Friday, January 27, 2012

A day in the life of Kim

How many of us can open ourselves up and stand naked to the world; our deepest darkest thoughts exposed for all to see and scrutinize? How many can do it even when it's just to themselves? You can say that you don't care what others think about the person that you are...your character, your thoughts, but that's not exactly true. It takes courage to write a day in the life of Kim because sometimes there is ugliness in truth, and evilness behind humor.
My daughter looked at me and said, "You seem like you're in a bad mood."

"No, but I am tired." I replied.

"Yeah, your voice was real soft when you was talking to Grandma."

We had just dropped Mom off at her house and I thought it was the worse day ever. There are things that you do for the people you love, without thought, because even though you might not do it for your self--you'd do it for them. I'd do anything for my Mama and my kids. Period. But that doesn't make it easy.

Earlier I went in to work half a day so that I could take my Mom to a 3:30 post surgical doctor's examination. Earlier in the week she had complained about the condition of her toenails so I had picked up an electronic pedicure kit and told her I'd be there to give her a pedicure and to help her in the bath. Unfortunately my day began badly when I realized that I had left the thing at home and had to go to my house after leaving work. I usually take the bus but drove so that I could be speedy. 

I'm not going to Mom is known for being on CP time. I dashed over there knowing that after I did her toes and helped her in the tub I would need to go to the store and get her a vegetable salad from the grocery store. I did all that and announced that I was going to get her salad when she said that she didn't want it because she was full from her big breakfast. I told her she'd want it later but she looked totally uninterested and I wasn't in the mood to hit the grocery store so COOL!!!

We were really late but you never rush someone who is notorious for being on CP (colored people) time. Who am I to argue when she needs the purple hat that matches her purple blouse or she needs lotion rubbed into her back. Hey, not my business if she sends me to fetch her bra but it's not really the one she likes. I needed at least 30 minutes to get her to her appointment but by the time we got going I only had 17 minutes. I got stressed trying to rush plus driving her big truck so that she could get comfy in the back seat was no joke. We were half an hour late by the time I finally got parked in the garage and luckily a wheelchair magically appeared so that she wouldn't have to struggle with the walker. Unfortunately we were in the wrong garage and had to catch a shuttle to the correct facility AND the shuttle didn't have a wheelchair lift (???) AND Mom had to go to the bathroom very badly. Look, by the time we got into the doctor's office I was just whupped, okay?

All the while I kept sneezing and coughing from the MRSA or infections or flying viruses that I had been exposed to on my my previous hospital visit the week before, but then here is the kicker, I get a text from my daughter;

Mom, the water's off.

Crap! I'm paperless because not only am I a germaphobe, I'm a tree hugger--one of the few bills that's not completely electronic is (you guessed it) the water bill. It's after five, too late to call in a payment.

I'll swing by after we leave the doctor and I'll pick you up and we'll shower at Mom's. Did you eat?


Then we'll pick up Chinese after we leave Mom's.

The doctor comes in and introduces himself to her and says that although he did her surgery they had never met. He asks her what happened to cause the break and I prepare myself for the story about how her foot went 'CRICK' and broke off and she had to put it back on.

Only now the story has made a drastic change. The foot went 'CRICK' and came off and then the bone stabbed into the ground! I almost fell out when I heard that. The doctor doesn't allow this story to phase him as he announces that they are removing the cast and giving her a boot. WHATTTT??? After only a week???? Even though she just had surgery to add a plate and screws??? Why is it that in the good ol' days you wore a big bulky cast for two months?! But then he explains that when there are wounds involved in the break, ie stitches, they find that it helps if she flexes it 3x a day and they also want air to get to it otherwise it gets too dirty to treat the open wound.

Oh well that makes perfect sense to me. Because we wouldn't want to have a dirty wound...though it seems keeping the foot immobile would be kind of important too but--okay. 

The nurse comes in to remove the cast and asks my mom how she broke her leg. 

"I was just walking and then my foot went CRICK and broke off and then stabbed into the ground! It was only held on by my skin!"  

Hell, maybe that did happen because the nurse keeps a straight face, no comment.  The scissors appear and Mom begins to wail, Owww! Wait! It's going to hurt. Five minutes later Mom apologized and admitted that it didn't hurt at all, she was just scared. I was a little annoyed. Not because of the wailing exactly, but because I thought she was hurt and I was hurting watching her go through it...only to discover that she was a big baby. Hey, her words not mine.

I'm mean, aren't I? Don't worry. I will get my just deserts...

