Writing Wednesdays #13

Image Credit: ascendcustomextrusions.com

Image Credit: ascendcustomextrusions.com

This is the final installment of “Specialton.”

Posting my novels on the blog over the last several months has inspired me to start the editing process! I now have an outline of how I want all three of my novels to end 🙂 I look forward to embarking on this process, one day at a time.

My overall goal is to edit these novels, one at a time, from now until November, when I start writing a new one for NaNoWriMo 2014. I already have the main idea for that!

This is not the end of Writing Wednesdays, I promise! Remember when I posted excerpts of my 2014 novel, “Discussion of Differences,” on the Saturdays in November? Starting next week, I’ll be posting installments of that novel!

Until next week, enjoy the finale of “Specialton.”

Since she was covered in his semen, the only logical place to go next was the shower. They stepped in together and had another romp as they attempted to get clean. She kneeled on the floor as John rubbed his member in and out of her breasts. Evelyn then rubbed the semen all over her in delight, with the water washing it away. Finally, John’s body had had it, so he merely watched as Evelyn sat down in the tub, spread-eagle. She pleasured her clitoris with her fingers, starting with one finger and then moving up to two, where they slid in and out of her vagina. She kept at it until she exploded in orgasm, complete with several screams of pleasure and a full body shudder. Exhausted, John helped her up, dried themselves off, and they stumbled back to the bedroom to fall asleep in each other’s nakedness.

Two weeks later was the groundbreaking ceremony. It seemed like the entire town and the two neighboring towns showed up, along with all of the news media around. The JLA team flanked the mayor as they broke ground with their golden shovels. Flashbulbs popped and cameras rolled as John was interviewed for three local papers and the major TV station for four counties. The mayor hailed the groundbreaking as “innovative” and “a long time coming.” Evelyn could only smile as her fiancé finished his interviews like a champ, then immediately turned around and kissed her for all the world to see, complete with a dip. Everyone oohed, with the men puffing up their chests and almost all of the women swooning, wishing that their men did that with them in public, much less in front of rolling cameras. Evelyn felt like she was on top of the world.

Those feelings were soon dashed, however. She didn’t end up back in the hospital by the grace of God, but all the activity drained her of every bit of energy she’d gained back. The doctor ordered strict bed rest for at least a week until she went in for another check-up. Nothing was wrong with the baby so far as anyone could tell; she was progressing with the pregnancy properly. Both she and John were frustrated, but there was nothing anyone could do. Doctor’s orders were important to follow. It just meant more work and more stress on the rest of the team.

When she could, Evelyn would call in to the office for updates and throwing out ideas. Now that the groundbreaking ceremony was a week in the past, the pressure was on to have the first house built and furnished within a few months; six, at the most. The design was finished, so construction started almost immediately. But with construction came the pressure to continue designing and getting ready once the first house was done. This train had left the station and there was no stopping it unless there was a major emergency.

Fortunately the JLA team was extremely efficient, and the first home, designed to be a model for the rest of the neighborhood, was taking shape very quickly. The major construction was finished a month after the groundbreaking, and the designs for the next three houses were well underway. The train was chugging along with the county in terms of their services as well, with the first asphalt laid right after the foundation had been set.

Evelyn, however, was miserable. The baby was keeping her at home nearly four days a week, and weekends were devoted to sleeping and storing what energy she could. John was miserable for her, it was not fun seeing her upset and irritable. She did her best not to take it out on him, of all people, but one night it all boiled over.

“John, I wish I had the energy, but I just don’t!”

“I realize that, but I can’t do everything! I’m exhausted, too!”

“The doctor said at my last appointment that rest is the best for me and the baby. Don’t you understand that?”

“I do, really I do. It’s just frustrating, because I thought this would have passed by now.”

“Don’t you think I want that too? I’ve missed being at the office. I’ve missed my work. I’ve missed being with you. I want to get this baby out of me so I can go back to normal. If you’re frustrated, then I’m doubly so!”

She huffed out of the room, as best she could with a watermelon in her mid-section, in an attempt to cool off. She tried not to slam the bedroom door, but she did, to prove her point.

John stewed on the couch, trying to figure out what to do, where to go. He couldn’t leave, although he was sorely tempted. He wanted nothing more than to slam the front door and storm off in the car, to drive somewhere, anywhere. But, he knew Evelyn would be angrier at that, and that she’d worry until he returned.

An hour later, Evelyn opened the bedroom door a crack and peered out. The lights were still on, and she thought she heard the blare of the TV in the living room. She sighed in relief and opened the door wide.

Making her way to the living room, she picked up on John’s snores. Glancing at the wall clock, she’d missed dinner.  She knew she needed to eat something. She felt for the light switch and flipped it on, where she was met with a feast on the table. She couldn’t believe her eyes – John had fixed all of her favorites. Her hands flew to her heart as she thought over their argument, tears springing to her eyes. She was amazed that love could overcome so quickly.

