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  • To Trump or Never Trump ~ that is the Question.

    How do you solve a problem like Trumpina?

    Since my priest’s homily this morning included references to the Sound of Music, and, in particular, Maria von Trapp, I can’t help but set my problem to the tune of the the song sung by the nuns, as they spoke of Maria, the young girl whom they felt might be choosing the wrong vocation.

    Not that Trump is a nun, or anything remotely resembling most nuns. He might, in a pinch, be likened to Sister Mary Elephant in the old Cheech and Chong parodies I used to listen to as a teen.

    Trumpina is Trumpina, love him or hate him. And we must admit that he is somewhat of a problem for many people. However, Trumpina sounds nicer than some of the names I’ve seen people call Trump and his supporters.

    Also, how about Cruzita, for people (me included) who supported Ted Cruz? Trumpina and Cruzita are much nicer sounding to me.

    But— How do we solve our problem? And, I don’t even have to explain the problem… everyone knows what it is. There is a terrible rift among Americans who are not supporting Hillary Clinton. I only need to say that many people don’t believe Trumpina belongs where he is right now.

     

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    Unfortunately I, and many others, are torn and in a sort of a crossfire. That’s why I feel like the emoji above. I didn’t support Trumpina. I supported Cruzita. But now that Cruzita’s campaign has been suspended, I find myself looking at Trumpina as a possible alternative to Hillary.

    Trumpina tweets when he should think. Trumpina does not talk like a statesman, nor does he act presidential. Trumpina is, for want of a better term, a crude dude.

    And Cruzita? Unfortunately, he’s not in the race anymore.

    I think it’s a good time for folks to take a deep breath, and maybe think about their neighbors. Americans–average Americans, not TV pundits, journalists, etc.– who are not Liberal Democrats have, until quite recently, been there for each other most of the time during the past 8 years.

    The Liberals don’t count in this equation–they are enemies, and we all know it. They are the followers of Socialism, Communism and other ideologies which will eventually destroy our country. They are not like us. They do not know any morality except their own religion.

    But we, who care about the individual, are not like them. Let’s get back to where we used to be.

    For believers in God, or a Higher Power, or even just people of goodwill… we must understand that we are on the same side. We are better than this.

    Let the Liberals be themselves… they abuse us enough without us abusing each other.

    Matthew 712

     

    Please remember… God Loves Trumpina. He loves Trumpina’s supporters. He loves Cruzita and his crew, too. He even loves Hillary, and her supporters.

    He will solve the problem, if we allow Him to.


  • Coping through the Election

    With all the worries laid on many of us due to upheavals in politics, government overreach, and other matters that shouldn’t be happening in a free country, we may find ourselves feeling overwhelmed.

    When the above are added to our everyday stresses of work and family, if we’re not careful we might become ill. Depression, anxiety, and stress can lead to physical symptoms like headaches and sciatica. (I should know).

    So I’m going to simply trust in God that everything will work out as He planned. After all, with the exception of casting our own vote, we have no control. We can’t control what other folks choose to do, nor should we wish to. Everyone is an individual, and has their own reasons for their own positions. We should simply love our friends, period.

     

    So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

    Matthew 7:12

     

    The above is a pretty good way to live. If everyone did it, the world would be a better place right now.

    A friend recently told me the following, which she had heard from someone else. I don’t know the author of this quote, but whoever it is seems a genius.

     

    Love others, trust God, the end.

     

    This is all we can do. Remember God’s words to His children:

     

    For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

    Jeremiah 29:11

     

    We should enjoy our lives. It’s going to be a long, hot summer. I’m gonna keep my cool, prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

    Unknown

     


  • Internet Debate ~ A Spectator Sport

    This post is my response to the friends whom I know do believe what I wrote in a previous post regarding the ascent of Donald Trump.

    It’s also a rebuttal to those who tossed around different words and phrases which all meant the same thing to me.

    My friend, Linda, liked the post, and asked if she could share it on her Facebook page.  However, my post was the subject of a terrible comments thread. For my part, I regret losing my temper, and using foul language, however, I must chalk it up to my temper. I do work on controlling my temper, but it escapes me at times, especially when people accuse me without cause.

    I would like to apologize to my friends, and forgive those who hurt me. I pray sincerely for each person who commented, and wish the best for all, even those whom I felt best to block from seeing me on Facebook. This was a decision I made long ago; I cannot have the worry of folks who for all intents and purposes say I’m a liar having access to my family photos or other information. It makes me nervous to contemplate that people who believe I engage in fabricating tales might possibly be looking at my family.

    I feel like I need to write all of this. I was unfairly attacked, to the point of being told I hate Catholics. (I’m a cradle Catholic, and very devoted to Jesus and His Mother). But as another friend once said: Jesus never told us to be doormats. Sigh.

    I only recently decided to place a small biography on my own page, consisting of my website and blog information. This was because I never really felt comfortable with announcing the fact that I have written two novels. Other writers say the same; it may be that we are introverts, or nervous about our work being rejected, or any number of other reasons.

    However, after almost two years, I decided to be proud of my accomplishments, and to put the information on my page. Friends knew I was a writer, of course; such things cannot be a secret, but I kept my writing life separate from my personal Facebook page for whatever reason.

    As I said to the commenters at large, I am respected in my field. I have many friends, some of whom commented at the end of the post that upset some of the people I went to school with.  One of my dearest friends, Daria DiGiovanni, is an author, ghostwriter, blogger, internet radio host and co-owner of a new publishing venture. Daria in particular, has been my mainstay. I could not ask for a better friend. Another friend, Kia Heavey, has recently been awarded a contract for her third novel, Domino. Domino was published by Kindle Press, Amazon’s new publishing venture.

