A Lack of Imagination – Robb Elementary

I was given a great gift – imagination. It carried me through some difficult times in my childhood, and has allowed me to have remarkable adventures in my mind. 

For the past 4 1/2 years, I’ve been taking care of our business owner’s child. I’ve fed her, burped her, changed her diapers, and rocked her to sleep. As she grew, she hung onto my fingers as she walked and explored her surroundings. Those early mangled words and nonsense noises have coalesced into an incredible vocabulary. I’ve stood at the bottom of the slide, encouraging her to take the risk of sliding down, then watched her tell me to sit on the bench so she can play on her own. I’ve dragged her to daycare screaming and crying, then transitioned to seeing her roll her eyes with disappointment while playing with her friends, when she see’s I’m there to pick her up. And I’ve seen her early love of Frozen, Annie, and nursery rhymes turned into a full-blown Hamilton obsession. I may not be a mom, but I’ve gotten a slice of it, and how the love grows with each breath. 

So when this school shooting happened in Robb Elementary, it took on a new dimension to me. My gift of imagination turned into a curse. I could see her in her classroom, eyes filled with fear from the sounds of gunshots. I could imagine her teacher, whose responsibility is to keep those kids safe, desperate to do anything to protect them while knowing there was little she could do. I could imagine the gunman coming in and destroying the precious lives of all those children I see every day when I pick her up. I could imagine the devastation I would feel if my little charge’s life was cut short. I could imagine how her parents would also be destroyed. With those imaginings, I gained a knowledge that I would do anything…. anything to keep that child safe and protect her from the horror those children at Robb Elementary experienced.

But what can I do? Every school shooting follows a familiar pattern. There are calls for changes to laws, mostly by Democrats. Republican then get mad at Democrats (not the shooter) and claim this isn’t the time and that Democrats are politicizing the events. But considering we have mass shootings every few days, when is there ever going to be a time that is acceptable to Republicans? And since politics is how we enact laws, how do you not politicize it? We need to work through the political system to enact change. And if Republicans don’t want to do that political work, I guess that means they’re fine with the status quo of children being slaughtered in their classrooms as long as they can keep their sacred weaponry. 

Most of these politicians know very well that there are laws that can be enacted that fall within the constitutionality of the 2nd amendment and would provide some protection to Americans. Ninety percent of American are in favor of universal background checks, yet politicians beholden to the NRA block that measure.

We aren’t allowed to own RPG launchers. We aren’t allowed to own functioning tanks. We aren’t allowed to own nuclear weapons. And there’s absolutely no reason to allow average citizens to own high capacity, rapid firing rifles with armor piercing rounds. No reason. None. Would outlawing these weapons stop all mass shootings? Nope. But would it reduce them? Absolutely. History and statistics prove it. 

Some would say we shouldn’t punish law abiding citizen and that criminals will always get guns somehow. Here’s the deal. This kid WAS a law abiding citizen when he bought his weapons… and then yesterday, he became a criminal by using them. 

To the cowards who say there is nothing that can be done, they are liars, and they know it.

Of course, limiting those weapons isn’t the whole answer. There are more steps needed that include access to mental health care and research on the issue to know what will keep it from happening again. So no, an assault weapons ban alone will not solve the problem, but it is one step. And we have to start by taking one step, and then the next, and the next, and the next. We’re Americans. That used to mean there wasn’t any problem we couldn’t solve. What happened to us? When did we just give up?

So often I look at these NRA shills and wonder if they have no heart. But maybe what they have is a lack of imagination. They can’t imagine their children or grandchildren in this situation. They blissfully ignore the suffering of parents as they lose the most precious thing in their life, because it hasn’t affected them. They prefer to hide their heads in the sand so they may worship at the altar of the gun.

But I do have an imagination. And I have a heart. I will do whatever it takes to make progress on this issue. I will call my representatives. I will use my words, as I am doing here. I will use my actions when I see a way to do so. Columbine. Sandy Hook. Stoneman Douglas. Robb Elementary. What school will next be added to the list. One near you? Will it take happening at a school your child attends before you take action? I hope not, because then it may be too late.

