To Dust You Shall Return

Photo: Martha Maggio, from the garden at Mount Carmel, potted Cyclamen, Israel

I know it’s not easy to love me.

Temperamental
Hard-to-handle
Hot-headed
Hothouse flower

Fading in the bright light
Swamped in the black of night
Wilting with any slight
Change

Strange
Delicate
Difficult
Intricate

Complex and rare
Complicated care
But my air is sweet
And I only bloom for you.

To my unfortunate gardener ❤
You shall turn the earth.

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Back the F up.

My favorite saying is:

E’erbody bettah back the *F* up off me. Except I don’t use *F*. Well. I use the F and 3 more letters immediately following. 😀

I say it jokingly. Except when I don’t. Or I like this phrase as well. Check yourself, before you wreck yourself. I say it sassy with a few snaps and head whips. Followed by an “MM-hm!” It’s a power move. Sometimes it’s funny.

But. It’s offensive. It can be ugly. I can be ugly. Depends on the mood and reception of the audience.

I do it to protect myself. I do many things to protect myself. I lose my temper from time to time when I can’t cope with life in general any more. Tuesday night, I snapped. And not just my fingers.


I served at Tuesday’s special election in my county. It was interesting, humbling and an incredibly long day. I was at the poll for 14 hours and change.

I got up at 4 am (not something I normally do) to be at the poll at 6 am sharp. I had to drive for 30 minutes just to get to the location. Hopefully, the next election will be closer, in my own precinct or near it. Administration said it would be.

I served all day, had a small break for lunch, and 2-3 shorter breaks here and there. The steady flow of voters didn’t allow much downtime. By the time I finished, I was exhausted. Plus, I spent the day with older women who had all the time in the world to complain, moan and lecture me about the way voting should change or how I was not properly allocating ballots.

“I’m going to work the floor!” A job that most of the older women loathed. Standing (I had a chair to sit in if there were no voters on the floor), addressing the parting voters, checking the booths for left items, and repetitively explaining the tabulator/ballot box procedure (Slide your ballot over the green arrow, over the gray, under the black, wait for the waving American flag to tell you “Thank you for voting!” and then I would say, “Yay! You voted! Yay democracy!” and that would illicit usually a laugh, smile or a thank you.) But I gladly worked my tiny corner of isolation to get away from the bitching bitties.

“Oy! My back!”
“Why do you have to stay 5 feet away from the ballot box?”
“Don’t forget…!”
“OH! You did that wrong!”
“Martha, do this…”
“Martha, do that…”

Most of the older women were racist. Or bigoted. Or just clueless to etiquette, correct terminology, or considerate behavior.

“That guy who came in with the two Oriental kids.”

WTF??

“You mean Asian?” is what I wanted to say, but I just let it go.

Finally, before I left, one of the women was bossing me around, biting my neck (she had been hateful most of the day and specifically to me at times) and I finally bit back.

“Martha, put these away! You know where they go.”

My 5 o’clock whistle blew. Except it was 6:57 pm. “(Bitch), I will put them away when we close the poll!” (Her name has been changed to Bitch to protect the guilty.)

She thought the poll had closed, but we were still a few minutes from shutting the doors. “Oh, I thought we had closed. Sorry.” But Bitch said “sorry” like your husband on your period. “Saw-ree!” Like the inflective (not a word!) equivalent of “Sheesh!”

I was silent. Everyone should worry when I’m silent.

After the poll closed, I turned to Bitch and said, “I’ve never put this away before, I don’t know where they go, but I assume they go in this envelope. Is that correct, (Bitch)?” And I said it firmly, politely, but with that edge of “I will cut a Bitch.” One raised eyebrow.

One quiet, schooled, submissive “Yes.”

“Thank you!”

I heard no more from Bitch.

Needless to say, I was on edge after my husband picked me up.

