Join me in welcoming Pamela Sisman Bitterman to Highlighted Author.
Pamela caught my attention when I was introduced to her novel, Muzungu, then my heart with, When This Is Over, I Will Go To School and I Will Learn To Read, and my breath with, Sailing to the Far Horizon. All true stories, they prove to me that his woman is amazing.
She has been a guest speaker at Sierra Club, Palomar College, Southern California’s Writers conference, American Association of University Women, was guest of honor at Asteres Annual Event, Aboard The Star Of India Tall Ship, Arts That Splash, 39th Annual Local Authors Exhibit, and held Book Tour events and signings nationwide and abroad.
But it doesn’t stop there. The list continues with her radio interviews and television appearances on The Michael Dresser Show, Radio New Zealand National Radio, Nine to Noon Program, KPBS Public Radio, These Days Program, Discovery Channel, Investigation Discovery Program, series Escaped, Share the Candy Radio Webcast, Cruise With Bruce Radio, Travel Wise, Let’s Talk About Books with The1essence, and January Jones BTR.
I’ll let her tell you more in her own words. She’s much more exciting to read. *wink* Pamela, it’s all yours…
Today I am a mom, a wife, a writer, and an explorer who has tried to travel her world with her eyes, arms, heart and mind wide open. I am a youthful 6o years old; strong, wise, weathered and seasoned. I hope to be able to proudly proclaim myself to still be all the aforementioned and more, in the years ahead. I have worn many hats along the road thus far; teacher, student, counselor, naturalist, sailor, mediator and more. I have been on quite a journey, with tremendous love and laughter, sadness and loss, beauty and wonder, struggle and survival. Great joy, and great heartache. Life. I would want very few do-overs. I am grateful for everything. I have been fortunate! My life continues to be an ever evolving work in progress, as do I. My first book, Sailing To the Far Horizon, is graphically biographical. It encapsulates me as product of the first thirty years of my rather unconventional life.
Muzungu, the story of my unlikely escapade throughout Kenya, picks up on that journey a couple decades later. I also wrote a children’s book about this experience titled “When This Is Over, I Will Go To School, And I Will Learn To Read; A Story of Hope and Friendship For One Young Kenyan Orphan“. It was illustrated by the orphans I worked with in Africa. Both are the personal accounts of my work and travel through Kenya as the epitome of Muzungu, the Swahili word for white man. Literally translated, Muzungu means “confused person wandering about.” Fit me to a tee! In between the adventures that were the subjects of my first and my later books were my marriage and children, my persona as wife and mother – the heart of me; me as my best self. As I explain in Muzungu, during those intervening years, the “yee-hah!” exhilaration of climbing out onto life’s edge had never entirely died out in me. It had merely been lying dormant beneath a meticulously constructed, implied housewife persona, a twenty-five year stint of nurturing-mother prioritizing for which I had absolutely no regrets. Everything had turned with the seasons, as they should. And a bygone time had finally come back around, although to what purpose under heaven remained to be seen. My future also remains to be seen, and to be told. Can’t hardly wait!
Sailing to the Far Horizon
One woman’s true story of life, loss, and survival at sea.
“I keep reminding myself that I have seen the pictures, heard the stories, read countless books. There is an exotic world out there comprised of brilliant wonders and fascinating cultures, promising endless horizons and illuminating adventures, inducing me with wholly unique challenges, and daring me to accomplish awesome leaps of faith. The Sofia is my ticket.”
Sinking; The Life Rafts
The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one, that never otherwise would have occurred. — GOETHE
On this fifth day [hopelessly adrift in life rafts following the sudden and violent sinking of our tall ship, the Schooner Sofia] we realize that we are no longer seeing distant ships off on the horizon or the occasional plane soaring overhead. And we hear far fewer heralding cries or have welcome visits from curious shorebirds venturing out to examine our unnatural presence. Already well outside the shipping lanes, we have been carried steadily out to sea, on our way to nowhere. When incurably wide-eyed and ever-hopeful Chris asks Evan [our skipper] if we still have a good chance of being saved, Evan fixes on his imploring stare and answers with accuracy and uncharacteristic gentleness. “No Chris, not much,” he replies. Evan then lays his head on my shoulder and sleeps. In nearly four years of countless highs and lows across half the planet, this simple gesture is the most sincere and spontaneous intimacy that my captain and I have ever exchanged.
We need to patch the raft yet again, a prospect now both futile and horrific. We are being barraged by a family of sharks. They rub their sandpapery bodies along the thin, grainy raft floor, bumping us about like we are on a carnival ride. By the second day in the rafts, I was forced to announce to my captive audience that, whether we liked it or not, I was menstruating. Amid a chorus of alarmed male sighs, the other women raise their hands in a reluctant but resigned “me too” acknowledgement of undeniable feminine unity. As is so often the case when women live together, our cycles had synchronized. Nature delivered us yet one more cruel jab: There would be blood in the water. The sharks are now our nearly constant companions, a patient and persistent entourage. Patching the leaks is no longer an option. Besides, our raft is almost beyond repair. Our having to go into the ocean for good is imminent, and we all know it.
About the book:
Muzungu, the Swahili word for white folk, translated literally means “confused person wandering about.” During the author’s months working and traveling through Kenya, this description fits her to a tee. Her audacious Kenyan adventure makes for a bucket load of anecdotes and impressions born of heart and hands-on experience–enough to knock your socks off.
