A Letter From Julien

Hello Out there,

My name is Julien Hill.  If you’ve read KJ’s book, False Hope, you would know who I am.  KJ wanted me to write a little bit about myself to give you ‘insights’ into my behavior in the book.  Frankly, I think it’s a big waste of time, but she can get a bit whiney and this was the only way I could shut her up. 

Like I said, my name is Julien and before I went working undercover at that sorry excuse for a law office of Upshall’s, I worked on the Vice squad for about five years.  Most of my policing experience comes from dealing with drug dealers and low-lifes, so this new gig was one I wasn’t looking forward to.  I regret the whole thing.  The only light in the entire operation was Ashley.  She’s an angel.  It’s no secret I had a thing for that girl, but she only had eyes for Jamie, or Jax, as you all would know him.  Trust me, that guy has some secrets he wouldn’t like to get out.  But this is about me.

I grew up just outside of Toronto.  I was an only child.  My parents were teachers and are retired, now living in Hamilton.  Linda and Brian were always worried about my tendencies to be alone instead of hanging with a bunch of kids from school, but I just never found my group.  I stayed locked up in my room reading comic books.  They suited me better.  I was never good at sports and the geeks were too brainy for me, so I fell somewhere in the middle.  I got my first good camera in grade 10 and taught myself how to take cool shots and develop them myself.  I started spending a lot of time in my darkroom I had set up in the basement.  Again, Linda and Brian weren’t too pleased with my ‘obsessive’ tendency to take ‘pictures’ and suggested I spend more time with my studies.  This led to a lot of arguments with my parents and I ended up storming out a few times.  I needed to get my own place, I knew that. 

After high school, I really didn’t know what to do with myself.  I knew a guy who had applied to the police department for kicks, so I thought I’d apply.  I wrote on the application I was handy with a camera and they seemed interested by that.  I showed them the portfolio I threw together along with the dark room I had and they sent me to the academy.  I hated that too, but I made it through.  They sent me directly to Vice and I was set up to do surveillance.  Apparently, my eye for detail and awesome photography skills came in handy.  I got great shots that handed guys some hefty sentences in Kingston.  I was feeling useful in that gig.  I got my own place and set up my darkroom off of my bedroom.  And then, they sent me to Organized Crime with the pretty boys like Jamie.  Adrian had strict rules about who I was to ‘associate’ with, so no buddies at Vice for me, anymore.  I hated undercover.  The only thing that suited me was the fact I got to be alone and take some shots.  I guess you know by now, that I had some photos of Ashley and some women.  It wasn’t a pervy thing.  I just appreciate a beautiful form.  Call it art. That’s all I’m going to say about it.  The secret compartment under my desk was supposed to be private.  The fact that Ashley found it and it wasn’t discovered by the guys in OC was more awesome than I could have ever imagined. 

I know I’m dead, now.  You don’t have to pretend that I’m alive and kicking and will be magically reappearing in another of KJ’s books.  I know it ain’t happenin’ but I couldn’t have imagined any better way of dying.  All for Ashley.  Those idiots couldn’t save a raccoon from a tree, let alone a beauty like Ashley.  That’s why I had to dive in.  I had to make sure she got away from the goons charging into the apartment and I thought I had a good shot at getting her away from Jamie and his gang of merry men, but that didn’t work out as well as I had planned.  But, she did good in my opinion. 

She was innocent in all of this.  She wasn’t supposed to be in any of the operation until Jamie got his hooks into her and made her a part of this mess.  It’s his fault she had to run from murderous bastards and his fault she had to move away.  I could see how hurt she was when her friend was killed and I could see he left her in the middle of the whole ordeal.  I didn’t bail on her like Jamie did.  I was behind the scenes watching like always.  And I was there when it counted, in the end.  That’s what’s important.

I don’t know what they did with all of my stuff.  My apartment is empty so I assume Linda and Brian cleaned it up.  I know Ashley asked that my pictures be taken away.  I only hope she has a few to remember me by.   Her savior.  Her hero.  I loved her the most.  You can tell her I said that.

