Never thought I’d see the day…

The primary source of my self-worth has been a number on the scale…or a size in clothes…for as long as I can remember. It started when I was a 9 year old little girl being made to stand in front of a mirror in a dance studio while my intimidating, 40+ year old male dance teacher pointed out all the parts on my little body that were too fat. By the time I was a pre-teen, he was publicly humiliating me at the dance studio in an effort to bully me into losing 5 pounds. By high school, it was 10 pounds. I eventually quit dance, at which time all hell broke loose on the scale. But the founding message in all of this was…I am nothing because I am fat. I am a 9 year old fat person. That part of my brain still exists.

I used to think I needed to banish that, but honestly I can’t. And the reason, I think, is because there was never anything wrong with that 9 year old little girl. She was awesome. I can’t banish her. She’s part of me. And I love her.

I’ve paid so much money to therapists, talked and talked and talked to friends, read countless books on emotional eating, loving myself, children of alcoholics…you name it. And still I’ve spent my entire life evaluating myself on what the scale says and what the tags on my clothes say.

A little over two years ago, I had gastric sleeve surgery. I was so ready. I’d spent a long time speaking out against surgeries because I’d seen so many friends do it and gain all their weight back. Sometimes more. But what I didn’t realize is that, even though they thought they were, they just weren’t ready.

I wasn’t sure how much weight I would lose after surgery. I was amazed and grateful and elated that I lost 116 pounds. But I had 220 total to lose…and after I had my gallbladder removed, things really screeched to a halt. Why? Well, there’s only so much weight that you can lose by nutritional changes alone. I hit that threshold.

I can lose the rest of the weight if I exercise, but I keep hitting a wall. I keep pushing against the wall. Sometimes it seems to budge, but it never really does. In my head, it’s all about the weight. The tags on my clothes. The number on the scale. So I push. Nothing happens. Then I start to think “My God, Dianne, let’s go. Let’s do this! Let’s finish it.”

And nothing. Again.

There’s some stress going on at home right now. Nothing to do with HMH and me, but another family member going through something and we’re caught in the wake. There’s an end to it on the horizon, so I’m thankful for that – but it’s been a little tumultuous. And you’ll remember…I had gastric sleeve surgery, not brain surgery. When stress hits, I want to eat the universe. I just can’t anymore.

If you follow my Facebook fan page, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been posting a lot of needlework project updates lately. Quite simply, needlework is my replacement for binge eating.

One of the things I noticed about all my friends who had surgery before me and gained it all back is that they never found a substitute behavior for eating. Well, let’s say they never found a healthy substitute for eating. I saw that I needed to do it. I was determined that it would be something that was purely selfish and just for me. The natural choice was needlework. It makes me count. It requires focus and skill. And I can’t do it with Cheetoh dust on my fingers.

I’ve been doing a lot of needlework lately because I’m under stress. I’m worrying a lot. And I want to eat. All. The. Time. And I’m not going back down that road. That road sucks ass. So I stitch. Carefully. Skillfully. I stitch.

All of this stitching has brought my thoughts back into my head and away from my mouth. And I’ve slowly realized…I’m done. I’m fucking done.

The road ahead is full of possibilities
The road ahead is full of possibilities

No, I’m not done losing weight. And I’m not done with my story. But I am absolutely done being evaluated by my size. I’m done letting others do it. I’m done letting myself do it. I’m done.

It’s taken me what feels like a million years to realize that I don’t deserve this shit. At all. And I’ll tell you what: it’s pretty freeing. LOL. It’s fan-fucking-tastic is what it is.

I totally want to get to goal weight. I want to drop more weight for my health. Hell, I even still want to make exercise a habit! But I’m done letting all of this define whether I’m a successful human being or not. I’m done.

Feeling like I must lose weight to succeed has even subconsciously kept me from writing more in this blog. I realized that I’ve been avoiding writing here because I had no fabulous weight loss news to report. And so I’ve avoided it…like you avoid an old flame when you’re not wearing any make-up and you see him in a grocery store. No, no…I have to wait until everything’s fabulous before I can speak up.

No I don’t!

There are so many other things I want to write about (like tea bags for the vagina, hello!) and I’m going to write them. I’m done waiting for a number on the scale or a tag on clothes for me to be able to talk about anything else. And you know what? I’m amazed at how awesome I feel about all of this.

My dance teacher was an asshole. And he was wrong. I don’t want to carry that around in my head anymore. I know I’ll never forget it. I know it’ll always be part of who I am, but he was wrong. And for the first time since I looked in that mirror through my 9 year old eyes…I know he was wrong.

