Author Archives: Victoria Thurman

Followup to Braces

I was told it would take eighteen months from start to finish for my braces to straighten my teeth. Imagine my surprise when it was only seven months! It was a strict regimen of brushing my teeth and flossing every time I ate. I could not leave the Invisaline trays off for longer than a combined two hours in a day. I worked hard to keep up with it. I got my braces January 9th and was told my treatment was complete on July 28th. The orthodontist was surprised at how fast it went for me. He also said, not everyone follows the treatment plan and it makes their treatment longer. He was impressed that I followed the guidelines. I am so happy that I did!

I now have a wire retainer behind my upper and lower front teeth and I still wear an Invisaline retainer at night while I sleep. I hate these parts, but I worked so hard and waited so long to straighten my teeth, that I am very thankful. They gave me a small bottle of champagne to celebrate. So CHEERS to Scenic City Orthodontics and my straight teeth!

Before my braces.
After Invisaline braces.

A Review from an English Professor (my father)

I was searching for my first book’s manuscript on my computer and came across this article my father wrote about my book. He used to write a column in our hometown local newspaper. His review made me happy and I wanted to share it. My dad loves opera, serious mystery novels, and the Far Side. I’m sure it is the Far Side part of him that found appreciation in my little Chick Lit novel. Thank you, Daddy. I love you.

My dad and I.

My Daughter, the Novelist, by Rick Thurman (7 March 2012)

            This column provides me with an opportunity—and I’m unabashed when I say this—to do some bragging.  After all, not everyone can say that he is the father of a novelist!

            Some time ago (maybe ten years ago, maybe longer) our daughter Victoria began writing accounts of some of her experiences on various dates.  I suppose that I was idly interested in her “hobby” at the time I first heard of it, but I became increasingly impressed as I continued to hear references to this activity.  Eventually she announced to us that she was writing a novel about a young woman whose experiences with men were suggested by her own.  Last fall she entered the ranks of published authors as a result of following the path that more and more writers are taking these days: self-publishing. 

            Her novel is entitled The Dating Dilemmas of Delilah Dunnfield.  The title character, who goes by the nickname Deli, is a 24-year old woman whose mother has always emphatically warned her that “all the good ones are taken by the time you’re 25.”  As a result, Deli is searching, almost desperately, for Mr. Right.  Her search is both frantic and hilarious.  Maybe it’s hilarious because it’s so frantic!  Victoria swears that many of the adventures, or misadventures, Deli has are almost precise accounts of her own encounters with the opposite sex. 

            I must say at this point that I have next to no interest in or experience with “chick lit.”  It is probably true that this novel is the first such work I have ever read.  I began to read it with interest, of course, because the author carries my DNA, but I was not many pages into it before I began reading it for itself—as an interesting and well-written story.

            Indeed, I was truly impressed with the quality of the writing.  I had had long experience with Victoria’s delightfully eccentric sense of humor, and I was pleased to find that quality exhibited in full measure on almost every page.  I was almost more impressed, however, to see what a good writer she is!  To be honest, I don’t know to what degree skill in writing may be inherited.  While I would like to claim some credit for the merit of the novel, I hardly dare do so.  (When she asked me to proofread and edit the galley pages, my first question to her was, “Does it have a beginning, a middle, and an end?”  She assured me that it does.  I don’t know why I was so skeptical!) 

Love in the Time of COVID: The Love America Tour

I follow TV and film actor, Corin Nemec, on Twitter (@imcorinnemec) and at the very beginning of this pandemic (which seems like a year ago), he posted Tweets keeping us all informed about the COVID19 statistics, origins, and destinations. He referred to it as COVID1984 (a reference to George Orwell’s novel 1984), which seemed appropriate. At first he tried to give everyone hope and keep things positive and informative. But as weeks turned into months with no end of this thing in sight, Corin (like a lot of us) seemed to go down in a tailspin. Then in June there was an updraft and he found his wings. He now seems to be a master chef of the old adage, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”

While the main stream media was setting the stage for riots, hate crimes, and a political race for the White House seemingly dragged straight out of hell… Corin and his team set out to find the real America. They called it the Love America Tour. Corin set up a GoFundMe to raise money for the adventure and by July 1st everything was in place. He and two team members, a DJ- Chad Kimsey and a musician- Scott Deee (Doyle), set out in an RV, affectionately called the Red Baroness, for a road trip like no other.

Their mission was to interview real everyday people on the highways and byways of America, to prove that America is not dead. We are not the haters main stream media has been portraying. We are LOVE at our core. We are hard-working people with dreams, who overcome obstacles to reach them. We have all experienced pain. We have all experienced happiness. We are silly and we are brave. We all want to see a better tomorrow for future generations.

The Dukes of the Red Baroness (as they have dubbed themselves) left Houston, Texas and traveled through Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi, stopping in different towns along the way to meet face to face with some of Corin’s Twitter friends, local leaders, fellow actors, and family.

I met Corin in Nashville, Tn. He was extremely down to Earth, super nice, and respectful. I hate interviews. I see them as tests that I can only hope I will pass. But he put me at ease right away and I soon forgot about the camera and just had a wonderful conversation with a wonderful person. My interview is here.

I want to encourage everyone who takes the time to read this blog, if you have not already joined the behind the scenes support team for the Love America Tour, look into it and consider donating or meeting him for an interview when he comes through your area, or just go meet him and the team and hang out with them.

They are heading back to Houston for a bit to rest and regroup. If the funding and sponsorships grow, they will be heading back out in August traveling to Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and however far the journey takes them. They are respectful of the COVID precautions and wear masks when necessary.

The year 2020, while unpredictable and somewhat scary, is a time for shift. Think of it this way, if you are driving in a car and you find out you are heading in the wrong direction, you have to slow down, stop and then turn around. That is all that is happening. The world has slowed down to get back on track. LOVE is the way. LOVE is the destination. LOVE is what brings people together. LOVE: giving, sharing, showing, feeling… it is the thesis behind the Love America Tour.

I wanted to share one of Corin’s tweets because he says it better than I can, afterall it is his dream-child.

You can go to CORINNEMECTV to watch all of the interviews. They are still uploading some.

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.


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.