Thoughts

Yesterday, we learned about what is being called the worst mass shooting in United States history. Today, while more victims are being identified, I am finding it hard to comprehend what has happened. Innocent lives were taken, and that is unacceptable. Mostly, I am saddened by the events of this weekend, and frightened by what it means for the United States.

As we all know, Donald Trump is the Republican nominee and he has been calling out Muslims and radical Islam since his campaign started. Now that ISIS has taken responsibility for the shooting in Orlando, I can only imagine what will happen in the months to come. It is horrible that people are using what happened this past weekend to preach hate, and I’m not sure it does the victims any justice. But, because this is what I have observed, here is my take on it.

In the 30 deadliest single day mass shootings in US history, I could only find evidence of one being connected to ISIS, and one other that was perpetrated by people classified by the FBI as “homegrown violent extremists.” Three were perpetrated by former members of the US military forces, one was gang related, and one was a white supremacist and Neo-Nazi. Five were committed by teenagers, ranging in age from 16-18. These stats are sad, but where is the radical Islam that Trump has been referencing for months now?

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I am not a political science major, or a religious studies major. I am just writing on what I have witnessed in the past few months. I am a history major, and I know that people of any religion can commit unspeakable violence – we have seen it time and time again throughout history. We know what happens when a group of people is targeted and hated based on their religion (the Holocaust did happen). For that matter, we also know that people should not be targeted based on their sexual orientation (again, a thing that happened, and continues to happen).

I think what we need to take away from this incredibly sad weekend is that walls will not help us. What will help us is developing a deeper understanding of our fellow humans, and learning to love instead of hate. Learning to love despite our preconceived ideas about religion, gender, race, sexuality, ancestry. Love is love is love is love is love. Humans are humans. People are people. Life is life.

We can do better.

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Non-traditional French Toast

Alright everybody. If you are interested in any type of vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free food, or are just looking for a way to change up your diet, you need to follow the Sprout Sisters.  They are three sisters who have been living a vegan/gluten-free lifestyle for some time now.  They post recipes for everyone to try at their leisure, which is exactly what I did!

I tried out the blueberry banana french toast, but because I am not vegan or gluten-free, I had to make some changes.

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Ingredients

1/2 banana

1 tsp vanilla extract (mine was artificial)

1/2 cup almond milk (mine was vanilla flavoured)

Dempster’s whole wheat bread

Method

1. Blend banana, vanilla extract and milk

2. Heat pan and dip bread in mixture, coating evenly

3. Cook bread and mixture, flipping slices when necessary

4. Enjoy!

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I particularly enjoyed this recipe because it smelled AMAZING and it tasted good too!  The original recipe calls for blueberries, soy milk and gluten-free bread, which I didn’t have at my disposal.  I think that the almond milk and whole wheat bread still tasted awesome.

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I enjoyed this breakfast outside with a lovely cup of chamomile and lemon tea which made for the perfect start to my Monday.

Bon Appetit!

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So You Wanna Write? Part 1: Let’s Be Real

adoptingjames

hate-writing At the time of this writing the only difference between you and me is that I have one published book under my belt. That may sound like a world of difference to you, but it’s really not. All that means is that I’ve written more pages than you on one conclusive story, followed some advice by attending a local writer’s group, met a local guy who publishes books, sent him my manuscript, and he sent me a contract.

That’s the birth of The Man in the Box.

Here’s how it didn’t work. I didn’t send my completed manuscript to five agents, and I didn’t get ten phone calls the next day begging me to become their client (instead, I got over 300 rejections).

The local news didn’t call me when I tweeted, “Book one: Done” (I didn’t have a Twitter account, yet).

Fox News, CNN, NBC, ABC – none of them…

View original post 534 more words

Feeling

It kept coming back to this. To him. Through every bad relationship, there he was at the end of the tunnel, waiting to hold me until the tears stopped. So why couldn’t I just let myself feel? Let myself feel the way I knew I did about him? I knew the reason, the reason I avoided all thoughts of the one and only man who could ever be “The One” for me… I was afraid of getting hurt, yet again, by him. To say we hadn’t had a good past was an understatement. Which was why it was surprising to both of us when I showed up at his door after finding out my last boyfriend had cheated on me. But here I was.

I stood outside his door, anxiously waiting for him to open it and resume his role as my crutch. A million thoughts raced through my head. What would he say? What would he do? What-
I jerked my head up at the sound of the door opening. “Amy? What are you doing here?” God, just the sound of his voice was enough to send a fresh set of tears racing down my cheeks.
I shrugged, not trusting my voice. I just needed him. Couldn’t he see that?
“Amy, are you okay?” This was it. This was what I needed. Finally.
“Sean? Who’s there?” The question came from the mouth of a skinny blonde wearing nothing but one of his shirts. She wrapped her arms around his waist, flashing a ring on her left hand. I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t even breathe. I swear, my heart dropped through the floor. My eyes flicked up to meet his blue ones, staring right into me. I searched them for an answer. Where was the man who was supposed to be my rock? He just stared back at me, no emotion in his gaze.
“I um… I need to…” I turned on my heel and left, trying to stifle the sobs wracking my body.
“Amy. Amy!” His voice followed me down the hall, but I couldn’t look back. Not now, not when it was clearly too late for us. I unfolded the note I had written in the cab ride over, reading the feelings I had poured out for him. Who was I kidding? I pushed him away countless times, I had to to protect myself. I couldn’t be upset if he moved on. But I was. I was heartbroken.

What the hell was I doing? Why was I here? Was I trying to kill myself? Well whatever the reason, I wasn’t about to leave. I was going to sit through this torture and support the best friend I’d ever had, even if I had lost him forever. I knocked on the door to the room I knew he would be in.
“Come in,” came the reply, his voice once again sending me into a panic.
“Pull yourself together Amy,” I muttered under my breath, shaking my head to clear it.
I stepped over the threshold, only to be met by the sight of him in a dapper suit, looking positively breathtaking.
“Amy… Um, can I- can I help you with something?” I noticed his voice crack, but I wasn’t going to show him that.
“I just wanted to wish the groom good luck,” I said softly to avoid the same cracking in my voice. I didn’t have to try to smile, it came effortlessly seeing him.
“Yeah, like I need it,” he replied, smirking that familiar smirk. He seemed nervous, but that was perfectly normal right before your wedding. God knows I was about to fall into a full blown panic attack.
“I just wanted to give you something. I know that we didn’t leave on a good foot, but… I just wanted to give you something to remind you of me after all this is done.” I handed him the note I had written him so long ago, the one telling him I loved him. I knew it was stupid, but he needed to know and I was too much of a coward to tell him in person, especially on today of all days.
“Thank you Amy. I mean, you didn’t have to get me anything-”
“I wanted to,” I cut him off. “Just… don’t open it until after the wedding, okay?” I could feel the tears threatening to burst forth again, like they did all the goddamn time now.
He cleared his throat. “Okay. And Amy?” He looked at me, those gorgeous eyes gazing softly at me. “Thank you for being here. It means… It means a lot to me.” He smiled a small smile at me, and I thought I saw a flash of something in those eyes, but I must have imagined it.
“Anytime. I mean that. Anytime you need me, I will always be right there. You’re my best friend, no matter what happened between us. I will always be there for you.” I smiled, feeling the tears filling my eyes. It was time to go, I could hear the music filling the ceremony space. “Break a leg out there Sean,” I whispered, turning and stepping out of the room.

Goddamn it. Why was she here? Why had she come into my room like that? Did she know how beautiful she looked? It took everything I had to restrain from kissing her perfect mouth. I looked down at the piece of paper she had given me. Read it after the wedding… Did she honestly think I would be able to resist reading it before? I unfolded it, noticing the creases where it had obviously been folded and unfolded hundreds of times. Before I started reading, I couldn’t help but notice the smudged words, probably where her tears had fallen. God, just that thought tugged at my heart. And so, because I couldn’t resist, I started reading.
I looked up from the note, my own tears filling my eyes. My hand was shaking, and I dropped the note on the floor. What did this mean? Why would she give me this now, after all this time? I was about to get married for Christ’s sake, to a woman I loved. So why couldn’t I get Amy’s face out of my head. All the time’s she had been there for me, all the times I had comforted her, they raced through my mind at top speed. I took a deep breath as I opened the door, walking out into the hall where the sounds of my wedding music filled the air. Time seemed to stop. What was I doing?

I couldn’t do this. I told myself I could, but I couldn’t. I was suffocating. I got up to exit the room before the ceremony actually began. I couldn’t see for the tears filling my vision. I wiped my eyes and lifted my head to see a familiar figure standing at the end of the hall, staring right at me. He took one step towards me, towards the altar where he would soon get married. God, I had to get out of there. I hurriedly towards him, keeping my gaze down at the floor. The only door out of this place was behind him. Goddamn it.

I saw her coming towards me, keeping her gaze on the floor in front of her. I was supposed to be standing at an altar with a different girl walking towards me in much the same way. When she got close enough, I uttered the only word I think I was capable of in that moment.
“Amy,” I whispered, knowing she’d hear me. She stopped in front of me, her shoulders rising and falling as she took deep breaths. I can’t say I blamed her.
“Sean,” she replied, finally looking at me. Those eyes of hers, those beautiful green eyes were full of tears, which seemed to be the way they looked all the time now. I just stared at her, drinking in her features.
“I read the note,” I said softly, clenching and unclenching my hands at my sides, wanting so badly to touch her.
A small smile played at the corner of her mouth when she answered, “I told you not to do that until after.” I couldn’t help but notice the hope in her eyes as one tear fell. I swallowed hard as I reached a hand up to wipe the tear off her cheek.
“You should know me better than that Amy,” I joked, trying so hard to keep my own tears in check.
“Yeah, I should.” She broke down then, sobbing into her hands.
“Amy, Amy whoa. Calm down, it’s okay. We’re okay,” I murmured, pulling her into my arms. Her arms slowly went around me, pulling me even closer to her. Her crying shook my body as well, and I rested my chin on her head as I blinked back tears.
“I’m so sorry,” she hiccuped, not taking her face out of my jacket. “I shouldn’t have given you that, I’ve ruined everything.” Her hands clutched at me, as if she was afraid I was going to leave her there. But I knew I could never do that.
“Amy, you haven’t ruined everything. Look at me,” I said, pulling back just enough to see her face. It was stained with tears, and her eyes were puffy, but to me she just looked beautiful. I looked into her eyes, a tear escaping from mine. She reached a hand up and cupped my cheek, her thumb brushing the tear away. My breathing stopped, and all I could see was this girl in front of me. In slow motion, I closed the distance between us, knowing that if this happened, there was no going back.
When her lips met mine, my heart stopped.

I swear I actually melted into him. I had wanted this – him – for so long that I didn’t care if what we were doing was wrong. The kiss was soft and slow, and full of what I interpreted as longing. I felt his tongue brush against my lower lip, and it jolted me awake.
“Sean, what are we doing?” I gasped, pushing him away from me. His face was flushed, similar to mine.
“Amy, I can’t do this. I can’t get married, not to this girl. I love her, I really do, but-” He broke off, running his hands through his hair roughly.
“But what Sean? You committed to this, you have to follow through with it,” I said, with much more force than I thought I was capable of.
“I can’t follow through with it! I read your note, I know you feel the same way about me that I feel about you.” He looked hard at me, trying to shake me.
“Sean, I can’t be that woman, I won’t be that woman! I won’t break up a marriage so that I can have what I want!” Oh, but I would. I wanted to run away with him right now and never look back, but this pesky thing called a conscience wasn’t letting me go without a fight.
“Amy, I love you,” he whispered, sending butterflies flying through my stomach. “I love you, I’ve loved you for years now. I know I screwed things up between us, but I have always been there for you, I have always been right there. I resigned myself to the fact that you would never love me back, which is the only reason I settled for Sarah. You’re the only girl for me Amy.” Tears were glistening in his eyes. God, did we only cry now? What happened to the strong person I used to be?
“Well in that case, I guess there’s only one thing to do,” I whispered, pulling him back down towards me.

