I am my own doppelganger

For nearly my entire K-12 experience, I was a school walker. I walked to school. My house was perfectly positioned to be nearly equidistant to all the school buildings within Thornapple Kellogg Schools. But for a brief time in first grade, before my house was finished, I rode the bus to school.

indian_valley_campgroundMy family was living in Indian Vally Campground in a fifth wheel camper borrowed from my mom’s parents while the builders were working on our house in the village. I have a feeling that living in a campground is one step below living in a trailer park, but I had some good times there. Sure, we had to walk up the hill to the bathhouse in order to shower, but we also had campfires regularly, so I guess it was okay.

But my story isn’t about campground life. I just got sidetracked. My story is about the other Josh Mosey who rode my bus to school.

ducktales_lunchboxOn my way home one day, I must have left my lunchbox on the bus. It was an awesome lunchbox, officially licensed by the cartoon, “Ducktales”, which was one of my favorite shows. My mom, having the foresight that motherhood provides and knowing my tendency to forget things, wisely inscribed my name upon the interior of the lunchbox, so that when I lost it, it might be returned to me.

In fact, this was the case when, in the days after leaving said lunchbox on the bus, my bus driver showed me the lunchbox and asked if it was mine.

“It looks like mine,” I said. “But let me make sure.”

I opened the box to see the name “Josh Mosey” written inside.

“Um,” I said. “Nope, this isn’t mine.”

“But that’s your name,” said the driver.

“But my mom wrote my name in black marker,” I protested. “This one says ‘Josh Mosey’ in blue. It must belong to the other Josh Mosey.”

Suddenly, my older brother steps up.

“I’ll take it for him,” he said, grabbing the box and my hand and taking us both off the bus and back to our camper.

“But that isn’t my lunchbox,” I told him.

I was so convinced that I was right in remembering the color of marker in which my name was written that I created my own doppelganger.

I’m fairly certain now that I just remembered the color wrong, that the box with blue lettering really was mine all along, but sometimes I still wonder. Is there another Josh Mosey out there? What has become of him? And what does he think of me?

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Holiday Mix-Up

One of my sisters-in-law is an elementary teacher in North Carolina. Not only is she a great person because she is blood-related to my wife, but she also uses my Saturday Photo Prompts in her classroom as teaching tools. My favorite part of this fact is that occasionally she’ll send me the stories that her students write based on my prompts.

Such was the case recently when she sent the stories you will read below. Unfortunately, due to some kind of mix-up, the photo upon which these stories are based did not originate from my Saturday Photo Prompts as she thought it did. In any case, they are wonderful stories and I can’t just keep them to myself, so I’m going to share them now before another holiday passes and these are really out of date.

Enjoy!

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pumpkins

Once upon a time there was a contest but only on Halloween. Everyone started on their pumpkins. There was 147 people. After a kid cut one oft he pumpkins and then a ghost came out. But the kids or the father and mother did not see the ghost. The kids felt sad that their pumpkin was a mess. But they put it in the contest. But they put in the wrong one. They saw a ghost and got it and their pumpkins and ran. They went to their house. Then Halloween was over and they won gods. (Not sure what that last bit’s about)

– Jennifer

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 One day a ghost who got trapped in a pumpkin and the pumpkin grew legs and arms. And guess what, he was now a pumpkin man. So he followed a bird. He followed it into town and scared the people away. The town’s people grabbed the pitchfork and torches. They chased the pumpkin man. Mr. Jack ran for his life. So he won’t get stopped. Help! Help! cried Mr. Jack. Then they sliced off his head.

– Trenton

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 One night, it was Halloween and everybody saw a bunch of some scary pumpkins. But one looked really weird. It was a pumpkin that was haunted. And people always say if you touch it you will disappear. There was a boy named Max who was very interested in where the pumpkin would take you. So one night he decided to touch the pumpkin and…. nothing happened. So the next morning Max told everybody that the pumpkin was not haunted. And the pumpkin was never haunted again. Max was glad nobody else had believed in a haunted pumpkin anymore.