On the way home, we got into an argument. It doesn’t matter why, but he did something that always triggers me. Always. We’ve had many discussions about the behavior, but he continues to do said shenanigans. After being triggered by the horrible woman at the poll for 14!!! hours, I was weak, vulnerable, tired, hungry, in a really bad place. I was not grumpy. I was not taking out my frustration on my family. I was talking about the day and my frustration with the woman, but I don’t think I was berating my family. I wasn’t. My husband and daughter had asked about my day and I had simply told them all the various good and bad aspects of working an election. Procedures, attitudes, expectations. They were interested because none of us had ever worked an election before. Overall, it was gratifying. But any 14-hour day doing anything is going to be taxing. Gratifying or not.

So, the inevitability of the situation was obvious. My husband spent most of the day pursuing a low-priority goal and neglected some crucial chores. He needed to find a power cord for an item we need to sell, he needed to follow up about a temp job for IT, and he needed to feed our daughter dinner. Or at least communicate with me about dinner coordination. Unfortunately, he waited to pick me up at 8:00 pm in hopes that we could all grab a bite together.

Okay. Not horrible. Mildly thoughtful. I say mildly because we both will use any excuse to eat out at any time and the benefit to our partner is secondary to satisfying our eat-out lust. But our daughter eating dinner after 8 on a school night is a digestive juggernaut. Not unheard of, but normally highly-questioned by my husband. It’s just not ideal. But it’s okay if he says so.

And then, on top of all of that, triggered from 14-hour Bitch, chores neglected and now, engage the boosters on trigger-happy hubby with his self-proclaimed “productive” morning routine of dragging home stereo equipment from a thrift store to transfer old tapes to digital storage and cleaning the stereo equipment on my dining room table! with alcohol.

You may not know this, and I’m not sure that he did either, but alcohol would probably eat the finish off my cheap, not-solid wood table. It would probably at least dull the surface. I would like that not to happen. I just bought the damn thing 3 years ago.

We just can’t have nice things. Sigh. LOL
That, and “I can’t take you anywhere.” LOL

Thankfully, it was fine. He put a towel down, but if it had spilled? No towel is going to help.

My husband trying to clean something is like a 5 yo shouting, “Mommie, look! I washed all your sweaters in the toilet!” LOL Just kidding. It’s not that bad. But close.

It’s just, after the day I had, and one of the first things my husband tells me on the way to dinner is, “I did a thing that we have talked about not to do. I did that and only that while you’ve been gone for 14 hours working for our family to make ends meet because I don’t make enough money any more.”

He didn’t say that. That’s what I heard.

So. I lost it. I got super upset. I was PTSD-ing all over the car. I was shrill. Screamy. Angry. We had a bad fight. But we made it through. It took a while. Lots of talking. (He hates that.) Lots of emotion. (He hates that.) Lots of stress. (We both hate that.)

I don’t like being sassy, but I tend to get that way when I feel attacked. As with Bitch. I tend to get that way with my husband, too. Sassy. Mean. Sarcastic. Hateful. It’s mainly when I feel he isn’t listening. Or understanding. Or trying.

You know, it’s like, what’s the point in behaving if I’m talking to a brick wall? Right? And then out comes the mud.

I don’t want this though. I struggle with changing my approach. I struggle with being sweet or polite or even-tempered when I feel neglected. And my family has just not been paying attention lately. Our Christian approach to life is care for each other. This is what God has intended. That’s our thinking. Except, I care for others, put myself last, and then everyone else cares only for themselves. So I get the poopie end of that stick! Feel me, Ladies? I know I’m not alone.

But. Still. I have to do right, no matter what. I have to control myself. I have to follow God. I have to ask for help not from my husband, family or friends, I have to rely on God’s Holy Spirit. No one, not me, not my husband, not my daughter, not Bitch can give me the fruits of the Spirit. That can only come from God. So I have to remember. Ask. Receive. It’s hard to remember when sin and evil are right on top of you. Biting your neck. I need help to remember to ask for help! LOL

I want to be better. Trigger free. I just know that’s not realistic. So I need to call on God. Pray. Submit. Remember. Practice.

Everyone will let you down. Eventually. I’m not perfect. I let my family, friends and co-workers down every day. We just have to reach for grace. For ourselves. For others. For the people we have vowed to love. As a Christian, that’s a vow with everyone.


