Category Archives: writing

Panic and Peace for Nerds

share_temporary

“You enter the forest at the darkest point, where there is no path. Where there is a way or path, it is someone else’s path. You are not on your own path. If you follow someone else’s way, you are not going to realize your potential.”  – Joseph Campbell, The Hero’s Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life & Work

Two weeks ago, I awoke on a sunny day with the intention of weeding my garden. Instead I ended up at my doctor’s office convinced I needed emergency asthma treatment. Turns out my lungs were fine. I had a panic attack.

I felt silly. I mean, I ought to know a panic attack by now, right? So I began a renewed interest in my mental health, in what, let’s face it, are trying times for anyone who cares about anything anymore. At least here in the US, and anyone watching us thinking, “Well, this can’t be good.”

After checking all of my vitals and listening to my lungs, my doctor asked me what had I been doing when I first felt I couldn’t breathe. She nodded at my answer: I was reading the morning news. I had a psychiatrist and therapist appointment in a few days, so she referred me to them with some questions. And she told me to stay away from the news.

That last bit really ticked me off. I felt like she was talking down to this “mentally ill” child. But I did lay off the news. When I met with my psychiatrist, she understood my panic attack perfectly well. She did ask me to challenge myself to find more ways to cope with and manage both my news intake and my anxiety. Although she did increase my anxiety medication a small bit to help ease me through.

My therapist was also understanding, but again she admonished me against news. And she challenged me to find more ways to use my energy towards that which made me feel peace. She suggested “simple” things. She also asked if I had a more “spiritual” back up plan for strength.

I was totally pissed again. Am I so gaslighted and fragile that I have be both ignorant, mindless, AND reliant on unknowable whims of unknowable sky fairies to live in Trump’s America? Seriously!?

And then I did some really hard work. I did my monthly budget. I carefully looked for where we were leaking the ten and twenty dollars here and there that kills our finances. I fixed it. I felt better.

After a few weeks of hemming and hawing, I redid my student loan repayment, and got back on track with that. I felt better.

I returned a book to Audible and got a credit for the book of Roman history I wanted. I felt better.

And, when my friends suggested a hike-in and camp trip on the Appalachian Trail, I signed on. Like Bilbo Baggins, I was going to have an adventure on my birthday! I was excited, and terrified. But there was a lot to do. Firstly, the house needed to be cleaned for when they came over to plan. Did it! Felt better.

Then they came over. We had a fire, toasted my birthday, christened my new knife Uncle Joe — to match my machete, Killary. And we all sang along to Abbey Road loudly. “Boy, you’re gonna carry that weight a long time.” I felt better.

Saturday dawned, and I knew we had to get ready for the trip. Having read The Zombie Survival Guide, by Max Brooks, and being old hands at camping, we were mostly ready…mostly.  Even our dog Abbey got her own backpack because she was carrying her weight, too! She liked it. I felt better.

But I was still nervous. Until my friend told me something important: It’s safe to be cautious on a trip like this. What we were doing was unknown to me, and potentially dangerous. But we would be with more experienced campers. “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo Baggins, going out your door.” How I felt was normal. I felt better.

We set off on our trek as on a 14:00 away mission, but with hobbits. But that exciting vibe fell away quickly. After struggling a third of the five miles straight up — carrying one third of my body weight– everything became so clear. All I had to do was keep putting one foot ahead of the other. “Simple.” I remembered what my Dad said about Korea. The marching back and forth in the cold and mud. “Your feet are the most important thing.” Simple isn’t mindless. It’s mindfulness itself.

My life became my feet. One in front of the other. “I am one with The Force. The Force is with me. I am one with the Force. The Force is with me.” One foot in front of the other.

Well, suffice to say, I made it there and back again. And I felt washed clean, although I was filthy.  I had literally bugged-out. Now what? OK. Clean up all the dirty and wet gear. Now what? Make an action list for materials I need to gather for an appointment I have soon. Ok. Now what? Write.

And I feel better.

I did eventually get the news via my Mom.  That’s not such a bad way to stay informed. As far as my “spiritual” strength, I realized  that comes from the same places as always with me: Tolkien, Trek, Star Wars, history, The Beatles, challenging myself, my writing, and things my Father’s Force Ghost still says in my ear.

So, what’s my point? Firstly, it’s OK to feel anxious. It’s normal. Life, more uncertain than usual, will try to gaslight you. Secondly, you may need to “bug-out.” I don’t mean that you need to walk 500 ft up and sleep in the rain. But a change and a challenge you feel you are ready for…mostly. Something that reduces life to essentials and is “one foot in front of the other.” Simple.

Finally, you don’t have to give up your mind’s critical ability, sacrifice what is yourself and be a mindless sheep to get on in the brave new insane world. We rented Rogue One when we got home, and watched it twice since. I’m now convinced that I adore that movie!  I don’t need no religious education. An exciting and dramatic daughter-daddy Star Wars movie, a trek through the forest of the adventure with my mythological companions, taking care of my life, a bit of help from my friends, a bit of writing, and a book of Roman history, and I’m good.

Now what? Make food.

I am one with The Force. The Force is with me.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll weed the garden. 😉

How are you all holding up? What is helping — or hurting — you right now?

While you’re here:  Check out my Instagram! There are pictures of things I like and hate! 😊

While there: check out my BFF’s Instagram and share some love.

Got a comment? Click below! I love the feedback. If you like what you’ve read, tap Like and Share on Facebook! Follow and share on Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 


The Zen of Colbert

share_temporary

Stephen Colbert is the hero we need. Ever since his excruciating, live Election Night broadcast, the beloved leader of “The Nation” has been so much winning. And then there’s Trump.

