feet. If she gave them to Amanda, then they were hers to give. It's ok, she can have them."





My mother gaped. She thanked Jodie's mom and my savior left.





"Well," my mother said, "you still can't keep them. I'll put them in my closet for now and you can have them in a few years. You're too young for high heels." Devastated, I sulked for days. Now what was I going to practice walking in high heels with?





Years later, yes my feet had grown too big for those glorious shoes Jodie had given to me, and an event came up where I needed high heel shoes. Well, perhaps I didn't NEED them, but I certainly wanted them. It was a school dance.





My mother dug around in her closet and finally came out with a pair of high heels she had when I was just a baby she said. They had a respectable 3 inch heel on them, were solid black, and had stylish little brass studs on the toes. I thought they were the most beautiful things I'd ever seen.

"They're real leather, Manda. You have to take good care of them."





"I will, I promise!!"





I wore those shoes to the school dance and felt like a princess. I was 15 years old then and it was the first time I had ever worn heels outside of the house. Alive with confidence, I had a wonderful time at that dance. I kept those shoes for years, and for all the time I had them, they were my absolute most favorite shoes. They were my first high heels.

Late Nights a Horrible Frights

15 May 06 Monday

When it rains it pours!!!



I had a very interesting weekend. Saturday night was the first time I think Ive ever talked on a phone for more than 5 hours! And of all the people I could be conversing with for such long periods of time, it was my friend Robert inScotland, thanks to the use of Skype. I do love Skype what an amazing service. I was having problems talking to Robert a week ago, something about a miscommunication, but I guess now that all has been forgiven. Its amazing how computers have really enabled people to bond and form lasting friendships all over the world through email and the web.



Robert and I were extremely close about two and a half years ago, but lost contact after my grandfather passed away and I got married to Chris. Chris was too jealous and wouldnt have liked the idea of me having a pen pal over in Scotland. He would have seen that as a threat. I was fortunate enough to find him again not too long ago, and we picked up right where we left off. It was as if we never lost contact at all.



His little girl, Emma, just turned 7 in February. He shared a few recent pictures of her with me. What a beauty! She has a lot of red in her hair, a tiny gap between her front teeth, a bright and beautiful smile, and some of the most stunning, expressive brown eyes Ive ever seen on a child. She looks very little like her Dad when being described, but she does have his facial shape and sparkle when happy. Still they are equally visually stunning. Robert has very short brown hair, perfect teeth, a beautiful smile, and amazing blue eyes.



We had the best time talking on Saturday night. He had gone to his sisters house for a few hours before going home and calling me, but while he was there he got a little drunk and made a few videos for me, which he emailed to me while we chatted. They were hilarious! His brother sang an Elvis song to me on one video, and then Robert sang the lead in a traditional Scottish song for me with his family singing backup. But by far, my favorite video was the one where Roberts brother lifted the front of his shirt up over his head. He then proceeded to do the craziest belly dance I've ever seen, all the while singing with a muffled voice through the stomach of his green t-shirt. I ended up laughing so hard that my eyes watered, my stomach hurt, and I got a stitch in my side. It was hilarious! It was a perfect ending to a day that started out so horribly. I told Robert all about my day while we were on the phones.



I started out that morning with my entire day planned. I got my laundry together, got some old clothes on, straightened up a bit, and went to get into my car. I was going to wash clothes, wash my car, get the oil changed, color the gray out of my hair, and get a few other take care of me things taken care of.



I sat in my car excited about the day. I put my key into the ignition and turned. Nothing. I turned it again. Again, nothing. The third time it cranked, but still didnt start up. Me being the stubborn redhead that I am, I refused to give up. Again I tried. And again. And again.

And again.

And Again.



After about a full 40 minutes of refusing to give up, I called AAA. Even while I was on the phone with them I tried again. An again. Until the driver showed up I tried again and again. It just wasnt doing me any good.



We hooked the tow truck up to my little car, and as he attached the hooks to the loops in the grill of my Miata, I tried again, to no avail. We finally towed it to the local shop, less than a block from my apartment. They told me they could let me know what was wrong with my car within about 30 to 45 minutes, so I gave them my cell number. Then I hopped into my roommates car, who was kind enough to tag along during all of this, and we headed to the Laundromat together.

Here I thought I was having car problems.