She picked up a plate, heaped it with food, and carried it to the living room. John was curled up on the couch. She wriggled her way onto the couch near John’s head. He stirred for a few seconds, but then fell back asleep just as quickly. She stared at the food, the TV, and him before she smiled and sighed in content.

Evelyn tried to get up from the couch to go back into the kitchen, to put away the food. Her watermelon of a stomach bumped John’s head just right and his eyes popped open. He almost bonked his head from sitting up so quickly, and a gasp escaped his lips. Evelyn fumbled with the plate, the fork clattering on the wood floor.

“Evelyn, baby, I’m sorry. You startled me straight out of sleep. I was dreaming. Did I hit the baby?”

Evelyn shook her head. “No, honey, you’re fine. I didn’t want to wake you, I’m sorry. I was just trying to go put the food away. Thank you for all the food, it was delicious.”

John smiled as he turned around to face Evelyn. “I wanted to make it up to you. I shouldn’t have yelled – I was just frustrated at the situation, not at you. You’re the one carrying our little one.”

Evelyn bent down to kiss him on the forehead. “Are you hungry? I couldn’t eat all that food.”

She held out her free hand, where John got up from the couch and swept up the rogue fork with the other hand. They made their way to the kitchen where they finished off the feast together.

Come back next week for the start of my latest novel!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Hot Topic #5: The Police

“My heroes are those who risk their lives every day to protect our world and make it a better place – police, firefighters, and members of our armed forces.”

~Sidney Sheldon

On Saturday afternoon, I went to Subway to grab lunch before heading to Al’s. As I parked my car, I saw a Chesapeake police car in the lot.

When I walked in, two officers in uniform were there, eating. As I ordered my sub, chips, and cookies, I thought about what they go through every day. What the police forces across the country endure. All the recent protests, riots, and accusations. The calls for justice, and for peace.

As I paid and was getting ready to leave, I saw that I would pass by their table on my way out.  I wanted to take a minute, stop, and thank them for what they do every single day. They serve and protect us, the ordinary citizens of towns, cities, and states.

They appeared to be partners, or maybe they just traveled in the same car to get lunch. They were deep in conversation, and I didn’t want to interrupt. But I made sure to make eye contact with one of them and I smiled.

It made me feel good.

In the last 24 hours, the world watched as Baltimore, Maryland dissolved from peaceful protests into  violent riots. The police did their duty, but over 20 were hurt.

Watching the news outlets and social media over the course of the day today, there were three things that stuck out to me:

Image Credit: The Anti-Media

Image Credit: The Anti-Media

Image Credit: Patrick Nasuta

Image Credit: Patrick Nasuta

Image Credit: B. Scott

Image Credit: B. Scott

I have always admired Dr. King.

However, I’m sure he is turning in his grave right now.

The photo above is part of the Auxiliary Unit of my city’s police department. I feel safe and secure, knowing that there are good men and women, like these people pictured, protecting my neighborhood and my city.

However, I realize that not all cops are stellar.

Being a cop, no matter what town, city, or state, is not easy. These people deal with the worst of the worst, day in and day out. They always have their guard up. They go into work, into their shift, not sure if they’ll come home to their houses or families safely. They work long hours. They have a lot of stress.

Many of us have absolutely no idea what they experience, unless we have family members or close friends involved in a department or on a force. And even then, not a lot want to talk about work.

I just want to encourage you, when you see one, to acknowledge and smile at an officer in uniform. Sometimes, that tiny gesture, one that only takes seconds, can make all the difference in someone’s day.

I know I plan to say “Hi” more and thank them for their service. Most of us do that with members of the military in uniform or veterans – Why should police officers be any different?

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #7: “Save Karyn: One Shopaholic’s Journey to Debt and Back”

“To everyone who’s ever second-guessed a decision they’ve made, our past makes us who we are. Have no regrets.”
~Karyn Bosnak, 20 Times a Lady

One of my favorite places to look for books is in thrift stores.

I can’t remember when or where I bought this book, but I do remember that it sat on my bookshelf, collecting dust, begging to be read.

Toward the end of January, I picked it up for the first time in a long time, thinking it would be a good read on the plane for my recent trip to Florida.

Like “The Happiness Project,” I powered through most of this book by the end of that weekend. This book was quite a bit heftier than “The Happiness Project,” but I was very pleased with myself once I finished it.

It was really nice to be reading again!

I’ve always loved human-interest stories. I feel drawn to them. I’m fascinated by other people’s lives, especially those who have experienced tragedy, struggle, or hardship.

In several ways, I identified with Karyn.

First, there’s the settings of Chicago and New York City.

