Now that we're moving to Atlanta, Essie is away at school, and Lady Gwen is in that great chicken house in the sky, this piece, first published in 2013, fills me with nostalgia.
Perhaps you are wondering what it is like to be me? How glamorous it must be to sit around in the early morning and write a blog and some really weird stories that no one wants to even pay you for or possibly even read. Well...you are in luck because today I am going to let you know what a typical day in the world of Julie is like. I am sure you will come away thinking....I should write a blog myself or some silly stories or....not.
5:55 AM: I am awake. The alarm is set for 6:15. Why am I not asleep? I want to be asleep. I should be asleep. I close my eyes. I am not asleep. I open my eyes. I am tired. Who gets up at this unearthly hour? Why am I here? What is the answer to life the universe and everything? Why does it have anything to do with getting up before 6 AM? I hear the dog at the door. She somehow knows I am awake. If I don't get up now she will go and poop on the porch. I get up.
6:00 AM: I pick up my cat, Brutus, who needs to chew on my fuzzy house coat for approximately 3 minutes or all will not be well with the universe. I carry him to the food dish and feed all three cats.
6:15 AM: First attempt to wake up my fourteen year old daughter, Essie. I am pleasant. I turn on the light and tell her in a cheerful voice that it is time to get up. She pulls the blanket up over her head. I pull the blanket down so that I can see one glaring eye. "Get in the shower," I say loudly.
6:25 AM: I have started some bacon. I walk to the end of the stairs. I hear...nothing. I walk up the stairs. Essie is still in bed. I am no longer polite or cheerful. I bellow, "Get up and get in the shower...you are going to be late." I hear a shuffling noise and some banging around as I turn to walk back down the stairs.
6:29 AM: I realize that I have not given the cats their canned food. Brutus has also realized this. He is standing on the table howling, even though he is not supposed to be in the house. I take him down and split a can of some disgusting smelling tuna and egg between the cats. I bring up the remainder for the dogs. They are now unable to eat their morning food unless some small amount of canned cat food has been sprinkled on it.
6:32 AM: I get a bacon splatter on my arm. It hurts. I feel vaguely awake.
6:40 AM: I tell Essie that breakfast is ready.
6:43 AM: I tell Essie that breakfast is ready.
6:45 AM: I tell Essie that breakfast is ready. She says SHE KNOWS.
6:47 AM: Essie stumbles into the kitchen like the undead and eats half a piece of bacon and three tablespoons of oatmeal. I tell her to dry her hair and brush her teeth and find some shoes. SHE KNOWS.
7:00 AM: I take a break from reading emails and drinking coffee to yell up the stairs,"You have twenty minutes. Are you ready?" She has twenty-five or thirty minutes. Better that she doesn't know that. The sounds of I'M GETTING READY! rolls down the stairs. This means she has been sitting around petting her cat and contemplating her navel. She will now begin getting ready.
7:29 AM: We are on our way to school. I realize I have not let the chickens out. They will have to wait. Essie hands me some papers to sign. I remind her that I am driving. I sign them at the stop light.
7:48 AM: I drop Essie at school. A skinny kid dressed in baggy, superlong shorts that make his legs look like they belong to some sort of large prehistoric bird runs in front of my car as I am trying to leave. I would think that I am invisible to him but he turns to glare at me after I slam on the brakes to keep from hitting him.
7:57 AM: I am tempted to run through a drive-through and buy a diet coke on my way back home. I really need the caffeine. But it's probably really bad for me. I am too tired to listen to my own very persuasive arguments against buying the coke. I get it.
8:05 AM: I am in front of the computer. It's time to start writing.
8:06 AM: I am on the way to the chicken house. I have to let out the chickens.
8:10 AM: I am still trying to convince Lady Gwen to leave the chicken coop and walk across the yard with me. She is concerned that I have already let the rooster out. The rooster is angry because I have not let him out. I finally scoot Lady Gwen out of her own personal chicken house and let the other chickens out.
8:15 AM: I am in front of the computer. It's time to start writing.
8:16 AM: I am looking at FARK.
8:20 AM: I am looking at FaceBook. I am hoping you people have done something interesting so that I can continue to procrastinate for a few more minutes.
8:25 AM: Nope. Apparently you people have lives and you cannot spend all your time on FaceBook.
8:26 AM: I remember that I have not checked out Slacktivist's website since yesterday morning. I get on Slacktivist. Goody! He has a big list of links. Hmmm...the first one looks interesting. The second one too. The third one...meh. I should skip the ones that don't look interesting since I need to start writing. There are seven. I read them all.
