The Exceptional Stranger.

The gurney is hard, the fluorescence above it humming. Nubbing legs dangle over the side of the frame, an IV port pinching the tender skin on top of my hand every time I forget not to move it. A single, nearly square corkboard on the wall beside holds a smattering of 9×12 memos, one of them hot pink. I stare at that one, mesmerized. How many among this newest crop of strangers will have seen their memo, that day, and would they be ready for the moment of my death?

The half hour preceding, high drama. Arrival, gasping with terror, the creeping itch encircling my face and crawling between my bosom, around, under my arms and across my back, and then the rear of the tongue rising to meet the pharynx, daring to close entirely, heart racing, skin clamming, the lights, lights so icy bright, the smell, always the smell of sterility.

These are the minutes over which nobody has any control. The roughly twenty odd ones after the puncture of Epinephrin and IV push of Benadryl, during which our father, Time, the only sure indicator of ongoing life vs. cardiovascular collapse. And, after four of these in one year, again left alone by strangers in the ER bay to ponder the outcome, mind attached to body gradually succumbs to the antidote of semi-coma.

Strangers. At the moment of theoretical death.

This is the realm of the anaphylactic.

Unlike those stricken with terminal illness or even massive stroke, the anaphylactic cannot feature the luxury of familiar faces, phone calls, cards and letters, even bedside caregivers who’ll call us by our name. If we’re lucky as well as fastidious, we’ll carry with us the proper packet of antihistamine or the Epi-pen, provided we are also completely able and willing to inspect every ingredient contained in every appetizer, entree, salad, and dessert offered by anyone beyond the scope of our own, protected kitchens.

Were we to be anybody outside of our actual selves, we might observe the scene at the neighboring table on a Friday evening – server, hunched over the menu, squeezing a pencil, forehead pinching, corners of the mouth twitching neurolinguistically to mask cursing annoyance, fixated guest rattling on about oils and additives next to a bewildered date mentally reviling why he’d been so determined to know this woman.

We’d not have been able to enjoy our own meal, what with the server hastening off to the chef’s lair to consult, report back, consult again, report back, smile assuredly, take the order, bring the order, take it back, the date leaning in toward the anxious female, arms folded across the table’s edge, eyes sucking into his head behind a smile stretched to its breaking point.

We might have left the restaurant with a social checklist ticking across our own foreheads. We’d have recognized the woman from having seen her on the various pages, she with her dubious references to multiple former lives. We’d have concluded many things. Clearly a narcissist, judging by the texture of her dark hair and the angle of her nose the spoiled daughter of he who sold back room numbers, she would just have to be spending everyone else’s time in public grasping for singular attention. Yes; siphoning the entire room of its last particle of energy, in her own mind she would be exceptional.

Exceptionality. The curse of the oblivious.

Cosmopolitan life renders a certain mass anonymity. When merely dozens are displaced by hundreds of thousands, that which is distinguishing fades from immediate view. Blending is both habit and practice; that which doesn’t easily finds enough of its own kind to forge new criteria for acceptability. By contrast, in small towns anything or anyone who is unavoidably different can become quickly pigeonholed, marked, recognized, and not in a good way. Traits borne by these are subconsciously dismissed as, ultimately, forms of weakness. Exceptionality becomes a force which both pulls and pushes, and that against itself.

The coronavirus has at once rendered every civilized center, regardless of size, homologous. All are flanked according to appropriate distance, masks obviating familiarity, no one a stand out by either class or station.

All, that is, except we anaphylactics. Our fears are inextricably distinguishing. Virus, or vaccine; we face the threat, of death, whether we do or we don’t. Statistically a tiny minority, exceptionality neither our excuse nor our defense, we remain the stranger.

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© 2/26/21 Ruth Ann Scanzillo All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. No copying, in whole or part, including translation without written permission from the author. Sharing permitted by blog link, exclusively. Thank you for your respect.

littlebarefeetblog.com

The Rule of Disparity.

I just spent about four minutes scanning a Yale professor’s piece on the nature of genius. Nothing really grabbed me until he touched on gender bias. Women seemed less interested in competing for intellectual superiority. (As if such were even possible, in a woman’s world or any.) When I reached the professor’s self-devised formula for defining genius, I stopped reading.

Apparently, in his equation and in order to qualify, one’s life had to have the fated S. You know, G = S + whatever. S stood for Significance; one life contribution had to reach a wide swath of other people, such that its influence either affected social change or altered the course of history.

Don’t worry. I’m not about to make any claims of cerebral superiority; my elder brother wears that mantle. Plus, all the sugar consumed since retiring from public education has likely dissolved much of whatever there was of pre-frontal cortextuality.

What struck me was the term. “Significance.” That’s really what I’d been seeking. Not Recognition, or even Affirmation. Just the feeling associated with having done something to make being on the planet worthy of breath.

Just under four years ago about to the day, I’d embarked on loving somebody. What made the decision so jarring was just having come off perhaps the peak of my performance career, a collaborative piano recital garnering the, okay, affirmation of those I’d clamored after for decades – full professors of music, whom I’d called colleagues in the privacy of my mind. Had I stayed on that new plateau, really traveled across its terrain, I might not be sitting here in the silence of my house typing this story at all.

No. Instead, I arose the morning after that concert and met up with the man. We walked his dogs. We talked. He would have kissed me, as we parted. He came back, instead. And, we were off.

Off, that is, to pursue and indulge and submerge and strive and cleave and hew and cry, then wonder and fret, antagonize, apologize (me), modulate, recapitulate. The song was way too long. The theme was nothing new, and the composition simply would not hold itself together.

Yet, the whole time, I told myself I was loving somebody.

Somebody, other than myself. Not the artist, the creative, the somehow talented younger sister of the celebrated family genius. Some one other person, alone in the world, fraught by a history only a handful could claim, really difficult to crack open, the ultimate challenge of other-directedness. This project would elevate my life beyond petty competition for rank or station. This would transcend securing a position as staff pianist for a university music department. Choosing to love more than mere aspiration would be a spiritual quest, requiring every facet of human awareness and commitment.

Growing up in the shadow of genius makes a person acutely aware of all the disparities. Not in social opportunity; I’m talking about what’s between people, that which separates them, the stuff that makes people different rather than the same.

I learned early that what I did easily, what drew me, occupied me alone. Nothing I really wanted to do involved anybody else. And, as I grew, my value became about what I could do which distinguished me. By adolescence, my body told me that this would never be enough. I looked outside of myself, and discovered a need to feel more than merely the object of curious attention.

We siblings were all taught the same things, but how we made them relevant in our lives was as different as we were from one another. The genius went out, and made the world come to him. I stayed home, and waited for what was born in my imagination to appear. When it only manifested inside my head I relinquished to what I’d been told: if I wanted love, I must first give it.

My attempts to do so were always wholehearted; the results were repeatedly bewildering and, ultimately, heart aching. I poured myself back into my art.

Choosing to try, one more time, coming just as I had finally hit my expressive stride will have to be explained by the one looking on. Veering off a path so clear, the mind specialists might offer, is about a certain fear. Perhaps I had acquiesced to the rule of disparity. Perhaps I could not accept that fortune and artistic satisfaction were my future, and chose instead to give myself away.

Somewhere, the tune changed. Then, the music ended. Everything cliche’d about intention and mutuality played in a loop, on an old cassette recorder in the corner of solitude. Whatever I thought I’d been doing just stopped.

The object of my love wanted no part of my intention. He repeatedly extracted himself until only figments remained in final retreat. Absolute absence left no ripple.

Pianos don’t move; they just wait. I’d been playing, all along, kind of on low grade maintenance as a service; but, slowly, each new piece began to bespeak a strange promise. Today, I played like my life depended on it. And, that piano loved me back, with its own, unconditional song.

Perhaps what we do and why we do it isn’t for us to say. Maybe we really are just a flicker in the flow of life, as insignificant as we can be. Even the genius has a moment or two of wonder mixed into all that grand earth shaking. Ask the child with special needs; even brilliance has its season.

I suppose the Yale professor, and all those whose time is spent observing those on the floor above might have something to say about all this. But, while he and his ilk are figuring out everybody else, you’ll know where you can find me. I’ll just be starting up where I stopped, perhaps differently than anything deemed significant, but loving in the only way I ever knew how.

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© 1/29/2021 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. Please don’t parse out this piece, or translate and then publish it. I wrote it, and it represents what was born in my head. You have something in yours. Go, find it. Thank you.

littlebarefeetblog.com

The Revelation.

[ newly edited ]

In an age when diversity is celebrated, and all implicit or similarity bias is being expunged, individual identity faces a mandate: who am I, and where do I belong?

Even as we pursue that definition, we should be ready to accept that each living human has a story which is distinct, not requiring any classification. As a new friend reminds, can we not just be the best “me” we can be? Can we dispense with seeking alliances?

Alliance assumes a need for protection; feeling a need for protection acknowledges the presence of threat. But, wherein does threat present, if every story is recognized and accepted as unique?

If the focus shifts to a recognition of individual value, whence would any group need to band together? Would the BLM movement no longer be required to raise awareness? Would other movements, for other marginalized groups, cease their relevance as well? Banding together, while the need to do so seems immediate, is a far cry from bonding. Motivated by a need to protect one’s own, banding can provoke animosity and enmity, yielding more hostility and strife; by contrast, healthy bonding fosters nourishment, sustaining life. Could we not bond with one another, irrespective of classification by race or ethnicity?

There is an expressed fear, for example, among some members of the Jewish American community – a fear that anti-Semitism will be revealed among those they call friends. Why? Because of a need to feel intact, safe from suppression? Such fear is not unique to the Jewish population; sectarian Christians, for example, experience similar reactions in countries where religious intolerance prevails. Such fear pervades all ethnic groups, races, and religious subgroups when they differ in representation from those in close proximity or when those from outside of their group express bias or prejudice.

Being confronted recently by accusations of anti-Semitism, I was brought into discussion intended to enlighten and educate me. The outcome of the exchange led me to question many things.

To what extent do we derive inherent personal value from our heritage? Should we?

My paternal history is Italian. While I can claim some genetic connection with its rich artistic contribution to world culture, I am also forced to acknowledge the thieving Roman conquerors and even Napoleon, whose progeny in Southern Italy is undeniable. On the maternal side, William the Conqueror emerges in the family line; who was he but yet another marauding narcissist, overtaking all of central England, erecting castles in his wake and siring those who would colonize Africa and India, enslaving millions.

Taken in totality, my “heritage” leaves little to celebrate.

So, whence “identity”?

Accentuating the positive, as the old song intones, I find that elements worthy of distinguishing us can be found in culture. What of the food, the clothing and other textiles, the furnishings and various decor, from every people and part of the planet? What of the art forms – the song, dance, sculpture, design, architecture, and drama? How many different ways can we, as individuals, embody that which binds us historically?

As individuals, we can represent these cultural aspects of our heritage without desiring or seeking any recognition for their relative value. No aesthetic feature is superior to another; neither should any group be.

Every child needs to feel valued; every adult deserves to feel valuable. Each of us is a part of the grand history of humanity. Can we move away from fear and threat, and toward universal acceptance of every feature we contribute to the picture of earth’s people?

This realization was a revelation to me – a revelation of which we can all now be a part. Maybe its insights will lead us toward Renaissance, rather than revolution – and, that, one identity at a time.

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© 1/21/2021 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. Sharing permitted via blog link, exclusively. Thank you for respecting original written material.

littlebarefeetblog.com

Author’s Influences.

© 1/20/2021 Ruth Ann Scanzillo

littlebarefeetblog.com

How the Good Souls Are Taken.

After not one, but two, articles appeared in major newspapers covering so-called “White Christian Nationalists” devotion to the Trump regime, I figured that piece I’d been toying with writing had better hit the page. God’s inspiration should never be ignored, after all. Oh; and, believe me: I mean that, sincerely.

For all practical purposes, I am a voice of the “white Evangelical Christian.” My family was established into the fellowship of the Fundamentalist sect of the Plymouth Brethren by our grandfather, a street preacher who’d migrated from eastern PA to get a job building cranes and raise his children. A couple elders of “the meeting” on East Avenue in Erie met him, at the local jail, and invited him to join their assembly. Soon Henry, his wife Mae, and their four daughters Dora Mae, Betty, Frances, and Martha, would be born and raised among them, attending Sunday School, Morning Worship and Gospel Meeting – all on Lord’s Day – plus, Prayer Meeting and Bible Study on Tuesday and Friday.

Aunt Frances, the most liberal thinker among his offspring, would go radical and marry a Baptist minister. The rest raised all of us on the self-same attendance regimen and its accompanying rules for dress and decorum; head coverings for the women, seated silence for all females in the presence of their men.

Pappy, as we grandkids would come to call him, was a closet Republican who came to accept that, like the rest of the Brethren, his citizenship was in Heaven and that God would put into office whom He will – with no need for his actual vote. My parents, and our entire extended family (with the exception of the Baptists) modeled after their patriarch, listening intently to the election results on the radio but refusing to participate in the democratic process.

I accepted Jesus into my heart at age six, but registered to vote at age thirty one, in 1988, the year our grandmother’s soul left her body for the seventh Heaven. The competition for the office of President was Bush/Dukakis and I, torn between Dukakis’ education plan and Bush’s GOP platform of fiscal conservatism and social traditionalism sat, biting my nails until the polls closed – never placing my vote.

