If the World Is Ending, I Don’t Feel Fine

Look, if the world ends in a nuclear armageddon because T*ump is — the list of adjectives here is too long, I’ll leave it at “thin-skinned narcissist bully utterly unfit for office of President of the United States” — if T*ump blows up the world, I’ll be seriously upset.

I mean, on one hand, I believe in an afterlife. If — God forbid, get it? — the Orange One does end the world, I have faith Heaven is waiting for me. I will be rejoined to God and resurrected in the life. My faith teaches me that, and, it’s true, I am willing to believe it. Your mileage may vary.

However, here’s a short list of reasons that I seriously do not want the world to end in fire (or otherwise). And why, when people ask or comment, I won’t “give him a chance” or stop resisting and writing and calling.

1. My children. Look, I had children rather selfishly, and I selfishly want to see them grow up and become the amazing, fully-realized people I think they are becoming. If the world spins on into their adulthood, I expect that they will do great things. And I don’t mean they will do great things like cure cancer or HIV — although maybe they will. I mean they will do great things by realizing their potential, not letting fear hold them back, and treating everyone they encounter with respect and kindness.

I’d like to see that.

2. I’d like to publish a book before I die. Again: selfish. All about me! But hey, I finally finished a manuscript, and learned how this publishing gig works! I would appreciate having the opportunity to show people a book with my name on the cover. (Er, or my pen name. Whichever I decide.)

3. I’d like to grow old with Dan. Sixteen years of marriage, seventeen years of being together, is not enough for me.

4. I would like the world to go on long enough to see three things happen in Washington DC:

    a. Big Democrat wins in the 2018 election.
    b. The impeachment of T*ump
    c. The true development of a progressive party (and not the Bernie Sanders progressive party). Seriously, if the Democrats response to T*ump is “re-engage with white male voters” count me OUT.

Again, if you’d like to read more about where I’m coming from, please go see (and support) Shakesville.com. She is getting this stuff Spot. On.

Family Recipes

I’ve talked about my maternal grandmother before on my blog. She was a wonderful woman, and many of the memories I have of her revolve around food. If you do not have an Italian cook in your life, I highly recommend trying to get one.

My grandmother was the proverbial Italian grandmother. If you visited, she fed you — it didn’t matter if you were hungry. Frankly, if she fed you, you ate. It was homemade, and it was good: spaghetti and meatballs, pasta fagiole, ravioli, any type of sauce. And the desserts: lady locks, biscotti, and one of my all-time favorites, ricotta pie.

Most people do Easter bread, but my family does ricotta pie. It is usually an Easter dessert, but I think we’ve had it a Christmas time as well.

I used to ask my grandmother for recipes. “Oh, it’s easy,” she would say to me, and proceed to tell me how to make something. She didn’t write anything down, which, for people like my mother and me was difficult. Some people, like my grandmother, can cook by the seat of their pants — probably the way she learned from her own mother — other people need to read recipes.

Incidentally, this is also how my grandmother tried to teach me to knit. “It’s easy,” she would say, and then flash through half a scarf. I finally had to read a knitting instruction manual.

Well, it turns out my mother started putting my grandmother’s recipes together in a binder, pictures and all. As the tweet above suggests, I am very excited. So far she’s got spaghetti sauce (meat sauce), raviolis, meatballs, wedding soup, lady locks, pumpkin roll, and ricotta pie. I requested pasta from scratch and pasta fagiole if she can track down the recipes.

It’s such a treasure. And I’m hoping to get a copy for Christmas (hint, hint, dad).

What are you hoping to inherit from your family?

Copyright for featured image: dionisvera / 123RF Stock Photo

Invented Problems

In a dream, I am a single mother of a six-year-old boy. I am attending college. The main problem in the dream is that I have to change dorm rooms. At first I think we’ve solved the problem because I will just move in with two other women; there’s a (small) single bed in their room. And then I remember I have a son who has to live with us.

The dorm rooms are long and narrow, but very nice looking. Wooden floors, plaster walls painted pretty colors, good-looking, solidly built furniture. But they really are skinny rooms. I don’t know how we’re going to fit three beds, let alone three beds plus somewhere for my son to sleep.

Another dream has slipped away from me, but it was a similar logistical problem: Space, sleeping, family dynamics. These are the types of dreams my brain serves up to me. They have little to do with real life.

I do wake up sometimes thinking of things to worry about. “What if the Afghan Whigs tour coincides with trick-or-treat night?” Worse, what if the Afghan Whigs don’t come to Pittsburgh at all, and I have to travel to see them?

Maybe it’s part of this writer’s life I find myself enmeshed in. I don’t know if other writers do this, or to what extent, but my mind is constantly worrying at the fabric of my stories. What’s the next scene, what’s the conflict, how am I going to get my characters out of this room? Better: How am I going to get these characters into this room?

Maybe it’s just how my anxiety manifests itself these days. My life involves a bunch of moving parts. All the to-do lists are hard to keep up with, but at least help me compartmentalize the logistics. Maybe my mind needs a little less structure.

I don’t know. As long as my made-up problems don’t freeze me and keeping me from solving actual problems, I’ll try to just let them go. Or work them into my fiction.

What’s a problem you wish you had?

Not Normal: The Cuck and Globalist Edition

Reports surfaced today of infighting in the White House. Steve Bannon, the white nationalist who use to run Breitbart and who is now Chief Strategist at the White House, called Jared Kushner, who is… an adviser to the President? Shadows the Secretary of State — I honestly do not know if he has a title, but I do know: he is the President’s son-in-law. No, not President Bannon’s son-in-law; T*ump’s son-in-law.

I digress.

Bannon seems to be having a persecution complex, and has been complaining that Kushner is trying to push him out of the White House. His insults include “cuck” and “globalist.”

First thought: Steve Bannon thinks cuck and globalist are EQUIVALENT INSULTS.

Second thought: Do you know what “cuck” is?

Third thought: Steve Bannon is insulting Jared Kushner — T*ump’s son-in-law — by impugning his marriage to T*ump’s daughter. In that, Bannon is saying that Kushner wants his wife, Ivanka T*ump, first… daughter, I guess, to go sleep with black men.

Yes, that’s what a cuck is. That term takes the idea of being a cuckold, and gives it a nice white supremacist twist. (A cuckold is not just a man who has been cheated on. A cuckold is someone who wants his wife to cheat on him. It is what he finds sexually exciting.)

Make no mistake, I have no love for Jared Kushner or Ivanka T*ump. I think this is the worst first family to ever occupy the White House and they can all fall into a pit as far as I’m concerned.

But Steve Bannon is putting on a display of racism and misogyny that is… shocking doesn’t seem to quite cover it. Despicable. Stunningly gross.

THIS IS NOT NORMAL. This is not how normal adult people talk to or about each other. This is how internet trolls talk. AND THESE ARE ADULTS IN THE WHITE HOUSE?

The media are laughing about this. It’s funny to them, all the drama (at least the media reports I have seen thus far).

This isn’t funny. These frat boys are running the fucking country, not sparring in an internet chat room. This isn’t something you joke about, this is a situation where you look around for the grownups.

Where are the grown ups? They aren’t in the GOP Congress, that’s for damn sure. McConnell had a tantrum, and ended the filibuster. The President is probably watching cable news and tweeting about it. The Speaker of the House is… I have no fucking clue what he’s doing. Trying to appease the terrible people who want the ACHA to succeed. My own Republican Senator is a coward who refuses to listen to his constituents. He’s in lock step with his party.

Jesus, take the wheel.

7 Things: The Excuses Edition

Here are all the reasons I have not updated my blog since March 21, 2017.

1. I don’t have anything to say.

2. I have too much to say.

For example, I have a rant locked inside my head about how sexist the current administration is, and due to a new outrage every day, I cannot get it out.

T*ump refused to shake German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s hand.
Mike Pence doesn’t dine alone with women who aren’t his wife (or attend events with alcohol without her there). TBH, I don’t know if this is more self-loathing on his part or misogyny. But if he’s not sitting at the table with a woman to share a meal, you can bet your ass he’s not having one-on-one meetings with women, period.
T*ump accused a woman (of color, no less) with zero evidence of committing a crime and at the same time says Bill O’Reilly didn’t do anything wrong.
The GOP voted to defund Planned Parenthood, T*ump ended the Fair Pay and safe Workplaces Rule, and the State Department cut off funding to the UN’s family planning agency.

I mean, that’s all in the last, like, two weeks.

3. I am busy. Work is steady, children have been sick, children have been busy, I will be helping to coach Michael’s soccer team once the weather gets better and we actually have games and practices. And so on. Life.

4. Finding an agent is time consuming.

5. I’m writing another book.

6. I don’t have any big life updates.

7. I don’t have anything I want to talk about (i.e. like a movie or book).

I feel, in some ways, at least in terms of things I usually write about on this blog, very much in limbo. Life is moving forward, and I *am* writing.

Just not here.

The Mystery of the #Vaguetweets, Explained

Dan started coughing in January.

He coughed through January and into February.

One morning, I came downstairs to find him asleep on the couch. I gently kissed him.

He said, “I coughed so hard last night, I passed out and hit my head on the kitchen floor.”

“Great,” I said. “Will you go see a doctor now?”

He went to see a doctor. If MedExpress counts as a doctor.

He was diagnosed with bronchitis, and given cough syrup, a z-pack, and prednisone.

He took all his prescribed medications, and kept right on coughing.

Finally, he went to go see his PCP. They did a chest X-ray. “It doesn’t look like pneumonia,” they said. “Maybe it’s post viral cough syndrome.”

They gave him an inhaler.

A few days later, they called him back. “We found a cloudy spot on the X-ray. You need to get a CT.”

He went to get a CT scan.

This is probably when I started asking for prayers and good vibes for health on Twitter. I didn’t want to be too specific. We didn’t know what we were looking at. It’s easy to assume the worst — I am especially skilled at that — but also pointless.

The CT scan found a small, solid mass in his lung.

Which is a terrifying sentence.

They ordered blood tests as well.

The mass is “teeny-tiny,” his doctor’s actual words. It is 2.5 millimeters, which truly is teeny-tiny.

But still, when it’s in your lung or in your husband’s lung, it sounds scary.

The current diagnosis, which came in yesterday, is a pulmonary nodule. It is likely to be benign, because pulmonary nodules are usually benign.

Dan has another scan scheduled for May.

We have a few questions we still have to clear up (risks, prevention, treatment, evaluation), but for now the news is benign.

Thank you all for your good thoughts and prayers. They were comforting in a scary time.

Dan (and my children) is absolutely my life. I know that if worse came to worst, I could probably survive. But it’s also good to know that at this point, I don’t have to test that theory.

7 Things: The Disruption! Edition

1. Today was my first full day in the office this week. Lemme tell you why:

2. I had scheduled a four-day weekend for Dan’s birthday, which was Saturday. (We headed to Oglebay Resort, and I highly recommend their Ultimate Spa package.) We returned home Sunday — and Dan was sick. Michael complained about a sore throat, and he was definitely warm. So, Monday, since I had off, and Michael was still feverish, I stayed at home with him, and, just for funsies, Flora was sick too.

So: PTO day with two sick children.

3. Took Michael to the pediatrician because I suspected strep. I was correct.

So: Tuesday became a WFH day with two sick children, one of whom at least was getting treatment.

Michael is THE LEAST SICK sick child I have ever had. When the girls were sick with fevers or strep, they spent a lot of time unconscious or watching television from the couch.

Not Michael, man. He would watch about half an hour of television, and then play car battle. And then he would get bored and bother me. He ate very well for a sick child too. I suggested napping, but he wasn’t having it. He was literally crying with boredom by 2 p.m. Tuesday.

4. I made a good faith effort to get the office Wednesday — I even made it. Dan spent the morning at home with THREE sick children. I made an appointment for Flora.

5. Flora has been getting sick on and off quite often this year. Headaches, stomachaches, and extreme fatigue. This week was the third or fourth time she has been too sick to go to school. I was unable to get a morning appointment, so I had to leave work and take her to the pediatrician. Thank goodness I am able to work from home, and have an understanding employer (and awesome boss).

We did check for strep (negative), and the doctor decided to test for anemia. Along with the other symptoms, Flora has been suffering spontaneous nosebleeds. So we went and had blood drawn. We are waiting for results.

6. ON THURSDAY EVERYONE WENT TO SCHOOL AND I WENT TO WORK FOR A WHOLE ENTIRE DAY. It was delightful. (Seriously, I love my job. And having healthy children.)

7. BOOK UPDATE! Beta readers finished up, found the weaknesses, liked the book, gave me lots of good feedback. I haven’t blogged much because between blogging for work and doing the final edits (for now) on Lone Wolf, I have spent a ton of time immersed in words. I tweaked my pitch letter, and I am ready to start putting together a list of agents and publishers.


Footloose: Let’s Hear It for the Boy(s and Girls)

Footloose, the movie, came out in 1984, and was my first real experience of movie/soundtrack phenomenon. My best friend, Nikki, had a birthday party that year, and got four copies of the soundtrack!

We loved that movie (and the soundtrack). Kevin Bacon as rebellious teen Ren McCormick! Chris Penn as uncoordinated dolt Willard! Lori Singer as the preacher’s daughter; Sarah Jessica Parker – SARAH JESSICA PARKER! – as chatty, loyal Rusty.

It was the perfect movie for “small town” teens who dreamed of being daring enough to Do. Something. Big. (Don’t ask me how that’s going. The bravest thing I’ve ever done is say yes to Dan’s marriage proposal – or maybe having children after we lost Gabriel. Hardly the rebellious dreams of my youth.)

On Sunday, I attended a high school production of Footloose: The Musical, and was transported back to being 13 years old again. That was the year before I started wearing a lot of black and listening to Depeche Mode.

I don’t have much to say about the musical itself. The teenagers did a good job with the material, singing and dancing. Having participated in my fair share of high school musicals (stories for another time), I commend them for going up there and doing it. The live band was fantastic!

What I reflected on as I watched Footloose was that it was a curious choice for a small Catholic high school. But then I suppose most musicals have adult elements and double entendre. Heck, most Shakespeare has double entendre.

One of the characters is the daughter of a preacher. Although in the play (as I saw it performed) there was only some kissing, in the movie she is very clearly a girl with “loose morals.” Also, one of the songs in the musical is titled “The Girl Gets Around”, and they aren’t talking about public transportation.

The song in the musical that especially struck me though is one called “Learning to be Silent.” Three women characters sing it: Ren’s mother, the preacher’s wife Vi, and Ariel, our leading lady (and the preacher’s daughter). What a fascinating song for 2017!

“Swallowing my words
Staring at the floor
Counting little cracks in the tile
Struggling to smile without choking
Learning to be silent…”

Of course, by the end of the play, the women have found their voices, the teenagers get their dance, and I suppose everyone lives happily ever after.

Now I wanna go watch the 1984 movie SO BAD.

Copyright: jirkaejc / 123RF Stock Photo

Letters to Congress: List of Demands

To the Republicans:

1. Appoint an independent counsel to investigate the T*ump administration’s ties to Russia.

2. DON’T repeal the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare. Sit down with the Democrats and figure out how to make it better. You have three members who aren’t going to vote for anything less than full repeal – you don’t need them. The majority of your constituents don’t want the ACA to go away.

3. DON’T defund Planned Parenthood. Again, play the numbers. The majority of Americans want to have access to affordable reproductive health care, and the majority of Americans are in favor of a woman’s access to abortion.

4. Stop taking away rights granted under the last administration. Don’t pass laws about trans people in bathrooms; enforce current rape laws. Don’t roll back marriage equality; as a matter of fact, expand protections for LGTBQ people in their places of work.

5. Have live town halls with your constituents, you cowards. We pay your salary. You are our representatives! That means that you represent us in Washington, D.C. We don’t pay lobbyists to tell you what WE want the law to look like.

To the Democrats:

Look, we are glad that you are there, that you are standing up for us, that you appear to be listening. Just a few things.

1. Do Something: Write laws and submit them. Speak out against the egregious misdeeds of the T*ump administration. Hammer Republicans on healthcare, family leave, employee protections, and minority rights. Put some heart and fire into your messaging. And continue the relentless calls for an independent investigation into the T*ump administration’s ties to Russia.

2. Do Better: Hire and promote more women and minorities in your offices, both in DC and stateside. Find the women and minorities in your districts and mentor them. Hire and mentor them alongside white men, it’s fine! But you are going to have to acknowledge the blinders of your own involvement in systemic racism and sexism and BE BETTER than that.

Also, you’re going to have to walk to walk on corporate money. And transparency.

3. Do More: You are going to have to fight like hell for every vote, every seat, every state and county. Talk to everyone. Make your plans to benefit everyone clear. Tell butthurt people who don’t want everyone to benefit from living in America that it’s too bad their feelings are hurt. Equal rights and protections aren’t just for whites or religious people, or men. Be honest, but fair.

What would you add?

Letters to Congress: Investigate T*ump Administration Ties to Russia

This will be going to my representative in Congress. (h/t to 5calls.org)

Dear Congressman,

I am writing today to call for an independent commission to investigate Russian election interference.

The intelligence community concluded last year that Russia leaked DNC emails in order to undermine Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. These leaks and the current administration’s demonstrated ties to Russia compromise the integrity of American democracy. The New York Times has reported that several of Trump’s campaign staff communicated with Russia during his campaign; Paul Manafort had to leave his campaign because of this. In February, Trump’s national security adviser Gen. Michael Flynn had to resign because he lied about conversations he’d had with the Russian ambassador to the United State in December of 2016.

Investigations of the Trump-Russia connection are currently dependent on partisan congressional committees. To ensure an independent investigation of the Trump-Russia connection, 198 House Democrats and one House Republican are co-sponsoring HR 356, the Protecting Our Democracy Act. As you are no doubt aware, the bill would establish an independent, 12-member commission to fully examine Russian interference in the 2016 election. Our nation’s electoral integrity is not a partisan issue.

I am writing to you in support of HR 356. I hope that you will vote to establish an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate Russian interference.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.



Other action:

A Twitter friend of mine also posted a nifty link to designcrush, who is providing #Resistance postcards. My favorite is “There’s More Of Us”, which is a a message I think Republicans in Congress need to get. We are calling and showing up at their offices and calling for in-person town halls not because we have tons of free time and are getting paid. We are doing it because we don’t want to lose healthcare, we don’t want our friends and family to be discriminated against, we don’t want the administration to dismantle the federal government agencies that have helped so many.

Time to go buy some stamps.