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How Do You Feel?

2881E7B6-04D2-452F-B53F-A48FBD2B60B8This morning, a Facebook writing group moderator posted the question, “How do you feel?” With a picture of Spock in front of the computer. The computer was asking the question of Spock and, being half Vulcan, he didn’t understand the question. His mother explained that the computer knows he’s half human, and is simply asking him how he feels in that context. Spock, in true Vulcan form, replies, “The question is irrelevant.” But is it? Even Spock has feelings, whether he chooses to acknowledge them or not.

As I sat there for a few minutes, pondering the question, I was slightly overwhelmed by what I really was feeling. Here’s what I came up with.

Depressed because I used to see my oldest four sons at least once a week, and I miss their big bear hugs, and refrigerator raids with, “What’s good to eat?” queries. I haven’t see them in person in two months.

Thankful for FaceTime so we can at least have cyber visits.

Annoyed because I used to enjoy going shopping and wandering aimlessly through malls, and visiting Barnes & Nobel, but now the options are extremely limited, and B&N is out of the question.

I miss going to the library only one block from my house, and where some of my friends work.

I miss meeting up to go out to eat every Thursday morning, when my husband is coming off night shift, and my youngest son and I are just getting our day started.

I miss seeing people’s faces, knowing they’re smiling without having to look for the eye crinkles behind the mask, and chatting with total strangers about random commonalities while out running errands.

I miss turning on the TV and radio without having to hear the latest death toll, and what to do to stay safe and healthy.

I miss not ever having heard the phrases, “Social Distancing” & “Shelter In Place.”

I miss opening Facebook and NOT seeing the term COVID-19 every other post.

I feel disappointed by all the people who have shown their true colors by hoarding food and toilet paper, behaving atrociously in public places, stealing their neighbors deliveries, and harassing their fellow humans.

I miss writing without the influence of being under lockdown and the depression it causes.

I feel sad for the high school students who will miss out on the prom, and both high school & college students who will not be walking in a hard-earned graduation ceremony this year.

I feel horrible for all the younger generation for having their own version of The Plague during what should be a time of discovery, growth, and celebration of life before having to settle into a life of adult responsibilities.

I feel afraid of what could be yet to come, but hopeful that things will get better.

I have faith in God, and pray for humanity every day, but still go over all the other things in my mind almost constantly.

Mostly, I feel tired.

So no, Mr. Spock, I don’t agree that the question is irrelevant, but I do know that even you eventually discovered that, and in the end, you sent a message to your mother. A message I hope we will all echo soon.

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Personal Space

*Not my actual house*C. A. Bennett

Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017
2013 AlphaSmart Neo2

Being part of a family or other group can have its difficulties, especially when the quarters are cramped. We live in a tiny house that is seven-hundred square feet of living area. We shift, turn, and shuffle our way around each other in such a way that would nearly be worthy of a finely choreographed dance on Broadway, except now and again, we trip, stumble and collide with Keystone Cop-like coordination. Sometimes it’s comical, sometimes it isn’t. Always, it’s annoying.

What happens when something in the normal routine changes? It can be as simple as a teenager who used to spend most of his time in his bedroom, but has decided to come out and join the family in the living room. Nothing wrong with that, and in fact it’s a really good thing! I’ve been trying to get him out of there for years. It does have it’s effects though.

Since the space is small and cramped already, it can seem even more so with the addition of one more body on a more regular basis. Especially when that body is six-foot-five and all skinny legs and arms. Come to think of it, that’s how he got the nickname, “Daddy Long-Legs”. It can make a parent who loves his child a bit edgy to have most of the living room floor taken up by sprawled out legs and size 14 shoes, even if the kid is quiet by nature. It’s not noise… it’s space.

