Archive | October, 2012

The Chupacabra Blog Tour & Review

30 Oct

 

The Chupacabra by Stephen Randel ****

The Chupacabra: A Borderline Crazy Tale of Coyotes, Cash & Cartels

By Stephen Randel

 

233 pages

Publisher: Knuckleball Press

August 19, 2012

Genre: Dark Comedy

 

Amazon link:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Chupacabra-Borderline-Coyotes-ebook/dp/B009068D40/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1345579141&sr=8-1

 

Synopsis:

He is called El Barquero. He makes his trade along the border, smuggling guns and killing without remorse. As he faces his one last mission, his perfect plan is unwittingly foiled by Avery, a paranoid loner obsessed with global conspiracy theories who spends most of his time crafting absurd and threatening letters to anyone who offends him. That means pretty much everyone.

 

What unfolds is a laugh out loud dark comedy of madcap adventure stretching from Austin to the West Texas border featuring a lunatic band of civilian border militia, a group of bingo-crazed elderly ladies (one packing a pistol nearly as long as her arm), a murderous and double-crossing cartel boss, a burned-out hippy, and a crotchety retired doctor and his pugnacious French bulldog. Read it to believe it.

 

Bio:

Stephen Randel, CFA, was born in Houston, Texas. He is a graduate of Texas Christian University. Steve now lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and their two rescue dogs.

My Review: (****)

I was interested in this book because of the descriptions of the characters, especially the gun-toting grandma, and the book did not disappoint.

Avery, your garden variety nut case, manages to stumble on an extremely scary drug runner in his search for a chupacabra. He believes they are trying to take over North America and is out to prove his theory, when he is not busy sending threatening letters to anyone that crosses his path.

The story takes place in Texas, and the author definitely has a good understanding of people from Texas. I found myself laughing at the antics of the characters throughout the book, and I loved how their lives were able to cross in such interesting ways.

The dysfunctional militia group provides some great antics, as does Aunt Polly and her group of friends. Pearl, the gun-toting grandma, is definitely one scary woman. Avery is your typical nut-case who believes whole-heartedly in his own importance. His run-in with El Baquero probably does not help his delusions of grandeur.

While it is hard to explain everything about this book, it is definitely worth reading, particularly if you want a good laugh.

HMJ 10-26-12

26 Oct

 

  • In my life this week…

This week we had Danger Girl’s eye exam. She will be getting glasses, but she will only have to wear them while reading and doing school work. I was very lucky because her favorite frames were only $9. I would post a pic, but Danger Girl does not want me to, and I have to respect that.

Sunday we had an interesting video in the evening about some of the ancient lands, including Petra. This was pretty cool, especially since Danger Girl and I have been learning about Petra in history.

  • In our homeschool this week…

Things are getting better with Chatterbox. She is getting better about listening while being read to, and is actually going home singing some of the songs we learn. We do need to work on her tracing skills though.

Danger Girl has been having some jealousy issues regarding the one-on-one time I spend with Chatterbox, but we had a discussion about this and hopefully it will get better.

Danger Girl has been progressing very well in math, which is good after the trouble we had with clocks. We will re-visit clocks at a later time, but until then there is no reason to make her crazy with it.

I found a couple of good lesson ideas for Chatterbox, and have been able to re-use some of the materials I had for Danger Girl, so that is good. Most of what we do incorporates some sort of art or craft projects which helps hold her attention.

  • Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…

I am learning that when you teach more than one child, you have to occasionally sit down with them individually to discuss how school is going to help with jealousy issues. I think I will start having a once a week sit down with Danger Girl so she knows I am not ignoring her.

  • I am inspired by…

This week I have been inspired by my daughter. She told me she misses us doing regular nature walks, and I realized I had let them slip. I will have to make sure to plan them more regularly.

  • My favorite thing this week was…

It was fun getting to see Danger Girl all excited about picking out her glasses. I would much rather her be excited about the process than getting upset. She is being a little weird about people seeing her with them on, but I hope that won’t last.

  • What’s working/not working for us…

We are still having some trouble with Chatterbox telling lies, and she still has some problem with being disruptive. She is getting better, and all I can do is continue to work with her.

  • Things I’m working on…

Come check out my blog next Tuesday. I will be doing a review of a very funny book.

My husband and I are also getting ready for Trunk or Treat at the church building. We do a game each year, so we are deciding what game to set up for this one.

  • I’m reading…

I am currently waiting for my new Book Sneeze book to come in. I will be reviewing “Wisdom Meets Passion” by Dan Miller and Jared Angaza.

