No News is Good News?

When you have a missing loved one, no news is not good news. It’s maddening. It’s been exactly 14 days since anyone heard from my niece’s mother.

I have plotted out a new Nephilim Narrative and am busily working on it. I started it last week and I’ve written more than 10,000 words already and I didn’t work yesterday as we had a Celebration of Life for my FIL yesterday afternoon and while I tried to convince myself to write when we got home, I just didn’t have the energy.

J is out of town for most of the next two weeks. I’m hoping to get quite a bit written during that time. The new book is going well.

A Different Plot

Yesterday, I plotted a different Nephilim Narratives novel. I worked on it yesterday and picked it back up this morning. Thankfully, I do not have to publish these in a particular order and I can come back to the originally plotted book at a time when my emotions aren’t so raw.

However, this does set my writing schedule back a bit. I had 20,000+ words written on Shifting Disappearances and I have 2,000 written on this one (working title is Summoning Trouble). But it is what it is.

2022 – Up and Running Away

A lot has happened the last two weeks… 2022 definitely started off rough. Yesterday, I stared at NN5 for 3 hours without typing a single word and it dawned on me…

I can’t write this right now.

The 5th Nephilim Narrative starts with an attempted abduction and murder. As someone who writes crime fiction, sometimes real life intrudes on my creativity, writing a fictional abduction and murder on the heels of my father-in-law’s death and disappearance of my niece’s mom is just a little too emotionally close at the moment.

The thing is, I don’t think I can put my focus in a D&R novel right now either. Someone suggested I take a week off to deal with my emotions, but I’ve been mostly not working for the last month and I feel like I need to work.

This means I have 2 options. I can plot out a new Nephilim Narrative with a different plot and shelve this specific plot for a little while or I can try writing something completely different. Either way, I’ll end up spending a few days plotting.

Public Perception

I can’t stress enough how hard it is to have a loved one go missing. Most people don’t realize part of the battle of having a missing loved one is the public’s perception of the missing person. When my cousin went missing, my aunt and uncle were very careful to stress that she was a veteran of the Marine Corps and she had 1 child Thomas. They did not mention she had a history of mental health problems and they did not mention she had suffered a severe head injury or that she actually had 2 children Thomas and younger daughter we’ll call Paula.

At the time, I remember thinking it was unfair that they hadn’t mentioned her daughter Paula… and then I took my sister to the hospital. I told you about 1 incident there, the woman in the waiting room who said flippantly “The boyfriend killed her.” I didn’t mention the incident with one of my relatives on my dad’s side of the family (remember Natalie is a first cousin on my mom’s side). So one of my aunts said to me “I don’t know why you’re all looking for her, she had issues, she probably just ran away.”

Natalie did have some issues. She was mentally ill, she had suffered head trauma, and she had done a few things that made her lifestyle high risk. None of these things meant my aunt and uncle loved her less. We all knew and admitted to ourselves it was possible Natalie wandered into the woods and intentionally took her own life. We knew it was plausible that one of the shadier people from her life had killed her for whatever reason.

Those things didn’t mean my aunt and uncle loved her less. It didn’t make it easier to sleep at night. It didn’t lessen the emotional turmoil we experienced. All those things did was allow the public to dismiss Natalie’s disappearance as “probably deserved.”

I even heard someone say; “well, if her parents had raised her better…” Her parents raised her younger brother the same way and he didn’t go missing nor did he have Natalie’s mental health issues. So, no, I don’t think changing how her parents raised her would have impacted whether she disappeared.

Also, it’s been 8 days since Angie was last seen and I have checked the local papers as well as the local TV news outlets and it has gotten zero coverage. A 45 year old mother of 3 adult children with grandchildren is not newsworthy, especially when people go missing all the time.

Missing Person Alert

We are asking that this information be shared as much as possible regardless of whether you live near Missouri or not. This is my niece* Brittanie’s mom. The family is very concerned that Angie has been out of touch for 8 days. Angie’s vehicle was found in a conservation area north of Columbia, Missouri on December 31, 2021, the location of the vehicle was not close to where Angie was last seen and had no reason to be in that area. The keys to the vehicle as well as Angie’s cellphone were found inside, but her purse was not (the battery in the cellphone was dead). The vehicle was found in working condition.

If you click the download button below, it will download a clean copy of the flyer you can post on social media. We appreciate your assistance in spreading the word.

*I am not biologically related to Brittanie, any of Brittanie’s siblings, or Angie. I “adopted” Brittanie as my niece because my family has known hers for most of the last two decades and she gave birth to my great nephew Jude (Jude’s father is my biological nephew, but since he is not involved with Brittanie or Jude due to his own choices, I claim Brittanie now instead).