I was born in Manhattan. I have visited the city many, many times throughout my childhood because my parents took me back to the hospital where I was born prematurely, every year until I was in middle school. It has always been a special place for me. The city excites me. I love watching movies that involve NYC. I love the architecture. I love Central Park. I have had the opportunity to play at Carnegie Hall as a senior in high school in 2007, and visit The New York Times as part of my main college internship in 2010.

Personally, I would never want to live in a big city, but whenever I have an opportunity to visit, I will!

Photo montage!

Mount Sinai Hospital Image Credit: himetop.wikidot.com

Mount Sinai Hospital
Image Credit: himetop.wikidot.com

Central Park Image Credit: centralparktoursnyc.com

Central Park
Image Credit: centralparktoursnyc.com

Brooklyn Bridge Image Credit: www.trekearth.com

Brooklyn Bridge
Image Credit: http://www.trekearth.com

New York Public Library -  The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building Image Credit: www.nypl.org

New York Public Library –
The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
Image Credit: http://www.nypl.org

The New York Times Building Image Credit: www.forestcity.net

The New York Times Building
Image Credit: http://www.forestcity.net

Governors Island Image Credit: www.nydailynews.com

Governors Island
Image Credit: http://www.nydailynews.com

Carnegie Hall Image Credit: www.artsatl.com

Carnegie Hall
Image Credit: http://www.artsatl.com

Chicago is also an exciting city. I’ve been fortunate to visit there a few times, with one of my dad’s sisters having lived in one of the suburbs for almost 20 years. My heart will always default to NYC, but I look forward to the next chance that I can visit Chicago!

Second, managing money and spending beyond the means.

I’ve never considered myself to be a true “shopaholic,” but I have struggled with managing my money before. There were a few times in college where I didn’t any pay attention to my bank account – I thought I was being responsible, that I was okay.

I ended up overdrafting a couple of times over the course of a few months. That was absolutely mortifying. My parents were angry and upset, but they were more than willing to help me get back on track.

Ever since that wake-up call several years ago, I have tried really hard to get better with my money. Now, as Al’s fiance, I am preparing for our future together. I am more committed than ever to saving every penny that I can and I’ve been watching my accounts like a hawk. It feels so good to see my savings grow and grow. Every dollar counts!

I am proud to be currently debt-free, but I know that so many young adults like myself are not so lucky. Student loans, car loans, credit cards, mortgages, bills in general. I’m sure it feels like a never-ending cycle.

Seeing Karyn’s journey unfold from the pages made me laugh.

It made me cry.

It scared me straight.

As I was reading, I immediately thought back to last year, when I was winding down my 10-month stay in my apartment in Newport News. It was tough, those 10 months. Note – I never went without the essentials, I was able to pay my rent and utilities on time, but it felt like such a drain every month. I felt like I was never getting ahead. I was saving as much money as I could, but it was hard.

Moving back home was one of the hardest decisions ever, but it was one of the best decisions. I needed to experience my independence, for a little while. But I am more grateful that my parents let me come back home!

I have taken that amazing opportunity to squirrel away money like a madwoman, as much as I can, as fast as I can. It feels so good!!

In addition to saving away, I have finally started to realize just how much stuff (a.k.a., crap) I have.

A few weekends ago, I looked around my bedroom and I almost broke into tears. I felt overwhelmed. I felt greedy. I felt absolutely disgusted with myself.

I realized that at that moment, I was fortunate enough to have SEVERAL ROOMS in my parents’ house, rooms that were full of things that I called mine – Furniture, clothes, jewelry, shoes, books. It was too much. It was a tipping point.

I’ll elaborate more on that in a new post, but let’s just say it was a humbling and eye-opening experience.

In short, I took so much away from this one book. It helped me evaluate my life, where I am, and where I’m going. It was awesome!

This will be on my bookshelf forever. I plan to re-read it!!

Karyn is an inspiration. Her experiences from 1999-2002 are still relevant now, for so many.

She turned her life around, and it is so awesome to see that in those pages.

I would absolutely recommend this book.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Wednesdays #12

I’m back!

Enjoy the latest installment of “Specialton.”

John looked up and nodded. “Doctor …”

“Franklin. ER. I heard about Evelyn when I came on shift early this morning. She’s had it rough, but I know she’ll pull through. It’s too bad you’re not married …”

John smiled and shook his head. “Yep, if only we’d eloped when she told me she was pregnant a few months ago. I decided to propose instead.”

Dr. Franklin stuck out his hand and John shook it. “You’re a good man. Staying with her first of all, and then wanting to marry her the right way. Good on you. Well, can’t talk. Trauma calls. Good to meet you, John. Hopefully you and Evelyn aren’t stuck in here too much longer in this depressing place.”

John knew that all he could do was wait longer, so he took his time with his breakfast. It tasted okay, nothing like Evelyn made at home. God, he missed her. Outside of the two-week trip he’d taken recently, this was the longest he’d been separated from her. The hospital world was waking up with the day and John was a people-watcher. Everyone was perfectly pleasant and smiled at him, but left him alone.

