20 Lines A Day

A Community of Writers and Photographers


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ARTSY SIDE of TEXAS

While traveling across  our country

On the way to AZ

We pulled into a Texas Rest Area.

As soon as I saw the bathroom,  I

ran back out for my camera,  I got a lot of

FUNNY LOOKS for sure.  That and a NH

Plate that said Gold Pan,  didn’t help.

My boyfriend was worried about what it was down here in the south,

in a bathroom no less, was worthy of a photo for me.

Got to keep him guessing!

He does have to learn to TRUST ME


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Money, Money, Money…Money!

Wealth” and a Challenge for the Contributors (and Followers!)
Tell us about wealth. What does it look like? Where should it go? What would you do with a half billion dollars, or any unexpected windfall for that matter?

I love it when I’m challenged to write about something specific. My mind churns out idea

International Money Pile in Cash and Coins

International Money Pile in Cash and Coins (Photo credit: epSos.de)

after idea after idea until I’m exhausted before I even pick up my laptop. So, when this challenge was presented, I felt some relief!

And then I thought about it over and over and over, and I was exhausted all over again!

Money. All of us poor people have heard that it won’t make you happy. And all of us poor people would like the opportunity to learn that lesson through experience, if you don’t mind!

If you’ve read anything about me before, you know that my eldest daughter was born out-of-wedlock. I didn’t bother putting a father on her birth certificate, because I didn’t intend for that man to be in her life at all. He had campaigned enthusiastically for me to get an abortion, and if I didn’t, he would just take her from me and disappear into Mexico. I was 19, alone, and quite frankly, freaked out by his reaction. So, my answer was to make it almost legally impossible to fight me for her, as well as putting hundreds of miles between us. Rebekkah was mine….. And, as government tends to do, the State of Texas stuck it’s big, fat nose into my business, and put the man right back into my life, in the form of Child Support.

My second baby, DJ, was a harrowing pregnancy. Over and over, it would seem that my body was trying to miscarry, and yet my little baby would hang on. Finally, just short of two months early, my son had to be delivered…He was a month old before he could leave the hospital.

The medical bills were as so high, I stopped opening the bills. What can you do when your husband makes a total of $20,000 a year, and the hospital is demanding $82,000 for the birth of your son? Finally, the hospital told me about this magical thing called Medicaid, and they walked me through the process, and the bill simply went away. Breathtaking!

Enter The State of Texas. Because I had used public assistance, the state now had the right to try to recoup some of the money they had spent on me. Well, duh. That makes sense now, but back then, it was never mentioned. And because I had a daughter already from someone I wasn’t married to, they saw the opportunity to collect some money from the biological father.

Let’s say that I was not all that forthcoming with information about Rebekkah’s father. The information I gave them was his name. That is all. And I’ll be damned if that state didn’t find him anyways. They ordered a paternity test, and the dominoes fell from there. Long story short, The Father made a pretty decent living, and the courts ordered him to pay me a nice amount each month, as well as owing me for the six years of Bek’s life, to the tune of $54,000.

Fast forward years later. Bekkie is half way through high school, and all that legal mumbo jumbo has been a thing of the past for a decade. I sit unsuspectingly at my computer to check bank balances and pay a few bills.

Boom! There is a really large amount of money in a bank account that barely makes it through the month. I was stunned. Actually, it made me feel a little afraid.

Before I told anyone about it, I immediately called to make sure it wasn’t an accident. I was  informed that The Father had been hiding money away in an account under his wife’s name and they had found, and seized it. And the money was mine. Oh.My.God.

And then the roller coaster ride really began. First, all those tiny voices in my head that whisper their worry about paying bills and still having enough money to make it to the next payday, went silent.

Second, for the first time in my life, I wanted to Protect my Money. I almost immediately became somewhat suspicious. And to some degree, with good reason. It wasn’t the Mega Lottery, but it was more than the rest of my extended family had, and after years and years of silence, suddenly there were family members that wanted to “re-connect”. And because back then I was somewhat naive, I believed that I could buy them all back. Oh please…It was like feeding a stray animal. They always came back for more, and when it was finally gone, they disappeared again. My husband and I argued over how to spend it, always afraid that we might end up spending it all. The kids wanted more and more things that their friends had…It felt great and horrible all at the same time. It seemed like money was all I could think about anymore, and it just felt wrong.

No. I didn’t invest it. My family and I gave a bunch of it away, bought things that people would normally have to buy on credit, shopped for things we wanted, and paid bills. And then it was gone. Along with that suspicious, creepy entitled feeling that had arrived with it. When the last dime of it had been spent, I felt relief. The users in my life went away, and the real friends that had always been my friends before, stayed. No more arguments with my husband over money. My kids settled back into being careful when picking what they really wanted.

My life had returned to normal, where I had to truly appreciate the paychecks that I was earning. I had to be careful to decide what we really needed as opposed to what we only wanted. In essence, we got our character back.

I don’t play the lottery, nor do I find millions and millions of dollars enticing. Since that first time, I’ve come into really large chunks of money from time to time, and I am pleased to say that I’ve gotten better at dealing with this odd turn of fortune. But I always remember that first experience, and I rely on the lessons I learned from it.

