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I'm not dead yet.

I am slowly venturing to the surface of my online life. Frank and I closed on our very first house Friday and moved in Saturday. Life has, understandably, been a little verklempt lately.
I am shocked, saddened and disturbed that anyone of any creed would take advantage of anyone in a House of God. In recent years, we have been bombarded with news concerning molestation and the Catholic Church. So much so that allegations have almost become akin to car alarms – they pop up so often, they virtually go undetected and unrecognized.

While we joke with our friends and at parties, I must admit that, at my core, I am still deeply troubled and saddened when I hear of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

I attended a Jesuit university for my undergraduate degree. While I was there, our president resigned due to sexual abuse allegations that occurred over 20 years ago today (here: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/08/education/08LOYO.html). The allegations shocked my college community. Reverend Bernard Knoth was gregarious and a delight to be around. He lifted up the students around him, and his warmth was one of the reasons I attended my undergrad. However, he abruptly resigned, and we were all left in a state of shock.

To my knowledge, no one has heard from Fr. Knoth. Sometimes, I wonder how he’s doing, whether he was cleared, whether we were duped.

But in the recent case of Reverend Lawrence C. Murphy, I am outright appalled.

The New York Times has recently reported on Fr. Murphy (here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/25/world/europe/25vatican.html), indicating that top officials with the Vatican, including the Pope himself, did not defrock Fr. Murphy, a man who has allegedly molested as many as 200 deaf boys. As early as 1955, the Milwaukee Archdiocese received letters, disclosing alleged molestations.

For decades, the Archdiocese received complaints about Fr. Murphy – and students even did a mock-up of Fr. Murphy with “MOST WANTED” written around his face – and yet the most that was ever done about him was to move him to another parish under the guise of “sick leave.”

In 1993, Fr. Murphy was analyzed by a social worker. In their interview, Fr. Murphy admitted to having sexual contact with approximately 19 boys who fit his “profile” – post-pubescent boys who would be more likely to keep a secret – and declared that after 1974, he engaged in no further sexual contact with boys under his charge (here: http://documents.nytimes.com/reverend-lawrence-c-murphy-abuse-case#document/p6).

For close to 20 years, Fr. Murphy preyed on young boys, mixing a dangerous cocktail of confession and confusion. He abused not only the boys in his care – physically and spiritually – but he abused his position. He knowingly manipulated his power to harm. He played the role of the holy, of the spiritual, of the confider, of the trusted. And for what?

I wish I had the words to convey the absolute disgust and sadness I feel. It is a leaden knot that sits in my stomach, making me ache for the boys and their families. I can only hope that these children do not succumb to suicide (http://www.ambulatorypediatrics.org/article/S1530-1567%2805%2960058-5/abstract). I can’t even bring myself to lie and say there is a good fight to fight; how does one combat the very nature of this beast? It is paradoxical and painful and nothing I would wish on anyone.

It is a shame – no, that’s not an appropriate enough word – it is an atrocity and a travesty that someone would play holy and pure in the House of God. And it is criminal that these predators play these roles to an audience that’s too afraid to laugh.

If you're looking at the subject line and saying to yourself, "Home Game? What's up with that?", well the answer is simple: I was eliminated from the competition last week.

I had a really great run and, to be frank, last week's entry was not bang-up. But for someone who is not a writer by trade, to have made it 19 weeks is pretty impressive!

So, for this time, I'm participating in the Home Game. Eliminated contestants write regarding the prompt and post it to another thread - http://community.livejournal.com/therealljidol/322907.html - than the rest of the competition - http://community.livejournal.com/therealljidol/322240.html

So no voting to worry about! Just enjoy the ride!

LJ Idol - Adored

The city is electric, alive and pulsating. The rat-a-tat-tat of the drums matches the sway of her hips as they slide, shimmy, shake to their beat. The beer in her hand is too low in the can to slosh out. She is the master of the seal, and today is her today.

Today is Lundi Gras, and the pickings are easy.

She spots him on the neutral ground with his friends. He’s an easy mark: faded Abercrombie & Fitch shirt with matching jeans. His flip-flops may have been a poor choice, but she didn’t mind. She was used to poor choices.

She approaches him and places her hand on his arm. “Y’all ain’t from around here, no?”

