Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Flash Memoir

click here to order from Amazon
We begin with a sudden memory, follow it to see where it leads. Yet so many of us tend to ignore these flashes. We think later yet later on we might have forgotten or lost the relevance of the moment, the urgency that led us there. I recommend a process I call write right now. In the amount of time it takes you to brush your teeth, you can jot down the memory and an outline which can be filled in later. The prompts in this book are designed to spur memories, to get you writing. I’ll also direct you to resources, authors to read and study, and places to submit. 

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Monday, June 19, 2017

On a Bike Tour, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, down the coast of Maine

Route (maybe)

Wednesday, June 14 15:08 (3:08 pm) Halifax 

Thursday, June 15 Halifax Via Lighthouse Trail Via Peggy’s Cove

Friday, June 16 Graves Island ) via Chester Connection Trail

Saturday, June 17 Ovens Natural Park Via Lunenburg Via Blue Rocks Via Mason Beach

Sunday, June 18 Ovens Natural Park to Port Mouton Hostel Includes a ferry (53.6 miles) via NS-331 and Lighthouse Rte

Monday, June 19 Port Mouton Hostel to Cape Sable Island (59.2 miles) via NS-103 W and Nova Scotia Trunk 3 W lunch Shelburne

Tuesday, June 20 Cape Sable Island to Yarmouth via Shelburne County Rail Trail and Yarmouth County Rail Trail

Wednesday, June 21 Yarmouth to Digby via Evangeline Trail/Nova Scotia Trunk 1 E and NS-101 E

Thursday, June 22 Digby to St. Johns, NB to New River Provincial 11 a.m. ferry 30 miles

Friday, June 23 Extra day New River Provincial Exploring Bay of Fundy

Saturday, June 24 New River Provincial Park to  St. Brendan's Retreat Center, Dennysville, ME

Monday, June 26 Dennysville to Mainayr Campground via Down East Sunrise Trail

Tuesday, June 27 Mainayr Campground to Acadia (Mt. Desert Island)
Wednesday, Thursday Explore Acadia

Friday, June 30 Acadia to Deer Isle Hostel

Saturday, July 1 (5.8 miles) via Sunshine Rd Sylvestor’s Cove, 11 a.m. mailboat

Friday, June 16, 2017

Between the Cross and the Arches

Does anyone remember The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson a young, zealous pastor who ventured into the inner-city to confront and evangelize New York City gangs? Pat Boone starred in the film adaptation. The book and movie were highly dramatized to heighten the tension(s). That was 50 years ago.

Fast forward. Uptown. Chicago. 2017.

A couple times a week we have a shooting at the corner of Sheridan and Wilson, between Uptown Baptist Church and McDonalds. I’m always hyper aware as I approach that intersection to be on the lookout. 1) Is there a bunch of people hanging? 2) Are there any cars driving by real slow with their window down? 3) If there’s been a shooting recently at one end of the street there’s usually payback at the other end. This is a lot of to keep in mind while out doing errands.

I’ve heard different explanations of why this corner is so deadly. One is, of course, drugs. It is disputed territory. Two rival gangs claim it as theirs for vending. The other reason doesn’t explain anything—it’s just violence in general. An excess of guns and desperation.

A short, incomplete history
August 19, 2013 five men between the ages at 21 and 58 shot
September 27, 2015 8 a 33-year-old man and 24-year-old woman were shot in Uptown, in McDonald’s parking lot
April 12, 2016 a 30-year-old man was shot in his leg after a man got out of a silver car and opened fire, police said.
May 16, 2016 a 28-year-old man was critically wounded in the 900 block of West Wilson Avenue after a man reportedly fired nine shots.
AUGUST 3, 2016 57-year-old woman slain has been identified as Penny Gearhart, a grandmother, her 58 year-old friend wounded
August 27, 2016 A 55-year-old man was shot dead on Uptown's bustling Wilson Avenue, the second unintended victim of daytime ... A source identified the victim as Robert Kraft.