I am not a number on the scale. I am not the size of my clothes. I am a beautiful, hot mess. And I’m proud of myself…whether I ever lose another pound.

More later.

Much more. ♥

The Sweary Coloring Book for Adults (Swear Word Coloring Book)

My favorite Valentine’s day tradition

Hey y’all!

I recently posted an informal poll for my followers on my Facebook fan page asking readers to vote on which blog topic they wanted me to write about this week. The winning topic was “My favorite Valentine’s day tradition”.

You’re probably not going to like my answer. I usually get all schmoopy around holidays, but Valentine’s day is another story. It’s a retail holiday, you guys. There’s no spiritual meaning to it. No patriotic meaning. No meaning at all except that we’re all made to feel that we have to observe it or it means we don’t love our husbands/wives/boyfriends/girlfriends…whatever.

If I’m being honest, the last time I had fun on Valentine’s day was when I was a little girl. Remember what it was like to be a kid and go to the store and see all those red and pink little boxes with differently themed Valentine cards? How exciting!

At my school, we were given a brown paper lunch sack to decorate with red and pink tissue and glue and glitter and crayons. Any blank piece of paper, even a bag, was an inspiration to me. I was always so excited for Valentine’s day…and I loved picking out just the perfect box of Valentines to give to my friends and classmates.

By the time I was a teenager, Valentine’s Day was already losing its appeal. I was a cute enough girl, but I was beyond shy around boys and I didn’t wear all the cute, fashionable clothes or flirt or go to dances. I didn’t know what to do around boys. So every Valentine’s Day the girls would get all giggly and the boys would give out valentines to the girls who caught their eye…but it was never me. So by the time I graduated high school, it was already just another reminder that I wasn’t enough of something. Not pretty enough. Not skinny enough. Not…enough.

As a single woman in my twenties and thirties, it just got worse. If I was dating someone, everything was rainbows and kittens. If I wasn’t, I was just made to feel more alone by the endless sappy jewelry commercials and news stories about romantic proposals. It was everywhere. And work is the worst on Valentine’s Day. An endless parade of florists delivering huge expensive bouquets to my female co-workers who were either married or dating Mr. Right.

Royal Albert New Country Roses Formal Vintage Teacup and Saucer Boxed Set, White

And then I met HMH. Well, we were friends for five years on the phone (via work) before we ever met in person – but once we met in person, we were inseparable. We moved in together on Valentine’s Day weekend. The following year, he made the world’s worst marriage proposal on Valentine’s Day (it’s a long story and he’s damn lucky I said yes). After that, we just settled into normal life and that was that.

So my favorite Valentine’s Day tradition is…paying no attention whatsoever to Valentine’s Day. And I invite you to do the same.

It made me feel shitty for years as a single girl. It puts seriously awful pressure on a lot of men, honestly. Just yesterday I saw a commercial for jewelry where a guy gives his wife or girlfriend a gift box over dinner, she opens it with excitement…and then her smile fades and she looks up at him and says something like “Where’s the real one?”

What the actual fuck, people!

Other ads prey on men by guilt tripping them into paying five times more for a bouquet of flowers that they’d pay much less for on any other damn day. Jewelry store ads attempt to pull at our heartstrings with step-dads giving little step-daughters diamond pendants that match the one he just gave mommy. Restaurants woo guys with special dinner prices and heart shaped desserts.

As women, we’re pressured with ads for lingerie and magazine articles telling us how to get that hot body before the big day. Or, my favorite, top ten tips for pleasing your man in bed. Wow. You’re with someone who wants to boink you. Know how to find out how to please him? ASK. Holy shit. Just talk about what you like and don’t like.

The Valentine thing is all bullshit. Seriously.

HMH and I both work hard for our money and the things we have – but HMH has a very physically demanding job. He works his ass off. How loving is it of me to throw a bunch of bullshit expectations on him about a made-up holiday? When I see those commercials, I don’t want HMH to buy me jewelry or roses…I want to smack the shit out of the advertising jerks who insinuate that my darling hubby is some sort of failure if he doesn’t buy me their crap.

When you’re in a healthy, loving relationship every day is Valentine’s Day…and that should be the same whether your relationship is with yourself OR a significant other. Just because you’re not dating anyone doesn’t mean you’re lacking in some way. Don’t buy into the bullshit.

Valentine’s Day is a giant guilt trip.

