20 years ago:
When was that? 1986? Dear Lord. Single mother, precocious child who brought the Feds to my doorstep when he researched nukes and located a supposedly ‘secret’ missile base. Had 4-star generals, FBI, CIA – you name it bugging me. Seems The Kid had also decided that year to change his name, so he broke into the public school’s mainframe computer system, was honest enough not to bother changing his grades, but changed his middle name because he no longer liked his father or being named for him. All without my knowledge.
So…day #1, I get report cards for a child I don’t ‘know’. Rest of the week is a blur, but I do remember That General getting his stars and stripes in a twist, telling the boy (and yes this was the language he used) that he had some nerve, and no matter which government he worked for, they weren’t telling him shit, so stop pretending to be an elementary kid. The general said he wasn’t stupid—no American elementary student had a vocabulary to pen a letter like that and the resources to find them.
That’s when he phoned the Pentagon and God knows who else and said ‘Sic your guys on this bastard, whoever he is.’ [And this is what he called my boy when he wrote chewing him out.] They thought my son was pretty dangerous because he’d had the brass kajones to leave his return address on the envelope. I have yet to see a politician warning someone of or calling his shots, much less anyone involved in espionage - ha - especially if he's in grade school – that’s a Babe Ruth trick, not one for their ilk.
10 years ago:
A little over ten years ago, I moved out of my comfort zone from a small university town to a big bad city, gave up teaching college English for more adventurous work like repoing cars and collecting bills. Within months of my moving, Tim McVeigh bombed the Federal Building, and I happened to be downtown (was unhurt) and stayed there a few hours – set up the sheriffs' command post with a nurse while ‘The Kid’ (who was with me that day) worked triage and became ‘the errand boy’ for the General in charge of the post…which included FEMA, FBI, and others. Seems we were destined to become linked with Feds in one capacity or another. [Hmm...come to think of it, The Kid's first scholarship offers came from the CIA and West Point.] April 1996 was the 1-yr-anniversary of the bombing. We avoided the place while others went downtown to greet President Clinton, Billy Graham, and other dignitaries.
There are other photos if you wish to revist the tragedy at this link: http://www.okcbombing.org/okcphoto_gallery.htm. It took me about 2-3 years before I could go back downtown and another 2-3 before I could visit Ground Zero. Some of the police officers, county sheriffs and firemen committed suicide afterwards. It was probably 7 years before my son could even talk about what had happened...the things he'd witnessed.
As for how we wound up working the site...if you were already there, you either got carried out or you carried out, you went to the hospital, accepted counseling, or if you were okay you sucked it up and stayed to make sure those after you had what they needed. For what it's worth, few left. The crime rate was down 52% for the next 2 weeks, and even the homeless were pushing grocery carts of bottled water and sandwiches to the workers who trickled in hour by hour. OKC completely re-set the standard for FEMA response time and getting things under control quickly. I didn't relish being there, but it was unthinkable to even consider leaving.
By 11 am or so, I'd ordered and received latrines, food, beverages. [By the way, the first to offer help was Sonic Corporation - they're the ones who first sent food and drink AND helped me order the latrnies and toilet paper. Wal-Mart sent anything we asked for - flashlights, batteries, rain gear, you name it. So say what you will about big businesses, those were the first to help, and nobody we called turned us down. Literally hundreds of donations poured in within the first four hours. People lined up to donate blood. All I did was set things up, receive what came in, and send others out to deliver it all.]
By noon we had county mounties patrolling the area and just prior to that we'd received word that there were no survivors at Ground Zero, so the rest of the day was spent assembling, dispensing, battling the rain, and ignoring what was around us and within us just to get done what was needed.
I didn't visit Ground Zero, which was about 4 blocks south of me, until one of the military came up and told me to take a break...deliver coffee, rain gear and batteries, anything to get me to leave my post for a few minutes. It was like Beirut...didn't even realize where I was until I heard a creaking noise above me--shards of cement walls hanging by cables--and looked down at my feet. I was standing on about six inches of debris where a paved street had once been, and there was a 2-yr-old's show wedged between two enormous cement slabs of the wall, suspended in time like a tornado had lodged it there. I'd been standing where the day care center had been.
Think son and I got home around two in the morning. Maybe 10 yrs after the bombing we talked about that day, and come to find out it was that one shoe that had done us both in...he'd seen it as well. Scraps of children's drawings, torn clothing, other things you don't want to know about...hanging from the remnants of the building, and that was the sight that was unmoveable, unchanging, until workers cleared the entire street.