I have a new mantra. It’s something Stephen said in a bit on Trump’s Nuclear Plans, 20 years ago in January. He said, “It’s funny because nothing matters anymore.” Michael Che let the line slip during last Saturday’s “Weekend Update” on SNL. And I find myself repeating it constantly. “It’s funny because nothing matters anymore.”

“Anymore” is the key word here. Stephen Colbert has become every thinking person’s voice. We are people who thought things mattered! Where we once had our pet causes, now we merely have dumbfounded, flabbergasted, confused and fearful ANGER. Stephen made a brave choice to embrace that fear and anger and give into the cray-side. He models the courage all we snowflakes need to embrace.

“Let your freak flag fly,” is the phrase my partner has been using since the election. “If crazy is the new normal, I’m gonna have my freak flag at full mast every second of the day,” he repeats.

Me being, well, me, I found it in a quote by Camus. “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” In other words, “It’s funny because nothing matters because anymore.” “Let your freak flag fly.”

And Stephen keeps winning! The Late Show with Stephen Colbert is now the highest rated late-night show. Which hits Trump where it matters, in the ratings. The President told Time magazine:

Trump disses Colbert ratings

Image from: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, CBS

Stephen wasn’t shy in his reaction, squealing, “I won!” Nothing important may matter anymore, but nothing is sweeter than high ratings! CBS will pay any “potty mouth” fine. They will never cut lose this golden egged goose. He certainly makes better news than Trump.

tenor

Stephen shows how it’s done.

 

 

Stephen Colbert gets it. Even crazy has rules. Play by them! So while Anderson Cooper is now openly rolling his eyes at the creepy Nazi from Raiders of the Lost Ark, Kellyanne Conway:

14sYumxArmWsbS

Real-time footage of Kellyanne Conway.

Meanwhile, I’m expecting my afternoon, BREAKING NEWS! humdinger about Trump, treason, obstruction of justice, and Russian disruption of our democracy.  I call it my “Daily Constitutional Crisis.”  What!? What do you call it?

I’m just going to keep letting my freak flag fly, Stephen! I get it! I’m  going to be mad, be rash, smoke and explode, burn all my clothes. (And apparently keep pretending I thought up Morrissey lyrics.)

Thanks to Stephen Colbert, I will live my exquisitely nerdy life down on the farm with my bandana made of Superman sheets, my overalls, and Eau de DEET parfume, while doing whatever I damn well please.  I’m living so free that my very existence is an act of rebellion.

You either get it or you don’t. Only Stephen Colbert can explain it to ya.

But, it’s funny because nothing matters anymore.

 

While you’re here:  Check out my Instagram! There are pictures of things I like and hate! 😊

While there: check out my BFF’s Instagram and share some love.

Got a comment? Click below! I love the feedback. If you like what you’ve read, tap Like and Share on Facebook! Click here to follow on Twitter.

 

 

 

 


Tea Lights to Shakespeare (And other ways I force myself write)

share_temporary

My writing space.

You know what’s worse than writing? Not writing. And it’s something I perform a good deal of self-flagellation over. Life is a mercilessly busy thing with so much to do! It’s hard get myself at my desk writing, especially when I’m out of the habit. Which I am! What do I do?

Space-Time holds the planets in orbit. I need it for writing too. My little Space. This is my spot in the pic above. It’s one of favorite I’ve ever had. It’s a work in progress, but it’s got the basics. Firstly, the desk:  I use the same writing desk I used growing up, which gives me a sense of continuity. Then I added a laptop, somewhere to put Mr. Tea (it’s a Mr. Coffee cup warmer that I use for my tea), and charge my vaporizer batteries, and a lamp.

But honestly, what is my writing desk without a plant, my Sherlock Holmes magnifying lens, some calligraphy, and my bust of Shakespeare? It is definitely corny, but it’s part of my thing. You do your thing and don’t hate.

Shakespeare is up there for obvious reasons, but the other thing he really helps with is that Time bit, through the candles I light to him. I mean, if the problem is time, make a timer, right? I write in tea lights to Shakespeare. Sometimes I write longer. But seriously, if I do one tea light, I feel like I’ve done something. Some work. Thus, I am liberated from hating myself for not writing for at least 12-24 hours. That’s a lot of time to hate myself for other reasons!

I also plan time to write. I just figure which days I can get a tea light of writing in, and I put it in my little coloring-planner, et voila! For me, it shifts the focus. I plan when to do other stuff around my tea-light writing time, as opposed to looking for that elusive moment when I don’t have other work to do, and I can write.

It also seriously helps if I know I have leftovers or something in a crockpot. I mean, just because I don’t think about eating until I’m ready to chew my arm off, doesn’t mean I can’t learn to take some consideration of the basic needs of life. I just have to plan it out a bit. It’s actually possible! And here I am, not dead of starvation, and with both arms.

But, ehy am I writing this? To remind own damned self, of course! I didn’t even blog for a few months between last May — when my dog died and I moved — and last fall. I managed to write in my journal, The Red Book of Westmarch, but no other writing. And recently I’m thinking/writing about and looking over my other writing projects, and it seems they were either finished or begun ages ago.  I haven’t finished a project in a year, and I was doing at least two or three a year until then. I had a stable routine. There were dry spells, but man, not like this past year.

I eventually started blogging again sitting on my front porch. Then in the unboxed living room. Or at the finally functional — and not covered in random crap — kitchen table.  Then one day I just picked a spot in my front room, cleared and cleaned it up, put up some curtains I had, and put my desk there. Shakespeare, plant et al went up. And there ya go. I felt like uber-writer right then and there, yo.

I made it a nice place to be, although I will not reveal the reverse shot of my little angle-in on my writing corner because Oh dear genius of the place, give me the strength to make book shelves! Or give it to Stan, rather. I can’t walk in straight line, nevermind hang something in one.