The next time being a Christian became relevant in my political world was the year 2000. For some reason, though I’d long since left the constraints of the PBs and church culture in general, I’d found myself in the convocation of our local mega-congregation, curiously named at the time “First Assembly”. Movie screens were mounted to the left and right of the sanctuary, primarily intended to present praise lyrics but, on this occasion, the projectionist was preparing a form of worship from which there would be no escape.

I don’t remember what was said from the lectern, by way of introduction. I just remember the ceiling lights dimming and strains of the Battle Hymn of the Republic wafting from speakers mounted throughout the large, wide church as an authoritative baritone underscored in narrative what we were about to experience.

This was no missionary appeal, with its opening report about life in the Caribbean or African interior. This was a film about George W Bush, designed specifically for the church congregations of all America. There were images of uniformed military, and family photos of the Bush dynasty, splayed out across a metamessage of persuasion as moving as an altar call at the City Mission. I was aghast, astonished; what was politics doing amongst the faithful? Furthermore how, two thousand years after the birth of Christ, did a piece of campaign propaganda ever find its way into the First Assembly of God?

Now, twenty one years hence, I think I know.

Now, I recall my immediate family’s open defense of the President soon to be history. I trace back further, through conversations with my beloved former student, a high ranking military officer of the US Army Air Force and born-again Christian, his ardent support of the George W. whom he actually met filling his eyes with light. Mostly, I call to mind prayer breakfasts for whose keynote speaker politicians were pinned, political rallies populated by entire church contingents, the voice of America’s morally upright finally being heard by a mainstream society clearly in precipitous decay.

Here’s the thing about “true” Christians, the ones who read the Bibles they own and who live for the Christ they call their Saviour. Once they’ve accepted the doctrines which dictate that the Truth is theirs for the delivering, they hear the mandating call to go out and preach that gospel to every tongue, people, and nation. These having spent generations separated from the World and all its fleshly lustings, some shrewd political strategist finally realized that one more call, tactically placed, couched in all the trappings of a real conviction to act, would render an entire demographic literally clamoring for a place in the palm of their hand.

Now, there would be no need for the subliminal strains of an electric organ cued by a pastor’s gentle request for bowed heads. Just a country song, sung by a Christian entertainer, and youth group car washes popped up in every church parking lot in the nation – complete with bumper stickers declaring the candidate of consensus. Just a message, insidious in its power, that the marginalized faithful were important, thrust into the spotlight of the Almighty God’s intention for His people and summoned to a service no true Christian could, in good conscience, refuse.

What nobody calculated was the incredible intractability of the true Christian. To say they are an emboldened fringe is a dangerous oversimplification; this is far beyond extremism. These are both Fundamentalist and Evangelical. This is an entire mentality of infinite scope, with eternal life its branded hallmark. Psychologists would say that theirs is not a dilemma. The path is clear; wavering is not part of their lexicon. They shall not be moved.

Somewhere between the promise of prosperity and sinless perfection, the message these march has the Kingdom of God all over it. Pandora’s box should have been left tightly closed, just like the fellowship of the Plymouth Brethren, exclusive unto itself. But, politics played its ever-greedy hand, and now we all pay the price for that unforgivable sin.

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© 1/18/2021 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Thank you for respecting authentic original stories.

littlebarefeetblog.com

The Power in Not Talking.

I live in a small town.

Oh, it used to be the third largest city in the Commonwealth, but its census has steadily declined. Yet, even at its most vigorously populated, yep; still a small town.

A small town is like a personality – with a problem.

Certain patterns emerge.

First, its people tend to huddle in tribes. This offers at least the belief that those within their chosen group will provide protection — protection from any threat to stability, protection of assets, protection of reputation. Every living thing is prey to predator but, in close proximity, said predator could be just down the street. Self-protection is the whole purpose of tribalism.

Those in positions of leadership over these tribes are especially prone, particularly when it comes to management. Power cannot hide. It can’t just choose to live twenty miles away from prying eyes. Its actions cannot be protected by the anonymity afforded by distance. Why? Even tribes are not governed by proximity; people choose with whom they align, regardless where they might actually reside, and these usually according to common interests. The shop. The extended family. The bowling league.

So, those in power are self-protective, to a fault.

Over time, the desire to maintain self-protective power becomes a primary motivator.

This is how marginalization occurs. Suppose a tribal member rises in rank to a seat in council. Preferential actions are a given. Certain tribes may be relegated according to similarity bias. This is the cloak of politics. Soon, preservation of the control which comes with power can come to supercede even the interests of the greater good.

So, how is such power preserved?

In silence.

Withholding vital information. What is not disclosed acts as a tool, perhaps a weapon; what is known can be used to control.

Enter the coronavirus pandemic.

What do those in power, especially in smaller, tribal communities, know that they keep to themselves? To what might they be privy, which can be used to protect their own? Moreover, how much does maintaining power depend on seizing and holding information, information which might cause a threat to their positional security? Perhaps expectations are overwhelming. Not revealing a lack of readiness is a form of insurance.

But, in the interests of the greater good, such non-disclosure carries the potential for fatal outcome. How many communities are currently flailing, its members acting on the latest byte of allegedly viable information passed down from within a tribe? Which leader is to be trusted to dispense accurate directives? Who instructs the doctors as to their potential patient needs?

I have a dear friend. Living alone in an apartment building, she has been fighting covid since early December. Initially, her doctor diagnosed bronchitis, and prescribed an antibiotic. After her covid test came back positive, did this doctor halt the antibiotic? To what extent was this doctor instructed? To what degree was my friend’s tribe fully informed? Were all local physicians updated from the outset, by those in power? Had those in power sought complete education on the subject, and dispensed their data freely to the entire population?

I wondered then, and I wonder now. I sit here, in the house I call my own, in the town of my birth, and wonder in silence about what I have been told and how much I truly know.

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© 1/12/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. No copying, in whole or part, including translation without direct sharing to the blog link. Thank you for respecting original written material.

littlebarefeetblog.com

The Stake of Argument.

In the wake of the violent assault which January 6, 2021 wrought in our United States, does anything beyond acute shock remain?

On the one hand, the divide we already knew as the “two Americas” is intensified. Those who are indirectly implicated by the acts of that day are largely stunned, if momentarily, huddled in regrouping retreat from their otherwise opposing friends on social media. Those who were represented politically by the “other” side are as vociferous as ever, some even emboldened.

But, what of their disparate arguments? Has anything about these changed?

I am a registered Independent. My Republican friends who have ventured into the arena of discussion seem unified in their intent to juxtapose the violent protests and looting of the past summer, largely represented – it is alleged – by the BLM and Antifa movements, against what has been termed the Capitol Insurrection.

But, can these be fairly compared?

What the two scenarios do share cannot be denied. Both drew throngs of people. Both were colored by passionate, emotionally driven behavior. Both resulted in the loss of life, and that at the hands of brutality.

But, what of the reasons? Can the behavior of mobbing humans ever be rationalized?

In both cases, we must give regard to motive. We must first reach some understanding of that which brought each about if we are ever to either define, defend or, ultimately, quell their destructive effects.

Initially, the spread of the coronavirus through communities largely poor or otherwise underprivileged impacted their cultural inclination to gather together. The killing of George Floyd by several law enforcement officers sparked a smoldering, long standing rage among those already prevented from taking to their own neighborhoods during this pandemic; in droves, the disenfranchised black and, further, Latino and LGBTQ communities rallied in defiance of this one, pivotal act of aggression against them which represented an endless number of such abuses. Backlash against being physically restrained took fuel from decades of societal suppression, yielding demonstrations in the streets of a scope rivaling those many of us witnessed during the Vietnam conflict.

Initially, those of either the same mind or who sympathized viewed these demonstrations as acceptable, even peaceful, several locales managing them without incident. But, when reports came down the pike that many had turned aggressive, destroying privately owned storefronts and damaging Federal buildings, those of opposing mind capitalized on the news and featured such footage repeatedly on choice broadcasts until the prevailing interpretation became one fraught with violence, looting and conflagration.

Rumors also entered the fray. The Black Lives Matter movement, dissenters argued, had its roots in aggressive social disruptors; further, subgroups like Antifa, deliberately radical but subversive, had taken cue to mobilize. Defenders of the protests blamed both for the unfolding violence. Those standing in accusation faulted certain politicians and the major news media.

As the Presidential election loomed, and in vivid contrast with the dark, fiery demonstrations, political rallies for Donald Trump increased in frequency and fervor. Those of the opposing party cited a noticeable absence of compliance with pandemic protocol, and worried about a massive surge in cases of the virus. Trumpers, in turn, looked at the demonstrators and called foul. The issue of masks vs no masks took to the mats; which side was more culpable in the coronavirus spread?

But, even as nothing would prove more persistent than Covid-19, the rift between those in favor of social equity and those loyal to Donald Trump widened. If subversion was the fuel, both Q Anon, a conspiracy-led fringe group, and the white supremacist Proud Boys were the armies flanking the President who, himself, would not publicly denounce them. What ensued would prove more pernicious than the now ubiquitous disease.

Many have appeared in print suggesting that the White House knew what was brewing in the pipeline. The demonstrating disenfranchised had made their point; the election results were proof enough. Oh, but wait; now, the validity of the entire vote was in question. Recounts were called, and completed; tabulations were made, round two. Results confirmed a new President had been elected. But, the division among the people had matured to grotesque proportions, leaving no American sure: had their votes meant anything, at all? Which President would be installed on January 20th, 2021? Up to and including the day Congress convened to certify, even the oldest among military veterans was experiencing PTSD in anticipation.

Nearly a week has passed, since the outcome of what began in the halls of the United States legislature and ended in terror. To compare anything which preceded the acts of that day to their ultimate effect on every person still capable of breath is to deny them utterly. Social unrest with historical precedent, however widespread, has its roots in legitimate protest; but, such action does not threaten the very foundation of the government of a civil society.

With the advent of the attack on our Capitol, we’ve moved far beyond the sake of argument. Winning the debate is futile. Our core beliefs about that which constitutes civilized behavior have been cut with shrapnel. Our confidence in the institution which governs our democratic process has been mortally wounded, first by poisonous propaganda and finally by a war waged between mere loyalty and that which is worthy of our trust.

If any common ground remains upon which to place our shaking feet, it is to be sought after with avowed focus and determined effort. Let us put aside grievance, accusation, grudge, and vilification, and put our precious energy into saving the nation into which we were born, bred, or brought. That which divides, conquers; we must be made whole, at last, while we can still call ourselves free.

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© 1/10/2021 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. No copying in whole or part, including translation, permitted. Sharing permitted via blog link, exclusively. Thank you for your respect of original written material.

littlebarefeetblog.com

The Last Call.

Two men had said “I love you” to her within five years of each other. They were both drunk.

Why she attracted only drunken love was beyond her.

Or, was it?

Drunks are smarter than the average bear, all the pundits claim. Deeper, too. Why they find themselves among the 15% who become enslaved to alcohol is also the fault of their brains; something about the amygdala and an obscure, but potent, enzyme. She thought enzymes were what made food dissolve in the stomach but, on this morning after New Year’s Eve, she was already short on sleep and in well over her head.

Her family heritage was a red flag all by itself. Paternal grandfather an alcoholic (and, womanizing wife beater); maternal grandfather a pious tee totaler, but not his father ( descendant of William the Conqueror ). The men drank; the women enabled them.

One brother had become enamored of wine and Frangelica in his senior years. The younger had admitted to a lunching phase with his construction crew decades earlier which had gotten “somewhat out of hand”. She, being the lone girl in an ultra-conservative family milieu, and duly branded by the fear of God, had vowed never to stock the stuff. But, perhaps her pheromones smelled not of musk but of barley hops; among all the men in the room, the one who walked crooked would find her, first and every time.

What of the laws of nature, specifically chemistry? Was there something in her DNA that had already charted the course of her hapless love life?

If identical twins raised apart could choose the same shampoo and winter coat, would the female descendants of alcoholics be pre-destined to couple with the addicted who sought them? And, why? Was it all merely nature in search of equilibrium?

One of the two love professors had been in her sphere for four, fractured years. By his cycling binges and tears, and the lies which drove them, she’d found herself exhausted. The other had been part of her professional world for most of its life. On a scale of compatibility, there was no contest; what really mattered was whether and what she needed on not only the first day of 2021 but the veritable rest of her granted life.

Intelligence was a requisite; clouded by poison and a predictable descent into infantilism, not so much. Charm had worn itself out, especially the inebriated variety; what good was a witty opening line at closing time? Health and vitality were increasing commodities; whence these?
“ Hey, baby; how’s your liver ? ”

She loved with immediacy, and exclusively, but committed with caution. If time hadn’t actually passed, it had nevertheless taken a cumulative toll. Being convinced, or not, of love required time; being actually nourished by love would take more than gaping need or empty promises, however familial.

Life was an open question. Love was supposed to be the answer. Perhaps time, like the lucidity which follows stupor, would illuminate.

Was she to be the woman left at last call?

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© 1/1/2021 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. No copying, in whole or part, including by translation, permitted; sharing encouraged via blog link, exclusively. Thank you for respecting original material. Cheers!

littlebarefeetblog.com

2020 : The Living End.

The sun streamed in, through the window. Her final three breaths formed pockets in her throat, as we held hands for the last time.

Those are the moments which color my memory of the end of my mother’s life.

Her death had so many merciful aspects. Wracked by arthritis for many years, her body’s terminal diagnosis came on the heels of an apparently painless encroaching brain malignancy, glioblastoma. Those five and a half weeks transpiring from biopsy result to hospice were a swift decompensation of all faculties, her smile being the last to go.

