March Reads

As this blog focuses a lot on my books and my writing, I think it is only fitting to give some recognition to the books I’m reading that serve both as entertainment and inspiration to my writing.

Of course, as I have been focusing so much on writing this year, my reading has suffered a bit. I normally set a challenge to read 60 books each year, and normally, I have no problem meeting that goal. This year, however, I’m behind schedule. Like really behind. Like eight books behind schedule.

Fortunately, I did manage to finish two books in March, not counting the textbook I read for class. I thought I would share them with you as a chance for you to share your thoughts if you have read one or both of them. I would love to hear your thoughts on these, as well as other books you think I should read.

Throne of Glass by Sarah Maas
One of my students lent me her copy of this book, which is the first in a series. I’ll be honest, I hadn’t heard good things going into it, so I was not all that excited to pick it up. But in fairness to my student, I wanted to give it a try. Overall, it’s a decent book.

My biggest issue is that the main character is such an egotistical brat who knows she is beautiful and does not understand why people are not falling for her. In other words, she’s not the most likable protagonist.

What this book does have going for it, though, is a Battle Royale-esque competition to see who will be the king’s new hero, some interesting fantasy elements, and a murder mystery. Fortunately, they were enough to keep me reading even though I wanted to smack the main character silly.

Overall, I’d give it a 2.5 out of 5.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Unlike the previous book, this was a book I looked forward to reading. Other than reading his story arc in the Black Panther comics, I had not read Coates before. I am really glad I did.

Written as a letter to his son, Between the World and Me serves to share Coates experiences as a Black man in an America that is defined by whiteness. It’s an America where Black lives and experiences are not equal to those of white people, as shown through the violence we see play out day after day.

I would say that this is required reading for anyone who wants to grow in their ally-ship, understand their privilege, and work toward equity. America is not kind to people of color, most especially those who are Black, and works such as this serve as a reminder that the fight is ongoing. I look forward to reading more by Coates, as well as others who write about race and its impact.

Overall, I’d give this 5 out of 5.

The Engagement

Last week, I found myself stuck on the novel, so I decided to write something that’s been sitting in my head for a while. This is part of the Last Breath universe, though it is definitely a much happier tale. Since I don’t have a book where this belongs, I thought I’d share this short story with you all. It will give you a glimpse of these two characters I’ve come to know so well.

So, without further ado, I present “The Engagement.”

 

Stepping out of the cab, Smith walked up to Kath, who stood in awe of the building before her. A soft, warm San Antonio breeze tousled her long, brown curls. Smith slid his hand into Kath’s. Squeezing it, she turned to him and said, “I can see why you love this place. It’s beautiful.”

Before them stood a Spanish-style mansion beyond a lush green lawn lined with palm trees and perfectly trimmed bushes. To their right, flagstones led to a large koi pond covered in lily pads. The McNay Art Museum looked like heaven on earth. And with it being the day before Thanksgiving, Smith and Kath appeared to have the place to themselves.

Overwhelmed by the beauty of the place, Kath let Smith guide her, first to the koi pond where she marveled over the large fish. Smith stood back, watching his girlfriend’s unfettered joy. Ever since her surgery over the summer, Kath had seemed so subdued. The weight of losing her chance to have children brought about a melancholy that dug in as time passed. Grief had stolen the bubble out of the beautiful woman, but now, he saw her former spark.

“We haven’t even gone inside, and I already know I love it here,” Kath said, turning to Smith. “How did you ever find this place?”

“My parents brought me one summer. Later, I tried running away so I could live here.”

“I would have, too.”

“Ready to go inside?”

Kath squeezed Smith’s hand again and nodded. “But be warned, I may never leave.”

“I’ll be right here with you.”

Leaning over, Kath kissed Smith’s cheek. The act was bold for Kath, but Smith didn’t mind, not when he saw the light in her emerald eyes. He found her beautiful everyday, but today, she was stunning. Her forest green sundress brought out her eyes, and her porcelain skin glowed. What few people milled around the grounds turned to watch Kath pass. Smith couldn’t help but beam with pride.

Hand in hand they entered the museum. Kath, in her good-natured charm, smiled and greeted the docents. Smith grinned. He was, without a doubt, the luckiest man on the planet, and if things went as planned, it would be a day Kath never forgot.

