#WeekendCoffeeShare: Coughing Fits, Healthy Baking, and Superhero Movies

If we were having coffee, I would tell you no espresso for me today. I need tea with honey and lots and lots of lemon. In fact, I’d tell the barista to slice me up a whole lemon and serve it to me on a saucer. I’ll be sucking the juice from wedges between sips while we chat.

You see, I have a horrible cough. And I can barely speak without erupting. Lean in close because my voice is a bit hoarse, but I’m not contagious, or so I hope. You see, it’s only the cough; nothing else ails me. There’s sniffles in the morning, but that usually clears out by noon. But the cough . . . the cough gets worse as the day progresses, to the point that my throat is raspy, dry, irritated, inflamed, and I feel like a dying old woman exhaling dust.

Medicine doesn’t seem to work. I drank a whole bottle of Robitussin DM, THE cough syrup, in three days with no relief. In fact, I think medicine has made me sicker—how ironic. I’ve resorted to home remedies, sucking on lemons, drinking tea with honey, apple cider vinegar, cayenne pepper, and ginger mixes. The natural remedies have helped more than the drugstore varieties, which to this point have only made my pee smell funny . . . too much information? I know, we’re eating.

I’m a bit of an overreacter. Whenever something goes wrong, I think the worst case scenario. When I first started my period at age ten, I was so excited to be a woman, especially since the girls in my class with boobs teased me for being flat-chested. But when 28 days passed and the little red dribble didn’t return on schedule, I freaked, thought I was pregnant! There I was, ten years old, never even kissed a boy, and I thought I was pregnant.

So of course with this cough, my worrisome mind has suggested lung cancer (though I’ve never smoked a cigarette), pneumonia, tuberculosis (probably should be in quarantine if that’s the case), Ebola (though I haven’t experienced bleeding or vomiting yet), an irritant in my vocal chords (because my cousin had that a few weeks ago). Notice how I still haven’t mentioned the cold or flu, which is probably the most likely cause.

I see you’re getting squeamish. I know I should probably go to the doctor, but with healthcare jacked up, and a family cruise in July, I really don’t have the funds for a visit to a doctor who will probably only prescribe me pills that’ll knock me out cold.

I’ll stick with my natural medicines for now. Maybe take a day off work (although I can’t afford that either) to get some much needed rest. And if I don’t get better then, I promise I will go see a doctor.

One Bowl Hemp Banana Bread by HealthNut Nutrition

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I went to another bake sale at the bowling alley with my granddaddy, and managed not to cough on the sweets. This time, my mom and I decided to make some healthy varieties. Mom made sugar-free brownies and apple oat bars using Splenda sweetener, and I baked banana bread based on this recipe from HealthNut Nutrition. I made a few alterations. First, instead of using almond flour and spelt flour, I used half and half all-purpose and whole wheat. While I did have almond flour at home, you never know these days who’s allergic to nuts, so it’s best not to take the risk. I also substituted unsweetened applesauce for the honey (even though I still added about a tablespoon of honey after I screwed up on the baking soda measurement). Since we were making these treats with the intentions of selling them to our diabetic friends, I wanted to control the amount of sugar, and a fourth cup of honey (although a natural sugar) seemed like a lot. When I think about it, I adjusted this banana bread recipe so much, it’s really nothing like the original. But it tasted damn good, so I just might post the recipe if you ask (and remember to take a picture too!) ūüėČ

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I finally got to see Wonder Woman! It was good, not great like some people have been saying, but the fight scenes were awesome, and I might have cried at the end, because, well, I can get emotional sometimes—shoot, I even cried during Toy Story 3! But I won’t spoil the ending for you. In comparison with the last two DC movies, Suicide Squad and Batman v. Superman, Wonder Woman is definitely a redeeming quality for the DCEU, but I’m still worried about Justice League. That trailer looked like it was all CGI, and so dark! I think they’re trying to put too much into one movie. I know they’re rivals, but DC should definitely take a page out of Marvel’s book. That formula seems to be working. Speaking of Marvel, there’s one Marvel movie I can’t wait to see . . . BLACK PANTHER! Oh-My-Gosh, have you seen the trailer?! All that melanin, all that black beauty and power and sophistication. YASSSS, HUNTY, YASSSSSSSSSS!

Oh, you haven’t seen the trailer yet? For shame! Here’s my phone. Check it out!

Can’t wait for 2018, can you? Yea, me neither.

If we were having coffee, you would noticed I haven’t coughed for several minutes. Maybe the excitement over superhero movies was all I needed, but I won’t jinx it. So I’d tell you it was nice chatting with you again. And no, you cannot watch the Black Panther teaser on repeat, I kind of need my phone. Thank you. I’d take my plate of lemon wedges and dump them in a to-go cup. Say toodaloo for now and scurry out to the door because I’m late for work!

