Author Archives: Victoria Thurman

The Story Behind “Delilah” Part III

The “Delilah” excitement for others died down, but I was trying to write my second book. Year by year was ticking by me and I felt so much pressure and had major writer’s block. I felt I was letting everyone and myself down. Then I heard about a class at Barnes and Noble of how to get your self-published book into their store. That’s where I met Kelly Flemming, the manager who taught the class. He loved my book cover, saying that a book cover is half the battle of attracting people to your book. Every year they have an event for a few chosen self-published authors.

I applied and while I waited to find out if I would be one of the chosen few, I decided, now was the time to finish cleaning up the last few edits. And… to be brave and do something I had wanted in my book for twenty years.

In 1998, I worked in the Children’s department of the Cobb County Public Library in Marietta, GA (essentially Atlanta). I came across a fairy tale book called The Snow Queen. It was a newer version of the classic Hans Christian Andersen tale, by Neil Phillip. There was a quote that I knew would be perfect. I had xeroxed the page and kept it all those years with my beginning Delilah notes. I had also, during those twenty years, found a copy of the book. I thought about it all the time. Oh, how much I wanted that quote in the beginning of my book! But I was scared to death of infringing on copyrights and even though I tried to study about them and ask people questions, I was still too scared to actually go for it; thinking the Copyright Police would find me and tell me I did it wrong. But I was not going to let fear hold me back anymore.

I decided to google him and I found him! He was still alive and living in England. I wrote an email to him. So nervous. But the next day I got an enthusiastic reply. He said he would give me permission and gladly!

O. M. G! “Delilah” was bringing me so many dreams coming true. And so my third edition came about, better than ever with everything as it should be. All of my dream exactly as I wanted.

Then I found out I was chosen out of many to be a part of the January 2017 Chattanooga, TN Barnes & Noble event.  There were seven of us ready to share our stories on that Saturday. We were each given an official Barnes and Noble event poster with our book cover on it. I could not believe how my “Delilah” journey was continuing. I sold fifteen out of my seventeen books that day. One lady came all the way across the store and found me. She said, “I saw your poster and just knew that is a book I would like to read.” And she got one for her friend too!

“Delilah” at Barnes & Noble.

Things died down after awhile. I thought I had lost my chance forever to get another book in Barnes and Noble. Felt like Kelly Flemming had forgotten me and I lost any future chance to be in the know. I was still struggling with writer’s block. But last year, I decided to join a book club with a new library that opened the year prior in Soddy Daisy, TN. And lo and behold the library was owned by none other than Kelly Flemming! This had to be Divine intervention. I could not believe it. And yet, the whole story came from God to begin with. Why would He let me down? Last summer, I got to choose the book the club would read for August and I chose Delilah. Our little group only hosted about five to six members, but in August, we had fourteen people show up to hear me talk about my book. And I was blessed with their love for it. I even read them the first chapter from the sequel.

Delilah is based on my own personal experiences. Though she is not exactly like me, she has many layers too. In the first book we only get to see a few layers. I wanted to open up more, but I didn’t know how, until after I spent a year in therapy. (A whole other blog someday, maybe.) August 22, 2019 was when I feel I was ‘born again’ or born for the first time. I have been coming out of writer’s block and am finally completing the sequel.

I plan to move my books from the original place I published with to Barnes and Noble Press. I plan to have photo shoots to revise the first book cover and make the second one also. I plan to get the third one photographed as well, while I have my “Delilah” available. (My cosplay friend Alexis.)

I plan to market, market, market. Thank you for joining me on this journey. This is my dream.

The Story Behind “Delilah” Part II

The thing is. Many months earlier, I had found her online and wanted her to be my agent. And when I heard she attends the writer’s conference, I signed up to go. But then she tore me to pieces and I was a nervous wreck around her. Although I admired her knowledge and wanted to learn from her. This prize, this opportunity meant the world to me. I did it! Slash was going to have to read my pages! And I set out to make them better.

After a couple months I got a reply from her. She turned me down for representation, but she said even though I was nervous (I mean I shook the table and sloshed her glass of water), I did a great job on my reading at the contest. She said my writing was good and had potential, but that Chick Lit is a very competitive genre now and she didn’t feel it was a right fit for her. From that day forward, I spent every evening after work pulling together all the pieces of ten years of writing and wove them into my finished book and signed up for the conference in spring 2006. I pitched my book to an editor from Random House. I was so excited about it that she was swept up in my storytelling and asked me to send her the WHOLE book. It is a rare thing to be asked for the whole book. I was on Cloud 9. I mailed my book to New York. Delilah was sitting in a New York publishing house!