9:05 AM: I am reading the comments on the link page.
9:10 AM: I realize that I am not writing yet.
9:20 AM: I have my blog page pulled up and I am ready to start. I have to go to the bathroom. I go to the bathroom.
9:25 AM: I realize I left some laundry sitting in the washer last night. I go downstairs and put it in the dryer. I realize that I don't have any clean socks or underwear and load the washer too.
9:35 AM: I am back at my computer. It's time to start writing.
9:40 AM: I am not sure what to write. I had some good ideas for a story but I maybe should write a blog post...it's been a week. Actually, I should really write down the ideas for the story before I forget them. I will do that first.
9:45 AM: I am trying to remember my ideas for the story. Wait! I knew this was going to happen. I wrote them down.
9:50 AM: I am looking for my gold notebook. Found it!
9:52 AM: I realize that I wrote down my ideas in the black notebook. Why do I have two notebooks?
9:58 AM: I am cleaning up my office in an attempt to find my black notebook.
10:15 AM: I remember that my black notebook is in the car. Oh well...the office is a little cleaner.
10:30 AM: I am writing down my ideas for the story. Now that I have written them down...I don't like them. This is insane.
10:35 AM: I go out to see what Brutus is crying about. I suddenly realize that I can fix the story. I rush back to the computer to write down the new and better ideas. I trip over the dog.
10:36 AM: I sit down and write out a few ideas for the story. This might work.
10:45 AM: I am a little stuck. I unload a few dishes from the dishwasher and put them up while I am thinking.
10:46 AM: I realize the dishes were still dirty. I try to remember which ones I just put up and put them back in the dishwasher. I finish loading the dishwasher and run it.
11:00 AM: I am writing.
11:30 AM: I am hungry.
11:35 AM: I realize that I have not been to get groceries this week when I look in the refrigerator.
11:36 AM: I contemplate showering. I reject the idea in favor of lunch and just brush my hair and find some shoes. Makeup? No.
11:45 AM: I am at the Mexican restaurant.
12:30 PM: I am driving home and I realize that I am out of dog food.
12:40 PM: Tractor Supply
1:00 PM: I am back in front of the computer. I check out FB. I start writing.
1:45 PM: I have to do some more laundry, walk the dogs and get a package ready to mail before I can pick up Essie. Writing time is over for the day.
And that my dear readers is the story of how this blog gets written.
On the Other Side of the Window
Written by Marianne Szlyk
Review by Jessica Purdy
“On the Other Side of the Window” begins at the end and ends where the speaker began. Through the beginning section thoughtfully named “Looking Out at Eaarth”, the reader wanders with the poet over the dystopian Eaarth, (another name for Earth as it undergoes climate change, coined by Bill McKibben, an environmental activist and writer), and imagines with great anxiety and accuracy where we are headed. From the creep of vegetation towards our warming north: “These trees never grew this far north before”, to the juxtaposition of pollution and natural settings “the torn,/black bag/blossoming/in the water” the speaker of these poems walks through the world seeing things the way they are and the way they will end, naming all of us complicit in our environment’s demise: “We wait, take small sips/of bottled water, then wait/some more. We tourists//fly from disaster/to disaster, our quick flights/adding fuel to the flames.”
When I met the Jesus
He took my hand, kissed it.
He told me He was Jesus
Born with black skin.
He didn't tell me to follow Him,
To fall before his feet, to kneel low.
He told me my name
Meant "Heaven on Earth".
He didn't tell me I was hell bound,
Destined for smokey flames and torment.
He told me my nose hairs
Helped me smell the supernatural.
He told me I would be His
Sixteenth consort and bear His first child.
He told me He never truly died,
Just fell into an unconscious dreamscape.
My love for you was never an act of defiance.
It wasn't out of spite against the church or my father.
It wasn't to prove myself to Hospital Jesus or the postman.
It was the unfurling of soft sweet pea tendrils.
It was the dropping of red jasper into a bird bath
and watching the ripples make an O across the bowl.
It was the greening of the heart chakra.
It was the barking out pulses of energy
from the chest and into the fingertips.
It was the opening of the Tennessee irises.
It was the message of a hope, a life worth
living another lonely afternoon.
Two weeks after my 16th birthday I got my big present,
A russet car key pepper spray.
Why is it that
Just from that sentence you can tell I'm female?
My grandfather said it would give him peace of mind,
Because having a car means being alone
And being alone means raped.
And ya know what?
