You Can Quote Me.
Time for another dose of my Positive CJ Thoughts, or PCT's as you will. I will try to make this as uplifting as I can and I promise, there will be a happy ending to everything, there has to be. Remember, I'm a lesbian fiction writer, we love happy endings.
I love quotes, I truly do. I wish I was quote worthy, but there are so many other people out there that have this amazing ability to sum up how I'm feeling with a few simple words. This morning, my wife asked me to find an anniversary quote for her. My brain searched frantically for what anniversary I'd forgotten.
I know it's not our wedding anniversary because that date, July 24th is written in indelible ink on my heart. There are times when I'm typing that I'll check my hand placement and notice the incredible piece of jewelry that ties me to her mind, heart, body and soul. I love her with all my heart, you can quote me on that.
So back to my quandary, anniversary for what? Wrack my brain, Wrack my brain… someone's death or birth? I've never been good at remembering dates like that. First, I have a little bit of dyslexia, which will often cause me to mix numbers and occasionally letters. It was hell when I worked for 911 because I reallllly needed to get those addresses, phone numbers, and the driver's license numbers people would rattle off, correct. It was work and it still is to this day. Secondly, I grew up in a religion that made birthdays, anniversaries and other dates of celebration, unimportant. I wasn't accustomed to remembering important family dates because we didn't celebrate them.
THAT is a story for another day because it too has a happy ending. You can quote me on that too.
Anniversary, what the hell anniversary is this? Finally, she let me off the hook, it was the anniversary of her no longer being responsible for over seven thousand people and the million visitors that had one sort of emergency or another in the small county we formerly lived in. I won't go into all the circumstances because it certainly isn't pretty and to be honest, we've been advised by council, not to. My wife's former occupation was Director of Emergency Management and 911 Operations.
A HUGE responsibility and a heavy burden to carry, one that required us to tromp through waist deep snow for twenty minutes to reach a non-functioning generator in order to restore communications. Other times we would be up all night, checking river gauges as we vigilantly worried about flooding in low lying areas.
Then there were the calls that had to be made while we were on vacation because the schedule was messed up, or sometimes plans that had to be put on hold to attend one of the seven million meetings a month with her on-call, 24/7 schedule for whatever emergency presented itself, big or small. Hell, we had to deal with a major snow storm, Jonas, while we were on our honeymoon. She did it because she believed it was a calling and a duty. Thank God there are people who do.
My wife and I both have spent our adult life in emergency service. My wife's primary job was facilitating frantic calls from the desperate parents of a choking child requesting an ambulance or a distraught homeowner in need of the fire department. Her other job was being responsible for emergency contingency plans for all types of hazards, natural and man-made. Her job was basically being the toolbox for all things emergency.
You needed something, you went to the toolbox to get it. She did this for twenty-eight years. I'm betting the number is actually more because that's based just on years of service and not actual hours
My career on the other hand was tearing down the streets with lights and sirens to put wet stuff on red stuff or stop a different kind of red stuff from pouring from some wound.
Now my job is more of an adult babysitter; don't bite that, don't put the screwdriver in the electric box, that wall is getting ready to collapse and training other firefighters how to do their job safely. In a few more days, I'll have done that for twenty-five years.
We are two peas in a pod when it came to our life's work. Quote me on that. We found a way to complement each other's skills and talents to take care of people in desperate need of assistance.
My point is, my wife and I have spent our entire adult life taking care of someone else's emergency needs and have been glad to make our living doing so.
Last year on this date, she was handed some papers that would change our lives forever.
There was no cake, no retirement party, and no 'thank you for your service'....after TWENTY EIGHT YEARS.
What we have learned to do, is to be thankful for where that day led us. No more ringing phone at three in the morning to handle some crisis and the ability to just sit and watch it snow. (Well at least for her.) I'm still working and probably will be for a while. Lord, how I wish you wouldn't quote me on that.
We've come to appreciate so many things that happened following that day. We moved full time to our newly completed dream home because we were no longer tethered to a county that required her to be there.
Soon after, our great nephew came to live on the farm and we became part of the village it's taking to raise him.
We help get him off the bus when needed, serve as his playmates, basketball coaches, occasionally his teachers and his snow day-daycare when needed. Blessings in disguise. THIS you can definitely quote me on.
We are closer to the farm now and no longer need to drive forty minutes to our home, exhausted after an evening in the fields. Our life is no longer in two places while our heart resided in only one. She is closer to the place she was born and raised. It's a community her family helped establish over two hundred years ago and around people she has known her whole life.
I finally found a place that is TRULY home and the place I belonged- right at her side. Keep building that quote list, because that last statement was one I'm happy that you can quote about.
We have a farm that keeps us hopping in the spring, summer and fall.
Winter is for recuperating in front of the fire. It's also when I get the most writing done.
I'm in the final pages of my rough draft edit. This story has been under my skin for so long I feel like the words are invading my dreams and exiting my body with each exhalation. Very soon I hope to send it off to Desert Palm Press for publication. For those hoping for a sequel to 'frame by frame', sorry, this isn't one. It's a complex story that will have you traveling to some interesting National Parks and nearby attractions. My wife says if you enjoyed my first book, you will really like this one. She thinks it's much better. I really hope you will quote her on that.