Startled but excited, he yells back in her ear, “Naw! A buddy of mine goes to Tulane so we came down for the fun!” He nods at her beer.

“Do you need a little extra? We picked up some Natty Light and 40s from, uh..."

“D’Rite Aid,” she finishes. She smiles up at him, assessing. Oh, this will be too, too easy.

With ease, she navigates the group toward Napoleon Avenue, telling them, “Y’all be needin’ to get away from these here ginger kids on der ladders.” Soon enough, they amble toward Napoleon, toward Fat Harry’s, and turn. They spend the rest of the day quite casually: drinking, laughing, telling old stories. She primarily listens and slides closer and closer.

She finds it to be innocuous and delicate, how easy it is to flirt with him. Not used to bright lights and beads, not used to Breesus. All too soon, Orpheus finishes, and she suggests they stroll to F & M.

“Ain’t tha’ far, y’all. Come on now.”

As they amble, she walks a little slower. A little slower. She pulls his hand each time, making him lose the group. Soon enough, his friends are a full block ahead of them and it won’t matter at all. The timing is perfect.

Her eyes are flames, burning into his glassy repose. She yanks him down a side street and finds a quiet spot. He is not so far gone to know what’s coming next, but he needs to hear it.

Up against the wall, the brick makes tiny cuts into her back. He is all hands as he fumbles over her. Groping, grinding, grasping, all with urgency, passion, confusion.

His hands are different, softer. They are not a man’s hands. They have never seen an honest day of work in their short life, and they will not do an honest day’s work on her arms, torso, legs, especially when he hikes her leg up and slams into her. </i>Clumsy, clumsy</i>, she thinks.

He moans and groans into her collarbone as she rests her head up against the wall. It’s not that it even feels good – he’s too drunk to make a difference – it just feels. It is a body against hers, a body that wants hers, at least momentarily.

He groans, moaning about needing to come and needing to come quickly. He doesn’t even look up as he mumbles an errant apology. Not meeting her needs. “Oh, God, this feels so good, don’t stop, don’t stop..."

The stink of cheap beer and malt liquor seeps through his pores and onto her chest. She inhales the intoxicating aroma, knowing its passing joy all too well. She rolls her eyes and lets go, letting the moment dance across her tongue as she drags it across his neck. She tastes him, relishing the salty sweetness, trying to make it last.

But it won’t. It won’t last through his urges to please or promises to call. Simply enough, he won’t be there in the morning, when she frets about whether the condom broke. Whether there was a condom.

He won’t be there with her as she takes the street car down to Napoleon and walks to Planned Parenthood.

He won’t be there to see the nurses not even comfort her anymore as she gets Plan B.

And he most certainly won’t be there when the cramps wake her up, causing her to double-over in pain as she sheds yesterday’s transgressions and today’s confessions.

Because right now? None of that matters. And she smiles smugly.

“Cher, ain’t none o dat matterin’ righ’ now,” she mumbles to herself. Her lips curl up the side of her face, and she looks through her lashes at him. “’Cause baby, I need to feel adored tonight.”

Another week, another entry for LJ Idol. The topic this week was "Adored." You can read other entries - which are quite good, I must admit - over here: http://community.livejournal.com/therealljidol/315896.html

Assuming the voting is public, I will post the link to the polls back to my journal.


Vote Schilling

It's that time again - Public voting allowed.

Here's the poll: http://www.livejournal.com/poll/?id=1536580

As always, I appreciate any and all votes.

Over the weekend, I'll do a TNT/Race Report entry about my first (of many!) half marathons in Bryan/College Station. I can summarize thusly: Fantastic time; minimal soreness; ate like a Hungry, Hungry Hippo.

In previous entries, I had mentioned that Frank and I were buying a house. For a variety of reasons, we backed out of the contract and are back on the market. We're checking out two more homes tonight with our realtor and several more tomorrow.


The Caged Bird

I have a confession to make: I, cobycaroline, believed in the Tooth Fairy until I was ten – yes, ten! – years old. Going into this confession, what you must understand is that, as a child, I had a wild, fervent imagination that my parents both fostered and relished. I had imaginary worlds, friends, characters all bumbling around upstairs.

