“Leave the Light On”

“One of the oldest human needs is having someone to wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night.” – Margaret Mead.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what to write for my next post (this post) and I got stuck. I don’t know what to write. My intention was to blog two days a week. Sounded simple. But it isn’t because I want to write meaningful posts, not fillers, (like this one?) just to take up space, or to pat myself on the back for being one post closer to my weekly goal.

My blog isn’t overrun with hundreds of daily visitors. But still, even if only one person reads my blog, from here or some other country, I wonder about who that person is, and how the words I wrote made them feel during, and after, they read them (if they felt anything at all). To write with the intention of someone taking the time to read your words is the kind of tough pressure you put on yourself when you don’t want to let someone down.

As a writer of books, and now blogs, I don’t want to disappoint my readers (as few as they may be), and I feel a great deal of anxiety (and guilt) when I feel I cannot write, because it’s what I (I’m supposed to) do.

I rely on inspiration to write, and then my imagination usually takes over. Someday maybe my imagination will jump-start itself, but till then, I need help. I turn to music, movies, and other writers to inspire me.

I came across the above quote while watching a performance on Youtube of a brilliant musician. Her name is Beth Hart, and I wish I could write the way this woman sings. I remembered her from the late nineties because she had a hit song about L.A., but I’d forgotten her over a decade, until I stumbled across one of her performances on the Internet, and now I am sure I will never forget her again.

She is that amazing, and I know she will inspire a story out of me because her lyrics capture every raw emotion that runs through a person’s veins. The above quote will inspire me, too, because the words grabbed me and stayed with me. Anything I read that stays with me, will always have some bearing on me.

The performance Ms. Hart mesmerized me with was a song titled, “Leave the Light On,” and here are a few of the lyrics she sings with so much pain you swear she’s bleeding.

* “Cuz I want to love, I want to live.

I don’t know much about it, I never did.

I don’t know what to do, can the damage be undone?

I swore to God I’d never be, what I’ve become.”

Beth Hart inspires me. Who inspires you?

*These are copyrighted lyrics. I don’t own them.

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Why I’m Scared of the Dentist

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I’m scared of dentists, but not because of drills, or root canals, or cavities. I’m scared of dentists because I don’t trust them. I’m at the point where if a dentist tells me I have a cavity (even a tiny one) I’m heading for a second opinion.

A few years ago, I changed dentists because I became unhappy with my previous one. I sought out the internet to help with my search. I sifted through reviews and found a dentist near me, who, by what was written, many people seemed satisfied with. So I called and made an appointment.

The office was located in the downtown-area of town, near the train station amid small-businesses and family-run stores and restaurants. I opened the door to a fashionably modern office. Shiny floors, no carpets. Music playing through over-head speakers hanging on the ceilings containing words – no elevator music here!

In the corner was a Keurig machine sitting on a table stacked with k-cups of flavored coffee and tea. I took my seat in the waiting room and thumbed through a magazine as background noise from the flat screen TV hanging on the wall and people chatting at the front desk filled the air.

The door leading to the back of the office opened and a pleasant looking middle-aged woman appeared and she called my name. I followed her down a hallway and she welcomed me into a mini-sized room.

A documentary of some sort was playing on a small-screen monitor a few feet away from me. I settled into my chair, ready for her to start cleaning my teeth, but the friendly woman told me to sit tight and she’d be right back. My attention swayed to the monitor and I listened as the narrator explained the danger of mercury – especially the mercury in our fillings.

I admit. I have a mouthful of silver resulting from a childhood of eating taffy and drinking endless gallons of pop. Who knew sugar caused cavities? Apparently, not my mom. And I’m sure it isn’t good to have all this mercury in my mouth, but I was left alone to watch this film for twenty minutes. I never had to look back so many times before in my life.

Where was this woman?

Finally, she popped in and casually asked how I was doing, as though only a few minutes had gone by, and then she reacted super surprised at something the narrator said in the film. “Oh my god!” she griped. “I didn’t know that could happen!” Whatever that was, I was to believe it was so horrendous that if I didn’t get these fillings out now, I would die… Like, right now, die.

I had resented so much already about my visit and I hadn’t even “opened wide” yet. First, I resented being forced to watch this film. They got me in the room, tucked me into a chair, laid a thin cloth around my neck, and I felt trapped. I had nowhere to go and they knew it. I resented that they used my time to force me to watch a film to scare the hell out of me so they can get a lead into selling me more service.

I’m sure replacing silver fillings isn’t cheap. Cha-ching!

I also resented that the woman thought I was stupid enough to believe that she didn’t have that documentary, the one replaying over and over with every patient she saw, memorized by now. I wasn’t buying that she was “shockingly surprised” by anything that narrator said. Needless to say, their scare tactic didn’t work. Silver fillings still shine brightly in my mouth and I will decide when it comes out.