“Order this phone today” some sweet confection-nicknamed, neon-colored, ultra sleek mobile “and help wipe out AIDS in Africa!” the television commanded me within minutes of my collapsing for the first time in my Southern California living room after spending nearly two months in Africa. Now, what does that mean? I pondered. The next morning, a headline in the fat newspaper on my doorstep informed me that a tiny band of rebel fighters trapped somewhere in the African jungle were caught killing mountain gorillas. They were eating them to survive. Some American animal activist group was positively outraged. “Yes, outrageous,” I sighed.
Since returning home, reflecting on the time I spent in Kenya has proved to be a frustrating exercise. Throughout my journey I toted my copy of National Geographic, the issue on which the title page flashed, Africa: Whatever you thought, think again. I was hoping that somewhere in this illustrious expose I would find validation for the conflicting messages I was receiving. To make matters more confounding, from the moment my plane touched down back on U.S. soil I was buried in an avalanche of material insidiously designed to debunk my own eyewitness accounts. As a result I began to question my perceptions, which in turn caused my intention to commit the experience to print to stutter and then stall out completely. I feared that if I wrote an honest appraisal of my adventure I would be vilified. Even worse, I was afraid that what I wrote would have a deleterious effect on the people of Kenya, the people I went there to help. Then later on, while leafing through the stack of magazines that had piled up in my absence, I stumbled upon an article that casually discarded the term hunger, substituting in its place the new PC term, low food security, when describing the unpardonable state of the starving multitudes on the planet. It was at that moment that I pledged to tell my story.
Curious as to how the media’s tone when dealing with current issues jived with my personal impressions, I collected every Dark Continent news tidbit that cycled down the pike. Culling information from a variety of sources and comparing it with anecdotes from my own journey, I ferreted out what I hoped amounted to the litmus test for a Kenyan reality check. Materials from newspapers to newsmagazines, adventure journals to journals on health, and nonprofit charitable organizations to profiteering political organizations, were referenced and offset against my own experiences. As a result I began to suspect that the media’s Africa had taken on a life of its own and that tragically that life had precious little to do with improving the lives of Africans. It became increasingly apparent that although my story was certain to be a great many things, one thing it would never be was representative of the norm. I am changed as a result of my trip to Kenya though not in any way formerly anticipated. In addition to acknowledging the existence of the established abominations at work in Kenya, I expose some lesser-known evils. In the end I wrestle a few slippery demons of my own.
David arrived home to San Diego six months after I did. I called him immediately and we got together to catch up. He seemed like the same old David, ”happy, kind, helpful, manic, and refreshingly clear-eyed and unsentimental about the situation in Maseno. I was thrilled to have him back, had dozens of ideas to run past him, and felt such a profound sense of comradeship that I became cautiously optimistic about completing the book. My Kenyan cohort confirmed everything I remembered, sensed, questioned, and concluded about our shared experience at St. Philip’s. I am not crazy . . . I consoled myself. Then David stepped off the front porch of his and Michael’s sweet little cottage, strolled down his lovely tree-lined street, settled beneath a blossoming willow on a soft green lawn, and calmly sent a bullet through his brain.
Get your copy of Muzungu here: https://www.ebookit.com/books/0000000120/Muzungu.html
When This Is Over, I Will Go To School, And I Will Learn To Read
Proceeds go directly to the Kenya orphans.
From the author:
No one knows the story of Kenya better than the children who live it.
I had the opportunity to travel to this country and become immersed with the families there. The result is a 1500-word nonfiction children’s picture book containing over 70 unique and original color images, titled, “When This Is Over, I Will Go To School, And I Will Learn To Read: A Story of Hope and Friendship for One Young Kenyan Orphan.”
This true story of one little boy is told in his own words.
While there are many books about Africa on the market, none are told from a child’s point of view like this one.
The children from the village created the book’s illustrations. I asked these students to draw what represented family, love, happiness, sadness, fear and hope for them. I have also included powerful photographs of the children, the school, the village and the countryside, the hospital, the mobile clinic and orphan program.
It is this truth that is certain to nudge the hearts and minds of parents, teachers and children everywhere.
I have promised all proceeds from the sale of this book to the children of the tiny village school where the illustrations were created. They trust me. And they wait.
My name is Julius. I am six years old and I have never been to school. I live in Kenya, Africa, with my bibi(grandmother), my dada (sister) Sarah and my kaka (brother) Hezron. Hezron is only three years old, but he is much bigger than I am.
We live in a mud hut on our little shamba (farm) in the forest.
Baba (father) and mama (mother) are gone. They were very sick and they could not get better. Our bibi cares for us but she is old and she cannot see. Sarah protects us. Sarah is eleven years old.
Professor Nancy is a kind bibi with skin and hair the color of cornflowers who comes to our village. She sees the hands and feet of my jamii (family) and says, “You have jiggers. Jiggers are bugs that crawl under the skin and lay eggs. You must come to my mobile clinic and orphan feeding program this weekend.”
I tell her, “When this is over, I will go to school, and I will learn to read.”
Get your copy of When This Is Over, I Will Go To School, And I Will Learn To Read here: https://www.createspace.com/4054600
Want more Pamela? Here’s where you can find her: