Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Huts! The Huts! The Huts Are on Fiyah!

I was minding my business - literally - trying to get a calendar together of all the stuff we want to do and are doing for the biz because I am going nuts with stuff in my head. I was popping in on Twitter to chat up new friends when a local friend pops in and says I'm on fire. Took a second to register what she meant and then I ran to the website. Lo and behold, I saw the above. Yes, my friends, thanks to you and so many others on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, WIBO and personal friends and family, we are finally on fire and while that is no guarantee, I think that will help secure us in the top 200. I'm still urging anyone to vote because we have until midnight PT, which is 3 a.m. my time.

I can't tell you how thrilled I am at the possibility. The free publicity could do so many things for us. Our free Connecticut Post ad ran today (we won it in the expo we did in December with our business workshop alumni group, WIBO) and we got a call from that ad from a woman who wanted to see the puzzles. Who wasn't oh so thrilled that we had just been to our new store, gave that storeowner puzzles, then went to our first store and dropped some off with that storeowner? I was able to tell that woman where she could go see them and it was literally in her neighborhood. She was happy. So was I.

Now that free ad we won? As my mother and I worked on it - thank God for a mother who is a graphic designer - we got it to something I loved. I sent it in and was told we actually had more space than I realized. So we added some things. That ad ran in the OpEd page in the A section of the paper today. I found out that that ad, due to placement, was worth over $1,600. God? You bet!

I can't recall at the moment if I made my yearly prediction here when 2009 started or before 2008 closed but I have had feelings about the way a year would be for a really long time now. I do go by number somewhat - 7 means completion (the year a lot of people I know wrapped up some major stuff in their lives. Some good, some not so good things.); 8 means new beginnings (the year Obama was elected and my nephew was born). This year? It was hard to define but I knew this: Whatever you have sown in the past, be on the watch. You are going to reap it in a lifechanging way. Whew! If ever there was a time to keep God in front of you, this is it.

An expensive ad for free.
A third location.
So very many opportunities via the wonderful people on Twitter.
Maybe this contest, which means more free publicity.

It's only April.

I am praying to God that He give us the wisdom to step in the right direction. Keep the vision before us and Him in the middle. And most of all give us the courage to do new things and embrace success. There are so many people we want to bless. Success would be for them as much as ourselves.

To all of you who voted even once and especially to those who voted more than once, thank you for placing us in a great position. I hope to report back here that we were not just top 200 but top 100. Top 50! Number 1!


It's the last day to vote in the StartUp Nation Leading Moms in Business Contest - at last! - and my business would so appreciate your vote! And if you are so inclined, send us out to others and ask them to vote too. It's the last day and they can only vote once anyway. It ends at midnight PT so if you're on the East Coast, you have until 3 a.m.!

Vote here: http://www.startupnation.com/leading-moms-2009/contestant/2664/index.php

Thanks so much! We are still hoping to be on fire but we appreciate every vote that gets us hotter and hotter. Free PR is at stake, ya'll! What business couldn't use that? We can!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Anybody Spare Some Time?

I WILL go to bed before 1 a.m. tonight. I have not made it in before 2 a.m. since the time changed. At first it was just hard to fall asleep, now I'm just busy. But I will let you all know that I am alive and STILL determined to get my part 2 in for poor Mandy who has probably gotten married by now.

In this time, I have enjoyed 1 early morning with Son getting mysteriously sick a couple of times thus canceling school for himself that day and really disrupting my already pathetic sleep. Two days later Daughter picked up where Son left off only he had the courtesy to get sick IN the porcelain throne. She shared hers with the carpet in my room in front of my bathroom, ON the porcelain throne and IN her bed. Yep. Lots of middle-of-the-night washing going on. She stayed home that day too. Thankfully I already had the morning off from work. All are healthy now.

The good news is we now have a third store selling our puzzles. That was going on in my time away from here too; as was my still writing greeting card copy and talking with my business partner about our plans for the rest of the year. Oh we've been talking A LOT and planning a lot and reconnecting with all sorts of people and creating ads and email campaigns. It really is amazing how much time this can all take.

This is my time at the moment - day job all day, business initiatives all night and writing? Gotta make myself focus again. But first, bed before 1 a.m. Night all.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Business is Looming

It's been a busy few days and Mandy has yet to be finished. But busy is a good thing. I've had to work with my mother to get a big ad together for Village Works to run in the paper on Friday. My business partner and I had to brainstorm on a few months' worth of sale ideas, one of which is now running. (I'll tell you what it is in a moment.) I spent an entire day creating a fan page on Facebook for the business. I wrote copy for a new greeting card. (See? I have been writing.) Last night I was on the phone for hours with a friend of mine whose husband may be writing greeting card copy for us. She's my partner's sister so it's still all in the family that way. And now we're putting our focus on finding teens to be part of our teen sales team. They can make $1 per card and earn a commission off any custom job they net for us that results in a sale. We're looking to get that going and just need one serious teen willing to test this out for us. If you know of any, please send them our way. My business partner and I, along with our partner in the greeting cards, have a couple of other things we have to discuss this week, but as you can see, that's where I've been.

Mandy has an ending, have no fear. Mwah ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Now, what the deal I mentioned earlier?

Get an 11x17, 30-piece Photo Jigsaw Puzzle for only $19.99!


Can't you picture it? We can! Now here's another use for that family reunion or corporate gathering photo from last year, this year, every year! Get one (1) 30-piece, 11x17 jigsaw puzzle with up to 10 words of custom wording OR logo for just $19.99! Compare that with your basic photo puzzle offering.

Our Price: $19.99, with up to 10 words OR logo FREE!
(additional graphic treatment available, starting at $10)

Offer expires midnight March 31, 2009.

The Start Up Nation Leading Moms in Business 2009 Competition is wrapping up this month and we want to be ON FIYAH! Winning means major publicity - major for us, anyway. Have you voted for us today?
Check it out here. We'd REALLY appreciate it if you vote and you can do it every day until March 31, 2009 PT. There's even a new meter there now to show you how hot we are! Go ahead. Vote! We wanna be hot, hot, hot! Thanks for your support!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Brief Battle; Baby Banter

I owe you the rest of Mandy's story. Don't worry. It's coming. Last night was tiring as I dealt with Son and his math homework that is based on the CMTs he is taking this month - ALL month. (That's the Connecticut Mastery Test, for you non-locals.) Two packets of 13-page math multiple choice. Insane. The long and the short of this is it's like pulling teeth trying to explain the stuff to him that he doesn't get and eventually, when it was all over, he asked me if I thought he was stupid.

By then I was annoyed and fed up with the whole thing because we repeat this scene nearly every homework session. I know what he wants but I'm stubborn.

"What do YOU think? Do YOU think you're stupid," I ask him.

Shrugs his shoulders that he doesn't know. I guess my telling him he's smart countless times just isn't enough.

"I think you don't try. I think when you do give it that one shot, you then give up when you don't get it. I think you don't think on your own. I think you keep waiting on me to hand you answers but I never have before so why would I start now? I don't understand that way of doing things. I think you come home, rush through your homework to play and watch TV and play on the Wii. When I come home you say you didn't understand something but suddenly you do just because I read it out loud. I think it bugs me a lot because I should be coming home to check homework with you, not do it for the first time when you've been home for hours. And no matter how I try to help you think about a problem more than one way, it just isn't getting in and I don't know how to help you. That's what I think."

Of course after I calmed down I had to find the strength to tell him - again - that I know what he's capable of and the fact the he does well in school and every teacher has said so is just one example of that. I just don't know why he can't bring that ability home with him.

I had to tell him that it's time for him to understand that parents are human and sometimes we don't say the right things; sometimes we say one thing but mean another; sometimes we just don't have it in us to build someone else that day when we're probably needing to build ourselves.

"You have to remember, no matter what I say or your daddy says or ANY adult says to you that may hurt your feelings at that time, YOU have to believe in YOU. You have to know you are smart and able. You have to hold on to that no matter what. I tell you and I tell you but you have to tell yourself too and believe it and fight to keep it because one day you are going to be gone and on your own and you may not have anyone around to tell you you can do it. You have to tell yourself."

And I look at that face and how big he is now and all I can see is a little boy who still has no clue of the power within himself. I've got a lot of work ahead of me.

But if I could just have him back as a baby sometimes, that would be so cool. It was SOOOO much easier then. My nephew, by the way? He's perfection and for the first time I saw both of my kids in his face.

He is their spitting image at this age of four months. To hold him right now would be as close as I could get to holding mine again. Too bad he's so far away.

UPDATE: Came home tonight after writing this post today and saw the kids' report card. Both are doing great. One thing the teacher said in her comment about Son? "(Son) is strong in math." What the heck, man! What IS that about? Why at school and blank stares at home? Sigh. As they say, as long as the kids are representing you well in public and doing as they should, count your blessings.

The Start Up Nation Leading Moms in Business 2009 Competition is wrapping up this month and we want to be ON FIYAH! Winning means major publicity - major for us, anyway. Have you voted for us today?
Check it out here. We'd REALLY appreciate it if you vote and you can do it every day until March 31, 2009 PT. There's even a new meter there now to show you how hot we are! Go ahead. Vote! We wanna be hot, hot, hot! Thanks for your support!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

MM: Very Superstitious - Part 1

The prompt: You're in the backseat of a taxi.

What came out of my head:

"You're. In the backseat. Of a taxi." Cheri looked around as if there were others in the car besides she and Mandy.

"I know, I know, but I'm late Cher. Just help me OK?"

Cheri sighed as she gave one last glance around. The cab driver seemed oblivious but she was pretty sure he was sneaking peeks in his rear view mirror.

"Here," Mandy said, struggling out of her coat. "Take this and hold it up."

Cheri did as she was told.

"Miss? Miss! I need to be able to see," the cab driver said in a panicked tone.

"Excuse me," Cheri asked, sitting up even straighter, ready to defend her friend.

"Behind me? I need to see the traffic all around me," the cab driver said in a foreign accent, one hand sweeping around him.

"Oh, sorry," Cheri replied. Mandy rolled her eyes and scooted down further in the seat.

