Interview: A Tale of Two Jans

Ladies and gentlemen, I have the pleasure of interviewing someone very special to me today, and I am so pleased to introduce you to Janise, who is currently joining me from the year 2009. How are you today, Janise?
Continue reading “Interview: A Tale of Two Jans”

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Dream Journal 6/30/16

Outside the church, we found a notice taped to the door, with a schedule of all the activities happening that weekend, and the times. It was written in purple crayon.

I was young again, maybe 11 or 12 years old, and I was camping with all of my grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles, just like we did every other weekend in the summer when I was a kid. We were at a large campground, which was connected to a water park, that we had never been to before. On our first day there, my cousin, Nick, and I woke up really early, because we wanted to go to the church at the campground, and… color. So we walked to the church, but when we went inside, there was some kind of Sunday school thing happening, and a nun yelled at us to leave, and that we weren’t allowed to color until the class was over. Continue reading “Dream Journal 6/30/16”

Daily Prompt 6/9/2016 | Then and Now

So… have I changed much? Not really, no.

In response to The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt 6/9/2016 | Transformation

Hello, friends! I was inspired by today’s daily prompt, as well as it being Throwback Thursday, to delve into the depths of my Facebook profile, all the way back to 2007, in search of my first ever profile picture. I thought it would be a good time to reflect on who I was when I joined the social networking site (not so much social networking as a whole, since I was a pretty hardcore MySpace user back in the day), and compare it with who I am today. I’ve compiled a list of questions to answer about who I was then, and who I am now.

Feel free to copy and paste these, or add your own, and post them on your blog! I had a lot of fun trying to remember things from my high school years!

THEN: 2007
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(Holy MySpace angles, Batman!)

1) How old are you?
17 years old.

2) Where was this picture taken?
On my front porch, minutes before I left for my senior photo shoot… not sure why I chose this extreme angle.

3) What is your hair color?
Brown and red.

4) Do you dye your hair?
Quite frequently actually.

5) Do you wear makeup?
Not really. I did the year before, and it looked awful all the time. I think I wore mascara and lip gloss sometimes, and that’s it.

6) What is your favorite color?
Green!

7) What is your favorite book?
Hm. Probably Crank  or Burned by Ellen Hopkins, though I was still pretty smitten with the Harry Potter series, which had just come to an end the summer before.

8) What is your favorite movie?
Pan’s Labyrinth.

9) What is your favorite band?
Breaking Benjamin and 30 Seconds to Mars!

10) What is your favorite song?
“Becoming the Bull” by Atreyu, or “Breaking the Habit” by Linkin Park.

11) Do you have any pets?
I had a cat named Napkin.

12) What is your best friend’s name?
My then-boyfriend, Matt.

13) What is your favorite food?
Chop Suey… or anything chocolate.

14) What is your ringtone?
I had just gotten my first cell phone, and all I had to choose from were the crappy pre-set ringtones. Ew.

15) What does a typical weekend look like for you?
Oh, you know, hardcore partying… with my online friends… in World of Warcraft…

16) What is your most visited website?
Probably MySpace, but I was starting to get into Facebook. I also went on eBaum’s World a lot.

17) Do you have any nicknames?
Jan Jan, and Jan. I also went by my WoW name… Zul.

18) What is your biggest fear?
Graduating and having no idea what to do with my life.

19) What is your biggest insecurity?
I was actually pretty confident at this point in my life. I had lost a lot of weight, stopped wearing makeup, and was preparing to graduate. I was insecure about my intelligence more than anything.

20) Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Graduated from Memorial University of Newfoundland with a degree in Psychology, living with my boyfriend, Matt, in a nice house, with a picket fence, and a dog. You get the idea.

NOW: 2016
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(Yeah, that’s definitely a better angle, Jan. Good job.)

1) How old are you?
26 years old.

2) Where was this picture taken?
In the passenger seat of our car, where I take most of my selfies these days. Best lighting!

