Hi! I’m Kim Fielding. Thank you, Lane, for letting me visit. Today I’m going to talk a little about communication and my new book, The Tin Box.
I am old enough to remember when science fiction depicted video phones as the communication mode of the future. And they were right—sort of.
Many of us do use video communications, at least occasionally. For instance, two years ago my older daughter and I spent 5 months living in Europe, thousands of miles from my husband and younger daughter. Nearly every day I Skyped home so we could see each other and chat via our computers. I’ve participated in plenty of video conferences too.
(Don’t you love how Mom of the Future is still stuck in the kitchen in her dress and apron, shopping for the kids?)
But those visionaries of the past never imagined how tiny and cheap the devices would be, nor all the other things they would be able to do. I rarely use my smartphone for phone calls, video or otherwise. But I use it all the time for lots of other things—email, maps, surfing, games, video, music, photos, and so on.
But I think what those people in the past really didn’t expect was how communication would change. I don’t spend much time on the phone nowadays, with or without video. I text. I email. I tweet and post.
I’ve been thinking about how the medium we use to communicate affects the content of the message. A conversation over phone lines is really different than one via text. An email is not the same as a tweet.
In The Tin Box, William stumbles across an old-fashioned method of communication. While exploring the former mental hospital where he now works, William discovers a cache of letters written by a patient in the 1930s. The patient, Bill, was involuntarily committed to the asylum for being gay. William has long struggled to come to terms with his own sexuality, so those letters—and Colby Anderson, the local postal/general store clerk—help him find out who he truly is.
If people had been able to text or tweet back in the Depression, William’s life would have turned out very differently, I think.
Almost three years ago now I met someone who changed my life. Everything about me. My direction, my plans for a future and ultimately how I viewed myself. I fell in love with someone so bright, so beautiful and so completely the opposite of me it was difficult for my to process the magnitude of my attraction. I fell hard. I was frightened on one hand but I was also compelled and more determined than ever to have some connection with him, anything he’d give me. I was convinced I would have even settled for friendship. Thankfully I got more. For the first time in my life, I pursued someone of my own sex.
When I first acknowledged to my friends that I was bisexual it came as a surprise. They asked the inevitable questions… Are you just curious? Are you gay for him? The answer was no. I was bisexual. No one knew. I never said a word. But I knew. The truth is I never had to say anything because I never met a man I wanted as intensely as I wanted Aaron. That doesn’t mean I’d never been tempted. I fought the feeling any way I could.
When I was in high school and even college, I studied harder, I practiced longer. I did anything to avoid acknowledging the attraction I sometimes felt toward members of my same sex. I figured my saving grace was that I still got turned on when I saw a really beautiful girl. I didn’t have to be different if I could just control my urges.
I know now I was born this way. Like a gay man is exclusively attracted to men or a straight man is to women only, I was wired to be an equal opportunity lover. I’m attracted to women, yes. But now I’m honest about the other side of me. I am and always have been attracted to men also.
I knew something was up (literally) when I fifteen and couldn’t take my eyes off of the captain of the varsity football team. Chad Corcoran was our high school quarterback. He was tall but thin, with a winning smile, a handsome face and a killer bod. One of my buddies at the lunch table caught me gawking at him one day and asked me if I had a crush on him. It wasn’t a polite inquiry. I was being taunted. I think I shoved my so-called friend hard, called him a name and generally berated him for even suggested I was gay. Then I coolly said I was interested in becoming QB, that’s all.
Throughout my high school years I began to notice for every two girls I found pretty, there was at least one guy who made me tongue-tied and would usually feature in my late night masturbation material. I won’t lie… it freaked me out. I came from a large loving family I knew supported me no matter what, but what would any of them say to a bolt out of the blue like that? I couldn’t even begin to fathom the awkward conversations. The thought of dealing with their disappointment and disgust was more than I could bear to contemplate. It was hard enough navigating high school without adding the pressure of questioning my sexuality. So I chose not to explore my “gay” side. If I liked girls and was able to perform, there was no reason my interest in men would ever be an issue. I could steer my thoughts away from firm bodies and hard abs, control my compulsion and live the life I wanted. The one I was expected to live. I would finish law school, pass the bar, get a great job in the city and eventually marry, buy a house and start a family. I had it all mapped out.
Then came Aaron.
We met at a gay dance club. I was there with my out and proud roommate Curt. There was a group of us and we’d been partying for a while. Our stop in the gayborhood of DC was a lark. We were supportive of our friend and considered ourselves liberal minded guys but we didn’t frequent gay bars or clubs. This was an anomaly. Needless to say, meeting the man I would fall head over heels for wasn’t something that sprang to mind.
