Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Watery Easter

Easter morning shed its joy in the quaint apartment home. The lingering giggles and excitement overtook the quiet dawn. The sun stayed in her slumber while the children dug through their brightly colored, bulging baskets. Hidden plastic eggs riddled the place waiting to be found. The children's glee switched directions. They became hungry with the hunt. Tossing their new toys aside, they raced through the house grasping each one with their tiny hands. Some tried to hide, while others knew their fate and stayed in sight so they could be captured. The children shook them and cracked them open. The eggs' contents spewed out onto the floor--behold a chocolate bunny wrapped in her finest tin foil attire. Smiles stretched wide over the children's faces.

At last, the devastation came to an end. The children tossed their toys into their parents' laps--anxious for them to be opened. The next moments were spent slashing open the cardboard boxes and saving the toys from their plastic dungeons. Time to rest as the children run to their lairs to play with their newest treasures. The parents relaxed until the handsome husband had to reluctantly leave for his work. The children could not be bothered today to give him a quick kiss, but Mommy made sure to make up for the love lost. She hugged him tenderly, wiping the silent tear from her face, and bode him a farewell fit for a king. He slipped out the door and scuffled to the red car.

The woman slumped down into the couch. Her eyes shifted to the clock--forcing her inner secretary to take note of the time before passing it to the mental mathematician. He relayed the message to let her know she had a few moments before attempting Easter dinner. The small baby boy trotted to her, and jumped up on the couch. He cuddled closely, rubbing his eyes and letting out an enormous yawn. Mommy scooped him up in her arms and held him tight. She ran her slender fingers through his silky blond hair. The boy laughed, cocking his head to one side to give her a quick mischievous glance. The twinkle in his eyes foretold what he planned to do next. Jumping off the couch into the pillows below, his antics forced his Mommy to prop to her feet and stop him from his dare-devilish ways.

After hours of chasing him around, the sandman finally casted his spell on the toddler. The boy had no choice, but to surrender. He crawled to his sleeping spot, calling his Mommy with a few muffled whines. She picked him up and snuggled with him on the couch. He swiftly journeyed into dream world--his eyes fluttering back-and-forth underneath the thin skin covering his eyeballs. The woman gazed at her beautiful angel.

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! Sirens startled her. The two blond haired girls rushed out of their bedroom to find out what was going on. The woman gently placed the baby on the pillow, jumped to her feet, and ran to the large wooden door. She rested her hand on it to check for signs of heat. It seemed fine, so she opened it looking for a fire. The coast was clear--no smoke or fire. Her mind swirled with what-to-dos. She was in her nightgown. There was no immediate danger. 'Go get some pants then rush the children out of the home,' her mind told her.

Splash! Splash! Splash! Icy water engulfed her feet. Confused, she looked around. The hallway was flooded. The water surged out of the toilet bowl. She ran to the valve and quickly turned it. Water drained from the toilet. The alarms filled her ears. The water clogged her thoughts. She examined the situation then sprung into action. Grabbing every piece of cloth she could find, she threw it on top of the water to soak it up. She sprinted to the kitchen, grabbed the dust pan, and shoveled the pool of water into the tub. After making some head way, she ran to the phone to call her husband; no answer. She dashed into the bedrooms, which were also partially flooded, and tossed the furniture out of its path.

The two little girls sobbed. The loud buzzing of the alarms and the huge basin of water scared them. The woman consoled them while rushing through the place like a Tasmanian Devil with a purpose. She tried to call her husband once more, but still couldn't get through. She made a quick post to Facebook, hoping it would be another means to reach him. But she couldn't wait, she looked up his work number and called to let him know what was going on. She also needed to know what to do next. "Call the landlord," he states. Of course! Duh! She punched in the numbers, but the firefighters came first.

They switched the alarm off and assessed the damage. Meanwhile, her phone started to blow up from the calls of worried loved ones and her husband searching for answers. She tried to multi-task; talking with the firefighters while consoling the children and speaking with concerned family members. Finally, the landlord showed up. She offered calming words and shared a quick joke to try an ease the tension. The firefighters reopened the valve. No more flood--don't know what caused it. No clogs. They left to enjoy their holiday--relieved they didn't have to face a fire. The petite landlord informed the woman that a worker will stop by to help with the clean-up. She took off to her home. The woman was left alone. Easter Day started to slip away.

Everything clamed down. Her husband came home and looked at the mess. Soon after, a tall, husky man appeared with his handy Shop-vac and sucked the water out of the carpets. Meanwhile, the couple moved fast to get dinner prepared. They chopped and whisked. And then they spiced and boiled. The house filled with the aroma of ham and fixings. The worker finished his job and went on his way. Dinner was done much later than anticipated, but it tasted so good--better than any meal before. The family sat at the table, ignoring the mess, and enjoyed each other's company. Easter was salvaged.

