the Habitation Game – Book Synopsis

Were you hoping to read something from me today? Well, I really hoped you were because I realized I haven’t released my book synopsis to everyone yet! What better way to do that, than right here on the blog?! I hope you enjoy it and are ready to read this bad boy soon! 

Xo, Jaime                                                                                                                                                         

the Habitation Game by J Parker Sticklethe Habitation Game – Book Synopsis

Emily sits, staring at the clock on her computer screen, counting down the minutes until she can leave for the day while musing on how she ended up working for Corporate America. Little did she realize the worst part of her day was yet to come when happy hour obligations put her front and center with the woman who would put the word dead, into Emily’s dead-end job.

As Emily recounts 30-years of roommate relationships, some worse than others – like the time she lived with a nudist, whom she suspects was also a Nazi; to the times she unwittingly allowed an alcoholic, a drug dealer, and a couple of mobsters’ kids to live with her. Nothing could have prepared her, though, for Adeline.

Not only did Adeline manipulate Emily into living with her, but she also moved in with a secret boyfriend and an oppressive personality disorder. The worst part – Emily and Adeline work only three desks away from each other.

As anxiety begins to knot and twist around Emily’s stomach, the fear that she’s made a grave mistake by moving in with Adeline is validated when Adeline’s mood swings start to manifest themselves and secrets of her own past roommates are revealed. At least that’s how Emily sees it when Adeline starts to communicate with Emily using a butcher’s knife instead of a Post-it note.

As Adeline continues to mind-fuck Emily, she is unaware that she is playing with fire. After years of living with crazy people, and months of putting up with Adeline, Emily may have the motive to strike back.

Book coming! 2018! Woohoo! Make sure to follow me here or on Instagram for updates!

Adiós Chihuahua Ojo

My mom’s dog died last week. I know, I know, but don’t worry – she still has my dad and her health. And she’s pretty young, so there’s that too.

It’s interesting how much we rely on our pets: for friendship, protection, emotional support, and as great excuses for not having to do stuff. And let me say this: people are far more forgiving when you say your dog is sick versus when you say your kid is sick. I don’t know why the heartstrings pull so hard when friends or co-workers find out your adorable fur baby needs care, but when your toddler is suffering… again… they annoyedly brush you off with a dismissive, “they’ll get over it.” It’s the power of the fur.

Before you make me out to be a callous human, in case you don’t know, I rescued three strays in 2 years, cared and paid for one’s cancer treatments for another two years before she passed, and am absolutely ga-ga, head over heels for my current two fur babies, who mean the world to me. So, I get it. I also have a toddler.

All of that being said, my mom’s dog died a week ago. He was a 126-year-old, one-eyed, shaman looking, 27lb Chihuahua (Chihuahua mix…oops, they paid for a pure bred). The truth is either the damn dog was sick for all his 18 human years, or my mom developed Munchausen by proxy. I’m not a doctor. I’m a writer, I am in no way qualified to make this diagnosis, but, the dog was never sick until this last year of his life when he suffered from old age ailments. So I’m sticking to Munchausen. Let me explain:

Most individuals who suffer from a condition that requires a support dog, get a dog so they can have a pseudo-normal life – leave the house and live amongst the world. My mom used her “support dog” as an excuse to never leave the house again. Ever.

A little history on the pup: Originally he was a gift from my father. The then two-eyed Chihuahua was meant to rekindle a marriage that my mother had already extinguished and abandoned. She was living in a new home, with new people, and the dog, then just a puppy, was left in my father’s care. Under my father’s watch the puppy lost an eye. I know, I know, “WHAT!?!” but yeah, this is quite common in certain breeds. The veterinarian assured us that the dog, having been so young at the time of the incident, would never know the difference, and he didn’t even feel it since the nerve was cleanly severed. I sound very clinical relaying the information now, but it was a long and traumatic day when I had to drive my terrified, sobbing father, and my mother’s scared puppy to the animal hospital all those years ago. Someone had to stay strong and make choices, like calling my mother at her new home with her new (roommate? Boyfriend? Main squeeze?) partner, and telling her that her puppy had lost an eye.