I’ve never met anyone like Aaron. He was unique… insanely beautiful with dark hair, olive skin and gorgeous hazel eyes. He was small (five foot eight to my six one) and lean, but toned. The first thing I noticed about him on that dance floor was how he moved. He was so confident and sure of himself. I was mesmerized by him. And later, I couldn’t stop thinking about him.
Eventually I caught on that this feeling, this longing wasn’t going away. When I met him by chance the next time, I did everything I could to get him to stay with me, talk to me, be near me. I loved hearing his voice, watching his hands move in rhythm to the stories he wove. Everything about him was magnetic. I could barely string two sentences together, I was so overwhelmed by his joie de vie.
He didn’t trust me at first. Who could blame him? I’d broken up with a recent girlfriend and was by all intents and purpose a straight man to everyone who knew me. Loving him the way he deserved would take a fuck load of courage on my part. But the alternative…. that was unfathomable. We took a chance on each other and it’s paid off a million times over.
In the past three years, I’ve weathered some serious changes. Mostly positive. When I met Aaron I met the other half of me. The part of me that demanded a voice. The gift of love is the greatest of all… so we’re taught. Its power is not to be questioned or quantified. It simply is. Coming out to myself was a difficult process. It took almost a decade for me to accept who I am. Coming out to my friends and family was harder. My friends were relatively easy. My family… well, they’re a work in progress.
At the end of the day, this is my life. No one else lives in my head or wears my shoes. I never expected to meet someone like Aaron. I could never have predicted falling so hard for someone so out of my league. I count myself unbelievably fortunate he feels the same for me. How could I ever give this up? How could I ever deny myself simply to make others feel more comfortable. I won’t. I am a bisexual man in a gay relationship I will do everything in my power to make last a lifetime. And I am proud.
New authors love nice words. Great. Wonderful. Fantastic. Keep your adjectives kind and you’ve made a friend for life. Of course, if you’re guilty of producing something less than great, fair critique is a good thing. But let’s stay positive, shall we? I’ve been waiting for this one particular review to come in for months. Three months and two weeks actually. It did today and wow…I’m excited all over again! It’s a funny thing to try to remember some of the nuances of my first book when I’m working hard on wrapping up the third, but it’s gratifying to know others got it. So thank you for reading. I’m oh so happy you loved it!
I don’t know how many blog visits I’ve done over the past couple of months for Better Than Good. More than I assumed I would simply because when BTG was released I had no idea how to handle the specter we call “social media”. I have been humbled by the generosity of my fellow Dreamspinner Press authors who have offered space on their own blogs to host me and allowed me to talk about my book. Embarrassing though it may be, I didn’t even have a blog up and running until DSP author, Charlie Cochet came in and saved the day for me! Needless to say, I am grateful for the community support and am ready and willing to reciprocate if anyone has a new release they’d like to discuss!
So again…thanks to everyone who’s hosted me in the past and today… thank you to Brynn Stein. Check out the interview here…
I know it sounds crazy and perhaps improbable but I think I have a clairvoyant side. I’m serious. Or I have an inflated view of my natural instincts and am prone to reading more into simple details than I should. Who knows? A slightly clairvoyant bent sounds better and… it’s my blog so we’ll go with it.
A clairvoyant is defined as someone who may have a perception of events from the past, or they may have a precognitive ability to “see” events in the future or an ability to communicate with the dead. As with everything in life, I strongly believe in varying degrees of skill. While someone may be a master, others may possess strength in one area and not at all in the others. Or… they may have the tiniest glimmer of “just knowing” like myself. Confusing, right? I’ll try to explain my take on my supposed claim.
I can’t tell the future or read into past events, nor can I commune with the dead. However, I feel a “heightened awareness” occasionally that I can’t deny feels symbolic and powerful. Crazy? Perhaps.
If I were to have a medium, it would be music. Music is and always has been very important to me. I particularly love beautiful melodies teamed with well crafted lyrics. Elvis Costello may not be much to look at, but damn, he is an amazing writer. “History repeats the old conceits, the glib replies the same defeats, keep your finger on important issues with crocodile tears and a pocket full of tissues” (Beyond Belief, Elvis Costello). Another is Van Morrison. When my father died we played “Into the Mystic” at his Memorial service. How poignant the lyric “let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic” sounded.
My father liked that song. I don’t know that he would have considered it an anthem of sorts for his life, but he would have appreciated the Celtic melody and the lovely words calling him home. He had a poet’s soul. He would have known. A couple of months after he passed, we were in the lobby of a hotel having a drink before we headed over to see a play nearby. My husband and I are season ticket holders but we hadn’t been to the venue since my father’s death. And the previous time we’d been was with him. Some time had passed so I wasn’t overly emotional. I still felt his loss keenly, but it was easing a bit. We walked from the bar through a hotel corridor to get to the theater beyond and guess what was playing on the lobby speakers? “Into the Mystic”… No lyrics, just music.