3) What is your hair color?
Brown and blonde.

4) Do you dye your hair?
This was the first time I had dyed my hair in over two years, and I went to a salon, instead of doing it myself, and it came out so terrible.

5) Do you wear makeup?
Sometimes. I’m wearing more makeup in this picture than I normally would, as we were going somewhere. I am content with leaving the house with no makeup on, but I do like wearing foundation, since, you know, I still have the same acne I did 7 years ago. And 10 years ago.

6) What is your favorite color?
Still green! Although I am fond of teal as well.

7) What is your favorite book?
I haven’t read a book in far too long. My life consists of baby and toddler books these days. Still Harry Potter, probably.

8) What is your favorite movie?
Mirrormask, Guardians of the Galaxy, and… well, any of the Harry Potter Movies. Duh.

9) What is your favorite band?
I actually don’t have one! I don’t listen to music anymore. I haven’t heard a recent song in… years?

10) What is your favorite song?
… I don’t have one. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?

11) Do you have any pets?
I have a fiance, and a toddler, do they count?

12) What is your best friend’s name?
I don’t have one really… I suppose my closest friend is Lindsey. I love her. She is a pretty mermaid.

13) What is your favorite food?
Homemade brown rice bowl with black and red beans, tomatoes, jalapenos, avocado, and sour cream. Mmm. I also really love chocolate.

14) What is your ringtone?
I haven’t taken my phone off of silent since I bought it 2 years ago. Literally.

15) What does a typical weekend look like for you?
The same as a typical week really. Wake up with my son, and spend my day reading books, building block towers, digging toys out of the trash, having company while I pee, and maybe going for a walk to the park. I’m living on the edge, baby!

16) What is your most visited website?
Definitely Twitter.

17) Do you have any nicknames?
My mom calls me J, though I’m not sure why. Most people call me Jan.

18) What is your biggest fear?
Being unhappy. Losing my son.

19) What is your biggest insecurity?
My body. Everything about my physical appearance.

20) Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Hopefully living in a house, with two little ones, married to my fiance, with a dog. Oh, and if I could have won the lottery by that point, that would be great.

So… have I changed much? Not really, no. I have all of the same values, morals, and beliefs as I did, and I’ve managed to stay pretty true to who I am as a person, though I am much more boring these days. My plans for myself, however, have gone to shit, and I feel like my 17-year-old self would be quite surprised to see where I am in life. The only thing that managed to stay on track was my reproductive plans. Seriously. I planned to have my first child at 24, and that is exactly what I did.

Thanks for reading, friends!

Jan

Mom’s Visit | Day 3

I picked out two shirts, two pairs of shorts, and a package of socks for Liam, and we found a cute sensory animal book for him as well. It has words I can read to him, as well as pictures of animals, and little patches of “fur” textures for him to touch. When you press on the textured spots, it makes the noise of that animal. I was excited, because I’ve been looking for a book just like that for him, and this was the first I had seen. It wasn’t until we got home that we realized that the whole back half of the book is a misleading block of fake pages, where the batteries and noise boxes are, and that it is actually only a few pages long. Very misleading, and definitely not worth the $13 it cost.

[You can read about Days 0-1 here, and Day 2 here!]

Hello, friends. Despite yesterday being not-so-fantastic, today was pretty good! It was unbearably hot, and we had made zero plans for the day, but I knew I wanted to stay indoors as much as possible. I wanted a little bit of alone time with my son, just to bond and relax, so I told my mom that we could meet up later in the day, some time after Liam’s lunch and nap, and then maybe do some afternoon shopping. I made delicious grilled cheese sandwiches for Liam and I for lunch, which had provolone cheese, parsley, avocado, and tomato (his was deconstructed, since he still doesn’t have many teeth), and they were so delicious. I haven’t cooked, or really made anything at home, in days!