Finally, she started cleaning my teeth and immediately a look of concern covered her face. “Your gums are very red,” she stated. “I really recommend a deep cleaning process. This isn’t good.”

“Okay,” I answered, unsure what this all meant. I knew good health began in your mouth, but when she started talking so fast and all I could make out were “heart” and “early signs” and “insurance doesn’t cover” and “four-hundred and fifty dollars”, I stopped her. This is the first I’d heard about my gums being this bad and never had I needed a “special” kind of cleaning and I am a regular dentist goer. I wasn’t buying this traumatic bit so I asked her nicely to just give me the cleaning that my insurance would cover.

I could tell she wasn’t happy with my decision, but didn’t say anything more about it. She started with the regular cleaning and, back in pleasant mode, she asked how old I was.

“Thirty-seven,” I replied.

“Do you have children?”

“No.”

“Are you married?”

“Nope.”

Huge head swing down toward my direction and she looked at me with astonished eyes. I felt so worried for her that I had to reassure her that I was okay with not being married or having kids. Seriously, lady. Here’s a paper bag. Take a deep breath. These things happen.

She quickly agreed that it was no big deal and carried on about the perks of being single and free. I was sure her act was an attempt to cover herself in case I took offense by her reaction. I didn’t, but some women may have. Hopefully, she has learned to keep a neutral facial expression when she has a patient in the chair.

When that lovely experience was over, it was time for me to meet the doctor.

A young, pretty brunette draped in a professional white doctor’s coat greeted me at my side. She offered her hand, as well as one of the best fake, forced smiles I’d ever seen. She spoke in a manner that immediately made me think – sorority girl.

She reclined my seat back and instructed me to open wide…as wide as I could, and then she and her assistant, sitting on the other side of me, went to work. I lay on the chair with my eyes closed as they chatted away. In between the two women’s banter, the doctor would tell me how wonderful I was doing and then, since it was December, asked about my holiday plans, while her fingers and some object sucking my saliva was in my mouth.

It wasn’t a great time for a conversation. But she hadn’t seem to notice as she carried on about how she wished all her patients were as wonderful as I apparently was being. (eye roll) Oh, and the office had some great items for sale that would make excellent holiday gift bags! Seriously. My dentist couldn’t say enough about how said items were the perfect present.

“Right,” I thought, because nothing would make me more popular than stuffing someone’s stocking with dental products. It’s what everyone wants for Christmas!

“Thanks Alicia! How’d you know?” My lucky recipients would ask while tugging the stocking close to their heart.

Yes, that’s exactly how that crappy gift would play out.

She didn’t find any cavities, but she did notice a small space between a couple of my teeth and a slight overbite. I told her I wear a retainer at night and she immediately asked if I’d heard of Invisalign. I had. She went on her sales pitch and I told her to give me the information. It cost three thousand dollars – that was all the information I needed to decide I was out, but she continued with her spiel.

She showed me some brochures and I said I’d take them home with me — to throw into my garbage. She left me alone with the assistant for a couple minutes and then came back, all smiley-faced, and asked if I was ready to make the molds.

I was suspicious. “Molds for the Invasiign?” I asked.

“Oh yes,” she smiled. “We can do that right away.”

For three thousand dollars I was sure they could do anything right away.

At that point, I was very upset. I had been perfectly clear when I stated that I needed to think about it. The entire office had felt like one big bully, but I remained cordial, and told her again that I would need to think about it.

Her pretty smile wasn’t working on this lesbian.

As we were wrapping up the appointment, the doctor offered me a Starbucks gift card in exchange for a review of my experience. “We thrive on reviews,” she explained, and, I could conveniently use the office computer!

I left without writing a review because my review wouldn’t be one she’d want to reward. Seriously? Reviews for coffee? I walked to my car, grimacing my freshly-polished teeth, knowing I’d been sold out by reviewers for a cup of coffee. Damn you Starbucks!

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Note:

Dentists, please don’t bribe me to write a positive review for you. Bribery makes it seem it’s the only way you can get a good review, and judging from my experience, it probably is the case for this particular dentist.

Photos courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

2015 Lesbian Fiction Appreciation Event

Today, I am featured on the 2015 Lesbian Fiction Appreciation Event hosted by the talented KT Grant. Please visit the link below to read my post about reading and writing Lesbian Literature, and meet other wonderful authors who write stories about women who love other women.

Thank you!!!!

http://kbgbabbles.com/2015/01/alicia-joseph-mon-126-lfae.html

Her Name
Her Name

Free Giveaway of my Book, Her Name!