It may be nothing but coincidence. I may be guilty of placing significance where none was meant. I understand. However, I chose to believe it was something. Something very special. A warm embrace from beyond in a non-threatening, non-scary way. My father’s spirit was there. I knew it. I shared my thoughts with my husband who kindly hugged me and agreed. He wasn’t denying my assertion but that didn’t mean he bought it either.
When my grandmother, my father’s mother passed away, there was a song on the radio that was popular at the time but for whatever reason resonated for me then. It was Live’s “Lightning Crashes”. The lyric that got me was “Lightning crashes, an old mother dies… the confusion that was hers belongs now to the baby down the hall”. I was sure…positive… that somehow my grandmother was speaking to me through the radio. Whenever I heard it, I was moved. In the days and months after her passing, it brought me to tears. But in later years, it made me smile.
It’s not played all that often any longer, but I heard it the other day. And I knew without proof of any sort, she was there in a spiritual sense. Like a hand on my shoulder or fingers through my hair. It was comfort and gentle affirmation from someone who once offered sweets and unconditional love on a full time basis. It’s been years since she passed. January 1996. It doesn’t matter. She was there and I knew it… somehow.
Maybe I’m loopy, gone around the bend… whatever you want to call it. Could be. But it helps to think loved ones are “there”. That they remember us as we remember them. In a way my brushes with the “other side” help keep me grounded to reality and serve as a reminder to cherish everyday and not take a moment for granted. Or at least to make a good attempt.
I can’t be the only “semi” crazy one out there. Does anyone else ever experience moments of heightened “cognitive awareness”? Share please. It helps to think we’re not alone.
I remember someone I admired once when I was younger giving me a sage piece of advice when life felt a little heavier and harder to cope with than ever before. “This may seem so difficult now, but it will seem very insignificant this time next year and even more so the following year. You have to hang in there. Don’t give up. This too shall pass.” Most everyone at some point in life experiences a tidal wave of grief so wide and so tall it seems insurmountable. Bad outweighing good in too many ways to count. Sometimes it comes in one fell awful swoop but many times, it’s a slow trickle of misery. But I found that advice to be true. You can’t give up. It does pass.
My oldest son was bullied throughout most of his elementary school years. It was particularly painful and most evident from fourth grade (age eleven) up until he switched schools going into the eighth grade about four years later. He was heavier and taller than the other boys. When he did make friends, they were usually girls, which of course was another reason for mockery. He never said much about it. He didn’t complain, but I was aware even before his fourth grade teacher called to tell me she was concerned about him being bullied that there was trouble brewing. I didn’t know how to intervene. I was powerless, or so I thought.
Zane was a happy kid at home but he struggled the moment he left the house. I could almost watch him erect his invisible armor when he knew he was going to be in a “hostile” environment. No one was interested in the same things he was. He liked old movie actors and foreign films. He spent a lot of time alone or he befriended adults who were generally a more forgiving audience. They didn’t seem to judge him as harshly or make fun of him. On they other hand, they obviously weren’t going to invite him to hang out either. A solitary cycle began and it was difficult to halt.
Even those of us who prize our “quiet time” are social beings. We may be choosier about when, how, where and with whom we interact with, but we don’t want to be alone all the time. Nor do we want to feel inferior, odd and wanting when we do attempt to connect with others. It isn’t easy for anyone to navigate the teen years. But it is particularly difficult for those who have a difficult time blending and conforming. Zane was the original “outside of the box” thinker. I knew it and did what I could to make sure his time with those he knew he could count on (basically extended family and some family friends) was filled with laughter, love and support.
When he tried out for the school play in the fifth grade I was supportive, but secretly worried. I knew he would be a target for additional taunting. My husband and I decided the best thing to do would be to volunteer for something, no matter how small so we could be present. My husband, who has no artistic skills whatsoever, threw his name in the mix to paint the backboard. He was sure that meant one coat of a single color paint and not a mural of River City, Iowa circa 1912 for The Music Man, but he rose to the occasion. He enlisted the help of a more talented artist and was sure to be at every rehearsal knowing that his presence was somehow comforting.
Zane’s theatrical experience was a positive one. He didn’t always meet kids like himself but he was able to be part of something bigger than himself. It gave him a boost of much needed confidence. One play led to another until he won the lead role of Daddy Warbucks in Annie. I know I’m his mom, but damn, he was good! Audience members came up to shake my hand and congratulate me on my son’s amazing performance. A star was born!