We ended up meeting up much later than planned, thanks to some technical difficulties on my mom’s end with Facebook. Even though she was on it all day, she never saw any notifications for the half a dozen messages I sent her telling her she could come over at that point. After over two hours of waiting for her, I messaged Kyle and asked him to text her (I still don’t have minutes), since I knew she would get that right away. Sure enough, she did, then messaged me back immediately, very upset that she had missed all my messages. I was thankful for the time I got to spend with Liam (as well as a fantastic nap that I snuck in before lunch), but happy to finally get out and do some shopping.

She picked us up, and told me all about her morning and afternoon exploring the town. She went down to the waterfront, somewhere I didn’t even know existed, and relaxed by the water, sipping her coffee. We talked about possible plans for tomorrow, and I pointed out a few possible dinner options for tonight. We got to Walmart, and did a couple laps around the store. I picked out two shirts, two pairs of shorts, and a package of socks for Liam, and we found a cute sensory animal book for him as well. It has words I can read to him, as well as pictures of animals, and little patches of “fur” textures for him to touch. When you press on the textured spots, it makes the noise of that animal. I was excited, because I’ve been looking for a book just like that for him, and this was the first I had seen. It wasn’t until we got home that we realized that the whole back half of the book is a misleading block of fake pages, where the batteries and noise boxes are, and that it is actually only a few pages long. Very misleading, and definitely not worth the $13 it cost. Oh well.

I didn’t see anything there that I liked, mostly because Walmart only has three options for women: Too tight junior clothes in neon colors, workout clothes, and… well, clothes that even my 50 year old mother thinks are too old for her. So I got nothing, which was fine with me, since I’m still not comfortable letting her spend money on me. She bought some cute things for Liam, so that seemed to satisfy her urge to spend.

After Walmart, we went to Culver’s for dinner, since she had never been, and talked about the past. She asked me if I still kept in touch with the handful of friends I had in high school, which I do, and told me that she bumps into them every now and then. She asked me questions about my ex, and his family, and about our breakup, which I honestly didn’t mind answering. It’s not like I really have friends I can talk to about it, even though it was over 3 years ago, it was nice to be able to bitch about him and his family for a minute, ya know?

After dinner, we headed to the mall to visit with Kyle before he got off work, and Liam happily ran barefoot through the empty store. We decided that since Kyle has tomorrow off, we would head to one of the neighboring towns, where there is a huge indoor swimming pool, and do some swimming. It is supposed to be stormy and yucky for the next few days, so this will be a nice alternative, assuming it isn’t really crowded. The hotel pool where my mom is staying is still being renovated, and we spent a lot of money on swimsuits, and don’t want them to go unused. I am excited. Liam hasn’t had a lot of exposure to water, aside from the tub, and when he dumps his water cup on himself, so I am hoping he has fun. As for me, I haven’t been swimming in nearly 7 years. And I looove swimming.

It was a good day. I got some alone time with my kiddo, as well as a nice nap. Kyle is home now, so we are going to cuddle up on the couch and continue watching The Adventures of Merlin on Netflix. I can’t remember if I recommended that yet, but seriously, you guys should check it out if you’re into magic and fantasy and lore and adventure. It is quite fantastic!

Hope you’re all having a fantastic holiday, thanks for reading!

Jan

5 Pictures, 5 Stories | Part 3 (Animals!)

Hello, friends. I’ve encountered many types of animals in my life, in both positive atmospheres, and negative. I’ve had experiences with cats, dogs, hamsters, birds, horses, pigs, chickens… you name it. I’ve lived in the city, and fed feral cats. I’ve lived in the country, and helped board horses on my ex’s family farm. I’ve owned cats. Today, I want to share with you 5 stories about some of the animals that have graced me with their magnificent presence. I will only be sharing positive stories today (well, some a bit sad). I hope you enjoy a look at some of my old, fuzzy friends in 5 Pictures, 5 Stories | Part 3 (Animals!).

