|Posted by bebowreinhard on November 26, 2016 at 9:45 PM||comments (0)|
I wrote the following as an introduction in one of the Grimms American Macabre edits, when it was known as Modern Grimms Fairy Tales. See what you think about what you'll find in these pages.
The original Grimms Fairy Tales, according to W. H. Auden in 1944, should be ranked next to the Bible in importance. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm compiled these fairy tales as early as 1823, and Jacob, in searching for a publisher, declared that the intent was to preserve sacred narrative traditions. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, PhD, claimed that the original Grimms wrote down the voices of their era, but shaped in a certain fashion, leaving out the criticisms of the prelates, the mayors, landlords and the Church. They were even further cleaned up by the Grimms themselves as they realized their market was less for adults and more for children. The purity of the tales was more important than the message, and even today reflect the purity with which we attempted to raise our children, sanitize them from the reality and protect them from knowledge of potential harm in the world.
Most of the familiarity with the Grimms Tales is of these cleaned up versions, what one might call Disney-ized. And in today's world, we know how anti-political that is. So you can find today two different versions of original Grimm's tales, but the cleaned-up versions for children lose both impact and interest. And with their villain-ized animals, they lack a certain relevance in today's pro-environmental climate.
So in presenting Grimm's Modern Fairy tales, the hope is the offer children a more modern look at what a fairy tale can do for them in real life, and that is to demonstrate manners of living and attitude that might help them to cope in ways that even radical TV and cinema still miss. These tales will talk to children of all ages in issues that will mean something to them as they struggle to understand the world around them today.
Regardless of which political party is in current charge of our lives, there is a continuing need to recognize, in all of us, the potential to live better and more fully with nature, rather than usurping it for greed.
You won't see this collection cleaned up, for what most young adults and pubescents need, even in these modern times, are stories that educate them on what they are most curious about, the consequence of sexual explorations. You'll find several of those included here, not graphic, but with a certain sensibility that is not shameful. You'll find both light-hearted drama and blood-curdling darkness; in other words, all levels of experience lie between these pages. The beauty is that not all stories are meant to be understood at all ages, but one can return to them again and again and take out a different perspective each time.
Grimm's Modern Fairy Tales is a collection of short stories meant for the teen and young adult market but created to be a stimulating, mythological, symbolic read for all ages. This collection is meant to pick up where parents left off. Many children have to learn about their growing awareness of sexuality from their peers; from everyone and everywhere, it seems, than from their parents. As a parent of three grown children, I am fully aware of the importance of these conversations, I lacked the authority to know how to get my children to listen.
Children, it seems, do not want to learn certain things from their parents because it means they have to see parents "that way." To present them with a book like this means that we freely acknowledge that parents cannot do it all for their kids. No message is more important today. No job is more important than parenting, and no job is given us with less training. So there are all kinds of parents vs children stories, only a few of which deal with sex.
The entertainment value of the human and nature lessons here is of utmost importance, because no one wants to read for entertainment and feel the preacher's breath. There are talking animals, ghosts, and families in disarray, dreams that aren't dreams, and tales of revenge. There are happy endings that don't always seem happy, sad endings that are satisfying, and twisted endings that will leave them with shivers and images for some time to come. Whether the tale is about girls, or boys, or both, they will be enjoyed equally by all because of the insights into the complexity of human nature that are depicted.
Nor does this collection skirt political issues. Estes claimed that three tales Bluebeard, Thumbelina and the Princess and the Pea, had been so powerful as to have been used to keep up the skirmishes of war. Here in the modern tales we instead look for paths of keeping up the peace and honoring the environment, and find blatant ways to ridicule those who find war a first resort rather than last.
We also don't abuse animals or nature, the way the original Grimm's tales did. Quite often the animals provided the sad part of their happy endings. Humans could also communicate with animals in a number of their stories, but that communication wasn't necessarily beneficial. Here, if there's a conflict between humans and animals, the animals will win, sometimes allowing humans access to their special knowledge, as symbolic of what happens when humankind believes it can conquer nature.
Disney adapted a few of the original Grimm's Tales, making fairy tales like Sleeping Beauty and Snow White American icons, even though these were based on German stories written for the peasants. But often in the adaptation the original message is lost. The golden haired beauty, for instance, is not beautiful in face but in soul. The beauty who is far better than the rest means that her nature and not her face is beautiful, but in the visual telling of the tale, we recognize only the physical beauty. Even Shrek distorted the message by going to the other extreme; by preferring their ogre appearance, they don't understand that it is not the appearance but how you feel inside that counts.
A number of these modern stories could be adapted without the internal and symbolic message lost; for animation, such as Heart of Ahmalia, Golfer and the Tree, The Three Sisters, Wisdom of the Three, and The Cave Bird. Classy horror films could be made from Traveling Salvation Show, Unleashing the Wolves, Path of the Moon, Someone Else's Shoes or Blessed Are the Bloody. Others could be told as oral stories to young kids for bedtime, such as the Lousy Flea and King Fluffy the Great. Several, though with a sexual theme, should not make any parent hesitate allowing even their pre-teen to have access, especially in today's world. At first, some stories, like Babe In the Woods, may seem controversial but the message that is embedded is of utmost importance for our children, and the health of the world in general.
The original Grimm's were written for the peasants of the old world to help them escape and dream of riches and empowerment. These modern tales are created for escape back into the world of nature; a reversal, you might say, but also to empower them to make their own choices in life, learning ways to take control of their lives. Filled with bawdy humor, blood-curdling drama and table-turning pranks, this series will help anyone living in today's modern world to relate to their environment just a little bit more. Some of the stories are not modern, it's true, but even in relating tales of moments past we can see bits of our future, and that's what these tales are all about.
Violence is an important part of the tale, today as well as in the past. We often disdain violence without recognizing its benefit -- that we are to sit up and pay attention to the seriousness of the message. No violence should ever be gratuitous, without a message. Only in this manner today do we see real damage done to fragile psyches. Once we learn this, our tale-telling in Hollywood and elsewhere will take on new meaning.
Happy endings? That all depends on what you call happy. The purpose of this book is to get us all to sit up and take notice of the world around us, of nature, of love, of what is really meant by the pursuit of happiness. And if we look at happy endings as being the attainment of something we want, we really won't recognize a happy ending when we see it. Look beyond the ending in these stories for the happy ending because that's where it will lie -- in your imagination, where your mind travels beyond the story's end. No reading is worth any value if it takes you nowhere beyond its pages. This is where people today are losing the delight in reading. The original Grimm's tales, before the clean-up, also had a number of tales without happy endings to instead confront us with harsher realities of life. When the package is not neatly wrapped with a happy bow, we have to do a little more thinking on our own, but the end result is so much more satisfying.
Can children read these stories? For the most part, these are young adult and adult tales. This is the way the book is marketed. However, if a precocious child were to get their hands on this book, they would not be traumatized by it any more than any magic or sorcery book, because the sexual language is well cloaked by symbolism. Only if the child is already familiar with the terms will they understand these certain stories. No lock and key will be needed here.
So dive in, and expect magic. Because that's what the world is all about today, as it was back in the original Grimms day.
My grandmother, Elizabeth Grimm Bebow, lived in the house on the cover of this book, and the photo shows as it stands today. (I don't know how the bra got in the tree, honest, but how appropriate, so I left it in.) Whether she was actually related to Jacob and Wilhelm is still open to speculation. Here are my efforts to trace these roots so far:
The distinguished surname Grimm can be traced back to Brandenburg, a region that eventually expanded to incorporate the Rhineland, Westphalia, Hannover, parts of Saxony, Pomerania, Silesia, and Hessen. The Germanic Semnonen tribe lived here, then the Slavic tribe of the Heveler, who held this territory until the arrival of the Christian Saxons.
The name Grimm became noted for its many branches within the region, each house acquiring a status and influence which was envied by the princes of the region. In their later history the name became a power unto themselves and were elevated to the ranks of nobility as they grew into this most influential family.
The family name grew to the same dimensions as the population explosion in the 16th century. They established branches in Bohemia, Basel, Bavaria, Austria and Solothurn, Switzerland. Their special interests were political, military and religious. Notables were the Count Grimm von Bentheim and the Bohemian Knights of 1859. Jacob (1785-1863) and his brother Wilhelm Grimm(1786-1859), born in Hessen, were the founders of folklore as well as historians of the German language. Their dictionary and collection of fairy tales are world famous. Hermann Grimm (1828-1901), son of Wilhelm, became known as an art and literature historian, whose works were translated into several languages.
Prussia became a haven for political and religious refugees, including Salzburg Protestants and the French Huegonauts.
Andreas Grimm came to Philadelphia in 1736. Heinrich Grimm, with his wife Barbara Mohler, came to either Carolina or Pennsylvania in 1772. August Grimm, 41, came to Winterhill, Massachusetts, in 1778. Joseph Grimm came to Texas in 1846. Hans Grimm (1875-1959) from Lower Saxony, was a nationalist writer in the twenties.
Grandmother was, unfortunately, not too anxious to talk about her family history, and I was not yet writing this book when she died so there was an opportunity missed. I do know that her parents' names were Hans Jacob (H.J.) Grimm and Wiebeva Elsabea Dorothea (Dora) (Kolpein). The town of Grimms (where this house was located) in Wisconsin was not named after our Hans Jacob Grimms but after a different H.J. Grimms, or so the story goes (certain relation claim this but without source of this knowledge). They referred to Grimms as the village.
I welcome anyone's input on the family tree of Grimms. How fun it would be to establish this connection! And if it turns out we are not related, the name is still valid, as are the tales.
And finally thanks to all who read, for remaining young at heart.
|Posted by bebowreinhard on June 29, 2016 at 1:05 PM||comments (0)|
Jack Newfield’s memoir of Bobby Kennedy is an intensely personal look inside the man before he decided to run for president; Newfield started following Bobby as a journalist in the autumn of 1966, and then covered that campaign through June 5, 1968. Apparently Newfield started out disliking him, noting that he’d picketed the Kennedy administration in 1963 at the Justice Department over the treatment of blacks to date. At that time Newfield was protesting black oppression, and saw Bobby come out. When someone yelled, “we haven’t seen too many Negroes coming out of there,” Bobby’s only response was that they did not hire by the color of the skin, only by their ability. Bobby was booed for this. Two years later, Newfield found himself following Bobby as a journalist reporter.
So Newfield fills this book with intimate moments showing what Bobby was really like. He was a human being, and certainly flawed. He was not only complex, but contradictory. Newfield claimed he was a man at war with himself, especially in these early years after his brother was killed. This book made me understand Bobby more, and identify with him as a human being.
This is also a book that, in reading it today, shows how little politics has changed since then. I’ll share some of those comparisons here in this summary of a book I highly recommend; it sells pretty cheaply used at Amazon.
Bobby is portrayed as a passionate, sensitive introvert, not naturally inclined to the political process but drawn to the nobleness of it. He could be moody, and he daydreamed. According to Newfield (54), he was “a nature sensualist. Clouds and rain depressed him. Sun, wind and the sea elated him. Mountains, rapids and animals exhilarated him.”
His belief about the nobleness of the political process can be summed up in his own words (55): “…but we can lessen the number of suffering children, and if you do not do this, then who will do this? I’d like to feel that I’d done something to lessen that suffering.”
In today’s world so many people think all politicians are only crooked, no longer working to lessen anyone’s suffering. But we have to believe that desire is still there in the people who want to run our country, or all hope is gone. Are we nothing more than dollar signs walking around?
Newfield (56) called this time between 1965 and 1968 “the most concentrated and violent change in American life since the 1930s.” This book demonstrates that change as a reflection of the Vietnam War, just as our politics evolving today continue to reflect Bush’s invasion of Iraq and growing terrorism that has resulted.
What’s interesting about the 1968 political campaign year is that Lyndon Johnson (LBJ) became one of the first to decide not to seek re-election, which happened previously in 1884 with Cleveland. In Johnson’s time, television was to the people what the internet is today, certainly a mover and driver of more information than people ever had access to before. They were showing Vietnam battles on nightly news, and that was unprecedented. I think there were some World War II scenes shown in movie houses, but nothing like this before. It’s really not surprising that there would be an outgrowth of war protests with those kinds of visions. “Television, and the media in general, are now more powerful in determining politics than heredity is,” noted the author (57).
People get upset over the idea of a “Clinton” dynasty, as some were over a “Bush” dynasty, but that’s nothing new in American politics—the Adams, the Roosevelts, and here potentially the Kennedys. If one is suited to the task, with experience and education, the last name shouldn’t be factor.
One of the criticisms of Hillary Clinton has been that she changes her mind. But a trait of a good leader is the ability to reassess. Bobby Kennedy did so on Vietnam and in his Vietnam speeches between 1965 and 1968 he would often apologize for the role he and his brother played on getting them involved. George McGovern’s break with Johnson in 1965 had a big impact on him (130). He later said that if McGovern had run in ’68, he would not have. The author also quoted a columnist here who believed Bobby stayed quiet all through 1965 to avoid a fight with President Johnson. Later the author said he made his first aniti-war statement in 1965, but became more vocal in '66, when the Senate too had begun to turn against the war (134).
Immediately Bobby faced a backlash of criticism from many, including those who had been friends with John Kennedy. “The general impression was that Kennedy got the worst of the political exchange because of the subtleties of his own position, and the potency of the simplistic anti-Communist rhetoric of his opponents” (135). Sometimes the development of the strength of convictions takes time, and in-depth analysis of the mood and pitch of the country’s people; a true leader can change with the times and the will of the people.
But the backlash meant that Bobby stopped talking about the war for the remainder of 1966 (136), even as his opinions grew. Newfield gives readers the impression that Bobby was not the natural politician that his brother had been. But he wanted to be president because there were so many people to help, and he didn’t know how else to help. His passion made people begin to rally around him. He felt real.
He was back at it in 1967, and this time, he did not give up. Here’s from his last speech in 1968: “Do we have that authority (to kill) tens and tens of thousands of people because we say we have a commitment to the South Vietnamese people? But have they been consulted—in Hue, in Ben Tre, in other towns that have been destroyed? Do we have that authority? ... What we have been doing is not the answer, it is not suitable, and it is immoral, and intolerable to continue it.”
Bobby was afraid to run up against Johnson. They never got along and for a while, Johnson’s politics were favorable; also, his brother had chosen him (though Bobby told him not to) (202). No love was lost between them during JFK’s presidency; Bobby was often treated (and acted) like second-in-command. For these reasons he was late to declare himself an anti-war president, and was considered a coward for a while. Eugene McCarthy got in before him and gained a lot of support from the college crowd. Johnson at first—following the JFK assassination—received as high as 80% approval, and 69% of his bills in 1965 were passed, a record number (189).
Politics at this time revolved around poverty, racism, bureaucracy, foreign policies and war. How little things change, sometimes, no matter how hard we try. But in 1967 the revolution began, and it wasn’t started by Bobby or the Beatles. It appears it started with the anti-draft movement (195), probably related to the news reports showing what went on in war. By early 1967 the Democrats were looking to replace LBJ. One movement was to draft Bobby, but he wasn’t ready (19 . In June of that year, he was clearly in turmoil over his inability to challenge Johnson. At that time he used glowing praise for the president that he later regretted (203-204).
He finally began to travel the country in mid-January of 1968, making anti-war speeches, and his closest friends felt that meant he was running. He openly admitted to disliking McCarthy, calling him pompous, petty and venal. He couldn’t endorse him. “Gene just isn’t a nice person” (211-213).
Yet it was the Tet offensive beginning January 31, 1968 (234) that got Bobby into the race and not LBJ’s decision not to run again, as I had thought. With McCarthy already running he was receiving a lot of support from the campuses and the Jewish communities. A number of Bobby’s closest advisers jumped up to encourage him, but his brother Teddy remained uncertain (235).
Finally on March 16th he made his candidacy official : “I do not run for the Presidency merely to oppose any man, but to propose new policies … I made it clear to Senator McCarthy … that my candidacy would not be in opposition to his, but in harmony … my desire is not to divide the strength of those forces seeking a change, but to increase it” (257).
He worked hard to gain the trust of the college crowd, who saw McCarthy as the man with courage. At first Bobby's audience was made of those who hated hippies and happy that Bobby was running against Johnson. He talked up the college revolution scene, saying that we need to attack life with all our youthful vigor (262-263).
By the end of March, “Kennedy Besieged … there was almost a riot at the airport, the crowds were out of control, and there as a brief fistfight between a Kennedy enthusiast and a McCarthy heckler.” There seems to be a distinction here—enthusiast versus heckler? It’s a perspective issue, same as today. Or it really was a McCarthy fan sending jeering words at a Kennedy fan. “I want to find jobs for all our people,” said Bobby into a bullhorn. I want to find jobs for the black people of Watts, and the white people of eastern Kentucky. I want a reconciliation of blacks and whites in the United States” (273-274).
Reconciliation? You see, blacks and whites didn’t always not get along. They don’t all not get along today. See the movie Free State of Jones playing now and you’ll see what I mean. The more we live with each other, the more we can. That’s why desegregation was so important in the 1960s, but still, we see so many places today where a white hasn’t seen a black, except on TV.
Bobby was devastated by the death of Martin Luther King, and was tempted to withdraw. Shades of Dallas had to have run through his head. But he knew he had to speak out. “But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings who abide in our land" (281).
And later: “For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly, destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is a slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter” (283).
How far have we come, really? Shouldn’t we be ashamed that many of these words can still be said today? Where is the hope of the 60’s?
Kennedy began winning heavily with the black population, to the point of Ethel saying, “don’t you wish everyone was black?” (299) When Kennedy didn’t do as well as expected, Newfield intimated a double standard: “If Kennedy had the relationship that McCarthy has with Shana Alexander and Mary McGrory, it would be a scandal. But Gene can get away with it because no one accuses him of buying off the press. So he gets a free ride.”
If Kennedy was like Sanders early in the race, he became like Hillary later. Bobby appealed to the blacks, as Hillary does, and both are accused of duplicitous methods. Was Bobby using his brother’s name? Newfield believed the opposite was true (303). By invoking their mistakes and how wrong the war was, and ramping up on Civil Rights, Bobby was making a name for himself. Hillary, too, puts herself squarely with the liberals and women’s and black rights, and the need for more gun regulation.
A man heckled Bobby at one of his stops, and the police arrested him. Bobby said to let him go, but they wouldn’t. So Bobby promised to get him out of jail as soon as he was elected. That kind of peaceful rhetoric seems missing now, where this kind of heckling has been encouraged.
Bobby also pursued gun control legislation, and he tested the ground against rifles and hunters in Oregon, known for being very volatile state over the issue. He lost Oregon, but he loved to challenge his audiences, not cater to them (307). This was before the California vote, and if he didn’t get that, he wasn’t sure he could keep going.
His speech in Oregon is worth noting: “Nobody is going to take your guns away. All we’re talking about is that a person who’s insane, or is seven years old, or is mentally defective, or has a criminal record, should be kept from purchasing a gun by money order.”
After Johnson announced he wasn’t running, Bobby took on Hubert Humphrey with the same vigor of being pro-war that Johnson was. “If the Vice President is nominated to oppose Richard Nixon (and Nixon was pretty much running in the primary unopposed), there will be no candidate who has opposed the course of escalation of the war in Vietnam” (313).
In Oregon, McCarthy had scored heavily against Bobby, but Bobby didn’t counterattack, fearing to appear ruthless, and not wanting to alienate McCarthy’s college voters. He wanted people to see him as running against Humphrey. McCarthy, on the other hand, went after Bobby’s previous pro-war record with his brother. But Newfield noted that Bobby was on record as being anti-war even before McCarthy (315).
Bobby finally agreed to debate McCarthy before the California primary, and of course they each won it, depending on who you listened to. But when his staff asked why Bobby blew the closing remarks so badly, he said, “You won’t believe it, but I was daydreaming. I thought the program was over and I was trying to decide … where to take Ethel for dinner” (321-322).
The last time the author talked with Bobby, it was about Bob Dylan. Bobby had just heard the song “Blowing in the Wind” and was very struck by it. He decided he wanted to meet Dylan. As they talked and Newfield wondered how Bobby could win the activist students, Bobby turned to brood out the window again (324).
Toward the end of California campaigning, those in Bobby’s camp decided that Bobby and McCarthy were alike on so many issues, and the focus still needed to be against Humphrey. Yet on June 4th McCarthy claimed that Martin Luther King had endorsed him; that Bobby once had his phones tapped (330). Some feared Bobby wouldn’t take New York later. Others feared this country was going to kill another Kennedy, “and then we won’t have a country” (327).
We all know what happened. He was killed, just after winning California. We can hope and pray that never happens in this country again, even as the death toll from guns rises. Newfield ends the book without mentioning the killer's name, and just asking "Why?"
As you think about the campaign in 2016, let Bobby’s last words stay with you:
I ask you to recognize the hard and difficult road ahead to a better America –and I ask you tomorrow to vote for yourselves. The people must decide this election—and this must decide so that no leader in America has any doubt of what they want. For your sake, and for the sake of your children, vote for yourself tomorrow (327).
I don’t want to share the author’s final words because, quite frankly, I don’t want to believe them.
|Posted by bebowreinhard on April 26, 2016 at 4:30 PM||comments (0)|
Grieving is probably the most human and the most difficult thing any of us do. With my mother’s recent death, I now have first-hand experience at a mature age what this process is like. My father died when I was 14 and I was devastated as only a 14-year-old could be. But this watching a parent age, and then desire to give up on life is about as helpless an experience as one could ever have.
Dreams lately have been about death. Last night was not about anyone I knew. It was the death of a young boy named Jamie—a tragic, senseless death that somehow involved a train and Clint Eastwood. There was a rally at the funeral for justice. But I don’t remember much more than that, except I awoke feeling drained.
Why dream about death when it feels like it permeates every waking hour? Well, that could be why, I guess. In order to come to terms with it we might tend to objectify it, pretend it’s happening to someone else.
I had to put out a thank you at work today for a donation they made to my mother’s homeless fund and of course that brought out a few responses. I wasn’t sure how else to say thanks except by email, since I never got a card or notification of the donation. I can only assume it was done. And try to explain to anyone you don’t really talk to much about how a mother’s death makes you feel is just about impossible.