Normally an acute observer of human behavior I had inexplicably missed any telltale sign that she was gravely ill, as stunned as the rest of the family when the news came down. I’d been particularly certain that the successfully excised melanoma fifteen years prior meant we’d have our Mum well into the ninth decade, just like her mother before her.

In the years following her passing, many features of her departure would provide increasing comfort. The timing. The tempo. The absence of protracted agony. If she had to leave us then, at least she hadn’t lingered into the confines of old age or been forced to endure any awareness of her body’s decay. And, most of all, I was grateful to have been there, by her side, in her final weeks. There would be no match for presence, I’d realized, particularly when my beloved father was already gone minutes before I could appear at his.

Today, we wait alone in our homes, imagining the countless strangers – at whose bedside those they have only come to know within days to hours stand, sit, or watch. Perhaps each has been half consciously aware as the nurse assigned to them makes every attempt to make all moments meaningful. Perhaps both feel the other’s hands in their own. The angel beside the bed cries the tears of a thousand loves, as the rest of us wail in our hearts with collective mourning.

Thus will be our memory of the living end of 2020.

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Pray for the nurses.

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© 12/29/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo.

littlebarefeetblog.com

An Imperfect Christmas Morning.

The pajamas were red. That part she got right.

The rest was pretty much a bust.

This time, the title would come from her muse, Mr. Keillor. But, while his was Perfect, hers sounded much more like many others, perhaps for the first time in her own life.

Beyond piano or cello, writing was her succor. And, moments ago, clamoring to the keyboard of letters had been an act of quiet panic. Hurry, get it typed in, before you weep uncontrollably. That was the picture.

Sobbing the body needs, but the heart demands both an object and an outlet. She’d devoted hers, utterly, to someone who could not return to her love, whose ghosting absence was successfully crushing.

The reality that it had all happened on Christmas was just more proof of a level of oblivion; apparently, there were those to whom the holy observance was just another day. Or, an effective tool capable of sending one, life-draining message: I don’t. want. you.

Advice had come in droves, in direct proportion to blessing; those most blessed had the most to say. Blessing was proclaimed by the blessed. Only those who were actually in the gut-punch of bereft abandonment, these kept their advice to themselves.

The house was warm. The view, white and wondrous. The silence, frightening.

Her kitchen was stacked with boxes. Gifts, several, for the one who could not reciprocate. So many who would have felt her love had she redirected it not named among the packages. Loathing self now came to mind.

Those who got paid to define it all would say that thoughts were not us, that they may plague our heads but we’d have the power to at least subsume them. Not on Christmas Day. This day was all about feelings, and memories of feelings, and recollections of those who’d given us security and the belief that we would never be left alone. And, the best among them had encouraged us to accept that, even though we could neither see nor feel God, we were loved in ways that surpassed all human understanding.

A few of these had lived by example that to give was better, that to give all would bring not just the desires of the heart but fulfillment of every need. Her mother was one of these. She’d sacrificed her entire breath for others, pressing and plodding on until the tumor invaded the space where she formulated and articulated her thoughts and morphine carried her over while she slept. On this Christmas Day, random assignment of blessing and fulfillment felt far more believable. There was a certain clarity in this kind of logic.

Speaking of which, her body had chosen to take what it needed through the morning and into the afternoon. Like death, or coma, the merciful absence from less bearable reality was the gift of sleep. Perhaps the homeless understood.

Her heart felt homeless, today.

And now, in just a few more days, hundreds of thousands might be on the brink of being so. Responsible citizens, many with children, with no place to lay their heads. She’d been writing about her own life but, on this Christmas morning, now represented the impending innumerable.

God had spoken. Perhaps the All Knowing had chosen her to suffer these by feeling their need.

Redemption?

Might just have been right about that.

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© 12/25/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. Sharing permitted by blog link, exclusively. Thank you!~

littlebarefeetblog.com

The New Top.

The garment was well designed, as clothing would go. Horizontal, fruity hues, a flat floral motif superimposed. It followed her around, like dress did, demurely, as she moved about transferring boxes of gifts prepared to be wrapped. He was annoyed by it. Something else begging to be noticed in his meticulously normalized life.

He told her she looked nice.

Her kids were gathered about the kitchen island, heads elevated, eyes downcast, awaiting their cues to begin, too old now for Santa. Too many cookies had been baked, decorated, and eaten already, blood sugar clearly in descent. He was annoyed, again. The trip in from the city had been a slog, and he’d wanted to remain to address loose ends. Holidays always threw a kink in it.

This year, admittedly, had been different. He knew his perceptions did not exist in a vacuum. Perception. Craving the integration of mutual experience, ultimately – at least by way of reaction. Reluctantly, he’d acquiesced to the reality that even he could not control the scene into which all mankind had been thrust. Perception must yield to perspective. Yet, feeling his vitals stir, he was also unable to ignore that the whole thing had revived a nagging, indefinable need manifesting in increasing restlessness of mind and, now, body. Where were the salad tongs, for the last time, and why was the countertop not cleared for food prep? He wanted to go back and just start over. He was aging way before his time.

The family was mercifully stable. At least, presently. This was to his credit, wasn’t it? He’d appeared, provided, fulfilled expectations, been reliable. But, this year, gathering had been omitted. Festivity always created the scene in which relative value found definition. Years prior, there would always be a prospect, deliciously absent, the object of subconscious reference as he moved about those in any attendance. Anticipation, the driver of all realization, fueled his action; he could make anyone feel welcome at the party, with the unacknowledgeable waiting elsewhere in his wings.

This year, there would be no cloaking convocation. He felt exposed in his own kitchen. Familiarity had lost its comforting luster. Every crumb in the sink was a pebble in his path. He wanted to set a fire somewhere and breath deeply of its choking smoke.

Normalcy. Vastly overrated. In one fluent strike, he pierced the stainless steel basin with the point of a carver, wiped his forearms of residual moisture, turned, and walked out of the room, heading down the narrow hall and out the door. What he sought was calling him, and this time he could clearly hear.

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© 12/24/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. No copying in part or whole, including translation, without signed permission. Sharing by blog link, exclusively. Thank you for your respect of original material.

littlebarefeetblog.com

Letter to My Doctor.

Letters.

People don’t write them much, anymore. Back before we were thrust into this electronic life, the letter was that exquisite stage of polite hopefulness that protectively preceded use of the telephone. Phone calls were so irrevocable; nothing exchanged could ever be retracted, reconstituted, or dismissed, so we never took them lightly. Writing allowed us to take our time, and say what we actually meant.

So, I’ll just send myself back in time a bit, and pour out my heart in silence. By the time you open this, it’ll be Christmas Eve, and nobody’s going to be reading blogs, anyway. As I write, most people would have been wrapping presents; but, with this year having become the disaster we’re still enduring, many might just be wrapping up finalized plans to eke out something they’ll call Christmas for the children in their lives. I’m childless, so I play aunt by mail for the holidays.

So, you won’t know it’s you. You won’t. I’ve had so many. Doctors. And, lately, after one particular kidney stone debacle, this could be any one of you. It’s a risk of exposure I’m willing to take. Comes with the rank, after all; in many circles, I qualify as a senior citizen now and, in the East at least, with age comes a certain entitlement. In short, if I ever thought I had anything to claim, now I have absolutely nothing to lose.

Yes. This letter is for you. Call it a thank you note gone wild. If you haven’t stopped reading already, you’ll see.

I probably already did. Thank you. But, there is so much more that can be and should be said, and then the part that most everyone else might omit.

Perhaps the covid pandemic is the informing driver but I am compelled, and so you must be told.

You must be told that what you provide is far more than that for which you trained. Just as I believe diagnostic ability to be a gift, I see that which you embody. Compassion possesses you; your countenance bears it. An inborn tolerance for the needs of the other to express, to disclose, to carry on, to exhaust each option. A recognition that to be heard is first, and all. This is who you are.

I’ve been taken by every Machiavelli that ever crept out from under a rock. Gender unspecific. I’ve also known emotional tyrants, a couple of these from within my kin. Being totally open has its points, but successfully protecting self is not one of them. When one subjects oneself to another, on any level, the degree of confidence required is enormous; with a doctor, one’s very life is laid on their altar.

This pandemic has called from every physician every ounce of willingness to shed self. Whether treating infected patients directly, or practicing in tandem with those who do, you have reminded each of us daily, sometimes hourly, just how vital your commitment to protecting our lives is in each one of them.

I spent the last nearly four years at very close range with a registered nurse. In so doing, I learned the scene of the medical professional, nearly first hand. But, that time spent produced a certain discernment. Not every health care worker actually cares. Not every trained professional either listens or hears. And when, suddenly, every life potentially hangs in the balance, that distinction looms large.

Thankfully, though in the grand scheme comparatively brief, your encounter with me was redemptive. Without either knowing or intending, you provided. You didn’t just fulfill a requirement; you met a need. And, while that need was neither emergent nor critical, your role was essential. You represented yourself, authentically. In so doing, you earned that which I no longer give freely, least of all to any doctor: my trust.

I thank you, ever so much, to accept it.

Thus endeth the letter.

In utmost sincerity,

Your patient.

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© 12/24/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author. Thanks.

littlebarefeetblog.com

My Prayer This Christmas.

God, my heart aches, today.

My heart aches for those feeling anger. For those feeling fear. For those feeling hunger, who cannot eat. For those feeling loss.

My heart aches for those whose bodies are cold. For those whose eyes are sightless. For those whose touch is dismissed, rejected.

My heart aches for the confused, the bewildered, the misled. For the arrogant and defiant. For the abused, and neglected.

My heart aches for the weary, the sacrificed, the exhausted. For the sick, and dying. For those who cannot save them.

Lord, take this ache, and generate action in line with your Will.

Make me an instrument of Thy Peace.

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© Ruth Ann Scanzillo 12/22/2020 Sharing permitted with written permission of the author, whose name appears above this line. Thank you.

littlebarefeetblog.com

My Chinese Readers.

Hello.

I’m grateful for any followers of my blog.

Since I have had Chinese music students, in the past, I’m wondering who is following my blog from China. Might you introduce yourselves? I am having trouble ascertaining who from among my followers list is hailing directly from China. Are you also musicians?

Please enter a comment, below this blog entry, so that I know your name(s).

Thank you!

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© 11/19/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo.

littlebarefeetblog.com

Hurt.

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* Warning: This piece is Rated R.

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Bone pain

Stone pain

double-sided migraine.

Aching pain

Breaking pain

Burning, cutting, searing pain.

Gut pain

Butt pain

Shoot me in the head pain.

Do not make me feel pain.

Give your money

To the arts

Listen to them play their parts

I was always good enough

Wouldn’t suck

Give a fuck

I was shit

Out of luck

More pain

No more pain

Do not make me feel

Pain.

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© 11/16/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo

All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Thanks.

littlebarefeetblog.com

Recycling The Insufferable Optimist.

She couldn’t get into the house quickly enough.

The idea for her next piece had come during a drive around the local state park, taking in the last burst of color before its erasure by the wind. She was anxious to begin. The title alone was so compelling; she could already feel the thing writing itself.

Yet, oddly, a thought intruded: one quick Google might be in order. Best to rule out whether her gem had erupted from another in some deep, subconscious past.

Fearfully, she pulled up the search bar. Sure enough; at least two, both of them published, had already coined the phrase, one as far back as 1997. The moment was heart sinking.

Her mind sought solace, in reverie.

1997. That had been a year. She’d spent its post-Braveheart winter completing a screenplay to star Mel Gibson, the summer gallivanting up the California coast and across to the UK for the Edinburgh Fest. No time for a book review, let alone a book. Besides, her larynx had developed a pesky resistance, stuck in head voice for hours at a time; and, forced to leave her precious elementary string program (bumped by a seniority bid) she’d endure the fall and early winter teaching middle school chorus, reduced to a rasping breath by day’s end.

Come spring, after a bout with bronchitis which had left a three week hack in its wake, her fate seemed sealed: laryngoscopic surgery, slated for St Patrick’s Day, in Pittsburgh. She’d spend the rest of 1998 enduring its laser focused rehabilitation. No time for a leisurely book review, or even a book; the risk of absent minded coughing or even throat clearing lurked, at every moment. No time, either, to take a phone call from a prospective literary agent. Besides, while away she’d let a frustrated creative house-sit; he’d used the phone she’d dictated as off limits because of its receiver’s annoying habit of cutting the line. Had there been any call backs, none would have registered.

Her next pre-emptor appeared in 2015. They shared one commonality; both were anonymous bloggers, casting their carefully cultivated and diligently edited pearls before any number of earnest freshman composition students and swine.

The most recent, in spring of 2020, would be by far her most formidable: former CEO of the aforementioned search engine monopoly. Perhaps he had sent her routing out the competition with a penetrating thought weapon. After all, how dare anyone attempt to supplant his definitive take – on anything!

So how, now, to proceed? Pretend that she somehow possessed a distinctive version of an image so vivid, indeed more timely than ever?

Unlike her predecessors, hers was neither embodiment nor apologism but a sweeping observation. Her intent was to characterize those who could not or would not bow to prudence, refusing or unwilling to acknowledge the gravity of either forewarning pronouncement or prophecy. She would out every leap of faith, all abdications of reason, each act of denial in one grand gesture of indicting condemnation. If she had anything to say about it, the virtual world would be wiped clean of the last of the insufferable optimists.

Yes. Pessimism would have its day.

