New Dawn: A Daily Adventure

New Dawn

How often do you get to (or have to) be awake for sunrise? Tell us about what happened the last time you were up so early (or late…).


Stitched PanoramaThere was a time in my life, when I was younger, that getting me out of bed before dawn was akin to Mission Impossible (queue the dramatic techno music now please). That being said, now that I’m older, with more responsibilities and two elementary age children, getting out of bed before dawn is a daily adventure.

In my college days, I frequently would choose classes that didn’t start before 9 a.m. Who would ever want to get up THAT early, on purpose, for school? Yuck! Now I find myself up before the dawn frequently in order to get some extra writing time or just a little peace and quite before I start my day. Waking up seems to take me longer now too. I used to be able to bounce right out of bed. Now it’s a lot more like a stumble.

I greet the morning dawn with bleary eyes and yawns most days but I do greet it at least five days a week. Ironically, I don’t find myself missing sleeping in too much. Sure, there’s the occasional nostalgia for the “good old days” when I was younger (and dumber) but for the most part, I like my life as it is.

Of course, nowadays, college students have it SO much easier. While I didn’t have to walk to school (uphill, in the snow, both ways!), technology these days is giving college students such incredible advantages. Like Amazon’s newest program, have you heard about this? They now have a program just for college students to offer them free unlimited two day shipping (HOORAY for the college student budget) with no minimum order.

I mean, seriously, you can get your textbooks ordered online and shipped to you in two days?! No pawing through empty college bookstore shelves at the last minute? No borrowing a dog-eared version from the college library? That’s fantastic! I wish they’d had that when I was a student! The horror stories I could tell you! And I was organized and prepared!

I look forward to helping our oldest daughter get into this program when she’s ready to start college (hopefully next year). They’re offering a free trial so if you’re a college student, you should definitely sign up. It’s free for the first six months and then they give you 50% off of a prime membership (another fantastic program and one I AM part of).

If you’re not a college student but still want to enjoy Amazon Prime, you can enjoy a free trial on me here. We recently ordered a fabulous Hamilton Beach food processor, and a Black & Decker Juicer so I could make the family’s favorite pico de gallo. Instead of taking 3 hours, it only took me 45 minutes. Awesome products and the shipping savings from the prime membership paid for itself in less than six months.

Anyway, how I got there through a daily post prompt is beyond me but whatever. I guess it’s just the way my mind works. Yes, those are affiliate links and I get a small commission (miniscule really but every little bit helps for this starving dedicated wordsmith) so if you’re looking for those items anyway, why not get them and support someone you know? I doesn’t cost you anything more.

Anyway, time for me to go get some REAL writing work done and stop messing around with this time-sucking whole blogging thing. One of these days I’m going to write a blog post that includes all my self-edits and then you’ll see how truly warped my mind is hard I work on each post. Even the prompt based ones.

Til next time,

-The Rambler


August Blues: Not in this House

August Blues

As a kid, were you happy or anxious about going back to school? Now that you’re older, how has your attitude toward the end of the summer evolved?

As a kid, I relished going back to school. School was my safe haven and even at a young age, I think I intuitively knew that it would lead me out of the situation in my life. I grew up in an abusive, neglectful dysfunctional home where I was molested and tortured until I was 15. So school was a refuge. In school, teachers liked me and I desperately sought their approval in everything I did. What I was starved for at home: love, attention, guidance and nurturing, my teachers provided me. Not in abundance per se, but enough to keep my starving soul alive.

It’s quite remarkable really. I have a ton of admiration for teachers. Their job is hard. They have to shape the minds of children who, for the most part, would rather be playing. For me, a steady parade of teachers over the years literally saved my life. And they didn’t even know it.

I loved the work. I loved the experience of stretching my mind to new limits, absorbing new information. It felt a lot like being fed, like sustenance for my soul. And there’s so much in the world that’s fascinating, that I find myself insatiable, even now. 

