A Tribute to Stephen Black of Fractured Faith Blog

Tonight I visit Stephen Black’s blog, Fractured Faith. As I wrote in my review of his bookThe Kirkwood Scott Chronicles: Skelly’s Square, I’ve known Mr. Black for a long time. We’re like those college students whose friends were friends, and found ourselves drawn to the same awkward punch bowl at those friends’ parties.

Stephen’s blog deals mostly with life issues and his observations and encouragements in dealing with them. He also promotes his book, has hosted some writing prompts, written rap-reminiscent poetry, and occasionally talks about marathons and running.

In tribute to an old friend, I give you my attempt to mimic a typical Stephen Black blog post:

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Has Life Ever Surprised You?

This morning en route to another working day, I was surprised to see into the back garden of a house I passed. I could see into their garden because the fence and tool shed were smashed in, done for. Debris from fence and shed, scattered tools, and the churned earth bore testament to what caused the damage, but whatever vehicle had done it was long gone.

I imagined the owners of the house coming out to the same scene as me. What if they only discovered their back part in pieces that morning? Would they feel the shock and surprise I did? How would they react to this unwelcome discovery?

Sometimes in my life I’ve felt like those owners, an unwitting party to unexpected disaster. I’ve written about some. My father’s death, for example. Failing to make the time I wished for on a run. Rejection e-mails or no response to my book queries.

At those times I did not react as would be best. I stood in shock at the damage. I turned to bad habits. I turned away from my wonderful, supportive family and toward shallow friends and the world’s attention. I gave up, and even granted power to the demons of OCD to tell me how wrong I was to try. I stood in the car tyre ruts in my back garden and despaired of any positive outcome.

But the old me is someone I don’t have to be anymore. I am not he. I can look over the scattered debris of my life and choose to act, instead. I don’t need to cry over broken wood and tools when I know I can pick up the pieces and move on.

Maybe cleanup will take time. I might need assistance from loved ones. I may need to seek professional help to repair the damage, to build a new fence and shed. It might take time or a few pints of honeycomb ice cream, but I won’t be alone to solve it.

We are masters of our lives, even when we do not feel like it. We may not be able to control whether something drives through our lives and leaves us in shock, but we can control our reactions. We can control what we do next. I know we can.

Have you ever had an unexpected event take you by surprise?

What did you do to recover and rebuild your life?

——

If you enjoyed my wee tribute, head over to Stephen’s blog and drop him a ‘Follow.’ The poor guy’s only got about 11,000 followers.

 

Photo Credit: Image by Thomas Schink from Pixabay
©2019 Chelsea Owens

The Little Things

They say you miss the little things
when love leaves you behind.

They say you hear a voice, a laugh
an echo of a smile.

They say you feel an emptiness
where warm-tight arms would hold.

They say you wake a night or two
in bed, alone and cold.

What they don’t say is just how long
the little things are missed.

What they don’t know is is just how much
your everything persists.

What they don’t feel is where you were
before we came apart.

What they don’t live is half a life
with empty soul and heart.

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Photo Credit: Stefan Spassov

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

The Stupidity of the Sexes

“What, Isla? What did I do?” Peter stared into her eyes; if his were not close to tears themselves, they at least reflected hers.

Isla sniffed. She felt the lines of wet on her face, the dryness of her lips, the misery of her soul. Surely, she thought bitterly, He knows what he did.

Peter felt clueless. All I said was that people never forget their first girlfriend, he mused, Just because Stella said, “Hi…” He looked at Isla’s splotchy face. Maybe a comforting smile would help.

Isla burst into fresh tears. “I -I -I -gave you my heart!

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Conversationally considered for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt this week: The Greatest Gift.

September 12, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes the greatest gift. Answer it as if it were a question, or show what it could be. Go where the prompt leads you!

Respond by September 17, 2019. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

 

Photo Credit:
Ksenia Makagonova

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

One More Day

Smoky, slatted sunlight lay in lines across the staring face. Soon, only a muted glowing shone there as the associated hand pulled the blinds closed again. *Snap*

He’d said he’d be different; for one more day. That had been a gigantic step, vocalizing. Into the dark of night and mind he’d stood and whispered, “Tomorrow, I go out.”

A laugh escaped the lips. Whose, he did not know; but then, he did. A distant memory of non-lined sunlight views and happier company than his own filtered to recollection.

Then; he was sure he’d laughed. Then; she had, too.

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What came to me for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt this week: for one day.

July 25, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes the phrase “for one day.” The words single out a special occurrence. What is the emotion and vibe, where does it take place and why? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by July 30, 2019. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

 

Photo Credit:
Ethan Sykes

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

The Top 10 Reasons I Can’t Write Romance

Part of my membership in the I’m Not Really Certain I’m Typical Female Nor Do I Want to Be Labeled as Such Club includes a general aversion to reading Romance. Naturally it follows that I have some distaste for writing it as well.

Today I realized I not only have a distaste; I am not certain I can write Romance. Why?

10. In terms of hormones, I’m a bit low on the ones interested in intercourse between animate beings.
Granted, I’ve had children nearly all of our marriage and they’re a bit of a killjoy that way…

9. I’m old and tired and just don’t care.
Now, get off my lawn, you young’uns!

8. I find cliché situations silly.
Whenever I’ve tried to write a romantic encounter, I laugh. I slip into over-the-top silliness, a twist, or simply give up.

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7. I think sex belongs in marriage, to the person one is married to.
Seriously, so many problems would be avoided that way. Logic belongs in love, right?

6. I therefore do not find infidelity exciting and alluring; rather, I judge the protagonist(s) for weak character(s).
Those people really need to grow up and get jobs instead of meeting in cafés all day.

5. In fact, I find romantic dialogue trying.
I’d rather skip ahead to …the end?

4. When given the option of a night on the town, I choose a book in the closet.
And it’s not a romance novel.

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3. I’ve never watched The Bachelor or anything like it.
This makes conversation with other females a bit limited, especially if I voice my opinions on such shows.

2. I do not find celebrities attractive.
Like with Number 6, I feel that they’re constantly making poor judgement calls. I like a few of them, but do not daydream about them moving in with me.

1. I am attracted to the ‘wrong’ sort of man.
People say there are all types. People say there’s no accounting for taste.
The problem is that book after movie after conversation assumes that ‘all women’ want a Bad Boy. All women are at least secretly turned on by an unkempt biker hiding a sexy set of muscles under that rough leather jacket.
Yeah, no. I’m like a zombie; I like brains.

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Sometimes I’ve tried, but I am me and need to write what I know. And who knows; maybe there are more not-all-women out there who think just like me. Maybe they’ll read my realistic romance books and love them.

Photo Credits:
Alejandra Quiroz
Eliott Reyna
Oleg Yeltsov

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

What is Your Music of the Night?

This morning whilst sorting laundry, I was treated to a rare concert. One of my house guest’s eight children is quite proficient at piano; as such, she was giving our lovely not-quite-as-prestigious-as-a-grand-piano some exercise.

Beginning with “The Phantom of the Opera,” she worked her way through to “The Music of the Night.” -At about an Allegro. I think Michael Crawford, wherever he is, felt a jolt. Heaven help me, I had to stop her.

First I exhorted her to slow down. Then I used words like, “hypnotic” and “seductive.” I finally pulled out YouTube and our portable speaker and let The Master explain it to her.

As a child I would lay next to the speakers in our family room and allow the entire 1986 original London cast to wash over me. Envelop me. Yes, even hypnotize and seduce me. My sister and I pored over the included playlist, read its stage notes, pictured in our minds what the music and speaking parts outlined.

I saw the daring, terrifying phantom descend into the masquerade. I trembled with pleasure at the image of his masked form waiting just behind Christine Daaé’s mirror. And I wept inside whenever I heard his echo to the romantic interchange between Christine and Raoul (skip to 4:03).

My poor visiting piano player didn’t know any of that, of course. How could she?

After I returned to my laundry, I thought about music. I thought about S. Chersis mentioning books as a craving and how that put me in mind of songs that I must listen to until satiation.

Phantom is not the only music I’ve loved. It’s not the only music I still love and still need to ingest periodically. I also cannot live without Chopin, The Pixies, Offenbach, Led Zeppelin, Book on Tape Worm, Evanescence, Weezer, Holst, Eminem, Prokoviev

When I use the word “love,” I do not exaggerate. These songs and others reach a part of me that nothing else can and help me to feel again.

Does anyone else ever get that way with music? What songs speak to you? Have you any that always have and always will?

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—————-

Plug into your favorites, and read what I wrote this past week:
Wednesday, June 26: Delved into our secret tastes with “Have You Any Guilty Pleasures?

Thursday, June 27: Re-blogged Lunch Break Fiction’s fantastic story, “Where the Wild Things Were.”

Friday, June 28: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Bereaved Single Dad!

Saturday, June 29: Announced the 32nd Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is ‘Little Willie’ poems. PLEASE ENTER!

Sunday, June 30: Nothing. Still have house guests.

Monday, July 1: Re-blogged The Pale Rook‘s piece about self-value and creation. She’s an amazing writer and artist; check her out!

Tuesday, July 2: “Wilhelmina Winters, Ninety-Seven.”

Wednesday, July 3: Today.

I also posted all this week at my motherhood site. I wrote “A Return to the Dentist,” “A House Full of Kids is a House Full of Love,” and “A Very Short Parenting Poem.”

 

Photo Credit:
Mpumelelo Macu

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Gramma Dear

Flowered pots and colored notes
fly gently on the walls;

Whose smiling, standing stick-men

Wave out from rainbowed pen?

 

Wrinkled cheeks and vacant eyes
of startling, once-clear blue;

What’s inside now, Oh Gramma dear?

What’s cloudy and what’s clear?

 

Gnarled hands and anxious grip
that once held mine with love;

Whose fingers do you think these are?

Whose hand felt from afar?

 

Silent words and down-turned mouth
mar lips that laughed and spoke;

What joke or story would you say?

What do you think today?

 

Who are these strangers milling round;
unfamiliar people?

Where is the you

You know?

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Remembered for Carrot Ranch‘s weekly prompt: growing older

May 9, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about growing older. It can be humorous, dark or poignant. It can be true or total fiction. It can be fine wine or an old fossil. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by May 14, 2019. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

 

Photo Credit:
Cristian Newman

Is Mental Illness Something We Get From Our Ancestors?

Recently over at The Bipolar Writer Longname Blog, James wrote an article asking if mental illness were a genetic thing. After reviewing some mental health history in his family, he noted opinions that professionals have on the matter. He asked curious questions, including: “Knowing that Bipolar disorder might be something that can affect other people within my own blood makes me wary of the future. The big question becomes, could I pass this on to my own children?

His article garnered a sizeable amount of traffic. Like, 206 ‘likes.’

I, in turn, was surprised. Flabbergasted. Flummoxed, Astounded. Etc. Is this even a question? Why is it a question?

I do not wonder if mental conditions are genetic. I look at myself and see my grandfather’s anger, my mother’s nose, the potential of cancer because of a grandmother, and a few sources of depression, anxiety, and addictive behaviors.

I assume that everyone feels this way about his family that came before, but maybe he does not.

Then again, this knowledge might be due to my upbringing. I’ve mentioned before that I am LDS and was raised that way. One (of many wonderful) quirk(s) is that we really know our family history. No joke. I know who my grandparents are/were on both sides. Further, I know my grandparents’ parents. If I want to, I can go on the computer and research my grandparents’ grandparents’ grandparents. I can often find a picture and who they married and where they are buried.

Sorry if I weirded anyone out. I bring up my ancestor voyeurism in speculation of its impact on my belief in heredity. Since I am perfectly comfortable knowing my progenitors and since I see similarities in features and behaviors, I therefore feel perfectly comfortable associating mental illnesses as yet another genetic trait.

True, there are some cases where Great-great-great-great Grandpa Bob may have been a little off because of those times his younger brother dropped a hobby horse on his head. Hopefully there are historical notations for aberrations like that.

Overall, however, I see serious mental illness as hereditary a trait as red hair and freckles. Or height and intelligence. Or photoptarmosis and liking black licorice.

Do you think so, too? Why or why not?

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—————-

Short, sweet; here’s what I did this week:
Wednesday, April 17: Moved with history in “There is Hope in the Flame of Notre Dame.

Thursday, April 18: “The Cure for Depression: Follow a Daily Routine,” another suggestion in a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.

Friday, April 19: Nothing! Absolutely nothing!

Saturday, April 20: Responded to P’Arc’s post about her pen name with “A Chelsea by Any Other Name Would Still be Sarcastic.

Sunday, April 21: Wrote “Behind the Blogger Tag Thingamajig” in answer to P’Arc’s nomination.

Monday, April 22: Re-blogged Jennie‘s story about teaching.

Tuesday, April 23: “Wilhelmina Winters, Ninety-One.”

Wednesday, April 24: Today.

I also posted all this week at my motherhood site. I wrote “Raise Strong, Independent Daughters AND Mothers,” and a poem titled “Good Morning!

I received my first and last paycheck from Kids are the Worst. It was fun while it lasted and I hope they contact me again once things settle down.

***REMEMBER TO ENTER THIS (TWO) WEEK’S POETRY CONTEST!!***

 

Photo Credit:
Rod Long

Wilhelmina Winters, Ninety-One

“And then,” Wil said, grinning at the memory, “Reagan asked if we were going to be like the Girl Scouts. I thought Derek would correct her -Stephen definitely would- but Derek said that yes, it was like the Girl Scouts.”

Wil looked at her single audience member, propped up on the couch. Her mother smiled a tired smile in reply.

“So, then he said we need to make a list of things we want to help with.” Wil paused long enough to drink from her mother’s glass of water nearby. She didn’t seem to realize she did so, and its owner’s smile only grew more fond. “But then the bell rang and I had to go to Mr. G.’s class. With Art.”

Cynthia’s brow furrowed. “You have art with Mr. G.?”

Wil saw the confusion. “No, Mom. Art is a boy in the lunch group.” She remembered something. “We’re going to work on a project together for class. With another boy named Calvin.”

“Ah.” Her mother settled into the cushions and lay her head back. She closed her eyes. “That sounds fun.” Wil watched the beautiful woman she loved breathe in and out. She listened as well, frowning at how the sound had a continual bass tone to it. Wil suddenly hated everyone who breathed without rattling; without obstruction.

She looked around the room for distraction. A ray of late sunset reached from their small window and fractured through the glass of water. “Oh!” Cynthia opened her eyes at the startled noise. “Mom! I ..I drank your… I’m sorry!”

Her mother snorted a quiet laugh, but the action still brought on a coughing fit. In panic, Wil jumped up, ran the glass to the sink, dumped its contents and rinsed it, then refilled. Sloshing a path on her way, she returned and handed the water to her mother.

“Thanks,” Cynthia managed. She sipped; swallowed; kept coughing.

Wil knew what to do. She rushed to the breathing machine they kept behind the couch. After setting it up, she watched her mother inhale its life-giving breath and exhale in stifled coughs.

They’d just about gotten things under control when the door opened and in walked Rob and Jakob. Rob took in the room, his daughter, his wife, and the nebulizer. He set his keys on their hook and went directly to the couch.

Pulling the mask from her mouth, Cynthia said, “Hello, Rob. And how was your day today?”

 

Continued from Ninety.
Keep reading to Ninety-Two.