I also believed that Paul McCartney from Yellow Submarine was my boyfriend.

In regards to the Tooth Fairy, I was the lone fifth grader who still believed she existed. I would lose a tooth at school, keep it until later that evening, and place it under my pillow. The next morning, I was rewarded with some small cash and a tiny trinket.

One December, the Tooth Fairy left me Chanukah socks in addition to some quarters. The next morning, I went to school and told my classmates about my goodies:

“It was so rad! I got money and socks!”
“Seriously? You know the Tooth Fairy isn’t real, right?”
“Nuh-uh! Why would I get something if the Tooth Fairy wasn’t real, stupid?”

Clearly, my classmates and contemporaries were not as well-versed in Tooth Fairy practicalities as I. I mean, the Tooth Fairy was clearly real: I had letters from the Tooth Fairy; I got presents from the Tooth Fairy (see the aforementioned socks); I even had Tooth Fairy wing GLITTER around my pillow.

So. Come on now. Check the box for Tooth Fairy existence, please.

However, all of this came crashing down one innocuous Thursday evening. I was helping my parents clean up the house. I was in the guest bedroom, dusting, vacuuming, generally tidying up as best as a 5th grader can.

Of course, being a 5th grader, I had little agile fingers that liked to wander. And these little fingers of mine wandered into the top drawer of the chest of drawers. I pushed aside old bills, trinkets that were never meant to see the light of day… and then I came to a Ziploc bag.

With surgeon-like precision, I removed the bag from the drawer and opened it. Inside the bag was a tooth that was curiously shaped like my own that I had lost the week prior. And a letter in the bag that was written in my young scrawl, wishing the Tooth Fairy well and detailing my hopes that she had an easy flight and that she liked the Cheerios I left her.

I sat on the bed, reading my letter over and over. I twisted my tooth in my fingers, trying to figure out just what in the world was going on. My mom happened to walk past the door, and I called out to her. “Mommy? Why is my tooth and letter in the drawer?”

My mother stopped dead in her tracks and looked at me. “What do you mean?”

“Wull…” I held up my ill-gotten goods to show her. “I found these in the drawer. Why are they in there? Did the Tooth Fairy forget them? Did she get lost?”

Oh, and here’s the moment where it all clicks in.


The waterworks were cued up, and I started bawling. Loudly. My mother scooped me up in her arms and started crying herself. She pet my hair as I sobbed – really, I keened – for the loss of my Tooth Fairy. While I cried, my mother told me all about the Tooth Fairy and her helpers.

“You remember the story of Tinkerbell from Peter Pan? How everyone had to clap to show that they believed in fairies? That’s exactly what happened with the Tooth Fairy, princess.

“Enough children in the world stopped believing because they got caught up in too much. They didn’t have time for play things, for imagination. They didn’t make believe any more, not the way you do, sweetheart.

“For some time, the Tooth Fairy needed parents to help her out because she didn’t have the strength anymore to visit children. Your daddy and I were her helpers because you believed and wanted to believe. And now…”

As her voice trailed off and in between wracking sobs, my childhood ideologies came crashing down that night; the part of me that created fantastical, incredible concepts got bottled up with the simple act of a disappearing Tooth Fairy. No more were there unicorns and fairies and playthings and flights of fancy – what I could see and envision within the realm of the possible, that’s what existed.

But the next time I lost a tooth, I made sure to tell my classmates, “Everyone knows that the Tooth Fairy isn’t real.”

This week's entry is for LJ Idol, Week 17, "The Caged Bird": http://community.livejournal.com/therealljidol/312088.html

Once the polls are open and, if they're public, I'll post that link back over here.


LJ Idol Voting Time

The polls are up, and I definitely would appreciate the votes: http://www.livejournal.com/poll/?id=1533496

For many reasons, this entry - http://cobycaroline.livejournal.com/416183.html - was a step-out for me. I definitely had an idea for fiction tumbling around in my head, and I think it could've been good. But, in a weird way, I needed to write that entry. I needed to come clean and be open about the subject, to folks who are not me and not my husband.

So, again dear readers, if you feel so inclined, please vote for me. Hopefully, I can stick around a little while longer.

