Yes, it’s a race car. It’s the tail end of a race car. It’s the last thing you see as he flies past at high speeds.
Here’s the front…
This is what you see coming at you. Red, white, and blue. Stars and stripes.
I remember where I was, what I was doing that day. I was writing on my first novel. I was chatting with a friend in Australia online. I saw a headline. I got a call from my mom telling me to turn on the television. And I watched, in surprised horror the events of the day unfold.
My heart raced. I didn’t know anyone in New York. I didn’t know anyone who worked in the towers or in the surrounding buildings. I didn’t know anyone at all who lived in New York. I didn’t know anyone who lived in Pennsylvania. I didn’t know anyone in the Pentagon. My father-in-law sometimes traveled to Washington on business for the Army, but he wasn’t there at the time. I had a friend in the Air Force who used to be posted at the tomb of the unknown soldier, but he was long removed to Las Vegas by then.
I didn’t know anyone personally. But I knew me as an American and it broke my heart.
Life seemed to come to a standstill for days. Events were cancelled. People were afraid to go anywhere or do anything. We didn’t want to leave the television set. We didn’t want to go to work, kids didn’t want to go to school. We wanted to go back but we couldn’t. We never will.
I read an article earlier this week and it remarked on how New Yorkers took the attack personally because it happened in their city. They saw things, lost people that the rest of us will never understand on that fundamental level. And my broken heart, it was for those citizens, too.
I believe myself to be patriotic. I am all over the idea that if you come here and do this, we will come find every last one of you. I have no problem with that. We aren’t the world’s policeman. If we don’t step in, the world wonders where America is and why we aren’t doing anything. If we do step in, the world tears us apart for sticking our nose where it doesn’t belong. We’re damned if we do and we’re damned if we don’t. And in some situations, I agree we should step aside and let other nations resolve their issues. But to bring it to American soil, to bring it here, no, we can’t sit by and do nothing. We can’t be politically correct and give someone a time out. We can’t talk about it because no one listens. We can’t let it slide, not when we’ve got the manpower to do something about it.
“We’ll put a boot in your ass…” I love that line. Gives me goosebumps every time. I know soldiers who have gone to fight. I know some that have never come home. I tried to enlist out of high school but because of a medical condition, they wouldn’t take me, but long before Toby Keith put those words down, I had wanted to serve my country.
Our nation is a lot of things, bad and good. We had to have something to cling to, some way to get back to living, some way to move forward, however small the steps were we had to take. There are things we do that unite us as a country, even in small pockets at a time. There are things that divide us as a country, too. One of the things in the days following September 11, 2001, that seemed trivial to some, to a lot, was the resumption of sporting events. Football, baseball… These are events that bring tens of thousands together at one time. These events are things that while the teams may divide our loyalties, the games themselves unite them.
It was no small matter, those first games. People grieve and heal in different ways. People remember and honor in different ways. One man I saw on television the other night said he doesn’t dwell on what happened on 9/11. He has moved on with his life. He looks at what he’s been given as a second chance since the moment he escaped from the World Trade Center towers. The man he helped get out of the rubble and wreckage, not so much. That man has been haunted every day, so much so that he had to move away from New York.
If I don’t cry, it’s not because I don’t feel it. If I do cry, it doesn’t mean I am dwelling. I feel many things very deeply. Children who’ve grown up without a father, or a mother, or a sibling, or a grandparent. Families who’ve continued on those they’ve lost one or more. I think one of the things I felt then and now is helpless. Helplessness. I give to the causes, to the charities, to the soldiers. But it’s still with a feeling of helplessness that I go on.
I attend NASCAR races on a regular basis. I stand. I put my hand over my heart. I cry during the flyovers. I sometimes cry when some singer massacres the Star Spangled Banner for their 15 minutes of fame. Sports is what helped my family heal, my family cope with the loss this country sustained. It broke my heart that I couldn’t enlist when others were. I wanted to go. I wanted to take my boot to someone’s ass…
In the NASCAR race last night in Richmond, they observed a moment of silence between laps 9-11.
I live in America and I love this country. It’s no secret to the world that we’ve got our issues and in some cases, they are really big issues. There are those that take it to the extreme and some that aren’t extreme enough. Patriotism runs deep.
I went to Philadelphia for an romance writer’s conference. But I was more interested and fascinated by the city itself, it’s present day feel, it’s hundreds of years old history. I stood in Washington Square and had tears in my eyes. I stood in Christ Church Cemetery walking among the graves of war heros, of Benjamin Franklin, of ordinary families. This nation has a long way to go. We are tweens and teenagers compared to other countries. We fight. We argue. We have our mood swings. For the most part though we will rally together as a family when one of our own is down…
Many things helped us start to heal after September 11, 2001. Television shows were dedicated to memories of those lost. Songs by the dozens were written. Moments of silence everywhere. Pain was written on everyone’s face. And football, baseball, races were played and run. Thousands gathered in one place at a time to share, to cry, to cheer.
Today is the first Sunday of the 2011 NFL season. There will be tributes on and off the fields. Players, coaches, team members, fans who all lost someone will be gathering to remember and to celebrate. We all heal in different ways. We all need a way to unite. And while sports and music may seem trivial to some, to others, it’s the only way they know to cope and to move forward, one down at a time.
Be safe today. Remember those firemen, those police officers, those men and women on the planes, in the towers, in the Pentagon, those soldiers overseas. Never forget. Hug those you love. As for my Australian friend, we’re still close friends. He stayed online with me for hours that day, well into the wee hours of the morning for him. I can’t thank him enough for helping me through…
No truer words were ever spoken. Okay, well, maybe truer ones, but at this moment, nope.
I am very glad to be home from Authors After Dark. I am very glad to not be living out of a suitcase. I am very glad to have my own shower and bedroom. I am very glad to be relaxed and not running everywhere from the second I get up. And, I am glad to be eating home cooked, real food again. Man, oh man, am I glad of that!
I’m gonna tell you, it’s miserable going from whole wheat, whole grain, natural foods to processed and eating out a lot. However, there was strawberry cake one night that I might kill to have a slice of again…
I met some fabulous people at Authors After Dark though and I am very glad to have gone and met them. Melissa Schroeder (straight shooter and I love that), Kris Cook (just so fabulous beyond words), Joy from Joyfully Reviewed (who welcomed me with such open arms and a smile), and Cat Johnson (who gave me valuable branding/marketing ideas). I spent a lot of time with Samantha Kane and Mari Freeman. We laughed, we went sightseeing, we journeyed to Starbucks! I met people who (when they knew who the hell I was) have loved my books and people who have in the past ragged on them and ripped them to shreds. I met people with ginormous egos and others who were so down to earth and kind and sweet. Larissa Ione was one of those down to earth people and I caught her as we were both standing off to the side at one point. We struck up a conversation and she was easy to smile and laugh and talk. I had not read her books before but because of that one moment, I will try them now. Others, not so much.
I got to spend some time talking with Delilah Devlin. I had met her at Lori Foster’s Reader and Author Get Together. I learned a lot from talking to Delilah and she’s so kind. I also met Sidney Ayers again. She’s very quiet but easy to smile and told me that her books are funnier than the covers appear so, I bought the first one, Demons Prefer Blondes and am going to give it a try!
The tattoo artist tagged me within seconds of meeting me as submissive (which is true). Kinda caught me off guard though and I left my friend Kendra alone with him and her tattoo shortly after that. She’ll forgive me…lol.
And I hung on the ever fantabulous Dakota Cassidy because I truly can’t get enough of her! She’s very gracious to tolerate me.
Look at me name dropping! LOL. As if, right? However, these are people I met and who stood out to me. Of course, I cannot forget Jen B. and Susan, two readers who actually knew me, actually looked for me. Those were awesome moments.
Aside from Lori Foster’s Get Together, Authors After Dark is only the second con I’ve attended. It was interesting, busy, however it was more busy for others than for me. I was more a tag-a-long than anything. I was a late sign-up, which was fine. Not being in the mix and middle of things, allows one to observe and listen and even find time to connect. I didn’t have to be here or there or in two places at once and that was nice. Very few people knew me, but, in the grand scheme of things… One of my roommates, Eliza Gayle… Now everyone knew her and some were falling all over themselves to get to her. Readers, and bloggers, and authors alike gravitated toward her. She was truly in her element and that was cool to see. Whereas me, I was like a fish out of water…
Authors After Dark 2012 is in New Orleans. I won’t be going to that one. August? New Orleans? Off-season? No… But Philly, that was amazing. It was so different than the Southern cities I’m used to. The atmosphere was hurried, lively, loud. I loved walking around the city, seeing the sites, the architechture, the history. The history was fabulous. And the cheesesteaks. I have to say y’all, the cheesesteak thing… There’s a bit of controversy there. Is it best with Wiz? With provolone? With American? Hell if I know! The one place we went, they said provolone. The people we talked to outside that place said wiz. I do believe after trying both, I’d have to go with wiz. Are you wondering what wiz is? Cheese Whiz. It melts into the steak better and is just more delicious. I am however cheesesteak’d out. I’m actually tired of eating out all together and as I said earlier, I’m glad to be able to eat home cooked, real food again.
I came home with two new book ideas, one I need to write on today and one I need to get started on very, very soon. The whole time I was there, I couldn’t wait to get back to writing and so, I think I shall do that now. And today will be an Elvis Presley listening day… Do you have a favorite Elvis song? Mine is Moody Blue.
Hope all of you had a great weekend and are on your way to a great week.
I’ve been working on edits this week. They haven’t been as hard and difficult and hair-pulling as other edits I’ve received from my editors, however, I want this book to be great, to be awesome, to be incredible. It’s important. I know most authors and hopefully all authors want their books to be great. It doesn’t always happen and readers don’t always see the end result as being the best thing EVER, but we authors, we strive for it.
Along with edits, there’s been a lot of healthy eating, the emphasis being on healthy and on eating. Whole grains. Little to no preservatives. Little to nothing processed. Gallons of water. Whole foods and nothing that says fat-free or sugar-free. It’s been interesting and I feel so much better. Migraines are less. PMS symptoms are less. I’m sleeping better. My moods are better. I’ve also been eating more and migrating more toward organic foods and local foods. It’s more expensive in some ways, but I’m looking for the payoff in better health.
I am writing. With edits it’s been slower than I had planned, but I am writing. I am also reading. On the sidebar of my website homepage here, is ‘What I’m Reading Today’. As you can see it’s a Dakota Cassidy book. It’s the second in her ex-trophy wives series. I love this book. I loved the first one, too. She’s got such a wonderful voice, so raw and real. If you haven’t read this series yet, think about giving it a try. The books are full of wit, sarcasm, getting even-ness, learning to stand on one’s own two feet, laughs, growing pains, etc… I couldn’t stop turning the pages.
I am headed for the dinner table.
Oh, and per the begging request of a friend, I’ll be taking my Keurig to Authors After Dark and setting it up in her room. At least I’ll have yummy coffee while there next week. If you’re going to be at AAD, please hunt me down and say hi…
…or so they say. Some of us have great childhoods. Some of us have ‘eh’ childhoods. Some of us have horrible, awful childhoods. We all grow up with a different definition of family and a different way of dealing with them when they show up. Out of the blue. 32 years later.
That’s what happened to me two weeks ago. My half brother called. For the first time. Ever.
I won’t go into the gritty details of how it came to be that I have a half brother that I hadn’t spoken to in the 32 years he’s been alive. We share the same father, while my half-sister and I share the same mother.
I grew up with a very strong fear of abandonment, of feeling unwanted, of feeling like there was something wrong with me. We all at one time or other feel one of these things if not all. There are other things we can feel too… unloved, unneeded, undesired, unacceptable, etc… They’re not good feelings to have and some of us are even very, very good at burying them deep. Some of us turn to friends as our surrogate family and grow up with not much use for those we share blood ties with. But there are some of us to where family is vastly important. They are a tie to our history, to our legacy, to bonds that even with the signing of a name on a dotted line, can’t be erased.
When divorce is a factor and new families are formed, the need for acceptance is strong, sometimes stronger than even we realize and we go through our lives trying to find it, trying to find where we fit, where we belong. It’s a hard thing to do, a hard way to live. We can turn everyone away, we can find ways to make ourselves invaluable and needed and responsible. We take on more than what we probably should in that quest to find that feeling of ‘here’.
There was a scene in City Slickers with Billy Crystal and Jack Palance. They were riding along on their horses and Jack’s character, Curly was giving advice to Billy’s character, Mitch. Curly said the secret to life is ‘this. One thing,” and he held up one finger. Mitch asked what that meant, what the one thing one and Curly’s response was that Mitch had to find out on his own. I took that little scene to mean that for each person it’s different and I believe it to be true. The secret to your life is different than mine. The secret to your happiness is different than your neighbor’s.
The most joy I find in life is my children. My family. My true friends. My job. (And Kyle Busch winning, but we’ll leave that discussion for another day.) The memories made, the experiences shared are things that no one can take away. But, I’ve still always tried to fit in, tried to find where I belong, tried to figure out how to erase that feeling of abandonment and that I wasn’t good enough to keep.
I’ve always wondered about my father’s family and over the years I’ve asked my mom about his brother’s and how he grew up. She’s always been more than willing to answer. Some of the truths were hard to take, but I’m grateful to her for answering. Since my half-brother called, he and I have talked or texted or emailed at least once a day. It’s been enlightening, entertaining, emotional, and hard. Even when you know you’ve got issues like I do, you try and do your very best to bury them. You don’t want them to affect others. You don’t want them to interfere in how you do your job or interact with friends or family. You bury them and you bury yourself in responsibility and ‘to-do’.
Along with the wondering about my father’s family, I often wondered how I’d react if they ever contacted me, especially my father or my brother. There have been times over the last 12 days where I’ve cried, where I’ve walked around in a fog, where I’ve laughed and smiled, where I’ve been angry, where I’ve taken so many deep breaths… I’ve called a friend and cried to her and thank goodness she’s let me. She had a similar childhood and understands exactly where I’m coming from in all aspects.
My mom knows he contacted me and that I have been talking to him. She and my sister know I flew down to Florida over the weekend to spend some time just me and him and his fiance and their baby. We interacted as though we’d been friends always. We laughed and joked and picked on one other as though we’d always been together.My sister is fully supportive and I know my mom is too, just that it’s understandably harder on her.
It’s been a surreal experience. You see the reunion shows on television and if you’ve ever had someone to be reunited with, the thought has crossed your mind as to how you’d react if that person suddenly appeared in your life. Much as I like to think I’d prepared myself for what I considered the improbable, I hadn’t.
There are many details left out of this blog and some people would venture to say I shouldn’t have even blogged about it at all, but those of you who know me, know how deeply I love my family and this change in my life will affect all areas of it. This man, my half-brother wants to have a relationship with me, wants to have that sibling friendship that he’s been searching for all his life. He wants us to be family and while some people will never understand it, I do. And I’m grateful.
Now, if I could just convert him from being a Florida Gator fan to a Florida State Seminole, he’d be almost perfect brother material…
What books? What authors? What genre? What has you turning pages and pulling out your credit cards or pushing that ‘Buy Now with 1-click’ button? What’s filling up your bookshelves, virtual or physical?