And, that season couldn’t come soon enough.

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© 10/25/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, anonymous or no, whose name appears above this line. No copying in whole or part, including translation, permitted without written permission of the originator. Sharing encouraged, by blog link only. Thank you!

littlebarefeetblog.com

The Sidewalk.

If you passed Laurie Garrett, on the sidewalk, would you look twice?

She’s not tall. Her hair is a warm, curly brown. Her features are small and even and, when she smiles, she’s pretty. Carrying a bit of excess weight around the midsection, common among women of her age who spend most of their time indoors or outside in their own yard, in terms of type she’d qualify as a pleasant looking matron – perhaps given to knitting or reading, possibly employed part time as a cashier in a craft store.

Laurie Garrett isn’t a cashier in a craft store.

In 1996, she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism for her series of works published in Newsday, chronicling the Ebola virus outbreak in Zaire. Laurie Garrett wrote “The Coming Plague”, predicting the viral scourges we’ve endured since the publication of its first edition in 1994. During the coronavirus pandemic she has been sought out, to both remind of her visionary predictions and foresee outcomes, across all media.

Day was, people did fit into type. On or about the 1950s, you could tell most everything about anyone, just by looking at them. A woman in a pillbox hat and a box knit suit, carrying a pocketbook in her gloved hands, walking on a downtown sidewalk in a pair of pointed pumps was probably a housewife out shopping. If she were unmarried, and respected, she would not be walking alone – shopping or not. Not downtown.

By way of contrast, a man in a fedora and brown single breasted suit, narrow tie, white shirt, and dark Oxfords walking on the same sidewalk would be on his way back to work after lunch at a downtown cafe restaurant. He’d likely own his business, perhaps as a merchant or insurance salesman, and keep regular hours from about 8 am til 5pm. He could be single, or married, but that status would matter little to his perceived image.

Point is, unless you were either of these characters, you’d likely not spend any time on that sidewalk.

If a man, you’d be at the shop, in overalls, grease on your forearms, sleeves rolled to the elbow, oil on your hands, shoes drip stained from it, standing at your station running your semi-automatic until the horn blew for lunch. After 3 or 4pm, you might be seen heading up a side street to the bus stop, tin lunchbox in hand or, if you earned enough, driving home in your Buick sedan.

A woman, working in the same shop, would be there part time. Hair wrapped to cover pincurls, flat shoes, shirtwaist cotton dress, homemade apron, hands slathered with Pro-Tec to make washing the oil off easier at the house, she’d be working because there wasn’t enough money coming in from her husband – or, her father, if she lived at home.

These would be they whom you would have been. There would have been nobody else – because you would have been white. If you had not been white, you would never have been on that sidewalk or in that shop. Your absence would have been its own type.

Now, Laurie Garrett can stay at home and write and publish her wisened, warning prophecies, then make dinner in the small kitchen, spend her evenings doing whatever she pleases, and take her interviews for a fee.

Society has evolved. Type is becoming self-deleting. Now, any character can be summoned, at any given, arbitrary moment, to fulfill any fancy, or not. A perfectly presented person, dressed as a man but wishing he were a woman, could walk the sidewalk of the day, return to his or her dwelling, take a poison, and be done, and not a single expectation would be realized.

And, Laurie Garrett might have already written the story.

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© 10/23/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Sharing permitted by posting the blog link, exclusively; no reproduction by copying in whole or part, including translation, permitted without written permission of the author. Thank you.

littlebarefeetblog.com

The Vested.

*Author’s Note: Having just completed a final edit on what I thought was [my] definitive piece on tonight’s event, herewith another. It must be the Klondike bar and the two Snicker’s ice creams, still coursing through each synapse. Notwithstanding the caffeinated drive, it’s time.

Who are these people?

They, who turn out in droves – unmasked, roaring, nearly hysterical in their devotion to the man who rails right back in their faces, spewing half or fully fleshed lies never fact checked by any of them, declaring himself their saviour, glory hallelujah, his version of the truth still marching on?

The people. Yes. Who are they?

To my eyes, having either been or worked among every class and station – from floor mopper to dishwasher to short order cook; to server, to clerk, to merchant; machinist, to shop owner, to skilled craftsman; engineer, to architect, to executive; instructor, to clinician, to professor; researcher, to documentarian, to published reviewer; performer, to producer, to artist and visionary…Donald Trump’s people are found to populate three, distinct yet not unrelated groups: a.) the indefatigable Evangelical Christian Right; b.) those of largely deferred intellect who have devoted their lives to the assembly line, and b.) those of incredible, accumulated wealth – who hire them.

Of these groups, taken together, the latter two are inextricably bound; one cannot exist without the other. And, unlike the former ECR, neither is exclusive to any particular race or creed.

What of the military-industrial complex imagined by, who was it, Harry Truman? The birth of the assembly line bred more than endlessly produced mass quantity; it evolved an entire mentality, committed to vapid, repetitive motion for hours at a time, five days per week, every week of every year, minus earned vacation time the breadth of one of them. Only the rare creative had a mind capable of escaping the task into the realm of imagination, perhaps to reserve what scant energy remained at day’s end to apply such pursuits.

The moment, if one can be isolated, is pivotal; every American who covets their job on that line, in that factory, at that counter, and every elite from upper management who seeks to protect a glorious lifestyle comparatively unburdened by the weight of taxation – whether earned honorably, or bestowed – has an interest. A vested interest, heavily invested, that shall not be moved.

No movement, no progression – toward evolving away from assembly line drudgery to supplanting artificial intelligence – engenders anything but abject fear. Fear, of utter loss – their only productive identity melded to and branded by the very work to which they have sacrificed their lives.

The notion that total upheaval of the internal structure of that military-industrial complex, to: a.) accommodate solar and wind power; b.) displace fossil fuels, and c.) replace product materials with the biodegradable and non-toxic can be realized through re-training and upgrading is met with ferocious resistance. Why?

Mentality is entrenched. Re-structuring systems does not a new mentality make. That which is unfamiliar is a perceived threat. Add to that equation the aging of the relevant population and you have a flank of refusal. The door is barred. Rather than endure the rigors of metamorphosis, the shop would rather shut.

The path, therefore, of least resistance is provided for them all. His name is Donald J Trump. No matter that his primary motive is self serving; in a twist of unavoidable irony, his megalomania serves the need of a massive throng, a culture of stubbornness borne of the security of familiarity and acute absence of vision. They who stand at the conveyor from sun up to the horn at day’s end, and those who own them, get to keep that to which they have become accustomed. Any revelation pertaining to the degree to which their actions poison or otherwise destroy the very earth under their feet or the water which sustains them is summarily dismissed, if only because it doesn’t fit their narrative of honorable employment and income.

If leadership for the people by the people shall not perish from the Earth, hadn’t it better be immersed in creating an awakening toward possibility rather than the sting of fright? How people feel, even to those whose emotional response, whose inner life, has been dulled to the point of distant memory, is still a vital aspect on the road toward human health and sustainability.

But, such a leader had better recognize the magnitude and importance of the task at hand, because Donald Trump has captured how the entrenched define their personal worth and provided an apparent path for its continued realization. No matter that he is a dishonest businessman, a shrewd manipulator of systems, and an arrogant ass; he validates those who lack the intellectual reach to imagine a life beyond the one they hold as close to their vests as the next shallow breath they take.

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Click on the link below, to hear best selling author, Thomas Friedman, declare the names of the states already IN TRANSITION to alternative fuels and address whether there are jobs for the “thick-fingered” worker:

https://youtu.be/1xetRCiIOPU

© 10/21/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Sharing permitted by blog link, exclusively. Thank you for respecting original material.

littlebarefeetblog.com

Dropping The Mask.

Momentum is a force all its own. You can’t be a force greater; momentum will take you and you will move with it. This is where everybody in attendance at Erie International Airport found themselves, Tuesday night.

From the moment the late plane finally coasted into position, through ’til the slicked back, veneered, top coated figure scored by his trademark red tie emerged and strode down toward the crowd, every person present was caught in his torque and draft. The presence of Donald J. Trump carried itself, and everybody on site with it.

He’d been rambling off script for longer than usual; people had been roaring and cheering and carrying on; but, about thirty four minutes in, something happened – a moment so pivotal so as to decompress the entire space. When his truth came out.

He’d made several references to Erie, near the beginning – to uproarious cheers. But, this time, in the blink of his twinkling eye, in a context that rendered thousands stone silent, he dropped the facade.

“Because”, he said, “everything was so good [before “the plague”]. Why would I ever have to come to Erie?”

“Erie..!” , he sneered.

Wait.

What?

Suddenly, we were stripped naked. We were Dreary Erie, the Mistake On The Lake, the “old relic” of recent date. We were profoundly beneath him, likely rating nothing but a mere phone call (and, he’d brought his hand to his ear, to mime it.) The place.went.dead. And dead silence, outside in the fall night air, is the coldest kind.

He contextualized the question, dripping with condescension, as if: “What would [ever ] have brought him to Erie”? Nobody. moved. You could feel no air, at all. But, he kept talking, internally frantic, gripping the lectern just a little harder, leaning down just a bit further. In a blur, “but, now I’m here”, something about “needing us”, and would we “please vote for him”? It was backpedaling. And, it was terrible.

Momentum: dead. It took him a good ten minutes to build back. He’d lost his crowd. Suddenly, Donald Trump was alone, at a microphone, flailing, in front of several thousand freezing people standing outside, exposed and humiliated, reminded that they weren’t anything to him. Not really. Not at all. Only insofar as they were prepared to vote him into a four year reprieve from criminal indictment.

Oh, yes. For just a few, crystal clear, fully revealed minutes, President Trump showed the people of Erie who he really was. I just hope most of them brought that home with them. I hope they quietly remember how he made them feel. Because, friends, that is the man. That is how he regards anyone who isn’t in service to him.

Build on that silence.

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© 10/20/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo All rights those of the author, born and raised in Erie PA, whose direct observations are contained herein, and whose name appears above this line. No copying, in part, whole, or fragment, including translations, permitted without direct, written permission requested of the author. Thank you.

littlebarefeetblog.com

3William Schubert, Lana Rinehardt and 1 other3 Comments1 Share

The Actual Living.

That wheelchair had become the center of her social life.

Breaks locked, in the center of the livingroom, both her weight and the hardwood floor would render it rooted, stable enough from which to fulfill a role unbeknownst to both herself and most everyone who’d ever thought they knew her.

She had never been socially sophisticated. “Weird” branded her for the better part of the 1970’s; newly permed, painted and propped for the ’80’s; and, from ’90 to about ’95, just generally awk-ward. 1998 was too pivotal, a year of trauma from start to finish, professional medical leave to be exact for throat surgery plus a bout with sexual harassment, and wouldn’t factor. What remained, leading up to 2009, would fall under the heading “rush to the cadence”; reaching peak frenzy that June, one false step in rudderless Red Dogs on a dust-hydroplaned stage, and up into the air and down she’d dropped into the auditorium pit, to sustain multiple contusions and non-dislocating fractures of the left acetabula, sacral ala, and one tiny carpal bone of the left hand on impact. There hadn’t been an empty seat in the house; every Kindergarten, first, and second grader plus their teachers and aides had witnessed the performance.

After a temporarily chaotic rearrangement of duties involving her 93 year old father, his house, her house, and her brother’s all night trip in from Kentucky via Chicago, Dad had been placed in the backseat of her brother’s Suburban and – as she sat on her own stoop, the snot hanging from her nose of all the crying, watching them disappear down the road for what she was sure would be forever – driven off for Kentucky.

Once hauling her bottom heavy self up via the one crutch and hopping back into the house, what would commence that summer truly would reach majestically eternal proportions; eleven years hence – minus the wheelchair, plus a bit of encroaching arthritis in the lower spine – here she was, in essentially the same spot. All credit to the one, redeeming tool at her social disposal: the Internet.

At first, she’d felt consoled. As a child, playing alone with the ideas inside her head, be they narrative or cinematic, solitude had been her mode. This newly enforced aloneness was similar, if one ignored the lidocaine-numbed physical pain and discomfort; and, the new Macbook Pro having arrived, she soon became enamored of all the options for human expression which its dazzling graphic environs engendered.

Most fascinating, this time, was an apparently built-in audience known as Facebook. Eagerly she took to it, daily and, as the hours trudged by, her time flew; not only could she write, but take photos – of herself, no less – and, include them in “posts” to which others seemed to take with equal enthusiasm. Furthermore here was Becky, and Cindy, and Bob, and everyone she hadn’t seen for twenty three years, including the students who’d populated her earliest foray into the role of public school educator. And, then, the church “family”, from as far back as childhood and every corner of the United States; everybody, it seemed, was a keystroke away – and, they all appeared ready to see and hear her every word. Breaking one’s hip and back would not destroy life, after all. She would be reborn, as a character of her own, socially informed design.

It was through Facebook that her fifth grade crush turned up. It was in the chat that she would discover him to be headed home for a visit. By the next year, and all the years hence, each and every encounter with a live human would be traceable to that social media “platform”. If all the world were a stage, she had certainly found herself in the center of it.

Here is how this story ends.

Ten years of Girl, Interrupted (minus the actual attempt.) The dissolution of public persona. An epidemic emergence of that darkest aspect of the human psyche, Narcissism, all played out in a scrolling column of pseudo-dialogue, reaching peak intensity and then: the block. Only this wasn’t The Match Game, and there was no host mediating who got x-d or o’d. We were all an illusion, and so was our self image, vaporized at any instant by the disgruntled participant of the hour. We could hardly leave the house without taking the sting with us and, should we encounter someone not yet a member of our cult, we’d cut it all short just long enough for an exchange of screen names to supplant/Add Friend later.