We are simply expected to deal with it.
That's our reality now.
But it isn't that we necessarily like it.
We call it "rape culture".
Hand rape an awareness month, tie it up in a red bow.
Give it a book,
A television show,
A punk song,
But don't dare call it normalized.
But the fact of the matter is ... it is.
We know the horror stories.
It's my mother at a party,
It's best friends and a guys we knew from middle school,
It's a partner who doesn't understand that a second date
doesn't equate to whatever you want whenever you want it.
It's a cycle,
It's "walk fast to your car in the unlit parking lot".
Well ya know what?
I'm not hiding anymore.
I'm not afraid of death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities.
Hang me in the courtyard by the jockstrap and call it justice.
Cut my shorts and call me easy.
I'm through wrapping myself in duct tape turtlenecks and calling it safe.
I'm through assuming men are beasts to fear, or that the beasts do not exist.
I'm through pretending everything is ok.
I'm through being told I'm being too "Feminist" or "Liberal"
Because I don't want to stay at home
Because I'm afraid to be seen alone, vulnerable.
I'm through being prey.
I'm through being afraid of becoming prey
Lane Scoggins is a student at Vol State College. She won first place in the 2018 Tennessee Magazine Poet's Playground in the 19-22 category. She has contributed poetry reviews at Sacred Chickens. Lane is working on a chapbook at this time.
Today Sacred Chickens is publishing the third and final winner of our writing contest. Be sure to check this and the other posts out! Happy reading!
Third Place: "Master of the Marshes" by Danny Cove
We are still newcomers to this swamp, but I would venture to call it home. Little has been built, of course, but that is owing to our very rocky start. But soon that will change, as this particular clearing will become the homestead. Each family will build their house from whatever they can find – most likely mud, clay and driftwood which hasn’t yet rotted – and once they finish they’ll help out those who are still building. I began construction of my own house yesterday, drawing out its foundations and laying a floor of red clay that I’d dug from one of the banks that vanished into a mire. It should be dry by tomorrow morning, and then I’ll start work on the walls. All-in-all, there are seven families and eleven singles to form our community. It’s very small, and our original numbers – twelve families with twenty-three singles – were not so much greater. But this clearing gets enough sunlight that it should make for a good homestead, with some gardens between the houses and an adjacent clearing for more diligent farming.
Here at Sacred Chickens, we are going to be publishing the stories that won our writing contest over the next couple of days, and today we have our second place winner. Be sure to check them all out and happy reading!
Second Place: "Jolene" by Ethan Willis
(Please be advised that this story contains graphic language and sexual situations)
We thought a weekend at Hilton Head would be good for our marriage. We made the four hour drive for the most part in the cold silence we were accustomed to. He drove while I looked out the window or checked my phone, occasionally telling him to slow the hell down. He would say I was a nag. I would tell him he would get us both killed. Not that a small part of me wouldn’t have minded that.
Here at Sacred Chickens, we are going to be publishing the stories that won our writing contest over the next couple of days, with the first going up today in this very post! Be sure to check them all out and happy reading!
FIRST PLACE: Coping Mechanism by Adam Padgett
Entry one, May 3, 2007
So the people in the white coats insist that I start writing down my personal experiences, thoughts, and feelings. I feel like it's stupid, but they'll probably take something away from me if I don't do this. I guess, since this is my first entry in this journal, I'll write a summary of things so far.
I think my name is Max. It's what the doctors call me. I wish I could remember my last name, but I've been in this place so long now that I forgot. I guess I'm about sixteen. All of the “experiences” they want me to write down are boring. All I do is stay in this white room and follow a schedule. I wake up when the lights come on; I bathe and take my meds. Someone comes in and teaches me about math and English and crap like that until time to eat. After I eat, the therapist comes in and we talk about junk. She's probably the one who suggested this stupid journal. After that, I just do whatever I can in this room until dinner and lights out.
That's my life as far as I remember. Same things happen every week. Nothing changes. As far as “thoughts and feelings” go, I've got nothing to write down that I haven't already told the therapist. There. I started the journal. Maybe this will be enough.
By Michael McInnis
Review by Julie Carpenter
In this poetic map of his travels, McInnis traces the geography of his mind from wormholes originating in three dimensional spaces of the North American continent, inviting you into the insinuation.
Morty has gotten dressed up this week to announce the winners of the writing contest. They are....
First Place: "Coping Mechanism" by Adam Padgett
Second Place: "Jolene" by Ethan Willis
Third Place: "Master of the Marshes" by Danny Cove
Once again, thanks to everyone who submitted! The stories themselves will be published next week individually. Congratulations!
