About Me

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Jersey Shore, United States
In case any of my friends or family members actually read this Blog, please consider all Names, Characters, Places and Incidents to be the product of the author's imagination and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales are entirely COINCIDENTAL...Muaaah!! Now, really, about me: I bring the crazy wherever I go, so I've been told...I make fun of myself more than anyone else ever could. I hate: the awkward silence in elevators, watches with no numbers, picky eaters, Cancer and legalism. I love: coffee, stalking Hugh Jackman, my Spanx, COMMENTS, sarcasm and writing: Middle Grade, NA, YA Paranormal and Urban Fantasy.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Look who stopped by the Bird's Nest

Look who stopped by The Bird's Nest this morning-
Isn't he gorgeous? My daughter Faith snapped this picture for me because I can't stay still enough to take great shots like this. And on that note, I only have time for a quickie post today- but I wanted to:
(1) Say thank you for all of the awesome comments on my last two posts. I am very humbled and thankful for each and every one of you. Those comments meant the world to me. Thanks!
(2) Tell you up front, right now, I'm nervous. This girl just signed up for the A-Z challenge (for the first time ever)  Last year, I really wanted to but at the last minute I punked out. I let fear stop me. Reading all the A-Z blog posts made me feel like a little kid looking out the window at all the older, much cooler kids, playing outside.  I don't want to be that scared little kid anymore. So I took the plunge.  God willing, I will be well enough in the month of April to complete the challenge. *Fingers Crossed*
Anyone else worried about the A-Z Challenge? Have any of you seen any beautys like this pretty bird lately? Have a  great day everyone-

Monday, January 28, 2013

Birthdays, NDE's and Baby Mommas, Part II

Hello brave followers. If you didn't read my Birthdays, NDE's and Baby Mommas (Part One) post, you might want to go back and give that a little once over before journeying on with me here for Part Two because I am picking up my story, as promised, right where I left off:

When I started to hemorrhage and pass out, The Husband knocked down gently nudged the little nurse out of the way, so he could catch me before I cracked my head wide open on the hospital floor.

The maternity wing was packed that day, so I was saddled with a room mate. My room-mate's 12 year old son just happened to be visiting with his mother at  the time so he had a front row seat to the Jen sprawled out and bleeding to death on the floor show. While I was  passing in and out of awareness, one of the things I kept hearing, was the frightened shrieks of that poor kid. "Mom! What's wrong with that lady?" "Is she dead?"  "Is that lady dead?" "Did she die?"

Dead. Dead. Dead. When I was still  in my body, that's the word that was stuck on repeat in my ears. As I mentioned before, I was in a fair amount of pain. In addition to giving birth, my doctor had just put my insides through hell and I was rapidly bleeding to death. Slowly, I felt myself floating up and outside my body.

Unlike a lot of other people, my life did not flash before my eyes. I did not get pulled into or go through a tunnel. But I can say this, I was immediately relieved of all my pain. I felt nothing but happiness and pure bliss. I was warm and comforted and felt an indescribable love, like I had never experienced before. (And haven't since) I also knew,  I was not alone.

I really want to take the time to mention that I was not afraid throughout this entire experience. It is so hard to describe the indescribable, it is one of the reasons why I rarely recount this story.  My words are sorely inadequate to describe such an  amazing,  life-changing experience.

In any event, I knew I was not alone. And I knew immediately it was my Grandmother who was there with me. I smelled her. I felt her essence (for lack of better word) near me. I did not  see her, but I was absolutely certain it was her. My grandma and I had always been super close; her passing was a huge blow to me. I reached out to her and again, I felt nothing but pure, unadulterated joy. Just when I thought my heart would burst from all of the joy filling it, I felt another presence. My grandmother slipped into the background. Or maybe she was still there, all I know is that this other presence overshadowed and encompassed every single part of me and everything else around us.  The love that overflowed from Him is nothing this world has to compare to or offer, ever. I don't really care what category in which your spiritual beliefs fall, I will not argue or fight with anyone about their beliefs, ever. All I can tell you is my own personal experience and I believe this was my Savior, coming to take me home. Call me crazy. Call  me delusional. It does not matter. My faith in Him is as deeply ingrained in my body as my spine; there is simply  no separating the two.