APRIL 13, 2017, 26-year-old man was shot in the 1000 block of West Wilson in the city’s Uptown neighborhood.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Flash Memoir=NOW Available


The link takes you to Amazon, but also available through

Apple

Baker & Taylor Blio

Baker-Taylor Axis360

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Yuzu

Monday, June 12, 2017

A Fresh Approach

WH officials are trying to explain the Paris Climate Agreement pull-out by saying that Trump promises a fresh approach.

My guess his approach will be from a perspective of paranoia. (Link to transcript of announcement.) What’s with that statement: The world won’t laugh at us anymore? He said: “The United States, under the Trump administration, will continue to be the cleanest and most environmentally friendly country on Earth.  We'll be the cleanest.  We're going to have the cleanest air.  We're going to have the cleanest water.”

As someone who appreciates fresh approaches, I have tried to keep an open mind. Albeit, in his announcement there is nothing concrete, not even a particle of policy or plan. 

His approach is isolationist, entrenched, submerged in paranoia. A visionary is one who looks beyond the current situation and envisions a new world based upon—wait, this is important—what’s best for EVERYONE. A new approach inspires innovation.

What if after the bombing of Pearl Harbor instead of interning the American Japanese, Roosevelt had appealed to them to join the armed forces. I know many did anyway. What might have been the result if George Bush after 9/11 hadn’t invaded Afghanistan and started a 20-year war, but instead appropriated the trillion dollars already spent but instead over the same period of time committed to building in Afghanistan an infrastructure, a criminal justice system. All of these initiatives would be counter-intuitive, adverse to quick results, not immediately beneficial, but in the long haul give America the upper hand. Sometimes we need someone who is far-looking, calculating the endgame.


I am not convinced Trump and his administration understand what a fresh approach looks like.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Going Back to Ohio

Memories have been stirred by the song Carissa by Sun Kil Moon or Mark Kozelek.

Mention the state Ohio and today one might be greeted by several responses. Rust-belt. Went for Trump big time. Ground zero for pill mills. Overdose country. Craigslist serial killers. (That last one is not made up.)

It has become a place of desperation, where residents felt left behind, misunderstood. Also the pill mills. They were rip[e and ready to be taken advantage of by shyster doctors and lawyers, using them for SSI money. Many have been left behind by an economy not built on manufacturing or mining. The population of the small towns has been decimated—the overdoeses don’t help.

But that isn’t the Ohio I remember.

Because many of my memories are colored by bike riding (see even back then I rode way too many miles. Often too far to get home. More than once I had to call my dad from a pay phone to come get me because I was too tired or it was too dark for me to get home.) I remember riding through small towns where there was a liberal arts college. In the autumn trees burst into reds, yellow/orange, a bruised purple, drifting to the pavement, clogging the curbs. Home-town parades with baby carriages adorned with crepe paper and silly hats on dogs. Slow, meandering creeks that glistened in the sun. The occasional Friday night wreck where high school kids were injured/killed/crippled. Rumors: girls pregnant, a gay athlete, couples coming together or breaking up. This was my world.

Nothing like the dire descriptions now filling newspaper headlines. It was frankly conservative, Republican in a Nixonian kind of way. Not Trump. Forty years ago they would not have been taken in by a huckster. By a New York City slicker with a bad comb over and a fake tan. But back then folks had jobs. They farmed, taught school, worked the mines, worked at Mead Paper Company, or any number of appliance manufacturers or parts maker for the car industry.

I don’t recognize the Ohio I hear about today. When I last visited Athens a young teacher who taught in the county told me when she left for work on the a.m. the roads were empty. Almost all of her neighbors were on disability and didn’t work. They all had HUD housing. She had to have extra security for the house she rents because people break in all the time. It sounded dystopian, walking dead-ish.


Ohio, home of aviation. Birth place of astronauts Neil Armstrong and John Glenn. Where have you gone? I have flown far from the state I once knew.


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Autobiographical Songs

Carissa
Autobiographical songs, Ohio



Left Ohio. Carissa was his second cousin, killed in a freak accident. Burned to death. Just like their grandfather. What are the chances? he asks in this highly autobiographical song full of melancholy and wondering, loss and unending questions. The landscape of rust-belt Ohio, devastated by prescription drugs, black-tar heroin, unemployment when the manufacturing jobs left, when the mines closed.

