Monday, January 1, 2018

Master of my Fate, Captain of my Soul


This is for a GROWN ASS OLD MAN who refuses to help himself. All of his friends have tried to be positive. Tried to guide him toward people that would help him understand that he is NOT BROKEN, but he sure loves to feel like he is. I know people battling ALS, a family who lost 2 of their children in a fire, cops who have been shot and killed on duty. He will never read this poem. He will never read this post, but perhaps this will help a person who stumbles on this poem and will give them the courage to understand it's about your attitude. 


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Curse Of Chalfont

One night while walking the dog, all these spooky things were happening, bats flying low, walked through a spider web (freaking out!) and I noticed stains on the road. I was sure they were oil...but...what if they were blood?

That got me thinking to fall, Halloween, and how I truly love a good spooky story. There is much history in Chalfont. Many historic buildings have been torn down or are run down. The town is expanding the housing market.

If there are ghosts or lost souls in Chalfont, I guess this might make them angry or unhappy, and it could just bring them to life.

So I decided to write a serial leading up to Halloween called "The Curse of Chalfont." Part history. Part Mystery. Part Gory. Part Story.

You'll see it at the top of the page in my links, and if you can't find that, it's right here: The Curse Of Chalfont.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Sex! All These Toxic Things I've Done (Part One)

I couldn't wait to lose my virginity - and it all started with Playboy.

I had discovered Playboy (accidentally) when I was about 5 years old. Though, don't worry, I didn't start thinking about having sex until I was a about 14 years old (thinking is the key word there!)

When I was about 5, I had misbehaved (shocking, I know!) and my mother put me in a "timeout" on this brown leather recliner that was my dad's favorite chair. There was a magazine rack next to the chair, so I picked out a magazine and started to flip through it.

I remember being a bit surprised to see naked women in it, but I remember clear as day being shocked (as well as entertained) that there were CARTOONS and they were  naked! (unlike the Sunday Comics in the paper which I'd loved), The comics even had a naked man with his PENIS doing things to a woman. The man looked nothing like my Ken "Barbie" Doll!!!

My mother was horrified to find me looking at it. She grabbed it from my hands and yelled at me.

So, I knew then, this must be something SECRET that only adults knew and, of course, if she didn't want me to have it, then...it meant it was probably something good.

Of course, they disappeared after that, but I later found them when I a babysitter explained to me the truth about Santa (I'll never forgive her for that), and showed me a closet full of presents. I was crushed. I also became a snooper, looking for more presents, and found even MORE Playboys.

That Christmas, when my parents realized I was not surprised by anything, they threatened to take my presents away because they realized I had snooped. Then I explained that the babysitter had told me/showed me the presents. I also told them, because I was angry about their threat, that I found the stack of my fathers naked girl magazines.

After that, the Playboys disappeared.

Now, keep in mind, when I was young, there were only a few channels on TV. And by a few I mean: 3. We would watch the Disney Movie on Sunday nights as a family. I remember Leave It To Beaver, The Brady Bunch, and Gilligan's Island. Oh and I Love Lucy and Candid Camera (my favorite!).

When I was young, life was very, very innocent. The most outrageous show (well, aside from soap operas) was Three's Company, which I was forbidden to watch!

My mother always worked. As long as I could remember, she worked. I was a latch key child since kindergarten. There was only a short time my mom didn't work (I think I was maybe 5th or 6th grade?) and she hated staying home. I hated her being home because by that time, I loved having freedom for a few hours when I got home from school. Mostly so I could roast marshmallows over the heating element on the stove top!

Back to the Playboys.

Shortly after finding the Playboys, my mom sat down with me and we had a "talk." She explained what the "private" parts on a woman and man were called. She explained, very briefly, that babies did not come from storks, they came as a result of mommies and daddies being in love, and someday, she would explain all the details to me. She also showed me this picture of how men evolved from apes.
And for a very young girl, this was all HUGE news. I felt like I was in on some very adult, cool, secrets. I knew something other kids didn't because MY MOM WAS SO COOL.

However. I also was going to CCD at the time. CCD is a religious education program for children by the Catholic church.

So, this whole thing of apes was a bit distressing. Because I'd learned (in CCD) that God created Adam and Eve. Yet my mother had shown me a book that said humans evolved from apes. I had also learned about heaven and that the only way to get to this fabulous peaceful place was by dying. I remember lying awake staring at the white curtains in my bedroom dotted with pink and purple flowers (they were very pretty, I loved them) and being overwhelmed (and confused) by all these very big (and very different) ideas.  In CCD I got in trouble for bringing up the ape to human idea, and at home I got in trouble for telling my CCD teacher about what my mom had told me!
I couldn't win.
Story of my life.