1. Snoop
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Snoop was the first dog I ever owned, though he wasn’t technically mine. Snoop was a purebred, English dalmatian (he even had royalty papers!), and he was my mom’s boyfriend’s. When my mom and her boyfriend started dating, I was just a little kid, maybe 5 or 6 years old. It was so long ago, I don’t even remember. We moved in with her boyfriend and his son, who was the same age as me, shortly after they started dating. I had only had cats as pets up to that point in my short life, though my mom’s old roommate’s kids had a turtle and some hamsters, who met… not-so-great ends, and I was really excited to have a dog. Snoop was a big dog, but I wasn’t afraid of him. He was a lovable lump, and wasn’t very active.

When we moved in, Snoop was 4 years old, just a year or so younger than I was. I loved him immediately. I have so many fond memories of trying to take Snoop for walks down the country roads we lived on, with him dragging me along like an inconvenient weight behind him. My mom’s boyfriend and his son didn’t play much with Snoop, or take him for walks, but I did. I loved him. I was even the one who helped my mom remove his ticks, and helped take care of him when he got mange one year. Snoop loved me more than anyone else, and would always try to climb into my lap while I was on the couch, despite his large size.

I wish I had taken more pictures of him while he was alive. I had 11 years with Snoop. In 2006, when I was 16 years old, my mom was backing out of the driveway in her Jeep, when she accidentally ran him over. Everything slowed down, and chaos ensued. That was the first time I ever saw my mom’s boyfriend cry. Snoop was rushed to the vet, where they checked him out extensively, but deemed him to be “fine“. Three days later, Snoop died in his sleep. My mom woke us up in the middle of the night, tears in her eyes, and told us. I didn’t go to school the next day. I cried for weeks. Even as I type this, I am crying. This was the last picture I ever took of Snoop, taken a few months before his death. He is buried in my backyard back home, tombstone and all, and my mom has a memorial shrine with his picture and collar set up in our living room. He will always have a special place in my heart.

2. Napkin
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Napkin (who my mom later renamed “Hunter”), was my pet from 2005-2008, until I left Maine, though he lived until 2013 with my mom. Before Napkin, the only cats I had owned were from my toddlerhood, and I did not remember them at all, so I consider him to be my first cat. We rescued Napkin from a household that had a pet hoarding problem, after many of his brothers and sisters had run away, or had died. My mom brought him home to me late at night, and he was so terrified, that he jumped from her arms, and hid behind our computer desk in the living room for almost 24 hours. He eventually come out, with a little persuading using a can of tuna, and became my best little buddy. He received his silly moniker after I asked my best friend at the time to help me pick a name. I told him the first thing he came up with, I’d keep. He said Napkin, and I loved it. He was the cutest little fluff ball, and he would sit on my desk all day. Snoop, who was still alive at the time, had never been around cats, and we were afraid how he would react to such a tiny creature, but he loved him. He covered him with slobbery kisses, and tolerated his rough, kitten play. When Snoop passed away later that year, Napkin was noticeably distressed.

Napkin was an indoor/outdoor cat, and often brought us home “presents”. He brought a dead, baby mole into the living room once, and I cried for the whole night. I buried the baby mole in the backyard the next day, underneath my tree house. I left Maine in 2008, after graduation, and that was the last time I saw Napkin. In 2013, my mom emailed me to tell me that Napkin had been missing for a week, and she was worried, because he always came home. Two days later, she found his body on the side of the road. I was heartbroken.

This is the last picture I ever took with him, in the summer of 2008 (yes, I know this technically makes 6 pictures in this post, sue me):

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He did love me, I swear!