    I remember how proud I was when I was asked to appear on Daria’s radio show, Writestream Tuesday, Shatter the Narrative, with other members of the Conservative Libertarian Fiction Alliance. All are well respected authors.

    These people are my acquaintances, and, in some cases, dear, dear friends. Marina, an immigrant from the former Soviet Union, recently published her debut novel, Chasing Freedom.

    So, I decided that I wouldn’t hide from my community anymore.

    Even though I have been termed worse than a liar many times on comments threads in the past, I didn’t expect to be maligned on Linda’s page. I don’t know why I thought I would be respected by folks who, for whatever reason, do not understand the concept of such a thing, but for some reason I still didn’t expect it. Perhaps because with all that has happened in America, I believed more people would see the truth.  Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. It happened, and it can’t be undone.

    Within ten minutes of the initial post, the first comments came in. The word used by the nastiest commenter was “liar.” Other  terms thrown around are paraphrased here.

    My post was: “All over the place” — “Started off interesting, but she quickly lost credibility” — the stories do not seem as if they could really have happened”… and on and on.

    Again, the above are paraphrases. I couldn’t screenshot them, since Linda deleted the post from her page the next day. I certainly don’t blame her, and I’m happy she did delete it. It had descended into something that did not in any way resemble a debate.

    In addition the phrases above, the following words, or in some cases memes containing them, were used while describing Linda and me:  Racist, Hater, Angry, and even Hitler. Hitler was being compared to Donald Trump, who, as I said in my post, I do not support.

    However, Donald Trump is the Republican frontrunner, and most likely to be our next President. Part of this is due to riots over the weekend by people who hate Trump. Again… when people, (especially people who claim to be kind and tolerant) disrupt a rally and cause violence, it drives Americans who are watching the proceedings directly toward the person or people against whom the violence was perpetrated. It’s what I said in the post which caused all of this upset, and it’s the truth.

    Just for the record: I’m a registered Republican, but I have, in the past, split my ticket or voted for candidates not of the party. The party is part of the problem. Same with the other party.

    Following is an excerpt from page 255 of my first novel, a dystopia. I began writing Tears Of Paradox in 2009, and published it in May, 2014. Protagonist Jason is remembering his youth, from the vantage point of having survived the beginning of America’s descent into totalitarianism. The “drones” are the media. The “sharks” are members of a government bureaucracy that has assumed control  of each American’s life.

    Some seemed not to care what their choices did to others, though. The politicians and the media are the hardest to forgive, even though they were deceived and betrayed themselves. It’s not easy to forgive the drones, but I take no comfort in the fact that most of them have received their comeuppance. I’m not talking about those who did report the truth; they were shut down long ago. It was probably a blessing, since it enabled some of them to get out; to begin spreading truth from far-away places. The ones I refer to as drones are those who wouldn’t recognize Truth if it touched them on the shoulder, (which I have no doubt in my mind He did). Or the ones who knew what the facts were, but spun them or hid them or scrubbed them outright, just to further their own ends. After all, they had all resources available to them, all of history to learn from, and back then they also had the protection of the First Amendment.

    They should have known better. They shouldn’t have let themselves be blinded by false party allegiance. They should have realized that donkeys and elephants didn’t matter; that what mattered was truth and humanity, and that Washington was disintegrating into two stinking, rotting rat carcasses. They were only half-alive, but they still had snapping mouths full of sharks teeth, which did a great deal of damage as they slowly mutated into one.

    The drones should have stuck to reporting facts. That’s what they were supposed to do. If they had they might have realized that even though most of them favored one party, neither party favored them—and that behind closed doors they were referred to with mirth as perfect examples of the term “useful idiots”. Most of them had no idea though. They didn’t understand what they’d been given, and they didn’t see the sharks circling until it was way too late. They held a sacred trust, protected by the First Amendment, and they should have followed the truth instead of spinning a huge ugly web of poisonous lies.

    They were too busy for facts, though. If they’d studied history they might have been able to read the writing on the wall. The blinders might have come off, and they would have seen what had happened over and over throughout the ages—the fact that after people such as the sharks finally chewed their way into complete control, the journalists were always the first to go. It’s a shame they were blind. Now it’s too late for them.

     

    If you read the above with an open mind, you cannot help but come to the conclusion that I don’t favor either party at this point. I just want my children and grandchildren to be free. I choose to focus on my writing, since politics is downstream from culture.

    Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.

    Pericles

     

    The above, I have come to understand, is the truth. That is why I do what I do, even though it can be difficult at times.

    And now we come to the point: Internet debate is  a spectator sport.

    In the comments thread on Linda’s post, I did defend myself against some of the claims. One commenter insinuated that if such a thing had happened, perhaps it was in some way merited. After I spoke back, the commenter backpedaled. And then again, it was communicated to me that people like me ought to know their place. “A place for everything.”  To me those are fighting words.

    I’m an American. We do not have “places.” We are not required to sit down and be quiet and keep to our place. As long as we are not breaking the law, we are free to say what we please. We cannot yell fire in a crowded theater, but we can stand up for ourselves and our beliefs. It doesn’t matter how unpopular our positions are; we have the right to think and believe what we want, as long as we do not break the law or cause harm to our neighbors. (Unlike the protesters at the Chicago Trump rally).

    So… here goes. Please click this link if you would like some backstory, but the headline should be enough to scare any thinking person: SJWs are purging politically incorrect Sci-Fi Authors from Bookstores. Linked within is the following post: The Hugo Wars: How Sci-fi’s Most Prestigious Awards Became a Political Battleground.

    As you can see, what happened with regard to my puny post is nothing compared to what others are enduring at the hands of Leftists and Social Justice Warriors like the worst guy on Linda’s comment thread.

