Quiet Mornings

A slow waking backyard, a city street abandoned before dawn of all its revelers, laborers, and commuters — the emptiness is motivational, inspiring, refreshing as baptismal waters. I covet the hope of such stillness returning to me daily.

True creativity was a mystery to me until the opportunity arose to sit in utter silence. A Saturday moments after sunrise, surrounded by lush new greenery I’d come to tame but something deep in my writer’s soul stirred. So, I abandoned yard tools for a pen and paper and lay down in the overgrown grass until the quiet gave me words.

That day when early errands pressured me into the car while sleep still lay warm on my back. Returning home, a traffic light caught me without companion or neighboring errand runner, or passersby. I had the wherewithal to capture the moment, the gloomy clouds gliding over without a sound. A breeze never stirred. I turned off the car and found a scrap of paper to write: Remember this.

Remember this in the drum beat of rush hour traffic. In the midst of clutching pain while the ambulance screams. In the shadows of a bad dream where too many voices clamor and the walls can’t stop creaking. Remember the sensation of quiet sinking into the skin, slowing the heartbeat, stopping the questions.

Remember the quiet mornings. More will come.



Fear & Loathing, Twitter, Self-Inflation, and the Demise of the Two-Party System

Narcissism cannot be sustained. Eventually the self-inflation mechanisms of the narcissist will fail. It is reasonable to conclude Trump’s decades of televised antics are proof of Narcissistic Personality Disorder—he certainly seems to go out of his way to exude the symptoms of a classic case—but in truth, such narcissism cannot be sustained.

What if this behavior is a guise? What if it’s more devious … and brilliant … than any average horrified American onlooker could imagine? What if the intent is not to bring the GOP to total power and destroy the party of liberal democrats as so many of our talking heads fear, what if it’s something else? What if the two-party system has lost its usefulness?

For the better part of the 20th century, the two-party system dominated while a couple other “independent” groups flailed into notice every now and then. Prior to WWI, the Democratic Party was associated with white “Christian” Confederate sympathizers, and the Republicans with socially-progressive reform. We sometimes hear the talking heads on political news shows speak of the tide turning with the turn of the century. Debatable as that topic is, I’ll hold off for now.

As the decades passed here in the U.S., one obvious trend emerged that is not debatable—presidential campaigns got more and more expensive. Regardless of the expense, a member of each major party was always standing for the election. Democrat vs. Republican. Every four years. That’s a lot of millions.

I’ve often wondered where that kind of money comes from. Sure, the average American tosses in a few bucks with their tax returns. The occasional upper-middle-class Joe might go to a fancy dinner thrown by a governor, rent a tux, get his picture taken, and it only costs him a few grand. All in all, average voting Americans contribute a respectable amount. But the real money, well, that comes from an entirely different set of folks. The kind of people that have their own private security staffs, their own airplanes. People that cannot fathom the reality most of us deal with—whether to go into debt for a new car, or deplete the savings account to keep the clunker going for another couple of years. The choice between paying off medical bills and decade-old student loans, or moving to a part of town where the kids don’t have to walk through metal detectors to get to class don’t come up.

The types of people who contribute substantial dollars to presidential campaigns don’t diddle over such things. They dial up their investment managers on encrypted phones while their private jet floats toward a night in Paris with global oil and gas buddies. These are not people who trouble themselves with religion unless it suits their momentary goals. These are not people who stay awake at night with concerns of racism, ageism, patriotism, liberalism, republicanism, socialism, communism, health care for the poor, bad cops, safe and legal immigration, or the tragic circumstances of our returned veterans. Make no mistake, though, these are the people behind all the decisions about all the things we worry about every single day.

What club does Trump belong to? The Clintons? The Obamas? Daddy and son Bush, etc., etc.? Whatever national good any politician has done since the turn of the century has not been out of the goodness of their heart for the benefit of “the people”. Any good change has piggybacked on an agenda financed by the deep pockets funding lobbyists who stalk and schmooze politicians in every corner of every capital of the U.S. Look at what it’s gotten them—we, the people, are down here in the real world fueled and fired up on all sorts of propaganda tearing each other apart. We’re taking a stand, drawing a line: Democrats vs. Republicans, good vs. evil, black vs. white. Or, we’re just trying to get through the week without the lights being cut off before we can pay the bill. The point is, we’re not looking at what’s really going on.

Will we be looking when the liberals and conservatives that aren’t in on the joke burn each other to the ground? When the divide between parties becomes wide enough for another to walk right through? And when that other party emerges amidst all the vitriol and disgust and spreading poverty, chews through the fat calves of Congress while we’re staggering under valid threats of world war and starvation, will they look like honest to goodness saviors tossing crumbs from their towers built on the vast inaccessible acreage of formerly protected federal lands? As they end public trade, as they take control of communication and global banks, will we be grateful enough to serve them?

Maybe that’s all a few decades in the future. Maybe it’s not.

Our two-party system hasn’t made impactful change in decades. Our independent and libertarian parties couldn’t scratch together enough money to buy a majority percentage in a pro sports team, so we can forget them affording a go at a long-term bid for presidency. It’s been so long since, as a nation, we’ve encountered a real civil servant, a genuine candidate for the people, we wouldn’t recognize one if he or she walked right up and bit us on the ass.  (Of course, a good civil servant wouldn’t do such a thing. I guess.)