God, help me. Fill me with your Spirit today and every day. Help me back that *F* train up. Help me be beautiful on the inside. Let your face be the face that others see when they look at me. Help me show your love to the whole world. Help me be an example of your grace with the help of your Spirit. I can’t do it alone. I will fail. I need you. Without you, I am not whole. I am ugly and weak and imperfect. I need you to complete your work in me: your intention, your purpose, my heart transformation, my life dedication through your providence of the Spirit. Amen.

Bug’d

I’ve had a rough couple of days. It all started on July 4th.

My family and I had planned to enjoy the beach and chill in the late afternoon. The whole day until that point was relaxing and fun. Just relishing time off, watching Netflix and the occasional conversation. Then, around 5 pm, we headed to the beach. *cue the Jaws theme*

We got in the water and it was warm! So wonderful. Like bath temperature. It was awesome. We let the waves rock us back and forth in the shallow shoals and we searched for offshore seashell treasures (say that 10 times, fast) underwater.

My husband got out, it was a little too warm for him after a few minutes. My daughter and I stayed.

As he sat in the cool breeze and warm sun, a stranger approached. He was the friendly sort. From a distance, they looked like brothers. Salt and pepper hair and beards. Stocky frame. Too old guys chatting.

While they were small-talking, I found, with my big toe, a beautiful, rare-colored spiral in perfect condition. Beautiful dark brown and spiky top. it looked like it had been polished out of wood. I had to show Guy.

spiral

As I approached their group of two, I overheard their Guy talk. 🙂 Just weather and “Where ya from?”

I am dubious of most strangers, but I thought this extroverted chap was a bored/boring beach-goer making polite conversation. And then. The point emerges.

“Yeah, uh, are you all going to sit here for the fireworks?”

“Yeah!” Smile.

“Oh, yeah, uh, I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind, I was going to use the wood as my fireworks platform.”

“Oh.” WTF? His beach-boy, native-Floridian accent (think: potsmoker) suddenly got worse and his overall minute charm evaporated like a wisp of Florida rain clouds.

We were sitting near a wooden structure that supports a pipe. It’s our favorite spot. And this yahoo wanted to use it for his own personal fireworks launch pad. Which you’re probably not supposed to do since we have sea turtles on our beach. The noise and light will frighten and disorient them. They even paint over the condo lights on the beach side so they don’t get confused. And they were having the big boomers at the jetty just about a mile away. Some people.

I have to participate in the blowing up of stuff!

The round, wood pillars on the wooden structure, where we were sitting, act as little table tops right at chair height when the sand is tall and the pipe isn’t flowing.

When we first got to our beach a month ago, we wondered what the pipe was for. It was a little foreboding and we didn’t go near it. Being a land-locked country girl, pipes were usually for smokin’ or sewer waste. But then we figured, that pipe is probably for excess water runoff from the streets. So waste water, but! Relatively clean waste water. Why would the city of Venice pollute their own ocean? They wouldn’t. I know. Tourists! Land lubbers!

So, today, the pipe was not flowing (no rain for a coupla days) and it was full of sand. The hill was high and so, our favorite spot. And now this guy! He wants us to move? On our day to relax?

“My wife told me not to ask.”

Smart wife.

“Yeah, yeah, it’s fine. We’ll move down after my husband goes to work.” Guy had to work that night. Security never sleeps.

“Oh, shit, man, you have to work?? Oh, man, I’m sorry.” At least he was apologetic. For something.

“No big deal.”

And it wasn’t a big deal. Just a minor annoyance. Shoulda known. No one is that nice for no reason. Cynical, I know. But, in this case, it was true.

Then a storm blows in from the east. Right over our shoulders. Sudden shower. No lightning, so we ride it out. It stops after a few minutes. Cool. It was fun to sit in the rain on the Gulf. Something new! It was quite refreshing.

It was finally time for Guy to go in and shower before the fireworks. He had to go straight to work after the show. So we said our temporary goodbyes. Lilli and I stayed for a little while longer and watched the setting sun. I wanted to snap a few.