    Again: We are Americans. We do not suppress the speech of another, or attempt to threaten their livelihoods. That is what they do in Communist countries, or Socialist countries, or countries run by fascists. This is not what Americans do.

    But, unfortunately, it seems to be becoming the norm. Again, this is what is driving people to Trump. They can’t fight the whole media, all of the PC politicians and the spineless GOP who have promised to help them for the past six years because they are continually maligned and shouted down with terms such as racist, sexist, homophobe, liar, stupid, redneck, tea bagger, and others. They have become the punching bag for any Liberal with a cell phone who happens to be having a bad day, and so, they are flocking to Trump, who stands up to the media and the haters.

    Anyway… The comments thread was for the spectators. If I had known for a fact that no one was watching, I would not have spoken back, or bothered, because for people like the man who called me an angry racist hater, no words, however reasoned, will suffice. It would have been pointless.

    But… I know for a fact that other people were watching that thread, and I know some of them sympathize with me. Others may have been indifferent, and may have been swayed by watching the venom of the nasty guy. Perhaps they do not wish to be like him, and so, they may give me the benefit of the doubt, or begin to believe that his way is not the way of Free Americans.

    I’m going to link here to a “fisk” by Larry Correia, founder of the Sad Puppies, who was featured in the previous link.  The applicable quote follows:

     

    Arguing is a spectator sport. You don’t waste your time on the already decided, you convince the undecided, and give ammo to your side. If there isn’t an audience, don’t waste your time.

    And again:

    This is the reason Linda and  I continued to speak. It was for our friends who may have been watching, and for any others who might have been convinced that the abuser was wrong.

    Though going through such an ordeal was difficult, I still feel it was worth it. I even have a new Facebook contact. Someone was watching, and the person sent me friend request. This alone made the whole ordeal worthwhile. It let me know that I’m not alone, and that I am worthy of someone’s respect. (Even though I know I am only living for God, and He knows my heart).

    Also, in my attempt to find the above quote/story for use in this post, I posed a question in my writer’s group, asking who it was that said internet debating is for the spectators.

     

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    I was answered by other members in the comments thread right away. Mr. Correia is a famous author, well respected and someone to emulate. Imagine my surprise when he took time away from his busy schedule to answer my question personally.

    This is what it’s like to be part of something real. We do not attempt to tear each other down. We only fight back when we are attacked, and we will never stop.

    *This post has been updated.*

     

    Related post:

    The Trump Phenomenon ~ My Take

     


  • Happy Thanksgiving

    Tomorrow we celebrate a beloved American holiday, Thanksgiving.

     

    All day today I’ve been remembering what I’m grateful for. There are so many things! A loving husband and family, adorable grandchildren, a roof over my head, enough to eat, and my friends near and far. I’m thankful for music, the ability to run and exercise to keep fit, and for good health. I’m thankful to live in a free country where I can write the books I choose to write and post the blogs I choose to post. I’m very grateful that I’m free to worship as a Roman Catholic, a faith I love.

    I can never thank God enough for all that He’s given me. I can only be humble, and a gracious receiver of His gifts. Encompassing all is His redemption of me by His death on the Cross, something I do not deserve, and of which I am not worthy.

    Yet He did it anyway.

    There’s really nothing more to say.

    Catholic Church Crucifix

    Thank you, dear Jesus, for everything.

    Wishing family, friends and readers everywhere a very Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving.

    images copy 21

     


  • Thanks, Readers

    This week three great things happened with regard to my writing.

    First, my 20 year old niece finished reading The Notice, and told me the end made her cry. (In a good way). Here’s a screen shot of  our back and forth texts:

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    Second, a longtime twitter friend, who is also an author, finished reading Tears Of Paradox. She also gave me great feedback, saying that my writing gave insight into the lives of practicing Catholics. Reading her review was the highlight of my day yesterday.

    Third, this morning at Mass, I ran into a lady who has read both Tears Of Paradox and The Notice. She told me she absolutely loved book two, and could not put it down until she finished. Hearing feedback like this makes all the hard work worth it.

    I am so grateful to the folks who enjoy my work. Almost everyone asks me this question: “Will Jason and his father finally meet in book three?” The answer is: Yes, they will. I truly hope I can do this reunion justice.

    I have done lots of research and planned many plot lines for book three. I don’t know the title yet. Titles are very difficult for me. I have written less than a chapter so far, but I plan to hit it hard over the summer. I am not the fastest writer, but I am a thorough one.

    In the meantime, if you are a reader who has enjoyed my work, please tell a friend. I’ll sign off with the following video. Click here, please, to watch and listen to the man who inspired much of my work. You Tube does not allow certain videos to be embedded.

    This song is part of my inspiration for Michael Sean, Jason’s father, This particular version is from a bootleg which was released with Springsteen’s Darkness On The Edge Of Town boxed set. My husband gave it to me as a gift a few years ago. This 1978 show must have been magical for people lucky enough to have been there.

