Tag Archives: childhood

Survive and Thrive Workshop


One of the really good reasons for having a best friend as an English major is that you get invited to join in such things as writing workshops on occasion. This is one of those times.

Our writing prompt for the day was this: What are your two most prevalent inner landscapes and how would you describe them?

My response?

My inner landscapes…. I’m not really sure they can be separated.

After all, can a person separate a piece of themselves from himself? There’s certainly a farm, although it’s been many many years since I’ve actually spent a goodly amount of time there.

As if that matters.

It is as vivid in my mind as this afternoon’s lunch.

There’s a hill across the gravel road that always seemed huge to me, which in reality is probably much more considered a grassy knoll.

Forgive me. I was small when last I saw it.

A barn, where countless hours were spent shoveling cow manure to the musical ramblings of The Judds and Alan Jackson.

I do wonder now why shoveling shit held such glamorous allure for a ten-year-old. Odd.

Over there, an almost matched pair of classic Chevy trucks are parked, given new life by a cousin I always thought was “the coolest”.

Behind the barn sits a row of pig huts, and beyond that a rather unimpressive cattle pasture seemingly bare of grasses, but still entertaining enough that I spent hours wrestling boulders the size of my head up,catapulting them onto the barely crusted-over cow pies.

What glorious explosions of leafy green poop!

I grin to myself, remembering the thrill.

That was then, a simpler, more innocent time, but it’s still here within me somewhere.

Moving on.

The landscape of now is rife with imagination; mixed, too, with the stress and unease of humdrum, everyday life.

Oz, Neverland, Wonderland, and Willa Wonka’s Chocolate Factory all appear at times, though my yellow-brick road is sometimes blocked with piles of unpaid bills and regrets.

No. No regrets. I must remember there are no regrets, only choices that have taught me more than I might otherwise have known.

To my left is Ireland, because who DOESN’T want to go to Ireland?

It is, after all, the place where all the epic fantasy movies are made.

Alice’s white rabbit runs past, late as always, across the moors of England to my right.

You know- the ones Eustacia Vye spent so much time on.

It depends on which day you are here, what other places you might see.

New York City is never too far, the night lights of which rival Vegas, which is just there.

You see? Don’t mind the mostly nude women walking about- we all need something pretty to look at.

If you prefer, I can point you in the direction of the menagerie.

The unicorns and mermaids will be awake by the time you get there.

Of course, it snows on occasion, because I AM from Minnesota; our weather here can be….fickle. worries. The sun will come out tomorrow.

A little red-headed orphan told me so.

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A Letter to My Mother


Since my blog is the reason my parents haven’t talked to me in over half a year, it seems only right that I would post the letter I’ve written to my mother this day.

