Thursday, November 9, 2017

Trump Country




 I wrote this a year ago. I am finally brave enough to post. 




 
If I had been an editor or a news reporter, I would have screamed for this story. But I probably wouldn't if I lived in the big cities of Philadelphia, New York City or Boston or even the smaller cities on the northeast coast. And never if I lived in California. Except I am from here and being friends with many supporters of Trump, maybe I might have picked up on the posts and the comments of how many signs for Trump/Pence there were as opposed to Clinton/McKane. Well, there were the Hillary for Prison next to the Trump posts.
One Hermitage neighbor counted four hundred thirty-five to thirteen on long trip in western Pennsylvania. He also is in the military. Right there are stories that journalists could investigate. How does the military vote? Who do they want for their commander in chief? Instead of relying on their own opinion about some words, most likely taken out of context.
But that is not the point of this piece. I do not want to write about the bias of the media. I do not want to write about how lazy the journalists are. I don't want to acknowledge too much about their short comings. Except they really missed the ball with this story because they didn't visit or live here.
I did something today, I never did in Emporium, but always wanted to do. I got up early and took a walk. Harrison, my dog, was restless and at a quarter to seven, leashed dog in hand, I left the house, the sun not quite over the mountain on the east side of town. The rain with snow mix left the forecast pleasing me with scattered clouds pink. The temperature cool, but comfortable for me in a hoodie, a Penn State one, of course.
I head west toward the school. The sleepy town before waking up struck me with the thought: these are good people only wanting their small-town decency. The ones that didn't have to leave the area for work, like my husband did many years ago. They want jobs. They want the closeness of the family, many enjoying four generations. They want to watch their Steelers on Sunday afternoon after church and dinner.
I near the school. I marvel at the sign announcing parent teacher conference. They start at three thirty, one at six thirty and then nine this morning. They have the decency to realize most parents work and they seem to accommodate the parents. In Hermitage, I never got that courtesy. Either very early before school started, when I needed to get the girls ready for school or during the day. Even the elementary music concerts were during the day to fit the teachers schedule. But I am digressing.
The Emporium school district used to consult the churches in town to not schedule anything to interfere with religious functions. No sports on Sunday because they knew the parents wouldn't let the kids go. At one time, they also refrained from having events on Wednesday nights, a traditional mid-week night for church, because week to week is not enough. I can't say for sure they do this anymore.
I know even in this mountain town, they have had problems with “Mexicans.” The European sounding names represent families here, whose parents or grandparents immigrated the legal way. The stores in town were started by such families. The new illegals do cause trouble with drugs.
I return to the home of my ninety-one-year-old mother-in-law. I think, this is a place where people still put their birthday cards on the dining room table. She has many, but not as many as last year on her ninetieth.
In years past, this town and many like it were split somewhat evenly with the presidential election. I knew Tuesday evening, they were like the rest of rural Pennsylvania and the rural Ohio I saw. A movement of anti-establishment, called affectionately the Trump train, rolled through this country. I didn't think it would be enough to win this man the election. I kept telling the Facebook crowd, this is what I am seeing. It may be anecdotal, but this is what I am seeing. Don't be surprised if he wins.
They were. One likened it to as tragic as the world trade towers coming down. Now we are smeared by those who can't understand the disgust most people had with Hillary and Bill Clinton. NAFTA played a role for those who could remember industry leaving the Shenango Valley. People want to work. They see small business getting hammered with regulations and closing in recent years. I do find it interesting that across the border in Ohio's Mahoning County, with the six thousand Democrats who changed parties to vote for Donald Trump in the primaries, it was one of only seven counties that went for Hillary Clinton.
So, those who don't understand the vote and the election win, don't see what I have seen. People have felt the failure of low paying jobs. They see regulations strangling small business. Maybe they really don't hate the rich, but only want to be able to pay their bills with decent jobs. Maybe they all want more money in their pockets. Maybe they only want those truly in need to get help. They see too many not working and liking it. They see some do make more money not working, making it hardly worth working.
Prosperity could help with the supposed hatred they are painted with. If we are a working America, we won't have time for the idleness of name calling. If we are producing, we can concentrate helping each other and the world as the promise of America is.
A cub reporter back, even in the summer, should have asked, “Hey, can I go to what they call fly-over country and feel what the mood is? I can write a story about Trump's appeal.”  A few pieces to at least get the disappointed ones to understand there are opinions other than theirs. I tried with a few East and West Coast family. They couldn't perceive there was even another view.
I guess that angers me the most. It always angers me. When people don't see both sides. I am angry at the liberal media who didn't do their work and fed lies. Generations spoon fed by this dribble, are scared when even the president they adore has told them we live in the best country. And I bet he never even had lunch with a deplorable, bitter clinger sitting in the bars of the VFW halls. But I forgive him and the woman who won't be president. As John Gleason proclaimed to DW in Meet John Doe, “The people have spoken.”
We will be happy because we're tough. And in eight years, another peaceful transfer to power will come to the other party. We'll be working then in meaningful jobs. That is what Americans want to do: work and live in peace with little interference from the government. Government only needs to protect us with the armed services and local police and fire departments, help maintain the roads so we can travel, and give us back choices about our health care. Open it to a free market. And may abortions be limited and infrequent, not for the convenience of the woman, but realizing another life is involved. And may all our eyes be opened to what a great country we live in, because we wouldn't be able to protest if we didn't live in freedom.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Why Do I Wait?


