My friend Cindy is what I refer to as a hot mess. In a good, funny, loving way. It was her birthday and she arrived at my work desk with a couple of pictures to show me. Now Cindy works in another department and made the trip special just to share these pictures. It also happened to be Throwback Thursday and if you spend anytime in twittersphere you know what I’m talking about. Her pictures spoke a thousand words of a young, vivacious, svelte, beautiful woman wearing a daring outfit. The other was her baby picture.
The baby picture was cute, but the young hot Cindy in 1984 is what caught your attention. Cindy is now 61 wonderful years and full of stories about her anything but dull life. Even heading into year so called golden years this woman is living a drama filled, but fun life and she loves to tell you about it. Great fodder for a writer! in fact we even based a character on her in our third book The Body Hunters: Dirty Secrets, Naked Truths . To put it simply Cindy is awesome. I could in no way have handled her life or begin to even imagine being as daring as she was and still is.
To the outsider Cindy can be a mental handful. As I stated she loves to talk and if you don’t love to listen to people then she is not the person for you. Her stories make it all worth it. The celebrity encounters she’s had in questionable situations to even current boyfriends make you drop your jaw and shake your head all the while smiling and laughing with her.
The whole picture exchange took less than 3 or 4 minutes and soon we were all back at our respective jobs and I didn’t think anything more of it. That is till the woman who sits on the other side of my cubicle said something to me over the cubicle wall.
“Why do you attract the weirdest people?” she asked.
“Huh?” was my intelligent response.
“These weird people always flock to you, you need to get some normal people in your life.”
Now this woman, let’s call her Mary to protect her not so innocence, is a 40-ish beautiful black woman, single mom with a teenage son. I have been to 1 outing with her and a couple of other friends to of all movies, a midnight showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. You know the one where people dress up and yell comments through out the whole movie? yeah that one. One of my friends that went with me that night is my age and a lifelong friend named Barb who is a musical wonder and a talented artist in paints and any other type of medium she gets her hands on. She’s high strung and like all artists of a high caliber, very brilliant and unfortunately lives in her own world. She is also an alcoholic, severely broke after having made an ungodly amount of money and is having trouble facing her new reality and frail physical and psychological health. She is a real hot mess and not in a good Cindy kind of way.
I will not lie, I prayed Barb would behave on our outing and just for once enjoy herself getting lost in this ridiculous movie. She did for all of 30 minutes and then her addiction and depression struck. She eventually left and found a bar to shoot back a few tequila’s down only coming back at the end of the movie. I was embarrassed for her and for me. Though I am not responsible for her actions, she had begged me take her along wanting the girls night out and I could have said no.
Mary is a former alcoholic. Mary lived a little of Barb’s life and should understand the addiction and what it does to a person. Mary is now sober and a church going upstanding citizen in her own eyes. Mary made several comments about that night and how she could relate to what Barb was going through, felt bad for her ect….which is why it was a shock to me that she made the comments she made.
Back to Cindy. Cindy is not Barb, Cindy holds a job, takes care of her aging mother and tries to make herself fun to be around. Mary’s comment to me about how I attract the weirdest people struck me as odd. Why was she being so critical? and what is she saying about herself? She after all did hang out with me too. She then said to me she thought Cindy was lying about having any current boyfriends. Cindy being 61 is not the skinny woman she used to be and her body no longer lends itself to dressing like a woman of much younger years. Cindy dresses for work in age appropriate clothes for a person on our meager salary.
I asked Mary why did she think Cindy was lying? What reason does she have to lie? Mary told me it was because she needed to compensate to me for lacking in something that I have that she doesn’t. In other words she told me Cindy was jealous of me.
Jealous of me? I am a living large and in charge kind of gal, in other words fat. My manner of dress is relevant to my size and financial situation. For Christ’s sakes I cut my own hair to save money since my husbands medical bills are so high. Why the hell would anyone be jealous of me?