NO SD CARD! Ack! I forgot my SD card for my Nikon. I remembered to haul and protect my expensive digital cam to the beach and I forget the friggin’ SD card. I’m sucha dope. Oh well. Just enjoy the sunset.

Several minutes go by and another stronger storm, first storm’s big brother, whipped up and we heard the thunder. Bye! Couldn’t see the sun any more!

We high-tailed it back and sat under the carport in our neighbors’ parking lot. It was coming down hard and we still had several hundred yards to go. Plus, we needed to hose off (we have an outside shower and hose) before coming in, even though the downpour was shower-strength. Sand goes everywhere. Everywhere. Only the hose knows.

That was also fun. Knowing we were not in danger of being struck (Were we? I guess a little) and just watching the dark sky, clouds and rain come down. Waiting patiently for it to subside. And it did.

We hosed everything off: us, the cooler, our shoes. Thank you for your discretion, Hose! Then we headed up to sit on the porch. Resolved to miss the fireworks. It was a long day and IDC about fireworks. Plus, it wasn’t clear if the storm had passed.

We met our new neighbors on the second floor. They had just arrived and were opening their condo. She introduced herself and then her husband.

“Come on down. The fireworks start at 9 pm.”

And before I could explain that I knew, that my husband was going to work and that we were tired, she was beckoning again. “Come on! 9 pm! See ya there!”

“Sure!” Bye, Crazy. LOL

Guy was done and agreed with Neighbor Lady. We could probably make it and now the clouds had moved on.

“Okay.” I could not deny my eager family their fireworks fix.

So we go down to the beach. We stay back from the water, in the dunes, near the path. I get over 10 mosquito bites that won’t get aggressive for several days. They are just now blossoming into full-on Zika zaps. 😦 (Idk why skeeter bites wait for a few days to really itch!)

I don’t have Zika. Yet.

Then, my camera won’t pick up the fireworks, but I enjoy them anyway. There were clouds, miles off the coast, competing for the light show. Bursting with strikes, lighting up inside like a brain firing synapses. It was truly awesome.

<NO PIC TO SHARE, USE YOUR IMAGINATION> lol

Then we head back, say our goodbyes for the night and Guy goes on to work. Lilli and I head upstairs, she jumps in the shower and I proceed to get sick on the kitchen floor. Too much wine and Chex Mix. Plus, a long, warm day with warm skin and too much movement. Now I have to clean my kitchen floor, take a shower and clean the rest of my house. NO! I’m done! Plus, I’d already been cleaning my house earlier in the day. This day will never end!!! But it did.

I finish with everything about 1:30 and I crash hard. A very satisfying crash where your whole body relaxes upon hitting the sheets. And you know, you’re going right to sleep. Sore, but cozy. Warm, tingly skin from the sun and sore, tired muscles from working. Good night!

Then. Yesterday. I had an interview. It was at 10 am. I thought it was for 1 pm. I called to ask if I could still make it, but as soon as I heard her voice I knew. Don’t bother. They hung up on me. I think it was an accident, but I didn’t even attempt to call back.

I really screwed that up. That would have been for a cardiologist only a few blocks from our house. I don’t even know how I did that??

I’ve been busy. That’s my only excuse. But at some point, it felt like God saying, “Let it go.” So I did.

I feel so jumbled sometimes. There’s much to be doing now. I’m still unpacking. Looking for a job. Cooking, cleaning, juggling, writing! Rearranging our whole lives. Registering Lilli for school. Tags, license, grocery shopping. I start my driving job tonight.

I was supposed to start yesterday, but he called to say I wasn’t on their insurance yet and I might not start for another week. Shoot!

Just one of those things. We need that money, too.

But then he called just a few hours later to say the insurance company took care of it, rushed it through and I can start tonight. Phew. Good deal. Bacon saved.

Oh well. I’m still here. I’m still alive. I am thankful for busy-ness and chores. I am thankful for relationships and people. I am thankful for A job, if not THE job.

Please pray for me. I need it. I don’t want to screw up this job. I want to take it seriously and help people. But also, pray that I find the right job for my graphic design skills. Soon. Thanks.


Sometimes you find a shell with your big toe.
Sometimes you get zapped.