Tag Archive | Send Me an Angel

Broken Birds

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Through the glass door, he saw Angie running a vacuum and talking to a little girl with dark skin and long glossy curls who looked about Terry’s age. She wore a yellow apron over jeans and a white t-shirt and had her hair in a ponytail. Yesterday, she’d been dressed up and made up, but she looked even prettier like this. She looked really comfortable with the kid too. He grabbed the door and yanked. His fingers slipped off the handle. The nail on his middle finger snagged and sharp pain jabbed underneath.

“Son of a bitch.” He inspected the finger. The nail had torn down below the quick and was bleeding at the corner.

The door flew open, smacking him in the head.

“Ow.” He jerked back a step, reaching for the spot where he’d been hit. This was not the way he’d wanted to arrive.

The little girl Angie had been talking to clapped her hands over her mouth. “I’m sorry,” she wailed.

“Alan, what happened?”

“I was only trying to help.” The little girl grabbed Angie’s hand, her voice panicked. “You said he was your friend. I was only opening the door.”

“It’s okay, Jaz.” Angie patted the little girl with one hand while reaching out for Alan with the other. “What happened?”

 

For a brief time, I worked in a day care and it was the single most depressing job I ever had. The girl I based Jasmin on actually did live with her aunt because her mother had fooled around with the aunt’s husband to get pregnant, then the mother ODed and the husband/father went to jail. Another girl had the most terrific temper. It was some kind of chemical imbalance and when she lost it, she was dangerous. I could help her control the temper, but it was hard work that required me to be entirely focused on her and ignoring the other 11 kids in my care for the duration. Another girl was the oldest of three, but her younger siblings were to the current husband and her father wasn’t in the picture. She lived Cinderella. A three year old at the center bonded with me and would scream if I left the room and she wasn’t allowed to go with me. I had the 6-12 class, but I frequently had this one little girl along just to keep peace. This adorable doll-like child never spoke and rarely smiled. Her mother had been diagnosed schizophrenic shortly after the child’s birth. The parents lost the kids to foster care and they ended up being bounced from relative to relative. Her older brother, who was five at the time, never shut up. And then there was the day that one of the kids I considered average announced that her father had died the day before. He had abandoned the family years before and she didn’t know how to grieve for a man she didn’t know.

I tend to attract the broken birds when I teach, but this job had so many.

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Video Friday: Stagefright

Alan’s addiction originated as a deep seated stagefright. Steve Clark and my ex-husband also suffered from crippling stagefright so I got to see it up close and personal. My ex-husband eventually started taking a prescription drug that helped him deal with the anxiety, but he had been self medicating with whiskey previous to that. He was headed down the path of alcoholism, but I encouraged him to see a therapist and, shockingly, he listened.

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Origin of Send Me an Angel

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I’ve had a long running interest in addiction and recovery starting with alcoholic grandfathers. My paternal grandfather, according to all reports, was a gentle drunk. He came home from work every night and drank until bed. He died when I was three so the only memory I have of him is his funeral. My maternal grandfather was a mean drunk. My mother has only recently begun telling stories about how she grew up and they are completely at odds with the man I remember. Of course by the time I came along, he had mellowed and my uncle had stood up to him. I do remember him drinking a lot. When I was little, every time he opened a beer he would give me the tab (yes, it was that long ago) if I took the first sip. I hated the taste, but I wanted those tabs and I had enough to make necklaces with.

When I went to college, I was the designated driver because I didn’t drink. The fact that both my grandfathers were alcoholics and my early aversion therapy thanks to my maternal grandfather left me with zero desire to drink. However, my penchant for hanging out with musicians in bars, meant that I had a lot of contact with drinkers and drug users. Then I moved to Akron, right into the neighborhood where Alcoholics Anonymous was born. Every June, on Dr. Bob’s birthday, the city is overrun with recovering alcoholics and drug users. It’s quite the event.

Those interests, along with my running interest in musicians, led to this story. No one moment of epiphany. Lots of little moments and pieces that added up to be greater than their sum.

Alan’s story breaks my heart. I so wanted him to be happy that when it came time for him to find out the truth about Angie, I hated myself for putting him in the way of it.

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Alan’s Parents

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Henry and Sophia Kneis come from old money. They are cultured and educated, but that doesn’t mean they know everything. They have no clue how to deal with their drug addict, rock star son. Some of the clues of how Alan ended up the way he is are pretty evident in the way they are raising Alan’s kids. They mean well, but they’re inflexible. Sophia’s insistence that children need routine isn’t bad, but completely inflexible routine isn’t helping anyone, especially the special needs children she’s caring for. Their odd callousness to Alan’s struggles with addiction isn’t because they’re bad people, but because they just don’t know what to do about it.

Alan’s parents were fun to write because I have known a lot of people who, while doing their best, just didn’t get it. I loved writing Angie’s reactions to what’s going on, as a nice person and somebody who does get it.

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What I’m Reading: The Dirt by Motley Crue

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I’ve never been a big Motley Crue fan, but with my interest in the subject matter, I couldn’t resist this book. Motley Crue was the basis for SendDown, crass, rude, dysfunctional. This book is extremely well written though. It’s an unblinking look at excess and ego.

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Send Me an Angel

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Alan has found the girl of his dreams. She’s going to help him get past his addiction and get his kids back. Too bad she’s been hired to play the part.

Angela Carpenter doesn’t want to take the part, but unsuccessful actresses with equally unsuccessful roommates could not afford to turn down six-figure jobs. The fact that Alan Kneis is so determined to stick to his rehab really appeals to her, but eventually he’s going to find out that she was playing a part. She needs to keep him straight and her heart off her sleeve to make this work at all.

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