And ultimately, education has been the driving force to lead me out of a life of poverty and ignorance. Rather than continuing the legacy of my family, I broke the pattern and am teaching my children how to avoid that pattern. It’s not easy but learning has been a key to my self-sufficiency, independence, financial well being and a brighter future. Of course, you have to want to be educated for that to work and it’s not easy, but through the years I’ve continually bettered myself. 

For me, it started many years ago with a retired teacher who tutored me in reading and math after school. I developed a love of language (although not much love for math) and reading that saw me through countless tumultuous times. Look at times throughout history at how a lack of education has affected countries and civilizations and it’s easy to see that education is a cornerstone for success.

So naturally, I create excitement for my children throughout the summer. My kids are the only ones I know who were excited for and enjoyed summer school. All summer I talked about how I was looking forward to them returning to school and compared it to being at home to the point they love being at school. I hope to continue to encourage them into a lifelong love of learning. So if anything, my appreciation for schooling has increased. It’s never a reminder of the end of summer, but an exciting time of learning. Now, as we get closer to the holidays and the end of the year, that will be a different story. Not to mention, I have to file for divorce soon, a prospect I’m strangely dreading.


Am I the World’s Worst Mother or What?

I’ve been counting down to this day since school let out on May 30th. I’ve been anticipating it with the excitement and joy of a child at Christmas time. It has loomed, getting closer every day, until I thought I might burst from the anticipation. And now that it’s here, I’m euphoric. Giddy even!

It’s the first day of school and I have the next six hours to myself. Other mothers are snapping pictures of their kids on the first day of school. Not me. It’s just hugs and kisses and, “Have a great day, learn lots, I love you!” No pictures – I’m practically skipping out of the school, nary a feeling of guilt or sadness, just pure relief. Does that make me the world’s worst mother or what? 

I mean, truly, what mother relishes this day? For most, from what I’ve observed, it’s a bittersweet day but for me it has always been one of relief and excitement. Not just for myself, mind you. It’s a chance for them to learn things I cannot teach them. I would have no idea how to teach my child the alphabet or how to count to 1oo. My patience is about the size of a gnat – teaching isn’t my forte. I could no more homeschool my child than I could teach myself how to breath under water without scuba gear. Add to that the fact that I pick up on everything with seemingly impossible ease and I just can’t help people who don’t understand things as intuitively as I do. The only area I really struggle in is math. 

But there must be something wrong with me that I feel like a prisoner who has been set free. I can read. I can sleep. No arguing or whining. No bored children. Their minds will be stimulated, they will have the chance to play and exercise, get a couple healthy(ish) meals, and come home (hopefully) worn out and compliant. Their little minds and bodies, so full of boundless energy, will be sufficiently tired and content even. 

Next year, we’re investing in summer camp to save my sanity. I’m not a nurturing person by nature – children quite literally baffle me. Don’t get me wrong, I love my children. I would lay down my life for them and never hesitate. But I never really had a chance to be a child – I was old by the time I was 10. I had already seen a lifetime of tragedy. By my 30’s I had lived through more tragedy and trials than most people see in a lifetime. So identifying with children isn’t just hard for me, it’s damn near impossible.

This summer was brutal. I’m trying to study for my real estate license with a 7 year old and an 8 year old at home full time. I made it to chapter 17 but I have no idea how much of it I retained. Some of it, I’m sure I simply added to my general knowledge, some of it I already knew. But considering I still have six more books to go through, that’s not great progress in 3 months. Now I can buckle down and focus. Today, I will definitely be luxuriating in this incredible feeling of freedom. Next week, when my sleep deprived mind protests getting up at 6 a.m. every day and going to bed around midnight, I might not be quite so elated. But for now, I’m thrilled! First day of school! Yay!

Anyone else feel the same? Or, do you think I’m just crazy as batshit? I’d love to hear your thoughts about summer and motherhood.

Sexuality 101: For Women

At 34, almost 35 years old, I thought I understood sex and sexuality.