– Jeremiah

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 One day was there a pumpkin carving contest. There was a little girl who wanted to enter the pumpkin contest. Then she went to tell her friends all about it. They all went to the sign up sheet so they can enter the contest. Then they started to carve the pumpkin. Julie said I do not was to do anything normal like a smiley face on the pumpkin. I want to do something outrageous like put the word BOO or a witch on the pumpkin. Then somebody shouted let’s do a villain or a really scary face. It was the day of the contest and the judges got ready. They looked at each pumpkin and then the judges decided it was the scary pumpkin the little kids had made. They won!

– Jasmin

I am a son.

Happy Mother's Day!Three Stories of Moms.

I was only six when I broke my mom’s heart. At least, that’s the earliest that I remember doing it. It happened after school, on the first day that I could walk to our new home in Middleville, Michigan.

You see, I started the school year as a bus-rider. We moved to the west side of Michigan from the Flint area, but construction was not yet finished on our house when the school year began, so we ended up living temporarily in the Indian River campground in my grandparents fifth wheel camper.

When the foundation of the house was set, my first grade class walked to my new home to see some of the construction happening. And sometime into the school year, the home was complete enough that we were able to get power and water to the property, enabling us to move our camper from the campground to our very own land.

The first school day after we moved the camper to our property was the day the it happened. Now that we lived in the middle of town, we were no longer bus-riders, we were walkers, meaning that when it came to getting to school, we walked. I don’t remember how I got to school that morning, whether my parents dropped me off in the car, or I walked there, but I do remember that I was going to walk home. When school let out, my mom was there waiting to walk with me.

But I didn’t let her.

I told my mom that I didn’t need her, that I could walk home by myself.

I still regret that. And now that I am a parent, I am afraid of the day when my own child tells me that she doesn’t need me.

That day, my mom walked in front of me about twenty steps the whole way home because I didn’t want her to walk with me.

I do need you mom, and I am thankful that even when I say I don’t, that you don’t give up on me, that you are still only a few steps away and ready to help me as soon as I ask for it.

Thanks mom.

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The first Sunday dinner I was invited to by my girlfriend’s family was a big deal. DeAnne and I had only been dating a short time, and I was very much in the approval seeking phase of our relationship. I had only met her family member a few times and some of them, not at all. The dinner was my chance to make a good impression.

I don’t remember what the menu for dinner was. Whatever it was, I am sure that it was very good. The Cazier family doesn’t know how to make bad food. In trying to make a good impression though, I refrained from taking too much of any dish and made sure to finish all of what I took.

After seeing that my plate was clean, DeAnne’s mom asked politely if I would like some more food. I assured her that the food was delicious, but that I was content with what I had eaten. She then said something that caused a silence to descend upon the room so thick that even crickets would not have chirped for fear of awkward attention. What she said was this, “But you look like the kind of guy that gets seconds.”

Now, I’m not the skinniest guy out there, but even so, I didn’t expect something like that. From the looks on the faces around the table, no one else did either. After a few seconds of pregnant pause, I laughed. Everyone laughed. She asked what was so funny. By the time it was explained to her why what she said might have been offensive, I had passed some kind of acceptance test with the rest of her family. I was a guy who could take a joke, intentional or not.

She is now my mother-in-law, and I wouldn’t trade her for the world. What I know now that I didn’t know then is that she gets great joy from being hospitable, especially to her sons-in-law. Shortly after the “accidentally insinuating that I’m overweight” incident, she asked me what my favorite kind of pop is, and it has been in her fridge waiting for me ever since.

Thanks mom.

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My wife called into the hospital to confirm our appointment for her induction early in the morning. She was 39 weeks along and this was our second pregnancy. The hospital told us to wait and call back in a few hours, that a lot of babies were being delivered at the moment and that we may need to wait a day or two. My wife, being a committed student and hard worker, was frustrated with this response, as it meant that she could have attended one of her college courses that morning after all. Of course, what really bothered her was the fact that we were ready and had waited for so long already to hold our daughter in our arms.

After a few more calls to the hospital (and a walk or two around the block to take our minds off of things), we got the okay to come to the hospital. They would have a room waiting for us and as long as everything looked good, they would be inducing her that day. We went.

After meeting the various doctors, having family visit us in the room, and even watching part of a movie as we waited for the medicine to start the birthing process to kick in, it was time.