Facebook recently “upgraded” its site. The intention was transparent, enough; competitors, Instagram and Tik Tok, were encroaching, and the format needed to keep pace.

She’d hated it, rightly enough. Not one to embrace change just because it was “trendy”, she’d been quite settled in for lo, the decade, and forcing a new navigation was as annoying as taking a wrong turn on a destination vacation.

But, weighed in against the extra inch and a half around her hips, the “spare tire” around her mid-section inherited from her father’s memory, and that nag just above her tailbone every time she chanced to stand, maybe the time was ripe for renewal. Making her social persona mobile might get her out of the house beyond the gas or grocery run, after all. And, who knows, keeping the tablet tucked away for longer than a fruitless argument over heresay and inflated opinion might actually produce a genuine conversation face to six footly distanced face.

Her body was talking back. And, collecting virtual “friends” was no succor for the one who’d left in a huff (and, a puff.) People were dying, now.

Cindy. She’d reappeared that first year, held court at the two class reunions and then, just last year, succumbed to heart failure, open casket. Bob had met his third wife online and apparently moved to the Philippines. And, one of just a handful immune to the lure of alternate reality, Becky had long since left social media entirely; she’d changed careers, moved to Virginia, and published a novel. Here sat the rest of them. Literally.

The wheelchair had only been a loaner, traded in once she’d regained vertical strength. Time to close out all open pages, log off, and shut it down. This loner was only promised the next moment to regain her place among the actual living.

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© 10/17/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, wider and less wonderful, whose name appears above this line. Thank you for seeing, and checking, yourself.

littlebarefeetblog.com

The United State of Disgrace.

The predictable effect of the synergy of intensive cacao and sumatriptan had driven her to the mud room. Clock said 7:30 (8:30 in real time/why change it, now?). With resolute intent, she tore up the east corner of its push broom, straight broom, inherited outsized jean jacket, step ladder, white garden picket fencing panels, branch pole cutter, basket of citronella, bag of broken glass, sack for Goodwill, tin sprinkling can, wire hangers, stained sofa cushion slipcover, feral cat infested throw rug, broken plastic trash can filled with aluminum freezer wraps, old DNK winter boots, flat, treadless Red Dogs – and, faded American flag, torn by the wind.

Sweeping and shaking out the grit, soil, and bug residue from the carpet rems beneath provided plenty of meditative reflection. That flag. Offered every year by a veterans’ support group, this one had seen its day, slapping and billowing to the Southwesterlies’ tune through all four seasons. Caught once too many times on the thorns of the climbing yellow blush cabbage rosebush, its edges were split and frayed. She never had obtained the proper anchor and, wrapping and taping it around the porch post had worked for the most part until, embodying its symbolic role, the weight of just everything bent the pole and the flag with it forward in a dejected, resignated bow to audience.

She’d left it like that, for several days. Something had to herald to the world that they were in trouble – led down a path of disease and death by a demagogue with dictatorial designs on their democracy. Might as well be Old Glory, from the southeast corner of West 22nd on the street where the Saraceno family had raised its generations, the Kilmers thereafter and her, barren of offspring, to occupy space for who would have known to be thirty years.

Not one to toss much, being the child of a Keeper of Functional Things ( daughter of the Great Depression), she was discriminating with the pile. Once actually clean, repositioning most of it made for a more settled layout for that corner of her world. She stood, gazing for a few moments, mentally calculating that just as much time might be spent in phase two – actually selecting out the no longer useful. Yet, best that the actual dirt was mostly gone; all malingering superficials would survive the frost for a spring purge.

That spring purge was always the goal. Except just enough sorting and stacking had a lulling, entropic effect. Even knowing, after all these years, that she’d likely never get to the second phase at all carried no power; what mattered was that she had addressed the problem. Appearances were kept. This was the way of the English, founders of their great republic. Things had to look right, even if they were entirely, inherently, wrong. A semblance of order in the midst of utter chaos was foundational, after all. How the world regarded what it saw carried pre-eminent weight in the social and domestic consciousness.

Fast forwarding with a lurch out of her pre-Revolutionary reverie, she shook the last of the dustpan’s collection into the overfilled trashcan and eyed the clock. 8:30, almost on the nose. Can ye not watch with me, one hour? Jesus had said. In that episode of 60 minutes, she’d completed just enough to convince her mother from the bed in her grave that her intentions were good and her effort realized. One corner of the mud room, down; the rest of the national disgrace, in the hands of God.

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© 10/10/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. No copying, in part or whole – including translation – permitted. Thank you for being the good person.

littlebarefeetblog.com Originally published in My Notes at Facebook/Ruth Ann Scanzillo.

Johnny One Note.

Remember Johnny One Note?

He was tone deaf. When he sang, his voice only had one pitch. He couldn’t move up, or down, with the notes in the melody.

Our President is tone deaf.

To him, it’s China — China’s economic power, over us, over the jostle for pre-eminence in the world. Trump saw China as our biggest threat to restoring and maintaining economic standing, and that’s why he still blames China for the 200,000 deaths of Americans. And, his supporters are right there with him singing that same, monotonous song.

I sat, last evening, fairly well stunned by many things. How intelligent people of any persuasion could support this President. How self-centered blindness prevents realization and acknowledgement. How it is that our judicial system caves to power, the insidious kind as well as the violent.

But, I also sat — as I do, now — and considered the stories, from those who have Armenian and Romanian friends who talk about rationed goods and services in the socialist countries of their memory. I contemplate the American workers, those who actually have skills, who use their hands – as I do – but, to build machines without which our country could neither sustain itself nor continue interacting with the rest of the world. To these Americans, the fear of the threats to social security and pensions and Medicare, sources of financial security older Americans have worked their entire lives to earn, is real. And, they rise up in defense of such security — as well they should.

I am among them.

And, then, I wonder why we elect Presidents who lack a well rounded mindset. You know, the kind who stump on one policy issue, preaching a selective gospel. They warp the picture that should provide for every American, especially those who have tried to fight against social injustice and who lead honest, productive, responsible lives.

Perhaps this man who completely repulses so many of us with his slippery movements, his vulgar mouth, his outed lies, his utterly selfish posturing, and his dismissal of individual life as “virtually nothing”, should have run for a seat on the GOP’s economic advisorship instead of the highest office in the land. Nobody can argue the economic gains his administration produced prior to the pandemic. That’s his one note. And, he sang it well.

But, his single pitch is far from a beautiful song. It’s not music. At all.

200,000+ Americans are now dead — more still dying. That’s what we got, in exchange. What a tragic transaction. What a gravely bad deal.

Now, how utterly unacceptable is our present situation. How dangerously divided are our people. How aggressively reactive our throngs. How combative the prevailing postures of those parading in our streets. We aren’t a unified country; we’re a provoked population, on the brink of deadly confrontation. It’s called war.

Who can save us from this apparently inevitable reality? Joe Biden? His character is also not above reproach. Video and audio evidence tell his tale. Party politics has its insidious agenda, and monied corruption has infiltrated all of it — including he, and his own.

I am just as fearful of a globalist mentality seizing my rights and possessions as any other hardworking American. Surely, we are all desperate for an honorable, honest, and well-rounded representative of every mind and heart who was born and bred here.

Jimmy Carter. Somebody call him. Get his word. We need another like him, right now.

Because right now is all we’ve got.

Sing it.

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© 9/24/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. Feel free to share, but with acknowledgement to the author. Thanks.

Originally published as ” Why Our Politics Is More Than A One Note Song” at Medium.com

I Wrote A Poem.

I wrote a poem in my sleep

Each phrase, each rhyme, all true

The dream was one I wished to keep

If just to prove to you


Though the power of sleep, so vast and deep

Somnambulance withstands

To rise and write, its worth to reap

I could not move my hands.

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© 9/16/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights. You know the drill. Carry on.

littlebarefeetblog.com

MACARON.

Addiction drives the strangest behavior.

Mine isn’t booze, heroin or cocaine. Mine’s the one even lab rats choose first:

sugar.

The object of my affections had been ignoring me, all day. Petulantly. Enjoying my clamoring, ghosting to a narcissistic forte. By teatime, I’d hit critical mass.

Henceforth, because I needed a succouring fix, I did FIVE THINGS well out of my comfort zone. 1.) Without first placing a curbside pickup order, I drove to the Whole Foods Co-op; 2.) parked, and w.a.l.k.e.d. i.n.t.o. the store — something I had not done since M.A.R.C.H.; 3.) grabbed a sack of mini-peppers and some daikon radish sprouts, then headed for the bakery reach-in; 4.) chose a variety pak of chef made MACARON; 5.) rang out, waving to several I knew on staff, and side stepped out to my car.

Why so radical?

Macaron had proved the creme de la creme of confectionary. Only egg white, no flour, the premiere sweet for all gluten intolerants, and only a pro pastry chef could expertly craft each bite sized burst of scrumptiousness to the Parisian standard of perfection. Pre-Covid, I’d been known to drive 3 miles south after midnight, just to snatch the last batch at Wegman’s; but, the girl who made them at WFC had won my ribbon.

This month’s recipe was labeled (according to Customer Service) — “autumnal” flavorings. I’d already had this set, over a week ago – and, hadn’t been keen on it. My preference included: berries, and their cremes; vanilla, creme cheese, pistachio, and caramel. But, not….pumpkin. And, this set used pumpkin as a motif; even the creme cheese was tinted with the hue…and, the flavor.

But, you have to understand addiction. Sugah addiction. We dream of cookies and cakes, frosted confections… And, the piece de resistance is macaron. For us, reward for good behavior – and, even bad – is all about the taste buds. And, the receptors for sweet are everywhere; the tip of the tongue, the sides, the back, the flat surface, even the roof of the mouth. We can salivate to the point of orgasm, just thinking about sugar.

So, yah. Pulling up to the curb, I was giddy. Self-congratulating. After all, I’d savage the entire container of chicken salad first just to prove my nutritional planning was sound. But, two down, and three to go, the test would be: how many hours before all five macaron were dust?

My first selection: vanilla. Smoothe; cool; bright. Second: salted caramel. Texture, first; then, the rush. Number three: okay. Might as well get it overwith. Pumpkin puree.

First bite: Nawp. Was it the consistency ? Maybe a touch more creme to render the filling. What would normally gush from between two oh-so-delicate cookies felt more like a slurry at the bottom of a saute. On that note, I’d reached my A1C for the hour. Heck, for the evening. Two and a half down, I was sated.

You can have your spice lattes. I’ll take my pumpkin the only way it should come: in pie.

On Thanksgiving.

Even addicts have taste.

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© 9/11/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo.

littlebarefeetblog.com

CREATING: PANIC.

“CREATING PANIC.”

It matters how you say it.
President Trump’s voice still rings in my ears. Only now I’m hearing him over my landline phone, in recording, talking about panic.

Never once, in any of those phone conversations between himself and journalist author Bob Woodward, does Trump reference the people.

“I didn’t want to create panic.”

Remember those Mad Libs – the game with adjectives, nouns, adverbs, objects of the preposition left purposefully blank, game participants asked for random terms to be entered, creating uproariously hilarious nonsensical outcomes?

Let’s fill in all the blanks. There’s a clause missing.

“I didn’t want to create panic_______[ in the stock market! ].”

There. That fits the narrative.

He doesn’t care about people. Or, lives. Or, death statistics. He only cares about the bottom line.

And, that makes me panic.

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© 9/10/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo.

littlebarefeetblog.com

THE SAVIOUR.

The Saviour.

Every time I’d stood out on the sidewalk in front of the Gospel Assembly Hall as a child, during that short break between Morning Worship and Sunday School, watching the ladies walking to Holy Rosary in their pointed high heels and lace mantillas and thinking about them all going to Hell if they didn’t accept Jesus, I’d always felt a sharp distinction between myself and everyone who hadn’t.

For those who were raising their children to be non-denominational, sectarian Protestant such distinction was essential to the tenets of a real Christian as they defined one. It wouldn’t even matter when, at the cusp of adolescence, I questioned the validity of all of it including the existence of God; what mattered was that I had, at age 6, confessed my sins in prayer before witnesses and accepted Jesus into my heart to be my Personal Saviour. This sealed my eternal security, in spite of a latent and ever increasing lack of faith, for as long as forever could be perceived by any human.

The reason, if rational thought was to be factored into any aspect of this mystical process, for specifically confessing and accepting and acknowledging Jesus as Personal Saviour was based upon one otherwise universally Christian, core belief: original sin. People were born at enmity with their Creator, inheriting Adam and Eve’s taint, and could not win the everlasting favor of God Almighty lest they repent and fall at the feet of Jesus as he hung on Calvary’s cross. And, it wasn’t even the act of His crucifixion which would ultimately redeem us, but the fact that Jesus was none other than the only begotten, Holy, Son of God. No other living being was sinless, inherently worthy to offer up His very body as the supreme sacrifice for each of us.

Now, even though Christendom has evolved to produce as many variations on this theme as there are letters in the arabic alphabet*, one fundamental feature is universally declared: Christ’s Holiness.

Infallibility. Jesus could be our Saviour only because he was sinlessly perfect, God’s Son; no other, however bloody, however wrought, could satisfy God’s requirement for atonement. Only Christ, the perfect pearl of great price, would suffice.