Money not only can’t buy you happiness; It can steal the happiness you already have. It can make you into a person you don’t even like yourself. It can become a god; more important than love, family, friendship, and God…It is wonderful and horrible all at the same time.

And we always think we are the ones that can tame that storm… ;-)

lol..and I know not one person who reads this would pass up the chance to learn this lesson themselves!!

– Bird


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Losing My Mind, One Cat-Shaped Piece At A Time

I’ve had a very stressful night. First, even Ambien couldn’t knock me out, so I was up all night. Then, at about 4 am, I heard a cat crying outside, and lo and behold! my strictly in-doors cats, bought for me to help with Empty Nest issues,  had escaped the house through the dryer vent hole!! Little Jerks.

I was able to catch one of them, Milo,  quickly, but the other was nowhere to be found.

Sebastian. Not caring at all about how worried I was. Schmuck.

Yes, I wandered through the dark looking for him in a robe and slippers like a weird woman acting in some bad commercial. Little jerk was mocking me…I can feel it. After 3 hours — 3! – Sebastian decided to wander his little butt home, thus ending my nightmarish worry.

As I was sitting here, relief washing all over me that both of them were safe and sound in the house again, it occurred to me that I’ve just freaked out over two house cats. I don’t freak out over house cats.

Milo. Not the Brave One, thank God.

Tomorrow, my son is heading to Texas to see if this is a move he wants to make. With my youngest in Japan, that leaves only one of my chicks here near me. I think that’s why I was flipping over my cats. They’ve come to represent my children in some weird way….. Which I’m wondering if that might be a bit much, even for me. I mean, if they keep doing stuff like this, will I potentially lose my mind??

I need a nap. Exhaustion is shading this way too heavy for me right now.

– Bird


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And the Second Post: The Time I Burnt Down A Truck I Was Test Driving

Published on: Mar 18, 2012 @ 8:57 on Everyone Has A Story -

birdmartin.wordpress.com

“One of the things I am learning as I write these little excerpts from my life is that this is one really good way to stop trying to “be” anything other than yourself.

I have run in a lot of circles. I went to Christian schools and public schools. I have friends — I’m talking realfriends that range from atheists all the way up to pastors, and everything in between. My best friend has changed sides so many times, I honestly don’t know what she believes at this moment. And she is still my very best friend in the whole world. My kids love the Lord, but they cuss like sailors sometimes…as I’m sure people are going to notice

Ok. This isn't a truck, and the little girl should be a little boy, and it isn't on fire, but pretend it was. I have a really good pix of it on my original post, but I got kind of freaked out about copyrighting, so I am using one of my own pictures. Since I've started blogging, I'm getting better at keeping a photographic record of my adventures so I don't get sued...

from some of their posts on this site. Actually, my son who is busy composing a story for this blog is the one who cusses the least in this family…go figure. And now I find out that some of the motorcycle family I’m in read it too, along with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. And after being initially alarmed, I had to laugh. There simply are lessons in everything. It is just better to stop worrying what other people think of you, and just let it all hang out. It is definitely a lot less work.

So, that all being said, let me share one of my finest moments.

When the kids were little, Don was asked to go to Laredo and “clean up” a distressed restaurant there. He is gifted at managing restaurants, and over the years, we had moved from restaurant to restaurant all over Texas. He’d get them profitable again, and then we’d move on to the next one.

At this time, we’d pretty much stayed in San Antonio for quite a bit of time, and I had landed a really, really good job. So, since the company estimated it would only take Don 6 months to clean up this restaurant, we chose to live separately so I could hang on to my job. We’d travel once a week or so to see each other, but it wasn’t ideal for our kind of relationship at all. My kids were acting out…they have to have their dad around, and I don’t know that we’d built up enough trust in each other at that time to be completely okay with this. So, since he seemed to have put roots down in Laredo, we agreed on one of my visits to see him that I needed to go ahead and move back home with him.

Problem was we both drove tiny cars, and there was no money to move. When companies moved us around, they always paid for the moves. But that wasn’t the case this time. Don, being the charming guy that he is, went to a car salesman friend of his and explained the situation. The guy, named Sam (not his real name), suggested that since it was mainly clothes and small stuff, that we “test drive” one of the big pick-up trucks for the weekend. We were assured this was a common occurrence, and that the extra miles on the truck wouldn’t matter, because it was already slightly used. Sounded perfect.

So, the next morning my little 6-year-old son and I head off to San Antonio to get our stuff. We sang and talked, and talked and sang all the way down there. It was great because we’re both tone-deaf so we couldn’t tell we really sucked — we had a blast. It didn’t take all that long to get our stuff together, and the next morning we were headed back towards our new life.

I have been able to overcome some serious vices over the years, but the bane of my existence is smoking cigarettes. I haven’t mastered that one yet. There are just some things that my brain can’t do without having a stupid cigarette in my hand. Here’s my list of cigarette must-haves:

Wake up – smoke a cigarette

Drink coffee – smoke a cigarette

Talk on the phone – smoke a cigarette

Drive – smoke a cigarette

Get ready for bed – smoke a cigarette

There are many other cigarette times in between, but these are MUST haves…I’ve tried quitting, but that is a post for another day. Suffice it to say, I haven’t given up — I’ve just remained a complete failure in this area.