My finger was actually bruised and hurting from turning the key so much. As I was trying to massage the pain away, I started to pity myself. I never pity myself because when it comes down to it, Ive got it pretty good! I glanced out of the window of the moving car for a brief second, not being able to shake the feeling of self pity.



Things could always be worse, my roommate said. That could have been you!



I looked to where he was pointing. There sat a small black car that seemed to be parked squarely on the sidewalk. A car blocking my view of the front half of the little black one moved, revealing to me just exactly why it was sitting where it was. Police cars surrounded the area, cops were all about, and an ambulance was just pulling away. The entire front half of the black car was folded like a paper fan. On the sidewalk in front of the car, laying horizontally to the sidewalk, was a concrete light post, the base of which had been shattered and blasted several feet in every direction upon impact. Suddenly my finger hurt much less.



I did end up getting all of my laundry done, I got my grays covered, and I took a nice long bath. About the only thing I didnt get to do that was on my list was pamper my poor little car.



I posted pictures of the days events for all my friends to see later on in the day, from when I got into my car until I saw the light pole issue, and I instantly started getting emails from people who wanted desperately to help me in any way they could. I was overwhelmed by the general reaction of my friends. Perhaps I have been to cynical about love, for these friends of mine truly do love me.

The last ten minutes of my chat with Robert I had a little excitement. Somewhere off in the distance, gun shots shattered the still night air. Five shots in total rang out.



One shot. A short pause. Another shot. Another short pause. Then three more shots. It was so close and so loud that Robert began to ask what that noise was. When I told him, I heard a hint of fear in his voice.



"Amanda, dont move. Stay away from the window, keep your light off, and just lay still. Try to not do anything that would draw any attention to you."



"Ok," I said as I cowered under the blanked in my bed. I know enough to trust Roberts judgment on these things.



We finally hung up so we could both get some sleep. I was too tired to let the gun fire in the distance keep me awake. Just as I was about to drift off into peaceful dreams, more shots spoiled the quiet night.



One shot. A pause. Two more shots. These shots were much closer this time.



I laid awake another hour before finally falling asleep, clutching a soft brown teddy bear and my pillow, much the way I would have after a nightmare as a child.



The first few minutes of my dreams were mildly disturbed because of the events shortly before falling asleep. It didnt take long before the mood of my dreams shifted though. I found myself thoroughly enjoying myself on a stroll with dear Robert down the beach. Not once in my dream was Robert involved in a race with any blue eyed stranger. I was at peace.



* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *



I woke up around 8:30 on Sunday morning to the sound of my phone ringing at me. I was fairly upset that I wouldnt be able to go to work at the restaurant because of my car problems, but I was grateful that I got to sleep in a bit, especially after staying up so late talking with Robert.

I spoke with a work contact of mine for a bit about their pending trip from the East Coast to California on business for a bit before finally getting up out of bed and getting ready for the day. I reorganized a few things in my room, threw on a pair of jeans, and grabbed my journal. I was planning on walking down to the coffee shop to write for a bit.



I walked out of the front door to my apartment, my shoes clicking delicately beneath me on the third floor balcony. The door slid closed behind me and I made my way to the steps. It was a beautiful day out. The sunshine was warming everything nicely, but a cool breeze from the west cut the blazing heat just right.



I was about four steps down from the top, my little maroon book in one hand, the stairs railing in the other, when I saw a strange sight. A man with four arms was driving up the path to the other apartment building adjacent to my own. When I looked closer, I saw a little girl sitting on his lap helping him to steer the car. I couldnt help but smile as I paused there on the steps to watch.

I was 8 years old again, living in Arkansas with my mom and my brother while Dad was on a one year remote tour toAlaska. We lived so far out on the end of a long dirt path that my mother would often allow my brother or myself to sit on her lap and drive her little blue Dodge Aries. She would tell us things about driving on the road, like what double yellow lines meant, the rules when passing someone, and exactly why it was so important to use ones blinker, but to never trust someone elses blinker.



I still ended up not getting my drivers license until I was 19 years old, but I knew the rules of the road long before then.



The little girl and her father pulled into their parking spot and I continued down the stairs and on to the coffee shop. It dawned on me that it was Mothers Day that day. What an appropriate memory for Mothers Day.





Outside of the Drovers