Once he’d had breakfast, John made his way to the bathroom and then back to the waiting room. He was growing impatient, but he wanted to see Evelyn as soon as he was able to.  

The nurses went about their work, but stopped by every so often to check on John. Hours passed.  Finally, the doors opened, and the doctor appeared. John stood up, relieved. It had been a long 24-plus hours.

He greeted John with a handshake and then hurried to the exam room. One of the nurses followed after him; another went over to John.

“John, I know you’re anxious. The doctor was out of town, otherwise he would have been here a lot sooner. Evelyn has been resting, with lots of fluids. Once the doctor’s exam is over, then you can see her.”

Another agonizing 45 minutes passed. The doctor reappeared to the waiting area, as if he wanted to speak. No one else was there, as it was the middle of a beautiful Saturday afternoon, so the doctor shook John’s hand again and then sat down.

“John, it’s a pleasure to meet you, I wish this meeting was in better circumstances. You’re fortunate that your fiancée has been attending her prenatal appointments with me. However, this degree of sickness was much unexpected and I’m sorry that you both had to go through this these last few days. Fortunately, she’s stable and the baby appears to be fine, for now. I’m recommending that Evelyn stay here one more night for observation and more fluids, and then you can take her home tomorrow.”

John’s eyes were full of questions. “What about work? She and I are a team in our business. However, I understand the need for her health and the baby. What do we do?”

The doctor nodded and considered his questions. “Until she’s back to a more normal state, I highly recommend bed rest for both their health. If she is stressed, the sickness could return very quickly and you both could end up back here again.”

John paled. “We certainly don’t want that, this last day and a half has been difficult.”

The doctor took out his prescription pad. “I can’t give her any strong medicine, but I am prescribing this mild anti-nausea dosage, that should help her keep more food and water in her. She desperately needed fluids when she arrived the other night. You are a good man, you saved both their lives.”

John was relieved, slightly. “So, bed rest for now. Anything else?”

The doctor wrote down a date and time. “Can she come in to see me then?”

John nodded. “Is she able to drive?”

The doctor’s eyebrows furrowed. “In her condition, probably not. However, since I’m prescribing several days’ bed rest, she might feel strong enough to drive herself. If she doesn’t, I want you or someone else who is trustworthy to drive her to see me, okay?”

John nodded and extended his hand. “Thank you for coming so quickly. We both, er, three of us, appreciate it.”

The doctor smiled and grasped John’s hand. “Glad to hear that you’re a family already. My number is on the pad. If either of you have questions, just call.”

“Thank you, Doctor. May I see Evelyn now?”

The doctor’s smile spoke volumes.

John practically ran down the hall to Evelyn’s room. “Pull yourself together, son. She doesn’t need any more excitement.”

He knocked and the nurse waved him in.

Evelyn was a sight. Tubes stuck out of her everywhere. She looked like she’d lost weight, and not in the healthy way. Still, her eyes lit up and she breathed deeply.

“John …” Her voice was raspy, but she could speak.

John weaved his way through the maze of tubes so he could be by her side. It was refreshing to see her slightly sitting up, not sprawled on the floor by the toilet like he’d found her on Friday. He kissed her forehead and ran his hand along his cheek. Her skin was slightly gray, but she was warm.

The nurse spoke up. “Stay here as long as you like, I know you’ve been waiting. I’ll come back later.”

“John …”

“Shhh … Don’t speak. Your voice needs to rest, it sounds awful.”

“John … I love you.”

John kissed her forehead again, it was virtually the only place he could reach without snagging a tube or a wire. “You’re quite a sight, Evelyn. I love you too.”

No more words were spoken, and no more were necessary. The love and appreciation filled the room. Evelyn finally started to perk up and get back to normal.

John being in the room helped tremendously. Evelyn’s color came back, she was less nauseous, and was able to keep more food and fluids in her. She even started requesting food because she felt hungry.

She was still weak, but much improved over the condition she’d been in. As the doctor had told John, the hospital kept her for one more night to monitor her and make sure she was less prone to the severe sickness returning.

Early the next morning, John filled out the discharge papers and rolled her wheelchair to the doors.

He ran to get the car from the back of the parking lot to bring it alongside the sidewalk so he could help Evelyn into the car.

Once he had her settled in, they started the drive home. About two miles from the house, Evelyn grabbed his arm. John felt a rush of panic. “Evelyn? Are you okay? Do you need me to pull over?”

Evelyn realized that she’d startled him by grabbing him arm so suddenly. She withdrew her arm and shook her head.

“Evelyn? What’s wrong? Talk to me.”

“I – I didn’t mean to startle you like that. I’m sorry.”

“Well, do you need something?”

“I was only trying to get your attention. I’m craving a chocolate milkshake.”