After the “incident” my father could no longer be trusted with the pup and my mother could not keep the pup at her new family’s home, so ultimately she came back to my father, to care for the puppy, and eventually terminated the divorce proceedings. So I guess the dog did his job? This all sounds a bit sketchy, but for the purposes of time and length, it is a story for another day.

Since losing his eye, my parents determined that the dog needed two parents to care for him full time. Apparently, something not even their high school teenager, new grandbabies, young adult children, their home, or other two adult dogs needed. This one small dog that was missing an eye, but otherwise was in perfect health, was the only living creature my parents needed to give their full attention and time to. My mom spent time making inquiries to plastic surgeons about the possibility of a glass eye. My dad set up wee-wee pads around the house so the dog wouldn’t have to be burdened with using the yard. The pup was also segregated from the other dogs in the house until he was a year old; or perhaps I should say, the older dogs were forgotten, much like their teenage human sibling (not me). For all intents and purposes, the puppy was also segregated from all my parents’ adult children because we didn’t know how to “play” with him delicately, this now 27lb bowling ball of a dog.

It was hard not to resent the dog. He received the care and attention that none of us had or ever would get from my parents. Every phone call or text message received or made revolved around the dogs day, his feelings, emotional health, physical well being. A trip to the vet for gas, bloating, hiccups, wet nose, dry nose, bad breath, soft stool, hard stool, you name it. It was hard to feel anything but severely annoyed. Was the son-of-a-bitch spending my one-day inheritance on his hypochondria? Hahahaha! I have no inheritance don’t worry. But seriously, what the hell was going on all these years? And before you activists weigh-in on the idea of diet, the dog had all his meal specially prepared: boiled chicken breast and steamed green beans with a little olive oil. He wasn’t sick, he was spoiled, literally, spoiled like expired milk, he was no longer a dog but a vessel for emotional pain. Poor guy.

My parents declined to attend birthday celebrations, canceled holiday plans, and rejected every dinner invitation extended by my siblings who lived locally. “We can’t leave the dog; he needs us. He’ll die if we’re not home with him,” they’d plead on every phone call.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, WHAT? Yes.

It had never presented a problem in the past with the number of family dogs we’d had before, but this dog carried the burden of all my parents emotional baggage: betrayal, unhappiness, entrapment, marital obligation, years and years and years of emotional grief and depression; all of which were heftily laid upon the back of one small dog, just like that.

Once joyful and spry like a young dog should be, he quickly became aggressive and mean to anyone who wasn’t my mother. Hugging my mom became impractical, as we never knew if the mixed breed Chihuahua would leap from her lap or arms and take a bite out of us. As my parents were unwilling to leave him at home, the executive decision fell on the parents of my nieces and nephews to not invite Grandma and Grandpa over, or out anymore, since the dog could not be trusted with children, or the children with the dog.

My parents feigned outrage, but truly they could not have been more relieved to be let off the hook. “Think of us as grandparents who live out of state. On the rare occasion we can see you, it will mean so much more,” they claimed. All these excuses and lies in the name of the poor dog.

That dog, living with one eye, became my mother’s reason for not living these past, nearly two decades. “We don’t get to take vacations; we are bound by our sick dog.” Or, “we can’t have anything nice because of our sick dog.” And of course my favorite: “we need you to elope, because of our dog, we just won’t be able to come to your wedding, meet your first born child, our grandson, or see the life you’ve built for yourself in California over the past 15-years, your entire adult life, because of our sick dog.”

Alas, this poor sick dog (he was never sick) has passed away. My parents carried him to the crematorium, watched as he was lowered into the flames, and came home with an urn, engraved with the dog’s name. I imagine my mom has sat holding the urn in her lap for the past week. She has not stopped crying or left the house. And just this morning they both decided not to attend my nephew’s (their 2-year-old grandson’s) birthday party, because their dog has died. They also don’t think that Christmas will happen this year for them; possibly even next year.