I was wrong.

It’s taken almost six months and one incredible partner, for me to finally unlock my own sexuality as a woman. It took courage, understanding and a willingness to be vulnerable. In the end it was all worth it. Now I am going to share some of what I learned with you, in a series of blog posts, designed to help you move from novice to your own sexuality expert, as a Mistress of Pleasure.

Why? Because it was shared with me by a very loving, special partner. Because every woman deserves to feel as sexually alive as she is capable of being. Because it’s that important and there just isn’t enough of the right kind of information of there. Real information, not porn or whatever. And because having a fulfilling, happy sex life is one of the most incredible, priceless gifts in the world. I was blessed to receive it and now I am going to share that knowledge.

Disclaimer: I am not an expert, nor do I have any fancy degrees. I am just one woman trying to help other women by sharing what she knows. Your experiences may vary and all my tips which include a partner, intend for you to have an open-minded, loving partner, interested (dedicated or obsessive are good too) in satisfying you sexually. All that being said, I am proud to be a poly-orgasmic (meaning I can have orgasms vaginally, clitorally, and anally all at the same time with the right stimulation), multi-orgasmic (can have many orgasms in each sexual session), screaming (orgasms so powerful and pleasurable I scream or shriek in orgasm) woman. I am not a squirter (to be discussed later) nor do I expect to be. Some women, for a wide variety of reasons, may be unable to achieve high levels of sexuality. These tips should, at the very least, help her improve her sexual satisfaction.

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Three Kinds of Hell

This is yet another cautionary tale against going out to eat. I know there are plenty of them out there on the internet. And with my history, you’d think I would have learned by now. Out of a group of ten people, I’m the one most likely to get food poisoning. It’s a curse. Think I’m kidding? Read on and learn.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I was served, not once, not twice, but three different times undercooked chicken. Fortunately, after the first time, I became obsessive about checking my food. At one point a few years ago, I was given food poisoning – again, not once, not twice, but on three different occasions from three different locations no less! – food poisoning from Subway’s chicken breast. Another case in point, I bought some steaks (years ago) from Walmart, not once but twice, was given food poisoning from the meat (despite cooking to the proper temperature). 

Mind you, I have a sensitive stomach anyway. There’s a long list of things I’m allergic to – chocolate, red wine, any kind of dried pepper or spice (paprika, cayenne, chili, cumin, taco seasoning) and any kind of hot pepper. I have to be careful around marinara sauces and pizza sauces. I’m the queen of bland foods – the spiciest I get is black pepper. 

But this weekend, a group of us (five) decided to go out to eat at a local chinese place that serves mongolian BBQ. I’ve been going there for four and a half years. The food is always perfect – I know what I can eat and what to stay away from. I did my usual – I grabbed a bowl for the mongolian bbq, filled it with mushrooms, onions, a nice scoop of garlic, a little carrots for crunch and color. Along the way I was behind a gentleman who had a heaping bowl of veggies and a second bowl in his hand for his condiments. I watched him ladle three heaping spoons of chili sauce, plus garlic pepper and jalapenos. I remember thinking, “Wow, that’s gonna be one hot dish! Glad I’m not eating that – it would just about kill me”. (Now don’t get ahead of me here).

He leaves his bowl and I stand and wait with my bowl, as I always do. I turn my head for a second as my daughter is talking to me, taking my eye off my bowl. I turn back and I’m momentarily disoriented. My bowl is gone. Startled I look up and the server nods and smiles at me, confident and in control. I look at the silver disk and there’s two heaps of veggies but I can’t tell at all which one is which. My boyfriend walks up with his bowl and I give him a baffled look. He points at the server, I shrug. I walk over to him and he suggests I go get food with our daughter and he’ll bring the food to the table. I smile, say thanks, tell him I think mine is on the left but the server should know, and off we go. 