The east wing housed a collection of Monet paintings. Kath loved impressionists, Monet above all. Once, when they visited Kath’s parents over winter break, they took the train down to New York City to see at Degas exhibit at the Met, and Kath floated around for days afterward. Today, she stood in front of one of the water lily paintings, one hand on her chest, her mouth parted in wonder.

They spent close to an hour looking at the paintings, although Smith spent most of that time watching Kath. He had picked the perfect place to ask her to marry him, but they hadn’t yet reached where he wanted to propose. 

Smith guided Kath through the building, letting her marvel over the art and the architecture. For a moment, his thoughts turned wistful. Imagining Kath as a toddler, her eyes filled with delight and wonder, Smith couldn’t help but see the daughter they’d never have. As the thought hit him, he gripped her hand tight out of reflex. She saw his flash of pain, her face crumpling.

“What’s wrong?” she whispered.

The one thing Smith could never do with Kath was lie. Not that she could see through him. He just couldn’t willingly hurt her. But he couldn’t spoil this perfect moment.

Kath saved him from the decision.

“Is it hard to be here? Because of your parents?”

Not committing to the lie, Smith shrugged. “It’s nothing.”

Smith walked on, leading Kath into a narrow hall lined with dark walnut paneling. On their right, a wooden sculpture of a man stole Kath’s attention, stopping her. She fawned over the tiny beads of stubble on his cheeks and the neat crescents of his fingernails.

The man wore weariness in his delicate but detailed features. Smith understood the pain and exhaustion in the man’s eyes. He had seen it time after time in Kath’s eyes as she battled the pain of endometriosis. All the times when Smith could do nothing more than hold her in his arms and whisper that things would be okay.

As Kath stared at the sculpture, Smith let go of her hand and wrapped his arm around her shoulder. As she always did, she leaned against his body and slid an arm around his waist, hooking a finger through one of his belt loops. Pulling her gaze away, Kath kissed Smith on the cheek once again.

“Thank you,” she said.

“For what?”

“All of this. I never knew this place existed until today, and now, I never want to leave. Thank you for sharing it with me.”

“You’re welcome,” he said, returning the kiss.

They continued wandering through the museum until they emerged in an enclosed courtyard. Smith led Kath to a bench under a towering cluster of palm trees. As he sat, Smith pulled the ring from his pocket, closing it in his fist. They sat in silence for a few minutes as Kath’s gaze took in the lush greenery growing around them.

“It’s like I’ve been transported to the setting of a fantasy novel. It’s too beautiful for words.”

Smith smiled and angled his body toward Kath’s. Taking a deep breath, he pushed his glasses up his nose. Smith grabbed Kath’s hand, and as he spoke, kept his gaze on her long, delicate fingers. He had rehearsed the words, repeating them each night while he laid in bed watching his love as she slept.

“Four years ago, I met and fell in love with my best friend. Love was something I thought only others experienced, but you swept in like a whirlwind, throwing my life into disarray in the best possible way. I couldn’t help but fall in love with you.

“I know I haven’t always been the best boyfriend, but the fact that you gave me a second chance means more to me than you will ever know. You taught me how to love. If you let me, I’ll never stop showing you how much you mean to me.”

Pulling his eyes up to Kath’s, he saw the promise of tears, but the smile stretched across her trembling lips spurred him on. Opening his hand, Smith held up the blue diamond encircled by tiny flecks of diamonds on a white-gold band.

“Will you marry me?”

The first tear fell as Kath nodded. “Yes, yes! Of course!”

Before he could slide the ring onto her finger, Kath threw herself into Smith’s arms, kissing him on the lips before hugging him. He held her tight, face buried in her hair. She smelled of sunshine and love and happiness. In a word, she smelled like home.

Bad Times Are Tough…

Balancing school and work and writing has been a big part of my life for nearly a year now. For the most part, I’m able to balance all three as separate aspects of my life, although I do admit to focusing a bit more on writing than on school. As much as I love getting my doctorate and the immense feeling of accomplishment knowing that I’m doing something no other member of my family has come close to, freeing the stories living in my head just feels so much more rewarding right now.

But for the past few weeks, I found myself pulling away from all writing. Not to say that I haven’t written anything, but I procrastinated on two papers for class, waiting until the day each were due. With The New Years Eve Murders, my current work in progress, I would write a little bit here or there, but nothing substantial.