“Ain’t no woman dresses like her and has a man. You have a long term marriage and she’s jealous of that.” she reiterated again I need normal people in my life.
Ok, who’s jealous of my having a husband? Um….her or you?
I mean how critical can you get? Mary as I have learned is very self critical calling herself things like ugly and fat, even complaining about her dark skin color calling her self Aunt Jemima after the pancake syrup character. Wow! How self loathing can you get? I wanted to cry for her and remember, I’m the living large and in charge gal who cuts her own hair.
I have no time for self loathing, self hatred and internal or outwardly name calling. People will do that for me and to me on a regular basis. I told Mary the reason the off center, kooky, crazy, troubled, weirdo’s (who are just normal human beings getting through life the best way they know how) are attracted to me is because I try not to judge and I listen. In them there are several life lessons to be learned and shared. Everyone has value even if you can’t or refuse to value yourself. For a woman who overcame her own addiction just to constantly put herself and other women down is sad. She is not an Aunt Jemima, Mrs. Butterworth or any other sticky syrupy commercially racist character. She is a beautiful black woman who turns men’s heads wherever she goes. I’m guessing the reason she can’t keep a love interest is beyond her beauty. If you can’t respect and love yourself how are you going to love someone else? Cindy is not lying about her life or the men in her life. I believe she still attracts men not because she is still the raving beauty of her youth, but because she is still a fun loving, quirky light hearted individual that loves life and has no problem in sharing it.
So here’s to all my weird, wacky, troubled, artistic, fun loving friends. Keep on keeping on. and to Mary, lighten up your heart already, it ain’t that serious!
Von and I have made it no secret that we work in a call center. Only the name and location have been changed to protect the not so innocent. The company we work for also has a call center in the Philippines to handle things such as billing and tech issues. It’s not an unusual thing for American companies to outsource some call center operations to other parts of the world.
On several occasions, I’ve had customers erroneously call me with complaints about the advisors overseas.
‘Thank God, I reached someone who speaks English!’
‘Where are you located? I’m tired of talking to foreigners!’
‘I hung up on the last person because I didn’t want to talk to anyone in China.’
‘I want you to get somebody from America on the phone!’
Those are just some of the ugly, nasty things I’ve heard over the years about the call center employees in the Philippines. It’s not that they’re incompetent or can’t do the job, people are offended because they’re not American. They use the excuse of a language barrier, when in truth they speak fluent English, some of them with or without an accent.
Sometimes they try to reel me in to their nastiness chuckling at their own derogatory humor, but I purposely let them hang themselves with awkward silence. If you feel this way about someone who’s different from you, what would you think about me, a black woman? You’re just letting me know what you’re all about.
Call center employees take their share of abuse and I’m pretty sure those from foreign call centers get it worse. That just adds to the widespread belief overseas that Americans are selfish, arrogant, and rude. How many of those call center employees go home with horror stories about the intolerant Americans they’ve talked to all day?
If you’re not happy with outsourcing, that’s fine, but it’s not the call center advisor’s fault. They’re trying to earn a living just like you. Write to the company you get your services through. If they refuse to change, take your business elsewhere. Just don’t make your grievances a personal attack on someone who’s just trying to do their job.
“Uh-I don’t know what happened. I left the keys in the car and I shut the door and it locked. The car’s not supposed to do that.”
In my secret non-author identity as a call center advisor, this is my most common call. Be it a dealer or customer, they’re always shocked that the car would have the sheer audacity to lock them out. After decades of human evolution when it comes to automobiles and locking the keys inside, you would think that we would have learned, but such is not the case. These so-called smart keys that are supposed to prevent such a situation have spoiled us.
Shockingly, most times they never blame themselves for locking the keys in the car or in the trunk. They’re angry and disgruntled, the victim of some form of trickery that the car has played on them. I even had one admit to pulling off on the highway to take a smoke and getting locked out.