The trouble doesn’t really start until the first bite. “Wow, that’s a bit spicy,” I mutter as my mouth catches on fire. My oldest stepdaughter takes a bite and declares, “I don’t taste anything.” My boyfriend does the same with the same result. I shrug, figuring it’s just me and take a few more bites. I’m picking around the edges, I’m grabbing from the middle and every couple of bites seems a little hotter. 

Then I find it. A sliver of zucchini under a piece of chicken. I don’t like zucchini. No way I put any in there, not even by accident. My boyfriend finds a red pepper flake – another thing I never put in my food.

Jalapeno_Estonia_3So I start digging a little deeper. Then I find it. Buried like a dubloon, seeds still intact, is a bright green sliced jalapeno. I pick it up with my fork like it’s diseased and hold it up for the table to see. There’s a stunned silence. Everyone there knows – beyond a doubt – I would never put something like that in my food, even accidentally.

My mouth is officially aflame. I can feel the roof of my mouth swelling. My tongue feels a little thick and I feel a slightly sick to my stomach. This is my favorite restaurant other than Olive Garden. My mind is madly calculating – how much did I eat? How long will I pay for this careless mistake? I’ve eaten at least a dozen or more good sized mouthfuls. About 1/10th of the plate is gone. I can practically picture the little chili flakes, red pepper and jalapeno seeds swimming gleefully in my stomach acid, bouncing off my stomach walls, leaving sizzling pockmarks in the tissue before joyously smashing and bashing their way through the rest of my digestive system. I’m almost paralyzed with terror.

This means 24 hours of three kinds of hell. It means the kind of diarrhea that has you clinging to the toilet for dear life, praying for death. It means hours of sweating, groaning, and intense pain that will leave me weak, drained, and exhausted. At this point, I’m done eating. I try to force myself to eat a little something. I’m trying not to ruin it for everyone else. I manage to eat most of a roll, part of some sweet and sour chicken and a handful of jello, terrified to eat anything more for fear of the consequences.

None of them have a clue what awaits me but I’m remembering the last time. I went to a Mexican restaurant (another thing I can’t eat) and ordered a grilled chicken salad. Little did I know their chicken came pre-seasoned in paprika. I didn’t realize it until the meal was done and I was running to the bathroom. That was about eight months ago.

I tell the manager, request a refund of the meal, which he gives us (but not before asking all kinds of questions as to what kind of reaction I will have. I’m not sure if he’s afraid we’ll sue or is fascinated), somewhat reluctantly it would seem. We go home and I take a benadryl, hoping it will lessen the effects but pretty certain it will only delay the agony.

As if that weren’t bad enough, I wake up the very next day, twelve hours later, and start my period. My esophagus feels like someone poured battery acid down it. My stomach is full of lead and I’m cramping fit to put a full grown man into the fetal position, sobbing and begging for mercy. The universe has a really fucked up sense of humor.

I take Midol and Advil like they are candy all day, eat some soup for lunch and generally keep the food consumption light until about midday when I can’t take it anymore. I must eat – I’m dizzy with hunger. So I have some salad and chicken and veggies for dinner.

Around 11 p.m. it hits me, like a freightliner to an iceberg. I’m trapped on the toilet, sweat pouring off of me. It’s hell and I’m practically in tears from the pain. Four hours later, I finally emerge, take another Benadryl in the hopes it will help unclench my sphincter muscles from their death throes, and crawl into bed, praying for sleep. It takes another hour but finally sleep comes at almost 3 a.m.

I’m up again at 7, groggy and dealing with two ornery children and a daughter trying to get ready for work. I have a meeting at 9 a.m. that I’m barely conscious for and currently I’m sitting here typing this dreaming of my bed. I just ate a bagel, which has somewhat soothed my stomach, although not the rest. Now instead of 24 hours of hell, this has turned into about 72 hours. And my week has only just begun.

Matters of Taste: Fargo

When was the last time a movie, a book, or a television show left you cold despite all your friends (and/or all the critics) raving about it? What was it that made you go against the critical consensus? 

