The nubs of my blunted fingers rub my shirt. Seems I do this more often without thinking. I can’t tell if it’s from the crazy itching where the fingers use to be, or if from trying to soothe my rumbling belly.
Hunger has kept me from bothering to look for work anymore. I’m too hungry to work. When my fingers parted ways with my hand, they took my chances of paid work with them anyway. Like a weary wife who takes away the children and all hope of a future. Why hire a man with six fingers, when there are plenty with ten? Ten fingers get the job done better. Seems awfully nit-picky to me. But I suppose bosses can afford to be picky in times like these.
I’ve learned to be careful where I loiter. An empty storefront is best. Plenty of those around. No one complains so long as I don’t block any signs. I don’t see how it matters. Most of the signs entice folks to buy nonexistent food. The ghost of food lingers on empty counters in empty diners. I have a wild desire to fill my empty belly with it. But that’s just my imaginative youth trying to take over. I don’t blame my youth. Someone’s got to provide.
My buddy Jeb thinks I should keep my hands out of my bibs. Show everyone my mangled hand. I’d get more coins tossed my way. “Sympathy money” he calls it. But every man has some shred of dignity that he won’t let go of. It’s bad enough to stand here waiting for a coin to fall on the walk. I won’t even put my hat down in a silent plea for change. Besides, if a boss happened to be walking by, I would want him to think he’s seeing a whole man in case he needs a worker. Begging is beneath me.
My ears go deaf. Before the ringing starts, I get the whiff of gun powder. These sensations are all too familiar. We made our way to our respective ship cabins to settle in for the journey when it happened. The gunman barely caught my eye before he moved in close to aim at Mayor Gaynor’s throat.
Now it comes to it, I did feel a slight perception of fear, perhaps the result of the villain’s sneer. But without the knowledge of a gun, my fear felt misplaced.
Blood squirts from my friend’s neck. I hear the click of a camera. I cannot move fast enough to help William lay on the ship’s deck, while calling for a doctor. I’m not sure I’m heard.
What was before excited chatter of people embarking to Europe, has turned into a flurry of panic. Women scream. The rapid clacking of shoes race around me. Men roughly disarm and subdue the gunman. I remove my coat to cushion William’s head and note the metallic scent of his blood. Whether my cries for a doctor are heard or one volunteers regardless, help arrives. I leave my friend in his care. My hands shake as they always do at times like these.
But why must I experience so many of these times?
A mere four days ago, I’d mourned the 45th anniversary of my father’s assassination. Why must fate be stubborn to me? Why be rescued by the brother of my father’s killer at the tender age of 20, only to spend a lifetime witnessing assassinations? Father, President Garfield, President McKinley…and even my friend, the New York City Mayor.
I needed a media fast. I posted it on my Facebook page:
Hey folks, for anyone who might happen to care, I’ve decided to go on a FULL media fast for about a month. As an author in the digital age, I’ve been told I must be “connected.” I’ve created a blog and this FB page, I even go on Twitter and Instagram every so often. Being so connected may be good for me as an author, but with all this exposure to media comes things that are not good for me…as a person.
Because I’m not a faceless name on the internet. After what happened to those nine innocent people in Charleston, I’m exhausted. It was different because of how people reacted to our own history. No other event seems to have brought out so many unsympathetic people. The Chattanooga massacre, the Boston Marathon bombing, Sandy Hook, the Aurora theater shooting, etc…we all seem to grieve collectively for those. But somehow it was different for the AME Nine. And while the hype has died down, articles still crop up and I just flat out need a break.
I need a break from cynicism. I need a break from bullies. I need a break from people who don’t think words matter. I need a break from people who passively censor the ugly parts of southern history, because they don’t want to FEEL. I need a break from selfishness.
Go ahead and respond to my post if you want. Whatever it is you want to say, whether for or against, I won’t respond till I’m ready. God bless.
So now it’s been a month. While I didn’t engage in media viewing or reading, it’s still difficult to wholly avoid. But some positives came from the experience. Sometimes you have have to step out of the forest so you can stop focusing on the trees. 🙂
1. The Confederate Battle Flag still looks like a symbol of bigotry and oppression.
Especially when it’s a HUGE one flying down the road on the back of an over-sized pick-up. Preoccupied with size much? At least I got a month break from the people who shout “heritage, not hate” or “the Civil War was not about slavery.” They are the mindless drones who have never bothered to read Mississippi’s Declaration of Causes of Secession, among the other Southern States declarations of the time. Apparently, they prefer the fairy-tale version of history which omits lynchings, beatings, and ripping people from families.