Tales from the Other Side
With Uncle Morty
Some of you have been asking about your Uncle Morty’s condition. How? You ask. Why?
No offense, but the flesh-covered are dense, stuck in the material world like flies buried in Jello. I’m not sure I can really explain my condition to you. As to how? It’s complicated, technical and a little boring when you get right down to it. Why?Let’s just say I might have crossed a few metaphysical boundaries here and there while I was embodied. I might have broken a teensy rule or two on the other side too. Anyhoo…my bad luck is your learning experience. I’ve decided to publish a few tidbits of conversations from the other side.
Here begins Morty’s transcription of messages from beyond.
On old age and dying – Francine; disembodied, age 89
“I always thought getting older would be like building a mountain, a mountain of experience and wisdom. By the time you’re eighty, there you’d be at the top, perched like a white-robed guru. Younger generations would ascend the stones of your life to hear your words. The right way to feed babies, to handle a difficult husband, to work, sew, get up and feed the calves in the morning, gather the eggs, still get your pack of rascals on the school bus. Until I was in my forties, I honestly believed there was something solid ahead. Some perch from which reality would seem reasonable and I would know the answers.
The joke was on me. Reality shifted. Not one amongst that lot makes bread, or gathers eggs, none of ‘em would know how to butcher a chicken if their life depended on it. Seems like the babies are a whole new species the way they cater to them now. If you don’t like a husband…leave him. Instead of teaching them, I sometimes envied them. They taught me how to email and fiddle with the TV remote. I realized there was no path. No mountain.
Instead of building a mountain, I pieced a quilt. No pattern. A crazy quilt. And it may not win a prize or fetch $500 like granny’s old wedding ring quilt did when Anne sold it to go back to school after she left Danny, but it was pretty. I have to say it. There was my husband Frank’s old pajama shirt, there was Anne’s Easter dress I made out of that cheap blue calico. That patch on the corner was a piece of the gown Granny wore at the hospital the day before she died. All in all, it wasn’t bad, that quilt. In my old age, I laid myself down on it and touched this bit of flannel, that bit of calico, the linen from the suit that June wanted for graduation.
The babies crawled around the corners of it on the one end and the dead tugged, tugged, tugged at it from the other.
The teenagers, the adults? Those rascals couldn’t care less what you know or what wisdom you have to impart. If you’re lucky they’ll occasionally ask you now and then if you’re comfortable, there on your old quilt. Any rate, you’ve come to realize it doesn’t matter much anyway. Reality is wearing thin. Let them learn their lessons same way you learned yours. Let them piece their own quilts.
Eventually, babies yanking on it from one end, the dead from the other, one day you know for sure there’s nothing under that old quilt but air. And you know which set will win the tug of war. The voice of your dead mother sounds closer in your ear than the babies laughing.
Granny finally says, “Time to get on over here. Wrap that quilt around you and come on. It’s a cold walk over, but we’ve got a place for you at the table and we’re tired of waiting dinner.”
Mortimer Richard Wolcott is, quite frankly, not very forthcoming with his bio. We're not even sure if that's his real name. His work during his embodiments is not something he'll willingly share. However, his deathography is somewhat clear, at least from the time he showed up at Sacred Chickens Farm for a Halloween Party and never left. He is occasionally pressed into service to help write the blog and you can search the archives here for his wisdom.
He enjoys hanging out with cats, the occasional cocktail, and dispensing sarcastic remarks to the living.
After listening to this set of songs the first time through, my first thought was that these would be great as a soundtrack for a couple trying to make their relationship work while dealing with depression or struggling through a break-up. When I looked up the husband and wife duo that are the broken fits, (yes, all lower case) I was pleasantly surprised to see that's exactly what they're aiming for with these songs. Steven and Amanda of the broken fits are advocates for mental health and believe "that an open dialogue can help to remove the stigma of mental illness, and quite possibly save a life." (Quote from their website.) All of these songs have an undercurrent of "this is us, this is how we get past the bad times, this is us surviving and remaining in love," feel to them. Singer-songwriters as wellness advocates. But not gurus: This is the two of them trying to explain how they make it work, through honest expression, with artistic merit, that they may not have all the answers, but this is what works for them, and they're trying just as hard as each and all of us to get by. That they're doing this through their music makes it all the more poignant and beautiful for the rest of us that get to hear their work. (Yes, art is work, in case you didn't know.)