    Here are the lyrics:

    “It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City”

    I had skin like leather and the diamond-hard look of a cobra
    I was born blue and weathered but I burst just like a supernova
    I could walk like Brando right into the sun
    Then dance just like a Casanova
    With my blackjack and jacket and hair slicked sweet
    Silver star studs on my duds like a Harley in heat
    When I strut down the street I could feel it’s heartbeat
    The sisters fell back and said “Don’t that man look pretty”
    The cripple on the corner cried out “Nickels for your pity”
    Them gasoline boys downtown sure talk gritty
    It’s so hard to be a saint in the city
    I was the king if the alley, mama I could talk some trash
    I was the prince of the paupers crowned downtown at the beggar’s bash
    I was the pimp’s main prophet I kept everythning cool
    Just a backstreet gambler with the luck to lose
    And when the heat came down it was left on the ground
    The devil appeared like Jesus through the steam in the street
    Showin’ me a hand I knew even the cops couldn’t beat
    I felt his hot breath on my neck as I dove into the heat
    It’s so hard to be a saint when you’re just a boy out on the street
    And the sages of the subway sit just like the living dead
    As the tracks clack out the rhythm their eyes fixed straightahead
    They ride the line of balance and hold on by just a thread
    But it’s too hot in these tunnels you can get hit up by the heat
    You get up to get out at your next stop but they push you
    Back down in your seat
    Your heart starts beatin’ faster as you struggle to your feet
    You’re outa that hole and back up on the street
    And them South Side sisters sure look pretty
    The cripple on the corner cries out “Nickels for your pity”
    And them downtown boys they sure talk gritty
    It’s so hard to be a saint in the city.

    Lately, the title of this song describes me, trying to live my life and be a good person. Being a follower of Christ is difficult at this time, with all the unrest in America and the world. Times are hard all over. It’s so hard to be a saint in the city that is this world. But just the same, we have salvation, if only we stay with Him.

    all-things-work-together-for-those-who-love-god-all-we-have-to-do-is-love-and-live-for-god-he-is-with-us-and-promises-he-will-give-good-to-us-and-has-a-plan


  • April Reflections

    I’m participating in a scripture study on Acts at a neighboring parish. Though I’ve read parts of Acts, I’ve never really studied it in depth. There’s a lot to ponder.

    During our discussion today, I was struck by the many different ideas and perceptions of others. Everyone is different, and I enjoy listening to the ideas of other people in Bible studies. Sometimes an idea that never occurred to me will be presented, and I find help in my growth as a follower of Christ to consider and reflect on what others have learned. I hope they feel the same about me.

    IMG_1613

    This is why (though I can understand and respect people who pray only at home, and feel no need to attend any sort of Church) I truly believe churches and other places of worship are central to the overall well being of many people.

    Of course, I’m not talking about the folks in the pews who come to church on Sunday and then go out the door and begin doing the opposite of what Christ teaches. Every church, religion, group, field of business and workplace has such people. This has always been true. Such people have always been there and they most likely always will be. When faced with the damage they do it’s best to just remember that God loves them as much as he loves all of us. Then we should forgive them and pray for them. Unless the offense is criminal, it’s best to just leave them alone and pray that they might hear Christ’s message at some point.

    I’m speaking of the people who seem to really want to live Christ’s message. I’ve found that when I’m among a group of believers who are trying to do what Jesus would do (whether in a church setting or just a social or work setting) I feel uplifted and good inside. I don’t feel uncomfortable or afraid to share ideas. Even though the people in the scripture study probably have different beliefs than me on many issues, everyone seems willing to listen to others. This, to me, is a very good reason to actually join a church.

    IMG_1614

    The church where the scripture study is being held also has daily exposition of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. I went inside the sanctuary afterward, to spend time in Adoration. This is truly a gift. I feel I can tell Jesus anything and everything while I’m in His presence.

    Then I wonder why I don’t take advantage of this gift on a regular basis. I hope, after the scripture study is over, that I will continue to visit Christ — Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Who knows what I will learn, just by sitting quietly in His presence? The church is only 10 minutes from my home. I should take advantage of this opportunity. I’m sure my life will be better because of it.


  • Gratitude

    My free book promotion for The Notice is running through Sunday.

    My first free promotion, last year for Tears Of Paradox had a total of 300 downloads. I expected about the same for this promotion. Imagine my surprise yesterday when I saw that the Notice had been downloaded over 400 times on only the first day of the promotion.

    Now this may be a drop in the bucket to what a well known and traditionally published author would get in free downloads, but to me, a struggling unknown independent, it means a lot.

    IMG_1566

    I decided to check my Amazon ranking last night, just for fun. I was met with the above sight. The Notice is #2 in Christian Fantasy free books in Amazon’s Best Sellers.  It’s also #2 in Religious Science Fiction, and #568 in free overall. Again, this may seem small when compared to traditionally published authors with houses that help with marketing, but for lil ole me it’s a big deal.

    So, I feel the need to say thank you. Thank you to God for his grace in allowing me to pursue this dream. Such a thing seemed out of the realm of possibility a year ago. It’s reality today. I couldn’t have done this without Divine inspiration and help. I admit that.

    Matthew 19:26New International Version (NIV)

    26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

    Speaking of inspiration, I must mention someone else. Tears Of Paradox and The Notice were written during a period of darkness in my life. I found comfort, understanding and inspiration in the music of Bruce Springsteen, particularly my favorite album, Darkness On The Edge Of Town.

    My genre is Classic Rock, and while I listen to many artists, some of whom also inspired characters and scenes in my work, DOTEOT (and Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ) spoke to me in a way I can’t really describe with words.

    I’m working on finding a “song” for each character in this series. Following is Something In The Night from DOTEOT, which, to me, is protagonist Jason’s “song.”

     

    I’m riding down Kingsley, figuring I’ll get a drink

    Turn the radio up loud, so I don’t have to think,

    I take her to the floor, looking for a moment when the world seems right,

    And I tear into the guts, of something in the night.

    You’re born with nothing, and better off that way,

    Soon as you’ve got something they send someone to try and take it away,

    You can ride this road ’till dawn, without another human being in sight,

    Just kids wasted on something in the night.

    Nothing is forgotten or forgiven, when it’s your last time around,

    I got stuff running ’round my head That I just can’t live down.

    When we found the things we loved, They were crushed and dying in the dirt.