It’s as simple as this: if you’re single and Valentine’s Day smacks of loneliness I want you to stand up, square your shoulders and yell BULLSHIT at the top of your damn lungs. DO IT!!! Because that’s what it is. BULLSHIT.

If you have a significant other, take it easy on them. Give them a break. If you both enjoy schmooping out on Valentine’s Day, then I say go for it…but if you’re both spending tons of time wondering what the hell to buy the other one, then why? What’s the purpose really?

When HMH wants a new vinyl record or I want a new needlework pattern, we get it. That’s how we are. If I’m at the antique mall with the girls and I see some vinyl he’d like…I pick it up. And yes, HMH actually bought me a needlework pattern for my Christmas stocking one year. Occasionally, we buy each other our favorite candy…or some other trinket we see around. But we don’t need to be bought stuff in order to feel that we’re loved.

The only people I’m inclined to buy Valentine’s gifts for are my co-workers sometimes…or my fur persons. Those things are still fun for me when they’re in the budget. Otherwise, it’s just another day…as it should be. Except the day after. Candy is 50% off, bitches.

Let’s all go buy ourselves a treat.

Maybe we should start a new Valentine’s Day tradition. Instead of being pressured to spend money on others in the name of love, maybe we could just look in the mirror and smile at the person smiling back at us. Let’s accept that we’re all beautifully flawed, amazing humans worthy of love.

And maybe go back to decorating paper sacks…because that shit’s always fun.

So what’s YOUR favorite Valentine’s Day tradition?

Jusalpha Vintage Rose Bone China Teacup Spoon and Saucer Set TCS03

What the H?

So earlier this week I was sitting, weirdly enough, in the waiting room at my gyno doctor’s office…scrolling through Facebook on my phone…and I see this article from Yahoo! Health:

Please Don’t Stick Herbs Up Your Vagina. Please.

What the actual fuck? Did I read that right?

I felt an odd mixture of horror and curiosity that I haven’t felt since Gwyneth told us all we should be steaming our lady bits if we wanted to be cool like her. (I’d link you to her blog post about all that, but it mysteriously disappeared after the entire universe laughed at the ridiculousness of it all). That’s okay. My vagina decided back then that it didn’t want to be cool like Gwyneth. I’m not in the habit of scalding the shit out of my girly parts even if Ironman’s girlfriend is telling me to do it.

To be fair, I’ll link you to this article about the famous vaginal steaming post. It’s the best I can do.

Anyway, I clicked on the Yahoo article. How could I not? I was not disappointed. I mean, I’m thankful that I was paying attention in school the day they told me not to mess with my vag’s eco-system, as it were, but for those of you who think differently…this article is awesome on multiple levels. When it comes to all the reasons why you shouldn’t put herbs up your vagina, Amy Rushlow (with Yahoo Health) puts it all together for us in an effing hysterical package.

Apparently, “vaginal detoxing” is actually a thing that some women are taking seriously. Like…they’re buying herbal tampons and shoving them up their vajayjays to get a good detox. For three days. THREE. DAYS.


My favorite part of the article was when she talks about where to buy these ridiculous things. Are you ready? Etsy. Yes! Etsy…the homemade crafting website. “Because when you want to buy something that goes up your vagina, the first person you think of is the guy who made that super-cool necklace for your aunt,” says Rushlow. LOL. I love this chick! (I clicked over to Twitter and followed her so fast.)

I read the damn thing twice while I was sitting in the waiting room, then I was called back to have my own lady bits inspected, giggling the entire time. But as I walked back to the exam room, I realized that these herbal tampons look like…tea bags. Don’t they?

Holy CRAP! Tea bags for the vag!!!

Okay, now this is exciting. If you’ve read my blog or followed me on Facebook for any length of time, you’re well aware that I’m a big fan of Downton Abbey. So now I’m thinking…vag…tea bags…tea…Downton…vag…tea….

Sometimes my mind is like a runaway train, honestly. And once it’s off the tracks there’s just no stopping the damn thing. Before I knew it, my imagination exploded with images of Lady Mary doing magazine ads for this remarkable breakthrough in feminine hygiene.

“I’m Lady Mary Crawley…and when I want to get the funk of a dead Turk’s peenie out of my vag, I turn to Mrs. Tiddlywink’s Detox Tea Bags.”

Poor Mr. Pamuk was no match for Lady Mary’s vag. Perhaps if she’d had a damn detox beforehand he’d still be alive!

Remember when Lady Mary made Anna go to the pharmacy to get a diaphragm so she could bump uglies with Tony Gillingham out of wedlock?

Pharmacy lady: “May I help you?”