Even to this day, there is no reason why that toilet should have flooded; however, there could only be one explanation--the Easter Bunny did it.

Please check out my webpage and social media links for more about me. Thank you!


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Website Launch

Introducing my Official Website......
featuring links, info, and a way to contact me!
Check the website for book releases and event information when it is available.
And the best part--everything is centralized.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Puzzle-I am the Artist

How can you tell if your baby is artistic? There are many answers to this question. It can be the way the baby holds a pencil or the way they mix colors. Some babies can draw circles very early on. But I was not one of those babies.

On the corner of Yates, and one house down, stands a very ordinary red brick house. The sidewalk leads up to several porch stairs which are lined with tiny flower pots that house some tiny pink flowers. These stairs lead to a small landing where a window cuts through the brick. To the right of the window is the hidden doorway.

Upon entering the home, the sounds of tiny feet and screaming voices of young children fly through the air. Clanking dishes from the kitchen far away can hardly be heard through the chaos. A young woman of average height, with curly brown hair and big brown eyes, rushes into the hallway. She quickly reprimands the noisy children and reminds them that their baby sister is sleeping in the next room. As soon as she turns her back, the children snicker and run through the halls once more. The woman chases after them.

At the end of the hall lies the master bedroom. Its theme of love and romance is highly apparent. The shag carpets are a bright red, and they meet up with light pink painted walls. Above the bed hangs a picture of beautiful dancers performing the Waltz. Their dresses are the colors of the rainbow which elegantly flow around them. On the other wall is a hand-painted wedding portrait of a gorgeous couple. Their smiles stretch wide across their faces, and their demeanor is brightened by the love they share.

In the right corner of the room are two windows; one which looks outside to the porch and the other to the neighbor's house next door. Below these windows rests a small wooden crib. A tiny head pokes up. The baby's tangled mop of bushy blond hair engulfs the top of her head, including her small facial features. Like a stealth bomber, she silently rises without detection. She is tall enough to peak outside and is able to reach the windows with her stubby little fingers. The objects outside catch her attention. She watches the wind blow the leaves on the trees. They sway in rhythm to the birds' glorious song. A lonesome squirrel bounces along the sidewalk before she gracefully hops onto the massive trunk of a tree and scurries up to meet her friends. The baby girl watches in amazement.

The scene is wonderful and exciting. The little baby girl takes in all of nature's beauty. She wants to contribute. Carefully, the baby girl reaches for the only art medium she knows. She smears it all over the window in a circular motion. Her giggles catch the attention of her busy mother. When her mother slips into the room, the baby girl turns. Her eyes light up and she proudly shows her mother her artwork. Mother does not understand. Instead, she focuses on the mess covering her windows, the baby's face and hands, and the crib bedding. The smell isn't so pleasant either because this baby's medium of choice is the contents of her diaper.

Many years have passed and the baby is now a teenager. She has come a long way from painting windows with poo. She has spent the years learning how to draw all sorts of things. Her love of superheroes, game characters, and dragons dominate her focus. Her first drawings were of the Mario Brothers and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Later, she studied the art of comic book characters. And her current love is the fantasy world of dragons and princesses.

Grade school was a hard time for her artistically. There were other classmates who were great artists and hated to share the spotlight. In fact, they loved to make fun of her creative works. One particular project involved drawing a flame representing The Holy Spirit. All of the other classmates, including the artistic ones, choose to trace a picture from their workbook. She created her own, and it was different from all the others. Instead of giving praise, they ridiculed it. Every day, while it was hanging amongst theirs, she felt ashamed because of the stigma they placed on it. Then one day, redemption came in the form of a Halloween Art Contest.

Her classmates were certain that one of the other artistic students, whom they loved, would win. She didn't have a chance because he was a very talented artist. She carefully created a cute Halloween Theme depicting a haunted house surrounded by bubbly ghosts. Even when she entered it, she felt she would lose. Her classmates raved over his entry and claimed he would win hands down, but when the voice came over the intercom, the lady revealed a very shocking winner. The girl sat in disbelief, but soon felt accomplished. Her talent was finally recognized.

Now, she is a Senior surrounded by Sophomores in one of her three art courses. Her art teacher, Mr. E., just finished his lecture on colored pencils. All of the students are busy working on their projects. He paces around and examines each one's progress. The melodic sound of 'What a Girl Wants' by Christina Aguilera fills the room. The teenager sketches her project on the acid paper before her. Colored pencils sprawl across the table. She hears the footsteps of her teacher approach. He stops behind her, leans close, and says, "You need to purchase Prismacolor Colored pencils. Crayola is not good for blending." The girl turns to face him.

