Saturday Night!

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Hey Y’all!

Just a quick little blog post to let you all know that Kim and I will be on The Knights Pub Podcast this Saturday night (April 29) at 7 p.m. CST.  For those that want to tune in, you can find the show on http://www.theknightspub.net

There hasn’t been a lot going on in my world other than end-of-school-year activities with my little ones, field trips and the occasional cold…so doing a podcast interview is going to be a fun break from the norm.  Also, Hunter and I will be celebrating our 9 year wedding anniversary this year by making payments on a cruise to the Bahamas….for our 10 year anniversary NEXT year.  I have been constantly thinking about lounging on a Caribbean beach with a fruity drink….so that has been my MAIN distraction these last couple of months.  I even bought a new suitcase.  I need a break!

Anyway,  I hope you all can tune in to the podcast.  Kim and I are still working on Haint Blue: The Rockford Haunting, Part 2.  It is taking much longer than expected, because there is SO MUCH research that has to be done, and facts need to be correct. Be sure to follow our Facebook page to keep up with events, book signings, ghost tours and announcements! Also check out the Haint Blue website at http://www.haintbluehaunting.com for audio links to some other interviews Kim and I have done over the past year.

Have a great week!

Jenny

Brace Yourself. Middle Age is Coming

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I have been doing some hard-core obsessing lately. Although it’s part of my personality to obsess over certain things from time to time, this has been an all-consuming obsess-fest that I’ve been experiencing for the last month or so.

I am turning 40 in about four months.  This fact has not slipped my notice since that hot July day last year when I turned 39.  I’ve been waiting for the big 4-0 like a child waits for a shot in the butt.

At first, I decided to fight it. I would bleach my hair blonde and cover up my salt and pepper gray hair.  Okay….so I did that.  Then, I decided blonde was just not for me, and I dyed my hair back to brown. This made my salt and pepper gray hair very angry.  I now have to dye it every three weeks, or those angry gray hairs shine on my scalp like tinsel on a Christmas tree.  Since dying my hair every three weeks with harsh chemicals is not the best for my health, I’ve decided to go with henna….which will drip down my face as I sweat in the Summer or if I happen to get caught in a sudden rainstorm.  Oh, well…beauty is pain.

The next huge obsession for me was skin care.  I bought about $200 worth of Oil of Olay products for my face, because I had a nightmare about the skin on my face dripping down into oozy pools of goop on my neck and shoulders. (As if that suddenly will happen to me when the clock strikes midnight on my 40th birthday.) Needless to say, the Olay products do not work.  I still have some deep wrinkles on my forehead, and a few fine lines around my mouth. Well, I take that back…Olay DOES work….if you want to turn back the clock to the age of 14 and have the acne break-outs that go with it.  I’ve never had acne before in my life, but thanks to Olay….I do now! Wrinkles AND acne!

Since those two obsessions failed and faded, I decided that if I can’t look any younger….then I should just invest in drawing attention AWAY from my aging face and hair: with JEWELRY!  It was ALLLLL about jewelry for about two months. I watched QVC and JTV religiously and I even ordered myself a beautiful Diamonique ring (Cubic Zirconia – I can’t afford the real deal) and some beautiful silver pieces from Tiffany and Co. (I’m OBSESSED with Tiffany and Co….that will be an obsession forever).  I got out my jewelry box and took inventory of the most sparkly things I own and decided I would make more of an effort to accessorize a little more.

While looking at myself in the mirror as I was trying on a few pairs of earrings, I noticed the deep wrinkle lines on my forehead.  Angry at the wrinkles, the failed attempt to minimize them, and the fact that I’m still too young for Botox, I decided to give myself some bangs to “hide” my forehead wrinkles.

As I type this, I am draped in jewelry…covered in acne….and I have a set of bangs that Zooey Deschanel herself would love.

Getting older is hard, y’all.

