Heed my warning . . . Tis a cautionary tale I have to tell.

Giuseppe Mentessi, Despairing Woman 1901

Giuseppe Mentessi, Despairing Woman 1901

Oh misery. Oh woe. Of woe and misery I speak.

Ne’er a more wretched creature than I could be made to endure such a beautiful morn as this. Tis this truly the light? Come at last to dispel the darkness of this long and enervated night. Alas! This loathsome, beautifully vexatious blaze dost pierce my eyes as penance for enterprises I indulged throughout the night.

I beseech thee night, come back. Come back and cast upon me again your shadows, dispel this light which illuminates my gloom with ray upon ray of golden glare upon my solecism, upon my sin. Let it leave me till the morrow – let me linger still beneath your shroud. Let tarry the sun, and the birds of song, let them tarry too, for I, wretched beast I have become, am weary.

I must make haste to close up my windows and draw the shades, and beneath cascade of curtain, dispel this morn mine eyes cannot yet be made behold, and sleep, sleep until this melancholy and madness takes leave of me. Sleep, sleep. Sleep until the morrow.

Twas mine own folly. Twas mine own lamentable vice which left me in this state. I own my misfortune, indeed, it twas I, welcomed it with open arms, unconcerned with repercussion of my action. If blame be assigned, I bear sole burden of it. If my machinations be damned, so damn them. I knew better, and better I chose not.

Throughout the longsome night, the bells tolled with each hour, beseeching me to quit my obsession and heed them, I did not, holding fast to my indefatigable resolve, if not quickening it, to ignore my sensibilities and feed the hunger I could not seem to sate.

It began in innocent effort to abate a tedium birthed by the boredom of a restlessness I found myself unable to quell. I chanced upon a singular activity to pass the time I’d begun to despise and despair of, then grew from that accursed remedy, a desire, a rapacious longing, increased with each passing hour, to indulge this delight regardless of all rational inclinations to abdicate myself from the thing I discerned to be draining me of thought and vitality and constitution, accounting for my fearsome countenance as I pen these words to the page before me.

Oh, dearest stranger, and oh, thine most especial of friends, lend your sensibilities to these words I’ve imparted, lest ye arrive at a fate such as mine, make no vigil of a Netflix original . . .

Crystal R. Cook

Mr. Qwiet Muse – How to support your blogger, Beyond Your Blog

blogger support groß

Blogging is time-consuming. I didn’t know that until I started mine last year. My husband was super supportive when I brought up the idea – he had no idea how time-consuming it would be either. I’m not even one of those super bloggers, you know, the ones with fantastic layouts, the wonderfully organized, the themed, the consistently written, the interactive . . . yeah, I’m not one of those. Maybe one of these days.

Thankfully, my darling, dear, sweet, understanding husband deals with the life of being a * blog widower * quite well when I am lost in Cyberland. I hope he knows how much it means to me and that I’m not trying to be neglectful on nights he nukes a frozen burrito for dinner so I can finish that last sentence (or two, or three, etc.).

I salute those who stand behind their blogger loves.

I was honored to be included in this fun, Beyond Your Blog piece, How your significant other can support your writing, featuring nine amazing bloggers (and me) who share a bit about the ones who support them as they blog, I wonder how many of them are forced to eat microwavable dinners, if they still get home cooked meals, don’t tell my husband!

196130_1003659805315_899_n (1)Anyway, click the link, read the wonderful things to read, keep going – I talk about Mr. Qwiet Muse, my rock, in the number ten spot . . .

Beyond Your Blog

When the ink dries

Author calls us Inklings sometimes. He has other names for us as well. He calls us words, Ideas, and sometimes Characters. We prefer Inklings.

Author uses Pen to put us on Page. It makes Page happy when he does, Page says it isn’t alive until we come to visit, and we aren’t alive until we reach Page.

Pen is dying. Author has been using Keyboard, but Words that come from Keyboard are just words. The Words, like us, he puts on Page can breathe, at least that’s what Page says. Page tells us when Author uses Pen, the Words sink in so Page can bring them to life, like it did with us.

We are fading.

Page says we’ll disappear when Pen’s Ink is gone. We’ve learned a lot from Author, we don’t want to lose him. We don’t want him to lose us. We have to make Author stop us from fading. We have to make Author keep us from disappearing. Pen needs Ink.

Author once wrote on Page that he bleeds Ink. We need Ink. Author is Ink.

Sometimes Author forgets Pen is dying and tries to put us on Page with it. He likes to wet the tip of Pen with his tongue when Ink stops flowing. Next time, we will be waiting. We must get Ink for Pen.

Author picked up Pen today to make more Words on page, but he just scratched Page with Pen because Ink is almost gone now, we are waiting in the last drop for Author to bring us close enough to get the Blood Ink. Author brought pen to his tongue like he always does, and we left Pen.

spilled-inkWe just needed Ink. We were fading. We meant no harm. When we leave Pen and soak into Page it feels like magic, Ink flows slowly and we glide onto Page, but when we soaked ourselves into Author, the Ink gushed and rushed and spilled and poured. It began to drown Page and Pen shattered on the floor. Author laid his head in Ink and gave his life to Page as Page was suffocating in Author’s Blood Ink. We meant no harm.

Ink is drying. Pen is broken. Page is dripping with Ink and we are no longer Words. Without Author we are just dried Ink and we are dying. We meant no harm . . . We meant no har –.

Crystal R. Cook

Never judge a book (or a person) by its cover

coverI’ve learned many lessons in life, one of them was to never judge a book by its cover. Sometimes, you flip it over and read the synopsis and it doesn’t sound that bad. You might even read a few chapters before you decide. You might just end up falling in love with it, then again, your initial assessment may have been well-founded so you put it back on the shelf. The point is, you don’t know until you see what’s hidden beneath the covers.

It’s kind of like that with people too. What you see isn’t always what you get. This past week I encountered three brilliant examples of this very lesson.

Standing in the line for my youngest son’s driving test, I noticed a man, probably about my age sort of hovering near the line. He didn’t look happy. In fact, he looked kind of mean. He was wearing a tight, black, ribbed tank top, black, white, and blue plaid shorts, calf length athletic socks with a black band, and bright white sneakers. He was bald and sported several tattoos on both arms, his back, and neck. In Southern California, this is kind of typical attire for some gang members. When he looked my way I gave him a little of a half-smile and he just looked away.

An hour and a half later as my newly licensed son and I left, I had him pose (begrudgingly) near the car with the thumbs-up-iconcrisp, white paper that would serve as his licence till his shiny, new laminated card arrives. The man happened to be standing two cars away from us. While I was torturing my son I noticed him looking our way, he smiled and gave us a thumbs up and said, “He passed, hu?” I smiled back, “He did!” The man said, “Mine too, you gotta be proud, right?” I started laughing, “Yeah, and a little scared.” We shared a chuckle as I took my place in the passenger seat.

I could have easily judged him. If I’m being honest, in some small way I did. First impressions are a funny thing, I’m a little wary of all strangers. You kind of have to be though. My initial half-smile at him was my way of flipping over the book and checking out the synopsis. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t exactly desirable either. It was just another book in a sea of books. I didn’t fault him for not returning the gesture, everyone looks a little snarly at the DMV. Chances are he was a nervous as I was, and obviously as happy and proud of his son as I was of mine. By the way, his tattoos were totally kick-ass.

A few days later we were walking along the sidewalk when we encountered a very tall, imposing sort of man. He had long hair, brown and beautifully sun streaked with a golden hue. It was pulled up into a sort of messy ponytail bun. He wore ragged flip-flops and pulled alongside him a grocery cart filled with papers and cans and all sorts of odds and ends. There are far too many homeless left to wander and survive on the streets. He was obviously one of them.

7577248376_4d8a13fb04Some of the best conversations I’ve ever had were with people who’d found themselves homeless for one reason or another. You have to be cautious though, some of their misfortunes include untreated mental conditions that can lead to unpredictable behavior. This particular man walked with the posture and purpose of a man simply working his way through another day, he wasn’t dirty and disheveled like some.

His jean jacket looked fairly new and his . . . maxi dress was a lovely shade of purple, it matched his bangly bracelets quite well. He was walking our way and we were walking his. He issued us a small curtsy as we passed by each other. My son and his friend both looked at me, “Was that a guy?” I said, “Yep. It certainly was.” Then there was a bit of silence. “Well,” I said, “his dress looked comfy enough I suppose.” Now I’m not a personal fan of men wearing dresses, but I gotta say, I’m not even brave enough to wear a maxi dress. In keeping with the book analogy we’ve got going, I wouldn’t have skimmed through the pages of this one, but I wouldn’t be handing out petitions to have it banned either.

This afternoon, I took my son out for lunch. As we sat in our booth waiting for our number to be called, a man walked in. He had one of those cheery smiles that simply brightened the place up. He motioned for the woman who came in right after him to go ahead, and she caught his contagious smile and thanked him. It felt good to see a little random act of kindness, you don’t see enough of those these days.

He was tall and muscular, his tan work clothes were a bit grungy and rather soiled, I imagined he was a taking a well-deserved lunch break after a long morning of hard labor. His hands bore the markings of someone who’s used them to build and toil to provide for his family. You could see, even on his ebony skin, evidence of long days spent out in the sun. I kind of admired him.

As he approached the line, a large group came in the opposite door and stood behind the woman he’d just given his place to. At first, he didn’t seem to mind at all. I recognized the small crowd readying to place their orders, they were from a local day program for adults with mental and developmental disabilities.

Ordering was taking a bit more time for them than it does for some, and I could see the man looking at his watch 9KQWsRVSIX5TD90Land shaking his head. I’m sure he hadn’t expected such a long wait, but he still had that cheerful smile. It wasn’t until another man stood next to him that I realized his smile was simply a mask and it was heartbreaking. He said to the new man in line, “Can you believe this? I don’t know what they’re thinking bringing them in here like this. They got places for these people.”

By the look on the second man’s face, I thought he was going to say something in their defense, but instead, he nodded in agreement and they shared a laugh. By the time the man had placed his order, the group had all been seated and a few had received their food. One of them, Ted, was a man who looked to be in his sixties and seemed to think it was funny to try and take a sip of all the sodas on the table. The chaperone said, “No Ted. No Ted. No Ted.”

This was repeated more than a few times. The man was looking at them in disgust. He said, loud enough for all to hear, “Damn. How many times you got to say it. No Ted. No Ted. Ted’s a grown-ass man.” There was an uncomfortable silence. One of the chaperones went to the counter to inquire about an order they were missing, the young girl behind the counter was surprisingly rude to her which seemed to fan the man’s ugly flames even higher. He stood next to the woman and said, “You don’t need to be so anal about it, just make ‘em share. They nasty anyway.”

My blood was boiling. There were more things said throughout the fifteen minutes this all occurred, but I think, I hope, you can imagine the scene well enough. The worst thing was the looks on the faces of those beautiful angels, some of them knew exactly what was happening and it was sad. I wondered how many times they had to deal with that same kind of treatment. That man could have made each of them smile and instead he chose to cause them pain.

That book, with it’s bright and cheerful cover was deceiving. He may have had reason to be cross, I don’t know. He may have known he was going to be late and get reprimanded when he returned to work, but that still didn’t give him the right to be cruel. That was a choice.

I try very hard not to judge any book by it’s cover, they can be misleading.

By the way . . . I had a choice in that moment as well, and I chose to simply smile at as many of those precious souls as I could. I gave Ted my stern but loving ‘mommy look’ as he again reached for someone else’s cup of soda. I gave one to the man who lost his mask as well. I hope he understood what it meant.

Crystal R. Cook

My husband is probably hotter than yours.

My husband is hot. Like seriously hot. I’m talking * tsss *, sizzling hot. (tsss is the sound of sizzling, if you weren’t sure, go back and read it as a sizzle sound, it’ll make more sense). I’m not necessarily complaining, well, actually, I guess I am.

It isn’t easy having a hot husband, especially at night. He makes me hot and I can’t just fall asleep like that. Even when I do, it wakes me up in the middle of the night, sometimes several times and then I’m so, so tired the next day.

Some of you may not understand for the simple reason that your husband isn’t as hot as mine. Honestly, you should count your blessings. You’d know exactly what I’m talking about if you spent just one night in our bed. Those of you who do happen to have hot husbands are probably nodding your heads in agreement and fanning yourselves just thinking about it.

I suppose it wouldn’t bother me so much if we lived in a cooler climate, but when it’s already 20 degrees warmer at night than you’d like it to be, sleeping next to a living fricking furnace exuding what I am certain has to be higher than normal body heat, it kind of sucks. I don’t know if I’m having pre-menopausal night sweats or if he’s laying too close to me some nights.


What did you think I was talking about?

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#BeReal – I wish I hadn’t Done That


Hiding behind the lens

careful not to be seen

photographic memories

of everyone but me


It’s a terrible thing I’ve done

I can clearly see that now.

I didn’t think it mattered.

I didn’t think I was

hurting anyone.

I didn’t stop to think,

not in the moment,

not in all those


but now . . .

now I see

what I have done.


I removed myself

from memories

and nothing

can take their place.

Every picture

I cropped myself out of,

every photograph I erased,

where I should be,

there’s only empty space.




My smile wasn’t right,

one eye looked a little closed,

it was a terrible angle,

I looked awful in those clothes.


None of it even mattered.

They didn’t care

what I was wearing,

they didn’t care

if my hair was done,

they were busy

making memories,

busy having fun.

I see their smiles

in the pictures.


all of them

but one.


When memories

are all that is

left of me,

I hope they

can close their eyes

and see my face.

I hope they will

forgive me

for all the


I erased.


I’ve spent most of my life dodging cameras, bowing out of group photos, begging people to get rid of pictures I deemed unworthy to be seen, and now . . . I wish I hadn’t.

I didn’t think it mattered until one afternoon when my son was looking through some old pictures and reliving a few fond memories, he’d come across photos of a fantastically fun day we’d had and started talking about his recollections of the day, he spoke as though he were telling me all about something I’d missed.

“I know, I was there!” He looked shocked. “You were?”

It hit me. Hit me hard. I wasn’t in any of the pictures. He remembered the day because the photos reminded him, but I wasn’t in any of those photos, that part of the memory wasn’t recalled by the evidence of smiling faces in front of him. I felt shattered and guilty. I’d stolen bits and pieces of my son’s precious past by hiding from the camera.

I wish I hadn’t done that.

Not too long after that, I came across a box filled with pictures and mementos of my beautiful cousin who traveled to her place in Heaven much too soon. I sifted through the letters and postcards and pictures. Photographs of her smiling face playing with my boys, splashing in the ocean, sitting by a campfire . . . I didn’t realize I was crying until a tear splashed down next to a photo of her hugging my oldest son.

I wasn’t crying because she was gone, I was crying because she’d been here . . . with me. We’d played and laughed and hugged and had fun, but I haven’t any pictures to look back on that reflect that image of us together. I’d ducked out of every single frame.

I wish I hadn’t done that.

I met my husband shortly before my 16th birthday, we’ve made so many beautiful memories since then, but looking back through the albums of our youth, I’m absent. I cut myself out of those precious, paper pieces I’ve saved. There isn’t a single surviving picture of us from those teenage years together.

I wish I hadn’t done that.

I’ve cropped and cut and deleted myself from my own photographic history and there is nothing I can do to remedy that now, I really, truly wish I hadn’t done that.

I’m trying to make amends now. I’m trying to accept the reflection of me I see. I don’t want to be absent when my children look through our family photos someday. I want them to have pictures of me. I want them to have pictures of us. I don’t want them to wonder if I was there. I don’t want them to look back on our memories knowing I was too insecure to capture them on film.

I don’t want them to say, “I wish she hadn’t done that.”


Crumpled Pages & Lines Incomplete


Crumpled pages
scattered at my feet
Sonnets of scribbles,
of lines incomplete

So many words
with so much to say,
wrenched out and written
and then thrown away

Tossed to the wayside
by no fault of their own
they were my words,
they were seeds I had sown

Like I was some God
giving life to the page,
like I was some monster
they fell to my rage

Mourning, I gathered them
each creased and crinkled one,
desperate to undo
the damage I had done

To make amends I saved them
to one day use again,
and sat back down to seek
forgiveness with my pen

Crystal R. Cook