Monthly Archives: August 2012

Is It Really Better When You Have A Chance To Say Goodbye?

I’m taking a break from my usual Friday subject today. This is always a difficult week for me, and since it’s my blog, I’m going to take the opportunity to pay tribute to someone I miss terribly. Yeah, I know, I’ve done it for Father’s Day the past couple of years, too. I don’t care.

I’ve spent the past couple of months doing the same things I’ve done  in July and August, every single year, for nine years now. Marking the ‘lasts.’ The last visit, the last hug, the last look, the last time I heard his voice across the miles. And those last weeks, feeling sick to my stomach every time the phone would ring, because I was afraid it would be the call…and I didn’t want to hear the words.

But early on August thirty-first, the call came, and the words I never wanted to hear were spoken. My dad had taken his last breath, shortly before midnight. And he’d died the way he wanted, with his kids four-hundred and thirty miles away…because he didn’t want us to see it happen.

People were quick to say that we were lucky. We had time to say goodbye. But you know what? Even though I know their hearts were in the right place…no. We weren’t lucky. In some ways it might have been easier, but in others, it was horrible.

When you know it’s going to happen, you get to see this person you love…with all of your heart…terrified, knowing they don’t want to die, and that there’s nothing you can do or say that will change it, or make it easier.

You get to watch them waste away to nothing before your eyes. And you get to see them try to be strong for you, to pretend that everything is going to be okay, so you have some some good memories to take away from the whole awful, ugly situation.

But the memories are bittersweet. You know that they were faking it…and so were you. Along with everyone else who flocked to see him, trying to cram a lifetime of being with him into such a short period of time. I swear we all deserved Oscars for our acting abilities during that thirteen months…when we all held our breath, hoping some sort of miracle would happen. But it never did.

Yeah, we got to say goodbye…but it sucked.

Would I change what happened so that he died in an accident, like his brother did six weeks after his diagnosis? No, not at all. Because knowing ahead of time did give us all a chance to spend more time together, to get in that last hug.

But in return for that privilege, we got to watch him suffer and live in fear.

We got to hear about his reaction after finding out that he not only had cancer, but brain tumors as well. About how he spent time at a Hallmark store, choosing cards for the four of us…to let us all know how much we meant to him. How he broke down crying in the middle of that store…

How, when he and my step-mother went shopping for the food they would serve my siblings and I on our last trip down there, he was justifying the expense…because he’d never get to eat another meal with his kids again. Not that he had to justify anything, because she would have fed us gold if it would have made him happy.

Finally, there was that moment when we had to leave him to head back home…after one final, far too short weekend together. How do you say goodbye when you know it’s for the last time? When you know that the next time you see him, it’s going to be at his funeral. How do you walk away, get in the car, and pull out of that driveway?

My sister and I were waving out the back window until we couldn’t see him anymore, crying because our hearts had just been broken. I’m sure my brothers were watching in the mirrors, keeping him in their sight for as long as they could. It was one of the toughest things any of us had ever done, and remembering it now still makes me cry.

So if you’re ever tempted to tell someone whose loved one is dying that they’re lucky…just don’t. Please don’t say those words to them. Bite your tongue. Clap your hand over your mouth. Walk away if you have to…just don’t ever say that to anyone.

Yes, knowing does give them a chance to say goodbye…but they also have to deal with a world of ugly that no one should ever have to experience. They don’t feel lucky. They feel helpless, and scared, and like their world has been turned upside down.

It took about two years before life started to feel normal again. And over the next seven, it obviously has gotten easier. But I still miss him…every single day. I miss hearing his voice on the phone. I miss his visits. I miss just knowing he’s there. He’s the one man in my life who made me feel secure, and it’s hard to not have that anymore.

I don’t feel lucky at all…except that I got to have him in my life. Mostly what I feel is ripped off. He died way too young. Of course I’d have thought the same thing if it had happened thirty years from now.

 This might seem like a strange video choice, but I found out after he died that we shared a love for Elton John music. I guess this was his favorite song. Maybe the fact that I played all of his albums when I was a teen rubbed off on him. Love you, Dad…

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I’m Really Stepping In It Now…

Yes, it’s another one of those times where I’m posting a little more than usual. I have a good reason though.

A few days ago, I read an article by Duskgate Chronicles author, Breeana Puttroff, that I agreed with 100%. However, having not seen the referenced post, I didn’t give it another thought. Now that I have, I feel like I have to add my two cents.

I write because…I’m a writer. I love to write. I’ve been doing it since I was fifteen. It’s what I do. In fact, I’ll go a step further and say I think it’s what I was born to do.

Sure, I’d love to get rich at it. But if I never made a dime, I’d still write…I have to write. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be nearly as happy as I am. It’s just too big a part of my life to ignore.

That’s why I’ve jumped ship and gone to the .99 cent side of the ‘what to charge’ fence. It’s more important to me that people are actually reading my stories, than it is for me to make a profit I feel is worthy of me and the work I put into them. (And how does one determine that price anyway?)

Taking the time to write, then deciding what I’ll charge for the books…they’re choices I make. I choose to take time to sit at my computer, rather than in front of the television. I choose to take a lower profit. No one twisted my arm and forced me do either one of these things.

So what am I getting at?

Reviews and star ratings, in my opinion, are like tips for hourly employees. Really nice when you get them…but they’re not owed to me. Yes, I ask for them at the end of each of my books. Something to the effect of, ‘If you’ve enjoyed (title of book), and even if you didn’t, please take a moment to leave a short review at Amazon.com.’ That’s it. The only time I’ll ever mention it.

I know most people won’t do it. And I’m okay with that. They’re busy, and I’m just honored that they chose to spend some of their valuable time, and hard-earned money, to read one of my books. So I will never try to guilt them into doing more. Not ever.

Know one knows better than I do that writing can be mentally exhausting. Sometimes I’ll feel like I’ve gone ten rounds with Rocky Balboa by the time I’ve finished some scenes. But it’s like a job made in heaven when compared to other things I could be doing.

I’d much rather be parked in my comfortable desk chair, in my climate controlled office, than delivering mail in 90+…or -0…weather. Or building a house, cleaning motel rooms, or playing cook at a busy restaurant.

Those people get paid to do their jobs…and so do we. Maybe not as much as we like, but when a person lays down $X.XX for our books, it’s no different than us paying for a Betty Crocker Cake mix, or a Quarter Pounder at McDonald’s. A lot of effort was put into creating both products…but Betty and Ronald don’t expect us to hit their websites and rave about how much we love them.

What makes us think we deserve more?

Because we spent months (or even years) writing our masterpieces? So what. It was our choice. We chose to do it. And the reader paid for the fruits of our labor.

End of story.

Anything else is just gravy. We should be grateful for the reviews and star ratings…but they’re not owed to us.

Sorry if I stepped on any toes, but that’s my opinion. You don’t have to agree with me, but I think readers would appreciate it if you did. I mean really…who likes having a guilt trip laid on their shoulders? Not me.

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All Across the Nation…

…parents are celebrating, and kids are sobbing. Yes, the end of summer vacation is near, or already over in some areas of the country.

Pardon the short length of this post. I had to remove four videos that are no longer valid. 🙂

When we’re young, we think we have all the time in the world. If we only knew, we might have appreciated a lot more things than we did…even school.

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Some Things Are Not What They Appear To Be

Once again I’ve been reminded to think first…and act later. Which I mostly did earlier today. But even while my logical self was telling me to calm down, that the odds were better than good that it was a mistake, the emotional part of me was upset and crying…and kind of wanting to be offended.

I always hate it when people post cryptic stuff on Facebook. In fact, I hate it so much, I’ve stopped responding to them in any way. However, I’m pretty much doing the same thing here by not going into details.

Hmm. How to explain this…without explaining it. Basically I had requested that someone make a change so that my privacy would not be invaded. Not ten minutes later, my privacy had been well and truly invaded.

Given that it was a computer/internet issue, and the fact that I know the person well enough to know that their computer knowledge is as strong as mine is regarding car engines (I know how to check the oil…and I know where the oil goes – because it says ‘Oil’ on the cap), I was 99% sure it was an accident. Still, there was that 1% of doubt, resulting in an emotional moment or few.

What am I getting at here?

We have to be careful with what we do with that 1% when things upset us. Even if it’s 1% vs 99%, it’s still better to give the benefit of the doubt, at least until you know for sure.

In this instance, I was very tempted to send an email…because I’ve never managed to master the skill of talking and crying at the same time. But I knew the email wouldn’t be pretty.

Fortunately common sense kicked in, something that happens more regularly now. Of course it took several dozen embarrassing experiences of acting first, and thinking later to get to this place. Okay, so maybe it was several dozen more times than several dozen. Humiliate yourself often enough, and you tend to lose track after awhile.

Long story short, it had been an accident, something that was quickly and easily taken care of. Had I allowed that 1% of doubt to dictate how I handled it, I could have hurt someone close to me, and then I’d have had to apologize.

It’s not that I don’t say I’m sorry when I’m wrong, but I don’t like to. Therefore I try to live my life so I never have to say those words. I look at it as a win/win. If I never put myself in a position of jumping to conclusions, I won’t risk hurting someone’s feelings. And if I don’t hurt feelings, I never have to say I’m wrong.

While I don’t have as much trouble as the Fonz, I still prefer to avoid the need to say it. 

I wish the other clip had been longer, but you can find it at 2:35 into this one. In my opinion, it’s worth the watch.

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What Teenage Girls Know That We’ve Forgotten

Who remembers their first crush in seventh or eighth grade? What about that first boyfriend or girlfriend? Maybe you were too young to drive, so your parents had to chauffeur you to the movies or roller skating rink. Obviously there wouldn’t be any necking in the car if that was the case, but still… All that mattered is that you were together, and would be for the next few hours. It’s probably safe to say that there will never be another time in our lives that can hold a candle to those exciting weeks with your very first love.

Maybe if we treated other loves like the first one,  relationships would be more satisfying.

As we mature, we do hold onto some of the same emotions we experienced back in high school. For a while. But they tend to wane, likely because the relationships last longer. And we’re looking for something different as adults than we were as kids.

But the kids…girls anyway…were on to something.

For the guys who didn’t (and don’t) have a clue… We waited anxiously by the telephone for your call. Our notebooks would have made you run for cover with all of the Romeo loves Juliet doodles. And yes, we would pair our first names with your last names…because we wanted to see how they looked together. Not surprisingly, they were always perfect. There might also have been something about…um…well, we sort of planned to marry you someday.

We wrote in our diaries about everything you did, but only because everything you did was so wonderful. The way you sneezed was even cute. We saved ticket stubs from the theater. That little wildflower you gave us on the way to school? Pressed in a book to preserve forever. And the notes you stuck in our lockers would quickly become tattered from reading them over and over.

When we get older, and the cares of life batter at us every minute of every day, it’s easy to lose sight of the simple things that thrilled us about one another in the beginning. The phone rings, you see it’s the love of your life…and you wonder what they want now. Or you see the socks he or she kicked off by the sofa and you want to wring their neck, even though…at one time…it was a pleasure to pick them up. Okay, so maybe not a pleasure, but it would have taken a whole lot more than that to annoy you.

For many of us, it’s time to take a cue from those girls.

I propose that you invest in a cute scrap book, some colored stationary or index cards…and start chronicling all those date nights you should be having.

Did you take your love to see The Avengers? (If not, you should!) Tape the ticket stubs on one page. Each of you write your thoughts about the evening on a card or paper, whether you went to supper before or after, the fact that you shared a bag of popcorn and a soda, what parts of the movie you each enjoyed the most…and secure it below the stubs.

Do the same for every date you have…whether it’s a walk in the rain, or a weekend at a bed and breakfast. Keep any ‘souvenirs’ that will fit in the book. Doodle like you did in high school. Hearts, flowers, your names linked together.

And then, a few times a year, spend a date night somewhere you can be alone, with some snacks you consider romantic…and look through the scrap book together.

Sometimes we just need to remember how good things are, because it’s so easy to forget in the course of day-to-day living. We can start looking at one another like part of woodwork instead of part of our heart.

Okay, so we’ll ignore some spelling issues in the lyrics. The fact of the matter is, the songwriter knows exactly what our focus should be in a relationship.

Most of us know the difference between being in love, and just loving someone. But a lot of people think that in a relationship, it’s only natural to let go of the ‘being’ in favor of ‘just.’

I respectfully disagree with anyone who is okay with this. Because it’s not okay. If you work at being in love for all of your lives, you’ll always feel that high school, first love excitement whenever you think of your mate. Whenever they call, whenever you see them, whenever you’re with them.

