Posted in #weekendcoffeeshare, Current Events, slices of life, Weekend Coffee Share, Weekly Features, Writing in Freedom

When “Patriotism” Isn’t Patriotic: #weekendcoffeeshare for August 19, 2017

If we were having coffee, I’d be very excited to see you, since it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve had the pleasure of your company. Life has gotten suddenly a whole lot busier on the weekends, and in general.

I’m also be feeling a little sober and introspective, because the America that showed its uglier side last weekend isn’t the America I want to live in, or want my children to become adults in.

These two realities – the furthering of goals and dreams in my personal and family life, and the hatred and bigotry that has been revealed in our nation – are circling one another in my mind, as though they are a yin/yang symbol.

And maybe they are.

I know to my core that no one should be judged less worthy because of the color of their skin; whom they’re sexually attracted to or active with (so long as the object of the activity is a consensual participant); what faith they follow, if any; where they or their ancestors hail from; whether they have 2 X chromosomes, or an X and a Y; whether they identify as male, female, trans, non-binary, asexual, or potato salad; or any other external detail that doesn’t speak to the character of the person beneath.

Beyond that personal knowledge, I know that our Constitution entitles all Americans to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It’s one of the basic tenets upon which our nation is founded.

The Constitution is the document our president swears to uphold when he’s inauguarated.

And the current holder of our hightest office is reneging on that vow.

It makes me angry, even in the midst of personal good fortune. Americans deserve better. Jewish Americans should not be living in fear of armed and armored Nazis (neo or otherwise) marching in the streets, carrying torches and threatening their removal.

Americans – ALL Americans – are entitled by our Constitution to equality. To the degree to which equality is being denied, we are failing as Americans. The “white nationalist” movement may have co-opted the American flag and the phrase “real Americans” for their own purposes, but that doesn’t make what they’re doing patriotic or legal under the Constitution.

All American citizens are, by definition, REAL AMERICANS. It doesn’t matter whether you were raised on a reservation (what has been done to the first REAL AMERICANS in the creation of this country, by the way, is something that ought not be ignored when listening to those who insist that this is supposed to be a “white nation”), in Manhattan, in Alaska, Hawaii, the Midwest, or the Deep South. Income level and personal beliefs don’t factor into it.

All American citizens are real Americans. Period.

What is un-American in tone and practice is attempting to cleanse our nation of any of its citizens, or placing one group above the others, as though it has a franchise and right to be American that any opposing view does not.

That is, by its very nature, Un-American. It violates the very precepts our nation is founded upon, and it’s therefore the opposite of patriotism, no matter how many or how large the flags, or how many Make America Great Again slogans are plastered about.

America is great. As an idea, as an ideal, and as a nation. It doesn’t need to be made “great again.” It never stopped being great in the first place. Moreover, attempting to rip away the rights of any of its citizens based on their color or faith will weaken our nation. What can be taken from one group can be taken from any group, after all. Once the precedent is set, it’s hard to argue that it can only apply to others, but never oneself.

My thoughts have also been on the Confederate statues that are being used as a rallying point in this inflammation of racial bias. I understand the desire to erase the painful time in history, and to stop glorifying those who were willing to fight to continue to own human beings as property and deny them any right to direct the course of their own lives.

I also understand that this time in history did happen, and taking down statues can’t erase it.

But, as I see it, those aren’t the only two choices, and I wonder why so many people are choosing up sides as though it’s an either/or, all or nothing issue their side must win (in some cases, at any cost, even the lives of others).

I have another idea.

Why not leave the statues where they are, as they are – and, around them, create a learning area that discusses the biases that placed them there, and how we, as a nation, have grown beyone these ideas and injustices?

Near where I live in upstate New York is the Colonial-era mansion, Crailo, the home of the Van Rennselaer family of Dutch merchants. Catharine Van Rennsalaer married General Philip Schuyler, and they were the parents of Elizabeth Schuyler, who married Alexander Hamilton, America’s first Treasury Secretary.