    We tried to pick up the pieces, And get away without getting hurt,

    But they caught us at the state line, And burned our cars in one last fight,

    And left us running burned and blind, Chasing something in the night.

    I had the extreme good luck to be in the audience at Citizen’s Bank Park on September 3, 2012, (Labor Day) when Springsteen performed a 5 song set from DOTEOT. H/T SomewhereInJersey75 for the following video. (I was in the nosebleeds).

     

    I’ve seen numerous rock concerts since my first trip to the Spectrum in 1978, but this was my all time favorite. It was also my last Springsteen concert. My husband admires Springsteen’s music, but has become less than a fan over the past few years, for which I do not blame him.

    Still, I’m very grateful to Springsteen. His music helped me through an extremely difficult period of my life.

    Finally, to whoever reads this blog, and whoever reads my books, my online writing buddies who help me everyday, or anyone who encourages me in  any way… I am grateful to you, too.


  • Happy New Year

    I try not to make tons of New Year’s resolutions, since I inevitably let them go by the wayside. Instead I’d like to reflect on the year past. 2014 had its high points 🙂 Here’s a list:

    1. I remained in good physical health and so did my family.
    2. I’m at a healthy weight.
    3. I have a terrific family who love me despite my faults.
    4. I have a husband whom I adore, and who loves me even when I’m not at my best.
    5. I am blessed to still have my mother and mother-in-law.
    6. I have two cute, rambunctious, fun, happy, sweet, lovable grandchildren.
    7. Said grandchildren seem to want me around a lot.
    8. I have a part time job, despite the stagnant economy.
    9. My husband escaped the ax at work again, and remains employed.
    10. I published a book.
    11. People like my book. (A friend told me just today that she loves it and can’t put it down).
    12. I am ready to publish another book.
    13. I have made many new friends because of my writing endeavor.
    14. I still have many longtime friends.
    15. I ran a half marathon.
    16. I live in a cute, cozy house.
    17. I am blessed to have a husband who knows how to work on cars. That way we save money, which makes up for the embarrassment I feel when my brakes squeal.
    18. I have a flower garden and a vegetable garden.
    19. I have plenty of plans for the coming year.
    20. I have the love of Jesus Christ.

    If all of the above are sustained in 2015 I will have more than a great year 🙂 I wish each and every friend and reader a happy, healthy New Year.

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  • Saving Nineteen Minutes (Part Three)

    Part three (and the last in this series since I’m thoroughly sick of thinking about Nineteen Minutes and its underhanded, nasty advocates) will detail the lead up to the Kennett Consolidated School District’s November 10, 2014 board meeting, the meeting itself, and the aftermath of the meeting.

    For backstory please read Saving Nineteen Minutes (Part One) and Saving Nineteen Minutes (Part Two) if you missed them.

    Though I will be linking to other editorials and possibly other news articles in this post, I will be primarily referring to this Daily Local News story. I will try to make this post as brief as possible while ensuring that all pertinent information is recorded, since the newspapers do not bother to tell both sides.

    I’ll begin with this passage from the above news story from the perspective of the KCSD.

    The book, published in 2007, can be found in the library of Kennett High School and became the hot topic of the school board meeting Nov. 10 after a parent, Angela John, requested the book be removed.

    “The parent felt the book content was not suitable for high school students,” Superintendent Barry Tomasetti said during the meeting.

    He went on to say the district followed Policy 109 and tried to resolve the issue informally, but the parent was not satisfied and completed a Request for Reconsideration of Resource Material Review Committee.

    From there, the committee reviewed the book and its merits and voted unanimously that the book remain in the library.

    The parent made a final appeal to the board and the matter was brought up at the Nov. 10 meeting.

    Policy 109, mentioned above, can be found here. The pertinent information in policy 109 regarding Nineteen Minutes or any other contested resource says:

    Procedure For Reviewing Challenged Material

    The procedure for review of resource material may be a two-phase process that can be initiated by the parent/guardian of a District student or a District employee. When a concern regarding library resource material is received, the principal will inform those staff members using the material, the Superintendent, and the librarians. Prior to any meetings, the complainant shall be given a copy of this Policy. Challenged resource material will remain in use during the review process.

    Phase I is an informational meeting involving a discussion with all people involved. The information meeting is for the purpose of explaining Board procedures about selecting and using educational resources, not a time for school personnel to make sudden, un-reviewed, and undocumented decisions about the continued use of resources. For example, there may be a temptation for a principal or a teacher to listen to the objections of a parent/guardian and agree with him/her and remove the resource on the spot rather than face the review procedure.

    Sometimes becoming aware of the need for a variety of resources to meet the needs of a diverse student population causes complainants to reconsider their actions and withdraw their complaints. A decision not to file a formal complaint frequently occurs after the explanation of procedures used to select the resource or the reasons that a resource is being used in the District are explained.

    If the complaint is not satisfied at this time, the Request for Reconsideration of Resource Material form will be offered for completion. If completed, the principal will forward the form to the chairperson of the Resource Material Review Committee.

    Phase II is a formal process involving a large number of staff members. The results of all activities will be communicated to the complainant(s). This phase begins only after Phase I has been completed.

    The Resource Material Review Committee is appointed by the Superintendent or designee after soliciting volunteers. Members should have knowledge of children and young adult literature and be familiar with the District and the community. Members must become thoroughly familiar with the resource material selection Policy and develop a knowledge and understanding of the issues surrounding intellectual freedom and censorship.

    The committee will be chaired by the Assistant Superintendent and will include one (1) elementary and one (1) secondary principal, one (1) elementary and one (1) secondary media specialist, and a teacher from each organizational level. This committee may be expanded to include instructional staff members who will act in an advisory capacity when material under review is related to their specific curriculum areas. These advisors will not be voting members of the committee.