"Okay. I didn't think there was a difference. And Prismacolor is too expensive for my budget right now" she replies respectfully. The teacher nods. He understands how costly the pencils are, especially for someone with limited funds.

"Prismacolors are easier to blend because they are a softer pencil. Crayola is waxy and hard. It will be difficult to blend. These will be fine for now. Just try to save up to purchase the professional brand if you can." He smiles at the girl and continues to make his way through the classroom. The bell rings and the rustling of papers and zipping of backpacks overtake the music in the room. The students rush out in a hurry. No one wants to be late for their next class.

The next day in Mr. E.'s class, the girl resumes work on her project. She starts her color study for her image. The teacher bursts out of the supply room. Excitement fills his face. He approaches the girl and says, "I just saw your artwork of the yellow lovebird from your Graphic Design class in the hallway. Do you understand what I was saying about Prismacolors?" The girl tries to chime in, but Mr. E. keeps raving. "The colors are blended really well, and the bird looks realistic. It is a great piece. Maybe you could borrow some pencils from someone in class."

"Uh...Mr. E. I didn't use Prismacolor for that piece. I used Crayola." she timidly states. The teacher steps back in amazement.

"Wow! That's Crayola!" A big, confused smile stretches from ear to ear. "Amazing! Well, then. I guess keep doing what you are doing." The young teacher walks away. The girl looks down at her project, and chuckles to herself.

Many days, feats, and failures later, the girl choses to pursue an art career. Her parents make too much money for her to qualify for financial aid, regardless that she is funding most of her tuition on her own. This situation limits her to the local community college without a designated art program. Life is becoming difficult since it is riddled by family problems. Her confidence takes a sharp decline, and life does not seem bright. Everyday, she diligently shuffles into her art courses. The bitter teachers try to discourage her from seeking a place in the art world because most art students from that school end up in the artistic blackhole of Kinkos. She has only one option left before she throws her arms up in disgust.

A career counselor informs her of an internship designing ads for a local company. The girl jumps at the chance and meets with the company owner. He explains how his small company is trying to make a dent in the construction tools industry. He is in need of a talented artist to help bring his vision to life. She agrees to come in and design for him.

But the next visit is disappointing. The owner brings in two laborers, one who is his son, to help design the ads. The girl joins in on the brainstorming, pitching her ideas, and making suggestions. The owner's son refutes all of her ideas, and discusses his own. When they agree to go with his idea, she accepts the creation of the design. At home, she works tirelessly putting the elements together to create the ad she thought they discussed in the meeting.

The next meeting, she presents her piece, while the son presents his. The design she created is everything the owner said he wanted; but, when the son produces his mediocre piece, the owner quickly decides to use his design. The girl slumps down in defeat and questions whether this is what she signed up for. Soon after, she quits the internship and leaves art behind. Far behind.

Several years, two babies, and a busy life later, the girl, now a woman, finds herself in a food manufacturing plant. She is surrounded by interesting characters. Her favorite is her fun-loving artist friend. The two get into a conversation about their lives.

"What did you do before coming here?" he wonders. The woman slaps a chunk of bacon onto the slender conveyor belt. The loud slicing sound of the machine makes communication hard.

She glances at him and says, "I went to school for dental hygiene and I used to be an artist."

Perplexed, the man responds, "Used to be an artist?"

"Yea. I loved to draw all the time, but I don't do it anymore." The woman grabs another piece of bacon and throws it on the conveyor. The machine shakes.

"You do realize that you never stop being an artist." The woman pauses before meeting his gaze. "It is like you don't stop being human. You are who you are and you cannot stop being it." His words awaken a silence inside of her.

And then it clicks. 'I AM an artist!' She proudly remembers.

Thank you for joining in for the 1st part of my four part personal story.
Please check out The Puzzle:The Writer Within


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Out of the Darkness

Photo by Jaclyn Bartz

Spring weather is approaching, and the treachery of this winter is steadily disappearing. I cannot help but to reflect on how symbolic this time of year is. Summer is when life is great. Fall is when problems arise. Winter is the cold, lonely despair felt after something went horribly wrong. And Spring is the season of healing and new beginnings.

Often times, we fall in the rut of Winter and forget that Spring is coming. Bad situations appear impossible to get through. Strength dissipates from our bones. Darkness seeps into our lights. Hope seems like a meaningless word. It is easy for most of us to just lie down and give up. However, we must remain strong. Why? Well, just as the spring warms the cold grasp of winter, time heals a broken soul. No matter how rough and horrible the situation is--it will get better. There is always a brightness along the path.

Photo by Jaclyn Bartz
Remember, Spring is here even if you have to wait a little longer than usual. Regardless how dead the Winter is--a new beginning is right around the corner. Peace and love my friends.