I guess you are here because you have discovered one of my books and enjoyed it enough to find out more about the author, me. Either that or you’re a potential employer who is investigating me to see if I would be a good fit for your organization. In which case, surprise, I write books as well as teach. Some might look at that as a bad thing, and if so, please explain to me how.

For whoever finds my site, I want to welcome you, and also allow you the opportunity to follow me on a regular basis. Anybody is welcome as long as you keep your posts appropriate, and respect the other followers to this site. As long as everybody follows those two simple rules, I won’t have to kick anybody off. Let the friendly banter begin.

I am hoping to create an interactive site that everybody can enjoy. Of course, I will keep you up to date on the latest writings coming out of my head, and I will also let you know when and where I will be in the world, so someday you might be able to meet me in person. Most people regret that decision, but who knows, maybe you’ll be in the minority.

I will also tell you about my world-wide travels as this is something I do on a regular basis. I’ll show you pictures from places I have been (this one is from Dubrovnik, better known to fans of The Song of Ice and Fire as King’s Landing), and tell you the exciting stories that happen to me along the way. You are also welcome to ask me any questions you may have about the place I have been, and I will try to answer them in a timely manner.

I know it all sounds amazing, and I can see you wondering why you haven’t been a part of this fantastic experience so far, but let me tell you about the most exciting part of following this site – the interactive part.  You were probably wondering when I would get to that part I had promised you earlier. Well, I plan to create a list every month, and I want you to participate in its formation. I do love countdowns, but I am always disappointed in them. So I have decided to take matters into my own hands. You will be able to post your top ten of each monthly list and at the end of each month, I will comprise the total list to give you the countdown for that subject. Look for each new subject on the first day of each month, and the final list of the previous month by the fifteenth.

Otherwise, it is very nice to have you a part of this experience, and I look forward to all of our future posts together.


Accountability – Part 3 – Chapter 6

The final is almost here. Unfortunately you will have to wait a couple of weeks before I am able to post it. In the meantime, I will be sharing my experiences in Laos, so enjoy that while waiting for the final chapter.


I walked down the hallway of the office building to the glass door. Before going outside, I looked out to see how much of the circus had been set up. A podium had been set up in the middle of the parking lot. Each television station had strategically placed their cameras around the podium so they could obtain the best view of the proceedings. They were all present: NBC, ABC, FOX, CBS, CNN and the People’s Network. A few newspaper reporters had gathered in the back of the throng still able to hear well enough to take notes down on their tiny pads. Other reporters had wandered over to the mothers from my neighborhood to ask them questions and get their perspective on the matter. Officer Provata was standing at the podium and answering questions from the press. It was obvious this wasn’t the main event but the press continued to ask questions because they needed something before the real action got started. It helped build up the anticipation for the viewers, and I could envision all of those viewers at their homes keeping one eye on the television while keeping the other one on their regular routine.

I looked back down the hallway to the closed door of Dr. Nancy Ann Blur. I wondered why she hadn’t come out and tried to stop me. It also made me wonder what was actually going on in her office. To this day I try to imagine what was going through her mind on that fateful day as she sat alone at her desk. Did she regret the decisions she had made in life? Did she realize her greed would get her nowhere in life? Or was she only worried about her mistakes now because she had finally been caught in the act? It is always intriguing to speculate on these moments in life but we will never truly understand the thought processes of others. In the case of Dr. Nancy Ann Blur, I will never be able to be sure, but I do believe her thought process went something like this:
“What will be my legacy in this world? It doesn’t matter how much good you do or how much you try to change the world for the better when you face a scandal in your lifetime. The scandal will always be your legacy. Do the American people see Nixon as a man who fought for the rights of the handicapped? No, they only see Watergate. Do they remember how Clinton balanced the budget? No, they only see Monica Lewinsky. Will I be known as the champion of children and turning the job of motherhood into a respectable occupation? Or will they only remember me as a woman who sold out the future of America in order to make a quick million dollars? What will my legacy be? Champion? Innovator? Hypocrite? Why am I the one who has to be held accountable?”

It was these thoughts that probably made her do what she did that day, but at that moment, I could care less what she was really thinking. I was just happy I had finally crushed the woman who had tortured me the last year and it was my time, my final coup de gras. I mumbled under my breath, “Good riddance,” before I opened the door and walked outside.

As I walked across the parking lot toward the podium I could hear Officer Provata explain once again why he was unable to arrest me yet and how I was still entitled to due process even though I was an American. The rest of the reporters had not noticed my presence yet, so for one bizarre moment I was able to enjoy the circus before I was to become one of its central figures.

Officer Provata continued on trying to entertain the crowd, “We were not able to arrest Mrs. Britva at her house due to one of the clauses of the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act. In that provision, it clearly states that every mother is entitled to an assessment meeting with their assessor before it is decided if re-education is needed. During the meeting, the assessor needs to explain what charges are being brought up and outline every instance where the mother went astray during her assessment. Of course, this provision has never come to light before this moment because it is the duty to the mother in question to request this meeting to take place, and if they do not it is automatically assumed the individual wants to give up this right. This is the first case where the mother has requested this meeting to have all of this laid out before her.”

I stood at the edge of the crowd to watch a little more of the press conference. I was amazed that nobody had noticed me yet. One of the reporters closer to the front raised her hand with a question and Officer Provata called on her. “Why would they add this provision to the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act? Who would do such a thing?”

Officer Provata replied, “Obviously, I don’t have that information in front of me, but if I had to hazard a guess, I would say this part of the act was introduced as an amendment by one of our more liberal senators or congressmen. I’m sure they talked on and on about how every person in this nation is entitled to due process under the Constitution of the United States and if we didn’t allow this to happen then the law would eventually be ruled unconstitutional. There is probably some truth to it, but when all is said and done, it is a part of the law, and it is not my job to interpret the law, just enforce it. This is the reason we’re waiting for word on what steps to take next.”

The press all seemed to nod in agreement, and started mumbling to themselves. Officer Provata tried to keep the focus of the press conference by asking the reporters if there were any more questions, but the press seemed bored with him and were more interested in the main event. They started to question why it hadn’t started yet. Reporters started asking other reporters what they were going to do after work, and how each others’ family members were doing. It was obvious this portion of the press conference was over. I thought this would be the perfect time to take center stage and give all of the reporters the scoop they were anticipating. I raised my hand to get Officer Provata’s attention, but he looked over my head at something going on behind me.

Officer Provata pointed towards the front door to the office building and said, “Oh, there she comes right now.”

The press turned to see who it was he was talking about. I saw Dr. Nancy Ann Blur exiting the door and walking over to the podium. The press rushed over to her. I was lost in the shuffle and nobody seemed to notice that the person whom this press conference was really about was amongst their midst. They instead were more interested in the woman whom they had raised up to the class of goddess and they bombarded her with so many questions there was no way she would be able to distinguish one from another.

She had definitely collected herself since last I had seen her. She was no longer the broken soul who I had left in the room back in the office building. Her swagger and confidence had returned as she strode over to the podium. Her business suit was presentable as if she had just ironed it. Her hair was once again perfectly tucked and arranged in its usual bun in order to give the appearance of a woman on a mission. Even through the clatter of the press, I could hear her high heels clack against the blacktop.

It was like watching a group of six year olds play soccer as she made her way to the podium. I was the only one on the sideline staring at the spectacle. She was like the soccer ball and the reporters were like the six year-olds huddled around the ball trying to get their kick. The ball continued on its path and the huddled mass of humanity followed it.

Dr. Blur did turn her head to look at me as she made her way to the podium. We held eye contact for a few moments. No words were exchanged between us but the look said enough. It was as though she was saying, you have forced me to play my hand, and this is the only thing left for me to do. I remember wondering at the time what that final play would be, and with all of the thoughts running through my mind, the final card she played was as much a surprise for me as it was for the rest of the people fortunate enough to have witnessed the event.
Just as fast as Dr. Blur and I were able to connect from across the crowd, the spell was broken and once again she was focused on the podium. She quickened her pace and the press let her take her place at the microphone. The reporters ran back to their places in front of the podium to make sure they had a wonderful seat for the show. One of the members of the press bumped into me as he made his way to his spot. He looked down at me in disgust and said, “Watch where you’re going,” and then moved on to his spot.

I was dumbfounded by this response by the press. I thought I was supposed to be the main attraction during this press conference and they banged into me without even recognizing me. How in the world did that happen? Was this really about me, or was I duped into believing what I was doing was greater than it actually was? Since when had I become yesterday’s news?

Dr. Blur stood up at the podium and looked over the crowd to make sure everybody had taken their spots. People jostled for position and she patiently waited for them to get where they needed to be. My heart started to thump a little quicker because I didn’t know what she was going to do and whether it would involve me in a disparaging way. Would she try to take me down before I was able to take her down? Would she ignore me and go after Sam Hogston instead? Would she expose herself before I was able to do it? The last one bothered me the most. Looking back, it wasn’t really important if I was the one who exposed her or if somebody else did. The important thing was the whole truth of the National Loving and Caring Behavior Act was brought to light and no mother ever again would be held accountable for its ridiculous precepts. But there was a part of me that wanted the credit and recognition for being the one who had brought the law down. After all the trials and tribulations I had been through, after all the compromises I made for everything I believed in, after the loved ones’ lives I destroyed to reach the goal of taking down the one evil I knew I couldn’t believe in, I wanted the feeling I would obtain from bringing all of this to light. If I was the person, I would be a hero to millions and my story would be told time and time again as inspiration to others. But now all I could do was stand on the sidelines and watch as Dr. Nancy Ann Blur once again took the spotlight.
What she did though was not at all what I expected. She stood at the podium and waited until there was complete silence from the crowd. They eventually gave it to her because of the respect they still held for her. She coughed into the microphone once and I could remember how eerily quiet it was that fateful day. You couldn’t hear a breath from another person. Even nature seemed to stand on edge to see what she was going to do next. The birds quit chirping in their trees and watched with interest. The bugs landed on places where they would not be a distraction. Even the gentle breeze stopped so it wouldn’t disturb the trees with the rustling of its blooming leaves.

Looking back, it was probably the same in all the households and businesses across America. People stopped what they were doing and moved closer to their televisions. Kids stopped playing with their toys to pay attention to this historic moment. Babies even quit crying long enough to focus their eyes for the first time on their televisions.

With all of America paying attention, Dr. Nancy Ann Blur coughed again. Slight feedback echoed through the speakers.

She began speaking, “I want to thank you all for coming here today and listening to what I have to say. The few words I have to say should answer all of your questions.”

She coughed again.

America leaned even closer.

She reached behind to the small of her back. She seemed to grope for something that was there. She brought it out for everybody to see. It was a small revolver.

She brought the barrel up to her chin as if it was the microphone.

“I just tried to make the world a better place, the best way I knew how.”

Those were her last words. She stuck the barrel into her mouth. Tears rolled past her eyeglasses onto her chubby cheeks. I always like to think her eyes made one last direct connection with mine before she pulled the trigger. An explosion of hair, bone, and brains burst from the top of her head. She closed her eyes and slumped to the ground.