"Just hold it up a sec, I'll be done in no time," Mandy said. She had on a pullover sweater, which was easy but the new shirt was a button down and had to be lined up just so. "Did you know that clothes worn inside out will bring you luck?"


"Don't worry, I'm going straight here." Mandy continued fixing and tucking.

Mandy was never the shy type. She loved to take risks and she hated to squander an opportunity. Today was her chance to get the job of her dreams. She had heard from a former boyfriend who worked as a host at a posh restaurant that Turner Harrison, the editor-in-chief of her favorite political magazine, Intrigue, had a standing reservation at the place every Friday afternoon. Mandy had majored in journalism; written for all sorts of publications pre- and post-graduation; interned at a newspaper and a magazine for her junior and senior years in college; plus was on her high school and college debate teams. She was getting by with freelance work and temp jobs but it was killing her to not be in the thick of things. Politics and writing were her passions. She was determined to blend them together. This would be her chance to put her resume in Harrison's hands directly.

But she had to look the part, so she and Cheri had spent the morning hunting down the perfect conservative yet trendy top and shoes to go with the simple cocoa brown pants she already owned. She kicked herself for not changing in the dressing rooms once she found what she sought. She was just so anxious to beat Harrison to the restaurant.

"You're going to wow him, Mandy."

"I hope so."

"But even then, don't you think he'll already have candidates for the position already ahead of you?"

"I don't care. I've been watching the Intrigue website since senior year in high school. The Editorial Assistant position was last open when I was a freshman in college. We've been out of school, what? Two years now? Who knows when I'll get a foot in again!" Mandy brightened at a thought. "Besides, it'll be my first foray into the world of real full-time employment. Ever heard of beginner's luck?"

"You don't need luck. There's no one more on the ball than you, Mandy. That's for sure." Cheri dropped the coat in her lap and sat back as Mandy sat up and dug out a mirror from her purse.

"Thanks, Cher. It's all going to work out." Mandy fluffed her red hair and turned to flash Cheri her most confident smile. "You'll get that museum job you've been wanting and I'll work at Intrigue and then you and I together will be the most cultured, informed and beautiful women in D.C.!"

"That'll be us," Cheri replied with half the enthusiasm. Mandy dropped her hand in exaggerated shock. "Cheri! there are hundreds, hundreds of museums in D.C.! The Smithsonian has what? Like 19? 20? all by themselves! Give yourself a break. You've been working on your master's after all."

"I know, Mandy. But it just takes some of us longer than others, you know? You have been one lucky girl all these years."

"Nuh uh," Mandy snapped back. "Luck is just a part of it. I worked hard too you know. Just like you have." Mandy went back to her mirror and primping. "But it doesn't hurt to not tempt fate too much, you know?"

"You mean all your superstitions?"

"They aren't mine, per se. They belong to society and there must be some element of truth in there or else none of them would have gotten started in the first place."

"You are such an oxymoron."

"If I didn't know better, I'd swear you meant that two ways."

Cheri stuck her tongue out at Mandy and looked over the driver's shoulder to the street signs ahead of them. "What street did you say it's on?"

"Uhh, Middle and Main. It's heading into Virginia actually."

"And we couldn't have taken the Metro for this?"

"We're looking the part today, Cheri. Look the part. Beeeee the role you see yourself in." Mandy closed her eyes and raised her hands, her finger tips touching as she faked a meditative state.

"We could beeeee on a cheaper train ride to someplace near Virginia and look the part while we hail a cab from there."

"But we would not have gotten around to the stores nearly as efficiently," Mandy answered, scrunching her nose in a teasing fashion.

The cab driver slowed as he looked at addresses.

"I think I see it," Mandy said excitedly. She turned to Cheri. "OK, you stay here and hold the cab."

"What? We're taking the cab all the way back home too?"

"No, non, nyet, my cheap friend. I'll just run in, see if Evan has seen him yet, try to catch him before he sits down, tell him who I am, give him the resume and leave. That's it. Simple! We'll take the cab to the nearest Metro stop and then maybe we'll hit the Cheesecake Factory. How's that?"

Cheri tilted her head in consideration. "Welllll, I might be persuaded to spend more money with you today if the Factory is our ultimate destination."

"Success, Mon Cheri. That is our ultimate destination." Mandy looked in one of her bags for her folder of resume and writing clips. She had included it all on a CD as well so he'd have his choice of media and could share it with the other bosses if he desired.

Mandy breathed deeply. Cheri looked at her cell phone to see the time. "It's straight up noon. We made great time."

Mandy gave her an I-told-you-so smile.

"Don't even say it. The cab ride. Yeah yeah. Go on now. Beeeee the success."

Mandy winked and opened the car door, carefully placing one foot out on the sidewalk, lest she step on a crack and break her mother's back. "You sit tight with my friend here, Mr. Cab Driver. I'll be back and we'll have one last place to go."

"As you wish," he said, propping his arm on the open window. He loved a fare that bounced all over the city. No looking for riders and he still gets paid.

Mandy walked under an iron archway and looked around the outside of the restaurant. It was still a little too cool out for diners to be on the terrace. On on side of the terrace, there were large picture windows with sliding glass doors built in for when they wanted to bring the outside in. Right now, they were keeping it all in. She opened the single door with tinted glass that was the main entrance to the restaurant. Evan was at his post slightly ahead and to the left of the door, near the bar. He was talking to a waitress and smiled when Mandy entered. The waitress gave her the once over then threw back her head as she tossed her thick, black hair and left. Mandy pretended not to notice.

"Hey Evan," Mandy said quietly, to match the tone of the room. Hardly anyone was seated even though it was after noon. "Why so quiet in here?"

"Hey Mandy," Evan replied, taking both her hands into his own as he gave her a light peck on the cheek. "It's typical for a Friday. People are trying to get things done to leave work early. Mr. Harrison, though, enjoys the quiet so this is when he comes."

"Will he be here soon?"

Evan looked at his watch. "Yep. 12:30 on the nose. Every Friday for I don't even know how long now. You've got 15 minutes."

"Cool. I don't want to interrupt his lunch. Just give him the stuff and go."

Evan shook his head. Well, if you want to sit at the bar and wait, you can. Have a Shirley Temple on me."

"What am I, 12?"

Evan smirked and immediately straightened up when a couple entered the restaurant. Mandy sat with her resume in hand and order water to wait out the last few minutes. Before long, Evan was greeting another customer.

"Mr. Harrison," Even said a little louder than necessary. "A pleasure to see you sir. Let me see..." Evan looked around the mostly empty room, slowly scanning for an available seat. Mandy took her cue. She hopped off the bar stool and walked hesitantly over to Turner Harrison. "Mr. Harrison?" Mandy's hand led the way as she continued walked forward. Turner Harrison eyed her suspiciously then extended his own hand but said nothing.

"My name is Amanda Dawson and you need an Editorial Assistant." Before Mr. Harrison could reply, Mandy shook her hair and kept going. "I know this because I have been watching the Intrigue website and reading the magazine for eight years now, since I was in high school. I am an excellent writer, researcher, worker. I love politics, I was on my high school and college debate teams and you are not going to have to wonder if I have initiative and stamina. I have contacts, which is how I found you, and even though I live closer to the Intrigue building than I do to this restaurant, I wanted to show you I will go the extra mile."

Mandy paused to give Mr. Harrison a brief moment to reply but she didn't want to give him too much room to deny her. "Sir, I don't want to interrupt your lunch. I just want to give you my resume, entirely created by me, and leave you to enjoy your meal. I can be reached at any time." Mandy offered her hand again while Mr. Harrison looked slightly amused but still remained silent.

"Thank you for your time sir," Mandy said and left without looking back. She did not want to give the impression of desperation nor did she want to out Evan as her contact. Once she was out the door with dignity, she ran to the cab and waited until she had closed the door before she screamed with excitement.

It was three hours later, after Mandy and Cheri had eaten their just desserts at The Cheesecake Factory, that Mandy's phone rang.

"You're good. I like your style."

Mandy didn't even pretend like she didn't get it.

"Thank you, Mr. Harrison. Glad you like the writing."

"Well, I mean more your gumption. Need a lot of that in this business. But your writing is acceptable too."

Mandy put her hand over the phone and mouthed "acceptable" to Cheri who mimed back she didn't understand that comment.

"OK. When would you like me to come in for an interview?"

"It's a lot of hours, you know."

"I expect that, sir."

"And that may include some weekends in the beginning. Until you work your way up."

"Totally understandable sir. I'm not married. I'm childless. I'm able to marry my job right now."

"Good to hear, Dawson."

Mandy covered the phone and mouthed "Dawson" to Cheri who really was confused this time about Mandy's choice of words to silently repeat to her.

"What kind of money are you looking for?"

Mandy kept her cool and made the universal finger rubbing sign for money to Cheri whose eyes got wide in anticipation. Mandy had done her research for people at her level, in her town. She'd shoot for the middle and hope to catch at least $30,000.

"$40,000, sir."

"It pays $35,000. You take it, you're hired."

"I'll take it." Mandy did a little dance and shushed Cheri who had started to do the same a little too loudly.

"You start Monday."

"Thank you, sir," Mandy replied, keeping her composure as much as she could.

But Turner Harrison was already off the phone.

"Abrupt but I can deal with it. I've. Got. A. JOB!" Mandy did her best moonwalk while Cheri fell on the sofa laughing.

Monday was as bright a day as Mandy could have hoped for. She woke up and got up on the right side of the bed - literally. Superstitions said you had to do that or you'd have bad luck all day.

She found her way to the Carter building in northwest D.C. and strolled in proud of herself. She made nice with the guard who ushered her upstairs to Mr. Harrison's office.

The magazine took up 3 floors of the building though not in a row. There was one floor for editorial and the production staff, one for administrative staff and one just for the muckety mucks. The guard took her to the muckety muck floor first. The cool glass and designs in variations of brown weren't very creative to Mandy but it did feel soothing. Turner Harrison did not waste time sitting down with her.

"Dawson, this is Anne Connors. She'll take you to the editorial department. Good luck."

"Uhh, thank you, Mr. Harrison," Mandy said torn between shaking his hand and following Anne who had already started toward the door.

