My misspent youth didn’t start until I was 27 years old. My parents came from the old strict Mormon culture. When I look back at my genealogy, I had a gggrandfather who knew Joseph Smith. But, when Joseph Smith died, this gggrandfather didn’t follow Brigham Young. He went to California and eventually started a company that is still known for selling walnuts.
I had two gggrandfathers who were in the Mormon Battalion. One of them, Captain Jefferson Hunt, was also known for leading settlers to California during the 1849 goldrush. His name is inscribed in a lot of the Utah and Nevada history books.
Needless to say, my family worked hard to teach us their version of the gospel.
I was shy. I was intelligient. And, I was filled with a lot of guilt. My parents favorite saying from the New Testament was “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.”
So I didn’t crack the shell of this life until I finally joined the Navy. And then, all hell broke loose.
I had joined the Navy for a few reasons. One, I didn’t want to become another staid Mormon wife. I knew that if I stayed that I would lose myself. I would not be able to experience the things that were important to me.
What was important to me? I wanted to travel. I wanted to experience new cultures. I wanted to make new friends. The Navy seemed to be a good fit for me at the time.
Two, I wanted to experience life. I had been told for many years that there were two types of people: Mormons who were good, and Non-Mormons who were bad. It was a very simplistic view of life. After being on a mission to South Africa, I realized that non-Mormons were just as varied as Mormons. I actually liked non-Mormons because they lived a more authentic life. Many of them had chosen their rules to live by. Even the worst were living life–true to their inner selves. It was heady stuff.
Three, I wanted to experience things I hadn’t tried before like alcohol.
And here is where my misspent youth comes into play. I was a young 27. Remember I had lived a very cloistered life for many years. Imagine a nun leaving her church. It was very much like that feeling. I was giddy. I drank every night for two to three years. I tried New Island Iced Tea, beer, and wine. I even tried the hard liquors. I had the fun of sitting in front of the toilet god and vomiting my entire stomach contents.
I danced on tables. I threw myself into life freely. I laughed loudly. I yelled. I screamed. I sang. I had years of oppression to get out of my system.
Evenutally, I learned that I didn’t like hangovers. Eventually I learned to take life in small bites and then chew it slowly.
I did my taxes a month ago for good reason. First, I had all the tax papers–W-2s, receipts, royalty payments, etc. by then. Second, if I don’t do it a month early, I forget and then I am in that sheer terror of time, trying to get the paperwork done.
I don’t know about you, but I am very suspicious of how the paperwork goes to the IRS through wireless means now, especially since the heartbleed virus has been found. For two years hackers could (and probably did) watch every transaction on the internet on the secure networks.
Plus after watching the mess of the health care, (I get a first seat view because of my disease) I am less impressed than ever with federal government intervention.
I don’t mind paying for infrastructure like roads. I want to draw the line at paying for the propagandization of children and the mistakes of drug addicts. It bothers me that people with my disease and other auto-immune diseases are being denied benefits, but drug addicts or recovering drug addicts get all benefits. It makes me wonder about the policies of the people in charge.
Personally I like freedom. If there wasn’t a punishment for not having approved health insurance, I would have liked paying a reasonable amount for services rendered without using insurance. Except, nothing is reasonable anymore. Suing doctors (and some of them have been incompetent) has caused the insurance to rise, which makes the health costs rise.
Maybe one day we will be free again to make our own choices. It is a nice dream.
Twice a week
police cars park
in the horseshoe
summoned by the family
in the corner apartment
Police write a report
from each party
then drive away
no one arrested this time
lanky gray hair
down her back
raiser of her grandchildren
her son on parole
knows the system
have no recourse
for in the eyes of the law
all have sinned
Published in Outside my Window in 2013.
My medical biography In the Shadow of Death: Reflections on a Chronic Illness is now an updated version and live.
Ms. Frigg ignored my exclamation and greeted the group, “Thanks for coming. It is a dangerous mission, but you guys are the only ones that can do it.”
Shit, I thought. Here we go again. But even if the female was Ms. Frigg, the most dangerous female in the galaxy, I couldn’t refuse her. What would my mother say? Beginning here.
Still I cleared my throat. All eyes turned toward me even the ear worm quit drinking and jumped up and down, presumably to stop me from saying my next words. “Why would I help you, when you just fired me?”
All matter of foam flew across the table– interesting, Ms. Frigg was the only one there who was still beer, or juice free when the snorting and spitting stopped.
She gave me that look. The one that women have been giving men for generations. I didn’t try to interpret the look, I just knew she was going for the throat.
Then she smiled. If it the thought that she was Ms. Frigg the most dangerous woman in the galaxy hadn’t been burned in my back brain, I would have been lost. Her pearly teeth winked at me.
Then she spoke with that dryness that made me want to wince. “The mission? The important mission that I need you to go on– Tiny.”
“Joe,” I mumbled under my breath.
“Tiny,” she repeated. Oh dang, she heard me. “Some roaches have landed on the quarantined planet. You, buddy boy, will get to go home.”