To Mom,
I know it has been a long time since we’ve talked, but honestly, I haven’t known what to say. The last time we spoke, you were concerned about my mental health, but would take no responsibility for the reason I am the way I am. I read the letter you sent me, and Aunt Bonnie and Gramma have mentioned just a few things you guys have discussed in conversation concerning me, and I realize a lot of my feelings toward you and dad are because of things that happened long ago, but they did happen, and helped to shape who I am, whether you want to admit or not.
I know that you planned me. I know that you both gave me everything you could as I was growing up. You showed me how to have faith in God, and I always do and will,  despite the fact that dad thinks I’m “fallen so far from the Lord.” Believe me, my faith is the only thing that kept me from killing myself when I was a teenager, or doing something worse.
I appreciate that you loved me so growing up, and did what you thought was best for me, which is why I refrained from telling you both about my blog. I respected you enough to shield you from the things that would have caused you pain or sadness, but I realize now that not being straightforward with you wasn’t honest, so I will be honest in this letter.
I know that you and dad both felt you made mistakes with the past relationships you had. Which is maybe why it was that your three older children felt mistreated or unloved. I can understand why my sister would have been jealous of me, because I know the pressures felt by being the “good child”. I understand why you felt you had to keep me distanced from my brother, though I don’t agree with it. I am blessed to have a brother who loves me so unconditionally, because his is a love I have never felt from another human in my life. He really is my best friend, and I understand his depression.
I have no children of my own, and that’s an whole other issue, but I know that a child is supposed to be the MOST important thing in a person’s life, other than God. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with the way they live their lives, or approve of them in any way, but I know that you are supposed to love your child(ren) unto the ends of the earth and back, and in such a way that they feel loved, and feel good enough, and feel that they can tell you anything.
I know I was a child long ago, and the things that happened then shouldn’t be of any consequence now, but I think of my childhood every day. You tell me I was planned, but clearly you and dad did not discuss my raising to the extent that you discussed my existence, because I remember many many times when dad disciplined me with pieces of wood that splintered and broke with the force of his rage, while you pretended he was not taking his anger out on me instead of you. I remember when you both found condoms in my room, and dad literally threw them in my face and told me that “no one would ever want me again” since I was no longer a virgin. I don’t have to have a kid to know I would never, ever stand by and allow anyone to say such a thing to my child, even if it was my husband, and even if I did agree with him.
I mentioned that I contemplated suicide when I was a teen. Perhaps depression is a hereditary thing, and maybe I have it, but I can tell you that ever night when I thought about it, it was because I wasn’t allowed to do much as a teen. I don’t mean being allowed to go out and party and kiss boys and get into trouble; dad was sooo concerned about the state of my virginity that he took me out of school, and wouldn’t allow me to stay at my friend’s house because she had a brother who had friends. I will tell you, you two raised me well enough to guard my body from those who would defile it until I was definitely old enough to know the consequences of my decisions. In fact, when dad was so worried about my sex life, I was innocent enough to tell Jeremy I might never want to have sex. I was with him for a year and a half before we ever had a physical relationship, and that was after I had already left home. (I know you both think I dated him before that, but you are so wrong.) This is what I have learned: sex does not make a person who they are, and virginity or the lack thereof should not make another person treat that person like a non-human. Dad has treated me that way.
That was long ago, and you’re right- it doesn’t matter now. But I have learned that while I can forgive someone for such things, I see no reason to include such people in my life. You are my mother, and I will always love you, and I understand that you think dad is the love of your life. Maybe he is, but I know from experience that he does not treat you like a queen as a husband should, and does not treat you like his most precious gift, which you are. Do you want to know why he and I don’t get along? Because I am just as stubborn as he is, and I refuse to accept the way he treats you. He demeans you in front of people, and there is no call for that, because you are the sweetest woman I have ever known. You deserve to be near your family if you want to be, and you deserve respect from your husband. If you think you have that, then as I said before- I am glad for you. But I see the way he treats you when you both come to visit, which is why I no longer wanted to have contact with him years ago.
I love. Love is everything to me, and love given to me is reciprocated ten-thousandfold. I love my extended family, because they have shown me love always, even when they might not have agreed with me, and have always hoped that I achieve my dreams. Dad, my father, has never even been interested in what my dreams were, unless they had everything to do with God. Dreams and goals can still include God without having to be such things as missionaries and pastor’s wives. God has given me a talent for writing, and music, and painting; what I do with it is my choice, which is also something God has given to me, as he has to us all.
I love this world that God has placed me in, and I love the gay people who are in it, because God created them too, and made so many of them amazingly flamboyant and beautiful. I love all kinds of music, because God gave men the ability to write such things. I love my beloved, my Rockstar, because he is a good father and he has the talent that God gave him to be able to play the guitar without knowing how to read music, and has given him the passion and the patience to deal with and try to understand my fucked-up self, even though he doesn’t understand my sadness at all. I love that God placed me in a church that is my family’s church, and put so many people there that appreciate my talent, even if it is a church that dad doesn’t approve of for no reason at all. I have received more love from the Methodist Church in 7 years than I ever received in every Baptist church we attended as I was growing up. There is no evil in that.
Concerning my blog: when I started it, I knew not what I was going to do with it, but I knew I wanted to hone my writing skills. Through the comments and the readers I’ve received since I’ve had it, I have been able to understand myself better, and I my confidence in my talent has grown considerably. I know not that if I ever finish writing any of the many books I have started writing, people will read them, and enjoy doing so. I am more honest in my blog about my experiences than I ever have been in real life, and that has made me be more honest in real life. Sometimes, though, the truth does hurt, as I’m sure most of this letter does. This too, is not an evil thing.
I am going to stop writing this letter now, because I have said enough, I think. I am sorry if I have cause you heartache in the past months, and I hope you can forgive me. I love you, mommy, and I just want you to accept me, flaws and all.
Love, Sparkle

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Long Live America(n Girls)


“If only I could have a Kirsten doll, my life would be complete.”

Or maybe a Samantha doll. And that’s all.”

“If only I could have the Christmas outfit to go with the Samantha doll that I don’t have, my life would be complete.”

“A Kirsten doll is $110. That’s like….a million dollars.”

These were the first hopeful, and then completely despondent thoughts going through my 10-12 year old head long ago. It began with a book.

(Does this surprise you? It seems that most stories associated with my most intimate wants and desires always start with a book.)

Anyhoo.

Once upon a time, a much younger Sparklebumps took a field trip to a historical farm in Ramsey, MN, and found a book she wanted to read entitled Meet Kirsten. Little did she know, but that this was only one book in a well-known series of books made to educate and entertain little girls on the lives and times of other fictional little girls in America throughout history. That series was American Girl, which later blossomed into  a brand that, in my opinion, rivals Disney. (My opinion is so based on the square-footage of the American Girl and Disney Stores that reside in the Mall of America here in Minnesota. I do believe AG takes up more space.)

