NaNoWriMo 2022 - 30 days, Work Stuff

And the Answer Is …

If you haven’t read my “The Line Has Been Drawn” post – go ahead. I’ll wait


To recap: I work in healthcare. It wasn’t my first choice, hell, it was NEVER a conscience choice at all, it was just something I fell into. I won’t rehash my history in healthcare in this post, you can read about my (mis)adventures here, but suffice it to say, I never had aspirations to work in healthcare. I needed a job and at the time, ObamaCare happened and in an effort to protect my family and make sure we all had health insurance, (because my husband is self-employed and health insurance for a family of four was CRAZY expensive), I figured the safest place to work at that time was healthcare.

I started as a scheduler and I loved it! I scheduled for three neurosurgeons, we have nine in our group, and whenever someone saw one of the doctors that I “took care of” needed to check out, they sat at my desk and I scheduled them for whatever the doctor wanted.

Then, about two years into it, the director of neurosciences decided that we needed to combine some jobs and duties and suddenly I was told, “we need you to be an MA or I’m afraid you’ll have to find another job.”

Surprise! I became an MA. I have never had formal training, I haven’t gone to school for this, I learned everything I know now on the job. I did end up passing my certification exam in 2016 and now I’m a certified medical assistant, or CMA for short.

The journey has NOT been easy. It’s like being plopped down into a foreign country and then expected to speak the foreign language and interact with the locals like you’ve been doing it your whole life.

A lot of tears were shed but I not only did it, I EXCELLED. I’m quite proud of myself, to be honest.

Around the time that the scheduler job morphed into a medical assistant job, the hospital starting making the annual flu vaccine mandatory; it had been a choice up to that point. Kevin and I talked and I AGONIZED over what to do as I did NOT want to take the vaccine. It’s not that I’m against vaccines, per se, I’m just against a vaccine that may, or may not, be what is needed for that season’s flu strain. It’s a crap shoot, let’s be honest. Yes, “experts” can make educated guesses but most of the time, they are wrong – so very wrong – and the current flu vaccine is not only not effective, it’s really not necessary.

At least, for healthy people such as myself. I do not have any co-morbidities and I do not take any prescription drugs. I pride myself on seeking the most natural remedies possible for whatever that ails me and if that doesn’t work, then I make different lifestyle choices.

It never made any sense to me to willingly subject myself to be injected with God knows what.

But my choices were limited: get the vaccine or lose my job.

Those are some pretty crappy choices.

But I had a family to protect. The thought of not having any health insurance terrified me. What if something happened? We could potentially be bankrupt because healthcare costs are insanely high.

So, I took one for the team – the team being my family. I got the vaccine. I hated it and I was angry about it, but I did it to protect my family. But I refused to allow anyone in my family to get it, even though the hospital highly encouraged it.

Stupid me. I had no idea filing an exemption at that time was even an option. I didn’t really learn about filing an exemption request for a few years and by then I thought, why would they grant me an exemption now when I’ve allowed myself to be jabbed for the past several years?

I wasn’t happy about it, I didn’t really believe in it, but I did it because I wanted to keep my job and and I felt like I didn’t have much of a choice.

Sound familiar?

Fast forward ten years later to COVID.

I was hesitant from the get-go about the COVID shot. I never truly, seriously entertained the thought of taking an experimental jab and the more I looked into the vaccine and noted all of the inconsistencies, the bribe attempts then the coercion I knew there was no way in HELL I was going to allow them to inject me; I resigned myself to losing my job because my health was WAY, WAY more important than some job.

And I loved my job – I truly liked the people I worked with. I felt confident in my abilities and I knew I was very good at what I did. I would be sad but I knew there was no way I was going to agree to this madness.

But I was encouraged to file a religious exemption. And was denied. And then, a co-worker, who felt the same way as me and was in the same boat as myself, filed an appeal and she was approved.

So, I did the same and to my UTTER surprise, my appeal was granted. I did not have to get the COVID injection but I had to agree to take a COVID test weekly. (Which was recently canceled – I don’t have to test weekly anymore! Woohoo!)

I got to keep my job but I was made to feel like a low-class citizen and often singled out because I was one of the “unvaccinated” people.

It sucked. But I got to keep my job so I endured it.

I was so relieved that the hospital approved my religious exemption for the COVID vaccine that I went ahead and got the annual flu vaccine. I didn’t want to but I was afraid to rock the boat so I stuck my arm out and got the damn thing.

And then two weeks later, I experienced Vertigo that lasted about four days. It was hell. It was so bad that I went to the ER. You can read about that here. Though the ER doctor said nothing about this being a possible side effect from the flu vaccine, Kevin and I were convinced that it most definitely had something to do with it.

And that was the point where I knew I would never take another flu vaccine again. I should have fought it from the very beginning and just got another job, but I didn’t and now I felt stuck. I’ve been living with a black cloud over my head for the past year dreading October when it would be time to get the annual flu vaccine again.

I even went so far as to take an online class and earned my Legal Secretary Certificate as a plan B in case I wasn’t successful in my exemption request. If I lost my healthcare job, fine, I would find a job in legal – I’ve always wanted to be a paralegal anyway.

I polished up my resume. I bought a nice blazer at Goodwill to wear for my interview outfit. I was ready for whatever happened.

I submitted my religious exemption request on September 9, 2022. The deadline to submit the request was the end of September and the deadline to get the flu vaccine was October 31st. I wanted to get this process over with. Give me an answer. I’ve been waiting and dreading this for 12 months – I didn’t even care that much anymore, I just wanted an answer so that I could move on with my life.