One more thing to note; I didn't have an extended family anywhere near us. My dad was in the Air Force so we moved often. My parents did separate for about a year, and I was sent to live with my Grandmother and Grandfather (who lived in a very very small town in Pennsylvania). There were no Playboys at Grandma and Grandpas house. We watched Lawrence Welk, Candid Camera, and I Love Lucy. We went to church every Sunday. Grandma was home all the time. There, I had a large extended family. I went to a Catholic school (and arrived in the middle of the school year). Of course, I really missed my parents and didn't really understand what had happened between them.

So, not only at an early age had I discovered that girls, when they grow up, grow up to have a voluptous body and women take off their clothes to be in a magazine (that also includes comics) but I also had learned that there was no such thing as permanency/security. One day you are living with your parents, and one day you are living thousands of miles away with grandparents and an extended family you barely know. I had to learn quickly how to adjust, and I also had to learn how to fit in with a new set of friends in school. I had to learn how to belong and be accepted.

My parents got back together and after almost a year, sent for me to come back. By this time, however, they had moved to Box Elder South Dakota, my dad had left the military and we were now living in a trailer. In a trailer park. It was very different from the small cozy home I remembered in Rock Falls Illinois and very, very different from my Grandmothers very large single home in Nesquehoning, Pa.
I hated the trailer park.

But I was very happy to be back with my parents. And now, once again, I was in a new school. This time a public school. Again, had to observe the dynamics of a new class and new kids, and figure out how to belong.

And no sooner had I moved back in with my parents (again, becoming a Latch Key child) before I was, once again, exposed to naked women.

This time, my friend who lived next door (a few years older than I was, and I was about 7/8 at the time) had found magazines under her parents bed. This magazine was far more explicit than Playboy. It was filled with women with huge naked boobs that had milk in them, and the women were squirting men with their milk.

As a young girl, this seemed revolting, horrifying.

But, again, the magazine had been hidden. So that made it something fascinating Even though it was disgusting to me, it was a bit exciting that we had a secret look into an adults world. Though I really had no idea why women had milk in their breasts! My mother had never explained THAT. And I wasn't sure how I could possibly ask my mother without alerting her to the fact that my friend had snooped, found something that obviously children shouldn't see, and perhaps that is where my curiosity about finding information started, after realizing that I'd have to seek the answers to the question on my own, since I didn't want to get my friend (or myself) in trouble.

And then my friend found her father's Penthouse and Oui magainze. Sacre Bleu!

I'd say that finding out there was no Santa Claus ruined a certain childish optimism and mysticism (that children should have!) but seeing a Penthouse/Lactating Boob Mag/Oui at such a young age not only confused me, it was far more disappointing and bleaker than finding out Santa wasn't real.  Is this what I had to look forward too when I was an adult? It this what my parents did? Is this what women did when they grew up? Take off their clothes and do very strange things?

Thankfully, we moved out of the trailer park, out of South Dakota, (away from sticky adult magazines!) and into a wonderful, big (but drafty!) house when we moved back to Rock Falls Illinois.

Finally, Rock Falls offered me some real stability. My mother had another baby (when I was 8 or 9 - I'm bad with remembering dates/birthdays but I can sure remember events!). I attended a Catholic school again. I arrived during the last week of third grade; but the small class was wonderful and though, once again, I had to figure out how to fit in and be accepted, I was very lucky that the kids were all wonderful. I would have some strong, really positive influences.

But it wouldn't take long before I would discover Judy Blume, Jackie Collins, and Madonna would convince me that sex was way cool, boys were everything, and being first is always best. Oh, and also, Luke would rape Laura (on General Hospital!) and then, she would marry him!

To Be Continued....

Saturday, October 8, 2016

All These Toxic Things I've Done...(Intro)

I will be 48 this year.
That is about the same age my dad was when he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrigs Disease in 1996.

My dad was given two years to live and died almost 2 years later on February 15th, 1998.

This realization that I am approaching an age my dad was when he got the news he had a limited amount of time left on this earth (and much of that time would be challenging) - is playing wicked tricks on my mind and is causing me to reflect more on my life than I did in 2014 when I faced a health crisis.

