Confessions of a Jeep Girl 001

Jeep

A few years ago, when I was still only dating the man who would become my husband, he said something to me that made me laugh – a lot.

“Jeep gets in your blood,” He said, “and once it’s there… it’s there forever.”

I was driving a little Suzuki which at the time, I thought I loved. It was my first car and I was overly precious about it, parking it lovingly underneath whenever it went anywhere, leaving the biggest space possible between me and every other vehicle… Keeping certain things out of it in case the scuffed or scratched my interior.

To hear someone talking about a brand of car getting in your blood was just inconceivable to me.

A year or so on, we sold my Suzuki – and his car – and bought a JK. I didn’t have a lot of passion for it – primarily it was his Jeep, and although I enjoyed driving it and appreciated its reliability and “go anywhere, do anything” attitude, I never grew completely attached to it.

And while I had been sad handing over the keys to the Suzuki, I didn’t really miss it once it was gone.

We did beach trips – sometimes without a roof or doors – we went camping, we saw dingoes and bumped over anything that could be bumped over.

She was a good Jeep, and she did everything we asked without so much as a hiccup.

A few years later, the new Grand Cherokee was coming out, and we were tempted. On paper, it ticked every box, and then some.

The JK was coming up to 100,000k’s and we decided it was a good idea. We traded the JK in on a brand new Grand Cherokee.

Once again – she did everything we asked. She gave us 1,000km’s – easily – on a single tank of fuel. Her interior was spacious and comfortable enough to sleep in (something we did several times over long road trips).

What I hadn’t known, though – and what he had forgotten in the excitement of a new car that ticked every imaginable box – was that for us, it wasn’t just Jeeps that got in our blood. It was, specifically, Wranglers.

By that stage I had a little car of my own to run around in again – a $2,000 Mitsubishi that was old but mechanically flawless.

After one too many near misses with bigger cars, who appeared to not even see the admittedly tiny Mitsubishi, I started thinking about an upgrade. A salesman at the Jeep dealership suggested I try driving an ex-demo, two door Wrangler they had on the lot.

It was love. Love at first drive.

Nothing was going to stand between me and that Wrangler. I’d named her before we’d signed a single scrap of paperwork!

I’d had her for maybe six months before my husband couldn’t handle it anymore. Combined with this wistful look he gave every Wrangler he passed on the road, and the fact he had to come home and look at my Wrangler – well, it didn’t take long for him to crack.

We said a guilty goodbye to the Grand Cherokee – who had, after all, done everything perfectly. I told it, “I’m sorry, but you’re just not a Wrangler”, and the deal was done.

Finally, we were a two Wrangler family.

Until…

I made our second mistake. It was actually only about a year ago. I test drove, purely by chance (driving it to someone else), a zippy little European number that was beautiful, fun to drive and… Much like the Grand Cherokee, ticked every conceivable box.

Letting logic guide me (for once!), I had gone through every step of handing over my Jeep in exchange for the European beauty. At the eleventh hour, I called my husband nearly in tears.

I didn’t want to go through with it.

knew I was making a mistake.

“It’s too late,” He told me, “you’ve signed and it’s all gone through.”

I hung up and drove home, dejected. With no choice, and with logic taking a massive step back – too late! – my only choice was to grin and bear it.

And I enjoyed her, for a while. She was quick, comfortable. Much like the Grand Cherokee, she gave me 1,000kms for every tank of fuel.

It probably lasted six months. For six months I was able to convince even myself that I was happy with the choice I’d made. I took good care of her. But, much like my husband before me, I soon found myself eyeing off other Wranglers on the road.

Every little thing that was ‘wrong’ with my car screamed at me whenever I got in to drive it, or thought about it.

Or, as was becoming the norm, every time I thought about a Wrangler.

I devoured car sales websites for weeks. I used every trick I knew to convince my husband. (I did have, after all, an effectively brand new car sitting in the garage at this point.)

