Giving Power to My Children

I heard an enraging statistic over the radio this morning. We’re forty-six days into 2018 and there have been eighteen reported school shootings. The latest happened yesterday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. An expelled nineteen-year-old student shot and killed seventeen students and faculty and injured fourteen others. It is one of the ten worst mass shootings in American history; the second worst school shooting next to Sandy Hook. Continue reading “Giving Power to My Children”


A Handbook for Parenting (Not Really): A “Jax Can’t Talk” Post

I have to say that being a parent is the hardest thing in the world. Anyone who says otherwise is fooling themselves. There are days where I wish I had a handbook for parenting. I’m someone who can follow directions well when I have them in front of me. But when it comes to parenting, no amount of visual aids can prepare you for every situation that will arise.

Today, my wife shares about her week and reflects on her parenting journey thus far. I hope you enjoy.

Thanksgiving: Remembering the Past and Building the Present

This week, my kids are off for the Thanksgiving holiday. Good for them. I have to work Thanksgiving Day and the day after, A. K. A. “Black Friday,” so I’ll be having Thanksgiving a day early. But as I’m preparing the for the upcoming days of madness, I’m thinking about how Thanksgiving was when I was my kids’ age. Continue reading “Thanksgiving: Remembering the Past and Building the Present”

One More Minute

Courtesy of Flash Fiction Hive on Twitter (@FlashFicHive)

The Flash Fiction Hive Started a new series of prompts for the month of October. Here’s my latest story. 

Natalie had a problem with handling sandwiches. The bread crumbs. The juices from the slices of chicken. The knives covered in mixed mayonnaise and mustard. All this messiness overloaded her OCD brain. But still, it’s what Hannah wanted. And she thought it better handling sandwiches than venturing into her daughter’s germ-ridden bedroom, sick as a dog. Natalie cut the sandwich in triangle halves, just as she always done since she was five. She never understood why it had to be that way.

Natalie traversed across the hall, carrying the plate with her sandwich. She stopped in front of Hannah’s door and slipped on her mask. There was no telling what kind of germs would want to invade her space. But she thrust the door open anyway. Her forest green eyes were wide and droopy. She had not gotten even an hour of sleep. But she was willing to sacrifice it in order to make sure Hannah was comfortable. She saw her daughter sprawled out in her bed, with only her nightgown covering her.

“Hey sweetheart. How you doing?”

Hannah could only life her hand flat, shaking it side to side.

“I got your sandwich, just how you like it.”

She set the plate on her lap. Hannah reached for the sandwich closest to her, but couldn’t hold on. She lacked these strength and her hands were as frail as dried out branches. Natalie wanted to brush her thinning hair, but it was as if she was being repelled. 

It’s okay, baby. You don’t have to eat it now.”

She fretted leaving the plate on her bed. The crumbs could fall out and spill onto the comforter. But she resisted. It wasn’t about her and her commitment to cleanliness. Hannah was more important. She kept repeating that statement to herself. She pulled the sheet toward her chest, brushing it out so that it resembled some kind of order. The door bell rang, startling them

“I’ll be back.”

Natalie ran to the door, peeked through the peephole. A team of white-coated men and women stood in front. Natalie lowered her head. These were the last people she wanted to see. There was still so much she wanted to do with her daughter. She was ten years old. She shouldn’t be this sick.

“Mrs. Alstott,” one of the men shouted. “It’s time. We need the child.”

Natalie banged her head against the door. She felt the tears running down her cheek.

“Mrs Alstott, we talked about this. You had your time. Now it’s time to do our job.”

Natalie shook her head. She wanted one more minute. But the man was right. It was time. And there was no getting out of it. She opened the door and the team entered single file. One rolled a bed into the house. They made her way to Hannah’s room. Natalie shoved her way past the white coats.

“Let me speak with her about what’s happening. She deserves that much.”

“Ok. But be quick.”

Natalie slid into her bedroom and kneeled in front of Hannah. She explained the situation she was going to face. Hannah started to cry. Then she cried. She pulled her close, and cupped the back of her head. All the while, she repeated the sentence. “Hannah is more important.”