So how does the dad-in-question handle it? By going to bed at 8:20 PM, which completely disrupts my routine. My response was something along the line of, “WHAT?! Wait!” because I was in the bedroom working on a paper, and making every attempt to concentrate while working in solitude. “What do you mean, you’re going to bed NOW?? UGH! Fine.” So I relocated to a different room to work uncomfortably. Solitude. Personal Space. And it’s all because of one little change. One person made one small decision about where he wanted to spend his time, and the rest of the people in the house lost their minds.

See, here’s the thing, and I want to be clear on this; We are a typical family. We interact regularly, usually eat dinner together and talk, yadda, yadda… we are always doing something together. The thing is… in this particular case, the timing is what really changed, and that’s what actually threw everything out of the delicate balance it was for years. Dad’s TV time was disrupted, and that caused a minor cascade of events.

Adaptation takes time. Becoming reacquainted with an area once something has changed is a process just like any other. For my husband, the shift of our son spending more time in the living room was the equivalent of having someone move in, because it was an extra body that wasn’t usually present at that tone of the day.

The boy had always had a habit of staying in a certian area of the house, and no amount of cajoling from his mother had ever chanced that. Autistic people are creatures of habit, and up till recently, getting the boy to spend time with family was more like pulling teeth than actual socializing. It was out of his comfort zone, and sometimes you have to let a person have their comfort.

Here’s the thing… my son is high-function, and isn’t anti-social. On the contrary, he interacts with people on a regular basis, and does very well. He has a lot of friends, and has held a job without problems typical to autistic people. He’s socially okay for the most part, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t enjoy his solitude, and his room was his preferred place for that.

So what changed? Hard to say, really. One day, he just decided to bring his computer to the living room, set up shop. It’s now become his preferred area to do whatever computer-related things he does. Why? We don’t know. My curiosity got the best of me, because I am an observer by nature, so he and I had a conversation about it. The boy was unsure as to why he suddenly liked the living room better, but says it has more space. Interesting that it took him four years to come to this decision, but personally, I’m happy about the change. I like that he’s spending more time with dear old mom & dad. I’m happy to see him out of his room and interacting more when his brothers and their girlfriends come for a visit. It’s a good thing.

The (former) Behavior Specialist in me is jumping for joy at yet another social victory in the life of her autistic son. The mom in me is just happy the boy isn’t cooped up in his room constantly. As for dad? He’ll adjust eventually… most people tend to adapt to changes pretty well in the long run, it just may take a little longer for some than other. At this rate, he will be well-rested at the very least.

One thing I think we will all agree with, is the need for a bigger house. Let’s face it… Tiny House living is tough at best, but when the dynamics suddenly change, it’s rough. Seven-hundred square feet of living space isn’t much for three adults and a dog, but we’ll manage. We always do.

Many Blessings,

Crystal

Relationship Goals

Do offer to help him/her before the he/she asks.

Don’t be all forceful about it and give help if it’s not wanted/needed.

Do let him/her know they’re doing a good job and are appreciated.

Don’t wait until he/she has to call attention to be appreciated.

Do be supportive whether or not things are going right.

Don’t say “I Told You So” when things go wrong.

Do apologize when you screw up, because you will screw up. We all do.

Don’t act like Mr./Mrs. Perfect. You’re not. Nobody is.

Don’t criticize his/her choices – you’re one of them.

Do learn to accept advice or help from him/her when you need it. We all need help sometimes.

Don’t treat him/her like they don’t know anything. After all… why would you marry an idiot? Did he? Did she?

Do be willing to prepare and serve him/her drinks, meals, etc.

Don’t think it’s beneath you. It’s not.

Do share the chores. You both make a mess sometimes.

Don’t think he/she is the only one who should clean up. Again… you both make the mess, you should both clean up. Your not children. Don’t act like you are.

When having a disagreement, do not negate his/her feelings or block them out when they’re talking to you. Their feelings are just as valid as yours.

Do respect him/her.

Don’t use “always” and “never”. Nobody “always” does something and “never” isn’t possible until you’re dead.

**Pro Tip** If your significant other is screaming and crazy, go look in the mirror. You’re probably the reason.

Got kids? Share the responsibility. It took two people to make them, it’s going to take two people to raise them.