Believe it or not, as much as I love my family and my children, I would not have hesitated to go with Him. Not even for a second. I would have followed Him no matter where it was He was going. But when I tried, He smiled at me. It was a half-smile and a little forlorn, but no less radiant. Slowly, He shook His head. He backed away from me and when He finally turned, all of the magnificent light, warmth and love He was radiating, left me. I knew (without words) He was telling me I couldn't go yet. And I began to sob. A deep, deep, gut-wrenching, sob that came straight from the depths of my soul. To this day, I shudder when I think upon the absence of that warmth. It still stings.

When I opened my eyes the overwhelming cold and blinding pain hit me so hard it was like I ran full speed, face first, into a brick wall. The lights in the room did not warm me from within. Instead,  they  actually stung my eyes. I was hooked up to all kinds of machines and I was shivering  uncontrollably despite the pile of hot blankets the doctor and nurses were throwing on me. My head was itchy and my hair felt all sticky. Tentatively, I reached my hand up to touch the back of my head. I was shocked to see my hand come away covered in blood. That's a testament to how much I  bled; it had covered my entire back and reached all the way up to the back of my head.

A different doctor than who had delivered my daughter stood over me. I blinked my eyes a couple of times, trying  to adjust to the harsh light and focus on him.  He said,  "Whoa, I thought we lost  you there for a minute."

My voice came out weak, more like a dry whisper, when I replied, "You did."  And I meant it.

I hate to admit it, but for a second, I sort of resented the doctor who just saved my life. I know that sounds awful but I blamed him for tearing me out of the peace of His presence. I had no desire to be away from that love and stuck back here, filled with pain.  And then I saw my husband.

My husband is a former Marine and a cop. He has come upon countless scenes of blood, gore and guts. Plus, he's half Sicilian and part Cherokee. Never in my life had I seen him look so pale, shaken and white. It snapped me back to myself and all of my loves and responsibilities here. I asked if I could hold Franchesca, (my new baby) and begged everyone not to breathe a word of this to my  mother. She would totally freak out and I did not want to frighten her. It was enough of  a shock when she did bring the girls round to see me I was virtually unrecognizable. (I will spare you the pictures...)

Technically, I was only gone for a few seconds. I've heard other accounts and have spoken to people who were gone a whole lot  longer than me. Some have stories so beautiful they could make grown men fall to their knees and weep. Others recount absolutely terrifying tales the exact opposite of what I experienced.  So, what did I take away from my NDE? Only that I want to live a life based on that indescribable love I experienced. I'd like to think I came back with a much more compassionate heart and a strong desire to love all people. I try to model my behavior after one of my favorite verses in the Bible.  1Peter 4:8 Above all, love one another...

Am I perfect? HECK NO. If you are a regular follower of my blog, you are well aware of how imperfect I am. You would also know that I rarely post about my faith. But I wanted to end this particular post by putting this out there:  I will always be here, ready and willing to share more about it, with anyone who should ask. 

*If you'd like to read much more compelling stories of  near death experiences: Life After Life, by Dr. Raymond Moody, (which was originally published back in the 70's) in my opinion, is still one of the best, most-straight forward books on NDE's available.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Birthdays, NDE's and Baby Mommas

On Wednesday, Jan. 23rd, my youngest turned nine. Nine years ago, January 23rd had a very different kind of ending for me than it did this year. But I'll circle back to that in a minute...

Birthday girl having a splash-tastic time.
My daughter Frankie had been begging us to throw her a birthday party at a place called "Sahara Sam's". It's an indoor water park. Having a January birthday has always left her a bit envious of her two sisters and their summer birthdays, where pool parties are a viable option. To say putting a bathing suit on my uber-white, unwaxed, hibernating, fat- storing winter body in 6 degree weather, is not my idea of fun, is a monumental understatement. But this wasn't about me. It was about  my kid, And, well, I am willing to do just about anything for my kids. So off we went...
Awesome home-made octopus cupcakes courtesy of  big sister Faith.
 Let me tell you, I have to give that Sahara Sam's props. Because even though it was literally 10 degrees outside, it was Florida Everglades hot inside. The windows were all fogged up and sweating with the excessive heat. Immediately upon entering, I had the mother of all hot flashes, which pretty much lasted the entire time we were  there. Despite my reservations, Frankie had the time of her life, and all of her little girlfriends, the whole way home, kept chanting, "Best Party Ever!" I consider her  9th birthday party, a huge success.