Throughout my life, I have never met a Christian by any moniker who didn’t honor Christ’s infallible holiness. Debate may have raged over the Trinity (separating Seventh Day Adventists from Jehovah’s Witnesses, and The Way International from all other cults); many a scholar at Bible Study may have elegantly argued the nature of Christ’s relationship to His Father; but, none disputed He Who was without sin as the only qualified Redeemer. For every Christian, Jesus was the one and only choice to save humankind from eternal condemnation.

And so, it is from this moment in my memory that I come careening up to the present. The world spins, nations rise against nation, and America faces the singular choice which determines its redemptive future. According to God’s Holy ordinance, much about life meets with these dispensations in time; for Americans, all religion aside, the state calls every citizen to its own altar. As free as every person created by God is to choose acceptance or rejection, every member of America’s democracy holds the inalienable right to place its vote for a worthy leader. Holiness ever elusive among mere mortals each one is nevertheless free to determine which, among candidates deemed qualified to stand up to the call, is the better choice.

Given the ravages of the infectious disease which has slain hundreds of thousands in a matter of months, to me this election feels urgent. But, I appeal to everyone who has ever identified with being Christian: would you put your soul’s eternal security in the hands of a deceptive, corrupt mortal? Then, how can you hold up a man who has committed multiple documented transactional acts of usury against men and women of every persuasion? How can you in devout conscience elect one whom Christ Himself would, as he did with the money changers, throw out of the Temple?

As Christ was brought before Pontius Pilate to be tried, the people were given a choice between two who had been held. Barabbas was a known criminal; Jesus had committed no legal offense. Yet, the mob demanded that Jesus be crucified, clamoring that Barabbas be released. They, in effect, cast their public vote — choosing a known criminal.

Are you a part of this mob?

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* https://littlebarefeetblog.com/2016/11/07/evolution-and-christians-of-the-alphabetical-order/

© 9/8/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo.

littlebarefeetblog.com

What It’s Like To Love An Alcoholic During A Pandemic.

Alcohol is my mortal enemy. She wears a harlot’s face. She dresses like a skank. And, she waits in the shadows of the country roadside distributors and “buy one, get one free” holiday specials to snatch away hope, impossible promises, everything worth emotional investment. And, during the pandemic she, too, wears a mask.

About 22 years ago, I learned the meaning of isolation. A lifetime of vocal abuse, yelling outside in the ragweed and grass pollen at the high school marching band and generally clamoring over everyone had created a polyp the size of a Champagne grape on my left vocal fold. The surgery itself, an expert excision performed by the robotic arm maneuvered by Dr. Clark Rosen at UPMC Voice Center went without complication; but, the post-op, follow-up patient compliance would prove daunting. I had to remain absolutely silent, for two solid weeks, never so much as clearing my throat lest I destroy the tiny cauterization and blow out my cords — and, then, only permitted to speak for five minutes every hour for two more. My landscape was bleak; I would be in for a very long haul, nearly three months alone and six more under prescribed restriction. Nobody wanted to hang out with somebody who could barely speak.

Given that year of life spent avoiding human interaction, when the coronavirus pandemic descended I was hardly fazed. I had this. Real, fake, or somewhere in between, I knew the drill.

But, for these past nearly four years, I’d been quite accompanied. Either with me on occasion at my house or more frequently at his country idyl twenty some minutes south of our town, my partner — my man — had been ever present. Our relationship was a challenge; not exactly compatible, we’d thrown ourselves at each other late in life after a 30 year separation caused by the details of what each of us had known life to be in the town of our birth. But, after more time than I’d ever spent with one man, we found ourselves bonded. Many would call it love.

I was addicted to him. And, he was addicted….but, not to me. He couldn’t drive past any sign that flashed BEER without stocking up. And, his patterns were, among those who imbibed, the least healthy; whatever he purchased, he drank — all at once, over a period of just an hour or so. The assault on his body frightened me; but he, muscle bound and head strong, hardly gave it a second thought.

When the word came down that everyone of a certain age should stay home, I looked at him and made the decision for both of us. He would shelter in place, with me — 24/7, for a solid month. This would take him well past day 28, the period of time every addiction therapist believed was required for the body to be cleared of alcohol and all its affects.

And, this appeared to work. We had, by both his account and mine, some of our most joyful time together to date. We rearranged my kitchen to make it companion compatible, my assisting his gourmet meal preparations nearly every night; we walked Bella, the Rotty, under the grand oaks and firs at the nearby cemetery; and, the only binging happening was our umpteen seasons of HOMELAND. During the coronavirus pandemic, no less, I thought we’d achieved what everyone else called happiness.

At the end of the 28 days, he was ready to return home. It was May; there was garden soil to turn, and a cage to pullet, and the spring lawn to mow. And, he said, he had to “test” whether he could sustain his now streamlined figure and newfound mental clarity alone.

Of course, my addiction dictated what happened next. I’d be monitoring his every going and coming, texting and calling – urging him to wear the n95 mask I’d given him from my tool drawer, reminding him to wash all packaging upon returning from the store. Wondering, alone at home, if he’d slipped. Agonizing over whether this 65 year old, sleep deprived, retired nurse in a compromised physical condition was watching the news and realizing how lucid he’d have to be, daily.

Tomorrow is Labor Day. We’d endured nearly six months. Tonight, after a major row about nothing, a two for one sixpack binge the night before, and another canceled plan to be with me for a Sunday, I drove out yet again to get my things. This time, I walked out onto the back stoop, searching for a place to toss the three empties instead of smashing them on the pavement.

And, there it was. A black mask just like his, neatly folded on the landing.

I didn’t remember whether he’d said he had one, or two. I only knew that he wasn’t home, he always kept his in the truck, and this mask sat, folded, on his cement step. Not even an alcoholic in a boozy haze goes outside to stand on his own backyard stoop with his mask still on his face, only to remove it, fold it, and set it down. This one had been on somebody else.

I don’t scream much, anymore. The throat surgeon taught me well. Now, when the overwhelm of grief driven exhaustion descends upon my small bones, I just increase my step and hasten my exit stage left. I run, to the car, and tear off in the increasing dusk, my jaw set in the rear view mirror, my eyes aflame.

Being alone has its merits. Solitude can be a gift. Loving someone who loves something else more than you eats your soul from the inside out. This pandemic had better end. I have better love to give, all mortal enemies be damned.

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© 9/6/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. Originally published at Medium.com

littlebarefeetblog.com

BACKLASH!

Humans react. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t survive. Reacting is the way all living things respond in the face of perceived threat. Most threat manifests in the form of change, and not all change is threatening but, since it can be, we react – self-protectively – to change.

So, what does all this mean, socially?

Society has evolved a way of reacting to changes perceived as a threat, either to stability of groups or to institutions upon which specific groups are founded. If one group changes a societal norm, any associated group which suspects a threat to its own relative perceived value will react. This collective reaction is called backlash.

For their collective lifetime, American social groups have endured many such changes. Given that the social class system was imposed by its founders, and carried out by its earliest settlers, as larger swaths of its endless plains were claimed certain among those pedigreed established and maintained power. First, Caucasians dominated its continental natives; then, the wealthiest among these brought their slave class, largely African, to serve agriculture and family structure. Thusly, racism became the order of not merely the day but the entire mentality of this new society.

But, while racism against the African class by the Caucasian landowners was ubiquitous, within this insidious system there was further suppression, against publicly unacknowledged subgroups. These were identified by their sexual preference. Significantly, since the prevailing religion of the time was Christian, such variance in sexual preference was openly condemned. Being outcasts, those whose preferences did not align with the Christian creed were pushed underground to form secret societies. Given the limits of transportation, the structure of these societies was loose and local, if managed at all by word of mouth or discreet, encoded post. The idea of open backlash likely never entered the mind of any, given that being exposed would bring about certain social abolishment and even death.

A couple centuries hence, social change has heaved its mighty hand. Contrary to the nation’s founding social attitudes, much backlash has ensued. Fiery, life threatening reaction on all fronts has periodically branded the landscape, leaving a continuing wake of destructive waste and fear.

So, what of social survival? Those suppressed by racism have banded together, spoken out, acted out, and moved with collective conviction demanding equal treatment, equal rights, equal status. Those with alternate sexual identity have, as well. This reactivity is felt, in some circles, daily. Gradually, inexplicably, the tide is turning; now, those of alternate sexual preference are publicly acknowledged by an increasing majority, and those of the heretofore subjected races have achieved social recognition, social opportunity and, while much is still unresolved and conflict persists, increasing social status.

But, while the tide turns, the threat of flood is still real.

Why?

Because, in the interests of immediate gratification, backlash has become the first order of business. And backlash, being reactive, presumes threat. But, the motive being fear, backlash cannot produce a sustainable symbiosis; rather, it is inherently destructive, further weakening any hope for true reconciliation and peaceful coexistence.

Additionally, of increasing concern is an encroaching variation on public backlash: subversion. Now, the technological revolution has produced a mode of reaction which takes place beneath public political scrutiny, behind the scenes, in unacknowledged behaviors known only to those who populate its groups. Subversive backlash has embodied entire movements, even reaching the professional and economic sector. Now, power is assumed through internal social networking within a corporate structure; indeed, entire commercial enterprises are populated nearly exclusively by members of a particular social group – to the veritable exclusion of those not identified within.

This further threatens social stability. More groups exist, each with their own inherent power, but said power wielded in exclusive interest rather than inclusive. Self-selectivity abounds; the rules of engagement made clear by the prior, suppressive class, now those who “fit” are predetermined by any number of specific criteria. Is this peaceful coexistence? Hardly. Rather, those who seek their own kind are now subject to any number of self- empowered monopolists, pushing and pulling and jostling for rank according to a set of priorities which can never align and which are intrinsically resistant to collective agreement.

Such collective agreement is the essence of a stable society. Without, any subgroup can at any point rise up and confront the other. Revolution from within may serve some, but history has left a flood of casualty in droves as proof of its power to dismantle rather than sustain.

Negotiation is the higher form of conflict resolution, but such dissonance must first be acknowledged at table. Refusal to make plain intent prevents any hope of such resolution. Subversive behavior effectively subverts the possibility!

If we are to ever return to the ideal of a stable society, we must first be open, up front, and fully disclosing with one another. If we must continue to react, let us do so with pause, recognition, confession, and a purpose which seeks the kind of coexistence which is borne of genuine, mutual respect.

What’s your reaction?

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© 9/5/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. No copying, in part or whole, including translation permitted without written permission by the author. Thank you for your genuine respect.

littlebarefeetblog.com

Telling the Truth About “The LION and The LAMB”.

©9/1/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo.

Please feel free to visit YouTube for more meandering diatribes from the author.

littlebarefeetblog.com

The Idea.

I’d been writing stories since before I could hold a pencil. Seriously. Dictated the first one to mum, who told me the letters in the words I wanted to put on the folder paper with the drawings already in place. I knew the story I wanted to tell, even when I hadn’t learned how to spell it out.

Ideas are like that. They erupt. Nobody really knows where they come from, or how they are borne. Science speculates that some synergy happens between random thoughts, like the scenarios of dreams. But, so far, most of us are merely at their mercy.

But, I’ve always been an idea “factory”. When the other kids laughed or rolled their eyes, my sanctuary was the fertility of my mind. I could spend hours dreaming up intricate scenes, sometimes from a single moment of observation, the sight of one object alone.

It wouldn’t be until many years later, well into the furtive world of young adulthood, that I would come to know the rigors of plagiarism and copyright law. My mum had passed, quickly, over five and a half weeks from symptom to death, and I’d reeled and lurched in a reactive, grandiose mania of creative explosion the culmination of which was a screenplay – 123 pages, by the How To book, every POV set, every dialogue byte centrally inserted. My trek through the wilds of literary agentry filled the months thereafter. Living in a town where only the closed set was connected, I decided that finding “representation” was futile and, consistent with delusional drive, jumped the shark all the way to Ed Limato’s office at CAA. I had pinned Mel Gibson to be my lead, and my scenario simply had to be read by his agent.

Yeah.

That was 1996.

Even calling the agency on July 4th, and feeling certain Sharon Stone answered the phone, I’d never receive a tangible response. The disclaimer was set, in real stone; “CAA does not accept unsolicited material.”

It would only be a year or so later, the mania replaced by real grieving and a gravity driven return to lucidity that I would realize the very disclaimer and its precise language protected every subsequent action and reaction to any said heretofore unacknowledged receipt; my screenplay had likely been parsed out, page by scene by set by character, so many times over since so as to be unrecognizable in its original conception.

Yeah.

Concept.

Idea.

Copyright law only protected the treatment thereof — not the idea.

Take apart; reassemble; reconstitute; rename. Voila! My idea, in a thousand new forms, never to be known by the day of its birth. All clones; no real living proof.

So, dear readers. Ghost writers. Paid lackeys. You think I don’t know about the crew in Brazil. You think I’m not paying attention when the next, semi-famous starlet publishes a book curiously similar to a series within my 750+ essays at this blog. If ever confronted, you’ll just cite my reference to grandiosity borne of deferred grief. There’s your disclaimer, however inhumane, tied up with a ribbon.

The very idea.

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© 8/28/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights however flimsy and vulnerable those of the author, whose story it is and whose real, God given name appears above this line.

Only good people will show respect. The rest will return to their own vomit.

littlebarefeetblog.com

Why We Need EDUCATION.

by Ruth Ann Scanzillo, 5th Grade, Mr. Davis, Lincoln School.