Weeks went by – no answer. I emailed human resources at the end of September to make sure they had received my exemption requests, (I actually submitted both a religious and medical exemption request because, why not?), I wanted to make sure they had received my exemption requests before the deadline to submit them. I knew they had to have them, I hand-delivered them to Employee Health but I wanted to cover all my bases.

September ended and October started. Still no word.

Mid-October arrived – still no word.

Okay now I’m getting pissed. Stop dragging it out, first of all, and secondly, it’s rude. If you’re going to deny it, I’d like some time to submit an appeal. Not to mention the people I work deserve an answer, too. We can’t expand the department until we know if I’m staying or leaving. Everyone was waiting with bated breath.

My manager kept asking me if I heard anything and he finally contacted HR to ask about it. “It’s still out for review,” he was told.

Finally, HR called me on my work phone. They wanted to let me know that my medical exemption had been denied but that my religious request was still pending.

I wasn’t surprised. I wasn’t expecting them to seriously consider the medical exemption as there was no proof that the flu vaccine from last year prompted my Vertigo but again, I thought I would give it a try.

Another few weeks go by .. nothing. The deadline to submit my resignation comes and goes – still no word. Since the deadline to get the vaccine is October 31st, the deadline to turn in your two weeks was October 17th. I talked to my manager and he advised me to hold off on submitting my resignation as he talked to them and he was “confident” they would approve it.

(Which tells me that he, and E. the provider I work full-time for now, appealed my case to the hospital. Which is very humbling that they went to bat for me).

So. I didn’t turn my notice in and my manager assured me that if they denied my request they couldn’t penalize me for not turning in my resignation late because it wasn’t my fault they hadn’t notified me in time.

I was beyond caring at this point. Just make a decision already! OH. MY. LORD.

The last week of October starts and still no word.

Finally. FINALLY, October 27th rolls around and I finally get an email from HR. It’s not a denial but they want to know why, now, when I’ve gotten the flu vaccine in years past, I refused to get it this year. What had changed? And the deadline to respond to this request for more information was October 28th – THE NEXT DAY.

Because of course.

But it was a fair question. And one I was prepared for.

Luckily, we didn’t have clinic that day so I was free to really focus and concentrate on my response. Kevin offered his two cents and after a few hours of drafting, this is what I came up with:


My visit to the ER shortly after being injected with the flu vaccine in October 2021 forced me to take a long, hard look at my mortality, beliefs and convictions. Though there is no way to prove this incident was directly caused by the vaccine, it prompted me to seek religious counsel and prayer to seek guidance. I have evolved and spiritually matured over the past year resulting in a stronger religious conviction regarding my body’s natural immunity and I do not wish to interfere with this gift from God. My relationship with God has strengthened over this past year motivating me to make substantial changes in my day-to-day life and practices. As the physical world changes and our bodies age we make adjustments to accommodate those changes. The same can be said and applied to spiritual and religious beliefs.   

I do not prescribe to any medications and I consistently seek natural remedies for any ailments.  God created our bodies and I trust in His creation and design and trust my body to heal and protect on its own.   

It is my sincerely held religious belief that the Holy Scriptures exhort us to make wise decisions and by making wise decisions it will keep us healthy and add years to our life.   


Proverbs 3:1-2, 8 My son, do not forget my instruction and let your heart guard my commandments, for they will add to you length of days, years of life, and peace … this will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.   

Proverbs 4:5-10 Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget and do not turn away from the words of  my mouth. Do not abandon her and she will watch over you, love her and she will guard you. Wisdom is the principal thing, so get wisdom; and with all your purchases, purchase understanding. Exalt her and she will lift you up; she will honor you because you embrace her. She will place on your head a wreath of grace; she will present to you a beautiful crown. Listen, my son, and receive my words, and the years of your life will be many.   

My deeply held religious belief is that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Before we show love to others, we must love ourselves. Loving ourselves includes taking care of our health and not taking unnecessary risks with our health.   


Mark 12:31 Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.   

I cannot, in good conscience, and in accord with my sincerely held religious faith, take any influenza vaccine. In addition, any coerced medical treatment goes against my religious faith and the right of conscience to control one’s own medical treatment, free of coercion or force. Please provide a reasonable accommodation to my belief as I wish to continue to be a good employee and a valuable member of the team.  

Thank you for your consideration.  


I received an email response shortly after submitting this and was told I would hear back from them by the end of the business day. That was at 3:30 PM.

This was it, the moment of truth. All of my worry and fretting this past year led to this moment – it was time to sink or swim. I would either have a job on November 1st or I would be submitting my resume on November 1st. Which would it be? Which road would I travel?

I stayed until 5:00 PM.


I went home with mixed feelings: apprehension, nervousness, agitation and annoyance at yet another delay.


I have to walk by Human Resources on my way out of the hospital to get to the parking garage. When I passed the office the lights were out and the office was locked. I gave up hope getting an answer that night.

Once again, I felt like I was being jacked around.

I get home, get changed, pull up my work email on my home computer and text my co-worker who wanted to know if I heard anything.

I fixed myself an egg sandwich and as I’m sitting back down at my desk, I noticed I have an email.

Here we go, the moment of truth. The moment I would find out if I would continue my career with healthcare of if I would be forced to start over in another industry.

I closed my eyes, said a quick prayer, and opened the email.

I quickly scanned the email … and the word granted caught my eye.

My breath caught and I forced myself to slow down and read it from the beginning.


Dear Karen,

We are writing today in response to your request for exemption from _______ universal influenza employee vaccination program.

Your request for exemption has been granted. Please note _______ may require individuals to reapply for exemption based on changes to the influenza vaccination policy.  

Now that your exemption request has been approved, we will provide an accommodation in light of this exemption. Accommodations are determined on an individual basis and depend on several factors including the essential functions of a job, interaction with high-risk patient populations, and ability to work under varying levels of supervision.