Why Do I Wait?

Beautifully cool day in the shade for July, I finally picked up the camp chair to take outside. In the shade, I could almost wear a long sleeve shirt. I wait all day to write. I feel too many options on my plate and I can't focus.
I have talked to David about my publishing career. We sat at the corner to the high school. The Hermitage Arts Festival is this weekend, I remarked. I should have set up a booth to sell my books since I can't make it to the West PA Book Festival in a few weeks. To hide my disappointment, I go into detachment mode. I don't have the drive to be at these festivals, lately.

I got a flyer this week on my door. The neighborhood garage sale is back, August twelfth. I know I work, the same reason I can't participate in a few weeks for West PA. I thought, I could just set up a table in my yard with my books. I double check my calendar, yes, I work.

I think how this would frustrate me before. I think before Summer Triangle debuted, four years ago, I anticipated recognition, maybe even a little fame. I thought, at least a steady income. I told David this morning and other times, a person with a dream needs to have that drive, that naivety. Nothing would be attempted from the surety of life, if belief in our success didn't drive us.

I do find it interesting that besides the launch of Main Street, a Gables and Gingerbread Story, at the West Middlesex (my hometown) sesquicentennial, my most profitable venture happened when I was ready to pack up my table. I sat in the Corinthian, across from one of the bars, for the Art's Alive in the Dead of Winter. The patrons strolled around with wine glasses in their hands. I'm peddling Christian fiction. They are looking for art, in paintings or jewelry. “What am I doing here?” I questioned. As thoughts plop in a head, I heard, “I'd be here. And I am through you. Whoever buys your books, needs to read them.” I knew this was from Jesus. I was a little over a month past my abdominal surgery and feeling weak. My niece helped me set up; because of a bad snow storm, David didn't come home that weekend. I had doubts about doing this particular show. Yet, those words, basically saying, it's not about me, turned my attitude around. And it was my second highest show.

I know what I need. I should sit in the chair and write. So, I put it off, instead. I am tired at times. The new job exhausted me. I'm more comfortable, now, in it. I don't resent what I do.

I had written one scene for Walking with Eternity back when I was first on my own, in February. The next day, I was asked to make a home health visit. The woman, I never met before or since, was the character with the house, I had just written about. My job inspires me.

As I wrote in my last post, then, I need to determine what drives my writing. Why do I wait to sit and write? Why do I find a million other reasons to not write? Was I writing for money, only, before?

I can't leave my writing dreams because I didn't have instant notoriety with a fantastic prosperity or even moderate income. I still feel the desire to write, even if nothing seems to happen.

Still, things are happening. I look back and realize, it has only been four years. Comments are coming in, as people connect me or my husband to the local paper I edit and sometimes write an article. I need to do a little more for publicity. I keep treading, but I cannot wait to write anymore. The latest edition of The Way It Was, with Westinghouse stories prods me to continue another novel, I started in 2011. Country, a Gables and Gingerbread Story, stalled because I need historic research and a plot, more than I had when I penned the first words. Some ideas came to me, as I rested more in my new job. I can see so much more of it and sitting down to write is what is lacking to launch it off the ground.

As I settle into the second thing, career wise, I know I am to do, the writing follows. Rest, relax and rejoice, I will tell myself, in a day's work. Another of those thoughts from last fall, after a praise service, that formed in my brain, “I will have abundance for both nursing and writing.” I'm hanging on to that promise, too.

I'm reading Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest, devotional. Today, the thought, “You have no business to find out where God is leading, the only thing God will explain to you is Himself." Like the night at the Corinthian, God explained, He is with people. I need to give of myself with no worry about the gain or the leading. So, no more waiting with the writing.


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Transparency




I have been fighting with myself about blogging again. I feel like Jonah in the Bible, running from my mission. Will my words be used by God? I think no one wants to read what I write. Will I be deemed too religious? I am scared and that was never like me until recently. I do want to be liked, but I also want to be myself.

So, why did I start writing publicly? Why did I want my words out there? Was I following God's direction or my own path to fame? I sat myself down lately, examining my motives to write.   Why haven't I written? Why do I resist now, that which I desired to do for so long?  I am back at a job where I am respected and paid well, do I need to write? The answer crept around the busyness of a new job. I have time, even though, often I have a lot of charting. I even likened it to getting paid to write, like a travel writer. I travel and meet interesting people and write about them, to a limited audience. And I must guard what I do convey. The rules of HIPAA affect my speech.

I guard myself a lot lately. Yet, I always had some censor in the back of my mind. First, a long time ago, it was my mother, as the editor for all my papers that she typed. Then, other family members moved into the editing room in my head. I needed to be aware of their privacy and feelings. A few months ago, I felt freed some from worrying. Did it free my writing? Not right away did I allow that freedom to nudge my writing.

I met with some friends at summer's beginning. We gathered every week last summer for prayer. A lot happened over the course of winter and we all felt a hedge, at first. We needed transparency, as does the Church. This has been a problem, probably since the beginning of the Church, as I read Acts chapter five. The Holy Spirit doesn't strike us dead when we tell tales making us look good to the leaders or our congregations, anymore. We die a slow death from deceit. We need to confess to a close friend or two, how we struggle with sin at times. It is too easy to slip in the back of the sanctuary, late, sometimes and slip out before the last song and not speak to a single person. To quit going altogether becomes effortless. The Church feels undemanding, simplifying the feeling of disconnectedness.

I am finding, too, in this day and age, words cut again. People offend quickly. Many talk about the division and I don't really want to belabor a point we hear all the time. This, though, has hindered my writing, as I don't want to offend. Yet, I am what I am. I am a conservative Christian. This is my background from growing up in a church forming my world view. I listen to other world views, but I feel condemned with mine in the world court of judgment. I don't write this with self-pity, only that I had been reluctant to put myself out in public view, until I figure out why I am writing; where I take my stand.

I am angry sometimes, though. I listen and want to hear different points of view. I want to learn. I feel that when it is my turn, I am shut down. I am prejudged by the world because I write from a conservative Christian view and that no one really sees my words.

My last post about summer was a fun. I mentioned God and religion slightly, because that was how it was when and where I grew up. My friends accepted each other with our different churches, but we all believed in God. Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist, Church of Christ, Christian Missionary Alliance represented our neighborhood’s affiliations. Unfortunately, we had no Jewish or Muslim families in our small town.  My mother grew up with Jewish families, and she expressed a positive image of them. We never really talked about the diversity (I really didn’t know some surnames were Jewish, they were names my mother knew.) My senior year of high school, I told her I couldn't have dated a Jewish boy I met in New York. She seemed surprised I said that. I only thought, he could never accept Jesus and I couldn't give up Jesus. I watched Bridget Loves Bernie, as a kid, which was my influence on vastly ranging religious backgrounds in a marriage and families.

I continue to ask myself, do I give up writing? Why did I start in the first place? One of the paradoxes of giving up our dream to God, is that we may get it back stronger, and is that why we give it up? Me, Myself and Bob by Phil Vischer, explored that, as he watched his Big Idea Productions slip through his hands. I think, in my saying I give up writing, am I really hoping for that success? Am I playing a game? I don't want to do that. Do I want success or do I want to honor God? And if I humble myself, am I really humbling myself?

I have been nudged to write on my blog again, though. For a few weeks, I had a consistently higher page view count than previously. I should give the viewers new material, I thought, as I sat in a trance in the evening with Facebook. I imagined a short story about escaping Facebook Land, but didn't write it at the time. I may yet. No promises, do I make.

The last post was fun. It came as I walked on the first day of summer. I wondered what I would do with the first few words, where would they go? You may see them or something similar again in a novel. They opened in my head, a scene for my sequel, Walking with Eternity, yet, again, that must be written.

I decided to take my time with posting, too. I will write them and let them sit a few days, editing and tweaking and holding my breath, before I hit “publish.”

Transparency, I hope I always had. I know now, I can't go on without it. I crawl out of my bomb shelter after examining the risk of being branded and losing potential readers. I hope in the process, I will be clear with my words, gaining readers, instead.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Summer Rules






Stay out until the street lights come on, and the skeeters start to bite. Catch a few lightning bugs in your back yard, as you drag yourself into the house. Put them in a mayonnaise jar with holes in the lid. Set them on the stand beside your bed. Sneak the flashlight under the covers and read for as long as you can.

Morning, listen to the birds chirping through your window. Hey, the lightning bugs escaped! At least they'll be more tonight. Eat a bowl of cereal while you sit on the floor and watch some boring TV. Help around the house, till it's time to walk to the pool. Stay there until supper time when they kick you out. Walk home or sometimes get a ride in the car of a friend, who lives outside of town. Play until the street lights come on: Baseball, tag, statute, or a game you made up with your friends. Catch more lightning bugs for your jar. Maybe Dad can put up your pup tent and you sleep outside with that friend tonight.

Listen to the night sounds, the wind in the leaves, the crickets, the train whistle downtown. Talk about everything and nothing as you lay watching for shooting stars. Maybe at midnight, a rain drives you to your porch. Mom's there waiting and Dad pulls down the tent. The jar remains under your arm, as you trod up the stairs, disappointed the night goes inside. But your pillow feels good and then the day dawns bright. You do it again, but this time with a friend. Cross legged on the floor with cereal in a bowl and the TV show is more fun shared. Dad takes you on errands around town, until it's time to swim. The suit’s ready with your tag and off to the pool with a few extra quarters today for an ice cream sandwich. Swim all day again, with no thought of your skin.

Ah, Mom wants you to practice the piano and your damp legs make dull marks on the bench. You stare more than play, till she shouts OK. Then hop on a bike and ride around town.

Hair doesn’t get washed till Saturday night. No overnights on Saturday, because church is the next day. Everyone goes to their own church and no one argues, we just believe in God. You don’t care if your friend crosses herself before meals and she doesn’t care that you don’t.

A rainy day, you play in a friend’s basement and watch lightning streak through the house and you say, “Oh, gosh.” You tell each other tales of lightning strikes and they must be true. TV is unplugged and maybe you read that book you fell asleep reading the night before.

Days of summer and never say you’re bored. Take a trip to the shore, but you miss your friends. Still it’s nice to have Mom and Dad always there. Soon, you’re back and then, one friend is gone, comes back, then another goes on her adventure. You tell of your vacations and enjoy their toys. As you get older, it’s camps and vacation Bible schools. You go to everyone’s in town with your friends. Arts and crafts, kool aid and cookies. Songs with motions and a story. You may get mixed up on the timelines, but you have a fun time. Play Red Rover because there are more kids than just your neighbors.