Don’t let the lack of empathy and imagination condemn more children to a brutal death. Look at the faces of these 19 children. What would you do to protect your child? Do it. Now. We, as citizens, need to let our demands be heard. Call your representatives and let them know what you expect from them and hold them accountable for their inaction. 

Not another child. Please. Not one more. Take the power from the gunman’s hands, and put it in your own. Don’t let a lack of imagination in how we might fix this take another life.

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Stumbling Along the Writer’s Way

The group of us doing The Artist’s Way program are just over half way through the book. I wish I could say it’s led to a breakthrough, but it hasn’t. Each chapter I think, “Yes, this is the one that will make the difference.” And each time I find myself disappointed. If I were doing it alone, I would have quit long ago, so it’s a good thing there’s a group of us. I don’t see much benefit to the morning pages, though I do like starting the day out more slowly. And so far most of the artist dates have felt like an obligation and not a joy filled experience.

It has, at least, helped me to recognize some of the roots of this block. I found myself unable to write from the point I was forced to move last summer. I haven’t been sure why since I do, for the most part, love where I moved. I miss the view of the park I had out the window of my last office, but I think I love the new office more. It’s a cozy place to write. But ever since the move, I have been almost paralyzed over money. It is dwindling away as more and more repairs are needed. How am I going to get through inflation and gas prices. I feel like I’m in way over my head. That is not a good place from which to try to write.

Sadly, I don’t find a lot of advice to help me through those feelings in The Artist’s Way. But I continue to plug away and hope that eventually, something will break through and unleash the stories again. Today I at least took a stab at writing a short story for an upcoming writing contest. I’m not inspired, but I’ve got some words on the page. We’ll see where it goes.

My mind is filled with worry about Ukraine, Europe, and World War III. At the beginning of this I worried the war would spread and we needed to do everything we could to keep that from happening. But as each day passes, and I understand more, I worry the US will once again take too long to get involved. Hitler was redressing Germany’s humiliation and the world appeased him at first and let him annex countries. Putin is redressing the USSR’s humiliation and the world appeased him at first, letting him annex countries. If he gains anything from this invasion, it will be seen as a victory, and will give him the encouragement to keep attacking his neighbors. If we wait, millions will die, and we will still eventually get dragged into it. Perhaps we need to step in now and shut his aggression down. A terrible realization for someone who considers themselves a pacifist. And it’s a terrible realization of what that will mean for the world.

With all this on my mind, I am supposed to write? Yes, yes I am. And I’m trying. I hope eventually get back to it, but I think I’m done beating myself up over it. The stories will come back some day, if I and the world live long enough.

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Finding my Way With The Artist’s Way

Over the past month I have had moments where I almost get back into a writing flow. Then I sit down, try to do the work, and quickly give up. It’s been frustrating!

After much thought, I have begun to understand that I am, for the first time in my life, dealing with… (duh duh duuuuuuh)… Writer’s Block. I always thought writer’s block was when you couldn’t think of anything to write. There are lots of things to write, I’m just no longer sure there’s any reason to bother. 

Even my imagination isn’t helping. One way I used to fall asleep easily at night was to start imagining a story. Before long sleep would take me. But now when I try to do that, I quickly revert back to thoughts about my own life. I used to spend about 80% of my time in my imagination as a kid, and now I can’t get it going at all. 

Imagination drove stories and hope for me. I could see the possibilities of life out there, and they made for good stories. But as I’ve been worn down by life, the possibilities seem less and less. 

For the past two years I have gone to work, while others were paid to stay home. And for the past two years I have stayed home, while others went out to play with little regard for the role that might have in transmitting a virus that was deadly to some. So all work, and no play, has led to a blocked me. Covid, my finances, my age… all are working against me, and my ability to see possibilities. 

