Hi. Long Time No Type.

Hi. Its been a while.

I wish I had some extremely life changing event that would explain why I took time off so early in my attempted blogging “career” (cuz I’m making ZERO dollars from this venture). I wish I had some amazing trip that explained my absence from the blogosphere and provided a wealth of writing material for those who haven’t unfollowed me at this point.

I don’t.

Instead, I have this explanation: Life got in the way and is basically being a bitch at this point.

A lot has been going on, personally, and when life throws curveballs like it did with me, well, you have to take a step back and reevaluate what is more important and then you have to focus. I focused on treading water, as I feel like that is all I have been doing for the past almost two months. My legs and arms are way tired and I am so ready for a break.

And then another curveball was thrown, or what my friend Megan likes to say, I got handed a plot twist. THIS plot twist has put us out of our rental house-water damage from leaky pipes in the wall + summer heat and zero ventilation = MOLD. I found all of this out less than a week ago. Now, we are in the process of packing up our home where we have lived for almost two years, getting items professionally cleaned, and we are moving back in with my parents. Well,my kids and I are, at least. Husband is staying with his family who live close to my parents. There is just not a lot of room and we are trying to make it all fit as best we can. Now I get to try and find a new home for us. And then my kids and school…ugh. Don’t even get me started on that.

It’s slightly overwhelming. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have wanted to throw my hands up and just scream “FUCK IT” and go eat ice cream and watch tv and play on Facebook or get sucked into a reddit hole. I’m playing a game of which I don’t know the rules and when I think I have something figured out, the rules change! But that’s life, right? Right?!?!

I’ve missed writing, though. And I hope to post more regularly after this weekend is through. So wish me luck with the move and I’ll see y’all next week.

Til then, duckies.



I’m Back! It’s been a rough couple of weeks.

It’s been a while. Two weeks. Two weeks since I posted about Orlando. Within that time frame, there have been shootings after murders after killings and I had to take a mental vacation from all of the violence.

Someone I know died last week. She lost her life to gun violence. It’s been all over the news. Last night I had to turn it from the late news, which I generally fall asleep to, because they did coverage of a vigil. And I just couldn’t anymore. I switched it to House Hunters and passed out, mulling over all of the craziness that has taken place. It’s overwhelming and I had to force myself to go to sleep.

I took some family time. I took some time to heal (I had a terrible cold). We went to Maryland to visit with my sister, we went to Gettysburg, Washington DC, North Carolina. My kids are still with my sister. I am now back home with the husband.

I feel like this nation is coming apart at the seams. All of this violence. All of this hatred. The vilification. Black, white, Muslim, Christian…man. Did everyone forget we are all human beings? I guess we have forgotten. Forgotten our humanity. Our compassion. Our love for our fellow man, regardless of race, religion, or creed.

So I had to take a break. I had to take a step back because my last couple of posts were slightly political and seeing as I am *NOT* a very political person, I had to push the reset button and just chill for a moment. Do some things that helped to replenish my soul, feed my heart, soothe my mind. I still have work to do-my nerves are still on edge. I could cry at the drop of a hat here lately. My emotions are so close to the surface that I am touchy about every damn thing ever.

So this is going to be a short post. I have not given up on my goal of writing…but I had to take some time to heal mentally and emotionally from all of the awfulness that is going on out there. Cuz there is a shit ton of crazy out there right now.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

It All Boils Down To Hate

“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.”
Maya Angelou

The events of this past weekend were, simply put, a tragedy. I am not going to argue over whether it was a religious thing, a terrorist thing, or a homophobic thing. To me, it was an act of hatred, plain and simple.


I don’t know if I have ever felt true hate. I have felt true love and there is an old cliche that says “there is a thin line between love and hate”. I prefer to keep my toes on the love side of the line. I feel as though, however, I am part of a minority in making this choice.

I do not claim to be particularly religious. I do not claim to be a Christian, although I was baptized into the Southern Baptist Church and taught Sunday school to kindergartners for 7 years. I walked away from that church, from that belief system when I could no longer justify the hate, bigotry, and discrimination against fellow human beings coming from people who claimed to love Jesus Christ, a man who supped with tax collectors & thieves, prostitutes & heathens alike. I walked away from religion, organized Western religion, and began my own long path of spirituality. And what I found was amazing: I prefer to walk in love and light than allow the shadow of hate to cover my thoughts, actions, and feelings. My heart finally felt free. But then, I realized I was doing something I had not thought I would ever be able to do: love my fellow man unconditionally.