3. Link299274_2076525152223_1240033652_n

You all know about my baby girl, Jade, who I unfortunately had to re-home after 6 years of companionship… but I don’t know if I’ve ever talked much about this little guy. This is Link. In 2011, I was living in a sketchy neighborhood by East St. Louis, where feral cats roamed free, and everyone and their mother from the apartment complexes fed them. I fell in love with a sweet little tiger cat, who had been coming to my door for months. I eventually noticed her large belly, when she was just under a year old (I know her age, because I fed her mother as well, and remember her giving birth), and watched her closely throughout her pregnancy. One day, I came home to find the small cat waiting by my door, no longer pregnant, and meowing loudly. I followed her to the other end of our deck, where she disappeared beneath my neighbor’s grill cover. When I lifted the cover, I found the tiniest kitten I had ever seen, completely white, except for three small, black dots on his head. I left the kitten alone, but kept an eye out. When mama cat did not come back for two days, fearing for the kitten’s safety, I took him in. Mama cat eventually came back, and still came to my door for food, but never seemed bothered by her lone, missing kitten.

I bottle fed this kitten every few hours with special kitten formula, and reached out to a vet about his flea infestation. She advised I give him a bath in Dawn dish soap, which did the trick. It was scary, raising such a tiny creature, but I was between jobs at the time, and had all the time in the world to care for him. Once I knew that we were out of the woods, I decided to name my new friend. I decided to name him Link, because the three dots on his head reminded me of the Triforce from Legend of Zelda. Everyone loved the name.

Despite terrorizing my grumpy, older cat, Jade, the two eventually became friends, and spent a lot of time cuddling and playing. In 2012, we moved 4 hours north, to my ex’s family farm, where we almost lost Link, after my ex’s brother shut his leg in a door, breaking the bone on the growth plate. Link was still growing, and the surgery and medication would have cost us over $1200 to fix him. We were devastated. Luckily, family helped us with the finances, and we were able to get him his surgery. He spent 6 weeks confined to a large cage, unable to run or jump, which was very hard for him, as he was born feral, and had loads of energy. He also had to wear a cone, which he hated. In the middle of his recovery, we were kicked out of our house by my ex’s family, who hated me, and were forced to move to a new town with our injured cat. He made it through just fine, however, and recovered very well. He was back to his usual self a few months later. Unfortunately, when my ex and I broke up in 2013, he kept Link, and I kept Jade. I don’t know what ever became of him after I left.

4. Zelda329342_2104142522640_434875432_o

As I mentioned before, I lived on a farm with my ex for a little while, watching his family’s farm while his older brother ran off to Texas to chase a girl. A week or so after we moved in, my ex’s sister showed up with a tiny kitten. She said someone had left him in in a taped up cardboard box front of the restaurant that she worked at. We already had a handful of outdoor barn cats, as well as Link and Jade, plus my ex’s mother’s elderly dog, and two horses… but we decided to take him in. I named him Zelda, despite later finding out that it was a boy. He was skin and bones, and had a loud, wailing meow. He ate non-stop for the first few days, before he began to mellow down and socialize. He was an absolute sweetheart, and I was fairly certain that he was older than he looked, despite his stunted growth. He got along fantastically with both of our other cats, and was the only cat that wasn’t afraid of the elderly Cocker spaniel in our care. Our biggest issue with this little baby was his refusal to use the litter box, no matter how clean it was. He would poop and pee right outside it, meaning I had several messes a day to clean up. He was also very food aggressive, and would bully the other cats, who were double and triple his size, when it came to feeding. He would growl and make bizarre noises, acting as though he was starving at each meal. It was strange. He was still too little, and it was far too cold, for him to live in the barn with the other cats, so we kept him inside for the remainder of our stay there.