Nobody Blogs on Fridays

Nobody blogs on Fridays. Seriously, I’m not exaggerating here. WordPress is virtually a ghost town on Fridays, and I struggle to find a good posting time.

Throughout the week, I could have hundreds of views . . . well, let me be more realistic . . . tens of views . . . well I can give myself a little credit ¬†. . . twenties of views on my blog, but once Friday hits, I’m lucky if I make into the single digits. This is not even a joke, the weekend (Saturday, and Sunday, holy day of rest!) is more active than Fridays!

What is it about Fridays that make people not want to work? In my office, half the department is gone by 3:00 every Friday afternoon. The only people left are usually me, the other temps, and the employees who have the misfortune of being scheduled for a 4:30 meeting. I never understood why people used Friday as an excuse to slack off work. Yes, it’s almost the weekend, and people are eager to dive into the weekend shenanigans, but the workday for our office still ends at 5:15 PM, people, Monday through Friday.

But let’s get back to blogging, and why my Monday-Wednesday-Friday posting habit is currently in jeopardy. I recently joined the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a place to share, encourage, rant, rave, and connect with other insecure writers like me. The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day, and although last Wednesday I wrote about how I don’t always feel appreciated as a writer in my family, I still wanted to address the optional prompt for the June 7 IWSG blog hop.

Did you ever say ‚ÄúI quit‚ÄĚ? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

Last year, I had a writer’s meltdown. I’m not sure what happened—if had worn myself out, or if I was simply overwhelm with all the projects I was trying to keep up with. Let’s name a few of the things I was doing before my meltdown:

  • The 2016 April A to Z Challenge — The challenge was to write a new post every day (but Sunday) for each letter in the alphabet. I wrote a novella called 26 Husbands—26 Unusual Deaths,¬†a story about a grandmother living in a retirement home who makes some striking revelations to her granddaughter about her past life.
  • Beta reader for a self-published author — Though I was thankful for the opportunity, I wished I hadn’t accepted the task. I didn’t research the author before I committed to being her beta reader, and the novel was nowhere close to publication ready. To be honest, it sounded like something my uncle would’ve written, if he was a writer of fiction. But I was beta reading on my own time; I wasn’t getting paid for it, so I couldn’t edit it the way I wanted too. Personally, I thought the author needed to go back to the drawing board. The story was all over the place; it desperately needed a plot, and the protagonist was flat in the most pitiful way. After much debating with myself, I finally emailed her my comments and my suggestion for her to find a quality editor. A week later, she published the novel as is on Amazon. *sigh*
  • Hosting a flash fiction writing challenge called Moral Mondays — The challenge was to write a 100-word fable based on the moral prompt provided. While this was fun, I just didn’t have the time or energy to facilitate consistently every week.
  • Being a writer — I write short fiction and poetry, and for the pieces I don’t publish on my blog, I submit to magazines. I’m also trying write my debut novel.
  • Being an editor — Yes, I am an editor of an online literary-arts magazine, and I also edit my church’s monthly publication.
  • Day job¬†— On top of trying to supply my growing readership with entertaining content on my blog, establish my brand, and write to be published, I work a 9-5 job. Talk about exhausting!

Eventually, I fizzled out. I couldn’t keep it up anymore. I crashed and burned. I stopped writing altogether. I virtually disappeared. I became a ghost.

After about five months of writing nothing at all, I started this blog to ease myself back into the habit. Starting a new blog is hard work. I can share share share my posts on my other blog until I’m blue in the face (or fingers?), but the likelihood of dedicated followers of my other blog actually clicking the link and coming here was slim. I basically had to start over from scratch. Trying to build a following of people willing to read my insecure ramblings on being single, or being a writer, or just my life in general, which is really quite boring, on a daily basis, especially in a world full of online trollers, is hard.

And so I disappeared for another five months, posting sporadically, coming back for a while and then dropping off again, posting once a month if at all.

Now it’s June, and next Tuesday will mark a year since my first disappearance. Do I feel another disappearance brewing? Not if I can help it! But some days, especially on Fridays, when I fear no one is reading me, I do wonder if it is all worth it…

Have you ever quite on writing? Tell me why, and what brought you back!

Do you blog on Fridays? Prove me wrong about readerless Fridays. Drop a comment! I need a confidence boost that I’m really not talking to myself.

And if you are the type to actually click a link when prompted, check out my Gravatar profile, which has links to all the blogs I manage. The latest posts to my other blogs are also in the sidebar . . . if you never noticed. ūüėČ

So Mom’s Retired, and I’m Totally Not Jealous…

I’m not jealous of my mom.