I might have been drawn to this song because it deals with memoir, or because of the Ohio connection (I hail from there) or because of the voice. Nothing spectacular, the whole song is somewhat flat and not exactly full of emotion, but it evokes. It tells a story that demands our attention, because we all know someone like Carissa, someone deserving of a little poetry in their life, who vanish way too suddenly from this earth. He also brings us back to family, all those needling connections that we sometimes want to forget about, and our place of birth which we leave only to return to for funerals. Such as Carissa’s.

I left Ohio in 1982 without any real idea of what I was doing. I went off to Chicago to do volunteer work in the inner city. It was a rough time, emotionally demanding. There were times I must have appreciated the fact that I was not planning to stay. Yet I did. Here I am 35 years later.

I still have family back home, though my parents have passed. I no longer have ties to Dayton or Centerville where I grew up, but several friends still reside near there or else in Athens where I attended university. I go back every couple of years to connect with good friends, to walk the hills or by the Hocking River. We hit garage sales and the thrift stores. We sit around and talk about old times, friends who are no longer with us, or whom we have lost contact with.

All of this stirred up from a 3-minute song. It is amazing how much you can fit into such a small space. Why not try listening to music from when you were young or that mentions the state you once lived (I’m sure with the magic of the internet this has all been collected and annotated for us to discover online). Write a flash memoir, your own song about a life/family event.



Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Flash Memoir=NOW Available


The link takes you to Amazon, but also available through

Apple

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Baker-Taylor Axis360

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Yuzu

Trumped--memory triggers

TRUMPED

So there was that—the time America participated in global diplomacy.

I know I do a lot of railing on Trump at this blog which is supposed to be about memories and writing flash memoir. This might be because Trump triggers stuff inside of me, stuff I thought I’d taken care of, a past I’d squished down and hidden away in a drawer. For anyone who has lived with a mentally ill parent and survived all the uncertainty that comes with that experience might know what I mean.

You have no control; you are at the whim of a capricious mother who might suddenly change her mind and throw your life into a whirlwind. In fact you learn not to trust. You build up walls in order to cope. Pretend you really didn’t want to go to camp anyway. Or you didn’t need the car after all. You can’t count on the adults around you.

But a president—

I guess I thought there were certain jobs where the person had to be in charge, knowledgeable, capable. Not crazy or perfidious. Machiavellian, yes, a bit of a shark, playing both sides of the aisle, but not plumb delusional.

But here is a person who has upended words, language. He puts people in charge of regulatory agencies who want to pull them down. He pulls out of the Paris Climate Accord because we will become the bestest and greenest country on earth. (A very hot one at that.) It’s just so opposite. He triggers despair, the fifteen-year old Janie who wants to grow up and get as far away from Mom as possible. Leave behind chaos, the unpredictable.

It feels like I’m living at home again, trying to steer clear, flying under the radar, hoping to minimize the impact—and I’m getting crushed by memories.

This isn’t exactly about the Paris Climate Accord or climate change (I’m not even sure we can save the planet); it’s about living in a global world and working with allies, building partnerships. Something Trump seems incapable of doing.


Monday, June 5, 2017

Tim Tintera’s Thesaurus

Tim Tintera’s Thesaurus

I don’t know when I decided I was going to be a writer. Certainly I was a big reader, always had been and admired many writers, especially Louisa May Alcott. I wanted to be Jo. But that didn’t necessarily translate into being a writer. There must have come a time when it became obvious that it wasn’t a phase. The Jane who wrote poetry and fastidiously kept a journal was going to write her own stories.

But first I had to steal Tim Tintera’s thesaurus. What a word! What was this odd kind of book. It was about numbers and words. It was half science and half English. With a smidgen of Latin—at least when it came to the arcane classifications. Yet a thesaurus made sense of the crazy universe.

I was maybe a 6th grader and Tim Tintera was a lot older. Likely an 8th grader. I played after school with his sister. I might have thought he was cute, when he wasn’t being annoying and a bully. He mostly ignored us. Which was good because when I snuck into his room he wasn’t around. I spied the thesaurus on his desk, skimmed through it, and took it. I never once thought I was going to keep it. Perhaps borrow.

At some point I might have had a falling out with Tim Tintera’s sister, who I forget her name. Or maybe the family moved. I remember 2 or 3 families living in that house, ringing their doorbell on the weekend and waking up the dad to see if Smokey or Kim could come out to play, and , later Tim Tintera’s sister.

I found the thesaurus helpful then indispensable. It followed me everywhere, packed up with my most important books. I never left it behind. College at Wright State and college at Ohio University. “Career” move to Chicago. Through several apartments, disasters, offices. Categories of words my constant companions. Through chaos they were there, organized, whispering calm.

Yet there it was as big as life, the name Tim Tintera inside the creased and battered cover. Until the cover fell off.

Tim Tintera wherever you are, I’m sorry I stole your thesaurus. But, think of it this way, you have contributed to any success, though limited and maybe just in my own mind, that I might have experienced. What might have been just a resource for you, a paperweight, became the cornerstone of who I am. A word person.

Thank you. God speed to you. Blessings, benedictions, well wishes.

original thesaurus


Friday, June 2, 2017

Small Poems

Small Poems
The work of Nayyirah Waheed

Discovered on Instagram, Nayyirah Waheed has made a career of writing short, minimalist poems.  

“there/ are/ feelings. / you haven’t felt yet./ give them time./ they are almost here.”

"I will tell you, my daughter / of your worth / not your beauty / everyday (your beauty is a given. every being is born beautiful) / knowing your worth/ can save your life."

“all the black women. in me. are tired”

At first they might appear as a small stack of words, a scattering of ask after a fire. Though small they are mighty, weighty, have relevance.

“sometimes the night wakes in/ the middle of me./ and/ I can do nothing/ but/ become/the/ moon.

I first read about Nayyirah Waheed HERE. Check her iout and her self-published volume, salt.
And, why not, try to compose a very short poem . . .



Thursday, June 1, 2017

Flash Memoir=NOW Available


The link takes you to Amazon, but also available through

Apple

Baker & Taylor Blio

Baker-Taylor Axis360

Barnes & Noble

Diesel

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Gardners Extended Retail

Gardners Library

Inktera (formerly Page Foundry)

Kobo

Library Direct

Odilo

OverDrive

Oyster

Scribd

Sony

Tolino

txtr

Yuzu

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

King Charles III

What might be: King Charles III, a meta play

As readers of this blog might have already guessed I’m intrigued by meta literature. One reason I’ve also been loving McSweeney’s lately. It’s a sort of meta comedy or satire when a journal decides to run Trump’s Black History Month speech in its entirety—as humor.

The whole meta thing seems to fit into what’s going on right now. I mean a reality TV star becomes president. He says something is fake or declares suddenly top-secret intel is now declassified. Climate change is a hoax, as also is his campaigns involvement with Russia. Up is down and down is up. When people talk about surreal, then I immediately think they’re talking about this administration.

I’ve told a few close friends this: I grew up with an illogical mother. It was hard on a day to day basis to ever know what she might do. One might think it was a mother/daughter thing—I know I tried to believe this—but through the years I saw that at times her thinking was disordered, irrational. I was at a loss. There was no talking to her or redirecting. Lately I’ve been feeling again this powerlessness.

King Charles III is a 2014 play in blank verse by Mike Bartlett about the current Prince of Wales and what MIGHT happen when the present Queen Elizabeth passes away. But the characters are Shakespearean, driven by their own greed for power, palace intrigue, and morally conflicted by passion and loyalty. In the midst of this tele-play Diana makes an appearance as a midnight ghost. She is lovely.

I wonder home the Royal Family received this play. Let’s just say Kate Middleton who in the tabloids appears to us as a wonderful girl who has provided an heir and wears her clothes beautifully comes across in King Charles III as complex, layered, a bit of a bitch. Will is able to be swayed, Charles rises to the occasion and beyond, Harry is on the surface the playboy, but underneath torn between loyalty to his family and the idea of a monarchy. My favorite line—again with echoes here of the stereotype Charles has been portrayed as—“will I go back in the public’s eye to the doddering gardener?”