However, as much as I love to be lazy, I didn’t procrastinate out of exhaustion or general malaise. There was a real reason why I’ve been pulling away from writing, one I had kept to myself until last night. It’s a hurdle that I need to move past, because at this point, there is nothing holding me back.

For pretty much my entire education, writing had been my thing. I joke that I have a B.A. in B.S., because I can write a mean research paper. I won an award for my journalism; I was named Outstanding English Graduate. During my master’s program, I was regularly praised for my papers. Even with my doctorate, I had gotten compliments.

And then I took my higher ed law class.

For the first time in my entire writing and education career, I came across that one teacher, who no matter what I did, just did not like my writing style. That was hard. Of course, while taking this class, I started querying, and while I haven’t sent many query letters out (right now I’m at a whopping four), I received two rejections. The rejections, themselves, didn’t hurt. But when paired with a teacher who I couldn’t connect with on any level, I started feeling like a failure.

Who am I kidding, I still feel like a failure.

I know I’m not a failure. I know I’m a good writer, but right now, my brain is trying awfully hard to feel sorry for itself. As a result, my imposter syndrome has been on overdrive.

This feeling won’t last, and honestly, I just keep quoting King Falls A.M. when I feel myself getting too down. As the awesome Ben Arnold sang in A King Falls Christmas, “Bad times are tough, but not tougher than me.”

I will get through this. I will believe in my writing again.

 

Bat Times are Tough
Wallpaper courtesy of https://skylarkevanson.tumblr.com/post/155884814364/i-made-a-couple-of-king-falls-am-phone

Aren’t Brains the Best?

If you’ve read through some of my postings, you know that I have been battling anxiety, depression, and insecurity for a long time. I try my best to mask what’s happening by using humor, because people seem to care more for the people who can make them laugh than the one who is always complaining about the things that are wrong.

Today, I thought I was doing pretty well. I woke up with a plan to do exactly two things today: post on my class discussion board and work on my query letter. I posted, and I opened the file to start my letter, but in both cases, insecurity took hold.

I’m pretty certain that what I wrote to my classmates is complete garbage. They’re the experts in higher education. I’m just someone who has worked in the field for 15 years and hasn’t paid any attention to anything other than my job.

With the query letter, it doesn’t matter that I’ve written a novel. It doesn’t matter that I have a pretty decent way with words. Lots of people can write; it doesn’t mean that they’re all good at it. And by they, I mean me.

I’ve dealt with imposter syndrome for a very long time. I know that I have done a lot of good things in my life, but my brain doesn’t always believe that I’m meant to be here. It doesn’t matter that I have two degrees and am a year and half out from my third. Nor does it matter that I’ve been writing both professionally and personally for basically my entire life. It doesn’t matter that I’ve worked my butt off to get to where I am today, not when I have a defective brain.

Anxiety has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Know the movie Red Dawn? I was so convinced that the Soviet Union was going to invade the U.S. in the mid-eighties that I freaked out any time a plane flew overhead. I had acid reflux in kindergarten, because of my recurring nightmares about having to fight off Russians in my great-grandmother’s backyard. In retrospect, a repetitive dream in which I – a child – used a rusty machete to fight off Russians with machine guns is quite hilarious. But it’s also my reality.

As I grew older, and the USSR broke up, my anxieties shifted. In high school, as I spent winter breaks and weekends babysitting my cousin’s toddler, I would lie in bed imagining someone breaking into her house. I had an escape plan for every scenario my overly stimulated brain could imagine.  As a result, the lack of sleep caught up to me, and I wound up getting physically sick.

My anxiety and imposter syndrome are best friends. They hang out together and wait until I have a decent amount of confidence before attacking. I swear, their favorite activity is destroying anything positive I have built up. Which is why I’m typing this today.

I know I am not alone when it comes to imposter syndrome and anxiety. I don’t even have a surefire way to power through when they set in. I just liken them to walking. Put one foot in front of the other and repeat until you’ve gotten to your destination. Or in this case, typing one word after another until the words form a completed narrative.