Do always work on having the best relationship that you can possibly have.

Do not compare other relationships to yours or other partners to yours. Chances are someone else is looking at your relationship and your partner and wishing they had what you have.

Do remember – You could always have it better, you could always have it worse.

In a marriage, there is no such thing as “man’s work” or “woman’s work”. That is an archaic way of thinking, that needs to be done away with by both sexes. It’s about mutual respect. Marriage is, above all, a partnership that should be built on love and that mutual respect. You should both be doing everything within your power to take care of one another.

Ladies: Serving your man dinner, packing him a lunch or making him a cup of coffee, isn’t a sign of oppression. It’s a sign of care, respect and love.

Men: Serving your woman dinner, packing her lunch, making her coffee are ways you can show the lady you love and honor her. Cook her a nice meal, dish it up, and serve it to her. If you think it will detract from your manhood, think again buddy. You’re likely to be rewarded for that later.

Ladies are you listening? Feminism doesn’t mean you should never do anything for your man, it means knowing your worth and setting a high standard to ensure that you have a man who values you. It does not mean that you should never do anything nice for him, it means that you’re secure enough within your womanhood, to be okay with taking care of him and letting him take care of you back.

Men there is no place for chauvinism in a relationship in the 21st century. It never should have been a thing to begin with. Get over it.

After all, ladies and gentlemen… more than men and women, we are all human, and we all want to be cared for, loved and respected.

In matters of money, don’t compare paychecks and brag about who makes more, or belittle the one who makes less. That will make one of you feel like crap, and will undermine the relationship/partnership.

Bills should be shared or another arrangement can be made for other contributions as a whole. In other words, if one of you is a stay-at-home parent, and yes, men can be stay at home parents… that counts as a job. I know. I raised 5 boys by being a stay-at-home mom for a real long time and I worked my ass off everyday. Paychecks? Nope. Rewards? Yep. Equality.

Make smart decisions about money spending. You should never have to ask for permission to buy something, but you should always be willing to talk about a reasonable price range before the purchase is made, to be sure it’s affordable in relation to food and bills.

Never, never, never… say to him/her, “how much money did you spend?” in anything other than an accounting context for keeping track of your finances. You are not his/her father/mother. He/she is not your child.

Always remember, love is more important than anything else. Love the one you’re with, treat him/her the way you want to be treated, don’t play games. Life and love are not games. You can’t win everything, but you can lose everything. Remember that.

One last thing… stop with this BS statement: “If you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best.”

All that is, is a feeble attempt to justify rotten behavior that will eventually become the deciding factor in the end of what could have been a great relationship.

Nobody should have to “handle you” at your worst, or “deserve you” at your best. Grow up!

Many blessings… C.A. Bennett – Writer/Wife of 29 years and still learning.

It’s Complicated…

itscomplicated-620x325Marriage is a complicated thing, isn’t it? You either love the person your with, or you want to set their underwear on fire while they’re still wearing them, and these two emotions interchange throughout a single day. Sometimes multiple times a day. There is rarely an in-between.

I – having been married going on 29 years – know a thing or two about this odd phenomena, and I am here to tell you, marriage or even just living together, is not for the feint of heart. Very often, it’s not even for the steadfast and sturdy!

My parents were not well-suited. Their marriage ended before I was six, and both went on to have second failed marriages, and in the case of my father, who went through three ex wives, (that I know of) before he married one who liked him enough to stick with it till he passed away a couple years ago. She’s a really nice lady. She’d have to be to put up with my father! My husband’s parents could tell the same story. Needless to say, the odds of long-term marriage were stacked against us, if one were to believe the statistics, and one usually does.

As if that weren’t enough to keep things from moving past the first date, we have very little in common regarding interests or activities. So much so, that we have a running joke between us – If I like it, he doesn’t and vice versa.

I’m serious! If he thinks something is funny, it’s usually because it’s repulsive, and I am not a repulsive comedy person. He likes the kind of rock & roll where people are beating on their instruments and screaming at each other, while I really love 50’s & 60’s oldies, classic rock, and classical. I love the ballet, & opera, he loves motorcycle racing, I want to sit and knit, crochet, or weave, and he wants to run, jump, lift weights and train for Crossfit. You get the idea.

So what can we attribute to our ability to beat the odds, and stick it out? I believe there are more important things than parents experiences,  stats, and little things in common. For me, it’s the big things, like politics, religion, morality, and a mutual understanding that God and family come first. Nothing else matters anywhere near as much as those, and if you don’t have those big things in common, your chances of a successful long-term relationship are slimmer than ours, believe it our not!

Another big deal for me is being married to my intellectual equal. That is HUGE for me. I could never be married to a man who was a nice guy with a great body, if he isn’t very mentally stimulating. Let’s face it… one day, the body and the looks are gonna go, and he may always be a nice guy, but if I can’t have an intelligent conversation, fugetaboutit! I guess I’m a cerebral kind of person. But here’s the cool thing… so is my husband! He drives me up the freaking wall 23 hours a day, 6 days a week, but we have the BIG DEAL things in common, and we can TALK about important stuff!

But that’s us. It may not be you. We have some friends who are at total opposite ends of the spectrum where politics and religion are concerned, but they have a crazy amount of little things in common, and they simply avoid the big issues. I personally could not live that way. Why? Because if it’s important to me, I tend to be passionate about it. If I’m passionate about something, I promise you will hear me talk about it. If I can’t talk about it, you are probably not going to like my attitude much, because I do NOT like walking on eggshells.

It’s like this blog – I have so many interests and activities that I participate in regularly, that you would not believe one person would even want to be involved in so many different things at once. And yet you don’t see me posting all that much about those things. What you do see, are things that I am passionate about. My husband is the same way. Lots of little things, a few big things, and we are still here. Still together, after all these years. Either that, or we’re just stubborn… Could be stubborn!

What about you? What are you passionate about? What works for you in your relationship? What do you have to avoid to keep the peace? What do you have in common with your significant other? Feel free to comment below, as I do enjoy hearing from my readers!

As always, Many blessings!

C.A. Bennett – Writer

Processing… Processing…

brain-signals1Y’all have probably seen the movies where some computer wiz sits in front of a keyboard and monitor, as he or she begins typing codes, passwords and such, into the system, right? The camera zooms in on the empty black DOS screen, the wiz starts typing in random letters or numbers which usually show up as ***** onscreen, and in no time, there will inevitably come a message which says, “Processing… processing…” and the next thing you know, everything explodes into a whirlwind of computing awesomeness, and the world is once again, safe. Well I was thinking about that this morning as I was standing in the kitchen, whipping up a batch of pumpkin bread batter.

At this point, you may well ask yourself what this has to do with the price of tea in China, and my answer to you would be – absolutely nothing. However – it has everything to do with the way my brain processes things. See – whenever I have to write an essay for a class I’m taking or when I have a nasty case of writer’s block, my automatic response is to head to the kitchen and bake something. Usually a few loaves of good yeast bread, because its a very physical thing, with all the kneading and stirring and so on, and that helps me kind of connect the little dots of information and ideas swimming around in my head into an intelligent and usually insightful matrix that I can then put on paper, or a computer screen, whichever the case may be, and I’m good to go. So much so, that it’s not even a conscious decision anymore, it’s just what I do. I think today is the first time I’ve actually really analyzed the process of processing.

Anyway – My youngest son, who I’ve written about previously in My Son Who Has Autism, never did get the hang of riding a bike when he was little because of motor skill issues, but has since overcome many hurdles, and in the past few days, expressed the desire to get a bike and learn to ride it. I think that’s really cool, and we will be taking steps to make that happen. In much the same way as my baking/writing relationship, my son has things he does in order to get things straight in his head. One of those things, is to research his interests on YouTube. So much so, in fact, that when he decides he wants to learn something, he literally learns everything about that thing, and then some things he will probably never need to know.

I told you all that to tell you this; when you’re going about your daily activities, and find yourself stuck or frustrated because something isn’t working out, it’s always a good idea to stop – take a step back – research – make something – or call someone just to talk. More often than not, when you go back to it, you’ll be a lot more focused, informed, and maybe you’ll even have thought of something you couldn’t even grasp before. Why? because our brains are essentially squishy little computers that occasionally need some alternate input to process what we want it to. It’s good exercise to get your little synapses fired up and running better, and you’ll be glad you did.

It’s a lot like that with faith too. You don’t really make your faith stronger if you don’t take it out and exercise it regularly. In other words, are you just kinda hanging out, letting life get the best of you and taking your beatings, or are you stopping, taking a step back and exercising your faith by praying and spending time in the word?

You know, this morning, we were getting ready for church like every Sunday – by the way, we very much look forward to church – and got all showered, dressed, fed, and – bibles in hands, we headed for the car. Except this time, something happened that we didn’t expect. The gas tank was on flat empty, the little blinky fuel light was on, and we were sitting there looking from one to another, trying to figure out how we’d missed making sure there was enough gas in the car. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t anything we could do about it, because I’m flat broke till till Tuesday, when I get paid. We were all very disappointed, but decided God would understand, and went back to the house, somewhat long in the face.

I told our son it was okay, we could do some bible study here at home, and we’d just go next weekend as usual. My husband, on the other hand, was worried. He has classes tomorrow and needs that car. So what did he do? He took a step back, assessed the situation and decided there wasn’t enough in our gas-monster Ford F250 to make it the 50 miles round trip it would take to get him there and back, but if he could get the gas from there to my econo-box Buick – TA DA!!!! Light bulbs, and synapses were firing left and right, and BINGO! We have a winner!

So what happened? We exercised our faith by praying, and letting God handle our problem, and we exercised our brains by stepping back long enough to see what other options would work. Of course by the time it took to do all this, we would be way too late for church, but that’s alright, God is cool like that. He let us know that He is present in our lives right here at home, and always helps us when we need Him, which of course, is always.

Well – time to go check the Pumpkin Bread! Happy Processing!

C.A. Bennett – Writer

 

The Deadline Approacheth!

All you need is motivation.

False! You need fear, and a fast-approaching deadline!

 

So this entire past week, I’ve been staring at my desk and it’s vast array of writing implements; 1956 Royal Aristocrat Typewriter, 1982 Smith Corona WP 1100, ACER laptop, and a host of notebooks, pens, pencils, highlighters, etc. and I’ve written NOTHING. Okay, that’s not true, I wrote a few pages of random ideas in my main notebook, But have I typed anything remotely related to my book?

Nope! Nada! Zero! Zilch! Zip! Zowie!

So not cool.

Then – as I was reading through “On Writing” by Stephen King…

You: “What?! Still?! How long has it been, for God sake?!”

Me: “Okay, yes – I’m STILL reading it. Hey, It’s been a busy week, okay?! Don’t judge me! Remember Thanksgiving?”

You:”Fine, whatever…”

Me: “Yeah! Thank you!”

Anyway… it hit me – probably because I read it in his book – what I need, is a an actual HARD DEADLINE! Not the namby-pamby, wishy-washy, “I’m hoping to have it finished in a few months” nonsense I’ve been telling people when they ask that ever-present and ever-annoying as H-E-double-hockey-sticks question:

“Oh hey! How’s your little book coming along? Are you still working on that?”

Yes. Yes I am. Thank you for asking.” *grumble, mumble, teeth gnashing, grumble, and skulk away*

So yeah. The deadline. I have decided, that my deadline is March 1st, 2017! Now if my math is correct, and I assure you it is – I have 94 days in which to finish my book. I have about 48,000 words to go. That’s 510.5 words per day.