In trying to figure out how to combat this situation, I pulled out my copy of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I had first used it in the 90s. It had survived my yearly culling of books, and still sat on my shelf. I decided it was time to return to the program. It mentioned that you could do it on your own, or with a group of people, and suddenly doing it on my own seemed empty. I got a group of friends and we invited a few others, and we now meet weekly on Zoom to discuss what we’ve learned and the progress we’ve made. It’s so fun to share this journey.

We’re on week one, and already I feel a lightening of spirit and a sense of play I’ve been missing. I bought a paint by number kit, which I know isn’t really artistic, but it’s something I’ve never done as an adult. Also purchased, some watercolor and acrylic paints to try to make some original art when the paint by number is done. My final purchase… decent snow boots so I can take walks even when it’s cold and snowy. Imagining doesn’t feel quite so futile. It feels like there are things I want to accomplish. It feels like maybe I could accomplish them. I’m finding my way with The Artist’s Way.

Have you ever had writer’s block, or whatever art you practice? What did you do to get out of it? If you’re blocked now, give The Artist’s Way a try.

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Trimming the Sails

Happy New Year! The new year is always a time for reflection, and sitting at home, waiting for the results of a covid test to see if I had a cold or omicron, gave me even more time to reflect and think about where I’m going. So let me post about what I’ve reflected on. Perhaps you can find some parallels to your struggles.

Last year everyone was so happy to put 2020 behind them. I kept wondering why they thought 2021 would be different. It wasn’t. More masks. More misinformation creating more division. More financial struggles. 

My personal year was a mixed bag. I started out with the high of planning to self-publish my first novel. I hired an editor and went back to work on the manuscript. Just as I finished that, I was suddenly forced to look for housing in the worst market in decades. I got lucky and found a place not yet listed, but because of the rushed need for a place to live, I didn’t look into things as well as I should have, and am stuck with a house which I love, but has some real problems that will cost me a great deal of money down the road. Money I don’t really have. It was an emotional blow.

The pandemic began to take its toll. I wanted to reconnect socially – have some fun and rediscover the joy of living. But every time I considered a solution, because of my work with vulnerable people, covid seemed to stop me. The desire to write seemed to fade away for the first time in my life and I decided to let it go.

A slide into depression followed. I felt disconnected, distrustful, defeated, exhausted, and hopeless. Little slights were magnified. I lost all confidence in myself. It isn’t the first time I’ve struggled with depression (I am Scandinavian after all), and thankfully I’ve developed tools to recognize and deal with it. It took time and there were more lessons learned from this battle. Even after the depression faded, I found it almost impossible to write, though ideas kept forming… niggling… speaking quietly that my calling hadn’t left me.

On the first day of 2022, the test came back negative. Despite my sniffles, I am once again free to move about without worrying about the consequences for others. I am now poised for action and while I can’t say I make resolutions, my time of reflection made me realize I do want to trim the sails on my boat and capture the wind to move in a different direction. 

One priority is my health. I’m starting out with a reset for my liver and taste buds with a cleanse. (I hate the click bait title, but the cleanse is great.) I want to eventually get the pandemic stress weight off and go back to where I feel good in my body. I don’t want to overwhelm myself with the end goal. I want to think about today and what needs to be done today.

Another priority is my writing. Yesterday I pulled up my first book and looked at the editor’s notes. There was so much positive. I started to edit again and felt the embers flicker into a small flame. The love is still there. There are several ideas I’d like to flesh out a little more and perhaps get started on them as well. I’ve realized that self-publishing is the way to go. I want two things. I want to write. And I want my stories to be read. Self-publishing accomplishes that, without the stupidity of the publishing industry.

And my last priority for 2022 is social. I have to find a way to reconnect. One barrier to that is the very, very thick walls I’ve constructed after years and years of hurt. This last depression revealed how easy it is to reopen old wounds and those walls do nothing to prevent that. I need to figure out how to take the walls down and find a way to trust, and I believe forgiveness is the key to that so that I can form closer bonds. I’m hoping that omicron will bring the end of the pandemic and make it an endemic disease that isn’t nearly so serious for so many. I want to get out there and have fun with people. Find joy, fun, spontaneity. 

With the sails trimmed, I hope my boat sails through whatever 2022 throws at me.