When I toured Crailo last January, I was impressed that an entire floor is devoted to the experiences of those ensnared in the Dutch slave trade. This wholly unsavory time in the history of the Dutch merchants wasn’t being erased. Nor was it being romanticized. It was being given space, and treated with honesty, and those who once had no voice in their torture and enslavement now, belatedly, have one.

I think we’d be a stronger, kinder, more honest nation if we did that in regard to the Confederate statues.

I see your cup is nearly empty. Before you go, won’t you tell me what you think?

To share coffee with more #Weekendcoffeeshare posters, visit the linkup at Diana’s Part Time Monster Blog.

A tiny piece of Real America; Mechanicville, New York, early 2017 – a community originally settled by Italian-Americans.
Posted in #RevofKindness, Blog Hops and Fests, Mindful Monday, slices of life, Social Consciousness

Frenzy Stance: Easing Overwhelm for Mindful Monday/ #RevOfKindness Week 2

Yes, I know. #RevOfKindness is almost over… but I was absorbed with life, these last weeks, and it was kinder to myself to set the challenge aside until I was more ready for it, and tend to what was in front of me.

Now things have settled down into a more peaceful rhythm, and I’ve come back to the challenge, because kindness always matters. I’ll be off-schedule with the challenge proper, but that might actually be a good thing. Spreading the kindness out over a few extra weeks can’t hurt, can it?

I don’t think so.

So, here we go…my Week One post, and an expansion of self-kindness through frenzied times.

Have you ever been here?

You set out to list your goals for the day as you sip your favorite morning beverage – or maybe, you’ve let that beverage get cold three times already, and you can’t even begin to imagine being able to sit down long enough to make a physical list. Yours is whirling around in loose sticky notes in your brain, as though all the things you need to do are leaves being blown around on a blustery day.

I have definitely been there.

When I saw a clip of The Big Bang Theory, I heard a phrase that seemed to sum it up perfectly.

Frenzy Stance.

Okay, so it was a game move – but it fits.

That’s exactly how I feel when I’m overwhelmed. As though I’m in Frenzy Stance. Without knowing the move, it makes me imagine being partially crouched, maybe in Bow Stance, but not steadily. My body is tense rather than relaxed, my eyes shifting from side to side as though all the things I haven’t gotten to are going to breed, grow sharp fangs, and chew me up….

Needless to say, that feeling really doesn’t help me to be kind – not to myself, and not to anyone else, either. It’s a feeling that is more likely to lead to panic, impatience, snappiness, or worse.

Frenzy Stance doesn’t make me very nice to live with – not for my family, or for me.

I mentioned in my previous post that I’m attempting to be kinder to myself, especially where overwhelm is concerned.

A big part of that kindness is considering how Frenzy Stance happens, how it becomes overwhelming, I need to know those things in order to find the best ways of relieving it, short-circuiting it before it takes me over – or, better yet, how to prevent it in the first place.

That’s something I’m going to be exploring through this week – getting up close and personal with Frenzy Stance, figuring it out – and, maybe, beginning to form some strategies to deal with it. There are some things I know calm me – tai chi, meditation, long walks, cleaning or organizing a personal space, going for a swim, hanging out with good friends, hot coffee, a hot shower, journaling, and writing.

The thing is, it can be harder to remember those techniques when I’m already stressed…

And that’s what this week is going to be about for me – coming up with enough understanding of the first inklings of Frenzy Stance’s onset to develop a strategy to defuse it before it gets a foothold on my soul….
 

Do you have a Frenzy Stance?

Have you learned how to defuse it?

How did you manage that?

Or are you like me, looking for ways to get a handle on your overwhelm before you get to Frenzy Stance?

Either way, you can share in the comments below!

This post is my Week One Self-Love Kindness Challenge entry – belated and well-intentioned. Click the icon above, or the link, to visit Week One’s reflection post, and visit other participants.

This is also part of Colleen Chesebro’s Mindful Monday. Click the icon or the link to visit more Mindful Monday posts.

Posted in "Monday Morning Coffee", Blog Hops and Fests, Published Works, Short Stories, Story a Day, Weekend Writing Warriors, Weekly Features

“My Fellow Human”: #WeWriWa #8Sunday

Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors’ Eight Sentence Sunday!

It’s the weekly hop for everyone who loves to write! We’ve got a variety of genres and talented writers just waiting for you to come sample their wordy wares. Come read one, or all!

If you’re inclined to share your own 8-10 sentence snippet, follow the link and sign up. It’s a great community to be a part of! =D

“Monday Morning Coffee” has been with me since I was sixteen. A local boy with schizophrenia wandered away from his family at a large outdoor event. Several days later, he was found, deceased.

From that story came this one – the connection might not be clear to anyone but me – but it’s there.

Context:
Rose and Jeremy discuss his humanity – or lack thereof.

My Fellow Human”

“Maybe you’re the only human in this whole godforsaken place.” I’ve never wanted to kiss anyone so badly in my life. I want to quit my job, abandon my tiny, secluded office, and just be here with him. If only I could take him by the hand and lead him home, spend the day talking and touching and sharing!

“Not the only one, dear kind Rose. Maybe one of two, but not the only one.” He presses a beautiful paper rose, complete with leaves and a thorn, into my hand. “Payment, for my fellow human.”

What happens next?

Any guesses you’d like to share?

Monday Morning Coffee” was originally published in the 2015 edition of World Unknown Review, edited by L.S. Engler.  Since I retain all rights beyond first publication, I intend to revise the story and use it as my initial self-published offering.

And, for this weekend and only this weekend, you can read my new Kifo Island short story, “Broken”, along with a diverse buffet of other short stories at StoryFest, the “virtual recital” for participants of the StoryADay May Challenge. Read one, read all, read somewhere in between…

Looking for more #8Sunday, click this link, or the icon above!

Posted in Blog Hops and Fests, Kifo Island Chroincles, Parenting, Short Stories, Story a Day, writing, writing prompts, Writing Sample

“Broken (Revised)” for StoryFest 2017

 

 

“Put it back on! Put it back on!” Marilyn squeezes her eyes closed, claps her hands over them. She isn’t going to open them again until Ophelia puts the cap back on and hides the evidence.

“Marilyn, put your hands down and look at your daughter. You can’t hide from her.” There is something in Ophelia’s tone that Marilyn latches onto. It’s a distraction; she won’t have to think about how childish she looks like this, covering her eyes so she won’t see the baby girl.

“You aren’t my mother!”

“No. But you are hers.”

Damn! She fell right into the trap. Ophelia is good enough at that to actually be someone’s mother.

“She’s a broken doll – ”

“No. She’s a living being. She’s going to die soon – and she deserves to be seen by her mother while she’s still alive.”

Ophelia’s wrong. This isn’t a baby. Not a living being. Not really. Marilyn doesn’t want to look at the shattered places, or  the gaping hollow where a brain should be, but isn’t. It’s too much like Mom’s huge hollow house, and the gaping hole where her parents’ love never was.

It’s like a symbol of the hollowness inside her.

Would anything be different if Ophelia was this baby’s mother?

“Marilyn.”

Damned Ophelia, not letting her hide, not giving up on her. How the hell did she get to be so stubborn,or so strong?

Marilyn knows the answer to that.

She has a mother who loves her. A mother who stays alive, and does the things a mother is supposed to do for her child.

Marilyn has a baby now. That makes her a mother.

The mother of a nameless, broken baby girl.

Marilyn is broken too – not with a skull that has a hole in it, and no brain inside…no. Not like that. But she’s no less broken.

Sometimes broken doesn’t show. Sometimes, people hide it under long sleeves.

“Marilyn. It’s time to look at your daughter, and face this. That’s why we’re  here, after all.”

Marilyn doesn’t argue. There’s no point. Ophelia takes her wrists and applies pressure upward. Gentle, but firm and relentless, just like this strange half-sister who is at least half a mother.

And more of a mother than Marilyn can ever remember having. She lets Ophelia guide her up, and to the side of the little clear plastic bassinet where her sister has taped pictures and notes – stupid, to do that for a baby who is blind, deaf, and has nothing to see or hear or think with. That slices at her insides, but Ophelia isn’t going to let her loose until she looks. Marilyn doesn’t want to think about what’s waiting when she does.

“Let’s count to three, then it’s time to put down your hands and open your eyes. See her, hold her, and give her a name. Then we can put the cap back on.”

She isn’t going to give up. Marilyn pretends she’s high, so swaddled in heroin’s warm blissful hug that everything – even this – is only a dream,  and  they count together.

“Three.”

Ophelia isn’t going to give up. Marilyn knows that.  She  pens her eyes, and glances at the places where there’s no skull, and emptiness stares up at her. It helps to focus on the perfect tiny face, and pretend it really is just a doll.  She doesn’t say so, because Ophelia will try to force her to see a real live baby.

Marilyn looks, but she won’t let herself feel. Not even when she holds the little warm bundle.

She used to have lifelike baby dolls – that’s all this is. A toy.

“Time to give her a name, Marilyn.”

“Damned nosy kid.” She just wants Ophelia off her back. Out of her face.

“That would make a lousy name. You can do better.”

She tries to think of something – anything to get Ophelia to  shut the hell up and let Marilyn keep the fantasy that smooths out the hurts and fills the empty places.

There’s a lavender band around the edge of the blanket, and on the cuffs of the baby’s sleeper. She thinks that reminds her of something, but she can’t remember what. It doesn’t matter. It’s an answer.

“Lavender. Her name is Lavender.”

Maybe it will be enough to make Ophelia leave her alone, so she can escape into her dream-world again. She only needs a few minutes alone –

“Miss Morgan?”

Marilyn knows the doctor’s voice; she has an unmistakable accent. Warm and soft, like the gauzy feeling after shooting up. But now, there’s something darker lacing it, like poison,  and Marilyn holds the broken doll of a baby close, rocking it. She won’t turn to look at the doctor. She’s just a little girl with her toy. Nothing else.

It doesn’t stop the next words from shattering her fantasy.

“She can’t live much longer than another day or two. Her breathing is failing. I know you haven’t been ready till now, but the donation papers need to be signed before she dies, if her organs are going to have the maximum positive impact -”

“I need to use the bathroom.” Marilyn stands up too fast; her head seems to take longer than the rest of her. She presses the baby – Lavender – toward her sister; Ophelia opens her arms, cooing senselessly to the blind deaf brainless little thing. She doesn’t look suspicious, and the doctor doesn’t know Marilyn well enough to guess she’s planning her escape.

She grabs her purse and leaves them there. She can feel her heroin kit through the denim.

Maybe it’s wrong. She’s a mother now. But Marilyn has to get away from here. Somewhere with no broken baby daughters, no broken places in herself, no papers to sign and pieces of her doll given to all the mothers of all those other broken baby dolls, because those ones could be fixed, but hers was broken forever –

She remembers Brad. This is his broken baby doll, too, but he left her here alone with it the same night they made it. He’s gone forever – safe.  Just like she wants to be.

She goes into the ladies’ room, all the way to the far stall. She caresses the shape of her kit with one hand while latching the door closed with the other. She can almost feel the gauziness waiting for her, calling to her.

Brad escaped into the gauziness forever.

Marilyn sits down, opens the purse, and pulls out her kit.

She can escape, too.

 

 

Posted in SoCS, Weekly Features, writing, writing prompts, Writing Sample

Weathering the Whether for #SoCS

Whether the weather be fine

Whether the weather be foul

Life goes on…until it doesn’t.

I’m not sure if that’s particularly relevant to anything – or at least anything I’m going to write in this post – but it’s what came out of my mind, which has been up for a good number of hours doing writing-things and Trek-things.

It gets a little weird in here when I get very sleepy, and the connections between things that don’t seem connected get a little wibbly-wobbly, like lime jello on a hospital tray.

See, I had no idea lime jello was going to have a place in this post! But then, no one really ever expects lime jello, do they?

The kids used to have the book Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.  Sunny, With Scattered lime jello just doesn’t seem to have the same ring to my ears.

Speaking of weather, we’ve had some damp chilly times lately here in upstate New York. I think the local weather folks are getting nervous, or maybe hearing a lot of complaints, as though maybe people think unsettled weather in the springtime is their doing. There must be a bit of “kill the messenger” mentality, at least. In the last two days, I’ve heard one proclaim he wished he didn’t have to give the forecast. Another gave the Saturday forecast – cloudy but dry – and then said good night, as though there couldn’t be anything more to say. When he continued the forecast, I understood why. Saturday will be the last dry day for a spell.

It always makes me wonder whether people just forget past weather – like last spring and summer, when we were experiencing a drought – nowhere near what California endured, but still quite dry for this area. The wet now seems more like nature’s imaginary pendulum swinging back, but there seems to be a certain attitude that never wants rain, until it stops falling….

For myself, I’m in a place of personal and professional transition. There’s too much happening at a level too deep for language, so I’m not going to go into details yet. This is a long-term kind of feeling, so it may be a while before I can see things clearly. All I know for sure is that I will do what I can to weather the whether.

This very short post is a part of Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday, where this week’s prompt is “weather/whether,” used any way we want. Find the rules of engagement here, and take a dip in the stream here.

Posted in Fan fiction, Kifo Island Chroincles, Story a Day, The IDIC Romance, writing

Reflections: #StoryADay May 2017 Wrapup Post

Well, Story A Day May 2017 is in the books, and it’s reflection time.

Here’s what I’ve got….

A lot of not-writing things happened this May:

  • The annual Dutch Street Scrubbing and Tulip Festival in Albany.

  • CanalFest – the annual celebration of the opening of New York State’s fairly extensive canal system.

  • Homeschool pizza party and time with friends.

  • An eye doctor appointment for my son.

  • My new-in-April smartphone has a very comprehensive fitness app, and I’ve been wanting to get to a healthier me…

  • Two arguments with my Accomplice (not, thankfully, a common occurrence – which also makes them more stressful when we do happen to disagree).

  • We decided to upgrade our cable, which now gives us access to many channels we didn’t have before…including Heroes and Icons. That’s notable because it plays a five hour block of Star Trek six nights a week – one episode from each of the live-action series, and ending with Enterprise…and there’s an accompanying Twitter chat. I’ve found my Trek tribe at #allstartrek, and I’m having a blast…but, of course, it’s hard to write stories if I’m also watching my favorite Vulcan and her favorite human, and chatting about them…

  • I’m in the midst of revision and marketing classes, and helping my Accomplice with his business venture (I’m his entire branding, marketing, and design team. I have a creative bent, good instincts, and some extremely modest related experience, but a lot of this I’m learning as I go, with trial and a LOT of error…).

But what does any of that have to do with writing a story every day in May?

It wasn’t a seamless challenge – not by a long shot.

Well, for one thing, there are only 24 hours in a day, and, even though I don’t sleep much, I am human, and it’s inevitable. Family and hometending take time.

I didn’t quite write every day. I felt guilty about the misses, even though the reasons for them often had to do with family, or stretching in new and productive directions, or attending events that are time-sensitive and wouldn’t wait for a more convenient month.

That’s more than a little silly, really.

I also found that writing two stories each day, and sharing them via three daily blog posts and a fan fiction site led to a good deal of additional work each day.

Sometimes, it was overwhelming.

At one point, I was behind two days with my stories, and a whopping 13 days with my posts. The rest of my blogging fell away to almost nothing while I tried to get caught up again.

I was stressed about being behind.