We are still reading “Pride and Prejudice” as a family, and I am finding it to be a great way to teach some vocabulary.

  • I’m cooking…

My husband has requested Rice Krispie Treats. I am not a huge fan, but I guess I will be making some.

I also have plans for a pot roast this weekend. I am more excited about that!

  • I’m grateful for…

I am very grateful we have the chance to include Chatterbox in our school day. For the most part, Danger Girl is really enjoying having someone to do school with for part of the day.

I am also grateful Danger Girl has some friends nearby now. She loves being able to go over and play with them during the afternoon.

  • I’m praying for…

There are a couple of families I am trying to get to come to services with us. I am praying that I will be able to get these families in church with us.

 

How to Choose Curriculum- A Newbie Perspective

22 Oct

Since I am in the process of choosing curriculum for a new student, I thought I would post my thoughts on the curriculum choosing process. It is easy to spend tons of money trying to get just the right thing for your student(s), and I hope this will help the next time someone is looking for curriculum in their home.

 

#1 PRAY!- if God has led you to homeschool your child, He will also lead you to the best curriculum for that child. Teaching a child is not something to be taken lightly, and just like any big decision we face we should listen to what God has to say about it.

#2 Do your research- While we wait for God’s word, it does not take away from Him to know what different curriculums offer. Is it Biblical or secular? How hands on do you need to be as a parent? How much preparation is involved? All these questions, and more, need to be taken into consideration.

#3 Every family is different- Remember while you do your research, that just because something works for one family doesn’t mean it will work for you. And, as I am learning more recently, just because something works for one child doesn’t mean it will work for another. I purchased a reading curriculum last year because Danger Girl was struggling in this area and the curriculum had been praised by so many other parents I thought it was bound to work for us. Danger Girl was bored to tears. I ended up going back to what we were originally using.

#4 Your child should get some say- Don’t misunderstand what I say here. The decision of what your child learns is ultimately up to you. That being said, children will be more invested in their learning if they get a say in how they learn. If your child thinks something is boring, take that into consideration. If they are interested in something in particular, take that into consideration as well.

#5 You will learn as you go- I am only in my second official year of school, but I did learn a lot my first year. For instance, I learned there are some subjects I can teach without a boxed curriculum. I also learned that you may not necessarily need to change curriculum if your student is struggling. It may be that they aren’t ready yet. Sometimes it works to set something aside and come back to it later. Advice from others is also helpful. While you should not make decisions solely based on this, you shouldn’t completely discount advice either.

 

This is my perspective as a newbie homeschooler. I don’t pretend to have it all figured out, but I want to share the knowledge I’ve gleaned so far in the hopes it can help others make fewer mistakes than I have so far.

A Stop in the Park Blog Tour

20 Oct

A Stop in the Park by Peggy Strack

Bio:

Peggy Strack writes popular fiction about challenges people face in the fast-paced and daunting contemporary world. She is excited to launch her debut novel, A Stop in the Park, the story of Michael and Jaime Stolis, a disillusioned married couple who yearn to escape the trap of the modern American dream. Peggy hosts the award winning blog, “Kick Back Moments,” for the Saratogian Newspaper. She studied fiction at Skidmore College, The New York State Writers Institute and East Line Books and Literary Center. She is a speech-language pathologist living in Saratoga Springs, NY with her husband, Keith. Peggy has two adults sons enjoys an active lifestyle that includes hiking, kayaking, and skiing.

Website: www.peggystrack.com

E-mail: pstrack8@gmail.com

Bolg: http://pstrack.blogspot.com

Short Description:

Touching, romantic, and deeply provocative, A Stop in the Park, follows the story of a man and a woman who yearn to escape the trap of the modern American dream.

Novel Description:

Michael Stolis, a DC attorney, is frustrated by twelve hour work days, tightly scheduled weekends and his family’s chaotic habits. He explodes over minor irritations like being stuck in traffic, and his tantrums need to stop. His disillusioned wife, Jamie, is sick of his anger outbursts, and wants him out of her life. Michael longs to reignite the passionate love they once felt for each other. Jamie prefers to spend her time fostering illicit Internet relationships. Michael had simply followed his Greek father’s instructions for a successful life, but something went terribly wrong. A lucrative career, a Georgetown brownstone and a BMW coupe didn’t deliver happiness as promised.

