Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Guide to Dealing with 'The Bereaved'/ or Rant

Emily Post neglected to write this so I thought I'd give her a hand.
Disclaimer: I have no filter when someone close to me dies; it's all shoot from the hip.
So having lost my cousin and my dad within two weeks or something of each other, I've received a lot of condolences and commiserations and people telling me how I should feel or what I should do. People I don't normally speak to are calling me, not introducing themselves, and then telling me to be strong or whatever. Like, if we don't speak in real life, why are you calling to give me condolences? I don't know you so I'll never know if you don't bother to call me. You're just wasting my phone battery which is having its ass kicked by all the legitimate phone calls I do have to make; like calling the newspaper and trying to make sure they don't make my dad look like an orc in his obituary pic.
So here is a small guide to the do's and don't's of dealing with the bereaved...or maybe its just how to deal with me when I'm bereaved;

- Do not platitudinise. Is that a word? It should be. It covers stuff like "Our thoughts and prayers are with you", quite frankly my dear, I don't give a damn where your thoughts are. I'm too busy trying to handle a LOT OF SHIT RIGHT NOW.
- Don't go on and on about how I'm feeling or not feeling. What does it help? Much more appreciated is BEING THERE. This is something I've learned in the last month and I plan to implement in my own life. Either show up or shut up. In between is just making yourself feel better rather than really supporting the person you claim to be supporting.
- We do notice if you are there. If you help out, or just sit quietly next to us saying nothing especially not saying platitudes or psychoanalysing...making us laugh is even better. Having genuine interaction instead of platitudes is the best.
- We're still basically the same people so no need to treat us like fragile eggs that you're just waiting to break.
- Please don't bring any negativity into an already fraught situation.
- Remember that tempers are short, sensitivity is high, and we're probably tired from not sleeping too well. Cut us some slack.
My cousin told me a story about how when she told her small child about her brother's death, the child was very sad and she said
 "tell me a story so I can be distracted and feel better."
It struck me because I just wrote an article about escaping life through stories not too long ago. It filled me with renewed zeal. If someone's story can make me feel better than I do now, hell, I will sooo take it. And if I can write stories that take people away from the shit in their lives...mission accomplished.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Its Not All Strippers and Burritos My Friend...

I'm writing for this prompt: Enjoy...

“Think about it; you, some strippers and beer; and two hundred acres of land between us and the nearest irate wife.”
“You make a compelling case.”
“Well…? Are we doing it or not then?”
Finn Goodwin sighed deeply. This was why he tried to avoid his friend Gitura. He had some of the worst ideas humanity ever came up with. And each of them was designed to get Finn into trouble with his wife. Sure she was an easy going type; she let him hang out with Gitura after all. But strippers? Lynn was from Nyeri; she would castrate him without a second thought if she ever heard about this. And women had such big mouths; somebody would tell somebody and then it would get back to Lynn and there’d be hell to pay.
“Gitura, I value my life too much to go along with this. I’m going home to the Mrs. before you get me divorced.”
“Pah! She’s not going to divorce you. Where will she take those kids of yours if she does? Her father has already divided his land and she has like a point. After being used to your whole ranch in Limuru you think she’s ready to move back to a point?”
“She’ll take all my money too. We’ve been married for ten years after all.”
“Hmm. Okay then, if you want to chicken out, I guess that’s your business. Me I’m taking off to Kitale next week and we are going to have a good time.”
“I’m sure you are. But who told you the manager of that ranch is going to let you run around with strippers?”
“What you think I’m stupid enough to go with them dressed as strippers? They’ll be my ‘business partners’”, Gitura made air quotes around the words.
“Well good luck with that then.”

“Hey dear, you’re home early today”, Lynn said as her husband came in the door.
“Yah, Gitura was trying to mislead me again so I thought I’d come home early before he succeeded.”
“What is it now?” Lynn asked rolling her eyes.
“A business thing in Kitale”, Finn hedged.
“Business huh? I hear Kitale has some excellent land. Maybe we should go”, Lynn said.
“We? Go?” Finn sputtered.
“Yeah. We should go check the place out. Si you call Gitura and tell him we’ll go?”
“No! I don’t think that’s a good idea”, Finn said shaking his head frantically.
“Why not? We talked about getting land there, didn’t we?”
“Aaahh, yah but…”, Finn dithered casting around for a good excuse short of the truth why they couldn’t go.
“But..? You said you were looking for more business ventures.”
“I…did”, Finn agreed.
“Well then?”
Finn looked around shoulders slumping in defeat, “Well…then…I guess we’re going.”
He took the first opportunity he could to dive into the bathroom and text Gitura.
The wife is coming with us.
He didn't have to wait long for the reply.
Are.you.out.of.your.FREAKING. mind?
Finn shrugged even though Gitura couldn't see him.
Plan B?
He texted and then stared at the phone for half an hour before his reply came through.
Which is?
He knew Gitura had spent the time cursing him to hell and back. But it was his fault this strippers and Kitale thing was even a thing so…he’d just have to suck it up.
We go check the place out with our wives.
This time, Gitura took an hour to reply by which time Finn had moved on to dinner with the wife and child.
Fine. But you owe me BIG TIME.