It isn’t easy. And yes, I dislike a great many people. But that does not stop my heart from feeling pain for their sorrows and misfortunes. That does not stop the tears from falling from my eyes when I see people hurt, harmed, or wronged. Because I believe that all of humanity deserves love, regardless of what kind of people they are and all of humanity deserves compassion for the private pain they may not reveal and all of humanity needs kindness to help heal the hurts inflicted by others.

I love my fellow man. I LOVE my fellow man so much that I could never bring myself to harm one, despite whatever difference of opinion or beliefs we may have. And so, these horrible events, these mass shootings, bombings, acts of terror…they are acts of hate. And despite the fact they are acts of hate, despite the fact that they have caused pain and suffering, my heart will still grieve for those who have committed these atrocities just as they grieve for those who are the victims. Because they were committed by men, fellow members of the human race, however, I will still hold love for them and ask the Universe to help their souls find peace. I will love these terrible people who hold hate in their hearts and souls for those who oppose their views and beliefs. I will love them and hope that, one day, others will walk the same rocky path that I am committed to following. For it is only when we come together and love each other unconditionally, without prejudices, without motives, without expectations, that we will be able to move past these terrible, hateful acts that have torn another whole into the fabric of our lives. May our willingness be the needle and our unconditional love the string to mend our ripped and torn souls so we can heal.

“Love lights more fires than hate extinguishes.”
Ella Wheeler Wilcox

What Stanford Taught Me

The man who thought it was okay to grope a woman he didn’t know at the bar, simply because he felt he had the right. He bought that drink for her. He should get something for it. Right?

The teenage boy who untied the cute girls’ bikini top at the neighborhood pool. Come on, it was just for fun. No one saw anything. Well…at least that is what he told her as his friends sneaked pictures of her naked breasts as she hurriedly tried to cover herself, ashamed.

The father who, while in front of his sons and daughters, made comments about how women who dress a certain way might deserve harassment. They drew attention to themselves with that outfit. Maybe next time they will think twice. That what happened to them is their fault.

The guy who takes advantage of an intoxicated woman. Sure, she is drunk. Yeah, her inhibitions are lowered. Does that mean she wants you to touch her breasts? Does that mean you have her permission to put your hands down her panties? Did she say yes? Did she say no? She’s too drunk to talk? She isn’t saying anything at all?  Hrmmm…that’s quite a dilemma, that is.


Shame on you. In a day and age where everyone is so up in arms about consent, everyone is so damned PC that even SOUTHPARK has been joking about it with the PC Principal and his “pussy-crushing” frat boys who administer social justice everywhere-ironically whether there is consent or not. Shame on you, offenders, for perpetuating what is known as #rapeculture.

Buying someone a drink, and them accepting it, does NOT automatically give anyone consent to put their hands on someone simply because they bought the drink. And just because that kid was a teenage boy, still a minor, still a juvenile, does not excuse his behavior at the pool. “Boys will be boys”  and “they were just having fun” is a way for society to remove culpability from who is actually at fault: THE BOYS WHO WERE OFFENSIVE. This is a terrible way to raise our children. Do you shrug your shoulders at a dog who randomly attacks people at will, with the excuse of “dogs will be dogs” and “they were just having fun”? Of course not! If a dog attacks, there are always consequences! And hey there, judgmental dad of sons AND daughters out there. Do you want your daughters to grow up with the knowledge that, even if it isn’t their fault, YOU still believe they deserved it because they wore a skirt? Or high heeled shoes? Or a bathing suit? Or even, oh, I dunno, CLOTHES? Because what you are doing is so damaging. You are teaching your daughters that if they wear something that even ONE PERSON believes is provocative, then they MUST be at fault because if they dressed properly, this never would have happened. You are teaching your son’s that it is okay to objectify, slut shame, and harass women who wear clothes. Yep, I said clothes. Because no matter the length of the skirt or the tightness of the pants, NO ONE deserves to be sexually harassed or assaulted at all, least of all based on their clothing choices. That is such a jacked up way to teach your daughter about her self worth and a jacked up way to teach your son about how to treat others. Period. And hey dude at the party/bar/social function with alcohol: IF SHE CAN’T SAY YES IT AUTOMATICALLY MEANS NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can’t stress this enough. If she (or he) can’t say yes, keep doing this or yes, please touch me, or yes, I WANT THIS, PLEASE PUT YOUR (insert noun of choice here) IN MY(insert noun of choice) then DO NOT ATTEMPT SEXUAL ANYTHING WITH HER/HIM!!!


