It’s that time of year again, and I can’t wait to be at the lake.
Even with the rainy forecast (40% chance of thunderstorms Friday through Monday), the thought of escaping for a long weekend is the only thing keeping me going. My family typically gets together at our family cabin for the Memorial Day weekend.
What does your family do?
An all women’s organization has taken me under their wing and allowed me on their committee. We’ve had two meetings so far, and I have to say those two meetings have been unlike any other meetings in which I have been involved.
These women wear lipstick, have stylish haircuts, wear rocks on their perfectly manicured wedding fingers, and dress to the nines. Most have high-paying jobs, are entrepreneurs, or serve on multiple volunteer committees. They make things happen. They are intoxicating.
They command attention when talking and are oh so nice to one another. They are appreciative of feedback and suggestions. No one puts anyone else down. They are gracious. They are welcoming. They are smart. They are driven. They laugh. They’re friends. I want to be them.
But the thing that struck me within the first five minutes was the side comment to a neighbor. The lady two seats to my left was the minute-keeper and was typing away on her laptop. She said to the person to her right, “I have to lose this bracelet,” as she pulled it off and set it on the table next to her bottle of water. She was referring to the gorgeous cuff on her left wrist that was inhibiting her typing. The lady she had directed her comment to nodded in understanding and smiled a polite smile while probably mentally rubbing her own wrist, glad she wasn’t the one with the bracelet problem.
That comment made me smile and appreciate I was among my own people. No matter how powerful these women are, they are just like me – a person. They are a person that gets annoyed by bracelets while working on computers.
Never in a million years would you hear a man whisper to the guy on his right while rubbing his wrist, “Man, this bracelet is killing me.”
And that made me laugh.
[I've been pretty absent from my blog, but I have good reason! Short story writing and working on a book project has taken up my free time. So, to not let you feel left out, below is a short story I've been working on. Enjoy! Oh, and please please please please let me know if you have any questions about the plot, story line, the flow of the story, etc. Any feedback would be amazing. Stories aren't worth anything if the reader doesn't know what the hell the writer is talking about - er, writing about.]
Sarah woke with her face contorted in pain on her tear-soaked pillow. Nightmares reliving her husband’s death visited each night like clockwork. When she would wake from a dream of him, she would roll over to his cold side of the bed and cuddle up to the pile of his clothes she hadn’t been able to put away. Those clothes that still smelled like him were the comfort she needed to wipe away her tears, but they were also the reminder that he truly was gone forever.
The summer afternoon he died was a special day. As the new college graduates they had just gotten back from their honeymoon and were moving into their first apartment. Friends were helping them carry bed frames and boxes taped shut full of old college textbooks up three flights of stairs.
Needing a break from the heat and the lifting, they all walked to the nearby college food court for Cokes and sandwiches. The cafeteria was empty except for a couple lone students taking summer classes, buried in calc books with large Starbucks cups clamped in their hands. She was taking a sip of her husband’s Code Red Mt. Dew when they heard it.
But just one.
A man about their age careened around the corner and screeched to a halt by their table. His eyes were wide; his face was dripping in sweat. His light grey t-shirt was pitted out, and large purple veins were swelling on his neck and forehead. He almost went hoarse from yelling to the whole cafeteria. There was a shooter on the loose. The only safe place was in the Great Hall, one floor up from the cafeteria. The frantic man left their table to find others to warn.
She and her friends abandoned their half-eaten pastrami on ryes and un-lidded 20 oz. plastic bottles of Coke – bits of chewed Lays potato chips caught on the ribbed rims.
He held her hand up the marble staircase, past the reading room, through the large wooden pillars and into the Great Hall. Her heartbeat had quickened. Despite the cool air blowing through the vents, she had a light dusting of sweat forming on her forehead with beads slipping down her chest and soaking into her sports bra. But the reassurance of her hand in his did not keep them safe long.
They entered the giant hall to see several groups of students crowded in corners crying and hugging. Others stood alone with their arms wrapped around themselves, tears streaming down their cheeks, backpacks slung half-heartedly on their backs. She noticed the lack of noise in the room besides sniffles and sobbing. It was as though talking would bring the unknown.