That’s my year in review and what I’m looking forward to. What have you learned from 2021? What do you hope to do in 2022? Leave me a comment and share your experience. 

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Lost

Lost. That’s how I’d describe myself right now. Lost, but not hopelessly. The day after I posted the last blog, I had an inspired idea for the fall writers contest. But I wasn’t writing anymore, so what was the point? The problem is, when I have a good story idea, I can’t just banish it. It pings around in my head, and I write sentences, scenes, dialogue, and then rewrite them over and over. It won’t stop until I put it on the page. So I finally did. It’s not my best. Nor my worst. It’s a good story.

Still, when I thought about picking up my finished novels, and editing them, there’s nothing but resistance. It feels like relief not to have to try to get them out into the world. But then I hear about a waitress who was laid off during Covid, wrote a book, and got published. She’d never wanted to be a writer. Never spent years practicing and getting better. Just wrote a book, and wham! Published. Or a 9 year old who published two books during the pandemic. It’s just that easy apparently, which makes me a complete failure. Granted,I never really had time off to write, as they did, but still. The irritation and jealousy that rears its ugly head means I’m clearly not done with writing, just as the fact that a story pestered itself into existence, tells me that writing is clearly not done with me.

At first my grim prognosis of the world didn’t seem to actually depress me. Nor did me not wanting to write. But as the days have gone by, I’ve watched my mental health decline. I’ve become more insecure, more numb, more unhappy. Not writing is not the answer.

That caused me to look at why I don’t want to write. After some reflection, I believe the problem is two-fold. 1) I’ve lost confidence in my writing ability. Sending out a manuscript over and over, revising over and over, and still never getting one person who was interested enough to request more pages, inevitably leads me to think I simply can’t write. I mean yes, I have talent, but I’m missing something that successful writers have, and until I figure out what that is and fix it, it’s all pointless.

And 2) I’ve lost the joy of writing. I’ve heard other writers talk about how much they hate the process of writing. That seems insane to me. If you don’t like doing it, why do it, even if you’re good at it? For me, losing myself in a story was pure joy. It’s what drove me to want to spend my weekends sitting at a desk in front of a computer. What could be better? But the joy is gone. It’s work. Work that I no longer think I’m particularly good at. And now I look back at all the social events I said ‘no’ to because I wanted to write. What a waste, because those invitations come far less often now, after years of ‘no’ and what have I got to show for it?

I’ve identified the problems, now I need to find the solutions. Writing is a lonely, solitary endeavor, and it’s easy to start listening to the doubts when they’re the only voice you’re hearing. One thing I have always wanted, but never found, is a mentor who has been down the writer’s road before. Someone that takes enough interest in me to want to see me succeed in some aspect of my life. Someone to guide me where I want to go, to slap me (figuratively) when I need it, and encourage me to take risks when necessary. The only reason I’m posting this here, is to put it out into the universe. I’m not saying I’ll get one through this blog post but you don’t get what you don’t ask for, so I’m asking. I think that could help me with issue #1) lack of confidence.

As for #2) lack of joy? My initial thought is that I want to start saying ‘yes’ to social activities in hopes that it will recharge my joy battery. It may not be the ultimate solution, but it is a place to start.

And that’s why I say I’m not hopelessly lost. Just a little lost. Or maybe not lost at all. Maybe this is just a part of my writer’s journey.

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Uncharted Territory

After my last post, I thought it was full steam ahead. I was ready to delve into another pass on Fear Unleashed before self-publishing. There was book two of the series to finish. Plus I have two other books to edit, and another book started. And there were short story contests. I was ready to throw myself back into all of it. And then… I found myself in uncharted territory.

For the first time in my life, I had lost my desire, drive, and inspiration. The short story I tried to write for the summer contest was flat. The one I’m working on for the fall contest also feels flat. I just didn’t feel like there is much to say. I’d never felt that way before.

On Labor Day weekend, I gave myself permission to hole up, read, and contemplate life. With time to think, I began to see why I no longer felt like writing.