They went down one floor and into a much brighter and louder office area. The buzz was intoxicating and Mandy did her best to keep up with Anne as she took in all the activity. They speed walked past the receptionist.

"Liz, this is Mandy, Mandy, Liz," Anne said without stopping.

Mandy turned around, gave a wave and a smile, and resumed following Anne. Liz stood up in confusion and smiled back, shrugging her shoulders.

Anne pointed out key people as she passed, with no formal introductions being made.

"This is Keith, he's an intern and you'll need him. Get to know him."

"Hi," Mandy said. Keith looked confused but nodded his greetings.

"This is Roger, he's one of the writers. Get to know him."

"Umm, Roger. Yes." Roger smiled and gave a quick hand wave.

"This is....This is...Who are you again?"

"Peter? I'm the new copy editor?"

"You don't know who you are, Peter," Anne asked, arching one eyebrow in slight superiority. She turned back to Mandy. "This is Peter, he's a copy editor. Get to know him."

The brief stop gave Peter and Mandy a chance to shake hands before Mandy had to hustle away after Anne. Anne stopped in front of a white office door. "There are more writers over there," Anne motioned to the area that continued in front of them and to the side. "And a few more copy editors too. But we'll end our tour here and I'll hand you off to Rhonda Meyers. She's the one you'll report to.

"Wow," Mandy said. "I didn't even get a chance..." Mandy stopped mid-sentence as the door opened. Rhonda jumped slightly upon seeing the pair at her door. She put her hand on her chest, giving Mandy a quizzical look. Finding Anne, she focused her comments to her. "Anne, don't do that woman. What's your deal here?"

"Rhonda, this is Mandy Dawson. Your new Editorial Assistant." There was a hint of satisfaction in Anne's voice as if she knew something they didn't. But it seemed she did know something Rhonda didn't. Rhonda looked at Mandy in shock and then quickly readjusted herself.

"Umm, Turner hired you?"

"Yes, ma'am." Mandy put out her hand and gave Rhonda the best and least threatening smile she knew how to do without looking in the mirror. Rhonda looked at her hand, then back up at her face in slight disbelief. Mandy detected a flash of anger and looked over to see some smugness on Anne's face. She didn't know what she had just walked into, but she needed to make sure Rhonda knew that she knew her place.

"I'm here to help, Ms...." Mandy quickly looked at the door. She was usually good with names but so many at one time? "Ms. Meyers. I wasn't sure if I'd need to give anyone else my resume and clips so I have those if you needed an extra copy?"

Rhonda relaxed a bit at Mandy's face-saving efficiency. "Why don't you come on in, Mandy? I can take it from here, Anne," Rhonda said to Anne who had already turned and started walking away.

Sorry, dear readers, but I go where the story leads me and this one didn't warn me it was an overnight trip. I'm sure we'll get to our destination by tomorrow though - because I take Friday nights off - so don't get too comfortable. The plot thickens!


What's this about, Monica?

You don't know? Why, it's my own March Madness!

While you're here, the Start Up Nation Leading Moms in Business 2009 Competition is wrapping up this month and we are sure we're close to being in that top 200. Winning means major publicity - major for us, anyway. Have you voted for us today? Check it out here. We'd REALLY appreciate it if you vote and you can do it every day until March 31, 2009 PT. There's even a new meter there now to show you how hot we are! Go ahead. Vote! We wanna be hot, hot, hot! Thanks for your support!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

MM: Signs

The prompt: All that matters is to be at one with the living God . . .

What came out of my head:

"All that matters is to be at one with the living God," the woman said. Abby stood like a guard in her doorway and looked carefully at the woman. Her long, brown style-less hair pulled back from her dull peachy skin. The long moss green skirt and beige cotton top. If ever there was personification of the Mother Earth, this hippie-looking woman was it. She stood on Abby's stoop, sharing her natural philosophies, spreading the gospel of taking care of nature so that nature will take care of us.

"And God to you...,"Abby started.

"...is everywhere. He, or she," the woman said, smiling as she corrected herself, "is in everything, everyone. God is in nature and nature is God." The woman held brochures in her hand, but was not offering one just now. "I just want to share this message of peace..."

"That will be enough," Abby said, cutting her off abruptly. "God is nature, nature is God." Abby frowned her disapproval. "You are misguided. Misguided are your notions." The woman tilted her head in confusion. "I..I'm sorry?"

"It's hard to believe someone would call you on this nonsense?"

"Ma'am," the woman started in a soft tone, attempting to quell the argument she saw coming. "It's not nonsense. It's common sense."

"Oh brother," Abby scoffed, tossing a hand in exasperation. "Worship the Creator, not the creation. That's the common sense," she said impatiently. "Psalm 19:1. The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies proclaim his craftsmanship. Nature is an extension of God, not the other way around."

The woman shook her head. "See, it's close-minded people like you..."

"No, no," Abby said, waving her finger. "Nothing closed here. I'm open to God and I guard my thoughts, like the Bible says. You need to look around and use the reason God gave you. It's people like you who are trying to force God out the creation. Be not deceived, my dear, God won't be moved."

The timer from the stove beeped it's interruption. "My cookies. I have to go." Abby picked up a tract from the stack she kept on the table by the door. "Read this. Pray. Salvation is free to all," she said, placing the tract in the woman's hand on top of the brochure she held. "Even you." Abby stepped back, leaving the woman in her frustration, and closed the screen door. She let the woman watch her walk away.

She breathed a heavy sigh. "Another soul for you, Lord," Abby prayed out loud. "I planted the seed. You will water it. You will give the increase." She breathed a breath of satisfaction and hastened to the kitchen to pull the cookies from the oven. "Oh dear, don't let them have been in too long. One lousy minute too long..." She swiftly pulled open the over door and reached in nearly grabbing the sheet of cookies before she realized she didn't have a dish towel in her hand. "Oh, stuffing," she said, annoyed with herself.

"What's wrong, mommy?" Hannah, Abby's 3-year-old daughter, stood naked at her mother's side, hugging her Asian Angel doll.

"Hmm? It's ok, Princess," Abby said absently. "Mommy nearly burned her hand, but God was good and..." Abby looked down at Hannah and laughed at the naked child. "Hannah!" She closed the oven door as she put the cookies on the stove. "Hannah honey, what have I told you about taking your clothes off like that, baby?" Abby pushed the girl forward to her room to get her dressed. "Hannah, Hannah. What am I going to do with you?" Hannah laughed as Abby plopped her on the bed and began to look for the clothes Hannah had hidden somewhere.

After Abby had redressed Hannah, she carried the girl and her Angel doll back to the kitchen to finish checking on the cookies.

She opened the nearby drawer to retrieve the spatula. "See?" She carefully slid the spatula under a cookie to make sure it was as toasty brown as it should be underneath. "All safe. They just have to cool a little more before I move them to the plate." She propped the spatula on the side of the cookie sheet and bent down to stoke Hannah's pitch black hair.

Hannah had been a revelation for her one night. Even though Abby wasn't married, she felt called to adopt a Chinese child after seeing an infomercial one late night. She had just spent the previous two hours in deep prayer about her future, wondering if she was meant to have a family of her own like her twin sister, Gabrielle, who seemed as far from God as one could be. Yet her sister, her visual double, got the degree, found the man, had two boys of her own and never seemed to struggle with any of it. She didn't even seem to care if she had any of these things. It was just like in the book of Psalms. The ungodly seemed to prosper but ultimately God is in control and their seemingly sure footing will become slippery ground and they will be cast down to ruin.

In the meanwhile, she saw the infomercial about the Chinese girls who needed American homes and her heart knew instantly that even without a husband, she was called to become a mother, like Mary even. A modern virgin birth, minus the actual pregnancy.

Hannah was Abby's joy and she was determined to raise her in the way she should go - God's way - so that when she is old, she will not depart from it. It was difficult to do alone and yet Abby knew she was not alone. God was with her, helping her, keeping her aware. Her job was to take care of this child but she was also called to warn people of the coming of the Lord.

Abby knew the signs were all around, including people like her unwanted visitor who espoused the divinity of nature but ironically was a living example of what God said would happen, a falling away from God as people denounced Him more and more and began to have a mentality that anything goes, live and let live, anything is OK as long as people mean well and are good and kind.

She had to show people the truth so their souls would not be lost; damned forever to a hell too unimaginable for most. But this was one of Satan's tricks. Convincing the world that yes, there is a God and He could just as easily be a She and He/She could be anything around us and in us. The word games were shrewd, but Abby knew not to fall for the devil's tricks. She stayed prayed up and made sure Hannah stayed prayed up too.

"Let's sit awhile and wait for them to cool, ok?"

"OK, mommy," Hannah agreed, taking Abby's hand. The pair playfully skipped to the sofa where Abby fell into the soft cushions, then lifted Hannah in the air, making airplane noises as she landed her on her lap. "There. Let's see what's on the Miracle Network, huh?"

Abby felt the cushion beside her for the remote, while she nuzzled Hannah's nose and kissed her forehead. The TV was usually already set to her favorite satellite station, but this morning she had turned to the morning news to watch Gabby's husband, Riley, talk about his newest book, Save Your Money and Your Money Will Save You. He was the one who needed saving, she had thought as she listened to him explain his philosophy.

But that was this morning. Now it was time for the news. She clicked the remote button. A choatic scene emerged before her as a voiceover spoke about yet another bomb scare in some midwestern school. Abby hugged Hannah closer, thinking about the Christian preschool she attended. Terrorists of all kinds went after anybody. Losing Hannah would be the one thing that would kill her for sure. It was her second greatest fear.

"It was yet another day of loss as 20 soldiers were killed today in Afghanistan," the news reporter said. Abby shivered. Wars and rumors of war, she remembered from one of the may sermons Pastor Davis preached on the Miracle Network. The neutral reporter went on to the financial report, talking about the global impact of America's current economic crisis. "One world order," she whispered.

"What, mommy?" Hannah looked up, putting her hand on Abby's cheek and stroking her.

"Nothing, baby," Abby tried to shake of the feeling of foreboding these reports always gave her. "You? You are just fine. If Jesus were to return right now, you, for sure, would be right with Him immediately."

"Jesus," Hannah repeated. "Jesus loves me."