Reunion: Time to Move Forward

I think I can safely that high school was one of the most trying times in our lives. I know for me, it was. As a transplant from Ohio, it was so hard trying to fit in. There are things I regretted not doing. Relationships I wanted for myself. Yeah, high school was a time when while I had things going for me, it wasn’t enough. So you can probably imagine my feelings when I heard about my school’s 20-year reunion. 

I was excited at the beginning. I missed the ten-year reunion; I wasn’t going to miss this one. But as the date drew closer, the more feelings of regret and sadness creeped in. Sadness of not feeling like I belonged. That I tried so hard to be a part of the cool crowd, and ultimately failed. So I put it out on the school’s reunion page on Facebook. I wrote it just to get those feelings out. The responses I received were not what I was expecting. My classmates stated that I was one of the nicest people they knew. Some understood and sympathized with my lamentations. So I decided to go, and it was the best decision I made this past week. 

I had a wonderful time that night. I saw friends I hadn’t seen in years. It amazed me that we hadn’t changed. Sure, all of us lead different lives. We got married. Had kids. Moved to different parts of the country, even out of the country. But we were still the crazy class of 1997. I was glad to introduce my wife and tell everyone about my kids. I felt proud. I felt like I had nothing to be ashamed of. I look forward to the next reunion, where impromptu or organized. Whether it’s with a bunch of classmates or a few. Going to the reunion made me realize that my life is better now than twenty years ago. Do I still have regrets? Sure. But I’m not letting them stop me from living now. 

Weekend Coffee Share: The Sickly Round Robin

Good afternoon,

I would shake your hand, but I rather not risk it. We all have been feeling a little under the weather. But feel free to some orange juice and water. There’s a couple of bottles of Gatorade, too. So have at it and keep your distance. 

As you can tell, I’m not in a coffee mood. But, if we were having coffee, I’d talk about the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having. Makes me think there’s something to this whole climate change thing. Not that I like to be cold, but this is just wrong in so many ways. And it’s because of this freaky weather that allergies have been flaring up. Thus leading to the sickness. 

The sickly thing actually started last week. I took my son to the doctor’s office because he wasn’t eating much. And if you’ve been around us long enough, you know my boy will eat just about anything. So I took him in. It turned out he had strep throat. We got antibiotics, but getting him to take them was like pulling teeth. (Typical for any child.) Then, earlier this week, my wife and daughter were feeling under the weather after leaving the gym. (By the way, you should not go bragging that even though you’re sick, you worked out.) So I took them in the next day. The doctor concluded they had flu-like symptoms, but no flu. He prescribed antibiotics to be on the safe side. I went to the doctor later in the afternoon to be on the safe side. I was fine, outside of some coughing. It wasn’t like last year when I was diagnosed with pneumonia and had to stay in bed for three days.

So it seemed like things were getting better, but my son was coughing pretty bad; some cases it sounded like he was gagging or about to throw up. I also noticed some goo around his eye. I took him in this morning. The strep was gone, but he contracted pink eye. I picked up his medicines today, including a different antibiotic for the coughing. My poor family.

With all the sickness going around, I’m surprised I haven’t contracted anything. But I’m not taking chances. Neither should you.

Wash your hands before you leave and take care of yourself. Until next time…

What I’m Thankful For

My family has a tradition on Thanksgiving Day. As we pray over the food, each member of the family names one thing they are thankful for. For this post, I am going to name five things. These are in no particular order, so here goes:

  1. God. I make no qualms about my faith. Although I don’t talk about religion much, it should be noted that I am a man of God. Granted, I am not a saint, but I try to live by His principles as bet I can. I believe God blessed me with a talent and passion to write, among other things.Without God, I wouldn’t have the family I have, the job I have, my health, my friends, or my writing. I owe everything to Him. The best I can do is to do my best to follow the examples of those way before I came along. 
  2. Family. Next to God, family is just as important. Without the support of my family, I don’t know where I would be. They’ve seen my best and worst. They’ve read my best and worst, which may not be saying much. But I know I can count on them to be honest in what they think of my work. 
  3. My Job. As much as I gripe about some of the work I do and the schedule I have, I am glad I have a job that pays well. It’s not the ideal job, but these days, you have to take what you can get. Besides, I’ve been with my company eleven years. Some may say I’m a glutton for punishment, but I don’t. I’d like to believe that there are always people who need help with what’s going on in the world of technology and home entertainment. Call it job security. 
  4. Writing. These last two go hand-in-hand, and shouldn’t be any surprise. That being said, I am grateful I have my writing. It’s the one thing that keeps me grounded, and at the same time, allows me to be free. Like most creative outlets, writing allows me to express myself when the words don’t come out of the mouth as fluently as they should. I feel at peace putting pen to paper, or filling a blank screen with words. It brings me joy. 
  5. Project Blacklight. This blog is my pride and joy. I enjoy writing posts, sharing what I’ve learned. (At some point, I will put those lessons into practice with the stories I will post.) Through this blog, I discovered a community of fellow writers and bloggers with similar struggles and aspirations.  There are writers who have published books under their belt; some are like me, just starting out with the dream to one day write a novel. They’re everywhere. Without this blog, I wouldn’t have found them. 

Outside of Thanksgiving, it’s easy to forget the things we’re thankful for. It’s easy to take them for granted. But I would encourage you all to take not just today, but every day, think about what you do have, not focus on what you don’t. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

    2015 A to Z Blogging Challenge: K is for Kids

    2015AtoZDay11I thought about talking about my own family in my “F is for Family” post, but I decided against it. I try not to discuss issues involving personal matters. If I do, I try not to name names to protect themselves. If that’s settled, let’s continue.

    I never thought I would be the kind of person to settle down and have a family of my own. But wouldn’t you know it, I am. I have two kids of my own; a four-year-old daughter and a five-month-old son. I love them very much. The daughter is very outspoken and energetic, as most four-year-olds are. You can’t get her to slow down. The boy is a curious one, I can tell. He takes in everything with awe and wonder. Most babies do.

    So, why am I talking about my kids and what do they have to do with my writing? I think as writers, we have somewhat of a responsibility to leave something worthwhile to the next generation. I don’t think we go into writing with that responsibility laying on our shoulders from day one, but we do wonder whether or not our books will still be read long after we’re gone. We wonder if future generation will be inspired to take up the pen and paper, or laptop, or whatever technology develops for word processing, and follow in our footsteps.

    As for me, I want to leave a legacy for my kids through my writing. And it’s not just about the books. Rather, I want to build a legacy of big dreams and courage. I want them to know that I took risks. I stepped outside my comfort zone. I dreamed big. Whether or not those dreams come true and those risks pay off is anyone’s guess. I just want them to know that I tried, and that’s the most important.

    2015 A to Z Blogging Challenge: F is for Family

    2015AtoZDay06Family. The one institution where everyone is a member. There’s the obvious family that we’re born into, with parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins. And then there friends who we consider as close as siblings or parents. If you attend a church, you consider people who share the same passion brothers and sisters in the faith. If you’re into sports or in the military, your team is considered a family. And if you’re a writer, you’re part of a family. Fiction or non-fiction, prose or poetry; it doesn’t matter. We all have the same goal: to share our works with the world.

    Family comes in many forms, has many definitions, and many ways to say it. No matter how you define it, there’s one word synonymous with family: support. Notice I did not say approval. Approval is fleeting. And not everyone is going to agree with your decision. Instead, we should rally around one another through thick and thin, through good times and bad, through triumph and tragedy. No one is meant to go through life alone. That’s what family is for.

    I am fortunate enough to be a member of a number of families. Most “members” know who I am and what I do. And they seem to approve of my choice. Some offer advice on what I should do, to “write what I know.” I know they mean well, but sometimes I have to shake my head.

    I don’t always agree with them, but I am glad I have them in my life.