But then I got a rejection a couple months later. I tried not to get down on myself. I knew I still had something. I had just spent so long living it and writing it that I missed the timing. But things come back around and maybe one day it would succeed. That’s when a few years later I decided enough of this, I was going to self-publish. That way, the story would truly remain my writing style and not be morphed into mainstream writing that I feel all blends together.

I published my book in October 2011. I was so excited to finally sit back and relax and read my book, but I found typo after typo. My father helped me edit, but he worked on a hardcopy and I transferred his changes to the computer and my eyes missed a lot. Oh wow. My friends were all buying this atrocity. In spring 2012, I revised edits and made a second edition and paid for a Kindle version. Again, there were still some edits I missed. But I let it go. That fall, a year after my book was out in the world, I received an award.

An author friend of mine had nominated my book for a B.R.A.G. Medallion. It is an award from a group called indieBRAG. Geri Clouston is the president and 2012 was the first year they gave out awards. Their goal is the recognize the cream of the crop from self-published books. Ninety-five percent of self-published books are not worth reading for one reason or another. This is why, people had look down on self-publishing for so many years, and why serious writers, are skeptical about making that journey. I was at a party one night and my sister told someone I published a book. The lady was so excited and interested in me at that point and asked who the publisher was. I said, “I self-published” and she said, “Oh” and immediately snubbed me. I didn’t need her friendship anyway, but that is the reaction people give to self-publishing. Until recent years. And indieBRAG has been a big part in changing opinions.

In my first couple years as an author I put myself out there as much as my time and bravery would let me, to do book clubs and book events. I spoke at the Decatur Book Festival in 2012. (Picture of me on the front page of my blog.) I made a 1950s dress to wear as my costume to make my appearances more interesting and fun. I was having so much fun! This was (is) my calling.

My book reached #4 at a local bookstore’s top ten listing.

The Story Behind “Delilah” Part I

I had a very bad experience at my first job out of college and I moved back home to recoup. What was going to be a temporary layover in my life journey, ended up being two years. (My whole life is filled with long stories, so I’m just going to keep moving forward with my Delilah story.) I turned twenty-four a month after I moved back home. Then I turned twenty-five and twenty-six. Still at home. I remember going on a date and later that night, my dad said, “Victoria! He is a redneck!” But who else was I going to meet in a redneck southern town? It was slowly dawning on me, that I needed to kick myself out of the house. But I still didn’t know how to do it.

One morning, before I moved out, I woke up and a title for a book was given to me by God (the Universe). It just flowed through my mind. The Dating Dilemmas of Delilah Dunnfield. It would be about a southern girl approaching twenty-five and realizing if she didn’t leave the small town, she may end up an old maid. Her mother told her all through her growing up years that “all the good ones are gone by the time you reach twenty-five.”

It came from the fact that my mother told all of us kids (five) that all the good ones are gone by the time you reach twenty-five. Well, there was no hope for me, I was already well into my twenty-sixth year. But maybe my character would have better luck than me and I could live vicariously through her. So, I started writing a novel in October 1996. A novel about a young woman coming of age in her twenties. I had no idea at the time that I had been a part of a collective consciousness forming the genre Chick Lit. “Bridget Jones” was published in 1996. But I didn’t know this until the movie came out in 2001. I read a couple Jane Green novels in 1998. I still didn’t know the significance of these books. I was still writing my book.

My handmade cover before the real one.

I moved to Memphis in November 1996 and then moved to Atlanta in November 1997. Still collecting experiences to add to my book. I went to a Microsoft Office seminar once in Atlanta with one of my first corporate jobs and I was telling the instructor about my book. When she heard the title she said, “That sounds like a best seller!” I have never forgotten that. And why should it not be? The book was Inspired and given to me by God. This story means so much to me. I will never give up on it.

I moved to Denver in 2000 and met some amazing creative writers. (Which is a whole other blog story.) In 2005 I found out about Pikes Peak Writers Group and their annual writing conference. Wow. I had never joined a writing group before. I had just been floating around trying to figure things out on my own. I went to the conference and was so amazed. I found my people! I never knew life was so LIFE before. I never knew how I could be so connected to my dreams before!

I had not completed “Delilah” yet, but I joined a class taught by a coveted literary agent to gain feedback on my first few pages. Boy, was I slashed and trashed. No one volunteered to read first, and I had so much confidence in my story that I decided I would be brave and go for it. I read the first three pages with confidence and then she tore it to pieces. I wanted to crawl under my chair and die.

“Nobody laughed because we didn’t know what was going on!” On and on it went. I personally don’t think anyone was listening to me, because they were probably too nervous about reading their own story. And I can also say, NO ONE volunteered to go second.