John sighed in relief and had to smile. “You scared me, baby.”

“I’m sorry. I’ll say something next time. Can we go to the drugstore for that milkshake?”

John smiled and reached over to caress her face. “I have a better idea,” as he swung the car into the grocery store parking lot.

He had Evelyn wait in the car. She was surprised; John normally wasn’t the one who pulled off surprises.

Fifteen minutes later, John emerged with a small blender, milk, and several gallons of ice cream.

As he loaded the bounty into the trunk, Evelyn turned her head. John smiled and said, “Why spend 50 cents several times a day at the drugstore to satisfy those cravings, when we can make them anytime we want at home?”

Evelyn laughed. Surprising, and practical. Just one more reason why she was so in love with this man.

When they got home, John helped Evelyn into the house and got her settled. “I’m going to make you the biggest chocolate milkshake that no drugstore can make,” he proclaimed as he stepped back out to the car.

Evelyn leaned back on the couch and breathed in. “It’s sure nice to be home,” she thought as she patted her stomach. She’d been talking to the baby while in the hospital room, since no one else had been around until John was let in. “You gave us quite a scare, young man or young lady, whichever you are,” she mock-scolded.

John caught her talking mid-sentence as he came in with the groceries. He quickly put everything in their places in the kitchen and came back to the living room. “This is the first time I’ve heard you talking to it.”

Evelyn looked up and stopped, her eyes filled with fear.

John smiled. “It’s okay. I like it. It makes me realize that we’re growing a new life inside of you.”

He kissed her on the lips for the first time since driving to the hospital and caressed her stomach before whistling away into the kitchen.

That afternoon was spent relaxing, talking and enjoying several milkshakes. Finally, Evelyn was about to bust. “Those milkshakes were fabulous, but the doctor told me that I need to go easy on the sweets. Thank you, baby. You sure know how to welcome me home.”

John smiled and brushed a lock of hair off her forehead. “Anything for you, Evelyn. And the baby.”

They dissolved into passionate kissing on the couch, and then Evelyn took John’s hand and led him into the bedroom.

John was exhausted, and Evelyn was a hot mess. She still insisted on no sex because of the baby, but there were other ways.

They had carefully undressed each other, but then John became an animal.

He kissed every single inch of her beautiful ivory skin, and Evelyn’s hands went everywhere.

Since getting pregnant, Evelyn knew that the best way to make John feel good was oral sex. She had had some good practice over the last several months, but John wanted more than her mouth. After getting hard, he rubbed his member all over her body, exciting both of them. He trailed his way down to her waist, where she didn’t stop him, not immediately anyway. He pushed the tip of his member into her vagina, where her moan got him riled. He wanted to push, but she grabbed his ass and he stopped.

He carefully extracted it, briefly disappointed. However, looking up and down her naked body was enough for the disappointment to disappear in seconds.

He got on all fours, careful not to put any weight on her stomach. Then he had an idea, something they’d never tried before. He rose up on his knees and then hovered over her chest, where she’d been teasing her tits with her fingers, moaning softly. They were as hard as marbles. He carefully set his member between her silky smooth breasts as she continued to tease her tits, where he started to move back and forth, mimicking the movements in her vagina. Their moans got louder and louder until finally John grunted and shuddered. Evelyn felt the wetness of his semen but reveled in it. She felt dirty, in a good way. John slid backwards and could only watch in awe as it oozed between her fingers and she rubbed it all over her skin. She continued to touch and squeeze her tits as the semen plastered her breasts. John was shocked, but thrilled. He was excited that she wanted to be dirty and get dirty in the bedroom.

Come back next week for more!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂


Getting Personal #9: Back From My Hiatus

Image Credit: inkmonster.net

Image Credit: inkmonster.net

In the beginning of April, I felt like I’d hit a brick wall at a high rate of speed. I didn’t feel inspired. I was struggling with a few things.

The blog was one of the first things to drop off my radar. I didn’t like it though. I hated that I wasn’t posting new things.

But everything that I normally feel with blogging – Energy, excitement, happiness, positivity, the sense of accomplishment, pride – just wasn’t there.

Every once in a while, we need to make the “time out” sign.

Take a breath.

Take a break.

And that’s exactly what I needed.

Over the course of the past two weeks (although it’s felt much longer than that!), I’ve been thinking a lot.

There’s been so much going on. 2015 has been a big year so far! And it’s almost May!! Time is flying by. It gets faster every single year.

Two weeks ago, everything just caught up with me, very suddenly – Hence the slamming into a brick wall, going from full speed to a complete screeching halt/standstill feeling. I’ve been overwhelmed a lot. Stressed. Nervous. Adding things up, both in my head and on paper. I was beginning to drive myself crazy. I knew I needed to pull myself out, one way or another, but at the right time.