At the end  of the night, I found myself  staring at my daughter's smiling face, as we bounced and floated along in giant tubes, down the "lazy river".  I couldn't help but tear up as I thought back to the day I gave birth to her, and how differently that night ended for me.

It started out like any of my other child-birthing days. At the hospital, bright and early on a Tuesday morning, as a pre-scheduled induction.  I knew what to expect, because I had done this already. Twice. I thought I had this whole birthing thing, in the bag. What could they throw at me, that I hadn't already been hit with the past two times?  (Side note,  mothers, don't EVER ask yourself this question.)

Frankie, her sisters and friends, taking a little pizza and cupcake break.
From the get-go I was mildly annoyed at The Husband and my ob-gyn doctor. As I was starving, cramping and leaking bodily fluids, they were sitting around my birthing room, eating, drinking  coffee, watching tv and shooting the shit. My doctor had been asking The Husband to take him out to the range shooting, which he promised to do. And, my doctor (who has his pilot's license and a plane) offered to take The Husband flying. I really didn't want to interrupt the mad bromance going on, but I remember thinking, heeeellloo, woman in labor over here!!! 

It was a bit early, but I already felt all of the tell-tale signs and burning urges to push. Men, there is one thing you don't ever want to mess with and that's a woman who needs to expel a child from her body. I calmly, quietly, and very politely asked the men folk to please shut off Live with Regis and Kelly, put down their coffee and breakfast sandwiches and come pay attention to the baby momma, ready to pop. It was time to focus, people!

My little Francesca girl, as I would soon find out, always does things a little bit different from the norm. And that's exactly how she wanted to  enter this world. She was transverse (or in the upside down position) and that was not a good thing for me. Because instead of getting to push, I had to grin and bear the pain, while my doctor tried to manually twist  Frankie into the right position.

I like to think  I have a high pain tolerance. I had all my kids without the assistance of an epidural or drugs of any kind. I've passed kidney stones, (five months pregnant) without any pain meds, at all. But I can tell you right now, resisting the urge to push, with your doctor's arms up to his elbows inside your nether regions, manipulating the baby inside of you, HURTS. Really, really bad.  So bad in fact, The Husband, who just got done making plans to hang out with his new BFF, turned around and quietly told him that if he made me cry out in pain like that one more time, he was going to have to take him out.

Thankfully, my ob-gyn was able to turn Frankie, without me having to undergo a  C-section  or The Husband having to knock him out. After two or maybe it was ten  (I'm not sure I kind of  blocked it out of my mind) agonizing hours later, I was finally wheeled into the recovery room with my new  baby girl.

I dozed off for a  bit, but woke with a start when I felt the call of nature.  Now, it's normal, hospital-operating procedure to call for assistance on your first trip to the facilities, after giving birth.  When a tiny little bit of a nurse showed up to come help me to the bathroom, I knew there was going to be trouble. She was a lovely woman, but I'll be honest, I have eaten steaks that weighed more than she did. Normally, I am not a small person. But nine months pregnant and blown up so full of fluids I was about to burst, I was absolutely ginormous. I was a little worried, but since I felt pretty decent,  I thought everything would be OK.

Technically, I made it to the bathroom. I was only in there for a minute before I passed out the first time. I woke up, with smelling salts under my nose and the tiny little nurse, struggling to hold me up, so I wouldn't fall off  the bowl. She kept repeating, "Can you hear me?" "Are you alright?"

I reassured her that I was. But I called for back up.  There was no way I was going to let this little nurse try and help me back to bed. Because if I passed out again, I would no doubt take her down with me, crushing her underneath me like an elephant falling ontop of  a bug.

It's a good thing I called for The Husband. Because when I stood up, and started making my way back to bed, all hell broke loose. I had started to hemorrhage, and passed out again due to blood loss. I also went into shock and well, after that, I kind of died for  a second.

There is a lot of controversy surrounding NDE's. (near-death experiences) Some people believe it's a lack of oxygen to the brain which causes hallucinations and that logically explains NDEs. I, however, do not. After pouring over hundreds of accounts of NDE, I  just can't dismiss my own personal experience, or anyone else's, off as mere hallucination.

And here's where  I am going to end Part One of this blog entry. If you'd like to read further, I will be posting the second half and recounting my near death experience in detail, in a Part Two post. I  felt the need to give my followers an out. This isn't my typical material, where I jack around and poke fun of myself. This is something very personal, that I rarely share and never, ever, joke about. And now that you've been warned, it's entirely up to you, whether or not, you'd be interested in reading more.