The play plays with us. The media and the public—in fact the characters turn to us, the audience, to address us. At one point Kate Middleton looks straight into the camera and says: You don’t know me.

This is the type of playwriting that I think today’s audience I captivated by. We are now so jaded by reality that meta material is readily accepted. We are now able to watch ourselves watch ourselves—wondering how it will all turn out.


Friday, May 26, 2017

New Work up at Watershed Review

Check out a brand new story at Watershed Review

Delivery Man by Jane Hertenstein

A couple of summers ago I delivered pizzas. I came home from college and, rather than doing my normal camp counselor job, I drove pizzas all over town for Joe’s, in order to be there for my mom who was battling end-stage breast cancer.
Overall it was a shitty job, but someone had to do it. And it seems for as long as I’ve been in this family, on this earth, it’s fallen to me. How do I know this? Let me tell you.
I think it was my first week on the job, a dumb-fuck job that Joe the manager always acted like I should be lucky to have. I mean, yeah, it was last minute, but that’s because every other driver who’s worked for him has quit. I should have too. There were some nights when all I wanted to do was make it back alive.
At least no one tried to rob me.
So this one particular night I came in around 7 p.m. and picked up two orders. None of them to the greatest part of town. Understand: no tip.
My first delivery was to a mobile home court, not the worst, one with nicely trimmed postage stamp-size lawns and neatly groomed gravel driveways. I pulled up to a trailer with whirligigs in the yard that rotated with the passing breeze and wooden wind chimes that bonked and rattled as I got out of the car. It’s always a question of do I leave the car running? An old guy pushed the curtains aside and looked out at me. I waved. Embarrassed, after a second I lowered my hand. This wasn’t old home week. Just deliver and go.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Exit West

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Book Review

I’ve read The Reluctant Fundamentalist and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, the latter a bit tongue-in-cheek, very self-conscious of the global economy, and man’s place in the universe of commerce. In fact many of his stories play with contemporary history—not through the eyes of a romantic, but a pragmatist. The world is basically screwed—which is why I loved his latest novel because moving instinctively with this premise he gently leads us into a dystopia, something not unlike what “could be.”

Yet, the novels I’ve mentioned and this latest addition all are love stories. So maybe he is a romantic. Maybe there is hope after all.

Exit West is about doors, doors that connect us other lives, just as his books are portals into the lives of others—mostly what might be considered third-world, whatever that means because these definitions are quickly shifting.

The US used to be a world leader, used to stand for democracy. How quickly things can change.

A young couple sits at a cafĂ©, an awkward first date with their phones between them, screen down on the table. Very millennial. Nothing in this scene prepares us for a coming apocalypse. We are comfortable that life will continue as it always has in a somewhat ordered and reasonable manner, but yet in dark corners there are hints that all is not as it should be. I’m surprised at how easily the couple accommodated, adjusted to each new reality. Much like a couple dining in a burned out rubble house during World War II. We burned electricity until it no longer came out of the wall and then lit candles until we ran out of matches and wax. From disaster to catastrophe with the instincts of a survivor.

The metaphor or use of doors to: travel. To suddenly end up somewhere else speaks to the sudden shifts in population we are now experiencing. The crisis magnified by native reaction. Scenes in the book read like headlines. Women in train stations fearful of holiday-making migrants, refugees pulling down fences, foreigners living in tent cities. Constantly the push and pull of humanity to resettle and start afresh.


I would pair this book with Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad. There is a speculative nature to the story, the fantastic where people groups move out of slavery or away from war and certain death, and how the contemporary informs the story. I wouldn’t classify either of these works as science fiction. More like: What if?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Post-Language

I've written here now numerous times about life post-Trump, and my frustration with how the world of words has turned inside out. A recent article by Masha Gesson, "The Autocrat’s Language", speaks to this phenomena. Specifically how language was manipulated in the Soviet Union and now in Putin's Russia--how the very word for something now means the opposite. 