I won’t go on to say that fabulous role paved the way to a Broadway career, but it gave him a new direction. He lived in a community that prized sport acumen, not the arts. (Sadly that is the norm these days) However there was a high school nearby that specialized in performing arts. Music and theater, dance, instrumental, photography and graphics. You name it. I talked Zane into auditioning and yes… after giving a masterful reading from The Glass Menagerie, singing off-key to a High School Musical number and presenting a portfolio of his poems, he was granted entry.
I can’t begin to say how relieved I was. I was sure it would be a better atmosphere for him. He loved the arts, the other kids at his new school obviously felt the same so it had to be an immediate success. It wasn’t. Not immediately anyway. You can change location and give yourself a new start, but chances are you’ll run into the same roadblocks because they are internal. Zane still didn’t make friends easily. He was cautious by nature because he’d been burned too often. Most teens his age were partying while he still spent his weekends on his computer in his room. I was concerned again.
To make matters more complicated, I knew he was beginning to struggle with his sexuality. I knew all along he was gay. I understood his journey was a personal one in that regard. He would share that part of himself with us when he was ready. All I could do was offer support. I didn’t know any out homosexuals. Kind of funny when you know what I write now, but it was true. I needed to understand everything possible about what he had to look forward to. I needed to understand how I could support that which I didn’t really understand. I researched.
It sounds silly but it’s true. One day I came across a youtube three minute short called “Men Kissing”. It was a montage of various kissing scenes from movies or television shows featuring men kissing men. The video began with a short sentence… “If seeing a man kiss another man makes you uncomfortable, watch this over and over, until it doesn’t”. The message was powerful in its simplicity because honestly, how is it any different from the beauty of a man and woman kissing?
It was important to me that Zane get this positive message loud and clear without cluing into any embarrassing mom involvement. I made it clear I loved shows like Queer as Folk (I own the series on DVD) and was sure to give positive feedback regarding political issues I knew would be personally important eventually. I think he got the message. He came out to us when he was eighteen and a few short days away from leaving for college. We gave him our support once again. We assured him we loved him unconditionally. Period.
I don’t profess to have any answers, but I do believe “it gets better”. It does. It absolutely does. Don’t give up. Ever. As a parent, my number one priority is the happiness of all my children. They are three completely different people with different paths. I understood Zane’s path wouldn’t be “normal”. But I was never powerless and neither was he. My power was my support. His… well, it was knowing he had a net, knowing he was always loved.
If you lack support, please ask for it. You will be forever astounded by the kindness of strangers who are committed to helping those who struggle. Ask. And know you are not alone. A beautiful life is waiting to be lived by you. It is a gorgeous gift. We are all made differently. We learn differently. We love differently. We make friends differently. Your ability to love will be what truly defines you, not who you love. So do it well. And never give it up.
Okay Okay… Old news to some, but never to me!! There were a few review sites that I learned in my greenest days (I’m still a shade of emerald, I know) had requested a copy of BTG, one of them was Worlds of Diversity. I kept checking their site like a new mother checks on a newborn, but alas… no review. Until this week. I’m posting it. It’s fabulous and as I always say… why not? I have a post I’m working up this week for Suicide Prevention, which is obviously a heavy topic, so I’m holding on to the happy for as long as possible. Happy Saturday!
It’s been almost two months exactly since “Better Than Good” was released and it’s been a cool fun ride. I’ve been extraordinarily pleased with my book’s reception, but no one really tells you that after six weeks you’re old news. I get it. We live in a fast paced age where consumerism meets instant gratification. I’m guilty. Chances are very high that if I don’t immediately put a book on my TBR section in my Kindle, I’ll forget. It doesn’t matter how positive the reviews were. I’m busy (or forgetful..take your pick).
Needless to say, I was really excited to see the following post this morning from Monique at Sinfully Sexy. I’m attaching the review (coz it’s my blog and I’m like that) and a special word for SS…”Thanks for giving “BTG” a chance. I’m thrilled you loved it!”
Now I need to go back through my own TBRs and get reading!
BTW, I think the guy in this pic looks a lot like Aaron…with more muscles 🙂
Someone once said to me “you read so much, it must be like as escape for you”. I remember thinking I wasn’t sure if the comment meant I was lacking somehow in my ability to cope with real life or if it was a simple observation. Either way, I suppose both explanations are true. I read for pleasure. If the book also takes me to another world for a short time, I consider it a bonus (and the mark of a good story). Why apologize? I believe those small hours of “escape” can put my “real life” in perspective and I’m grateful to the authors who do it so well that I want to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon in a world of their creation rather than deal with people or situations I’d rather not…if only for a short time.
My love is romance and I’m done feeling as though it’s a guilty pleasure. It is simply my pleasure. So whatever yours may be….enjoy your Labor Day weekend. I’ll have my fingers on a keyboard or my nose in a book… bliss!