Monday, January 21, 2013

It's A Beautiful Morning

Good Morning Everyone. It's a bright, sunny, glorious Monday over here at the Bird's Nest. Everyone is finally, finally better. Which makes me feel like a kid on Christmas morning. Kind of like this one:

Wishing you all a great day too!

Friday, January 18, 2013

My Top 10 List of Useful Skills I Lack Completely!

Here is a good example of my picture taking curse. I am trying so hard to keep my eyes open, I forgot to smile, LOL

I lack the ability to....

1. Eat one serving.
2. Take a decent picture. (One eye or both are routinely closed. I ruin every family picture. )
3. Tell time on a watch with no numbers.
4. Do more than two real push-ups. Darn you- giant boobs!
5. Make a cheesecake without it cracking.
6. Pump gas. (I'm a Jersey Girl)
7. Yard work of any kind. I think I'm allergic.
8. Shut up.
9. Go to sleep and not wake up fifty times to pee.
10.Tell or write a short story.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Young Author's Conference

Due to the flu, my thought process has become a bit unstable.(I know what your thinking but even more than the usual, LOL) Thank you so much to everyone who sent well-wishes and prayers my way. We are on the mend, but not quite better yet. So I decided to repost something I previously wrote as it has come full circle and relevant in my life one again. It's called the Young Author's Conference. And a few years ago my daughter Faith was invited to attend. Yesterday, I found out she was picked again. This time, however, I'd like to think I learned from past mistakes and behaved myself a bit more appropriately....

I never thought I would become one of those parents. But here I am, absolutely GUILTY of living  vicariously through my kid. The picture that comes to mind whenever I usually thought about such a thing, is the overweight, out of shape, former jock Dads who scream and yell at their kids until they are all red-faced and angry on the sidelines, looking like lunatics. And what about the Step-ford type moms who coach their daughters in how to look and act just like them, turning their spawn into evil, mean girl cheerleader clones of themselves. So, how in the world, could someone like me be so guilty of living vicariously through my kid?

As I sit here, typing this I am so excited I can barely contain myself, I am so proud of my kid! Why? It's not at all because my kid is so athletic or beautiful, (which she totally is, despite me being her mother)it's because her teacher chose her and her short story to be sent to the Young Author's Conference! Ha, how's that for irony? I never thought this would creep up and bite me in the ass, but WHOOP there it is! I'm so excited you'd think she just got chosen to win a Pulitzer! Hmmm, maybe that will be in her future one day...And, I'm off. Guilty again. Just this tiny recognition of her creativity sent my thoughts off the charts and into outer space.

I began to imagine all kinds of awesome things for her/my future in writing. I had thoughts of us writing a mother/daughter series, thoughts of us attending writer's conferences all over the country together, thoughts of us commiserating when either of us couldn't nail down a scene just right, etc. To state it plainly, I lost my flippin' mind. I am no better than those I had formerly abhorred! How could this have happened to me?

When she came home and told me, I felt this little bubble of excitement well up inside me and then this scream just flew out of my mouth. I actually frightened her, she was so shocked. The Husband just shook his head and walked away, completely convinced once and for all I've lost what is left of my dang mind. I just couldn't help myself. Writing can be so solitary sometimes and to think I could share my passion with my daughter, I was overcome with emotion! I couldn't wait to read her story... My chest actually grew tight in anticipation. What if it wasn't any good? What would I do or say? OMG! I was dying. Thank the Lord, I loved it!! Like Love, Love, LOVED IT! It was creative and witty and funny and wonderful and I'm amazed and so proud of her I could cry..

How did I not see this coming? And how do I deal with it, now that it's here? How do you keep your cool when everything inside you is screaming for her to be successful. Not only to be successful, but to go way beyond what I have achieved? IDK. I think I need a little more time to think about this and calm my crazy ass down. (I already had visions of myself hiding under the table at her conference and popping my head up to interject my own little helpful suggestions..muah)

In the meantime, the next time I find myself sitting next to the balding fatty screaming at his kid on the football field, I won't judge. I won't hate on him. I will close my eyes and pray that God will give me the strength to not live vicariously through my kid, and just be happy no matter what she chooses to do in this life. I'll pray He will give me the grace to not put undue pressure or stress on my kid to exceed my expectations. And I'll pray, maybe, just maybe, she will want to become a writer too...:)

I thought I'd let you all read her fable and let me know what YOU think about it. Cause I might be a little biased (he he he) Oh, and keep in mind she was only nine years old when she wrote this:

Larry the Ladybug
Hi. My name is Larry. And I'm a ladybug. Yeah, that's right, you heard me! I'm a ladybug and I'm a boy. Other bugs like to get on my case about it, but whatever. I like who I am and I like being a ladybug. My dad always taught me to be proud of who I am, no matter what other people say.

