Time To Rewind
2018 where did you go? Time for some year end PCT's-Positive CJ Thoughts. Let's do a little rewind.
It seems like five minutes ago, I was tricking my niece and nephews into believing it was midnight at ten in the evening because I was exhausted. We watched the ball drop on a video and convinced them it was time to go to sleep.
I’m thinking I’ll have much less success tonight as they have already brought up my last year's deception. I hope that spending New Years Eve and part of New Years day, will be the start of a great year, even if they won’t be able to go sledding tomorrow like they did last year. It's currently pouring down the rain and the wind is whipping.
In 2019, we're looking to add to our family. My wife and I are looking at advertisements for Border Collie puppies.
She's finally ready to have another dog. I’m not sure what the cats will think but I do look forward to a black and white lightening bolt zooming through the yard after a Frisbee or ball. My nephew Richard is looking forward to dog-sitting for us. He figures it’s the next best thing to getting his own dog. This pup will also become my wife’s companion as she tinkers about on our property while I’m still employed. Our last dog, Lexie, would ride the tractor, four-wheeler, or whatever we were traveling in.
How do I look back at 2018 with anything less than gratitude and determination mixed with great sadness? We spent our first full year in our new home after moving in April 2017. Technically this was our third Christmas here as we spent our first one when we barely had furniture and were sleeping on an air mattress.
We didn't even have a real Christmas Tree.
Since then, we've sold our former home and fully embraced living on the property we dreamed of spending our retirement years in. It’s not without its challenges as I continue to drive an hour and a half to work and frequently have to negotiate downed trees and deep snow on our 1.7 mile driveway.
Despite all the downsides, being able to sit in my “office of choice” on Saturday mornings and write, is worth it all.
It was in our new home that I wrote most of my debut novel, ‘frame by frame’ as I polyurethaned the inside of our new home.
I was beyond overjoyed when it made it past the first round of judging for the Goldie awards and moved onto the finals. That feeling went over the moon when 'frame by frame' was announced as one of the 2017 Goldie award winners for debut novels.
Sadly, we made the decision early on not to travel to Las Vegas because we knew our friend Chris’ journey was coming to a close. We wanted to be close to home for Kelly. Friends texted, emailed and Facebooked me with the news. I was completely overwhelmed with the support. I can never thank the people who helped make that book a reality, most of all, my wife who encouraged me to write her a story.
I’ve frequently spoke about the sadness of 2018 as we lost our best friend Chris to the cancer he fought so valiantly.
We are still close with Kelly and take every opportunity we can to get together. It’s a different life without him and no one knows that better than his loving wife. We took in a double header Pittsburgh Pirates game with her over the summer.
It was a surreal experience to be there without him. We know he was watching us as things happened that would make us say, “There’s Chris saying hi.” We continue to have those things happen every time we go back to Pittsburgh, to a place we considered our city. Even Chris felt that way as he left us a lithograph of the three famous Pittsburgh sports venues, Forbes Fields, The Civic Arena, and Three Rivers Stadium with a personal letter that Kelly gave us after he passed. All three of these venues have been replaced, but like our memories of Chris, they will never be forgotten.
It was the way he and Kelly handled his illness that inspired my second novel,
“The Bucket List” that was released on Thanksgiving Day.
Life is full of opportunity, but it requires us to ‘just do it’ and the Nike ad used to say. We continue to put things on our bucket list and fully intend to put check marks beside those items. One of the major things on our list, is a trip to see the northern lights in person. We continue to look at everything from a trip to Iceland or maybe to a train ride in Alaska to make it happen.
We took our first vacation in many years with a quick trip to Myrtle Beach where we got sandblasted by Hurricane Michael.
Hours before, that same hurricane completely destroyed Mexico Beach in Florida. As we traveled south, we could see the devastation that Hurricane Florence caused the previous month. my wife and I can both attest that weather is a very powerful force. We've dealt with it a great deal in the occupations we’ve spent years in.