I dragged my little story and broken heart home with me and began re-working it. A couple of months later I saw an email come through from Pikes Peak Writers to enter a contest, mimicking American Idol. You could read any place in your book that you wanted to read from. It had to last three minutes. And the sign up was first come first serve. I immediately signed up. I had two weeks to prepare for the event. I bought crazy pajamas to act the part of Delilah. I re-worked my favorite chapter (Welcome Guests) to read for the three-minute time slot and I memorized it. I could not wait for everyone to be introduced to Delilah the proper way.

My friend who lived in Colorado Springs invited me to spend the night at her house and I invited her to be my guest at the event. We sat at a table in the back of the room. There were a little less than a hundred people in the room and I think fifteen contestants would read. There were four judges, one being a Hollywood screenwriter, one an editor, and two authors. I think my number to read was twelve. So I had a long wait. I was very nervous. I left the table to go change from my dress into my pajamas. When I got back to the table my friend was gone and none other than Ms. Slash and Trash herself was sitting in her place! Gulp.

“This seat is saved,” she said. She recognized me and my lame beginning. Sigh.

“Oh, it’s my table and my friend.”

“Oh, I didn’t know. She just asked me to make sure to save the seats.”

“Okay. Thanks. Hi,” I nervously smiled.

“Hi.”

Sit. Sit. Sit. Wait. Wait. Then my friend, Pam finally came back over and started a conversation with Slash and I. Whew.

Halfway into the readings of serious literary stories, or young adult fiction, the Hollywood screenwriter hollered out to the room, “Anyone got any Chick Lit out there?” I raised my hand. Oh my goodness! I was the only one, and he was really wanting to hear my story. Then it was my turn to read. I stood at the podium with a spotlight shining on me and ninety people in front of me. All eyes were on me. Gulp.

I decided it was best not to go from memory, but to just read from the paper. (Of course, since I had it memorized, I just used paper as a guide.) I did all the voices and Southern accents and dramatizations. After the second sentence the whole room burst into laughter. YES! Take that, Slash!

Laughter rang out throughout my whole three minutes and I was in heaven. At the end the judges took turns telling me their opinions. It was all so good. “What a way to meet your dream guy- in handcuffs with your mail!” “How many of us have had our underwear stolen from the laundry?” Everyone agreed it was hilarious and relatable. The only real criticism was that I needed to expand more on one area when the cops come to the door. (Which I later did, in a way that really happened to me in fifth grade and I doubt those judges would have ever guessed it would have worked so well.)

After the remaining three contestants read their stories, the judges left to deliberate on the four main prizes to be given. First thirty pages to be read by Donald Maas… People’s choice (voted by everyone in the room), first thirty pages to be read by Slash and another thirty-page reading prize by another agent.

My name was called. MY NAME WAS CALLED! I got up to walk to the stage and then they had me turn around and told me I won the Ms. Slash and Trash prize. (Of course, they used her real name.) Oh my goodness!

Art or Tums?

My sculpture professor came to me several times trying to encourage me to sculpt a block of marble. In my senior year in college, earning a Fine Arts degree, I took two sculpture classes. I had scultped a fifty pound marble sculpture in Sculpture I, the previous quarter. We were within four weeks into the quarter of Sculpture II and I was failing miserably at a cedar wood carving. (Or maybe it was my welded sculpture… too much math involved in measuring the right amounts of acetylene and oxygen, while holding a blow torch.) Either way, time was running out for the assignment; three sculptures by the end of the ten week quarter. Or two sculptures, if you carved a large piece of marble that would count for two grades.

The first time Mr. Barnett approached me, I couldn’t believe he was even suggesting it. He was going to entrust me with a 300lb block of marble after the 10lb “Two Slugs Making Love” fiasco from the previous quarter? First of all, it was not intended to be slugs at all. Let alone slugs having sex! Second, it was not supposed to be ten pounds. We were supposed to hollow out the inside. I failed miserably at that. The whole class was making bronze sculptures. Do you know in order to do that, you have to make a cast from a very sticky wax material? Did I mention how sticky this stuff was? When you see all those crude bronze sculpture of weird figures, now you know why they are weird looking. When you see Brancusi’s “Bird in Space” you should be filled with awe and reverence for his skill.

Well, I made a sketch. (Please don’t ask me, I have no recollection of what it was really supposed to be. I’m actually still embarrassed by it.) But I do know it was not slugs… making love. We were supposed to have our designs approved and I missed the deadline to turn mine in, but Mr. Barnett told me, “You’re really good. I trust you.” (Famous last words.)

Our class met one night on the patio outside our studio for the big melting and pouring of the bronze. Our wax prototypes were cast in plaster with holes reaching down to the sculpture. The wax was melted out and the hot liquid bronze poured in. Thankfully, we got to take our molds home with us and work on polishing with Dremel tools. I had dreams of mine being smooth like “Bird in Space” (my favorite sculpture even to this day.) Hahaha. That didn’t happen. Critique Day was fast approaching and there really was no hope for mine. At the big reveal, Mr. Barnett, I could tell, was trying not to laugh. He said, “What is this? Two slugs making love?” (I returned it to the fire after receiving my grade of a C.)

“Bird in Space” by Brancusi

I couldn’t understand how he still had faith in me to not make a disaster of the marble he had saved from being delivered to the Tums factory. After a couple more times of trying to convince me, I reluctantly said yes. And I was given the block that another classmate had abandoned. I worked on it, using the power chisel for a few classes thinking of one thing and I was about to start a split to separate two sides, when a flash of a girl with long hair sitting holding her knees while laying her head down, flashed into my mind. Whoa! God showed me what lay inside the stone! Maybe that’s how it happened for Michaelangelo. It was amazing! I quickly got some modeling clay and fashioned the figure I saw in the vision and then began to round out the stone until the girl was free. It took six weeks. And every time I was out there on the patio, a campus security guard lady would drive by to see me working on it. I was asked a couple of times to turn off the power tool because classes were going on and I had to pull out my hand tools. By Critique Day it was complete, all except fingers on her hands, where I had run out of time. I wasn’t sure what my grade would be. But I shouldn’t have been. I received a double A.

Before the completion of the sculpture. 1992
The only picture I can find that is not in ‘the cloud’ of final product.
“Be Still and Know” by Victoria L. Thurman

Brace Yourself

It was a Saturday afternoon in October 1980, when I went for a bike ride with two of the neighborhood girls my age. I think they were trying to ‘lose me’ and I was trying to catch up, so I was pedaling as fast as I could, when my front bike tire hit a patch of dense sand in the road. The wheel turned sideways causing the bike to stop abruptly, but because of a little thing called inertia, I kept going. Flying over the handle bars and landing face first into the gravel on my street.

When I lifted my head up I saw a circle of multiple shoes surrounding me. I remembered seeing briefly before the crash, a group of Boy Scouts having a meeting in the front yard of the house where I landed. A couple boys helped me up and I saw my friends riding back to see what happened. Of course, I was a bloody, crying mess.

The troop leader instructed a couple boys to walk my bike and me ‘home’. My friend Dee’s house was the closest and she said her mom could take me home. All five of us walked to her house. Her mom took one horrified look at me and ran to get her car keys. I remember something like a small pebble in my mouth and I spit it out.

My face, my teeth, my hands, and knees hurt and stung with pain from the fall. We drove up the hill to my house and my oldest sister, Rebecca, was the first to see me. She rushed me to our parents’ bedroom where our mother was trying to take a much-needed nap. No rest for the weary. Sorry, Mom.

In the bathroom, I sat on the toilet as my mom applied first aid. I saw myself in the mirror. I had a deep scrape across my forehead, one above my right eyebrow, and one under my right eye. There was a gash in my upper lip and a scrape on my chin. But what hurt the worst was my left front tooth, which was broken.

At dinner that night I had to drink out of a straw and try to eat on one side of my mouth. It was Saturday night and I could not go to the dentist until Monday morning. It hurt. It hurt. It hurt. And then it hurt some more.

Monday morning at the dentist, he asked if I had the piece of tooth that had broken off. He could have pieced it back together if I had, but what ten-year-old would know that? I remembered the ‘pebble’ I spit out in my friend’s yard. That must have been my tooth. C’est la vie, old friend.

The dentist bonded a piece to the corner of my broken tooth and told us when I was fifteen I would need to come back and get it replaced and I would also, since we were talking about my mouth, need to get braces. I think I got the bonding re-done, but never got braces due to lack of funds.

I never forgot about the need for braces; my jaw was always clicking and popping. When I was thirty-three I worked for an orthodontist. He looked at my mouth, agreeing I did need braces, but then he told me he would have to break my jaw in order for braces to work on me. I had no idea what that really meant, but he was the professional, so I never questioned him. And since my friend Kevin had a broken jaw in high school from a car accident and had to have his mouth wired shut, there was no way in hell I was breaking my jaw on purpose. I never thought about it again. I guess I would be stuck with an uneven mouth forever.

Last summer, my dentist asked me if I ever considered getting braces. “Do you ever think about closing the gap between your two front teeth?” YES!! ALL the time!! I did/do NOT like that gap. But I mentioned that I was told my jaw would have to be broken in order to get braces and that I would only be able to get the metal kind, not Invisalign. He looked at me and said that orthodontist didn’t know what he was talking about. I would not need to have my jaw broken. So, two months ago I went to a new (smarter) orthodontist for a consultation.