Anna (embarrassed): “Yes, uh…I’d like…I’d like to get one of these please.”

(She hesitates a moment.)

Anna: “Oh, bullocks. Can I also get a dozen of the Cinnamon Cervix tea bags? Lady Mary’s whoring around again.”

I’m sure you’re all thinking what I’m thinking: I never would have survived back in the days when the working class couldn’t say what they thought. If I’d lived back then…with my mouth, I’d have ended up scrubbing underpants at the local whorehouse or something – and scrubbing my knuckles raw cleaning crotches all day just seems a waste of my talent.

And what about the Dowager’s naughty history with Russian Prince Kuragin?

Perhaps a little of “Lady Violet’s Echinacea and Olive Oil Downton Estate Vag Tea”…for when you need to add a little moisture back to that crusty, 80 year old hoo-hah. With a touch of Retinol to give your labia a rejuvinated, youthful appearance!

 photo dowager lol_zpssheedmut.jpg

And, of course, there’s the obvious seasonal blends we could play with:

  • Spring Fling – leaves an essence of clean laundry and freshly mowed grass
  • Summer Daze – perhaps something that smells like the ocean. Without the fish or…that might be weird.
  • Pumpkin Spice in the fall, y’all!
  • Holiday Hymen Surprise in December, maybe? I’m just thinking out loud…

It’s true that I haven’t had to suffer through a period since I had my evil bitch uterus sandblasted a year ago, but for you ladies who still have deal with that crap how about a nice Menstrual Mint?

There’s no limit to the money we can make with this scheme, ladies, really. Which one of you has the capital to invest? We should talk. Get me Downton creator Julian Fellowes on the phone. STAT!

I’ll be back later. I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately and I’m going to try my hand at mixing up a batch of Lavender Labia. I know I’m probably kidding myself, but at least my vagina will be well rested…

Royal Albert Old Country Roses Boxed Cup and Saucer

2016, here I come!

Yeah, I suck.

I keep thinking “Wow, it’s been a couple weeks since my last blog post…I need to get moving.” And then I think it again. And again. And again. Meanwhile, it’s nearly 2016 and the last thing I wrote was fucking Halloween? Really???

I’m sorry, guys. I need to do a better job at organizing myself.

I used to hate new years resolutions. A lot. It seemed to me that the best way to guarantee that I wouldn’t accomplish something was to make it a new years resolution so I could procrastinate the shit out of it. Something about losing 116 pounds has changed my perspective, though, and I now look at them like fun little challenges. I never get them all done, but I do get some of them done…and it gives me a little twinge of pride to check one off my list.

For example, two years ago I one of my resolutions was to get my Concealed Handgun License (CHL). It took me a few months to realize that I wasn’t ready for it yet. A traumatic experience I had when I was 15 years old was still hanging on and I couldn’t shake it yet, so I put it off for the year. This year, thanks to a women’s shooting group I found, I gradually felt ready to take it on – so, even though it wasn’t a resolution this year, I did it anyway. Kick ass!

I never know what I’m going to put on the list, and I try not to make most of them about weight loss or physical appearance. I try to make them things that are either fun or interesting or challenging…or all three. So here we go. Here’s my 2016 new years resolutions:

  1. Visit another country. Do y’all know how long I’ve wanted to go to Europe? And I have no excuse. I work in the travel industry, for goodness’ sake! What am I waiting for? Well, I don’t have a passport yet. I know, I know, I know. You can see why this is a goal.
  2. Buy a dining room table. It pains me to admit it, but I haven’t had a dining table and chairs for three years. My dining room looks like a staging area for the old tv show “Clean House”. I have boxes of crap in there that have no home. It’s the holidays, so that means there are four large rubber bins in there as well. I took all the ornaments and decorations out but I never put the bins back in the closet. They’re guarded by the two white wire deer that I always mean to put out on the lawn for Christmas, but I can never find the damn prongs that secure them into the ground…so they end up sprawled on the dining room floor like they’re napping. Or drunk. After the holidays are over, I’ll get everything back in the closet…but the pile of Crap That Has No Home will still remain. We need to stop eating around the coffee table like savages, yo.
  3. Have 18 inch calves. No, I’m not kidding. You may be wondering why this is a goal. Let me just say…I need to make exercise a consistent habit, but if I say that then I’ll psych myself out. I feel myself shrinking away from it and I’m tired of that shit. Meanwhile, I love boots in the fall and winter but my calves are still too big – even for the wide calf boots. If I make 18 inch calves my goal, I still have to make exercise a consistent habit but I don’t heap unwanted expectations on my hot mess head. This way, I’m just tantalized by the idea of wearing sexy boots. It’s a win-win.
  4. Decorate the damn bedroom. Seriously. My bedroom is so damn ugly. The walls are still an ugly chalky white. The curtains are left over from the devil condo in California. Our furniture is old and has Kirby tooth marks on part of it (when she was a hell raising puppy). It’s hideous and ugly, not restful and serene. And the worst part? Sometimes when HMH starts putting the moves on me, I look up and think “My God this is the ugliest room ever!” So now you know how ugly it is, because if it can distract me from sexy time it’s gotta be pretty hideous…am I right?
  5. Have my picture professionally taken. This one makes me cringe, but it’s necessary. I need some pics taken…for my “about me” page here and for the blog I never write about my fiction endeavors. Maybe if I get new pictures I’ll be inspired to finish that book, right? Seems legit.
  6. Publish something. Anything, damn it. My God!
  7. This one is scary and that’s why I picked it: learn to sing. Way back in my days at the dance studio, the King would require us to sing show tunes while we danced to them. For example, every year at the county fair we were required to perform an entire show of songs from Oklahoma – which is funny when I think about it now because Orange County, California is about as country as New York City…but with more Republicans. Anyway, I never felt like I measured up and I love to sing. I mean, I looooove to sing. So I don’t want to start a new career or anything, but it would be nice to be able to carry a tune and not be embarrassed. That’s all I’m after: non-embarrassed singing.
  8. Ride a rollercoaster. I think I’m going to need to head to the Queen Mother of all amusement parks for this one, peeps. Yes, I’m talking about my first ever place of employment: Disneyland, California. It’s a goal.
  9. Be able to do 100 crunches all at once. Yeah, I couldn’t get out of this without setting at least one exercise goal. That’s it. 100. Just reading that feels like I just signed up for an Ironman competition. Shit.

2016 resolutions

So that’s it, peeps. Those are my 2016 new years resolutions. Are you setting resolutions this year? If so, feel free to share in the comments below!

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The Day I Became a Believer in Things I Didn’t Want to Believe In

This story is not about weight loss or any of my usual topics…and there’s certainly not much humor in it, unless you think I’m being so ridiculous it’s laughable. And that’s entirely possible. I didn’t much believe in these things before this happened…I wouldn’t blame you for laughing. But the subject is very real, and very serious, to me even now…11 years later.

I once told HMH that I would never talk about this on my blog. I had a number of reasons, but mainly because I’m afraid of it happening again. I don’t know a lot about these things, but talking about them too much makes them real again in a way that makes me uncomfortable. And afraid.

In 2004, HMH and I had officially outgrown our one bedroom apartment in southern California. Two bedroom apartments were ridiculously priced (as is anything there, really) but we managed to find a two bedroom condo for rent that was very fairly priced. The neighborhood was decent and it was closer to work for me. We decided to go see it.

I remember feeling a bit awkward when I first walked into the place. The current renter was there with her young son and she kept staring at me as we walked around. Not like she was angry or suspicious or anything. Her expression was almost pleading. Once we were out of earshot upstairs, the owner explained to us that the current renter had asked to break her lease and he was trying to do the right thing and let her out of it…if he could find someone else to move in.

Well, the place looked fine to HMH and I. The bedroom was huge compared to our apartment. The second bedroom would make a nice office for us to share. A bathroom upstairs and one downstairs…and a cute little kitchen with a breakfast nook/dining room. The kitchen slider opened to a small courtyard and there was an enclosed garage behind that. Not a bad deal at all for the rent he was charging. It was a no-brainer for us. A little bit of paperwork and we were the new renters of 1200 square feet of shag carpet.

 photo Condo1_zpsgpghvlfm.jpg

We’d been in the condo for a few weeks the first time I saw it. I was downstairs in the living room, folding clothes on the couch when something moved. I saw it just out of the corner of my eye…on the left, high in the doorway of the downstairs bathroom. I didn’t know what it was, but something had been there and suddenly wasn’t. Weird.

It kept happening. Always in the same place. This picture shows the spot where it happened. (Pardon the mess, this was taken when we were packing up and moving to Texas…the house was a mess.)

 photo the bad spot_zpspuvbaepo.jpg

Although I continued to see it for months, I never said anything to HMH. I love him dearly and he’s a wonderful hubby…but sometimes he finds the WORST things to tease me about – and I didn’t want him to use this to tease me. Or worse: scare me!