Mom was telling me how much of a big baby she was and I agreed and told her not to act like she's in pain if she isn't or the doctor will not handle the situation the way it needs to be handled. She gave me a look as hard as stone and said, "I was scared." I thought, about all of the surgeries I've gone through, the pain, the needle pokes and never let my fear get the better of me. I nodded my head and sneezed into my tissue and helped her to the bathroom, then got another appointment for the following week when they would be removing the 30 staples holding my mom's leg in place. Dear god give us both strength...

We head for the shuttle only to discover that its raining...and dark outside. My back is throbbing relentlessly due to an old sciatica injury and pushing that flipping wheel chair around the world and back...but thankfully the shuttle appears instantly so that we don't have to wait. On the way to the house to pick up my daughter and a change of clothes so that we can get showered, Mom says she doesn't have any money on her and wants to go to an ATM. 

"Any preference, Mom?"

"Well I like the one in the grocery store."

I scowl to myself. I'm not getting out in the rain to go all the way into the grocery store just to get money out of her account. No no no...crazy is not going to make an appearance tonight!

"...and while you're there we can get that salad I wanted earlier."

You are a mean-assed daughter if you don't get your Mama that salad! I'm going to do it, Jeez!!! Luckily the phone rings and it's my cousin who has been cleaning my Mom's house, and she announces that she is about to leave and is there is anything she can do. She's such a lovely cousin. She has now become my favorite person in the whole wide world.

"Yes, you can get Mama a salad from Krogers." Jeez I love her...but she don't love me in that moment. 

I get my daughter and the puppy and head across town back to Mom's house. very tired. I'm talking to Mom, my voice is soft because I'm tired, not annoyed. We get her home and my Mom announces she doesn't want the salad because there will only be old lettuce at this time of night and so now my cousin is happy. After showering we hang out for a while, order a pizza AND salad, and really have a good time visiting with her. 

I pull up Adele's album 21 on Youtube because my Mom loves her but has never heard all of the songs from the album. I play Love Song because me and my daughter really love her rendition of the old Cure song. The three of us get sad at her haunting voice; three generations of women--all in different phases of our lives but each able to find our individual connection to that song. My mom says that she wants to listen to it again when we leave, and then she looks at the floor and says, maybe I don't want to hear it when you leave.

But then it's time to go and my daughter says;

"You seem like you're in a bad mood."

"No, but I am tired." I replied.

"Yeah, your voice was real soft when you was talking to grandma."

I was just tired.

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you how I got my just deserts. The very next day I was using my break while at work to call various doctors and hospitals to get my daughter a meningitis vaccination in order for her to register for housing in college. You would have thought that I was trying to break someone out of prison! All I want is a vaccination for my daughter but no one offers it, or if they do then they are not accepting new patients. 

I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to get this done and trying to pull up the meningitis waiver form when my phone rings. It's my doctor's office. Oh cool, maybe they found a way to get the vaccine for my daughter.

"Hi this is Donna from Dr. Giullitto's office."

"Hi Donna."

"We got the results back from your mammogram. There's a shadow on your left breast. We need you to come in for a second bilateral mammogram."

I sat there in my seat for a moment trying to connect her words to my daughters vaccination. Wait...huh?  "Oh...kay." I finally say. She gives me a bunch of instructions and I call the hospital to make the appointment. When I hang up the phone the first thing I think is who is going to be there to help my daughter with college if I'm not?

The world continued to move around me, but the path of my existence came to a screeching halt. The world was moving around me...but there was a possibility that I wouldn't be in it for long. 

A mother, daughter, friend's job is never done. And though my life was in flux I still had things to do. I had to deposit my mom's check into her account, pick up dinner and it was raining and dark again. I called my Mom. My mom has so much on her plate, I shouldn't burden her with this. But I was scared. I needed my Mom.

"Mom, my mammogram shows a shadow on my left breast."

Quiet. "Kim, twice I had a mammogram that came back like that. I have cystic breasts. It's going to be alright baby. You're my daughter. You're going to be alright."

I could breathe again. "Okay." We talked for a while longer.

"I love you, baby."

"I love you too, Mama." I'm sorry I made fun of you for being afraid.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dancing Peeta

No puppies were hurt in the making of this video...

A day in the life of Kim

I was staring at my computer screen, absorbed in my work. Sometimes work creates a rhythm that helps the day move along...sometimes it's just helacious. It turned out that today would be a very helacious one.