"This I surely know," Abby replied in agreement.

It was her Lord's imminent return that should have given her her greatest comfort but it was in fact her greatest fear. What if she wasn't ready? What if she was left behind? The phone's shrill ring startled Abby out of her thoughts. She gasped. "Gotta grab that, Hannah honey." Abby picked up the girl under her thighs and swung her to the opposite chair to sit so she could answer.

"I'll be right back," she said, patting Hannah on the head.

Abby hurried to grab the phone on the fourth ring.


"Did you see him?"

Abby's shoulders fell. "Yes, Gabby. I saw him."

"Wasn't he great?!"

"Yes, Gabby, he was great."

"Don't let that enthusiasm overwhelm you, ok?"

"What do you want me to say," Abby asked. "He's on a book tour. It's his third book. We already know he's famous, for crying out loud."

"You know, Abby, it's not about being famous. I'm just really proud of him, you know? I should be able to share that excitement with my sister. My twin sister, no less."

Abby sighed. Gabby wasn't wrong but she still had this really demeaning way of lording things over her.

"I know. I know. You should be proud of his success. It's good for all of you." Abby paused as she considered her next words. "Imagine all the good you two could do with all your wealth."

"Oh Abby, don't start."

"What? Is it wrong to help people?"

"We do help people," Gabby said, louder than before. "In our own way. We don't need judgment from you about it."

"I'm not the judge, Gabby."

"No, no," Gabrielle said mockingly. "God is. I know."

"God is not mocked, Gabby."

"I'm not mocking God, I'm mocking you."

The sisters listened to each other's silence.

"Abby, you could be, you could do..."

"Oh now don't YOU start," Abby said with a sigh.

"What? You're my twin Ab. I know what you're capable of."

"God knows what I am capable of as well and we're doing just fine, sis."

Abby heard Gabrielle's boys in the background. "Listen, Abby, I have to go."



"Would you mind? Can I... Will you please let me take the boys to church with me and Hannah on Sunday? Hannah would love the company and..."

"Uh, no, Abby. We won't be here. We're going all the way to New York to meet Riley and have a family weekend because he got a tiny break in his tour."

"Oh. Across the country. Sounds," Abby searched for the safe word. "fun."

"Yeah. Um, maybe next time."

"Yeah. Maybe you'll come too."


"Gabby, time is short you know. Jesus is coming again."

"I hear you, Abby. Gotta go. Love ya."

Abby slowly hung up the phone. Mother against daughter, father against son, sister against sister. Just another sign. Abby heard the news still going. This time it sounded like the national news. Some sort of disaster somewhere. It was all too much. Abby leaned her head against the phone, the wait of her worries bearing down more than usual. Panic beginning to creep in. It settled into her soul when the house briefly shook. The lights dimmed and the sound of a distant alarm rang in her ear.

"Oh my God. My God! My God! The call!" Abby remembered where she was and ran to the living room. The TV was nothing but static and Hannah was not in her chair. All that remained of her was her Angel doll and her clothes.

"Hannah!" Abby screamed in horror realizing what had happened. Her worst fears, her very worst fears. She was left behind and Jesus had taken her daughter so she was left alone too. Abby fell to the floor, feeling the house tremble at God's command. The static of the television fed her hopelessness as she buried her face in the carpet. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me," she cried. "I was your servant. I was your servant! Hannah!"

She was rocking herself in a corner when Gabrielle found her.


Abby rocked, her whispered prayer too faint to understand.

"Abby, look at me."

Abby's eyes widened as they focused on her sister. "Are you an angel? Are you here to help me? Is this some sort of purgatory? But I'm not Catholic. I didn't know," she said, pulling on Gabrielle's arm.

"Abby. Abby," Gabrielle hugged her sister. "It's me, Gabby, don't you know?"

The paramedics touched Gabrielle's shoulder. "It's going to be OK. She's in some sort of shock. I'm sure she'll come out of it before too long."

One paramedic began to check Abby for injuries as the other questioned Gabrielle.

"You found her like this?"

"Yes, about an hour ago. I didn't call right away because I thought she was going to snap out of it. I don't live too far. After the earthquake, I couldn't call her so I came over. I found Hannah outside naked so I knew something was wrong."


"Oh," Gabrielle gave a slight chuckle. "She does that sometimes. Strips and runs around. I don't know why." She pointed to the television. The satellite must have gone out in that little earthquake and it was so loud when I came in, it's a wonder she could hear anything going on around her."

Abby sat before the scene, seeing angels and demons and apocalyptic evidence all around her, her despair clouding her perception, alone in her own unimaginable hell.


What's this about, Monica?

You don't know? Why, it's my own March Madness!

While you're here, the Start Up Nation Leading Moms in Business 2009 Competition is wrapping up this month and we are sure we're close to being in that top 200. Winning means major publicity - major for us, anyway. Have you voted for us today? Check it out here. We'd REALLY appreciate it if you vote and you can do it every day until March 31, 2009 PT. There's even a new meter there now to show you how hot we are! Go ahead. Vote! We wanna be hot, hot, hot! Thanks for your support!

Monday, March 16, 2009

MM: A Picture's Worth

The prompt: I was awakened at the crack of dawn...

What came out of my head:
"I was awakened at the crack of dawn by my husband's snoring. I couldn't take it anymore! So I called our doctor and he recommended...Si-Lens! The specially formulated patch that unclogs nasal passage and helps my husband sleep sound free!"

Jayla rolled her eyes and pushed the hot red button on the remote that gave her ears freedom from the inanity of daytime television.

"There's your Si-Lens, you stupid commercial. Bad enough I have to be here all day in this house. The least they can do is create some entertaining commercials to wrap around that tripe they call day-time programming." Jayla waved a T-shirt at the screen that had come from the freshly laundered pile on her bed. "We aren't all mindless freaks, ya know," she yelled at the invisible television programmers whom she imagined were off somewhere having a fancy lunch at an expensive restaurant laughing at all the fools who suck up the drivel they air daily.

Jayla snapped the T-shirt into submission and messily folded it, dropping it on the bed as she reached for the next one. She hated laundry. Hated rooting through her children's dirty clothes because you never knew what she'd find in there. She didn't hate the actual washing part too much or the drying but just knowing that a pile of clothes to fold and disseminate was coming her way, gave her agita. And it was never ending.

Her husband worked out incessantly so there were always sweaty clothes waiting to be cleaned. Her children had active social lives. Her 10-year-old son James was on the town football team. Instant mud bath most days. Her 15-year-old daughter Jade worked at a fast food restaurant after school. Just entering that joint made her uniforms and even regular clothes smell like a less than happy meal. Then there was her 5-year-old son, Jake, who was in kindergarten and could never get home fast enough to share every, tiny detail of his day. Sometimes there were even visuals on his clothes depending on what the art activity was that day. They were all quite busy.

The only one not so busy was the 1-year-old bundle of tears Jackson with whom she shared the house during the day. And night. And weekends. And holidays. Actually he was busy - busy driving her out of her mind. The boy was colicky, she diagnosed one day. What else made him cry so relentlessly? So excessively? So endlessly? It was just too much to bear.

Jayla folded up the rest of the laundry as quickly as she could and stuffed them in their respective assigned places in her husband's and oldest son's bureaus. Jackson was still in a lunchtime stupor. She quickly calculated that she had a good thirty minutes before he would be up for real and then only 2more hours after that before the first of the children started to arrive home.

She walked slowly down the stairs, her hand running along the picture-laden wall. The family in those pictures looked so put-together, coordinated beyond their matching clothes. They looked like they had the ideal life - loving parents and their happy offspring all sharing in each other's lives and loves and successes and failures.

"If only I were," Jayla thought. She was happy at that time, before the round of cuts at the marketing agency where she had worked for 12 years as the Senior Marketing Manager. She loved her job and had fought hard to be there. But Jason had thought she was too wrapped up in her job. Jayla explained that sacrifices had to be made sometimes. Didn't he know that? He was a lawyer, for goodness' sake. OK, yeah. He worked for the state and didn't get the private money a lot of his counterparts did but he knew about sacrifice, didn't he? He just never seemed too willing to make as many as he seemed to ask of her.

Jayla continued down the stairs and saw the picture of Jason being awarded for his help in the trial and conviction of some slumlords who had gotten away with mistreating one too many tenants while taking the state money for their rentals. Jayla had a huge presentation the next day and had to miss it.

She stepped down two more steps and saw James posing with his football team after they won the state championship. Even Jade couldn't stop talking about the plays James made. Jayla hated missing it. She really did, but that was the time her boss was on vacation and she had to step in for him. It was her chance to show she could run things. It was for her family after all. Surely they would understand.

"It doesn't matter," Jayla said to the pictures. "It's done. You all wanted me home, I'm laid off and I'm home. Happy now?"

Jayla loudly huffed to herself , knowing she needed to go into the kitchen to clean up the lunch dishes but she turned instead to head into the office she shared with Jason. She was always so happy in that office. It had an air of pending success which sometimes exhilarated her, sometimes suffocated her when she thought about what she couldn't do just yet. Maybe never get to do again.

She looked at the wall where Jason's desk was placed. His degrees and various awards decorated it along with more pictures of family. Her wall was more noticeable though because of the color of the marketing ads that she had helped create that adorned it. And then there was the life-sized painting of her that a friend had done of her years before her family became her prison. Her friend had loved the light and the hope in her eyes and wanted to capture it. It was a sunny Spring day that and she wore a flowing floral dress, thinking of the wonderful lines it would give her friend to paint. Her hair was in two french braids then and perched on her shoulders.

She was a selfless giver in those days for sure. She had dared to dream then that she could have the family, be a loving wife and mom, have the successful career and have time to enjoy some fun pursuits of her own too, like art. But she was in school then working toward an internship, too busy for fun stuff like that just yet and if she couldn't be the artist, she'd be happy to be the subject.

Jake never liked the painting. "But it's artwork, just like you do in kindergarten, Jakey," Jayla said patiently one day. She loved her painting and was put off by the fact that her son did not.

"It's scary. It comes to life while we're sleeping. I know it!"

"What? No way, Jakey. Pictures don't come to life."