Now, let me tell you a couple of reasons why I'm so proud of being a ladybug. Did you know boy ladybugs have been sent into space? Oh yeah, we have! Did you know that all over the world, ladybugs are thought of as good luck charms? Well, guess what? It's true!
Ladybugs are wish granters.
Wherever I go, little children pick me up and make a wish. Then they throw me back into the wind and I fly. (By the way, flying is awe-some!) I fly wherever I need to go to make their wishes come true. Sometimes, it takes me far, far away from home. But, don't worry about me, the wind is my friend and no matter how far I go, he always carries me back home.

My home, is a fabulous rose garden that smells so sweet. My mom and my sassy little sisters wait there for me to come back from my missions. Being a wish granter is an amazing job and I wouldn't want to trade it for anything. I love my life. So, the next time you see a ladybug, think of me and pick it up. Gently, please! Make a wish and remember, not all ladybugs are girls, some ladybugs are boys and some are even named Larry! 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

We interrupt this regularly scheduled program...

Sorry all. This program has been interrupted by: The FLU.

Everyone in the Bird's Nest, despite having had their flu shots, has come down with it. And this strain is particularly brutal. Hopefully, I will be back soon. In the meanwhile, if any of my followers are so inclined, we'll take all the prayers we can get - Thank you!  xo Jaybird

Monday, January 7, 2013

Can I Tell You a Little Secret: I'm Kind of A Slacker

In the past week, I've  had the pleasure of hopping around and reading some of your amazing New Year's resolutions and lists of  inspiring goals you set for yourselves  in 2013.

Can I let you in on a little secret about me if you haven't already guessed because of how late this post is? I'm kind of a slacker!

 Not when it comes to my family or friends but when it comes to me. For instance: every single day I make sure I have a healthy, well-rounded breakfast, lunch and dinner planned and set out before my kids. But I can honestly say that I have been up since 5:30 am, and haven't eaten a thing today. I did, however, throw back an entire pot of coffee. (Which doesn't count as a healthy choice, does it?)  And my eating habits aren't the only places I slack.  My mom wardrobe consists of exactly two pairs of jeans and three shirts.  All of which were purchased for under $10.00 at my favorite thrift store. My girls, however, walk out of my house turned out  like a page of a magazine. There are so many other areas in which I slack when it comes to myself, my goals, and my life. I put my kids, The Husband, and my family and friends (and even my cat's) needs, so far  above my own, it leaves very little time for achieving any goals I may have myself. By the end of most days, I'm usually so freaking tired and worn out, I'm lucky if I manage to make it up the steps to fall into my bed. But I'm trying to be better than that. This year, I promised myself, I would make some changes.

Here are some goals this slacker set for 2013:

1. Speak less and listen more.  For those of you who know me personally, you are unfortunately already all too aware of why this is priority number one....
2. I want to loose  weight. Yeah, I know, real original with this one, right? But hear me out. Because I only want to loose weight if I can do it without suddenly becoming an  annoying, super-preachy, skinny bitch who turns into someone everybody avoids and hates, now that they have become lollipops with boobs: Like Jennifer Hudson, Sara Rue, Al Roker and Marie Osmond  Does Marie Osmond count? Because  I think everybody already kind of hated her and her scary dolls before she got skinny.)
3. I want to get my AD, Oh, Shiny! under control. As an adult who suffers from ADD, I want to find a way to focus on one project/thing at a time, and see it to fruition, before starting something else. This, my friends, will probably be one of the hardest things on my list to achieve.
4.  I want to go out more. And travel somewhere I've never been.  It occurred to me the other night, when I showed up at a party my brother was throwing, that it took way too long for him to recover from his shock of me actually (1) showing up,  (2) after dark and (3) without kids. I realized this is something I simply must do more.  I used to go out all the time, and travel a whole lot. 

There are a lot of places I'd like to visit and many I've never been to on  my bucket list, which leaves me wide open. Top of that list would probably be going back home to California to see my best friend, since it's been WAY too long. And as far as where I've never been, I really want to see New Orleans. *crossing my fingers I will be healthy enough to do this*

5. I'd like to shiz or get off the pot with my writing. It's time I pulled it together and stopped being so insecure and just put myself out there. I have to admit, I've already taken at least two huge leaps in this area. 1. I  finally joined the IWSG and made an effort to join some more blog fests that really stretched me.  2. Through the IWSG, and all of the  awesome comments and encouragement I've found there, it  gave me the push I needed to send my work out to CPs. Which still makes me want  to puke, but I think I can consider this a big step in the right direction!
There are so many more resolutions I have....but I'll spare you and stop with the five I've already listed here. Any of you have some more suggestions for me?  Like "Stop using your blog to whine to us about all your crap..ack!" 

Happy  Monday Everyone!! Hope you have a wonderful week. ~Jaybird

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

4th Annual "No Kiss Blogfest" Entry

Hey All! Hope you had a fantastic New Year's. Today I have two blog posts up: My usual, first Wednesday of the month, Insecure Writer's Support Group, and my entry here, to the 4th Annual "No Kiss Blogfest".

Big, huge props to Frankie, from the blogs Frankie Diane Mallis and the First Novel Club, for hosting this awesome blog hop once again. This year, my entry is a  bit lengthy and I apologize for that. It's taken from my current WIP, and I kind of got a little carried away...as we crazy writerly types tend to do from time to time.  Please don't feel obligated to read it all. Although, it would be wicked cool if you did, I wouldn't blame you for  skipping to the last couple of paragraphs. That's where all of the "No Kiss" action (or non-action as it were) takes place.  I hope you like it. *Crosses fingers here* OK, I'm off to read all of your fabulous entries- and commiserate with all my IWSG peeps. -Peace!

     The rain was relentlessly pounding the pavement, almost as hard as my feet, but still I ran. I just had the pleasure of walking in on mother; the boy she was with this time looked younger than me. There is no way I will ever get used to the image of mother snorting and whoring. Rage fueled my feet forward.
     The way she looks at me- like I am the one who is twisted, hurts the most. Well, she can go on playing her sick games with her little boy toys. No matter how many times she offers, I won't join in. I won't be like her. I won't. I clamped down the little voice inside my head, whispering that it's too late. I am already every bit as wicked as she is.
    My breathe escapes me in short bursts as I push myself past the pain, running faster and harder than I ever have before. I know from experience trying to out run that image in my mind is futile. Still, I'm compelled to try.
  The muscles in my calves screech in protest. Someone lays hard on a horn, making me jump. I risk a quick glance back and spy a car full of boys trailing me. I groan when I recognize a familiar parking permit dangling from their rear-view mirror. Crap! They went to my school. Which left zero chance of me not being recognized.

  “Dianna! Hey McQueen, slow up!”
    I hear them hollering my name, even over the music I have blasting through my ear buds. Ugh. And I can only imagine what I look like. I ran out of the house in next to nothing. My soaking wet cotton tank top is plastered to my over-inflated chest and I could totally feel my shorts riding up my butt with every additional step I take. I dismiss them with a nod and wave. Then, I make a quick dash to the left, intending to cut through the woods and head for the safety and solitude of the park.