2014 launched me into the world of doctors, medicines, and surgery. It also made me take stock of what I'd done (and not done!) in life. I was convinced I wasn't going to live to see the year 2015. I started to take a long honest look at my life. How did I get to the place I was? It wasn't a bad place, but it could be much better. At my age, I should have accomplished so much more. What I had accomplished was a-lot of hangovers. A-lot of heart-ache. What I had accumulated were a-lot of recipe books. I also had many diaries so I could journal all of the fun things I did in life. Because growing up, the messages surrounding me were all about "living for the moment" "you only live once" "Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere!"

In 2014, I started tracing my life events,  things I had believed, and what led me to believe them. I have learned so much since then, ideas and information I want to share, but have been struggling with the approach.

And then, a few weeks ago, I  found a folder filled with my dad's emails to me. After he was diagnosed with ALS, we started to communicate via the internet. We lived many miles apart, but through those emails, I got to know him better than I ever had the whole time I was growing up. That was the only silver lining to the disease that killed my father (but it never defeated his spirit that still lives on).

Four days prior to his death, I had written to ask him what beliefs he would go out on a limb for.
He answered me the following day, writing; "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." He went on to describe his time in the military. How it helped shaped him. How he never realized how important the USA was until he was stationed outside of the States.

Though I’ve always been searching for the “holy grail that explains the keys to happiness” -  after a my health scare in 2014, after re-evaluating my life; my personal experiences, my scattered successes and horrible, epic fails, and I realized the answers had been there all along; I had to look no further than my dad. He had provided all the examples I needed – but I was too busy watching movies, reading books, and listening to “experts” because what could my dad…my blue jean wearing, football loving, car racing enthusiast, Three Stooges and John Wayne fan, plain old dad, teach me about the secrets to a good, happy, significant, life? Turns out: everything!

When I was growing up, my father  tried his best to be an example of honesty, humor, hard work, harmony, and humility, (all of which lead to happiness) - but I refused to believe that happiness could be that simple (and frankly, it seemed damn boring!). I was busy being distracted, drifting, and under the influence of a society that pushes pleasure, ease, and escape; their ultimate goal is to decay you to save you. And boy, did they have a willing student who eagerly couldn't wait to show how smart, cool, forward thinking, I was!

I know my father worried very much about how I would turn out. He was correct to worry. And I worry about my children. I had a great role model in my father. My children, however, had me, a mother who was trying to be cool, hip, and progressive. I don't know that I'll ever be able to undo the toxic influence that I passed on to them, but I sure can try.

I guess the most honest way to do that, is to start with what I've done, what I was thinking when I did it, and hopefully, my experiences will bring awareness to how our happiness is hijacked, how our confidence is worn down, and how our character and courage have been slowly eroding and what we can do to get back to good.

We all know that life is short. And I've done a-lot of good in my life, don't get me wrong. But what I've come to understand is that the things my dad valued: life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, is not just something you think about; it's something that you must protect, you must understand, you must be constantly vigilant.  Everything I did in life that was promoted to me as "freeing" and promised to bring me happiness by popular culture/society messages, only hurt my spirit, my heart, and only served to confuse me.

My father had the answer to what was right and true. But I wouldn't realize that until he was long gone. I wouldn't realize that until experience taught me. And I wouldn't realize that until I discovered some hidden jems of books that were not (and had not) ever been on any best-seller list, but supported the values and ideas my father exemplified.

By age 50, my father was gone. Lately I've been thinking I need to do more. Time really is of the essence. I have to stop worrying about perfecting each idea, and creating something funny or entertaining.

I want to payback, pay it forward, and honor my father and the men and women who sacrificed and continue to sacrifice their lives so that others may live in freedom. My generation, however, was sold freedom as "free from responsibility, free from guilt, free from consequences."

That is not the kind of freedom that our Founding Fathers, nor the military had in mind when they created and fought for America.

But it's sort of hard to realize that when, everywhere you turn, there is a company, or marketer, or movie, or book, or magazine, or politician, telling you that freedom is about sex, love, drinking, doing drugs, craft beer, craft marijuana, music, sports, and basically, that if you're not out to have a good time, something is fundamentally wrong with you!

I have come to understand that you can still have a good time, and still have common sense, character, and the courage to make a difference. You can refuse to believe the message that you are broken and need to be fixed. Refuse to be distracted by immediate desire and self gratification. Because the weaker you are, the easier it is to influence and persuade you.