"That's what James said."

"James is teasing you."

"It looks at me, mama."

"No, Jakey. Besides, it's me! See?" Jayla had stood next to the painting and smiled. "It's just mama. Nothing to be scared of. Even if it did come to life, it would still be me, right? Do I scare you?"

Jake wouldn't answer and would not be convinced. He refused to be alone in the office.

"Whatever, Jake," Jayla finally said. "I'm NOT getting rid of the painting. You'll just have to live with it. I like it."

At night, Jake would insist that glasses of water be placed across his doorway. "That way if she comes in, she'll melt in the water," he reasoned. Jason and Jayla gave him the space to be paranoid since he was still so young. Jayla had wanted to prove the point and take the glasses away while he slept, but Jason had said to leave it be.

Jayla stared at her painting now, remembering the former life she had. She found her way to her desk where the latest trade magazines waited for her to peruse. She had to try to stay on top of things, after all. You never knew when opportunity would strike again. She picked up the first one to quickly glance through, knowing she had to get the dishes done before the kids got home and piled more on top of them. An article on the latest marketing trend pulled her in and she slowly sat down, transfixed. Jackson's cry soon broke the spell.

She made a throaty huff as she slapped the magazine back down again and got up quickly out of her chair. "Wouldn't want mama to do a little reading, oh no. Wouldn't want that at all!" Jayla walked with attitude back to the bottom of the steps and looked up, her hands on her hips, wondering if she could just maybe wash the dishes and then go for Jackson. He cries all the time anyway. What would be the difference?

She sucked her teeth as she thought about how this would be the day he fell out of his crib trying to get to her. "Better get him," she said, like a reluctant child told to clean her room. Coming back down with the still screaming infant, the front door cracked open and Jade carefully stepped in, hoping to catch her mom somewhere else in the house.

Jayla sighed as she kept walking. "A tad early, aren't you, Jade?"

Jade's face fell upon seeing her mother but she quickly covered up her disappointment and snorted as she closed the door. She headed toward the living room to drop in her favorite chair next to the phone. "Funny mom. I told you I was getting out early today, remember? Some sort of teacher's meeting?"

Jayla scoffed in reply, her attention divided by Jackson's scream and the dishes she now wanted more than anything to dive into just to escape the noise. "How convenient," she threw back over her shoulder, heading in her own direction toward the kitchen and the playpen that lived there.

"You would know that if you listened," Jade said to the window as she swung her leg up on the arm of the chair, cell phone already on her shoulder as she dug out a nail file from the purse that rested on her lap.

"Whatever, Jade," Jayla replied. She made quick work of the dishes by opting to toss them into the dishwasher where they would wait for the dinner dishes to join them. She pulled a bottle of juice out of the fridge for Jackson who was contented by the indirect attention and laid back to drink and watch his mother fly around the kitchen lighting on one place then another as she pulled together yet another meal out boxes and cans. Cooking was as disdainful to Jayla as laundry. At least there was a dishwasher to help out afterward.

As her family arrived home, Jayla sat in the kitchen eating already, too tired to wait for everyone to get there. "Can you help me with my homework, mom," James asked.

"James," Jayla sighed. "I'm tired, you know? What is it?"

"Just a little math."

"You know I hate math. Why don't you ask Jade? She's good at math."

"She always makes me wait forever to find out the answer," James whined.

Jayla sighed another grumpy sigh as Jason came in through the back door. He must have been checking on his vegetable garden again. "Those pesky deer have been at it again."

"Umm hmm," Jayla said, choosing to suddenly busy herself with James' homework so she didn't have to engage Jason in his deer tirade yet again.

"Mom. Mom! Can I go to Stephanie's house? We have a project to do," Jade asked running in like she had an emergency

"What? Ask your father, Jade. I'm busy."

"Doing what? You stay home!"

"Not by choice, Jade! Do you really think I'd choose THIS?!" Jayla swept her arms around as she stood. She looked at Jackson in his playpen who was still amazingly quiet and decided he was fine with the rest of the family. She huffed as she shook her head and started out of the kitchen, ignoring James as he asked about finishing the homework.

"I hate math," she said to herself as she jogged up the steps and into her room. She didn't even hear Jason come in because she had fallen asleep. It was 1 a.m. by the time she awoke. The house was quiet and Jayla was afraid to move for fear of disturbing whatever was granting her peace right now.

She listened for Jason's breathing and heard the familiar rhythm of his deep sleep. She crept out of bed into the hall. Fortunately, their room wasn't the furthest away but it was far enough. She would have to sneak past Jackson's then James' room on her way to the steps. She stopped at Jade's door which was right by the stairs and wondered if she ever went to Stephanie's. She didn't dare open the door though. She jut didn't want to deal with whatever was or was not there right now.

She was grateful for the stability of the stairs. It was easy to sneak down and into her precious office. The only light on in all of the downstairs was a dimmed lamp in the living room for the occasional wandering child. That was how Jayla liked it. Dark and quiet.

She shivered a little in the cool air of the office. She was glad she had worn her long gown at least, but the thin material was no match for the cold leather of her chair as she carefully sat down to run her hands along the magazines, closing her eyes as she imagined herself the head of her own marketing firm. She felt the coolness of the pages and thought of the white boards where the teams brainstormed their idea. As she leaned back in her now-warm chair, she dreamed of the big chair in her own office. It would be a new company though. She couldn't go back to where she was laid off, of course.

She sighed, fighting back the sadness as she wondered how she could do the things she dreamed and make her family happy too. They seemed mutually exclusive. She was tired in so many ways and so deep in her thoughts, that she welcomed the gentle massage on her shoulders and relaxed as she felt the light embrace. The warmth of it filled her and her dreams became even more vivid. Like they were when she was in college, working toward her internship, planning for the future. Jayla then fell into the deepest sleep she had ever known.

She felt herself start to awaken but only part way. She was in that state where dreams felt real and reality seemed surreal. She looked out over her office where Jason sat in his office chair, scrolling though the Internet, deep in thought. Jayla saw herself walk in and stand behind his chair, lovingly massaging his shoulders but saying nothing. She felt the oppression of the dream and tried to awaken but it was that scary paralyzing state where she felt she couldn't move or even make a sound but she was all too aware of her surroundings.

She saw Jason turn to look at the Jayla who stood smiling at him. "Hey honey. I hope you're feeling better." He stood up to hug this other Jayla. "I know you're tired with Jackson and all and I know you miss your job. It's OK, though, baby," he said into her hair as he hugged her. "It's going to all work out. I'll help you. You'll see." Jason pulled back to look at his stressed wife. But there was something different about her; the stress no longer a part of her facade. The paralyzed Jayla tried to speak and still could not. Her eyes scanned the room and saw her magazines on the desk, one still open to the place where she was last reading.

"What is it," Jason wondered out loud. "Oh I know! Your dress. Flowers? I never knew you liked floral. And, your hair," he said smiling in surprise. "french braids? When did you do that?" The other Jayla laughed a light laugh and allowed herself to be spun around by Jason as he admired her. "I kind of like it. Reminds me of the early days. When you were still happy and hopeful."

Jason sat back down at his computer. "Give me 5 minutes ok?"

"Umm hmm," the other Jayla replied, stroking his chair and moving over to her desk to daintly gather up the magazines and toss them into the trash can next to the floor. She cleared away more items off the desk and dusted her hands in satisfaction as she turned to gaze as the paralyzed Jayla who realized her dream was no dream. The other Jayla smoothed her dress and cleared her previously silent throat to speak to Jason.

"You know, honey. Jake really hates this painting and I've been thinking. It's so old now. Just a piece of my past." The other Jayla nodded and peered closer at the paralyzed painting. "Yes. It was nice to hold on to for awhile. But I do think it's time for it to leave. It's a new day. Out with the old."


What's this about, Monica?

You don't know? Why, it's my own March Madness!

While you're here, the Start Up Nation Leading Moms in Business 2009 Competition is wrapping up this month and we are sure we're close to being in that top 200. Winning means major publicity - major for us, anyway. Have you voted for us today? Check it out here. We'd REALLY appreciate it if you vote and you can do it every day until March 31, 2009 PT. There's even a new meter there now to show you how hot we are! Go ahead. Vote! We wanna be hot, hot, hot! Thanks for your support!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Prompt Pre-emption

Well, I hate to do it to ya. But tonight's prompt has been pre-empted by my need to sleep. :-) Actually, that's only partly true. Let's see:

1 - It's after 11 p.m. right now and my challenge is to do one prompt every week night. After midnight is a new day and if I start before then and finish after midnight, then fine. But this close to it, I'll be up until 2 a.m. easily. Reason number 1 why no story tonight.

2 - Tonight my time was interrupted by me telling my son where babies come from. After I asked him what the physical difference was between girls and boys, I began to tell him how the puzzle connected, if you excuse my obvious metaphor. He started smiling a bit, squirming a bit, I told him only the beginning of who is "connected" to whom and he's smiling again.

"What," I ask. I can't help smiling myself.

"I'm just wondering is this really necessary?"

"What? What I'm telling you?"


"Well you asked me where babies came from."

"Yeah, and I want to know."

"Well, THIS is how it physically works, Son."

Squirming and smiling.

"You still want to know?"

"I want to know."

So you see, I told him some basics and went all over why it's not for him and I know this is a conversation that we'll be having for a while as he comes up with more questions. Later, after he was supposed to be in bed, I'm on the phone with a friend. Son is standing in the doorway staring at me.

"What is it, Son?"

"Um, if the penis is in the vagina, how do they get it out again?"

"He takes it out." I can't go further than that. I'm on the phone after all.

"Does it hurt?" OK, much can be said to this, but not now.



Reason number two why no story tonight.

3 - I was on the phone with that previously mentioned friend who just celebrated her 40th birthday by going to Bermuda with her husband. Their marriage is in dire straights but she was going no matter what and he could go or not. He went. She had a blast. Our talk leads to Twitter and I start telling her what the point is. What to do. How to do it. (I really should consider tracking all I know and writing my own primer. Lots of people write about it but I know people personally who are asking me to explain it.) In all we talk for 2 minutes short of 2 hours. Reason number three why no story tonight.

4 - Returning to reason number one and going from there, I am one tired sistah. The fact is I am having big fun writing these things. (I'll blog more about all that later.) I am having even bigger fun hearing from you all via here and my personal email that you like what you are reading. I can't tell you how much I appreciate that feedback too. It gives me the fuel to keep going, especially since I am writing way more than I intended in length. But I've always been verbose so I shouldn't be shocked. Still, it takes a lot out of me because I can't really get going until I have a prompt to start with, which I don't choose until it's time to write. And then I can't really sit in silence until about 9 p.m. when the kids are completely down. Then it takes me a good 3 hours usually to do one. And as I said, it's already after 11. The time change didn't help here but going to bed at 2 a.m. tends to cause one to yawn a lot the next day. But don't get me wrong. THAT is not a huge reason why I'm not doing it tonight. It's the late start more than anything else. Reason number 4 why no story tonight.

5 - I'm not getting any other writing done. I have an assignment to revise and mail for my children's writing course. I have at least three greeting cards to write copy for. I have a bio that's been waiting on me forever to get together. I have revisions to make on a book proposal so I can mail/email it. Don't get me wrong. I love writing these little stories for me AND you. But I'm busy at work all day, come home to get the kids together and then off to bed, and then it's the prompt for the rest of the night. But I'm not going to stop. Just gotta figure out when to work in the rest. It all matters to me. Reason number 5 why no story tonight.

Now, I did not do a prompt last Friday because, though I was hoping I'd do it anyway, I really hate doing ANYTHING on a Friday night except getting my hair done and that's not every week or even every other week sometimes, so I live with it. (My hair being done is a necessity for me, like food. Yes, it is.) But basically, Friday night is my sweet night to do not a blessed thing. So I already know I won't do a prompt tomorrow night for the same reason - plus there will be additional noise tomorrow night. However, I picked out the prompt already so that means I'm thinking about it and you just never know when inspiration will strike.

Thing is, Son's birthday sleepover is tomorrow night. No sleep for me.
The kids will leave by noon so I can get Daughter to choir practice by 12:30. No sleep late for me.
Son has his first baseball clinic Sunday afternoon after church and I still need to do Daughter's hair. No sleep early for me.

So you see, my next prompt may take me from now until Sunday night to write it, and I want to write it so there are at least four per week this month.

But I am tired, ya'll. Need to actually get in my bed before midnight tonight.

"But Monica, by now you could have written the story!"

Naw. I write until I am inspired and I know how to end it. Then I go back and REALLY write it. I know nothing until the story reveals itself. That all takes time.

So I'm sorry no story tonight but something is in the works, I promise. And now I bid you goodnight. I plan to sleep tight.


What's this about, Monica?

You don't know? Why, it's my own March Madness!

While you're here, the Start Up Nation Leading Moms in Business 2009 Competition is wrapping up this month and we are sure we're close to being in that top 200. Winning means major publicity - major for us, anyway. Have you voted for us today? Check it out here. We'd REALLY appreciate it if you vote and you can do it every day until March 31, 2009 PT. There's even a new meter there now to show you how hot we are! Go ahead. Vote! We wanna be hot, hot, hot! Thanks for your support!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

MM: A Date with Destiny

The prompt: It's not like it hasn't been broken before.

What came out of my head:

"What? What hasn't?"

"What's that," Wesley asked, pretending not to understand. His lab partner, Destiny, leaned on the table, trying to look into Wesley's eyes, but he wouldn't make eye contact. She looked at him until he shifted his eyes in her direction. He looked at her long braids first as they fell over the unlit Bunsen burner. If it had been on, she would have done a great Michael Jackson impression at that moment. His eyes ran up her braids - they were so tiny, he just wanted to touch one - until they stopped at her gaze, her eyebrows narrowed in impatience.

"I said I had to miss the study group with you tomorrow? And you said what sounded like, 'sure. Go 'head. It's not like it hasn't been broken before?' What were you referring to? My word?"

"What? No! No way," Wesley replied quickly, his hands gesturing "no" in agreement. He snorted a nervous little laugh while Destiny waited again for his explanation. How was he going to get around telling her that's he's been having a running relationship with her in his head and what he was actually saying was that it wasn't like his heart hadn't been broken before?

"Because I keep my word, Wes."

He liked how she called him Wes. No one else did. He had been a nerd as long as he could remember and it was difficult to make any real bonds with any of his peers, let alone pretty ones like Destiny. And when you add in the whole racial difference...well, she was not in his world, clearly. She was on Earth. No! Venus. She was a Venusian goddess and he was a space cadet. She had graced him with a nickname that was cooler than he was and she was the only one to call him that so he felt really special when she came around and called his name.

"I...I know you do, Destiny. I know you keep your word. I was just, just thinking about something, that's all."


"Nothing. It's not important," Wesley turned to face her to change the subject. Destiny didn't back up and Wesley noticed that. This was why he loved her. "Listen, you go to your audition. It's important. We'll study later. No big deal." Destiny put her hand on his and gave it a squeeze. She kept it there while she smiled at him. "You're the best, Wes." Giggling at her own rhyme, she let his hand go and leaned on the table, propping her head in her hand. She continued looking at Wesley and smiling.

"You know, you have been so great with all this, Wes. I really hate that we have to have a science credit in a school known for churning out great actors. I mean, you're supposed to be able to pick your own path in college, right? Why should I pay to study stuff I'm not going to use? I mean, I'm going to be a great actress," Destiny shook her braids back as she spoke, then quickly lowered her voice and her head in seriousness. "I'd give anything to be that, Wes." Wesley thought her eyes flashed a golden-like color, but he had never dared look so deeply into her eyes before so he couldn't be sure they weren't her usual color. Destiny shook her head again, as if to shake off bad vibes, and stood up to grab her books. "I'm glad you're helping me," she said in her regular voice again.

"Me too," Wesley whispered in reply. Destiny stood in place for a moment, a look of consideration on her face. "Listen, it's just an audition but it can take a long time, you know? I shouldn't do it," she said as if arguing with herself. "I should concentrate and meditate and...." She bit down on her lower lip for a moment. "Why don't you come with me, and we'll sit all the way in the back and you can whisper science nothings in my ear."

Wesley turned red immediately and worried Destiny would notice. But she didn't act like she did. Then again, she was an actress so who knew for sure but her. "Umm," he said in thought.

"Yeah," she said more enthusiastically this time as if agreeing with herself and Wesley was not in the conversation. "It'll be cool to have you there, actually. You can be in my world for a while. I'm ALWAYS in yours, after all. I swear we live in this lab." She looked around in mock disgust, rolling her eyes but smiling again when she looked at Wesley. "Let's do this, Brutus."

Wesley smiled and ran his fingers through his short locks in embarrassment. "I..I guess so," he replied. Looking at Destiny who called him Wes and just invited him to be in her world, Wesley grew a little braver. "What's the play? What role will you go after?"

"It's an August Wilson play," Destiny replied enthusiastically. "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Know it?" Destiny didn't wait for Wesley to respond. "I'm going to try for the role of Dussie Mae." Destiny put her hand on her hips, turned her head slightly and tilted it down so she could look up at Wesley with sexy eyes. "It's a very sense-u-al role," she said slowly.

Wesley's eyes grew big. He swallowed his excitement and said nothing, again hoping his body didn't betray his mind. "Sounds, um, interesting." Turning back to the table, Wesley began to close his own books. "I can go, sure. I'd love to help [myself to] you," he said and thought at the same time.

"That. Would be. Fantastic, dear Wes," Destiny replied happily. "How about I meet you at the theater tomorrow night at 8:30?"

"8:30? Wow, kinda late, huh?"

"Well, there are a lot of people trying out," Destiny answered, adjusting her bag and looking around the table again to be sure she had everything. "They gave us special times to come so we didn't have to wait around too long."

"Oh, oh ok. No problem. 8:30. At the theater."

"Back door," she said.


"Yeah. We, umm, have to hang out back there before the audition so they can keep track of us." Destiny looked around as if someone had come into the room. "But afterward, we can sit in the back of the theater and watch everyone else."

Wesley welcomed the opportunity to just watch her if he could. "It's a...date," he said bravely.

"Yeah," Destiny smiled and gave him a wink. "A date with Destiny."

Classes the next day were no where near as intriguing as they usually were for Wesley. All those theorems in his math class and wonderful discussions about genetic engineering in his ethics class went over his head as he thought about seeing Destiny in her world. He'd have to remember to actually bring the books they needed to study for the next test.

After classes were done for the day, Wesley went back to his dorm to wait and pace and think about what to wear. "I can't do anything out of the ordinary. She'll suspect. But she did call it a date," he argued with himself. "I can put on a sweater maybe. It's kinda chilly out there, after all."

By eight o'clock, Wesley's hands were starting to sweat as he kept opening and closing them, looking out the window. The theater was on his side of campus but located off campus so he'd have to walk up a street and take a side road to get there. It was a pretty old theater. He saw it once during a campus tour years ago. He was actually amazed they kept it around but he had heard the theater people refused to let anyone touch it. They apparently had all kinds of superstitions and rituals, like not whistling back stage and saying break a leg, he had heard. Theater people could be a species unto themselves, except for Destiny. She stood alone.

Wesley willed the clock to read 8:15 so he could leave. It wouldn't take him long. He didn't want to seem too eager and get there too early nor be late. But at 8:15 on the nose, he left. Books forgotten.

The street was quieter and darker than he remembered. But maybe he had never walked it before in the dark. The school was in a rural town so there were no street lights unless the street residents pitched in and paid for them, which they refused to do. Kept the college kids out, they said. But the theater was in the neighborhood so sometimes they had to deal with a little raucous behavior.

Wesley turned down the rocky road that ended at the theater and was surprised to not see much activity. He did see a person or two but it was hard to tell. They were in dark clothing. Maybe costumes? And they seemed to scurry away as if they saw him but didn't want him to see them.

The theater was a dark, round structure that looked as if it were sleeping. Wesley felt the urge to tiptoe around it, following a white, arrow-shaped sign that read BACKSTAGE. He looked behind him as he crept along on the crunchy rocks and drew a breath when he thought he saw a figure looking around the corner at him but then it darted away.