From recent events, It’s clear that we’ve passed the tipping point with the earth. It’s not to say that we couldn’t still stop climate change, but we won’t. As fractured as society is, there simply isn’t time to get those who are reluctant to see the obvious, to change their ways. And without everyone on board, the task is probably impossible. Violent natural disasters will only increase, causing suffering for humanity.

We are seeing a return to authoritarianism across the globe. While we managed to hang on to our democracy in this last election, the undercurrent of the cold civil war is taking us towards insurrection and violence. With two different sets of “facts” and two different realities, it’s hard to see how we can ever be the “united” states again. Every opportunity for unity is manipulated for political gain. Greed and selfishness have replaced our former American ethos of loving our neighbor and coming together as one. Again, can this country be saved? Absolutely? Will we? Doubtful. We have become too tribal.

The pandemic was one such issue used to divide us, when it could so very easily have united us. It has left hundreds of thousands of Americans dead. Sadly, we’re no where near the end, because we refuse to do what’s needed. We brought this suffering on ourselves, and if we think it’s the last pandemic we’ll be dealing with, we’re wrong. As the environment is destroyed, disease only increases.

With a stream of disasters and our shift towards societal collapse, writing seems like a silly endeavor. I’m writing for a world that no longer exists. And while I’ve read impassioned pleas for the arts to continue in the midst of such chaos, highlighting the great works of art that come out of such periods, I feel I’m not up to the task. I’m good with words, yes, but I don’t know that I’m talented enough to narrate the collapse of civilization. There are others who are clearly more skilled than I am who can handle that task. I suddenly feel led to do nothing more than be in each moment, experiencing what life has to offer. That seems like enough.

I have no idea if this state will continue. I don’t know if it will recede as mysteriously as it came over me. Perhaps this is just the eye of the storm, and soon the winds of story will howl through and around me. I only know that right now, just being is enough. So I will be, and maybe being will come to include writing again.

I look forward to finding out.

And I’ll keep you posted.

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Starting Again

This blog has been abandoned for far too long. There was the turmoil of the election and the never-ending pandemic, and for some time my little writing endeavors felt so unimportant. I reached the decision to self-publish my first novel, FEAR UNLEASHED, and kept meaning to blog about that, but never did. I hired an editor and delved back into the book that had been sitting on a shelf for a couple of years.

And just as I neared the end of the editing process, my landlord sent me a text telling me someone had offered him money for the house, and he was going to take it. I ended up having about 45 days to find a new place to live. I abandoned editing and publishing in order to deal with the immediate crisis.

As in so many cities and towns, we are in the midst of a housing crisis, with investors who have more money than sense, buying up every house available for more than it’s worth, driving up prices and rents. With a great deal of luck, and the blessing of being so well connected in this town, I secured financing and got a house before it went on the market, so no bidding war ensued. It’s an old house, so it will require a lot of upkeep and there are some pretty major projects in my future, but it feels like home, and I look forward to years and years spent here.

Now that I’m settled, it’s time to get back to the work of writing. There was a summer writing contest, and despite all the uproar in my life, I worked on a story. However, it was not up to my standards, and I could never get it where I wanted, so that was abandoned. It was still a worthwhile project to get me back into the writing frame of mind. And if I ever finish it, I will add it to my short story site. Today I returned to editing my novel and working towards self-publishing it.

So, after a long fallow period where I began to wonder if I would ever get back to writing, I am starting again… again.

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The Burden of Silence

Lately, I have been completely adrift when it comes to my writing. I’ve been stuck in the Sargasso Sea of wordsI have two manuscripts that need to be edited. I have several ideas bouncing around in my head. And yet… I do none of it. The world’s events have filled my mind with a swirl of worry, hope, despair, and joy. At times I worry about my lack of productivity, but I do know that eventually I will catch the wind again and tear across the ocean. It seems like lately, the sails have begun to ripple. The wind is rising.

But right now when I think about writing, my first thought is why. Why bother? What’s the point? The world is going up in flames. I can’t even focus on reading. Many others have told me they feel the same? So why write what nobody feels like reading?