That is TOTALLY DO-ABLE!

How do I know? Because I can typically – when no one is driving me batty talking incessantly – *cough*-Rob-*cough*- write between 1,500 – 2,000 words per day. Interestingly, I found out that is Stephen King’s daily goal – 2,000 words per day! Of course he does it by 11:30 in the morning, and I’m usually sitting here till about 5 pm. But again… *cough* Rob *cough*.

Love my husband, I do. Want to stuff a sock in his mouth on occasion? The thought has occurred to me.

Were my house larger than 900 sq feet, I would reserve a room and lock myself in each day until my goal is met, then come out and get on with my life. Such as it is…. it is not, and I must have my office in the only space available – the dining room. You’ve seen pictures. You know. If you haven’t and you don’t – feel free to take a walk though my older posts. Should you feel so inclined to buy me a bigger house with a room of my own… well I’m okay with that. But for now… I suffer as any good artist would. I’m kidding! Kinda…

So wish me luch, and keep your fingers crossed, but don’t hold your breath, because I refuse to be responsible for anyone who turns blue and passes out as a result of waiting for me to meet a self-imposed deadline, thank-you-very-much!

Ta, darlings!

C.A. Bennett – Writer

The Aftermath

peanuts-thanksgivingWhen I embarked on this magical journal we affectionately refer to as “Thanksgiving” over a month ago, (yes that’s correct, my family actually began the planning process for a ritual gathering, and feast complete with the sacrificial poultry in early October, because they – not me, this time – are nuts) I had no clue that I would spend the day after, aka Black Friday, in a food-induced coma that would last nearly twenty-four hours. Seriously, I have been sitting in the same chair, looking at the same computer, for the past twelve hours, doing absolutely nothing whatsoever. I can’t even remember what I’ve been looking at, or reading, with the exception of this hilarious video of How Kids React to Typewriters.

I swear, I’m not making this up! I actually ate fairly sparingly yesterday compared to years past, but what I did eat, mainly consisted of sugar, or bread, or – God help me – a deadly combination of both in the form of that all-time holiday staple – Monkey Bread. Add the homemade caramel candies I’d prepared the night before, and the pecan pie my eldest son brought, and by 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon, I had a case of sugar overload so bad, I thought I was going to die. Like – literally – go to the hospital with a case of instant diabetes that kills you on the spot, happy-thanksgiving-thank-you-very-much – D.I.E.

I had the shakes

I was totally exhausted and weak all over

I had a headache

I was dying of thirst

Then it hit me – the past couple months, I’ve been attempting to avoid sugar as much as possible, then all at once, completely bombarded my system with the stuff by direct consumption and topped it off by carb-loading, which of course, turns straight to sugar in your body. I also had too much coffee and a cup of tea, not nearly enough water and zero protein. Oh good. Caffeine + the Sugar Mother-load, dehydration and nothing to help metabolize this toxic combination. Awesome idea, Crystal. Good job!

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we attack obviously unhealthy concoctions with reckless abandon at least twice a year – Thanksgiving and Christmas in my case – all in the name of holiday cheer? I have a two part theory;

1. Commercialism.

2. Tradition –  which in many cases stems from commercialism.

All that aside, I had a very nice time with my family, with the exception of the gratuitous – and also traditional – thanksgiving argument between my mother and I on our differing cooking techniques, which unfortunately took place in the middle of her front yard this year. I’m not entirely certain we were overheard by any of her neighbors, and it didn’t come to blows, so I suppose it’s was fairly well ended, when I conceded the match in favor of not ruining it for the rest of the family, which consisted of all five of my grown kids, my husband, and a variety of significant others. Any other day? “Look out, mom, them’s fightin’ words!”

Here’s the kicker… we have exactly thirty days till we do it all over again.

Happy Post-Thanksgiving Food Coma Day, folks! Many Blessings to all, and to all a good bite!

C.A.Bennett -Writer