Why is that so hard?? Why is it so hard to NOT violate someone? Why is it so hard to treat strangers and loved ones and friends with the respect and dignity they deserve??? Why is it so hard?

The case in Stanford is what prompted this, yes. Today, I read the statement the victim read to her attacker. I refuse to read the letter the father of the accused wrote, although I have seen blurbs and I believe the “20 minutes of action” phrase needs to be changed to “the 20 minutes my son took to violate the unconscious woman’s body without her consent”. But, the world isn’t perfect. And what really scares me is I have a teenage son. He is 4 years younger than the kid who did this. 4 years isn’t a lot of time. I am afraid that I don’t have enough time to continue to instill in my son that his fellow human beings are precious, that they are to be treated with respect no matter what, that it is never okay to hurt someone, that it is never okay to force himself or his actions upon another person. Is 4 years enough time to make sure he understands that he needs to be responsible with his decisions? With his actions? That one wrong decision can ruin the rest of his life and that of others as well? I wonder these things because through all the news reports, all of the media coverage, not once did I see where the father took a little responsibility for his son’s wrong choice. Instead, he worried about the damage to his son’s life, career, education… even his ability to eat. I’m sorry, sir, but did you ever stop to think about the irreparable harm your son caused to another living human being? HE RAPED AN UNCONSCIOUS WOMAN. Do you even care about that? About how SHE will live now? Everything that I have read points to the word, “NO.” I’m sorry, but in the world I grew up in, if you made a bad choice you had to live with the consequences of your choice, regardless of how much you didn’t think you deserved them. In my mind, the father is no better than the son.

No…this woman did not deserve this. She didn’t deserve to be victimized, violated, shamed. No one deserves to be victimized, violated, and then shamed. No one deserves to have their assault used as a weapon to further victimize them. No one deserves to have their consent taken from them. No one.

I am sorry to all the people out there that have been violated. I am sorry to all of the families who have had to help pick up the pieces when their family member’s life was shattered like that. I am sorry to the teenage girls having to endure the harassment and judgment and torment brought on by those who don’t understand respect for their fellow human being. I am sorry to the teenage boys who are groped by older women or men. I am sorry to the drunk girl/guy having to fend off unwanted advances because their date doesn’t understand no means no! I am sorry there is a lack of respect for humanity. I am sorry that we live in a world where these apologies have to even be made.

So where is the lesson in all of this? I don’t know. I don’t know how to teach someone to NOT rape, not violate another persons consent like that. I don’t know how to make the point any more than I already have. But the lesson I have taken away from the Stanford ruling is that the judge believed this guy’s future was more important than what he did and how it will continue to affect his victims future. The judge taught me that he placed more value on this guy’s life than that of the victim. And that is a hard, and scary, lesson to learn.


That Is NOT Networking

“If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.” ~ Mark Twain

I am an office manager. I have had a LinkedIn for years. And I use it for “networking”. I keep in contact with past co-workers, keep up with industry news and information, update my skills and basically use it as a live resume in combination with the networking function.

What I don’t use it for is business solicitation. I don’t use it to try and sell my business, to garner new clients. Because in my mind, business solicitation is different than networking. In business solicitation, you are attempting to solicit business from someone with the intentions of making money. In networking, you meet new people, talk shop, send out feelers for possible new employees and collaborations. Networking isn’t cold-calling or cold-emailing. At least, in my mind it isn’t.