Wesley couldn't recall where people parked. "The parking lot must be on the other side," he thought. "That's got to be where the cars are." At the back door, Wesley saw there was a light on overhead. The heavy looking metal door looked tightly shut. As he walked up to look for a doorbell or something, the door quietly popped open. A hand reached out and wrapped around it. It was a female hand and Wesley stepped back in slight alarm until he saw Destiny slowly put her head out the door. She had that serious look on her face that instantly changed to the happy look she always gave Wesley. Suddenly Destiny reminded Wesley of one of those clowns who would look sad, wave his hand up over his face to reveal a bright smile, and then wave his hand back down again to reveal his sad face. He wasn't really sure if he was seeing the real her or not. Wesley never liked clowns.

Destiny stuck out her manicured hand. "Hey Wes," she said softly, which seemed contrary to the wide smile on her face. "Come on in, boyfriend. We've just gotta be a little quiet," she said, as if to answer his silent question.

Wesley stepped inside on the wooden floor, the door closing so quietly behind him that he had to turn around to be certain Destiny had closed it and was there. He looked around at all the wooden beams and ropes hanging from the ceiling. Dark corners lurked everywhere. Velvet ropes on their golden stands were gathered against a wall and stairs on either side of him looked to lead to more beams, wider ones above him. Destiny had not let go of his hand and had begun to walk toward a doorway. As they entered, Wesley could see it was a large dressing room to one side of the doorway and a drawn curtain on the other side.

"Auditions going ok," he asked. "Sounds so quiet out there."

"Umm hmm," Destiny said, leading him toward the curtain but not looking back.

"It's like it's sound proof or something," Wesley said nervously. Destiny's hand was cool but he was still happy to be holding it. He looked around for the other actors but saw no one.

"Are you the last audition of the night," he asked.

"Yes. This is it," Destiny replied.

At the curtain, Destiny stopped and turned to face Wesley. She put her hands on his shoulders as if she were ready to waltz. "Acting is my life, Wesley, you know?"

"I know," Wesley replied.

"I love it. I love the theater and I want the theater to love me."

"It will," Wesley said, mesmerized by Destiny's golden eyes. He did feel as if they were dancing now. She smiled at him. The dance was slow and Wesley didn't want it to end.

"You have always been so sweet to me, Wesley. I could tell, you know," she said, looking down shyly but never taking her hands away. "I could tell you liked me and I liked you too, you know? You were cool. Taught me so much about those stupid chemicals." Destiny quietly laughed to no one. Wesley felt himself stepping backward into the curtain. Destiny was leading the dance now.

"But those chemicals won't make me rich and famous."

"I could," Wesley said. The fear was gone and he felt free to say all he ever wanted to. "I'll be rich one day, Destiny. You could marry me and be in all the plays you want. I'd finance them."

"Ohh I knew you were special, Wes. I knew it." Destiny stopped, sliding her hands down his arms, she gently grabbed Wesley's wrists. "I knew you would be the one to help me. And I... I assumed..."


"Well," Destiny began to walk toward him again pushing him back as she stepped forward. He felt the curtain around him. "You had such a sweet, innocent way about you. I assumed you were a virgin, no?"

Wesley cleared his throat, looking down at their feet. They were still moving. Why didn't he feel it? "Well," he answered slowly. "Only because I was looking for the right one, you know?"

"I do know, Wes. I know it well. It's hard to find the right one. But it has to be the right one. The innocent one," she said. Wesley could feel warm lights above him as Destiny stepped closer to him, embracing him, her face coming close to his but not touching him. "The one willing to sacrifice his all. For me."

"For you," Wesley repeated, allowing his hands to touch her waist but not daring to bring his face any closer to hers than she did to his.

"That's why it hurts me,"

"Hurts? It doesn't have to..."

"It hurts me that I don't get to keep you. But I need the theater to love me."

"Destiny," Wesley whispered.

"I have to be willing to make a sacrifice for it and my sacrifice has to work both ways. It is the ultimate love. That you'll lay down your life for a friend."

"Anything for you, Destiny," Wesley said, but even though his mouth spoke for itself, his head was racing with wild, confusing thoughts.

"Anything?" Destiny stepped in closer, her eyes closing with Wesley's as she brushed his lips with hers. They were still dancing. Moving. But not in circles. She was moving forward. He was moving back. Wesley opened his eyes to take Destiny in once again. She grabbed his hands and stepped back slowly, as far as she could go. Wesley saw the hooded figures step from behind the curtains and form a semi circle around the couple. He heard the electronic sound of a door opening and looked around but saw nothing.

The figures slowly walked forward as Wesley quickly looked at each of them. Holding hands, he and Destiny slowly walked - her forward, him backward.


"Thank you, Wes. Thank you for your sacrifice. The theater will love me most of all for sure now." As she smiled, she let go of Wesley's hands. Surprised, he stepped back to regain his footing but found nothing as he felt the sudden heat and was no more.

The theater closed the hidden door in the wooden floor. The applause of the other figures in the audience drowned out the screams of the sacrifice in the fire pit, out of their view. They rose for Destiny, their newest star, as the stage curtains closed upon her, encircling her in their ghostly embrace.


What's this about, Monica?

You don't know? Why, it's my own March Madness!

While you're here, the Start Up Nation Leading Moms in Business 2009 Competition is wrapping up this month. Have you voted for us today? Check it out here. We'd REALLY appreciate it if you vote and you can do it every day until March 31, 2009 PT. There's even a new meter there now to show you how hot we are! Go ahead. Vote! We wanna be hot, hot, hot! Thanks for your support!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

MM: The Bitter Taste of Life

The prompt: "When the shoebox rattled and moved, I decided I should open it..."

What came out of my head:
"When the shoebox rattled and moved, I decided I should open it," Tracy read. Matthew snuggled up to Tracy as she paused. She was waiting for him to plead for her to keep going. When he didn't, she looked down to see if he was asleep. His eyes were open but the light in them was dim.

"Matt? Are you ok? Tired?"

"I'm ok. I like the story."


"Umm hmm."

Tracy sighed but kept reading. "I pushed up the lid with my thumb to see if anything tried to get out. The magician had warned me not to open the box while he was away. But I had left the doughnut - my favorite doughnut - right next to the box when I went to answer the phone and now it was gone. That chocolate-covered-lemon-filled goodness was gone. And I wanted it back."

Tracy looked down at Matthew again. He loved doughnuts but no reaction. Tracy leaned to the side a little to get a better view. Matthew's head moved with her and continued to rest on her arm. Tracy propped the book open on her lap, sunk her fingers into his soft, curly hair and squeezed like she was shopping for melons.

"Hmm, not overly ripe, not too soft. Just right."

"I'm not fruit, mom," Matthew said without looking up. He was too tired now to even protest her not finishing the story. His eyelids would softly close then snap open like a windowshade opened by an invisible hand.

"Are you tired sweetie?"?

"A little," Matthew said, his eyes closed once again. "Let's finish it tomorrow."

Tracy stroked his head again and leaned over to take his temperature with her kiss. "You need to rest. Tomorrow you'll go to the hospital, you'll see how the count looks, huh? You'll get the magic elixir, you know? You'll feel a little better. A lot better. I promise."

Matthew said nothing. He had been living with his cancer for five of his 10 years. He had reached a place where his chemotherapy was more for his mother's benefit than his own. He was tired more than she cared to recognize. She refused to see it because she had her hope. She spent time on the chemo circuit, the group of parents she saw every time she took Matthew for his treatments. They supported each other. Shared research and news of miracle cures. That was where she had heard of the 3-month program at the private German hospital. They could devote the precious time needed to look for the root of his mysterious cancer so that a proper treatment could be set in place or, dared she hope, a cure could be found. She just needed the funds. It was more than her husband's salary as a police officer could bear. She was the one with the faith. She had to be the one to find the way.

She slid her arm from under Matthew's head and laid him on his pillow. She kissed his forehead again. "Am I warm," Matthew asked.

"That wasn't for me, baby. That was for you."

Covering him up, she laid his book on the nightstand and clutched herself as she looked around his neat room. He didn't even have the energy to be messy anymore. What she wouldn't give to be stepping over toys on the floor again like she did when he was little.

Flipping the switch on his wall, she looked over at him again. With the onset of his illness, she had never gotten out of the habit of watching him breathe. She closed his door softly then stepped around the creaky floorboard to walk the short distance to the next bedroom.

She checked on the twins, Lisa and Evan, as they slept in their cribs. Sniffing the air, she smelled their new baby essence. Stepping to their beds she looked down at each of them, watching their creaseless lips close briefly then part as they silently huffed in their sleep.

She tiptoed from their room and opened the adjacent door. Her husband, Aaron, was as sound asleep as the rest and she didn't want to disturb him. He had a busy day the next day and he needed his rest.

Creeping down the steps, she walked carefully to the kitchen to start her tea. She typically would drink a cup while prowling the web; visiting her favorite cancer chat rooms and reading up on the latest news on Cell Phone, the science e-magazine that had the latest controversial research on all sorts of diseases. Sometimes the articles focused on the metaphysical and the spiritual, revealing some surreal methods people took to cure themselves or their loved ones. Sometimes it talked of the ones who opted to take control of how they would live and when they would die.

As her water got hot in the kitchen, she powered up her laptop in the living room, then went back to prepare the cup of tea. She mixed and stirred the liquid in her favorite Moms Rule mug. Then she got a saucer from one cabinet as she looked in the next one for the can of almonds she had placed on the top shelf.

She took the tea and nuts back to her favorite chair, placing the items on the table beside her. The laptop sat on the ottoman, singing its brief song of introduction. She sipped the large cup of tea as she waited, frowning a bit at the heat and slightly bitter taste. When the welcoming screen had come and gone, she called up her favorite sites and made her rounds. There was no need to study the latest research tonight. She would check in on all her friends instead. She took another sip of the tea as she called up her blog and began to write the posts she had been conjuring in her head all day. She shook her head, trying to fight the fatigue, and continued to write until she had emptied herself on the screen.