I have four months to go until my 40th birthday.  Considering that I don’t anticipate living until I’m 100…that 80 will probably be the oldest I can manage, considering my family history….I’m officially “middle aged” and that is not a title that I am ready to hold.

I suppose all of the obsessing I’ve been doing lately can be described as a mid-life crisis. I won’t go into the fact that I’ve also been obsessing over my younger days in high school and college, looking through old pictures and reminiscing with old friends.  But, I have.

So, here I am….dreading my 40th birthday, but looking forward to it as well (oddly enough).  I may not be a spring chicken any more….but I do know a little more about life and how to live it at my ripe “old” age.  I’m more confident, determined and patient than I was in my teens and twenties.  I still make terrible decisions, but NOTHING like the ones I made in my 30s (so far).  But I’m still young.  At least, my mind still feels young.

For the next few months, I will cling to the positive and try not to dwell as much on turning the big 4-0.

After all, age is just a number….right?

And I’m asking for hair extensions, jewelery, pink champagne and a smash cake for my birthday.

Is that wrong?

 

Breakfast at Tiffany’s and the Flu

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My children and I have been sick with the flu for the last week.  In between cleaning up various bodily fluids, and shivering with fever under piles of blankets, I’ve been lying in bed reading Truman Capote.  When my eyes couldn’t focus on the page, or I kept reading the same sentence over and over, I’d put my book down, turn on the TV and watch “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” on loop. While my sick babies slept, I watched Holly Golightly puff on cigarettes and make a mess out of her life.

And drool over Tiffany’s.

It got me through the flu.

When I wasn’t shivering, laying prone in my bed staring at the tiny shadows in my popcorn ceiling, or taking temperatures and dolling out doses of medicine, I was either watching “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” or dreaming of those little blue boxes everyone seems to covet.

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When my own “little blue box” arrived a couple of weeks ago around Valentine’s Day, I finally, for the first time in my life, got to experience what it feels like to be given a piece of heaven.

I gently pulled at the white satin bow, lifted the small blue lid (embossed with Tiffany and Co.) and carefully retrieved a small pouch from the box.  Inside the pouch was a shiny, sterling silver ring with the words, “I love you” written in script around the narrow band.

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A bright beam of light shone down from the clouds, and I swear I heard a choir of angels somewhere off in the distance.

It was as if I’d received the Crown Jewels, just because this simple little ring came from Tiffany’s.

Somehow, the Tiffany and Co. brand, one of my favorite writers (Capote) and one of my favorite movies meshed themselves together in one ring given to me by my favorite person: My Husband. It was an expensive gesture too, considering that the sterling silver ring was bought for $125, when a similar ring could have been purchased at Wal-Mart for around $20.

But it was a ring from Tiffany’s.

And it came in a little blue box.

In the movie, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”  Holly can’t afford anything from Tiffany’s, but her friend Paul gets a small silver ring as a prize in a box of Cracker Jack, and they decide to take it to Tiffany’s to have it engraved for her as a present.

I’m sentimental enough to see the connection between Holly’s ring and my own little ring, since I can’t afford much from Tiffany’s either.

Anyway, I wear it with pride. I wear it while reading Truman Capote books, and watching “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” while my body still aches from the flu.

I’m not entirely sure about the point of this blog post ….I’ve got some serious brain fog from these meds I’m taking.  I guess the point is: Tiffany’s can cure you from the “mean reds” – as Holly Golightly says…  it can keep you entertained while you can’t move anything but your eyeballs, and it can make you feel as special and as sophisticated as Audrey Hepburn.

Especially when you’ve got the flu.

 

 

 

 

 

Nevermind

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I have been in bed since Friday.  It is currently Monday, January 30, 2017 and I am out of bed.  Not because I want to be, but because I have to be.

Friday morning, I met with the financial aid department at my chosen school and was told that since I already have a four-year degree, I don’t qualify for ANY financial aid to get a certificate.  Apparently, you can always go forward from a Bachelor’s degree….you can get a master’s or a PhD…but you can’t go down.  A certificate isn’t considered “academic” – so I can’t borrow the funds needed to obtain my goal.

