Friday is four days away. As I sit in front of the daycare contemplating the 12:01am check that funds are deposited, I feel that too-familiar wrenching of my stomach. I know there’s not enough money coming in for what has to go out. The reality is that everything is due and no entity collecting is willing to wait. 

School fees are due for both littles by tomorrow. The penalty is steep – added fees and possible disenrollment for one, no admittance on Wednesday for the other.  And I could lament about my usually good on gas truck suddenly guzzling the gallons. MY please just don’t hit empty until after I get all my kids home prayer is ineffective when I’m unable to scrounge up a few bills to make stopping the car at the gas pump worth it. 

I’m not in class this quarter. Three thousand dollars wasnt available for class tuition.  And because I’ve failed myself in this degree pursuit, the reminders of my inadequate school performance haunt me. I mean since when does my student flaunt a bright yellow SCAD shirt? Why is the school suddenly sending recruitors to my job? And why, why, why does everything in my being want desperately to be complaining about a work load instead of finding endless time to waste.  

The taxes are due on both vehicles (as they are every October). Folks are going gaga over pumpkin lattes and I’m preparing for the annual child support fees they’ll pull out of my already-thin monthly “aid” while sipping on pilfered dregs from my dad’s past hotel stays. 

I’m pretty sure that the kids really wanted those $30 spirit wear shirts. And the fundraiser that the school highly encourages each child to sell 15 items for seems laughable. I splurged on school photos believing that $15 was reasonable (I hardly print what I shoot, and discs of memories kinda suck). But somewhere in the many support this endeavors, I have to stop the expenses.

I definitely don’t want to have yet another year of additional work responsibility to garnish a supplemental wage. They didnt make it easy to say no, though, as my “raise” this year is a negative showing on my paycheck. So what am I to do?

In between

There’s this indiscribable emptiness I feel when classes break at the end of the quarter. 

After a year of classes – 10 credits that demand far more than 10 hours a week each quarter – I no longer know how to be productive with time. Time is a luxury I crave during my coursework.  I never seem to have enough, never budget what I do have correctly, and  never finish. 

My grades are mediocre at best, crappy when juxtaposed with those of yesteryear. I have ambitions, but I’m not ambitious anymore. The contradiction. The hypocrisy. 

I envy the drive my daughter shows. She carts her sketchbook everywhere. She draws with every free moment. And as a result, she grows her skills daily. I think i once was like that with something. 

And now, when I hold Cam, he feels foreign in my hands. He no longer knows my desires, doesn’t share my vision. We’ve become distant, and that divide is growing. 

I’m counting days until I’m stressed with assignments. I’m dreading being shown again that this course of study isn’t natural – that I have to work twice as hard to be half as good as my classmates. I’m in between the dream and reality. 

For the Burds

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Long are the days and short is the time to document all the events of our very busy lives. So much has changed in our family dynamic and though silence has been the assumed response, I want to shout in frustration.

I’ve never been much of a private person. Keeping quite on major happenings feels like a decision to breed confusion, speculation,and wrongly determined conclusion. 

And yet, at his wishes, I silenced myself. I didn’t publicly lament the loss of my son when he began to challenge house rules and ran away to escape them.  I didn’t raise my voice to form the words expressing my horror at having to break up a physical fight between hubs and my teenager. (Fighting to hurt, refusing to back down in the name of manliness isn’t what I’m used to seeing in my home. That’s the stuff you see on social media, shake your head at, and pass judgment on with only a snapshot of knowledge about a stranger’s life.) I didn’t poor out my frustration in being told by responding officers that my son who didn’t come home from school wasn’t “in immediate danger” and did not merit an active search – let alone an Amber Alert. 

I didn’t even allow myself to form the sentences criticising the treatment I received when I was reduced to “stepmother” at his school and was refused ability to access his records and facilitate his transition to a new start.  Though I was mom for four years, I’m not on birth or custody paperwork, and that means I don’t exist, or at least that I don’t count when it’s critical.  

Ignore the e-mails with his teachers and counselor, the meetings at Back to School Night, and the concerts and games to watch him perform. Forget about holding your son as he sobs about his disappointment with blood and trying to comfort him when there is no excuse for rejecting or ignoring your child because life kept going.  Pretend that you didn’t research opportunities, didn’t check on grades and homework, didn’t invest in his well-being beyond scholastics. 
When it counts, I have no say. Even in my home, there was no discussion  when I was told he was not returning to us. The decision didn’t include me. I was simply left to explain his absence to a family who adored him. I was told “it’s done.” And I apologized to his grandparents for having to reject their offer of taking him in (knowing it was a better option to keep him safe and to keep siblings together).