So tell me… Which way is the better way? Part of the woodwork, or the ‘be still my heart’ kind of love you felt in the beginning. I know which one I would choose…do you?

~~~~~

See you next week for a new tip.

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I’m currently offering a free copy of ‘The Romance Manifesto’ to anyone who is following my blog. If you’re not yet doing so, go ahead and enter your email address near the upper right-hand corner of this page, then shoot me a quick email at kristykjames@gmail.com. I’ll send you the link for a PDF or mobi (Kindle) file. If you’re already following the blog, and would like a copy, let me know, and I’ll get you the links. Thanks for stopping by!

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If you think that any of the suggested tips are a good fit for you, and you decide to give them a try, I’d love to know if you got the results you hoped for.  Although I can’t guarantee you’ll get any results, most people respond well to sweetness, consideration and attention.  Just remember, you will need to exercise some patience, and be consistent.  Anything worth having usually requires effort.

***Photo Credit Beverly Nault

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World’s Best Tongue Twister

So…

I have gotten far too little sleep for the past several days, and have crossed the line. I am no longer sane and normal. Okay, so I wasn’t exactly sane and normal before…what can I say.

Anyway…

Are you ready for it?

Unique New York.

Say that five times as fast as you can…then let me know how you did in the comments section.

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Hair-Knitting Fairies, Lip-Eating Bugs…and Dull Paring Knives

What do all of these have in common. Not a thing. Just more of the weird, sometimes annoying stuff that plagues my life.

Let’s tackle the dull paring knives first. I have three. I also have a favorite, and use it all the time. Since I peel potatoes quickly and efficiently, it’s usually my job. But when we have a pot luck supper, and a ten-pound bag of spuds is sitting there waiting to be disrobed, my daughter gets volunteered into helping.

Saturday she is half a potato into the job, and starts saying she would rather use a steak knife. Sigh. I trade knives…and it’s like what the heck! Has someone been trying to cut wood for the October bonfire with this? So I send her for the other one…which is just as bad. Naturally, being a world-class procrastinator, I’ve put off getting the food ready until the last minute, and so being the one who will get it done the fastest, I wind up peeling every potato in the bag – with the knife that actually works. I’m surprised I can even type today. (of course if I’d ever use one of the other knives, I’d have known in time to replace them)

Hair-knitting fairies? Bet you’ve never heard of those, have you? That’s because they reside under my pillow. And they wait patiently for the nights I forget to braid my hair. I woke up one morning last week with several strands knotted into a bow. Just a tiny one, but it was actually pretty cool. After I yanked it out, I showed it to my daughter, then put it on my desk. She looked at me like I was nuts and asked, “You’re keeping that?”

Well sure. Maybe not forever, but this is the first time the fairies have put me through hair brushing hell, and I actually got something other than a headache out of it.

Lip-eating bugs? Apparently those live in my son’s room.

First I should mention that he’s seriously into anything zombie, so I blame that for the fact that I was short about two hours sleep for the potato peeling marathon and pot luck on Saturday.

After getting nowhere near enough sleep (a whopping three hours to be exact), CJ came running into my room…in full panic mode.

“Mom! Mom! There was a bug in my mouth, and I think it was eating my lip!” (three hours is really not enough sleep for sh stuff like this)

He then pulls his lip back over his nose. Okay, maybe not quite that far.  My eyes just seriously don’t want to focus on anything when they haven’t been closed long enough, so it may have been an optical illusion.

Anyway, after lying awake for too long giggling about it, I did doze off for a couple more hours.

Rest assured that no bug snacked on CJ’s lip during the night, although he is still 100% convinced that one tried. I, on the other hand, am 99% sure that a moth (as in moths eat fabric, therefore moths must eat lips) landed on his lip and woke him up. I’d also bet that he was dreaming about zombies.

So… That’s how my weekend went. How was yours?

At least I’m not the only person who has weird things happen to them. The guys with the skateboard are my favorites.  🙂

And speaking of weird…

Help!

A few weeks ago, WordPress started treating me like a visitor to my own blog. I have to choose an identity to respond to comments, then I get notifications that I posted those responses (like it’s afraid I’ll forget…), and it’s just really annoying. I didn’t change anything in the settings…but I’d like to know WHAT I can change back to make it stop. No, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not going to affect world peace, or the finding of cures for diseases…but it may keep my bottle of water from sailing through the monitor. So if anyone has any suggestions, thanks! I’ve looked and can’t find anything.  🙂

Since Tameri asked, here’s a picture of the bow the fairies left in my hair. It’s not as big as it looks (I used the zoom feature), but it was still big enough that my brush couldn’t do a thing with it.
Technically it has three loops. If there had been a fourth, I might have considered using it as a gift-wrapping accessory.  🙂

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