In all accommodations, employees will be required to mask when on _______ property. Additional accommodations may include a change in work settings; possible work restrictions; and being moved to an alternative role if working with high-risk patients. 

_______reserves the right to take any necessary and appropriate steps, including but not limited to, imposing alternative influenza prevention measures and accommodations, to ensure that individuals do not pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others in the workplace.


And there you have it. All of the worry, doubts, fear, and uncertainties of this past year resolved in one small email response.

I have mixed feelings. For one, I’m honestly surprised they granted my request. I know they have denied others in the same boat as myself. Perhaps they knew I wasn’t bluffing since I have submitted my resignation in the past. Obviously, I’m relieved. This is the EASIEST way out – I don’t have to apply, interview, learn something different and deal with new people, but on the other hand, I’m sick of walking on eggshells with this job. I’m tired of agencies trying to decide what’s best for ME and MY body. I’m tired of jumping through hoops to maintain my position. I almost wish they would have denied it just so I don’t have to worry about dealing with this issue at some point in time because let’s be real, this issue will likely come up again, if not every year – do I really WANT to deal with the headache?

Only time will tell.

So. The vaccine saga is over for now.

But I will continue to have a backup plan, just in case.

Thanks for reading.

NaNoWriMo 2022 - 30 days

My Story in Thirty Days


Welcome to November.

Wow – 2022 is nearly over.

Guess what time is is? It’s time for NaNoWriMo.

Which I won’t be participating in this year, at least, in the traditional sense.

I’m so out of practice writing that there is no way I’m ready to start writing fiction again. I want to get back into writing but on my own terms, starting with this blog.

My intention is to post something on my blog every day in November. Who knows if it will happen but that’s the plan for right now. I apologize if I overwhelm your email inbox but I need to challenge myself to get back into it. Time is ticking; I’m losing track of time.

I’ll try not to post a novel about my life every day, but I warn you now, there will be some political posts – how can there not be with everything crazy going on in our world right now? But I promise to be as fair as I can when evaluating the current state of affairs and if that’s not your bag of tea, please skip those posts.

Yes. A decision has been made regarding my career. My life path has been determined and I no longer feel like a worm squirming on a hook anymore. I will explain all in tomorrow’s post.

For now – I hope you’re doing well and as always, I appreciate the time you’re taking out of your busy day to visit my inner world.



I tried guys, I really did. I started out strong and about three days in, I just couldn’t summon the creative energy to keep up. Work has been BRUTAL. I’ve been working 45 (ish) hour weeks and I’m just brain dead when I get home. Then, on the weekends, all I want to do is watch mindless YouTube videos, read or nap. I can’t be bothered to write anything creatively. I can’t even be bothered to write anything for this blog.

I also have bouts where I feel woozy and it’s hard to focus on words as they start bending and become distorted and I’m afraid I’m going to have another Vertigo attack so I get off the computer and rest my eyes. (Also – to be fair, I stare at a computer all day at work, too, so there is a lot of eye fatigue going on).

So. I’m tired of stressing about it. NaNoWriMo is supposed to be fun and it wasn’t – at all. I don’t need the extra stress in my life right now so I’m officially calling it quits for NaNoWriMo this year.

I have some ideas for another project that I’m brewing in my brain but I’m done making empty promises. If anything comes from it, I’ll let you know, otherwise, if you don’t hear anything, it was yet another fail in my life.

You know, it’s funny, but I take GREAT pride in excelling in every other aspect of my life EXCEPT writing. Why is that? I know I’m scared of failing, maybe even scared of succeeding. Writing is so near and dear to my heart, like a child, that I can’t stand the thought of people criticizing it. Well, my creative writing, that is. The stuff I write on my blog is simply … me. Take it or leave it – I am who I am. But when it comes to creative writing – I freeze up. And I don’t really know why, truth be known.

And it frustrates me!

I don’t know if I’m making sense. I’m tired, as usual. It’s late, I’m having trouble keeping my eyes open, let alone making sense of my thoughts right now. Suffice it to say, I’ve thrown in the NaNoWriMo towel and I’m moving on.

However, I hope YOU’RE doing well. And learning a lot about your own writing in the process. I think that’s one of the biggest NaNoWriMo wins, in my opinion, the fact that you learn and grow as a writer. Me? I’ve learned that I don’t do long projects. I get so bored with anything over 5000 words. I need to stick to short stories, I guess.

Anyway, good luck if you’re still in the game! I’m cheering you on from the sidelines!


NaNoWriMo Warm Up – Day One/Two

Hello NaNoWriMos!

Day one is done – how did you do??

I ended up writing 2,736 words. Part of that word count was updating my November Reflections post that you’ll read at the end of this month, but the majority of that was on my NaNoWriMo project, “For the Greater Good.” I don’t think I’ve mentioned my project on here, before. It’s a Dystopian Fiction story and OF COURSE, it’s about the current vaccine madness and cult, (be honest, it’s a cult following at this point in time), but with a sinister twist. I’m excited about writing it, but because I was down for the count with my Vertigo episode for nearly a week, I didn’t have time to actually outline anything so here I am, again, participating in NaNoWriMo by the seat of my pants.

It makes it way harder to write this way, but it also makes it fun and exciting, too. I wrote my prologue yesterday – it just sort of came to me, but I hated every part of it, even as I was writing it. It took everything I had to actually get through it and I will definitely NOT be using it for the “final” product, if there is a final product.

But no worries. I got some words down and I’m just sort of muddling my way through this and there will inevitably be a few false turns here and there, I just wasn’t expecting to have that happen right out of the gate.