*Shakes head sadly*
2. Donald Trump still looks likes a narcissistic bully.
Seriously? Where does this guy stand on actual issues? As of this published post, the only position he talks about on his political website is immigration. So if he becomes president, then American government can completely decay, education can continue to plummet, and our budget can do whatever it wants. But that’s okay, because we’ve eliminated all the illegal immigrants…one way or another.
I know the election is over a year away, but it disturbs me to see how he still has such a strong following. I haven’t yet figured out why people can’t see through him. But I’ve never been able to quite see how the German people couldn’t see through Hitler either.
I wish more people would go on a media fast. Trump’s pot of water is slowly heating up and the frogs are oblivious to their predicament.
3. Hillary Clinton’s comment about how religion needs to change is still foreboding.
Why in the world would she say that? What happened to freedom of religion? Should I prepare to channel my ancestral heritage and plan a pilgrimage to a land where I won’t be told how I should believe in my God? She’s as bad as the news outlets who tell me what I need to think.
Which leads me to my last point…
4. It finally clicked in my head that PBS is likely where I should get my news.
Part of my struggle to see the forest for the trees was caused by the frustration of being told what to think. I hate that. I’m not stupid. I don’t like feeling like a drone. I can draw my own conclusions, thank you very much.
PBS is not glamorous or sensational, so I’m sorry to say I overlooked it in my struggle to draw my own conclusions from biased media. On a smaller scale, I think PBS will help me continue my media fast. No more CNN-or FOX-like hypnotism.
Okay, so the only positive is the thing with PBS. But to me, that’s a big positive. I liked my month of not being fed opinions. A big part of me really doesn’t want to even get back to Facebook, but now that I’ve had a break, I should be able to just skip the things I don’t want to see. That’s an even bigger positive. 😀
Have you ever had to go on a media fast? Does the tabloid-like setting of our society exhaust you? How do you deal with it? Are you a media drone? How do you deal with being a drone?
Here’s the next chapter in my “Grannie’s Memories” series. She wrote them down circa 1967* and these stories are what is inspiring my Work In Progress. She was born in 1923 and grew up in her father’s restaurant in Marietta, Ohio.
On mornings, I’d make my “rounds” which I called “help opening stores.” If any of those people ever felt I was “in the way” so to speak, I can never remember them telling me it was time to go home. Only once upstairs in Grubers Department Store I recall a nice lady who worked there telling me to be real careful. I was checking all the room size rugs which hung on the wall, a great fascination for someone my age.
Her name was Edith Ryder and she always called me “Honey Girl.” Fifty some years later a cousin, who is a nurse, called me when we visited Marietta one summer and said Edith Ryder had asked about me. My cousin took me to see her, and she still called me “Honey Girl.” I’ll never forget her.
I’ll never forget the night Grubers Department Store burnt down. My husband and I heard the sirens and walked up front street to that alley. I watched a lot of childhood memories go with it, but I’ll never forget them ever.
Now, I’ve covered one side of the street up to the alley, but as the old saying goes “the grass is always greener” you know the rest I’m sure. On the other side starting at Green Street, I remember Glines Cleaners. Then the Dime Savings Bank and next to it Richards Drug Store.
Mr. Ed Richards owned it and he had a big soda fountain in there. One of my favorite fountain drinks was Cherry Smash. I used to call it “made by hand” because it came in a glass with ice instead of a bottle. My next favorite fountain drink was root beer. And for two or three years he gave me a “Free Root Beer.” Just one, mind you, and always in the springtime.
That was my favorite side of the street. The other side of the street was a “no-no” to me unless I asked Mom’s permission to get someone to take me across if she was too busy to do it. There was a streetcar track in the middle of the road and I might get hit by a streetcar or one of those big touring cars or a Model T Ford. It was my favorite side of the street because all the “goodies” I liked were there.
Getting back to the root beer.
One spring day, a year or two later, Mr. Richards hired a new boy behind the soda counter. They called them “soda jerks” back then, I guess. Anyhow, Mr. Richards told him to fix my “free root beer.” The glass was a lot bigger than usual and he smiled when I thanked him. I put a straw in the glass and took a big gulp. What happened next I’ll never forget because the taste in my mouth was not root beer!
Anyone my age who has had to take CASTOR OIL will know immediately what I’m talking about. Castor oil has a flavor all it’s own and once you taste it you will never forget it or never want to taste it again.