Taking possession in the middle of the room, they silently took in their surroundings, forming their own protective circle. She couldn’t recall how long they stood there wondering what would happen; incessant rounds were being fired elsewhere. In the basement bowling alley? The college newspaper office? She couldn’t be sure.
He hugged her to him, standing stomach to stomach, her arms wrapped around his waist, holding him close as he kissed her head reassuringly. The tension coursing through her body made her neck muscles feel like stone and her legs like jelly.
A girl screamed bloody murder and pointed her finger toward the west wall. Above the closed red velvet curtains that hid a large stage, there was a catwalk – funny, she had never noticed a catwalk before. Five stone-faced young men strutted their way to the middle, each resting an assault rifle on their shoulders. She recognized one bringing up the rear as the guy that warned them of the shooting in the cafeteria. Her blood ran cold as she tightened her embrace on her husband. The men reached the middle and spaced themselves out evenly. Everyone’s attention was on them.
That’s when it happened.
She can’t recall the start of it clearly because she hit her head on the wooden floor when he pulled her down and trapped her under his body. But from the peephole past his armpit she caught glimpses of bodies being pelted with bullets, blood snaking toward her, pooling against her forearm, warm with lost life.
The shooters would take periodic breaks and shout things at their victims, but she couldn’t decipher their words. At one point during one of the lulls, everyone that wasn’t dead rose to their feet. He pulled her up with him and they stood stooped, again clutching each other, realizing the mass of casualties around them. The only person that mattered, though, was him. He was still there, holding her.
Their relief of survival lasted only seconds before open fire ripped through the slimmed crowd. She ripped herself from him, grabbed his hand, and pulled him to a corner where they skidded to a halt. They crouched among the dead and the few living. He let go of her hand to grab his leg; he had been shot. His face twisted in agony as he let out a guttural scream that she could not hear above the mayhem surrounding them.
Her heart ached, and the only thing she could do was pray. She hadn’t always been as religious as her mom had wanted her to be, but she still believed. In times of need, God seemed like the best solution, especially when one feels helpless. So she clasped her hands, closed her eyes, remained in the fetal position, and prayed to the only God she had ever known, and the God she believed would bring her through that moment.
While she was praying there was a lull. A long lull.
She looked up. The shooter from the cafeteria was no longer on the catwalk. He was hovering over her, looking down his barrel right into her eyes. She went stiff and saw stars. It took everything she had to not pass out.
“Get up! Go!”
She couldn’t understand what he meant. Why was he telling her to leave? Did they want a moving target to shoot at from up on the catwalk? There was no way she was going to be their clay pigeon. She didn’t budge. She was frozen with fear.
“He wants you to live,” the gunman pointed up to one of the shooters that stood in the middle of the catwalk. That alpha male waved to her from his perch with an eerie smile on his face. Shivers ran down her spine.
She scrambled to her feet and reached for her love.
“No!” the gunman screamed. “Just you. Leave him.”
Her husband squeezed her hand. She held tight.
“I love you,” she whispered, apologizing with her eyes as she loosened her grip and was torn from him by the gunman. “No!” she kicked and flailed in the shooters arms. “I love you! I love you!” she called after her husband.
She was thrown to the ground and maimed her elbow. Holding her shattered elbow, she turned her back on him and ran through the heavy double doors, down the marble stairs, and out the glass doors to freedom.
She didn’t stop running once she hit pavement. She didn’t stop sobbing, either. The ache in her heart was unbearable but the hatred gave her strength to run the block to her – no, their – apartment. Passerby stopped and stared at her, the hysterical runner covered in blood.
She made it and collapsed in the hallway. Mara had stayed behind to take a shower and came to answer the door after she heard the thud.
Mara found her kneeling with her forehead to the floor. She was soaked in a mix of sweat and blood, sobbing so hard she was dry heaving. She was barefoot, having lost her flip flops in the Great Hall.
“Oh, my God!” Mara helped her off the floor and onto a lone kitchen chair. She was a rag doll. Sitting on the wooden chair, the top of her body folded in half so that her head was between her knees, her arms limp at her sides with her hands resting by her dirty feet.