But, you know, I had forgotten something until today — which is obviously why I am writing this — Oh! Can you guess?! (It’s the tea light.) Yup, tea-light timer, which feels as though it’s burning longer today. But, in all fairness, it’s a votive and not a tea light. Votives burn longer.

Anyhow, so yeah! Tea lights! You can get a bag of a hundred of them at the dollar store. Or at least at those dollar stores that aren’t really dollar stores. My point is they’re cheap.

So yes, my friends, I am feeling better after my tea-light — which did burn out! — session despite the hectic nature of the earlier part of the day and week. Join me next time! Or even better, do your own version of tea-light to Shakespeare time.

Share what your version of tea-lights to Shakespeare time is in the comments. I won’t hate. 😀

*I’ve gotten some fun questions and responses to last week’s post. It was a little story challenge I asked a friend to give me, which was surviving after an EMP apocalypse. So I imagined myself years hence as a post-EMP apocalypse survivor, smoking homegrown tobacco with a homemade pipe, with (more) wild, staring eyes, reflecting back on my life. I had fun with it. But I am so stuck in not writing descriptions anymore from writing screenplays. I forget I can describe things in prose stories. Throw me short story challenge in the comments so I can practice! 

While you’re here:  Check out my Instagram! There are pictures of things I like and hate! 😊

While there: check out my BFF’s Instagram and share some love.

Got a comment? Click below! I love the feedback. If you like what you’ve read, tap Like and Share! Click here to follow on Twitter.


After the Blue (A story of Friendship and Survival in parts) Part 1: Nicole Laughed

wp-1490219207338.jpg

In the striped Light of the Sun.

 

Light was once Blue. That I am one of the last who remember The Blue Lights pushes me to preserve the memory of that time. The time before now, when the Blue Light reigned and wisdom slept. For it was in this time that I encountered the True Light. Through the woman who lead me through the Dark of the True Light after the Blue. NICOLE. Who’s lack of Blue and strength in the True made her the embodiment of the True, and hers the Path through Blue to True. Who LAUGHED and saved my life.

Nicole first acknowledged me with a LAUGH. As well she should, and I deserved, having LOUDLY CURSED a sudden yet inevitable betrayal, as my easy-up tent fell about my head, capturing me within its silky, billowing folds of white and blue nylon.

How apt my predicament! How her blonde hair shone as I emerged blinking into the True Light, from my encasing in the False and Blue. Nicole rightly accused me of plagiarizing a line from an ill-starred fiction of the Blue Times, which had treated with the subject of the fire of flies.

I was unconscious of the significance of the moment. But she had seen into my soul, and perhaps she saw the SPARK of the True Light in my eyes, so long darkened by the Blue. So many fictions, so many earnest reports, so many thumbs, so many narratives, as of the fire of flies, the trekking of stars, and WES ANDERSON. Worst of all, my own creations on the Screens of Blue. I felt ashamed.

And then I saw! A drunken camper nearby had started a fight! A man was bleeding and protecting a young woman, the object of a love triangle, I supposed. The camp manager subdued the drunken man with skillful and minimal force. Truly his Kung Fu was on point. Soon police arrived and arrested the drunken man.

I had seen this without the Blue Light! I immediately suspected that Nicole had called this scene forth from the True Light, so that I could see. And I LAUGHED! Just as she had done to me. Truly, life in the True Light was more true than anything called from the Blue! And this Nicole showed to me.

And so it was for many month’s passing. I would pitch my tent by Nicole and her consort, and I would see wonders!  For they would MAKE MUSIC ISSUE from stringed instruments and from their mouths, and not from the Blue Lights, not even Spotify.

Soon we learned to MAKE LAUGHTER from the True together. We fished often, and while I never saw her catch one, I knew she only waited for the Truest and most tremendous of fish. She left me the others to encourage my learning the Path of the True.

When forced indoors, she would visit me to encourage the making of art. And REMINDED ME WITHOUT WORD that one should set out the food one makes for visitors, and other gentle arts of the True Light world.

But just as I began to see and value the True Light through her, the Blue Lights came between us. We SPOKE ONLY IN SILENCE through the blue blurbs on the Blue Screens. The True had forsaken the world, and there was a GREAT NOISE of ORANGE, and then the Blue Lights went out. We will never know why because the Blue was suddenly gone. No screen lit our faces and nights, and the only light of day was the sun; and of the night, the moon and the trekking stars, and the fire of flies. But no Wes Anderson.

Plunged into the Light of the True, however dark it may be, my one hope for Salvation lie in Nicole, in the living of the True Light and the Path. Her consort, JOE, was cool too.

And so my life in Truth began, with my consort (STAN, who was handy and cool too) and my loyal friend, the canine ABBESS OF ROADS.

So begins the tale of my struggle, survival and eventual mastery of the world of the True Light, by the Grace of the one named Nicole. Who LAUGHED and saved my life.

 

Check out my Instagram! There are pictures of things I like and hate! 😊

While you’re there: check out my BFF’s Instagram and share some love.

Got a comment? Click below! I love the feedback. If you like what you’ve read, tap Like and Share! Click here to follow on Twitter.


Don’t Get Me Flowers for Women’s Day

womens day Stalin edited

 OG Women’s Day.

bad women's day

This is just all kinds of wrong.

Let’s get something straight. Women’s Day is not Valentine’s mixed with Mother’s Day. Although there are many competing claims for the first Women’s Day, including Suffragette, Socialist and Workers strikes by women in the US and Europe, the best claim goes to the women of Russia. By the Russian calendar, on March 8th, 1917, female textile workers stormed the streets of Petrograd (St. Petersburg) demanding bread, protesting Russian engagement in WWI, and demanding the end of Romanov imperial rule. A week later, the Russian emperor abdicated, and women were granted the right to vote by the interim government. The date was proclaimed a working holiday in Russia that year, but was declared a full national holiday in 1958. In 1975, it was recognized as an international holiday by the UN.