I experienced this first under George Bush. 

In her piece, Gesson analyzes a recent interview with Trump, what she calls word piles or what David Brooks describes in a New York Times editorial: "We’ve got this perverse situation in which the vast analytic powers of the entire world are being spent trying to understand a guy whose thoughts are often just six fireflies beeping randomly in a jar."

For example, "fake news" refers to the press pool and anything printed about him that he objects to. Or how the head of the EPA is working against environmental protections.

Et cetera.

Check out Masha Gesson's, "The Autocrat’s Language" and how this current administration has corrupted language and misled with words.



Monday, May 22, 2017

Closing Sale

So far this year feels a lot like the end of 2016=filled with loss. Though a death of a different kind, the closing of my favorite tea shop makes me mourn.

Pars is run by a reverent Iranian gentleman. I remember stopping in there the morning of the British vote to leave the EU. The owner and his friend, perhaps a retiree because he was often there, were streaming the news on their computer. Together we watched. What could we say to each other? Things come to an end.

Always after my purchase he would look me in the eye and say God bless you. I felt as if I’d entered a confessional and was given forgiveness. I know, I know, it’s just tea, but it means everything to me.


I begged him to stay, to arrange for some else to manage the shop, but he said, no, it’s time. I scanned the shelves, already they were emptying. I quickly filled a baggie with Monk tea, an aromatic mixture of orange peel with hints of vanilla and a spring garden. Where will I now go—on a winter’s day to feel love, to receive mercy? To return home warm and cozy, with subsistence?? The stuff of life . . . 


Friday, May 19, 2017

Ever Bloom



My friend Tammy Perlmutter has a poem in this anthology. Tammy is a persistent blogger and founder of The Mudroom, a blogging alliance.

From her blog:
In 2009 Zadie Smith wrote a piece called “The Rise of the Essay.” She writes about the problems of even the highest-regarded classical literary fiction and the arguments that “all plots are ‘conventional’ and all characters sentimental and bourgeois, and all settings bad theatrical backdrops, wooden and painted.” 
Instead of mourning the demise of the perfect novel, she poses an important question: “Will the ‘lyrical essay,’ be the answer to the novel’s problems? Is the very idea of plot, character and setting in the novel to be abandoned, no longer fit for our new purposes, and all ground ceded to the coolly superior, aphoristic essay?” 
Virginia Woolf herself wrote an essay on essays called “The Modern Essay” in which she wrote. “There is no room for the impurities of literature in an essay. The essay must be pure—pure like water or pure like wine, but pure from dullness, deadness, and deposits of extraneous matter.” I think that is precisely what draws us in. Because it is a true story, you know the plot is already perfect.
In this collection of essays you have true stories from the women of Redbud Writers Guild,  “a diverse group of authors, writers and speakers who communicate in order to empower women to use their voices to be world-changers.” These women invite you into their hearts and histories with narratives of confession and lament, healing and remission, finding voice and standing ground. 
Check it out and buy a book! Support a fellow memoirist/pilgrim writer.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Two Dreams


I usually don’t dream. I think it comes from being sleep-deprived. Once I hit the pillow, I’m gone. They come before the alarm. And now with the daylights savings time—or whatever place we’re in, ordinary time—it’s getting light earlier. I awake panicky, thinking I’ve overslept.

Anyway, I remember 2 dreams from this week. One was PTS. Post-Trump Syndrome. I must’ve been watching the news before bed because I dreamed ICE was pursuing me. Ironically, I was a dreamer. So in my dream, I dreamed I was a dreamer—my dream about to disappear. Then the alarm went off.

The second dream took a little longer. I remember setting it up. It took awhile to get everything into place for the dream or fantasy/story to begin. In fact, I remember thinking in the dream that this reminds me of Grace, my daughter. She’d get out all her Fissher-Price peoples, get them set up, get the drama ready and—lo and behold—it was time to clean up, time for bed, dinner, bath. Some impending interruption that sent her over emotionally. I completely understand—I was already to dream!

I guess the Jungian take-away is incompletion. We might never get a chance to finish what we’ve started.