It was a challenge, and, now that my last posts are up, and I can breathe – I’m tired.

Was it all worth it?

Yes!

My Month, By the Numbers:

  • I’ve got 64 new stories (I wrote 3 drabbles on the last day).

  • That’s 3,300 words of fan fiction, and…

  • A whopping 12, 833 words of backstory and noodling for the novel I’ll be plotting this month, and drafting in July.

I have a much better idea of who these people are, the realities of their lives, their histories and points of friction. They are more alive in my mind than they were at the beginning of the month.

I’ve seen, again and again, how life and writing intertwine. That time taken to go to the Tulip Festival filled my mind with the vibrancy of texture, color, heritage, and history. CanalFest did the same, with a different flavor.

Even those arguments had their place – because I was attempting to find the clarity of what mattered most to me and why, I was able to also do that for my characters.

And about that overreach that overwhelmed?

There’s value in realizing that I bit off a bit more than I could comfortably chew, and making the decision to either adapt the plan, or keep on chewing. Neither is more right every time, so assessing the variables and making a decision is a conscious act with a risk involved.

It’s not always about the challenge itself, as much as it is about awareness.

Falling down a bit and striving to get back up can lead to discoveries we might not make if we sail along smoothly from day to day.

Have you undertaken a challenge lately?

What did you learn along the way?

 

 

Posted in Fan fiction, Kifo Island Chroincles, Short Stories, Star Trek: Enterprise, Story a Day, The IDIC Romance, writing, writing prompts, Writing Sample

Write About A Writer for #StoryADay May Day Thirty-One

Hello there, and welcome to my final Story a Day May “Show My Work” post! This is where I give you a sneak peek into how I’m creating two (very short, and very different) stories, every day this May. Yep, that’s right; less than 24 hours from my first reading of the prompt to a committed story, even if I’m not quite that fast at posting them!

Ready to read?

Well then, what are we waiting for?

Story A Day May 31’s prompt is from StoryADay creator Julie Duffy .

The Prompt:

  • Write A Story About A Writer.

Main Project Premise:
 

  • We go back to Day One, to the postcard Ophelia received, and we meet its author.

Fleshing Out the Premise:

  • Ophelia goes to meet the mysterious author of the postcard she received – even though it means returning to Kifo Island – a place she has tried to avoid for the last ten years. But now she has to know – whether this is a cruel joke, or somehow, some miracle has occurred. What or who awaits her?

My Favorite Bit of Lavender? 

She hated being here. Such a beautiful place; so much like home. But so poisoned, to her mind, by everything that had happened here, ten years ago.

But she had to know.

Side Project Premise:

Standard disclaimer. I don’t own them, I don’t profit from them, but they insist on telling me their stories, so I’m sharing them with you.

Three stories (and the fleshing-out; followed by my favorite bits):

    1. Someone has dictated a letter that exonerates Trip. And, when he hears it, he knows her voice right away. It’s her – his Vulcan Surprise Package, coming to his rescue with her words. But how did she know he was in trouble?

    Just Like That?”

    “To all Terran authorities: I must offer testimony into the difficulties being experienced by a male of your species -”
     

    T’Pol feels that the perhaps imaginary danger to her human has passed (journal entry). It’s exultant, with hints and notes of the music that had played as they met. At last, she begins to be able to center herself in peace and acceptance of the human in her soul.

    Out of the Fire

    Your mind is powerful, and easily sensed.”

    “That surprises the hell out of you.”

    Agreed.”
     

    Soval sees the letter his kindaughter wrote in defense of her Intended. She has found a way to protect her Intended from the consequences of her need to defend herself, without revealing her own actions or identity. It is a skillful (and illogical) act that reveals much about the status of her Awakening.

    Incontrovertible Proof

    It violated all protocol associated with her position. Her action befit the infant who had dared to touch the flame – and more.

    To see the drabbles in sequence, visit my fanfiction.net page! 

    And, if you’d like to learn more about Julie Duffy  and Story A Day May, click the links and learn away!