When his family is about to implode, Michael finds hope through Rufus, an astute retired bus driver he meets over a game of blitz chess in Dupont Circle. Michael is intrigued by Rufus’s prescription for fulfillment, but is it too late to change a life, chase a dream, revive a marriage? Michael must decide how much he is prepared to lose if he embarks on a quest so very different from the world he created. Touching, romantic, and deeply provocative, A Stop in the Park, follows the story of a man and a woman who yearn to escape the trap of the modern American dream.

Excerpt:

In this scene a confused Jamie Stolis contemplates whether she should flee from her volatile yet secure marriage:

Jamie traipsed into the kitchen and poured coffee into a blue stoneware mug that she bought at a pottery shop when she and Michael went hiking in Wyoming. She circled the rim with her finger. They took that trip eight years ago. She couldn’t help but smile as she recalled how Michael imitated an agitated bison they had seen in Yellowstone Park. Thank God they were in the car, because the open mockery could have provoked the beast to charge if they were with it on the prairie. She furrowed her eyebrows. What had happened to her husband’s silly side?

Jamie sipped her coffee and swayed. The air felt light. She picked up the salt shaker and sprinkled tiny white crystals onto the counter. No one screamed, “Why’d you do that?”She could leave the salt there for three days, and no one would care. Jamie smiled and spun around. This must be how a duck feels when a snapping turtle leaves the pond. She sat on a stool at the island and clasped the oversized mug. The warmth from the coffee seeped into her palms, and she focused on the calm.

When her mini-meditation was over, she glanced at the kitchen doorway. A madman wouldn’t be bursting in blaming her for some felony, like the girls leaving their yogurt containers on the coffee table. She sat a while longer trying to figure out what she could do. Stumped, she roamed to the refrigerator and perused her list.

“First things first: that hornets’ nest has to go.” She peered out the kitchen window. At least twenty hornets buzzed around the nest attached to the outside casing. How should she handle this dangerous project? She glanced at the can of insect killer sitting on the counter. The safest thing to do was to open the window and screen, spray, and then close them quickly before the disturbed insects attacked.

“Okay, my little pests, I hate to ruin your morning, but you are about to be history.” She held the can in one hand, raised the window then the screen, and blasted the poison at her target. There was a flurry of insect activity, and Jamie swiftly sealed her house back up for safety. When she looked up, she saw dozens of hornets emerging from the nest to join those already outside. She couldn’t figure out how they could all fit in their dwelling, which was the size of an apple. Some of the hornets sensed the venom and fled. Others circled around the nest as if considering their next move. They sensed the toxic substance but weren’t quite ready to leave home. Then there were those that darted back and forth in a straight line, knowing they should depart but unsure of where to go. A few of the circlers and darters flew away, determining that uncertainty was better than death. The hornets that remained were lifers, and that life was about to be terminated.

“Go on, little hornets,” Jamie said. “You’ll find a new and better home. Just go.”

But they stayed.

“The poison will kill you. Go on.”

The hornets did not respond to her warning. Jamie watched them fall to their death into the alley that separated her home from her neighbor’s.

“What a show,” she whispered.

She contemplated the creature feature she just witnessed. Why did some hornets flee the instant they suspected danger? Why did some cling until it was almost too late? Why did some hang on until annihilation was inevitable?

“Hmm, if I behaved like a hornet and was aware that I lived in a house that had been sprayed with malice, cruelty, and arrogance, what would I do?”

Jamie roamed around the kitchen with her arms folded. She stopped at the window and peered down at the cowardly hornets who had chosen death over adventure.

“You are a darter, Jamie,” she murmured. “You were about to be poisoned, but you had the courage to fly away. The question is, will you return?”

She thought about money. She thought about Megan and Emily having to travel between houses. She thought about working full time while trying to take care of a home and children. Then she thought about spending another forty or fifty years with Michael.

“God, life is hell.”

She put her face in her hands and tried to will away the confusion.

Her stomach started to ache. She picked up the phone to call Matilda. They could have lunch and joke around. Matilda would be so jealous of Jamie’s possibly single status. She might even persuade Jamie to go away some Saturday night for a wild girl’s night out to celebrate. Jamie punched in three numbers then stopped. If she told Matilda, all of their friends would know before nightfall. In fact, everyone in DC would know. Kids might ask Meg and Emily about the split, and she couldn’t have that. This was a private matter.

She rubbed her belly, hoping the pain would dissipate. It didn’t work. She traipsed to her computer and signed in to Facebook. There was a message from Steve. “What’s up?”

