“What show from your childhood would you love to bring back?”

This one is an easy question for me, and only has one answer.

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My all-time favourite kids show.  I’d love it if they bought it back.  I remember watching it when I was little – I used to call the show “Chucky”.  It wasn’t until I was about ten I realized it actually had a different name.  I remember when my sister was a toddler, mum wouldn’t let me watch it “because it’s making your sister talk funny” (not true, as it turned out to be an actual speech issue and she had to go to a speech pathologist for it.  Despite that, the ban still stayed for quite a long time).  I love all the characters and that in some way, they’re all relatable.  I adore the movies.  I even really enjoy the “All Grown Up” series, although nothing beats the original.  They just don’t make shows like this any more!  My favourite character is definitely Tommy (like most people!) but I also love the adult characters like Betty and Stu, who seem to become so much more relatable now I’m grown up too.  Let’s be honest, despite the weird hairdos and horrendous lack of parental supervision, we all secretly wanted to be part of this family!

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This prompt, and many more, can be found here.

The Old Man

They talk about me like I’m deaf. Stare at me like I’m blind. They assume that behind my tall stature and solemn eyes, that I’m tough. How can I tell them I’m just a baby inside? That their words keep my eyes open at night, and their actions make my insides cold?
At my age, everyone assumes I’ve heard it all. Maybe they’re correct in that assumption. Hearing something more than once, however, doesn’t lessen the sting that the echoed words create, nor does it heal the heart it breaks. Doctors have told me I’m what they call ‘depressed’. Back in the day, you were told to have a stiff drink and move on. Now they’re jumping at any chance to medicate me, educe me into some faux-happy stupor. Oh, sometimes I think it’d make for a nice change. Sometimes, late at night as I stare up at my well-studied ceiling, I can’t even fathom my own reasons for denying the drugs. Sitting in the warm spring sunshine, watching my youngest grandchild learning to walk in my favourite little park, however, I realize this is what all the grief and unhappiness has led me to. Rebekah is constantly wishing for me to take the pills. It’s the accepted norm for the world now, a world that has shunned me into it’s darkest corners and rooms they politely call ‘retirement villages’. Those places that cater for our ‘heightened needs’, but in actuality are lonely rooms filled with lonelier souls, forced together by families who now see us as burdens instead of caregivers. Oh, the place has a games room and the nurses are polite and at times even seem to care slightly, but this is always outweighed by the crisp air that follows a death and the cereal that lands in our lap extra-soggy for the ‘retirees’ who refuse – or forget – to put their dentures in of a morning.

Like any place that forces strangers together for extended periods of time, I have a few people I am more fond of than most. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to name them as ‘friends’. I can’t remember the last time I’ve called anyone that. One of the more lively of my acquaintances is a Ms Sally Wheeler. She’s always ready to entertain us with a funny anecdote from her past, or give a hug – surprisingly strong and warm, given her age – to clear our heads from the clouds of doubt. Possibly I would call her a friend did I not think she lied through her teeth on a near-constant basis. In this place, this isn’t unusual, however it’s not usually with consciousness that they are uttered, but rather because of mental illness or lack of memory. Sally, though, suffered none of that, and lied nonetheless. For peace’s sake, I kept my observations to myself. After all, who was Ms Wheeler really harming when most of her audience wouldn’t remember the next day, or the next hour?

Those people who suffer from memory problems, I envy them. It seems strange to others, possibly, but should I suffer like the man simply known as Billy, I’d never have to dwell on my past, on my mistakes or on the words of others. I’d simply live in the moment, completely. Of course Billy never knows what day it is, nor recognizes me or anyone else, and for that he does suffer. Yet, he always seems perpetually happy compared to the few of us completely conscious of where we are and what we’ve done.

It’s funny, I suppose, that Billy doesn’t get hounded by doctors wanting to medicate him. They’ve pretty much written him off as a lost cause, spouting ‘the damage is done’ to his family each time they enquire with the false hope that maybe one day a miracle pill will form and he’ll remember their names once more. I say ‘it’s funny’ because the damage has been done to me too, in the past, and is what almost solely has formed my depression and yet, I never hear the the end of doctors telling me how wonderful their medication is. If they are so willing to help cure a patient who isn’t interested, why can’t they help Billy’s family, who desperately are? The world is cruel like that, I suppose.

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This is one of my old attempts at writing fiction.  I say ‘attempt’ not because I think I’m no good or I can’t do it…I just never have the patience to follow through to the end.  I’m sure if I could, I’d enjoy writing professionally.  Alas, it remains a hobby instead.  This was written back in 2010, but has always been one of the short stories I’m most proud of.

This was inspired by the prompt ‘Post a previously unreleased chapter from one of your books’, which can be found here

“A Personal Story about Breast Cancer”

Thankfully, my direct family hasn’t been touched by this cancer…touch wood.  I do have a personal story from when I was young though, and it’s stuck with me (and always will).

I was about nine or ten when my best friend in primary school told me her mum had been diagnosed with breast cancer.  I was too young to fully comprehend what this meant.  I knew she’d get sick, of course, and I knew cancer was bad, but that was about it.  I’d often go over to their house, and I watched her get sicker, and her hair fell out.  I knew that was what happened with cancer.  She was always such a happy lady…other than no hair and looking tired, you’d never know she was sick.  She always had a smile on her face and was always happy to have me over.