I’ve written brief political posts, but then wonder if that’s the best thing to do. I know I can’t convince anyone. When I write it’s more to let those who see it the way I see it, know that they are not alone. Or perhaps, at best, sway someone who hasn’t formed a definite opinion by offering a perspective they may not have considered.

But does it raise the temperature or lower it? Cause more harm than good? When your friends and family don’t want to hear what you say, you only further the divide by speaking up. An enlightened person might rise above the petty concerns of politics and governance, only seeing the world beyond. I wish I were that enlightened. I’m not. What I am, is a culmination of my experiences.

Years ago, I took my first trip to Europe. I chose to visit the Netherlands, because I had a friend there who I could stay with and who would show me around. It was an amazing experience . I wandered Amsterdam, visiting the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House. Like so many teens, I had read Anne Frank’s Diary. When I read she had hid in an attic, I pictured an attic like my house, only accessed through a small crawl space, filled with insulation and mice droppings. I was so surprised to realize it was actually a fully functioning apartment. Still, it was cramped, and I don’t know how anyone could spend months, let alone years hiding, never going outside. Walking through those rooms, I could only imagine what it would be like to have people want to kill you, just because you exist. Her words were often childish, and yet also often profound. The visit was sobering.

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.

Anne Frank

Another day we went to Arnhem where a major battle of WWII occurred. It was a beautiful town full of flowers and quaint homes. We walked among the displays, looking at pictures of the bombed out ruins the city had been 50 years earlier. It was hard to believe this peaceful and beautiful town had been the site of so much death and destruction. And then there was a realization that it had been a peaceful and beautiful little down before the war too. A place of peace and beauty wasn’t guaranteed to remain that way. It only takes careless human beings to turn heaven into hell.

We also had tea with my friend’s father one day. We talked about what we’d seen at the museum, and he told us stories about when he was a boy during the war. He talked about how when planes fly overhead all these years later, he still flinches, waiting for the bombs to drop. And he told of a Jewish family that he would smuggle food to on his bicycle, knowing if he was caught, he would be shot. I was amazed that I was in the presence of someone so brave who risked his life for his fellow man. He was a hero. I more or less told him this, and told him how wonderful it was that he was brave enough to do this. He began to tear up and his voice broke as he shook his head and said, “It wasn’t enough. I should have done more. So much more.”

That reaction informed me of the cost of war, more than any museum could have. The pain. The regret. It never leaves. Germans who lived through the war though they never took part in the atrocities, had a great deal of regret. They didn’t take part, but they also didn’t stop it. They didn’t speak up. They stayed silent out of fear. They know they should have done more. And they know their silence was deadly for others. The pain is deep, even decades later.

Those experiences when visiting Europe, left a deep mark on me. In the face of inhumanity and injustice, the cost of not speaking…. of not doing enough, is far greater than speaking up, even if you pay with your life.

And so, I can’t stay silent. Perhaps someday I’ll evolve enough that I won’t worry about the things of the world, and can let it all go to hell in a hand basket while staying in my happy place. But that’s not where I am today. Sometimes my anger still gets the better of me. So today, on the eve of a possible wave of violence, I simply want to remind anyone who reads this where domestic terrorism leads.

“I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.” 

Mahatma Gandhi

Because, if Timothy McVeigh were alive today, he would have been in that crowd at the Capitol. He would be pleased with where the country is today. So if you stand with the insurrectionists on the 6th, you stand with the man who caused the horror above.

There is nothing I can do or say to convince anyone the elections weren’t stolen. No matter how many judges throw out cases; no matter how many election officials explain the heavily edited tapes presented by far-right conspiracy theorists show nothing unusual and no fraud; no matter how many Secretary’s of State from both parties, whose reputation is on the line, verify the vote was fair, they will never accept that they’ve been lied to and truly lost. There’s no appeal to reason with people who are in, hook, line, and sinker. But maybe, just maybe, someone might read this and even if they still believe the election was stolen, might question the cost of violence. It could be your daughter or granddaughter being cradled in a firefighters arms next time. It might be your son, grandson, wife, husband, father, mother, brother, sister who dies, alone, in a wave of violence.

