The Yearly Shedding of the Skin

So I turn 44 today.

Hard to believe I’ve made it this far, really. I look in the mirror and see a middle aged man, losing hair and gaining weight. A few more wrinkles, a couple of extra aches and pains, but my mind still says I’m 19. Well, in all honesty my mind was never to be trusted at the best of times.

I look back over the past year, and have every reason to be depressed-at least on the surface. I was laid off and have been looking for work for eight months now; Mom’s health is getting weaker, I lost my cat, ad infinitum. However, I’m filled with an energy and excitement I haven’t had for a very long time.

I owe that to a pair of serial killers. As I write “Barbed Wire Kisses” I’ve never enjoyed my writing more.  The responses I’ve received to the first chapter have only built up my confidence, given me the hope that I can do this thing we call writing. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that people like what you do.

Here’s what I’ve been told:

Just read the chapter and the synopsis. I loved it.
Wicked as hell.
I think this work of your has great potential.
And the setting intrigues me even more.

I think this opening works well. Honestly, it’s engaging, cleanly written with minor errors, and as far as story goes, it instantly pulls the reader in. The scene is raw, brutal, impacting! I definitely grimaced a time or two. 😉 It doesn’t turn me off, and quite honestly I do want to know more. Why this girl? Why’d they start killing, and why in such an odd manner? Also, the brother aspect intrigues me. I’m not faced with a single serial killer at the opening, but rather you show the reader two killers, even though we can tell Micah is the leader. I think it’s a good start! :-

I finished the first chapter, mouth agape all the while; it’s cleanly written and certainly engaging: the brutality is, as you say, “Ketchum-like,” but that’s a good thing.  It kept me reading and, like your editor, I’m quite interested to see how you develop the story over 50 or 60 thousand words.  To be honest, this is not my usual cup of tea, but you’ve developed enough of a story, in those first few pages, to get me interested (again, mouth agape).  I think it’ll be a winner for you, Scott…

How could anyone not be excited to have that kind of positive feedback? Now my job is not to disappoint. The best birthday present is the one I’ve received of confidence. Friendships begun last year have only gotten stronger.

The future holds nothing but promise, something these cynical old bones never thought he would say without a healthy dose of snark.

I’m grateful to each and every one of you who have been there for me, and can honestly say, that the best is yet to come.

The day I died

It was close to midnight on Oct 8th, 1999. I’d seen my date off and settled in to check my email before calling it a day when the worst pain I’d experienced dropped me to the floor. If I’d had razor blades for dinner that night it felt like they were passing through my system. I barely made it across my bedroom floor to pound on the wall to get my roomates attention. When they paramedics came they had to put me on the gurney sideways because I couldn’t straighten out. Each bump on the road brought waves of pain as the 5 minute drive to the hospital seemed to go on forever. I remember being told to do drink some milkshake type stuff and promptly projectile vomiting it on the nurse who gave it to me.

I came to 3 days later with IV’s in my arms, tubes down my nose, my throat and a catheter. I remained that way for 11 days before I was removed from it all and taken out of ICU. My large intestine had a perforation and they removed a bit over 2 feet, during an operation that only 20% live through. The surgeon told my motheer to call a priest for last rites, and she told him, “He can’t die. He may be a pain in the ass, but he’s my pain in the ass!” It didn’t help her any that it was the same hospital my Dad had died at 10 years earlier.

It took me 6 months to fully recover. I have a scar that goes from above my navel to an inch above my penis. Solid BM’s are only a memory and red meat is on my not allowed to eat list (though I do cheat on that ocassionally). On the operating table I died, but I don’t remember that. I also died a half hour after the operation when my lungs collapsed and couldn’t breathe without the aid of a respirator. I don’t remember that either.

What I do remember is feeling lucky to be alive when Dr. Arnold told me all this.

Every birthday I have now is a gift. So if I get a bit post happy around this time of the month every August, it’s in celebration of a life that almost wasn’t. A celebration of friends who almost weren’t. A driving force to live a life still open to an unkown realm of exciting possibilities.