“They’re all dead,” she sobbed.
“What? Who?” Mara could not understand what she was saying. “Where is everyone? Why are you covered in blood? What happened, Sarah?”
“We were eating and then open fire. They’re gone.”
It was Mara’s turn to sink to the ground among the boxes. They sat and cried for what seemed like forever until Mara’s husband ran through the door. He was alone. Mara sprung to her feet and assaulted him with hugs and kisses.
“I thought you were dead! Sarah said you didn’t make it!”
“I thought I was going to be, but I just played dead. The others …” he trailed off. “I’m sorry.” He shook his head and looked at the floor. “After they thought they had killed everyone, they just left. Just like that. For no reason,” he finished disbelievingly, running his hand through his hair.
Sarah slid out of her chair and hit her head on the floor for the second time that day. Mara ran across the apartment to help her best friend.
The hours that passed were agonizing. She slipped in and out of sleep, reliving the gun shots, the screams, and the smell of gunfire and hunted human. When Sarah finally came to her senses, she was lying on her – no, their – blue sofa, Mara was sitting by her side dabbing a damp washcloth on her forehead.
“Is he?” Sarah managed. Knowing the answer but hoping for a different one since the last time she asked. She had hoped the whole thing was just a bad nightmare.
Mara shook her head.
Mara’s husband explained that the shooters shot nearly everyone in that room. Sarah’s husband was shot five times in the back, up and down his spine.
All she could think was that she abandoned him. The pain in his eyes when she wiggled her hand from his was something that would haunt her for the rest of her life. But he would have wanted her safe. Right?
For the first time since Mara’s husband confirmed her own husband’s death, Sarah thought about a funeral. She had never imagined she would be planning his funeral just days after their wedding. Shit. His mom. How was she going to tell his mom? Should she call that instant? Should she wait to call after work the next day? There was no reason to rush this sort of thing, right? Should she drive the three hours to tell his family in person? He had four little sisters. He was an uncle to a three-year-old diva and an 18-month-old stud. He wanted his own kids – no, their kids.
What should he wear to his funeral? She instantly thought of that grey polo he wore to Mara’s wedding rehearsal dinner. They were having a small argument the night before at her parent’s house. Sarah was up late ironing his wrinkled khakis for the next day. He had not wanted to wear khakis to the rehearsal dinner; he had wanted to wear jeans. There were some choice words and perhaps some threats, but he eventually got his way and acted as big spoon that night, his strong arms wrapped around her chest, his nose nuzzled in her hair. What she wouldn’t give for that big lug and his embrace right then. Who fights over jeans anyway, she thought?
A week after the funeral she was unpacking one of the remaining boxes in the living room, wearing one of his shirts when there was a knock on the door. She signed for the package and carried it over to the blue sofa. It was addressed to her deceased husband. The return address read “Foot Locker.” Her breath caught in her throat and tears clouded her eyes.
She slowly made her way to the kitchen and retrieved a pair of scissors to cut the tape. Sitting on the blue sofa, she revealed a pack of three shirts he had ordered two weeks prior to his death. She remembered that night. He was online shopping for polo shirts – his signature shirt. There were so many he liked, he couldn’t pick just one. The indecision about which color to order was hilarious to her at the time. A macho guy like him, worried about the color of his shirt? He chased her around his room for teasing, catching her and throwing her on his bed. One of the last times they made love.
The lump in her throat grew while tears poured from her face as she ripped the plastic with weak hands. He had ordered a blue, a red, and a white. Despite the tears, a smile crossed her lips.
“I love you,” she mouthed as she clutched the shirts to her chest and leaned back on their – no, her – couch.
The third and final time I remember peeing my pants might be the most embarrassing to me simply because of my age at the time. I was nine-years-old, in the third grade, and definitely old enough to have full control of my bladder.
I had decided to wear heather grey sweatpants and a matching sweatshirt to bed that one freezing winter night. My mom kept the upstairs thermostat at a chilling 65 degrees. Add that to a drafty old farmhouse on top of a hill, and you’ll get a combination of numb toes and shivers for the first ten minutes of crawling in bed under the weight of seven blankets.