Why do we need education?

We need education because we need to know things that we don’t know the day we are born. At first, as far as we can see, babies only know that they are hungry or tired. Babies who crawl find things in the house that make them curious, but because they don’t actually know what these things are some of the things might hurt them, like batteries or electrical outlets. This is why babies aren’t left alone. Parents must watch every move they make, especially when they are exploring. Even though they usually figure out how to walk, babies need other people around them. They learn to talk by hearing other people, and need their parents and other people to be sure they don’t fall down stairs or end up outside in the street hit by a car.

We also need education because we can’t learn everything we need to know just from our parents. My dad is a great barber and sings like Bing Crosby. He also plays the harmonica and his own “bones” which he made out of a John Deere plow handle when he was a rambler, and nobody taught him how. He also tells the most interesting stories, about missionaries and Pop-Eye in the jungle. But, he doesn’t know much about math. Mum was really good at math and way better than I am, so when I get confused by word problems she makes sure my homework is correct before I take it in to school. She also knows how to sew, and does alterations and dressmaking for customers who come to the house. I could learn to sew from my mother, but it doesn’t feel as though I could get any better at math just by being shown how by her. I don’t much understand how she thinks. So, because we have to learn math at school, we need to go to school for that. I don’t really understand why we need to learn math, but Mum keeps telling me I will use it someday.

The most important reason to go to school is to learn to read. Without reading, we can never find out what happens outside of our own houses or yards. When I was little, Mum always read us stories every night before bed, and I wanted to read stories as soon as I could. I remember wanting to write a story before I could read, and having mum help me with the letters in the words that went into the story.

We also need school to teach us about the world. Sunday School teaches us about what happened before Jesus was born, in the Old Testament, and what happened when Jesus was on earth, but the Sunday School teachers always say that the world is full of sin and heaven is our home. We don’t have a television because the people at Sunday School think TVs are the devil’s vision. But, Mum lets me ride my bike to Susie’s house to watch BATMAN. I can tell that Mum thinks that it’s important to learn about the world, because she knows an awful lot about it. I can tell because, whenever I’m doing my homework, she seems to already know the stories in what we are learning, especially the parts about World War II and what America was like before that. But, she spends most of her time at the sewing machine or at the machine shop threading and tapping nuts and bolts because she always worked there for the war effort. The lady next door spends most of her time smoking and watching television. Her kids are all grown. I don’t know how she could have taught them anything.

My big brother is eleven years older than me. I learn a lot from him. He has always played the piano and created projects at home, like drawing a picture of his 10 speed racing bike and having the high school kids come over and play big band music in the basement. When he went away to college to major in pre med, he got six hamsters who had litters and he had to make a big sign, Hamsters For Sale, and then rigged it with a string and a bell so nobody could steal it. Now, he has guinea pigs and they’ve had so many litters that my little brother and I help feed them the boxes of head lettuce hearts he brings home from Loblaws. He even lets me sit right beside him when he dissects the pigs in mum’s bread baking pans.

But, for all the things I can’t learn from my family I need to go to school. Some kids really need school, even more than I do. They only have a mother, not a father, and some of them don’t have any brothers or sisters. Some have clothes that look even older than the hand me downs I get from my cousin Frannie. Their hair and even their faces are sometimes dirty, and their shoes are scuffed. They don’t talk to the other kids much, either. One of the girls who sits near me smells like she needs a bath. I don’t understand why her mother doesn’t give her a bath, at least every few days like my dad.

I’ve always liked being at school. I like the smell of the wood on the floors, and the sounds in the hallways when classes walk by. I like the chalk and the chalkboards, and all the different teachers and the clothes they wear. I like doing seatwork, especially drawing on the good, white paper and remember making letters on the lined paper back when we first learned to write. I always liked it when the teachers played the pianos by the front wall, even though Mr. Davis doesn’t play. I like singing, and we still sing every day. I like the front covers and the pictures in our books for every subject we learn. I like looking around at the other children and watching them talk to each other. I like it when the teacher calls on me, and I like it when my pictures are tacked up along the chalkboard border after we have art. I like it when we go to the auditorium for assemblies, especially when the curtain is closed, because when the curtain is closed it means that the Jr League is putting on a whole play for us. This year, I wrote a play about Marco Polo, and had six kids come over and make his boat out of a cardboard box and practice their parts. Mum made all the costumes, even the red and black three cornered velveteen hat for me to wear because I played Marco Polo. After that, Mr. Davis, who usually sat at his desk reading while we were doing our seatwork, gave me his library book. It was called “Rifles For Watie”, and I loved that book so much. I loved it even more, because my teacher let me read it.

This is why we need education.

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© 8/28/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. Originally published as a Note at Ruth Ann Scanzillo/Facebook.

littlebarefeetblog.com

Why We Need MONEY.

by Ruth Ann Scanzillo, 4th Grade, Miss Wright, Lincoln School.

Why do we need money in our country?

We need money in our country because people stopped being willing to trade things they didn’t need for things they did. This stopped a long time ago, before most of us were even born and before our parents were born, too. It was so long ago that our country wasn’t even here, yet.

People from another country created money. They hammered the extra gold and silver they had into round flat pieces called coins. These coins stood for how much they decided things were worth. When people wanted something, instead of giving something they had in exchange, they gave the coins. Of course, they had to get coins, first. So, in order to get coins, they had to turn over things they owned in exchange for getting the coins. This was probably hard for some people, especially people who made things with their own hands, but it had to be done in order to get the coins. Once everybody had plenty of coins, then they could start getting things with them. This was called buying. Giving things in exchange for coins was called selling. Soon, buying and selling was happening everywhere you could look.

It wasn’t very long before some people figured out that the more coins they had the more they could get with them. And, some of these people decided that they could organize how all the coins could be stored. They built buildings where they put them, and called them banks. People would keep their coins there until they needed them, in exchange for letting the bank give some of their money to people who needed more for awhile. This was called loaning. The bank would also keep some of the coins in exchange for people being allowed to store them there. This was called a fee. And, just to keep the people who put their money there from taking it out too soon, the bank gave them a little more, too. This was called interest. And, when the people who were loaned the extra money took it from the bank, they would have to pay the bank a little more later when it was time to give it back. This was called interest, too.

When paper was invented, it was easier to make flat rectangular pieces out of it instead of hammering out all those gold and silver coins. Paper was called money, and so were coins, because it was easier to just call all of it by one name. People could keep the paper money and the coins together at home, or at banks, whichever they wanted. But, soon, most of them realized that their money might be stolen more often if they just kept it at home. Because thieves had figured out way before this that if they stole money they would have more than other people. This was called greed, and greedy thieves were already pretty good at stealing stuff, let alone money.

People who weren’t thieves soon got in the habit of seeing how much money they could get by working at making things. When people did jobs for other people, it was really easy to just get money for their work. Soon, some people started paying lots of people to do work for them all in one place. These were called businesses. And, people who worked at businesses to earn money were called employees. The ones who let them work there were called employers.

By this time, you couldn’t walk down the street past where the houses were without seeing business buildings popping up everywhere. People lived at home, and worked in businesses. Some of them grew their own vegetables, and raised animals for food. These people figured out that they could sell what they grew right out of the front of their houses. These were called stores. So, people worked in businesses and stores, and earned money.

It was important for everybody to work, because this was how they got money. Without doing work for somebody, there would be no money and with no money there wouldn’t even be food to eat or clothes to wear. Earning money became the main way everybody kept on living without dying of starvation or freezing outside when winter came. Everybody needed just enough money in order to live, and everybody wanted to live. Nobody ever wanted to die because they didn’t have money.

And, this is why we need money.

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© 8/27/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. Originally posted as a Note at Ruth Ann Scanzillo/Facebook.

littlebarefeetblog.com

WHY WE NEED SOLDIERS.

by Ruth Ann Scanzillo, 3rd grade, Mrs. Osborne

LINCOLN SCHOOL.

Why do we need soldiers in our country?

We need many soldiers because human beings have to kill each other in order to get land and the stuff that comes from the land. Everybody knows that, without land, people can’t live on planet Earth because people don’t have gills. So, people have to get as much land as they can, even if it means taking it from people who already live on it. And, if the people who already live on it won’t let anybody take it, then it sometimes helps to try to get the stuff from the land, like oil to burn for cold winters and gold and silver and diamonds, because those are things that people use to make roads and buildings and machines and getting the stuff instead of taking the land means less people will have to be killed because human beings don’t like to share – they want to keep their stuff. Oh; and, some people believe in religions that kill people to get what they want, too, and when they believe these religions this makes the killing part okay. So, religions that say it’s okay to kill people are more popular with the people who want more land. But, some religions don’t believe in killing people for any reason. The people who believe in those are quiet, and don’t even mind living alone sometimes, and they grow their own food even. They don’t much need stuff from other people’s land but, when they do, they are willing to trade some of their extra stuff for the things they do need. But, in our country, most people don’t live alone. They live in houses with other people, some houses full of other people called families, and some of them have jobs that make them leave their houses during the day. Most of those people who do jobs in buildings make things on machines or sell things made on machines or work on machines or drive big trucks to take the things that are made to stores so the stuff can be sold. Machines make all kinds of things that people can’t make on their own. Most of the small stuff the machines make are for people who want things, like clothes and telephones and parts for cars and bikes and games. Everybody wants things, because having things gives them something to do if they can’t sing or play the piano. Really big machines make things for the soldiers, like planes and guns and bombs because killing to get more land is a big deal and requires very powerful equipment so that killing the people actually works. Nobody wants to kill all kinds of people for no reason.

And, that’s why we need so many soldiers in our country.

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© 8/27/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo.

littlebarefeetblog.com

The Sweet Thanksgiving.

The brisk breezes would stir the “whisker” tree’s fist sized tumbleweeds, scattering them between our feet as we scrambled up the steps and took the path between the rock gardens to the front porch at Mammy’s house. In summer we’d take the lazier, flat wide stone walkway from the drive, parallel the porch, the potted geraniums and succulents snuggled side by side along its railing under the broad, royal blue canvas awning flapping in the wind. From that side path, we could almost look Mammy in the eye, cushioned into her steel porch rocker in the far corner awaiting our appearance, smile alight.

But, come fall, we’d hasten past the battened down and molting toward the warm yellow light framed by the front door, halfway up the porch already hearing Aunt Martha’s belly and Pappy’s booming laugh rising out of the maelstrom of chattering chaos already testing the outer walls of the entire house. Grasping the round, brass doorknob, and leaning into the glass paneled hardwood, we’d push and burst through, hardly noticed by the throng until one face turned and then Pappy, arms above his head, hands curled from hard work, roared out his raging welcome and everyone except the aunts who never stopped talking turning then to gather yet another of us into their arms.

Kicking the snow from our overshoes onto the multilayered hooked rugs, we’d stack them and take the short diagonal between the twin bookcases past the round oak dining room table and the African violets in the east window through to the kitchen, passing the ceramic cookie jar setting our paperbagged salad fixings carefully on the kitchen-turned- server table next to the apple, mincemeat, pumpkin, and rhubarb pies, where Mammy stood over the stove in her rick rack trimmed cotton apron, stirring a pot of gravy with a wooden spoon, the pressure cooker’s indicator bobbling and sputtering over the back burner like a steam train waiting in the station. All the aunts took their wide hipped turns in the kitchen, two of them diligent about the food and the other two appearing to inspect and taste test, the youngest with a wink toward a niece or nephew as she licked her finger.

Pappy was loud, and three of his four son in laws quiet, each quick with a joke or a witty comeback, Uncle Frank sitting with a closed eyed smile, Dad who was called Uncle Tony with his hands in his belt, napping already in the only scene where he would not command the center of attention, Uncle Bud standing tall near a corner already giggling through a long, spun yarn for the home movie camera, and Uncle George, egging Pappy on with his bright, Irish bell tenor.

We grandchildren were fifteen in all, the firstborn Alan, a brilliant artist and pianist, rarely able to come home anymore being married in Michigan, his four other siblings Philip, Lydia, Lois and Frannie often present, living only two doors down, the elder girls wearing their engagement rings dressed in wool sweaters and straight skirts and pointed pumps, Frannie in keeping with her other, younger counterparts in winter wear warm enough for playing outside if there were enough snow later. Then, cousin Bonnie and half brothers Butch and David from Lawrence Park because Uncle Bud worked at GE, and me and my two brothers, Nathan and Paul, having walked from around the corner and across the street and, finally, our four cousins from Ohio, Becky, Beth, Timmy and Kathy, the latter two with flaming red hair. Being either the first or last to arrive, once all were in house the card table would come out, and the floral painted linens, we among the smallest cousins relegated to the workroom where the rugs were braided and the clothes sewn and the toybox waited and, while the piano took turns being played and songs chosen for singing, the family like a choir from an old country church, Pappy the only tone deaf voice among them, the potatoes were mashed, the boiled bacon drippings poured over the salad, the parsnips and rutabaga and peas and Lima beans and corn ladeled into their divided serving dishes, the silver plated forks knives and spoons set on each soft, embossed linen napkin, tomato juice poured into the slender tulip glasses and set at the center of each China plate, head lettuce leaves placed on each smaller one for salad, fruit filled Jello squares lifted onto each leaf, one half teaspoon of Hellmann’s to dot each center, the gravy poured into the boat, the butter set in its silver dish, the roast carved and, finally, the Parker House rolls, ready and hot, in the round, linen lined bowl basket to table.