I’m counting my blog and my project in my word count because let’s face it, writing a blog post IS writing and I use writing in my blog as a warm up “for the real thing” so yes, I’m counting this with my word count, too. I don’t know if this makes me a NaNoWriMo Rebel, but that’s how I roll – I do what I want!

In case you’re curious, I’m writing on the SmartEdit Writer software. This is a FREE software and to me, it’s set up like Scrivener though to be fair, I’ve never used Scrivener so I’m not sure how accurate that statement is, but I’m liking it so far and did I mention it’s FREE? No, this is not sponsored, but if you’re looking for a writing software, you might check it out and if you do, let me know how you like it. I would like to buy Scrivener at some point but we’ll see. If SmartEdit Writer is working, why go with something else?

I also LOVE writing sprints on YouTube. Watching these makes me feel part of a writing community and it motivates me to write something. Yesterday, I watched/wrote with the Word Nerds.

You can find a hodge-podge of various writing sprints at Devin Cutting’s YouTube page. If you haven’t tried a writing sprint, I highly recommend it. It’s really fun and you really do feel like you’re in a writing group and not entirely alone.

If you would like to chat with me you’re welcome to send me a DM on the NaNoWriMo website – my username is take2max – and I’ll be happy to extend an invitation for the private chat room. My group is at this link – I don’t know if it will work if you’re not signed into the NaNoWriMo site, but you’re welcome to try.

I wasn’t planning on writing anything today but I’m in the mood to write and I might as well take advantage of that enthusiasm while I can. I think I’m sufficiently warmed up and ready to write. I’ll post a small excerpt from “For the Greater Good” from yesterday. Fair warning: keep a barf bag close by.

I’m working on Prologue #2 today. And if I hate this one as much, then I will continue to write until I get it right. This will be good practice for me and give me a chance to get to know my main character, Nashe, a bit more.

Let me know how you’re doing!

Excerpt from NaNoWriMo project:

Nashe cracked her eyes open. She blinked. Had she lost her sight? Why was everything so dark? She stared up at the ceiling and took a moment to adjust. What happened? Where was she? Why was she lying on a cold, hard table? She tried to move her arms.


Her arms were strapped to her sides.

She tried to move her legs.


She could feel straps around her ankles.

She inhaled a shaky breath. “Don’t panic,” she mumbled as she forced herself to remain calm so that she would have the wherewithal to think.

She turned her head from side to side. She could just make out shapes in the shadows. To her left, was a long sink, it looked deep, like a sink you would see in a science lab. She could make out cabinets lining the rest of the wall next to the sink.

She turned her head to the right. She could just make out the shape of a large window, only it was boarded up and completely dark leading her to believe it was either night outside or the window wasn’t really a window to the outside but a window to an observation room.

That thought caused her to nervously squirm.

She winced as she lifted her head from the table to look toward her feet. Nausea rolled in her stomach as her head swam, a pressing headache knocking at her temples. She concentrated on breathing deeply and forced herself to open her eyes once more. She saw a door with a shade drawn over the window.

She put her head back down on the table and stared at the huge light directly above her. She could feel her heart hammering painfully against her breast bone. She clamped down on her fear and inhaled sharply before exhaling a shaky breath.

She tightly squeezed her eye shut. “Focus,” she whispered. What happened? How did she get here? More importantly, how can she get free? She began to squirm to test how tight her bindings felt. She was able to move her legs somewhat, but her arms didn’t move an inch.

“Breathe,” she muttered momentarily succumbing to the tendril of fear that coiled around her throat and tightly closed her eyes. She took a moment to still her frantic heart and focused on breathing in through her nose, then out through her mouth.



Jax’s Pre-Story

(warning – language)

“Hey,” Jax said as he walked into the house.

“Hey,” Bethany answered without looking up from her phone.

Jax walked past his wife and shrugged out of his jacket tossing it across the back of his recliner. He peeled off his gun holster and walked into their bedroom to lock the gun in the safe. Even though guns were a big part of his life, he didn’t want his daughter to accidentally get a hold of them. Especially while she was young. He would teach her gun responsibility once she was old enough to understand and respect firearms and the importance of handling them correctly.

He washed his hands studying his reflection in the mirror. He looked tired. Light purple bags underscored his eyes and the fine lines around his mouth were more grooved. But that was to be expected, he supposed, having a three month old in the house that still wasn’t sleeping the whole night.

He peeked around the corner of the baby’s room. Gabriella was staring up at the mobile softly swinging above her. He smiled.

“Hey Gabi,” he said softly so as not to startle her. “I see you’re awake. Are you ready to join the land of the living?” He paused at the edge of her crib and gazed down at his beautiful daughter. She was his perfect angel. She had his dark hazel eyes and her mother’s heart-shaped mouth. She grinned up at him, a spit bubble popping near the corner of her mouth. He chuckled and reached down to scoop her up. Her small head fit his larger hand perfectly as he placed her against his chest. She snuggled against his shoulder and began rooting around.

“I see you’re hungry. Let’s go hunt mom down.” He carried her securely against him and walked back into the kitchen.

Bethany was busy tapping away on her phone. She was so engrossed in her conversation that she didn’t realize Jax was standing next to her until he cleared his throat.

“Who are you talking to?”

“Oh,” she squeaked out a nervous chuckle. “No one. Just responding to a Facebook post.”

“Bullshit.” He ground his teeth in irritation and narrowed his eyes. “You’re talking to HIM, aren’t you?”

She sighed and put her phone down while reaching for Gabi. “Don’t start, Jax. Jealously is not an attractive trait.”

He released his hold on Gabi and watched her carry their daughter to the sofa and settle down to breastfeed her.