Always,

Julien

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A Dance in The Hurricane

The following is a reblog of a post I wrote two years ago. It reminds us to take a breath and appreciate our connections and relationships; to value each day and each person we encounter along the way. Stay connected, my friends.

KJ

The other day I was cleaning out our closet.  It was time to do some much needed purging.   I decided to gut out everything and go from there.  I ended up finding some old cards from a few years ago when my mother passed away.  I opened each one and read them again, this time with five years behind me.  They were sweet and sympathetic.  My Aunt had sent one reminiscing about when she and my mother were teens and very close.  Some I kept and others I didn’t.  So much for the big purge.    In amongst the cards I found a letter that was written by a childhood friend of the family.  Her kids were friends with us when we lived in the old neighbourhood.  She and her husband were friends with my parents.  We used to visit them after they moved away into a new house.  She wrote to say how dismayed she was of my mother’s passing and that she hadn’t realized my mother continued to reside in Chatham.  She assumed she had moved in either my brother or myself.  She was disappointed she had not made the effort to reconnect.  I think she was disappointed neither had my mother.  I don’t think it was anyone’s fault that they got disconnected.  It was just life.

 Kids grow up, graduate, move on to university or not, tragic events unfold, weddings and new houses, new babies, new lives.  It’s everything that happens over a lifetime. We get disconnected. We get disjointed and enmeshed in the everyday.  We forget the connections that were made years ago on a summer’s day when the children were small, who later walked to the bus stop hand-in-hand on frosty fall mornings, caught “all things squirmy and squishy” (her words) and played basketball until nightfall.   

Those days get lost in band practices, packed lunches, hockey games and baseball tryouts.  People get older, move to other streets or to other towns.  They work, they make new friends, they move on to other hobbies, other occupations and other past times without the old acquaintances that have become a part of their past.  The present is different.  Its fluid and changes with the seasons and the ever-speeding passage of time.  We don’t notice the children becoming adults until they are there.  We don’t notice our hair changing colour until our hairstylist points it out (while saying loudly WHY ARE YOU NOT COMING HERE MORE OFTEN?!  )  we don’t notice the deeper cracks in the sidewalks outside the house,  how the maple tree has grown exponentially or how few little children are out playing street hockey these days, until all of that suddenly seeps into our consciousness and we take a look around with clearer eyes.  And older eyes.  How did this happen?  When did we get HERE? 

I understand her disappointment and dismay.  It seems like a sudden about-face of one minute she’s there, the next she’s gone, but really it wasn’t like that.  It was a lifetime of being, of living and of surviving.  The disconnection of relationships is unfortunately, an everyday occurrence that can be prevented if we take the time.  Aye there’s the rub.  TIME.  We never have enough. It flies away so fleetingly.  If only we had more time to connect, to say ‘hey’, to reminisce, to support, to actually stop and watch everything grow and change without having to be awoken to its transformation.  It’s a difficult dance.  Maybe we don’t want to watch because if we do, then we’ll have to admit that we are getting older, life is flying by without us even moving or flinching in this hurricane.   Maybe we don’t really want to see the children getting older or the sidewalk cracking or the maple tree growing so big we can’t see across the street, anymore.  We’d rather hold on to today, to live in the present, just let me have one more day!

Connections are our lifelines.  We crave them, we seek them out and some we hold dear.  Our intentions are for connections to last as long as we take a breath, to be eternal and constant, but sometimes those bonds get weaker and grow more distant, then they are suddenly lost in the gale force wind.  It’s not wrong.  It’s life.  

I’m thinking after all of this time, to send her a reply.  To let her know I did receive her letter and I did read it and I still have it.  That I remember everything she said was true. 

 Maybe, that could be one little dance in the hurricane.