I get a message on my computer screen. My buddy Paul wants to go out for lunch today. Yay...for a person that just had weight loss surgery I'm strangely preoccupied with food. Why is that? I lost 28 lbs in the three months leading up to the surgery. Lost 10 in the week after...and then gained five back. Now I'm teetering along the edge of losing and gaining 2 and 3 lbs.
I think this is 2 days after weight loss surgery
Hmmm my preoccupation with food. It's like this song by Dionne Farris; Food for thought
Using food for thought and thought for food
All I have is my attitude, the hour glass, and my
Ever changing mood...
Paul says meet me outside at 12:30, and then we'll decide where we're going to eat...which really means HE'LL decide where we're going to eat. He has the car after all. Just as I'm signing off my computer my cell phone rings. I think its Paul telling me he's early. I check the clock, 12:25, but it's not Paul it's Mom.
"Hi Mom..."
"Kim, it's broke! It's broke so bad." I start pacing.
"What's broke?"
"My leg!"
"Okay, where are you?"
"I'm at the house! Kim it's so bad!"
"Okay, did you call 911? Do you need me to call 911?"
"No, I already called them. Their on their way." I realize that I've already put on my coat and I turn back to my computer and sign out of all my programs. I have to get out of here.
"Kim! I need you!"
"Okay, Mama I'm coming. I'll meet you at the hospital. Which one? I took the bus so..." Then I remember Paul--with his car. Mom tells me what hospital. I hang up my phone and hurry to my co-worker to tell her that my mother broker her leg and I have to leave and she has to do the last two cases and ...well bye! On the way out I call my manager and then Paul and explained what was going on. He said he'd take me to the Hospital.
"We need to eat first," I say as he pulls up to the curb and I slip into the car. 
So yes. Yes I did eat Taco Casa while my mom was in emergency with a broken leg. What? An apology, remorse? Shame? Hell no. Okay, a bit of shame. Though I did need to eat, I could have taken it to go...

At the hospital, my Mom is in a private triage room. I've never seen one. I begin to fuss over her. She describes how her ankle just twisted while she was in the back yard and how she had to reach under it to put it 'back on' and then how she yelled for help but to no avail, and then dragged herself up the porch stairs and into the house where she called 911. I took plenty of pictures, rubbed her good foot, braided her dreds and pinned them up (they reach the small of her back) I helped her pee and kissed her and told her I loved her. I listened as she talked to my sister and described how her foot had broke off, and how the doctor said it was a terrible break and was so bad.

I was looking at her thinking...the doctor never said that. 

5. When the doctor tells your Mom that he has to pull her foot to straighten the break BEFORE giving her a nerve block.
4. When your Mom screams HELP!
3. When your Mom says she's going to act a fool up in here.
2. When she finally gets her shot of demerol and morphine and begins to lift the broken leg up and down up and down...(an hour later she will yell that it hurts even worse. OHHHH IT HURTS!!)
1. When your Mom is no longer under the influence of pain killers but still proclaims, "I'm not taking off my bra and panties! They just want to see what a naked 65 year old woman looks like!"

My sister gets there later that night. Now its her turn to show Mommy all kinds of attention while I pace and watch and wait for the doctors to assign her a room so that she can finally get some sleep. My sister asks her how bad it hurt when they put on the splint and straightened the break. Mom shrugs and says it didn't hurt that bad.

I didn't even bat an eye at that. Mom sure enough acted like it hurt! She even apologized to the doctor and he was visibly shaken when he was done. I will admit that there was a small part of me that was on the verge of 'acting a fool, too.' I wanted to hit the doctor in the back of the head and yell, 'Stop hurting my Mama!'

Well she did end up getting surgery the next day. Two broken bones in her leg and two days in the hospital but she seems to be doing good. She's getting around on a walker--and she's getting a sliding, seated walker to put her knee on. 

Before I wrap this up I have to tell you that I'm a bit of a germaphobe. The hospital is a bad place for a germaphobe. I developed a bump on my knee during the last hour of my stay--My mom said it was just an ingrown hair but it just DEVELOPED! This was about 9:00 and I felt very strongly that it was MRSA. I went home and stripped off all my clothes, washed them and took a long long shower and then climbed into bed. I talked to my other sister on the phone and my throat began to close up as if I had strep throat so I took 2 shots of Nyquil--convinced that I had caught something at the hospital (and YES I did! My nose is running as I type!)

The phone rings at 4 am as I'm in a Nyquil induced haze. It's Mom. They had moved her surgery up to seven am and she was all alone. I rushed to the hospital but...why was she still wearing the bra and panties?! I did manage to convince her to take them off--want to know how? I told her she'd probably develop MRSA if she kept her undies on. 

We really are very much alike. 

