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Navigating the mind of a writer

Blame Helena Books Blog

Nina Simone and Phife Dawg

by Claudia Helena Ross on 03/23/16

I've always liked Nina. She was an original, not conforming to the rules of her day. I always identified with her.




I'm going to read her autobiography, I Put A Spell On You, available on Barnes and Noble.



I just heard some sad news on the Doug Banks Show. Malik "Phife Dawg" Taylor, a member of A Tribe Called Quest, passed on March 22, 2016. RIP. He will be missed.

 




WTH Day - March 22, 2016

by Claudia Helena Ross on 03/22/16

It's just one of those days when things stop surprising you. At least it is for me. 


First, the Brussels Bombings. At 5am this morning, I awake to see people on TV fleeing a smoked filled environment.  I hear live coverage. OMG what's happened now? I wipe the sleep from my eyes and find out bombings have occurred in Brussels, killing 30 people. 

I really can't understand how these tactics could possibly be helping their cause. They're only causing misery. People hate them, further eradicating from public consciousness any shred of empathy for them and whatever their cause may be.  Perhaps the misery and suffering of others is how terrorists get off, just mass murders hiding behind a 'cause'. At least there are two less terrorist in the world. Tragically, the world has lost 30 people going about their everyday lives. I won't slide into an endless rant to the choir about this; it would be just as pointless and useless as terrorism.

And now for the very bizarre...


I'm driving up a canyon on my way to work this morning, the same way I go every day. The speed limit is 55MPH. I see something fly up in the air and over a car about 1/4 mile ahead of me. My brain is trying to process the information my eyes are relaying to it. I think it's cardboard, or maybe something fell off a truck. But there weren't any trucks nearby.

It's writhing on the road, trying to escape.

My God. Someone hit a deer at eight o'clock in the morning.

Why is there even a deer out here? In the all the years I've been traveling that way to work, I'd never seen one until today. All of us stop our cars to keep the deer from suffering repeated strikes. I wanted to cry. I search for my cell phone to call the sheriff, but can't find it. It's buried somewhere in my purse. The deer is suffering. If I'd a gun, I would shoot her and put her out of her misery. I start to cry.

 It stops moving. A man exits his white pickup truck. He's at ground zero; he didn't hit the deer, but was beside the car that had.  He’s wearing gloves and is looking down at the animal. A motorcyclist splits the lane and parks in front of the pickup. They grab the legs on the animal and remove her from the road. Her head hangs limp and doesn't struggle. She's dead. 

Now that the road is clear, traffic begins to move. I drive by and look at the deer. She's lying still with the two guys standing beside her, talking. I look away and drive. I spot the red car who'd hit the deer stopped on the opposite side of the three lane road. The driver is standing outside crying. A passerby stops to comfort her. The front end of her car is demolished.

 I have never watched an animal or person die before. 

And finally...

Rob Ford, the former mayor of Toronto, dies. He was 46 years old. Apparently, he had cancer. RIP. He was for real, not a phony. I liked him. 

WTH Day.


The Year of Yes - Laying it all out

by Claudia Helena Ross on 03/15/16

I can't say every day is the same anymore. Not after Friday March 4th. I went on a great journey and faced a giant. Well, I watched my mother face a giant. She won. Now, I'm back home and have returned to work like nothing ever happened. I'm settling back into the routine of my life. 


But I'm different now, but I don't understand how. 



I'm waiting. I know I waiting for something, for someone. I waiting for change, for my dreams to come true. 

As Shonda Rhimes has declared, this is the Year of Yes.

I'm taking steps to make my dreams come true. I purchased a new computer. That was SCARY. But I bit the bullet and did it. Now, I can take my writing and publishing business to the next level.

Still I hesitated with beginning work on my next goal, which is to publish my novel in paperback. There were a lot of outside distractions, my mother's health as well as my own. After returning home, I caught a horrible cold, which I'm still struggling with. Today is the first day I can function. So with a cup of Theraflu in hand, I stopped procrastinating and got to work. 