This story goes like this. Every spring, my mother went over and paid Mr. Richards for my “root beer.” Back then, castor oil was to rid your system of any germs you might have picked up during the winter. What finally caused this plan to fall through was because Mr. Richards forgot to tell the new soda jerk to mix it up. All the oil was in the bottom of the glass where I put the straw and the root beer was on top.
I don’t think I care to talk about this any longer. My mother was one smart lady, but today I still don’t like root beer.
*I’ve done some minor editing for the purposes of this blog, mostly sentence and paragraph structure and some word choice.
I’d Love To Hear From You!
Have you ever ate or drank something and got a surprise? Are you completely turned off a food because of a bad experience? Have you ever had to take castor oil?
All week, I’ve heard people argue history. “The Confederate flag is not a symbol of racism and hate.” They go in circles about the flag’s true meaning. I’ve heard all those arguments before last week’s shooting. Others say “This is not the time to debate the Battle flag.”
However, none of those people seem to have used the power of empathy. Maybe I can help them. After all, I’m a writer. This is what I do. I’ve never been to the State House in Charleston, SC. But this is how I’ve felt this week.
I stand in the sun at the State House of South Carolina. Drops of sweat slide down the side of my head. I wipe them away with the sleeve of my shirt. Tears remain on my cheeks for the nine slain. Dylann Roof wasn’t a lone wolf in his ideals. He may as well have been one of my students who exhibited similar notions in the superiority of their own race. My race. Ugh. It hurts to think about it.
What could I have said or done to have gotten through to them?
There is a Civil War monument on the north side of the grounds. Such a dark time in our history. Our history. We still argue over why it was fought. I suppose, in a way, it rages on. Some people like to pick and choose which parts of history they’ll affirm actually happened. Kind of like picking and choosing Bible verses to live by. Forget the rest because secretly, it makes us uncomfortable.
An occasional wind passes and the Confederate Battle flag flaps above the monument. I saw that flag all too often as a teacher. The racist students wore them all the time. It bothered me. It was jarring at first, but I got use to it. It was their right. I wouldn’t want someone telling me that I shouldn’t wear something with an Irish flag on it.
But Dylann Roof didn’t show off the Irish flag. He showed the Battle flag. He also showed flags of Rhodesia and apartheid-era South Africa. But it’s the Battle flag that flaps above my head.
Why isn’t it at least at half-staff? Oh, there’s no pulley. Can’t they at least take it down temporarily? It looks arrogant. The US and State flags are at half-staff. But the Battle flag could care less that nine people lost their lives.
If it would come down just for the mourning process, then I could give some credit to the people who keep shouting that the Battle flag is not a symbol of racism and hatred.
But it didn’t.
The same flag that the killer proudly waved, flies high while the rest of us grieve.
Yes, I understand that the law keeps the flag up there. That particular law has as much empathy as the flag.
We are humans. We identify with symbols and have done so for centuries. If the Battle flag had come down out of respect for the nine slain, it might have taken on a new meaning. A meaning that would negate the images of Roof and his ideas of white supremacy.
Whatever it’s history, whether Civil War or Civil Rights, we had a chance to CHANGE the meaning the Battle flag holds for many Americans. It was time! Not two years from that day! If you believe that the flag isn’t a symbol of racism and bigotry, then prove it isn’t. You had a chance – but you didn’t take it. That might make you uncomfortable, but I value the lives of our multi-ethnic country more than your comfort. Perhaps if you had been more empathetic, there wouldn’t be such a call to have it removed from government property.
As promised, today’s post starts my “Grannie’s Memories” series. She wrote them down circa 1967* and these stories are what is inspiring my Work In Progress. She was born in 1923 and grew up in her father’s restaurant in Marietta, Ohio.
She doesn’t always tell how old she was in some of these stories. I imagine for this one, she was probably around 7 or 8 years old. One thing you need to know: her “rounds” is her going around to all the other businesses on her street to “help” them open for the day. 🙂
This is a map of where she’s talking about in this story and what it looks like today. I circled the area “in question.” 😉
One summer day, I was all alone and no one to play with. I walked out the back door of our restaurant. The street in back of us was called Post Street. The big building there was called the St. Charles Hotel. Miss Chrissie McCurdy – I think she was relation to our dentist – ran the hotel. I loved going into the lobby and looking at all the old-time things there.
Over at the desk along the wall was a container that had kitchen matches in it. I wasn’t allowed to play with matches, but that container fascinated me. I had watched an old gentleman go over and take one match out, strike it, and light his pipe. Miss Chrissie was always somewhere around, sometimes behind the desk or out in the dining room. I treasure now the pictures I have of me at that were taken with Miss Chrissie. Such a gentle lady.