A t-shirt was my usual attire when hitting the hay, but I was extra cold so decided to try something a bit warmer. The sweatsuit seemed like a good idea at the time.
In hindsight, I can tell you that sweatsuits are never a good thing to wear to bed – especially if one is used to sleeping in cooler weather with lots of blankets. Your inner temperature regulator is thrown off.
I woke up in the middle of the night sweating. It was so hot, so I kicked off the seven blankets I was buried under. And that’s when I realized my sweat was not sweat. My legs were itchy and the wetness was concentrated in the pant region. It was pee. Yes, I had wet the bed, but I had wet the bed for the last time.
As I typed that last sentence, I realized my sixteen-year streak of not wetting the bed has been a good run, but my life is not over. I hope that I never have a Peeing My Pants: Part 4!
1) Kyle and I are headed to Thompson and then Buffalo Center today for New Year’s Eve festivities. My mom is going to repair the hem on two pairs of my dress pants, cook us supper, and send us on our way.
2) I’m hoping to get some winder photographs at home.
3) There is a short story contest that I am entering. The deadline is January 1, 2013. I am submitting my piece today. Maybe I’ll post it here for you to read in the near future. It’s my first complete short story that I am planning on sharing. Eeek!
4) Ed Asner is on The View right now. He is a dirty old man and I love it.
5) I’ve been on vacation for a week and a half and haven’t cleaned the house. I’m terrible.
6) The last New Year’s resolution I made was in the fourth grade because our teacher made us. Don’t ask me what it was because I can’t remember.
7) We saw Django Unchained yesterday. I had to close my eyes a lot.
8) I had wanted to see This is 40, but Kyle was paying so he got to choose.
9) I just started 50 Shades Freed – the last of the E L James books. Why doesn’t she use periods after the “E” and the “L”? I don’t get it.
10) I have a whole long list of books that I want to read, but there’s just not enough time. Some of the noteworthy ones are (in no particular order):
My American Unhappiness, Dean Bakopoulos
The Green Shore, Natalie Bakopoulos
Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, Ree Drummond
Bossypants, Tina Fey
The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins
The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling
The second time I remember peeing my pants is also a little fuzzy, but, again, I will do my best to walk you through the memory.
My best friend, Megan, and I were walking around our hometown after school. I believe it was January. The snow was almost up to our little seven-year-old waists as we walked on sidewalks clad in snow pants, snow boots, scarves, mittens, hats, winter coats, with nothing but our eyes and nose visible. Megan had to pee and the only public building that was open and had a bathroom was City Hall.
It was nice and warm inside the deserted City Hall building. Megan took her sweet time undressing and peeling off her layers to pee. I stood bundled up relishing in the warmth in the hallway, standing on pea soup green tiles. We were killing time in town until my mom got done teaching her fifth grade class. My usual routine was to spend about an hour to an hour and a half playing with Megan and wait for my mom to pick me up. I couldn’t tell you why we were tramping all over town when it was so cold outside. We typically played at her house where it was warm and her cats kept us company.
Megan finished up and asked if I had to go. I said that I could hold it the three blocks back to Megan’s house. She shrugged her shoulders and we trudged back into the cold. When we were about a block away from City Hall I knew I wouldn’t make it. The urge to pee outweighed walking the last two blocks to Megan’s house. Plus, it was cold outside and peeing would keep me warm. It was my only option.
I let ‘er loose on the sidewalk right in front of the little park. It was warm and soaked into my hot pink snow pants. I stopped walking and yelled at Megan who was a couple paces ahead of me.
She turned around and I told her I had peed my pants. She couldn’t believe it. I can’t remember if she laughed or if she was angry with me. Maybe she scolded me and told me I should’ve gone when she did. If she said that, she was totally right.
We didn’t have cell phones back then so the only way out of my predicament was to finish walking the two blocks in pee-soaked snow pants to Megan’s house and hopefully borrow some of her clothes.