Which is why I am still so irritated with an email I received via LinkedIn this past Monday morning at 5:30 am. Yes. He messaged me at 5:30am on Memorial Day…a day when no one is in the office because we are busy honoring those who fought for the many freedoms we enjoy as an American people. This gentleman sent me a message indicating he had sent an advertising request to our dedicated email for advertisers last week and had not received word back and he wanted “someone in the office to reply to the query”. Um…no.

Maybe I am being uptight about this. Maybe I am too staunch in my beliefs on how you conduct yourself professionally, but to me, sending an email at 5:30am on a holiday requesting a reply from someone who has NOTHING to do with what you are asking about is pretty unprofessional. And after doing a bit more digging, I became even more irritated. This man was not requesting to advertise with our company. He was trying to sell us email services.

No…just…just no.

Prior to my research, I refrained from responding to him in the way I wanted to, but after I found he was simply trying to sell my company services under the guise of requesting advertising, all bets were off. Don’t worry-I kept it professional.

“The email that you sent goes to our advertising company, which is not in house, of whom I do not work with, nor do I have access to those emails. And emailing me via LinkedIn at 5:30 in the morning on Memorial Day to request a response is not going to end with successful results. Should you need to contact anyone with (my company), or our advertisers, again, please refrain from contact via LinkedIn. Rather, pursue contact with emails to the appropriate parties.”

I never received a reply, so I am assuming he knows we are neither amused nor interested in his attempts to garner our business. What galls me the most, though, is his lack of honesty. Had he been honest about his intentions, had he simply said “Hey-I have this great email company. We can be bad-asses with your email. Use our service. Let’s set up a meeting.” I would have had so much more respect for him professionally. Granted, the answer still would be no, but at least there would have been an indication of integrity and professionalism in the exchange. As it is, I think he is no better than a crooked car salesman, using all the tricks and being less than honest simply to make a quick buck.

I guess my point in all of this is when soliciting new business, don’t lie. Be honest. Even if it means an automatic no, be honest. Because if I ever meet anyone who mentions this company, I will have zero issue in letting that person know how this “consultant” attempted to use dishonesty to get a foot in our door. Someone who is willing to flat out lie about their business intentions is not someone I would want to associate with professionally.

“To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; credible we must be truthful.”  ~ Edward R. Murrow

Hardening the Spirit

“It is the season of your spirit hardening, my dear” He said.

A recent conversation with my father regarding life took place yesterday. Not gonna lie, it was a shit day, yesterday. Nothing hurts more than family turmoil and in the end, I turned to the one rock in my life that I knew would give me a better sense of stability, peace, and calm.

My dad. He is a man who is wiser than he lets on. A man who loves with the gentleness of lamb and the fierceness of a lion. He would kill and be killed for his children and grandchildren, gladly laying down his life if it meant keeping his family safe. My dad. My rock. My hero. His words helped me feel better. Quiet and unyielding support is what he gives, words that help, analogies that only make sense to the both of us.

I’m a daddy’s girl through and through.

But this past year…and the one before that…hell, for the past 3 1/2 years, it’s been hard. I did a LOT of growing up in a short amount of time. Growing up that, perhaps, should have taken place long ago, but was delayed for selfish reasons. A lot of tests, a lot of trials by fire, a lot of blindly stumbling my way through the darkness with only a small pinpoint of light to guide me through safely. (I wrote about my guiding light. My husband is a good man.)  But I remain unbroken, not lost, and still breathing and ready to take on whatever else is thrown my way.

“There has to be a reason for this,” I said to him, “I have to be being prepared for something bigger. There has GOT to be a reason for all of this.”

He responded that it’s probably my season of my spirit hardening. I’m experiencing things I was pretty well shielded from as a child. I have him and my mother to thank for that. I try to shield my children from life’s cruelties… but I am afraid they have experienced some of it and for that I am sorry, but I digress.

So this is my season. My season of hardening. My season to mature my spirit and grow in wisdom. At least, that is what my dad says. And hey…he has a few years on me. He must know what he is talking about, right?

Time Marches On

“How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”
Dr. Seuss

Tomorrow is the last day of school for all three of my kids. When school starts again, I will have two kids in middle school and one in high school. It is really hard to believe that in just 7 short years, my youngest will be graduating high school.