Across the street from the St. Charles Hotel was the bank of the Ohio River. About a block down was the mouth of the Muskingum River where it joined the Ohio. On that point was a big building we called the Government Works. In the summertime, a man from there would mow the grass on the bank. A few days later, after the grass had dried, he would burn it off. I also remember in March or April, we would pick violets by the handfuls on that bank. We never had to go to the store and buy beautiful violets because they grew wild.
One particular summer day, after making all my “rounds,” I walked down to the St. Charles Hotel. No one was in the lobby. It was dinnertime, and they were all in the dining room or the kitchen. I walked on over to the river bank. The grass had been cut a couple of weeks before and it was still lying on the ground.
That morning, I had tried to come up with something I could do to help someone that day. Now, I was looking at the answer! I would burn the grass for that man and he wouldn’t have to do it!
I ran back over to the hotel lobby and no one was there. So I borrowed a couple of matches from the container on the wall and went back over to the river bank. I found a flat stone and struck one of the matches, but the wind blew it out! I struck the other match with my back to the wind like I saw a man do on the street one day to light his pipe.
In just a few minutes, the whole river bank burned out of control.
I don’t know who called the fire department. It could have been someone looking out a window of the hotel. I never saw so many people and fire engines in my life! I don’t remember if I ran home or if someone took me, but Dad met me at the door and that’s the first and only time he ever spanked me.
Thinking about it now, the whole block of Front Street could have gone up in smoke. I’ll never know if Dad had to pay any damages or not. What I didn’t realize was only the dry grass on top burnt. Under that was wet. It had rained a few days after the man had cut it and that’s why he hadn’t burnt it yet.
I can think back then and know the Lord saved a great disaster by making it rain.
*I’ve done some minor editing for the purposes of this blog, mostly sentence and paragraph structure and some word choice. I probably should have taken out more exclamation points, but it makes me think of how animated she use to get telling the story. 🙂 But I added the headings.
I’d Love To Hear From You!
Have your grandparents ever admitted to causing such chaos? Have you? Have you ever “helped” too much?
What a whirlwind spring! I’ve been away (says Captain Obvious), because Murphy’s Law struck again, and when I put more things on my plate, someone came along to heap more on top.
I’m not gonna be able to eat all that! I think I just need to lay down.
See? My life has spun so much that I’m mixing my metaphors. *DEEP BREATH*
What I’ve been up to…
I’ve done some local author appearances complete with reading excerpts in my attempt at the Irish brogue. I’ve played harp when I can at a weekly Open Mic.
And, of course, I’m writing. I’ve gotten down the first twenty-three pages of my next book…because the story wouldn’t stop traipsing through my thoughts. This is my first book that’s not Young Adult. It’s a Historical Fiction centered on the lifting of Prohibition in America. Most importantly, it’s inspired by the true story of my great-grandpa who owned a restaurant/bar during the Great Depression. He doted on my Grannie, who was 10-years-old at the time. The trouble was, great-grandma was a bad alcoholic.
And so the story goes…
First and foremost, I’m a mom. Sometimes, my writer/musician life gets in the way.
Charlie graduated from VPK and “Exceeded Expectations” in everything scholastic despite having brain surgery halfway through the year. *fist bump*
William started our annual birthday sprint (three birthdays within ten days). I’ve learned a valuable lesson about birthday invitations this year. When sending them to kids whose parents aren’t in my phone’s contact list (which was most), don’t assume that most of them know what Emily Post teaches about “RSVP.”
Cue frantic indecision about how much pizza and cake to order.
And as if there wasn’t enough stress in THAT weekend…
The evening before William’s birthday party, Charlie decided to perform some kind of daredevil stunt. Ya take your eyes off them for a second! We were in the gymnastics room at the YMCA and he tripped. Yep. That’s it. However he did it, he managed to brake the end of one of his metatarsals near his toes.
If you don’t know what a metatarsal is, then clearly you haven’t read The Stone of Kings. <=== *that’s a hyperlink right there (hint hint)* 😉 Who knew I’d use the information for my own kid?
Then hubby had to promptly leave for a few days on an out of town business trip. No wonder I managed to pick up some kind of stomach bug the last couple of days.
Now that Charlie is casted and can join day camp with his brother, I will hopefully be able to crank out my new book.