Mom's broken leg  

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Feedback requested

Well the Amazon contest will begin January 23rd and there are two categories; youth story and general audiences. None of the stories that you all have read by me would really fit either category. But I believe I can make Untitled fit, and I have another Untitled story that would fit the youth category.

My daughter and I call the story The Purple World. I began writing it for my daughter many years ago and we are the only two to ever see it--until now. It's about a group of friends that find each other out of necessity of their circumstances. And then they go on to experience the greatest adventure of all time. Here is my PITCH:
Eddie is a shy, sickly, yet smart boy that finds himself bullied by his peers. It's difficult for him to open up but when he does he is loyal and true. Hestler is a little girl that is shunned by the townspeople, abused by the one that raises her, and possessed by a demon that she has learned to live with. Her home is the barn of the boardinghouse that she is forced to cook and clean--but people come from miles around to eat her delicious food or to watch and wait for her demon to emerge. Matteo is their strange link. He is a mixture of every race but one would be hard pressed to identify any one of them. His lion colored eyes are like no others--and is the key to the mystery that he holds secret... His mysterious appearance in school is made only stranger by his odd clothes and the weird manner that he speaks. And then one day he says, "I will barter an adventure more valuable then your fried sticks of potato!"  And then begins the experience of their lives.

The trio experiences a magical journey of different worlds, strange customs until they are joined by their final friend, someone so devastatingly deformed that no one knows if their newest member is boy or girl...This journey takes them through the true test of friendship and teaches them the true meaning of home.
Okay, so that's my PITCH. How did it sound? Does it make you want to read it? I have 120K words and I'm not done yet...rounding third and heading home. 

I'll share some chapters with you. But please let me know what you think--is it a little boring? Or am I suffering from over-editing syndrome?


Friday, January 20, 2012

RIP Etta James

Her body may have left this world, but her talent will remain forever.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Dr. Martin Luther King day--I feel sorry for you if you've lost the dream...

No work today (for some of us at least), a day of rest or a day to hang out with friends and family. We know that we are supposed to acknowledge why we are off, and many black people probably do. But what about the rest of America--the non-black part? We hear it all the time; MLK day is not a 'black history' day. MLK is an 'American history' day. But do we really understand what that means?

Do any of us ever think about the contributions of non-whites during the civil rights movement. Even today when racism is supposed to be a distant memory it is still hard to take a stand for right, against hatred.

During the civil rights era, many white people were sympathizers but  felt as if they couldn't take a stand or they just weren't willing to risk what others thought. Imagine being a white man, woman, or child that actively stood up for the rights of a black person in the face of so much hatred! How much courage did that take--when sometimes you had to even go against the wishes of your very own family? Imagine how hard it was to stand up for what's right when being different was a matter of life or death?

Now think about those people who still do it--now when the racial issue is not just about black and white, but about Hispanics and Middle Easterners as well as human rights issues with gays and lesbians. How about today we become conscious of those people that are not the passive observer of racist jokes. I am proud of those people that can tell their co-worker to shut his mouth when he spews some racist statement, or that won't allow the cashier behind the counter to skip the black kid that was before him in line. 

Maybe we can all do our little part--not just today but everyday! Maybe we can stand up for our fellow man and not be afraid to say, 'Wow that was racist. Not cool.' or 'Stop saying they! We're all people. It's us! Or stare someone straight in the eye and say, 'I don't feel that way.'

My friend (who happens to be white) wrote something on his facebook that was very nice and I decided to repost it here. And remember, today is not about commemorating a BLACK hero, but commemorating ALL people that can stand up for themselves and for their fellow man.

MLK Day is only a "Black People's Celebration" in the mind's of racists. It should be a celebration for anyone who's been should be a celebration of all the things that we ALL benefit from in a society where, all people are equal and have the same rights to pursue whatever their dreams might be. Do you realize that a simple convo. between white's and blacks would not have been possible in the South in the 60's? Anyone who thinks MLK's life and achievements should not be celebrated should really educate themselves, because I'm sure, no matter how racist a person can some point in their lives, they have benefited from the achievements of someone NOT of their own race. Where would society be without education being open to everyone? Bet that Neo-Nazi or KKK member wouldn't be too picky about what color his surgeon happens to be, if He's undergoing a "Life & Death" operation, and the only surgeon skilled enough happened to be a Black woman. MLK was one of the most important historical figures ever, for EVERY American.....and for ANY American who can't celebrate today, I feel sorrow...guess you just can't dream.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

2012 Break through Amazon Award

The 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

We'll start accepting General Fiction and Young Adult Fiction entries on January 23, 2012. Visit CreateSpace to learn more.