Writing a Sequel

The undertaking of writing the second instalment of False Hope is beginning to make me nervous.  I remember how time consuming and all-encompassing it was writing the first book and I’m beginning to feel bogged down.   I have one chapter completed with work starting on the second.  The struggle of carving out time to write characters and scenes and implement accents and plot points is difficult when summer weather decides to make an appearance.  The sun shines and I want to be outside, not locked in a room in the basement writing the next big adventure.  The rarity of sunshine makes it all the more important for me to head outside while it lasts.  Autumn is packing its bags getting ready to move in and wave summer off into the grand abyss where the seasons-that-barely-happened go to die.   Before I know it, I’ll be welcoming students back for another year, scheduling tests and skipping lunches in favour of one more hour for testing.   I’m fearful my penchant to procrastinate will overtake me and I’ll finish Book Two around the same time any grandchildren I’ve been promised have graduated high school.  

I’m ever-aware of my tendency to simply give-up or to throw my hands up in the air and proclaim it all a bit too much before I’ve even given it my best shot. I managed to stay focused and finish the first round and I’m hoping my determination will see me through to the next.  I have big plans for Claire and Jimmy in Book Two and I’m hoping it will all come to fruition.  They may even run into some old friends from False Hope.  (That was a hint, by the way in case you missed it.)  

My notes are gathering in the purple notebook I used for the False Hope.  I’ll simply keep it moving with more notes chapter-by-chapter and flesh out some new characters I have in mind.  I always change around chapters and events according to how things logistically work out.  For example, in False Hope Julien was supposed to be accused of nefarious activities with the women he was photographing.  If you notice in the book, there are references to a rapist running around loose in town and even a dark hooded stranger bumping into Julien when he was standing outside the office building where Ashley worked.  That incident was initially a set-up to a much larger sub-plot.  I backed down at the last minute not wanting Julien to undergo any further scrutiny and bias from his colleagues.  He had enough on his plate.  

My work continues on Book Two and I hope my characters move forward with their lives, but not everything can go easily for them in their new circumstances.  I’ll try to keep the momentum going through bouts of soaking up the intermittent sunshine and my tendency to walk away.

 I’ll keep you posted on the progress and maybe drop a few more hints along the way, like Jimmy Feherty.  He’s an Irishman straight from Belfast with eyes only for Claire.  Or so he says….

 

The Hibernation of Summer

It’s mid-August and I can feel the imminence of Fall.  It’s in the back-to-school supplies that are crowding every shelf at Walmart.  It’s in the woods jackets and plaid flannel shirts that are hanging on racks.  It’s in the now-dark 5 am mornings that greet me and the cooler evenings that now descend before 9pm.  Summer hasn’t yet arrived and here we are readying for another season.  I’m lamenting a summer I never had.  I’m still waiting for that everlasting full day of sunshine and sultry heat that stretches into a dusky evening.  I’m waiting for days full of water-balloon tossing and garden hose spraying and evenings of open-windows and flies eating me alive.  Where was all of that?

Quidi Vidi, Newfoundland

We missed an entire season.  It was a summer of spring-like days at best.  Cool winds, rain and almost hot-enough-but-not-quite temperatures.  We will be back to wearing coats and boots before I even broke out my shorts.  I don’t mean to complain, but this is why most people in St. John’s need a break and head to the liquor store.  Or try to find solace and heat either more west on the island or head south to anywhere else.  We know that soon enough, it will be a full-frontal assault into cold and ice.  We desperately cling to those final few evenings of near-warm-enough temperatures to steal away on the back patio for a fire and a glass of wine before the gale-force wind of 100kms/hrbegin to blow through.   It’s hard to go to work on a nice day knowing that when we are on a treasured day off, the wind will howl and the rain will pelt our faces so hard we feel the sting for a week.  We flee the office building in the midst of theevaporating sunshine holding our faces skyward in hopes to feel the last of the rays beat upon our skin and feel some semblance of warmth.  We shed the office pallor for some fresh air and bright light, not the fluorescent kind.  

Sometimes, we get lucky.