The dog, even in death, must shoulder my parent’s burdens. Poor fucking Pepper (oh, that was his name, Pepper).

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Unsolicited Advice

Let’s Rant.

What is it about unsolicited advice that gets me so worked up? There are multiple scenarios within reason I can admit I’m guilty of “advising” in… for example friends/people/strangers that may have just wanted an ear to vent to and there I go giving advice. I am specifically not talking about those times. Because unless you specify at the top of the conversation, “I am going to vent a lot to you right now and I do not want you to tell me what to do or give me your insight or thoughts AT ALL,” then, you’re screwed, because whatever, we (meaning me) want to express our opinion or perhaps, unsolicited advice, because it is human nature.

No, I am not talking about that brand of unsolicited advice, rather, I am talking about the advice a certain generation (Generation Baby Boomer) writes out on old receipts found in the trash or at the bottom of a salty purse for Jason and I to find brazenly atop the pillows after they’ve checked out of the AirBnBeeber.  That’s right, those crazy nuts that also go by the name Grandma and Grandpa, just cannot help themselves and need to let us know what we’ve done wrong.

For some reason the current Grandma and Grandpa generation just cannot enjoy an experience without sharing their important unsolicited advice that I have “coined” as criticism. 

For example, there was recently a note left behind, two-sided, front and back, that expressed how we could have, “made their stay nicer,” if we would have, “installed a larger refrigerator and a microwave oven.”

This was so important to the guests that they both texted and emailed us to let us know they left said note for us in case we missed it or thought it was trash, since it was written on a piece of trash.

It was hard to miss the red, bold, Sharpie pen ink.

If you are not feeling what I am emoting it is heavy silence. My face has become hard and my eyes are shooting daggers into an imaginary target.

Preposterous.

Then there was the sixty-nine year old hippie that needed, needed, us to immediately return our sink and vanity to IKEA and purchase a larger, wider and deeper unit like the ones at Crate and Barrel (this from a legit hippie) or take the overhead matching cabinet off the wall and install it two feet higher so he didn’t feel like he was going to bump his head while brushing his teeth.

He also wanted to show us how he had rearranged the room and thought it worked better with the murphy bed raised…in raising it himself without the know how he busted the mounted reading lights, broke the bed’s feet off, and could have maimed himself from his own stupidity had he not called us in to complain about our bathroom vanity.

I’m laughing. Truly, I’m laughing. What an asshole. 

Preposterous.

Then there was the lovely woman traveling alone (right-on!), that also left us a long, two-sided note of all the things we should add to the unit to make it nicer:

Lemon Tea

Chamomile Tea

Mint Tea

Herbal Tea

Lavender Tea

Chai Tea

Rose Water Tea

Jasmine Tea

Oolong Tea

Sleepy-Time Tea

Tension Tamer Tea

Green Tea

 

I’m confused, additional tea options? Could have just said that. Or gone to the market across the street and picked up the flavor you like. 

Preposterous.

And finally, for now, we will come to the one couple that left us a note regarding money. They wanted to let us know how nice our studio is, but that we are just not the best value because we’re not…wait for it… a hotel. Maybe if we added a pool or hot tub we could compete with the better hotels around Los Angeles… let’s get one thing straight we cost a fraction of what the Best Western up the way charges, so it cannot be the nightly charge, right?

So, wait, WHAT?

Preposterous.

The teenager in me wants to talk back and tell them how stupid they sound, but there’s a little fear I may be grounded and not heard. AmIRight? 

 

 

Until Next Week

I’ve written three posts for the blog this week, but have not shared them or published them because they’re not done.

The words are written. Sentences are formed. Paragraphs are neatly prepared and are moderately decently structured, but my thoughts are muddy and ill formed and just not complete in any of them.

What am I trying to say? Exactly. That’s what I don’t know. Not here or in the other three that I’ve written and won’t post… yet.

