Friday, November 23, 2012

'Mrs. Kennedy and Me'..my afternoon with Clint Hill

About a month ago I had the distinct pleasure of attending a luncheon with Clint Hill and Lisa McCubbin, co-authors of 



the new book, "Mrs. Kennedy and Me".

(front cover - she is asking him to please keep the press at bay so she can have some privacy)

Mr. Hill was Jackie Kennedy's security detail during her husbands administration as well as two years after JFK's assassination.

I sat there completely awestruck as he brilliantly regaled the adventurous details of everything 'Jackie'. I say 'adventurous' because after protecting President Eisenhower he felt he was being demoted to 'fashion shows' and 'tea parties'. Instead he followed the first lady onto fancy yachts, camel rides in the Middle East, elephant rides in India, numerous business and shopping trips to Europe, not to mention foxhunting in Middleburg, Virginia. 
During his lecture, which was conducted Q and A style with Ms. McCubbin moderating, photos flashed across the projector screen behind the podium as he recounted the history of each one. 

 Though I was totally engrossed in every single detail -  Jackie having him buy the tabloids so she could read what they wrote about her, or figuring out how to keep up with her during a foxhunt since he couldn't ride - I still sat there in anxious anticipation of what I knew was to come.

Then.

His voice became somber. 



That fateful day.

The images on the screen changed from still life photos to a video. 

Like most of you, I've seen this video dozens of times throughout my life, but this time it was different.

I am sitting with the man who was there. The man whose sole duty was to protect the President and First Lady.

It has to be so difficult to do this.


He knows what is going to happen when they turn that corner. 
He knows - and he can't stop it.

I wonder how many times he has physically watched this played back in slow motion, knowing that the world is going to be changed forever and he can't stop it.

You could have heard a pin drop in that room as he gave play by play of what was going through his mind each step of the way before and up to that moment. And after.

There wasn't a dry eye in the room.

Afterward I was able to catch him alone.

"Mr. Hill, can I ask you something?"

"Absolutely".  

His eyes are an amazing, transparent blue. I wonder if Jackie ever noticed. 
I don't see how she couldn't have.

"What is it like to watch that video and know what is forthcoming, but you can't stop it?"

"It's hard," he replied, his smile weary. I expected that he'd been asked that same question a million times. I was surprised to hear I was the first to ask.

"Well, I have a reason for wanting to know", I explained. He stopped, giving me his undivided attention. "My family and I went through a terrible trauma when we first moved here. Not as traumatic as you went through", I'm quick to add. "But it was absolutely horrendous. Life as we knew it ended. It was crazy-creepy enough that I got a book deal, and I sold the story for movie rights."

"Anyway, there is a wall at my house that used to be filled with family pictures. Every time I walked by and saw my pictures I wanted to say to that girl that's me 'please don't come here. If you do it will ruin your life'. I know what's going to happen to her - and I can't stop it. I finally took the pictures down. I just couldn't look at myself anymore - who I used to be. I just wonder if I'll ever get over that."

Immediately I wish I had kept my mouth shut. Why did I bother him with this? How can I compare my situation with his? He must think I'm crazy. 

He looks at me with those eyes.
I see sadness. 
But I also see understanding. 

"It gets better," he assures me. "It gets a little easier each time. It will get better for you, too. I promise."

I pay him for the book and he signs it for me. He then congratulates me on my work, I thank him and we part ways but not before he says one more time, 

"It will get easier. I promise."

In the upstairs hallway at my house, three of six framed picture collages are back in their rightful place hanging side by side. I see the same young, blonde woman in each photo, the same familiar smile, blue eyes shining with excitement and I can feel her excited anticipation. 
I no longer want to tell her to stay where she is but I'm not quite ready to welcome her with open arms, either. 
 I know she has to make that move in order to be who she is now - a much stronger, wiser woman who is closer than ever to her family, loving her grandchildren, and living her dreams.

 The other three pictures are on the floor, propped against the wall, ready to be hung up next to the others. Not yet, but soon. 
Baby steps. 
Baby steps.


(By the way, 'Mrs. Kennedy and Me' is an incredible book. I give it 5 stars! Put it on your Christmas list to either give or receive!)

Til next time,

Kathie










Friday, November 16, 2012

Facebook: Friend or Foe

Four-letter words. Graphic images of child abuse, animal abuse and domestic violence. Sordid details of a love gone wrong. And just when you think it can't get any uglier, along comes Election 2012.