I was told that not only could I get braces without breaking my jaw, but I could get Invisalign! In December after decades of waiting, I will finally get my braces.

God Helped Me Cheat

“Philosophy is a way of thinking about the world, the universe, and society. It works by asking very basic questions about the nature of human thought, the nature of the universe, and the connections between them. The ideas in philosophy are often general and abstract. But this does not mean that philosophy is not about the real world. Ethics, for example, asks about how to be good in our day to day lives. Metaphysics asks about how the world works and what it is made of. Sometimes people talk about how they have a ‘personal philosophy’, which means the way a person thinks about the world.” (from Wikipedia)

My senior or junior year in college, I took Philosophy. During that time in my life I was Miss Christian and did not have an open mind to discussing or learning about Philosophy outside of my own view of the world. (I have grown a lot since then.) I didn’t understand philosophy and was very confused by it all. We were told there would be a ten-question quiz at the beginning of the next class. Oh no!!!

I studied. And studied. I had no idea what questions would be on the test, so I started reading the Bible and praying. Then it was time for class. I was sweating. I felt sick to my stomach. I was already doing badly in that class. This test score would just send me further into a D.

I sat in my seat in class. I looked down at the questions. (I would write examples of the questions here, but I could never, in a thousand years remember them.) As I read over them, I felt such defeat. I mean… I did not know the answer to even ONE and they were all multiple choice! I mean, at least try an educated guess, Victoria!

I wanted to double over in pain and shame. I felt so sick. I wanted to cry. I wanted to run away, out the door and never go back. What was I going to do?!! I squirmed in my chair debating and staring at the page. Do something! Guess!

“A.” A voice inside me calmly said. It startled me immensely. What?!

“What if it’s wrong?” I asked back, inside my head.

“What if it’s right?” The voice told me.

So I circled A. Well, that was one down. Now what?

“C.” The voice told me the next one.

I circled it. Then the voice told me the rest of the answers.

In the next class, we received our papers back with the grade. I sat in my chair absolutely stunned. I had made a 100. Not one answer had been wrong. I had listened without doubt and I was led to victory. I have no idea what my Philosophy professor thought of this new development. Did he think I cheated off someone’s paper? I guess it didn’t matter. I guess the lesson there was to listen to your inner voice, or God, or your Spirit Guide. I’m not sure exactly who gave me the answers. I just call him God.

Whenever I am up against self-doubt, I think about what I was told back then and me saying “What if it’s wrong?” And the voice replying with… “What if it’s right?”

You never know about things if you don’t take a chance.

Victoria Thurman, Cat Burglar

All my life I have never truly been a ‘pet person.’ We had tons of cats when I was growing up. My whole family is cat crazy. I’m neutral. I never knew I could love an animal like the rest of my siblings, until my gay BFF (Kevin, who lived across the street) and his sister got a puppy. The sweetest cocker spaniel ever. Sandi. He knew the path from Kevin’s house to my house. Whenever they couldn’t find him at their house, they knew to come ask us. I remember dog sitting for Sandi one weekend and he needed a bath. I loved him so much I didn’t care that he smelled awful and I didn’t care how wet I got while bathing him. On visits home from college I would walk over to Kevin’s house when they were away and greet Sandi at the fence and pet him and talk to him. But cats…

Cats were a different story. So, when I heard a cat crying outside my apartment throughout the night, I knew, not my cat, not my problem. The cat belonged to our next-door neighbors at the first apartment complex I lived in when I moved from Colorado to Tennessee. And the next night, same thing. I only knew the cat had a home. Next door. My sister, Kathryn and I shared an apartment and she had a dog. Her dog would escape sometimes and chase the black and white fluffy cat up trees. I did feel bad about that. But he was the neighbors’ cat. Not mine.

It was January 2010 and it had been raining. Snowing. Sleeting. Freezing rain. Just flat out cold and wet. And all through the night for two weeks, I heard the cat crying. I’m not heartless. I just don’t like confrontation and did not want to get involved with the neighbors. But on January 16th during a freezing rainy evening around 11:30pm, I crept downstairs and meekly asked Kathryn if she could go outside and get the cat. (I’m much better at committing a ‘crime’ if I have an accomplice who actually does the deed.) I could not bear to listen to her cries any longer. No living creature should be out in that cold rain. I was only sorry I had not retrieved her days earlier. Kathryn went out, found the cat in the bushes and brought her into the warm apartment. I had a towel and wrapped the cat up in it and rushed her upstairs.

This poor cat was shivering, wet, muddy, and just scared and cold. I did my best to clean her and dry her. And then we settled on my bed to go to sleep. She slept on my face all night and I’m telling you, she stank like the dickens.

I woke up at 7:00am and called my oldest sister, Rebecca, who loves cats (probably an understatement).

“Guess what? A cat slept on my head all night long.”

“Aww, are you cat sitting?”

I told her what happened. She encouraged me to go to the store as soon as we got off the phone and get cat food, litter, litter pan, and whatever else I would need. We weren’t sure what I should do with the cat, but knew I should at least keep it inside my apartment for a couple of days.

When I returned from the store, I set up the litter pan. The cat stood and stared at it and then up at me and then back down to the pan, like “are ya kiddin’ me?” Oh. Yeah. It was a bit small for her. She was a pretty large cat. Well, it would have to work until I figured out how long she was staying. I fed her and wiped her down with pet wipes. I left her upstairs and went to talk to Kathryn and that is when I found out the whole story.

It seems that the neighbors, two college age girls, got the kitten in the summer and Kathryn saw it in the window all summer and fall. Then in December they got a puppy and soon after is when we saw the cat outside. They would leave a can of tuna out for it, but she was meowing all night long for weeks. She was always near the door, if they really wanted her, they could have easily gotten her. I told this story to Rebecca and she said, “Congratulations! You now own a cat. You cannot give her back to those people after they have treated her so horribly.”

I named her Bell because she had a jingle bell on her collar. I took the collar off though, because I didn’t want her to get hung somewhere and choke, like one of the cats we had long ago. Every night Bell curled up with me. She would stretch out beside me in the crook of my arm and snuggle her head in my shoulder and then turn her eyes to stare into mine. It was the sweetest thing. I knew then, I loved this cat.

Bell and I moved out of that apartment three months later and I took her to the vet. My first time ever at a vet!

The doctor took one look at my cat and said, “What made you think this cat is a girl?”

I shrugged, “I don’t know.” I didn’t go rooting around looking for stuff.

“Well, this is a big ‘ol tom cat. See,” the doctor said as he held Bell up and continued, “There’s his penis!”

I almost fell out on the floor. Does he not know me?! You just didn’t say those kinds of things out loud in front of me. It was like the word just hung there and echoed through the halls… “penis, penis, peniiiisssss.”

I left the office stunned. Bell cried in his carrier in the back seat and I cried in the driver’s seat, as I drove home. I live with a boy?! Our whole relationship was based on a lie!

It will be our ten-year anniversary this January and Bell (aka Bellboy) and I have gotten over the shock and have been doing just fine. I love that cat, even though I think he more owns me than I do him.

Stranger Danger

It was about two or three years into my Colorado experience when I decided to go to a strip mall near my apartment to visit the bookstore. As I was leaving the store and was about to step off the sidewalk into the parking lot I heard, “Ma’am.”

I stepped off sidewalk. I don’t know people here. “Ma’am!”

Another step.

“Ma’am!!”

I guess that’s me. I reluctantly turned around and saw two young ladies who rushed over to me.

“Can you help us?” One asked.

The other one explained that they had come from Commerce City on a bus to go shopping on this side of town and the bus left them behind. They both had babies at a daycare that closed at 6:00pm. It was 5:20pm. None of us had cell phones to call the daycare. (I don’t know if they tried to use a store phone.)

I was so not sure what to do. I mean this was a time in my life when I didn’t really think of myself as an adult who would be brave enough to do something like picking up ‘hitch hikers’. An internal struggle went on in my brain as I stared at them waiting for me to answer. I was very aware time was ticking away and the longer it took me to decide, the closer six o’clock came. Commerce City was thirty minutes away! What should I do?! It’s two of them and one of me. I wasn’t a black belt in anything, and I had once been warned that Commerce City was a dangerous suburb of Denver and to never go there. I was kind of freaking out.

And then I felt a sudden peace, as if Jesus Himself were standing next to me or at least His energy, assuring me I would be safe. It felt strange to think that, but I knew it was true. I told the ladies, “Sure. I can take y’all.”

We walked to my car and settled in and they gave me directions. I got onto I-70 heading east. Melissa (I honestly don’t remember their names) sat in the front and her friend Brandy sat in the back. Melissa talked to me the whole drive. I noticed when I merged onto I-270 toward Commerce City, that Brandy had fallen asleep. Well, at least she trusted me. I knew I should be more trusting, but as we got closer to their destination, I was listening to Melissa with one ear and trying my hardest to memorize the route backwards.

