Friday, 30 September 2016

Reviewing as an Author

I've been mad busy, and I haven't had time to put up PART TWO of Harpreet or catch on goss or anything. I would apologize but it's silly to be sorry that you have too much work right? Especially when people complain about unemployment. I get to write stories for my day job, my night job and recreation so I'm good. Could probably benefit from time management classes though.

One thing I haven't been too busy for is reading. Mostly out of necessity though. It's difficult to write without reading. You need to for ideas, for getting to know how to write certain stuff, for gauging your levels of skill compared to your peers....It's the only way sometimes.
But sometimes when I'm reading a story maybe to see about writing something I'm not too familiar with, I find myself judging the hell out of it. Judging the who the writer is, by what and how they write...deciding whether they're worth admiration or contempt.

That's bad. I know.
Like just today, I read this story where there was actual pining. Like this grown person likes another grown person and instead of just going right up to them and hitting on them...they were sitting back and PINING. Like for years.
Who does that?
Even in Mills and Boon, that is still so 1985.

So I'm thinking maybe, probably, hopefully the person is a teenager who has never been involved in a relationship or a situationship or nothin...because otherwise it's just depressing.
And recently I seem to be coming across a lot of stories where there is dubious consent. What really really annoys me about these stories is the way the er, recipient of the dubious consent has this attitude of helplessness in terms of the way that they feel toward their aggressor and the way they react to the aggression. It's like, "Oh God I hate this but I can't help but be aroused and I think I might be in love."
I've stopped reading about three stories in the last week because of this narrative.

Then I think to myself, "Hey Annemarie? Why are you so mad at them? Doesn't your story also begin with dubious consent? Are you mad because you recognize your own thinking in these narratives?"
I really had to have an examination of conscience to understand why I was so mad.
But I don't think it's the same.
Mya didn't fall in love until...well, continuing that sentence would be such a severe spoiler that I can't even.
But the difference between Mya and them is attitude. She felt scared, but not helpless. She wasn't a fainting damsel in distress waiting for her abuser to realize what an ass he was and turn into her rescuer.
And the reason it makes me so mad is that in real life, there are women who feel like if they can just endure being treated like shit, one day the fuck boy they're with is going to miraculously become Prince Charming.
And that irritates the FUCK out of me. Because there is no better liar than the person who lies to themselves.
And I just really hate lies.
So I'm not going to lie to you. I don't really know when part two of Harpreet will be up. It might be tomorrow; it might be next weekend. But I will say that I am trying to manage my time better.
So have a good week, visit my bookpages and tell your friends.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

