Stephie Smith never dreamed of becoming a writer until a series of her humorous essays about family were published behind her back. Unlike most things done behind her back, this one she actually liked.
And now she writes.
Join My Mailing List
Monthly Archives: August 2011
Not that I’m crying. I haven’t yet and I may never. Or I might. It depends on what happens and how I feel about it. Or just plain how I feel.
The point is, this is my cancer experience and I should be allowed to get through it the way I want to, assuming that what I want isn’t illegal or doesn’t hurt anyone. And when I say doesn’t hurt anyone, I mean physically. Because here’s how I plan to handle this:
I’m not answering questions. That doesn’t mean you can’t say you’re sorry to hear about this or that you’re praying for me (pray for me!!) or any of the other things you might say/write to someone who’s having a difficult time. But if you don’t already know the details (and few people do), I don’t plan to tell you. If this hurts your feelings, I’m sorry, but not sorry enough to answer your questions. There are several reasons for this:
- Health is a private matter for me and I’m not comfortable sharing the details of mine.
- I don’t have the time. Answering one question brings on a slew of others. What kind is it? Where is it located? What kind of treatment are you getting? Can it/has it metastasized? What’s the prognosis? How did you find out? How do you feel? Etc. And I’ll get the same set of questions over and over. This will stress me out majorly. Like everyone else, I have things to do. I love my day job and I’m busy from the minute I get there until the minute I leave. In addition, I would dearly love to self-publish the books I have written (and am writing), and I’m busy the rest of the hours trying to pull that together.
- I don’t want people feeling sorry for me, or wondering if I’m going to beat the odds. If they don’t know the details, they have less information to ponder. In fact, they won’t even know the odds.
- I’m a little bit scared. I don’t know what’s going to happen or how well I’ll deal with it. We all hope we’ll deal with upsets gracefully, but grace under pressure is not something I’m known for. I suspect there’s little chance of a personality change now, and it’s just better for all of us (really) if people aren’t asking me for updates. Besides, I don’t want my life to be about this cancer. If I become cancer-free, I’ll let you know. If I die, you’ll hear about it. For everything in between, life goes on, and I plan to keep living mine.
For those of you who know the details, that part I wrote above about this being my cancer experience and I should be allowed to get through it the way I want to, still goes. I should be able to express my fears without being told that I have to be positive every minute of the day, without being told that everything will be fine because God would never let anything happen to me. I believe in God and I believe in being positive. But I also believe that sometimes you just need to talk about what you’re feeling and what you’re fearing, and when people love you, they let you do that.
Every time I hear a news report about the Dougherty Gang, I end up changing the channel in disgust. I realize that the media sensationalizes everything, but these half truths are so destructive to the futures of these three kids that it infuriates me. I know Lee Grace—albeit slightly, but other family members know her well—and she is not the kind of person the media and law enforcement purport her to be.
Sure, what they did was stupid beyond imagination. I can’t even get into that mindset. I don’t know if they thought they would get away and live as fugitives forever, or if they expected it to end as suicide by cop, or if they knew eventually they’d be taken into custody. But I’ll tell you what I do know.
1. If they had wanted to kill that Florida deputy, he’d be dead. Those kids are excellent shots. Target competition was their idea of fun growing up, which should give you an indication of their upbringing, or lack thereof. I’ve even heard reports that the “3 siblings tried to ambush him,” slowing down to trick him into coming close so they could kill him. Bullcrap is all I can say. When he did get close enough, they shot out a tire, and I’m sure that’s all they intended to do. I think the deputy knows they weren’t trying to kill him because he’s never said it once. But his boss (I assume the sheriff is his boss) keeps saying it as though it’s the gospel. And I repeat, if they had wanted to kill him, he’d be dead.