Of course, I didn’t take “no” for an answer….it isn’t in my nature.  I called and spoke to my own school – Auburn University, with the hope that my Alumni status might carry some weight,  and they have the same policy.  It’s across the board…..you can go up, but not down.  Of course, I looked into scholarships and grants (none of which I qualify for) and I looked into getting a private loan from Sallie Mae….no dice.  I am not employed.  I am a stay at home mom.  I could get someone to co-sign, but no one I know is able, or would qualify for that for various reasons.  Plus, I don’t want to put anyone in that position.  I don’t want anyone else to pay for my education.  My goal was to borrow the money on my own, have the debt go onto my credit report and help me raise my credit so I could buy my own car in a few years.

The answer was no.

My self-worth took a huge hit.  I don’t regret going to college 20 years ago.  I regret my major.  Twenty years ago, I had energy and drive.  I wanted to move to a big city and become a hard-hitting journalist.  I’d even kicked around with the idea of going to graduate school.  Columbia was my chosen school for advancing my education.  But for many reasons I won’t mention here, after I earned my Bachelor’s degree,  I chose another path.  I got married.  I had a child.  Then, I got divorced, I got remarried and I had more children.  I made the decision to stay home with those children when I learned about the harsh reality of the American Work Environment….it is NOT family friendly.  I had trouble balancing the high-stress and deadlines of a newspaper career, with taking care of sick children and autism meltdowns.

The main point is, I am not the same person I used to be.  The world of journalism also isn’t what it used to be.  Jobs are few and far between….and the pay is just as lousy (if not more) as it was when I graduated in 1999.  Journalism is also one of the Top 10 useless degrees in the last five years. Anyone can be a journalist these days, and you don’t need a degree to do it.  My degree came before the internet took off, before newsrooms were downsized and before copy editing was outsourced.  Hometown newspapers are still thriving, but the pay is even worse than the larger newspapers.

Friday morning….my dream to escape the confines of “stay at home mom life” and “taking a new career path when the kids grow up” was shattered like a crystal glass on a tile floor.

So, I shut out the world and wallowed in my depression and self-loathing.  I cried and lamented about my life.  I reflected on all the time I wasted in college, of all the time SINCE college that I changed diapers, wiped noses and played with Play-Doh.  I cried when I thought about getting up the next morning to stand at a sink and wash dishes, scrub floors and do an endless pile of laundry…..again and again and again. For the rest of my life.

And now, here I am.  Another day older and another day wiser.  I still don’t know what I’m going to do, but going back to school for a change in career is not an option.  I’ve got to do some more soul-searching, some more crying and some more thinking about what I’m going to do once my youngest little person starts school.

I refuse to be useless.  And I flat-out refuse to stay at home and clean day in and day out until I die.

And by useless….I’m not insulting other stay at home moms…other “lifers” who choose to stay at home indefinitely. I completely understand and respect the path they have taken.  But I didn’t know that once I stepped off the working mom hamster wheel….it would be next to impossible to get back on.

I DO want to be there for my children when they need me…that’s why I can’t and won’t  go back to a newsroom or advertising department.  I want to have something that is uniquely MINE….I want my own paycheck, my own sense of self and my OWN sense of accomplishment away from the home and the children.  I’d like to contribute to our family income, and help us get out of debt….and into a bigger and better home. Basically,  I’d like a lot of things.

Anyway,  that is only ONE of the issues I’ve been dealing with for the past few days. I won’t go into the other issues, as they are far too personal to mention on this blog.

So….here I am.  I am determined to get myself out of this depression and carry on. Brainstorming and lots of caffeine is on the menu today.  I also disconnected myself from ALL social media so that I can stop comparing myself to others….and so I can be free of distractions while I try to figure out my next move.