My wife is a woman of few words. I tease her that she's like that old
commercial…"When E F Hutton talks,
Here's a little teaser to whet your appetite and let you make your own decision about your anticipation level of my work in progress.
"The Bucket List"
PROFESSOR JORDAN ARMSTRONG TRAILED her fingers along the spines of numerous books in the National Parks section in the Cornell University library.
How could it be so hard to find a specific book? The groundbreaking work, authored by two former staff professors, was about the role of the time-honored landmarks in relationship to the environment.
Although it had to be here, it wasn’t in its designated space. Shelved wrong? She continued down the rows, until her eyes caught the title she was looking for. There it was, a thick text entitled The National Parks Reaction to Climate Change.
“Found you," she whispered. Pulling the volume down she looked at the cover that displayed a panoramic shot of Grinnell Glacier in Glacier National Park. God that’s gorgeous.
She opened the cover and studied the photo credit, Professor N.F. Scott. Her pulse rate increased and a trickle of sweat formed on her upper lip. As she turned to the photo pages in the middle of the book, a piece of paper slipped from inside and drifted to the floor. Looking around, she bent to retrieve the folded yellow document.
Jordan closed the book and tucked it under her arm, carefully opening the paper to reveal a seemingly nonsensical dictation full of letters, numbers, symbols and random quotes.
Jordan frowned, puzzled as to the meaning until she was interrupted by a rustling sound. Someone was searching books a row over. Jordan nodded. Having made up her mind, she shut the book and took it to the circulation desk where she presented her University ID in order to check it out.
The librarian, scanned her selection, then looked up at Jordan. "Ah, Professor Armstrong, nice to see you." A small smile crossed her lips while she ran her finger across the author’s names and tapped the book. “These two were favorites around here. When this first came out, we did book signings here. Such a tragedy.”
Jordan formulated her next statement carefully. “I remember. Professor James passed unexpectedly from an undiagnosed heart condition.”
Sadness crossed the slight of stature woman’s face. “Yes, Aggie and Noeul were out for their daily run. There were some complications and Aggie died two days later. I was sad when Noeul resigned her professorship shortly thereafter. Losing one of them was bad enough. Unfortunately, in the end, we lost both of them that day. A true tragedy for all who knew them and the students that would have benefited from many more years of their experience.”
Feeling that exact sentiment, Jordan continued to gently pry, hoping to find an easy answer to the growing mystery. “I agree with you. Where did Professor Scott go?”
“After she sold the house here, no one knows. She took off on what she called her bucket list and no one here ever heard from her again."
“She must have left a forwarding address?” Jordan continued to probe.
The librarian smoothed back her silver hair and adjusted the clip holding it off her shoulders. “If she did, I wasn’t privy to it. I hope you enjoy the book. They worked on the research together with Aggie doing the majority of the writing, Noeul the photography. Such a shame, and an incredible loss. On a brighter note, how's your research going?”
Jordan was a Professor of Agricultural Studies and a bio engineer in the field of plant genetics. "When Professor Scott was the Biology chair, the research she was working on was closely related to what I'm trying to do now. It would go much faster if I could find her." She held up the book, "Thus the book."
I hope that will be enough to peak your curiosity and make you want to turn the page. I so hope you will quote me on that for years. :)
For now, I'd like to publicly tell me wife what an incredible person I think she is. For all those times no one said thank you, I want to take the time to do so. I've been so proud to work with her on different operations. There are so many things she's done that might never be known by the people she's helped with no fanfare and little recognition. She's my hero and more of a super hero than any Marvel or DC Comic book will ever create.
It's a simple thing to recognize people for the wonderful things they do. Too often we take the other fork in the road and dwell on the splinter instead of the rafter.
There are people out there every day who put it all on the line for someone else. They miss family moments to handle some emergency in someone else's. A nameless, faceless person will answer your 911 call and direct the ambulance, the police and the firefighters to you.
Most of these people rarely get a thank you. Instead of being upset at traffic being stopped, or being forced to sit at an intersection at a green light so the ambulance can go by, or getting upset because a police officer took five minutes to grab a cup of coffee and something to eat- remember those same people will answer that 911 dispatch, throw away that meal, get into a vehicle to respond to fix what you are unable to. You can quote me on that.
Now what do all these things have to do with Positive CJ Thoughts? The reality is I try very hard to keep a positive attitude no matter what the circumstance. I need that in order to navigate an incredibly negative world.
I'm the type of person to say thank you as often as I can....
and admit that I have to say... I'm sorry...much more than I wish I had to.
I'm very proud to be in the emergency service world and I do my best to represent the profession honorably. Yes, there are some bad apples in the barrel, but the vast majority would lay down their life for you and some…have. I am grateful for those who pin on the badge no matter what the branch of service and I hope that you will remember to do the same, not for me, but for the people who are taken for granted. I have much more than a job, I have a calling and I do my best to live up to the higher expectation that calling has. We take for granted that someone will always be there and, thank all the powers that be, most of the time they are. Thank you to everyone who picks up that mantle of responsibility, because the road isn't always smooth. Protect and Serve is much more than a catch phrase, I would be proud to have you quote me on that.
Where would we be in times of disaster if someone didn't step forward and say, "I'm here to help." On this, without fail, you can definitely 'quote me'.
Until my new book is available you can check out my current novel 'frame by frame' at your favorite point of sale. Thank you all for your unwavering support.