    In order for the committee members to fulfill their obligation of becoming knowledgeable in this area, the District shall provide workshops, material, conferences, research data, and other sources of information. Prior to a meeting to consider a request to re-evaluate resource material, committee members will familiarize themselves with the material in question.

    The following are the steps to be used to review resource material:

    Step 1 – When a principal has completed Phase I and receives a Request for Reconsideration of Resource Material form, s/he should send the form to the chairperson of the Resource Material Review Committee with a copy to the Superintendent.

    Pol. 105.2

    Step 2 – Upon receipt of the request form, the chairperson shall do the following:

    1. Request librarians and/or other staff members to secure copies of the questionedmaterial for the use of the committee.
    2. Request librarians and/or other staff members to obtain reviews and other evaluations of the material.
    3. Distribute information including copies of the material, the reviews and evaluations of the material, and the complainant’s completed form to the members of the committee.
    4. Establish a time and place for a committee meeting to be held within ninety (90) days of receipt of the information to be considered.
    5. Allow an adequate opportunity for discussion of all information pertinent to the complaint.
    6. If appropriate, arrange for expert testimony.

    After the committee has discussed the relative merits of the material and other information pertinent to the complaint, the chairperson shall conduct a written and signed vote of the committee members to determine the majority opinion. The chairperson will vote only if the vote ends in a tie. The chairperson will forward the results of the meeting to the Superintendent on the Report of the Resource Material Review Committee form with copies sent to all committee members.

    A vote of the committee shall be to recommend one (1) of the following courses of action regarding the status of the material:

    1. The material will remain in the library collection (no change).
    2. The material will be circulated only to students above the designated grade level agreed to by the committee. The staff will ensure that such material is not borrowed nor required for the fulfillment of class assignments by students who are below this level without written permission of a parent/guardian.
    3. The material will be removed from the collection.
    4. Alternative material will be offered at the request of the parent/guardian as outlined in Board Policy. Material will be retained in the collection.

    The Resource Material Review Committee will review the material in an objective manner. The best interests of the students, school, and curriculum shall be given utmost consideration. The decision of the committee shall be by majority vote; minority opinions will be attached and forwarded with the decision.

    Upon receipt of the recommendation, the Superintendent will communicate the decision to the complainant.

    If after a meeting with the Superintendent the person remains dissatisfied, final appeal may be made to the Board through the Superintendent. The Board, or a committee of the Board, shall schedule a hearing within thirty (30) days after the request has been made.

     

     

    The KCSD (as stated in the Daily Local News article) would have people believe that one lone woman had an issue with the book Nineteen Minutes. This is false. Anyone who chooses to do a bit of investigating can find stories from  other schools all over America where parents took issue with this book. However, I must state here, for the record, that Angela John, my friend, was NOT the only person in the Kennett School District concerned about this book.

    Please glance at the last paragraph of policy 109, above. You’ll see that if there is still dissatisfaction, a “hearing” will be scheduled. While my friends were trying, for months, to deal with this school and school board, we got together for coffee to discuss progress. At one of our get-togethers, Angie showed me the notice from the Superintendent stating that she could bring her concerns to the table at a hearing. The letter stated that only Angie could be present at this hearing (though she could, if she wished to, bring her husband along). Hello?

    Does this school realize how heavy handed they sound? The taxpayers, including Angie, pay their salaries, yet they must request “hearings” on important matters concerning their own children.

    That brings me to another point. After the November 10th debacle, several local papers posted links on their Facebook Pages. Angie stayed away from newspapers, since she was devastated by what happened, but I read every article and every editorial. The comments by people who may or may not know Angie were nasty and quite ignorant, but there was one in particular that stood out. On the Kennett Paper’s Facebook page, a woman commented: “The person who complained doesn’t have a child in the High School.” Excuse me?

    Number 1) Any taxpayer has a say, as long as their kids are in the district.

    2) This woman is a parishioner at the same church Angie attends. (I’m also a parishioner at this church, but I’ve never met this woman). This person and Angie are acquainted. She could have followed the advice of Christ, and asked Angie in person about her concerns instead of showing up in public and joining a group accusing a neighbor of “banning” books.

    3) There were other parents who DO have kids in the High School who were concerned about Nineteen Minutes. I know this for a fact. The night of the hearing, another friend, one who has two kids attending Kennett High School went to the hearing. When we read the letter KCSD had sent to Angie we laughed a little. Though it sounded very intimidating, we couldn’t imagine that it would come to the point of actually throwing another concerned parent and taxpayer out of the “hearing.” But that’s exactly what happened. No one else could present their concerns about Nineteen Minutes at the hearing.

    In addition to the graphic portrayal of teen sex between Josie and her boyfriend Matt, digs at traditional Americans and religion, and normalization of abortion in general, here’s something else.  Many parents might take issue with ninth and tenth graders being exposed to the following in school. In this excerpt from page 323 of Nineteen Minutes, Josie, the teen who survived the school shooting and Matt’s girlfriend, believes she is pregnant. After contemplating asking her estranged father for money for an abortion, Josie decides to google some old wives tales, just in case.

    There was something about going to a doctor, or a clinic, or even to a parent, that she couldn’t quite swallow. It seemed so…deliberate…..

    Some she already knew: the old wives’ tales about sticking a knitting needle up inside her, or drinking laxatives or castor oil. Some she’d never imagined: douching with potassium, swallowing ginger root, eating unripe pineapple. And then there were the herbs: oil infusions of calamus, mugwort, sage,and wintergreen; cocktails made out of black cohosh and pennyroyal…..