Sounds like the evening news, right? Reality tv? Nope. 

Facebook.

I was the last one in the family to succumb. I had no intention whatsoever of participating in any type of social media. I likened 'MySpace' to a low form of match.com. 'Linked In' seemed too professional (read: boring) - more for lawyers, salespeople and professors. Not for a writer and a happy homemaker like me. And frankly, who on earth would post on a 'status' their private thoughts, or something as mundane (read: stupid) as 'I just had the best tuna sandwich ever.' 

Not me. I was above all of that.

But when my family started giving me details on people from our past I thought I'd never see again, pictures of friends new babies, cars, houses and the status of my husband's old high school girlfriend (!) I thought, 'okay, maybe I should give this a try.'

Soon, I too, was catching up with people from all the way back to elementary school, girlfriends from my cheerleading squad and all the friends I'd made in our travels. 

Facebook became my best friend when my first novel was released. As a matter of fact I credit it for much of my success as an author. All I have to do is put the word out on where I'll be signing, or when my next work is being released, ask everyone to post and voila!  No better way to get the word out to the masses. 

My friends list grew by leaps and bounds. My number is at 1,442. Friends and family account for only about 1/4 of my list. Everyone else is either friends of friends,  fans of my books/blog, someone I met at book signings or fellow authors just sharing ideas and offering encouragement.

I thought I could hold my Facebook activity at a healthy level. Really, I did. I knew I might have a slight problem when my first morning priority wasn't brushing my teeth, but checking my facebook.  Not only was it the last thing I did before falling asleep but it ruled my entire day! You see, it's not just on my computer but also on my iphone. So no matter where I was or what I had to do, I had the capacity to bring everything to a screeching halt and check Facebook.  24/7.  Which is exactly what I was doing.  When I wasn't checking everyone else status I was updating my own.  (I just had the best tuna sandwich ever).

Obsession would be an understatement. Housework went undone. Laundry piled sky high. Supper was whatever I could scrounge around because I'd wasted so much time that I didn't have anything planned. I wouldn't leave the house for days so trips to the grocery store were few and far between.

I would wake up in the middle of the night to continue ongoing 'conversations'. Crazy, huh? Well, it got even worse during the months and weeks leading up to the election. Things got ugly overnight while each of us defended our candidate and did our best to discredit the 'other guy'. Please. Don't give me that look. None of us were immune and all of us know the pain of either being 'unfriended' or the anger of 'unfriending' someone when the conversations got heated.

I had to face the cold, ugly truth about myself when my publicist and I had a 'damage control' meeting a few days after the election. 

They say the first step is to admit you have a problem: 

"Hello, my name is Kathie Truitt....."

(hello, Kathie)

"....and I'm addicted to Facebook."

Deleting my page is just not an option. I need it for business purposes. But I did take it off my iphone. It's been painful. I have nothing to do when I'm stopped at a red light (I never check it while driving), waiting in line at the grocery store, or during commercials. Oh who am I kidding? I didn't even wait for commercials - I lived on facebook 99% of the time. The only exception was during church and okay... yes! I've even been known to 'glance' even then. Not during prayer or service, mind you...only during announcements, so does that really count?

It's been difficult but I'm adjusting. I find I don't need my glasses so much because my eyes aren't squinting trying to read the tiny print of my iphone. I now have time to write on my blog, and work on my next book. The house is clean, laundry's caught up and I'm back to cooking. The best part? I'm back among the living. I'm leaving the house more often, seeing and talking to 'real people'. 

And I'm focusing on re-building the friendships almost ruined during the election. I've made a vow to stay away from all political postings in the future and go back to what I do best - posting positive, encouraging and uplifting status', with a little of bit of 'what I'm doing now' thrown in.

After all, 'I just had the best tuna sandwich ever' never hurt anyone.





Thursday, November 15, 2012

Congratulations Becky from Becky's Babble's


You are the winner of the first book in the Hillbilly Debutante cafe series.....just email me your address and I'll send it to you pronto! (kathie.truitt@hotmail.com)



I will be back to blogging again full-time starting tomorrow (don't get too excited now) and I have more giveaways planned, too.

Hope everyone survived the election! Now it's time to gear up for the holidays.

Kathie