Dog Parks, Writing, and Kavanaugh

I met a dog named Dog today. I took Son Number Two to the dog park. Dog was a sweet old dog. His owner said she’d gotten to the age where she just names her dogs “Dog” and her cats “Cat.” I liked it. It reminded me of Because of Winn Dixie for some reason.

Son Number Two always gets hurt when we go to Shakespeare. Shakespeare is a park that has a Fine Arts Museum and the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, a outdoor amphitheater, a dog park, and lots of green space.

But for Son Number Two the following things have happened at Shakespeare:

  • Fell and broke his wrist
  • Fell and his head hit a hard stone, causing a small bullet-sized wound on his head. The wound went all the way to his skull
  • And today–got bitten by a dog at the dog park. I didn’t lose my shit. My dog, Jazz, has nipped a kid before. She can be a bad dog. This dog had just bit another kid though, and then went after Son Number Two. And he did the grab and started to try to shake. I don’t know what set him off. Son Number Two and I were on the way out of the park.

He is okay. He is currently at movies with his dad and brother. They’re seeing something I don’t want to see so I’m having alone time.

My writing is non-existent. My sister wants me to write about my alopecia for The Moth. I also need to be writing and submitting, but I’ve been so busy. Plus, I have thank you letters for work to write, and PTA minutes to write. So much to do.

I wanted to comment on the Kavanaugh proceedings when they were going on, but didn’t have the heart to, especially with the way things went. I am worried for women. I am worried for America. I am watching The Handmaid’s Tale and it suddenly doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibilities that women’s rights could be erased. I believe women when they say they’ve been assaulted. False accusations are rare. But in the U.S. we still have this blame the victim mentality. And then Kavanaugh played the victim. I don’t want to get political, BUT I don’t think respecting women and listening to them is a political issues. I think we need to learn how to teach our young boys to be gentlemen and that sexual assault is bad. We need to change the narrative.

Signing out–hope to write more. I plan on posting some stories soon, you know, once I start writing them again.

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Vengeance

Another Chuck Wendig challenge today. Chuck asked us to write a story about revenge. I decided to write about a victim of bullying, and how she decides to enact revenge on the bully.

Unfortunately, this story hits home to me. As a 4th grader, I was repeatedly bullied and physically assaulted by another child. I have alopecia, and because I was different, this little boy decided to pick on me. I didn’t tell my parents for a long time. I confided in my sister. She and I spent time sending him love and positive energy, as my sister thought this might make him change his ways. It didn’t.

The next year, my parents moved me out of that school into a private school. I have never forgotten what that little boy did to me, and to this day I wonder if he feels guilty about it. I also wonder what was going on in his life for him to treat me that way. Bullying is a serious issue and should always be addressed. I don’t want to enact revenge on my bully, but an I’m sorry would have been nice. The beginning part of this story is a autobiographical. Teach your kids to be kind and accepting, especially to those who are different.alo


Vengeance — 839 words

 

I had been obsessed with finding Burke Hardwich since about seventh grade. Lying in my bed at night, I pictured his 4th grade self. His two canines missing—never having grown back—and me looking up at him from the ground. The first time he hurt me, we had been lined up for music. He pushed me down, and I went skidding onto the black asphalt, my arm split wide open. I needed stitches. I told my parents it was just an accident.

The accidents continued. Burke would find me alone on the corner of a playground, and he would hit me in the stomach. He kicked out my foot while I carried a tray of spaghetti across the blue and white tile of the cafeteria, red sauce spraying the walls like blood.

I never told Mom and Dad how much Burke hurt me. I started having stomachaches. I sat in the office for most of my 4th grade year, waiting to make a phone call to Dad’s secretary at work who I could always depend on to pick me up.

Burke moved in 5th grade. I felt relief in his leaving of course. My tormentor was gone, and there wasn’t another one to take his place. But as the years went on I became more and more obsessed with Burke.

Fast forward to now. I’m sitting in a dingy apartment in Alabama, and I’ve just landed a job with Burke’s company. He’s a high-powered CEO. Making the big bucks. He’s married and has 2.5 kids, a white picket fence, and a dog. I have none of those things. I am alone. I have fixed up my appearance today. I’m wearing a red dress designed to accentuate my curves. I’ve had my teeth stained white, put on just enough makeup, and my hair has been recently curled. I look in the mirror, double-checking myself. I look hot. Who could say no to this?

My pseudonym is Camilla. The name means warrior, and that is what I am. For too long, I have let Burke destroy me, and now it’s my turn to destroy him.

In the office, I plant myself at my assigned desk. My heart beats fast in excitement, not nervousness. Burke comes in, chatting on his cell phone. He raises his eyebrows at me in acknowledgment. The skin in between his eyebrows crinkles up as he looks at me. I see recognition, like he knows me but can’t place me. Yes, Burke, you do know me—at least a previous version of myself.

He goes into his office. A few minutes later, he pings me. I walk in. I place my whole body up on his desk, and I cross my sleek legs. I tap my foot, and my heel slips on and off. I take in his look. His eyes run up and down my body, trying to make sense of what he sees. I know he wants to touch me. I can feel it. I like playing this game of cat and mouse with him. I like being the one in control, not the one flat on my back in the asphalt, or being punched silly on the playground.

The weeks go on. I make advances. At first, he doesn’t do anything. Then one day, there is a touch of my hand. A week goes by. My phone is set to record when he tells me what he wants to do with me. I smile and nod, playing along. That night, I send the audio file to HR. They waste no time in terminating him. I am exultant at his demise.

The next day, I show up at his door. His wife answers. She is grimacing at me.

“Are you her?”

“Is Burke home?”

“Burke,” she screams, and slams the door in my face.

He comes out his face tilted down in guilt and angst. I understand I have probably destroyed his marriage too, a fact that makes me giddy.

“You ruined my fucking life,” he says. “Why would you do that?”

“Burke, do you know who I am?” I ask.

I am playing with fire, being there anyway. He could call the police. He could say I have been stalking him. It would be true. I stand with my hands on my hips and stare at him. His face looks like a question mark. Of course, he would not know. I had meant nothing to him in 4th grade. I was a piece of garbage he had been intent on annihilating. He had put me away with all of the rest of his childish things.

I reach into my purse, and I pull out the 4th Grade class picture. I am in the front row, glasses, and bald spots from alopecia. Burke stands in the back, towering over everyone. I tap on my picture as realization spreads across his face.

“I’m sorry,” he says, shaking his head.

“Yeah me too. But now we’re even.”

I throw the picture at him, and I walk away.

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Bald is Beautiful

Today, I’m not going to write about Southern Literature. Instead, I’m going to discuss alopecia areata, because I read Four Women Bond Over the Beauty in Their Baldness yesterday, and it had me thinking about my journey with alopecia.

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Hello from Bald Lauren! I’ve had alopecia since I was five years old. I remember being at a parade with my mom and saying, “What’s this little itchy bump?” Then I suffered through the worst case of chicken pox (I still have a scar in between my eyes). And after it was all over, my hair felt out but only in patches. My parents dragged me to doctor after doctor, and those doctors didn’t know much. It’s an auto-immune disorder, my parents were told and most likely genetic. My immune system was attacking my hair follicles. I suffered through steroid shots in my head, UV treatments, creams, etc., but nothing worked. The hair came and went. I was bullied by a boy named Rondre at school, who thought being different was a bad thing (I recently looked this boy up, and I was disappointed to find he looks like a successful entrepreneur. I thought for sure he’d be in jail!).

Then after puberty, my hair grew back…mostly. And I came to terms with my alopecia. Before puberty, I was afraid for anyone to know I had bald spots. My mother used to cover them with barrettes, so I could relate to the girl in the article above who said she lied about wearing wigs. It’s hard as a child to be different. I didn’t want anyone to know I had alopecia, and for a long time this held me back. But then it always shaped me by making me more accepting of people who are different than I am.

When my beautiful daughter (above) was about one and I quit breastfeeding, my hair felt out again, but this time all of it fell out. At first, I didn’t feel like I was struggling with it, but for women hair and beauty tend to go hand and hand. I felt fat, bald, and ugly and I decided I had to do something about it. I started exercising, and I started telling myself, “I’m a beautiful woman, with or without hair.” Because I am. And hair and beauty don’t go together. That thought is silly and unproductive. I became accepting of myself. I became more confident, and I also started talking about alopecia. I found when I talked about alopecia my confidence in myself grew. People are afraid of what they don’t know, so informing sets them free, so to speak (I know–total cliche).

Having alopecia has certainly been a challenge for me, but without it I wouldn’t be the person I am. It shaped me into a writer. It made me overcome trials and tribulations, and it clued me into human nature. Most adults and children are accepting, if you explain it to them. I have a tag line, “I don’t have cancer. It’s alopecia.”  I count myself lucky, because alopecia is not life threatening. It’s just something I have to live with, and heck it’s pretty nice not having to shave my legs.