World Suicide Prevention Day

A few months ago I was in a matatu (public transport) which was playing music so loud I could feel my chest vibrating. On top of the really really loud music, traffic was at a stand still most of the way. As we were traveling I started to feel more and  more like I couldn't breathe. I've known forever that I was maybe claustrophobic but I thought that was just about being confined in small spaces. In recent months I've come to realise it's more than that. Being in that matatu, unable to escape from the loud music was to me equivalent of being locked in a coffin and buried.
(by the way just that visual makes me feel breathless).
I found myself in the beginning stages of a fully fledged panic attack. I asked the conductor to reduce the volume a bit but he ignored me. So I opened the window as far as it would go and stuck my head out of it. It helped a little bit; I could breath again. But the music still weighed my chest down. I still felt like I was being crushed. I contemplated alighting from the matatu and just walking. But it was dark and raining and the street had no lights. I was still very far from home. Did it make sense to risk potential harm on the outside just to escape some imaginary fear of death by sound?
Yep, that's the worst part; I dismissed my own issues because hey, suck it up right? Grow up. Stop acting like a pansy ass baby. It's all in your head.
Nobody's ever said these things to me. I say them enough to myself.
I don't like wearing chiffon or silk shirts/blouses. Especially those with no buttons so you have to take them off by whipping them up over your head. Sometimes, if you're sweaty or they're a tad tight, they get stuck somewhere around your neck.If I feel like that shirt isn't going to come off, I'd rather shred it to pieces than struggle with it because it takes maybe ten seconds for me to start feeling breathless and panicky.
A few months after the matatu incident, I got some sort of sinus infection. It was weird because I had no flu-like symptoms but my nose was completely blocked. It was irritating sure. But not life threatening in any way. Then I went to bed and fell asleep, and sleep apnea woke me. So I try blowing my nose to unblock them and there's just...nothing to remove. (Yeeesss, I know it's a yucky visual).
So the more I try to breathe through my nose, the more I can't. Then I start to feel that familiar 'being closed in' sensation. I start to feel like there is no escape. I will be unable to breathe for long enough and I'll die from asphyxiation. My mind is throwing up these increasingly helpless images of me shut in by nothing but the fact that my NOSE IS BLOCKED. I can feel the panic taking over, I'm about to start hyperventilating and shouting for help or something. In another part of my mind though, the part that counteracts panic attacks that I'm unaware I'm having is busy looking for solutions. Salt water, toothpick up my nose...wait; my son got some Utabon spray the last time he had a congested nose and it was still sitting in the basket in the living room. I ran and picked it up and put those two drops up my nose. Thankfully it worked fast. Crisis averted.
I still slept upright though for the rest of the night. And even with that, I still felt derisive of myself having a panic attack because my nose was blocked.
I won't even go through the years of depression I went through following my mother's death. It was bad, no lie. But it wasn't overt. I didn't stay in bed for seven years. I worked jobs, I raised my son, I ate, I slept. I was just really unhappy while I did all those things. I finally got a handle on it by doing a higher diploma in counseling. Because Africans don't do therapy. We go to church and throw ourselves on the mercy of 'God' and beg him to heal us. I remember my mother made me go to therapy when I left school after getting pregnant. I went, I spoke to the therapist, she told me I was a brave girl. It did help. Maybe that's why I chose the counseling option again after I couldn't take anymore. Even if it was disguised as an educational opportunity. Or maybe 'God' led me to it. I know that up to this day I can't even remember how I afforded to pay for it. Money was just found in that miraculous way that happens sometimes.
Depression. Anxiety. Panic Attacks. Claustrophobia. Maybe even PTSD.
Doesn't sound like me.
There's no reason for me to suffer from those things.
I'm a strong woman. Everyone tells me so. I tell me so. I believe it's true.
But you see, that's the crunch isn't it? That you have to be 'weak' to suffer from a mental health challenge? That you're somehow bringing it on yourself or being a self indulgent lil' bitch for giving in to these 'negative emotions.'
Trust me in those seven years, I tried everything; The Power of Positive Thinking, Escape through Books and Movies, Living only in Mom Mode...I couldn't escape it until I faced it. Faced that I was a depressed ass nigga who needed to deal with all these emotions.
In +Teen Wolf  that chick who doesn't age, whose the shrink tells Stiles (I think) - If you're going through hell, keep going.
And that's excellent advice.
You know what else is good advice?
Sometimes you're really tired of going. So it's okay to sit down and rest. Maybe take a nap. Recharge your batteries. Then you can get up again and continue through the valley of the shadow of death.
A lot of people don't give themselves that time to just rest. Always trying to keep ahead of your feelings, deny them, escape them...
I really think that's the genesis of many people's alcoholism. Certainly many people I know who 'drink too much' might need to admit to their mental health issues.
I never really took the time to think about these things until I got involved in the +Supernatural fandom. What with +Jared Padalecki describing how he was diagnosed (which sounded so familiar and relatable) and the #AlwaysKeepFighting campaign and all the stories that people were telling about their own issues; it really brought the widespreadness of mental health issue front and centre. And I looked around in my own life and saw a lot of people struggling. But...Africans don't do therapy. How do you start to suggest to someone that they might be suffering from depression? or PTSD? or bipolar disorder? without them feeling insulted or disrespected?
I don't know.
I'm just here admitting that I have problems. And just knowing that I do is such a massive relief, they seem a hundred times more manageable than they did before. If I need to wallow in it a bit, I'll do that. I might write my troubles away; my anger; my grief. Or I might just dance and sing and let the music speak for me. What I won't do is run anymore. I won't hide.
I am here.
I am here for you. We can be here for each other.
Just keep living, no matter how bad it gets; it gets better.
Scout's honour.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Child of Destiny Series Outtake - Harpreet

Author Notes: Harpreet is an exchange student nurse at the Le Marais Clinic where everyone inevitably ends up. We meet her first at the beginning of Between Death and Heaven when some shit hits the fan. This is her story.