All these toxic things I've done, I might not have done, had my dad sat me down and explained to me why virtue is not a dirty word, and how to be on guard and recognize the things that will lead to unhappiness and sow the seeds of disenchantment. But he didn't do that. And after reading an assortment of magazines from the 30's, 40's and 50's - I realize it's because he had no idea how subtly our happiness/freedom was being sabotaged. My father trusted the books I read, and the schools I went to, and the tv I watched, were harmless. And by the time my father realized I was lost in a world where goodness is viewed as corruption, and corruption is viewed as a path to happiness, he could do little to reel me back in. I am as stubborn as he was. But he continued to set and example. And his courage and character, his sense of humor, his determination, and his common sense, have always impressed me and given me something to aspire to.

And now that I understand not only the mistakes I made, but how I was influenced to believe that vice is nice, I hope to help others to be aware and alert. If we truly want happiness for ourselves and for each other, we need to continue to expose the people and ideas that devalue, exploit, and deceive.

If we don't understand the true nature of things and principles like character and justice and goodness, we can't expect them to live by those principles. When people ignore principles, ignorance becomes a glove in which corruption slips its hand.

I think my dad would be relieved to know that I finally wised up and realized I ignored the principles, I paid the price, and I'm taking off the gloves.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Is My Life All For Nothing?

For me, when I write, the challenge is "what if this is all for nothing."

What if the time I spend writing - the books I've written - are all for nothing. What if they are forgotten? 

When I first started to write, it was mostly for entertainment. I hoped to become a "best-selling author" one day. Mostly because all the time I put into writing would be worth something and so I didn't have to depend on a husband or boyfriend or work for a company that treated its employees like crap (though I feel like most companies now treat their employees like crap!). 

Writing is not easy. At least, not for me. Especially in today's culture, where you have to be short and to the point, and somehow be entertaining. 

My writing over the past few years has been less fiction and more writing with a purpose. To somehow restore our character, courage, and confidence. Because though we SEEM like a society that has made much progress, in reality, what I'm witnessing, is a huge decline. A decline in respect for not only each other, but in the way men treat women (and I realize I was part of the problem). A decline in the way people present themselves. I don't feel you have to get dressed up to go out to the store, but the people I see shopping at 2 pm in the afternoon are sloppy, slovenly, and almost seem to go out of there way to say, "Looks are not important; I don't care if you judge me!" But if you think about it, they are really saying, "I do care what you think of me, because I'm making an effort to send a message!"

I am mortified by the older men I know (in their 70's and 80's) that make not only very disparaging remarks about women, but one older married men, is routinely chatting up sex workers on his facebook and sending them money via Western Union! 

 I have filled binders and binders of research on our past culture. I've had fun reading old magazines (from the 30's, 50's etc). I have been able to trace back the slow decline and that has led to our state of confusion (good is bad, bad is good) and illusion. 

I believe I've truly found the answer to what brings contentment and happiness. But I'm so afraid that all this research (combined with experience!) and what I want to write will be lost. 

I stumbled on Rose Wilder Lane's writing. Brilliant! 

Rose Wilder Lane, Isabel Paterson, and Zora Neale Hurston were really the ushers of the Libertarian party. Yet, I'd never heard of them. 

Here are remarkable women from the 30's and 40's and who knows about them? Their messages were messages of "Moxie" and "Self Determination." 

They lived through extremely hard times, yet always had the fortitude and drive to overcome life's challenges. How come we know so little about these truly progressive women?  

So when I sit down to write, I often feel "What's the point?" What if my words get lost? What if I'm wasting my time when I could be doing something more productive like...reading the latest issue of People magazine? 

And I realize my fear of being forgotten, my fear of not making a difference, my fear of being laughed at by the "cool" kids, is the same fear everyone has. 

It's why people join Black Lives Matter. It's why cops become cops. It's why we search out like minded people. We want to belong and be accepted. And yet we also want to make a difference. And show we are somehow unique, individual.  We want our life to have some purpose. We want to be appreciated and loved. If not by a-lot of people, at least a few people. And this wanting to fit in yet wanting to be seen as individual is a fine, fine, line to walk. 

It is sort of like dieting. You know there is an end purpose (to be healthy) - but there is that big glaring fact of life looming in the back of your mind: Life ends. So what's the point of trying to be healthy? Why not just enjoy the pizza and beer and wine? 

And that, is what often stops us from making choices that, in the end, are not only good for us, but good for everyone. And I've found that choosing the difficult path, the path of NO, is actually the path that leads to the most happiness and fulfillment.

Sometimes, we think no one sees us. But you'd be surprised who is watching. And how one act of courage or kindness (whether it be risking your life to save another, or holding the door open for an elderly person) can stick in someones mind, and encourage them to do something courageous or kind. 

So, you might be hesitating to start a project or journey...you might be afraid to put yourself out on the limb and be judged. You might have the little voice inside your head telling you to not bother, because what if it's all for nothing? 

The trick is to get over yourself at the same time you need to believe in yourself. If you have a positive purpose behind your goal, nothing attempted is ever in vain. Your life is not in vain. There are many people I look to as examples on how to be a good person, how to get better, that have no idea that I aspire to be as smart, or kind, or purposeful, as they are. 

You were born with a talent. It might be being vocal, it might be as a photographer, it might be as an organizer; it might be as simple yet meaningful as being a loyal, loving, honorable friend. It is hard in today's culture when the signals seem to be, the more raunchy or self indulgent you are, the more respected you will be. It's difficult to 'do the right thing' when there is no seemingly punishment for doing the wrong thing; for hurting someone. Indeed, it seems that by doing the right thing, you will be punished or shamed. 

Your life is not all for nothing. The mistakes you make, will make you better. The mistakes you make will make someone else better or be a warning or caution or save someone else (hopefully!) from heartache. 

You might look like a fool - but guaranteed, you will get better. You will learn. And you will feel way more accomplished and better about yourself than you do after you've polished off a whole bag of Cheetos while watching a marathon of any Bravo tv show. 









Sunday, October 2, 2016

Football, FanDuel, and Easy Money

I play FanDuel.

I am not a hyuge football fan, though I once used to be able to name all the Eagles (that was back in the Randall Cunningham days).

I play FanDuel for the same reason most people play it.

1) It's a Distraction (I could be doing something like organizing my closets or reading a history book).

2) It's Easy Money. Something From (just about) nothing. You can win thousands of dollars from a one dollar entry.

3) It makes me feel like a detective; like I'm solving a puzzle.
Because with FanDuel, the object is to try and figure out which player is going to have a great game. You look back at statistics, you look at game data (who are they playing this week, how has the opposing team been doing, etc. etc.) A-lot goes into deciding the 'perfect' lineup. You only have so much (fake) money to spend, you want to make sure you spend wisely.

Now, I only put ten dollars in and once my ten is gone, I won't continue to play. It does make life a bit more interesting. Especially as I'm a girl (actually born AND identify as a girl), it gives me something to talk about when I'm around guys. Though generally they laugh at all my picks and make fun of me because I still have no concept of what a tight-end does. Also, I still love Tim Tebow and I think it's crap he got a-lot of shit for kneeling to pray on the field and became an outcast; Kapernaick (not sure how to spell his name, and don't really care) takes a kneel to try and divide our country even further apart and he gets on the cover of Time magazine!

Though I enjoy football, and think it's a fun diversion, it also makes me incredibly sad that so much devotion is given to a sport (and I mean all sports in general). If only we paid this much attention to what is going on in politics. If only we voted in politicians who run touchdowns, catch passes, and lead each Sunday in rushing. And if only we cut (or fired) those who under perform.

I wish that more people would "FanDuel" their politicians (esp. the Presidents). Dig a little deeper than what the media tell you. Cross research. Though in this case with the President; you've got one person who has spent her whole life in politics and has done nothing; has been at the center of scandal after scandal. And one politician who is a successful business man. He's had many failures, but at least he fought his way and never stopped trying. And he says things that are not very presidential. But, if you know politics at all, you know that Hillary says things that aren't presidential either, she just says them through PAC's or uses other people to deliver Trumplike digs. So, one candidate tells it like it is, and the other uses someone else to tell it like it is.

FanDuel (and sports in general) is what Huxley warned us about in Brave New World; that pleasures and distraction would be the ruin of society. With the peoples' attention diverted elsewhere, it would be easy to pass laws that restrict freedom; that take more of the peoples' money and resources.

Does anyone know what your local government is doing? I sure as hell don't. I went to a local meeting a few weeks ago and discovered they were voting on things they had already paid for! The township manager said, "Well, I couldn't just wait to get approval." And yet, we have a waterwell that is 2 points below toxic level and they have no idea what is going on.

Imagine if we gave up one night of Netflix, one night of sports, and started paying a little attention to our local government. It's always good to start there and work your way up. Even if you just show up and sit there; it sends a message people are paying attention. A little sunlight sends the cockroaches scattering.

So on this Sunday; enjoy your football. May you win big. May I win bigger. But consider my plea to pay a little more attention to politics (more than just skimming news), esp. your local government; because with just a little investment; we can all win big.

Go Steelers!