Friday, April 18, 2014

I am a published writer...of sorts. Woohoo!!

http://weekender.bh/e_paper_pdf/17_04_2014/epaper.pdf

Hey, everyone. A local newspaper here, The Weekender, started a new thing in which writers' can send in stories and have them printed if the staff likes them. As soon as I heard about it I sent in one of mine (it's on this blog somewhere) and I quickly got a call from them about it. Apparently they really liked it and asked me about myself and why I wrote it etc.. At first the editor wanted me to change a few things, give the character a name and other things and then said he would print the story after the changes were made. I said OK even though I like it the way it is but it's not a big deal. He hung up but called back ten minutes later and said we decided we love the story just as it is, don't change anything. We will print it this week and we would like you to send in more stories if you have them. 

If I have them? I may have a few here and there. Ha ha. 

The cool thing (more coolness) is that they made my story into a competition by asking readers to come up with an ending for it. Actually, the story is complete as it is but he wanted to make it interactive. No matter, I am a published writer (an unpaid one but who cares). This could be a stepping stone for me, never know. 

Check it out. I'm famous for a min. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The scars of our memories.

When I was around 7 years old my father hit me on the head with a wire hanger. My "crime" was that I had scuffed the toes of my new school shoes. He checked them just before I was ready to head out the door to school and his reaction was rather extreme...if I say so myself. 

Grabbing the first thing available, one of those wire hangers that had a cardboard cylinder for a base, he smacked me on the head with it several times. He then kicked my butt, literally, and sent me out the door crying and with abusive words and threats ringing in my ears. Unknown to me, but I would shortly find out, was that he had actually managed to hit me hard enough that the wire had entered my skull...thus I was bleeding quite profusely as I stumbled shaking and crying down the street on the way to the bus stop.

 It was one of those moments where you don't realize you are injured until someone points it out to you. In this case, it was one of our neighbors that happened to be out in her yard and who quickly let me know something was wrong with me by her piercing screams and bug eyed look as she rushed towards me. 

She actually scared the cry right out of me as I saw her come rushing at me and I wanted to turn tail and run back to the house. Not often children see strangers come running at them while screaming and reaching out in such a way...but back home was the stuff of my nightmares...and so I stopped dead in the street and waited for whatever fate this screeching woman intended for me. 

It was then I realized I felt a very warm sensation oozing down my face and shoulder and I reached up to wipe it away only to come away with a hand drenched in blood. I stared at my red hand wondering just how it came to be covered in blood and couldn't think of one good reason. Suddenly the screaming woman went silent though her mouth still made the motions of screaming...only to be replaced with a very loud buzzing sound. Just before I went weak at the knees I was scooped up by someone I hadn't seen coming up behind me. My mother. 

Apparently my mother hadn't witnessed my father's early morning lessons on keeping my shoes unscuffed, but had heard me crying as I left the house and came to the door to see if I had left or not. It was then she noticed blood droplets in a haphazard line leading away from the door and towards the sidewalk. She told me her heart stopped in her chest when she saw that blood, assuming I had been taken by someone and injured in the process. She ran down to the  sidewalk just in time to hear the neighbor woman start screaming...and assumed the very worst.  

As she rushed me back to the house intending to take me to the hospital, not knowing how I was injured but seeing lots of blood, she was met with my stony faced father who quickly took charge of my "medical care". He refused to allow her to take me anywhere and insisted I be put in the shower so all the blood could be washed off. I remember him insisting my underwear stayed on which seemed rather odd when I thought about it years later. All the while he was washing off the blood he was on a long rant of how it was my fault and these were the consequences of disobeying his orders. I made not a peep in my own defense knowing it would do no good and also knowing it could make matters far worse. 

My father investigated my head to see what the injury was and declared there being no need to pay a fortune for the hospital when all I had was a pin sized hole in my skull from the end of the wire hanger. My mother did not insist...in fact she said very little. Something I took in stride at the time but would recall years later as being silent acceptance of my fate at his hands yet again. 

He kept me home from school that day and we never spoke of it again until I was grown and my mother came to visit me. She said that she didn't want me  to be hurt more than I was so she remained quiet...to protect me. Considering what that man did to me over and over again for the next 10 years I find it hard to believe my safety was what motivated her that day...but who knows.  Possibly she had my short term safety more in mind back then.

I think about that particular moment of abuse more than lots of others because I have a scar on my head to constantly remind me. It started out as a small raised bump but over time it has grown bigger and gets scratched my hair brush quite often. My father is long gone but his mementos are still around keeping his memory alive. Yay me. 