After a thirty year career in the emergency services, my wife entered retirement- not by choice, I might add. More about that someday when everything is final. In April, I’ll be entering my twenty seventh year of service at the fire department where I’m still the only female. I’ve always had hopes there would be someone to carry on what I’ve started. We’ll see what happens in the next few years. Until then, I’ll do my best to represent a strong female for others to look up to.
My career experiences, and that of my wife’s, have inspired my third novel and what will Book One of my new Five Points Series. The stories will focus around a female sheriff in a small WV tourist county. ‘Gold Star Chance’ is now at the editors and will be released sometime around July of 2019. I look forward to having it ready for the GCLS conference being held in Pittsburgh. I can’t wait to have you meet Sheriff Chance Fitzsimmons and her K9 partner, Zeus.
I’m excited to be attending the 2019 GCLS conference in Pittsburgh. I look forward to meeting so many of the authors I’ve admired over the years. For Christmas, my wife even bought me my tuxedo shirt and bow tie to wear at the awards banquet. It will be a great honor to thank the people who have shared their enthusiasm and encouragement over the past few years. Your messages have kept me striving to become a better author and provide you with more stories by CJ Murphy.
I hit the big five-zero this year. Half a century has passed since I took my first breath. I’m living my best life as exactly who I am with no regrets as my family and I keep exploring life’s opportunities. I’m married to my best friend and I created a program that teaches fire safety to children. I’ll borrow my favorite T-shirt company’s slogan…Life is good.
There are days when it’s like a bizarre version of Second Hand Lions as we continue to be part of the village that raises my nephew. Week days find us stopping by to spend an evening with him to play board games or battle it out in Nerf wars. It also involves watching him practice his social studies speech on the Titanic. Weekends mean kids basketball, soccer and softball games. On occasion, we get his cousins for a visit and the real fun begins with all three of them. We’re planning a winter adventure for the kids that will involve sledding and a trip to an indoor pool trip. This planned adventure was part of their Christmas gift. We also welcomed a baby into the the family with the birth of Richard’s little brother, Rylen. Don’t ask, it’s a whole other story and one that I truly hope will turn out differently than his older sibling.
Time will tell, but we don’t have much confidence in that. We may well find we’re doing this all over again in a few years.
My wife is working in the basement as I pound the keys. She’s determined we’ll get the basement ready for the kids who keep asking when their bedrooms will be done.
It’s impressive to watch her learn electrical and carpentry skills as she wires and builds the walls for each room. Soon, it will be dry wall and tile time. Her Christmas gifts were things like a combination drywall mud and tape contraption, an angle finder and straight edge. We’re practical givers in our house as we already have more things sitting around than we need. I’m grateful for the new jeans and electric stim pads. Her sister bought us tickets to go see Trans Siberian Orchestra, something I’d thought about getting her a million times. It was an incredible concert and a great gift. We knew Chris was smiling on us when we ran into the woman who ushers in the area where Chris and Kelly used to have their season tickets for the Pirates in a completely different arena.
As brand new year approaches, I have many things to be grateful for. I’m in relatively good health. (We won’t discuss my cholesterol or my back.) I’m living in my dream home with a partner that supports my efforts of being a writer, I have a family that enjoys being together, good friends, a successful farm business and health insurance…yes, that’s a big one. For those of you who don’t have it, you’ll understand.
For now, I’ll be grateful for all the good things in my life and keep working on things I strive to get better at, like commas.
Until my next book comes out, you can enjoy “The Bucket List” at your favorite outlets. I'll even provide you with a few links.
Desert Palm Press has a plan to start offering sales directly from their website. Stay tuned for that. Until then, I wish you a very Happy New Year.
There are tough times ahead of those of us in the LGBTQ community. We need to stand against the prevailing winds and fight to keep what we have and continue to fight for change. From the words of my Irving Scottish ancestors…HAUD ULLIS LABENTIA VENTIS. There are a few translations from standing steadfast against the wind to yielding under no winds. Either way, the message is clear, hold fast and stand against those who would tear us down.