How many times did I ask for him to make contact with our son – to stop severing himself from a boy who desperately needed his father but might be equally stubborn about forgiving ‘the past’? I wonder still if my son read the note I tucked in amongst his things as I packed up his life. Did he hear the “goodbye, I love you” I sent?  Does he know I still miss him? 

In the aftermath, his sister feared for her security. Would we toss her out for something, too? Would Mommy simply let her go “while thinking about the others”? 

And though they weren’t part of the situation, every critical family member drew conclusions. They were fine before, so it had to be the wife. It is an easy assumption, especially when he refuses to defend the scapegoat.

It’s no wonder she thinks I am evil. Did it come as any surprise that she’d forbid her son from coming over? Should I have been shocked to read her text?

I not trying to be funny but I swear I hate your situation u see your sons sometimes because neither one of them fuck with your wife . It’s a sad shame that whole situation u was doing well when u had your own house and e everybody was happy!!!

Confirmation that I’m the villan in the village destroying lives. And no denial from the only one in a position to set the record straight. 

I can only take so much. I can only ignore the slights from his family for so long – – and the awkward gatherings that further distance me as an outsider invading and encroaching on their happiness. I’m the one being held responsible for all the changes. I’m the situation destroying his relationships. 

And I think I’m done being  that woman. There’s nothing I can say when I’m not invited into the conversation. It’s yours, mine and ours – and I didn’t sign up for that. 

SEQA 100 – a quick discussion on comic strips and comic books

Asked: “Comic strips have a larger mainstream acceptance in the United States than comic books. More people read a comic strip on a daily basis than read a comic book. They are two very different forms of storytelling, and yet they share a lot of similarities. … Does the smaller use of closure in comic strips improve their stories, or are comic books more powerful because of the extra closure that they employ? Why or why not? Do you think that non-visual closure is more powerful, or is visual closure the better way to support a story? Why or why not? Which format is a more effective means of storytelling? Is this because of closure or some other element?”

Big Nate Comic Strip (3_1_11)

I find that comparing comic strips and comic books is a bit difficult.  This is not because they are different mediums, as both are considered comics and rely on visual storytelling in addition to employing words to convey information.  A comic strip is what I consider a quick take on a topic – – a fast statement, a joke, a slice of life. A comic book is a story that delves a bit deeper because the length of the book allows for more development.  Both forms employ closure and rely on the reader/viewer to insert information between the panels, or to make connections between scenes.

Garfield-comic-stripDepending on the story one seeks to tell, a comic strip might be preferred, as people tend to want quick information, entertainment (consider the popularity of the scrolling news on CNN or the quick takes of USAToday versus the lengthier newscasts, newspaper articles, and news magazines).  The concise comic strip works with reliance on archetypal characters, universal concepts, and common knowledge. It has little space to provide scene to scene or moment to moment closure, and thus relies heavily on aspect to aspect.  As in the Garfield comic, the strange costume prompts questions about intentions.  The Lost Sock comic seeks to present a moral message, a parable, if you will.  It jumps from a statement by mom to the actions of a determined child to find purpose for a solo sock. It uses scene to scene closure and jumps through her repair/repurposing actions.

A comic book allows for the artist/writer to introduce a backstory and create an exposition before building the plot of the book and resolving the story. It has the length to employ a variety of closures which force the reader/viewer to interact with the story.  It can also vary the gutters and formatting of panels to add interest and intrigue to the art presentation.  There is the possibility of a more powerful visual experience because there is no real limit to the length of the story.  While it may convey the same concepts, jokes, statements, or slices of life as a comic strip, it can build them more completely.  One additional element a comic book might have is character dynamics – – there is time to show change.  The short “How to Read a Comic Book” starring Sesame Street characters shows how the variations of page layout add interest to the story.


Interview with the 7 year and 317 day old

Preferred name: Yadon
Favorite color: blue

Favorite sport: football
Favorite thing to do outside: ride my bike
Favorite thing to do inside: watch TV
Favorite saying (motto): Never give up
Favorite school subject: social studies
What do you like about summer: no school
Best friend: Micah
Dream vacation: the Arctic mountains – I want to build a snow fort
Dream job: Lego designer
Best vacation to date: Tennessee because I got to… That’s hard. Sorry, not my favorite. King’s Creek because I got to go to a water park and somewhere called the Island. Wait… That was Tennessee.
What are you looking forward to this school year: homework. Lots of homework.
What’s your favorite thing to do with your family: go places.
What are you good at: walking up steps without falling.

What else do you want to say: God bless you.

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