Pappy could be heard from any room in the house, but usually Aunt Dora Mae or Aunt Betty would call all to the dinner table. Aunt Dora Mae was hands down the better cook among them, Mammy’s eldest, but Mum’s voice was the most penetrating on account of her hearing loss and Aunt Frances was likely in earnest discussion with another of equal intellectual bent and Aunt Martha busy, laughing in a far corner, her nephews gathered around her ready audience testing their latest comedic mettle.

But, the food drew us all, to the oak table round circled by both Dora Mae and Betty as they’d labored the delivery of their firstborn, to the card table in the living room where Risk, Monopoly, Probe, and Life were won and lost, to the child’s table and chairs that Pappy made in the workroom just beyond the pantry and we, the Sweet family, sat our chaos down to the warmth of hot, family style Thanksgiving dinner and bowed our heads while Pappy thanked the God who brought him all the way across the Commonwealth to build cranes at BuCyrus-Erie, to the street corners to preach, to the City Mission and the Gospel Assembly Hall to settle his family in the east side neighborhood at 923 East 29th.

Then, everyone filled their faces, still all talking at once, Mammy finally sitting down at the kitchen end of the table, laughing with her mouth full, Pappy hunched over his plate, gumming his food with his teeth out, the aunts and uncles and cousins all tasting the same food with their own unique manifestations of the family DNA, all together, the whisker trees’ tumbleweeds flying about outside the east windows, as remnants of the feast wafted throughout the house to leave behind its everlasting aroma in the wallpaper, the white silken window curtains, the ceiling plaster, the floor underfoot, and the dark wood framing each room in the house, the collective spirit of nourishment sustaining life on one small, thankful speck of the planet as the world spun around once more.

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© 11/27/19    Ruth Ann Scanzillo     All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line.

From the heart of Sweet gratitude: Happy Thanksgiving! from littlebarefeetblog.com

What Happens When Language Changes.

TodaySponge95

The French woman was adamant.

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The Swiss woman sat, staring at her. The English couple, from Trent, lifted their chins just slightly. Next to them, the German husband arched his back. His wife wilted, averting her downcast eyes, and the American’s widened.

These all sat around the dinner table, in Zurich, on a Sunday. It was a Bible conference weekend, but this was a bigger deal.

The French woman was talking about language.

She said you have to live among the people, and learn the language. Only then will you know the culture. Because, and she closed emphatically, the culture is in the language.

That was 1984.

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In 2019, we might be members of a culture whose language remains a leading means of discourse among the powerful. But, as English speaking people, our culture has changed.

There are words which have been added to our lexicon which have become so embedded in it that we hardly realize there was ever a time when they were not there.

Here are two of them, taken separately.

“Reproductive” and “rights”.

Reproductive — having the capacity to reproduce.

Rights — (n.) moral or legal entitlements to act.

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But, taken together, they form a term, embodying a concept. “Reproductive rights” refer to a specific entitlement, that being: to bear a child.

The problem is, this term has evolved to become broader in scope than one might have initially perceived. No longer merely representing the right to bear a child, it has come to also mean the right not to. And, this evolution has been driven by social forces.

Plus — in the present day, not only are we talking about the right to or not to bear a child, this term has actually become one which encompasses a concept never actualized by humans born before 1930. Reproductive rights have come to represent the option to cease carrying a child already conceived.

In our language.

In our time.

The intractable problem with this is: now, the public debate tosses this term to and fro, throwing it around as a tool supporting any number of arguments from the right to receive compensation to emotional support, counseling, products, services, and all manner of supplemental medical procedures. Now, women fight to preserve their reproductive rights, their choice as women to make exclusive decisions about their bodies, decisions which are exempt from anyone else’s decision-making power.

Reproductive rights have melded into one argument, when they are actually two, distinct and even unrelated. And, the fundamental problem is one of conflation.

Somehow, the right to make independent decisions affecting one’s body, as a woman (or, as a man) has become conflated with another right, that of the option to dispense with a conceived embryo which has nested in one’s uterus, having begun the process leading toward birth. While the female body belongs to one, independent person, once conception occurs that independence is, in part, forfeited — because another life exists inside of it.

There are English speaking women to whom the term”reproductive right” is moot. These have already acknowledged that, once fertile, each of them bears both the ability and the responsibility of conceiving another human being. As such, they exercise only the right to be that vessel, should conception occur. To them, there is no other right. The right to bear a child is beyond the right they have over their own body. There is no argument. There is only the honor of a higher calling.

And so, embodied in its language, the very culture is divided. And, living amongst its people, this disparity is palpable.

Someone once said that the English language is the most inconsistent on the planet, riddled with exceptions to the rule of order.

Does this also reflect a problem within the culture?

If she could, would the French woman speak to this, and what might be said?

One wonders whether silence would be required by all.

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Selah.

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© 5/25/19   Ruth Ann Scanzillo.

littlebarefeetblog.com

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The Familiarist.

 

She stood, at the doorway, in full deja vu.

Surveying the dog sheet curled over the pillows, the rumpled blue and brown fleece. The little bowls, on the dresser. The three, inverted, grey and white socks, on the floor just near the child’s rattan chair draped with those pewter hued gym pants which always fit her just when she needed them.

The hallway, dog bone chards embedding in the terry tufted rugs from Ollie’s. Stand alone heater, always almost enough to cut that blood clotting, bone deadening chill. The Young Chang, hopelessly out of tune, against the central wall.

She’d had that old workhorse for nearly thirty years. Almost feeling again the giddy suspension of all reason which had moved her to hire the guy to haul it all the way out to this living room, even her own piano had become part of the deep, inextricable familiarity of these surroundings.

Familiar meant comfortable. Comfortable meant secure. Secure meant the hope of enduring life. How does one turn away?

Little Fitz Willie the cat, silent. Imploring. Bella wriggling. Brody gazing. The birds.

She loved. Like the earth, under foot.

His grandfatherly, cumin scent. Stumbling to the kitchen, hair Kewpie coiffed, for the ground morning cup. Crouched, ready for the bathroom well before she would ever be. Grousing, endlessly, in glorious malcontentment, through an entire day and into the end of it.

This couldn’t be the end, of anything. She knew it all, too well.

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© 2/20/19    Ruth Ann Scanzillo.    Please respect the author’s story. Thank you.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

 

Evolution and Christians of The Alphabetical Order.

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Yet another Sunday had come to its close. A certain combination of migraine medication side effect, rice pudding, the Autumnal Equinox, and the impending national election had proved a potent cocktail; I lay in bed, fighting a rare inability to fall asleep.

Sundays in my life had gone through a tangible evolution. What had been a consistent pattern of weekly church worship, from infancy through early adulthood, had been displaced by alternating themes: night shift sleep schedules; nocturnality; intellectual curiosity; and, ultimately, abdication (translation: loss of virginity). In my life, the Lord’s Day, like the Sabbath, had become indistinguishable from any other day of the week.

But, I would be intellectually dishonest were I to hide the fact that my belief patterns had also been morphing. The absolute truths put forth by proponents of the Holy Bible literalists had come into serious question and, with this, any commitment to a Christianity specifically defined.

What, after all, was Christianity? I’d read The History of Christianity, by Paul Tillich. I’d read other speculators, William James’ The Varieties of Religious Experience among them. And, I’d read virtually every word of the Holy Bible – King James Version, Scofield Reference, and J.N. Darby translation. Raised by sectarian Fundamentalists to believe that the One Way To Worship was their exclusive domain, and accepting Jesus as my Personal Savior at age six, the moment I’d consciously set one toe outside of that sanctified corral had set me on a path leading directly to the Grand Nowhere.

Now, eyes to the ceiling in the dark, I ruminated. How many called to worship on that day, who called themselves Christians, were there, exactly?

Perhaps it was time to count sheep.

I began with the letter A.

A  — Abyssinian Greeks; Amish; Ames Brethren; Anglicans; Assemblies of God

B  — Baptists; Brethren, Church of;

C — Calvinists; Closed Brethren; Colossians; Converted Jews; Coptics; Corinthians;

D — Davidians; Denominationalists; Doctors of Divinity; Dogmatists;

E — Ecumenicals; Ephesians; Episcopalians; Evangelicals; Evangelical Frees;

F — Federated Free; Franciscans; Fundamentalists;

G — Galations; General Association of Regular Baptists; Gnostics; Gregorians;

H — Holiness Pentecostals; Holy Eastern Orthodox;

I  — Independent Baptists; Inter-Denominationalists; Irish Catholics;

J — Jehovah’s Witnesses; Jesuits; Jesus Freaks;

K — Knights Templar;

L — Laodiceans; Latter Day Saints; Lutherans;

M — Mennonites; Methodists; Mormons, Reformed;

N — Nazarenes; New Apostolics; non-Denominationalists;

O — Open Brethren; Orthodox Greeks;

P — Philippians; Plymouth Brethren; Protestants; Presbyterians; Pentecostals;

Q — Quakers;

R — Roman Catholics; Reformed, so called;

S — Scientist, Church of Christ; Seventh Day Adventists; Smyrnans;

T — Theologians, Academic; Thessalonians;

U — United Brethren; United Church of Christs’; Unitarians;

V — Vatican, The;

W — Wesleyan Methodists; Worldwide Church of God;

X — Xmas Celebrants;

Y — Youth Pastors;

Z — Zionists!

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Indeed. The alphabet proved a useful tool; its twenty six letters had successfully taken me across the spectrum of Christianity, from the Apostle Paul’s inception through to the present day.

Further research, beyond the ironic – though futile – quest for the letter “X”, revealed the Hartford Institute for Religion Research and their list of Official Denominational websites. In Hartford’s list, the number of entries for the letter “A” alone, while inclusive of other religions, exceeded the number of letters in the alphabet.

As I drifted off to sleep, a final thought formulated in my mind. It was neither a proclamation, nor a dogma, nor a tenet. Rather, it appeared as a challenge, in the form of this question:

When fairly addressing the argument for or against the theory of evolution, wouldn’t one only have to consider the history of the Christian church as evidence?

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© Ruth Ann Scanzillo 11/7/16    All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Thank you for your respect. Like my Mammy always said, “Prayer Changes Things.”

littlebarefeetblog.com

One Dry Sabbath.

 

Well, goodness.

How were we to know that being panned for an entire Saturday in late summer would render this self – involved blogger intensely concerned that she had offended, what, an entire following collective with just one, indirect reference to a specific national heritage*?

Having toyed with taking a more brazen stance, I’d opted instead for a sort of meandering through device and subtlety, just seeing where one word would direct the next. My intentions were almost too much, even for me to face; addressing the whole thing under veil of inference was somehow safer.

So much for safe. Haven’t we been preoccupied by safe, for the better part of the last fifteen years?

I mean, I could have done the simple thing. I could have said that I’d seen a boy again whom I’d adored from a distance at a tender phase of life, a boy who, in genuine appreciation for my having jumped to the Coda precisely when he did, went the extra step and had a bouquet of flowers delivered to his accompanist’s door.

But, that would have been just too naked.

I couldn’t expose a man who’d attended an Ivy league school, been married for years, sired three sons, established a successful professional practice, and then returned home to say goodbye to his father. Rather, waxing on and off and on again about his character, and how it was sourced, with bits about how much I honored him for everything his gesture represented at a time when I couldn’t have known how pivotal such an act would be to me in my own life? That seemed almost worthy.

So, yeah.

I saw a boy again. And, it was nice. And, I wanted it to mean something. But, of course, it could only mean what it was. Just a nice little chat, at his father’s wake. Not some treatise on the comparative theological value of Judaism. Not the apologist’s view of the Jewish character from a Gentile-based mentality. No study of social construct; no mask for ulterior motivation. Just a little visit, with the boy who played Sabre Dance on the xylophone in 1974.

Call me some kind of bigot; I really have no defense. I do not know the meaning of “Anti-Semitism.” If you think you do, then by all means, judge me and cast me off.

Otherwise, have a nice, dry Sabbath evening.

L’chaim.

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*Twelve Pink Carnations.

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© Ruth Ann Scanzillo  8/6/16  All rights those of the Gentile girl who wrote the piece, whose story it is, and whose name appears above this line.  Thank you for your mercy.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

Cpl Anthony Scanzillo, Forward Observing team, 3rd Armored Div, 9th Battalion/Field Artillery, USArmy, WWII/Patton-Hodges

 Dear Dad,

You hated fireworks; they reminded you of the “screaming meemies.”

You loved parades; they reminded you of the day you earned Corporal for having marched your unit into parade for the dignitaries as lead bugler.

You loved your independence, yet treasured home – the dry roof over your head, the three, square, home-cooked meals a day, the wife, the children…..and, “the shop”, your place of business that you established as barber.

But, you never forgot the War.

Nobody could come up behind you without warning, be it light or dark, without being whirled upon with that black dart from eyes which knew the threat of momentary death. You could still see the faces of those who dropped beside you in the midst of battle. Eighty-some years later, you could still see. You could still feel the cold snow at the Bulge, surrounded by the enemy, and the tickle in your throat as you vainly suppressed a cough. You always remembered, because you could not forget.

Yet, miraculously, those eyes never lost their depth or their twinkle. That throat never lost its tuneful warble. Those hands never lost their tender touch. You felt the everlasting arms of Providence, and were carried through.

I bow to your memory today, and every day. Fathers are many, and daughters abound; but, you were a standout, and I love and honor you forever.

XOXO, Ruth Ann

© Ruth Ann Scanzillo

5/12/12

all rights. Thanks, Dad.