Another memorable event that always comes back with unending clarity were when he forced me to stand in the corner with my sodden underwear pulled over my head. I was a horrible bed wetter as a child and it lasted until around the age of 9 I believe. My older sister absolutely hated sleeping with me as I generally soaked us both with my nocturnal offerings more often than not. I remember my father making it a point to come check the bed every morning and me laying there fully aware of what he was going to find yet again. 

No matter how hard I tried or what I did (using the bathroom before bed, not drinking anything for hours ahead of time) it never seemed to help much. I actually recall having dreams as a child of me getting up and using the bathroom, feeling that sense of  release when you have been holding it and then get to finally go as you sit down...only to wake up and realize it wasn't a dream. For the rest of the night I would lay there cold and shaking from both the wetness and fear. 

On those mornings he chose to come throw the covers back and pull me from the bed I knew what fate awaited me...hours with my face pressed into the corner with my own panties snug against my face. Of course it didn't end there. Once his particular brand of punishment was over I still had my older sister to contend with. She always found time to punch or pinch me while hissing in my ear about how disgusting I was and what a baby I was and did I need diapers again? 

For the life of me when I think about these episodes...I can't remember what my mother had to say about it or if she ever did anything for or against me other than once again change the sheets on the bed after letting it air outside for a few hours. To this day the smell of urine triggers memories of those mornings spent in the corner while everyone else went about their routine as if I were invisible and inconsequential. Good times.

Years later when my own youngest daughter had her own bed wetting years, I should have made the connection, one of many, but it just never clicked until hind sight gave me 20/20 vision about that and a lot of other clues as to what was going on. Another reason to feel such guilt about my blindness. 

When these memories, and so many others, suddenly intrude on a perfectly nice moment, I can't help but wonder what memories my own children have locked away that also cannot be forgotten and make for unwanted company now and again? In my own defense (if I even have the right to make one) I did not remain quiet from the moment I learned what he was doing. I know this does not mean anything against the painful memories my children suffer from when I was clueless but it at least lets them know that if I had known sooner...I would have stopped it sooner. 

Small solace but something I try and convince myself means something. 

 





Monday, January 13, 2014

Potentially Exciting News...

Since my return to Bahrain I have been looking for avenues in which to use my writing in ways that will both interest me and possibly pay me as well. I've been looking for jobs in that area but so far haven't been successful; however, last night a whole new potential direction was opened up to me. 

Bahrain has a writer's club of which I only recently discovered. It is actually called, Bahrain Writers' Circle, and we all met last night during the first meeting of this new year. They have been a club for a few years now and a speech by one of the leaders gave a run down of all that they have done and hope to do again this year. Among other things, they have an agreement with Bahrain's Ministry of Culture to present the works of local writers' during Bahrain's many cultural venues held through out the year. This particular man expertise is poetry and he explained how they do poetry readings at the national forts scattered around Bahrain. Apparently he teaches the readers to read with real emotion and flair in order to engage the listener. He detailed how all the poetry is gathered and published in a book and presented to the Ministry of Culture. He also said that he truly hopes that at least one person in that meeting will make something of their writing using all that this club has to offer in way of support and opportunity. Apparently several of the longer term members have done some amazing things they credit the club with and others are equally as hopeful in that endeavor. It sounds exciting to me even though I have never really been much into poetry. I might give it a try simply for the experience factor. 

I met a young lady that wrote and published her own book here in Bahrain and she started with just 500 copies and they flew off the shelves so she is on her second print already. The book is the first fiction novel written by an English writer and published in Bahrain while also being based in Bahrain. Arabs are not big on publishing English books so most would be writers must look outside the gulf to find someone to publish their book. She used a local publishing firm and basically they printed the manuscript out as is, meaning, no proof reading, or editing other than what she did herself. She wrote in on Microsoft Word so it printed out quite badly, yet nobody at the press bothered to inform her of that until all 500 copies were printed. Apparently that didn't stop the buyers though as she sold most of the copies the first day it was released.  She acknowledges that basing it in Bahrain let her write freely because it is what she knows and buyers can connect with that as they live here and recognize every place she writes about. Of course that speaks to my personal experience as well so will definitely keep that in mind. I am impressed with her that she just decided to write a book, wrote it, sat on it for a number of years, then decided to just print it and see what happens. Good things happen to those that get off their ass and do it obviously. 

This club might be just what I've been looking for as far as getting my own dreams of publishing a book off the ground. I liked the people I met, the goals of the club as well as the many accomplishments they have already enjoyed considering they are just a small group of people that really like to write and present it to the public. I also liked the enthusiasm of the that one leader in particular, David Hollywood. He is from Ireland and so very gung ho about making every writer in that room famous somehow. Was hard not to be fired up by his energy levels alone. 