7. Short. Years.

I say short years because as I get older, it seems that time passes more quickly. I used to think that my parents were messing with me about time. They would always warn me to enjoy my childhood, because once you are older, time seems to pass more quickly. I never believed them. I would roll my eyes once their backs were turned and tell myself they had no clue.  As a child, growing up seemed to take forever. My parents had no idea what they were saying… growing up was what life was all about, right?  I was sure, at age 5, that I would never make it to age 10. Once 10 was reached, 13 was the newest goal. And then 16…18…21. But once my children were born, my concept of time changed. It felt as though I would blink and they would have reached a new milestone, a new birthday, a new shoe size. I began to realize the wisdom my parents shared with me was no longer wasted wisdom. I understood.

Growing up was just a small part of my journey in this life. As an adult, though, it is easy to lose perspective on how growing up and time is viewed, depending on age. I find myself saying the same things my parents said to me to my own children…or any young person for that matter…and the look they give me is the same look, I am sure, I gave my parents. I find myself waking up and realizing the year is almost half way over. I am this close to having a 16 year old, my middle child is 6 months away from being 13, my youngest is already being mistaken for a teenager. Time is flying and I didn’t even realize I bought a ticket for this flight but here I am, strapped in and stuck and wondering how I can make it slow down.

I don’t know how to slow down time. I don’t know how to stop children from getting older so I can enjoy them a little longer. I don’t know where the pause button is so I can stop and take a breath. I do know how to hug my kids. I know how to take pictures and videos. I know how to make sure they are loved. I know how to tell them how precious they are to me. And I know how to step back and let them grow and experience and mature. Because that is what my job is now. To help them grow, to learn how to live, to experience life in all its wonder. And to be there for them when life gets hard to hold them, comfort them, and bolster them so they can get up and go back to living, experiencing, growing.

So, here I sit, watching as time marches on.  I wouldn’t miss this experience for anything.

“Sometimes I feel like if you just watch things, just sit still and let the world exist in front of you – sometimes I swear that just for a second time freezes and the world pauses in its tilt. Just for a second. And if you somehow found a way to live in that second, then you would live forever.”
Lauren Oliver, Pandemonium

Dream A Little Dream Of Me

“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” ~Victor Hugo

I often find myself humming a song that I have heard in movies mostly. It’s been recorded and re-recorded and re-recorded. It’s a love song, as most songs are, but it’s a sweet song that has notes of whimsical melancholy interspersed throughout and it makes my heart smile every time I hear it.

I hear it when I daydream. I hear it when I am sitting at my desk, humming to myself as I work through the day. I hear it when my love and I aren’t together. Want to know the name of it? Enjoy the music! I hope you enjoyed that  little tidbit. I love to share the music that makes my heart happy. I love it when others share music that makes their hearts happy as well.

I grew up with music. One of my earliest memories was when I was younger is of my father, plying his guitar and telling us stories he made up to go along with the notes he played. He would lull us to sleep with his gentle playing, singing softly to us as we drifted into slumber, dreaming of the places about which he sang.

Music is the language of the soul. It can speak to you in a language that is understood by all. Music can bring tears to your eyes, a smile to your face, peacefulness, excitement, boldness, determination. Music is the universal language that no one can deny understanding. Music evokes feelings long thought dead, reviving them with ease and grace and reminding us of people and places and times gone by. When I dream, melodies long since forgotten replay themselves as a score would play in a movie, narrating my dreams with sound and emotion. Music, simply put, is my happy place.

I grew up with music. I listened to classical symphonies, danced to country and blue grass, jumped around to pop and classic rock, banged my head to heavy metal. I heeded the call of music, picking up the violin and playing all through school. I still play today. I pick up my violin and draw the bow across the strings, watching the dust of rosin puff up in swirls as I create sounds, bringing the notes together into a cohesive group that becomes a song that sings to my heart and my soul and lets my story be told without words.

I will continue to let music be my happy place. I will continue to fill my life, and that of my children, with music. Music is imperative, at least in my mind, to dreaming dreams, living life, and experiencing emotion. Music is good for the soul.


“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.” ~ Plato

The Polite Assassin

“Terribly sorry. Won’t be but a moment.” I shook my head at my mistake. My hand wasn’t as steady as it should have been when I pulled the trigger. A tiny little tremor was enough to displace the bullet from it’s intended bulls eye, hitting the mark in the shoulder rather than in the head, like I had intended. Too much caffeine today, I suppose.

Cries of pain and angry cursing filled my ears as I advanced towards the mark. He was an older man. Silver hair. Bronzed skin- most likely a boaters tan. Well groomed and even better dressed. Money. My assignment wasn’t simple. Meet this man. Get him alone. Kill him. Take a picture with a throw away cell phone, send it to an anonymous email, and then the money would be in my off shore account. It was getting him alone that proved difficult. He, lets call him Frank…Frank was cagey. A well known player in the local underworld, mob run and deadly dangerous if you crossed him. But Frank also had an eye for a beautiful woman. And in my business, beautiful hit women that are able to remain anonymous are few and far between. So that was my “in”.

I met Frank at a local night club known for mob ties. I’d watched him visit that place for well over a month. I like to take my time with assignments. Measure twice, cut once my dad always said. No room for mistakes that way. I sighed again, recalling that saying as I readjusted the grip on my pistol. I checked the silencer. Made sure my aim was true. Frank stopped moving and went silent, looked at me with surprise, and then started to advance.

“Terribly sorry, Frank. It’s nothing personal. Just business.” I squeezed the trigger gently, twice. A double tap to the head. If anything, I always make sure I am polite when I kill someone. Nothing messy or disrespectful. Not my style, you know. I grew up in the South and us Southern girls are raised on good manners and sweet tea. Not that Frank cared abut my politeness. All night his hands had been all over my body, groping and grabbing, claiming his ownership, if only for the night. I had tolerated his touch if only to get him alone. The club was dark. No one knew me there. The lights were flashing, loud music pulsing, and the crowd was focused on that pulse. They moved as though their heart beat in tandem. As long as I let him keep his hands on me, I could lead him closer to the exit, closer to my goal. If he saw the door and noticed I didn’t move his hand off my ass, he would think of sex and that door would get him closer to it. That desire for sex would lead to us going to his place. And he met all my expectations. So predictable. And now he was dead. I smiled and snapped several photos of him, sent the email, and waited for the return with the transfer confirmation.

Now the messy task of clean up. I looked up the contact, dialed the numbers, and waited.

“Yeah.” A gruff male voice answered.

“Bones. I got an assignment for you.” I gave him the address, wired money to his account, and left.

I pulled off the wig, took my dress off and turned it inside out, reversing the color and changing the pattern completely. Stuffing the wig into my bag, I put on my dress, added gloves to my ensemble and left. No need for me to leave any extra prints. Bones and his guys were always thorough, but I didn’t like to take risks.

The phone buzzed in my hand. I looked and the confirmation of the money transfer blinked onto the screen. A low purr of satisfaction escaped my throat. A nice sum for this man. $500,000. He must have made someone *very* angry. No matter to me. I took the battery out of the phone, threw it away in a public garbage can. I removed the sd card and burned it. Then I smashed the phone and threw it in the river. There would be no trace of that phone ever again.  I made my way to my safe house. Time to hole up again, count my money, and research my next mark. Another mobster, but this time in London. It had been a while since I’d been in London. Maybe this time I could actually go sight seeing.

Being a hit women is a solitary life. But for what I lack in personal relationships, I make up for in the politeness I show everyone I come across. Good manners. I may be there to kill you, but at least I treated you with dignity and showed you courtesy in the end.

It is, of course, the least I can do.

Bricks and Ice Cream

I want to take that brick and smash his face in, Tamsin thought as the neighborhood bully continued to exert his reign of torment on the younger kids. The summer had just begun. Tamsin was a new kid to the neighborhood. She was 15, pretty in an unconventional and exotic sort of way and deadly smart. Her cunning and wit got her into as many scrapes as they got her out of them and now her mind was working in over drive as she watched Kyle-an obnoxious 16 year old wrestler with an ego the size of Russia and a brain that rivaled a goldfish-oversee a game of touch football in the cul de sac where they both lived.