Last week, a friend of hers from work, who recently retired, called me and asked for my mother’s number and address. Apparently, she’d lost the information when she switched phones. While we were talking, she professed how excited she was for this new phase in her life and that she was looking forward to spending more time with my mom.

I guess I should mention Mom’s been retired a little over six months now. Yep, that was her Christmas present to herself: retirement…and a trip to the Rose Bowl.

Totally not jealous… totally.

Anyway, before we got off the phone, Mom’s friend again exclaimed that she was so relieved to finally be done with work and to not have that burden and stress always on her shoulders, and that she knows that retirement is going to be so fulfilling. Then she paused, as if waiting for me to agree with her, as if she expected me to say, “Yes, retirement is everything they say it is, everything it’s cracked up to be!”

Mind you, I was currently at work when she called.

So no, I have not experienced the bliss that is retirement. And the way this economy likes to cheat us degree-possessing millennials, I probably won’t know that elusive period of life called retirement for at least another 50 years.

God help me if I’m still working at age 75!

It can be quite annoying when I’m minding my own business, doing my work, or writing, or reading, or eating breakfast or lunch, or walking down the hall, or hell, even using the bathroom, and someone stops me to ask, “How’s your mom doing?”

I DON’T KNOW!¬†

While she is at home, lounging around, not lounging around, cooking, not cooking, planting a garden, not planting a garden, sweating in gym class, not sweating in gym class, taking spontaneous road trips to the beat to buy fresh fish,¬†¬†not¬†taking spontaneous road trips to the beat to buy fresh fish, blasting radio music, not blasting radio music…

…I’m at work. I have no idea what she’s doing, how she spends her day. One thing I do know: she ain’t working. Meanwhile, I’m trying my hardest not to curse people out, or cry from getting cursed out. The joys of working in customer service.

And I’m totally not jealous.

But I’ll admit, I was a little depressed when I left the house for work this morning. Not because it’s Monday. Although, no one would blame me—having to spend eight of the most precious hours in the day in a cold, gray office after such a beautiful and warm weekend, who wouldn’t get depressed about that?

But this morning, I was in a good mood before I got ready to leave. I didn’t sleep through my alarm (insert slap the snooze button twenty times) and woke up on time. I read several chapters from Psalms to receive encouragement and strength from God’s holy word. I packed my lunch—homemade chicken noodle soup I cooked the night before, and tuna salad (also homemade) spread on toast for breakfast. I got a laugh from some of the ridiculous cases on Judge Faith (in this episode, a woman sued her ex-boyfriend for a vacation he promised her when they were together). I watered my herb garden (unfortunately my cilantro died, but my mom, since she has the time now, bought be a new cilantro plant). I even packed some gym clothes and tennis shoes because I plan on going to Planet Fitness after work (my aunt seems to think I lost three pound since Memorial Day, because she’s gained it, so I want to spend about an hour on the elliptical just to make sure those pounds I apparently lost stay off).

Today was going to be a good day.

Then I walked past Mom’s room, and she was lying in the bed watching Iron Man.

I want to lie in bed and watch Iron Man.¬†I don’t want to have to go to work when I could be lying in bed watching Iron Man!

But I’m not jealous.

Nope, totally not jealous.

 

A Birthday Conundrum

My birthday’s coming soon, and I couldn’t feel more stressed out. Not as stressed as my co-worker, who decided to propose to his pregnant girlfriend on his birthday, but pretty darn close.

To be honest, I could care less about my birthday, but everyone around me is trying to make it a bigger deal than what it is. Hence my stress. Birthdays stopped being important after 21, and once you pass 30, they only serve as cruel reminders that you’re getting old and have nothing to show for¬†your uneventful life.

When you’re a kid, birthdays are exciting. You spend the days leading up to your birthday anticipating what presents you’ll receive. Maybe your parents plan a Disney themed party at your house and invite all your friends from school, or maybe you celebrate at the arcade, or the pizza place, or the children’s museum, or the McDonald’s Play Pin (do those even still exist?), or any other place where young children gather. You and your friends eat all the cake and ice cream you can cram into your tiny little stomachs until you pass out on the floor, bodies contorted in strange positions, with brightly colored blue, purple, red, or green tongues, and dried frosting crumbling around your lips.

Once you reach adolescence, the next big birthday is 16, the age also known as the peak of teenage-y-ness (because 17 is merely an afterthought). Maybe your parents buy you your first car, or you throw a wild, outlandish party like the ones on MTV’s¬†Sweet Sixteen.¬†Maybe you’ve decided that this is the day you lose your virginity, although if you’re smart, you’ll wait until prom, because good things¬†always happen on prom night. (Did you catch the sarcasm there?)