I hope we can step back before we create permanent evil. And if you think speaking up might stop someone from violence, please don’t stay silent. Trust me, you will regret it if you do.

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The Country Takes a U-Turn

Four years ago, I remember the pits of despair at the election of Trump. Having friends who had worked on some of Trump’s projects, I knew what kind of man he was. I was afraid for the country. I was disappointed in my fellow citizens. That day, I was driving up to South Dakota, so had nine hours alone in my car to grieve and ruminate on how best to deal with what I knew was coming. I hoped I was wrong. I wasn’t.

But I do know the anger and despair so many Trump supporters are feeling today. Four years ago I didn’t believe there was any way enough people would fall for his con, or that he could possibly be elected. I trusted the polls. I trusted my fellow citizens. It’s part of why it was all so painful. So I get it. His supporters trusted Trump. They trusted him when he said the only way he could lose was if the Democrats cheated. His supporters surrounded themselves only with those that believe the same things and avoided anyone and anything that said anything different. They’ve believed everything he’s said for years. So to learn that he was wrong about this, is a gut punch. I saw their posts pre-election. They were 100% sure they were going to win. Been there, done that.

There are charges of fraud. If you have proof, then tell the proper authorities and let’s sort that out. I want a fair vote. I have no problem with a recount in Georgia or any other state where it’s necessary, because I want the count to be right, even if that means my candidate might lose the state. But that’s not good enough for his supporters. They only want in-person voting… so my friend who has a compromised immune system and rarely is able to go out in public, because she lives in South Dakota, where their complete lack of leadership has the virus raging out of control… she shouldn’t be allowed to have a voice? You’ve already taken away her freedom of movement, now she doesn’t get a vote?

And if you then say, “okay, she can vote by mail,” then what about me? I work with people who would likely die if they contracted the disease. I even have risk factors for getting a bad case msyelf. Should I be allowed to vote by mail? Yes? Okay, then we’re right back where we started. Each state did what they thought was best for their people, and they did it within their laws.

Trump fought to keep states from counting their mail in ballots early, counting on the anger and frustration his people would feel when they first saw him pull ahead with in-person voting, then day by day falling behind when the early voters’ ballots were counted. Those ballots were predominantly cast by Biden supporters because Trump told his people not to use mail-in ballots.

The fact that you weren’t prepared for the red-mirage, doesn’t mean you get to ask for a re-do and only count the ballots that went your way. Those votes were cast legally by the laws of each state, and if not, they have processes in place to catch those ballots. They are legally cast ballots and are valid. The only real way to commit fraud on the level required to alter the vote, is to reprogram the vote counting machines, and yet that’s not where we’re focused. Mail in voting has been done for over a hundred years, and is not the issue, regardless of what lies Trump spews.

The next few months are a bit scary. I see people posturing on social media, saying they’ve got the guns, and they’re going to war. Really? Have you thought it through? I mean really thought it through. Think about all the people you love. Your kids. Your parents, siblings, cousins, best friends, neighbors. Now pick a handful of them. Think about how much you love them. Now imagine lowering them into the ground and never seeing them again. Imagine your wife or husband being killed by a sniper as they went to buy groceries. Imagine your teenage son, who thought he would prove to you how tough he was, dead in the back of a pickup truck. Imagine going to bed at night, not sure if you’ll wake up, because your neighbors, who you once had barbecues with, might come over and kill you and your family in your sleep. Imagine never knowing if when you get in your car, there might be a car bomb strapped underneath. That’s civil war. People on your side die too. That’s what you are salivating for? Really?

I know the despair. I know the pain. When we were faced with a similar reality four years ago, when we were in despair, we held a march and we began to mobilize voter registration and a get-out-the-vote movements that lasted for the last four years. More people voted for Joe Biden than have ever voted for any president, so it clearly worked. If you don’t like the results, then get more people who think like you do, to vote. That’s how democracy works. That’s the American way. Ignoring the votes you don’t like is the authoritarian way.