Kyle wasn’t tall, but he wasn’t short, either. He was stocky, solidly built with a thick neck and meaty arms and legs. He wore his signature basketball shorts and muscle tee and basketball sneakers with no socks. He was the captain of the high school JV wrestling team, a football player, and he was a cocky little shit. His voice was deep, loud and commanding, with a touch of cruelty that became more prominent when someone caught his attention and they appeared younger or weaker than him. Tamsin sat back on her porch steps and continued to watch him over the top of her book. How was it he had become so damn mean, she wondered. She shook her head and sighed to herself. Thank goodness she didn’t have younger siblings. They would have to put up with his obnoxious attitude anytime they went outside. That would be miserable.

“Hey!” Kyle’s deep voice was loud again. “Hey…what’s your name again?”

Tamsin looked up from her book. Kyle was standing at the bottom of her driveway facing her. She had only lived next to him and rode to school on the same bus as him and sat in a few of the same classes as him for the past two months. But she was also quiet, so maybe he hadn’t paid much attention to her. She looked at him a little more closely. He looked nervous. Awkward. Something about the way he kept shifting his weight from one foot to another.

“Tamsin.” She called back to him.

“That’s right. I’m Kyle. So…um. Hi.” He started to walk towards her. Tamsin noticed more about him as he walked the length of the driveway. His hair was dark, cropped short and close on the sides and back. He looked almost terrified under that mask of feigned confidence. His eyes were bright blue and shy. He would glance at her then away quickly, always before their eyes met. Tamsin glanced to her left…the brick was still there. If he started acting like an asshole, she would pick it up and drop it on his head, she told herself.

“Hi.” she replied. Kyle had reached the steps by then. She could see his face better now. His cheeks were flushed-from running around outside or from embarrassment, she did not know- and he was smiling wide. He had a nice smile, she decided.

“What are you reading?” Kyle asked her, propping a foot up on the bottom step.

Tamsin blushed slightly. Her book wasn’t what she normally read, but it was different and it was a nice break from all of the classics she normally buried herself in for hours. “It’s some romance smut book I found. I think it’s my mom’s? Anyways, it’s mindless reading. I’ve finished all my other books.”

“A sex book?” Kyle laughed,”My mom reads those, too. I’ve looked at them some.”

They both looked down. The silence was awkward. Tamsin shifted on her step. Kyle took a deep breath, climbed the stairs, and sat down next to her, exhaling forcefully.

“So…” he said. It was obvious he was trying to make small talk. Tamsin closed her book, not even bothering to mark her place. She turned towards him until their knees were almost touching.

“So.” she echoed. He looked up at her and at once their eyes met. Tamsin held her breath. His eyes were beautiful. Long, curly lashes. Bright blue eyes that were deep and sparkling. Okay, Tamsin thought to herself, he’s kind of adorable. Kyle smiled again and she found herself returning the smile easily.

“I was wondering” He began, his voice a little shaky,”if you liked ice cream. I mean…of course you like ice cream. I saw you eat it in the lunch room one time. I mean…I wasn’t watching you I was just…um…I mean…wanna go get some ice cream with me?” The last bit tumbled out of his mouth and he held his breath and looked away.

“Sure.” Tamsin said.”I could go for some ice cream. When?”

Kyle looked back at her, astonished. “Really? I mean…you do?”

“Yeah, it sounds like fun.” Tamsin smiled. “I’m new, ya know. I don’t know where to get ice cream that’s good. When do you wanna go?”

Kyle stood up quickly. “Let me go change. I’ll be out in 20 minutes.” He took off down her steps and to his house next door.

Tamsin watched him run in the house. As soon as the door slammed shut, she bolted into her house. She brushed her dark auburn hair, threw on a pale green sundress, slipped on her sandals, and smoothed on some lip gloss. Her skin was already bronzed from laying in the sun after school and on the weekends so make up wasn’t really necessary. She sprayed her favorite body spray and walked into the mist. The fresh, light scent of jasmine kissed her skin. As she was walking out her front door, she saw Kyle walking over, freshly showered and in a nice polo and cargo shorts.

“You look nice.” He said and offered his arm. Tamsin smiled.

“Thanks” she said, “So do you.” and took his arm. They walked together to the ice cream shop down the road as Tamsin thought to herself, glad I didn’t use that brick.