    Use 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of the dried herb per cup of water, 3-4 times a day. Don’t confuse tansy with tansy ragwort, which has been fatal to cows that have eaten it growing nearby.

    Really? Is a book containing such a passage really worth all of this? If kids want the damn book they can buy it at Barnes and Noble or borrow it from the public library. Or their parents can give it to them if they’re so hell bent on having their kids read it. Why is it necessary for this book to be paid for by taxpayers and read in class? Why is it necessary for every kid in the school to have this trash pushed on them? Apparently the Kennett librarian is infatuated with this book. She said in a meeting that she goes into classrooms and reads passages aloud to students. (One can only hope that the above passage isn’t one of her favorites).

    Okay. Back to the lead up to the November 10th School Board meeting. At the hearing, what Angie mistakenly thought was a compromise was reached. Angie left the hearing with the understanding that Nineteen Minutes would remain in Kennett High School. The other attendees of this hearing agreed that the final vote would be on the following: Kennett High School could either place the book Nineteen Minutes in the guidance counselor’s office so younger students who might not have a good support system at home could be cautioned about what they might read, or the book could be kept without restriction. In no way does KEEPING a book in the guidance counselor’s office constitute a “ban.” So…how did the word “ban” come into play? Nobody knows, but here is a timeline of events leading up to the actual meeting.

    After the hearing which other concerned parents were not permitted to attend, rumors began circulating that “some woman” was trying to ban books. The rumor was heard at the Bayard Taylor Library in Kennett Square. The rumor was also being spread in one of the New Garden polling places on election day, November 4th. People coming into the polling place to vote were told that someone was trying to “ban” books at Kennett High School. All of this talk of “banning” did the trick.

    On the evening of November 10th, my friend Angie went to the school board meeting alone. She had asked me to go with her, and I said no. I had no idea what was going to happen and neither did she. I’m pretty sure Angie’s husband did end up joining her at the meeting before it ended, but I wish I had gone. She could have used a friend.

    The room where the school board met that night was filled with adults and students wearing “We Read Banned Books” buttons. There was quite a large group. Angie told me she was sitting quietly and wondering what the hell was going on, since the vote was to decide whether the book should be kept under age restrictions. A group of about 5-6 kids sat nearby, along with a few parents. Angie decided to ask them why they were at the meeting. Following is the paraphrased conversation:

    Angie: Why are you all here?

    Students: Our teachers asked us to come, because some lady is trying to ban books in our library.

    Angie: Oh no…that’s not what’s going on. I’m the person who’s concerned about the book, but I didn’t ask for it to be banned. I’m just concerned about kids. Some kids may be too young to read what’s in the book, so we should make sure they can be talked to by someone like the counselor.”

    Students: What? You’re the lady?

    Angie: Yes. It’s me, but I don’t want to ban books.

    Students: We didn’t know. We were told by our teachers to come tonight to support the school because someone wanted to ban books. We didn’t know.

    Angie related that the parents accompanying this group sat staring straight ahead. They heard every word she said, but they didn’t say a word to her. The group of students, however, thanked Angie.

    Back to the meeting. In the Daily Local News article above, there is not one word about the book being moved. The word “ban” was used throughout. “Moved” or “kept under age appropriate restriction” was not mentioned. In my previous post I linked to tweets between myself and Candice Monhollan, the reporter who covered the story. She tweeted to me that the school did NOT disclose the fact that the request was that this book be placed under age restriction. I don’t understand why, but for some reason this was left out. People can draw their own conclusions as to why.

    People were wearing buttons. Students spoke about free speech. Teachers spoke out in defense of Nineteen Minutes, and said “banning” books was against freedom of speech, etc. That wasn’t the worst thing, though. The worst thing was the fact that the school board played right along with these uninformed people. This meeting was mob-like. (One news article described the crowd as “civil.” Yeah, sure). The board whipped things up a bit more before they went on to other business. Following is a quote from board member Rudy Alphonso:

    “I think about the principles that our Founding Fathers laid ground for us (and) all the battles and all the people that have died over our 200-plus years to keep these fundamental freedoms in place and to allow us to have the choice whether or not we want to read something or not read something,” he said in his statement. “Banning this book, to me, would almost be like turning my back on all those hundreds of thousands of American veterans, men and women, who have died to allow us to keep those freedoms and not to have censorship. I see this attempt to ban this book as if we live in Nazi Germany. This is the United States of America. The Statue of Liberty rings for everyone.”

    This man and the other board members must have known that the book wasn’t leaving the school, yet he mentioned Nazi Germany. How unbelievably pathetic. Two other members of the school board are fellow parishioners. They also knew a ban was not requested, yet they allowed students and parents to think this was the case. I don’t know these people personally, though I do attend the same church. I must admit that I’m glad I don’t know them, and I hope I never meet them. I don’t think we worship the same God. The lone school board member who voted to place the book in the guidance office was also dissed and misrepresented by the newspapers, of course.

    In addition to my tweets to Ms. Monhollan, I ventured a couple of comments on the Facebook post from the Daily Local News, linked to the story above. I wanted to embed the post here, but I can’t find it on the DL Facebook wall at this time. I don’t know why, but it seems to be gone. If anyone reading this comes across it, let me know. Anyway, in my comment I mentioned the fact that a “ban” wasn’t what was asked for. People came back at me stating that restricting is similar to banning, or some such nonsense. One commenter stated that the Kennett Librarian was probably following recommendations from other schools and libraries and or librarians. That may well be true. For instance, look at the following article from the School Library Journal, “The world’s largest reviewer of books, multimedia and technology for children and teens.”