Probably the worst day – and I’m still slightly embarrassed to admit how emotional I became – was the day I found my old Jeep for sale at a used car dealership. I watched it like a hawk all day, I booked a time to go and see her, and I drove my husband crazy until he agreed to drive the ~45 minutes for me to take a look. (Don’t tell him, but I was ready to jump the gun and get her again, then and there.)

Sadly, when we got there, they hadn’t taken great care of her. She was covered in rust in spots that only rust if you don’t look after them properly. They’d missed chunks of sand when detailing the body – and they’d smoked inside, too.

Disappointed, we left. I couldn’t justify getting her back in that condition, and I felt terribly guilty for ever letting any of that happen.

I went back to car sites, and forums, and whatever I could find, with my husband quietly not saying, well, much of anything about it.

Finally, after driving me crazy for a few weeks, he said, “It’s me. I get it.”

I took that as a green light and test drove two brand new Wranglers – a manual and an automatic. On the day of the test drive, I’d been in meetings that stretched over two days. My head was killing me (I get monster headaches) and I was just so under the weather I wanted to climb under a blanket and never come out.

The automatic rolled out of the lot first, and I jumped in. It was so familiar. It was even the same colour as my previous Jeep.

Fifteen seconds into the drive and I was grinning from ear to ear.

I’d come home.

It took a day or so for the figures to come through – what I would pay, what they would pay for the little European number – but when they did, I couldn’t reach my husband.

Too high on excitement and thrilling panic to wait, I gave the salesman the go ahead and still unable to call my husband, sent him a single text:

“Please don’t kill me :)”

What he’d said to me, all those years ago, had finally come to pass for me too. I’d known it with my original Jeep, but instead of listening to that inner voice when I was able to back out, I’d waited until the last minute and lost my chance.

I still regret that, in a way. That Jeep will always be special because she was my first Jeep.

But now I have my very own brand new Jeep, and I’ve put every k on her (nearly 2,500 and I’ve only had her a few weeks – I might have a problem!).

There is nothing on the road like having your very own Jeep. In our case, it’s Wranglers. My husband’s Wrangler of choice is a 4 door. I prefer the look and feel of the 2 door, and honestly?

Every time I see her – I smile. And that’s worth more than getting 1,000kms to a tank.

50 Chapters – Barricade

BARRICADE

I’ve officially finished transferring all fifty current chapters of Barricade to the site!

Start reading here.

Barricade is a survival story, which I started completely accidentally last year on Reddit. I posted a reply to someone’s comment, using it as a writing prompt, and to my surprise (then and now!), people asked me to continue. We are now a year on, fifty chapters in, and all are available to read both here and via the subreddit!

If you like zombies, horror, or survival/adventure stories, I hope you enjoy reading… Your time and comments are always greatly appreciated.

And thank-you to everyone who has been reading for the past year – you guys are the BEST! 🙂

 

An Aussie Thanksgiving

Australians haven’t really adopted Thanksgiving yet – we’ve only just started embracing Halloween in the past few years.

This year, though, I was talking to my best friend who happens to be American, and Thanksgiving just sounded so… Nice.

No we don’t have the history behind it, but it’s been a busy year and an excuse to sit back and take a moment to be grateful and appreciative of what we have was too inviting for me to resist this year.

thanksgiving.jpg So we purchased a little slab of turkey (I’m not sure how else to describe it but a “slab”!), some potatoes to mash, gravy, and a pumpkin pie (sold out and I’m hopeless at baking… So we have ended up with a cheesecake this time).

To continue with my (hopefully not offensive) customising of the holiday, we’re having our “Thanksgiving dinner” on Saturday – the last of November, and I’m hoping to do the same next year. I did want to have it on the correct day, but work schedules got in the way.

Even if you or your part of the world doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, stopping and remember to be grateful has been shown to have numerous health benefits:

Grateful people are happier, less depressed, less stressed, and more satisfied with their lives and social relationships

What are you grateful for? 🙂

#BrusselsLockdown

brussels-lockdown I’m admittedly behind the times on this one, but it’s so awesome it’s definitely worth a post, delayed or not.