I received answers along the way. Confirmations, waves of relief, assurances, lots of hugs, promises of good thoughts and prayers. Lots of people have said, without having a clue about what I have been experiencing internally, “Everything is going to be okay.”

I started praying again. I took a hard look at my spiritual life and my involvement with my church. Because of that, I was humbled. I was overcome. I felt something ignite inside me again. I felt confident. I felt restored. I felt at peace.

Yesterday was my first day back in the gym after being on the DL for almost three weeks, due to six stitches in my back. Skin cancer runs in my family, and this was the second time in several years that the dermatologist found a pre-cancerous mole on my back. I won’t lie, sleeping in on the weekdays was nice for a change, but having established the consistent gym routine and then breaking that pattern for a bit threw a lot of my internal workings out of whack, more than I realized.

So, even though it was absolutely pouring rain at 4:30 a.m. yesterday, I got up, put on my workout clothes and raincoat, and drove over there. I walked on the treadmill for 45 minutes and cranked out 2 miles.

It felt so good, that I did it again today!

Now – I want to write again.

I’m ready to write again.

I feel inspired again.

I feel excited again.

I feel refreshed.

I feel calmer, more at ease with everything going on.

I love this quote from Walt Disney:

Image Credit: livefitandsore.com

Image Credit: livefitandsore.com

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #6: “The Happiness Project”

Image Credit: goodreads.com

Image Credit: goodreads.com

“Look for happiness under your own roof.”
Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun

I can’t remember where I first heard about this book, but I liked it.

Last summer, I was in Target, and I wandered into the book section. I was instantly drawn to the brightness of the cover, and the the title looked intriguing. I love a good sale, so I was even more excited when I saw the little circular sticker on the cover, advertising 20 percent off. Into my cart it went.

Fast forward six or seven months. At the end of January, Al and I were flying to Florida to see my dad and grandpa (You can read about that trip here).

I like to read on planes, so I was scanning my bookshelves in my bedroom. The cover of this book is very bright, and it stood out to me. I started thinking about how long it had sat there, untouched. So, into my backpack it went.

I powered through the entire book before the weekend was over.

One of the first things that attracted me to this book was the bright colors. I have always considered myself to be a colorful person. The bright blues and yellows of the covers stood out to me.

The other thing I read from the cover (no judging though) was it was going to be funny. The subtitle reads: “Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun”

Wow. Spending a whole year on yourself, and making yourself better, making yourself happier?

Sounded like an interesting ride.

I liked how Rubin divided the chapters into the months of the year. She decided to focus on one thing every month, which is always a good goal to strive for, with anything or any challenge – One thing at a time.

This book made me happier, almost instantly. I loved her humor and her insight into herself and her family. So many of her lines made me laugh out loud over the course of that weekend – I honestly can’t remember the last time a book did that for me.

I like reading about writers. I hope to be one, so it’s inspiring to read about people who have achieved that success and learning about their journeys, their mistakes, their accomplishments, all the ins and outs. And, since I was born in New York City, I’m always intrigued by those who live and work in that area.

I loved this book so much that I plan to read more of her work:

  • Forty Ways to Look at JFK
  • Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill
  • Power Money Fame Sex: A User’s Guide
  • Profane Waste (with Dana Hoey) 
  • Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives

I also looked at her website, gretchenrubin.com. She has so many resources – Not just for happiness, but for habits as well.

It was published in 2009, but it is almost a timeless book to me. It will always be relevant, in some way, no matter how much time passes.

I plan to re-read this book throughout future stages of my life. The chapters on marriage, leisure, and money as I prepare for my upcoming wedding. The chapter on parenthood down the road. The chapters on vitality and eternity years from now. Every chapter is significant, each one is something that all of us deals with.

All in all, this is one of the best books that I have ever read. I needed to read this book during that weekend in January, and I know my outlook on a lot of things in my life changed as a result. I’m excited to have this on my bookshelf, because I know I will be referencing it now, and for a long time coming.

I’m not one to highlight or underline passages in books (with the exception of my Bible), but I like journaling. I have a notebook beside my bed and in my purse, in case I have a great idea or something strikes me. I have a feeling that every time I reference this book, I’ll need that notebook beside me.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Wednesdays #11

Welcome back!

Happy April! We’re already a third into 2015 … Wow!

Enjoy the latest installment of “Specialton.”

John kept the two secrets from the team, although it was extremely difficult to concentrate. He was exceedingly worried about Evelyn, since her sickness had been non-stop since the weekend started and she hadn’t left the bathroom when he went out the door. He desperately wanted to send everyone home at noon, but he had another important meeting at 1:00. “By 2:30, I’ll be home to her,” he thought as he muddled through research, paperwork, and phone calls.

Mary Anne knew he was worried without asking. She kept a straight face though so as to not give any hint that something was awry. No one seemed to notice, at least not yet. She also knew that the two of them would likely announce their big news together, so she just buried herself in her work.