The point of this little history lesson? That Women’s Day celebrates the power of women to bring about revolutionary change. Not how pretty or cute or sweet we are. It is a revolutionary holiday. In essence, it’s a day to acknowledge the power of women to effect change in the world. And I never even knew about it until I was in college.

I switched my major to Film midway through my Freshman year. And of my almost completely male new department, one man became my first friend. Let’s call him Max. Max is from a republic in the former USSR. He had served in the Red Army, and his father was a Party member. Max got to come to the US with refugee status, and became a citizen while teaching himself English from the TV. Eventually, he pursued his dream of studying film, and there we landed together: two strangers in an exclusive club of upper-middle class white males.

Max was the first person to wish me a happy Women’s Day. I had to ask him what it was. Because, even though many nations celebrated the day, The Land of the Free did not.

equallity now

US women marching in the first International Women’s Day March in 1975

And it’s the revolutionary (and Soviet) origins of the holiday that America has feared most. Because while the Soviets were sending the first woman into space  in 1963. Back in the USSA, only married women could be prescribed The Pill by an (obviously male) doctor’s discretion, and back-alley abortions were claiming women’s lives. Meanwhile the Soviets had female doctors.

Maybe it’s the historical nature of female experience that causes this revolutionary fervor. After all, it was the working women of Paris who marched to Versailles in 1789 to demand bread, and who returned to Paris with King Louis and Marie Antoinette in tow, kickstarting the fall of the repressive Ancien Régime.

Women often hold multiple jobs: lover, wife, companion, caretaker, mother, chef, cleaning lady — usually while holding down paying jobs. We are taught to care for everyone but ourselves. We apologize for doing things a man would never think of being apologetic for: talking on the phone, spending money on things we want or need, playing our favorite video game. But let’s face it, how long can any person truly live this way? Sure we care about war because our loved ones and innocents could die, obviously bread because we don’t want to see our family starve, we care about oppressed groups because we get it. But we also want those freedoms and the equality that we help others achieve for ourselves. Sorry!

Womens day in USSR

Soviet poster for Women’s Day as a national holiday, circa 1958

We want to control our reproduction because that is the key for us to have the freedom of men. We can go to college, have a career, and a family we can afford to care for. Or not! This is never a question when it’s a man’s choice. We get to have that choice as human beings, too. Our value is more than what our uteruses can do. By demonizing and depicting women without children, or unpartnered, or with a career as sad, unattractive  (read “overweight”), and lonely; we devalue the women who have made those choices. And it just so happens to be a great way to direct female anger and frustrations at women who made different life choices  from the actual cause of their pain (whether it be abuse or simply frustrated dreams) onto other women. It’s splitting. And American culture is great at it.

Women’s Day is a revolutionary day. A day to unite. We are the most historically oppressed class of humanity since the Bronze Age. And yet, here we are. Patient Penelopes enduring when we must, and fighting when we can. Usually at wit’s end. So don’t give me flowers for Women’s Day. Give me equal pay for equal work. Give me coverage for my health needs, and access to safe and legal family planning. Give me the right to post pics of myself on social media without being stalked. Give me the right to wear a tank top when it’s 90 degrees without feeling gross and ogled. Give me the right to say “No.” Give me the right to leave an abusive partner. Give me the right to report my boss or colleague for inappropriate behavior. Give me equal representation in government. Give me the rights that men enjoy without a second thought: my human rights.

It really does come down to that one phrase — the one by the woman who allowed herself to be burnt at the stake by America because she believed, without apology, that she was the most qualified candidate for President, and she was right — “Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights.” History upholds you Hillary Clinton, unlike the nation you served so long. Here, have some pretty pretty flowers!💐

*Please check out this list of nations from those with the most equal representation of women in government to the least. Rwanda is tops. See if you can spot the USA.

Check out my Instagram! There are pictures of things I like and hate! 😊

While you’re there: check out my BFF’s Instagram and share some love.

Got a comment? Click below! I love the feedback. If you like what you’ve read, tap Like and Share! Click here to follow on Twitter.


Anger, Fear, The Plague & Trump

Christ and Sisyphus

“Jesus! I feel like my entire life is a protest now.” “That just means we’re free, Sis.”

Trump is a plague. He has mastered inspiring fear and rage. Not just in his supporters, but all over the globe. And certainly in myself, and most people I know. My therapist told me that the number and intensity of reports by clients regarding Trump is a phenomenon. Possibly even an emergent disease. So, he literally is a plague on humanity. So what do we do, besides suffer in fear and anger and hopelessness? What can we do?

I have a fascination with plague. It began very young. Maybe it was the first time I realized that something scary and dangerous can swoop down on me and my family at any moment, and with no “why.” That there is no cosmic purpose behind the suffering caused by disease, WWI, The Holocaust, or Donald Trump. Suffering has reasons, but no “Reason.” We give these events meaning in hindsight. And our reactions and actions during times of suffering give meaning to our lives and experience. It’s tempting to believe there is a form of “cosmic justice” to it all. But in the end, real people with lives and family died in the camps, while Hitler got off with suicide. People brought the Nuremberg Trials, not the cosmos. The Universe doesn’t care about Earth, or one single species. People must bring the meaning AND the justice.

So, what to do? What to do? Well, I read The Lord of the Rings three times in succession since the Election. And while that book has spiritual influences, it comes down to the individuals involved to each do their part to bring down Sauron, even the trees! And here we all are, so many reluctant heroes, wishing for the Shire and a big, wise Gandalf to hug, but this isn’t Middle Earth. And the winning of the War of the Ring had a lot of casualties, from the Elves, to the trees, to Frodo himself.