Minimizing the blog, she called up her email to check in with her brother who worked for the Bank of London and was sometimes online at this hour. Except she kept herself invisible to him and opted to email him instead. He was online for clients but he wouldn't be checking his email until he was on the tube going home.

Tracy laid her head back and closed her eyes for a moment, daydreaming of a healthy and happy Matthew. Being 9 1/2 years older than the babies, she imagined him relishing his big brother role, finally able to keep up with the life he should have.

Tracy finished off the tea and ate a couple of the almonds. She bit one last one in half and put the other half of it on the plate. Setting the laptop back on the ottoman in front of her, she propped up her feet, pulled the blanket off the arm of the chair that she kept there and covered herself. She laid her head back and imagined the peace that she longed for Matthew to have, the peace he would have, the peace she now gave him just as she had given the rest of what she had.

The insurance money would surely be enough to fund his trip to Germany, she thought. They would be able to pay off the house, have at least some money for all the kids to go to college, but more importantly, there would be money for Matthew's radical treatment. She had heard through the circuit of the privileged few children who had had miraculous turnarounds at the clinic. She knew in her heart, Matthew's hope was there.

As she rested, her eyes flew open as she remembered a link she wanted to include in her post. The one that referred to her post from 6 months ago when she first started eating almonds for their health benefit. She needed to make sure she fixed that, and fought back the blurriness in her eyes as she made her final change.

"There," she said. "It is done." The smell of almonds was now a fixture in her home. Her blog said so. She loved them. Her husband had witnessed that. When the mortician smelled the almond smell on her, they would say, "She loved almonds, that's all." No one would suspect a thing as her grieving family claimed the money they deserved so they could finally live the life she had dreamed for them all along.


What's this about, Monica?

You don't know? Why, it's my own March Madness!

While you're here, the Start Up Nation Leading Moms in Business 2009 Competition is wrapping up this month. Have you voted for us today? Check it out here. We'd REALLY appreciate it if you vote and you can do it every day until March 31, 2009 PT. There's even a new meter there now to show you how hot we are! Go ahead. Vote! We wanna be hot, hot, hot! Thanks for your support!

Monday, March 09, 2009

MM: Hour Farther

Prompt: If I weren't allergic to sweating, I'd...

What came out of my head:

"If I weren't allergic to sweating, I'd be out here every day, strutting my stuff, walking this off, getting back to where I belong." Hannah puffed as she spoke.

"And where's that," asked Mimi, Hannah's best friend.

Hannah focused on her pace and tried not to answer Mimi too quickly. Maybe she'll just forget she asked. But Hannah knew her friend, Naomi, whom she liked to call Mimi, too well and Mimi knew Hannah just as well. She kept in quick step with Hannah and waited for Hannah to reply.

"Whew," Hannah finally said. "I can't believe I let you talk me into this speed walking with you. And in this cold February air!"

"It's not exactly all that speedy. We're not even moving our arms like we should. It's really just a brisk walk. Not too bad, huh? And we'll warm up too!"

Hannah took a breath as she continued the real conversation. "With David."

Mimi understood. "You've been thinking about this," Mimi said, half asking, half assuming. Hannah had married Steve after only a year together. It was Hannah meeting Steve, dating Steve, moving in with Steve and saying yes to a proposal all in one year's time. Mimi was certainly the type to tell her to slow down but at the same time, they were both well into their 30's, in solid careers, relatively stable financially, what could Mimi really say? It would have been cool - except for David.

"Hannah, are things not ok with Steve?"

"Steve is fine. He's OK. He works hard, you know? He saves his money. He wants to build our home. Talks about kids. But..."


"I'm not...cherished."

"Cherished," Mimi repeated.

"You know, he's not the most romantic guy in the world. He doesn't open my door for me. He doesn't kiss me in the morning."

"Before or after you brush your teeth," Mimi joked. Hannah looked over and rolled her eyes as she blew out another breath of air.

"And David was all that," Mimi said, sarcastically.

"He was," said Hannah.

"And you don't think you're romanticizing him in the least?"

"What? No! He was sweet. He was good to me. If he and I had worked out..." Hannah stopped in her tracks, wiping the sweat off her forehead before letting out another huge sigh and looking Mimi in the eye. "Steven might not have made it."

Mimi looked down the street as she considered her words. "David left, Hannah. Remember? He wasn't ready for a relationship or whatever his problem was and he was too wishy washy. I mean how many times do you need to have him stepping in and out of your life like some stray cat?"

"I know," Hannah said, slightly defensive. "But that was 5 years ago. We were in our 20s when all that went down."

"You've been talking to him," Naomi asked, suddenly realizing this can't be out of the blue.

"He regrets letting me go." Hannah quickly turned her gaze and started to walk again. "He's got a great job in Las Vegas right now. Working with the mayor. He likes it but he sees the messy lives of the people around him, on that strip, you know? And it's made him think about his priorities."

Mimi was silent.

"Steven doesn't even care about my dreams, Mimi!"

"He cares. He's just not as emotional about this stuff."

"Yeah well, David always cared," Hannah said. "That's why I'm meeting him."

What?" It was Mimi's turn to stop suddenly. "Meeting him where? When?"

Hannah looked at Mimi with excitement shining in her eyes. "March 8th," she replied. "Steven's going on a business trip and he's leaving on Friday, the 6th. David is going to be in town really late on that Saturday night. He wants me to meet him at 2 a.m. at the diner we used to go to for Sunday morning breakfast."

"2 in the morning? Is he nuts? Are you? I can't let you go out by yourself like that, girl!"

"I can handle myself, Mimi. I'm a big girl."


"No, Naomi." Hannah began to walk again. She had made up her mind.

March came in like a lion, bringing snow and ice to once again clog up the roads. The groundhog hadn't seen his shadow after all and it seemed like Spring would never come. Mimi woke up the very late on the 7th. She had hung out late with Hannah the previous night. It was a Saturday so she wasn't going to spring out of bed like she did every day for work. No, she would lay there and think a bit about her day. She flipped on the TV. Seeing the names of shows pass her by on the guide, a commercial showing a ticking clock caught her attention. "Don't forget to Spring ahead at 2 a.m." a chipper voice reminded her.

"Wait a minute. It's daylight savings time? Already?" Mimi suddenly felt as if she had the answer but didn't know the question. "Hannah. She's meeting David. At 2. Why 2?" She flipped over to grab her cell phone. She called Hannah but the voice mail picked up after only 1 ring. "Shoot!" She quickly re-pressed the send key, looking to switch over to Hannah's home number. Still no reply. She looked at the clock. "It's 12. Wow, 12! Even she has got to be up by now. I wonder if David came in early." Mimi's mouth twisted into a sneer at the thought of him. "David."

Mimi called around to all of Hannah's usual haunts to no avail. Not knowing what to do, she drove by Hannah's house. No car was in the driveway. "Dang it." Mimi remembered some errands she needed to do in some of the same areas Hannah frequented like the mall and the local grocery store. The hours passed but still no call, no sign of Hannah.

Mimi tried to forget by returning home, plopping back on her bed, and looking for a movie to take her mind of her friend and her soon-to-be past tense marriage. "If it's what she wants, I guess." Exhausted, Mimi laid back and soon drifted off to the lullaby of her thoughts.

When she woke again it was already near midnight. "Oh man!" Mimi sat up momentarily confused. Her eyes adjusted to the darkness of her room and the brightness of the TV that continued to play. She saw the clock. "She's got to be home by now," she said to herself as she felt around her bed for her phone. No voice mails, no missed calls, no texts. Mimi speed dialed Hannah. Voice mail answered yet again.

"Come on, woman. Don't make me go out after you." It was already going on 12:30. Too early to catch Hannah at the diner. Mimi's phone sang out, but it wasn't Hannah's ringtone. It was Mimi's little sister Sasha, who was away at college. She was known for making phone calls at odd times, like when she was a little buzzed at a frat party. That's when all the emotional baggage would be thrown open and Mimi would have to be the one to pack it again. It was 1:30 by the time Sasha was ready to release Mimi and Mimi ran out to her car as soon as her sister was gone.

"Two," she asked herself as she fumbled with car keys. "What is it about that time?"

The diner was a good 20 minutes away, 3 towns over. It was late enough for her to make good time, she hoped. Mimi watched her clock as she shifted through the light traffic. She sped off the exit and waited impatiently as red lights taunted her and slowed her progress. It was 1:55 by the time she reached the diner. She drove around the lot looking for Hannah's car and spotted it near the handicapped parking on the side of the diner.

Mimi looked at her watch, tapping it's face as she looked carefully in the windows for signs of Hannah. The watch was reading 1:57 and Mimi could not clearly see where her friend was inside the diner. She walked in the diner's foyer, peeking through the inner glass door. She saw the familiar long brown waves. Hannah was at the counter - alone. "1:58," Mimi said, stepping back into the shadows of the foyer to wait for David. She looked out the windows expectantly. She looked in on Hannah who was looking around discreetly but with clear eagerness. Each time the door swung open, Mimi retreated back into her corner spot. But it was not David. "1:59."

A pair of young women walked in laughing. "Oh man, it's time to Spring ahead! At 2, you set the clocks to 3!"

"Two," Mimi repeated. Then she stepped out of the shadows and went in to sit next to her friend.

Hannah drew in a breath when she saw Mimi standing next to her but she was not surprised. Mimi sat on the other side of her so they could both watch the door, but Hannah had already come to realize what had happened.

The young women had been seated at a table behind the friends. Still talking about the time, one of the women gasped as she watched the waitress set the time on the diner clock. "Look at that! At 2, we spring ahead to 3. It's as if time went from 1:59 to 3 a.m. and 2 got lost in the shuffle!"

"Oh yeah! How weird," her friend exclaimed.

Mimi smiled a sad smile at Hannah as she quietly sat next to her friend and waited for a time that would never arrive.


What's this about, Monica?

You don't know? Why, it's my own March Madness!

While you're here, the Start Up Nation Leading Moms in Business 2009 Competition is wrapping up this month. Have you voted for us today? Check it out here. We'd REALLY appreciate it if you vote and you can do it every day until March 31, 2009 PT. There's even a new meter there now to show you how hot we are! Go ahead. Vote! We wanna be hot, hot, hot! Thanks for your support!