Today I am featured on Women and Words Blog. If you’d like a chance to win a free ebook copy of Her Name, please visit the link below and leave a comment. A winner will be chosen at random.

Thank you!

http://womenwords.org/

Madison Andrews has spent her entire life–unsuccessfully–searching for love. She begins having vivid dreams of the same woman every night, and soon, Madison believes this woman is the love she has been searching for. Madison’s dreams become more intense and she realizes the dreams she’s having recreate moments taken from actual events from her life–and this woman is there for all of it. Madison searches for her, but how can she find a woman she knows everything about… and yet nothing? She doesn’t even know her name.

Her Name
Her Name

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A Review Of Her Name with Lynn Lawler

Author Lynn Lawler has written a wonderful five star review of my book, Her Name.

Thank you, Lynn, for taking the time to read and review my book.

Please click on the link below to read this review, as well as reviews for books from other amazing authors.

Thank you!

Please check it out at http://lynnlawler.blogspot.com/.

Her Name
Her Name

Lost and Scared

It was cold last night in Chicago. Real cold. Factor in the wind chill and the temperature fell to a brutal degree that no living being could ever survive, at least not without every inch of their flesh covered under thick layers of heavy clothing. But even that probably wouldn’t have been enough to take the chill away.

Last night was the kind of night you go to bed, pull the covers up to your chin, and say a prayer for anyone who has no other place to sleep but on the streets.

I follow a Rescue group on Facebook and on my newsfeed was a post about a woman who had found a dog, all by itself, while waiting for a bus. The dog wouldn’t leave her side, but she couldn’t take him on the bus with her. So she called a friend. Explained everything. And that friend took to Facebook. She gave the intersecting streets where the dog currently was, somewhere in Bridgeport, and an immediate outpour of responses flooded the thread.

My eyes were glued to my computer screen while I frantically read comments asking for confirmation the dog was still at said location, another stating that a woman was on her way, another, from the original poster, urging swift action because even though the dog seemed attached to the woman at the bus station, the woman still needed to keep a secure grip on the dog, and because the dog had no collar, this wasn’t an easy task with a sixty-plus pound dog. The dog was scared. And scared dogs usually run.

I read the thread as though it were a captivating suspense novel, and I was gripping at the cusp of anxious uncertainty of how this would end…….

I held my dog a little tighter that night as I imagined him wandering those same lonely and cold streets, terrified. And I silently prayed that if I should ever lose him, someone would come to his rescue the way those “angels” on Facebook did for this sweetheart found last night.

This scared baby has been reunited with his family. Humanity at its best. 🙂

No Regrets

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The days remaining of 2014 have hit the single digits and when a new year approaches, reflection over the past year can bring forth profound emotions. There will be regrets. Some big. Some small. But hopefully with those regrets come moments one wishes to relive everyday for the rest of his or her life.

2014 had a few of those moments for me.

I published my first book this year and my second will be out early next year. Being a published author had always been my dream and the timing of that dream coming to fruition couldn’t have been more perfect. It came while I was at an extremely low point in my life and the news gave me the lift I desperately needed. I finally had a reason to be proud.

For the moment, I was assured I could offer this world, this life, something, anything. I felt the satisfying emotion of self-worth that every person needs to feel in order to live each day with the confidence that he or she belongs here.

It’d been a long time since I felt I had accomplished anything and the sensation that ran through me when I finally achieved this was life-saving. But once the jubilation of signing my first book contract eased, I realized, “Holy Crap! I need to do it all over again!”

Yes. I had to get to work on my second book because nobody wants to be a one-trick pony. I hit more walls while writing that second book because the inspiration just wasn’t there. Not like it was with the first book, but eventually, I finished it and sent it to my editor. She liked it and contracted it. (Thank you, Jeanne!)

I’m in a much better place going into this new year than I was at this time last year. I was still a month away from being published and filled with severe doubt about everything I did. In some psychic way, I knew how much was riding on the outcome of my submission to the small epublishing company I had discovered online. I wrote the query letter but was cowardly close to not sending it at all. My emotions were out of control. I was crying a lot and was certain that I was in no state of mind to handle a rejection.

Looking back, reflecting on this past year, I’m relieved I took a chance with my writing. Sure, I had risked getting rejected and crying more than I already was, but I would have gotten over it eventually because I knew I couldn’t live with asking myself “what-if?” all the time. It only brings regrets.

Heading into 2015 I have another “what-if” scenario haunting my mind and it won’t go away. But I’m not sure I have the courage to do what I know is right. This could blow up in my face in a very bad way.

A year ago I put my dream on the line. I took a risk. I need to do it again because I don’t want 2015 to be the year of regrets.

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Photos courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net