Father Found, Identity Now Missing.

A few years ago, my mom found out that her father wasn’t her father.   She and my uncle had taken a DNA test and it turned out he was her half-brother.

The relationship between my mom and grandma was already strained, so this bomb basically destroyed what little bit of communication still existed between them.  On the few occasions they did speak, it always resulted in my mom insisting on knowing who her real father is and my grandmother insisting that either the DNA results are wrong or the hospital gave her the wrong baby.

While this revelation tore my mom up inside, it didn’t affect me at all.   (Cue the stages of grief…)

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I had never known her father… my grandmother had remarried by the time I was born and I had always thought of my mother’s stepfather as my grandfather.  Even when my grandma divorced and remarried again, I considered her new husband my new grandfather.  (I’m pretty adaptable that way I guess.)

I barely let any of it bother me and continued on with my life.  After all, what did any of this have to do with me?

Whenever I visited either of them, I listened as my mom and grandma berated each other and recounted their side of the story over and over again.  Each defended themselves as if I was the judge & jury and they were trying to avoid the electric chair.  Still, it barely registered as a slight annoyance on my “things I’m going to stress about today” meter. meter down

Then the day came when I got this text:

Call me.  I have a dad.

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I lost that loving feeling…

I’ve loved to write since… well, I can’t remember a time I didn’t like to write.  Even during periods of time when I didn’t have the time, or was just so down on myself that I figured “why bother,” the stories would run through my head as if I was typing them at a typewriter (without all the messy corrections).

Characters and places haunted me and I found myself lost in conversations as I tried to listen to what they wanted to tell me.  As a teenager, it was typical for me to sit in class or at a party or even watching TV, but be visiting my fictional world in my mind.  (Go figure I wasn’t valedictorian.)

But one day, it just stopped.  I quit trying to remember my characters and their worlds, quit telling myself that one day I’d write out their adventures and read them when I’m old.  I’d lost my first love.  It just went away.

And I didn’t care.

I didn’t ask myself why.

I’m not even sure I noticed…

Until I took a week long road trip with my daughter.

Now I can’t get the silly little goblins in my head to be quiet! And my poor husband has had more one-sided conversations with me than he’s probably had the whole time we’ve been together.  (I’m incredibly lucky he understands and just laughs.)

I’m pretty sure it was stress and just general busyness that stole my stories away, but it doesn’t really matter.

They’re back now.  And the typewriter in my mind is steadily typing away.

What if it were YOUR time to pay up?

Have you ever settled on a book?  You know, your buddy suggests this awesome book that you just HAVE to read, but when you read the jacket you’re like, “Dude, you’ve GOT to be kidding me?”9781101905142

That’s about what happened when I chose The Invoice by Jonas Karlsson.  I browsed through my choices, saw other books that seemed right up my alley, but ultimately settled on The Invoice entirely based upon the fact that it had the best reviews.

Apparently, it’s okay to “settle” sometimes…

I knew I was going to enjoy this book by the second page, loved it by page 50, and it took me all of two days to read it’s 204 pages. (That’s impressive when you’ve got a job, two dogs and a clingy teenager who’s been gone for a week demanding that you put down the book and watch Supernatural with her.)

You’re never told the narrator’s name (which I honestly didn’t realize until I started writing this post), but his life is thrown into a complete loop when he receives an invoice from a company he’s never heard of for an amount he could never pay.  After all, he works part-time in a video shop where he apparently doesn’t bother to put out the open side until after lunch.

He later learns that the government (every government, really) has begun charging for happiness and that the mistake he assumed was made in his amount wasn’t in his favor!  As he argues the case for how much of a loser he really is, his happiness score only goes up (along with the amount due).

While you gotta feel for the guy, it’s hard not to laugh at his continued misfortune.

While I loved the narrator, what really kept me from being able to tear myself away from the story was the way it constantly kept me asking what was going to happen next.   Once I would get the answer to one question, I had about three more that needed answering (like what they can do to stop your experiences if they’re not going to kill you)!

This book forces you to ask the question, what would happen if you had to pay for your Experienced Happiness… and what if you were too happy to be able to pay?

What really got to me was that I can totally relate to the guy’s E.H. type.  While I’ve definitely had my ups and downs (as we all have) I tend to be happy with relatively little.  I work part-time, watch television when I can and if you give me a good book and some time to write I’m pretty much ecstatic.

It does have a few “naughty” words in it, but I’d recommend The Invoice for anyone age 15+.  About the only negative I can possibly say about this novel is that I wish it had been longer.  I was actually sad when it ended and I had to put it down (please see that this is deducted from my E.H. score).

 

Thanks so much to the  Blogging for Books program for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for this review.

 

The Anger Management Experiment

In general, I’m a pretty quite person.   One of my best friend’s uncle nicknamed me “Mousy” because I’m too little and too quite.

I can spend an entire day not speaking to another living soul and be completely happy and content.  (Truthfully, I could do this for days and get a lot of reading, writing, knitting and work done.  It makes me feel accomplished and whole when I get to do all those things and bonus if I get to do it without interruption!)

Unfortunately, I can also be loud.  VERY LOUD!

My entire family is LOUD.  Which is something I never really noticed until I married my husband.  His entire family, including cousins, can fit into one room comfortably.

Mine can barely fit into one house.

And when we do, it’s sounds a bit like we could all use hearing aids.  We’re all trying to have conversations and be heard.  The volume goes up and up and up until children are covering their ears and neighbors are wondering if they should call the police.

We are not yelling at each other.