What I write doesn’t have to be great right now. The simple act of getting the words on the page will be a huge accomplishment. Then, when I’m feeling like the word FAKE is no longer hanging over my head blinking like a neon sign, I’ll worry about how good or bad things are. If not, the bad feelings win. And I can’t afford to let that happen. I know that I have fought incredibly hard to get to where I am today. I can’t let a case of imposter syndrome keep me from achieving goals I’ve had my entire life.

So, enough whinging. Time to start fighting back.

 

Last Breath

After working on this novel off and on for nearly nine years, it’s nice to see things finally coming together. I finished Last Breath about seven years ago, but fear kept me from doing much more than editing it every now and thing. Last summer, though, that changed when I stopped caring about fear and rejection and decided to immerse myself back into the world of my private detectives, prepping this bad boy to go out into the world.

At the end of July, I started rewriting the entire thing by hand. It took a few months, but I added a completely new section and fine-tuned the original story. I may be a bit biased, but I think this final version is a pretty decent piece of fiction.

So what’s it about? Here’s my blurb:

Last Breath follows the Smiths, a pair of private detectives who have been called in to consult with the Boulder County Sheriffs Department on a gruesome murder by a sadistic serial killer. Nicknamed The Dripper, the killer savages women before tying them up a drowning them in mountain lakes near Boulder. As the Smiths investigate, Kath Smith finds herself haunted by the case, but is she simply afraid of what she’s seen, or is she about to become a victim herself?

Losing myself in the world of the Smiths, I not only finished this piece, but I also have planned at least two more adventures from them. Book two, tentatively called The New Year’s Eve Murders, is already underway, although I’ve taken some time off for my last two rounds of edits to Last Breath. My hope is to wrap that bad boy up some time this year.

Next up, I plan to start the querying process, which is crazy. I admit that I’m a bit terrified, but I’m much more confident about my writing and this book, making me feel better about jumping off into this whole publishing abyss. But if I never try, there I’ll never know for sure whether others will every get to experience this world I love so much.

So, here goes nothing.

I’m Baaaaaaack!

That’s right! I might be working full time, taking classes toward my doctorate and living it up as a married woman, but I decided that there simply isn’t enough going on in my life, so I should start writing once more.

When do I sleep? I’ll let you know once that finally happens.

But seriously, I’m actually writing because I finally decided to do something with my life…besides being a college administrator, student, and wife. I decided that it was time to do something with that manuscript I finished back in 2012. No longer would it collect dust.

Nope, I decided that it was time to take a serious look at it and try my hand at publishing it (and by it, I mean Last Breath, the official title of my novel). So, I dug it out of my Dropbox in late July and spent the following four months rewriting it (by hand, because I never do things the easy way). Since then, I’ve edited it twice, and I’m in the process of wrapping up a third, and hopefully final, edit before sending it off to a professional for feedback.

I’ve wanted to be an author basically since I learned to read. And for way too long, I let my imposter syndrome get the best of me. But now, I’m serious. Not only am I looking to publish Last Breath, but I’m also actively trying to build my brand as a writer. As a result, you’ll notice a lot of changes coming your way in the weeks and months to come.

You’ll see me using this site much more often than I have, but not just for the hilarious stories of falling down or being mistaken for pregnant when I just need to go on a diet. I’m going to be giving regular updates on the whole shebang and including fun things for those of you who want to stick around and see this thing through.

It’s my hope that you do stick around, and if you’re finding me for the first time, feel free to look through the archives and have a good laugh. I don’t mind.

It’s Not If, It’s When

Back in the fall of 2011, not long after I had become a Building Emergency Leader (BEL) at Johnson County Community College, I attended an active shooter training led by a former FBI agent. He started by immediately killing any lightheartedness in the room by saying that campus shooting happening at JCCC would not be a case of if but of when. Trust me, I quickly began to wonder what I had gotten myself into when I agreed to become a BEL.

Ever since Columbine, school shootings had been a serious fear of mine, and I have had students who had left me wondering if they were capable of committing murder because of certain behaviors they had exhibited to their peers, faculty or staff. As a college employee, I work in the very setting where these incidents can and do occur. Every time I hear about a school shooting, regardless of whether it’s K-12 or college, it cuts me to the core. Even fictional stories about school shootings – Gus Van Sant’s Elephant or Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin for example – give me nightmares.

Today, those nightmares partially came true.