Dear readers, drop me a line.  I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading my rant:)

Jenny

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still Here

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Hi All,

It has been a very busy couple of months. I realized a few weeks ago that I haven’t written a blog since September. Oh, the laziness!

Truth is, I just haven’t had much to say.

Haint Blue is doing well, and Kim and I have done a few podcasts here and there, as well as a student documentary.  We got a wonderful review from Vampires.com and he will be posting a follow-up interview soon on the website.

http://www.vampires.com/book-review-haint-blue/

On February 18, Kim and I will be on the Knights Pub podcast, and we are looking forward to that.  Also, on March 11, I’ll be (and possibly Kim will be) doing a book signing and reading at the local authors festival here in my town.

As far as the book goes, things are great!  As far as life goes, I feel some changes need to be made.  I have decided to go back to school.  I graduated from Auburn University in 1999 with a B.A. in Journalism, but I’ve been a stay at home mom for most of my time post-college. I’ve worked at several newspapers, and I’ve done freelancing…but as anyone with children at home knows….it is HARD to get back to an 8-5 job after you’ve been a stay at home mom for a long period of time.  Also, as much as I love to write, I want to do something different with my life.  I still want to write, and I will….but I want to learn a new trade.  They say you are never too old to learn, and I’m about to test that theory.

I’ve sent for copies of my college transcripts, and I have applied to a local community college because I plan to pursue either a two-year degree or a certificate.  Not sure which just yet, but I am VERY interested in holistic health, specifically, therapeutic massage. I have always been passionate about natural healing and essential oils, and I’m looking for a career free of deadlines, editors and crippling stress.  I’m getting older, and this old heart can’t handle what the young me could handle career-wise. I don’t want to pound the pavement and explain to every sexist male in charge why I’m “ready to go back to work” and prove to them that I can “handle a job and a family”  It is something I’ve had to do once before, and not only is it absolutely humiliating, I just don’t want to work for newspapers anymore. In case you haven’t noticed, the same kind of journalism I studied in college in the 1990s….and the journalism that exists today, are two very different things.  I won’t go into that, I’m just being honest.

I also want to help people.  I would love to be able to help people manage their stress, and get on the path of natural healing….but I’d also like to take what I learn and help children with special needs.

Children with special needs, specifically autism, have a GREAT deal of stress.  I am hoping that I can find some way to combine elements of therapeutic massage and knowledge of essential oils to help children with special needs and their caregivers overcome the constant stress in their lives.  As most of you know, I have a child with autism and I am always looking for ways to help my little guy navigate through this crazy world. I think I might have hit upon something.  Anyway, that’s my dream.  I would love to help people with disabilities, illnesses and injuries.  That is something that I would love….and they say you don’t truly work, if you are doing something you love.

So, back to college.  I enjoyed being a student in my youth, and I think I will more than enjoy it as an adult. I might be one of the oldest people in my classes, but I’ll be the most dedicated. I’m excited to begin this new journey….and I suppose I’m not truly happy unless something is changing.  I both fear change, and adore it.  Strange combination!

So, that’s my life currently.  I’m going back to school.  I will still write, though.  No way could I ever stop writing.  I am still working on several projects and possible book ideas  as well.

Well, y’all…that’s all from my little corner of the universe. Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve written.

Don’t forget to tune in to The Knights Pub Podcast on Saturday, February 18 to hear Kim and I discuss the book! http://www.theknightspub.net/

Live Long, and Prosper….

Jenny

Original Blog Post – Rockford Haunting 2012

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So many people have been asking about the original blog posts from the time I lived in the Rockford house, so I pulled a few of them from the archive to share.  At the time, I was a mommy blogger for my friends at Valley Parent Magazine.  I didn’t post much about what was going on in the house, because I didn’t want people to think I was nuts!  I did post a few, and the ones I did post bordered on the lines of trying to be funny about it….when I didn’t think what was going on was funny at all.  The only thing I’ve omitted from the post (and it is noted) is a description of the house.  I don’t want thrill-seekers or amateur ghost hunters bothering the current tenants or the owners. I will post some of the other blog entries in the next few weeks.