Sometimes I just want to ask: What were you doing to get your keys locked in the car? Having a car that doesn’t have a smart key, I’m paranoid about getting locked out. I’m always aware of where my keys are when I get out of the car. And if it ever happens, I have a family member with an extra set, just in case. Maybe I’m crazy, but even with technology, I wouldn’t want to rely on a machine to save my butt in a jam.
Are we being dumbed down by technology, leaving common sense and our brains by the wayside? Are we getting too lazy to think, instead relying on Apps and computers to do it for us?
My grandmother used to carry an address book the size of a Yellow Pages in her purse, which she kept with her until the day she had her final stroke. Everyone from distant relative to close neighbor was listed in that book and she even kept a backup at home. Nowadays all our contacts are stored in our handy dandy smartphones. If your smartphone crashed, would you be able to remember your emergency contacts?
The same goes for driving. I’ve seen people pitch a fit because their GPS isn’t working. I know of people who get directions everyday for their commute. What happens when you can’t get directions?
What about something as simple as shopping? Do I really need to whip out my smartphone’s calculator to figure out what my discount at Macy’s will be?
I’m definitely not against technology, obviously it’s there for a reason. But every so often, maybe you might want to warm up those brain cells just to make sure they’re working right. It may save you a long wait for roadside because you locked your keys in your car.
The other night there was an especially upsetting episode of Sons of Anarchy. A person close to the main character, Jax, was killed off in an extremely brutal fashion. If you’re not familiar with the show, it centers around an outlaw biker gang and all the devious deeds they do. The show is supposedly an adaptation of Hamlet, where the biker club stands in for the kingdom.
Though in any other story he would be the villain, Jax’s character could be described as an antihero; a popular term for a bad guy we want to root for. During the six years the series has been running, we’ve seen Jax commit multiple murders, hurt people and even inject his son’s mother with drugs so she would have no hope in getting custody of him. Even though he commits these crimes, he claims to be a devoted husband and father to his two young sons who may be destined to repeat his mistakes. The viewer is supposed to sympathize with Jax, despite the heinous things he does because he is the center of the show.
Early in the episode he was warned by one of his friends that the troubles he may be having in his personal life, may be the result of his evil deeds in the past. Jax is shocked by this revelation. Why would his past deeds reflect on his current situation? Needless to say, the death of his loved one is the direct result of seeds he’d sown earlier in the season. What he did in the past eventually caught up to him, costing a woman her life.
Though it may be just a tv show, this is actually a situation I’ve seen over and over in real life. How many times have we seen the news story about the husband who kills the wife so he could be with his mistress and thinks he should get away with murder? Or the nutcase who makes it her point to go after another woman’s husband? How many people do we hear of lying, cheating, and stealing to get what they want no matter the cost? They have the attitude that they’re entitled to the happily ever after.
The thing that surprises me is their genuine shock when God comes to collect or karma comes back to slap them in the face. Did you really think you could do all this damage and you wouldn’t pay for it? Even people who do everything right and treat everyone kindly have trials in their lives.
Be careful what you do because it just might come back to bite you.
The innocent looking boy in the picture is quite the cutie isn’t he? He would live to be 87 yrs old before being called home, and while on this earth, lived quite an eventful life. He married 6 times, with only 2 marriages ending in death, my birth mother, wife #3, and wife #5.
He worked in the auto industry for most of his adult life. He believed in Generous Motors until the financial collapse of GM’s bankruptcy broke his heart. Life changed around him and he just couldn’t understand the why’s. He refused to believe that after all his years of blood, sweat and toil to a company he loved, he suddenly had to pay doctor co-pays and worry over the possibility of his pension being cut. The latter thankfully never happened.
I’d love to say in this post that he was a perfect father ect…. I’d love to say it, but truth was, he was blissfully unaware that he was a complicated man. He believed in simplicity and yet he convoluted his life so badly when it came to his family. With his last wife, he believed his kids should have just fallen all over the woman he loved, and love her just as much as he did, even as she was ripping our family apart.
This of course was his pollyanna, his utopia. Blood will always be thicker than water and the woman made sure that her grown child and grandchildren were to always come first in his eyes. At times I believe she succeeded and enjoyed rubbing my nose in it.
That’s not to say he didn’t love us. I think he just assumed we knew he did, and felt he had to outwardly show it to her children more. He had to prove to the new wife his loyalty, and I believe she exploited it to a high degree. I know in later (rare) private conversations with him, he later felt trapped in that loyalty, but felt powerless to do anything about it.
I loved him to a fault when I was young, and I do have many fond memories of him. My most valued memory is the father/daughter dance at my wedding. It was one of the few times I really felt connected to him, that he cared and was happy with my choice of partner. he loved my husband and thought highly of him. He even defended him against my husband’s own father. Yet another father story for another time.
After wife #5’s death, my brothers and I struggled to reconnect with him, feeling that for the first time we could have had that long awaited, and unencumbered relationship with him.
Not so much.
I quickly realized that he was the ‘marrying man’, when he announced at 73 yrs of age, that he was seeing yet another woman. This was literally months after wife #5 died. It was like a sickness, he just couldn’t be without a woman whom he wanted to give control over his life.
As an adult I began to see the pattern emerge. I don’t know much about wife #1 and 2, except with #2, he had 2 boys that he let another man adopt because he didn’t want anymore animosity and fights between wife #2 and #3, besides he had young children with #3 and another new life.
With wife #4 he had no children, and after a contentious relationship, ended up leaving her for wife #5. With wife #5 he gained 4 stepdaughters that he truly loved. It was inexplicable to me that he also dropped them all by the wayside when #6 came around, though later he would believe wife #6 when she said it was their fault and they abandoned him. It’s that ‘why didn’t they worship #6 like he did’ kind of thing. Through rose colored glasses of love and obsession, he failed to see #6’s jealousy and that she pushed us all away.
The 4 girls would never be able to have any semblance of a relationship with him again, with only one of them being able to see him once before he died. Wife #6 made sure of that. She also made sure my brothers and I were tossed out of the picture until she finally relented to having me around.
This was an eggshell walk for me, treading water carefully as to not upset the balance that allowed my continued visits. My brothers just gave up.
Now here’s the weird part, as time went on he just couldn’t understand why things were the way they were. He couldn’t see his role in the drama. Sensing that he was losing his touch on reality in his last years, I let it be and decided instead to try to persuade the brothers to make up and just be a family before he passed. It didn’t work. I spent years on this fruitless endeavor, arguing and pleading with them to no avail. I swallowed so much pride I was drowning in my own tears.
I was with him that weekend at his home, watching his chest rise and fall with each ragged breath, hanging on to life with him in his few moments of clarity, in-between blissful pain free naps. I held his hand, stroked his hair and prayed for a peaceful ending, letting him know he wasn’t alone.
I watched as the funeral home came and zipped him up in a body bag and carried him out on a gurney at 5am, after hospice came and declared him what we already new him to be.
I sat in the funeral home alone for calling hours, my husband having been taken ill that day. I was surrounded by wife #6’s family, very few I truly believed loved him, and senior center friends of his I didn’t know. My family was nowhere to be seen. It was totally awkward sitting there. Many of his ‘other’ family didn’t know who I was, since I was never spoke of by #6. I felt like it was me, not him, that was the ghost in the room. Only one of #6’s family offered a condolence to me, thankfully it was #6’s daughter, who was gracious enough to put aside her own grief to see that I too, was hurting. I dreaded the funeral the next day.
Then a miracle happened. The 3 step sisters who were still alive (1 passed away 2 yrs prior) and their spouses and children, who’s hearts were also broken by the man lying in the casket, had made a last minute decision and showed up at the funeral, swallowing their pride with me, shedding tears for the relationship they remembered with him, not what for what it became.