“What do you think you’re doing?” I heard a voice exclaim somewhere in the room I was entering.
“Coming to see my soon to be bride, that’s what,” I replied, a smile on my face.
“That’s against the rules buddy, you know it’s bad luck for a groom to see his bride before the wedding.” I heard a laugh, proving that she wasn’t serious.
“Well I think I can deal with…” I trailed off as she came into view, taking my breath away. She smiled shyly, looking at the ground and back up at me, locking eyes with me. She looked amazing, more than amazing. I couldn’t tell you what kind of dress she was wearing, or the hairstyle, but I can tell you that she was lovely.
“Stop staring, you’re making me blush,” she smirked, moving closer to me.
“Stop blushing and I’ll stop staring,” I countered, leaning down to kiss her.
“You’re going to ruin my makeup,” she protested, pushing on my chest weakly.
“Amy… I love you.” I murmured against her lips.
“I love you too Sean,” she sighed.

My Short Story-Tyler

Tyler

I loved surfing.  Something about it calmed me, allowed me to think.  I loved the feeling of the ocean under my board, how powerful it felt, how it was never changing.  I glided up to the shore, and ran up the beach.  There was a girl sitting there watching me, just as she had been for the past hour or so.  She was pretty from what I could see, so I went and sat down next to her casually, noting as I did that she didn’t look at me.  Since it didn’t seem like she was going to say anything, I introduced myself.

“So, you like what you saw?”  I smiled, trying to be friendly.

She smiled back, apparently I had succeeded.  “As a matter of fact, I did.  You’re quite good.”  She seemed like a nice girl, she had a pretty smile.

“Thanks, I’ve been practicing.”  This was true, ever since I had come down for the break I had been working on my technique.  I stood up, holding out my hand to help her up.  She took it; she had smooth hands with long fingers.  She stood in front of me and I had to look down to meet her eyes.  “I’m Tyler.  It’s nice to meet you.”  I shook her hand, and noticed that she had a nice firm handshake.

“I’m Lucy Fields.  Do you come here often?  I’ve never seen you around before.”  She asked this in a curious tone, and kept looking at me, which probably should have creeped me out, but just made me feel good.

“No, I’m on break.”  I hoped she wouldn’t ask what school I went to, it was always hard when I liked someone and they asked that, and I liked this girl.

“Oh, where do you go to school?”  Damn.

“Nowhere special…”  I wanted to steer this conversation away from anything personal, it would be too hard if something came from this meeting. 

“Ok, well… I’m having a barbeque up at my place… Do you wanna come?”  She seemed to sense that she had breached a sensitive topic.  “You look like you could use some downtime.” 

“Well… Um…”  I wasn’t sure if my mom would be ok with that, I was here to visit her…  “Yeah, ok.  I’d love to.”  I smiled at Lucy again, it was really easy to do that around her.  Smile I mean.

“Good.  You can bring your board, it’s just up the beach a ways.”  So she lived around here… That was convenient because so did I.  On the way to her house, we talked about safe things.  I told her stories from my school, never mentioning where it was, and she told me things about her life and her family.  She was a really nice girl, funny, interesting, and really pretty.

She had really shiny, dark brown hair that waved gently to just past her shoulder blades.  She wasn’t overly tall, but she had nice, long, toned legs, tanned from the southern sun.  She was slim and lightly muscled, she wasn’t buff or anything, but you could tell she was fit.  She pulled all this together with her white bikini top and short shorts, and she seemed to exude a confidence that I don’t think she even knew she had.

When we got to her house, a nice big beach house with plenty of windows to showcase the ocean and bring in the sun, Lucy introduced me to her friends.  They all seemed a little skittish, one in particular.  Bryan.  He seemed the most intimidated by me, and I immediately saw why.  He was totally in love with Lucy, it was obvious in the way he looked at her, the way he scrambled to get her a drink, or pull out her chair.  I didn’t feel threatened by him, but I did feel jealous that he knew Lucy so well.  God, what was I thinking?

I was having a good time at the barbeque, I got to know Lucy’s friends some more, even Bryan, to Lucy’s obvious amusement.  I saw the looks he was making, it was so obvious he wanted Lucy to notice him.  I wanted to give him a chance, so I decided it was time to go.

“Hey, I think it’s time for me to leave,” I whispered in Lucy’s ear.

“Ok, I’ll drive you,” it sounded like she wanted to spend more time with me, but I wasn’t sure if she was just being polite.

“No, it’s alright, I can walk.  It’s not far from here,” I didn’t want her to think she absolutely had to come with me.

“I’ll come.”  Boy, she was persistent.

“Are you sure?  I mean, you don’t have to Lucy, I’ll be fine,” I figured I’d try one more time to let her know she wasn’t obligated to come.  But she had already started walking, surprisingly in the right direction, so I ran to catch up to her and we walked in comfortable silence to my house.  I was about to walk through the front door when I thought of something better.

“Listen Lucy… I had fun tonight.  I haven’ had that much fun in a long time… It was nice.  I feel like I know you, and tell me if I’m out of line ok?  But I was wondering if you wanted to hang out tomorrow night, maybe go for dinner?  I understand if you’re totally against that and that’s ok, I was ju-”

“I would love to Tyler,” she cut me off in the middle of my sentence, which was probably a good thing because I would have just kept right on blabbing,  “I’ll see you soon then, ok?”  She smiled at me, and it made my stomach jump.

“Yeah, yeah ok,” I smiled back, my heart soaring.

“Goodnight Tyler,” Lucy whispered.  I ducked my head and kissed her softly on the cheek.

“Goodnight Lucy…” I whispered it back, turned around and walked through my front door.  Thinking about tomorrow night gave me butterflies…  Thinking about Lucy gave me butterflies.

Lucy’s Story

My Short Story

Lucy

“Lucy!  Lucy, what are you doing out here all by yourself?”

“Nothing Bryan, I’m just watching the surfers.”  I answered, trying not to sound annoyed.  Bryan thought he liked me, and it was a huge hassle.

“Oh, ok… Well, why don’t you come inside?”  Bryan was persistent, he didn’t mind that I never wanted to go anywhere with him, he just kept on asking.  He reminded me of a puppy that way.

“In a bit Bryan, I’ll come in when I’m hungry ok?”  I hoped this would satisfy him, make him stop asking questions.

“Yeah… Yeah that’s… That sounds cool.”  He smiled a small smile at me, I had disappointed him again.  He left, looking back at me, and then he quickly looked away again when he realized I was looking at him.  I giggled a little, Bryan made me laugh.  I wondered if he had realized that I was mostly focused on one surfer in particular.

He was really good.  Better than me, that’s for sure.  He caught the wave at just the right time, and controlled his board so well; he made it look so easy.  I wished I could be that good; I could barely stand up on my board.  He jumped off when he was close to shore and jogged out of the ocean.  He walked up to where I was sitting and sat down, setting his board beside him.  I wasn’t sure if he had noticed me or not, so I just sat in silence, waiting for him to say something.  I avoided looking at him, just in case he had seen me watching him, I didn’t want him to think I was a creeper or anything.

He looked over at me, smiling a little smile.  “So, you like what you saw?”  He was joking with me, I could tell from his tone.

“As a matter of fact, I did.”  I grinned at him, playing along.  “You’re quite good.”

“Thanks, I’ve been practicing.”  He stood up, and offered his hand.  I took it; it was big and rough with calluses, and stood in front of him.  “I’m Tyler.  It’s nice to meet you.”  He looked down at me and stuck out his hand for a handshake.

“I’m Lucy Fields,” I replied, shaking his hand.  “Do you come here often?  I’ve never seen you around before.”  I tried not to stare at him but I was failing miserably; he was extremely good looking.  He had dark blonde hair, and he was tanned from the sun.  He had an honest to god six-pack, with a trail of dark blonde hair travelling from his belly button and disappearing into his shorts. His arms were toned, from surfing or the gym, but probably both.  And he had a scar on his neck, about two centimetres long. I wanted to ask what it was from, but I didn’t want to offend him or something.

“No, I’m on break.”  He was still smiling at me, he had a nice smile.

“Oh, where do you go to school?”  I didn’t often try to be nice to guys, but I had a feeling about this one.

“Nowhere special…”  His smile dimmed a little, like there was something he wasn’t telling me.

“Ok, well… I’m having a barbeque up at my place… Do you wanna come?”  I wanted him to come, though I wasn’t sure why.  “You look like you could use some downtime.”

“Well… Um…”  He looked towards the road, his face unsure.  “Yeah, ok.  I’d love to.”  He looked back towards me, his mind seemingly made up.

“Good.  You can bring your board; it’s just up the beach a ways.”  He grabbed up his t-shirt and flip-flops from beside his board, lifted his board with one hand and waited for me to show him the way.  I walked next to him and listened as he told me stories about his school, and surfing.  I laughed along with him and told him my own stories about my life.  By the time we got to the party, I felt like I had known Tyler all my life.  I had never felt like that about someone before.

I introduced Tyler to my friends, and I noticed that they looked scared and I couldn’t figure out why they would be scared.  Then I realized that Tyler looked scary to them.  He was tall, muscled, and had a scar on his neck; I wondered why he hadn’t seemed scary to me.  I just thought that he looked good, nice, kind… All these things I thought, but I definitely did not think he was scary.

Tyler stuck with me the entire time, which I could understand, he didn’t know anyone.  I was glad when he didn’t ogle at all the hot girls milling around, that way I could pretend he was noticing me.  Though I don’t know why he would, I was plain compared to them.  I had medium length brown hair, I was average height, I was slim enough I guess, and my chest wasn’t huge… I was overall an average person.  But he didn’t seem to mind that, he kept looking at me and it made me feel good.  Like I wanted him to notice me, and I guess I did.  I was confusing myself because I hardly knew this guy, and yet I felt so attached to him.

He talked to my friends, he was polite and funny, and after a while I saw them loosening up.  I felt a glow of pride in knowing that I had brought such a good person over.  Even Bryan seemed to soften up a bit, though I could tell he was jealous.  I couldn’t help but giggle a little at the sour expression he made when Tyler wasn’t looking.

“Hey, I think it’s time for me to leave,” Tyler whispered this in my ear, and I shivered.

“Ok, I’ll drive you.”  I wanted to spend some more time with him.

“No, it’s alright, I can walk.  It’s not far from here.”

“I’ll come.”  I offered.

“Are you sure?  I mean, you don’t have to Lucy, I’ll be fine.”  It sounded like he wanted me to come, but wasn’t sure if I really wanted to.  But I had already started walking in what I hoped was the right direction.  He ran to catch up to me and we walked in silence to his house, which was actually pretty close to mine, maybe ten minutes away.  He stopped outside his front door, and looked at me.

“Listen Lucy… I had fun tonight.  I haven’t had that much fun in a long time… It was nice.  I feel like I know you, and tell me if I’m out of line ok?  But I was wondering if you wanted to hang out tomorrow night, maybe go for dinner?  I understand if you’re totally against that and that’s ok, I was ju-“

“I would love to Tyler.”  I cut him off mid sentence, before he could talk himself out of the idea.  “I’ll see you soon then, ok?”  I smiled at him.

“Yeah, yeah ok,” he smiled, I could see his teeth in the dark.

“Goodnight Tyler,” I whispered.  He ducked down and kissed me lightly on the cheek.

“Goodnight Lucy…”  He whispered it back to me and walked into his house.  I touched my cheek, wondering what it meant if a guy’s kiss stole your breath away, even if it was just on your cheek.

I walked back home slowly, thinking about Tyler, about how strongly I felt about him after just a day, and how I couldn’t wait for tomorrow night.