I had gone down to my boss’ office to catch her up on a meeting she had missed and something that had happened in our office earlier. On my way out of her office, I grabbed a large package that had come in and hopped in the elevator for the third floor. I’ll tell you now, nothing seemed out of the ordinary right away. I passed a girl in the quiet lounge who was buying something out of the vending machine. The hall was otherwise empty, but at 3 p.m. on a Thursday, which is pretty normal.

When I got to my office, the door was locked. Honestly, I thought we were once again having problems where the door was locking itself – it happened several times earlier this week – so I thumped on the window since I was carrying a giant box and couldn’t easily grab my keys. Aaron, my Student Involvement Ambassador, had been walking away from the door and turned back. I could tell that I surprised him, but I didn’t understand why. When he explained, well, that’s when panic mode set in.

Aaron stated that a police officer carrying a shotgun had just stopped in asking if they had seen a woman carrying a shotgun. When Aaron said no, the officer said that he was going to lock Aaron and the other staff members in the office.

I had just missed this happening, and when I knocked on the window, I scared the crap out of the people in the office. Of course, the manager in me kicked in. I told Aaron to call over and tell the staff to close the Lounge and Campus Center, which had already been done (my staff is awesome). I then grabbed my BEL radio and called my boss to see if she had heard anything.

Over the next few minutes, my boss and I were frantically trying to figure out whether the situation was a drill or legitimate lockdown situation. I am so thankful I’m a BEL because the notification that we were on lockdown came across the radio before the text and email notifications were sent out.

After that, it was a waiting game, and we wound up waiting for nearly four hours as the JCCC police, Overland Park Police and SWAT and the Johnson County Sheriff Department searched our campus for the woman with the gun. We got a few text notifications, but honestly, Twitter was our best source of information. I sat in my office, my heart in my throat, trying my best to put on a brave face for the five students who were hiding in my conference room watching the local news over the internet. We’d trade news back and forth, jumping at every single thump we heard.

I will say that I am so thankful that I had Aaron in the office. His experience as a former Marine was invaluable as he would reassure me after every thump and bump that it wasn’t a gunshot but a door shutting or the AC kicking on or whatever it was. He kept my sanity in check. I don’t know what I would have done without him.

Eventually, around 6:30 p.m., we heard the police evacuating the Student Lounge and Campus Center. That was the greatest sound ever, because we knew we were next. But the minutes between evacuating those rooms and ours stretched on for what seemed like an eternity. We knew that they had to sweep each room to ensure that no one remained and that the woman with the gun wasn’t hiding anywhere, but we just wanted to run for the safety of our cars so we could rush to the safety of our homes so bad. Not to mention every single one of us had to use the bathroom so badly. But the police soon came to our rescue.

But my job wasn’t done quite yet. The police had already cleared the first and second floors on the COM, but they had missed my boss’ office and the Campus Ledger staff, so I had to speak to the police to tell them where to go. I can now cross “Spoke to a man carrying an assault rifle” off my bucket list.” :-/

While I was out of the building, I still wasn’t quite done. As I went to leave campus, I had to stop and open my trunk to prove that I did not have a gun or a person in my trunk. While I was standing at the back of my car with a police officer, we hear a loud crash. Some gawker on the main road wound up rear-ending the car in front of him. At that point, the officer was definitely done with me. And I was glad to be done with work.

Today was a day that I hope to never repeat. I cannot say if it was a false report or what, but I am very thankful that we did not have an active-shooter situation. I don’t understand why anyone would ever choose to react in such a manner, hurting innocent people. I’m glad it did not happen today. I’m proud of my staff for how well they handled themselves, and I’m proud of the students who hung out with me in my office, all of whom maintained their composure so well in a very stressful and frightening time.

I’m just so glad to be at home where I got to hug Jeff really tight. I thank all of my friends and family for checking in on me throughout the afternoon and evening. I’m happy to report that I am safe and alive, and trust me, I will hug you all so much when I see you.

Looking for the Light

Deep breath.

Confession time.

I have something to get off my chest. Honestly, it’s going to be tough to write this, but I know that doing so will help me take one of the steps I need in order to improve. Many of you who know me know may know some of this, but for most of you, the majority of what I am about to say will be new. But I need to say this. I just need to.

