Chasing Ghosts

 

IMG_2886“You cannot stop the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but you can stop them nesting in your hair.” – Eva Ibbotson, The Dragonfly Pool

Yesterday was my last day employed by the bourbon distillery where my father worked 17 years.

I made it 31 months.

It wasn’t that I didn’t inherit his stamina and work ethic. My co-workers were interesting, good people, with laid back, comedic and gossipy personalities one grows up around in a small town. Time tick tocks a little slower down in the valley where the distillery rises up above the tree lines.

Dad began working there when he was 19 until he was 36 years old. I was 12 when he got a better job making more money at a federal prison. He passed away at age 50 of lung cancer about 10 months after diagnosis. I was 25 years old, five days before turning 26.

Despite being an adult with a mortgage, paralegal career and a one-year-old daughter, the devastation of his loss brought my knee caps to the kitchen floor.

It happened after I called my brother to deliver the news. It had to be me to tell him. I knew it had to be me.

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Sometimes we are able to close the door on our emotions long enough to accomplish a difficult obligation. That’s what I did. I did it for months before dad let go of life. I knew I’d have the rest of mine to leave the door wide open, but not in front of him, or my brother or my mother. Not while hope and strength were needed as a priority to push us all through the treatments, hospital stays and filing for Social Security based on terminal diagnosis.

All until that moment when I hung up the phone with my brother; strength evaporated and took hope with it.

I knew part of me was going to be different from this point forward. I was not wrong.

My brother and I would join thousands of people who had lost parents, some young, and many who were much older than us. There’s an understanding expression in the eyes when we see each other, because it’s not possible for another human being to understand what it feels like to lose a parent until it happens. Not even if I were to craft a hundred metaphors to describe the feeling.

I wager the experience differs as well for those of us who were close to our parent, like I was with my father. (No, I’m certainly not saying it is harder or worse for me, but different.) We were so much alike, and we were best friends.

About two years after grieving dad’s death, I received a Facebook message from a friend working at the distillery letting me know her position would be open soon. She asked if I would be interested.

Here was a chance to meet many of dad’s former co-workers who I’m sure could tell me stories I hadn’t heard. I was tired of my commute to my current job and was feeling guilty about spending so much time away from my family, so I took the job.

I was right. Within a month, I had gathered many hilarious stories about my dad’s antics and humbling tales about his kindness. A few folks wandered to my desk just to meet “Otis Ball’s daughter” and tell me what a great person he was. I soaked it all up like a little shriveled plant thirsty for water. These were his memories brought to life through people who knew him well, and I had gained unfettered access.

My connection with my deceased father is so strong, I feel it even in death. Perhaps the pain comes from my inability to create new memories using our connection. Surely others left behind in the light of the living feel as I do. I was lucky. I had found a way to discover old memories which were new to me.

The job was easy, simple office work. I knew I was overqualified. Hearing about dad’s life from co-workers fed my soul, but the work didn’t. I was a writer. My passion lives inside words scrawled on a page. I liked challenge. I liked to help people.

Somewhere on my journey chasing my father’s ghost, I had forgotten my passion. So after several months soaking in the atmosphere where my father had spent half his adult life, I slowly began to write again, and realized I wasn’t supposed to be there anymore. Dad wouldn’t want me stuck in place on his behalf, a place I didn’t belong. A place where my talents were not utilized.

So I left.

I am pursuing a fulltime career as a freelance writer. When I switched majors my sophomore year in college from Physical Therapy to a double major in English and Communication, my father said, “How are you ever going to make any money doing that?”

me and dad collegeHe was laying on the concrete floor of the carport at home, fiddling under my car. The forest green Honda Accord was making a crazy scratching noise. He had the tire pulled off minutes after my arrival.

“I will,” I said, though I really wasn’t sure myself how I was going to turn words into cash. I was seated on my tire watching his greasy elbow move this way and that.

He turned his head and faced up at me to make eye contact. “Show me,” he said, then turned his attention back to the mechanics of the car he helped me buy.

Well, dad. I’m showing you now.

 

 

5 Things to Do While Snowed In with Your Mate

snow love

By Mary Anglin-Coulter

Now safely home in your mate’s arms after a slippery drive in from work, you and your mate have had enough of the news predicting a foot of snow on the ground. You’ve stared at weather radars so long, you are starting to see phallic shapes and crawling polar bears instead of looming snow clouds inching across maps. It’s so treacherous outside, neither you nor your mate are going anywhere for a while. 

That’s the best part about snow days. The world forces us to pause. So what are you going to do with your stolen time with your sweetie?

Here are five things you and your sweetie can do to take advantage of your time home alone (a hint, none of these include chores):

1. Take a nap.

One of my favorite things to do with my love is nap with her. Hordes of studies outline numerous benefits for couples who sleep together. One such researcher found sleeping together eases anxiety due to a boost in oxytocin (Andrea Petersen published in The Wall Street Journal). Really, what better time to snuggle down in your warm bed or by the fire when hell has literally frozen over outside? Just sleep on it instead of worrying. Were you at work right now, you’d be wishing you were home in bed. Now is your chance. Bonus: A survey by Cotton USA found that couples who sleep naked together are happier than couples who sleep in pajamas or clothes.

2. Make love.

Since you’ll already be in bed in the buff with your honey, you may as well have a taste. Besides, you likely won’t have any unexpected knocks at the door in the near future. (And if you do, the bastard is probably mental for getting out in this mess so I advise not to open the door.) So shut the blinds. Turn down the lights. Light a candle or two. Take your time. Enjoy foreplay. Neither of you are going anywhere in the morning. You have all evening, so set a slow pace. If things heat up too quickly, go a second and third round. You should have lots of energy after your nap!

3. Wine and dine.

Cook a meal together. My spouse and I do this regularly but there’s something about slowly preparing a high maintenance meal and taking our time cooking it that is quite romantic. Make appetizers. Make salads. Make a delicious roast and a banging apple crisp. Then live off the leftovers for the next three days. Of course, this means you would have needed to brave the mad rush of the stores in anticipation of getting snowed in, unless you happen to be stocked up.

During or after dinner, add your favorite 80 proof drink and then add two more. Hell, you’re not driving. Work is cancelled. When was the last time you and your partner enjoyed drinks out of company with others? Or actually had a long conversation without an electronic device within five feet of you? Maybe you’ve missed the other’s increased charm or silliness as they imbibe. Now you get to privately enjoy the parts of their personality only revealed when alcohol draws down their inhibitions. But be careful to avoid touchy subjects like ex-girlfriends or overbearing in-laws lest you risk being snowed in with a steaming mad sweetheart. That would certainly be the opposite point of this article.

4. Netflix it.

I’m so over the whole “Netflix and chill” saying which drips all over social media these days, but I still gladly partake in its practice. It provides the perfect excuse for snuggling. While the snow falls silent out your window, start a new series you both enjoy, or pick a movie you watched while you were dating, before mortgage and responsibility complicated your love. Turn the heat down to encourage staying close, make coffee and share a blanket. Allow and encourage conversation during the show. “Na uh, she did not slap his mama!” Remember, the point is to connect with each other.

5. Play games.

Laugh! Bust out that old naughty card game he or she bought you for Valentine’s Day as a joke. Turn on the Xbox and build a beach house on Minecraft. Be playful. Even while playing a board game, you can provide the focus and attention we crave from our loves.

As we rush around our world, we feel so inconvenienced when an event like a snow storm forces us to slow down. See the positive instead. Yeah, you might miss that meeting you prepped for all week, but now you have time and energy to work on something that matters more: your relationship.

© Copyright Mary Anglin-Coulter, LLC

 

The Parent’s Snow Day

snow dayMy phone began ringing at 5 am. It’s mom calling to place me on alert. My daughter’s school is closed for a snow day, she informs. She works at the board of education and is often privy to this information before the school uses all of technology’s bitches (text, the elderly email and the more elderly phone call) to tell everyone else.

Great.

I have to get up now, 30 minutes before the alarm bells pry open my eyelids because school closings don’t often translate to work closings.  In fact, for my current job at the bourbon distillery, they never do. People gotta’ drink, I suppose. I could use one now.

So out of bed I roll. Into the shower I crawl. Into a uniform I stumble. All the while listening to my phone ding, bang and ring with alerts school has indeed closed.

A decision I must make. Damn. Why the hell am I channeling Yoda at 5 o’ clock in the morning?

Anyhow, to make this decision I must first know whether snow is yet on the ground. I peek out the bathroom window. Snow is impending. This means I can safely transport my precious cargo, Madi the lucky first grader, to her great grandmother’s house for a day of pjs and crap she shouldn’t be eating while I work and watch the roads ice over.

Time to deliver the news. I flip on her bedroom light. She doesn’t flinch. It’s an hour and a half too early for her.

“Madi bug. Wake up baby. Snow cancelled school. Just put your shoes on and I’ll take you to nani’s house,” I say as I grab her bumble bee-shaped overnight bag from her closet and hurriedly fill it with a change of clothes and a stuffed kitten she named Sparkle.

Who knew if school would be on tomorrow. I’d still have to work. The roads would still be too unsafe to have her out, so we usually opt to keep her in one place instead of risking transport on bad roads. Hence the bee bag.

All of this before 6 am. I’m supposed to be clocked in by 7.

She raises up and rubs her eyes.

Instead of putting her shoes on, she looks out the window and informs me that there isn’t any snow on the ground so she can ride the bus.

Snow is coming I tell her, trying to rush. I ask her again but a little more stern to please put her shoes on and to just wear her pjs. Mommy still has to work and we have little time to make it to grandma’s before I’ll be late.

She puts her shoes on while I run to the kitchen to gather lunch. Do I have leftovers to bring? I can’t remember. It’s too damn early to think and I don’t have time to look. I grab a frozen meal and stick it awkwardly in my purse, the corner of the box jabbing my arm pit when I pull my bag over my shoulder.

My sleepy 6-year-old appears in the kitchen with shoes on. I coat her and zip her up.

Out the door to the car we go. In my rush, I didn’t think to heat up the car, and I certainly don’t have time now. I thank the universe for garages so we don’t have frosted windows to deal with.

Madi, starting to wake up a little now, begins talking from her booster seat in the back.

“But mom I just remembered. Is it Wednesday? Summer was going to bring cupcakes for her birthday,” she says.

I must proceed with caution. I hear disappointment and sadness in her voice. Combine those with the general early morning crankiness she inherited from yours truly and you get tears.

“Well I bet Summer will just bring them the next time school is in,” I said, pinning hope on Summer.

Madi continued to voice her concern. She didn’t think it was fair to cancel school on Summer’s birthday. She wanted to wish her a happy birthday on her birthday, not after. And the cupcakes may not taste as good. She didn’t cry, but she was really bothered.

I was struck with how different our worlds are, mine and hers. Her absent cupcakes are my early morning mad dash because of snow.

No, my sweet baby girl. I won’t get a cupcake today either.

wig

“Sex in a woman’s world has the same currency a penny has in a man’s. Every penny saved is a penny earned in one world and in the next every sexual adventure is a literary experience.”

-Harry Golden

Occasionally, I like to spice things up for my wife, Amy.

I bought a wig online a couple months ago. It was the first time I purchased a wig I didn’t intend on wearing Halloween. The locks are a reddish auburn, a color I would never try on my hair. But I wanted something different.

The wig arrived and I quickly hid it in my bedside table. Weeks passed. I held onto this wig, super nervous about revealing it. Amy never has any idea what I’ve purchased be it a new toy or lotion or outfit or whatever until I call her back to the bedroom and then bam! There I am with whatever sex-venture I’ve planned. I’m careful with my timing, spacing out our sex-ventures and making sure we’re both feeling good and energetic, and that the kids are out of the house.

A couple nights before Christmas, we were alone. Finally. The kids were off with other plans. We began making out on the couch. Though normally I would be thinking about her and our making out and touching, my mind was on the wig. I decided the time was right.

“Stay here,” I whispered and back to the bedroom I went to get ready.

I changed into lacy, black panties, the ones that accentuated my hips and round bottom. I darkened my eyeshadow and did up my eyes heavy with eyeliner, drawing a point up from my eye lashes. I brushed on blush and slid on a little lip color. I put on the wig unsure of how to line up the wig’s part with my face. I pulled one side down and adjusted the back. I tousled the long, wispy bangs covering my forehead. I couldn’t remember the last time I had bangs. I arranged the long curls to lay just so down my breasts and back. My hair was long, but the wig’s locks extended down about six inches longer to just a few inches above my belly button.

I walked to the mirror. I looked like I belonged at Trixie’s, one of the long-running local strip clubs.

I decided to go forward. Amy had been waiting a while at this point. So I lit two large candles, turned off the lights and called her back.

I heard her footfalls in the hallway. The door was ajar and she peeked inside. There I stood in wig, overdone eyes and curve-accentuating panties. She pushed the door the rest of the way open. Her expression read absolute shock.

I expected a giggle.

“I thought you were going to dress as Mrs. Claus,” she said.

She walked forward and touched the ends of the wig hanging below my breasts, nipples peeking. She wasn’t smiling. Just staring. I leaned forward and put my arms around her waist and drew her near. She lightly touched my waist. We kissed deeply. I leaned back and looked into her eyes and still there was no positive emotion. She looked confused.

“You don’t like it?” I asked, my feelings starting to burn. Maybe I don’t do it for her anymore as I used to. Maybe that’s part of marriage. I’ve always heard the flame extinguishes, but this soon? We’ve only been together a few years.

“You’re not you. You don’t look like yourself. I feel weird even kissing you, or touching you,” she answered, her hesitant body language reiterating her words. She stood just inside the doorway, her hands barely touching my waist. Usually she grips, grabs and pulls me to her, even tosses me around a bit.

I didn’t understand her reaction, and it pricked my ego. I felt a fear realize. I did look as ridiculous as I thought I might, standing before her nearly naked save wig and panty. 

She’s always loved every… I mean every… crazy idea I get for our bedroom antics. She’s up for it all. This was the first time I’ve ever received a negative response from her.

I loosely crossed my arms, asked if she wanted me to take off the wig and explained I hadn’t pinned it down. She affirmed and pulled it off revealing the blonde and brown twisted swirls of color on straight, fine hair down my back I’ve worn most of the time she’s known me.

“There’s my wife. This is who I want,” she said, finally smiling.

Her comment soothed my damaged ego but I still didn’t understand. I uncrossed my arms. It was just a wig. I asked how the wig was different than one of my outfits. She explained the outfits didn’t severely alter my appearance like the wig. That girl didn’t look like me and she hated it.

“Transforming yourself neck down and some make up is okay but please don’t alter your appearance so much that I can’t see you. I need you to look like you,” she said.

My heart exploded. My wife doesn’t need some version of me. Just me. I’m enough.

The rest of our evening was, well, rather amazing. And now I’ve got a wig for sale if anyone is interested. Tested but never used.

 

 

 

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I’m doing it.

I’m beginning to live a dream where I write all day everyday and make a living to do it as a freelance writer.

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

-Henry David Thoreau, (Walden)

My favorite things to write about revolve around relationships, a subject I am passionate about and so felt it the most suitable topic of my blog. I write about all relationships – friends, family, lovers and interactions with strangers – the good and the bad.  I love to think about human nature and to describe it in a way in which other folks may relate. I explore the dark side of human nature, as well as the love. I have a skill for describing emotion and for dunking my readers into the sea of a situation so deep, they know how it may feel to be a parent, to be in love or to be stabbed in the back without ever having experienced these things. Other readers like to read a description of an emotion they’ve felt that they could never describe before. To relate.

Aside from writing true tales of emotional experience for readers to experience or relate, I’ll also provide useful information and tips regarding love, sex, marriage and kids.

Enjoy.

If one is so inclined to need a bit of writing for your own blog or business, a resume, content for email, articles, or whatever kind of content you require, please feel free to contact me at mary@anglincoulter.com.