Tolkien has more in common with other post WWI and WWII writers than his fantasy war suggests. Today we’d call it PTSD. Seems to me the man was so traumatized by his experience of WWI that he invented other languages just to express his thoughts and feelings . But some authors used more common-place settings. In The Plague, Albert Camus set his story in a place so ordinary that it could be anywhere. And the characters could be any one of us.

The “heroes” in The Plague are a motley crew, like The Fellowship of the Ring. There’s Doctor Rieux, who just doggedly pursues his work while his wife is away for a tuberculosis cure . The political undesirable, who gets stuck in the town while on the run, and becomes the Doctor’s best friend. The guy who is motivated to be reunited with the woman he loves. And dear old M. Grande, the minor civil servant, who works tirelessly on his “great novel” by night, as he goes out of his way to ensure that The Doctor has everything he needs, and whose life (and great novel) are at last saved by the Doctor’s successful serum.

While much of the town in The Plague is dying of disease, the rest is taken over by hopeless drunken revellers, angry mobs attacking the poor, African section of the town, fear-mongers preaching God’s wrath and judgement, profiteers, and suicides. The sane characters — the heroes — are people who have accepted that the worst may happen to them. They too feel fear, anger, despair, but they choose to simply be decent human beings anyway. They all play their little part for both their own reasons and a common goal: ending the suffering caused by the plague and freeing the town from its quarantine — its fear, anger and despair. Their very existence is a protest against the inhumanity of suffering and a world turned upside down. Their lives and work together are a testament to Gandalf’s assertion that:

“Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.”

There is a touching passage near the end Camus’ book, that describes why Doctor Rieux recorded the events of his experience during the plague, down to the detail that, amidst the tearful reuniting of loved ones after the crisis, his wife never returned from her “cure.” The quote has been honored with a plaque in New York City, on Library Way (East 41st Street between Madison & Fifth Ave.). And I will leave that here for reflection.

wp-1488315965424.jpg

Let this be said of all of us, when the story of this time of plague is written.

Whatever your method or motivation, never forget those who suffer, bear witness, and choose decency. That is how we defeat the plague of Trump, anger, fear, and despair.

Check out my Instagram! There are pictures of things I like and hate! 😊

While you’re there: check out my BFF’s Instagram and share some love.

Got a comment? Click below! I love the feedback. If you like what you’ve read, tap Like and Share! Click here to follow on Twitter.


Free: One POTUS, Barely Used!

 

hamlet-tennant

“You cannot, sir, take from me any thing that I will more willingly part withal — “(Hamlet, 2.2.231-232).

Why elect your own nationalist leader, when you can have one for free? Seriously he’s tremendous, folks, believe me, except for his loser Administration and failing Presidency –Sad!  But believe me he is the best at alienating neighbors and allies, who are great really I love them especially Trudeau who is hot and smart but failing Canada — and did you see the crowds at the President’s last rally? Huge! I saw something that said they were the biggest crowds since VE Day. And you know the tremendous job Putin regime is doing aggressively trying to destroy NATO, Europe and the West — believe me! — this President is their own eyes and ears so you don’t need lying intelligence community or leaking aides or fake diplomats. He’s the whole package. Big league.

Seriously, friends, when is this guy getting impeached? Because I had this thing called a life, my historical fiction series, and fun and hobbies and Star Trek and history podcasts that didn’t give me nightmares. I just finished my third re-reading of The Lord of the Rings — in almost as many months — just for the sweet release of that Ring getting into Mount Doom and the destruction of Sauron. I mean, that’s a lot to endure for one single moment of feeling like “Ah… gone for good…”

I WANT MY LIFE BACK!!!

And to everyone who says: “Yeah, but the level of political action and awareness is great!” I say:  “Go to Hell, go directly to Hell, no passing Go, no $200 for you!” You know what I loved? The Obama Administration. I was doing better financially, mental health-wise, relationship and writing-wise, and in every other measurable way until the 2016 Election. There were issues and debates, but I didn’t look at my news feed every morning to see if we were at war yet. It’s the little things.

I felt safe just knowing No Drama Obama was always there. I trusted him to think things through, discuss the details and possibilities with the best qualified and most creative people, as well as lawyers and the heads of government committees and agencies, and then come up with a thoughtful response. But now I’m supposed to be the eternally vigilant resistance? Screw you.

I want to plant my garden. I want to spend money on new art supplies, not postage stamps and notecards to the dickhead politicians who don’t even answer their phone *Toomey*. I want to enjoy and fix up our new house. I want to write my fiction. Go fishing. Have an appetite. Sleep at night. I want to play video games. I want to have sex with my equally beleaguered boyfriend. Is that so much to ask? Isn’t that the American dream? I don’t mess with you, and you don’t mess with me?

Why must we all suffer, my anti-Hillary, Bern it Down, friends? I thought continuing the work of Obama by a competent and experienced leader was a great idea! You really thought Hillary Clinton was as equally evil as Trump? You were duped by the Russian propaganda! Ah, hindsight! Or was it just that “thing” about her? You know that thing she just didn’t have. What’s the word for it? Oh, right, A PENIS! Such a little thing, but the difference it makes in the US! I knew as a girl there would be Black President, Jewish President, Gay Atheist President, Vulcan President, Amoeba President before there was even a shot at Woman President. So fuck you too, Patriarchy protectors.

All you guys go take to the streets. You write the postcards. You helped bring this on all of us. YOU believed the fake news. Nevermind the rest of the Earth and its people and climate. I did my bit by voting for Hillary. So you fix it.

I’m de-Trumping my life. I’ve only got one. I’m not going to waste the prime of it untying this Gordian knot when I can use a sword and cut it all off. Yeah, I’ll read a bit and listen to NPR, laugh at the stupid shit, and stew on the bullshit. But not like before. I’m reclaiming my life from Trump.