2. Lee Grace should mind her grammar. Let that be a lesson to all you kiddos out there growing up in the age of texting, where abbreviations and shortcuts are taken for everything. If you like to shoot with your brothers and their friends, don’t leave out the preposition when you post it on social media. Or maybe that was a typo and she meant “shoot guns” instead of “shoot guys.” Either way, Lee Grace has never shot anyone, and she’s a good enough shot that she could have if she wanted to. Yes, I know they shot at that deputy’s car, but they shot out the tire. Yes, I know they shot into the ceiling at the bank, but it was into the ceiling. Yes, I know she waved a gun at police when she got out of the wrecked car, but she said she thought the cops were shooting at them (the police even admitted that those stop sticks sound like gunshots when your tires go over them). But I repeat. She had a gun, and if she wanted to kill someone, she could have.
3. Lee Grace is a lot of things, some good, some bad, but none horrible. Yes, she was a stripper. I’ve known strippers (I once worked as a waitress in a topless club), and they’re women just like the rest of us. Many of them have been sexually or emotionally abused and have low self esteem. Others would rather make the money they can make dancing than work at a 9-5 job for minimum wage. Some take drugs so they can do what they do, and others enjoy their work. None of those things make them bad people. You can find a bad person working at a strip club or you can find one working at Walmart. Or anywhere else.
Yes, they had felonies and misdemeanors. Plenty of them, from what I gather, between them, but none of those convictions included violence because they aren’t violent kids. Yes, they were irresponsible. WAY irresponsible. Their lack of responsibility tells as much about their upbringing as it does anything else. I think they all have emotional problems stemming from their childhood environment. I know Lee Grace suffered from anxiety and depression and cried a lot. And I know that she took every problem that her siblings had very personally, as if she were their real mother, probably because she was more their mother than their own mother was. And I know she was sweet and caring. I saw the evidence of that myself. What happened with Ryan’s conviction (from a charge against him when he was 18 which involved an older woman he was seeing, the woman’s daughter who was either 16, 15, or 11, depending on which news story you read, and sex-texting which Ryan says was sent to the mother but the daughter read . . . and I have no idea what’s true here) must have just about killed Lee Grace for her to go off like that with her brothers, and it’s possible that drugs were involved in the bad decision making. But I think everyone agrees it was a stupid thing to do, and I just wish someone had been there to talk her out of it.
I’m so very glad no one was hurt when they were captured, and I give that credit to Lee Grace and her brothers. They had the weapons, they had the skill. That ending could have gone in an entirely different direction, if they were truly the violent criminals the media and law enforcement has made them out to be. But they’re not. And that’s all I have to say.
What’s the affirmation for today?
The knowledge that I seek is within myself awaiting my question.
It took Leonardo Da Vinci 12 years to paint Mona Lisa’s lips. That’s what I learned from my iGoogle fact for the day. Evidently he couldn’t get them right. I’m thinking it went something like this:
Leo shows the unfinished painting to his cousin. His cousin says it’s great! Leo should finish it as quick as possible and sell it! Maybe it’ll make him famous!!
An exuberant Leo shares the conversation with a fellow artist and shows him the painting. Fellow artist says, “I hate to be the one to tell you this, but it will never sell. Not unless you change her lips. An enigmatic smile? The public doesn’t want to look at that. And the lips are the focal point; if you don’t get them right, you might as well hang up your brushes.”
Leo is affronted. The lips look great, and anyway, this is the painting of his heart. He doesn’t care if anyone else likes those lips. He’s painting it for himself. Everyone else can go to hell.
A few weeks later Leo is still thinking about those lips. It would be nice to sell the painting. He needs the money, and maybe it will lead to other painting jobs. His cousin hadn’t mentioned anything wrong with the lips, and if he’d thought something was wrong, he surely would have said something, right? Hmmm. He asks his cousin about the lips specifically and is told the lips are great. Perfect. Nothing wrong with them. But it bothers Leo that his cousin can’t remember exactly what they look like. Was she laughing, his cousin asks Leo. Leo decides family members may not be the best to ask opinions of and takes the painting around for comments.