So, I’m happily speeding my little boy and I down the highway, windows open, flicking cigarette butts out the window as needed, because we wouldn’t want to return the truck with a dirty ashtray, when Dj freaks out. One, or possibly more, cigarettes had caught our stuff on fire in the back of the truck I was supposedly test driving, and I had a pretty awesome fire going on.

There are too many failures in this story. First, yes, I was smoking around my son. Second, I was Messing with Texas by throwing them out the window. Third, I obviously wasn’t paying much attention to anything around me, because I didn’t just see some smoke; it was a full-fledged fire going on over the rolling gas tank I was driving. There are so many more, but you get it…

I pulled the truck over to the side of the highway, scooped up my boy, and we stood what I would determine a safe distance from the inferno, and waited. We didn’t own cell phones and there used to be almost nothing between San Antonio and Laredo except for one small prison town that only the truly brave would ever stop at. And we’d already passed through that town awhile ago. I watched the truck begin to melt, and I knew — I’m getting another divorce.

As luck would have it, people started pulling over, and while the women began to collect over by me, their fire-bug husbands started “playing” with the fire, pulling burning boxes and quilts out of the back of the truck and stomping out the fire with their feet. Now, I’ve had a flat tire on this same route, and only AAA would come to my aid. No one else that time would stop. But, hey, start a rolling bonfire, and everybody is your friend….

One of the less-than-amused wives had a cell phone, and she called 911 and let me borrow it to call my husband. My husband is….passionate. So, I was actually happy to be delivering this news to him on a phone at least 60 miles away. It meant I had about an hour to live.

The conversation went a little like this:

Don: Hello?

Me: Don, I started a fire in the truck, and it’s burning up. I’m sorry.

Don: That’s not funny. When are you getting here?

Me: I’m not kidding. I really burnt down the truck, and all our stuff in it.

Don: Seriously, stop it. I’m not in the mood to play around…

Me: I’m not playing around. I need you to come get me.

Don: You’d better be kidding.

Me: I’m not. Are you coming?

Ok. I have to stop here, because the rest was pretty disturbing.

After the fire had been put out, all the firebugs and their wives split, and DJ and I were left with the Texas State Trooper that had taken our report. He was really trying to be serious and professional, but he couldn’t help laughing at me. A lot. Insultingly, a lot. He packed me and Dj into his car, saying he couldn’t leave us by this truck until my husband showed up, so we’d ride with him for a while and we’d check back for Don occasionally. Okay, that part was actually pretty fun for us. He told us all kinds of story as we chased speeders down the road going over 100 miles an hour at times — and he never missed a beat telling his story…It was way cool. But anyways…

Finally, Don and my girls showed up. After inspecting the melted truck, Don tried turning it on, and lo and behold! the thing still drove just fine. We all headed back to Laredo — me in my Mercury Topaz and Don in a lump that might have been a truck once upon a time.

And for Tickled Plum: We left the burnt remnants of our worldly possessions right there on the side of the highway for someone else to clean up. That one is for you, Tickled….

Sam wasn’t as freaked as you’d think he’d be. Instead, he gave us an address in Mexico, and told us to get it fixed before we brought it back — he’d cover for us for the extra time.

Viva la Mexico!! The place we took the truck had it looking like a brand new vehicle, exactly the same as before I destroyed it, all in 2 days, for $300! We returned the truck to Sam, and nothing ever came of the incident again. Cool.

My point with this story is just that there are going to be aspects of my life that are going to appall someone I know — more so with some, while others will be able to relate. But this is just a true story. I am what I am.

– Bird”

Note: I have about a million really bizarre things that have either happened to me, or that I’ve caused to happen to someone else. This one just kind of sums up the levels of politically incorrect, rather careless, undeniably selfish, and still rather humorous behaviors that cause mishaps that I’ve had to explain to someone…usually my husband, who really hates two things: spending money and having people know our private lives. As you can see, I routinely do things he hates, but he loves me, and since this family has no problems laughing at ourselves, he’s given me the nod to blog..As long as one day in the future it brings home a paycheck. :-) Hey, he didn’t give me any specific times, now did he?? It’s been almost a year now, and I finally have people that aren’t related to me actually reading and encouraging me with their comments, so I honestly don’t care about the paycheck. The comments and “Likes” make me feel happy, worthwhile, and they give me a feeling of acceptance that not one of my paychecks all 25 years I was in the workforce ever did. So, hopefully, as long as I can keep pawning Don’s power tools, generators, and power washers out of the garage to pay the bills (because all my jewelry is already gone now) and Don keeps slaving away for the Man, I can keep pursuing my dream to be a writer. Thanks for reading my contribution.

Also, I added the Tickled Plum part because her comment about leaving her backseat on the side of the road makes me laugh every time I read it…It occurred to me after I read her story that I had left all those burnt boxes, quilts, microwaves, etc. right there on the side of the highway. I know. I suck.

 

– Cathie

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