I’m a writer. I can’t help but be here, but not. Like Hamlet’s “mirror up to nature.” My job is reflecting back on you. I’m the cameraman at a wedding. I don’t take part in it. I just capture what went down, edit the bits together, throw some transitions and filters on it, and hand it back over to you. It’s not my job to be overtly political. That’s called Propaganda, and I want no part of it.

Besides, have you seen where I live? It’s awesome. A 130 year old farmhouse with  a stream, two ponds, a wood stove and fire pit for cool evenings, a spring house for hot summer days, wisteria-grown arbors, ivy creeping up the hill. Song birds, butterflies, flowers and hummingbirds. There is land here to work and love and care for. An interior to remodel and decorate. This place and I need each other. This is my refuge from the noise of the world.

So, my crazy-pants friends, who let’s face it, I love but you know not so great in NOT driving me crazy sometimes. And the Hillary supporters who still have steam, the other progressives, and the good Republicans who let’s face it could be more like the tremendous Arlen Specter, who is doing great things now more and more I hear, and grow a backbone, which I hear is just fabulous for standing up. Let’s just #DumpTrump so we can go back to being the decent, neighborly, let’s talk this over, come together, work for a better life for all, pleasantly plump, Shire-loving hobbits Americans truly are at heart. Big league.

Check out my Instagram! There are pictures of things I like and hate! 😊

While you’re there: check out my BFF’s Instagram and share some love.

Got a comment? Click below! I love the feedback. If you like what you’ve read, tap Like and Share! Click here to follow on Twitter.


Twenty Eight Days Later Under 45

28-days-later-with-symbol

The Curse, The Russians & Trump

The Universe, in its infinite indifference or irony — I’m not sure which — decided that I should be visited by my Curse of Eve on the eve of the inauguration of Donald J Trump. It’s true. I got my “woman punishment” as Trump took office. Like a Grand Marnier hangover: it’s perfect.

I used to wonder about zombie apocalypse timelines, like in the Danny Boyle film 28 Days Later, or how long Rick was in a coma on The Walking Dead.  I always cottoned to Max Brooks’ zombie apocalypse scenario in World War Z. The Z’s started in an isolated area, far off, spreading slowly by travellers or refugees, shipping and black market organs. For months it would be whispers and rumors, a few distorted reports, then isolated disturbances, then in the nearest city with an airport, the commuter train stop, the local hospital, and then they are breaking down your door.

I imagined an emergent global threat would takes months, even years to fully take hold. But, no, Danny Boyle was right. It took twenty-eight days.

Because here I am, once again, suffering my biology, and the world has spun out of control. Or, rather, was spun out of control. We are at a crisis. (*I can’t even keep this post updated with the news tonight.) The Republicans have paused on their much anticipated march towards eliminating health care for millions and making sure that women are less important than what their uteruses can do. Because we’ve gotten to a tipping point. McCain demands answers. Spicey and KelleyAnne can’t get their stories straight.They’re in the garden, grab your bat.

Michael Flynn was forced to resign. Just think about that. If Flynn, who has been with Trump since early in his campaign, was dealing dirty with the Russians (under the Logan Act) and lying about it to the Vice President and the FBI, who else was?

Seventeen US security agencies said our election was influenced by Russia and Russian intelligence. There’s the dossier, by Christopher Steele, mainly famous for the pee, under review by intelligence regarding Russian links to the Trump organization and the Russian ability to blackmail Trump. There was Paul Manafort and Carter Page. And now Flynn. (*Whoops, looked at my phone, now Stone. *Now “Trump aides in constant contact with senior Russian officials during campaign ” per CNN . *And now that headline is under scrutiny. *This will be outdated by posting, sorry.)

So what did Trump do? He kept the head of the FBI, Comey, whose midnight email may have cost Hillary the election, while the agency he heads investigates Russian influence of the election.  Trump jangled a bunch of shiny objects in front of our faces to distract us. He fired Sally Yates, former acting Attorney General, not over opposition to the Muslim ban, but because she spoke up about Flynn. Every Executive Order, their timing, the tweet storms, all to keep us from the dawning revelation of  the most horrifying possibility ever. The United States’ President and his Administration were put in office by the Russians.

Makes The Manchurian Candidate seem quaint.

As Trump tows the Russian line against China, our European allies, and Japan; he pushes our neighbors, friends and allies (including our Middle Eastern ones) away from us. All while Russia is seizing land in Ukraine, flying their war planes over Turkey, and supporting Assad. They seek to conquer the West by dividing and destabilizing it. We are alone. And who does Trump et al insist is the only man who can save us? Why Trump, of course.

So, here we are. Twenty-eight days later. Asking the Watergate question: What did the President know, and when did he know it? Our nation teeters on the edge of a Constitutional crisis — even Civil violence –Russians in the White House, some very unhappy Chinese with nukes, some Iranians with nukes, North Korea with nukes. And our nuclear codes in Trump’s hands.(*There is a Russian ship off the East Coast now.) My boyfriend and I talk about if only we can get two seasons in on our farm before things get too bad. We are grateful for our own water source, and a wood stove. I’m learning about medicinal herbs and local flora. We’re getting chickens, and thinking about what best to grow for trade. We have a good spot for a variety of hot peppers. But I’m thinking something you can distill would be more valuable.

I’m wondering if I’ve gone mad, except my friends and family express the same in skittish Messenger chats. “Buy powdered milk in bulk!” “Get your RXs filled on time, and save the extras!”