Except I plan to sleep in this weekend.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Resources for the Flasher

Memoirous gets about 10,000 hits a month!

I want to say thank you and encourage all my readers to BUY my books. If just one in 100 of you buy a book (or books), then I will . . . I was never good at math, but I like the sound of 1 in 100! 

I'm about to release FLASH MEMOIR: WRITING PROMPTS TO GET YOU FLASHING. Until then  . . .

Freeze Frame is available as an eBook for 2.99. Many of us are looking to write memories—either in the form of literary memoir or simply to record family history. This how-to book looks at memoir in small, bite-size pieces, helping the writer to isolate or freeze-frame a moment and then distill it onto paper.

365 Affirmations for the Writer, an eBook for 3.99. Writing is a journey. Every time we sit down to begin a piece or write the first chapter or the first line we are venturing into uncharted territory. 365 Affirmations for the Writer is about listening to those who have gone before us and letting them guide us with their insight, their own trials. By reading what others have said, we can survey the path before us, count the cost, and plunge ahead.

Every morning I read 365 Affirmations for the Writer by Jane Hertenstein. It's a daily shot of encouragement in the arm. http://groggorg.blogspot.com/2015/04/meet-sue-shanahan-by-suzy-leopold.html

More than affirmations there are countless writing prompts to get you started and keep you inspired.
Also check out Orphan Girl. Available as an eBook but also in paperback. Tens of thousands of homeless people walk the streets, forgotten, yet each with their own story to tell. Marie James, a 69-year-old bag lady, and a frequent guest at an inner-city mission in Chicago, sat with Jane Hertenstein through the summer of 1995 and recorded this shocking and moving story of life filled with sorrow, loss, mental instability, and hope. Her memoir will break one's heart, yet encourage and inspire. -- "Harrowing inside view of homelessness", -- Publishers Weekly, August 11, 1997

Also available through:

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Apple

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Barnes & Noble

Diesel

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Gardners Extended Retail

Gardners Library

Inktera (formerly Page Foundry)

Kobo

Library Direct

Odilo

OverDrive

Oyster

Scribd

Sony

Tolino

txtr

Yuzu

Friday, May 12, 2017

Trump’s Vietnam

Book Review
Vietnam: The History of the War
Russell Freedman


I’ve been on a Russell Freedman kick lately. I love his histories filled with interesting pictures. The books might be classified as picture books for young adults. Indeed, his Lincoln: A Photobiography won the Newbery Award.

A few years back I read his book on the Wright Brothers—probably because I’m from Dayton, Ohio and as a schoolchild I visited many of the historic sites where the brothers lived and practiced flying. (Though their bike shop is in Greenfield Village, scooped up by Henry Ford and displaced to Dearborn, Michigan). Anyway, it is somewhat a miracle that the Wright Brothers invented the airplane. Of course, I always feel like that when boarding a plane. How does this work! What keep this thing from falling from the sky?!

Only one of the brothers bothered finishing high school. They started first with the printing press, selling broadsides etc. Then saw the rage for bicycling and moved on to that. But by this time they were also curious about flying and contacted the Smithsonian for information. They were very methodical in their research and what looked like risk was, in fact, well calculated.

Just like Freedman when preparing his picto-biographies.

Vietnam is his latest contribution to non-fiction literature. Now there was an ill-thought-out war. A perfect example of Anglo/Western hubris. It’s what happens when countries invade other countries and think it’s going to be easy. Probably every decision made in the US involvement in Vietnam turned out wrong—beginning with the horse we choose to back: a corrupt Ngo Dinh Diem to head South Vietnam a newly divided country. [Note to policy makers: partitions are not always the lasting answer to internal conflict.]

So much of the history of US involvement in Vietnam sounds familiar. But I also took away some warning signs for the present.

From the book:
“But Diem’s reputation as a miracle man rested on a shaky foundation. The massive American aid that kept him in power was a substitute for his woeful lack of public support. Members of Diem’s immediate family, devoted to their own self-interest, held key positions in his regime.”