I don’t want my readers to get the wrong impression about this post. It’s not a bash my father for the last time kind of thing. He was, after all, a funny man with down home, countrified kind of humor. He enjoyed playing his music and was quite an accomplished singer and guitar player. He played in many bands and gave generously of his time to playing for the ‘old’ folks at the senior centers and nursing homes in his seventies and early eighties, before his health demanded he stop. He was beloved by his friends as an affable, kind man, who would give you the shirt off his back. Like I said, he was complicated without ever realizing it.
There is, of course, a huge amount to tell of his life that would have to be classified as fiction, because, well, truth is stranger than fiction. I just wanted to share this more for me than anything, to help reconcile on digital paper my feelings of undying love for this man and simmering disappointment of what could have been.
If any of you have had a parent like this feel free to comment and tell me about it. I’d love to know I’m not alone.
This week, we’re preparing to release the third book in our drama/romance/mystery/paranormal series The Body Hunters. Our book release goes hand in hand with the giddy Christmas Day feeling you get with any great accomplishment. The road has been paved with challenges, both personal and book related for myself, Von and our editor, but this is the payoff.
Writing is what we love. Conjuring up drama and putting our characters through hell is what we were born to do. It took us a while to discover our gifts, but when we found it, it flourished. Sometimes the writing process can be the most frustrating thing in the word, but I wouldn’t trade my gift for anything.
If you have a gift or that special talent, use it. No more procrastinating, lying to yourself that you’ll get started eventually. If you’re a runner, go do that marathon you’ve always put of running. If you’re a chef, what’s stopping you from submitting that recipe? Writers, stop killing time going over the same material over and over again. Get that book published.
Don’t let anything stop you from fulfilling your dream.
I am an adult child of divorce. I was about sixteen when my parents decided to end things. To make a long story short, my father wanted to do what he wanted and my mother wasn’t having it.
Kids aren’t stupid and they know who looks out for them. I watched as my mother, a housewife for eighteen years, pulled out the newspaper the day after he left and went to work the next day. She worked jobs she shouldn’t trying to put food on the table. Recycling plant, cleaning toilets, construction; it didn’t matter, if the money was green she took the job. We may have had utilities off from time to time, but there was always food on the table, even though it may not be the gourmet cuisine you wanted. We learned how to make food last on a limited budget and we were never on any public assistance. The struggle bonded us deeply.
Now my father on the other hand was living the life he wanted with no responsibilities to tie him down. He went and married the woman he was seeing while he was married to my mother, about two months after the divorce was final. He went and bought that brand new red Mustang, not the type of car you would expect from someone with three kids. He wouldn’t call to check on us, but to brag about where he’d been on his vacation. He couldn’t come for his scheduled visits but he made sure we saw his shiny new sports car. He could care less that his kids were hurt, scarred and traumatized, it was all about him.
The same could be said for his parents. We were their only grand children, so on Christmas they doted on us with the huge gift boxes from Hudson’s. My grandmother would go all out with the beautiful hand knit sweaters and name brand items for kids. After my parents split, that was it. No Christmas gifts, no birthday wishes, nothing. As we struggled, no one called to see if the kids had shoes, coats, or even food. We were cut off completely, even though they only lived eight minutes away from us.
Now, the time in the hour glass is in our favor. We’re stable adults now, no drug use, no illegitimate children, my brother had his growing pains as a young black male growing up in Detroit, but these days he’s a workaholic and he’s fine. We’re as close to Mom as we’ve ever been.
Mr. Sherman on the other hand is another story. Having worked for Ford since he was eighteen, he makes a nice salary, but you can never tell. His life is a never ending spiral of dysfunction. The divorce from wife number three was final a couple months ago, so I know he’s looking for his next flavor of the month. He has no choice but to flit from woman to woman because he has no bond with his children and has to assimilate himself into their family. He’s the type who likes to rewrite history, like he was Cliff Huxtable; I have no problem reminding him what a terrible father he was.