One very interesting thing was that I knew nobody in that room when I entered it but apparently my name preceded me (I joined the Facebook group a few weeks beforehand) as some of them knew who I was based on my writing to the paper etc.. That was quite something and made me feel rather proud. Always does when that happens. 

I do like the potential this group has to offer me in terms of getting some sort of foothold in the writing field and, of course, finding ways to entertain myself with a great group of people doesn't hurt either. I shall update as things progress. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A reoccurring dream has me head scratching...again.

As I have stated several times on this blog, I often have dreams over and over again that generally end up meaning something to me, or coming true in some cases. Quite often these reoccurring dreams occur in the same place, like a bedroom or a particular road that ran near where I lived for awhile in my teens. One dream I have had many times over the past few years puts me in a bedroom, though this one is a room I'm not familiar with, in which I am on one side of the locked door and someone else is on the other side trying very hard to get in. That someone is almost always my father though now and again it is some unknown person. 

These dreams are not exactly scary but I do wake up from them feeling stressed and a bit anxious. I'm not sure what the purpose is considering my father has been dead for quite some time now. It's not like I will ever find myself on the other side of a door from him while he tries to knock it down. 

The more interesting thing to me is that I don't feel as if I dream that often. I know we forget our dreams generally upon waking giving us the impression we don't dream, so that may be it, but most mornings I wake up with no memory of having dreamt. When I do dream they are vivid life like events that have very little fantasy type scenarios involved. In order to come true they need to be capable of coming true. Dreams that reoccur often do come true in some fashion, though, so I suppose if I dreamed of flying it could be me in an airplane and not me personally flying...but my dreams don't generally work like that either. One thing doesn't generally stand for another thing. If I ever dream that I can fly chances are I can and just need to muster up the courage to jump off the highest available peak. My dreams are more like that .

 The dream about my father on the other side of a door trying to get me is on my mind a lot as he recently showed up in once again doing just that. The way my dreams generally work doesn't mean my father on the other side of a door trying to get me symbolizes some inner angst...but that at some point in my future, my dad will be on the other side of a door trying to get me. That is what the dream tells me..but that is impossible. Over the years I have had this same dream too many times to count, but I don't give it too much thought because my father is dead. End of story. The dream can't come true...so why do I keep having them?

One other interesting thing about my dreams is that I don't dream of the people currently in my life all that often. While married to my ex for 20 years he rarely showed up in my dreams...as did my father while living at home. An occasional cameo role is about the most they could hope for. My children probably show up more often than any others in my life, but then again, still not as often as it would seem they should. The love of my life probably even less so. This is something I have always found a little strange. My dreams are generally about me, of course, but often just me or me with unknown people set in familiar surroundings...friends and family are almost never co stars. 

I have no idea if that means anything at all in regards to my psychological make up or sanity level but it is something I have experienced all my life so is normal, whatever that it. However, dreaming of my dead father in a way that makes it seem as if a future event might take place that is impossible (unless one believes in the zombie potential...hmmm) but also knowing that those dreams of mine that do reoccur often come true in surprisingly accurate ways has me scratching my head.

Not sure if I should find this interesting...or be worried about it. My dad alive was hard enough to live with....not sure I want to find out what the alternative is.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year 2014. Last one was damn rough...time for something a little different.

2012 was one of my worst years yet since I divorced. No lie. I made some very bad choices, burned some much needed bridges, and generally just set myself on a destructive course that nearly had me in the black for good. 2013 was mostly spent trying to do damage control with varying degrees of success depending on who you asked. If you ask me, I wouldn't mind forgetting 2012 all together and parts of 2013 can follow right along, thank you. 

However, I didn't die from any of those bad choices so I will assume that means I still have time to do better and be better. A work in progress. Good days and bad days rub shoulders and have me on that emotional roller coaster ride that never seems to have an end. I have cried a lot and laughed little. I have spent more times just sitting doing nothing other than beating myself up over all those bad choices that just kept coming rather than do something about them...but eventually I caught on and started doing something. Too little too late? As I said, I'm not dead yet so let's assume the answer is no. 

I seriously need to start writing again. I keep saying I will and then let things get in the way even though this empty space is running like a ticker tape through my head day and night. It begs to be filled and my fingers itch to fill it but my mind just gets in the way and makes excuses...never seem to run out of those. 