Breaking the Fast - LJ Idol, Week 16

Each morning, I look into the mirror and observe my battle scars. I twist and turn every which way, seeing how they flex against my skin, glimmering in the light. On some mornings, they are gentle reminders of what I have overcome, albeit very rarely do they trace hope. Most mornings, though, they are glaring reminders of how weak, fragile and vulnerable I truly am.

This morning, they do not indicate how far I have come. Rather, they foretell the distance I must keep going.

These battle scars are not remnants of knife wounds or gunshots; they are not gulleys left by a razor blade. Rather, they are my stretch marks. Over time, they have faded from angry red to resigned white.

At my heaviest, I weighed approximately 220 pounds, well into the “obese” classification. For years, I was content to be the “fat” friend: overlooked by men, the wing woman, the non-threat, the funny one.

While in grad school, I decided that this fat state should be demolished. For reasons that are purely my own, I decided that I need to make changes to stand out, draw positive attention to myself. After researching around online and careful consideration, I decided that this simple math equation could lead to the significant weight loss I desired: calories burned > calories consumed.

I read all about dieting and calorie counting, cutting carbs or drinking cabbage soup. Most of these tactics yielded weight loss of approximately 1-2 pounds per week. Me? I had some serious weight to lose and these numbers were just not high enough. So the next step seemed logical, and I devised a plan that was fairly straightforward:

Consume nothing; burn at least 700 calories a day at the gym; find ways to stay awake and stave of hunger.

For months, I would allow myself to eat once, maybe twice a week. To reach this goal, I would drink water and coffee with an occasional treat of supremely low-calorie vegetable broth. If I felt a hunger pang, I would snap the rubber band around my wrist, convincing myself that the momentary welt and stomach cramps would feel insignificant against the joy I would feel once I got into a size 10, 8, 6. If I caved and ate, I would immediately take two laxatives. I knew of the gastro-intestinal distress I would suffer as I sucked the sweet coating off of each pill, a miniscule treat that I could not allow myself otherwise.

And you know the shocking thing of it all? My plan worked. I lost weight – I got down to an average size. And people congratulated me.

“You look great!”
“Wow, you have definitely lost some weight!”

To me, this praise encouraged the behavior; the means justified the ends. So onward I continued, a vicious cycle of starving myself, exercising for hours on end, exploring practically any means necessary to suppress my appetite, boost my metabolism and burn calories.

Eventually, I had to stop, although I can’t tell you the moment it all changed; I honestly don’t remember. Clearly, the decision to eat again is wholly insignificant to me. But rest assured, I do eat daily now.

I wish I could tell you that this story has a happy ending, that I’m all better now. I wish I could tell you that I never suffer from self-doubt, that I never feel fat in my size 2 frame. But I would be a liar if I did.

Each morning, as I look in the mirror, I am reminded of how far I have come and how far I have yet to go. Every day, I have the chance to make the choice to be better, treat my body with respect and dignity.

And I have my stretch marks to keep me honest.

Written for this week's topic at LJ Idol: http://community.livejournal.com/therealljidol/309164.html

Once the polls have opened, I'll link back over here.


1) I have not mentioned it here, but Frank and I are in the process of purchasing our first house. We have an option pending, and the inspection was this weekend. Thankfully, the inspection did not yield anything that would cause us to back out of the house. I will have the full details tomorrow AM. God willing and the creek don't rise, I will a homeowner by the end of this month.

2) My attempts to post Doggy Mac have failed. BUT! Doggy Mac is alive and well. We have had some health bumps along the way - hookworms, an infection that won't clear up, spaying - but otherwise, our little pup is doing quite well, and I believe she has taken to us fondly.

3) My half-marathon is this weekend. While others on my team - I'm training with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society again - may be nervous, I don't think I am. I've done this distance before and longer when I trained for a full. All I have to do is show up and pop some ibuprofen afterward.

4) My parents' 40th wedding anniversary is also the same day as my half. Yes, I cleared this with my parents as, well, I'm kinda training for my dad.

5) Work continues.

6) That's... that's about it, I think.
The click of the first set of handcuffs against the headboard makes me bolder. Tommy Jenkins’ bulbous body slithers beneath mine, a primal groan emanating from his throat.

I look down at him, my hair surrounding my face. “You know, Tommy, I was lying downstairs. I was lying to you earlier.”