Anyway, it’s my birthday on Friday and I’ll be spending everyday beginning tomorrow on my own personal writing retreat in my backyard – otherwise known as the AirbnBeeber. All other jobs and work will be turned off and tuned out…mostly.

I’m hoping that with an uninterrupted (and my fingers are crossed that they are a full uninterrupted 8 hours) a day I’ll be able to form all those thoughts completely, wholly, and honestly.

Obstacles continue to present themselves. Plans keep altering. Commitments need to be honored. Dishes need to be cleaned. Toddlers need tucking in. Second jobs need attention and I could go on, but you get it so there’s no need.

We’ll catch up next week, I promise. And when we do I will be one year older and wiser. Until then, goodnight.

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Book Excerpt – Two-Fer Tuesdays

pexels-photoIt was Tuesday, and I was sitting at my desk, which was two medium strides away from the bathroom, and my dead-end job was promising to bind me to it for eternity.

I had the unique and questionable privilege of being able to observe every person walking in and out of the bathroom. My co-workers, whom I also referred to as “Work Friends,” felt a deep sense of obligation to chat me up every time they used the loo… which was often, and in some cases (Derrick) too often, much to my chagrin.


“Please come to Happy Hour tonight. It’s Two-Fer Tuesdays; that’s two drinks for the price of one, but they give them both to you at the same time. We can split the cost of one drink, but each actually get a full drink of our own!” The Cogs in the machine, that’s what I called us and when I say ‘Us’ I mean the ones of us that dedicated our work hours to work and got paid a pittance for it. This was Elaine; a cog. She was always trying to make it OKAY for me to spend money with work people after work hours.

“What if I just want water?” That is how I treated Elaine: with obnoxious requests I knew she would accept.

“Yes! So you’ll come! Yay! Also, do you know Adeline?”

“No,” and frankly I wasn’t interested in knowing Adeline or anyone else from the company on a personal level. I didn’t want another excuse to NOT walk away from this job. I didn’t want it to become more bearable by making friends. I liked being the loner here.

“You’ll love her. She’s new, one of them, but you’ll love-love-love her, promise.” By Them Elaine was referring to the Marketing people. And I was suspicious of her promises of “love-love-love”.

The Marketing Team was the Pride of the company. The rest of us were just trying to survive out on the Serengeti of day jobs. And since your title defined your merit, it was difficult to blame them for believing they were the very best of the company.

I needed to get out of this Happy Hour.

“Shoot… I forgot, I might have something I already committed to, but I’ll let you know for sure by the end of the day.”

Elaine could see through my poor attempt at a lie, but honestly, the title “Marketing” was equivalent to Narcissist, and I just didn’t want to spend the evening biting my tongue and fighting the urge to challenge this newbie every time she wanted to dominate the conversation with her branding ideas. Or the numerous accolades awarded her in MBA school.

Gag.

As I watched Elaine walk away disappointed, I knew I was going to end up going, and maybe split the cost of a drink with her, and talk to this new Marketing woman – Adeline, and maybe make a new friend.

Gag.

WTH Is jayra joy?

Screen Shot 2017-02-12 at 7.48.38 PMFor the friends and family that have been asking, what is the deal with jayra joy Designs – I am dedicating this blog post to telling you what the deal is. And for those of you that only know me from my blog and as a writer – I also have a little Etsy boutique called, jayra joy Designs where I sell clothes I design and make with my business partner.

jayra joy – the name itself comes from the combination of my partner/neighbor/friend’s name and mine: Jaime + Ruthann = jayra. The JOY just happens to be the name of the beautiful little street all the magic and fun happens on…or as we like to call it our Lab of Designs.

I just love the way clothes can make me feel. They transport me into the roles and characters I feel like playing on any given day. No, I’m not saying I have multiple personalities, but I do have a lot of fun pretending. And I do have my own little quirky style that features me at my best.

Clothes have always been out of my budget. Why does so-called “quality” mean I need to sell my kidney to afford it? And why can’t we all have access to these great, staple pieces that make us feel good, and aren’t made to fit one or two body types, and are versatile and feminine?

I found myself experimenting with some of the online styling sites that send you clothes based on your preferences, budget, and style, and it was a huge fail, but I did love putting together all the boards of my favorite pieces and styles on Pinterest for them! And I found I was just creating the same outfit over and over which happened to be the exact pieces I’d worn the hell out of already in my closet and couldn’t afford to buy new ones of on my writer’s salary or lack there of.

Right before I’d found out I was pregnant I’d started collecting clothing patterns and I had the idea that I was going to sew my own clothes. My perfect A-line skirts with folded pleats and stunning tutu’s I could wear any day or night of the week. I wanted a wrap that paired with jeans and dress slacks. I wanted shirts with flutter sleeves that highlighted my arms correctly. I wanted to make clothes my way that were unique and fit, and all with the best fabrics and that would be that.

I went downtown to the fabric district and investigated. I bought a ton of amazing fabrics. A couple heavy bags worth. And then I sat in the closet with those heavy bags of fabric and I realized I had no idea how to sew and I had no sewing machine. So I started to collect more clothing patterns and I Yelped sewing classes and I thought, I can do this.

Then I took a pregnancy test and it was positive. And I forgot about making clothes and hid those heavy bags of fabric in the dark corner of my cramped closet and I just prayed I could book enough acting gigs and finish writing my first book before the pitter patter of little feet were upon me.

Cut to 2 years later, many discussions with my neighbor who just conveniently happens to be an amazing designer and owns the Olympics of sewing machines, two women with a passion for creating, and a little part time business later – we’re making clothes! Really great clothes that we love making; it’s part business, part passion.

We all should be able to do something we have a passion for: karaoke, knitting, marathons, boxing, I just happen to love designing. I’m having fun and yes, I’m still writing full time, but having the opportunity to do another thing I enjoy and provide an extra source of income for my family is a gift and I cherish it.

For everyone that has supported us and purchased from us – multiple times – thank you from the bottom of my heart. It means so much to me. It is art, and I love creating for you.

If you’re interested in checking out our shop just head to http://www.jayrajoy.com! And just for checking us out, here’s a little treat: use code HBDJAIME2017 to get 15% off your purchase! Good thru April 30, 2017. 

 

The Other Night…

The winds in Los Angeles the past few evenings have felt abrupt and out of place, much like the rains we experienced this past winter. They’ve spread allergies and coughs and viruses, much to the chagrin of every parent, daycare and otherwise sane person. All that hell aside, in the middle of another evening of howling winds knocking down trash bins and whipping open latched gates at will, we had a real situation Thursday night, at 2:07AM.

Jack was having a restless sleep, tossing and turning until he woke himself up and called out for a snuggle around 1:40 AM. Jason sprung into action for that special, middle of the night Jack cuddle time, so down a body in the bed, I starfished myself right out and fell back asleep before I ever really feigned getting up for Jack. Before I ever made it to REM sleep I was trapped in a hellish half-sleep/half-awake-nightmare. Somewhere from the depths of someone’s soul there was a bellowing cry echoing off the mountain and reverberating throughout our home. At first I feared it was Jack and my subconscious was not allowing my conscious state to waken and I couldn’t get to him; I was trapped in sleep-purgatory.

The bellowing yell got louder and I could feel my conscious self pushing through the paralysis of my sleep-state until I sat straight up, blinking a thousand times while catching my breath. Jack was NOT crying and Jason was still missing from the bed and on a second glance at the clock, I saw a mere fifteen minutes had passed since I’d fallen back to sleep. Then, as if on cue to remind me why I’d stirred back awake, there came the same bellowing call for help, only this time I was hearing it with woken ears and a very present mind and it was more ominous and menacing than my half dream state allowed me to grasp.