Today, the wind is high but the air is warm.  I’m hoping to retreat to my back patio for a little sun before the clouds elbow their way through the sky, squeezing it behind their billowing puffs of air.  If the sun can manage to appear in our sky a few more times, I will be grateful for that.  

Right now, I’m grateful for the liquor store’s cache of wine…

 

I’m Going To Need a Shirt And My Lotion

The wind is blowing a gale today and I’m feeling a little disheveled.  My book is up and out and I’m now grappling with the idea that there are actual people out there in the great wide world who are reading my words.  In a book.  I wrote.  I shake my head and try not to gauge reactions and try not to have thoughts of, “I wonder what they thought when this happened.”  

Instead of obsessing on things I can’t control, I’m choosing to play with my dog and post random shit that I think will entertain the masses as much as it does me.  You. Are. Welcome.

I’ve also been given the opportunity to observe the strange and irksome occurrences around me on a daily basis that keeps my mind busy and cause me to walk into arbitrary walls.  On purpose.   Here are a few:

Old People Driving – I am NOT the old person I am referring to.  I was cut off on the highway merge ramp today, by an ‘old’ lady driving her Honda CRV at 60kms an hour who refused to go the obligatory 100kms an hour, almost causing an accident and causing me to swear profusely.  Fun, wha?

No Shirt Sheila – Unfortunately, I was not privy to the shirtless woman wandering aimlessly around the mall, yesterday in her bra with a sweater tied around her waist whilst yelling into her phone, “I NEED MY LOTION BACK!” however, my niece and her daughters, and my daughter were witnesses to this craziness.  Sad I missed it.  And Gaawwddd Debby, give her the lotion BACK!

Irate complainers who complain about complaining – It’s a thing!  I love it!  No, really tell me more about how I piss you off when I fucking swear all of the fucking time, Goddammit.  I love you, tho.

On a positive note, puppies are in the world so, there’s that. 

 

And This Little Piggy Went Wee-What-The-Actual-Fuck?

    A couple of months ago, I underwent a bunionectomy.  If you are unsure as to what that is exactly, its day surgery to remove a bunion from a foot.  In my case, it was a big bunion from my left foot.  It’s been an interesting few months of recovery. 

    My surgery was back in May and I won’t sugarcoat anything.  Ireferred to my surgeon as the MotherfuckigantiChrist more often than I care to admit. He warned me several times pre-surgery that it would be “painful and you are going to swear on me repeatedly.”  I smiled and said, “I’ve had three babies all natural, the last one ten pounds.  I got this.”  He smiled in response.  Now, I know why. 

    I remained in bed for four days following the surgery and had it not been for Hubby serving me food, coffee, and pain killers, it would have resulted in me rising from my bed and crawling to the window to throw myself to the mercy of rabid dogs.  Yeah, it was painful.

    I hobbled around and was finally able to descend stairs on a Tuesday.  I remember it well, since I was afraid of falling and scuttled down on my butt the entire time.  I used Hubby’s cane he had stowed away after his knee surgery.  It was going swimmingly, until my right knee decided it wanted some sympathy too, and erupted in bursitis.  Now, I was really down.  A bum left foot and a right knee that screamed every time I bent it.  

    I couldn’t walk up the stairs, I couldn’t stand for long periods and I could barely walk.  I needed crutches, a wheelchair, and a shirtless Spaniard named Marco feeding me grapes.  None of which, I had at my disposal.   

    My main mode of transportation was my ass.  Good thing it was large and squishy.  It made travelling a lot more comfortable.  Oh, yeah.  The entire time, I had a large pin jutting from my middle toe, which made for interesting conversation and people largely exclaiming ‘EWWW’ whenever I mentioned it.  

    By June, I was thankfully over the bursitis and off my ass, so I asked Coach if I could return to Bootcamp .  I still had a little sandle/boot on my foot and I still had the lovely pin protruding from my toe, but I thought I could modify my way through.  She gave me the nod and my first class was interesting.  She refused to look downward lest she gazed upon the ‘pin-ofevil’ and I hopped my way through every exercise.  I have to admit, I was doubtful I would manage, but I wanted to try.  I was so over the whole sitting–downand‘resting’ thing.  