For more than 15 years, I have battled with depression. It started when I was 19, and at the time, it lasted about a year and a half. After that, I thought I was done with it. Since then, I’ve battled it off and on throughout my life.

Fortunately, I’ve had more good years than bad years. Many more good years, in fact. In all, I’d say that, over the past 16 years, I’ve only suffered from depression less than five of those years. For the most part, my depression was pretty low level. I could handle it on my own without the need for drugs or counseling. I did meet with a counselor once, and he was amazing (unfortunately, he works exclusively with UMKC students).

Which brings me to the present. For the past nine months, I have started battling depression once again. At first, I thought I could handle it on my own. When things were starting to get a little crazy, I would tell myself it was time to reach out for help, but then bad days wouldn’t happen as often, leading me to think things were getting better. It’s also really hard for me to ask for help, so when things looked like they were getting better, I’d just push forward with my life and hope that things would turn out for the best.

But they didn’t.

This past month or so, things have just seemed to have sunk even lower. While good things have happened to me, it felt like every time something good happened, three bad things would happen in return. I feel like someone has tied a weight around my foot then drove me out into a lake, tossing me into its murky depths. I’m under the water, thrashing about as water pours into my mouth, drowning me.

I know that, for many of you, that may come as a surprise to read. Prior to writing this, I’ve only disclosed what’s happening with me to three people, because I’m ashamed. Not only is it hard for me to ask for help, but it’s hard for me to talk about my mental health.

The Mindy who people see online and in person has been a sham, almost a pod person if I may reference one of my favorite movies. What better way for people to think everything is fine if I pretend that everything is fine? So, I keep posting links to geeky articles and pictures of cats, but really, all I want to be doing is lying in bed, hiding under the blankets away from the world. When things get especially bad, I want to curl up in the fetal position on the floor of my closet, where no one, not even Jeff, can find me.

Lately, it’s been hard for me to even pretend to be normal. Most weekends, I’ll get out of bed, bathe and dress, but that’s it. I won’t fix my hair. I only leave the house if we have plans or Jeff drags me out – last weekend, he had to twist my arm to get me to go out to breakfast. I have a hard time going anywhere on my own anymore. Weekdays, I do what I normally do because I simply can’t afford to lose my job, but it takes a lot of effort. What no one knows is how much physical pain I’m in – did you know that depression actually causes physical pain? I’m hunched over like Mr. Burns, because if I sit/stand up straight, I feel like a rubber band stretched too tight.

So why am I writing all of this? Lately, I feel like I’ve been letting a lot of people down because of my depression. I will be doing what I can to make it up to everyone individually, but I want to just share with my dear friends why I’ve been off these past few months. And if I have offended you in any way, I am truly sorry. Please know that I would never intentionally hurt anyone I care about. Unfortunately, depression can be a selfish disease.

The other reason I’m writing this is because of the fact that I am scared to get help. I believe that, by writing down my plan, you all can help hold me accountable. I have a meeting with a counselor scheduled for next Monday, and I’m hopeful that he can help get me back on track toward moving past this bout of depression.

I need help. I want help. I don’t want to be depressed anymore.

I Think, Therefore I am Weird

When you have a mind that races at a million miles a minute, it is inevitable your brain will land on some very bizarre thoughts.  I would argue that’s how some of the greatest scientific innovations of all time came to be. And the weird ones, too, of course. 

How else would we have figured out that only a portion of people can smell the sulfur from the amino acids in asparagus in our pee? It obviously took someone going, “Hey, wait a sec, my wee smells a bit off….”

To vocalize some of the weirder thoughts we have, we have to have some courage, but in the name of science, we should totally do it. For instance, during college, one of our senior RAs, Ryan, took a lot of courage to blurt out in the middle of our RA training what I think to be a crazy but very true discovery. One morning, as we were eating breakfast, he said, “Did you ever notice that, after drinking coffee, your pee smells like Sugar Smacks cereal?”

Right now, I bet there are quite a few light bulbs going off in the heads of a few readers.

I also bet that there are quite a few coffee makers brewing up some coffee right now in the name of science.

It’s totally true, by the way. 

With my crazy, all-over-the-place mind, I tend to have an average of 964 random thoughts that could lead to scientific breakthroughs and another 1,485 about things that I know science has covered but I’m curious to know what led to the breakthrough. And don’t even get me started on the origin of slang. I have read so many articles and books on how things came to be.