At noon, John gathered the team together for a quick staff meeting.

“I have some news to share with all of you. Unfortunately, Evelyn has not been well since Friday and we are not sure what is going with her just yet. We will very likely go to the doctor together tomorrow; we are both very worried based on her symptoms and the duration of her illness thus far.”

John paused. Everyone looked concerned, but no one even dared to raise a question. It appeared the whole staff was holding their breath.

“With that said, I want everyone to take the afternoon off, and then just be on standby at home for tomorrow. I will call Mary Anne first thing in the morning, and then she will take the lead of contacting everyone based on what I tell her.”

His voice started to show emotion, which was extremely out of character. John was not one to make his emotions known, except for the brief periods of anger and frustration. He was also very mum on his personal life, although becoming involved with Evelyn changed that part very quickly. He took a deep breath and cleared his throat before continuing.

“Please keep the two of us in your thoughts, especially Evelyn. We are a team and I want to do everything in my power to keep us together – We’ve come so far already. We will fulfill our vision, I just know it. But it would not be realistic not to say that there aren’t roadblocks with a journey like this. We’ve hit several already and got through those, and this is just one more that we have to face. All of you are wonderful and I appreciate your patience, understanding, and mostly importantly, thoughts and prayers. Hope to see you all on Tuesday.”

No questions, just worry. Everyone crowded around John in a group hug. John received handshakes and nods that sent him racing back to Evelyn.

He was even more alarmed when Evelyn didn’t answer him as he stepped in the house. He dashed to the bathroom, where Evelyn was virtually in the same position where he’d left her just mere hours ago. She looked up at him and managed a smile, but didn’t say anything. He followed her eyes to the toilet bowl, which was red.

John had Evelyn lying on the bench seat, covered in a blanket and a trashcan on her chest like lightning. He took a breath after he laid her down – He went back up the walk, made sure the lights were on and the doors locked.  His hands were shaking like leaves when he went to start the engine. Evelyn’s left hand reached out to touch him. He caught a glimpse of the ring and her eyes, and that stopped him cold. He left the keys in the ignition, bent over and kissed her forehead, eyelashes, and lips before starting the engine. After that, he didn’t remember the drive to the hospital.

He squealed to a stop in front of the emergency doors and ran to find a nurse.

“My wife – er, fiancée, is pregnant. Uh, four months along, I think. My name is John Alspice.” John ran a hand through his hair and had to steady himself at the nurses’ station.

“She’s had occasional morning sickness since the conception, but it turned severe on Friday. She’s barely eaten or drank anything since Friday morning and I came home from work at 1:00 today and found blood in the toilet. I drove her straight here myself – We live about 5 miles away.” He took several breaths and stared at the nurse.

Her calm was impeccable. “Of course, sir. Let’s get your fiancée on a gurney and we’ll take good care of her. What’s her name?”

“Evelyn. Evelyn Adams. Please hurry – I’m afraid she’s dying.”

“Right away, sir. Thank you for bringing her in so quickly. We’ll get her in an exam room and then we’ll set to some paperwork, okay?”

John could only nod. He watched from the nurses’ station as several orderlies, the nurse he had spoken to, and a doctor wheeled a gurney out to the car. The doctor carefully lifted Evelyn and the blanket on to the gurney with great care, before wheeling her into the nearest exam room around the corner.

The nurse, Jenny was her name, came back five minutes later to the station. John was still standing there. To him, five minutes felt like three hours.

“Sir? John, you’re in shock. I can assure you that Evelyn is getting the best care. We do need the name of her doctor so we can contact him right away – We think there may be something wrong with the baby. Let’s get you in a chair right here, okay?”

John paled and his knees buckled. The hallway started to spin white and gray as Jenny kept talking to him, leading him to the nearest chair in the waiting area. He felt for the arms of the chair and collapsed. She ran to get him some coffee, water, and an aspirin. John felt very much like he did after he smashed all the drinks and glassware against his office wall.

“Jenny – I’m going to be sick …”

Jenny held the wastebasket as John hurled everything he had.

“John, I know you’re scared. Evelyn is going to be okay, I promise. Are you feeling better? If you’re okay for a few minutes, I’ll go back and see how they’re doing in the exam room, okay?”

John nodded and his eyes showed part relief, part thanks. He was incredibly grateful but couldn’t speak it. Jenny patted his hand and bustled away.

The next thing John knew, Jenny was shaking him awake. “John? There you are. You must have fallen asleep. Are you feeling better? Your color’s started to come back.”

John focused on Jenny’s face and nodded. Jenny smiled and sat down next to him.

“Good news, John. Evelyn’s been stabilized. We’re giving her all the fluids we can – She was severely dehydrated from the sickness. She’s certainly not out of the woods yet, but she’s more comfortable than she was. I can’t tell you how important it was that you brought her in when you did. If you had called for the doctor or an ambulance and waited, we probably would have had a dead body in that exam room.”