Does this sound familiar? Recently Trump signed a law making it easier for investors to get what is called a Golden Ticket. In exchange for investing a substantial sum of money in a business and creating at least 10 permanent jobs for U.S. workers, which benefits the economy and local communities, wealthy foreigners are granted green cards by the government. The EB-5 visa. Congress just extended the program until September 30th.

The U.S. government program is again drawing scrutiny after Nicole Kushner Meyer, the sister of White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, last weekend touted the fast-track to legal status as part of a real estate pitch to Chinese investors in which her family's company has a stake. Meyer reportedly was selling investments in a New Jersey luxury apartment complex as part of an effort to raise $150 million in funding for the project.

Here is an example of a corrupt government: where officials use policy to personally benefit. And, why can’t a potential terrorist just buy a visa and enter the States. Osama Bin Laden’s Saudi family owned a multi-billion dollar construction company with international contracts including the US—today they could buy a visa for Osama.

Furthermore, now there’s this:

Now there’s a black hole where already countless civilians and over 8,000 troops have been killed and close to 500 billion sunk. The Soviets couldn’t occupy and neither could the British (The First Anglo-Afghan War  also known as the great disaster was fought between British imperial India and the Emirate of Afghanistan from 1839 to 1842. The war is famous for the loss of 4,500 British and Indian soldiers, plus 12,000 of their camp followers).


Does history teach us nothing?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

REI Shopping Trip


I have thunder thighs. Always have. Albeit there have been times when I’ve been thinner (than I am now). But, still, nothing deserving a double XL.

I’m talking here about rain pants.

Last weekend I rode my bike back from Kalamazoo, MI. Yes, that weekend. The one with all the rain and flash flooding. I took along with me some L.L. Bean wind pants that I’d coated with water repellant. And also a pair of PVC rain pants acquired new 30 years ago. During a milky downpour I was amazed at the breathability of the PVC pants. I looked down to see that the seams had opened. ALL the seams. Basically I was riding in rubberized flaps.

I changed into the Bean pants that after 5 minutes stuck to my skin, soaking wet.

Some readers might remember before my JOGLE, riding from the top of the UK to Land’s End, I’d purchased a fairly pricey pair of Showerspass rain pants. These were advertised to be waterproof and breathable—to a point. For instance not when riding a bike, what they were designed to do. I got wetter wearing them than leaving them in my pack. At one point I thought I’d wear them to walk through tall wet grass to the pub and still they gathered condensation inside. Before returning them I shook them out to repack them for mailing and drips of water flew out.

So I went shopping at REI, an exercise in humility. And logic.

Of course people who shop here are active, athletic, or else want to look like it. I lost weight just looking for a sales clerk. I’d picked out a pair of rain pants, again waterproof but I didn’t see any info on breathability. This is expensive nylon, y’all. I saw a jacket for $450 and when I found a salesperson he said let me show you a jacket for $550. Nevermind. And those pants nada, no breathability. He walked away from me.

Which got me thinking: Why sell rain pants that get you wet from the inside but keep you dry from rain? So no disrespect, when I found the guy again I asked this very question. He said for sitting around a campsite on a damp log. My head snapped off—for $75! While I was at it I asked: Why in such dark colors? Black, charcoal gray (basically light black). Cyclists need to be visible, and he said fashion. No one wants neon yellow. It made no sense=these products were being sold in the Bicycling Department.

Then he laid it out for me. Unless I want to pay $400 for Gortex I’m not going to be able to ride my bike without getting wet. Good because I didn’t want to pay a small fortune to sweat in cruise ship-size pants. I tried on one pair, then another, then another. Each another size up. The 3-way mirror told the truth, but how can I be the same size as a 360 pound 7 foot man? How can I manage to walk let alone bike 1,100 miles in 19 days up and down mountains??? A couple I met on my JOGLE even commented: How can someone as small as you do this trip? Well, apparently I’m not that small. Not if I want to sit in a saddle and move my legs comfortably with rain pants on. They need to be roomy enough to fit over my butt and a pair of padded cycling shorts.

In the end I left empty-handed and defeated.

Yes, I have thunder thighs, but they power me up and down hills and through rain and 20 – 30 mph winds.