Anyhow, my one resolution, if I must, is to get back to writing. I need to fill the empty spaces with words that won't stop in my head until they are written down. I need to finish that story I started awhile back that some of you may remember and I need to figure out how to make my writing work for me because I stopped writing and I started spiraling. I see a connection yet I couldn't seem to stop it or fix it. My goal is to write at least one post a week, more if properly motivated. Whether my readers come back or not is immaterial...I always did write just for me but the positive feedback was always nice. 

So here I am, 2014. Not dead yet. Not out for the count. Long as I wake up every morning then I have been given another chance to do better than the day before. Let's see if I have enough sunrises left to undo the destructive sunsets that are behind me? 

Wish me luck. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Bring Adam Jones Home/A Foreign Mother's Fight for Her Half British Half Qatari Son


 http://gulf-daily-news.com/NewsDetails.aspx?storyid=362138

Adam Jones was tricked out of the custody of his British mother 4 years ago after her ex husband, a Qatari national, died in a motorcycle accident. Her husband's family invited her to bring Adam over under the pretense of a family get together, something she had willingly done before, so suspected nothing was different this time. They asked her to sign a document pertaining to his inheritance from his father's estate but in fact it was her signing over her custody of her son to the family. She has been fighting four long years in the Qatar courts to get Adam back with only two visits per week with him. So far not much has been done for her and I find this whole drama heart breaking and quite personal as it is something foreign mother's to Arab nationals must live under the threat of constantly. Our children and rights and access to them is what binds us to these marriages or to the countries long after we might other wise be gone. This is the letter I wrote today in regards to Adam and his mother's plight. 


In response to the plight of Adam Jones whose mother was tricked into giving up custody of him to his Qatari family, it boggles my mind that the word "allegedly" was used when describing what her ex husband's family did in order to gain custody of her son. Despite the fact that nobody should ever sign a document that they do not understand, especially when it is in a foreign language (a practice that is forced on many non Arabic readers here in the  gulf), I must wonder at the Sharia Court in Qatar that still considers that document as valid and legal. Once she stated in court that she was under duress to sign it and that she was misinformed as to its contents then the court was obliged to throw it out or at the very least to investigate the reasons behind the accusations and whether they were true or not. To uphold that document for four long years and keep Adam from his mother, who clearly did not want to release custody of him, is a telling indication of just how Sharia Courts in the Middle East view foreign mother's rights as being nonexistent and not worth the trouble to implement them. Personal experience and hearing the stories of so many other foreign mother's of Bahraini, Saudi, Qatari and other G.C.C. country's children is proof positive that Adam's mother will most likely not find the justice she is so desperately looking for. If it were going to come one would have to assume that the concerned authorities (if they really are concerned) would not let 4 years pass by without finding a resolution. Four years that neither Adam nor his mother will ever get back. I am wondering if anyone in Qatar has bothered to ask young Adam whether he prefers his father's money and family who have connived and tricked his mother into separating him from her or to relinquish his right to that money (since that is most likely what they are really after) in order to sleep once again in his own bed with his own family around him? Chances are they will never ask him nor care for his response if they do and yet they must also be blind to the fact that he will not be a minor forever and eventually when he comes of age he will be free to go where and with whom he pleases. Time will tell whether his father's Qatari family really do have his best interest at heart or whether they will let him leave when he is of age and not bother to keep in touch after that. It is my experience and those of other women that once the native father (or his family) loses (either custody, children come of age, want nothing to do with him etc.) then neither he nor his family are interested in what becomes of those children they once so ardently fought for. As much as I hope that Adam's mother does get her hearts desire and Adam is returned to her sooner rather than later, I am convinced that only time and Adam's age will be the telling clue as to that family's true intentions with him and I truly hope that all the lies and disinformation that Adam is most assuredly being fed do not take their toll on his young mind and convince him that his mother willingly surrendered him to those people for the young are so easily mislead from the truth with false smiles, fake hugs, and confidently spoken words with god interspersed throughout.

Stay strong, young Adam. From one mother who nearly lost her children to the unjust actions of the Sharia Court here in Bahrain to another suffering the same fate in Qatar, I can honestly tell you that your mother is fighting for your life with every muscle and breath in her body. That is what mothers do.

Lee Ann Fleetwood

Monday, September 16, 2013

Who Knew Being A Grandmother Would Be So Time Consuming. Anyone?

I have the best of intentions when it comes to writing on this blog. I have stories to wow and amuse my scattered audience (come back, everyone), however, Awesome Maya keeps me on my toes and job searching keeps me on my heels. Hardly enough time to form a sentence these days.

Exciting times but no time to log it in. I will find time. I must. Have patience. I'm talking to myself with that last bit.