On the Contest

The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award brings together talented writers, reviewers, and publishing experts to find and develop new voices in fiction. The 2012 international contest will award two grand prizes: one for General Fiction and one for Young Adult Fiction. Each winner will receive a publishing contract with Penguin, which includes a $15,000 advance.
Open submissions for manuscripts will begin on January 23, 2012 and run through February 5, 2012. If you're an author with an unpublished or previously self-published novel waiting to be discovered, visit CreateSpace to sign up for regular contest updates.
See the official contest rules, or read details on how to enter.

Crafting Your Pitch

Start this year’s contest off strong by creating an unforgettable first impression with your pitch.
Want to know what pitches worked in the past? Check out pitches from previous years' General Fiction and Young Adult Fiction winners.
Get feedback from other writers in the CreateSpace and Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award communities, and use CreateSpace Resources to find helpful tips and tricks from experts, including:
2012 General Fiction Expert Panelists
2012 Young Adult Fiction Expert Panelists
Linda Fairstein Our panel of experts for the 2012 General Fiction contest includes Linda Fairstein, best-selling author of the Alexandra Cooper novels, including Night Watch (available July 2012); Anne Sowards, Executive Editor of The Berkley Publishing Group; and Donald Maass, literary agent and author of The Breakout Novelist.
Andrea Cremer Our panel of experts for the 2012 Young Adult Fiction contest includes Andrea Cremer, best-selling author of Nightshade, Wolfsbane, and Bloodrose; Regina Hayes, President and Publisher of Viking Children’s Books; and Charlie Olsen, literary agent for InkWell Management.
Read more about the General Fiction expert panel
Read more about the Young Adult Fiction expert panel

2011 General Fiction Winner: East of Denver
2011 Young Adult Fiction Winner: Spookygirl
East of Denver Gregory Hill has won the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in General Fiction for East of Denver. Expert panelist Lev Grossman says East of Denver is "on a par with that of top-flight black-comic novelists like Sam Lipsyte and Jess Walter, and it deserves to be read."
Spookygirl Jill Baguchinsky has won the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in Young Adult Fiction for Spookygirl. Expert panelist Jennifer Besser says, "In the increasingly crowded paranormal marketplace, this funny and suspenseful novel sets itself apart and heralds the arrival of a fresh new voice."
Pre-order East of Denver
Pre-order Spookygirl

Previous Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Winners


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Fresh Kills

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Religion; A controversial subject

Eroticism and religion. Can we get any more controversial than that?

I often times include religious references in my writing. I've offended people by not placing a capitol G when using the word god. I show sexuality in people who have spiritual ideas. And I'm not afraid to do these things. But one thing I am afraid of is posting a video on my personal facebook page by a spoken word artist that proclaims his hate of religion and his love for Jesus. There would be no end to the number of disapproving responses I'd receive!

Somehow facebook has turned into a soapbox for religious rhetoric...most of which is perpetuated by your closest family and friends under the guise of offering enlightenment. But this is not about facebook and before I go any further let me just say this; I believe in and love God. Period. (for those who have wondered/ or care) Do I care if the next person believes in God? No. Honestly, I do not care. Do I tell atheists that they will go to hell if they don't believe in God? Do I tell fat people they are going to have a massive coronary? Or smokers they are going to die of cancer?

When an individual decides to share their personal religious ideas then that's their prerogative--just as I'm sharing my views with you today. You can use religion to point out flaws in people that you wouldn't otherwise criticize. And then you can respond by saying; I do this because my religion demands it. As is often the case.

Long ago I gave up the notion of polite debate. When someone criticizes me w/o invitation I correct that bad behavior very quickly!

I wrote a story that has no name, so I call it Untitled. I took the biggest risk ever in my writing career by penning a story about a girl that balances precariously between sin and righteousness. I challenge the reader to look at this girl's life and then to judge her as a sinner because she has broken the rules that have been dictated to her by her region, or to see her as an innocent that can see no wrong in loving.

At one point in the story, Tim looks at Martier--knowing that she wants an intimate relationship with him while he's been reluctant to have her experience any type of regret. But then he understands that she doesn't see intimacy in terms of sin and 'bad', and only then is he able to open up to her and to share something very heartfelt with her.Sex can be just a means to feel good...but sex is so much more than that when it is used as an expression of love. In this way eroticism and religion can be mutually beneficial. The multitude of self-righteous people in the world still like the feeling of sex. They may shun stories written about it, movies that showcase it, but no one can deny the feeling it brings.

Oh...and here is the video that made me think all this. I invite your feedback on the video or the topic as long as no one tells me I'm going to hell :-)

And from the atheists perspective:

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