Unless It happens To You

**I have changed most of the names in this story. I left Mel and Beth with their real names because I have blogged about them in the past.**

In the spring of 1998, I came home from school to find my aunt and uncle at my house and they were both upset. Because I’m a pessimist with an anxiety disorder I immediately thought the worst: there was a car accident and one or more of their kids or grandkids died. I quickly learned there are things worse than death. Maybe, I’m putting the cart before the horse here… because while this is where this story starts, there is some information that needs to be known.

I am the youngest of my generation of cousins on my mom’s side (my mom and her siblings’ children and my mom’s generation had 6 kids, so there are a lot of first cousins in “my generation”). My cousin Mel is 2 years older than me. My cousin Kevin is 6 (I think), but with these two exceptions all of my cousins are in the 10+ years older than me category. So while I am 17 when this story begins, most of my cousins are in their late 20s or early 30s for it. I am not close with most of my cousins, there are 2 exceptions Mel and Beth. Beth is in this group of first cousins and she is 12 years older than me… this age gap and my closeness level with some of my cousins will be important for this story (it should be noted that Beth and the age difference is a big part of why I am who I am – my parents divorced when I was young because my father was an alcoholic [some nine years after their divorce my parents would remarry] and eventually Beth would “adopt me” as a little sister when she was in college and take me to see Disney movies at the theater because she wanted to see them as I grew up this ‘little sister” dynamic continued and I began to enjoy the same sorts of books and music that she enjoyed and our relationship went from sibling-like to friendship. Mel and I were close because we were both girls and considerably younger than our siblings and other cousins, for example we both have siblings more than 10 years older than us).

Anyway, I get home and my mom’s sister and the sister’s husband are at our house and both are visibly upset and my uncle a Navy veteran was crying. I had never seen my uncle cry, he was one of those “men don’t cry” types. But he was crying and obviously been at it a while. At this point, my grandparents were dead already, so it can’t be one of them that died and if it was my uncle’s parents that had died they wouldn’t be with my mom and dad. That only leaves one of their children or grandchildren. Oh man… I like both their children and I know their grandchildren, I’ve even done a lot of babysitting for their oldest grandson. Please don’t let it be him, he was only 8. I get ready to cry as they sit me down. With four crying adults and this being a huge gathering of family (mom, dad, aunt, uncle) this is going to be bad. They don’t tell me someone has died, they ask me if I’ve heard from my cousin Natalie. When was the last time I saw her? Uh, what? Natalie and I are not friends, she’s nearly 30 and has a kid (the above mentioned 8 year old boy), she’s friends with my sister, not me. I point this out to the questioning adults.

They tell me they know all that and my sister will be there soon, but I have a cell phone (this was a novelty in 1998 – I had it because I had a adult paper route which required me to deliver papers at 2 in the morning from my car) and Natalie knows the number, so maybe she tried to call me. This was even more possible given my dad and uncle’s stances on family – they came first. If she called me during the day and said she needed help with something, I would have ditched school to go help, so did she call me? No. I haven’t heard from her. What’s going on? The school called my aunt, Thomas (Natalie’s son, who I have babysit for often) needed to come home because he was sick and they couldn’t get in touch with Natalie. My aunt went to pick him up and take him home and found Natalie’s car on the side of the road on the way to their house, but no sign of Natalie. Oh shit! My uncle went to look over the car and found it had a flat tire, there was a convenience store about two miles back from her car, so he stopped in there and asked if anyone had seen her come in (Natalie did not have a cell phone). They had not. Thomas was with Natalie’s boyfriend at their house. My aunt and uncle went out looking for Natalie after I told them I hadn’t seen or heard from her in quite a while and after they spoke with my sister who also hadn’t seen or heard from her in a while. My parents joined them. Natalie lived in a rural area – not just rural as in out of town but rural as in 20 minutes to the nearest town of more than 100 people. So, I also joined the search there were a lot of back roads and it will go faster with 5 people. My uncle thought when the tire blew, she may have started walking home and gotten lost and been uncomfortable knocking on a random stranger’s door to get assistance. [Being me, I was certain she’d been abducted by the I-70 serial killer and her body would discovered in another state along the side of the highway in a couple of weeks because I am a pessimist].

The five of us, each in our own car, drove around until nearly midnight looking for Natalie. We checked in with her boyfriend a few times and he hadn’t heard from her and she hadn’t shown up. He was okay with looking after Thomas for the night though (he and Natalie were living buying property and had built a house together at the time, so it was Thomas’s home). We regrouped at my house at midnight. We had not found a trace of Natalie. Damn! I didn’t sleep much that night. The following morning, both my parents stayed home from work and I stayed home from school. My aunt and uncle filed a missing person’s report. It was late spring, so if she’d spent the night outdoors, she would have been fine (not froze to death) and she had camping and survivalist experience, she had also been a Marine, until she got pregnant with Thomas. I felt her experience as a Marine made the theory she’d gotten lost silly, but maybe not. Now we had the sheriff’s department helping look for her. Another day passed with nothing. We were now searching off road, because maybe she’d decided to take a shortcut through a field or wooded area and gotten hurt.

Then another day. On the evening of Day 4 of her being missing, I had to take my sister to the ER because the stress had triggered a migraine and anxiety attack; Natalie was her Beth. My sister was taken to the back and I waited in the ER waiting room. There was just myself and one other woman in the waiting room and the news was on and the top story was Natalie’s disappearance. Reporters had interviewed my aunt, my uncle, and Natalie’s boyfriend. The woman piped up the end of the story “I bet the boyfriend killed her and they just haven’t found her body yet.” I find that unlikely, Natalie’s my cousin and I introduced her to her boyfriend (he was a relative of a friend).I told the woman in a flat voice. She looked like she’d just swallowed a whole platoon of roaches and apologized. It was a thoughtless comment. But I understood the sentiment; usually when someone disappears it’s because their spouse or someone else they know did something to them. I was starting to feel pretty sure Natalie was dead myself and we just hadn’t found the body, but I didn’t believe the boyfriend was involved, not just because I’d introduced them, but because I knew him and he didn’t have a propensity for violence… sure I could be wrong, but he was sappy and I was sure if he did something to her, he would have immediately confessed because he couldn’t live with it… that was just the kind of person he was.

Day five my aunt and uncle began coordinating searches without the assistance of the sheriff’s department. They contacted things like EquuSearch and looked into hiring a helicopter to search from the air and then one of my cousin’s offered to hire the helicopter instead and then that fell through. It was a long five days. I had returned to school by then and my parents back to work. Five days slowly became ten and then fifteen and then a month. Nothing had been found… a big fat nothing. She had literally disappeared from the face of the Earth.

At the 1 year anniversary, I realized having a family member missing was worse than having them die in a car accident. I know it doesn’t sound like it should be worse, but it is… because you just don’t know. It’s been a year, is she dead at the bottom of a well that she fell into because she didn’t know it was there? Had someone abducted and murdered her and managed to hide her body well enough that she hasn’t been discovered yet? Or has she been discovered, but somewhere far enough away that she’s stuck in a morgue with a Jane Doe label on her? I could think of all sorts of things that could have happened to her. Thomas was placed in the custody of his grandparents (my aunt and uncle). The boyfriend was investigated, but nothing came of it because as I said before, he if had killed her intentionally or by accident he would have cracked the first time my uncle spoke to him.

Life had to continue moving forward for everyone. My aunt and uncle hired a private investigator. Then they replaced that private investigator with a different one, because the first one was costing money, but not providing results of any kind. It was almost the 2nd anniversary by this time and the second investigator had a result. Well, sort of had a result. He had found a truck driver that thought he picked up Natalie hitchhiking the day she disappeared from I-70… 5 miles from where her car was found. So she was probably alive… What the actual fuck?! I was glad she was probably not dead, but it brought up a lot of questions for me. Why had she abandoned Thomas? Why had she decided to just up and walk out on her life? I knew her relationship with my aunt and uncle was occasionally difficult, but that’s all familial relationships, I loved both my parents very much, but on at least one occasion my father and I nearly came to blows – no let me rephrase that, I nearly punched my father for being an asshole, my father wouldn’t even discipline me when I was growing up because I was a girl, and due to my gender, it was my mother’s job to discipline me – so yes Natalie and her parents didn’t always see eye to eye, but that wasn’t reason enough for her to just leave.

In 2010, my aunt passed away from N1H1 (Swine Flu). Shortly after that my uncle showed up one day at my house. My parents had separated again and I was going to college and living with my mom and helping her raise my own 2 nephews at that point. Anyway, my uncle showed up and he looked both angry and sad. I honestly thought it was about the loss of my aunt. It wasn’t my aunt, he’d gotten a call from a Sheriff’s Department in Georgia. They’d responded to a disturbance the previous night and taken the names of everyone there, when they were running them through the computer the next day searching for outstanding warrants, a missing person’s notice had popped up on one of them… Natalie. She was alive! She had been found! Now, since she was an adult, it was up to her whether to contact my uncle or not, but the Sheriff’s Department was required to notify the Sheriff’s Department where she went missing as well as the contact person listed – my aunt and uncle – to let them know the Georgia Sheriff’s Department had made contact.

It took a few months, but Natalie did eventually call her dad and reunite with the family. She had bipolar disorder as well as a TBI and when her tire blew she had a psychotic break from reality and disappeared. This story sounds like it has a happy ending, but really… it just has a less than tragic ending, not a happy one. Thomas had to deal with the trauma of being abandoned by his mother. My aunt died before Natalie returned. Her disappearance nearly broke my aunt and uncle; physically, emotionally, and financially. Natalie had a daughter who was living with her father during all this and after her disappearance my aunt and uncle rarely got to see their granddaughter. But she was alive.

I tell this story because unless you’ve lived through the turmoil and horror of having a loved one disappear, you can’t imagine how awful it is. However, this story was triggered by a recent event. I found out on New Year’s Day that my niece’s mother hasn’t been seen or heard from since December 27, 2021. And just like Natalie, her mother’s car was found on the side of the road. The difference is cell phones are prevalent these days, hers was found dead in her car. It’s hard not to think the worst, but my family has some experience with this and a not as tragic outcome as usual. I am less pessimistic about this disappearance, simply because I know sometimes people disappear voluntarily. Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing the missing person’s information on my blog. I would appreciate it if people would share it on social media.

Superstitions

In December, J brought a calendar home from work for 2022 and hung it up. My mother glared at it and I knew what she was thinking “It’s bad luck to hang the next year’s calendar before the year begins unless it has December of the previous year” and this one did not. I don’t totally understand the superstition of the calendar except that it has something to do with the passage of time… I tried Googling it to see what exactly the superstition was, but Google did not give me an answer.

With the offensive calendar in place and no December 2021 in it, I did what any reasonable and rational adult would do…I turned it towards the wall so that it couldn’t be seen. The thing is, I’m not superstitious. Hanging a calendar early is not going to make 2022 more difficult than it should be or pass more quickly or slowly. Anyway with the calendar hung wrong (which supposedly negates the bad luck hanging it early brings), I went about my day and when J came home he saw it and asked “Why is the calendar closed and upside down and backwards?” Because it’s bad luck to hang a calendar early, I told him with a straight face. J didn’t say anything, but the look he gave me was way more communicative than any words he could have uttered.

The thing is, J has superstitions he believes and follows, one of them drives me absolutely nuts (we’ll get to that). As a believer in some superstitions, he should understand or accept my mother’s belief that hanging a calendar early is bad luck. I find this is not the case, we are comfortable only with the superstitions they grew up with. When we are introduced to a new one, there’s a better than average chance that we will think “that’s dumb” regardless of the fact that we have our own superstitions not that much different.

J’s big one is about opening and closing knives. Basically, if you open a pocket knife, you must close that pocket knife even if you aren’t using it and it’s bad luck if someone else closes it. This annoys me. If I use his pocket knife, he almost always opens it for me and I hate handing back an open knife, it just seems dangerous to me. He opens it to be “helpful” but this means he is A) handing me an open knife (yikes) and B) I have to return the knife open (double yikes… I am clumsy and imaginative, I can see bad things happening here). My father had this same superstition and it annoyed me with him too.

I am not going to talk about New Year’s Resolutions this year, because let’s face it, they are empty promises to ourselves most of the time. I did not make any this year. I didn’t make any last year either, because I know I will not follow through with them, so why bother. However, I was discussing this with my nephew and he informed me, he heard it was bad luck to not make any resolutions, because it means you want nothing to change in the new year. For the briefest moment, I had a moment of wonder… I didn’t make any resolutions last year and my publishing scheduled ended up super wonky and I didn’t get half the stuff completed that I wanted to complete could the two be connected? They aren’t, but for a moment I wondered. I know though that the publishing woes of 2021 were because everyone is suffering Pandemic Fatigue: the constant worry about getting sick and the mental health toll of a flurry of immediate and long term changes to our way of life.

How Do Dogs Know?

In April 2020, when my dad passed away, it was obvious his dog Bella knew. I wondered then how she knew. A few days ago, we lost my father-in-law. J and I spent yesterday with his mom, trying to help her with arrangements and things. They have 5 dogs, one of whom is decidedly my father-in-law’s dog. The dog’s name is Benji. For the time my in-laws have had Benji, he has wanted nothing to do with me. Absolutely nothing. There have even been a few times when I’ve been giving treats to the others that he has snubbed me.

After we got in the house and everyone found seats, several of the dogs swarmed me, which is par for the course. Usually I give a couple of scratches and they go about their business. Not yesterday. Most incredibly though, Benji came to me yesterday and jumped up next to me on the couch and snuggled into me. Later he moved into my lap and spent much of the day curled up in my lap (he’s a shih-tzu/Pomeranian mix, so small enough to curl up in my lap) or snuggled in close to my legs.

Lola is an intuitive dog. She “knows” when things are wrong with someone in the house whether it be a migraine or an emotional pain and she acts accordingly. When they called J to the hospital on Wednesday night, Lola wanted me with her as we waited for news (we were all in our pajamas and I didn’t get changed fast enough to go with J to the hospital). She lay curled up, touching me, something Lola rarely does… touching for long periods of time makes her hot, so she prefers to have plenty of space between herself and something else that produces body heat. But Wednesday night, she lay right next to me for several hours and when J got home, she continued to lay in bed, but she switched from lying next to me to lying next to J. She ended up sleeping that way for more than four hours, which for Lola is an eternity especially while she’s sleeping.

When we got home late Thursday afternoon, Lola walked over and put her head in my lap and just let it sit there for several minutes, as if she were trying to comfort me. She did the same to J. She just knew there was something wrong with us.

My father-in-law has had some serious health problems over the years and has spent long stretches in the hospital before. In the past when my father-in-law hasn’t been home, Benji and the others have patiently waited for him to return, sitting on the back of furniture so they can watch out the window for him. Yesterday, there was none of that. How did Benji know this time was somehow different? I got the impression Benji wanted comfort from me and I acted accordingly, making sure to give him extra attention, including letting him curl up in my lap. Moments like these, I wish I had the device Dug wore in Up, so I would know what dogs were thinking.

If It Weren’t For Bad Luck….

In 2002, my grandmother passed away leaving me a ruby and gold ring that she paid nearly $6,000 for in the 1970s. She left it to me because I was in college and she figured if I ran into financial trouble, I could sell it to help pay for my education. I didn’t need to sell it to finish college. However, after 2 months of small royalty checks, I decided to see what I could get for the ring.

I took it to 2 places today and if it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. The rubies are real, but they are small and the ring is just slightly worth more than $0 and that’s because it has a gold band. I was told my best bet was to list it online and sell it for aesthetic appeal if I wanted to get more than $100 out of it. Well… wow, the universe went to a lot of trouble setting that up, because the ring was bought even before my parents realized they were having me.

My conclusion is that my grandmother got swindled all those years ago by a jeweler in Grand Rapids, Michigan, because she bought it under the impression it had 12 half carat rubies and one diamond in it and it does have the diamond and 12 rubies, but they are unlikely to be a half carat each. I haven’t decided if I’m more angry or depressed by this revelation, but I’m definitely feeling the Universe hates me.

Stephanie Plum book 27

Twas’ the night before Christmas and Hadena was cranky… Not because of Christmas believe it or not, but because she was listening to a book. So in my mad dash to complete Christmas crochet projects I checked out an audio book from the library, I needed something new and I was having trouble finding stuff so I decided for the purpose of crocheting I’d listen to a Stephanie Plum book and grabbed book 27 in the series.

Stephanie plum is getting worse at her job and possibly dumber as a person. But realistically I wanted something light without too many intricate plot points so that I could listen but not pay a lot of attention. And Stephanie plum fit the bill.

I can ignore most plot holes or mistakes however there is something in this book that really bothered me. Stephanie picks up a new stray in 27; George Potts. Potts is either a hypochondriac or has so many allergies it’s a miracle he’s alive. However the part that bothers me is that George claims to have PTSD.

It’s not that George has PTSD that bothers me it’s that it becomes a long running poop joke in this book. The thing is PTSD is an incredibly serious illness, it destroys lives. It is one of the most undertreated mental illnesses in this country, a survey done in the early 2010s estimated that nearly half of all first responders in major metropolitan areas suffer mild PTSD. That number is much higher for returning soldiers and victims of violent crimes. Leaving me to feel that reducing it to poop jokes is both disrespectful and immature.

Sufferers of PTSD already deal with the societal judgment that they are broken in some way. Media representations of PTSD already runs the gambit from abusive spouse to volunteer victim (reinforcing the concept they are outcasts), do we really need to add the portrayal that people with PTSD are constantly in danger of pooping themselves because of their “nervous stomach.”

I did not finish the book making me glad I borrowed it from the library and didn’t buy it.

Well Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Kwanza, or Have a good weekend!