A reporter in the front row turned to his cameraman and said, “Tell me you got that.”

Accountability – Part 3 – Chapter 5


Of course, the police were at my house a couple of hours later. I was expecting them. I wasn’t expecting the multitude of reporters that accompanied them. A large circus-like caravan arrived at my house. The flashing lights of the police cars led them to my front door. News vans and police cars alike tried to find parking spaces on the narrow street where I lived. The police pretended to create some order by putting up the yellow police line tape and using a couple of the new hires to make sure everybody kept their distance so the detectives could do their job properly. It didn’t really stop anything; it just gave the media the best angle possible to record my arrest. It also allowed the mothers of the neighborhood to gather on the driveway of the house across the street and whisper about how they knew they were right about me. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but their furtive glances, and pointing fingers told it all. I knew I was going to be the subject of many conversations over the next couple of weeks in this neighborhood and many like it across America.

I spent that hour preparing for the finest moment in my life. I took off that hideous dress and threw it in the fire with Mr. Clicky-Pen and Dr. Blur’s clipboard. I wiped off all of the make-up to feel more human before I took center stage. I let my hair down to show the world I wouldn’t need to be blonde in order to be respected by people in this world. I put on a business suit I had sewn during my free time as I waited for this day to come. I told Brandon and the kids not to worry about me because there was nothing to worry about. I took my file and placed it in front of me on the kitchen table. I was ready for this.

All of the time I was preparing, police were setting up their three rings believing that they would be the ringmaster, but they didn’t know this role still had not been assigned. I knew the show had started when there was a knock on the door and a rough man’s voice said from the other side, “Open up, Police!”

Brandon had dressed in the meantime and was working off his hangover with a cup of coffee when this call came. He looked over at me with a worried expression on his face. I could just imagine what was going through his mind. He was probably worried he would lose another wife and mother to his children. He was probably thinking the children would have a difficult time recovering once again from this loss. He was also probably wondering if he would be able to find another woman to take the place of Abby and me. It hurt me a little to recognize these thoughts in him, but I knew what I was doing was the right thing, and he, Ben, Katie, and many other families like them would be better off for my actions.

I looked up at him. “Do you have that file I told you to keep?”

He nodded his head trying to hold back the tears about to come. I didn’t know how much I had become a part of his life until that moment. Even though I had been following my own interpretation of the standards laid out in the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act, I must have still been making an impact. It made me think about the damage I might be doing to this family again. Was I really helping them by taking down this absurd law or was I just another person playing the system for the benefit of my own agenda, not caring about who I stepped on through the process? It was too late to worry about that anymore because certain cards had already been laid on the table and there was no taking them back. I had to continue down this path and hope Brandon, Ben, and Katie wouldn’t think of me as just another individual who had let them down. I hoped maybe after the battle had been waged and all of the dust had settled they would see my actions for what I believed they really were.

I had a path to go down and now was not the time to second guess my actions. I continued along the path by ignoring the tears in Brandon’s eyes and saying, “Remember, I am the only one who can tell you when to bring that file out. It is very important you keep it safe until then. You will have to trust me. Also keep your head up because it is your courage that gives me mine.” I got up from the table and gave him a kiss. It might have been one of the most honest kisses I ever gave because at that moment I truly felt a love in my heart for Brandon. In fact, it might have been the most honest kiss I have ever given.

Another knock on the door came. “This is your final warning. Open this door now or we will break it down.” I couldn’t believe how much weight they put on my arrest. I was just a mother, not some criminal out to destroy the moral fabric of this country. Even though motherhood was still the buzzword of this time, I can’t still understand why they made such a big deal about this arrest.

I picked up the file from the kitchen table and walked to the front door. Before I walked outside, I looked back at Brandon. The kids had huddled around him, and I gave him a smile to bring him and the children courage in the dark days ahead. Then I shouted out the door, “I’m coming out. I have no weapons in my hands expect for my file. I’m coming out peacefully and am willing to work with the police in this matter, but I want you do the same.”

A voice came from the other side of the door. “We cannot guarantee that Mrs. Britva.”

“Keep in mind there is an army of reporters parked on my front lawn recording every move you and I make.”

The voice from the other side of the door returned. “We can guarantee a peaceful arrest, Mrs. Britva.”

“Good.” I opened the door and walked out onto the porch. There were six police officers dressed in riot gear standing on my front porch. The one in the lead held a pair of handcuffs in his gloved hand, and motioned he was going to have to put them on me.

He looked at me said, “Mrs. Britva, you are under arrest for violation of the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act.” He grabbed my hand and was bringing down the handcuff to place it on my wrist.

He stopped when I said, “Officer, you can’t arrest me yet.”

“Why can’t I arrest you yet?”

I had done a little homework before this day came, and I knew the arrest was inevitable; at the same time, I needed it to happen in the right place, at the right time and this wasn’t it. I had another card in my hand I needed to show before all of this played out. “Officer, what is your name?”


“Officer Provata, have you read the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act?”

“Well, yea…umm…well…no, I haven’t.”

“Well, if you had read it, you would know there is a provision saying arrests of non-proficient mothers can only be made after the reasons for non-proficiency have been discussed in a private conference with the assessor making the claim of non-proficiency.”

Officer Provata stood there with his mouth open, the handcuffs in one hand and my wrist in the other. “Huh?”

“In order to formally charge me with being in violation of the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act, my assessor needs to explain to me in a private meeting the reasons why she thinks I have broken these rules.”


I couldn’t believe this was the type of person in charge of enforcing the laws of our land. “Legally, I need to have a private meeting with Dr. Blur before you can arrest me.”

Something clicked within the deep recesses of this man’s mind. “Ohhh, Can you hold on for a second?”

He let go of my wrist and put the handcuffs back in his back pocket. I smiled at him to reassure him I understood what was happening. “Of course, Officer Provata.”

He turned around from me and started talking in a mumbled voice into his walkie talkie. Another voice, clearly female, returned from the other end, “What?”

Officer Provata once again mumbled something incoherent into his communication device and was rewarded with static. He waited patiently and turned to me to give me a smile. He tapped his feet as the rest of the officers looked around aimlessly. One of them waved to the reporters on my front lawn. Officer Provata grabbed the other officer’s hand and pulled it down to his side. He turned back to me and smiled again. The walkie talkie beeped and Officer Provata answered it, “Yes?”

“Bring her to me,” came the voice from the other end of the walkie talkie.

“Okay,” Officer Provata replied. He then turned to face the reporters who had assembled on my front lawn. The mothers who were waiting to see me dragged away from their neighborhood also leaned in to hear what he was going to say.

“Ladies and members of the press,” Officer Provata started, “it has come to my attention that Mrs. Britva is entitled to an assessment review to be delivered by her assessor. Because of this, we are unable to arrest her at this time.”

There were groans emanating from the crowd. One of the mothers stomped her foot in frustration and one of the reporters holding a microphone tossed it on the ground. Cameras were turned off and people started to shuffle away from the scene. I could even hear a producer from one of the production vans saying, “Great, I guess we’re going to have to go with that panda video on YouTube as our opening story.”

Officer Provata brought them all back before they left the scene for good, “Ladies and members of the press!” They all turned back around to hear what he had to say. “Just because we can’t arrest her now doesn’t mean we can’t arrest her after the assessment meeting.”

One of the reporters looked up and said, “You mean we might still be able to get footage of an arrest today?”

One of the mothers in the neighborhood said, “You mean we might still be able to get rid of the white trash living in that house?”

Officer Provata raised his hands to quickly pacify the crowd, “Yes, ladies and members of the press, your wildest dreams may still be granted today. You just need to follow me to the next stop.”

A loud cheer went up from the crowd and they all rushed to their cars. Officer Provata looked back at me, “Well, Mrs. Britva, are you ready to go to your assessment review?”

I looked down at the file folder in my hand and then up at the policeman, “Yes, Officer Provata, I am.”

He motioned towards his car sitting in my driveway, “Then Mrs. Britva if you would be so kind as to accompany me, I’ll drive you down to your meeting.”

I walked down to the passenger side of the car. Officer Provata followed closely behind me and opened the door for me. I entered the seat and got myself cozy for the voyage ahead. He quickly ran around to the other side. He entered, started the car and backed out of the driveway. He slowly drove out of the neighborhood. I turned around in my seat to see the caravan following closely behind. There was a group of television vans following behind and numerous mini-vans and SUVs behind them. It was a bizarre procession traveling down the usually sleepy streets of my neighborhood. It was like watching a group heading towards a cemetery to bury a loved one. There was a police car in the front leading all of the mourners through the streets of town allowing them the right of way. The only difference was the way most of the people in the cars felt. The only ones who were grieving about this parade were back at my home, wondering why they took another mother away from them. The rest of the group was happy at the eminent demise of the person leading the motorcade.

I turned around to enjoy the free ride I was getting.

Officer Provata broke the silence in the car. “Mrs. Britva, I know it’s my job to bring you in, but I have to say I admire you for whatever it is you did today.”

I looked over at him, “Excuse me?”

“I mean I have been arresting mothers for the past six years for Nancy, and I have never seen her this mad before. In fact, I don’t think I have ever seen her get mad. She is just one cool customer. I’ve never seen her get upset about anything, but you did something today that just sent her over the edge. What exactly did you do?”

I chuckled a little at this. “I’d love to tell you, Officer Provata, but I don’t think it is wise of me to disclose that information to anyone at this time.”

“Oh yeah, because of the Miranda Rights and all that kind of stuff. You’re probably right. But hey, you can tell me. I promise I won’t use what you say against you.” He looked over at me to see if I would tell him.

I just shook my head.

“Oh well, it was worth it anyway. The other guys at the precinct have been wondering if she would ever crack. We were talking about how she was like a bottle of soda that would eventually explode all over the place. There is no way anyone could ever hold that much in and not find some way to release it all. I’m glad to see somebody was able to break through her veneer.”

I gave the police officer my most endearing smile. “I’m glad I was able to give somebody some pleasure out of this experience today.”

Officer Provata let out a belly laugh as he pulled into one of the busier streets of the city. “Oh I’m going to laugh about this for years to come. She comes running into the police station with her hair sticking out all over the place, mumbling something about the death of a Mr. Penn. Anyway, it set the whole police staff on edge the moment she showed up. We didn’t recognize her at first because her hair was all a mess, her clothes were ripped and stained and she wasn’t even wearing any shoes. In fact, she had a potted plant on one of her feet.”

“That would be one of my ferns.”

“I’d love to hear how that got on her foot.” He looked over at me as if I would tell him, but I sat in silence and stared out the front window, “Anyway, my first initial reaction was that this woman was one of the homeless, crazy women wandering the streets of Denver. Granted, she might’ve witnessed something truly horrendous like a murder, but we would have to calm her down in order to get any good information out of her.

“I went over to calm her down. We kept on asking her who this Mr. Penn was, where his body was, and if she knew who had committed the act. We couldn’t get anything coherent out of her and she continued to wave around this package of ink cartridges as if that explained everything. That’s when I recognized her. When she heard me say her name, she ran over to the corner of the room and started shaking while huddling down; her arms wrapped around her knees.

“We left her in the room while we talked about what we were going to do with her. We obviously couldn’t report this to the press because it could possibly destroy the integrity of the Department of Motherhood. We couldn’t really go out and arrest anybody because nobody had heard about this Mr. Penn she was babbling on about and our databases only showed one person living anywhere in the state with that name. We called the individual and when he told us he was alive and well, we couldn’t quite figure out what to do about the situation. We needed her to collect herself so she could tell us exactly what was wrong. Until then we wouldn’t be able to do anything.

“I let her have my office so she could collect herself. I had another officer give her some coffee and talk her down from her hysteria. When she had calmed down enough, I was able to get one name out of her and how we needed to arrest that one person. That person was you, Mrs. Britva. I asked her what I was to charge you with because murder was definitely not anything I could connect to you. She told me I could arrest you for being an improper mother and that is what brought me to your door this afternoon.

“I still really want to know what you did to make her go crazy. I don’t suppose you’d like to tell me.”

I smiled at Officer Provata, “I think that is between Dr. Blur and me, but if it ever comes out in the press, I’ll make sure you are one of the first to know.”

He conceded my point by saying, “You’re probably right, but I have never met a person I’d like more to get what’s coming to her than Dr. Nancy Ann Blur. She has been a pain in the ass for the police department ever since that stupid act became a law. We’ve had to make more arrests than I know what to do with. Most of these arrests are not even worth it. I’ve been arresting mothers for the stupidest reasons while gangbangers, drug dealers, pimps, and corrupt corporate officers wander around free. One of my officers even had to go and arrest his own wife because she wasn’t able to pass her stupid assessment. I wish we could just get back to doing the job we were hired to do and quit worrying about all of this bureaucratic bullshit. Come on, most of these mothers are just trying to be the best mother they can possibly be. It’s not an easy job. I see my wife struggle with my five children every day. Her heart is in the right place. I don’t really see what all of these standards have to do with being a good mother or not.”

Officer Provata pulled into the parking lot of a large office building. The caravan following us pulled in and quickly took up the remaining parking spots. The circus had only been delayed for a little bit, but they were getting it ready again.

I patted Officer Provata on the knee. “You have a right to be worried about your wife and the standards they are trying to make her follow. They really have nothing to do with her being a good mother. Nobody can really see it. There is more to this than just the raising of our youth. As long as you, your wife, and everybody else who sees this injustice keeps fighting for the youth of America, we’ll fix this system that has been set up against us.”

“I hope you are right,” he said as he turned off the ignition of his car. “Are you ready to have your assessment meeting?”

“More than you really know.”

“Well then, let’s go.”

He opened the car door. I came out of the passenger side and followed him as he led me to my meeting with my nemesis. The golden clad mothers from my neighborhood had already created their gossiping circle on the corner of the parking lot. Many of the television stations were setting up their cameras. A couple of the more ambitious reporters had a cameraman follow them. These reporters had microphones in their hands and made their way to the building entrance in which Officer Provata and I were headed. They shoved their microphones into Officer Provata’s face and started asking him questions.

“What is Mrs. Britva being charged with?”

“How poorly did she score on her assessment to have this immediate reaction?”

“Will they yank away her privileges as mother to ensure she never corrupts the minds of our youth again?”

Many more questions were thrown in the officer’s direction but he continued to ignore them as he made his way to the entrance of the building. Before he entered, he turned and faced the throng of reporters. “Mrs. Rachael Britva is not being charged with anything formally at this time and will not be until she has had her assessment meeting with Dr. Nancy Ann Blur. At that time, there will be more information available, but until then you are just going to have to wait until she has been given due process as guaranteed by the United States Constitution. Thank you.”

He opened the door for me and ushered me inside. I could hear another collective groan from outside as the reporters were made to wait to see if they really had anything to report or not. I knew from experience, though, they would continue to postulate on the proceedings of the afternoon in order to keep their viewers interested.

Officer Provata led me down the hallway to a door that only had a brass nameplate on it. It read, “Secretary of Motherhood, Dr. N. A. Blur.” He knocked on the door, and was rewarded with a “Yes?” from the other side.

Officer Provata said in a loud but controlled voice, “Dr. Blur, I have Mrs. Britva here for her assessment meeting.”

“Send her in,” came from the other side.

Officer Provata took hold of the door knob and looked back at me standing in the hallway with my hands clutched around the file I brought with me. He smiled before opening the door and said, “Good luck.”

“Thanks,” I said and took a huge breath before continuing. Officer Provata opened the door for me and stood on the side to allow me to enter.

I walked into the room. She sat behind her desk. I was clocking her eyes like she was clocking mine. She was sitting there wondering, what is it this girl thinks she is doing; doesn’t she know who is in control.

Yes, I knew who was in control.

I was in control.

But it was time to let her know who was in control.

Before she could speak, before she could say a word, before she could bring my actions down as something absurd, I laid the file on the table, just for her to see what was really happening and the way it was going to be. A picture of her and Sam Hogston in the throes of passionate sex slid out and presented itself to her on the edge of her desk.

She let the picture lay there on the table.

By acknowledging its presence, she knew it was her turn to be the loser.
She opened her mouth. She started to speak, but I stopped her quickly before an utterance could be made.

“I think you know what that is.”

I didn’t look at the picture when I said it. I didn’t let her forget that it was there. I stared her down until she turned to look at what I was talking about.

She looked up from the picture and said, “So, it is a picture of two consenting adults making love. What’s the big deal about that?”

I walked over to the blinds behind her desk and pulled them open. The window behind the blinds was tinted so nobody would be able to see inside, but I was able to see the circus as it continued to set up.

“It is an interesting picture is all. I was wondering how the press outside would react to such a picture.”

I could hear her take in a quick breath as what I was saying started to sink in.

“I know it is no big deal, and it would probably blow over in a month or so because you and he are both not married, but that is not the real shocker; is it?” I looked away from the window to see what her reaction was. Dr. Blur gripped the picture in her hand and stared down at it. I could see her contemplate what this meant for her as a politician.

“The real shocker is who he is. I mean here is a man who is one of the leading figures in a different political party than you, and the two of you are in bed together. That’s quite a shocker. The press would have a lot of fun with that and what would the leading powers of your party think of you having sex with Sam Hogston?”

She looked up from the paper. “It’s nothing new. Do you think I’m the first person to be caught in bed with a member of the other party? It happens all of the time. Yes, we have our ideological wars taking place on the front pages of the newspapers and the headlines on the ten o’clock news, but if you really look at what the political parties do, there isn’t much difference between the two of them. Some people would even go so far as to say we are just two different arms of the same beast.”

I didn’t know if what she was telling me was a bluff or if she really believed all of the things she had just said. It didn’t really matter anyway. The picture was just the first layer of the corruption cake I was laying on her desk. It was the other layers that mattered. “It would still be a shocker to have that picture plastered all over the news. After what you just explained to me, it also just makes the rest of the package even juicier. The news will just use that picture while they explain all of the other stuff tucked away in that file.”

She reached over to the middle of the desk and grabbed the file. She opened it up and looked at the first page.

The heading on the paper caught her eye. It made her realize this visit was official. There would be no turning back from what was being learned today, and the reality was her world was quickly changing. She no longer had control of the situation and she suddenly realized who had all of the control, me.

She flipped through the file to the second piece of paper. Contempt painted itself across her face. Her hands betrayed that contempt. They showed the fear growing in her heart. Ever so slightly, ever so quietly, they began to shake.
She read on.

I read her eyes.

They let me know about the fear growing inside of her.

She tried to hide it with a practiced cold stare. She looked up from the file and icicles darted from her eyes. Her icy stare attempted to freeze my smug expression. But nothing could freeze the warmth of joy created in my heart. My smile melted those icicles. My eyes melted her eyes. My confidence melted her confidence.

I knew this was true.

She tried to pretend this wasn’t the case.

“What do you want me to do with this?”

She knew what I wanted her to do with it.

“Look at it.”

She put it on the desk.

“Understand it.”

She flipped it over.

“Don’t forget it.”

She took some files from one part of her desk and placed them on top of it in the middle of her desk.

“Because no matter how much you don’t want to face it, it is a part of who you are. You can’t deny it. You can’t bury it. And no matter how much you don’t want it to exist, it does, and it always will. I’m here today to make sure you’ll never be able to ignore it.”

I walked over to her side of the desk and sat on the edge right in front of her. I picked up the file and started to flip through it. “You see these papers tell a lot about what is going on in the Department of Motherhood. Not just why it was formed, but exactly what its mission is. You see the Department of Motherhood was designed to capitalize on one of the last refuges of human existence not able to be exploited by the corporations of this country. There was so much money to be made from the parents of this world and it wasn’t fair these fat bigwigs weren’t able to collect all of that money just going to waste. They wanted –no, let me rephrase that- they needed to corner this market, but there was no way the American people would ever accept this as a legitimate business. It needed a piece of legislation to make it legitimate, and that is where the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act, the Department of Motherhood, and the Secretary of Motherhood came into being. But you know all of this already, don’t you?”
She sat in her chair and scowled up at me.

I showed her the first page, and pointed to the bottom of the page. “You were there during its conception. At least that’s what this signature says. This whole idea was cooked up in the little town of Jeffery City, Wyoming when some young, up-and-coming politician took on the corrupt corporations taking over the land. It was the perfect story to tell because here was this opportunity for this young and innocent girl to look like the hero in the eyes of the nation and to start to champion this idea so it would be accepted by all. Were you that innocent figure who this nation just yearned for, that innocent figure they wanted to lead them in to a bold and bright destination?”

Dr. Blur continued to scowl in my direction. I thought she might try to bite off the finger I waved in her direction. But I wasn’t ready to stop.

“The government was only half of your devious plan. The other half involved a person to create a corporation willing to take on the burden of training these mothers who had gone astray. Who would be that person able to reintroduce these women to a society so desperately needing these mothers in order to make the world work right again? The answer was in the other half of that two fisted monster you mentioned earlier. Sam Hogston was no longer going to be the mayor of that little town made famous as soon as all of this came to light. Nobody knew what happened to the man after he lost the election. Well, these papers right here showed he started a limited partnership corporation called Capital Limited with another entrepreneurial individual.”

She actually took her stare away from me at that moment. This was more fun than I thought it would be.

“But that’s not the end of the story, is it?” I got up from the desk and walked over to her seat. “No, because, in order to make sure the Capital Limited Corporation made the money it was entitled to, they first needed to raise some capital. I wonder how they went about raising that capital. Do you know, or should I check the file again?”

I could hear her teeth grind as she tried to control her anger.

“It seems there was a small rodeo ground built in the town of Jeffery City, Wyoming. Now why does that name ring a bell? Oh, isn’t that where you’re from? Weren’t you the mayor of that town? I seem to recall that you were. In fact, I think it was part of the deal you helped orchestrate that made sure this complex was created. I do remember there being some kind of controversy about the cost of the complex, something about the cost being a little higher than what it should have been. I can’t quite put my finger on what it was about, but what I can put my finger on was who the contractor was who built this stadium. What was the name of that corporation again?”

She turned in her chair to face me with the scowl still on her face.

I walked around to the other side of the desk, “Now I remember the name of that company, Capital Limited Corporation. And who is the head of that company?”
Through gritted teeth, she said, “Sam Hogston.”

I looked down at the file with a mock look of consternation plastered upon my face. I pointed at the file and said, “That’s the crazy thing about this piece of paper I’m looking at. You see when the corporation was created it was a limited partnership corporation. That means there were at least two people who headed the company. Who was that other person who headed up this corporation, Dr. Blur?”

She leaned across the desk. She rested her elbows on the table. She rested her chin on her folded hands.

“What do you want from me?”

I closed the file. I smiled. I looked down my victim and laughed. “I want your demise, Nancy. I want your utter destruction. I want the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act to be destroyed once and for all so mothers can go back to doing the one thing they are not allowed to do under this absurd law, to be caring and loving mothers. The best part is I have the papers right here to do just that, and I have a captive audience out there waiting to hear what I have to say. But most of all I was waiting for this moment, the moment I can watch you wallow in your own pain and agony, the moment I can watch your spirit destroyed in the same manner you destroyed so many innocent women because you cared more about your pocketbook than the thing you actually claimed to care about. Thank you, Nancy, for giving me this opportunity. I am truly treasuring it.”

With that I turned around and walked out the door.

Accountability – Part 3 – Chapter 4


Just like every other year, the Department of Motherhood gave me two weeks’ notice before the date of my assessment. They would expect me to make sure the children were presentable, the house was presentable, and the standards of the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act were being adhered to. The assessor, Dr. Nancy Ann Blur, would come into my home, walk around for an hour, make a couple of check marks on her clipboard, and then leave believing she had gotten the perfect view of what I did to raise my children every year. Many people today still think this makes sense. It is like that one snapshot taken during a family vacation and used as the Christmas card every year. They expect that one snapshot to show everybody exactly what happened with the family that year. Instead it shows only what they want people to see, the happy perfect moments. It hides all of the pain, the struggles and the heartaches every family must endure at some moment every year. That is part of life. Nothing can be perfect all of the time.

The arrival of the letter from the Department of Motherhood to the Britva family sent me in motion again. I had a lot of work still to do to make sure I received the marks I wanted. There was a relationship I was building with the children, and even though it wasn’t where I knew a great relationship should be, I knew by no longer treating Ben and Katie with respect and instead, allowing them to do whatever they wanted for the next two weeks would completely destroy all of the work I had put into those two children. It would be devastating to them. They would act out in ways that would be ridiculous and maybe even dangerous. Even though I did care about these two children, I knew this was the best way to destroy the relationship I had created with them.

I let Ben sleep in each morning and no longer worried about whether he made it to school or not. Katie got jealous quickly and stopped acknowledging my presence until I gave her the credit card and dropped her off at the mall instead of taking her to school. She went on a new shopping spree every day, and she no longer complained about the unfairness between the way she was treated as opposed to her brother.

When the kids were at home together, I started engaging them in new and exciting games. We set up forts with the cushions of the couches in the living room and created catapults out of large rubber bands. We took sides of the room and started to attack each other with various food products we found in the fridge. It made quite a mess in the room and Brandon, during one of his sober moments, wondered why we were destroying the nice furniture and the room itself. I really didn’t have an explanation he would accept, but I did have a way of making sure he didn’t interfere with my plans.

I started giving him the one thing he always wanted from me. We started having sex at least once a day. It sometimes happened early in the morning and sometimes it happened late at night. A couple of times, Ben and Katie caught us in the act, but usually Brandon was too drunk to care and I would shoo them away telling them daddy and I were busy at the moment. They tried to avoid us after the first time they caught us, but it became more and more difficult for them because we had sex wherever we thought it would be convenient. Sometimes that was the bedroom, sometimes the bathroom, sometimes the living room, and a couple of times the kitchen. It did make me feel guilty to use Brandon that way, but I knew what I was doing was for the greater good. I swallowed my pride during each of these sessions because I knew it was part of the greater plan I had set out to accomplish.

The rest of the time was spent partying with the children. I picked up smoking just so I could teach Ben and Katie how to do the same. I allowed them to experiment with alcohol for the first time. I knew it might be a little early, but Ben was approaching the fifth grade, so it was about time he learned about the joys of drinking. We also had cuss sessions. Ben, Katie and I would do nothing but sit around the table and see how many different cuss words we could shout out at one time. Because of these sessions, the words became a part of the kids’ everyday vocabulary.

I took a page out of Palin’s game book, and started to feed Ben and Katie coffee in the morning. They were so excited to have this adult drink that they guzzled it right down. Of course, I had to doctor the coffee up a little bit with a lot of cream and tons of sugar, but afterwards the desired effect was what I had anticipated. They went crazy for an hour or two and then have a sugar crash leaving them helpless until I gave them another cup of coffee.

The cleanliness of the house needed to be perfect for Dr. Blur’s visit. It was more difficult to just give up on the cleaning altogether than I thought it would be. I have always been a clean person and when I started to see the collection of dirty dishes, used beer bottles and old newspapers collect in the kitchen, I wanted to pick them up and tidy up the house. It was the same for all of the other rooms. Toys and dirty dishes found themselves scattered all over the place. Clothes collected in the bathrooms and the floors of the children’s bedrooms. Unmade beds screamed at me to be put right. Various object begged to be put in their proper places. The mess and the smell drove me crazy, but I kept a store room down in the basement clean. Whenever I felt the urge to clean I would hide myself down there and organize the cans of food and Christmas decorations kept down there. If that wasn’t enough, I chose to keep the entry way clean to give a good first impression. Both of these places allowed me to keep my sanity and the house started to look perfect for my anticipated guest. I was more ready for this assessment than I had ever been in all of my years of mothering and I had to do a lot less to prepare for this event than I ever had to before.

When the day of the assessment arrived, Brandon’s alarm went off the same time as always. He had drunk a lot the night before, so he didn’t even flop over to acknowledge the blaring noise coming out of his clock; he just continued to snore away one hell of a hangover. I got up and quickly turned it off so it would not disturb him. I went off to take a shower and get ready.

I had pulled out my dress the night before. It had hidden itself in the closet ever since I had moved in with Brandon and the kids, but I knew I had to wear it that day. The ugly blue denim stared back at me as I hung it in the bathroom. I turned on the water in the shower to let the water warm up before I stepped underneath it. Still to this day, I can’t imagine who thought it would be a good idea to make a dress out of the same material they used to make jeans. It made such an ugly display, but today I would wear it like a badge of honor. I knew it would be the last time I would have to wear it, but I needed it to make the picture complete.
I stepped into the shower. It felt good to let the hot water run over my body so early in the morning. It warmed my bones and my soul, preparing me for the battle I would have to engage in later. It was better than any cup of coffee because it was a natural rejuvenation of the spirit and not one requiring a drug like caffeine.

When I was finished with the shower, I got out, and while wearing a towel, I fixed my hair and put on the hideous mask of make-up just as I was taught during my time at the Capital Limited Re-education Center. I looked in the mirror after I was finished, and I saw the face that used to stare back at me every day at the Mother Mall. It was a little different because I had let my hair grow back and the natural color did return. My natural hair gave me the strength to wear the make-up one last time because I knew the real part of me was still there to go through this assessment.

Then I put on the dress. I looked at myself in the mirror. The memories of the last year came flooding back to me: the girl who showed up on my doorstep and ruined my life, the assessment tearing me away from my children, the bus ride to that awful place out in the desert, the battle with this dress the first time around, the days as a commodity waiting to be sold, and my new life with this family going through their own personal struggles. It all culminated in this moment today, and even though I had to harm many people to get where I was, I knew what I was about to do was for the greater good. I patted down the dress to look my best and get ready for the main event.

I left the bedroom with Brandon still snoring away. I went down the stairs and knocked on the doors of the children. Through the closed doors, I told them to get up to get ready for the assessment. I had talked to them the day before about what was going to happen today. We even went through their closets to find the perfect clothes for them to wear for the assessment. Katie had a dress lay nicely over the chair at her desk in her bedroom. Ben had a nice pair of slacks, a collared shirt, and a tie so he could look presentable. They knew their appearance was important for the show being given that day. They also knew their best and proper behavior was expected. I had no hesitation in my mind they would live up to my expectations. I told them coffee would be ready for them when they came downstairs.

I went downstairs myself, and into the kitchen. I grabbed the pile of papers collecting on the kitchen table and dumped them in the corner of the room on the pile of discarded newspapers. Flies were beginning to get comfortable in this corner. I didn’t really care because it was far enough from the kitchen table, and I was starting to get used to the mess for the first time in my life. I started a pot of coffee and made sure cereal and milk were ready for the children when they came downstairs. I knew they were in the process of getting ready because I could hear the showers starting upstairs. Things were moving in the right direction, and I knew I had some time to read the newspaper while the coffee brewed and I waited for Dr. Blur to arrive.

I went outside to get the paper. The morning routine of all the other houses was at the point where all of the mothers followed their husbands out to their cars. They were all dressed in the shiny, gold dresses and I knew they would be shocked to see me wearing a dress for the first time. I had never put it on since I moved in with Brandon and his kids. Most of the time, in the morning, the mothers saw me wearing my pajamas. If I went out to the front yard during the day, I would usually be wearing something casual like a t-shirt and a pair of jeans or on the warmer days, God forbid, shorts. I didn’t know if it was a bigger shock for them to see me wearing a dress or the fact it was the denim blue one never associated with this neighborhood before. I continued to ignore them. They were not the ones for whom my crusade was designed. The battle needing to be fought was for the women like Sandy Slaver and Karen Moore, the women whose lives had been taken away from them by the absurd rules laid out in the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act. I picked up the paper and went inside to enjoy it with my cup of coffee.

Once again, Katie was at the table, eating breakfast. Her hair was wet, and she was wearing her bathrobe. She hadn’t put on her dress yet. “Good morning, Rachael.”

“Good morning, Katie. Why haven’t you dressed yet?”

In between spoonfuls of Fruit Loops, she said, “I thought I would let my hair dry first. I’ll put it on after breakfast.”

I looked up at the clock and saw that it read 9:00. From what I knew about Dr. Blur and her punctuality, she would be here promptly at 10:00, and I knew everything needed to be just perfect for her arrival. I looked back down at her and said, “That’s fine. Just remember, I need you ready in an hour.”

“Don’t worry, Rachael. I’ll be. Can I have my coffee now?”

It was still a little early for her to be enjoying this treat, so I looked back at her, “You can have it after you’re completely ready. How’s your brother doing?”

“He got a little bit of a late start but he’s in the shower now. He should be ready on time.”

I poured myself a cup of coffee and sat down with my paper, “Good, now finish your breakfast.”

She finished her breakfast, and I started to browse through the paper. There was not a lot of news to excite or inspire me except for this day in history. Two major items stood out. It was on April 28th that sailors had it with Captain William Bligh’s tyrannical rule on the HMS Bounty and left him to die adrift on a lifeboat in the middle of the sea with eighteen other sailors who were sympathetic to his cause. Also France invaded the Austrian Netherlands thereby starting the French Revolution. Both events took an act of rebellion and went down in history for the efforts put forth by those groups. I wondered if the act of rebellion I was going to perform would go down in history as another one of those moments that changed the world, or if I would quickly be forgotten as soon as my headline was thrown in the recycling bin.

It didn’t matter either way. I knew I needed to continue with my plan because in my heart I knew it was the right thing to do. I could no longer live with myself if I continued to let this injustice prevail for innocent mothers on a daily basis. I might not be the new Rosa Parks, the new Gandhi, or the new Martin Luther King, Jr. but I knew in my heart I would be at peace for stepping up to do the right thing.

Ben finished taking his shower, put on his clothes and came downstairs to grab a bite to eat. Katie put on her dress and looked like a younger version of June Cleaver waiting for the day she could be a model mother like the United States wanted her to be. It pained my heart to see any young woman being mistreated in this way, but I knew it would be for the best when all the dust had settled.
I gave the children their coffee, and made sure to add a little extra sugar to give them an extra boost for the day’s events. They started to drink it fifteen minutes before 10 o’clock. Right before the good doctor had arrived, the cups were empty and the jitters were beginning to rush through Ben’s and Katie’s bloodstreams. I looked at the clock in the kitchen and noticed I had a little bit of time to look around the house and admire my handiwork. Everything was perfect. Piles of dishes were stacked up in the kitchen sink. Week old newspapers littered the floor. An odd smell permeated the rooms from old food products thrown across the wall. The living room had dirty clothes and stacks of used DVDs all over the place. Empty beer bottles, empty wine bottles, and half filled but open whiskey bottles could be found all over the place. The kids were starting to become restless and were taking it out on each other. If they didn’t have some other place to direct their energy soon it would be wasted on the moment, but I knew the punctuality of Dr. Blur wouldn’t let me down and at exactly 10:00, the doorbell rang.

I walked over to the door and opened it to see Dr. Nancy Ann Blur standing on the porch with her clipboard tucked in its position in the crook of her arm, and her other hand holding Mr. Clicky-Pen while adjusting her glasses on the bridge of her nose.

“Dr. Blur, so nice to see you again,” I said while planting a genuine smile on my face.

“It is good to see you again too, Rachael,” she said as she walked into the entryway. “I always do enjoy testing the mothers who have been under my tutelage. It gives me an opportunity to revel in how wonderful my teaching methods truly are.”

My smile grew even larger as I shut the door behind her. I turned around to face her and said, “And I am really excited to show you how much I have learned from you. I know this will be one experience you will never forget.”

“Click,” said Mr. Clicky-Pen as her hand poised it over her clipboard. She breathed in the air and I could see her wrinkle up her nose at the odd scent she detected. She hadn’t seen the rest of the house yet, so she couldn’t quite place it with the pristine condition of the entryway, so she shrugged it off as something not really a part of what needed to be assessed.

“Well then let’s begin. Where are those lovely children you are now in charge of?” Dr. Blur said as she looked around the entryway expecting them to pop out of the ferns hanging from the ledge connected to the staircase.

“Oh, I’ll call them so we can get started,” I said, and turned around so Ben and Katie would be able to hear me from the kitchen. “Children, it is time to get started.”

I could hear the children start to stir in the kitchen as they made their way to the entryway. I looked over at Dr. Blur and asked her, “Would you like me to make you a cup of coffee while you talk to Ben and Katie?”

“That would be nice,” she said as I moved down the hallway to the kitchen. Ben and Katie came racing past me the other way to greet our guest. I let them have their fun while I made a cup of coffee and put it on the kitchen table to wait for the time when Dr. Blur would get to this part of the house. I noticed the cup was very clean, so I took a sip out of the cup so a stain of lipstick would find itself on the end Dr. Blur would drink from. I put the cup back down on the table and paused to listen to how things were going in the other room. Screams of joy were coming from the kids, and stern commands of heightened excitement were coming from Dr. Blur. A smile grew on my face.

I sat back in the chair. I rested my legs on the table. My left foot kicked off my right high heel and it splooged upon a pool of ignored maple syrup on the linoleum. My right foot kicked off my left high heel and it rested on the table like an attentive soldier ready to spring into action. I untied my apron and threw it across the room until it landed in a crumpled heap next to the entrance to the kitchen. My body felt at ease for the first time in years. It was so comfortable that I regretted not grabbing my purse and bringing it over with me so I could enjoy one of the cigarettes hidden within the side pocket.

Katie came running into the kitchen holding Mr. Clicky-Pen high and clicking him madly as she ran towards the door on the other side of the room. I could hear Dr. Blur shouting something about her clipboard in the other room, but I thought it best to let her deal with that situation. I really wanted my cigarettes and the opportunity to have them in my hands without having to remove myself from my comfortable position had presented itself.

“Katie, come here,” I beckoned to the girl who had run into the room.

She stopped running and looked at me with a questioning look as if she had done something wrong.

“Don’t worry honey, they’ve made it impossible for you to do anything wrong anymore,” I said to reassure her. It was kind of sad really. She was still young enough to be unaware of how much power she really possessed. It would change in the next couple of years, but for my present situation I could still use what little bit of innocence she had to my advantage. “Do you see my purse over there on the counter?”

She turned around and looked at my purse. She turned around to face me again with a blank stare and said, “Yeah, Rachael, what about it?”

“Can you bring that over to me?”

She looked at me as if a negotiation might be in order, “What do I get out of it?”

“Well, I was going to have a cigarette. Do you want to have one of those?”

She smiled and said, “YEAH!” She turned around, grabbed the purse, and ran it over to me.

As I dug through the purse to get my cigarettes and lighter I explained to Katie, “If Dr. Blur asks you why you are smoking a cigarette, you just explain to her that it is in compliance with Standard Number Two: A child should get whatever he or she wants at all times in order to experience all that life has to offer.”

I tapped out two of the Marlboro Reds. I put one in my mouth and the other one in Katie’s mouth. I lit mine up and while I sucked in the sweet taste of the tobacco I motioned for Katie to lean in closer. I lit the lighter and shielded it with my other hand as if some unanticipated wind was going to blow it out at any moment. Katie sucked in deeply and expertly. The week I had been training her and Ben on the joys of nicotine had paid off.

She blew out a cloud of smoke and said, “Thanks, Rachael.”

“You’re welcome; go have fun with your brother.”

As Katie ran out of the room, I said to myself, “I think I just covered Standard Number Five: A mother should trust their child’s judgment to do the right thing in any situation and should never violate this trust.” I threw the lighter on the table and blew out a puff of smoke. I looked around for a place to ash my cigarette, but didn’t see any receptacle, so I just ashed it on the floor.

Ben ran into the room. He was carrying Dr. Blur’s clipboard. I stopped him as he ran by. “What do you have there, Ben?”

“It’s a clipboard. I wanted to see how destructible it might be.”

I popped my legs off the table and looked at him closer, “Well, that’s an interesting query, Ben. What do you suppose might cause the destruction of that clipboard?”

“I don’t know. Maybe fire.”

I looked over to where my lighter rested on the table and said out loud, “Standard Three: A mother should not impede in the natural learning and exploration process of their children.” I picked up the lighter and tossed it over to Ben. He caught it with one hand. “There you go. Just make sure you conduct your experiment in the fireplace. I don’t want you burning down the house.”
“Sure thing, Rachael,” he said as he ran out of the kitchen towards the living room and the fireplace.

I put my feet back up on the table and continued to enjoy my cigarette while stating, “That should cover Standard Six: A mother should regard the safety of their children as a top priority.”

A lot of screaming was coming from outside of the kitchen. I was hoping Dr. Blur would come into the kitchen and enjoy her coffee before it got cold. I took another sip from the other end to test if this was the case while leaving another lipstick mark. It was still hot, so she should have been happy with it when she came into the kitchen. I could hear the screaming from one end of the living room being redirected to the other end of the living room where the fireplace was. Dr. Blur must have noticed Ben’s little experiment.

Katie came back into the kitchen. She ran up to where I sat. She still had Mr. Clicky-Pen in one hand and a cell phone in the other hand. “Hey, Rachael, look at what I found.”

I looked at the treasures and asked, “Where did you get those?”

“Oh, I found them on the ground.”

“But honey, I believe these are Dr. Blur’s.”

“Well, she dropped them and then just left them there like she didn’t care about them anymore. She just left them in the middle of the room and went chasing after Ben. I think she wanted to play with him. Can I keep them? My friends at school will love to see them.”

I was about to tell her no because no matter how far I had pushed the envelope I just couldn’t condone stealing, but then it hit me. “You know, Katie, Standard Number One states, ‘A mother should ensure the popularity of their children to make sure they have a healthy amount of self-esteem.’”

Katie looked at me with a quizzical look.

“It means you can keep them, honey.”

She smiled instantly. “Thanks, Rachael.” She turned around and ran out of the room.

The noise continued from the other room, and I wondered how long it would be before it woke up Brandon. I was surprised he hadn’t stirred because of the ruckus being made downstairs, but then I remembered how much he had drunk the night before. I knew it would take a lot more than the noise going on out in the living room to disturb him. It was while I was pondering this that there came a noise from the living room that should have been enough to wake my slumbering husband. It was a squeal unlike anything I had ever heard before. If I could ever imagine the death wail of an Irish banshee, I would guess this is what it would sound like. I knew I needed to see what was happening before things got out of hand.

I threw my cigarette in Dr. Blur’s full cup of coffee and went out to the living room to investigate. Even before I could look upon what ever tragedy had occurred, I announced my presence by saying, “What in the world is going on out here?”

I walked around the corner as the wail continued to get louder. Ben and Katie instantly ran over to me and smothered me in a hug. It was as if they were escaping from the devastating noise issuing from the room. I looked down at the floor to see the source of this noise. Dr. Nancy Ann Blur was kneeling in the middle of the floor. Her nice neat hair was thrown out of place as if she had grabbed huge clumps of it and tried to tear it out of her head. She might have actually tried to do it, or it could have been one of the kids that tried. I’m not really sure how she became so disheveled in such a short period of time. A couple of buttons had been ripped from her blouse and one corner of her shirt had edged off her shoulder exposing her whole shoulder to the room. Her glasses laid in a broken heap at the edge of her knees. A pot once holding a fern had found its way firmly around her left foot. Tears were streaming down her face. Her howl continued to reverberate from her gaping mouth. In her hands were the last remains of Mr. Clicky-Pen. He was broken into five or six pieces that looked beyond repair.

Dr. Blur looked up at me, “Look at what your brats did to Mr. Clicky-Pen.”
I patted the kids’ backs to indicate I needed to go talk to Dr. Blur. I walked up to where she wept over her dearly departed friend. I knelt beside her and gently cradled the pieces of Mr. Clicky-Pen in my hands. I looked down at the remains and then I looked up at Dr. Blur. She looked back at me with the pain in her eyes inviting consolation. I said the words that best fit the moment, “It’s a pen.”

Dr. Blur blubbered away in shock. “What?”

“It’s a fucking pen, Nancy. It’s not even a good pen. You’ve created an emotional attachment to something that outweighs its real importance. This is something that usually finds itself hidden in the back of some junk drawer, and you’ve given it a name and all your love for the past twelve years. It is kind of sad you’ve done this with an inanimate object. It might be time you just admit the true worth of Mr. Clicky-Pen and just let him go. There’s no point holding on to something that just doesn’t work.”

Dr. Blur started to reach out for the remains of Mr. Clicky-Pen, but I moved my hands away before she was able to grab them.

“I’m going to do something for you, Dr. Blur,” I stood up with Mr. Clicky-Pen in my hands as Dr. Blur remained on the ground blubbering. “I’m going to set you free.” I started to walk over to the fire burning brightly in the fireplace with what I could only assume were the remains of Dr. Blur’s clipboard. “You might hate me for what I’m going to do today, but someday you’ll realize it is for the best.” I looked down into the fire before I looked back at Dr. Blur. Her lower lip stammered away in disbelief. “We just need to get rid of the things that just don’t work very well.” And I threw Mr. Clicky-Pen into the fire.

The howl that emerged afterwards could have shaken the foundations of the vaults at Fort Knox. It was the equivalent of dropping an atomic bomb in the middle of suburbia. I could feel the shock waves almost knock me off my feet. I’m sure all the other mothers in the neighborhood heard the sound of the pain emitting from the middle of my living room. Dr. Blur couldn’t take it anymore. She got up from her spot on the floor and headed towards the front door. Ben, Katie and I followed closely behind.

Dr. Blur banged her head into the door as she opened it because she was more worried about getting out of the house then she was about the proper door-opening procedure. She might have maintained her balance if it wasn’t for the potted planted firmly gripping her left foot. Instead, she flopped down on the hard linoleum and the reverberation of her fall shook the whole house. Another fern edged itself off a nail that kept it hanging from the ceiling and came crashing down on top of Dr. Blur’s head.

She shook her head to get the dirt and ceramics out of her hair. Dr. Blur turned around to see the crew of people staring down at her, mocking her pain. She regained control of her senses and quickly got up from the floor using the edge of the door to help. She pushed herself out of the screen door. She ran down the front walk while screaming out the pain she was experiencing.

I stood at the entrance of the house watching the bewildered way she ran down the street. Ben and Katie cowered behind me to watch this odd display of humanity. Brandon appeared at the landing on the second floor of the house. He was wearing a pair of tattered boxers, scratching his belly and wiping away the sleep from his eyes.

“What in the world is going on down there?”

I turned around to look at him. “Oh, just demonstrating the last of the standards of motherhood to my assessor, honey.”


“Standard Number Four: Proper, loving shelter shall be supplied to everyone under the legal care of the mother.”

Accountability – Part 3 – Chapter 3

Sorry for the little break, but I hope you enjoyed my coverage of the Winter Olympics. I once again return you to the ongoing drama of Accountability.


The alarm screeched on the other side of Brandon. He didn’t bother to turn it off, but instead snorted out of his stale beer sleep and rolled away from where the alarm continued to yell for him to wake up. His arm flopped over smacking my face. It made it even harder for me to attempt to get back to sleep. I figured it was just better for me to get up and make breakfast for my new family. I picked up his hand by the thumb and threw it over to the other side of the bed. This just caused him to snort even more and let out a deafening belch smelling of Old Milwaukee and Jim Beam. The alarm continued to blare. I couldn’t understand why Brandon would set the alarm every night if he knew he was just going to sleep through it in the morning. It must have been a habit from the days when he had to get up and go to work. Shuffling to the other side of the bed and making sure it was turned off was becoming the first part of my morning routine. It was a little annoying, but I still needed to make sure the kids, Ben and Katie, were ready for school, so I had to get up anyway.

Life had been interesting ever since I had left the Mother Mall behind. Brandon had actually been a sweet man with only one flaw and that was his desire to drink on a nightly basis. At first, he thought we would have hot and heavy sex every night, but I was able to put him in his place quickly. I told him all about the need for respect in a relationship and if we went to sex right away, we would never be able to achieve a stronger level of love. He fell for it. My last moments at the Mother Mall had taught me about the power of my sexual prowess and how I was able to use it to control what I wanted from men. Brandon would do almost anything I asked him to as long as I flirted a little first and made him feel like he was making progress towards his ultimate goal in the bedroom. I was also able to quell his thirst for passion by being the greatest mother I knew I could be. I cooked him and his two children wonderful meals three times a day. I kept the house clean and comfortable. And most importantly I took care of his two children, a ten-year old boy named Ben and an eight-year old girl named Katie. So far, I was able to stop all of his advances, but things were getting more and more difficult because he was under the impression we had reached that level of respect I always talked about.

The family had gone through some hard times over the last year before I joined them. Brandon’s first wife was his high school sweetheart. They had met their freshmen year of high school in Mrs. Schapiro’s language arts classroom. Abby, his first wife, was really strong in this subject, and Brandon struggled his way through it, but it was this dynamic that brought them together. Mrs. Shapiro suggested that Abby tutor Brandon to help him through this difficult subject and it was during these sessions that Abby discovered the kind heart Brandon had. They started dating and a month after they graduated they got married. Ben and Katie soon followed. Abby was forced to drop out of college to take care of them and Brandon worked for a construction company to provide for his family. He didn’t make a lot of money but they were able to live a comfortable life in a trailer park in Thornton, Colorado. Abby was a good mother at the same time. She never scored exceptionally on her assessments, but she was proficient. It allowed her to fly underneath the radar so she was never sent away for re-education. But the whole time they knew each other, Abby held a secret from Brandon, she came from money.

Abby’s grandparents were wealthy individuals who made their money by purchasing a large number of properties in the seventies and the eighties and then reselling them in the nineties for over-inflated prices. They created a lot of corporations to spread out their wealth and Abby’s aunts and uncles took CEO jobs running these companies. Most of these corporations dealt with real estate loans, and capitalized on a business that they already knew a lot about. Abby’s father was the black sheep of the family. He chose a different path and did not wish to be a part of the family empire. He instead followed his passion and found a humble job as a social worker. This is where he met Abby’s mother. They fell madly in love and got married. They made a wonderful life together and Abby completed their love. Both of Abby’s parents taught her humility and to be happy with the good things in life: friends, nature, and family. Abby’s grandparents were appalled by this development, but willed fifty percent of their fortune to Abby upon their death. Abby never knew anything about this as she was growing up, but her aunts and uncles found out. Their jealousy pushed them to tell Abby about her grandparents’ intentions hoping she would have nothing to do with it as soon as she found out. They were right.

Without the knowledge of Brandon, she took a trip to Omaha, Nebraska where her grandparents lived. She wanted to confront them on the issue. Not a lot is known about what was said at their meeting, but the police report states they were in the kitchen when the real tragic incident occurred. George Sanders, an accountant who used to work for Abby’s grandparents was reported to have broken into their house and to have shot all of the people in the kitchen dead before turning the gun on himself and committing suicide. He had been the double victim of the grandparents’ greed. They had let him go from the company where he worked fifty years. Because of his longevity in the company, his salary had reached a point where the owners believed he was becoming a burden to the company’s bottom line. They believed they could be making more money instead with a younger and less-skilled work force. They explained this economic decision to George, gave him a Timex watch and an empty cardboard box for all his years of service. They then told him to collect all his personal belongings in the cardboard box. He did not take kindly to these changes.

This wasn’t the beginning of George Sanders’s woes. His salary, while working, wasn’t a lot to begin with and with his large house payments, the rise in gas prices, and the desire to eat, he wasn’t able to make ends meet. He was forced to do without some of the luxuries in life. First, the car was repossessed late at night one evening, and then his house was foreclosed on by the same corporation he used to work for. He was still able to find enough money to eat with his new profession, begging. He did not take kindly to these changes either.
As far as the police could understand, George Sanders was able to scrape together enough money to buy a gun on the black market. He knew where Abby’s grandparents lived because he had attended Christmas parties at their house in previous years. It was nestled out in the country in a place called Fort Calhoun, and he slowly worked his way there from downtown Omaha. Police, looking back at street cameras, figured it took him three days to make it the house. Unfortunately, this was the same day Abby decided to visit her grandparents to talk about her inclusion in their will. She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Brandon was devastated. His love for his wife was intense and he couldn’t understand why anybody would want to kill somebody who was so kind and so loving. Some people say he had some consolation to the tragedy. Because Abby’s grandparents were unable to change their will before they were killed, fifty percent of their holdings still went to Abby or more specifically Abby’s heirs, Brandon and his children. They were rich beyond their wildest dreams, but all of that money did not console Brandon because he was missing the one person he held dearer than anything else in life. The money just made life a little easier for him and his children. Brandon no longer needed to work. He was able to move into a nicer house with beautiful furniture in a wonderful neighborhood. He didn’t belong there and didn’t know what to do with all of the extra time he now had. Some people thought he should concentrate all of his energy in raising his two children, but because of the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act, he never had any experience in this area. His area of expertise was providing for his family and he was now able to do that with all of the money he inherited. So he took up another hobby, one he had lots of experience with, drinking.

The children did not fare much better. They were left to their own devices to figure out how to deal with the death of their mother. Brandon was not much help because of his own psychological journey. The kids’ confusion also grew with the changes in environment. They were given more than they knew what to do with and were moved to a new school where they didn’t know any of the other children. They began to act up and at least once a week Brandon was called to the principal’s office to talk about one or both of the children. It was during the last visit the principal suggested to Brandon that Ben and Katie might do better if they had a mother in their lives. The new mother would be able to take care of them and he suggested that Brandon go to the Mother Mall.

Fate once again played a hand in Brandon’s life. He showed up to the Mother Mall on the same day I put on my demonstration. Even though he went there to find the best mother he could, he couldn’t resist the animal instincts lying dormant in him for so long. While I was in the hallway crippling Steven, a bidding war had started for the purchase of me. Brandon was not going to be outdone by anybody on the ground floor and eventually purchased me for one million dollars. I was able to leave the Mother Mall and a short time later, had married Brandon. This is how I found myself in this house, and this is how my name changed for the third time in one year. I was now Mrs. Rachael Britva.

When I first came to the house, I tried to make everybody as comfortable as I could. I took all of the learning obtained from the Capital Limited Re-education Center and used it to help this family out; however I soon realized that with everything they had been through, it would take a lot more than a good mother for them to work through their problems. I could help guide them through their struggles, but I couldn’t turn them around by the time of my first assessment. I would once again find myself not being proficient and it would be only a matter of time before they found a way to send me back to the Capital Limited Re-education Center. I could see the dollar signs flash in the eyes of Mr. Hogston and Dr. Blur.

Since my release, new legislation had been proposed to enact even harsher rules on the profession of motherhood. Dr. Nancy Ann Blur was able to push through a bill entitled Dash to the Summit. The premise of this new legislation would put states in direct competition with each other. Each state would see who had the strongest batch of mothers. The top ten states would be awarded large sums of money they could use to better the local environment for the children. The way they measured this was to tighten and enforce the regulations which held mothers accountable under the lax rules previously required by the National Caring and Loving Behavior Act. In order for a state to qualify for the money, each mother had to put together a portfolio detailing all of things they did to ensure that their children were making steady progression within the stanadrds. Each portfolio would have artifacts from day to day life demonstrating this, whether it was recipes, receipts showing the use of new appliances because old ones wore out, or little love notes left behind by their husbands and children. Each artifact collected needed to have a two-page type-written paper explaining what the significance of the artifact was and how it applied to the standards the mother was required to abide by. I looked at the requirements to qualify for the award and threw it in the trash. It would have required me to work an extra twenty hours a week to get material together to present to somebody and even if I had done everything correctly, it still did not mean the state would qualify for the recognition. Even if enough mothers had assembled enough documentation to fight for this honor, the divided up reward would allow only enough money for each mother to take their children to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal. The rest of the money would have been spent to improve roads, build prisons, and give raises to the police. I didn’t see the benefit of putting this much effort into something with such little reward, and apparently many of the other mothers in the state believed the same way I did. Colorado was not one of the states considered. In fact, there was only one state west of the Mississippi River considered. The winners ended up being Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia. Ironically enough, all of these states were also key states in the presidential election that followed, except for Hawaii. I don’t know if this had something to do with them winning that honor, but I was sure of the fact that the President of the United States being from Hawaii had something to do with that state being given this award.

I had given up trying to live up to the standards. The rules of the Dash for the Summit pretty much sealed the deal. I was starting to wonder if it really mattered anyway. I would just live my life to the best of my ability and I was sure along the way I would make some poor decisions with Ben and Katie. I knew we would work our way through them and they would grow up to be great individuals regardless of these mistakes. With all they had been through, I didn’t think I could screw them up anymore.

Just like my life with Robert, I found a way to get into a morning routine. It was nothing as extravagant as what I did every morning to please Robert and my kids, but it helped me get everybody together and out the door so I could find some time to enjoy some peace and quiet before Brandon roused himself from bed around noon.

After I turned off Brandon’s alarm, I walked over to the bedroom door where I left my pair of pink bunny slippers. I slid these on, and then shuffled down to the kids’ rooms. I banged on each of the doors to let them know that it was time to get up and get ready for school. Katie was usually pretty good about getting up and making her way to the bathroom where she would take a shower, but there were times I would have to bang on Ben’s door three or four times before he would drag himself out of bed. There were a couple of occasions I would have to drag him out of bed. One time I needed to take a squirt bottle and spray him in the face until he decided it would be less work to get out of bed then to fight me. The day my life changed again was one of the easier days with Ben. I only needed to bang on the door twice before I went downstairs to prepare breakfast. He had opened the door and made his way over to his bathroom without any fuss. I felt relieved I wouldn’t have to have a battle of wills that morning with him because there were many times these battles just wore me out.

After I made sure the kids were up I shuffled downstairs and made my way over to the coffee maker. I pulled out the old, dirty, used filter from the day before and discarded it in the trash. I got a new one from the stack we kept next to the coffee maker. I was getting pretty good at picking one off of the pile. I pulled it from the bottom of the filter and bent it ever so slightly so it would separate itself from the other filters. I threw it into the coffee machine, and grabbed the container of Folgers coffee from the counter top. I popped open the seal fresh lid and poured in what I thought would be a good amount of coffee for the day ahead. Because of the way Brandon was snoring the night before and the sleep I was still trying to wipe away from my eyes, I poured in a healthy amount the day I got the news. Some brushed onto the counter, but I didn’t care too much because I wiped it easily into the sink. I filled up the pot, poured the water into the machine, and turned it on. Water started to percolate through the machine and shortly afterwards coffee, the sweetest of all liquids, started to collect in the pot.
While my morning coffee was brewing, I started to prepare breakfast for the kids. I went to refrigerator and pulled out a gallon of milk. I plopped it onto the table and went over to the pantry. I picked out the kids’ favorite cereals, Honey Nut Cheerios for Ben and Fruit Loops for Katie. I shook the boxes and was happy to find that each box had enough cereal to satisfy them for breakfast. I put them on the table next to the gallon of milk.

I went over to the dishwasher next and opened it up. Condensation still hung to the dishes from the cycle that ran the previous evening. I grabbed two bowls, two spoons, two coffee mugs, and two juice glasses. I placed these on the table right about the time Katie came downstairs and found her spot at the table.

“Good morning, Rachael,” she said to me. I thought it was weird for the kids to be calling me mom since I was obviously not their mother. I also thought of it as a little disrespectful to their mother who had died in such a tragic way. I was comfortable with whatever they wanted to call me.

“Good morning, Katie. How did you sleep last night?” I asked her as I sat at my place at the table.

“I slept pretty well, but I can’t wait for summer break so I can go back to sleeping in on a regular basis,” she said as she filled up her bowl with Fruit Loops.

“It will be here before you know it honey. How is your brother doing this morning?” I asked as I looked up the stairs where I knew he should be getting ready but dreading the response I would get from Katie.

“I think he’s moving this morning. I heard the shower running in his bathroom, and that is always a nice sign you won’t have to fight him to get ready.” She poured milk into her cereal bowl and a few of the Fruit Loops cascaded over the side. She dug around the edge of her bowl to recapture the lost loops and popped them in her mouth.

“I hope you’re right.” I looked over at the progress the coffee was making as it filtered through the system. It wasn’t ready to be consumed yet. I got up and grabbed the gallon of orange juice out of the refrigerator and placed it next to the gallon of milk on the table. “Make sure you have a glass of orange juice. You need your vitamin C. I don’t want to be getting any cold you bring home with you from school.”

“Sure thing, Rachael,” Katie said as she continued to shovel Fruit Loops into her mouth.

I went down the hall and stopped at the base of stairs to see if I could hear the shower running from the bathroom upstairs. When I heard the soothing sound of running water, I satisfied myself that Ben was up and getting ready. I continued on my way to the front door to get the paper.

I opened the front door and shuffled down the driveway to where the newspaper precariously hung on the edge of the sidewalk’s precipice. I picked it up before it could plunge into the trickle of water rolling lazily down the gutter to the drain. I shook the paper to make sure none of the moisture ruined it by getting into the plastic bag and looked around the neighborhood. It struck me how bizarre the world had become.

Every front door of every house opened in unison. Out of each door walked a man dressed in a business suit followed by his perfect wife wearing her June Cleaver gold dress and matching high heels. They all followed dutifully after their husbands as the men went to the cars. I was amazed about how well the women were made up at this time of the morning. Their blonde hair bobbed nicely for them and their make-up was already plastered on their faces. It was quite the contrast from what I was wearing. I was still dressed in my pajamas that hardly matched. The bottoms were red with black Scottish dogs all over them. It blended poorly with the yellow t-shirt I wore as a top. The pink bunny slippers complemented the whole ensemble nicely. My hair wasn’t even the same color as every other woman’s on the block. I never kept up with the dying of my hair and the natural auburn color had crept back. It shocked Brandon at first, but after awhile he said he preferred my natural hair color to the blonde all the other women were wearing. It allowed me to stand out, and made me unique in his eyes. It was little comments like that which made me regret the way I was playing with his emotions, but I just wasn’t ready to commit myself to another relationship such as the one I had with Robert.

All of the husbands of the neighborhood continued with this bizarre show. They brushed the lips of their wives with their own so they wouldn’t mess up the bright red lipstick the women had spent so long putting on that morning. It disturbed me even more as the women lifted up their left leg, leaned into the kiss, and balanced themselves delicately with their hands out behind their back. When all of their husbands were in their cars and starting their engines, the women turned around to head back into their homes. Before they did this, they looked over in my direction and gave me a crusty. I was obviously the black mark upon their community, but I couldn’t care less. I was comfortable with that role. I would never be comfortable playing the little game they were playing. I shrugged it off and went over to the mailbox.

The mail usually got delivered in the afternoon, but by that time I was so comfortable in my chair downstairs watching some movie or enjoying the day that I never bothered to pick up the mail until the next morning. It didn’t really matter much anyway. It was all junk mail with the occasional bill. I didn’t even know why companies sent the bills anymore because I had arranged for everything to be taken care of on-line. Sometimes I even wondered why I picked up the mail, but it was habit from when I was a young individual and sometimes those are the habits that are the hardest to break.

With the paper in one hand and yesterday’s mail in the other, I made my way inside. I went into the kitchen and plopped them both down on the table. The two children had switched spots. Katie had gone upstairs to prepare herself for the day and Ben had come down to the breakfast table. He was working on filling his stomach with Cheerios. “Good morning, Ben,” I said to him as I took up my coffee mug and went to the pot of coffee.

Ben gave me a grunt back. That much of a response from him was a good sign because too often I would get nothing. Ben was a harder egg to crack. He would never accept me as his mother, but at least we were making headway allowing me to remain in the house without much drama. It was better than the first days when I had arrived in the house. There were many occasions during the earlier days where he would throw punches at me because he didn’t like the way he thought I was trying to replace the mother he had lost. Eventually he had grown past that, but he still wasn’t much of a morning person. It was better to just leave him alone with his breakfast and try to make further strides in our relationship later in the day.

When I moved back to the kitchen table with my coffee, Ben had pulled out the Living section of The Denver Post and was busy reading the comics while eating a second bowl of Cheerios. I took a sip of coffee and felt the caffeine start to brush away the sleepiness that still remained. To this day, I don’t know why that first sip of coffee makes me feel like I am now ready to take on the rest of the day, but it is one of the few pleasures left to me in this crazy, mixed-up world. Just like any other day that first sip gave me the courage to look through yesterday’s mail. There were a few bills on top which I quickly threw into the discard pile. On the bottom of the stack was the letter I knew was coming and I was excited to get it. It was from the Department of Motherhood. Before I opened it up, I looked around like a sinner who was about to do something that would send her to hell for all eternity. I could hear the first sounds of Brandon’s stirrings from upstairs. I knew Katie was up in her room getting her school books together. Ben was sitting across the table from me engrossed in his daily comics. Because I knew I was alone, I focused on the letter in my hand.

I picked up a butter knife from the table and sliced open the top of the letter. I slid out the single piece of paper and closed my eyes before I read it. When I found the courage to open them up, I read the following words:

Dear Mrs. Rachael Britva,

It is my pleasure to inform you that the assessment period is once again upon us. We have diligently gone through our records and they show that you have recently been through the re-education program at one of our Capital Limited Re-education Centers. Because of this, we will be scheduling you later in the process with one of our elite assessors. Please, be ready at the time indicated, as we know your re-education has trained you to do. The assessment will be taking place on April 27th at 10:00 AM and your assessor will be Dr. Nancy Ann Blur.