I downloaded Adobe InDesign and have begun to layout of the print edition of Dorothy Jones A Jazz Age Trip Through Oz. Learning the software is a challenge, but I'm figuring it out. I've created my master pages and completed the first three chapters of my book.

It's exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. Nevertheless, I fear failing by not trying to make my dreams come true more so than trying and failing. 



The Waiting Room - Facing the mortality of mother

by Claudia Helena Ross on 03/08/16

Friday at midnight I received the call.

 “Claudia, come home.”

I hung the phone. I had told my sister I would call her back with my itinerary. I went online and booked a 640am flight home. I called the cab and scheduled a 5am pickup. I packed a bag: a suit, a pair of jeans, a sweater, heels (to go with my suit) and stretch pants. I finished my bottle of Two Buck Chuck and got in bed to catch a few hours of sleep before my flight.

The day everyone dreads had pulled my family's number. My mother was dying. 

I overslept and nearly missed my flight thanks to Two Buck Chuck, but God sent an angel of a cab driver to pick me up. He waited an hour, calling and texting me. I finally woke up, grabbed my suitcase and raced out the house. I made my flight. I was in the air, somewhere over the Rockies. I began to cry.

My sister and father told me later that day how she'd flat lined 16 times in the emergency room. They'd shaken and called her name each time, continuing to do so all night.  When she no longer responded to their call, my sister Dmona called in the 'Big Gun':

Jordan.

Never underestimate the power of a grandchild with her grandmother.

"Grandma?"

Ma opened her eyes. "Yes Jor-baby?"

She began to recover from that moment forward. So, by the time I made it to the hospital Saturday afternoon, she was conscious, stable and talking. I sat with my mother for two days. Just being together and talking. She was scared. She had stared death in the face. She didn't flinch. But she was scared. Before going into surgery, I sat with her in the procedure room. She lay on her gurney, staring straight ahead. "Take care of your father."

"OK Ma." I didn't argue with her. I didn't cry. I wasn't upset. I just listened to her and held her hand.

"I was in this strange place and I couldn't get out."

"When Ma?"

"I guess when I had passed out."

"Oh." I figured she was talking about when she flat lined in the emergency room. "Was it a bad place?"

"No. I was just strange place. I was trying to get out but couldn't. I didn't belong there."

I patted her hand. "You were in the waiting room."

"What?"

"The waiting room. You had to figure out if you wanted to come back or not."

Ma didn't say anything. I held her hand. "It's gonna be alright, Ma."

She continued to stare across the room at the nurse’s station. "I want to talk to your sister." 

I placed her hand on the bed and went to the waiting room, sending in my sister. I'm not sure what they talked about, but my sister's eyes were glassy when she returned. We all took turns going back to see her until they finally took her up to surgery.

The procedure was successful. She was doing fine and getting stronger by the hour. She’d faced the monster in the closet and had won.

I went to airport, hopped a plane and arrived home by midnight. I woke up this morning and came to work. I'm sitting at my desk now.

Somehow, I'm different.

Things I was mad about on Friday at 5pm no longer matter. My goals seem less important. My father’s devotion to my mother as she battled to survive reminded of what true love looks like. My sister, niece and father standing at my mother’s side reminded me of the strength and the love of a family. I’d forgotten, I guess. I think about my old age.  

I’m sitting on the battlefield, exhausted. The war is over; we have won, we survived. How did we survive and others didn't? But we did. I'm sitting here, covered in blood, breathing. I look at my family. They're sitting here too, covered in THE BLOOD. We survived. Jesus gave us our family back.

House Head Alert

by Claudia Helena Ross on 03/04/16

If you love house music like I do, then you can't miss this. Tony Rosales will present the HOTMIX 5 Festival & 35 Year House Music Anniversary in McCormick Place on Saturday, June 11, 2016. Tickets are available. 




The original members of the HotMix 5 will be on hand to jack the bodies of House Heads until midnight across six stages. Who are they? What you don't know? 
Farley Jackmaster Funk
Mickey Mixin' Oliver
Ralphie 'the Razz' Rosario
Kenny Jammin' Jason
Scott Smokin' Silz. 

For more information, please visit their website at http://hotmix5festival.com/