I used to care that a pair of shoes I  wanted on Amazon dropped in price. I used to play games. I wrote mysteries and historical fiction and screenplays and journaled about movies and my favorite parts of Tolkien. I used to binge Netflix. I read Roman history for pleasure. I enjoyed the outdoors and fishing, camping and making fires to cook over. I liked using my machete, Killary, on the brush on our land. I enjoyed gardening. Now, I look at Amazon for seed prices. Suddenly basic Roman fortifications seem like valuable knowledge. I have no idea what’s on Netflix. The Walking Dead is my one cheer-up show. I have Pinterest boards about how much food we need to plant and of what, and even the flowers all need a purpose. I mark trees for selective felling.  And all my girl scout stuff is now marked “survival skills.” Everything has changed, twenty-eight days later.

Please, my friends, Americans, everyone, do what you can to bring down Trump, and retain our Constitution. I don’t care how you voted or why. Bombs don’t discriminate. Love your country and resist Trump. The monsters are at the door. And we’ve all got a lot to lose.

I’m going to rename my monthly friend. It’s no longer The Curse. It’s now The Hope. As in: hoping for another twenty-eight days. I don’t know how many more like these I can take, or are even left.

This is JL, twenty-eight days later, signing off.

Check out my Instagram! There are pictures of things I like and hate! 😊

While you’re there: check out my BFF’s Instagram and share some love.

Got a comment? Click below! I love the feedback. If you like what you’ve read, tap Like and Share! Click here to follow on Twitter.


How to Make an American

 

screenshot_20170131-174158.jpg

So many backgrounds! Just an American!

 

What makes an American? What’s the recipe? Well, unless you are purely Native American, the recipe includes immigrants, slaves, and refugees. Whether they came of their own accord, or were forced here in chains or shipping containers, your family came to the Americas from somewhere else. So I thought I’d share the recipe of me.

my-dna

This is me according to my DNA.

So this is where I’m from according to a blood test through ancestry.com . But the story is much better than this map. And this map doesn’t even include all my ancestors, my mother’s looks different!

moms-dna

Mom’s DNA map.

And my sister’s shows much more Eastern Mediterranean! So, that’s the science. Here is the story.

So, who came first?

We’re not sure! There were adoptions on my Great-Grandmother’s side. But they were Presbyterians and had red hair. So let’s say, Scotch-Irish. Along with the Welsh, the Scotch-Irish immigrants came pretty early on, usually as indentured servants or victims of the terrible resettlement policies of England from Scotland to Northern Ireland. The Scotch-Irish were some of the first pioneers in the “Westward Expansion” … to the Appalachians and beyond! My Great-Grandma Miller came from Kentucky, honey!

wp-1485898081890.jpg

Willie Mae Miller, nee, Smith. Born 1900, died 1991

 

Here she is with her (short!) red hair. And proper, ankle-revealing suffragette dress! She was the absolute best. Fiery till the last. And a great fisherman. (But she cheated at cards.)

She married the other contender for longest in the United States, Christian Erisman Miller. Here they are:

wp-1485897982176.jpg

Christ (krihst) and Bill.

Well, the Millers have been in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania since the War for Independence. Story is, he was a German mercenary fighting for the British. After the war, he settled in the already German-speaking county with it’s large population of Mennonites who fled religious persecution in the German states. He married one of those Mennonites, and now there is Millersville University (on their donated land)!

The amazing thing is why the Mennonites were here in the first place! Pennsylvania’s founder, William Penn, was a religious dissenter in England. He did time in The Tower of London for writing Quaker pamphlets with charming titles such as, “No Cross, No Crown.” He famously declared religious freedom in his colony, stating in his Charter, “We cannot make windows into men’s souls.” Which is why the first Jews in the Americas lived in Philadelphia, and why it’s home to the oldest Catholic Church in English-speaking North America. So, when the Mennonites fled Germany, PA was the only colony they could settle in. 

123_1-7

Mary E.Childs, nee Sirbak, nee Miller, 1929 – present

Here is their daughter, my maternal-grandmother. I hate to say it, but Grandmom is HOT! She helped her parents during WWII and after, but she soon caught the eye of a dashing fella, and a Catholic! *gasp!*

The Magyars!

 

wp-1485899967617.jpg

Joseph P. Sirbak, 1926-1981

My maternal-grandfather was the son of Hungarian immigrants, who fled Europe when the Austro-Hungarian Empire landed on the losing side of WWI. And, apparently, people from Hungary identify as Magyars, a horse-archer people from the Steppes who took that land in the early middle ages. It was Latin writers who called them Huns!

Even the women served during WWII in this family!

But obviously we’re concerned with Mary Miller and Joe Sirbak. Because they made my Mom.

wp-1485900836388.jpg

Mom. Eating a sandwich while striking management and a pose!

Yeppers, so that’s how you make this lady. This woman who left her hometown in Lancaster to move to Philadelphia, to work as a social worker in the blighted area of Front and York Street. She was also shop steward for her union at her welfare office. Yes, I get my bleeding liberal heart from her and that whole nutty family!

So that’s the maternal side of my family. Let’s go back to the tumult of WWI, and the Italians and Greeks who fled here, and check out my Dad’s side. 

James N. Lakis and Nicholas Lakis (formerly Triantafilakis, 1896-1973, born Khios Greece, died Cape May, New Jersey)

Here is my Dad with his, my Grandpop Lakis, “down the shore” of course! “Interesting” is barely enough to describe my paternal-grandfather’s story. He was born on the island of Khios, just off the coast of modern Turkey. He spent his days collecting olives and lemons. But he also collected salt from a rock that was exposed at low-tide. Story has it that he had to fight an octopus once on that rock with his knife. He killed it, and his family had it for dinner!

But he also grew up under the rule of the Ottoman Turks. As a young man of 16 or so, a Turkish soldier raped a local girl, and my Grandpop killed that soldier. He had to be disguised as a girl by monks, and secreted off the island on a merchant ship. Well, that ship was torpedoed. So he was picked up by an American ship, which was torpedoed. Whereupon, another American ship picked him up and docked in New York. He decided to stay.