One day, you realize the nights come faster and chill creeps in at evening. A car ride to the mall to shop for clothes. You’re sad, but secretly glad to go back to school. You miss some of those friends you didn’t see all summer. The days grow shorter and shorter, the pool seems dull and cold. A last-minute trip to an amusement park or the fair and yes, you take along a friend. Summer winds down, but you will always remember summer rules.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Wordless Wednesday

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Today is the last day of our warm weather

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Monday, January 2, 2017

Write from the Gut with No Fear

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Because I Had To starts with a punch. No wimpy description here, the reader sees the young lady's pain from the first pages. I can't help it, I'm engaged in this story.
The author shows this story from points of view of different first person narratives. The story of adoption, rejection and finding peace comes to life in present and flashback tales of the two characters. I see a daughter's pain; and middle age search for relevance and return to the joy of a career. As with many stories sometimes, I feel I have walked down these streets on my journey, too, and maybe feel them a little too deeply. This novel has that sign of good fiction, when truth is told.
As with life's journeys, no cozy tidying up at the end. If this novel starts with a punch, it ends with an upward kick into my sternum. I was glad to get a hug from my husband when I closed the book and turned out the light.
I recommend this novel to anyone with children, anyone doubting their choice of careers, anyone with parents as well as close older friends like an aunt or uncle, or anyone with a heart. This novel helped me process some memories, putting to words feelings I suppressed. I felt David Bulitt wrote from his gut with no fear. We often made choices because we had to.

My review on Goodreads and Amazon for David Bulitt's second novel.
I found this author on the Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes fan page. His first novel, Card Game, caught my attention. The story was about guys my same age and he loves Jukes music. Sounded like a great combination and it was. I enjoyed this first book. Sometimes, I thought, he didn't go there, but he did. But under the raucousness, a deep thread of human struggle wove the words. The main character, JB,  deals with the first of his buddies dying, the second novel takes up a year after the friend, Tom, dies, with JB and Jess, Tom's troubled adoptive daughter.
These books don't follow how I write in the faith department. Yet under all the drinking, swearing, and sex, the rawness of human nature pulses in these novels. I believe fiction that connects the writer and reader in some way moves the soul. This author and I have much in common I found through his writing, on the level of parenting, long marriage, dealing with depression in others, and writing; as well as love for some great music.
I push this year to write more from the gut. I protect sometimes, imaging people will think they see themselves in my characters. I want to write this year without fear. I want to explore areas I shied from before. Since the beginning I desire to touch people's souls, reaching an area where a writer and reader share in imagination.
The best way to do this is to continue to write. I pray for reviews. I see my words hanging in the air, wondering are they touching anyone? Even negative reviews help me sharpen thoughts. This past year especially has been the proverbial roller coaster year.
About this time of six o'clock in the evening, a year ago, I told my husband, he needs to take me to urgi care, the doctor promptly sent me to ER. By nine thirty that night, January Second, 2016, I peered at people in OR masks with a black mask covering my mouth and nose, as emergency surgery commenced. I vowed a week later, as I realized how close Death stalked me that night, 2016 would be a year of fun.
Tiredness and responsibilities kept me many times from that vow. As I filled in constantly for quitting staff, I never knew when a day off would be. Then the old school that housed my office had no air conditioning in a relentlessly hot summer. I struggled through this new role and never felt my footing. It wasn't a good fit and they told me good bye the week before Christmas. I was relieved and I still am.
The tiredness of recovery and work, also seemed to keep me from writing. In my search for a new job, I plan to write as much as I can, too. The rawness of this past year and the many twists in history we couldn't foresee seemed to write a novel. I have a few scenes written, but not sure, yet, how they will work together into something. Being a worker and not a quitter, though, I will finish Walking With Eternity, first.
I still toy with putting together my poems in a small book. I will use pictures I took where they seem to fit. This also takes time and planning. I dream for 2017 and the work awaits, writing from a deeper place.