He looks up at me, a mix of concentration, confusion and drunkenness splattered across his face. “Wassat?”

I edge over his body, wrapping the next cuff around his free arm and locking it into place. Click. I sit just above his belly, which cups my ass quite nicely. I raise my eyebrow.

“Do you not remember?” He shakes his head. “I said I was thinking of not even coming at all to this stupid high school reunion?”

He shakes his head; his eyes grow hungrier. I shake my head and click the other cuff to the headboard.

Hours before, I approached him in the hotel bar. I easily spotted him, standing catty-corner to the hotel bar. I glided over to him, sidled in next to him. Squeezing his ham hock arm, I squealed, “Oh, Tommy! It is you!”

Of course he didn’t recognize me. Not at all. Not by the way his eyes narrowed. I looked up through my eyelashes and moved my shoulders back so he could see my nametag. “Oh, you! Hey! Uh, how’s it, uh-“

I laughed a little too loudly. “That is just so like you, Tommy. Forgetting my name!” I chuckled again and lightly slapped his arm. “It’s OK – I would’ve forgotten me too.”

Over the course of the evening, Tommy drank. He found any reason to drink: We toasted to the good ol’ days. We toasted to Coach Peterson’s bad moustache. We toasted to smoking pot in the bathrooms. We toasted to Tommy’s victorious win at State. We toasted to his nagging wench of a wife and their two kids who can’t ever shut up. We toasted to Tommy’s fourth, fifth, sixth rounds.

Soon enough, Tommy was one swig away from being three sheets to the wind. His eyes were glassy, lids becoming more and more hooded. I ran a finger along his back and leaned in, my red lips mere centimeters from his ear. “You can’t be done. Not yet, anyway. I have so much more in store for you.”

As soon as I whispered my devious plan in his ear, slowly licking his earlobe, Tommy perked right up. He immediately fumbled for his hotel room key as we made an escape to the elevator.

“We’ll be quick,” I promised. “Your wife won’t find out. Promise.” I crossed my heart.

Tommy’s groping, calloused hands mashed into my back, my waist, my breasts from the elevator to the hotel room door, to the entrance of the room he shared with his wife and two kids. Those curious hands are now locked in place at the headboard.

He grins up at me like a child on Christmas Day, and kicks his feet up and down against the comforter, eager, anticipating. As I slide off him, he whines. I press a finger to my lips and say, “Shhhh.”

Standing over him, I slide his boxers down. In all his faded glory, he is naked before me. He is hard and ready. I run a fingernail along his thigh.

I bend over and retrieve something from my bag. He inclines his head to see what it is, but I hide it behind my back and smirk.

“Well, Tommy, I did want to come to this reunion. I did. I wanted to see someone. I wanted to see you.” Tommy perks up instantly.

“Me? Whysat? Why me?”

I roll my eyes and rest atop his belly once more. “You’re special to me, Tommy. Real special. Do you remember homecoming our senior year?”

Before he can answer, I’ve slid my hidden goodie out behind my back: a thick, red ball-gag. His eyes widen as I strap it around his head. Thankfully, he’s too far gone to even realize what’s going on as I slide the ball into his mouth and secure the strap in place. He drools around the ball, the saliva spilling down his jowls.

“I bet you don’t.” I slide the length of my body atop him so he and I are face to face.

“Oh, Tommy Jenkins. You hurt me after the homecoming game. You hurt me real bad. I was bruised, broken and bloody that night and you didn’t care.”

I scratch my nails up the sides of his body, lightly at first. Then deeper. Harder. He winces and moans.

“You left me under the bleachers. And you never called. Never even took the time to care or even apologize. All you did was call me a slut to everyone who would listen. And now?” I shake my head.

“Now you can’t even remember my name.”

Tommy’s eyes widen in understanding. “Mmmurghtha!” He thrashes against the bed, kicking, drooling, screaming, crying. Even in his foggy, boozed-up daze, he remembers the torn skirt, the blood around my knees, the knot on my head.

I get up from the bed and slowly put my clothes back on. All the while, Tommy is thrashing, gurgling, moaning, “Lulllllllllllloppppppppppppth!” Just as I put my hand on the door, I turn one last time to him.