Thank you and have a nice day,

Department of Motherhood

I stared at the name written down on the letter and I couldn’t believe my luck. I was expecting for Dr. Blur to be my assessor this year, but there was always a part of me that wondered if she wouldn’t bother assessing the women she had personally trained herself. There was a possibility she would spread her pain around to other mothers. For my plan to work, I needed the Secretary of Motherhood to be my assessor. Each day I waited for the letter to arrive, my worry grew because I needed to show her what I was capable of doing as a mother now. I needed her ego to feel so threatened that she would have to come to my house and observe what I had gleaned from her program. I prayed there was no way she would ignore the woman who had given her so much trouble at the Capital Limited Re-education Center and who had set the all-time record for sales at any Mother Mall across the nation. She had to show up at my door for my assessment. My luck and my intuition had proven me right and I was going to be blessed with her presence once again. I laughed out loud at the thought of the assessment coming.

Ben looked up from his comics. “What’s so funny?”

I continued to chuckle as I took another sip of coffee. I looked up at him and said, “None of your business. Go get ready for school.”

Pyeongchang Olympics – Day 5

Yes, I have had an amazing time at the Winter Olympics. It has been a lot of fun and it is something I will never forget, but there is an ugly side to the Winter Olympics that I have not addressed yet. Large crowds descend on an area of the world that was not meant to have these large crowds, and after everything is said and done the community that hosted the Olympics is left with a bunch of stadiums, and features that the small community will never be able to support financially. I would go as far as to say that in the long run, it is bad for the community economically and leads to destroying the landscape for the chance to host the world for a couple of weeks. This goes for both of the Winter and Summer Olympics. I saw a report the other day that said the fabled Bird’s Nest in Beijing is now being used as a place where people can take tours around the track on a Segway. But I think it is even worse for places hosting the Winter Olympics. Pyeongchang is a series of towns with the largest one being about 200,000 people. It is situated in the mountainous area of South Korea, and there are not a lot of roads going between the locations where events are taking place. This means that there are insane traffic jams taking place as people try to make it to their events on time. The last event I saw took me just over three hours to get to and I only traveled 30 miles. These places cannot handle the crowds that come there. I am looking to you Colorado, because if you think I-70 is a mess now, imagine what it would be like if you added another million cars to the road.

This means that sometimes at the start of events the crowds are not up to capacity because it is just too hard to get there or people are still trying to make their way through the traffic. If you take an event like the ski jump that only takes a little over an hour to complete then people wonder why they should even bother with it.

And this goes back to the costs of hosting the Winter Olympics. This beautiful structure was not here a couple of years ago. It was built specifically for the Winter Olympics. What is going to happen to this thing after the crowds go away? Are there going to be enough people who want to come out here to try their hand at ski jumping? Or will Koreans start to take up the sport and during the next couple of Winter Olympics will we start to see them being a huge impact in this sport? Think about the five stadiums clustered together back in the Olympic Village. Is a town of 200,000 people ever going to have a use for one large stadium, let alone five, one of which was designed to house curling? Now I have been told that Pyeongchang took this into account, and they designed all of the structures so they could be torn down and transported anyplace that might have a need for such structures, like the next Winter Olympics, but it still comes at quite the cost that there is no way that they will ever see a profit with this event.

And think about the impact that the crowds and traffic has on the environment. Korea already has a problem with air quality. Do you think it is going to help things to have a bunch of idling cars spitting out exhaust? Where does all the trash and garbage go in a country that is not that large to begin with? What are they going to do with those large parking lots that they had to construct just to handle the amount of people that arrived? The Winter Olympics are definitely going to leave their footprint on Pyeongchang that is a lot bigger than a few memorials left behind that showed what life was like for the two weeks when the games were here.

But on the other hand, there is some positive that comes from all of this. For a couple of weeks, all eyes turn to see what a great place South Korea is. It is all about the people and the optimism that they put out due to their resolve and hard work. It shows the world a place that is usually associated with bad news can be about. It is not about some cartoon character to the north trading insults with another cartoon character across the sea. It is about the world coming together in harmony to show that they can be competitive and still get along with each.

It is about marveling at the athleticism of those that have a passion for the sport because this is the only time that they will be able to shine. It is about every country finding their hero, whether it is some insane mane who wants to see how far he can fly on a pair of skis or if it is a group of bobsledders showing a country in Africa that they too can compete in the Olympic games. It is not necessarily about winning. It is about just being there for that moment in time.

I have enjoyed my time at the Winter Olympics, and even though I have traveled to over thirty different countries in the world, it has showed me more about this rock I live on more so than all the travel I have ever done. Should the Winter Olympics continue? Definitely, but they need to figure out a way where it does not destroy the community it goes to while maintaining the spirit it had created.

Pyeongchang Olympics – Day 4

I will admit that I had booked for my fourth day at the Winter Olympics was the one I was looking the least forward to, figure skating. It is not that I do not think of these people as athletes. I am amazed at what they are able to accomplish on the ice, and I can see that they is a lot of preparation that they have to go through to make sure it goes off flawlessly. My problem with it has always been that it is way too subjective. Instead of having set goals that prove that one team has scored more than the other, there are a set of judges sitting on the sidelines voting for who they thought was the best and using some crazy rubric that decides how they came to that decision. It is almost like being an English teacher.

The one thing I did like about it was that it was during the day this time. I didn’t have to wait around until the late hours of the night to watch the event start, and afterwards I would be able to wander around the town at my own pace seeing the sights that have been put up to celebrate the fact that the games were here. What I was not expecting was the influx of crowds that came in this day as well. What was a ghost town of Monday had turned into a thriving community. Lines became long, food ran out again, and there was even traffic coming in from my pension. It was as if Korea started to wake up and take notice that the games were going on in their backyard. It could also be because Lunar New Year was the next day, and a lot of people had the time off to go and watch the games, so this might have been the busiest time of the whole games.

It could also have been the extra attraction of the North Korean cheerleading squad was also going to be in the area. They have been the golden goose that everybody has wanted to catch a glimpse of. I was hoping to see them to see if the reports that I have heard about how repressed the people of North Korea are is true. But the mere fact that they are so hard to see made me think that it might be true. They get shuttled around the area, and they are always separated from the crowd by a handler. They were even given their own section at the ice skating arena to watch the performance of the only two truly North Korean competitors, Ju Sik Kim and Tae Ok Ryom. They were almost as much fun to watch as the ice skaters were. They sat quietly through everybody else’s performances, and when their team was announced they got up and did a synchronized dance to show their support. Kim and Ryom gave a good performance, and after the judges scored them, they were in third place with eight more teams left to compete. This is when the North Korean got up and left. I wonder if they went back to their hotels thinking that North Korea had earned a bronze medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics. A friend of mine who was also at the event happened to be in the bathroom when they all came in to use it. She told me that a guard sectioned off the bathroom from the rest of the cheerleaders and would not let them mingle with anybody else. It is this kind of display that makes me realize that all the news reports I have heard about North Korea are true.

Besides the North Korean circus, I also got to witness figure skating. I have to say that my trepidation going into the event was unfounded. Figure skating is really amazing to watch live. I hated it growing up because that is all they seemed to show when they aired the Winter Olympics, and I wanted to see things like hockey, ski jumping, and the bobsled. But after I have been to one of these competitions, I start to understand the power of it. These people are spectacular athletes and they can do things that I would never imagine possible in my mind. The loud music just adds to the experience making it such an amazing thing to see. I would highly recommend that if you ever get a chance to go see figure skating live you should do it because it is worth the experience. After every performance people throw stuffed animals and flowers out to the competitors to show their appreciation for what they had just witnessed, and it was fun to watch the young Korean girls skate out on the ice to collect all the accolades. It is also great to see such a huge representation of all the cultures of the world present at this even that it makes it the real sport that represents the Winter Olympic games.

And as for it being subjective, I can say with confidence that the way it panned out for who was first, second and third would have been exactly how I picked it. The Germans who won the gold medal put on a powerful performance that will stick with me for the rest of my life. They were graceful, yet they showed enough strength that they would be able to compete with the brute force of a hockey player. It was fun to even see the award ceremony at the end of the competition. It wasn’t the official medal ceremony, but each competitor that made it up to the stands received a stuffed version of Soohorang that they could hold up as it is was a medal.

I can also say that the team we are supposed to pretend isn’t from Russia also did not medal again. I think I am their bad luck charm because I keep on seeing a huge amount of Russians coming to the events in the hopes that they win, and they keep going away empty handed. And it wasn’t because they deserved to win, but the judges had something against them. They were ranked number one going into the competition, but because they fell twice it put them in fourth place.

All in all, as the crowds get bigger, the events get greater and it seems as each day beats the previous one out here. The Winter Olympics are a great event, and I wish I had more than just one more day to enjoy them.

Pyeongchang Olympics – Day 3

Welcome back from Pyeongchang, and my third day out here at the Winter Olympics. Things have started to pick up. The cluster, which was completely empty on my first day, has really seen in influx of traffic. There are more people running around, taking pictures of the sights, and getting ready for various events.

South Korea has taken advantage of the opportunity too to show the world what it is capable of. There are a lot of little corners all over the place that show off the culture of this proud nation. I have started to feel the spirit of the games grow as well. There is more excitement in the air. At first I couldn’t figure out why it took a few days for this excitement to get built up, but I believe it has to do with the level of competition. On the first days of competition, there is not a lot of medals handed out because most events are in the preliminary stage. Now that things have been going on for a few days, things have started to be figured out, and the bigger medals are being decided. This is what the people came for, and this is the real reason why the crowds have started to grow. There is still not a ton of people, but I suspect by the end of the games, the place will be packed.

I had another hockey game to attend, and this time it was at the hockey rink in the cluster. I wasn’t as excited about it even though there would be hits in this one because it was a men’s game. This match-up was billed as more of a blowout though. Slovakia was playing the team we are not supposed to call Russia, and that juggernaut would surely take over this small nation that was still trying to find its identity now that it was no longer under the shadow of the iron curtain. Even though, I was not excited about the match-up, I was excited for the event. I didn’t have a choice when I put in for the tickets because who was playing had not been decided yet, and if I had a choice I would have watched the other blowout planned for the night, U.S. versus Slovenia.

Despite the disappointment, I went into the game holding on to the small belief that Slovakia could somehow pull out the upset. It was only five minutes into the game before I realized that this was probably not going to happen. Slovakia was down 2 to nothing with only one shot one goal. This looked like it was going to be a bigger blowout than the women’s matchup I witnessed the night before. But the Slovakian did not give up, despite the crowd’s support for the opposite team.

It didn’t take long before the whole feel of the game changed. Slovakia patiently waited until the right moment, and ended up with two breakaways where they scored two goals, tying up the game before the end of the first period. This is when the Slovakian started to show their faces. There were pockets of them all around the stadium screaming in support of their team. The fans from the other side still cheered for the team, but you could feel their trepidation that things were not going well for them.

The rest of the game played out as a tense tie until the middle of the third period where Slovakia was able to squeak out another goal. You could feel that it was going to happen too, because they had three strong chances during power play opportunities from the team who likes to say they are from Russia. Slovakia was able to hold on to end up winning the game. It was one of the more exciting hockey games that I have ever seen, and I am glad that I was able to see it. By the way, the other game that I wished I had gone to also had an upset as well as Slovenia took down the mighty U.S., so it looks like I had the tickets to the better event after all. It makes me excited to know that each event has the potential to be great and makes me excited about the next two days out in Pyeongchang.