I had never been a person who believed for certain that the paranormal existed. Sure, I’d had a few experiences as a child and in my teenage years, but the years have a way of washing those things away. Whatever this was that was happening, I kept thinking there was a logical explanation for it. A car passing by…or a plane overhead…or kids outside. Whenever I would see it, I would start looking around for the source. I made sure the lights weren’t flickering in the bathroom, the kitchen, and the dining room. I ruled out passing cars and planes. I ruled out people walking by. It happened during daylight and night time. There was no pattern to the time of day it happened. I investigated it over a period of months and I could never find any explanation as to what was causing it.

And then one night, when HMH went fishing with his buddies and I was home alone, things really got weird. I’d been home alone many, many times. But nothing like what I’m about to share had ever happened.

I was upstairs in the office at my desk, catching up on email. From my chair, I had a partial view of the upstairs hallway and the top of the stairs. This was 9 years ago, so we didn’t have Kirby and Dyson then. We had Kokopelli, a 40 pound Britney Spaniel with 100 pounds of attitude. When she would come upstairs I could see her out of the corner of my eye. She usually came straight to me to tell me she needed to go out…and if I didn’t get up immediately there was usually a very unpleasant surprise waiting for me.

As I sat at my desk, I saw a shadow on the stairs out of the corner of my eye. I assumed it was the dog. It was low to the ground…and bigger than the shadow I’d been seeing in the bathroom doorway downstairs. But instead of the dog rushing up to me, I got…nothing. No dog.

After about 20 seconds, I got up and went into the upstairs hallway…thinking she was drinking out of the toilet in the master bathroom again. She wasn’t. I went to the bedroom doorway, thinking she’d gone in there. She hadn’t. There was no way she could have passed me either. I stood there for a minute wondering where she’d gone. Although I didn’t see how it was possible, I started going downstairs to see how she got by me so fast. Halfway down the stairs, I stopped in my tracks. She’d been on the couch the whole time: belly up, legs in the air, completely asleep.

She had not been the reason for that shadow. We had three cats at the time: Squeak, Sarah, and Caesar. Squeak & Sarah were sleeping on the love seat downstairs…and Caesar was asleep under the stairs. After I’d taken note of where they all were, a chilling thought occurred to me: what the hell did I see coming up the stairs then?

The hair on the back of my neck was standing up straight and I all but ran down the remaining stairs. HMH wouldn’t be home for several hours, but I decided to sit down there and wait for him. I went to the kitchen and turned on the oven to preheat it, got myself a soda, and plopped on the couch for a while. I had the tv playing an episode of “Friends”, my favorite. That would bring me back to a happy, lighthearted mood. I had all the fur persons with me…I was ok. I forced myself to think of something else. I decided to catch up on my magazine reading for a while…and then I noticed Sarah.

Our gray tabby cat, Sarah, was by far the smartest of the cats. She’s a cat’s cat. She was sitting in the downstairs hallway, staring up at the exact spot where the shadow appeared. She was sitting at ATTENTION. I called her name a couple of times and she didn’t even flick an ear…she just sat there like a little soldier and stared at the highest point in the doorway. Creepy…very creepy.

“Friends” was over. I flipped thru the listings on the DVR and found the pilot for the tv show LOST, which had just aired that week. I’d never seen the show…but it looked great, so I started watching. Probably not the best choice.

About 20 minutes into the show, I noticed the dog looking down the hallway and I thought she was looking thru the sliding glass door in the dining room and could see HMH coming up to the door. But he wasn’t home yet…and I realized she was looking too high for it to be HMH. Then she started looking at “the spot” with a frightened look on her face. She hung her head as if she was in trouble, got down from the love seat, and moved toward the stairs really slow…like she was being scolded. I didn’t see anything out of place, but she sure was afraid of something.

Have you ever seen a dog who was being scolded for doing something naughty? They hang their heads, thump their tail, and have that pitiful, shamed look? That’s exactly what she was doing…and she kept her eye on that spot at the top of the bathroom door frame the whole time.

I started getting creeped out again, but I kept my cool. I called her name and tried to be consoling, telling her to come to me. Normally when she’s scared, hurt, hungry, or…anything…she’d come right to me. She looked at me like she was thinking about it. I know she wanted to. Then she looked back at the spot, hung her head and high tailed it up the stairs. I tried calling her repeatedly, but she refused to come back down. That was the point where I got really scared.