5 years ago:
My 2” thick oak garage door collapsed on me – broke my neck in 3 places and gave me fluid on the brain. Couldn’t work, became agoraphobic, and I was pretty much pissed off at God in particular and everyone else in general. Rough time until my son came to me and said look…you can’t work so you’re moving in with me, and when I’m at work, I want you sitting as long as you can, writing. I don’t care if you sell, and I don’t care what you write, but I want you writing.
That was 50+ confessions and a few magazine articles ago, plus the 9 books I mentioned. I don’t do a lot of things right, but somehow I think The Kid turned out okay.
I got online at that time, became involved in online writers’ groups, and the rest…is history. No, I'm not bitter - it was meant to be. Yes, I'm doing okay now. I just have memory problems and get dizzy if I forget and bend from the waist. Walk with a cane at times to keep me from toppling. But...I'm lucky. I've seen worse. If this was what was going on in April, it would only be another five months before 9/11.
1 year ago:
HA. One year ago this month I’d fired my agent and set forth to sell everything she’d sat on. Have sold 9 books on my own as of this month as opposed to zero with her. Sometimes revenge isn’t sweet but it’s mighty productive. Ok, it’s sweet, too. Oooh, the first mainstream debuts next month about 3 weeks after another Lyn Cash erotic romance (ack - next week?)...time flies.
I also had to make a decision…I hadn’t flown since the head injury, and I had a writers’ conference coming up that I wanted to attend. There was no way I could take Amtrak at $3500 roundtrip (not to mention a week getting there and a week getting home). I’d taken Amtrak to Dallas for a conference the previous year, but this one was to be held in Reno. Should I bail on my friends or risk flying against doctors’ orders? I decided I was much better and that my head could stand the cabin pressure if the plane was large enough. Haven’t regretted it since.
1 month ago:
I’d just returned from DC, buried one of my oldest and dearest friends, and was in a funk. Saw a house being cleaned out while walking, went inside, inquired, brought The Kid in to look at it. We moved within a few days; The Kid’s girlfriend moved in with us as well; I heard from a NY publisher that they’re considering a book of mine; and I caught a rotten cold or something that has hung in like it’s a clingy best friend that doesn’t want to leave me. I also discovered Blue Bell Ice-Cream, Banana Split, to be precise. [DO check out their recipes if you visit their website!]
Took a cab to go get groceries, got everything squared away and had just sat down when the weather got nasty. Couple of tornadoes later, we were all safe. Spoke briefly with my dad and told Poppa we were fine. Watched television for an hour (“24”, my favorite nighttime show – Keifer rules!). Then the 3 of us watched Nicole Kidman and Will Farrell in “Bewitched” and I wrote a bit while The Kid read The Da Vinci Code and The Girl went to bed.
The Real Yesterday:
Okay, so I wrote this then shelved it and came back to it, so another day has passed. YESTERDAY...I made a speciality dish of mine that we call Mama's King Ranch Chicken. Lightly grease a rectangular cake pan. Layer the following: corn chips (Doritos), chopped onion to taste, Campbell's Chicken Corn Chowder (w cans of Cream of Mushroom soup work well, too), chunks of pre-cooked chicken breast, Rotel tomatoes (drained), can of corn, slices of Velveeta cheese (we mix in some sharp cheddar), chunks of chicken. Repeat until mixture almost tops the pan. Bake 350 degrees F in oven for about 45 min to 55 min - trick is to heat thoroughly, not burn. Let cool, slice (or scoop if it's so warm that it's a tad runny). Eat. This also serves up well cold.
The Kid's Girlfriend went to cash one of her payroll checks and then to shoe shop. She brought home a new treat for me: Diet Dr Pepper with berries & crème. M-m-m. Was like drinking a chocolate truffle without the diabetic's sugar hangover or the calories.
Think we'll keep her. She really fits in well - lol.
I’m baking blueberry muffins with double the blueberries, doing some housework, sucking up my fears and digging into a WIP I’ve neglected. Also joining KOD (the romantic suspense chapter of Romance Writers of Amerida). KOD = Kiss of Death, and they have marvelous programs at the national conference, plus a Death By Chocolate party. If we can get the particulars straightened out all will be well, but their website has been screwy for a while.
Tomorrow evening (okay - tonight) I’m watching “Top Chef” then maybe a movie…”In Her Shoes” (I’m having chick flick withdrawal). If time and weather permit, I’m also planting some herbs, veggies, and flowers. We had temps of 99 degrees F' last week, down to 40-something last night, so maybe we’re in the clear for planting. Guess I’ll find out.
In the next minute I am tagging . . .
Kris (hey, paybacks are a bitch), Ann, Christine, Cece, Rinda, Tanya, Janet, and whoever feels left out. Post your snipes at me here and your Meme on your own blog so I can see it against your colors, your background, and hassle you at your place.