    This is a review of Lena Dunham’sNot That Kind Of Girl,” reviewed by the SLJ, who also put out a list of  “Best Adult Books For Teens of 2014.” Some of you may be familiar with Dunham and her memoirs. If not you can do more googling. But please understand that the School Library Journal recommends Dunham’s book for teens. If the Kennett Librarian follows such publications, perhaps Dunham’s book is sitting on the shelf. Who knows?

    Again, please read the comments following the Daily Local News article. Following are additional news articles for your perusal from The Unionville Times (Banned Books Button pictured), and The Times of Chester County. Actually this is the same article. It appeared in two different publications.

    Here’s an editorial stating that “Censorship died an ugly, messy death in Kennett Monday night. Let us hope this topic never comes up again.” Here’s a particularly snarky and ignorant post by someone named Tilda Talley-ho. Miss Talley-ho brings up Holocaust deniers. How very kind and tolerant. I could go on, but people with open minds probably get the drift.

    Here’s a word of warning. Take it or leave it as you see fit. The people behind this debacle misrepresented a good person. They probably forgot about it the next day, but it will always be with the person who was maligned. If you’re wearing blinders there’s not much anyone can say, and I doubt anyone who is wearing blinders would read this post anyway. But if you’re paying attention, take note. Some people just “don’t want to get involved.” Okay. That’s all well and good. Just remember what happens to people who continually walk right down the middle of the road. People or animals or whatever. Anything that insists on mincing down the middle of the road is going to get knocked aside sooner or later. Not standing up when good people are trashed enables the bad guys to get away with it. Someday it may be you or your family or friends who are savaged.

    It took me a month to get through Nineteen Minutes. That’s one month of reading time I will never get back. Still, I felt I had to read the damn thing, since my friend was branded a Nazi over it. I was chatting online with a young friend about this situation. (This man recently married, and the Nineteen Minutes debacle I described made him consider homeschooling any future children). My friend told me we should donate Kama Sutra to the High School Library. I told him I didn’t know what Kama Sutra was. (That’s true. I didn’t know what it was until that day). He lol’d and said he thought everyone had heard about it. I hadn’t, but for all I know it could be in some school library somewhere. I wouldn’t make a bet. As of this time, I am putting this damned book, its advocates and the rest of this behind me. I grew up within ten miles of Kennett Square, but things have changed since I was a kid. Apparently I don’t belong in this area. It’s not a very friendly place to live at this time.

    Kennett High School does hold some sentimental value for me, since my parents met there. They both graduated from Kennett. However, I’m very thankful that my children are grown and have moved away. Not very far away, but far enough that their kids will never be subjected to a school district populated with people who do what the people running that school district did to a decent, concerned parent. For that I am truly thankful.

    Update– I spoke to my friend Angie, who wanted to say a few additional words about this situation.

     

    My only concern was the safety and well being of the children of Kennett Consolidated School District.  I was disappointed to witness the vote on November 10th. The school board and the adults who spoke at the meeting acting in a non-serious manner.  They joked about having the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue in the library as well. The entire board were laughing except for the one serious, upright board member, Doug Sterling. Mr. Stirling was the only person who showed strength and intelligence by voting to have the book moved.

    I didn’t think the situation was funny. As someone who worked with inner city children in my capacity as a social worker, I was quite saddened by the  board’s lack of care and concern for the children of KCSD. I felt pity for the other adults as well. The teachers, parents and other administrators are either ignorant, or afraid to publicly acknowledge (for whatever reason) that there are some things in print that are not age appropriate. They refused to stand up and protect the kids, who may run the risk of either being harmed or harming others because of the information in Nineteen Minutes. The book detailed dangerous actions that the characters take out of desperation. How can one not see that this book needs to only be available  with adult care and guidance? Any other decision is irresponsible, and does not place the children’s well being front and center. Very sad.

     

    Her words make complete sense. However, the people running the KCSD got their way. I hope they’re happy.

     


  • Fun At The Nutcracker

    Today my daughter took my three year old granddaughter to see The Nutcracker, and invited me along. It was a very nice outing. The Brandywine Ballet Company’s performance was excellent. Before leaving the house, my granddaughter put on her Christmas dress and these pretty shoes.

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    Then we said goodbye to my son-in-law and baby grandson, got in the car and drove. Traffic was heavy. We had detours in downtown West Chester on our way to West Chester University where the performance was held.

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    Even though my daughter attended WCU, we still got lost trying to find the building where the ballet was being performed, and we were thirty minutes late for the show.

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    Once inside, my granddaughter listened and watched intently. She was very well behaved. She liked the dancers, costumes and characters. We told her the rat was a mouse, and that he “went to sleep” while Clara was dreaming. She told us she wants to take ballet lessons.

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    It was a very beautiful performance. I hope we can go again next year.

     

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    On the walk back to the car, my daughter showed her little girl the dorm where she used to live, Goshen Hall. My memories of Goshen are few, but vivid. When my husband and I left our child there in August of 1998, the elevators were slow and creaky. Inside the elevators were plastic covered lights next to the doors. They had burn holes in them. Apparently students liked to melt the plastic with their lighters. My daughter wasn’t exactly happy with us at the time, because we insisted that she live on an all girls floor, rather than a coed floor. (It didn’t matter anyway. The separate floors were a joke). The building looks the same today.

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    On the way home, I asked my daughter to drive past the old house where she lived during her last year of school, because even though the university in my series of books is not based on WCU, this house did inspire part of the story.

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    In my upcoming book, “The Notice”, protagonist Jason remembers his flaming youth, and a mysterious college girl whom he remembers only as “the sophomore.” The sophomore lived in a house like this, “a creepy old house with bad plumbing.” My friend and feedback reader, Kia, enjoyed the tale of the sophomore. I hope other readers will too. Stay tuned for a sneak peek of the cover of book two, coming in 2015.