“Tommy Jenkins, I think you’ll remember me now. And it’s real hard to say I’m sorry with a ball-gag in your mouth.”

Week 15 over at LJ Idol. Topic thread can be found here: http://community.livejournal.com/therealljidol/305683.html

If you feel so inclined, please consider voting for me at the next poll. Once I have that info, I'll post it here.


The Place that Can Not Be - LJ Idol

I wish I could have died surrounded by my loved ones. I wish I wasn’t alone; I wish I wasn’t “found.” If I could have traded my death in, I would have preferred to be anything but just an after-thought.

Instead, I died alone in my bed.

Understandably, there was a buzz about my friends and acquaintances soon after my death. There was much speculation, too many questions unanswered. Even dead, I didn’t have all of the answers. This notion that all is revealed once you die is a lie. Sure, certain things come to light, but the reasons for you and about you do not.

All I knew was that I could watch the life after mine all play out.

I watched my friends look like zombies. I saw the dark circles pool below their puffy eyes, worn out from crying. I saw others who barely knew me furrow their eyebrows in concentration, trying to figure out why my name sounded familiar. I watched my family break down into sobs, keening over their loss.

While their reactions were certainly fascinating, there was one I refused to see. I could not bring myself to watch her. I could not watch my love, my Natalie.

Our lives and love were delicately balanced. Our lovers’ promise was simple and sure: Never harm, never hurt, never go for wanting. But this act – my death – felt like such a deception. I remember looking in her deep brown eyes, confessing my love and promising the world to her.

And death had made me a liar.

I sat on a grassy hill near my gravesite on the day of my funeral. Several days had already passed since my death. I overheard friends grieving together, trying to remember the good times. I tried to remember wistfully the jokes we had played on each other, but I suppose this is a consequence of death: your living life starts to fade, the lavender fading to purple-black in a sunset.

Suddenly, everything came back to me in a flash when I saw her. Something caught in my throat when I saw that familiar black suit. Natalie, my Natalie, was standing in the back, sunglasses wrapped around her face.

I approached her, curious. She and I were here in the same place; all of my efforts in avoiding her were in vain once I saw her. Just as in joy, she was so beautiful in grief.

Death is tricky but straight-forward. You want to reassure your loved ones, and you can easily wrap your essence around them. They can feel you. However, the consequences are fairly dire. By doing so, you prevent the living from moving on, from dealing with their grief. But those rules seemed inappropriate now. Filled with regret and desire, I yearn for her.

Although I desperately want to touch her, hold her and comfort her, I know that I can’t. While I am faced with an eternity to deal with my pain and loss, I know that I must be selfless. I must afford her the opportunity to move on and gather the pieces of her life.

A slight breeze picks up and blows her brunette hair in the wind. She pushes up her sunglasses and raises her face to the sun. Against better judgment, I take the opportunity to brush my ghostly fingertips across her cheekbone. Even though I am but tendrils, I can feel the warmth, life, vitality in her skin. Her cheeks are rosy from the sun and the chill, but her soul radiates the life that I wish I could recapture.

Natalie blinks and tilts her head toward my graze so I quickly retract my hand. Her lips that I yearn to kiss curl into a sorrowful smile.

Instantly, I know that she will be fine. She will survive. I am overcome with gratitude and sadness. Gratitude in the sense that she is strong enough, she is brave enough. She can regain her life and move forward. Sadness for I can be cast aside and she will not always grieve for me.

But this sadness was not something that I expected. It is a gaping hole in my non-beating heart. I suck violently at air that won’t come, that won’t soothe this pain or ease this hurt. I stagger backwards and turn away. It is not just for them that I must leave, it is for myself.

Visiting the living, reliving my time on earth with them is too much to bear. So much sadness, so much regret. So much yearning that it is impossible to stay, even if they needed me. So desperately do I want to be alive, but I cannot bear to watch them live. This place – this existence – is too much. It is too painful.

This – all of this – just can not be.

This was another intersection week over at therealljidol. Each pairing split the topics. I took The Place that Can Not Be, and my lovely partner, kutiechick, tackled Precognition and here entry can be found here.

Seeing as I'm home and on Semagic, you get the fancy footwork of real links. To read the other entries, please venture over to the topic thread.