John felt the waves of nausea again – He felt how Evelyn had probably felt, but hers was easily ten times worse than his. He was able to suppress the feelings, but only with several strong sips of water. He took a deep breath before speaking. He swallowed another sip of water. Jenny was so patient – She was made to be a nurse.

Jenny patted his hand. “One more thing – They won’t let you see her until the doctor arrives and examines her. I wish I could tell you differently, but we want to make sure that the baby is okay before we let you in. If only you were married …”

Jenny stopped and met his eyes. John was frustrated and weak, but his eyes only spoke graciousness and peace. She squeezed his hand and patted his shoulder. “If you need anything, I’ll be right there at the station. Just call my name and I’ll come to you. You sit here and rest. I’m sure it’s been a traumatic day, to say the least. We’ll let you know when you can see Evelyn, okay?”

John just nodded and gave her a small smile. “Before – Before you go, can you go to Evelyn’s room and tell her that I love her?”

Jenny felt her eyes mist with tears. “Of course. I’ll come back to let you know what she says. Now get some rest.”

John dozed off sitting up. He started dreaming about their wedding and the baby, the neighborhood, the groundbreaking ceremony that was just two weeks away. He was picturing Evelyn in a gorgeous white gown, but he couldn’t tell if she was still with child or not. That thought suddenly caused him to sit up, almost catapulting himself out of the chair and onto his knees.

Jenny saw everything happen – It was a slow night at the hospital – and rushed over to help. She was able to get John back into the chair before she ran to refill his water cup. He gulped it down quickly and looked at Jenny. His eyes were full of tears. He sniffed and brushed his eyes. “Sorry – I’m usually not emotional …”

“John, it’s perfectly fine. You’ve been through trauma. I know that it’s upsetting that you can’t see Evelyn right now. The doctor still hasn’t arrived, and we’re not sure if he’ll come in tonight since it’s late.”

“What time is it, anyway?”

“Almost midnight. You slept for several hours, which is good. You have a choice though – You can leave and go home to your own bed, or you can wait here. I can’t tell you when they will let you see her, though. I can get you a blanket and a small pillow so you can either sleep on the floor, or you could push two of the chairs facing each other so you can at least lie down. I’ll go get the blanket and the pillow from the closet; be back in a jiffy.”

John made a mental note to write a letter to Jenny after this was all over – Her compassion and strength was amazing, and he couldn’t express in words how much everything meant to him at that moment. Then he drifted back into restless sleep.

Jenny woke him ten minutes later to help him get as comfortable as possible. She was able to scrounge up two pillows and one of the better blankets. She helped him push two chairs together so it resembled some sort of a bed. John was able to stretch out a little, using the back of one chair and the pillows as a makeshift headboard. Once John got settled under the blanket, Jenny gave him one last set of encouraging words.

“My shift ends in a few minutes. I won’t be back until tomorrow. I’ll let the other nurses know that you’ll be here for the next day or so. I really hope the doctor can come soon, he must be out of town – Normally most doctors are here by now to examine their pregnant patients. I’ll be thinking of you and praying for you, Evelyn, and the baby. Try to sleep as much as possible. The cafeteria will be open at 6:00 tomorrow morning for breakfast. I’ll see you soon, John.”

John nodded. “Thank you, for everything. You are one of the most compassionate people I have ever met. I really appreciate it. Thank you, Jenny.” He felt his voice cracking.

Jenny dipped her head at him and hurried off, likely to clock out and go home after such a long shift.

John leaned against the pillows, said a prayer for Evelyn and the baby, and fell into a fitful sleep.

When John awoke, there was light. His eyes fluttered open, and he was met with a mixture of harsh fluorescents and some sunlight. He tried to stretch. Every part of his body was sore, this was certainly not the way he was used to sleeping. However, he felt improved over yesterday. He was tired, but less nauseous and calmer. He hadn’t been paged during the night, so that meant the doctor hadn’t come.

There was a new nurse at the station. He slowly rose from his chair bed and stretched. She came over to greet him.

“Hi, John, I’m Mary. Jenny wrote us a note last night that you’d be here. I’m awful sorry to hear about your fiancée, Evelyn, and the baby. I hope the doctor can come this morning – I know both of you are anxious to see each other. Evelyn is doing a bit better, but the doctor’s examination will tell us more about what’s happened and what to do next. Can I help you to the cafeteria?”

John smiled. “Just show me the way – You have work to do, I’m sure. Thanks for everything so far. See you soon.”

John helped himself to coffee, orange juice, some bacon, and a small portion of eggs. He was alone in the cafeteria, except for the workers and one doctor. John made no attempt to be sociable, but the doctor came over just before departing.

“You’ve been here all night, haven’t you? Worried about your girl?”

Come back next week for more!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