   The rain quieted immediately beneath the trees, but not my thoughts. Pushing past the pain, past the twisted life my parents and I lead, isn't easy. Being born with a silver spoon in your mouth isn't easy either, especially when your mother insists on keeping that spoon lit. The palatial home I live in, the brand new Mercedes I drive, having the best of everything, right at my finger tips- I know what people think. Living the fabulous life of Dianna McQueen, must be nice, right?
   Who would suspect the ugly secrets lying beneath the beauty of my family? People want to believe the fairy tale. They don't have the desire or will to see beyond it. Because if anyone bothered to look beneath our polished veneer, they would find monstrous human beings driven by such a vicious greed for success, it supersedes any familiar relationships or reason.
   I don't want to stop running, but I am all out of steam. I can push no more. There is a bench a little further up the path, where I know I can stop and rest a minute. But before I can reach it, I run smack into a tree.
   Well, at least I thought it was a tree. Turns out, it was him. I couldn't really think of anyone I'd like to run into less, out here in the woods. What the hell is he doing out here anyway? I thought I was the only idiot who ran in the pouring rain. Guess I was wrong.
   “Where the heck did you come from?” I sputter, when I finally catch my breath.
   “Sorry. I didn't see you.”
   “Obviously.” I don't know why it irritated me so much that he was just about the only male alive who would fail to notice me, running towards him in a soaking wet tank top and booty shorts.
   “The other side of that path.”
   “I came from the other side of that path.”
   “What are you doing out here?”
   “What are you doing out here?”
   “Running. You?”
   “I, I, was reading. But I lost track of time.”
   “Who reads, in the pouring rain, all alone, in the middle of the woods?”
   “I'm just as surprised to see you out here, all alone. I didn't think it was possible”
   That, was a dig. At school, I am never alone. I leave a trail of male groupies/stalkers in my wake, as well as a bunch of underclassman, who hang on my every word and copy every last detail of my outfits. And of course, there are my two beta girls, who always flank my right and left. I didn't ask for that kind of attention, but because of who I am, I naturally receive it. Knowing that, why does this freaking guy pointing it out, get under my skin so much?
   Come to think of it, why does he get to me at all? He's a nobody. No one even knows where he came from. He just sprung up one morning on the pefectly manicured lawn of Shore Hills Prep like a bad mushroom. I called the shots at school. I was in control of everyone and everything around me, including our illustrious Dean. Yet even I couldn't flush out the truth about how one dirt poor Raphael DeLaCruz, came to afford to be there. He's just standing there, staring me down. Dang it! That's my line. I need to pull my crap together. How can I just stand here and allow someone like him, to get the better of me, Dianna “The Ice” McQueen.
    He steps closer.
   “What are you running from Dianna?”
I straighten up, throw my shoulders back and my most condescending mask on.
   “I'm not running from anything.”
   “Anyone ever tell you you're a terrible liar?” My mouth pops open, shocked. He smirks.
   “I'm guessing not. No one tells you anything they don't think you want to hear.” He is right of course, but I'm not about to tell him that. A cold shiver ran up my spine, and I start to shake. Raphael takes off his ugly, beat-down jacket, the one that everyone at school mocks him for wearing, (including me) and closes it around my shoulders. He uses it as leverage, to pull me close.
   “You know nothing about me. Nothing.”
   “That's not entirely true. I know girls like you don't run alone in the pouring rain for no reason. I also happen to know you are the most desperate, most miserable person I have ever met.” As if to soften the blow of his harsh words, he smiles and pulls me closer still. There is not even an inch of space hanging between us anymore. We are chest to chest, and I relish in his embrace and the warmth of his skin. Which takes me by surprise. Even more suprising, is how the smell of his two dollar pine scented soap, comforts me. A lock of damp hair falls down, covering his eyes. He flicks it off his forehead with a shake of his head. Then he  lowers his head back down, slowly, until his forehead, touches mine.
   “Whatever. I'm rich and beautiful and the most popular girl at school. I have everything. I am far from desperate.” My voice trembles though, completely betraying my brave words. Also, it sounds a whole lot less patronizing than I intended, as a whisper.
   “Don't worry. I won't tell. Your secret is safe with me. You can keep fronting with everyone else. Mira, just don't try and spout that crap with me mami, because I can see right through you.”
    I know it's true. But how? How did this freaking kid see right through me, past all I fought so hard to keep hidden? My whole body begins to shake now, from head to toe. Whether it's from the cold or his admission, I'm not sure. The only thing I am sure of, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is if he lets go of that dumb jacket now, I will collapse right to the ground.
    I force myself to look up and meet his eyes. Like everything else with Raph, when I look beyond the basic, what I see is not what I expect. That includes the plain, boring, brown color of his eyes. Because what I see as I stare into them is a reflection of  everything I lack and desperately desire, staring right back at me. And every single one of my objections to kissing him, dissolve in that instant.
   Raphael leans down at the same moment I stretch up, our

lips just a breathe away from touching, when I hear the shouts and

sounds of pounding feet. I have a pretty good indication it is the

Shore Prep boys I blew off back by the road. I can't allow the kids

from school to see me vulnerable like this, with him. He knows it

too. Because before I can wiggle my way out of his embrace, he lets

go and slips back into the woods disappearing from my sight.