“You could at least have the decency to not communicate with ‘your friend’ while I’m here,” he ground out and moved back to the kitchen. “And I could give a shit if you talk to him, just don’t do it in front of me.” He looked around the kitchen then opened the oven to peer inside. “What’s for dinner?”

“Whatever you’re making,” she responded while smiling down at her daughter who was now happily suckling away.

He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “Look Bethany. I don’t expect you to be Betty Crocker but you’re home all day, the least you could do is fix dinner.”

“I didn’t have time.”

“Time from what?”

She kissed her daughter’s forehead before looking toward him. “Why do we have to have this conversation every night? I have responsibilities, Jax. Social media may not be a traditional 9-to-5 ‘job’ to you, but trust me, it’s very time consuming and I’m starting to make money from my videos and Instagram posts so … get over it.”

“But it’s taking time away from our daughter. How long was she awake in her crib? And there are dried tears on her cheeks. How long was she crying? Did you even know she was crying?”

Bethany continued to gaze down at Gabi with a soft smile and in a sweet, baby voice, she said, “Fuck you, Jax.”

He sighed and opened the fridge to gauge the food inventory. They had half a gallon of milk, a container of cottage cheese and an onion. He walked over to the pantry and yanked open the door. Three cans of pinto beans, half a package of spaghetti noodles and soy sauce. He slammed the door which startled Gabi who disconnected from Bethany to let out a startled cry.

“Shh,” Bethany soothed and rubbed her cheek. “Daddy is in a pissy mood, as usual. Just ignore him.”

“Seriously. There is nothing to eat!” He pulled out his phone to look at eating apps.

“Don’t order pizza. My waistline can’t take much more bread.”

“Yeah. You wouldn’t want to get fat for your boyfriend.”

Bethany lifted Gabi and placed her on her shoulder and began patting her back. “Jax, we talked about this. Are you seriously jealous? I don’t know what you want me to say. I’m a social media influencer. I’m going to have to interact with my fans, I can’t just ignore them!”

He ran a hand down the scruff of his 5 o’clock shadow. “Maybe you need to find another job. It’s killing our marriage.”

“It’s only killing our marriage because you’re allowing it to. Stop being so insecure. Also, what marriage?” A deep-seated burp emitted from Gabi and Bethany stood up. “Good one, baby girl.” She walked over and handed Gabi to Jax. “Can you take her for a while? I need to answer some emails.”

“Sure.” He grinned softly at his daughter who was drunk on milk and she cooed at him. His heart melted and he kissed her cheek while tickling her ribs. She erupted in giggles and his grin morphed into a full-fledged smile. “Come on, princess, let’s go grab some grub, shall well?” He grabbed the diaper bag that was always packed and ready by the door and without a backward glance, he left the house.

They arrived at the store and Jax slipped on the baby carrier. He had never used it before but had put it on just to figure out how it worked. He unsnapped Gabi from her car seat and tried to slip her inside the carrier but she was kicking her chubby little legs so much he couldn’t get her in.

“Listen here you little squirmy monkey,” he laughed as he tried to navigate her into the carrier.

“Do you need some help?” an attractive 20-something woman said as she was walking past.

“Actually, yes, if you don’t mind. Could you hold the carrier open while I put her inside?”

“No problem,” she said and moved forward to grab hold of the carrier and open it wide enough for him to put Gabi inside.

Gabi settled in with a squirm and flashed him a toothless grin.

“Thank you. I’m not sure I could have made that work on my own,” Jax grinned at the woman and moved to grab the diaper bag and shut the door.

“Glad to help. I have a niece about her age and I know my sister has a hard time getting her settled sometimes.”

Jax could tell she was interested in him and he tried not appear rude as he started walking away.

“Is that your daughter?”

“Yes,” he said while grabbing a cart from an outside cart corral. “I’m just running in to grab some dinner for my wife.”

“Ah,” she said, getting the hint. “Lucky woman. Well, take care.”

“Yeah, you too,” he said and nearly laughed out loud. Lucky woman indeed. He was pretty sure she didn’t feel she was lucky in their relationship.

Or whatever it was they were doing. Co-habituating maybe?

He snorted in disgust and pushed the cart into the store. What the hell was he doing? Was this really how he wanted to live his life? They hadn’t had sex since Gabi was born though he knew that women had to wait a while after giving birth before they were cleared to have sex, he knew for a fact that Bethany’s doctor had cleared her a long time ago. But somehow, neither one of them wanted to instigate anything.

It wasn’t that he didn’t find her attractive. He wasn’t one of those guys that lost sexual interest once the woman had given birth, he just wasn’t … interested. They had both been very into one another before they got married, in fact, that’s why they had gotten married so quickly, because she had gotten pregnant with Gabi and he wanted to do the right thing. He didn’t regret Gabi, not one bit, but he certainly wished he and Bethany had gotten to know each other first and were more careful before becoming an instant family.

He absently placed items in the cart while thinking over his relationship. Gabi was content to look at the lights, the colors and listen to passing people in her carrier. She really was a good baby. He just hoped he would be a good enough dad to her.

But did he really want to raise her with Bethany? He could tell she was pulling away. In fact, if he was being honest, he got the impression she lost interest shortly before she announced she was pregnant with Gabi.

God. What a clusterfuck. He should have listened to his father and not jumped into the whole  marriage thing. Raising a child as a single parent wasn’t ideal, but was it any better to raise a child in a loveless marriage?

Jax was in line checking out when Gabi started to get restless. She began to whimper and the cashier worked hard to keep her entertained while Jax hurriedly placed his items on the belt so they could leave. By the time he got back to the car, Gabi was in full crisis mode, screaming loudly enough it caught the attention of several people. A woman gave him a sympathetic nod, while a few young girls shook their head in disgust. Jax unloaded the groceries into his car, his ears ringing from her screaming, and hurriedly lifted her out of the carrier, her legs pumping angrily and tangling in the carrier straps.

“Good God, girl, you have a powerful set of lungs on you,” he grimaced while rocking her back and forth in an attempt to quiet her. He reached into the diaper bag and plucked out her pacifier. He slid it across her lips to get her attention and she desperately latched on to it while sucking furiously. “There now, better?” Her huge dark eyes glistened with unshed tears as she looked up at him.

He waited a few moments to make sure she had calmed down before putting her into her car seat. He strapped her in, parked the cart on to a nearby grassy curb and got behind the wheel.

Gabi started to whimper but continued to suck on her pacifier. He sighed with relief. He started the car and they began the long drive back home. He switched on the radio for some background noise hoping Gabi would take a nap on the way home.

He checked the time, nearly 7:00 PM. Another wave of irritation tickled his throat and he clamped it down. Dinner should have been done by now. He should have been giving Gabi a bath and putting her to bed, something he looked forward to each night. Instead, he was buying groceries and anticipating cooking dinner because he couldn’t count on his partner to do her share of the work.

He could feel the tips of his ears heating up and knew he was close to his boiling point. It would be one thing if this happened once in a while, we all lose track of time and he knew that taking care of a baby was a full-time job – she was a time suck. A cute time suck, but one none the less. But this was happening more and more frequently with little to no remorse and now he just felt like Bethany was taking advantage of him.

Again, he wondered why he was putting up with it. Did he feel guilty? After all, Bethany didn’t get pregnant on her own, he was just as much to blame for the situation but he felt like he was the only one that was making a true effort to try and make it work.

It was fully dark by the time he pulled into the driveway. The only light on in the house was the kitchen light though he could see a flickering, blue light coming from the second floor window on the left telling him that Bethany was still on her computer. Ever since her blog was showcased on the host’s webpage her views had gone way up and she felt compelled to produce more and more content to keep the momentum going. This lead to making an Instagram account and posting countless pictures of Gabi and then she started a YouTube channel to document her life as a new mom. He was glad she was working toward something that would potentially make them money but she was so consumed with making her online life perfect that she was neglecting her real life duties.

As soon as he turned off the engine, Gabi began to cry. He knew she was probably hungry again and it was past her bedtime so she was likely exhausted as well. He pulled her out of her seat and entered the house. He had assumed Bethany would hear him drive up and meet them at the door but she was no where to be seen.

“We’re home!” he yelled which only made Gabi cry harder. He recognized the cry. It was a warning cry and if we didn’t see to her needs in three minutes flat, she would begin screaming. “Bethany!” he yelled again and put Gabi in her playcrib. When Bethany still hadn’t made an appearance by the time he had settled Gabi and tried to give her another pacifier, which she promptly spit out when she realized it didn’t come with milk, he marched upstairs and barged into Bethany’s office. She had on headphones and was furiously typing in a chat room.

Seeing her so oblivious to the world, more specifically his and Gabi’s world, he briskly walked over to the wall and unplugged her computer.

“What the actual hell, Jax?” she yelled. She paused when she heard Gabi screaming. “What’s going on?”

“Get downstairs and feed your fucking daughter so I can unload the car,” he snarled. He turned on his heel and stomped out to the garage to grab the groceries. Gabi abruptly stopped screaming on his third trip into the house.

“Jesus, Jax, what is your problem?”

“My problem, Bethany? MY problem?” He slammed the fridge door after putting the milk away. “I work eight plus hours every day, even the weekends here lately with the election happening in a few weeks, only to come home to no dinner, no groceries and no help from you. It’s like you’ve checked out and would rather live in your virtual world than live your life. I’m sick of it!”

“It’s my job, Jax.”

“Oh, don’t give me that shit, Bethany. It’s your excuse to check out and pretend you’re anywhere else but here. Have you stopped to consider that I might hate my life as well? This sucks. This whole marriage sucks and you know it.”

“You’re the one that didn’t wear a condom,” she said quietly but not quietly enough that Jax didn’t hear her.

“It takes two to tangle, sweetheart,” he snapped back. He angrily grabbed food from the bags and began putting it away.

He watched Bethany breast feed Gabi while stroking her soft hair. “You’re right. I can’t do this anymore. I’ve met someone.” She paused, cleared her throat and said in a slighter stronger voice. “I want out.”

Jax froze on the spot, his hand lifted to put a box of spaghetti in the pantry. He could feel his blood pressure rising and he was breathing like he had just ran around the block. He closed his eyes briefly in an attempt to rein in his temper. He slammed the box down on the counter, breaking the box, dried noodles spilling out onto the floor.

“I knew it. I fucking knew it,” he said in a deceptively calm voice. “You know what?” He exited the kitchen and faced her. “I’m relieved, actually. Now you’ve given me permission to leave your sorry ass. This,” he gestured between the two of them, “hasn’t been working for a while now and I’m actually glad that you finally admitted it. Let’s get on with our lives.” He turned to go back to the kitchen.

“Where are you going?”

Continue reading “Jax’s Pre-Story”


Caught on Film

It wasn’t as if she knew what she was doing.

Okay. She didn’t know what she was doing.

Whitney reached into her car and grabbed her camera bag. She unzipped it and pulled out her DLSR and lens. She hooked the strap around her neck and stuffed an extra battery into the pocket of her jacket. She was slipping her phone in her other jacket pocket when it dinged.

Where are you?

She stuck her car keys in the pocket of her jeans and locked the car before answering.

At Cricket Falls. Taking pictures for class. 

You’re still on the photography kick? 