Brussels, Belgium was recently on lockdown due to serious terrorist threats. Authorities asked locals not to tweet or post on social media any police or security activities, in fear of alerting any terrorists to potential targets or otherwise tipping them off.

Locals responded by flooding #BrusselsLockdown with photos, memes and general feel good images and quotes of cats!

During the lockdown, according to Huffington Post, there were 24 raids, 21 arrests, 1,000 cops patrolling, and 195,000 cat tweets!

I really hope this takes off around the world. While we might have some dark days ahead, if we can assist authorities and share cat pictures, we can bring some much needed smiles to high tension situations like this.

Writing Sample

Originally posted on Reddit, ~October 2014.

A brief sample of work started prior to ‘Barricade’. Some minor edits (names, etc) have taken place in this version.

Of all the damn things, it was very nearly the tea cups.

Covered in ash that seemed to creep up my nose with every silent breath, I fought the urge to sneeze. My knees were cricked in such a way I couldn’t shift and make a noise even had I wanted to, but the sneeze… The dust tickled so badly that I had squeezed my eyes shut and was only barely aware of the Noble Guard towering over my father.

“Sirs.” Once again I admired my father’s strength – his voice steady, his demeanor sufficiently humbled with only the allowable sliver of dignity preserved.

They came into our house – or perhaps ‘shack’ would be a more apt description – regularly. No more regularly than anyone else here, I suppose, but when you’re hiding something from the Noble Guard, it is impossible to not feel a target.

Then again, father wasn’t exactly hiding something from the Guard…

“Anything to declare?” The Captain was here this evening. Unusual, but no cause for alarm. Yet.

“No, Captain, absolutely not.” That slight dignity my father always possessed seemed to wither under the Captain’s silent scrutiny. “I am certain that the Guard is not concerned with our farming troubles.”

The Captain remained silent, but I could see his shiny black boots crunch on the hard packed floor from my vantage point. Father was right – the Guard had no interest in farmers like us. But the inspection was part of the game. The patrols were little more than a power play to the Guards, a chance to remind the peons of their place.

A chance to remind us that their very whim was law, and even a display of slight rebellion or dislike was more of a crime than they needed to order an execution.

“And what of her?”

No! My breath hitched in my throat, with an unfortunate wisp of dusty ash. I silently choked a cough, craning my neck to try and see father, willing him to control his temper, contain his misery.

Father was silent. I could not see him from here, but I could feel his sorrow, his tension.

The Commander’s voice was a disgusted snarl. “Answer the Captain, you boor! What of her?”

For the Commander to have to repeat the Captain’s question, even once, was treacherous ground. To keep him waiting, to remain silent, was near suicide.

Please. Please. Please. I was chanting the prayer under my breath, willing father to cooperate. To succumb to their power play.

“She is deceased. We – I – have reported this to the State, Sir. I – I can present the documents.”

His mistake went unnoticed. The Commander turned on his heel, away from Father from what I could tell, and scoffed. “Is that why this house is so filthy? Your wench is only slightly more useless dead than she was alive.”

“Yes, Sir.” The control in father’s voice. For I, who knew him so well, it was the wavering voice of a man who could not endure much more. But it was controlled and steady to an unfamiliar ear. Subdued, just enough to be mistakenly considered respectful.

The Captain’s boots turned and marched out of sight from the furnace, and a moment later the walls rattled as he slammed the door with brute force.

“Get this damn place cleaned up. This land is not yours, rat. Should the King ever decide to want this forsaken hole – it shall be handed to him in a better condition than the sty of a pig! You will – ” The Commander’s voice trailed off, the crunch of his boots coming to a sudden stop as his pacing froze – “what is this?”

Rosie Hates the Horses

Originally submitted to No Sleep in April 2015.

horses

I stand outside the house each day, just watching. Long enough that I’m sure the neighbors think there’s something wrong with me, something off about my family.

We’re the new family here, the ones that are jarring against the endless rows of white picket fences and perfectly crisp lawns. We worked our asses off to afford it, and our car isn’t as new and shiny as the others around here. It’s a few years too old, too scratched, not quite the top of the line.

Less than a week ago, this would have played on my mind, there would have been spreadsheets and budgets and trying to squeeze extra dollars out of our pay check for a car loan.

It had been so important to fit in. Being able to nod ever so slightly at the guy next door as we each tended our lawns on a Sunday morning. Not a wave or a smile, just a subtle nod. Just enough for him to know he was acknowledged, but that we belonged here, too.

But now there were no nods, no spreadsheets, no tending to the lawn.

We moved here with our beat up car and worried we didn’t fit in. We sent our daughter Katie off to daycare, the most expensive one around. All the nearby kids went there, and then off to the private school with its waiting lists and staggering enrolment fees.

We didn’t worry about Katie. She’s always been a sturdy kid. A happy, easygoing kid, who makes friends as easily as any other four year old.

She came back from that first day quieter than normal. Only enough that we barely noticed, and quickly dismissed it as being tired. I asked how her day was and she shrugged, her mother Lou mimicking her shrug from behind her.

“I don’t know what happened. Probably just a big day.” Lou said as we finally got to bed, Katie fast asleep in her own room.

This happened each day we sent her to daycare. We didn’t send her every day, just a few times a week. On the days at home after a quiet time in the morning, my wife said it was like she shook it off, whatever it was. And then she’d play and laugh and be our monkey again.

The following week we sent her for three consecutive days. We were busy.

So busy and so tired we barely registered how much our daughter faded. The first day… Hell, even the second day… We dismissed it.

Just tired.

A big day. Again. On the third day it was difficult to even get her to shrug in response. We took notice then.

Colouring books, movies, funny-shaped pasta for dinner.

She dutifully did it all, but she wasn’t really with us.

We’re the worst parents. I know that now. We let her go off to bed on her own and decided she was tired, maybe unwell. Moving house was a big change for a four year old. Half an hour later I checked in on her. I was tired myself, and about to turn in.

As I approached her bedroom door, I thought I heard her voice.

“Katie?”

A flurry of movement gave away that she hadn’t been sleeping or even in bed. She looked at me, not quite guiltily.

“How do you like your daycare group?”

“It’s okay.” She wasn’t meeting my eyes, but looking down at her blanket.

I sat on the bed beside her and tucked her in properly. “Just okay? Have you made some new friends?”

“Not yet, daddy.”

“You will soon, okay?” I kissed her forehead and stood up, thinking to tell Lou about this. “I promise.”

I flicked her lamp off and was at the doorway before a sudden thought snuck its way into my mind. I hesitated. “Katie… Who were you talking to just now?”

“Just Rosie. She’s my new friend.”

Ah, I thought, an imaginary friend. She hadn’t made new friends at daycare and she was feeling alone. If she’d been staying up with ‘Rosie’, that explained why she was so tired, too.

“Okay, kiddo. You two get some sleep now, alright?”

Lou and I went to bed and I told her about Rosie. Both of us were so relieved.

I feel sick thinking that now, that we were actually happy to hear about Rosie.

Over the next few weeks, we heard more about Rosie. Her full name, all about her family, her hobbies and personality.

“Rosie loves horses!” Katie told us brightly over breakfast one morning. She stopped eating, her spoon halfway to her mouth, milk dribbling off the edge. A frown darkened her face suddenly. “She doesn’t like horses now. She hates them.”

“We don’t say we hate things, Katie,” Lou corrected her quickly. “That’s not nice.”

“Rosie hates you.” Katie had leapt to her feet, throwing her spoon down on the table.

Things got worse after that. Rosie hated horses and she never appeared to forgive Lou for trying to correct Katie. Our daughter withdrew from Lou, day after day, only talking to me about Rosie at night before bed.