Harpreet slammed the door of the nurse's lounge then winced at the sound. She hadn't meant to be so loud but her hands were trembling and she was dizzy.
Her first brush with death...
And it had to be two dead bodies, who died ugly and painful on the hospital gurneys; as much from willful negligence as the poison coursing through their veins.
And what was with that old lady who appeared? Krishna preserve her from things she didn't understand!
She didn't know what to do with herself. She wanted her mummy now. She glanced at the wall phone, wondering what the hospital policy was on calling international numbers.
"Harpreet?" a voice called from the other side of the door.
She opened her mouth, trying to answer but nothing came out. The room was suddenly very cold.
"Harpreet?" the voice said again and she jumped, startled.
"Let me in. There is an old black lady here who says you might need some help."
Harpreet nodded her head vigorously, still not quite able to talk. It was her hostess on the other side of the door. The family she was staying with while she did her internship in America. Katpurtnick or something; she hadn't mastered their last name yet. She liked them though. The mother was a nurse like she wanted to be; and the father did something in real estate. The son, Miles, was still an unknown quantity. Very secretive. And obsessed with that friend of his...what was his name?
Leonardo or something. Veerrry handsome. Harpreet had felt her heart beat faster when he walked in the house. But he wasn't very nice; ignored her the whole time like she wasn't even there. It's not like she wanted him to shower her with kisses or anything. It would just have been nice if he had shown some interest in her.
"Harpreet?" Mrs. maybe Katpurtnick said again.
She stood quickly and went to open the door.
"Yes Memsahib. Sorry."

"It's alright...Harpreet are you alright?"
She opened her mouth to say yes but the words wouldn't come. Instead, she shook her head.
"Oh honey...I've called my son okay? He's coming to get you, take you home."
Harpreet shook her head frantically, holding back her tears. Memsahib's kindness was really making her miss her mama.
"Yes dear. You need it don't you?" Mrs. K said rubbing Harpreet's arms.
Harpreet found she was nodding her head unawares. Claire Katpurtnick stayed with her until Miles blew into the room, half irritated at having to pick up the exchange student and miss out on whatever he'd planned.
"Come on Harpreet", he said kindly enough though, "I'll take you to Freddie's, get you a nice meat platter."
"I am vegetarian", Harpreet said softly.
That stopped Miles for a second, "No worries. I'm sure there's a salad or something you can eat. They should at least have french fries."
"Okay..." Harpreet hesitated, "Will...your friend Leo be there?"
She just couldn't help herself.
Miles turned briefly, a smile of understanding on her face, "Yeah sure he will", he said.
Harpreet followed him as he led the way out, blushing slightly and thankful that her olive complexion mostly covered it up.

Harpreet was the first female in her family to travel alone for such a great distance. To be alone in a strange land, allowed to stay with just wasn't done. But here she was.
The homesickness was the worst.
The lack of familiar food.
The feeling sometimes she got that nobody understood her.
She was a lucky girl and she knew it. Opportunities like this didn't come around every day. And she intended to utilize her time here in the best way possible. It's just that today she'd seen her first two dead bodies. She needed an escape.
She was sitting next to Leo Devereux in the restaurant called Freddie's. Neither he nor Miles was paying much attention to her. Instead they were talking and laughing about things she couldn't understand. Sitting next to Leo was doing funny things to her heart rate but it wasn't enough. She stood up abruptly and they both stopped talking to look at her.
"I..I'm going for a walk."
"Alright", Miles said, "Don't go too far."
"I won't." she replied torn between disappointment that they didn't try to stop her and relief that she could get some fresh air. Freddie's had a permanent barbecue going and the smoke from the grill was making her feel ill with the overwhelming smell of meat.
Harpreet walked down a small side street, not really paying attention to her environment. Le Marais was a small town; there was zero likelihood that she would get lost. She bumped into a solid body in front of her and stumbled backwards before a hand clamped down on her arm and stopped her certain fall.
"Sorry man, didn't see you there", a raspy voice said. She looked up to see a fairly short yet powerfully built gentleman standing in front of her eyes concerned. He had a five o' clock shadow and a cigarette stuck between his teeth.She opened her mouth to say something...probably smoking kills, when he pulled her close, rubbing at her arms.
"You okay?" he asked.
She nodded her head, slightly nonplussed and he plucked the cigarette from his lips and offered it to her.
"Hey, have a hit. You look like you need it", he said.
She looked down at the cigarette and then back at him. It looked home made, not like a normal cigarette and it emitted a funny smell.
"Go on. You'll feel better. It's herb", he said.
Oh. Herbs.
If it was made of herbs then it couldn't be all bad. She reached out and took the rolled paper slowly, with the man nodding encouragement at her as she placed it in her mouth and inhaled slowly.
"Good huh?" he said holding out his hand, "I'm Jon by the way."
"H-Harpreet", she replied around the cigarette.
"Pleased to meetcha", he said and pointed at the building he was standing in front of, "this is my bar. Wanna come in?"
Harpeet nodded her head.

Child of Destiny is found here