Being the nerdy little moppet that I was, I was quick to check out every American Girl book that I came across in my school library- with the exception of the Molly books, which I immediately poo-pooed because of the fact that Molly wore specatacles. (Spectacles are not cool, Dude.) At the time, no marvelous American Girl Store existed, where shelves are lined with beautifully accessorized dolls that one can go to and choose from, and even purchase matching outfits of their own, so that little mother and doll can play gleefully together while wearing identical duds. Instead, everything was mail order, and every year around Christmas, it would arrive- the American Girl catalogue.

This was my Holy Grail, my perfectly published Christmas wishlist, my own version of the legendary JCPenney catalogue. No, I did not need to go through and circle the items I longed for, because I coveted ALL of them. (Minus the Molly section.) My only dilemma was whether I would rather have Kirsten (who was blonde like me, and whose name is similar to my own) or Samantha. (who fictionally lived during the Victorian Era, whose amazing lace and corset style called to my own Steampunk leanings.)

I yearned for, no, no- I PINED for an American Girl doll. Thinking back, I cannot recall a single other Christmas gift I so wanted and never received. Let me be clear, I never went with presents- in fact, I was ridiculously bombarded with mountains of presents on both Christmas and my birthday, and while I enjoyed and appreciated every one, there was always a slight stab of disappointment with every tear of shiny wrapping paper that revealed a present that was NOT an American Girl doll. I eventually gave up on the idea of ever having my very own  Kirsten or Samantha to dress and feed and teach and doll up.

Fast forward to many years later, when I was slightly more grown up but not much more mature. Like, a few years ago. I had nearly forgotten my obsessive need for an American Girl doll, when I heard on the radio of the Grand Opening of the American Girl Store in Mall of America. All the years of wishing flooded in on me, and I made up my mind to venture to this Mecca, and see for myself all that would be mine. Imagine my disappointment when I arrived, and saw for myself that the dolls were just as exhorbitently-priced for me as they were for my parents back in the day. I left, at last convinced once and for all that I was not meant to mother one of these inanimate girls. (Since then, I still find myself wandering the aisles on my bi-annual trip to the Mall.)

Now that I have an Almost Daughter of my own, it would make sense that I would bestow upon her her very own American Girl doll, but I find that I do not have any intention of doing so. Perhaps it is because she may be a little too old, (which is what we are going to pretend) or perhaps it is because if I bought her one, I would constantly find myself seething with envy every time she ran a brush through the damn dolly’s hair.

Clearly, I am of an age when it is not sensible, nor is it befitting for me to have a doll to cradle and play and drink imaginary tea with. But then again, when am I ever sensible?

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June 18th, 1994


Today we went to the grocery store to get stuff for the party tonight. Travis had Cory over, and they were there. Cory saw me, and said, “What are you doing here.” and I said, “What do you think?” and Travis said, “could you talk any quieter?” and I said, “If I tried.” Boring! Oh, well, maybe next time. Cory’s sorta cute, but if he asked me to go with him, I don’t know what I’d do, because Kelly really likes him.
Haha. And I said, and he said, and then I said. Very important stuff, this.

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June 11th and 12th, 1994


Last week, nineteen years ago.

I spent the night at Kelly’s last night, and I met Becca. She’s really nice. We went swimming in the Rum River today. We had fun. Then Mom and Dad came, picked me up, and we went to Kevin O’Connor’s (my second-cousin) open house. I saw Jesse (Kevin’s brother). He’s soooo cute. And when he talked, his voice was really deep. I told Kelly I’d ask Cory if he likes her.

June 12th.

We went to church and then went to Cornerstone (a newly begun church at the time). Cory wasn’t there! 😦 Oh, well. I got to stay home alone tonight. Mom said Kelly could come over one time this week. Kelly called me tonight and asked me if I would go to camp this year. I said I wanted to, and dad said I could. Yea. We can get tan, lose weight, get lots of candy, and meet cute boys! Awesome! Too bad Cory or Ethan aren’t going to be there. Oh well. We’ll still have fun.

As you note my plans for camp, you can see that I haven’t really changed since I was 12. Huh.

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June 3, 1994


Yesterday.

School got out today! I’m so happy. We had graduation tonight, and it was so funny. Afterwards, we went in the gym for cake, and me and Kelly talked. She’s going to Janet’s slumber party tonight, and she’s going to put one of Janet’s bras in the freezer! I was looking at Andrea (a senior) and Hannah’s ( another senior) pictures, and Andrea got her picture taken with Kevin (her boyfriend), and Hannah got her picture taken with David. I wish my picture taken with Ethan or Cory. Sigh. Maybe next year. Summer’s here!

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The Diary of Sparklebumps- June 1st, 1994


What came before..

We had the school picnic today. I got pop all over Ethan. I hope he’s not mad at me! We had jumping contests, and I skinned my knees. I’m trying to go on a mile walk every day. I’m really fat. And I want to get tan too. Maybe I will. I wish Ethan would ask me. (out) But I doubt he will now.

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