In the meantime, unless the earth swallows me up, I hope to resume blogging. But it won’t take away too much from my novel-writing effort since I’m starting a series called “Grannie’s Memories.” I’ll post the anecdotes and interesting bits Grannie wrote down. These are things she remembered about being a kid during the Great Depression. I’ve been reading them over and over for background for my book. You might like them. Grannie was quite a character. 😀
Till then, would anyone like some leftover birthday cake? …please?
I’d Love To Hear From You!
Do you mix metaphors when you get over-stressed? Are you looking forward to a bright spot of peace that’s almost within your grasp? Do you know what a metatarsal is because you’ve read TSoK?
Why would you assume I’m working on anything? Oh, yeah, I’m a writer. 😉
At the moment, I’ve been working on the screenplay for The Stone of Kings. And while it would be a dream come true if it were made into a movie, that’s not really why I’m writing it. I studied screenplays briefly in high school, and I’d always wanted to write one. What I’m learning in the process is fabulous. Writing in this style is forcing me to think about my story visually. We writers tend to slip into telling the story instead of showing it. Screenplay writing is a fantastic way to remedy that tendency. I may just write the screenplay before I submit any of my following works and cross check to see how I can make the novel form better. 🙂
A project that I have on pause right now is a mystery/suspense about the American Civil War. It’s about halfway finished and has been that way for almost a year. 😉 I’m stuck on the technicalities of a major plot point. Wrapping up and publishing The Stone of Kings has put it to the back burner.
2) How does your work differ from others in your genre?
My genre? Hee hee. That’s a funny question.
I don’t really have a set genre. Harp Lessons is a sweet romance, The Stone of Kings is a historical fiction/fantasy, my WIP is a mystery/suspense. After that I have two more ideas, one is a dystopia, the other is a historical thriller. But all of them share a general theme of investigation and getting “the whole story” before making a decision about a person or situation. It falls into my theme of finding ways of working together as people, instead of focusing on differences and using them to tear us apart.
Which leads me to…
3) Why do you write what you write?
The answer to this is basically in my author bio. It’s incredible to me that there are still parts of society haven’t moved past racism and bigotry. What I write is my effort to help.
4) How does your writing process work?
Gotta do it in longhand. I can’t seem to create on a computer. The words simply don’t flow.
I’m also a pantser. I have no idea how my story will end until I’m more than halfway through. I usually let the characters decide how the story goes. Sometimes, I get too bossy. That’s when my characters put me in my place and do the opposite of what I thought they would do. 🙂
I’d love to hear from you!
Are you a writer? How would you answer these questions?
I know I was going to post my response to the World Blog Hop today, but I was struck with this inspiration and felt that this was seriously more important. It also falls in line with my theme as a writer. I was listening to NPR in the car this morning, and heard an interview with an anonymous black female officer from Ferguson, MO. I have scoured the NPR sites trying to find the interview so that I can hear it again and link to it here because some of the things she said resonated with me. If anyone has the link I would very much appreciate it.
Okay, so bear with me. I’m operating on a scattered gluten brain and wasn’t taking notes (since I was driving), but after explaining how she felt like an outsider in the police department, but was okay with it, the officer was asked about her thoughts on officer Darren Wilson who shot Michael Brown. If I remember correctly, she was more concerned with what made the Wilson so scared of Brown, that he felt his life was threatened.
She went on to describe the stigma that is taught to you from a young age in that area. Whether you are white or black, you have to fear those whose skin is a different color. But she couldn’t explain why it’s that way.
How sad. And look where that kind of teaching has gotten us. An unarmed young man is killed, and a town riots.
We’ve been down this road before.
No one likes it. Except maybe the media (which is why I hesitate to talk about this at all).
What I’m most concerned with is why history seems to be constantly repeating itself. I challenge people to stop and think about why people have these fears and feelings. Were they taught to feel this way? Are they still unknowingly teaching their children to feel the same? I know from experience that children are very observant sponges and sometimes parents aren’t even aware that they are teaching their children to think a certain way.
Please, PLEASE think about how you respond to people who are “different” from you and your children. Whether the other people are white/black, fat/thin, disabled/”healthy,” etc., please teach your children to get to know people, before passing judgement on whether or not that person is a “threat.”
Chances are, a perceived threat can be a great friend. And you would miss out.
Please help to break this cycle of fear. It starts at home. Teach your children not to miss out on friendship.
I’d love to hear from you!
What do you think causes these cycle of racially charged riots? Do you think it’s caused by the parents teaching their children to fear? Do you think that we can finally end the cycle?