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The Devil Within is now a hashtag!

First and foremost, I’m a guest blogger on Tami Lund’s site today! Check it out at http://tamilund.com/?p=2353. Tami is an awesome paranormal romance writer who I met through the Writing Wenches, and I featured her on my blog a week ago when I was in Punta Cana. Check out what I wrote about Gideon, who you all are going to hear a lot about as I work on editing his and Lana’s story.

Today, I registered a hashtag for #TheDevilWithin! Last year, I started using Twitter for the first time to try to promote myself and my work. I heard as a writer that social media presence is a “must have” in this day and age. I fought against it though, because honestly, Twitter? I thought it was silly, but it’s a great way to support authors and have others support you. It’s a great way to meet contact and even pitch work. So send me some love on Twitter by hastagging #TheDevilWithin.

I ordered my books this week, but I haven’t received them yet. Yesterday, I went to my parents’ house, and my dad had my book. I’ve always felt like my dad is my harshest critic (I’m sure my kids will say the same about me when they’re grown). It was great for me to go over there yesterday and the first words out of my dad’s mouth were, “I’m reading your book, about halfway through, and it’s great. The characters are great and it’s extremely readable.” My heart felt happy in that moment. These are the words an author longs to hear from their readers. When their words resonate with an audience. That’s what’s writing is all about. Oh, yes, and sanity too (in my case).

Here I am with my book:

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My dad said he wanted me to sign it as Lulu. Lulu is a character in the book, a cousin the same age as William. And she has alopecia universalis like me. She does have aspects of my personality, but she deals with alopecia so well. She’s fierce and she doesn’t let anyone mess around her. In essence, she’s the child I wish I had been when coping with my alopecia in grade school.

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Introducing Lulu from The Devil Within

Okay–just so you know, I will be experimenting with the theme on this blog over the next couple of weeks. Mainly, I need a theme that will allow me to have plug-ins or put a form so you all can sign up for my newsletter. And speaking of newsletters, if you’re interested, you can sign up over at my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/laurengreenewrites) or send me a message through the Contact Form on the “About Page,” with your name and email address.

I went to the beach this weekend, and I didn’t do any prep for this blog. Yesterday, when we got home I was exhausted and didn’t write at all. I’ve been writing a lot lately, and I think it’s because I need to be editing. Writing is the lesser of two evils. (Ha–actually I love writing but editing is akin to cleaning up my room, which everyone knows I hate to do).

I decided to introduce you to Lulu today. Lulu is William’s cousin in The Devil Within. She and William are the same age. They attend the same school, and they’re best friends. Lulu also has alopecia universalis (hair loss over the entire body). When I wrote Lulu, I didn’t intentionally make her bald. I’m not one of these people who has to put myself into a book, but when Lulu was created she had alopecia. She’s a nine year old child who knows what it’s like to be different. She’s protective of William and loves him fiercely. She also knows William is being abused, but can’t fix that problem.

As a nine year old child, I was different from Lulu. I did not feel at home in my skin. I had patchy alopecia, meaning I had random bald spots on my head (now I have alopecia universalis). I was in the 4th grade at a public school in Alabama, and being bullied by a boy who was a lot stronger and bigger than me. He said mean things to me, verbally and physical abused me, and was generally a horrible person to me. I had a lot of hate for that kid, but his hate turned into a lack of confidence in myself. It meant I was afraid to talk about alopecia. It meant I thought little of myself. Basically, the bully got what he wanted: power. I didn’t want anyone to know I had it, and so a few years later when I went to camp for five weeks, I kept my hair in a ponytail for five weeks and didn’t wash it to keep people from finding out I had bald spots. It took me a long time to get over the unkind words of my bully, Rondre. It took me a long time to realize I’m beautiful for who I am, not for what I look like on the outside. It took me a long time to realize that just because someone chooses to hurt you with their words doesn’t mean those words are true. And it took me a long time to accept myself.

But Lulu is not like that. She accepts herself for who she is. She is a strong child who doesn’t let other people tear her down. She brings out the child in William. She lets us see who William could be if his world wasn’t falling apart. She is his advocate and his friend, and she is self-assured and strong, partially because she has to deal with having alopecia herself.

At this point in my life, I’ve forgiven my bully. I don’t know what was going on in his life when he decided to pick on me, but he must have been suffering too. I wish I had the confidence Lulu had in my book when I was growing up. But I didn’t then. Now I do. Accepting and loving yourself is important. Don’t let anyone take that away from you.