My fiancé recommended I sit down and watch the film Fargo with him a couple Saturdays ago. This film was nominated for seven Academy awards and won two, among many other awards. I was willing to be patient for much of the movie up until the goriest section of the movie happened. Steve Buscemi’s face gets splattered and worse. At that point I was done. It triggered my PTSD badly enough I was trembling. The scene was on a vicious loop in my head and I relived the scene 100 times over the next two hours.

Maybe that was why it won awards – the level of realism – but I was horrified. Two weeks later the scene is still vivid. That night I dreamed of being kidnapped by a dragon, my mind’s way of dealing with the horror of it. Why do people subject themselves to this stuff? It boggles me completely.

My fiancé and I debated it later and just decided it was one of those things I just can’t handle. No real explanation other than it is probably due to abuse and PTSD. After having been victimized so many times, extreme violence will trigger me. I have been close to killed about half a dozen times by other people so watching people be mercilessly killed in cold blood isn’t my thing. I can’t really understand why it would be for anyone.

As Achmed the Dead Terrorist would say, “You sick bastards!” lol But to each their own I suppose.

Dear Robin Williams

Two days ago I heard that you committed suicide and a piece of my soul is forever wounded. There is a hole that can never be filled. Do you have any idea how incredible you are? Do you know how amazing and special your little spark of madness truly is?

I am not mad at you. Some people are. They say suicide is selfish and cowardly. They don’t know what they are talking about. You and I both know that suicide is when you feel there is no more strength left. It’s when you need others to step forward and share their strength for a while. Breathing hurts. Thinking hurts. Dear heavens, feeling hurts. And all you want is the pain to stop. For the despair, like a toxic black cloud inside and out, to go away. The darkness is suffocating and yet it promises relief from the pain. I understand the allure, all too well. I have fought the same battle for 20 years myself.

I was fortunate. An amazing man, a cop, stepped into my life for a brief moment and gave me his strength. He made me promise him that no matter how bad things got, that I would never end my own life. For 20 years I have kept my promise.

That’s not to say it wasn’t close once or twice. That’s not to say there weren’t moments when I forgot my promise. At one point I held a 9mm gun in my hand, loaded and ready, and just shook from head to toe for over an hour. I wanted to end it all so desperately. I had been drugged and raped for the second time in my life. I had lived 21 years of misery and tragedy that seemed like it would never end. And yet, in that darkest of dark hours, I heard his words.

“You are strong enough to get through anything. You have gotten through dark times. Promise me you will never end your own life.” I wept and stared at that gun, longing for the end. I cursed him for that vow. I tried to tell myself it didn’t matter. But that one person was the only one that did matter. He saved my life time and time again.

I wish I could have been part of your life. I would have held your hand. I would have hugged you. I would have tried to make sure you weren’t alone when you were hurting. I would have made you promise me not to end your own life. I would have told you how strong you are. I would have been strong for you when you needed it most. I would have made you feel loved.

Ironically, when I am at my lowest I turn to movies to make me laugh. More often than not I turn to children’s movies. Aladdin has been my favorite for many years because of its happy songs and the crazy antics of Genie. But life doesn’t always have a happy ending, does it? You knew that all too well.

If there is an after life, I hope you are filled with peace and the love of a world that owes you more than it can ever repay. If there is reincarnation, I hope you return as something beautiful and happy that won’t be destroyed by the world. In either case, I hope you can feel the outpouring of love and shared grief throughout the world. I hope the emptiness and pain is gone.

This is my third post since your death, the third day of helpless tears, and I still haven’t been able to find the right words. We loved you so much but as the saying goes, you never know how much you love something until it’s gone. I never told you – the distance between us seemed too big. It seemed like we were worlds apart. I had no idea how close our worlds really were. I am sorry for not reaching out sooner, for not telling you how much you impacted me.

Your body might be gone but your spirit will live forever. I may never find the words to say thank you for all the gifts you gave.

We love you and oh God, how we miss you.