After we left the farm and moved into our new apartment, that behavior continued, and worsened. Despite being a cuddly, sweet, love bug, he would attack you viciously to get your food, and began getting violent when the other cats would try to eat. We also now lived in a carpeted apartment, versus the hardwood covered farm house, and he began peeing and pooping on the carpets, and even our furniture. He eventually started spraying once he became of age, and our apartment was starting to stink. Nothing we did remedied the behavior, and I debated re-homing him, or bringing him back to the farm to live with the other feral cats. Unfortunately, I never got the chance to. One night, after picking me up from work, my ex pulled over and said to me carefully, “Don’t get upset.” I immediately knew what was coming. He then told me that he had taken the cat back to the farm, and had put him down. I was devastated. Link and Zelda were best buddies, and I knew he would be upset about his sudden disappearance as well. Despite his bad behaviors, I loved that kitten, and he was absolutely enamored with me. It broke my heart, and I was both devastated, and furious. I wasn’t all that surprised, because that’s just how he, and his family of cowboys were. If an animal was sick or broken, it got put down. Period. Luckily, those people are no longer in my life.

5. Chelsea10399152_1093156928632_3894545_n

One of my favorite past times has always been visiting various pet stores, and spending hours among the animals. I especially love smaller pet shops, verses large, corporate stores, because they have more unique animals, many of them loose in the store, which I find so cool. Shortly after moving to central Illinois, I stumbled across a family owned, exotic pet store, which specialized in rescued animals, and I visited it frequently. They had snakes, birds, a giant tortoise, and tons of lizards and fish… and Chelsea. Chelsea was a cockatoo, and was one of three birds that was allowed to be free in the store. Chelsea said a handful of phrases, and was very friendly. I had never held a bird before, let alone a large bird like Chelsea, so when the owner told me she was affectionate, and asked me if I wanted to hold her, I was hesitant. Luckily, I got over my fears, and held the beautiful, white bird. She nuzzled my face and hair, and repeated, “I love you” and “Hi Chelsea” over and over. She also had a loud, happy shriek. It was amazing. I never thought of birds as being affectionate, but Chelsea showed me just how wrong I was.

I love animals. I’ve always had animals around me for as long as I can remember. Ever since my son was born, we’ve been without a pet (due to our lease), and we hope to get more animals when we get our own home. I hope you enjoyed reading this and learning a little bit about the fur babies from my past.

Thanks for reading, friends.

Jan

And as a bonus… here are some old pictures of my fur babies, Jade, Link, and Zelda, when I had them all together. I get emotional looking at the picture of the three of them.

Dream Journal 2/29/16

Past.

I was a teenager, and I was in a large barn with several other girls around my age, give or take a few years. We were all wearing large electronic collars around our necks, and were dressed in dirty, ripped clothes. A man walked in and yelled at us to stand in a straight line. We lined up, from shortest to tallest, and he grabbed the tallest girl on the end, a pretty blonde, and dragged her outside. She was screaming.

The girl to my left was crying, and she kept repeating that we needed to run, but no one would move. I grabbed her hand, and we ran to the back of the barn, where there was a large door, which was wide open. We ran out of the barn and into the woods, but the girl with me dropped to the ground and started screaming. Bolts of electricity were shooting out of her collar, and she was convulsing on the ground. I tried to roller her back toward the barn, but her body went limp and lifeless. I tried to pry my collar off with a large stick, but it wouldn’t come off.

I went back to the barn, but all of the other girls were gone, and the inside was dark. I walked in and tripped over something on the ground. I looked down and saw the body of one of the girls from the group. I covered my mouth to keep from screaming, and stumbled into one of the empty horse stalls. There was blood everywhere. I could hear the sound of a girl screaming somewhere outside, and ran toward it. The man from before was holding a gun to the head of an older woman, dressed very modestly, and she was begging him to let her go. He laughed at her, dropped the gun, and hit her with it. She fell to the ground, unconscious.

I dropped down and crawled back into the barn, and found a blowtorch in a pile of hay. I used it to burn off my collar, but it didn’t burn me. I found a black and white painted horse in one of the stalls, and rode him out of the barn. The forest looked more like a rain forest now, and there were very large, bright flowers scattered everywhere. I could hear low growling from somewhere, and my horse kept trying to buck me off of it’s back. We rode across a large bridge, made entirely of sticks and branches, yet somehow held us. There was another barn in a clearing ahead of us…

And then I woke up.