    I muddled my way through everything she had planned and by the end of June I was hobbling on over to the MotherfuckingantiChrist himself to the have the ‘pinofevil’ removed from my toe.  

    Pin Removal Day, or as people tagged it, HolyFuckingMotherofGodThat’sGonnaHurt Day, was uneventful.  Everyone asked “Is he gonna sedate you for that?” or “Are you taking Ativan for that?” to which I had to answer a shaky “Noooo…why do you think I should?”  Their looks of disbelief and head-shaking told me I should probably pop a few pain relievers.  MotherfuckingantiChrist assured me that I indeed would “not feel it as much as you did when the stitches were removed.”   

    The stitch removal was a pain only reserved for those who have wronged the Saints in Heaven and have sided with Satan in a murderous plot to fling babies from rooftops.  That was some serious painful shit.  Hubby was there when I grabbed his leg in agony and swore relentlessly.  D1 the nurse, was horrified by my cry-babyness.  “Mom, EVEN THE CHILDREN I CARE FOR, DON’T CRY.”  Love you too, honey.  I digress.

    I entered the room to have MotherfuckingantiChrist prepare to pull the pin-of-evil from my toe with nothing more than a pair of tiny scissors and an expression of, “Hold still.”  I squeezed my eyes shut and muttered “For fuck’s sake,” recalling every word of caution and regretting the non-painkillerpopping.  I felt a little tug and the pin was out.  Done. 

    His retorts of, “I would never lie to you,” echoing the ever-popular “I told you so,” were still ringing in my head by the time I walked out of the room.  I sauntered out into the hospital corridor free of the pin-of-evil and feeling like I had just conquered Kim Jong-un in some sadistic tug-of-war.  

    Now, a month later the boot is off and I’m almost fully mobile.  I can do some cardio but still do the majority of bootcamp on one leg.  My middle toe is still tender.  Cut me some slack, will ‘ya?  

    My escapade into bunion surgery is almost to an end and thank Gawwwwddddd.  It’s been a long road and I’m almost fully healed.  

    In the meantime, there’s wine for that and to MotherfuckingantiChrist, thanks for telling me the truth.  I WILL NEVER DO THAT AGAIN.  

Cheers!  

 

 

Push The Button

My book is ready to drop in a few days.  All I have left to do is hit the little ‘publish’ button but I’m feeling a tad squeamish.  I get emails from authors who have self-published and want to sell me their guides on how to correctly publish my book.  Is there a wrong way?!

Let’s face it everyone has a guide, a book, a best-practices manual, a notebook full of tips; I even watched a video of an author with a giant binder full of…stuff, and I just have a button and a book.  What do I know?  Apparently, nothing.  After all, I don’t have a giant binder full of stuff.  

It’s a scary leap to jump off that self-publishing cliff with the world telling me I shouldn’t, I can’t, I-wouldn’t-do-it-if-I-were-you.

 NOT WITH THAT ATTITUDE, WORLD.

I’ve chosen to block out the negative vibes of, “Dumb author thinks she can publish her book.  Pfft” and instead I am focusing on, “Dumb author thinks she can publish her book!  Yay!”  There.  That’s more like it. 

The mere fact that I traveled the journey to get to the spot where I’m ready to publish, is a feat in itself.  I wrote a whole book.   

I waded through the self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy that plagues every writer and human on the planet.  I’m not over those feelings and hopefully, never will be.  They push me to be better and to expect better from myself.  I think those feelings were the catalyst that pushed me to finish. 

As the next few days unfold and I steady my finger over the ‘Publish now’ button, I’ll hold tight to the belief that I am worthy of pushing that damned button. 

All the while, I will allow my middle finger to wave freely at the world…and that binder full of ‘stuff’.