“Turn left at the first light,” she said. I thought, So on the way back, remember it’s going to be right…

I couldn’t help my fears slipping past Jesus. In my overactive imagination I thought these women could have boyfriends, who threatened them to go to Lakewood and trick an unsuspecting, gullible woman to come back with them and meet them. Those evil boyfriends could be waiting for us in a warehouse, to then rape and murder me once I was delivered. So I guess if I was murdered, I wouldn’t need to memorize the directions home so intensely. But if I could escape, I would definitely need some lay of the land.

Melissa had directed me through many turns. I was starting to forget the backwards way out.

“See that park over there?” I looked ahead and to the right. “Drive straight, through that light and then turn right and park on the side at the other end.”

I looked at the park as I drove around it. There were tents set up everywhere. I noticed a sign announcing that it was a Boy Scout camp out. I was breathing a little easier. I remembered the time when I was ten and riding my bike, I hit a patch of dense sand that stopped my bike abruptly. I flew over the handle bars, face planting into the gravel of my street, right in front of a neighbor’s house where a Boy Scout meeting was being held in the front yard. When I lifted my head, I was surrounded by all members of the troop, who then helped me up. I knew now, that this was the place to be if I needed any help.

When I stopped my car, the women had five minutes to run as fast as they could to the daycare to get their children. They both thanked me for the ride and Melissa told me a short cut to get back onto the highway. I was safe.

Jesus’ energy was with me the whole time, I didn’t need to doubt His presence. I don’t mean to sound religious because I am on a different spiritual plane than I had been long ago, but I just really felt a greater presence letting me know I would be safe, and that I would be helping these women out in what to them was a real emergency. He was watching over all three of us. It was one of those Guideposts ‘He works in mysterious ways’ moments, from the other side of the story. The significance of it was not lost on me and I will never forget the experience.

Manifesting Dreams

My oldest friend, who I am still friends with today, Laura, and her family always went out west for summer vacations. I have known her since we were four. Her father was a geology professor at the same college where my dad taught English. My family spent our summers in New Hampshire at my grandmother’s house and visiting with our cousins. We had the East coast experience, but her family had the pioneer experience. The West. I remember looking at pictures at Laura’s house upon their return, of Colorado, Montana, Utah… Oh wow, did I want to go see those mountains in person.

I remember part of a conversation I had with my gay BFF when I was in college. I don’t know what I was manifesting, but it must have been quite a bit, because he told me, “God never listens to me. He is too busy listening to you.” This is a reminder to me, for one, about the Law of Attraction and how attitude is everything, but I didn’t know that then, and two, that I have been asking God (the Universe) for things for a long time. There are about three things that really showed me that what I believe in, I can manifest. What I work hard for, I can accomplish. And it is not always in my timing. This is one of them:

When I was twelve, I started asking for calendars with photographs of America. When I was in college, I found a coffee table book on sale, with photographs of America. By the time I left college, the binding was broken and fell open at the Colorado pages. I didn’t see how I would ever get there. And my naivety led me to dream that someday my husband and I would go there together. Well, that never happened.

When I was twenty-nine and living in Atlanta, I started working for a computer company through a temp agency. We were working on contract at an insurance company. I had only joined the corporate world the year before with a computer software company (that was bought out and I lost the job). I promise you I did not know anything about computers, my first day at that job, I had to ask them how to turn the computer on. But I stayed after work every day studying Microsoft Office to catch up with the rest of the world. I only really ever wanted to be an artist and an author, so I didn’t know much about being an administrative assistant, but I knew how to help people. At the new job I was working for two lower managers. I was supposed to get a permanent job with them four weeks after starting. I asked them every week after the first month, “When will I get to be permanent?” “Soon,” was always the answer.

Meanwhile, (my first day, actually) I noticed they had an office in Denver, Colorado. Holy **it!!! I am asking for it!!! I had not asked God for much in those last few years. I had turned into a pessimist. But no longer! I had wanted this dream since I was twelve and husband or no husband, I was going to ask for it and trust God for it. Sometimes you just have to do things on your own; you cannot wait on someone else to show up and hold your hand when the opportunity presents itself. So now you know why I was so eager to get on board permanently. I decided the first thing to do was to make friends with the admin in the Denver office so I could know when a job opened up.

I started the job in June and things were going so well. Kelly (the Denver admin) and I were getting to be good buddies. Deep into October I finally got the permanent job. And this is where you have to believe that God’s timing is everything because you do not know what is going on behind the scenes. All I could see was, I wanted to go to Colorado and they were prolonging my chance. Would it even happen? Had I bugged management too much about being on permanent? Would I just be a temp forever? What I could not see was that the admin for the director of my department, who lived in North Carolina, was moving on to a different job and the director wanted me to be his admin. I was floored. (Yes, God can give you things greater than what you even asked for.) I would be working for the two upper managers and in my job offer discussion, they told me to name my salary. Holy **it!!! I only just learned how to turn on a computer a year earlier, making $12.50 an hour. A year later I was being told I could ask for any salary I wanted! I did my research for a range and I asked for the middle. I didn’t quite get what I asked for, but close to it. A significant increase. What would I do with all that money?! (Save it for Colorado.)

At this point in my dream not a single solitary soul knew anything about it. I have since learned, that I was very smart not to bring other people into a fledging dream. Let the seed take root first. So for five months I was the only one who knew. The same week that I was hired on permanent I was relaxing at my desk and decided to call Kelly.

“Hey! What are you doing?” I asked.

“Filling out college applications for Texas,” she casually said, as if it were just another day.

Holy Shit!!!

I jumped up from my seat, “WHEN ARE YOU LEAVING?!”

“Why?” she asked.

She became the first person to know my secret plan, though she couldn’t understand why I wanted to move to Colorado. (She was from New York, which explained it.) Kelly kept my secret.

Then came time for the Atlanta office Christmas party. I was asked to take charge of planning it. The wheels were turning in my dream-filled mind. The Denver VP was coming to Atlanta for our party. Hmmm. So I sat him at my table beside me so he could go ahead and get to know me and know he liked me and would want me to be his admin. Worked like a charm. He loved me. However, he did not have a clue what I was planning. 😉

My oldest friend, Laura, just happened to have gotten married in Michigan in August and moved to Denver in September. Now it was time to pull her into my plan. In February I flew out to Colorado (for the first time ever!) to see her and meet Kelly! Yes, yes! Colorado was everything I dreamed of and wanted. In April (yes, April) Kelly called me.

“It’s time to tell them,” She said.  Wow. Here it is. My moment has come.

The next day I talked to my boss and she talked to hers. He asked me how I even knew there was an opening. I told him Kelly and I talked all the time. He smiled and said, “Well, I need to talk with her boss.”

About an hour later, Ricky came over to my desk and said, “Now are you sure you want to do this?”

OMG. I had been planning for so long. I was so used to not having it, I never reallllly thought about what it would mean to have it. I would be states away from my family. I only really had one friend out there. I think the color drained from my face in the split second I was thinking this and then came the thought I will always remember when starting something new. “You’ve been here and done this. GO!”

I looked at Ricky and said with full confidence, “Yes. I’m sure.”

He smiled and said, “You’re going.”

Holy shit!!!

Victoria (Me) at Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah 2004

I moved in mid-June 2000 and lived in Colorado for eight years on my own.

I am working on another project with God now, but I cannot tell anyone. It needs to take root.

Target Run, Sex, and Done!

On a Target run today, ideas and inspiration bombarded me and I couldn’t wait to get home and start writing my blog. I planned a “Tell All” in weekly segments. I mean it took me four years to get any blog inspiration. But I have come home to a blank page and can’t think of where to start. Distracted on FaceBook, I came across Mortified Podcast #175 “I Don’t Get How Sex Works.” Decided to listen to it.

These people are so awesome (and brave to get up in front of strangers to read from their journals). My stories don’t seem half as good as theirs. I mean, a seventeen-year-old who is clueless about sex and went to the library to secretly read romance novels and then decides to write her own. Too funny! It was a good story too- albeit a little elementary, though that is the point. I knew nothing as a teen. Especially about sex. I never read romance novels as a teen. (What was I reading??) I was extremely sheltered. The first time my gay BFF came over to see my room (keep in mind this was 1985), he turned and looked at me full on serious and said, “Victoria. You do not hang sweaters. You fold them and put them in a drawer.” Wow. He was so smart- My fifteen-year-old self thought. He taught my sisters and I how to use the washing machine. Wow. So smart. He was (technically) my first kiss. He joined my family at a park looking through a telescope to see Halley’s Comet. (Which I tried hard to, but just didn’t see it.) After we got home, we said goodbye on my front porch and he kissed me! I was in love. And later that year, he helped me buy a dress for prom. Wow, he knows so much about fashion! Sixteen-year-old me thought. He did my hair and make-up for the prom! Wow. He is so amazing. Seventeen-year-old me thought.

I was still clueless…he had to actually spell it out for me. He told me he was gay. Ugh, twenty-two-yearold me thought.

Ironically, my gay BFF is the one who introduced me to Mortified and said I should dig out my old journals from high school and apply to be a part of the show. Besides being ‘in love’ with someone I didn’t know was gay… I don’t think I thought about real sex that much in high school. Hmmm… Late bloomer. (What the hell was I thinking about?!)