Kokopelli had never done that before. There was something wrong. The vibe in the house had changed. I didn’t feel safe anywhere. Caesar and Squeak still hadn’t reacted to anything, but Sarah and Kokopelli had me on edge. I sat there on the couch until HMH came home, afraid to go to the kitchen because I had to walk thru that spot. I was freezing because the air conditioning was up too high, but I was too frightened by the shadow on the stairs earlier…and the thermostat was up there. I stayed where I was and watched LOST…which only served to scare me MORE. By the time HMH came home, I was a nervous wreck.

He walked in to find the oven still on, every light on in the house, the air conditioning going full blast, and his very freaked out wife curled up on the couch. He could tell right away that something was wrong. I knew I finally had to tell him.

I mentally prepared myself to be laughed at. Any normal person wouldn’t want to have to say what I was going to say. I mean…c’mon! Every time I thought about what I was going to say, it just seemed ridiculous. I was still certain there was a logical explanation for all this that I just hadn’t connected with. I kept telling myself it was nothing.

I honestly wasn’t sure what his reaction would be, but I didn’t expect the one I got. I sat him down in the living room and said, “Honey…have you ever been sitting down here watching tv or something and then you think you see a shadow out of the corner of your eye…right there in the hallway?”

I waited for the laughter to start. And the teasing. But he didn’t. He was very serious. He nodded and said, “You’ve seen it too?”

That’s when I bolted for the effing door. I needed to get out of the house and away from that spot downstairs, so I made him go outside with me so we could talk about it. I felt so uneasy in the living room. He explained he’d thought he saw something a couple of times but he didn’t want to scare me so he hadn’t said anything. We agreed that we didn’t even know if there was anything to this other than completely logical causes…but we agreed that it was pretty creepy. HMH tried to console me by saying that if we did have some kind of presence in our house that it probably didn’t mean to hurt us or it would have
done so…but I didn’t feel any better about it.

Over the course of the next several months, I continued to see the shadow out of the corner of my eye. Most of the time it was in the bathroom doorway downstairs, but I did see it twice upstairs. The first time, I was laying in our bed…ready to go to sleep. I was facing our dresser, which has a big mirror attached to it. I opened my eyes and saw it at the top of our doorway to the bedroom…in the reflection of the mirror.

The second time, I woke up in the middle of the night and saw it over the bed. It was way up high on the ceiling…above the ceiling fan. That was the longest I’ve ever seen it. It hovered up there for about a minute and then it was gone.

The “sightings”…or whatever you want to call them…eventually slowed down. I got pretty good at staying busy from the time I came home to the time I went to bed. I never felt at home there. As soon as I walked in the door, I worked full time at keeping busy and keeping the mood in the house as happy and lighthearted as I could. It worked for me, at least well enough for me to deal with it.

The only time I had any difficulties was when HMH would go fishing…because I was alone and I was afraid to be alone in the house for any length of time since that first night. When he went on fishing trips, I had to take something to make myself fall asleep. At first it was Tylenol PM…and then my doctor prescribed Ambien (now you know where that started, folks). As soon as it got dark when HMH was gone fishing, I would log into an online game I played and I’d talk to my friends via headset until I was ready to go to bed. Then I would take Ambien and head off to sleep. I hated that I had to do that, but it was the only way I could be alone there overnight.

In the following months, Sarah AND Squeak, our black cat, would stare at “the spot” on occasion and without warning. I’m not sure when, but Squeak started doing the same thing upstairs in the office…staring up at the door frame of the closet that’s just over my right shoulder as I sit at my desk. The only explanation I have for that is that Squeak was always near me…and perhaps she noticed it upstairs more than downstairs…but I’ll never know. I will say this, though: the spot where Squeak would stare upstairs was EXACTLY above the spot downstairs. It was like there was a column of “weird space” going right thru the center of the condo.

Months went by without any significant sightings. One night HMH and I were watching tv together and, for some reason, he brought up “the thing”. Reassured by the fact that I hadn’t been scared in a while, I said “Actually, I don’t think there’s anything to it. I think there was a logical explanation for it…and it’s gone now.”

The next week, he and I were watching tv together. All the pets were sleeping…no one was moving around. The controller for our Playstation was resting on the coffee table. HMH didn’t move, I didn’t move…but the controller flew off the table and landed on the carpet between the table and the tv stand.

Kevin didn’t notice. I couldn’t believe he didn’t notice. But he was so wrapped up in what we were watching, he didn’t even see it until I pointed it out.

That night, the weirdest thing happened. To this day, we are still saying there has to be a logical explanation for it…but we have yet to find one. Let me preface this by saying that I am a VERY light sleeper. I wake up for any little thing. However, that night HMH and I both woke up at the same time…in the middle of the night…and realized we were on opposite sides of the bed. I was on his side, he was on mine. It was 3 am.