We are, however, speaking in upraised voices that force attention to the conversation and has been known, on occasion, to make babies cry.

This is normal.

It’s what we do.

How else are we going to be heard?

It’s a problem.

When I’m not heard in my little mousy tone, I get a little louder.  When I’m still not heard, I get even louder.  I continue to increase my volume until I feel I’m finally getting through and that’s the volume I stay at until I’m done saying what I need to say.

It scares my husband.

So I’ve decided to make a conscious effort to stop yelling and screaming to get his attention.

Great plan… no idea how to put it into motion.

We’re really caught in a cycle here.  It goes like this…

Me:  [Insert random thing] really hurts my feelings.

Husband:  [blank stare]

Me:  Seriously, I’m upset because [Insert random thing] really hurts my feelings.

Husband:  That’s stupid.

Me:  It’s not stupid, you’re not listening to me.  [Insert random thing] really hurts my feelings.

Husband.  Yeah, and that’s stupid.  Just stop feeling that way.

Me:  How can you say that to me?

Husband:  I love you.

Me:  I don’t feel loved because [Insert random thing] really hurts my feelings and you think it’s stupid.

Husband:  Well, that’s dumb.

Me:  You’re being a jerk.  I know it’s dumb to you, but it’s not to me.  I can’t just stop feeling that way and I need you to quit doing it.

Husband:  Okay.  I’m sorry, I won’t do it again.

Me:  Thank you.

Husband:  Can you not yell at me anymore?

Me:  You don’t listen until I start yelling.

That’s the basic format of our arguments.  The last one we had got really bad and my throat is still raw.

This is not healthy.  I know that.

And I don’t feel like an angry person, but after talking with another couple, I’ve realized that I definitely am.  I mean seriously, who isn’t automatically on the defensive when someone is raising their voice to them?  And even though I don’t feel angry when I first start raising my voice, I am by the time I’m done.

I have got to find another way to express myself.

I stayed up until 2 a.m. last night trying to figure out how I’m going to handle the next time I need him to hear me.  I still didn’t have it figured out when I woke up at 6.

I talked to my husband about it.  He had no idea and then he had to go to work.

This was me on the inside:

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Kinda the exact opposite of what I was going for…

So I got proactive and did what every normal person does these days…

I asked the Google fairies…

Apparently no one else on the planet has a problem with yelling at their spouse.  However, people yell at their kids A LOT!

Google has lots of suggestions for not yelling at your children.

While my husband and I can be pretty immature and act more like our kids ages than our own, I’m not so sure I want to approach my issue the same way Google tells me to deal with a child.

Or do I???

I found a site called the Orange Rhino challenge.  It’s a 365 day challenge to help mom’s stop yelling at their kids.

On it, there is a list of “Orange Rhino” Alternatives to Yelling.  It’s a list of 100 things you can do instead of yelling at your children.  I’ve decided to steal this list (or at least part of it since I don’t actually own any of the 50 Shades books and have no desire to) and try it on my husband the next time I feel like raising my voice.

If you don’t have time to take a look at the list, here are just a few of the things my husband has to look forward to:

  • The Hokey Pokey
  • Somersaults
  • Me banging my arms on my chest like a gorilla
  • Him being tickled
  • Me flushing my screams down the toilet

I figure I’ll either get his attention or he’ll put me in a psychiatric hospital.  Either way, it should be interesting… and fun… and much better for my throat!

Wish me luck and I’ll let you guys know how it goes!

 

So much hate.

One of the advantages to not having cable or regular television is that I don’t have a single news channel.  (To be completely honest, I seldom watched the news when I had access to it because it was generally depressing and made me feel small and powerless. )

Unfortunately, my not watching the news doesn’t mean that horrible things don’t still happen in the world or that I get to just ignore it.

I was saddened when the alert came over my phone to tell me about the shooting  that occurred in Orlando on June 12th. My heart broke for the families of those dead and injured and I immediately began praying for them and the family of the shooter before I even read the article.

While the shooting upset me, I was more horrified by what I learned yesterday evening.  After the attack, a pastor actually preached in his sermon that the only tragedy that had occurred was that more people weren’t killed in the attack.  He called those in the night club perverts and pedophiles.

My first thought when my cousin told me about the sermon was that it must’ve been those Westboro people and I kind of shrugged it off.  When he told me it wasn’t them, I didn’t really believe him.  So, of course, I asked the Google fairies…

My eyes were so full of tears I couldn’t even read the whole article.  Google had confirmed that not only did a pastor in Sacramento preach this hate-filled sermon, but that he continued to defend it and called for the government to murder a large portion of our population.

No matter what your personal beliefs are, that night club was filled with people.  They were/are sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles… and I believe God loves each and every one of them.

I wish this was just an isolated incident, but there seems to be so much hate growing in the hearts of people.  It’s beyond my understanding and I struggle to control the anger that it ignites in me, but I refuse to let it get the better of me or harden my heart against humanity.

Some of the worst moments of my life ended up bringing me some of my biggest blessings.  That wouldn’t have been possible had I let my rage and hatred continue to fester and take over my thoughts and actions.   It would have tainted everything.

In the same way, if I let the words and actions of those who have chosen to let their hatred rule them affect the way that I look at the world,  I would do a disservice to myself and everyone around me.  I can’t help but wonder, how disappointed would the God I claim to love be with me then?

Instead, I choose to not only continue to pray for those who are persecuted against, but for their persecutors.  May God soften and change their hearts.  And I ask that others join me in consciously fighting against the instinct to hate the hateful and instead, show love to those we feel are undeserving of it.