A Book Is Not A Gun

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” — H. P. Lovecraft

A book is not a gun. The event that triggered this statement is still unfolding. Since Tuesday of this past week, the fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott by Charlotte, North Carolina police is still being investigated and cell phone videos recorded by Scott’s wife, Rayeiya, plus dash cam and officer body camera videos do not definitely prove that Scott was wielding a gun. His wife claimed that he wasn’t carrying a gun, but instead a book that he was reading while he waited for his son to be dropped off by the school bus. Police reported a book was not found on the scene, or in his car, and further allege that Scott did not follow commands to drop his gun. A book is not a gun.

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Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

“I watch the ripples change their size
but never leave the stream
of warm impermanence
so the days float through my eyes” — David Bowie, Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

The summer is beginning to wind down and autumn is right around the corner. I often muse about the changing seasons this time of the year and reflect on my life, time-hopping from the past to the future, then back to today. Though it’s common to look back at the preceding year on New Year’s Eve or look ahead to the coming year the next day, I usually follow the school year calendar and my annual staycation. Some habits are hard to break. Continue reading

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Ode to Blue-Collar Working Class Heroes

“There’s room at the top they are telling you still
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill
If you want to be like the folks on the hill”
 —John Lennon, Working Class Hero

In July both the Republican and Democratic Presidential Conventions concluded. Each party, their supporters, speakers, and candidates have driven stakes, describing in detail— some more than others — their position on the issues, their plans for the future, and identified who their party represents, or not. The Republicans embraced fear, law and order, and promised to “Make America Great Again.” The Democrats expressed optimism for the future and reaffirmed that America is already great, in fact, in the words of Michelle Obama, “This right now is the greatest country on earth.” And as a people, we are “Stronger Together.”  Continue reading

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Home/Homelessness

“By adapting and adjusting to randomness, you shape but do not control your endpoint.” ― Bob Deutsch

“Without the sleeping bag I’m just somebody up early in the morning, sitting under a tree. With the sleeping bag I’m nobody up early, sitting under a tree: a slight, but important difference in how I’ll be perceived.”  Craig Stone

I started writing this essay on July 4th, Independence Day, which began as a quiet morning that ended in fireworks. It wasn’t a random occurrence, but planned. What happened in between was a combination of the two, the interplay of intention and randomness. Lately, with all the random and planned violence, inequality and poverty in the world, it’s an unsettling and dangerous time, difficult to know how to prevent tragedy, how to be safe, and how to engage in the discourse and solutions. Continue reading

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A Grateful Daughter: A Father’s Day Tribute

“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.” — Jim Valvano

As my friends, family, work colleagues, and regular readers are already aware, I recently finished moving. I now have only one set of keys, and my material life resides in a single location for the exception of a dozen totes that a friend generously volunteered to store in her basement.  Moving seemed like a never-ending process and I’m grateful it’s over and I can stop writing and talking about it (I will, I promise).  I can now direct my energy to other things, which brings me to Father’s Day and the tragedy in Orlando at Pulse LGBTQ nightclub. You might ask, “How are these two subjects related?” Continue reading

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Another Moving Story II

“Home again; another journey ends. I’m home again and grateful. I sat at my desk, looked out my window on the world — or at least my neighborhood — and journaled. I immediately felt comforted by a familiar ritual as I reflected on the days that led to my arrival here.”

“Today I’ll unpack, find my bearings and my belongings. Everything will find its place again and everything will be okay. I’m home again.”  — Excerpts from Moving Story III, June, 2013 Continue reading

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Another Moving Story

“It’s just as hard to go back to a place you once left, as it is to leave it again.” ― Charlotte Eriksson

Now that I’ve created expectations I offer this disclaimer. This is not a moving story ― as in moved to tears or moved to laughter.  I’m simply mixing metaphors ― that’s what I do. On the contrary, this story is about packing boxes and totes to schlep across town to my new home, after sorting through the ephemera of my life, then shredding, saving, or throwing away the paper trail. Yet, as I’ve recently learned during this experience, both tears and laughter took me by surprise and took me places from the past. Like an archaeologist exploring a lost civilization, I discovered orphaned relics and forgotten memories. Continue reading

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Without Her: A Mother’s Day Lament

“The death of a mother is the first sorrow wept without her.” — Author unknown

On this Mother’s Day I want to express my gratitude. I’m lucky. My eyes first met my mother’s over 66 years ago on the day I was born. She was the first person I ever experienced in life, whose flesh touched mine, her smell familiar, whose breasts nourished me, and whose arms held me close to her heart. I’m sure I was comforted by the sound of her soft voice and steady heartbeat that I heard while still in her womb. Every year on my birthday I felt intimately close to her. We often shared tears, tears of gratitude and joy. This year was the last one we’ll ever share together. Mom died 10 days after my birthday. This is my first Mother’s Day without her. Continue reading

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A Filmgoer’s Takeaway: 2016 WI Film Festival

“No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough.” Roger Ebert

Time can play tricks on a moviegoer when sitting in a darkened theater.  A good story ends too soon, while sometimes it’s challenging to remain in your seat until the closing credits.  It already seems like the 2016 Wisconsin Film Festival was a long time ago. Daily life has a way of altering time. Years pass and some memories seem like they happened yesterday. Days go by and recent experiences often feel like they existed in the distant past. Hopefully this dispatch from the 18th Wisconsin Film Festival will help preserve the experience for me and other cinephiles of sitting in darkened movie theaters with filmgoing friends in Madison, Wisconsin from April 14 -21. Continue reading

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Pajama Day: Or How I Failed at Hobnobbing

Pajama Day:  A day, usually on a weekend or during a day off, when you have nothing to do and sit around lazily in your pajamas, not leaving the house. Often involves eating cereal for every meal and excessive television/video games.

Hobnobbing:   Mix socially, especially with those of higher social status. To hobnob means to chat and share a laugh and a drink in the presence of other people at a function or party.”

First, a little background: Things that make you say “Hmmm!” It’s April in Wisconsin and on the eve of the Presidential Primary election statewide servers were down for several hours Friday — April Fool’s Day — disrupting the last day of in-person absentee voting. Next, it’s officially spring, yet yesterday’s weather was bipolar, alternating between blizzardy snow with blustery winds and blue skies with powder puff clouds. Continue reading

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