It was embarrassing to pee your pants at the age of seven, but it was even more embarrassing when you weren’t with your mom or family; Megan’s mom probably thought I was nuts and I don’t blame her. But seven-years-old was not the last time I remember peeing my pants. That age was nine…
Until next time,
You might notice that the Kristine Meets World blog looks a little different. That’s because IT IS!
I didn’t totally love the home page of the last design. The squares of stories weren’t as clear as I would have liked, so that’s why I’ve gone ahead with this new format. Hopefully it’ll be easier to tell which post is newest.
This text should also be easier to read. The grey text on the old design was driving me (and my eyes) bonkers, so now we’re publishing in pure black. Just how I like it.
Background pictures are subject to change because I had a hard time deciding on the final picture. I’m sure the near future will hold barns, and prairie grasses, and more barns, and maybe a lake or two, oh, a bird, a butterfly …
I got a Reddit account.
My resistance was futile once I realized the world of writing I was missing.
Kyle’s been hooked for years and has tried to get me to understand his obsession without success.
But now the powers of the Reddit took hold and wouldn’t let go.
I had to share with you the latest comic I found tonight.
Without further ado, here is the life of a creative person in a nutshell:
Now go create something!
The first time I remember peeing my pants is slightly fuzzy, but I will try my hardest to relive the moment with you.
Jim and Mary are my parent’s good friends from Minnesota whom I’ve known my whole life. Mary’s brother owns a cabin in Minnesota that he let Jim, Mary, my mom, dad, brother and I stay at for a weekend in … let’s say … 1992ish. This would make me around 5-years-old, although I may have been a little younger. It might’ve been 1991. I can’t remember.
The first night we stayed there I played with my Barbies and other random toys I had packed while the adults talked and drank beer in the dimly lit living room. My brother was probably playing Tetris on his Game Boy. There was a large rope fastened as a noose hanging from one of the high ceiling rafters. Mary put Jim’s head in the noose while Jim put his hands behind his back like they were tied. Mary grabbed the rope above Jim’s head and pulled it taught and smiled while my dad snapped the photo. Then it was my parent’s turn. My mom fake hanged her husband and laughed hysterically before, during, and after the picture had been taken. I think she was crying she was laughing so hard. (I’ll insert that picture in here as soon as I uncover it from my mom’s photo albums.)
Among my toys I found a rope of my own that I wrapped around my neck and proudly showed my dad that I was just like him. Instead of laughing along at my imitation, he told me very soberly and a little harshly to get it unwrapped from my neck. He was not amused and proceeded to tell me to never put anything around my neck. It was dangerous and I could die from lack of oxygen if it was too tight.
The next day the adults kicked me and my brother out of the cabin so they could do something. To this day I still do not know what they were doing. Perhaps it’s better that way …
Before my brother and I left for our walk, my mom asked me if I had to use the bathroom. I said no, so Jason and I set out on our great walk adventure. We were gone for awhile and it hit me; I had to pee. Bad. Jason ignored my pleas to head back so I could use the facilities. He said I had my chance, and I just had to hold it. So I held it and continued walking.
We came across a pond with water so clear we could see the little goldfish swimming back and forth. For all I know we were in someone’s yard admiring their great landscaping. I had crouched down on my haunches to get a closer look at the fish. And that’s when it happened. I don’t know if it was the water that made me do it, but my pee was no longer being held. I let it go and could feel it get soaked into my floral print spandex shorts.
My brother started walking and yelled at me to follow him. I was frozen in my crouching position. I was so ashamed. I didn’t want to tell him what I had done, but there was no getting around it. I started to cry, and he asked me if I had peed my pants. I nodded yes, and he grabbed my hand. We headed back to the cabin. My legs itched from the pee. My mom was pretty disappointed in me.
This is a pretty embarrassing story, and I honestly can’t believe I’m sharing it. But I think it’s funny, and I hope you do, too. There are two other times I remember peeing my pants, and they’re not any less embarrassing. Stay tuned!
Just because I love this picture, I’m posting it for your viewing pleasure.
My dad hadn’t worn these boots in ages, and they were inhabiting the back porch for years gathering dust and housing spider webs. He still wears the hat, but I decided to pose the two together for an authentic “cowboy” shot.
Did I mention I love this picture?