I think my heart sunk to my stomach and then onto the floor. Oh yes, I wanted to go home. But roaches? They were the scariest, most intelligent, insects in the galaxy, cosmo, whatever.
They ate everything. They weren’t the benign cockroaches of earth origin. Oh no, they were bigger, almost human size, and with ferocious appetites. They ate anything in their way. The only reason I could think of that they would go to Earth was to breed more roaches.
Once they settled in, they were almost impossible to get rid of– somewhat like cockroaches.
“I accept,” I said quickly as if I had a choice.
I really hated it when Ms. Frigg smiled like that. It meant that I hadn’t gotten the whole story… again.
continued next Friday
Hilo! Yes, today is promotion Thursday again and I am bringing you Ghostly Glimmers II, which is another collection of short stories. When I started to learn the fiction form, I wrote short stories and then flash fiction (or micro fiction, if you prefer).
I knew that the fiction form used character, plot, dialog, and all the other elements. I also read about and studied those elements. I found that when I used those particular elements, it made my non-fiction memoir writing come alive. Also, when I was earning my English degree, I took a creative writing class. It was all about smell this, look at this, and don’t turn your story to the lowest common denominator. It was a good course for when you are already writing, but as a beginning fiction writing course? Not so good.
So when I first tried to write a short story (I was an avid reader too so I could feel around for the light switch) I had all these disparate elements and I didn’t know how to put it together. I was puzzled and it was a puzzle.
Soon I found that I didn’t have all the pieces.
I wrote short fiction to find the pieces and for the joy of writing.
Ghostly Glimmers II contains five ghost stories that Cyn Bagley has written over the years. “A Death of a Friend” is written in a memoir-style. The other four stories are classic ghost and murder stories.
Cyn Bagley has lived in several different countries when she was in the US Navy. One of her hobbies was to listen to ghost stories around the world. In her opinion, the scariest ones are from Japan.
Smashwords.com You can use Dropbox with this site.
Death of a Friend
I looked out the window this morning watching the mist, contouring to the ground and houses. The cold moist mist reminds me of the death of my school bus-driver Monroe. At eleven years old, I would sit on his lap, the steering wheel of the bus braced against my stomach, and guide the bus through the bumpy hills near my home. My sisters and I were the last children to get off the bus, so driving the bus was our little secret.
That day when I realized death was real, I stood in the viewing room of the funeral home, looking at his body. The room, only meant for twenty-five people, held fifty. We shuffled to the coffin, arms held stiffly at our sides, trying not to bump into our neighbors; all trying to view Monroe’s body.
“He looks just like he fell asleep,” was the comment I heard over and over. The breathless awe touched each voice as they whispered, “He really is dead.” The life spark was gone. I had heard that he walked into the bathroom that day, the day his life ended, preparing to shave. When the pain hit, he fell in his small bathroom, the life slowly leaking away. His adult son found him there when he didn’t show up for work. One school bus had not made it to school.
Monroe had been alone for a long time. His wife had died of cancer many years before; his son was raising his own family; and Monroe’s family was the children he drove to school every day.
When I was growing up, I could not tell the difference between my right and left hand. I now wonder if I was showing right-brained tendencies even then. I could pick up anything with either hand: probably why I find typing so much easier than writing with a pen.
I use a spoon with my right hand, and drink from a cup with my left hand. I learned to write with my right hand.
When I played softball, I would bat the ball (very badly) with a right swing, but I would want to catch with my right hand. Of course, my left hand had the mitt so I would either sting my right hand or remember that the right hand wasn’t covered and get hit in the nose. Yes, it did happen that way. My family who were very physical and very good at softball would watch me in disbelief.
I have two cousins who are totally left-handed: one female and one male. The female is an artist. In her spare time, she paints family portraits. She is quite good. My male cousin is an Electronics Engineer. Once again his creativity has helped him in his career. He brought his family to France on one of his assignments. It was about three years.
But, even to my left-handed cousins, I was a spotted zebra. I didn’t fit anywhere.
When I was in the Navy, I finally started to discover a lot about myself. After taking an aptitude test, the detailer pushed me into the electronics field. The two sides of my brain were happy with this mix of detail work and creativity. But, even in this field I was considered a little strange. I did much of my troubleshooting by ear or by touch.
There was a certain sound when a bearing was going bad. I could even tell which bearing was bad by which pitch I could hear. I would touch the can amplifiers–cold was dead, hot was alive–and tell when they had died.
Also, I learned how to teach my style of troubleshooting. When I finished training, two of my trainees were at the top of our division.
But, it wasn’t until I went to college that I realized that I was a creative thinking masking as a detail-oriented technician. I am a chameleon. I morph into what I need for where I am. When I took history, I learned and studied until my history professors thought I should be one of them. My biology professor wanted my skills in biology. And my English professors felt that I was a writer. She gave me the skills so that I could research and write.
Of all that I learned in college, one of the most important findings was my ability and love of writing. And, I love to share my writings even more.
So whatever side of my brain that I use, I need it for creating and preforming.