When Obama was elected, I was so naive and looked forward to being a year into his term, knowing all those screaming that he was a Muslim, a communist, and a socialist, would see that he was none of those things and we could move forward together. I hadn’t factored in the disinformation machine that is Fox News.

This time I’m not naive. I no longer hope that a year into Biden’s term, the Trump supporters will come to realize that he’s not going to turn this country socialist. He’s not a communist. He’s not a pedophile. There are people who will continue to trust the latest conspiracy theory, even though the last 100 conspiracy theories they bought into, were proved not to be true. There are those who will never come around. But for those who begin to shake off all the lies they have heard in the last few years, we can move forward together, and hopefully the rest won’t go too far off the deep end while we make progress.

There was a joke going around the internet before the election. It went something like this:

There was a long line of people in line to vote early. Someone driving by slowed down, rolled down the window, and yelled, “How long have you been waiting?” And someone in line yelled, “Four years!.”

It’s been a long four years full of a great deal of pain for many, many people. Covid-19 is raging, and didn’t go away just because the election is over… yet another conspiracy theory proved wrong. We are going to suffer a great many more deaths before it gets better. It is going to take extraordinary effort by all of us to get it under control so we can get the economy and our lives back to normal. Our relationships with our allies are in tatters and trust is a difficult thing to rebuild. Authoritarian leaders around the world have been emboldened by our lack of leadership, and we’ll have to rebuild our reputation in order to deal with that. We need to rebuild our state department and intelligence agencies. Police and justice reform need to be tackled, and race relations repaired and strengthened. Our economy is struggling, with the poorest people suffering during this pandemic. It will take some incredibly remarkable policy and cooperation to end that suffering. We need to resolve our immigration and border problems. Climate change is causing disasters like we’ve never seen before.

I don’t envy Joe Biden and the mess he’s inherited, but I am grateful he stepped up and took on the task. I’m grateful we have leadership that believes in science, doctors, and facts. I’m grateful a man of morality and empathy is now leading our nation. I’m sorry if that upsets you. I wish it didn’t, because we have no desire to make conservatives cry.

Those of you willing to help, let’s get to work!

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Moving On

Writing is a journey, and there is so much to learn along the way. One of the things you must learn is when it’s time to move on. I knew the odds of publishing my very first novel were slim. It didn’t stop me from loving the book and trying my best. It has been through many revisions, and no one has shown much interest. I still believe in it, but know it needs help that I don’t have. So I had to take a hard look and decide it was time to move on. Doing that in the midst of the stress of a pandemic and social unrest made me feel a bit like this.

While querying, editing, and querying again, I also wrote two other books. One is another children’s book that I have yet to even begin editing. The other is my memoir, detailing the 25 years I spent in the entertainment industry. I was able to use the stay-at-home order to find more time to finish it and finally pare it down to find its form.

I thoroughly enjoyed going through my work orders, reading my journals, and falling deep into the memories of the time spent with Kevin Costner in South Dakota, or with Bob Hoskins on a soundstage at Television City, I relived the infamy of turning off Bill Clinton’s mic in the middle of a speech, and the sublime feeling of standing on the field of an NFC championship game with my eyes closed, imagining what it would feel like to have the roar of the crowd be for me.

Professional Eavesdropper takes the reader behind the scenes in Hollywood and leads them on a journey from naïvely wanting to be a part of celebrity culture to the realities of the toxic environments that culture encourages. With help from beta readers and wonderfully honest critique partners, the memoir began to take its shape. It likely still needs a lot more work, but I think it’s a fairly entertaining read.

Tomorrow, after finishing the polish on my query letter and synopsis, I will send out a couple of queries, testing the waters. I am cautiously optimistic that I have something people beyond my friends and family will find interesting, and something that can begin a dialogue on what celebrity culture does to society.

Some day I hope to return to Fear Unleashed and find the missing pieces to it. Until then, I am moving on with renewed optimism and excitement where this memoir might lead. Wish me luck.

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