Fellow artist / agent / broker (FAAB)#2: “The lips? Yeah, there’s definitely something wrong with them. They’re too full. Full lips used to be in but they’ve been done to death. People are sick of full lips. You need to thin them out.”
Leo doesn’t want to, but if full lips had been done to death…. He thins them out–a little.
FAAB#3: “The lips aren’t full enough.”
Leo tells FAAB#3 that he thinned them out based on comments. FAAB#3 says, “Who told you that? Full lips are still selling. Full lips will always sell; they’re a mainstay of portraits. But they have to have something unique. Extra spit on the bottom lip or one of the corners turned down in a sneer. You know, something that instantly grabs the attention.”
Leo can’t bear the thought of making her sneer, but he did like the full lips, so he changes them back. Then he adds some spit–er, glow–to her bottom lip.
FAAB#4: “What’s that on her lip? Is that a sore? No one’s gonna buy a painting of a woman with a sore on her lip, especially if she’s smirking about it.”
Smirking? She looks like she’s smirking? Leo tries to ignore that comment. He’s got enough to think about with the sore–glow. He decides he must have done a crappy job with the glow if FAAB#4 thinks it looks like a sore. He works on it another year, all the while worrying about that smirk.
FAAB#5: “I love it!! Unfortunately, I just brokered two paintings that were exactly like this–you know, enigmatic smile, a touch of glow on the lips. I’ve got to have something different now.”
Leo kicks himself for taking so long to get the glow right. Now he’s missed the boat–the one carrying all the other artists.
FAAB#6: “You’ve obviously spent a lot of time on this painting and you’ve done a good job, but it just isn’t unique enough. It’s like every other painting that’s selling right now. Can you change her dress to red? And while you’re at it, maybe you should do something about those eyes. Squinting is always good. Goes great with red.”
Red? Squinting? Leo’s not changing her that much, even if it means not selling. But if all these other ones that are selling are just like his, why can’t they sell his too? He’s more than willing to change the lips since they’re the focal point and if he doesn’t get them right, no one will give it a second look. But he’s not changing anything else. Nothing else needs to be changed. Squinting? Really? No. Hmmm. Maybe he’s got the whole look wrong. Maybe he should ask other people.
FAAB#7: “What’s with that weird smile? It’s way too subtle. People want to know what she’s thinking about. If you’re gonna have her smile, then have her SMILE. What you’ve got there isn’t a smile.”
Leo explains that he wants people to wonder what’s behind the smile. It’s part of the mystique. FAAB#7 snorts in disgust and walks off, leaving Leo to ponder whether or not he should just paint a big toothless grin on her face and be done with it.
Leo keeps working on the painting but he doesn’t know what to do with the lips, so he just goes over the rest of the painting, strengthening the composition, perfecting his style. He decides he’d better start keeping a list of the changes so he doesn’t do the same ones over. Full lips with enigmatic smile–no spit. Slightly thinner lips. Full lips again with enigmatic smile and spit. Full lips with enigmatic smile and more natural looking spit. Full lips with enigmatic smile and more natural looking spit but with a red dress and squinting eyes. No!! Scratch that one.
FAAB#8: “You’re very talented and I’ve no doubt you’ll sell soon. But the rest of the painting doesn’t seem to flow with the lips. Maybe the style isn’t quite the same? Maybe you’ve worked the lips too much?”
Leo wants to scream. Hell yes, he’s worked the lips! But what does the FAAB means by “too much”? How can it be too much if they’re still not right? Maybe he just needs to start completely over with the lips because his style changed while he was finishing the rest of the portrait. Maybe fixing isn’t the answer. Maybe he needs to recreate from scratch.
Leo recreates the painting of his heart from scratch. Hey, wait a minute. Those lips look just like the first lips. Dang it! Now what? He’s spent 12 years on those lips, only to end up back where he started from.
He looks at Mona Lisa. She appears to be smirking at him. Where the hell is that red paint?
(Yes, I’m sure it went something like that.)