Lou tried to encourage Katie to make friends, to stop spending so much time ‘with’ Rosie, but this only made our daughter angrier, made her lash out in ways no four year old should, with such rage and unveiled hatred that god help me, I started spending longer in the office.

Hiding.

Katie wasn’t lashing out at me, but I couldn’t handle the strange outbursts that she claimed were from Rosie, the cruel way she treated Lou, or the creepy voice she adopted when she told me more about Rosie’s life.

“Rosie hates the horses.”

“The horses are scary.”

“Daddy, I hate horses.”

“I’m scared of the horses, daddy.”

“Rosie says it’s 1923. What does that mean, daddy?”

She talked at night, at all hours. Softly, softly, but you could hear her from the doorway. Always about the damn horses.

I found a notebook and started writing down everything she told me about Rosie. Once I got to nearly a full book, once I was sitting on the floor at night outside her door just so I could write, once my wife’s eyes were full of fear when she saw our daughter…

“Daddy.” Katie whispered to me one night. “I want to see the horses.”

Once all that happened… Too late, I started looking for answers. I drove to the public library after work and wandered aimlessly, with no clues about what to do.

I found myself seated at the old machines, looking through electronic scans of the old local newspapers.

1923.

Rosie had told our daughter it was 1923. I checked each of the yellowed pages carefully, tracing my mouse over each line, determined not to miss anything.

Katie had told me that her name was Rosie Lindon and she was six years old.

Second tragedy strikes Lindon family 

The article was in pretty bad shape, but I could make out enough. The Lindons had been a family here in the 1920’s. Their six year old daughter, Rosie Lindon, had been trampled to death by their own horses. It was suspected she had snuck out at night to see the horses and they’d been startled.

But this second tragedy…

Rosie’s four year old sister had wandered in to the stables at night, two months later. She had met the same fate as her sister. Investigators had been quoted as saying it was almost impossible that the four year old had been able to get into the stables on her own.

The article made a coy mention at the end of the supernatural. The kind of comment from a journalist who had spoken to a grieving family about their loss and picked up on an insane comment. Rather than leave that side out of the story, it was juicier to include it.

In the days leading up to her death, the four year old had claimed that Rosie was visiting her, talking about the horses.

The article ended with a sort of farewell to the previously unnamed four year old.

Katie Lindon.

Rosie hates the horses.

Two months later… We’d been in our new house for two months.

I left the computer on and ran from the library, my thundering footsteps attracting pissed off looks from the other readers.

So much for fitting in.

Everything Katie – our Katie – had told me about Rosie had been correct. She hated the horses. It was 1923. She was part of the Lindon family and her father was one of the uppers in a local factory.

How did Katie know any of it, unless Rosie was telling her?

How did a four year old in 1923 unlock the stables and get to the horses on her own?

How did our Katie already know to fear the horses? She’d never seen a horse, she’d never…

I reached my car and fumbled unlocking it, dropping the keys, stalling it as I tried to drive away. I broke every driving law I knew getting home.

I didn’t stand outside this time. If anyone was watching, they didn’t wonder what the hell their creepy new neighbor was doing, standing out the front. They might have wondered why he left his car running, why he slammed up the driveway and ran like hell to the house.

The house was empty, the lights out.

I turned lights on as I checked the rooms, scared of Rosie. Scared of my own daughter.

I thought to check my phone. I’d set it to silent for a morning meeting and forgotten about it.

Taking Katie to see the horses. Will call after lunch.

11:45AM. No missed calls.

They must have been gone for six, seven hours.

Rosie hates the horses.

Playing Fallout 4…

xIva2uy I picked those very glasses up last night – I’ve packed them away in my inventory along with my Red Dress as my looking sexy/+ Charisma outfit. You never know when you’re going to need to bring out your A game post apocalypse.

I may or may not also be guilty of stopping everything to try on any new gear I find, good stats or not. 😉

One of my most panic inducing moments so far was when I accidentally dropped the red dress – I’m not even this vain in real life! What is wrong with post-apocalyptic me?!