Here it is……

Who Ya Gonna Call…..?

Posted on February 11, 2012

We either need to call Billy the Exterminator or Ghost Hunters because there is something in our house.  So far, that something has not been discovered yet.  I haven’t gotten too worried about it….but it makes for an interesting story, so I thought I’d share.

The sound of footsteps coming from upstairs with no one but myself and a napping baby in residence is not the result of viewing too many horror flicks.

Here’s what happened…..

On a beautiful and sunny mid-week day while the baby was taking her nap, I decided to curl up by the fire and do some knitting.  I didn’t have a t.v. or radio on…..it was wonderfully quiet. I was knitting the same project I’ve been steadily working on for 3 months…my Tunesian Crochet “redundant blanket” – I call it that because by the time I finish the damned thing in August, it won’t be needed or wanted.  It gives me something quiet to do while the baby sleeps, because I’m not a sit still and do nothing kind of person.

Anyway, I’m calmly knitting away when I hear distinct footsteps upstairs right above where I’m sitting in the living room.  Now, directly upstairs from the living room is my stepdaughter’s room and since I know that she isn’t home, and the only other person that’s in the house is a sleeping baby……I’m a bit alarmed.  My first idea is to run to the closet and grab the .45 and blast the anonymous intruder to kingdom come…but I don’t have any bullets. Then, I realize that I would have heard someone shimmy up *detail omitted*  and open *detail omitted* . Using this mode of deductive reasoning, I only halfway expected someone to be up there. In my haste, I grabbed the closest available object…. which happened to be the knitting needle in my hand.  I crept up the stairs…..and made my way down the hall to check on my baby daughter first…..she’s sound asleep with no intruder in sight.  Then, I take a deep breath….throw open the door to my stepdaughter’s room and begin slashing at the air with my knitting needle. 

Nothing is there.

The stomping stopped.

I’m certain that whatever it was, it was absolutely terrified of a crazy white woman with a knitting needle. 

I check each room upstairs to make sure there aren’t any burglars lurking around in toilets or closets….and I go back downstairs and continue my knitting.  I figured it must be the house settling, or maybe a raccoon in the attic.  It’s easy to be a skeptic when you’re in denial.

I totally forgot about the incident eventually….and a couple of nights later (after the baby had gone to sleep) I decided to lay in bed and do some online reading.  I was totally engrossed in my favorite blog, “People I Want to Punch In the Throat” when I heard what can only be described as “scurrying” outside …* this part omitted – detailed description of the outside of the house – Omitted to protect the privacy of the owners and people who currently live in the house*

The scurrying type sound continued, so I eased out of bed slowly because: 1. I didn’t really want to see what could be making that scurrying sound and 2. I have a sore wrist and a possible broken tail bone from falling down the stairs a couple of weekends ago, and I can’t move very fast.

I peeked outside and saw absolutely nothing.

The scurrying stopped.

This same scurrying and stomping has happened three times so far, and every time I check to see what it could possibly be….it stops. 

We do live in an older house….and I know old houses creak and settle, but this is not a creak and settle type noise….so we either need to investigate the attic (not me!) to see what might be living up there….or we need to call a priest.  I blessed the house with olive oil and prayer when we first moved in (standard moving-into-a- new-house procedure) and we have a good preacher friend and his wife coming for dinner soon to bless the house in a more professional kind of way….but until then, I’m a tiny bit concerned that “Casper” or whatever creature it is will take a liking to doing whatever it takes to make me notice it.  I’m not scared of it….I’m just pissed off that the thing makes me have to get up and walk around with a knitting needle while bitching about my broken tail bone.

Until we figure out what it is….just know that I have a .45 and a knitting needle….and I have Jesus….so don’t try and sneak up on me…. or one of the three weapons in my arsenal could kill you, knit you to death or save your soul. 

You’ve been warned.