The voice was oscillating – at one moment it sounded as though it was right outside my window and then almost immediately it sounded like it was coming from down the road and then immediately outside my window, again. The voice so deep, so loud it made me shake on the inside. Finally, I heard the words:

SOMEBODY CALL THE POLICE.

PLEASE.

SOMEBODY CALL THE POLICE.

PLEASE.

 

 

 

somebody call the police.

please.

…..police.

 

This was not the voice of someone in trouble, though. It was not the sound of a crisis. It was hypnotic and foreboding and terrifying, I promise you.

I timidly pulled back the curtain a sliver and peered into the night, looking and searching for the man making the noise as it grew closer and closer to the house, yet again. And I saw my gate was hanging wide open, yet the wind had stopped. Fear shook through me; he was in my yard, but I couldn’t see him. There were no eyes peering back as far as I could stretch my vision through the dark. And when the bellow of PLEASE was right on top on me, I let go of the curtain and ran downstairs for my phone.

I dialed the numbers 9-1-1, send. Hurry. Answer. Hurry.

911 Operator: 9-1-1 – What’s your emergency?

There’s a man – I think it’s a man – somewhere, I think in my yard, yelling from somewhere wild in his belly, for someone to call the police.

911 Operator: And can you see him?

No, I cannot.

911 Operator: But he’s in your yard?

Yes. I think so. Or maybe not, but he’s close. Somewhere close. Listen, do you hear that? That’s him.

911 Operator: I’m sending a car now.

I hung up. I wanted to ask her to stay on the phone with me until the police arrived.

“Jaime?” It was Jason, thank God for Jason. He was whispering, not because he didn’t want to wake-up Jack, but because he was scared. He didn’t want the voice to hear that we were awake, that we felt vulnerable, that we could be his enemies.

“I’m here, I’m here,” I whispered back as I ran up the stairs to meet him.

When I hit the landing of the staircase I saw him, clutching tightly to Jack who stirred in his sleep, and we ran back into our room cradling our baby and waiting for the police as the sound of the voice grew, and grew, and grew. The echo of his pleas haunting us.

There were no sirens when the police arrived, we only knew they’d arrived when we saw the beams of light from their tactical flashlights.

The “Voice” saw the lights of the police as well and suddenly the tone changed. Now the sound of panic and fear, manipulating the previous sound of strength into cowardice, “I’m up here! I’m up here! Help me! I’m up here!”

We gazed out the window to see who was brilliantly managing their voice with such precision and where. And as we followed the beam of the police light up, up, up. There stood a man atop the apex of our neighbor’s roof, peering down at the four men in blue. He who had beckoned the police officers to the spot was almost childlike now, displaying a sense of innocence and underdog cowardice he gently announced, “I’m stuck.”

The ensuing conversation between the rapidly growing police presence, now a dozen large, and the “Voice” on the roof top is not worthy of the character count it would eat up on this post, trust me. It was boring, benign if I’m being generous. The usual patter of please and thank you, but one detail has remained with me: he said he had been chased. Chased by something, but he was not sure what. Chased from the freeway, past the train tracks, and all the way up the roof of this house.

And that was it. There was no follow-up, questioning. No inquiry to description. And no what happened to the “thing” chasing you. As I said before, the exchange was boring.

Personally I do not think the “Thing” is gone. It never stopped chasing him. I think the “Thing” got him. It resides inside him. Dueling with itself, showing fragility in the face of authority, but commanding power over its victim when he’s alone. If his mental disorder is not engineered by the Meth that is rampantly spreading like a disease in our gentrified neighborhood, then it’s the cause of his own genetic make-up breeding chaos in this man’s life.

I will leave you with this: he stood, silently, handcuffed for nearly half an hour while the police officers slowly peeled off, leaving the original two and one more car for safety. Eventually a silent ambulance arrived and with that the entire ordeal was over. Erased. The block empty, peaceful and quiet, the way it should be at 2:30 AM, and the way I hope this man’s mind can find itself again some day.