You try to say things like, oh, it’s okay, she’s been failing for a while and then they’ll say, but still, it’s hard. And I’ll go yeah, of course.
And I think though I accept it, it still hasn’t really hit. Yeah, I’ve had a few tears, and I know life will change now, a lot. But I’ve always been pretty pragmatic about death and all and feel I have to apply it to my own life now.
For instance, I wrote an article once that was meant to help others when death causes them to languish, such as I’ve seen happen to a few people left behind. But now I’ll want to revisit that article (I think it’s a former blog here, too) and see if it really helps me or not. The gist of it was that all people die when it’s time. But what about people like my mother, who died because she wanted to? Did she commit a form of mental suicide?
If that’s the case, then I’m right to feel like I didn’t do enough to help her. But how I can help her with the aging process when I don’t know enough about it myself? Was she carrying burdens that were too hard for her? Did she have things she felt guilty about? In that case, did I ever try to ease her guilt? Did I ever once tell her that I was glad she felt me behind in Green Bay when she moved the rest of the family to Phoenix because otherwise I wouldn’t have the three great kids and two great granddaughters I have? Did she know I felt that way? Would that have helped?
I think these kinds of things that run through the heads of mourners are perfectly natural.
There’s also the fear of change. I have already changed my life, so I don’t have that fear. But my husband went through a terrible week’s illness where he couldn’t cope with anything to do with her death. He was close to her, but he wasn’t a sibling. Did he feel like he should be treated like one, and knew he wouldn’t be? He can’t tell me what’s going through his mind, because he doesn’t know. His mental repression comes out as physical illness.
When we cannot get in touch with the reasons we mourn, that can hurt us even more.
For me, right now, I just feel like there’s this coating on my skin, or just under my skin, something that doesn’t belong there, but is a part of me now. In time, they say, my mourning will ease.
Or is it just that we get used to that coating?
|Posted by bebowreinhard on February 22, 2016 at 3:40 PM||comments (3)|
I’ve done a lot of really weird things. This could be a life of weird things.
When my mom decided to move to Phoenix, I says heck no, I’m staying here. I was 18. My two brothers and two sisters went with her, but I felt I could support myself. Eight apartments and a ton of rejected roommates later, I finally got married. Whew! Bit the bullet on that one.
Marrying my husband and having my three kids were probably the only sane things I did. Or the things that kept me sane.
But living in Abrams didn’t help. My husband got to walk to his job on the golf course, while I drove an hour or more round trip—in snow, sleet, whatever. It got to the point where I would be happy my temporary job was only temporary because I could get a break from driving. Problem was, by the time I needed to get serious about getting job, my resume made me look flakey. Me?
And getting a master’s in history for no better purpose than to make a fiction idea nonfiction? That’s pretty crazy. My major nonfiction book would have been published by now if I had made it fiction. As it is, I turned part into a movie script, and that probably has a better chance. I must be the only person who’s worked twenty years on researching a non-fiction book about the Civil and Indian wars and can’t find a publisher.
How could someone as imaginative as me – I can see an item in a store that I’d never buy and imagine someone who could – ever make it as a historian? Only someone like me could be the first to come up with the idea that Grant deliberately sent an army against Indians to get slaughtered so they could take the Black Hills. Well, heck, doesn’t that make sense? I mean, just look at his record in the Civil War.
I guess I’m the only one it makes sense to.
And who else turns down a call from Jon Stewart's staff to be interviewed for the Daily Show? I was running a campaign back in 1998 to turn Columbus Day into Diversity Day. I got interviewed by the local paper, it went out on the wire and before I knew it, it was getting national attention. Jay Leno mentioned it on the Tonight Show - without using my name - and I got that call, which was amazing. They wanted to interview me for one of their news segments. Of course, I had to think on my feet. I said, but I don't want you to make fun of it. This is a serious campaign. They asked who they COULD make fun of. Again, I've never been good at thinking fast. Ah, the Catholic Church? Finally I gave them the name and number of the Columbus museum in Columbus, Wisconsin, who I'd done a radio show with exploring both sides. The Daily Show never called back.
When I left the copper museum in 2011 I was at loose ends. I had been doing great work there – or so I thought, though no one else liked it – and I wanted to do other great work to help tribal nations progress and show how really great they are and how bad this country has been to them.
Does anyone really want to know this stuff? Obviously not.
But my next great idea that I pursued was to do a film documentary on ten Indians tribes in the nation—where they were before conquest and where they are today. Had I ever filmed anything? Did I have a film degree? Of course not. I was a historian. I’d have to hire all that. But I didn’t. I just started contacting tribes to get them interested and then the rest would fall into place, right?
First I got a little filming experience. I decided to make a small budget film on doing rummage sales. I started driving around, looking for a interesting rummage sales to film, and finally did it. I got out of my car, and talked to the three blonde ladies sitting there waiting for customers. I asked if I could film them. They said sure. I asked a bunch of stupid, inane questions and I’m sure they were all just hoping I’d buy something for their trouble and leave.
But I was “queen of rummage sales,” having held them myself for 25 years, and figured I had all the insights to make this really good. I taped myself getting ready for one. And then I couldn’t figure out how to make the film interesting. I bored myself.
I also didn’t get any support for the Indian documentary past the Navajos. I was going to drive down into Apache territory in southern Arizona, but my sister wouldn’t let me borrow her car. I had an Oneida friend who didn’t want anyone to know he’d work with me.
I didn’t quite give up on the documentary film idea there though. With my copper database (CAMD) I decided that I could go to an “archaeology in the media” conference and get someone interested in helping me make a copper artifact documentary. That would really be the way to get this into the public eye (I was accepted into the program for May 2016; turned out they were accepting everybody). I went around Wisconsin and up into Michigan and did a variety of short videos of me talking about copper with scenic backdrops – even embarrassed a museum official I was working with to do an interview on camera with me (don’t worry, Joan, I’ll never use it!). I haven’t been able to bring myself to look at them yet, and dropped out of the conference for a refund of the fee (less $25). My other expense on that project was buying a second tripod when I lost the camera connector to the first one.
Who does crazy things like this? Mostly delusional people, people who think they have more to offer than they do. People who want to be involved in something bigger than themselves, of course, but also people desperate to leave their mark somewhere. But what good is a mark that misses the mark?
Just this morning I woke with the crazy idea in my head to stop putting out the copper newsletter. I have nearly 100 free subscribers, and it’s in its 6th year, but I wonder if anyone bothers reading it. It’s a lot of work and while it is what I give back to all those who have helped me with information, I’m starting to see it as a waste of time. Yet it costs me nothing to do, except time.
At the same time, I paid for the most expensive website that Webs.com (here) has to offer because I expect to sell my copper databases there. But that’s not real product. It’s a variety of tables and they’d have to contact me to get the full copy. I made it so they could pay for it from my website and then I would send it to them – but did I really need the biggest website? In my defense here, I did wait until I got a 50%-off offer, which is pretty sweet. But still. Who does these things? I’ve not made a penny on this database yet.
So is this five-year, million-mile project going to pay off any better than the one where I impersonate Henry as an old German soldier? Here again, I’m certainly doing the work no one else is doing. But to make it pay off, I need to prove how the copper data is valuable. After all, I’m a historian, not an archaeologist. At a conference last year, after I’d given my little presentation, an archaeologist who has done copper research had the gall to say yeah, that kind of research would be nice to have, if we had the “right person” doing it. Well, who, huh? I’ve been doing it for five years and not one person has offered to take over for me.
Yeah, I’ll sell all this research. Give me an offer, and you can have all of it. I’ll move on.
Yeah, crazy. It’s what a person is called who does things they’re not qualified to do. So what am I qualified to do? Write fiction. But just having an imagination doesn’t make you talented. Don’t you wish life worked that way? It's a lot of hard work, a lot of hard editing. And I've done a lot of it. I'm now a professional paid editor, 39 hours a week.
Now I’m living alone in Madison, working, and fighting my diet to hang on to my gall bladder. Are these crazy things, too? By what kind of meter do I measure what I’m doing with my life? Yes, I hated living in Abrams, and yes, I hate living alone. Am I doomed?
I think there is only one way to live a life, and that’s the best we know how. We all have different abilities and desires. And to say, that’s crazy, why do you do that, and expect to find an answer? Maybe that’s what’s crazy.
|Posted by bebowreinhard on February 8, 2016 at 10:05 AM||comments (0)|
Fate or Free Will? I always believed that working hard gets us at least a brass ring. We have the will to succeed or lack of drive to fail. But I’m beginning to believe a little more that our Karma determines our Fate, and that the Door to Success is not meant for everyone to access.
Before I lose you, hang on a sec. Does that mean we should all stop trying so hard? Not at all. You won’t know if you could succeed until you’ve worked hard toward that goal. It takes a lot of living and experience to understand where you stand on the Karma Scale of Success, as I call it.
Looking back, now at age 62, I can see why Fate keeps that door closed to me. This is not something I could have seen before this time. And no one would have wanted to—because human consciousness is meant for us to use and use as wisely as we’re able.
But I think there does come a time in our lives when we can sit back and say “This is as far as I was meant to go.”
Looking back, I can see the signs, and this part of my character was being driven home to me yesterday. I was driving, and telling a story that I thought was kind of important. I don’t remember the story now, because it turned out it wasn’t. I nearly ran a stop sign telling it, meaning that I was too wound up in telling it to remember to watch the road.
And the story itself was ignored. Now maybe, you’d say, it was because I almost ran a stop sign. But I got to thinking about that, and the whole pattern of my life has been how easy my stories are ignored. How easy it is to ignore me. I got a 4.0 in my history master’s because no one cared. I didn’t matter. I’ve been ignored all my life, because I don’t matter. And that’s fate. It doesn’t matter how hard I try.
I am compiling a master database of all pre-contact copper artifacts found in the Americas, something no one’s ever done before. But does it matter? I’ve heard archeologists disparage my efforts, and no one has stepped forward and offered to help or sponsor the work. Nor does it seem like anyone is interested in getting their hands on this data because they feel it could help their work.
My master’s thesis is now a major book, ready for publication after 20 years of research. Nonfiction is supposed to be easy to get published, but no one wants this. Why? But I have a voice that cannot tell a story. That no one wants to listen to. Even in writing. I just keep running those stop signs.
So here I am, wondering where success is, after all this hard work. I just signed a contract for my vrykolakas, a story that really deserves readers. Arabus was published twice before, both as first person stories, and I had them both pulled. This new contract is on his new voice, in third person. I have a vampire/alien story that I have not been able to sell, that I also use his third person voice; does it not sell because it’s historical science fiction?
I have to understand, now, this lack of opening that Door to Success so that I can find a window somewhere.
Yes, just because success doesn’t come easily to some people doesn’t mean it doesn’t come at all. It means we need to change our tactics. I can take my historical sci-fi and give it to an editor for no pay, just a little attention. I gave away my Custer story, twice, and in return I got a great idea for a script and new insights about President Grant and why Custer and his men died. I nearly got my big pine research article published last year, but they backed out (because the feature photo turned out to be confirmed Michigan, not Wisconsin) and now it’s time to give that away. I started a Booyah craze in Green Bay, me with a short fun editorial, and ended up being the butt of everyone's joke. But it got my aunt and her son inspired to trademark the recipe.
Giving stuff away may feel like you’ve lost in the game of authorship. But instead it means recognizing that you have a different kind of voice. And as long as you’re alive, you owe it to yourself to keep talking, and find the kind of people who want to listen.
That doesn’t mean failure. It means recognizing that even if the Door to Success will never open, the Windows of Opportunity still exist.
You may have a silent voice. But you still have one. Use it.
|Posted by bebowreinhard on December 8, 2015 at 6:05 PM||comments (2)|
hERE'S THE DEAL: The copper database, any part of it, will be made available FREE to anyone who's contributed. I will determine on a case by case basis how much of it they can have for free. For instance, some of the material is confidential, and cannot be had by any collector. Any representative of a museum can fill out a form and will get access to that material. There may be some collectors I trust, so they can always ask. But that's going to be the general rule.
Anyone who has NOT contributed to the database but just wants data will need to pay for it. I will also assess this on a case by case basis, but it'll probably be pretty close to what I said before - 10 cents a line. I never expected to et rich off this data. But I do need some way to make back all my expenses in gathering.
I hope this makes sense. Contact me with questions
PLEASE DISREGARD THE ARTICLE BELOW.
The database on copper artifacts I’ve been gathering for nearly five years now, and the work I’ve done on copper before that, since 2008, has pretty much engulfed my life. I need to explain this so people understand why I am charging for the databases that I’ve compiled.
I ran the Oconto Archaic Copper Museum for three years, from 2008-2010, and ran it willingly, for the most part, even though I only got paid for giving tours those first two years, and only on weekends. There were times I gave tours while I was there doing work during the week, but that didn’t count. I had an employee, too, who wanted most of the hours. So I made very little for the time invested. I didn’t complain, because I felt I was doing something that was valid and important. I felt that we (the committee) were doing something to get copper research on the right track—make it important again. It seemed to me while I was doing this work that no one really cared about this first metal industry in the country, and I could tell there was a lot to it, long before I began the CAMD.
While I was curator there, I got interested in Hamilton’s collection in Madison, asked for and received the printed database of copper artifacts, and reordered them so that we could see them by where they were found, not by what they looked like. I began to realize how much of this information was being buried, making copper research nearly impossible to access.
I had to leave that job because in 2010 I was the only tour guide; they didn’t pay anyone anymore. To be honest, I was forced out, because I wanted to make necessary changes that the committee was against. These changes would have satisfied professionals, but our amateur town group wanted things to stay just as they were. And that, I felt, was a shame.
I started a job search because by this time I needed the money, but because of my resume, lots of temp jobs and this curator position where I pretty much answered only to myself and left under “dubious circumstances,” and my age, this was a difficult process. In the meantime, I needed to keep the research going. I honestly felt that someone else was going to get interested in what I was doing and offer either to jump on board and help, or finance it. Neither has happened. I have financed this collection gathering process all on my own.
Because I’m a published author, I claim all my expenses, expecting to sell my future work, too. If I don’t sell my work, I might be considered a hobbyist and could be charged back taxes. I queried one publisher on this work and they suggested I self-publish. I got to thinking about it. If I were to try and put over 50,000 copper artifacts into one resource manual, the cost could be astronomical, and who needs all that data? That’s when I hit on the idea of publishing sections of it as tables and offering those for sale on my website instead.
To be clear, I’m never going to get rich doing this. I don’t know if anyone is going to want any of this data. Some might call me unprofessional and not trust what I’ve gathered. But here’s the thing. I have gathered it, for what it’s worth. Sure, there might be mistakes. But what I’ve gathered is still preferable to leaving all these things buried in the various and many different collections in the Americas, isn’t it? Anyone can buy any small amount of information and check it out for themselves, if they want. I fully believe this work will be validated.
So who would use this CAMD and how? I’ve been using it to track the trade network, and have found out amazing things. I’ve been showing my research in the Archaic Copper Newsletter, now being renamed in its 6th year. I'm working on articles but because I'm in the wrong profession, I have a hard time getting them published. But anyone who has a theory, perhaps as part of graduate work, could take any portion of this they desire to explore their theories. These professionals would receive my full support, as I have further data that I won’t be releasing unless by request, such as site location and donor name. I also won’t share photos online, because I’ll need permission to do so. Some people might take these databases and contact the sources themselves for the photos, as they’ll see I’ve done the rest of this legwork for them.
Some might be amateur "metal detectorists" who have developed their own unique interest and ideas about their pieces that they want to know more about.
These databases are not going to be expensive. You can get 1001 lines of data for $50. Imagine how much it cost me to pull that information together. You can’t. I can’t.
Please don’t begrudge me the need to make money off my work. Don’t we all want to do that?
|Posted by bebowreinhard on September 23, 2015 at 8:50 AM||comments (0)|
I began when I was bored on a temp office job one day, and submitted a poorly formatted short story to Alfred Hitchcock Magazine. This was back in 1979.
Now it’s 2015, and I have a full-time job in Madison to earn money so that I don’t feel broke, because of bad business ventures over the years. Well, I do still feel broke. There are times I feel I’m on the homeless track. But it is what it is, for now. I always thought my writing career would take off because I’m so devoted to it, and we could live off my income, ala Stephen King.
Here’s the career, abbreviated. After toying with short stories, in March 1983, I created Arabus Drake. Arabus is still my license plate, but since I moved to Madison, I will go to a regular plate when it comes up for renewal in January IF the book still has not sold. Not that I’ve been working on the same book since 1983, not at all. Adventures in Death & Romance in 2015 is an incarnation of a book of short stories that I first pulled together and got Llewellyn interested in back in 1994. Then it was called Journal of an Undead.
Shortly before I created him, I thought my writing career was taking off with the publication of My Most Memorable Christmas in the Press Gazette in December 1982. I’d sent them versions the two years previously, but this version got accepted (reward: turkey) because it actually made me cry.
Arabus came to me in a dream and both frightened and enticed me not too long after, and I’m sure he regrets it! But I began pulling short stories together by first researching what he actually was—a vrykolakas, Greek vampire—and placing him in different events throughout history. With Arabus I became an amateur historian.
I continued to crank out short stories for marketing but with little success. A short vampire scene, a couple of Boone stories, and a couple of my early Grimm offerings all found markets in the 1990s. Also in the 1990s I sold several short articles, some for over $100.
In 1992 Bonanza writing came into my life because of free fanfic magazines that were being produced. By 1994 I had a full Bonanza novel and by 1996 I met David Dortort in LA because of timing and miscommunication (see article on Bonanza page).
I got an agent for the novel Dortort authorized, Felling of the Sons, in 1997 quite by a fluke of misdirected mail, but Claudia had no luck because of the Calder books, so in 1998 I produced an ebook copy and signed a contract with Electric Works Publishing so that I could sell them at the convention in 1999 at Lake Tahoe. I made 100 print copies of the book myself, and before that, was printing copies for people off my computer. Those 100 print copies are pretty valuable, actually.
In 2001 I cancelled that contract because I wanted it to be at Amazon (he went OOB a week later), and picked up Write Words, Inc., after yet another publisher told me to cut it in half and make it more “western.” I wanted an authorized cover and continue to pay 20% to Bonanza Ventures for that right, rather than giving them 10% to continue it with a generic cover.
While all the above was going on, I was getting my BA in history at UWGB. And raising three kids who were too darned easy! (Now they barely have time to talk to me, but that’s Cats in the Cradle, right?)
I was also penning movie scripts. I started with a Bonanza script, wrote a Rawhide for Clint Eastwood (an agent said he rejected it, but couldn’t prove it), and then turned Journal into The Becoming. In 1999 I went to the Cannes Film Festival when it won first place, an honor that quickly turned sour when it turned out to be a scam. In 2003 this script was in the top finalists for the Chicago Indiefest, but the four-day festival turned into two when my laptop was stolen.
By 2004 I was going for my master’s in history, having developed the intense desire to research my relative’s 20 years in the army between 1862 and 1884 after seeing the movie Dances with Wolves.
Along the way the internet grew, as did the self-publishing capabilities, and suddenly the competition for publisher’s attentions skyrocketed. With all the internet distractions, reading became a luxury few were having time for. My husband’s friend self-published two novels that were awful, second one unreadable, and I decided that I would never self-publish. If a publisher didn’t think my work was ready, all I could do was keep working on it (see my blog on the negatives of self-publishing here).
I got that agent to promote Journal of an Undead in 2000, changed to first person with a third person narrator with her approval, but she got nowhere with it, and I severed the relationship. I continued to promote this version, though, until I had the chance to sit down with it and realize the third person had to go. I continued marketing Arabus in first person, but was told to remove the alien story at the end. So I switched it out, and the alien story remains an unpublished but very marketable long short story. One publisher wanted me to remove the background to his becoming undead, but that was the one change of six he wanted that I couldn’t do.
I also tried to sell Arabus’ short story Lightning for years. It finally got accepted into an anthology of historical horror, but this was poorly produced; I have since turned that story into third person, and am continuing to market it.
As my dislike for first-person published Lightning grew, I decided to try turning Arabus into all third person again, with just a hint of the relationship that turned this short story collection into a cohesive whole. That with some further modifications is now being considered by a publisher with their requested changes. But if that gets rejected, I might go back to the first person version, and see if Arabus is made for the new virtual reality art that is developing.
I never pay to be edited, but hope instead in writing groups to find readers. It feels impossible these days to find a beta reader. People seem to think they’re only wasting their time, or being forced to help edit for no pay. All I ever want is for people to read until they’re bored and then tell me why they stopped. I make that clear, but still, no takers.
In the early 2000s, the progress I’d made in the late 1990s came to a screeching halt. Perhaps my early success was due to being on the forefront of internet writing technology. That’s one of the reasons I got to Dortort, in fact. Perhaps I became lax with the belief I’d made it, and became too focused on other things. But I kept submitting. Where I used to sell four to five pieces per year, now it’s maybe one, if I’m lucky. My last good year of over two pieces sold in a single year was in 2002.
By then, however, I was more focused on researching master’s programs. I first hoped to get into environmental writing and promotion with at master’s at UWGB but couldn’t find any references for it. I finally ended up moving away to Eau Claire in early 2004.
In 2006 I picked up an editing job for a fellow in South Africa, but his book was such a mess I don’t know if he wanted it to be fiction or nonfiction. I told him in 2007 I couldn’t continue unless I got 50/50 authorship, and he agreed to this (I still have the email). In 2012 we got Spartan to contract Dancing with Cannibals, but by early 2014 it was obvious to me that they weren’t focused on putting out quality material. Dicho grew very angry over this cancellation, and bad-mouthed me everywhere he could. He later apologized, but unknown to me, he was seeking another editor for it, a book mostly ready for publishing; when I grew uncomfortable by his last email, I did at search this past June at Amazon. Sure enough, he published our novel without my name attached. I got a sample, and found it to be my edit, with the addition of one line that was badly punctuated. I had Amazon remove it, and am now proceeding with the idea to publish the authorized one there with both our names. I have not heard from Dicho yet, but his editor wrote me a nasty email filled with lies.
Since the Chicago Indiefest, too, I’ve not had anything more than a good semi-finalist award anywhere.
From 2003 to 2009 I worked sporadically on my second Bonanza novel with David Dortort’s blessing, but had to really focus to get it ready for the 2009 convention. It only had four edits, and my publisher Arline at Write Words thought it was too long. It was meant to be an epic saga, though and could have been longer. If I could find another historical publisher, I would be happy to make it longer. Felling is in second edition, so Mystic Fire could be, too. Felling became required reading at two college campuses between 2012 and 2014, and I’d love for that trend to continue, but I don’t know how to promote that. I also wrote another full novel that I give free to whoever likes these two. I was hoping it would promote sales, but very few are requesting it.
I ran a writing group for three years from 2010 to 2013, organized three book fests, but could not convince members to try traditional publishing before self-publishing so I quit. The group was taken over by self-publishers but they could not pull another book fest together. I tried joining a group in Madison – same problem. Self-publishers.
My major nonfiction is now on its third round of rejections, after being made as short as possible. I’m writing a movie script called Following Orders based on the Custer information that emerged by following Henry’s viewpoint, and am making Henry a character. This was one of my goals back when I first started this research. Funny thing about the rejections here—most think it’s a good idea, good work, but trade markets say it should be academic and academic think it’s better as a trade market book. I had a contract on it once with Sunbury, but they dragged their feet on assigning it an editor and I felt that this meant it was beyond their scope or they changed their minds, so I cancelled the contract.
I finally completed what I call a competent edition of Grimms American Macabre, my collection of modern fairy tales, and after some cajoling, got my publisher to consider it. She said she really didn’t like it but gave me suggestions for improvement. She then told me to go ahead and make the changes I wanted to her online contract, and to the novel with her suggestions. While doing this I came up with a new title, after blogging at Facebook for suggestions. She prepared the galley proof without changing the title. I like that she was proactive and didn’t even wait to see the contract, but neither of us could work with each other’s restrictions. Another contract cancelled.
Including the contracts I rejected without signing, I’ve cancelled more contracts than most people have seen. (See my blog on reading contracts.)
I can’t say taking a job in 2015 is ruining my writing career, either. Instead it’s making me focus a little more on what I do create. All the time in the world did not make me a better writer.
This blog may seem a little self-indulgent to some, but in this story of my long writing career I wanted to see if I could spot any flaws or trends. Here’s a few things I’ve learned that others might find helpful.
• No less than six edits on any single piece of writing, and the 5th edit must always been a read-aloud. Mark each edit in its version as you do it, so you don’t lose track.
• Always put the first and second edits away, for a brief stewing period and work on something else.
• You can break this rule with deadlines. I recently sent out two articles I thought were good after only three edits. Two of those three edits were read alouds. The deadline meant I didn’t have time to put them away.
• Never say anything in anger to a publisher or editor. It will come back to bite you.
• Never use valet service at a hotel. I swear to this day that’s how my laptop got stolen in Chicago.
• Try not to distract yourself too much, and focus on one project as you’re writing it, including its research and markets.
• A stronger piece is generally one created with a market in mind.
• Nothing you write is ever a waste of time. It’s learning. It’s all learning.
• Develop your platform. Find people who love your writing and cater to them.
• Join a writers group. Listen to them. But don’t feel you have to self-publish just because they do. Think for yourself.
• They say if you market a book too soon, you’ll ruin its chances forever. My Vryk work is proving that’s not true. Try not to market too soon, but keep finding ways to improve it. Don’t fall into a rut and see something as perfect after the first or second edit. It never is.
• Never co-author with anyone you’ll never meet. Better not to co-author at all. Writing styles can be so sharply different.
|Posted by bebowreinhard on February 4, 2015 at 1:10 PM||comments (0)|
First day of apartment living. A very lonely feeling, made worse by feeling alone. Makes sense, right? I left so little behind in Abrams. No one from the theater group I was in for years said goodbye or we’ll miss you, nor anyone from the writing group that I formed and ran for three years, or any family or friends to see me off. Certainly no one in Abrams—the postal lady there didn’t even know who I was, then said she didn’t recognize me, and then handed me the change of address form without a word. 36 years in that town, and I left nothing but cats and a husband behind.
All the things I’ve done, or wanted to do there. If we could have run the restaurant this winter as I proposed, that would have given me reason to stay. But my husband, as usual, saw his family’s view rather than mine, and that was the last effort I had in me. All the living there, of which there’s no trace today. How does something like that happen? How could I have screwed everything up so badly? So that’s why I’m in Madison now? I’m trying to escape my past? I should know better. We cannot escape who we are.
Some probably feel I should have tried harder to find a job in Green Bay, but I screwed myself up there so badly that no one I ever worked for wants me back. And even if I had taken the Apac job at $9 an hour, I still would have had that long drive every day, or I would have had to live at my mother’s house. A lousy job with a residence where I’d get no writing done.
How can I give up my writing now? I’ve wasted so much time on it.
No, there’s no going back. Even if we think we’d do things so much differently, we’re just fooling ourselves. We are who we are.
This moving away is an adjustment, of course. I’ll get used to being lonely and maybe I’ll even start to make friends, although the people I do know here want nothing to do with me. Maybe I am meant to be alone. Maybe that’s what the universe is telling me. Screw everyone and just do your own thing. But I don’t feel I’m meant to be lonely. Sure, I’m a writer, but a sociable one. I’m still thinking of running another writing group that focuses on exercises, once a month in Green Bay—even though I can’t get anyone to want to join and it’ll probably just be me again.
It would help so much to hear from my kids, but I fear what they’re thinking about me right now, so maybe it’s better that I don’t. They have their lives and I have mine, right? How badly I miss them, but that’s my problem, too. Just thinking about the possibility that they hate me now makes me cry. I have to stop thinking about what was and try to focus on what is. Today that task is all but impossible.
I just knew I couldn’t keep living in Abrams. I couldn’t keep running a failed writing career in Abrams where I felt of absolutely no value to anyone. Even those couple of chances I had to work in a post office fell apart.
We can only try and really, that’s all I’m doing here. I see this as my last chance to be of value somewhere. I think I have something to contribute but how will I know if I don’t take a chance?
So here I am, sitting here alone watching the snow fall, wondering what happened to the fun day we had planned for today. Instead Joe and Marty, my helpful movers, had to head back early.
It was easy to move here. It is hard to be here. That’s what the universe is telling me. “Be careful what you ask for, honey, you might just hate it.”
Funny, but I think the people at work expected me to quit right away. And I came close a couple of times when it seemed I wasn’t going to find a place to live or wasn’t going to be able to move in. It wouldn’t have taken much to discourage me, but instead everything just fell into place. But no one at work offered to help, as if in fear of being intrusive. Then when they found my article in the Press Gazette about leaving there for good, they must have realized I was serious. I got a lot more positive comments from them here in Madison than from anyone in Green Bay.
But I will admit I don’t know how long I’ll last. I feel like my health is disintegrating, and so I’m making sure there are good instructions for this position at work for the next person, just in case. Stress is a killer for me, and the stress of being alone doesn’t help. I don’t know what else could happen to remove me from here, now that I’m here; the weather, I’m sure, will eventually improve and I’ll get to enjoy all the great features of city life.
If I can adjust.
Right now, my first day here—blizzard, sad, lonely, pain and heartache for all of my past that I can never get back is what surrounds me. Today the weather is me.
Addendum: Weather is still bad but mood has improved. Hardest are the mornings, when I sit at the dining table alone, unable to turn on the internet to connect with people even by wire. Loneliness. It’s what makes me reach out to others I see who are alone.
|Posted by bebowreinhard on October 4, 2014 at 10:15 AM||comments (0)|
I happened to glance through the sport section of the paper the other day and saw an article about a guy going after the biggest bear known in the area. He decided he was going to pretend to leave the area to see if he could trick the monster, and sure enough the bear showed up. That’s when the article turned nasty. Of course, he shoots it, but do they have to describe the bear’s exploding ribcage and the howling cry of pain? What is it about violence that gets people off?
The next day on a trip south I saw a sign – “Love the smell of gunpowder in the morning? So do we.” It was a sign for a shooting range.
What kind of violent society are we that we have to take the 2nd Amendment with its right to bear arms as meaning protection from a tyrannical monarchy with the use of muskets to meaning we can walk around with semi-automatic pistols into school yards, airports and farmers markets? What kind of mentality creates this kind of society that advertises the love of the smell of gunpowder?
Is shooting just for fun? Or do these people really think they’re protecting themselves, and need the bear meat to supply for their families?
I can understand going out to hunt meat when you’re starving, when there are no other options for food. But how can this kind of activity be fun? Of course people who call hunting a sport also say they eat the meat they kill, but what is it about killing the animal when they're not starving that they get off on? Are they reassuring themselves that if our society ever collapses they have the skills to survive?
What I see going on, though, in today’s world, is that society will collapse because of weaponry.
I don’t think there are too many people, NRA or not, who believe that George Zimmerman didn’t enjoy killing Trayvon Martin. Of course he did. He bought a gun and he walked around looking for a reason to shoot it. He found one—he created one. Of course he enjoyed it. It’s only a matter of time before people like him have that need to kill again.
I get the need for every country to have soldiers in this current climate. I get the need for that. But I don’t think for a minute that they’re making us safer by killing people in other countries. It’s like the tribes in America’s pre-contact past. If you kill one of mine, I have to kill one of yours. This is a mentality that has been with us as human beings forever. So why do people become soldiers? Can’t we all see that not killing is better than killing? Join the Peace Corps instead.
I asked recently if humans having consciousness are really still so far from being beasts as the beasts without this knowledge of “me-ness,” and the feeling seemed pretty universal – no, we’re not. We’re still just beasts trying to protect what’s ours. Or what’s perceived as ours.
Of course there are many altruistic people in the world, too—people who wouldn’t dream of picking up a gun. Trayvon Martin might have been one of those. Those could be the people who are truly evolving away from this ‘beast’ mentality. I like to think I’m one of them. But am I? Or am I just fooling myself into believing that I’m safer without a gun? Am I just a declawed cat that’s gone crazy?
I have to admit, if there’s a societal showdown between people who want their guns and those who don’t, we without are at more risk. But I’d rather die than live in their world anyway. Because there’s no place in my world where killing live breathing life—for meat, for protection, for war—is fun.
|Posted by bebowreinhard on June 2, 2014 at 5:00 PM||comments (0)|
Why shouldn’t we have to apply to own something that can potentially take an innocent life? So what every state needs to have mandatory is a Division of Gun Ownership (DGO), like a DMV for guns.
I’m not talking about taking anyone’s guns away – unless they’re illegal. I am talking about making guns that are rapid fire illegal, and then yes, everyone who owns one would be required to turn it in for some kind of monetary “reward.”
Gun ownership needs to be taken as seriously—no, more seriously—than driving a car. That means you need to get a license to own one, as I guess people do, but also it needs to be renewed every year, like a car. That way you wouldn’t be able to just give/sell your gun to someone else, but you’d have to file the proper transfer paperwork, or you would be expected to either renew the license for someone else, or be fined for not reporting the transfer.
While we're discussion gun control, some rigid standards need to be devised that make sense. I don’t agree that people should be allowed to walk around carrying their guns out in the open. People should not be allowed to do that for the simple reason that the criminals then know who the armed people are, who to take down first, and where to attack. If only concealed carry were allowed, then criminals might think twice, not knowing who might be carrying a gun and ready to shoot back. The only thing that makes sense is concealed carry, because the outlaws would be concealed carry. Then, too, the average citizen doesn’t have to be made nervous or frightened seeing people walk around with these big guns.
Honestly, do you know what those open carry people are doing? Do you know personally that each and every one of them carrying that big gun is a good person? Any criminal can walk around carrying the gun that way and no one would suspect anything until the moment he opens fire. Open carry does more harm than good and needs to be stopped, everywhere.
Make the big automatic rapid-fire weapons illegal to own. Then anyone caught walking around with one is subject to arrest with the charge of domestic terrorism—which, when you think about it, is pretty much what they’re doing, just by walking around displaying them like a metal phallus.
That doesn’t mean concealed carry is a great or perfect system. Every public building should then install metal detectors—don’t worry, they’ll get pretty cheap—and anyone who enters a building with a gun needs to show his carry license, before going about his business. It can be a kind of silent alarm that the metal detector sets off, so that if there is a shooter in the building, they won’t hear it go off and move on to another public building to shoot up.
Gun owners also need to be aware that they will very likely not ever get the drop on anyone intent on doing harm. Why? Because good guys don’t go to public places on any particular day expecting trouble. The outlaw does. The outlaw is ready to shoot. You, Mr. Joe Average Citizen with a gun, is not. So who’s going to outdraw who? You might be able to take him out after he’s killed a few, but not before.
Finally, before I get to the resume part of what I propose as new regulations, think twice about needing a gun. I never have and never will. Instead, I prefer to live my life in a way that I’m not seen as a threat to others, and I hope you do, too.
Anyway, here’s my step-by-step plan for someone who wants to get a gun.
1. They need to be employed. There's already supposedly a background check that needs to be done on someone before they can get a gun, right? Make sure they have and can hold a job. The people who don’t or haven’t are more likely to turn suicidal, hold a grudge or become vindictive. If they're retired, then they should have had a good past history of employment, or they could be pretty broke, and desperate to become an outlaw.
2. They need character references. Now just to be sure we understand this, these character references will need to be contacted by the DGO, each of them, to make sure they are legitimate. They will need to testify to this person’s personal character, first on paper, and then on the phone—and if necessary, in person. The potential gun owner might be divorced, but he should be a willing partner to the divorce, and pay child support. And if there are any red flags in any of these five references, then get more references. Some of the questions these references must answer are related to the person’s mental stability, answers need to be consistent, and not sound coached.
3. I think it’s necessary that the person be over 21 (or whatever the legal draft age is), but also if the person is aging, it could be important that they not have Alzheimer’s and their eyesight isn’t going. I know that the aging population is at higher risk, but we don’t want them to be a risk to others.
4. They need a clean record. Squeaky clean. Never arrested for drunkenness, never hit a cop, they don’t speed (indicates stress), absolutely nothing in their past record. As with resumes for jobs, they have to give the past names they've used, past addresses, past jobs, social security number, driver’s license number, whatever it takes to verify a clean record. This is a must.
5. The renewing of the license, too, is not a DMV-speedy event. It’s a week-long process, where the record is obtained for the past year to make sure their record stayed clean. If they have even one accusation of George-Zimmerman-itis, if they're caught stalking anyone, the gun is taken away, forever.
6. Before they’re allowed to take the gun home, they need classes. Lots and lots of training. They need to know how to put the safety on, and where to keep the weapon so that the kids don’t get it but they can get at it in the event of burglary. And if they do take it in public, they need to be shown how best to keep outlaws from stealing it from them. Best is to just keep it hidden. Don't wave it around just for fun. People need to be taught this stuff. Use of a gun doesn't come naturally to humans, or so many people wouldn't be shooting themselves or their loved ones.
7. Finally, they need this last bit of advice. “You will likely never, ever shoot it in defense. Get used to that idea.”