That was it. She could tell him about her troubles. Steve didn’t know any of her friends. It was safe, and venting would make her feel better. Maybe he’d even offer some good advice. In fact, now that she was separated from Michael, she might just meet Steve for that cup of coffee on Friday. It would be nice to meet a new friend.

Interview with the Author:

1. What motivated you to write “A Stop in the Park”?

While relaxing with my soon to be husband, Keith, on a park bench in Dupont Circle, DC, I witnessed a compelling interaction between an intense upscale white male who was losing a series of blitz chess games to an elderly African American male. The upscale man’s wife and daughters waited impatiently as Dad and husband insisted on more games.

It struck me how this family had all the trimmings of the “good life”—expensive clothes, attractive, healthy—yet the wife looked sad; the dad looked angry; and the daughters looked constrained in their prim outfits. They represented what so many strive for, but in the process had possibly lost something more valuable than the American dream—authentic  living.

How were these people spending their time and what did they really want to be doing? At that point, I turned to Keith and said, “Wouldn’t that be a great start for a novel?”

The idea simmered in my head and eventually ignited into a fire. I had to write that story, but when? I was a single parent of two sons transitioning into college, planning a wedding, working full time as a speech-language pathologist for a school district, working part time as clinical supervisor at a college, and maintaining a house. Sure, write a novel in my spare time.

Fortunately, I had taken the audio version of Excuses Be Gone by Wayne Dyer out of the library. After listening to it, I decided I not only could, but would write that novel…500 words a day. I kept that commitment to myself. I even wrote 500 words on my wedding day, Christmas, and the day of my house closing. I must confess. I did not write the week I moved or the day after my wedding.

2. Who is your favorite character in your story, or who to you most relate to?

I truly love all of my characters equally, sort of like children. I probably relate most to Michael—really busy, has a hard time relaxing, tries to fit in bits of time to do the things he really loves. I do not, however, have anger issues and I’m not a perfectionist. In that way, I’m more like Jamie. Rufus is my idol, but when you read the book, you’ll learn that his wisdom was not easily attained.

3. What was the hardest part about writing this story?

Making sure I was very sensitive when writing about issues of race that do not dominate, but are a part of  “A Stop in the Park.” I wanted to be respectful and knowledgeable is this regard.

4. What is your favorite part?

I love the scene with Jamie and Kate. Prior to this, I don’t feel the reader truly understands or knows Jamie. This chapter delves deep into her psyche. Jamie also realizes what she wants, but doesn’t know how to get it.

5. Now that the book is complete is there anything you would want to change in the story itself or about the writing process?

I would have Jamie in her garden more often contemplating, as opposed to being in the house. It’s amazing to me that a novel is never really finished. There is a time however, when we authors must type, “The End” and mean it.

6. What is the strangest question or comment you have received from others when discussing your book?

The one that occurs most often that astounds me is, “Have you tried to get in contact with Oprah about your book? She’d really like.” It’s like, “Darn, I lost her phone number.”  Myself and a million other authors have Oprah on their list of the phone calls they’d most like to receive, but…

7. What is the best advice you received during the writing of your book?

Don’t rush the process. Make sure you love it and make every word counts. Let it sit and stew while you work on another project. It’s amazing what you find when you go back to it after five or six weeks.

8. Is there anything else you wish potential readers to know about your book before they go out and buy it?
The characters and situations are fictional, but the information about school conditions and urban living is true. So are many of the setting incidentals like, Dupont Circle, blitz chess & Warrenton, Va.

Places to buy the book: Amazon.com and through bookstores (more to come)

HMJ- 10-19-12

19 Oct

 

  • In my life this week…

I have been slacking on my work for my book. I was supposed to be finished and ready for outside editing by the end of October, but I’m not sure if that will happen now. I may have to pull a few all-nighters to get there.

In more exciting news, this last weekend was our local festival, and Danger Girl and I helped out in our church booth. We got several contacts, which means a new batch of names and addresses to add to our contact list!

  • In our homeschool this week…

We have a new student in our homeschool. For the past couple of weeks one of our neighbor’s children has been joining us (We will call her Miss Chatterbox). She wasn’t able to start preschool this year because of the birthday cut off and she was getting upset about seeing her siblings go off to school while she had to hang out at the house all day. So, she is joining our school day from 9-12 which means I am now on the search for preschool activities. If anyone has any suggestions I am all ears (or eyes as the case may be).

We had a nature hike this week at the local state park that was a lot of fun. We came across a bunch of daddy long legs, and at first Miss Chatterbox was freaking out. After I explained that they couldn’t hurt her, she was fascinated by them and began searching them out. She and Danger Girl both collected some rocks to bring home, and we took a couple pictures of flowers to identify.

  • Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

This weekend we are having a grand re-opening for the karate school we attend. They moved buildings to have more room, so the town has been invited to a demo where the students get to show off what they have learned. Hopefully Danger Girl won’t decide to become shy during the demo.

  • My favorite thing this week was…

I think my favorite for the week was our nature walk. It has been a couple of weeks since we have done one, and Danger Girl really seems to enjoy it. Miss Chatterbox also seemed to have a good time.

  • What’s working/not working for us…

Our biggest struggle right now is getting Miss Chatterbox to be quiet long enough for me to read to them. She has a desire to talk constantly and will interrupt if I have read for more than 30 seconds. I will have to get her out of that habit.

She is also in the habit of lying. She will lie about the silliest things, including telling me her mom said she could play in the street. If I am not letting her do something she wants to do, she will automatically tell me her parents said she could. We will have to work on this habit as well.

One good thing about this new arrangement is that it is forcing me to allow Danger Girl to do more independent study. I am learning what she can do without my assistance and putting her to work in those areas when I need to do one-on-one time with Miss Chatterbox.

  • Things I’m working on…

I am participating in 2 upcoming blog tours. The first one will be tomorrow, so come by and check out the book that will be featured. The next one is in about 2 weeks. This second tour stop will include a book review (this was a very funny book), so you will definitely want to check it out. And that is the end of my shameless blog promotion.

  • I’m reading…

Right now we are doing Pride and Prejudice as a family read. My husband is really enjoying having the book read to him, and Danger Girl is tolerating it.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

http://youtu.be/O9TunCtR3dQ

(Red Hot Chili Peppers- Under the Bridge) this is my husband and my song! Is it weird that our song is a Red Hot Chili Pepper’s song?

Who is God by David L. Jemison

18 Oct

Book Description: (from Book Sneeze website)

If you are one of those people who is not convinced that there is a God, this
book is for you. If you are one of those Christians who desire more power with
God, this is the right book for you. If you are one of those ministers who want
more power in your preaching and teaching, this is indeed the book for you, and
you will all want to read excerpts from it over and over. Many will want to use
it for a reference book.

 

My Review: *

 

I chose to read “Who is God” by David Jemison because I thought it would be a commentary on who God tells us He is. I was very surprised to find this book was about Mr. Jemison’s life story in ministry. He led us through the experiences in life that brought him to preaching. We did see how he felt God in his life during this time, but many of these stories were hard to believe or rang false for me.

I had a really hard time finishing this book because I found so much false doctrine. An example of this is Mr. Jemison’s discussion about Jesus as a unique being that never existed before he came to earth and will never exist again. This type of statement goes against the Bible which tells us that Jesus existed in the beginning and that we are to be like Him. I also found many of his stories about how God moved in his life hard to believe. Though God tells us that He has given us all we need to believe in Him, according to Mr. Jemison God did a personal miracle to bring his father to become saved. This salvation of course comes through a prayer that can never be found in the Bible. All in all, I was very disappointed in the book, and would not recommend for anyone to read, especially not someone who is not grounded enough in the Bible to see the contradictions in this book.

 

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Ashes to Dust- A Short Story

3 Oct

I recently entered this in the Writer’s Digest Annual Competition. It did not win :(, but I thought I would share it on the blog. This is written from the perspective of my 12 year old self. I had actually written this for a school project last year that required a maximum of 1500 words, which is why this is so short. Here goes.

Ashes to Dust

The ashes swirled around my head, though I was probably the only one that noticed. Everyone else spoke in hushed whispers around me, or listened as someone I didn’t really know was speaking a version of the tragedy that had brought us here. I stood away from everyone else, choosing my spot next to a tree that shaded me from the sun beating down on us. The shadow of the limbs on the ground made it seem like arms were reaching out to me. Maybe that was why I liked this tree so much. I wanted someone to reach out for me, but how could they; everyone else was dealing with the pain of this day just as I was. Besides, none of them really knew how to react to me right now. I was not “normal”, no matter how much I wanted to be. I was better off anyway. There wasn’t anything any of them would be able to say to make this day better. The unknown man continued to speak; I’m not sure what was said, just that it was about my mom. What could anyone possibly say about my mom that I don’t already know? I guess for some people it is comforting, but I knew she wouldn’t care for all of this, so I just wished he would be quiet.

It wasn’t like I had any choice in any of this. When my mom found out she was sick, it was decided that I should move in with the “All American Family”. My aunt and uncle took me in to live in their perfect home, in the perfect neighborhood, with their two perfect children who are never in trouble and involved in every wholesome activity you can get your hands on. You can just imagine a white picket fence holding in the perfect dogs who would never dream of pooping on their perfectly manicured lawn. So, now they want to throw off this dynamic by bringing in the weird kid that’s not even related to them? They have a routine that I am not used to. I thrive on dysfunction, this is normal to me; going outside to avoid inside turmoil, and staying their many times long past dark, going to the kitchen for food whenever I want, and lazy Sunday morning waking up to the melancholy sounds of “Penny Lane” or the catching beat of “Blue Suede Shoes” depending on my mother’s mood. Now my life revolves around waking up early to get ready for church, structured meal times with all the food groups served prettily on matching plates, and being in bed by the time darkness hits.

I didn’t want to leave, but they made me. My mom didn’t want me to see her dying, so she sent me away while my step-sister and brother stayed with her. I didn’t understand why it was okay for my brother, who is younger than me, to get to be with her, but I had to leave. And why did my step-sister stay if all she is going to do is whine about how horrible she has it? She should have just left then. But instead she got to stay up until the end, the day my mom died; while I find out by walking into a room full of grave adults debating the best way to tell me something that was already written on their faces. The day was October 13 to be exact. I let them say what they felt they needed to, and my only reply was “I need to go clean the kitchen.” That was it. There was no outburst of emotion. I sat there watching them, watching me. They were waiting for me to cry so they could comfort me. And I wanted to, I really did. I always assumed I would cry. Instead, I sat there blank faced. I had no sadness. I had nothing. I always knew my mother loved me. She was my world. We had a special bond, so when she died, I went numb. I could not explain what happened to me, but I think she hit on it in her journal when she wrote in it that she could see me dying with her. That’s exactly what happened. Did she think by sending me away she would be able to prevent it? I think even these people knew I was not alive in there. And now they were scared for me, or maybe even of me.

The unreal feeling of her funeral still clings to me. All around me people sat with sunglasses on to hide their tears, as if anyone expected something other than tears. I had on sunglasses to hide the absence of mine. Everyone hovered around trying to comfort my step sister as she sobbed out her losses. We are all expected to feel sorry for her since she had put her college education on hold to take care of a dying woman and her children. Oh yes, this must be so much harder on her than anyone else. Everyone assumes she had to grow up so much faster because she had been a care giver all this time, but I know better. Her alcoholic abusive dad, the man that abused her and everyone else in his path, is the culprit not my mom. They act like I don’t know what he did. I watched it, I lived it. He would beat my mom on a regular basis. When she stayed late at work, he would beat his daughter. Does everyone think I’m blind? Here he is crying at the funeral with everyone else as if he really cared. I wonder if this could all be his fault. Did he make the cancer spread through her body with his beatings? I can’t help but hate him for this thought. And I find myself hating my step sister as well for placing her hardships on my mom.

Now we are at Chapel Hill on the grounds of my mom’s favorite music festival where I have been told she wanted her ashes spread; the ashes that are flying around me ready to make their way throughout these campgrounds. Pretty soon no part of this place that she had loved so much would be without a piece of her somehow attached to it. This is a place of wonderful memories for me. We came every year and listened to the new and veteran artists. I would spend my days walking around meeting interesting people. At night I would visit the different vendor booths, always managing to come back with some new prize I hadn’t had to pay for. Now this place was tainted for me with the thought of her ashes spread across the ground and flying all around me. I never wanted to let go of her ashes. I would have preferred to keep them so I could have her close to me, but instead I watch her disappear from me forever. I wonder if I could grab just a handful to keep before they disappear. I could put them in a little jar and hide it so no one ever knows. But I can’t because people are watching me again.

 Instead, I follow the crowd as we make our way down the hill and out of the campgrounds. My step sister and her friends begin sighing with relief about being away from such a horrible, dirty place. As I listen to her speak of the place my mom loved and I loved as if it were a dump, I finally have an emotion; I want to punch her in the face. The thought of doing something so bold makes me want to laugh, but I don’t because everyone already thinks I’m crazy and I don’t want to add to their fears. Instead I follow behind with memories of better times as we leave my mom’s ashes to become dust; as I struggle to feel something about what has just happened in my life.