No, I hadn’t taken Tylenol PM or Ambien. No, he hadn’t come to bed on the wrong side of the bed that night. No, we hadn’t “made whoopee” and ended up on the wrong sides. We went to bed that night like we normally did. We have no explanation as to how it happened…but we both looked at each other in surprise…and we both immediately thought the same thing. He spent about an hour trying to calm me down and convince me that there had to be another explanation. We were both EXTREMELY unsettled, though – I knew he was freaked out by what happened. I remember the look on his face to this day.

Because we knew we were moving to Texas, we stayed in the condo…even though there was this “creepy factor” that I couldn’t shake. To be honest, we really couldn’t afford to move anywhere else.

Another night, while I was sleeping, HMH was up late on the computer and he went downstairs to get a drink. He started to walk to the kitchen when he noticed Sarah in the hallway…staring up at “the spot” again…not moving. He called her name a couple of times and she didn’t respond…and he was so creeped out he went back upstairs without getting his drink. Later that night, he went back downstairs and Sarah was gone. As he approached the spot by the bathroom door he felt something move through him. He said it was cold and creepy…and it felt something like a person. He’s not very good at describing things, but it was hard for me to talk about it anyway.

In August 2005, about a week after we returned from a trip to Texas, I was sitting at my computer catching up on emails before HMH got home. The tv was turned off. No music was playing. I was simply typing on my computer and thinking about what a wonderful time we had in Texas…and how we’d decided to move there. As I was sitting at my desk, I heard a whisper in my right ear…just behind me…that said “Just go.”

It scared the ever loving shit out of me, I swear. Every hair on my body stood straight up and for a minute I wanted to bolt out of my chair and run outside. However, this weird “self preservation” impulse came over me…and I opened my music folder on my pc and starting playing music…LOUD. I picked songs that would lighten my spirit and take my mind off what just happened.

It would come and go. Things would happen and then all was quiet. There wasn’t a pattern. However, June 3, 2005 something really weird happened. Everything was fine…HMH was playing on his computer, I was updating our family website and talking to my friend Brad via the computer, the pets were sleeping. Kokopelli had been sleeping downstairs and she suddenly went completely NUTS. She started barking like there was someone trying to get in the house or something. It definitely got our attention.

Kevin got up and went downstairs to see what was wrong. As he did that, I snapped his picture…intending to show it to my friend as a joke. Once I take a picture with my camera, it briefly shows the picture it took on the display window. And I looked down to see a white cloudy streak right in the doorway. Of course, I immediately thought of “the thing”…and then I immediately told myself it was a reflection off the white walls or something, so I took more pics at the same angle. I was certain I was going to see it again. No…I didn’t.I don’t know what it is…don’t ask me. But it didn’t show up in any other picture I took of the same area…at the same angle.

I do still have the picture, but I’m not going to share it here because HMH is partially dressed and it would be embarrassing to him. Even though it was a weird white blur, it was still the first time it had showed up in any kind of picture.

Yeah…I took an Ambien to go to sleep that night. I was glad we were moving. HMH just hugged me and did his best to remind me that we were leaving soon…it’s all he could do, really.

One last thing…while I was still at my job in California, I told one of my friends some of the things that had happened in the condo. She told me I should talk to one of the girls on her staff…because she was just sharing a similar experience that her son had and she thought it was close to where I live. Later that day, I went to talk to her.

She told me that she had a teenage son who went to a slumber party at a friend’s house that weekend…and that all the parents were called to pick up their kids in the middle of the night because the boys were all scared after seeing some kind of black smoky thing on the ceiling. When I asked her where the party was, I discovered that the party was in my condo complex…on the other side of the complex from us.

We had done tons of research trying to find anything we could on the development where we lived. There was nothing. I don’t know what I was expecting to find, but whatever it was…I didn’t find it.

So…that’s it. We left California with no other incidents, thank God. I’m not saying there’s something paranormal there…in fact, I tried like hell to explain it logically…and to ignore it as well. But the fact remains that I never felt at home there…that HMH and I continued to have very real, very frightening experiences there…and we are both glad to be away from it. And I did wonder after a while whether that pleading look on the last renter’s face was meant to warn me off. Maybe she was staring at me because she wanted to tell me what was going on there. We’ll never know.

And that’s our scary story. Hopefully, you don’t think I’m too crazy for sharing it. Happy Halloween!

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