You make it sound like a hobby.

Isn’t it?

Listen Seth, I have spent a lot of money on classes and I need to practice. I really want to make this into something. Why can’t you support me?

Because it’s stupid and a pipe dream. Stick with the bank. You have a future there.

Whitney sighed and rolled her eyes.

Why can’t you support me?? She typed furiously.

I’m trying to prevent you from making a mistake. 

Whitney was beginning to wonder if Seth was the mistake.

I can’t talk right now. I need to go before I lose the light. 


She angrily tucked the phone into her other jeans pocket and briefly closed her eyes. She had been taking photography classes for nearly four months and she resented Seth for making her feel stupid. She wanted to enjoy the classes and he was making it impossible with his negativity and complaining.

Asshole, she thought.

She tugged a hairband in to push her curly black hair out of her eyes. She tested the door handle of her VW bug and set off toward the hiking trail. She hadn’t been to Cricket Falls in quite some time and she was looking forward to taking pictures at sunset.

She stopped just as she entered the tree line. She had forgotten her water bottle. She paused. She should probably go back and get it but it was already late afternoon and the sun would be setting in a little over two hours and it would take her nearly an hour to reach the falls.

She shrugged and continued down the path.

She stepped around tree roots and over smooth, flat rocks. She took deep, cleansing breaths. There was nothing like fresh air to clear the week’s cobwebs. She knew Seth wanted her to stay with the bank but she was bored. She wanted a job where she could be creative and spontaneous. She had no idea if she would be able to make any money at photography but she certainly wanted to try. She loved learning about F-stops and angles, lighting and focus points in class. It was challenging to look at something and then set up the perfect shot in order to try and capture the mood she wanted to portray.

The day was quickly cooling down and she was thankful she had grabbed a jacket. The sun was playing peek-a-boo behind distended gray clouds and it looked like a storm front was heading in. She paused to check the weather on her phone. She had to walk up an incline in order to get a better signal. Weather was definitely coming in but she figured she had about three hours before it reached her, plenty of time to shoot some pictures and make it back to her car before it rained.

Her phone dinged. She sighed and continued walking. It was probably Seth and she wasn’t in the mood to deal with him at the moment. She just wanted to enjoy the time she had and to focus on her pictures as she was hoping to touch them up and present them at her next class for critique. She ignored the text and kept moving. She glanced up at the sky. There were now more clouds than sun and she was beginning to think maybe she should head back to her car as she didn’t want to risk getting her camera equipment wet.

She was lost in thought and seriously thinking about turning around when she rounded a bend and there, in all it’s glory, was Cricket Falls.

She paused to to fully absorb the sheer magnificence of the beautiful waterfall. The falls were not as swollen as she had seen them in the past but she knew it would only be a matter of minutes after the rain started to turn the relatively calm waters into a raging, angry flow.

She heard a crack of thunder and it made her jump into action. She lifted her camera, adjusted her settings and began taking pictures from various angles. She was actually glad the sun had disappeared behind the clouds as it provided her with better light and a somber atmosphere. After taking about twenty shots, she was placing her lens cap back on the camera when another round of thunder reverberated above. She nervously eyed the sky and turned around to head back. She paused at the fork in the path and decided to take another route back to her car. She didn’t know for sure if it was quicker, but had hiked that particular path before and felt like the way back was less rocky.

She was weaving through the trees, dodging and dunking under branches when she heard a sound.

After being in the woods for over an hour, she had gotten used to the shuffling of critters in the leaves and the wind rustling the tree branches. But this sound was different. It sounded like a soft hiss, or scrape, then as if something was being dropped onto soft earth.

She broke through some trees and her phone dinged again.

She paused and dug it out of her pocket.

Another girl has gone missing. I don’t like you being out there all alone. Come home.

Whitney sent a quick text back to Seth.

You worry too much. I got my shots and am heading back. 

He answered back immediately.


She dropped her phone back into her pocket and squelched her irritation.  He was trying. She needed to try as well.

She entered the next clump of trees, carefully picking her way through the path when she heard the strange noise again.




What was that sound? It seemed so out-of-place in the woods and yet, she felt like she had heard that sound before.

She veered off the path and crept toward where she thought the sound was coming from. She reached out to move a low-hanging branch only for it to swing back and slap her in the face.

“Ow!” She clapped a hand over her cheek to try and quell the sting.

The sound abruptly stopped.

Whitney also stopped and stood still. She could feel her heartbeat quickening even though she forced her breathing to slow and quiet. Something felt wrong. Why did the sound stop? A flash of lightening pierced the darkening sky above her. She counted silently in her head … 1 … 2 …3 … 4 … 5 … 6 … 7 … Thunder rolled across the sky and Whitney glanced at the time on her phone. She estimated she had about thirty minutes before the rain reached her. Though she knew she needed to move, she couldn’t. It was too quiet. Though she didn’t know what the sound was, she suddenly wished it would start back up again. She instinctively knew the sound resuming was safer than not.

She continued to stay still and she silently urged the sound to continue so she could move. She didn’t know why it was so important for the sound to resume but she was spooked enough that she didn’t feel like she should move until it did.

Her phone dinged and the sound seemed to echo loudly.

“Shit,” she reached in to her pocket and quickly muted her phone. She could hear a rustling up ahead of her and she quietly moved closer to the trees, off the path and into the shadows. She felt ridiculous for playing chicken with the mysterious sound but the goosebumps on her arms was enough to give her pause.

After long minutes, the sound started back up again and she slowly released the breath she hadn’t realized she was holding.




She cautiously moved forward, careful to avoid disturbing the leaves and rocks in her way. She crept into a small batch of trees and tried to peer through.

She saw a flash of blue.