Unfortunately for Gitura, he’d already told the strippers that they were going on a road trip. Cancelling was apparently therefore not an option unless they wanted their wives to get phone calls. Gitura was getting an ulcer and hotly blaming Finn for it. They would have to fly the strippers to Kitale too, put them up at the best accommodation available…Gitura had heard there was a new swanky hotel built by some former government accountant that the strippers would love…and then check out the two hundred acre ranch with their women. The town was not that big, so they’d have to make sure that these two groups of people did not meet on pain of death. Gitura repeated these facts over and over to Finn who was acting like it wasn’t even his problem. Gitura was not here for it. They were boys; they were in this shit together.

“Is every thing okay?” Lynn asked her husband.
“Everything is fine, why?” Finn replied as he carried their bags to the cabin they’d been assigned at Kitale club. He was thinking about getting in a game of golf before settling down for the evening.
“Its just…you’ve been grinding your teeth the whole plane ride here”, Lynn said.
Finn noticed that his mouth was definitely a bit achy.
“I have?” he said putting down their bags.
“You have”, she replied.
“Its because I’m nervous. I’m not sure that maid can be trusted to stay with Patricia all weekend with no supervision.”
“Patricia will be fine, and Mueni has been with us for five years with no problems. She’s practically Pat’s co-parent. Are you sure you’re feeling okay?”
“I’m fine. Leave me be woman”, Finn said irritably.
Lynn shrugged, fished out her costume from the suitcase and turned away, “I’m going swimming. See you later?” she said.
“Yah. Okay”, Finn said with relief. If Gitura’s wife Di also went swimming they could go check on the strippers real quick. He fished out his phone and texted this new plan to Gitura. It wasn’t long before he got a reply.
May Day. May Day!!!
Finn stared at the text in shock.  He clicked on the call button and put the phone to his ear.
“What?” he asked when Gitura picked up.
“The strippers are here! The strippers are here!” Gitura’s frantic voice wobbled down the line.
“Here where?” Finn asked, heart going cold.
“At the pool. I repeat. They are at the pool”, Gitura said.
“Fuck. Me.”, Finn whispered.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Keeping It Real

A close friend told me about a mutual acquaintance's new husband who is apparently having a hard time with the fact that he has a new family which he has to provide for. He keeps saying stuff about how he can't believe this is his life and he never dreamed that his life would turn out this way. He says it aloud as well, in the hearing of his wife...what. an. asshole.

Anyway so when I heard about that, I wondered what would be the best remedy to get him to slap out of it. I mean what kind of jerk says such a thing. But then when you really think about it, the average guy does tend to be a rather selfish bastard unless there is something in it for them. And I guess having a baby and a wife doesn't count in this guy's case.

Which brings me to the stories we as womenz tell ourselves in order to reconcile our perfect 'Mills and Boon Man' with the actual reality out there. I mean, the movie 'He's Just Not That Into You' was made to disabuse womenz of that very premise. That we should stop telling ourselves these stories that we make up to account for the fact that your man is a grade A bastard with no redeeming qualities.

It's a dichotomy I struggled with when writing. On the one hand, the whole point of reading books is to escape from reality. That's why Harry Potter, The Man in Black, Jamie Fraser, Father Emilio Sandoz, Sam and Dean Winchester and alla dem, are all larger than life.They're what we wish and hope and dream of to find in real life. However, they don't really exist in real life; do they?
This is Leo to the life
So when I was writing Leo into existence I wanted him to be so real that he could maybe actually exist in real life. I wanted him to have typical male imperfections; I wanted him to be as selfish and self-absorbed as the average teen, as unhappy and all about himself as any lonely neglected teenager would be...and yet, something special about him that would allow us all to fall in love with him, not in spite of his faults but because of them. Its a delicate line to maneuver. I don't know if I nailed it. You'll have to tell me when the book goes live.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

The Swamp is Ready For Exploration

There are two ways to get this book. Click on the widget below and buy now or if you have Between Death and Heaven send me your receipt on email so I can gift you.

The swirling mist was blinding…not just because it obscured her vision, but it also stung her eyes.  Furthermore it smelled…evil; like the aftermath of a great conflagration in the bayou.  She’d seen one or two of those when lightning had struck a tree and set it on fire…the combination of swampy smells and burned wood was an assault on the nostrils. That’s how this mist smelled. The loss of sight and smell and taste disoriented her so much that she didn’t know which way was the right way to go. Not that she even knew where she was or how she got here or what she was doing here really. She stepped carefully forward, not able to see the ground and her foot bumped on something solid. It was a narrow thing but sturdy. It didn’t budge even when she pushed her foot at it to see if it would. Reaching her hands out slowly she tried to feel her way forward, past this obstacle.
Her hands closed on another narrow solid piece of horizontal something. She found that she could curl her fingers around it…it must be some sort of bar, or barrier. She stepped forward and looked down at her hands trying to see what she was holding. She was startled to see a crib…with a baby in it. She peered at it noting the piercing grey eyes and a full head of curly brown hair. She suspected, from its size, that it was newborn or close to it. She thought she’d never seen anything so beautiful ever. Funnily enough the baby seemed able to hold her gaze, its eyes looking eerily aware. She studied it; it couldn’t be more than three months old. Did intelligence show in babies’ eyes that quick? The baby opened its mouth and she tensed herself to hear him cry.
“What took you so long?” it said.

Mya woke up with a startled cry.