I know that, language-wise, we have Shakespeare to thank for quite a bit. Although, I’m pretty sure he has had nothing to do with some of the more weird slang I’ve heard. The one that was stuck in my head today, which caused me to think of this post in the first place, is the term swamp butt, also known as swamp ass. 

For the record, this came to be after walking around in the sweltering heat and seeing way too many people who were sitting down and needed to learn how to wear clothing more appropriate for the heat and bring a change of clothing for when they started to sweat through their first pair of pants/shorts.

I must also add, that I made the mistake of Googling “swamp butt,” and learned that it’s also called “monkey butt,” which is cracking me up to no end. Plus, there are some hilarious articles out there, including one with the line “dusting your huevos in cornstarch.” I swear to Jeebus I’m not making this up.

This is where I must emphasize the fact that sometimes we think of things that take courage to admit we think. I’m pretty sure that anyone who can smell the sulfur from asparagus in pee thinks about it every single time they smell it (at least I do), just as I do when I smell the aroma of Sugar Smacks in my wee after having coffee. And I don’t just get caught up thinking about the origin of swamp butt. Plenty of other words have left me wondering who the heck thought up their bizarre origins. Words like falcon punch, douchebag, and Netflix neck.

But I am amused easily.

Literally or Figuratively?

If any of you have been following my Facebook or Twitter today, you may know a little bit about where this story is going, but now you’re about to get the full story. Be prepared to laugh your toukus off. 

Actually, I recommend you take a quick break to go to the bathroom. That way you don’t laugh so hard you pee.

You good? No? Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

This morning was just like any other Monday morning. I was behind the wheel of my car, speeding down the highway, listening to a podcast. Just like any other Monday. When I looked up at the rearview mirror and saw movement, I didn’t think anything was out of the ordinary.

Until I realized that the movement wasn’t in the mirror. It was on the mirror.

A spider was busy circling the outer rim of the mirror. I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry. I wanted to die. I wanted to set my car on fire. All I could do was say, “Don’t wreck the car; don’t wreck the car; don’t wreck the car.” 

It took every ounce of willpower in my body to keep the car moving and not drive it into the concrete divider in the median while trying my best to keep an eye on that eight-legged monstrosity (did I mention that he was the size of a dime?). I watched him circle the mirror twice, then climb onto the ceiling where he promptly disappeared.

Not long after that, when I got to work, I offered a quick compromise to the spider via Twitter.

Ok, Spider, I’m going to set my car keys on the seat and slowly back away. It’s all yours. Please don’t kill me.

I just wish I could say that this is where this comical story ends, but when your name is Minday, that’s never the case.

As I was walking into the building, my stomach decided to let me know just how scared it had been by the spider. It growled a warning that I only a few minutes before sh!t would literally get worse. Yeah, I literally had the sh!t scared out of me by the spider. 

That is not a joke.

But later in the day. I did joke. Starting at about 4, the jokes began to flow on Twitter.

So…anyone want to come battle the spider residing in my car? The reward will be knowing that I can actually sleep at night.

The spider is as big as a small grapefruit and answers to the name Jerry. He does speak, too. #imaybeexaggerating

Also the spider does not fear fire. In fact, he took my lighter and is taunting me with it. #stillexaggerating

My cat eats spiders, but in order to get her, I need to find a way to get home. Jerry says he’ll drive. #notsureitrustaspidertodrive

Jerry has offered to show me his driving record. He pulled out a little spider wallet. It’s got a Spider-Man design on it. #wierdlycute

As kind as Jerry is being, I just can’t get past the fact he’s a spider. I also can’t get close to him. #skinisliterallycrawling

How do you politely kill a spider? #askingforafriend #itsnotforjerryiswear

On the drive home, I had a brief scare. While sharing the story with my sister (who howled with laughter by the way), I felt a tickling on my leg and began screaming. My sister laughed even harder as I swiped at my leg to make sure that it was only my jeans and not an arachnid trying to dig its way into my flesh. It was just my jeans. I know.

There were no spider sightings. I did threaten to leave Nevaeh in the car for an hour or two just to be on the safe side, but I didn’t know if that would be frowned upon or not. 

Is it?