 

 

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Time

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I have a new favorite necklace.  Well, it’s “new” to me.  I inherited it from my mother’s best friend’s mother when she passed away this past year.  I don’t know the history of the piece of jewelry, and I don’t know how often it was worn.  I don’t know if it was given as a gift, or if it was inherited from someone’s mother or grandmother.  I only know that it is currently mine.

It is a small hourglass, with real sand, encased in a 14 karat gold setting.  I don’t normally wear yellow gold, so when the piece was given to me, I wondered if I’d ever actually wear it.  I have a three-year old who loves to pull on my necklaces, so I haven’t worn “nice” jewelry in a few years.

But this one necklace seemed to call to me.

One day, I opened my jewelry box, took it out…and held it in my hand.  I tipped it over and over, watching the tiny sand filter slowly through the hourglass.  It was so unusual and unique.  So delicate and feminine.

We don’t often see the hourglass anymore these days.  Everyone has a more modern way of marking time: whether it be a digital clock on the computer, a cell phone, or an Apple Watch.  We rush here and there, always in a hurry and never thinking about the passing of each hour, minute or second.  We make plans for the next day, never wondering if we will actually be alive to see the sun rise in the morning.  It’s just assumed we will be.

I think the reason I am so drawn to this tiny hourglass necklace is because it reminds me that time is short.  We can’t stop it….or rewind it….or fast forward through it.  We only have the Now.  We have this exact second.  That’s it.  That’s all. By the time you finish reading this blog post, you will be in a different place in time than when you started.

It can blow your mind, if you really think about it.

Time is a funny thing.  It can be our best friend, and our worst enemy.

Every single second, someone dies and someone is born.  Children grow up, and adults grow old.  No one gets younger, and no one gets to go forward or backwards.  We are all stuck on the linear roller coaster of time.  No one gets off.  No one controls it. We’re all strapped in for the ride.

I know this is not new and groundbreaking information, but sometimes we need to stop what we’re doing and really think about time.  How much time do we have? No one really knows. Only God knows.

What will I do tomorrow?  I will take my children to school, clean my home, eat breakfast, drink coffee, play with my three-year-old and feed my dog.  I will pick my children up from school, make dinner for my family, tuck my children into bed, do some writing and go to sleep.  I will breathe. I will listen. I will watch. I will wait.

Or will I?

Tomorrow is never a promise.

When I put my hourglass necklace on, the sand always flows to the bottom of the glass….indicating that I am out of time.

Every time I look down at it, it gently reminds me that I need to be more aware of time.  I need to be more aware of my time being over.

I want to enjoy each moment….each grain of sand in my own personal hourglass.  I want to be less stressed, and focus on the blessings.

Even though the previous owner of the necklace has passed on, out of this time….I want to thank her, and her sweet daughter.  Thank you, Ms. Dot and Ms. Patt, for this precious gift.  I will treasure it, and take care of it.  Thank you for reminding me that each grain of sand is falling slowly, and I need to enjoy each and every moment.

I hope everyone will think about their own personal hourglass, and remember that we are not promised tomorrow.

Most of us think ourselves as standing wearily and helplessly at the center of a circle bristling with tasks, burdens, problems, annoyance, and responsibilities which are rushing in upon us. At every moment we have a dozen different things to do, a dozen problems to solve, a dozen strains to endure. We see ourselves as overdriven, overburdened, overtired. This is a common mental picture and it is totally false. No one of us, however crowded his life, has such an existence. What is the true picture of your life? Imagine that there is an hour glass on your desk. Connecting the bowl at the top with the bowl at the bottom is a tube so thin that only one grain of sand can pass through it at a time. That is the true picture of your life, even on a super busy day, The crowded hours come to you always one moment at a time. That is the only way they can come. The day may bring many tasks, many problems, strains, but invariably they come in single file. You want to gain emotional poise? Remember the hourglass, the grains of sand dropping one by one.

James Gordon Gilkey