Is it far out to suspect our current clown in chief of such a conspiracy? A true narcissist needs to please someone in order to keep them feeding his narcissism. Who would Trump seek to please? The poor? Bah. The middle class? No. The Caucasian hate mongers that call themselves Christians behind their multi-million-dollar pulpits? Not even them. What would a billionaire trade the shreds of his dignity for? Trillions? What is he doing when he’s not tweeting? Signing documents that we didn’t even know existed.

I’d wager that the Elites know every change accessible by Executive Order, even if we don’t. Heck, most of us don’t even know the ins and outs of the federal constitution, our individual state’s constitution. Who’s your State Representative? What laws have your state passed in the last decade that directly impact your job, health care, income tax, mortgage or rent? Why is your local law enforcement agency and public defense system bankrupt?

I don’t know a lot of the answers to these questions either, but I’m starting to pay closer attention.

(To be continued …)










Wrigleyville, 2016

Unfortunately, I cannot claim that my first experience at Wrigley Field was amazing. The chills that riddled my body were not caused by the famed ghosts of sports history, or child-like wonder. I was freezing to death. People laugh when I recount that night. It’s not at all funny.

The weather forecast for the evening seemed pleasant, but since my husband and I are accustomed to a southern climate, we bundled up just in case. At suns

et, as we were walking to our seats in the upper deck when I realized my mistake in thinking fifty-five degrees with an east wind would be tolerable. Half an hour later, I realized that my brain possesses a deafening alarm in the event of a near death experience—it’s a terrible foghorn of a voice that repeats over and over, You’re Going To Die. You’re Going To Die.

Turns out, fifty-five degrees with a ten mile per hour east wind in Chicago is identical to twelve degrees with a twenty mile per hour north wind in Memphis. I was wearing pantyhose, yoga pants, jeans, a t-shirt, sweater, fleece coat, knit gloves, a scarf, socks and sneakers, and I was dying of exposure.

My husband felt sorry for me once he noticed my teeth were chattering and I’d turned a sick shade of blue, so he spent fifty bucks on a team logo blanket and wrapped it around my torso. The wind cut right through. When I was finally able to form words, they came out in a voice reminiscent of that demon in the original Exorcist—Feed Me Now I’m Starving. My dear husband brought back a fully dressed, freshly cooked hot dog and bottle of water. Somehow the dog was cold and the water warm.

I complained. Tim gifted me with his own knit cap and wandered off to explore the one place he had always longed to visit. This was our twenty-fifth anniversary trip and I sat there resigned to the fact he’d left me to die alone.

For all of one inning I tried to be a trooper, tried to cheer myself up. Maybe Tim would return with coffee and an arctic tent. But he didn’t, so I burrowed into the blanket. Maybe he’d at least notify my family and haul my body back to Tennessee for a dignified funeral. Huddling there, wondering if shivering would keep my blood flowing adequately, I blacked out for a while. It was only the clamor of Take Me Out To The Ballgame that inspired me to poke my head out of the blanket—thank God! The seventh-inning stretch! It’s almost over!

Tim returned just as half the stands were clearing out and asked if I wanted to leave. If my lips weren’t frozen shut, I would have kissed him. Turns out, the horror was not yet over.

We had arrived with a crowd of thousands that poured off the train platform onto Addison. I had marveled over the sight, the sunshine, the sounds of pure joy from children of all ages, souvenir and snack sellers, and oh my, the scents of food wafting out of all the surrounding pubs and restaurants were heavenly! (We had last eaten in Missouri, seven hours before boarding the train.)

There were no glorious sights on our return to the train, only a crushing hoard of large, blue-clad bodies. My chest tightened just watching from the sidewalk. Knowing I must look like a panic-stricken doe, I peered up at Tim and said, I can’t possibly go in there. He was exasperated with me, but I had just survived a near-fatal ballgame so I refused to die of a panic attack on a dirty train station floor.

We walked past the station, and hallelujah! A row of cabs sat idling along the curb one block down! There would be heat in a cab! I walked out onto the street, threw my arm up like all the New Yorkers I’d seen in TV shows and shouted YO! The cab driver was my Moses that night. I will forever revere him.

It wasn’t until our third visit (yes, I was a bit stunned to hear myself agreeing to return) that I finally got to experience the true magnificence of Wrigley. Our first day game on the bleachers the sun was bright and a breeze was at our backs. Everything was beautiful! We stayed the entire game, soaked up the love and exuberance of the crowd, and basked in glow of the first Cubs team every fan agreed just might make it!

With only a few exceptions, the cubbies were young. But all of them, even the thirty-something catcher they all referred to as Grandpa, played with the energy and blissful grins of little leaguers. Up in the bleachers, while I was falling in love with the game all over again, I fell in love with the locals. They sang and shouted and cussed and drank with a proficient abandon I found impressive.

Walking out of the park onto the sidewalk leading to Addison, complete strangers high-fived us. We all congratulated each other as the sound of Go Cubs Go still poured out of Murphy’s open doors. I don’t think the sky had ever been prettier, the air sweeter. We flowed with the crowd toward the train, and I was brave, confident. I was in my hometown away from home, and love inspired hope for more adventure.

Proof Of Life: Writing About Writing

Brigit's Flame Writing Community

“To defend what you’ve written is a sign that you are alive.” ~ William Zinsser

Today, I invite all hard laboring writers to defend something you’ve written. No matter if it’s old or new, no matter if it has been published or hides out in the bottom drawer of your desk. Tell us about it. Tell us why you wrote it. Inspire us with your dedication to this character, this plot, this form, that demanded you be the one to bring it into the world.


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