Now, if I may brag on my wife for a moment, there are no women out there who are as strong and as amazing under pressure as my wife is. She wanted to give birth without an epidural or anything to numb the pain, and she did. On one of the last pushes, our daughter’s shoulder got stuck and the doctor jumped up on my wife’s stomach and started physically pushing our baby out from the top, and out she came.

This wasn’t our first experience with giving birth in this hospital. The previous fall, we came into Emergency with my wife at 30 weeks along only to find out that we had lost our first daughter. That delivery was very different.

This time around, when we saw our second daughter come into the light, we waited with bated breath. We had already known the loss of one child and at many times during the pregnancy, we felt like it could happen again. And then our daughter cried. She was okay. She was loud. She was chubby and covered in goo, but she was unmistakeably alive.

We laughed and cried and thanked God for the opportunity to be parents.

Since then, I’ve had the chance to see my wife prove herself as a loving mom time after time. When she had to go back to class right after giving birth, she did (I was in the hallway with our daughter while she was in class so she if I needed her, she wasn’t far away). When breastfeeding wasn’t going well, she didn’t give up. When our daughter was feeling ill or had banged her knee, she was the first one to offer a hug and some love.

And with another little girl on the way (we’re about 30 weeks along as of this post), I can’t wait to see her as a mom of two girls.

Thanks Bunny.

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Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

Back to School | Fantasy & Science Fiction

My phone died on the way home from work yesterday. I’m really glad that it did.

My wife and I both get out at 5:00 PM. She picks up our daughter from her parent’s house on the way home from her work, and I get dinner started since I get home first. We always call each other and talk on the way home (driving safely, of course). But yesterday, my phone died just as I was pulling onto our street.

I got home a few seconds later and went about my routine (let the dog out, get the mail, take care of my lunch bag, start dinner). By the time I got my phone plugged in to call my wife back, she was almost home.

“Monkers,” she said to me, “Did you happen to turn on NPR after your phone died?”

I told her that I did not.

“Because I heard something on the radio that made me think of you.”

She proceeded to tell me about a free class being offered by the University of Michigan that had to do with Fantasy something-or-other. My wife knows that I would like to go back to school at some point and get some formal training in writing. I graduated a few years back from Western Michigan University with a degree in Recreation and a minor in Communication. It wasn’t until after I graduated that I took up a serious interest in writing.

“I’d really like to look into that,” I said.

So I did.

The class is called Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World. It doesn’t look like a specifically “writing” course, but it looks great all the same.

Here’s a description from the sign-up page:

Fantasy is a key term both in psychology and in the art and artifice of humanity. The things we make, including our stories, reflect, serve, and often shape our needs and desires. We see this everywhere from fairy tale to kiddie lit to myth; from “Cinderella” to Alice in Wonderland to Superman; from building a fort as a child to building ideal, planned cities as whole societies. Fantasy in ways both entertaining and practical serves our persistent needs and desires and illuminates the human mind. Fantasy expresses itself in many ways, from the comfort we feel in the godlike powers of a fairy godmother to the seductive unease we feel confronting Dracula. From a practical viewpoint, of all the fictional forms that fantasy takes, science fiction, from Frankenstein to Avatar, is the most important in our modern world because it is the only kind that explicitly recognizes the profound ways in which science and technology, those key products of the human mind, shape not only our world but our very hopes and fears. This course will explore Fantasy in general and Science Fiction in specific both as art and as insights into ourselves and our world.

This course comprises ten units. Each will include a significant reading, typically a novel or a selection of shorter works. I will offer video discussions of each of the readings and also of more general topics in art and psychology that those readings help illuminate. Each unit will include online quizzes and ask you to write a brief essay offering your own insights into the reading. All the readings except Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles and Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness will be available online at no charge.

The professor is Eric S. Rabkin. Again, from the sign-up page:

Eric S. Rabkin is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, Professor of English Language and Literature, and Professor of Art and Design at the University of Michigan. He has won numerous teaching awards, including the Golden Apple awarded annually by the students to the outstanding teacher at the University of Michigan. His research publications include the first English-language theoretical discussion of fantasy and the second of science fiction. He has won the Science Fiction Research Association’s Pilgrim Award for lifetime contributions to science fiction criticism.

And the class really is free.

I signed up last night.  You can sign up here. Who’s going to join me?