Two years later, you’re 18, an adult, eager to do everything you previously needed a parent’s permission to do; get a tattoo, stay out late, date that no-good boy who will definitely shatter your heart (if you still live at home and have strict parents, this may still prove¬†challenging), buy cigarettes—a friend in high school made this a huge deal on her eighteenth birthday, only to have the cashier deny her the privilege because her ID was expired. Maybe you’re gearing up for college, to finally be free of mom and dad (although not completely, because they’re more than likely flipping that hefty tuition bill), become your own person, discover you!

And lastly, there’s 21. The only thing cool about this birthday is that you finally get to drink . . . legally . . . but we all know you’ve been “turning up”¬†since 16.

So what’s left after 21? Well if you’re me, you have the displeasure of having your brother’s girlfriend (a college student who still parties like she’s 21) feel sorry for you because she thinks you have no¬†friends and you never get out of the house to do anything fun (probably because that’s what your insensitive brother—who’s mind is perpetually frozen at age 16 because of all the weed he smokes—has told her), and now she feels obligated to make you her charity case and drag you to the club with her uptight friends—who think they’re too cute for clothes that fit—to “turn you out.”

Well, excuse me for assuming¬†when I graduated from college, I left behind the constant peer pressure to accept that “fun” meant drinking like you have no liver, dressing like you’re about to make your vixen debut on a rap music video, dancing in the dark with some sweaty man breathing down your neck, and going deaf from the noise they have the audacity to call music these days.

Call me an old soul in a twenty-something-year-old’s body.

That kind of “fun”¬†has never interested me, not even when I was in college. My kind of fun is¬†watching a classic horror movie marathon while eating a huge bowl of popcorn, going midnight bowling with my girlfriends (yes, I do have friends) and between games having¬†a beer or two and sharing a plate of chili cheese fries, going to the bar for the hot wings and home chips and to¬†watch the game and maybe even find someone to teach me how to play pool.

Notice how going clubbing with my brother and his girlfriend was not mentioned. Why? I because I’d rather not be miserable on¬†my birthday¬†doing something I hate with people I don’t particularly like. Don’t get me wrong, I love my brother, but we have nothing in common. The things he likes to do for fun I absolutely abhor, and the things I like to do for fun he thinks are boring and lame. Is there a way we can find common ground? Probably. We just haven’t found it yet. And we won’t find it by my birthday. And that’s perfectly fine, because like I said, I really don’t care to do anything but eat some cake and go to bed.

The last few years I’ve spent my birthday with a gang of squealing children. You see, I basically¬†share a birthday with my friend’s (yes, another friend) five-year-old. She was born two days after my birthday, and since the baby shower, I’ve celebrated with her and her family, and have had so much more fun. Why? Because I can actually be myself. My family tries too hard to control my birthday—my brother is always trying to make me be “cool,” my granddaddy always has something more important to do, my mom always has to have a “plan” to go by, and if by some miracle I do come up with a plan, everyone wants to change it!

Wait a minute, whose birthday is it, again?!

Then there’s the issue of presents. If I don’t care to have a party, I don’t care to get any presents. Of course, my granddaddy is probably going to try to “make a statement” of not getting me anything simply because I only bought him a card for his birthday earlier this month.

According to what’s he whined to my mom in private, I didn’t get him anything. Apparently¬†a card with a beautiful message doesn’t count as a present?

And what exactly do you buy an 88-year-old man who already has everything? He has enough shirts, he has enough ties, he has enough power tools. I’ve yet to see him wear the hat I bought him last Christmas (as in Christmas 2015). And if you ask me, my brother didn’t give him a present either, just a wad of cash in card that I bought! Does the thought not count anymore? Only the dollar bills? Well I’m sorry my money’s all tied up in a summer cruise to Alaska and a $1400 doctor’s bill that my bogus insurance won’t cover.

If he tries to give me a long drawn out speech about “being a good family member” and buying presents “to show that you care,” I swear I’m going to lose it. At the end of the day, presents are just things—they break, they tear, they stop working, they get worn, and eventually we throw them away. I can do with less things. We all can.

I’ve considered disappearing on my birthday. Maybe I’ll take a spontaneous road trip down to Georgia to visit my best friend, make a pit stop in Charlotte to pick up my other best friend, and the three of us spend my birthday together. Or maybe I’ll just go off on my own, take a rest and relaxation getaway to the beach or the mountains. Hey, I live in the Piedmont of North Carolina, both are equal distances away.

But the most logical solution will be what I always do. Suffer along with my controlling family, and then party with the five-year-olds. One more year won’t kill me. But the planning for next year’s birthday getaway trip starts TODAY! Don’t ask me what I’m doing for my birthday. I’m already gone.