Our relationship with him is awkward, like we’re operating at two different frequencies. When we talk he makes juvenile jokes, like he doesn’t realize we’re grown adults now. He doesn’t know me. He can’t tell you my favorite food or color. He’s even clueless about me being a writer, which I plan on keeping that way. Whatever he is, I’m stuck with him.
The ‘accessories’ on the other hand are optional. We eventually reconnected with my grandparents a when we learned after about fifteen years when we learned my grandmother was dying of cancer. We visited the hospital a couple times, but I felt the coldness, like I’d wandered into some random stranger’s hospital room. How pathetic is it when your own grandparents have to ask if you have any children? After a knockdown drag out debate with my brother and sister, we attended the funeral and started visiting with my widowed grandfather again.
Every week or every other week, we’d visit, go out to dinner or a movie. We even invited him over to dinner a couple times and my sister called him every day. A couple years later, a few of her daily calls went unanswered and he called back when he felt like it. He had a new woman in his life and little by little we could feel that chasm opening up again. My sister trying to be nice tried to give him another shot, but the writing was on the wall for me. Dear old sweet granddad used us as placeholders to keep from being lonely until he found another wife. After that I was done with the Sherman family completely. It’s been about two and a half years and I haven’t looked back.
Which brings us to the very reason I’m so pissed today. Sunday my father calls with his normal chit chat which results in him holding the phone in silence and me trying to come up with conversation because he doesn’t know what to say. Before he ends the call, he tells me to call my grandfather on Tuesday, cause it’s his birthday. Huh?
Today I had a missed call from my father and I know what he wants. If I didn’t know what he wanted, the text with my grandfather’s phone number is a clue.
I’m not calling him. Call me cold, callous, heartless, whatever, I’m done with these people. I’m not a toy you can take out of the box and play with whenever some one feels the need. My grandfather has kicked us to the curb twice; once as children and once again as adults, after we gave him a second chance. This isn’t the Oprah show where the long lost relative is hiding behind the curtain. Fake isn’t in me, so I’m not doing the loving granddaughter routine, pretending every thing is fine and make him feel better. I don’t think so.
People need to know that kids aren’t stupid. They may be little and defenseless and can’t do anything when you break promises or break their hearts. But they grow up. Be careful what you throw away.
This week I started reading through our debut novel The Body Hunters for the first time in nearly a year. Come to think of it, I just realized this is the anniversary of the day we published it, weird. We’ve been working on a script adapted from our book, so I needed to read through it again and make the necessary changes as far as the adaptation was concerned. In a script, you can’t have paragraphs explaining what’s going on, that’s something that has to be discussed between characters or otherwise shown in the film. There’s no need for flowery prose in a script, all that has to be streamlined, leaving the skeleton of the story. Though we’ve gotten good reviews and positive feedback from those who’ve read our first book, some of the mistakes we made as first time authors stuck out to me.
With the script it’s been sort of a Body Hunter 2.0. Now with a fresh pair of experienced author’s eyes, I’ve gone in and changed what never should have been, including one reality television subplot that never really went anywhere. In the screenplay, there’s a better introduction to our hero, Aiden Stone and the villain is even more of a monster, if that is at all possible. And like our latest works, the voices of Von and I assimilate into one and you can’t tell where my writing starts and hers begins. Still, looking behind me, I’m tempted to pull a George Lucas and go back and make changes to the first novel to satisfy that egotistical author in me who’s looking for perfection. But I know I can’t do that. If I’m stuck looking back at the past, how can I concentrate on the future?
Every mistake we make with any project, not just our first is an opportunity to grow and learn as writers. Sure being an artist, you want it to be perfect, so you change this word and that, and you spend hours editing trying to get it just right. But sometimes that search for perfection does more harm than good. You stall and procrastinate, obsessing over the littlest thing, moving paragraphs around until you’ve done nothing but made yourself crazy. That is something our editor, Reggie, told us from the start. She forced us to make a deadline and stick with it, which is a policy we still go by nearly four novels and a year later. We’re only human, so we have to accept that we can’t be perfect all the time.