Was that a person?

Continue reading “Caught on Film”


Interview with Jax

Hello Blogfam and welcome. I’d like to introduce Jaxson Fuller. He goes by Jax. Is that right?

Jax: Yes.

Me: Very good. Jax is the male lead in the story and Maya’s potential love interest though I believe you don’t make an appearance in the story for quite a while, is that right, Jax?

Jax: Correct.

Me: Well, welcome to my blog. Thanks for being here.

Jax: *nods and gives a small smile*

Me: So, Jax. Tell us about yourself.

Jax: I hate when people say that. Can’t you just give me a question?

Me: Okay. Tell me about your life before Maya.

Jax: I was a First Lieutenant in the Army. I served three tours in the Middle East and about five(ish) years ago, my unit was attacked. I sustained an injury and had to rethink my career. It wasn’t fun.

Me: What sort of injury?

Jax: *points to his left leg* I was shot several times in the left leg. Banged me up pretty good. I was honorably discharged shortly after that. I spent a year in rehabilitation and I can walk on it now, but I am gimpy.

Me: I’m sorry to hear that.

Jax: *shrugs* Comes with the territory. After I finished rehab, I ran into a buddy of mine who works for the Secret Service. He pulled some strings and I was able to get a job.

Me: The Secret Service, eh? Sounds exciting.

Jax: It’s not really. But you do have to be super vigilant.

Me: I can imagine. Who was assigned to you. Would I have known that person?

Jax: Possibly. I would rather not say who I watched over.

Me: Of course. They don’t call it “Secret” service for no reason. *laughs*

Jax: *smiles – though clearly not as amused*

Me: How long have you been in the Secret Service?

Jax: It’s been nearly … three years now.

Me: What is the most challenging part of your job?

Jax: Definitely the people. I’m either watching someone who is totally paranoid about being attacked or someone who doesn’t take it seriously and takes all kinds of risks. It can be exhausting.

Me: Can you tell us about one of your more challenging clients?

Jax: *sits for a bit, then nods brusquely* Sure. It was about six months ago, actually. I was assigned to watch a Senator’s daughter and she took it upon herself to sneak out of her house and go to a party that none of us knew about and certainly didn’t approve she could go to. I spent nearly an hour looking for her before I had to swallow some pride and call in reinforcements. It took us nearly two hours to find her and by the time we did, she was very drunk and very loud.

Me: I take that to mean, she wasn’t happy to see you.

Jax: You could say that. Her father was also not very happy to see me.

Me: Did he punish you?

Jax: No. *he flexes his jaw in irritation* He campaigned to have me fired.

Me: But it wasn’t your fault!

Jax: Doesn’t matter. She was my responsibility and I lost track of her. If something had happened to her, I would have been prosecuted and likely charged with negligence.

Me: Wow. Why do you stay in the job if there is that much pressure?

Jax: Because I’m very good at my job. I had allowed myself to become distracted in that case. That will not happen again.

Me: What distracted you?

Jax: I’d rather not say.

Me: It was a woman, wasn’t it? Was it Maya?

Jax: *face flushes a light red*

Me: Are you married?

Jax: I was.

Me: What happened?

Jax: *sighs* We were bad for each other. We were polar opposites, which was great in some ways, it was never boring. *soft smile of remembrance* But after a while, the novelty wore off and we just got tired of trying, I suppose.

Me: Any children?

Jax: One. But she died from SARS when she was four months old. That was the beginning of the end of our relationship.

Me: *blinks – clears throat* I’m sorry.

Jax: …..

Me: So. Any love interest now?

Jax: *arches a brow* I think you know the answer to that one.

Me: *sly grin* Just seeing if you were still with me. How did you and Maya meet?

Jax: Her dad … talked me into being her bodyguard.

Me: You didn’t volunteer for the job?

Jax; Not exactly.

Me: Why would Maya need protection?

Jax: Unclear. Though her father is head of the Secret Service to the President and when you’re that close, you tend to make enemies.

Me: What is Maya like to guard?

Jax: She’s a pain in the ass.

Me: Really? I would have thought Dree would be the pain in the ass.

Jax: Dree is tough, but she’s street smart. Maya is clueless to what goes on in the world. Thank God her father had the foresight to make her take kickboxing.

Me: *chuckles* Forgive me. But after meeting Maya, … kickboxing? Really? It just doesn’t compute.

Jax: *shrugs* Yeah. She’s a bit of a princess and her form sucks, but she’s got determination, I’ll give her that. She will get better.

Me: What makes you so sure?

Jax: Because I’ll make sure she can defend herself. You never know what life will throw at you. You need to be prepared.

Me: Sounds like an army slogan. *chuckles*

Jax: Be all you can be.

Me: Now you’re making fun of me.

Jax: *smirks*

Me: Do your parents live here?

Jax: My dad is a Colonel in the Army. Mom is a typical Army wife, sponsors fundraisers and events to help boost the troops’ families. They are stationed in West Virginia right now.

Me: So fairly close. Do you ever get to see them?

Jax: Not as often as I would like.

Me: Any siblings?

Jax: I have a younger brother, Mark.

Me: And what does Mark do?

Jax: He’s special ops. I haven’t seen him in nearly … five years, I think.

Me: Your parents must be proud – both of you serving your country.

Jax: *frown* I guess.

Me: You don’t think so?

Jax: *rubs the scruff on his face absently* No comment.

Me: Well, that’s intriguing. So Jax ..

(*a loud pop sounds outside and causes Me to jump and squeal*)

Jax: Get down! *jumps out of his chair causing it crash to the floor and whips his Glock semi automatic pistol out of his waist band. He points is at the window.

Continue reading “Interview with Jax”