Things got better.  I didn’t know the specifics because nobody wanted to tell kids that kind of stuff, and kids don’t talk about it with each other, but looking back I believe she must have gone into remission for a little while.  Her hair started growing back, she started getting her strength back, everything started going back to normal.

A year or two later (roughly, I’m not 100% sure), my best friend once again told me her mum had cancer.  Although a little older now, I was still fairly naive to what this could mean.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, I knew cancer could kill people.  I just could never imagine the world without her.  She was too full of life, too happy.  No, she’d get past this too.  She had to.

I remember when my best friend told me her mum had to have her breast removed.  I’d never realized that was one of the treatment options.  I’d always heard people having chemotherapy, it just kind of went hand-in-hand…and I knew sometimes they cut the cancer out.  I just didn’t think they’d remove whole body parts because of it.  It kind of rocked my world a little bit.  Nevertheless, my best friend’s mum kept her chin up.  She’d gone through major surgery and she was still smiling.  It can’t be that bad, I wrongly assumed.  She started losing her hair again.  She started looking tired, weaker.  Then she went back into hospital.

“They’re saying she isn’t going to come back out.” My friend had told me.  What?  I thought.  No.  No, they must have it wrong.  How could that be right?  I remember wholeheartedly believing the doctors were wrong.  There’s no way she’s not going to make it.  She’s too friendly.  Too kind.  Too smiley.  Her personality is too big.  It’s not possible.  She stayed in hospital for some time.  Two weeks, three.  I’m not sure exactly.

I wanted to be there for my friend.  I wanted to go over to her house, keep her company, help her through it.  My mum told me “no, it’s best to leave her to have family time”.  I remember it clear as day.  Now, my mum is usually good with advice (as I’ve come to realize), but in this instance, she was wrong.  I should never have left my friend to have “family time”.  Not like I did.  We began drifting apart, and I’m sure I’m completely to blame.  She became closer with one of our other friends…a friend that was there for her when I wasn’t.  I still to this day wish I’d never listened to my mum.  I feel terrible I was so distant.  It wasn’t my intention, in fact, it was the opposite of my intention.  I’d never been through anything even remotely like what my friend was going through, so I didn’t know what was expected.  I didn’t know what she needed.  All I could do was listen to the (poor) advice I was given.  It still doesn’t make me feel any less guilty.  I’m so sorry.

Anyway, I got a call from my friend’s new best friend, saying that she’d passed on.  I remember it vividly.  I was crying before the phone call had ended.  I went and told mum and she broke down too.  How could this happen?  How could this be real?  How could she just be gone?

We went to the funeral.  I’d only been to one other funeral in my life, a few years before, but that was for my 97-year-old great-grandpa, who had been in a nursing home for a long time and was suffering terribly from dementia.  This was totally different, and a lot sadder.  Plus, I was a bit older, so I guess I knew what was going on more than the previous one.  I remember the drive home, and still being a bit shellshocked about it all.

Part of me still can’t believe she’s gone…and that she’s been gone for so long.  It was my first taste of what cancer can do.  It has no mercy.  It comes back when you think it’s gone.  It choses it’s victims at random.  It doesn’t matter how strong and bubbly and loved someone is, they can still be lost to it.

Rest Easy, Lynne.  We all still think of you and miss you.

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This prompt, and many more, can be found here.

What One Song Defines Your childhood, Teenage & College Years?

The song that most takes me back to childhood is Aaron Carter’s cover of I Want Candy.  I know, I know, as if you’d chose this over Spice Girls.  Honestly, I never got into them as much as other people.  I was on the cusp of getting into pop music at that time (being only 6 or 7) and I never had their album.  Instead, mum got me my first completion CD – “Barbie Slumber Party Mix”.  This song was on it, and got a lot of plays.

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Also on the CD mix was Steps – 5, 6, 7, 8,  *Nsync – It’s Gonna Be Me, S Club 7 – Bring it All Back (a close contender for this title!) and Len – Steal My Sunshine.  It may have been released under a cheesy name, but this mix is still pretty cool for 90s nostalgia. (Yes, I may have just spent 25 minutes tracking down all the songs and making a playlist.  Don’t judge me!).

The song the defines my teenage years is an easy pick – Simple Plan’s “Perfect”.  It was the first song that really got me and my teenage angst.  Plus, these guys were the first band I ever saw in concert.  I remember almost my whole year level went and it’s all we could talk about for the next week.  Such an awesome show.

Hmmm, a song that defines my college years.  I think I’m going to have to go with Taylor Swift’s Teardrops on My Guitar.  Although comparatively late compared to everyone in the US, I was one of the first to discover her all the way over in Australia, and this was her first song I got into.  I remember going to her concert and it was so small and intimate that there was maybe 300 people at most there.  By the time she came out the following year, she’d filled up a whole stadium.  It’s pretty awesome to know I was there before all that.  Look how close I was!

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What songs define you?

-JD