He helped paint the Benjamin Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia, but he gambled and was owed money by a sometime concrete contractor and bootlegger named Frank Gigliotti. Frank was a recent Italian immigrant. But his wife, Asunta Camarotta, had returned to Italy. She took all their children, but Frank made her leave their daughter Anna, my Grandmom, as proof that she’d return. My Grandmom Lakis never saw her mother or siblings again. Apparently, her father hid the letters her mother wrote to her. And he exchanged her to fix a gambling debt, while Grandpop Lakis got his Green Card and became a citizen. Grandmom had that kindness that is strong from much perseverance and personal pain.

But even though their marriage was arranged, they were prolific. And  Grandpop Lakis eventually owned his own diner — of course — first in Philadelphia, and then in Wildwood, New Jersey.

wp-1485901801430.jpg

The Lakis/Gigliotti clan. Back, left to right: Anna Lakis (aunt), Mike Lakis, Nicholas Lakis, Anna Lakis (grandmother), Frank Gigliotti, James Lakis. Bottom, left to right: Mary (Mimi) Lakis, Marcella Lakis, Frank Lakis

Enter my Father. He’s that cool guy with the jelly-roll hair and zoot suit above in the upper right. While my Dad’s older brother Mike joined the Navy in WWII, my Dad ended up drafted into the Korean War.

wp-1485900004832.jpg

James N. Lakis, 101st Airborne, Screaming Eagle, discharged Sergeant First Class, awarded Bronze Star (1931 – 1998, Philadelphia, PA)

Well, not much left but for this handsome man to go to college on the GI Bill, become a successful freelance artist, and meet that blonde, bleeding heart liberal gal on a blind date at Dirty Frank’s Bar in Philly!

 

And the rest is my story!

 

It was a weird and messy road to me. Mercenaries and persecuted religions. Central Asian horse-archers in Easten Europe, who lost WWI and ended up as refugees. Killing octopi and Turkish soldiers! Escape. Backroom gambling. Bootlegging. A real-life, immigrant tear-jerker worthy of Puccini. Criminal dealing for Green Cards. Hey, it’s all good. It’s All-American, like me.

What’s your “American Story”? What recipe of immigrants and survivors makes you 100% American?

Check out my Instagram! There are pictures of things I like and hate! 😊

While you’re there: check out my (Polish, German, English, Irish, Welsh) BFF’s Instagram and share some love.

Got a comment? Click below! I love the feedback. If you like what you’ve read, tap Like and Share! Click here to follow on Twitter.

 


My Best Ally

My last blog was about hate, this one is about love. And I’m well-endowed on the love front as well. I want you all to meet my best friend and the best ally ever, Stan. We share our life, our home, and our values. (And, boy, is it ever great to have a Marine combat engineer on your side!) Having support at home in resisting Trump is a gift. Especially in the one you love.

OK, so, yes there are some incredibly practical aspects to having someone like Stan when you live in a house that’s 130 years old with land. I know he’ll also keep me safe, and always be there for me, but it’s his goodness and humor that truly shines through to me.

Here’s a guy who served his country during wartime, and has never viewed himself as “political,” but suddenly he’s become the Bruce Lee of social justice. As he says, “I’m white and male and a Marine. I’m going to let my freak flag fly!” And he has.

Since the election, he has been exercising his status for good. He got laughs and applause at a local convenience store when he said to the old white woman screaming “Go back to your own country!” at an young hispanic lady, “Well, you must be the whitest Native American ever.”  Because, seriously, people standing in line the Friday before Christmas, waiting to pay for gas and cigarettes really just want to get out without being screamed at or hearing a crazy person screaming! So score one for team decency.

On Inauguration Day, which I can hardly believe is only last Friday — seems like a million years! — he stopped by the grocery store that sells beer (that’s a big deal in PA), and he noticed an older black woman actually sitting on the curb in the parking lot, in the rain, crying. So he stopped and sat with her for a bit, and let her talk out her fears and sadness. Even though they both acknowledged the weirdness of a white dude giving this woman, who despaired of a lifetime of struggle with both black and women’s rights, some human comfort.

Firstly, I cannot believe that we have come to this point as a nation — here in the US — where people are openly weeping in public over their fears of the election of that alternative-fact, Alt-Right, Russian supported, greedy, pussy-grabbing, Manchurian Candidate Trump. But I am heartened by the millions who marched in the Women’s Marches and Sister Marches ALL OVER THE WORLD, and the zillion anti-Trump and commiseration groups on Facebook, right there with that woman on the curb, and myself. Never have so many suffered so much for so few. And it’s good to know there are some who should, in theory, be on the other side, out there performing random acts of decency.

We all need to know we have each others’ back! No matter what. Whether in the marches, in the groups, or simply in a grown up Boy Scout who happens by. He even challenged a guy talking about “fat chicks” in the marches just yesterday. In a way it’s odd, but it’s really about Allies and support. And it makes all the sense in the world. There are plenty of white males out there who hate Trump, and I’m glad they are using their privilege to help oppose him. It’s a lonely world, and we all need to be each other’s support. Intersectionality is Unity is Power.

So, I’ll keep ‘splaining the issues, and keeping my voice strong, practicing my action lists,  but I’m beyond grateful to have my best ally right here with me. I know a lot of women don’t have that in their other, and I acknowledge that I’m fortunate. He gives me hope and strength and laughter. And that matters as much on the personal level of daily interactions with real people as all the Facebook groups ever.  Everyone should have a Stan. Who is yours?

Thanks Stan. You’re a mensch. (And you’re my mensch!) 💖

 

Check out my Instagram! There are pictures of things I like and hate! 😊

While you’re there: check out my BFF’s Instagram and share some love.

Got a comment? Click below! I love the feedback. If you like what you’ve read, tap Like and Share! Click here to follow on Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 


%d bloggers like this: