QUESTIONING The ANSWER: How to Get Labeled the “Troublemaker” in Your Own Hometown.

 

Anybody who was born in Erie, Pennsylvania within the past century knows.

This town has an unspoken history.

What has appeared in print, alternately surreptitiously or boldly depending on the relative acceptance of the author’s credibility, has alluded more than once to what everybody has always known: this was a Mafia “mob town”.

Back when Italians and Irish were the dominant first generation immigrant population, the “connected” families were well established. One of them led the city’s government for decades. These were the days of scenes from The Godfather movies; small business fronts, numbers runners, clubs, and neighborhood networks all set up to keep everything smoothly under control.

Into this picture, my Italian father appeared as a displaced citizen. A Bostonian ward of Massachusetts, he’d found himself here by way of a night train and a native Erieite who would become his wife, twice – the first time, in 1944, and again in 1955. Having graduated from barber school after WWII, he would set up his first shop on what, in those days, was the center of the East side: Parade Street. A decade later, he would move to purchase a cement block building on the corner of East 5th & Wallace Streets, and serve a regular clientele of Russian and Polish immigrants as well as city officials for 44 years.

I can remember Dad speaking about the BB gun holes in his plate glass windows on 5th. He and Mum would discuss them, in front of my brothers and me; these were Union people, harassing him to join and follow all their rules for price fixing. I cannot remember when the BB gun holes ceased, but something happened to end them because, once they stopped, they never appeared again. The city officials, however, continued as loyal customers until their deaths by natural causes. Many a final haircut would Dad give, to each of them, in their hospital beds at Hamot, St. Vincent, and over at the Vet’s.

A dear widow and long time Erie resident told me her take on the city, recently. Her late husband was beloved, and well known. And, as secretary to an attorney’s office, she knew who all the racketeers were, by name. She said that, back then, there was no crime in Erie; the mob saw to it that the streets were clean.

Nowadays, Erie is in transition from being an industrial mecca to a vacation resort, and shows promise. But, socially, vestiges of its history can be found in a continually manifesting tribalism. Because, geographically, the city is set on the water’s edge of Lake Erie its flat terrain is laid out in the “Philadelphia grid” style of endless, square city blocks. Consequently, there is nothing to distinguish one neighborhood from another except immediate, unspoken boundaries of ghetto; those living in poverty can be found one square block away from the wealthy, investing elite who own historic villas converted into office space and executive rentals just down the street from City Hall.

So, these tribes of peoples, set apart by closely juxtaposed neighborhoods from Glenwood Heights to the upper lakefront blight, still function in parallel proximity. Even as each nationality represented continues to celebrate its heritage in the multiple summer ethnic festivals, one problem persists: Social segregation. Now, who is in control?

And, that is the first question.

In Erie, as in these United States, every citizen is free to ask that first question. Ask any question, once.

The answer given is expected to be accepted.

But, what if the answer, often the official position on any topic, isn’t acceptable?

What if there is a problem with its content?

I have always been the inquisitive child. If Why? is the question, I will be the first to ask it. Unfortunately, though an established professional in my own right, I am merely the barber’s daughter. Who will give me the straight, factually accurate response? Do I need to know it?

In Erie, you can ask; but, you cannot ask, again. If you challenge the answer you are given, what happens to you is swift and inescapable: you are labeled the “troublemaker”.

And, once branded, you had better retreat into the shadows and stay away. Control is everything to those grasping after it and, in a town where the history was all about leaving well enough alone, if you wonder you are to do so in solitude; if you doubt, you are to keep quiet; if you disbelieve, keep your religion to yourself.

To what end can we know how Erie, Pennsylvania will survive those who do?

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© 6/12/19   Ruth Ann Scanzillo.  Born at Hamot; raised on the East side; educated in the public schools; taxpaying homeowner on the West side; lifetime Erieite. God Bless Our Home, and all who dwell within it. Thank you for your respect.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

 

Naming Mental Illness: It’s A Mind Game.

My beautiful pictureIn the wake of multiple lives lost at the hands of another, lone gunman, we as a society pause yet again to face the truly disturbing: sick minds are a threat to us all.
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And, the bigger problem looms. Our care and oversight with regard to detecting, diagnosing and treating the mentally ill is, to this degree, still woefully incomplete.
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To begin with, I believe we use the term “mentally ill” far too loosely, and imprecisely; consequently, a “cry wolf” mentality seeps into the public consciousness. We misappropriate the term, applying it whenever we think we don’t particularly like or understand someone, and miss the truly deadly potential in those who really are unwell.
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Let’s take a step back, and lay out some facts.
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MentalHealth.gov, the official website on the topic, states:
  • One in five American adults experience a mental health issue;
  • One in 10 young people experience a period of major depression;
  • One in 25 Americans live with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.
Yet,
“Half of all mental health disorders show first signs before a person turns 14 years old, and three quarters of mental health disorders begin before age 24.
Unfortunately, less than 20% of children and adolescents with diagnosable mental health problems receive the treatment they need.”
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Given the above indisputable data, over 80% of those who are really ill get no treatment in their earliest years, when containment and rehabilitation is possible.
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Meantime, we go about our days interacting with all manner of personalities. Somebody demonstrates a trait not common to our own notions of good protocol, rubbing us the wrong way. Perhaps louder, or more vociferously than we might, such an one misbehaves in public. One of us says to another: “She’s mental.”
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Let’s not mistake acute passion, expressed in the presence of others, for imbalance.
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Fact:
“The vast majority of people with mental health problems are no more likely to be violent than anyone else. Most people with mental illness are not violent and only 3%–5% of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with a serious mental illness.”
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How many of these lone gunmen were ever described by anyone who knew them as out acting? Rather, categorically, up until the moment of their psychotic break, each behaved in a manner decidedly well beneath the radar of public condemnation.
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Even as we move forward to improve our detection and diagnosis of the mentally ill, let’s check our reactions toward each other at the door. Become more wary of the unusually silent, among our young and old; watch eye movement; document the absence of response, rather than each outburst otherwise easily recognized; and, communicate all observations to the appropriate resource as soon as they have been made.
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But, withhold public declaration. Defaming the innocent is almost as deadly to our collective relationship as is missing one capable of suddenly taking yet another life.
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© 6/7/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. Originally published at Medium.com
littlebarefeetblog.com

“Thank You, Very Much.”

She was shorter than I, with soiled, shoulder length salt and pepper hair and a walking tripod cane. I recognized this cane, as Dad would use one in his final years while living with me. Because her head was lowered slightly, I couldn’t determine the woman’s relative age; but able to, on account of my relative height, I reached above her to hold the door open to enable her to navigate into the lobby of the South Erie Postal Station.
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Silently, she preceded me.
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Taking those few steps required to reach the service window enclosure, again there was a door and again, as she reached forward, I took ahold and held it for her so she could get through with her cane.
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Again, she remained silent, not looking back in my direction.
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As we waited in line, she having stepped past both me and the others utilizing the materials island to prepare our packages for mailing, I silently observed her. Perhaps she was a “deaf mute”, the term my father had always used for one of his neighbors across from the barber shop on 5th. Or, maybe a first generation immigrant, preferring not to speak unless she could converse in her native tongue. These speculations, I decided, would explain her silence.
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Having completed the woman’s transaction, the postal worker wished her a good day. At that point the woman turned left, preparing to make her exit. In so doing, she spoke. Clearly, and distinctly, in perfect English:
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“Thank you, very much!”
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I watched her, moving slowly with her cane, to the door and out of the station. Checking an impulse to break from the line and follow her, I thought better of it, considering the number of tasks awaiting me at home.
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But, I wanted to follow her. I wanted to catch up, and speak to her. I wanted to ask her, to confront her. Why had she not thanked me, even once, for holding the door for her?
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What was it – my dark hair? my sunglasses? my yellow raincoat? The jeans. All my colors. My complexion? my bone structure? my ethnicity?
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Was it some vestige of either fear, or repugnance, she felt at the sight of me?
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Perhaps she’d preferred to make her own way through the doors, without any assistance at all. Was my gesture interpreted as condescending, or some unnecessary spotlight on her apparent infirmity?
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Some fleeting recollection of childhood spun across my subconscious. I was the only brown girl, in a legion of Anglo-Saxons. Always complimented for my “beautiful skin”, by our grandmother, for a moment I was that girl again, the one different from everybody else in the family. Then, fast forward, to Customs in the Toronto airport, 1984. My curly perm, and the cans in my carry on from the Scottish butcher shop; detained, interrogated and then, me, running with all my might to get to the gate before the plane closed its doors.
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I left the post office, walking through the doors of my own accord and out into the sun. I didn’t want to feel hatred, only wonder, and a little sadness.
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She was gone. Still, I heard my voice speak to the woman, declaring my self, my family history, reveling in the clarity of my perfect English. I, too, was a woman, my father’s daughter, and proud, thank you very much.
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5/31/19    Ruth Ann Scanzillo.     All rights those of the author, whose story it is, and whose real, Biblical, birth name appears above this line.
littlebarefeetblog.com

The Kiss.

 

I swooned with everyone else.

Not only was he tall, strong, and handsome, Cuomo was fresh, well rested, adroit, and the picture of health. A shrewd contrast to Maddow’s incisive, rapid fire analysis, this broadcasting commentator offered a more streamlined, to the point style which appealed not exclusively to heterosexual females but to everyone on the go seeking a solid, bottom line summary of the day’s political events. The package was just the icing on the beefcake.

Frankly, tuning in was already old to me; I’d been a daily news viewer for years. Perhaps growing up in a fundamentalist sect affected my latent thirst for up to the minute real time check ins on world realities. Who knew? For the past decade following the ticker had become my thing, and what better way to finish off the day than with a face which harkened to my own beloved? It’s true; both Cuomo and my significant other are genetically similar, bearing the wide, toothy grin and broadly open eyes of either Calabria or Campania, though mine a decade or so ahead in age and, okay, we Dagos like to keep it in the family. Besides, being on call in a hospital keeps my own absent on most evenings. But, you aren’t convinced.

So, it was time. Time for the latest heartthrob of the astute and vigilant to visit Colbert Nation.

He wouldn’t have been the first. AC had already been, as had his own late night comrade, D Lemon. But, he would be a first, and inimitably so. Chris Cuomo would bring his winsome charm all the way to the mats.

They’d made it nearly to the end of predicted reparte, “getting after it” for a solid twelve. Can we even remember how it came next? No. We can’t. But, we won’t forget it, either.

Somebody challenged somebody to the floor. Who could do 100 push ups?

The ties came off. The cuffs came up.

It was brain to brawn, lean to clean, waddaya mean. Counting aloud, the audience held their collective breath.

Then, just past 40-something, the inexplicable happened. The five second delay kicked in, and the frame froze. No amount of rewind could retrieve it; the outcome was lost. Cable rarely gave out, not nearly as often as dish, but it would be the next day, on the Tube, that we’d see why.

The host had been the first to give, well, because he was the host. Collapsing to the floor, Colbert curled almost fetal, closed his eyes, and smiled like a baby in a bassinet.

Then, Mario’s youngest did what all good Italian boys do. He laughed, crawled over on top of Colbert like a puppy in a litter, hugged him, and kissed him on his face.

Did the tape stop, on purpose? Was there a mad dash to edit?

Now, it might only be the Italian Americans who will have understood. We claim no corner on the market of affection, but we do hold this court. And, I’m betting that even the most stoic Swede in Minnesota felt it, right where open meets honest and fake is the joke, right?

That’s right. It’s all there, in the heart of everyone with a will and a brother.

Swoon on.

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© 5/29/19   Ruth Ann Scanzillo.   Thanks for the read, and the respect. Be well.

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.

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

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The French woman was talking about language.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Here are two of them, taken separately.

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“Reproductive” and “rights”.

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Reproductive — having the capacity to reproduce.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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In our language.

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In our time.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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Does this also reflect a problem within the culture?

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

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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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What Is This Thing Called Life?

Joleen'sNephewYAWNS
Jodie Johnson’s baby boy.

A lot changes in one lifetime.

My grandmother was raised without the car, the radio, or the television. I grew up without a computer. Transistor radios were the first portables, the size of a human hand; early televisions were sold in black and white; and, the term “wireless” originally applied only to morse code and telegram.

Technology has advanced our civilization like no other force on the planet. We can do things, and interact, in ways which were unimaginable just fifty years ago.

But, one thing hasn’t changed.

Humans are still required to reproduce themselves.

Whether we engage in sex or not, sperm and egg must converge in order for conception to occur, and female bodies must be their host.

At present, fertile women hold an immense amount of power. They endure pregnancy, and bring into the world the next generation. Until the day when alternate hosts for gestation are provided, women alone will carry to term every conceived life.

Or, not.

My elder brother is an expert witness. He possesses the qualifications to serve in court. Attorneys hire him to comment on the facts related to scientific inquiry, because he is a chemist with a PhD. While not required to have been present at the scene of either a crime or as yet unexplained death, he is permitted to speak with authority as to its evidentiary details. Growing up at his elbow, I learned to pay attention to what science teaches us.

Now, while scientists irrespective of gender across the nation remain in hot debate over which of them has the authority to determine the origin of life, society and its politicians are now re-visiting when life begins.

Here is what can be clearly understood. Millions of sperm are observed under a microscope swimming like tadpoles. Furthermore, the human egg does appear to burst from the ovary of its own volition, spurred by the follicle stimulating hormone. A single sperm is known to penetrate the egg, and a merger of the two produces a zygote which immediately begins to divide, cell by cell. Cell division is the natural process of what is called growth within an organism and an organism, by definition, is alive.

Nature is our reliable educator. All we need do is become its attentive student. The female body signals its every cyclic phase, and the process by which these phases can be followed has been called the Sympto-Thermal Method*.

As fertility approaches, both the basal body temperature changes and the vagina begins to secrete an opaque solution; once the solution becomes clear and viscous (like egg albumin), this indicates that the mature egg has exited the ovary and is traveling down the fallopian tube to the uterus. During this phase, should sperm be introduced into the vaginal canal (or, already be present in waiting), conception becomes increasingly likely. Once the egg has reached the uterus, there is a precise, 24 hour period during which basal body temperature remains elevated and the egg will remain viable, able to be fertilized by one sperm.

If a male sperm reaches the egg first, a male child is conceived. Female sperm swim slower and live longer; perhaps a female sperm will penetrate the egg, by the next day, if the egg does not begin its own demise. But, once penetrated by a sperm, if sufficient progesterone is present the fertilized egg attempts to nest in the wall of the uterus. If successful, the zygote begins to grow; if conception and/or nesting does not occur, the egg dies and the basal body temperature descends. Once this temperature returns to normal, conception can no longer occur until the cycle repeats.

Nature also has its own means by which unviable fetuses are dismissed. This is called miscarriage. The relative health of the mother as well as the fetus usually determines this involuntary outcome but, one thing is certain: this decision is made by the body, itself, and not the mind of the person dwelling within it.

The act of disturbing any living fetus to the extent that it can no longer continue growth is called abortion. Is there a species from within the animal kingdom on our planet which has demonstrated voluntary interruption of fetal growth? If so, what are the conditions which predicate the act?

Put yourself in the following position. A female kangaroo is within arm’s reach. Inside the kangaroo’s pouch is a gestating fetus. What would happen, were you to attempt to reach into the kangaroo’s pouch?

Women are entitled to three humanitarian options. We have the option to conceive. We have the option to gestate and give birth. And, we have the option to let nature take its course. Anything else is in violation of the living organism our bodies are capable of producing.

And, women, because we are currently the hosts, must take full responsibility for the potential of life in the womb. We must educate girls and women fully, both in the area of pregnancy health as well as pregnancy prevention. The Sympto-Thermal method can be taught, and should be a requirement within every public and private school curriculum. Even very young girls, regardless of socio-economic background, can be given a thermometer and shown how to take their basal body temperature in preparation for puberty. As for the small number of those who remain unteachable, great care of these should be taken by the entire society’s watchful and compassionate eye and any children they bear should be cared for accordingly.

Each of us has been given life, entirely outside of our own choice; as such, we should respect this involuntary gift, and sustain life by choice.

And, this would render the agonizing and impossible abortion argument null and void, forever.

Why?

Because in spite of life’s endless changes, living itself is precious.

 

*https://www.factsaboutfertility.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/SymptoThermalPEH.pdf

 

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© 5/15/19   Ruth Ann Scanzillo.   Thank you for your respect.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letter to The Love Of My Life.

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Header always append X-Frame-Options SAMEORIGIN
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Dearest Love,
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Remember when we met?
I was alone, inside my head.
You appeared. And, you were beautiful.
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Both smoothe and firm, your face was perfect. Your eyes, twinkling, deep and introspective. Your mouth soft, and fleshy. Your hands, quiet, self possessed, silently speaking only to me. Your body strong. Your voice clear, and resonant. Your smile, slow, and real.
I loved you, instantly.
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You, in all your manifestations. Sometimes you embodied those I came to know. They channeled you well, a few better than others. You came to me, so many times, across so many paths, in so many ways, sometimes suddenly, at others gradually, taking me by surprise thereafter.
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I loved you, as God loves his own creation. My object d’arte, you were ever mine to adore. Endless latitude I gave you, always believing in you, ever hopeful of your capacity to accept my love.
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If ever you are lost, there is a home for you in me. To me, you can come always — your staunchest defender, your honor, your solace, your devotion.
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You are not alone. I know you.
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You live in my heart.
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What is your name?
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© 5/2/19  Ruth Ann Scanzillo.  This is original, personal material. Be a good person. Leave it alone. Thank you.
littlebarefeetblog.com

Original Poetry.

 

You know, these blogs really are a great place to store your best stuff. They aren’t 100% plagiarist proof, but at least you have a shelf to put it on. Meantime, some of the templates are easier to navigate than others; the one I use was designed in 2013 and, for an old girl, that’s recent enough.*

Billy Collins is doing a Masterclass on Facebook. He spoke at Chautauqua a few years ago, in the Hall of Philosophy. I was there. He also did a talk with Paul Simon, in the Amp. He, together with James Kavanaugh, is/are my continuing inspirations and emulations.

But, my mother was my first.

She could rhyme a verse in minutes. For anything I’ve ever crafted, she gets best credit.

So, in honor of mum, whose dreams were deferred, read a few poems today. On her behalf, I will thank you.

It’s also William Shakespeare’s birthday.

Read.

Thank you.

*[ Categories appear in the bar across the top. Click on original poetry. ]

 

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© 4/23/19  Ruth Ann Scanzillo.

“harmless” Bots and WordPress.com

WordPress.com “Happiness Engineers” have repeatedly declared to me, in email correspondence, that bots who troll my account and latch on as “Followers” are “harmless.”

Within the past hour, I have been reading the Mueller report. According to this report, from as recently as 2014 the Internet Research Agency, or IRA, a Russian funded group put in place to influence public perception – principally for political reasons – used both fake internet personas and bots to accomplish their objectives.

If bots could be used by such an agency, what lucid reader or writer is going to believe anymore that a bot is harmless?

WordPress.com, I hereby put you on notice. Protect our accounts, and our material, by whatever means possible. Many of us are paying yearly for our domains, yet we are persistently trolled by aliases posing as legitimate WordPress.com and other websites.

Thank you.

littlebarefeetblog.com

Ruth Ann Scanzillo, author and administrator.    4/19/19

 

 

 

 

The Tyrant.

 

Truth is inherent power.

And, one who manipulates or misrepresents it is a tyrant.

Such a creature recognizes that by lying, or misrepresenting facts, one can exert limited control over another’s perception of reality.

Those who need to control others’ perceptions of reality seek to use them, in some way. Perhaps minions are sought, to do bidding, as delegates or constituents. Perhaps the tyrant needs to hide nefarious actions by cloaking them in deceit. But, in every case, the liar assumes power because, in the mind of the used, truth is taken captive.

However, truth is also omniscient and omnipresent.

While one may seize upon another’s apprehension of it, truth transcends perception.

In spite of the actions of one tyrant, what is real is known to reveal of its own volition.

This could be argued as evidence of a higher power. Many name God.

Don’t lie to me. My trust is in Truth. As such, I am impermeable.

I am your tyrant.

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© 3/26/19    Ruth Ann Scanzillo.     All rights those of the author, whose truth it is, and whose name appears above this line. Tell it.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

 

 

 

 

Two Plane Crashes and the Death of Accountability.

 

The world is, indeed, flat. But, it’s vertical, and small enough to exclude everything that was ever important. Like the value of life.

Did anybody see the press release?

Boeing pilots transitioned to the 737 Max 8 by taking a “self-administered online test” which made no mention of a critical program, the MCAS (maneuvering characteristics augmentation system) which ultimately brought about not one, but the two, deadly crashes now part of our visceral history.

I can recall testing, when I was a child. The memories are also visceral.

You studied all week. The night before, your mother (the woman who bore you) would ask you the pre-test set of questions which either your best teachers had already devised and provided as study guides, or those which she herself had composed after thoroughly perusing your test material. Biting your nails and squinting, you answered them until they were all correct. Then, you went to bed, squirming with anxiety in anticipation of the next day in the Court of Assessment.

Granted, some of us conquered testing by sheer memorization, the rote kind, devoid of actual comprehension but note-perfect and able to be recited in a heartbeat under pressure.

Those of us who knew that getting good grades was the only path to a good job and a secure life took our tests seriously. We really couldn’t have cared less about the students who blew them off by cheating or skipping them entirely. We were in it to make it. We were that proud.

Oh; and, the proctor. The proctor was always live. That teacher never left the room, not for a second. Eyes on our eyes, the whole time.

Wow. Can you name the number of things which have changed, since our day? How long is your list? Bullet points?

Can we fully imagine that those who take some 182 humans lives in their very hands, every day, as soon as they step into the cockpit, wouldn’t be at least as serious as we were when we were just kids?

We can’t blame the pilots. It’s the testing system, itself. What robot is responsible for the “self-administered” online questionnaire, in the first place, and which computer genius was it who enabled the software? And, above all, which flight specialist designer overlooked including the critical component change ignorance of which brought down the planes?

Gone is the age of accountability. In its place, software. A series of apps. Nobody looks over anybody’s shoulder, anymore. Nobody looks at anybody, or anything — except the screen in front of them. We’ve managed to get sucked into an alternative universe, one with only two dimensions. Flat.

When Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall, though they may have tried valiantly all the King’s minions couldn’t repair his shell. But, maybe, once enough body parts are collected from the rubble of a shattered jet, somebody will look up and face what’s really there. In three dimensions.

That’s the test. Will we pass it?

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3/22/19 *originally published at Medium.com as Two Plane Crashes and the Absence of Accountability.   Ruth Ann Scanzillo.

littlebarefeetblog.com

She Was.

CHAPTER 40.

Carrie Fisher, Carol Burnett, Ruth Buzzi and Barbra, all rolled into one potato bug, from a town where stupendous lived next door to mediocre and across the street from feeble and nobody knew the difference except the crone on the corner keeping tabs.

Her family: Toy Story. Original script. Stuffed animals, wind ups, and a nearly dead parrot delivered their dogma by the light of a single, sectarian light bulb hanging over the kitchen table. Mr. Incredible, waiting in the wings to scoop up the most demure among all women, already coolly rejecting her for her swarthy complexion and dark stare, the cowboy too weak kneed to capture even a passing glance, Mr. Potato Head would love her with his whole tuber and she would never know.

Vanity: her middle name. If there were a mirror, she was near it; were there competitively symmetrical women in the room, she would be unsettled. Some synergy of self doubt and grandiosity had entrenched, and crystallization was imminent; only Marianne Williamson, in person, could save her. The real issue: was she worth the rescue?

From age two, crayon in hand, her head had exploded with intricate, cinematic narrative. Barely able to fit the words onto the white space surrounding the always centered image on the page, syntax to the wind, her first attempt dictating to a marveling mother demanded the correct spelling for everything.

The earliest of her best efforts were lost. Somewhere between acquiring the Pontiac Ventura custom painted blue and trading it in for a creme toned Sunbird, the paper grocery bag filled with the precious college journal, Ebony penciled drawings, poems, and her fledgling essays would remain in the trunk with the vintage tin child’s kitchen and the navy blue laced wedged sandals as the car rolled off the lot. This was the charter for parsing out, but nobody would tell her a thing.

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© 3/21/19  Ruth Ann Scanzillo.    All rights those of the author, who was, and whose name appears above this line.  Thank you for remembering.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The International Musician, The American Federation, and The Professional Audition.

IMALookAtTheAuditionProcessAug2009

The issue was August, 2009.

The magazine: The INTERNATIONAL MUSICIAN, a periodical published by and for the members of the American Federation of Musicians, which is the Union of performing professionals in both United States and Canada.

In these issues, usually with an up and coming musician featured on each front cover, articles meaningful to the professional population are included, along with numerous ads for products and services and, possibly most importantly, in summer a complete listing of vacated symphonic and military band positions open for audition in the coming fall.

However, the August 2009 issue presented a remarkably illuminating piece on the orchestral audition process, itself. Happening upon it only three years later, I found its contents startling and, suddenly, very relevant.

Having spent nearly 27 years as a regular, and even first call, sub, I’d played my third and final audition for a seat in the cello section of the Erie Philharmonic in early September of 2012.  The summer of that same year found me training intensely for what, I’d hoped, would finally be the job security which I had so long coveted. For this purpose, I’d commuted to the nearby Chautauqua Institution to obtain multiple private sessions with cellist and Ann Arbor Symphony conductor, Maestro Arie Lipsky, on staff every summer to conduct the Festival Strings and instruct the population of cello students.

Maestro Lipsky established a solid footing for my concerto movement of choice, and offered often ingenious fingering options for the list of orchestral excerpts required by the highest professional orchestral standard. Nearly weekly, from spring until summer’s end, he put me through my paces, as only a seasoned symphonic conductor could; Lipsky not only knew the cello repertoire, he knew what a conductor sought in a section player and made certain I did, as well.

Come audition day, I was ready – and, familiar with the protocol: Show up; sign in. Unpack; warm up. Wait. Each candidate having been assigned a number, per his/her moment of arrival, the proctor would call one at a time to enter the arena, usually a small room or stage, wherein the panel of adjudicators would be seated behind screen. A voice would speak, sight unseen, declaring which excerpt would be required first, and the audition would commence.

Two, maybe three excerpts later, plus an entire concerto movement, and the entrants would wait again, this time as a collective, while the panel entered into their deliberations. At the close of these, the second round would be announced and those fortunate to have advanced would be revealed.

The final, third round was face to face with the adjudicators, usually two of the orchestra’s principals and their maestro. From among these ultimately three or four candidates, the panel would select the one (or two, if the same number of positions had been vacated) musicians whose performance had been deemed worthy of an orchestral contract, a document which would seal their hire until such time as either they chose to resign or their bodies could no longer execute the music.

I would not be rewarded with a contract. This being my third attempt, then at age 55, my future was likely equally sealed; it would take the latest age reversing compound, or efforts truly single minded and super human, for me to obtain the secure membership among my contemporaries for which I had longed my entire professional life.

But, back to the subject.

This article in the International Musician was, in a word, surprising. Did the collective of Local #17, or any other AF of M Local realize that, in accordance with the rules and regulations in place to govern symphony orchestras, the entire audition process was not even required?

Apparently, it was true. An orchestra’s artistic director could bypass this process, completely, and appoint musicians – to any number of seats within the ensemble each season. In fact, the thrust of the article’s thesis was an intent to present this debate: did musicians have to spend grueling hours and submit to the knuckle whitening, live evaluation of every gesture and breath, in order to secure a professional orchestral contract?

That question was posed just shy of ten years ago.

Many an orchestral audition has been held, over the past decade, since that magazine article went to press. One speculates, as did the writer of the article: how many orchestras have simply gone through the motions, submitting their available vacancies to the International Musician and hosting official auditions, when the decision to appoint was already made? And, how many – from executive, down to the latest musical protege – have been privy to such a potential decision?

The corporate world, as the Rev. Charles Brock recently intoned in print, has become our society’s idol. We have bowed to elitist, administrative control over the masses like Haitians, in line for flour and water. Efforts to break Unions, in place to protect the rights and fair practices toward subordinates, have become ubiquitous. And the brainchild of its era, Total Quality Management, still gives lip service to the most earnest and powerless while dismissing their inherent value like so many dropped beats.

The issue isn’t just what appears in an old magazine, anymore.

We need to return to a life of professional transparency.

The Greatest Generation called this “honor”.

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© 3/13/19   Ruth Ann Scanzillo.  All rights those of the author, a seasoned professional, whose name appears above this line. Thank you for respecting rights inherent to human dignity.

littlebarefeetblog.com   *below is an image of an article which bears a slightly different title, as sent to me by the AF of M per August 2009 issue: (although, curiously, it bears a date of September 25 2015 in the Google search)……I had extracted the article from my copy of the issue, and cannot find it to prove that what appears below matches what I remember reading.

Working Musician

A Look at Both Sides of the Audition Process

by Nathan Kahn, Negotiator, AFM Symphonic Services Division

All orchestral audition candidates are looking for the same thing in the audition circuit: a fair chance to compete for a symphonic position, and to be treated as a professional in the process. On the other side of the process, audition committee members and orchestra management encounter their own set of challenges. An understanding of the issues each side faces will promote a more fair and enjoyable audition process for everyone.

Challenges for Candidates:

Expenses—Whereas job candidates in other professions are often reimbursed for their interview travel expenses, that is certainly not the case with symphonic auditions. I have yet to hear of any symphonic orchestra who pays the expenses of preliminary round candidates. However, many orchestras do pay the travel expenses for finalists called back to audition in final rounds.

Orchestras may even require audition candidates to send a deposit check. As long as the candidate shows up on audition day, the check will be returned or destroyed.

Audition scheduling—Suppose you open your copy of International Musician and find that there are five forthcoming and very desirable orchestra violin vacancy auditions, and all of them are scheduled for the exact same day. This happens more often than you might think. To minimize this problem, the AFM Symphonic Services Division maintains an audition scheduling website for AFM orchestra personnel managers. This service is free of charge and benefits both the candidates and the orchestras. If your AFM orchestra’s personnel manager has not yet availed themselves of this service, please have him/her contact me at nkahn@afm.org.

Just getting in the front door—Getting admitted to an audition can be almost as challenging as the audition itself. While there is no AFM bylaw that requires any orchestra to grant a live audition to union members, the AFM can sometimes assist candidates who are seeking acceptance to an audition by convincing personnel managers and audition committees to hear “just one more.” Appearing at an audition without having been invited, although some candidates still insist on doing this, will get you nowhere and is strongly discouraged.

Audition conditions and requirements— Audition candidates have the right to warm-up and audition in an environment that is sufficiently comfortable and that is free of any considerable distractions. Candidates should not be expected to put their instruments in any type of weather-related danger, or to spend excessive amounts of money on difficult-to-acquire music.

The Audition Committee View:

The process of filling a vacant seat varies widely among orchestras, but these are some factors that management takes into consideration:

Whether to hold an audition—The audition committee must first decide whether or not to hold an audition. In lieu of a live audition, some orchestras may decide to appoint a certain musician who, for example, may have performed successfully with the orchestra in the past. They can do this through a previously negotiated “appointment” procedure within the orchestra’s collective bargaining agreement, or by some other mutual agreement between the audition/orchestra committees in conjunction with their local union and the management.

I often get complaints from audition candidates demanding that the AFM should “force” the orchestra to have a competitive audition for a position. There is no requirement that any orchestra hold a live audition for any vacancy, unless otherwise specified in the orchestra’s collective bargaining agreement. Even then, the audition/orchestra committees in conjunction with their local union and the management could agree to waive that requirement.

In some instances, a group or an individual will try to force the local orchestra to hold a competitive live audition when the prevailing sentiment was to appoint a certain person. This only results in the orchestra going through a farce of an audition where no one is hired and the original appointment proceeds regardless, wasting the time, energy, talent, and money of audition candidates.

How to screen the candidates—If the audition committee does decide to hold an audition, they must also decide how large a field of candidates to seek. Some orchestras want to hear every candidate who applies, while others may specify in their advertisement that they will only hear “a limited group of highly qualified candidates.” In such circumstances, it is much less likely that the AFM can assist in getting someone admitted to the audition if the audition committee has refused to grant them a live audition.

Some orchestra vacancy advertisements include the following language: “The Audition Committee reserves the right to immediately dismiss from the audition any candidates who do not exhibit the highest professional performance level at these auditions.” These orchestras want to hear as many candidates as possible, but their time is limited. A candidate will often complain that he/she was cut off one minute or less into the audition. I refer the candidate back to that statement in the advertisement; it means what it says.

Scheduling auditions times for candidates—One method for audition scheduling is to assign a window of time to an entire group of candidates, and then have the candidates draw lots to determine the order in which they audition. While this tends to alleviate the problem of time flexibility for the audition committee, it has the opposite effect on the candidates. Some candidates may have to perform their audition with little or no warm-up time, while others may be forced to wait around for hours.

The other method is to assign specific audition times for each candidate. There are, at least, two problems with this approach. First, audition committees complain that such a tight schedule prevents them from hearing as much as they would like in order to be able to make an informed decision. Second, is the problem of no-shows: musicians who have been assigned an audition time, and for whatever reason, fail to appear. When multiple no-shows occur, personnel managers must either round up other candidates to fill in the empty time slots or require the audition committee to wait for extended periods of time for the next group of candidates to appear.

Recurring auditions for the same position— Sometimes an audition is inconclusive. Perhaps the voting procedure in the audition process failed to produce enough votes to select a winning candidate, or perhaps no candidate was deemed qualified for the orchestra. In these cases, the orchestra reserves the right to continue to hold auditions until a successful candidate is engaged.

Use or non-use of screens—In the 1970s, the Saint Louis Symphony and the Boston Symphony started using screens to protect the identity of the candidates, and many other orchestras followed suit. Now, it seems that more orchestras are reversing course and removing screens in the audition process, since some audition committees and music directors have expressed that they feel the need to see, as well as hear, the candidates. Neither the AFM, nor the Code of Ethical Audition Practices, takes any position on the use of screens. That determination is made on the local level; often through the collective bargaining process.

Fixed auditions—Proving that an audition outcome was predetermined is extremely difficult, and investigations are often inconclusive or show that the orchestra’s collective bargaining agreement, in fact, allows for what may appear to be a “fixed” result. For example, some collective bargaining agreements automatically advance musicians who have successfully subbed with the orchestra, who have reached a certain level of professional experience on their résumés, or who may have been in the finals of a previous audition in this or some other orchestra.

When it can be demonstrated that a predetermined audition did occur, the local union, combined with the AFM, works to get candidates reimbursed for at least their travel expenses.

Playing Fair

As competition for some orchestral positions increases, so should vigilance on the part of local unions and their audition committees to uphold the highest standards of ethics and integrity in the conduct of auditions. At the same time, candidates should be aware of the difficulties in taking auditions and should understand that not every orchestra is willing and able to grant a live audition to all who may apply, even with the AFM’s assistance to candidates who may request it.

Musicians who have symphony audition complaints should contact the AFM Symphony Audition Complaint Hotline at 719-520-3288 or send an e-mail to nkahn@afm.org. All complaints are handled anonymously, unless the nature of the complaint would require identity.

To view the Code of Ethical Audition Practices, approved in 1984 by the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM), the Major Orchestra Managers Conference (MOMC), and the AFM, visit www.icsom.org/miscellany/auditioncode.html.

 

 

Me, to the Second Power.

 

Tarana Burke is coming to Penn State Behrend during Holy Week.

She travels the country, speaking up as the founder of the me, too. movement.

I have a church gig that night, but it should work out for me to finish my offering on cello, pack up, and head across town to catch the back half with the other girls.

The thing about being sexually harassed, violated, or assaulted is that there are no witnesses. If you reveal yourself as the victim, you have to rely exclusively on your prior reputation, so established, and the trust of those who have known you forever.

When you tell your truth, publicly, it can feel like you’ve stepped onto the surface of another planet. Many don’t want to hear stories like yours. It reminds them of things they don’t want to think about, like how one isolated event can ruin an entire life.

But, this meeting, while open to the public, will probably only be attended by those who’ve been there. Girls, like me, who seek their own kind. Fools, all, gullible and vulnerable, feeling alternately stupid, humiliated, and many still as pained when they are reminded. How did we know one encounter would alter the course of everything?

We will meet each other. Strength, in numbers, and in emotional support. If you live where I do, and you know this open wound, come to the meeting. 7:30 pm, April 17, McGarvey Commons, Behrend Campus, Penn State University.

Thank you, Tarana Burke. You started it. Let’s find a way to finish it.

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© 3/11/19  Ruth Ann Scanzillo.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

 

 

Polar Bears.

[*formerly entitled: The Tail of Winter.]
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Boscov’s had chocolate.
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Upstairs, above the endless racks of merch ( likely special purchases from the south that didn’t sell ) three whole glass cases of it, at least a third of which: gluten free. I’d been craving since 3:30 pm, and this was the tail of winter, the flagellate, whipping us into a frenzy on the final frigid night of the year.
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Parking lot nearly empty, normally packed to the gills during the day and across the weekend, it was Thursday night, the cusp, and see above. I’d fought the craving for over four hours. At 8:02, time enough to get there before closing, the flush of rationale; hustling into the store with one other straggly woman, braving the ascending escalator, straight ahead I saw them: not confections — end of season sheet sets. My having just ordered a dog print flat and pillow shams from catalog for a resounding 93 bucks, these fleece for 19.99 tempted redemption. Grabbing a King of pale blue polar bears, I rounded the corner of packaged displays to the candy counter.
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She was stooped over the open rear of the fudge case, sweeping crumbs into a tray, when I called out. A short, ponytailed woman with a Latino accent and what would be a penchant for calling me “honey”, she had a cold.
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This, of course, was God. This was his reprimand for my weak, sniveling sin of the flesh. He would let me have the desires of my heart, but send leanness to my soul. I would eat a bag of chocolate, but be exposed to a virus likely potent enough to cause pneumonia and a reactivation of the chicken pox. I would get shingles, followed by post-herpetic neuralgia, and be in excruciating pain for the rest of my life.
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In reality, selecting thirteen pieces with sugar and two without, I’d pay for everything, take the elevator down to the first floor because of descending escalator PTSD and head home in the solitary dark.
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The cold. The God forsaken dripping nose. The two sugar free were packed in their own box; I could tear open the end, where she didn’t touch, and pull one almond bark out for the car.
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So as not to break the last, number six stainless wire of orthodontia, I went for the first bite with two molars, rear left. Coasting down Peach Street, I thought of every diabetic I’d ever known and how relatively grateful they’d be to be eating something shaped right that sort of felt recognizable under the teeth. Like some chocolate with your carnauba wax? Anyone?
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But, the total price was gnawing. $34. 95? for a box of chocolate? Not even Suzanne Somers charged that much for her cancer-safe creations.
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She’d said, albeit nasally, that the sugar free was 19.95, honey, and the regular 17.95. I’d always let mum do the math. And, money was no object to addiction. But, mum was gone now, for almost twenty years, leaving me quite adrift when it came to tallying up indulgences, let alone the flat out mortal variety.
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Pulling up to the curb, I crawled out, locking the driver door, and headed in. Dispensing with the bag would prevent transmission of the virus to the edibles within. Reaching the kitchen sink, I grabbed a plastic container and poured the bag’s contents into it. Even under the LED track lighting, this stuff was the shit; dry, faded, even the white peppermint bark lacking luster, I stared at thirty four dollars of specialty confection and felt nauseous. The girl who’d called me honey had ripped me off. At this price, there should have been twice as much candy.
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After one phone call to the Boscov’s operator and the courtesy desk, I was already out the door. I-79 was a bleak vista at this hour, but a straight shot back to the mall. I’d find a manager. No; I’d confront her, quietly. No; I’d get the courtesy desk, which “didn’t know anything about the candy, let me put you through to can —” No; I’d say nothing – just dump it out, onto the counter.
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Maybe the caffeine, theobromine, maltitol had created a synergy. Maybe the dark highway, and me alone on it. But, I began to follow a different train, one which took me deeply into the psyche of the candy woman. She had a family, at least some children. She made minimum wage, working the candy counter. She was a first generation immigrant,  and she was sick.
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Just ahead of the parking spot closest to the Boscov’s entrance, I’d resolved my intention; I would speak confidentially, my voice hushed. We’d be the only two who knew what had been done, and I’d tell no one else. She needed to feed her family. And, she could have the chocolate. The receipt had indicated 9.95 for two “seasonal” candy purchases; she’d falsely categorized my purchase, too. There was the 19.99, and a grand total of 34…….my lungs filled with the purest air, swelling my chest with a powerful self righteousness that could have been true goodness on a better day.
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Then, I spied them. Sitting on the front seat. The pale blue polar bears, dancing across their fleece sheets inside the plastic see through case with the PAID sticker on it. And, mum, faintly, speaking from the world beyond, calculating out loud again, rising vocal inflections reaching the slightly hysterical, and me, seated again at the corner of the kitchen table against the wall, feet over the heat vent as she “helped” me with my math word problems. Now, listen to me!!! Nine ninety five plus nineteen ninety nine for the seasonal sheet set equals: $34.95 !!!
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My foot was still on the brake pedal.
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Turning the key in the ignition, I thanked my own for saving me, as by fire, from public humiliation and full on, single mother first generation immigrant retaliation. Every scenario ever devised by my oppressively overactive imagination converged, in a flood of expulsion. Thrust back into the present, I flew down Interchange Road to the interstate, stuffing chocolate absolution into my gullet like a starving Biafran.
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The candy was disgusting.
I’d been whipped by addiction, for the last time.
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Boscov’s had nothing on epiphany.
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© 3/7/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo.

Full Service!

 

Crossing traffic was difficult to impossible just beyond the I-90 Interchange on 97. Yet, though Country Fair’s prices were consistently 5c below the average at this juncture, the Kwik Fill directly across was prepared to compete – and, the sign said Full Service. Since my windshield wash hadn’t been spewing any fluid since the inspection, and I was heading north, this was a no brainer; Kwik Fill would get my business.

I pulled up next to the open pump. The service representative, bundled in jacket over hooded sweatshirt, was pumping gas for a vehicle on the opposite side, but tapped on my passenger side window. When I rolled it down, he asked me what gas grade I wanted. I told him I would also like him to check my windshield washer receptacle, as it may be blocked or leaking. He walked away, to complete the sale on the other side, and then returned, asking again if I wanted to fill the tank. I said yes, and popped the hood, feeling the pump nozzle enter my car’s gas receptacle.

By now, he had come around to the front of the car. Again, I declared that I wished to have the wash receptacle checked for leaks. He called out: “I can’t tell if there is fluid in the bottle. All I can see is the top of the bottle – it’s an entire bottle!” He seemed impatient.

I asked if the spouts might be blocked. He said that this was possible. And, he disappeared again – to serve another customer.

I looked back at the pump. The hose was draped across to my car, the nozzle inserted into my gas tank – but, the pump read 00.00

He came around again, to my passenger window, and asked if I’d like him to pour some fluid into the receptacle bottle, to test its contents. Good idea, I thought; I agreed.

While I watched him walk back to get what I thought would be a small amount of windshield wash, I saw him step across the draped pump hose. Calling out, I said: “Why does the pump read 00.00?!”  He looked at it. “Oh!” he said. And, stepping to the pump, he engaged the gasoline stream.

Then, he walked up to the open hood and poured fluid into the receptacle bottle. Three seconds later, a man in a truck being serviced called out: “It’s full!”

When I asked why the wash wasn’t reaching the windshield nozzles, he said it might be the motor. “Motor?!” I said, incredulous. Then, he said, “You’ll have to ask a service station. I’m not a mechanic!”

Walking past the passenger side of my car, he shoved a large, nearly full bottle of blue washer fluid through the window, and said briskly: ” Three seventeen, 2019 prices”. Then, he pulled it back out of the window, and disappeared.

I was momentarily confused. Was he telling me the grade of the fluid, like one would confirm lubricating oil? I stared straight ahead, blinking my eyes rapidly.

When the tank was filled, I handed him my debit card, declaring “Credit, please”. Again, he said: “3.17, for the wash”.

The bottle. The entire bottle. He was charging me for the whole bottle of washer fluid!

I said: “You’re charging me for the whole bottle?!” He said: “I have to! You said you wanted me to test the receptacle!”  I said: “You never told me you would charge me for an entire bottle to do that. I would not have done this to you.”

Again, I stared. Through my soiled windshield.

He came back with my debit card, and the receipt for the gas, and as he set the bottle on the seat I handed him my credit card. He said: “You’ll have to come in [to the store] for this; I can’t sell you a product out here, because you have to sign for it.”

Getting out of the car, I moved deliberately. The sun was bright. The air was crisp, slightly warmer than it had been for much of the winter. Following him toward the store cubicle, I took my good old time. Walking with a slight strut, head high, I felt emboldened by every woman who had ever walked the earth.

Entering the cubicle, I submitted my card for payment. Another customer stepped in, behind him. When the transaction was complete, I stopped.

“Sir, this is a Full Service station. I expected that you would take a small amount of the fluid used to squeegee windshields to test my receptacle.  Why didn’t you squeegee my windshield?”

His eyes were a piercing blue, deeply set. Round face, bulbous features. His speech was rapid, aggressive.

“Ma’am, do you see how many cars going in and out of here? I’m alone here. I’m doing the best I can!”

“I’m sure you are. But, this being a Full Service station, you should have cleaned my windshield. Instead, you billed me for an entire bottle of windshield washer fluid. ” And, backing out toward the exit: “Sir, I worked in the service industry for five years, and I would never have done to you what you did to me, today.”

I was out the door. Heading back to my car, I looked at the woman stopped behind mine, and shook my head in warning toward her. Just a small service provided to my ilk, a woman in a world of men out to make a buck.

There is an 800 number on the Kwik Fill receipt. Just above it, the following question appears:

“How Are We Doing?”

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© 3/1/19   Ruth Ann Scanzillo.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Collateral.

COLLATERAL:

noun: something pledged as security for repayment of a loan, to be forfeited in the event of a default.

adjective:  additional, but subordinate; secondary.

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The military mind has long been revered by its own. Structured according to the authoritarian hierarchy, each level of power is clearly delineated. Regardless of rank, all members know precisely the parameters of behavioral expectation. There is order, adherence to which is strict.

Not only is order the rule of the day, when military action is taken each arm of power follows a command.

Compartmentalization rules. All actions are calculated. Strategy and tactic are governed as such. Nobody speaks, or moves, without full awareness of the scope of responsibility and potential outcome. All this seems, on its face, to be a predictable way of life which allows each person the security of knowing his or her choices at any given time.

But, there is an unacknowledged factor.

Because of the strict structure, whenever a command to deploy troops or strike a target is handed down, all those subordinate to the commander must carry out the order according to instructions. If a casual observer, or random figure, or even a trooper enters the frame of established action the value of that person’s life is of no consequence. Such an individual has already been factored in as collateral, calculated as a potential casualty.

In short, if you are not part of the team and happen to be downwind or within sightline of a military action, God be with you. You’re dead.

Lately, the military industrial complex and the business model have welded themselves together. The implications of this cannot be overstated.

As corporations become conglomerates, and these form monopolies, the value of individual contributions is fast becoming a collateral calculation. No longer is a single, creative contributor protected by anyone, unless tapped by a player in the hierarchy. And, if the commander deigns to take an action, one better have a contingency plan in place.

Don’t let yourself be branded as collateral.

Preserve your worth.

Your are no one’s insurance policy. You are not a pledge, to be forfeited by default. Escape now; take solace within your own, authentic, creative mind, before you find yourself bleeding by the side of the road.

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© 2/19/19   Ruth Ann Scanzillo.     All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line.  Thank you for respecting original material.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Worst Kind.

 

“It takes all kinds.”

So we are told.

Being reminded of our diversity can bring a certain comfort, but I’m not talking about what makes each of us unique. I mean to reference what makes us desirable.

Oh, and, again, let me be clear: not holding forth on what is pretty, or sexy, or fine. No; I want to address what makes us good.

Goodness. Old days, this used to mean “without sin.” Well, in that context, we’re all cooked, but really. To be a good person is still a worthy goal, however you cloak it.

I’ve grappled, in recent months, with personality traits of my own which have caused both moments of reflection and hours of contemplation. Being known as “blunt”, or “harsh”; recognizing that those who still ascribe to the “politically correct” wait to pounce on any spontaneous act of authenticity.

But, beyond all this, I’ve reached a certain crossroads with respect to what constitutes a good person. All human frailty, weakness, affliction aside, that which makes somebody truly above reproach. Kindness? Compassion?

By the process of elimination, here are my conclusions.

The worst kind of person is not vulgar. Not harsh, or negative, or even – provided assault is ruled out – mean. The worst one is the person who exploits another’s trust.

Why?

Because being untrustworthy with, and toward, the trusting is fraud.

It declares, by its act, that reality is not an experiential right but a tool to be manipulated. Yes. I’m talking about reality.

What we perceive as real is heavily influenced by how we perceive the words and actions of others. Over time, as relationships form, reality takes shape around such words, actions, and interactions.

When those, who seek to, control others’ perceptions of their own actions, these warp the reality they bring to the scene according to their own intentions.

Creating a false image, or character, or scenario forces the perceptions of others. It makes a lie into an entire, cinematic expression which is then accepted by the other as truth.

“Living a lie” doesn’t occur in a vacuum. It sucks any number of other living things into its vortex.

The mentally ill suffer within such alternate realities, daily. But, how close to a schizoid frame of reference are we when we become unwitting victims of fraudulent people?

Trust isn’t a noun. It’s a verb. Submit to a life of verifiable truth. Be worthy of another’s faith. Prove trust.

This is about far more than kindness.

Take reverence for life itself.

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© 2/18/19     Ruth Ann Scanzillo.    Thank you for respecting the right of the author of original material.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

 

That Impeccable Word.

 

You know, those Four Agreements….

What a tough call.

At first glance, keeping our word impeccable seems easy enough. We imagine ourselves quite separate from those who would wish ill on others, or who would do anything deliberately which could damage another living thing.

And, then, a bug crawls across the sofa, and we smash it without a second thought.

Being emotionally available, and able to express oneself, is a two edged sword. On the one hand, those of us inclined can be counted on to be, at the very least, genuine; in short, we always mean what we say because our words come – albeit readily – from the latest, authentic impulse to pass through our cortex.

The fact that others may not wish to be subject to our earnest thoughts never occurs to us until, out of nowhere, we find ourselves avoided or dismissed.

Those who keep their emotional selves locked and loaded fare far better. Nobody ever knows what they are truly thinking or feeling, so being in the presence of such a person is no immediate threat to a stable social atmosphere. And, rooms fill with people who put forth little by way of authenticity, all of them interacting and exchanging with one another without rancor or incident. The play, within the play.

Keeping one’s word impeccable, according to the author of the book cited, is really about being sure never to allow a single disparaging comment to escape our lips or our pen. This rules out any expression of frustration, agitation, offense, or other negative feeling; in short, while we may feel it, we are not to speak it.

I wonder where the author puts his feelings about others’ behavior? Does he just ruminate, in silence? Perhaps he encases them in some fictitious character, so as to flesh out his reactions to them…

Does the scale of justice tip of some inherent volition?

I seriously wonder whose role it is to expose wrongdoing. Who protects others from exploitation, from malignment, from abuse? Who, or what, calls out the offender –  a lightning bolt, from God Almighty?

My grandfather was a street preacher. He roared his judgments across North Park Row to the center of State Street. He declared his beliefs, publicly. He held forth inside, as well, from the pulpit of the Gospel Assembly Hall on East Avenue. And, when the parents of a married woman were ex-communicated from the assembly because of their daughter’s behavior, he stood and loudly defended them. This action pronounced a reaction upon him by the one man permitted to do so; accused of “railing”, my grandfather was also ex-communicated from his beloved fellowship.

Whence the role of the impeccable word, here?

On this day which celebrates love in all its forms, perhaps we could spend a moment contemplating how we go about living in peace. Is it by turning a blind eye to corruption, to manipulation, to crimes against humanity?

Love, always. Bearing all.

Impeccably.

The ultimate call.

You tell me.

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© 2/14/19   Ruth Ann Scanzillo.    Thank you for respecting original material.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

 

 

Helping To Promote:

Dear Readers,

The following is a direct copy/paste from a newsletter I receive. Admittedly, at the end of the piece, a book is advertised. But, please, read the material. Everyone, in my opinion, owes it to herself/himself and all loved ones to get, and use, this information!

It’s been over two years since I took any, I am now healthier than I’ve been since I can remember. And my doctor’s report is this: ‘No evidence of cancer.’ (They think they ‘cured’ me!)”

— Cancer survivor Julie Fine

It’s called galloping breast cancer.

And, well, it’s just as terrifying as it sounds. It certainly wasn’t what 58-year-old publishing mogul Kathy Kellman wanted to hear from her oncologist.

She’d had a scan at her annual check-up. Everything was fine. Then, six weeks later, out of nowhere…

Kathy’s doctor told her she had stage 4 “galloping” breast cancer. That means the cancer was racing through her body at a breakneck pace.

Her doctors gave her six weeks to live.

Thankfully, Kathy had read about an under-the-radar cancer remedy. It’s a special type of salt that’s shunned by the mainstream medical community here in the U.S. Yet it has perhaps MORE verified, scientific studies backing it up than any other “alternative” cancer treatment. (You’ll hear more about that research in just a moment.)

So, Kathy refused chemotherapy and opted for this solution along with radiation for one of her many tumors.

It worked. A year after her predicted death date, she was in remission.

And she’s not the only one…

George Teller was 45-years-old when he was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer. He was in absolute agony. Yet returned to his normal life after using this treatment.

Then there’s Julie Fine.

Her doctors had been treating her metastatic uterine cancer for five years without success. It had spread all the way up to her neck. She reported online that she tried this secret salt… After only a week, she felt the neck tumors dissolving.

And things only got better from there.

As of her most recent update she said, “It’s been over two years since I took any, I am now healthier than I’ve been since I can remember. And my doctor’s report is this: ‘No evidence of cancer.’ (They think they ‘cured’ me!)”

Yet you won’t hear a peep about it from the mainstream. This cancer-destroying salt makes sense…but it makes no profit. Just one round of chemo costs the same as a 10-YEAR supply of this treatment.

And—unlike chemo—which withers and wastes patients away—this solution helps people gain weight, increases appetite, provides pain relief, and even improves mood.

It’s no wonder the former head of cell chemistry at the National Cancer Institute declared it, “The most remarkable anticancer agent I have come across in my 45 years of experience.”

In a moment, you’ll discover the sheer amount of peer-reviewed research confirming this compound works (in respected journals like the LancetOncology, and Nutrition and Cancer).

And—most important of all—you will see how you could access it for yourself or a loved one.

“A New Type of Chemotherapy”

Just looking at it, it doesn’t seem very special—a white, powdery substance. Not much different than table salt.

But I’m not talking about a simple salt you add to your meals. This compound has a different chemical structure entirely. And is one of the greatest cancer breakthroughs in history…

Because it attacks the disease in a very unique way.

You know how people with cancer get extremely thin and frail when they’re sick?

Well, more often than not, that’s what kills them. Not the tumors. Their bodies literally starve themselves to death feeding the cancer.

It’s a lethal side effect that nobody ever talks about. Yet according to some experts, this “wasting syndrome” is responsible for up to 73% of all cancer deaths.

And this compound is the only way we know of to reverse it. No drug can.

In the 1970s, Dr. Joseph Gold—founder of the Syracuse Research Institute—developed this therapy and published his early study results in the journal Oncology.

He administered the salt to cancerous rats. And sure enough, they stopped wasting away. Their tumors shrank. Some tumors disappeared entirely—prompting Dr. Gold to launch a massive crusade to get other physicians to try it.

He told of one such doctor who said, “I have a patient with terminal Hodgkins disease who will certainly die in three or four days. I’d like to try this.”

Sure enough, after working with Dr. Gold on a protocol, this patient was “up and about” in a few weeks.

Soon more stories like this started flooding in.

Cancer victims, who had been withering away, back on their feet in no time, gaining weight, living life. Like Ellen Shaw who had been “flat on her back” with cancer, then two weeks after treatment, was spending a good part of the day outside tending to her garden. All thanks to this compound.

So Dr. Gold pressed on. In one of his early human studies, this salt reversed the “wasting process” responsible for most cancer deaths. About 70% of patients saw improvements such as weight gain, increase in appetite, more strength, and pain relief.

For some patients, it outright shrank their tumors.

The results were so spectacular that Dr. Gold declared it “a new type of chemotherapy” that works on “virtually all types of cancer.”

During another clinical trial—a randomized, placebo-controlled, human study, the gold standard of research—published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, it increased the survival time of end-stage lung cancer patients when combined with chemotherapy.

You’d think a breakthrough like this would be the first line of defense in the war on cancer. But thanks to the mainstream medical mafia, that never happened…

Cured Deadliest Brain Cancer

When the U.S. government’s National Cancer Institute conducted its own studies on the treatment, they declared it worthless. But it’s no surprise why…

The researchers broke modern medical research ethics by allowing subjects to take drugs they knew would interfere with the secret salt! The study was seriously flawed to say the least.

But a handful of in-the-know Americans, like Joe Campbell—a university professor—refused to give in.

He said, “I am appalled by the National Cancer Institute’s claim that [this compound] has little or no effect on cancer treatment.”

And he would know. Professor Campbell had one of the deadliest forms of brain cancer: glioblastoma multiforme. The survival rate with traditional therapies is about 1%.

With very little to lose, he turned to this white powder instead. Joe credits it with destroying his cancer and saving his life.

So why did the NCI ignore his and other life-saving results?

A $125 Billion-Dollar Threat

Is it because one of the lead researchers of the NCI study was the principal investigator of a competing drug from Bristol Myers Squibb…at the same time?

Is it because this compound is easy to obtain? Or because it can’t be patented…and only costs $1 a day, which makes it a threat to the trillion-dollar pharmaceutical interests? The same ones who wield tremendous power in Washington…

Know this: The drug industry employs three lobbyists for every single member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

And keep in mind, the National Cancer Institute is funded primarily by the government.

Not only that, but the NCI alone doesn’t have the resources to conduct research studies. So it collaborates with—you guessed it—Bad Pharma for almost all of its trials!

The sad reality is that when it comes to cancer research, money talks.

And chemo, radiation, drugs…that’s a $125 billion-a-year industry we’re talking about…an industry that is widely promoted to doctors, universities, and the public.

So of course they never tell you about a dollar-a-day cancer killer. No matter how many lives it’s saved.

Which is why I had to get this message out to you the moment we had all of our research compiled…

Shrinks Tumors in Only Six Weeks

Hi. My name is Amanda Angelini.

I’m the director of the independent research organization, The Institute for Natural Healing. We are a 280,000-strong alliance of researchers, doctors, and health-seeking people like you.

Our mission is to seek out the most promising cures and treatments from around the world, backed by solid research and scientific studies.

Because we’re outside the influence of the medical establishment, no one can control what we tell you. That way we’re free to bring these breakthroughs to people who need them. Breakthroughs like this secret salt.

You see, while the research here in the U.S. may have hit a brick wall, it just kept gaining traction internationally.

According to multiple, credible reports, scientists at the Petrov Research Institute of Oncology in St. Petersburg showed that this substance worked for more than half of late-stage subjects. These were patients with very little hope…who’d tried conventional treatments. And hadn’t responded.

Soon after, these Russian researchers conducted another study on patients with brain tumors. Sure enough, 63% of the subjects experienced significant relief from neurological symptoms—like headaches, intracranial pressure, seizures, sensory and motor disorders…and more…

These same Russian scientists next tested it on 233 patients.

65% of the advanced-stage cancer patients saw improvements like increased appetite and strength. In other words, the salt was reversing the wasting process responsible for most cancer deaths.

Not only that, but for some patients, the compound ate away at the actual cancer and reduced tumor size.

Like Anna Rabinovich…a 63-year-old woman with lung cancer. She could barely swallow her food, had lost a terrifying amount of weight, and was coughing up blood, according to reports.

But just two weeks after starting this therapy, her tumors were shrinking. Her appetite came back. Her cancer was disappearing. And without side effects.

Encouraged by the results, the researchers decided to go even bigger for their next study. This next one involved 740 patients.

The scientists concluded that this salt “provided relief of a wide spectrum of cancer symptoms.” They determined that it:

  • Halts the growth of tumors in animals
  • Is relatively nontoxic…especially compared to regular chemotherapy
  • Helps control the spread of cancer in humans
  • Improves mood

And reverses cancer’s deadliest effect.

I’ll show you exactly how in a minute. Like I mentioned earlier, it attacks cancer unlike anything else. And it’s the reason this compound is so effective at fighting even late-stage cancer.

But it’s important to take it the right way.

And that’s why my research team here at INH has put together a special report called The Forbidden Compound That’s Death to Cancer.

Today you can get this eye-opening report for free. You’ll see how in a moment. But I do urge you to hurry. This information is highly sensitive.

By claiming your report today, you’ll discover the dosages found in scientific studies to be most beneficial…when to take it…for how long (you’ll need to take a two-week break after a certain amount of time)…and other crucial details…

For example, there are certain prescriptions you’ll need to avoid. There are some common over-the-counter drugs as well (like Claritin) and even some vitamins.

Not only that, there are also some foods you shouldn’t eat. Things like pickles, fava beans, soy sauce. So if you or a loved one decide to try this treatment, you’ll need to steer clear of them. Your report includes a detailed list of foods to avoid.

But most important of all, you’ll find out how to cheaply, legally, and safely get this potent cancer-fighter for yourself.

And I do mean potent. As I mentioned earlier, this is the only treatment we know of that reverses cancer’s deadliest effect. Let me explain…

The Real Reason Cancer Kills

There’s a vicious cycle that fuels cancer. It looks something like this…

Step 1) Glucose feeds cancer cells

Step 2) The cancer cells create lactic acid

Step 3) The lactic acid is converted into glucose

And then the glucose feeds the cancer to create more cancer cells that create more lactic acid that create more glucose…it goes on and on!

The end result of all of this is the wasting syndrome I mentioned earlier. The one responsible for up to 73% of all cancer deaths. And it’s exactly what it sounds like—the extreme loss of muscle, weight, and appetite. Of course, it also leaves you wide open to fatal complications.

But the compound I’ve been telling you about stops your body from converting the lactic acid into glucose so that this cycle never kicks off in the first place.

A UCLA study published in the journal Cancer, showed that it helped 83% of patients maintain or gain weight.

Author and alternative health expert Ralph Moss, Ph.D. explains, “Unlike most anti-cancer agents, which have been discovered by trial and error, [this substance’s] use was the end result of a series of logical deductions—a rational quest for a specific type of therapy.”

He also tells of…

…the 62-year-old patient with cervical cancer, in the final stages of wasting away. She wasn’t expected to live. But after trying this solution, she gained weight, got back on her feet, and out of the hospital.

And that’s not all. This treatment we’ve uncovered doesn’t necessarily have to be an “alternative.” If you have cancer and have decided on chemo, it can be used along with conventional methods.

For example? Alexander P. was a 40-year-old man with late-stage Hodgkin’s. He’d suffered through 10 mainstream treatments back-to-back with no success. 10!  So his doctors put him through a course of the secret salt protocol, then back on the chemo and, suddenly…he went into total and complete remission.

You’ll discover more of these success stories when you claim your free report The Forbidden Compound That’s Death to Cancer.

But, more important than anything, you’ll find out how to get your hands on this powerful and effective solution right here in the USA.

  • You’ll be surprised when you discover the 100% legal loophole that allows you to buy this treatment online.
  • There are two forms of this compound available. We tell you which one to get and which one to avoid. This is important.
  • We also identified two reputable manufacturers who sell this supplement. One of the options is even “medical-grade.” And don’t forget, it costs about $1 a day.

But I cannot stress this enough…time is very much of the essence. There is no telling how long we can keep this information online.

Now, I can’t say for sure that this treatment is right for you. But I do believe that you have every right to at least know what your options are.

And since you’ve followed along this far, you already understand that true alternatives do exist. This is proven, safe, and inexpensive. We’re talking real science…real doctors…real people cured.

In a moment, I’ll show you how to get access to this cutting-edge research, free of charge.

Before I do, please allow me to fully introduce my organization: The Institute for Natural Healing.

Welcome to Indepedent Healing

Independent Healing was founded on the idea that everyone has a sovereign right over their own bodies. And that means having access to all of the cures and therapies available, not just those approved by the medical monopoly.

And to support that right we publish new, hopeful, and science-backed findings from around the world so that our readers can decide for themselves which course of healing they want to follow.

Patty Ashland of Bayshore, NY reports, “I found you right after my cancer diagnosis as I was determined to fight and win without chemo or a ton of toxic stuff. Between the info I found through you and all the knowledge I accumulated myself, I beat cancer without Big Pharma!”

 

Yes, dear readers, it’s INDEPENDENT HEALING. And, it comes through The Institute For Natural Healing. That’s the source of this information. I credit them, and I promote them. My mother died, unnecessarily, from the very brain tumor which responds to the treatment described above. In her honor, I spread this to you.

Ruth Ann Scanzillo

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

 

 

Forsaken?

 

“And Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘Are ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves to take me? I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and ye took me not: but — the scriptures must be fulfilled.’

And they all forsook him, and fled.”

 

 

Mark 14: 48-50. KJV

 

*****

 

Two angles from which this quote can be viewed, both of them compelling.

One:  Jesus, exclaiming his dismay at those who sought by aggressively seizing him to betray him, when they’d had ample opportunity to take him without incident and did not. Two: Jesus, relinquishing to prophecy’s requisite.

Jesus both saw the illogic in their behavior, declaring it, and felt the pain it brought to him – and, in the same breath, knew that their acts were unavoidable.

But, it was his final statement which sent them running for the hills.

Why?

The very fact that their actions were a fulfillment of prophecy, as such essentially pre-determined. The power of destiny. Fear. Scary stuff.

Even when those who seek to dismiss, discredit, or otherwise hurt others carry out their alleged intentions against them, the real power is quite beyond even these who bow to such manipulations. Frightening, it would seem, indeed, to face that in the very act of deliberate betrayal one’s role is as a pawn to a much greater power.

But, comforting to the victim of such acts, to reflect upon such power. Jesus’ agony would prove temporary; though he would cry out from the cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? ” he would rise from the dead, and ascend back to the Father, God Almighty, All Powerful. Those who carried out their role against him would diminish into the shadows, to face their own mortality in due time.

Better, rather, to consider what the Apostle Paul advised those at Philippi:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

 

 

Selah.

 

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© 2/11/19   Ruth Ann Scanzillo.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

 

 

Policy Vs. Procedure.

 

Ever submit to surgical anesthesia?

Ever been given options, like conscious sedation vs. deep?

Did you know that some medical practitioners defy stated policy, without disclosing to the patient? They do. Patient selects conscious sedation; doctor orders deep sedation, using a cocktail of Versed and morphine.

I know of one such case. Cardiac. When the patient died during the procedure, the doctor was thereafter dismissed from the surgical department. He moved to another state, and resumed practicing.

But, how common is this procedure vs policy practice?

And, how might such a thing be investigated?

Patients cannot gather any proof. How could they? They’re out – either cold, or partially so.

Scary stuff.

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© 2/8/19   Ruth Ann Scanzillo.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

Watch Out.

My mother was always warning me.
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But, she was gullible by nature.
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And, I inherited the tendency.
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“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive..” – Ephesians 4: 14 KJV.
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Christians at Ephesus were being warned, in this letter from the Apostle Paul, to be aware of what he called false doctrine – the early Church’s version of “fake news.”
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But, the key subject of this exhortation, I think, is the term “children”.
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Immaturity brings with it a tendency to place trust hastily. Children are so very dependent. Their minds are developing rapidly but their judgment plays catch up, never quite on par with whatever reason their innate intelligence may offer them.
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Being “tossed to and fro” paints a vivid image of high surf, and its capacity to seize and sway a fragile human being powerless to fight its overcoming momentum. A child is, in short, easily led.
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As adults, we – unless we put on the armor of caution and discernment – can also be led by those who seek power over our reasoning. Such ones look for our weaknesses, and prey upon these. Perhaps we have a goal, and covet it transparently; just such desires can be used against us, by the very ones in whom we place our allegiance. By contrast, those of strong mind have an immunity against such predators.
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So, be careful. There are those who literally do lie in wait to deceive. This is not paranoia. This is earnest advice.
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I am a creative. Several of my beloved friends are, as well. Creatives by our nature are easily charmed; it comes with the territory to have our fancy tickled. But, treasure, and protect, both those you love and the ideas which fuel your efforts. Those who seek to steal what you produce to serve their own aggrandizement will eat your soul for dinner. And, those who purvey your ideas in the alleged interests of the greater good may be positioning themselves to gobble you up whole.
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Know your own mind. Listen to your own spirit. Guard your own heart.
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And, watch out.
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© 2/6/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo.    All rights those of the author, whose ideas these are, and whose name appears above this line. Thank you for your respect.
littlebarefeetblog.com

John.

 

This is the place I never thought I’d be.

We anticipate the loss of family members. We agree ’til death do us part, at the altar.

But, John.

Did we all have one?

John was my first love.

By that, I mean John was the first who loved me, too.

We were 21. The setting was at once predictable and incongruous: a Bible conference. Yearly, those from among our fundamentalist sect knew full well that a week spent on the beautiful, sprawling, verdant campus of Grove City College would bring together all the young to wed. And, every summer, with manic anticipation, we girls would giggle our way onto the grounds in our newest Sunday fare, a wardrobe meticulously planned for each morning, afternoon, and evening of seven blissful days away from everyone else on the face of the earth. Jesus was the reason, but….the boys. The boys were what made the purpose desirable, irresistible, and unbearably delicious.

He’d been a stand out, from the first. Most of the young men English, Germanic or otherwise Midwestern, this one was short, honey haired, and Polish/Armenian?, with the most luminously large dark eyes in the room. And, those almond orbs had looked back at me across the gymnasium seating, meeting my own deeply set brown ones – fixed, locked, a slow smile on his mouth to confirm I wasn’t dreaming. I can’t remember anything that happened after that – until we stood, at dusk, on the sidewalk leading to the girl’s dormitory, he with his Bible clasped between both hands and his enormous dark eyes never leaving mine for a moment. With one hand he’d taken the tip of his index finger and touched the center of my belly, and a spark of fire ignited my whole body. I would not know this as a hormonal response. I wouldn’t care. Completely and without any hesitation I was his, from that moment until the end.

The end came harshly.

But, in between, the blush and glorious ecstasy of true love.

Seven years earlier, I’d had a brush with profound spiritual terror. Formal operational thought having kicked in spontaneously that summer, I’d gone in the space of one week at the conference from “ho-hum” to “Is God even real”? So agonizing and mind blowing was the maelstrom of doubt that, after two years of fixated poring over any literature on the subject available to me, I’d resigned to a detachment from all things related to religious faith in order to preserve my emotional sanity. If I didn’t think about any of it, then none of its power – good, or evil – could any longer either suffocate or scare me to death.

But, then, along came John.

And, he was, first and foremost, an intellect.

John wasn’t just the boy who’d been saved at age 14 from hallucinogenic drugs. He was a Christian thinker.

John was an apologist.

We spent that week facing headlong every dumbfounding question, he with his ready analysis, all delivered with the softest, most gentle timbral inflection. He eagerly addressed my countless questions with answers more stimulating than the next. The hours we spent in dialogue, about Francis Schaeffer, Rookmaker and, his beloved favorite, C.S. Lewis, long since ceased being numbered; they began directly after morning Bible study, continuing on the walk to lunch, resuming during the afternoons across the bridge, and persisted until the sun was soon to set, campus curfew tested by every tantalizing dilemma left for the next morning.

And, every encounter so sensate, he with his continuous caress. Every nerve ending, from the soles of my feet to the corner cubby of my frontal cortex, was electrically charged by his mind and body.

By the end of the week, I was committed. This boy was perfect, in every way. With him, I could return to a faith which was expansive, all encompassing; with him, I could find my identity both as an artist and a devout woman. He would be my husband, and I would be his wife, and we would be together forever.

But, melodrama would have its day.

Evil would cloak, and creep.

By the final morning of our conference that summer, word would leak; some girl with a crystallized reputation had let a story slip into the gossip chain, a shocking accusation which involved my John. And, so many of the women in attendance ripe for a life-affirming scandal, talk of it flew through the wireless air like emergency radio. I gave it all a mere passing scoff. Couldn’t be true; this was my man. If it were, so be it; he was still to be mine, God ordained. I’d never been more sure of anything in my life.

However, the hierarchy of control which held our desperate sect together had received their call to arms. By the time he’d arrived home to Baltimore, four men had already flanked him; ordering him to appear before their court, he was to accept their full assessment. And, their conclusion was swift: John was to be removed from the fellowship, and placed under an indefinite period of discipline.

I would have none of it.

Re-enrolling in college that fall, I would commence a switch from fine art to a rigorous major in music education with a looming recital requirement. After the six hours each day spent alone with my cello, he and I would spend as many, on the phone, four hours at a stretch, and every weekend he could not be with me. Once per month, he’d drive the spider infested rattle trap car with no heat that he got for one dollar all the way across Pennsylvania to western New York to be with me for two, enraptured days at school. For Christmas, I gave him the very first flip phone, so he could talk to me in private; from him, I received a diamond necklace, from Zales. This was a promise gift, he’d said.

My dreams grew. John was a pure math major, at Towson. Had a job, as a draftsman. I could transfer to Peabody Conservatory, where my professor was urging me to go, and switch to performance. When we got married, I could shoot for the Baltimore Symphony.

But, the tribunal would not be mocked.

His own mother, he’d said, was wondering about this girl from PA. She’d never even met me, but had come to an unsettling conclusion; I was too “independent-minded” for her son. I’d likely not be right for him, as a helpmate. Perhaps his disciplinary period should include time away from this relationship, to leave room for a companion more willing to subject herself to God’s authority.

Once again, my resolve deepened. Let anybody try to separate me from the love of Christ, as manifest in this, the love of my life.

Then, the letter came.

Hand writing in blue ballpoint ink, John poured out all his carefully analyzed reasons for ceasing our communication. For every in-depth conversation we’d created together, this was the razor’s edge. I was cut, and cut, and cut again.

Enraging grief overtook me. They had stolen him away. The whole army of them – the tribunal; the entire, alleged fellowship; and: his mother. This was beyond abandonment. This was destruction.

For weeks thereafter, I drifted. Tried a surrogate, a Jewish boy, same size, no further resemblance. Crushed on a pianist, who shared his dark eyes and gaze. Then, succumbed to the charms of a tall rock and roller, with similar intellect. He rejected Schaeffer’s apologies, writing blasphemous comments in the margins of the books John had sent me, and then dumped me for a psych major with buck teeth willing to go all the way.

I was lost.

We’d had one more chance, a few years later. I sang at his best friend’s wedding. We rode to DC, in the dark, and lay on the sidewalk under the stars at the Lincoln Memorial. But, I’d been spoiled. There was no going back. Not for me. I’d been all in, and left to paddle ashore alone. One doesn’t jump back into the brink.

He married, raised a family.  I married. Divorced.

We grew old.

Today, word came to me. This morning, John died.

And, I wept.

I wept for every moment of hope. For every chapter in the book that was never published. For all the dreams of that fantasy life of mutually deep and lasting love. And, for John, because he had to die at the hands of a disease which destroyed his body.

His mind and mine had been so beautifully aligned. Then, the stars of imperious power over the spirit crossed, and wrenched us apart.

Beyond all the horizons of deepening mystery, where we can all slip these bonds, know as we are known, and be together in one Spirit, there will be a place.

Save one for me, John.

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johnwhenilovedhim
John was a wonderful husband and father. He was committed, devout, devoted, hard working, loyal, faithful, and true. He and his wife Melissa had four beautiful children, all young adults now. May they all forgive and accept this tribute.

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© 1/21/19 Ruth Ann Scanzillo    This is a tribute to John Licharowicz. Share with the author’s permission. Thank you for respecting his family, and the rest of the broken hearted.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sweet Nature.

 

Some people are born to it.

There are all kinds of traits which, science is now disclosing, are expressed rather automatically because, well, they appear as genes along the strands of our DNA helix. We are so proud, we humans; we’d like to think that we never intended to be the person we actually are.

But, in large part, we get dealt a hand and then the game plays itself out.

Or, does it?

My mother was one of four daughters. Her father’s name was Henry Thomas Sweet. He said his parents were from Cornwall, on the English coastline. Ancestry.com lists:

“This Anglo-Saxon last name has three origin theories. First, it is a baptismal surname meaning “the son of Sweet”…. Second, it derived from the nickname “the sweet”, a good, pleasant, or agreeable person, from the Middle English word swete. The old English personal (first) names Sweta and Swete also derive from this word and may by the source of the surname. Third, as asserted by William Arthur in his book An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names, the name refers to a Swede, a person from Sweden or who was native to that country. Fourth, it can be an Anglicized version of the German/Jewish surname Suess ….. The given names Suet and Suot were documented in the Domesday Book of 1086 AD, which was a survey of England and Wales ordered by William the Conqueror. Fifth, the book English Surnames by Mark Antony Lower claims it’s a nickname for a person “who has either a vinegar face or a foxy complexion”.

Hah.

One wonders if “agreeable and pleasant” married “a vinegar face or foxy complexion” to form the genetic expression handed down to me by my mother’s father.

“Sweetness”.

Sort of a vague reference to guileless, I guess. Gentleness comes to mind, in tandem, along with pleasant countenance. Ain’t no bitch face in the sweet one.

I can say that “The Sweet Girls”, as they became known – Dora Mae; Lydia Elisabeth “Betty”; Frances Magdalene, and Martha Louise, if ever they bore common “sweetness” would have largely been due to the nature of their mother, Mae. Rather, each had an immediate feistiness, manifest more readily by the first, third, and fourth born. Mum’s was demonstrated on her own turf, where she ruled the roost with a formidable tone, but hidden in public behind a radiant grin and a gullibility born of her Aquarian dreams.

So, what’s in a name? Any number of ultimate aspects, all of them inherited.

Mary M. “Peggy” Zeppenfeld, however, was truly sweet. She was a flute player, in the Erie Chamber Orchestra and Erie Philharmonic, and a music teacher. Her students adored her. Her family adored her. Her colleagues did, too. She was “kind”. She was “devoted” to her students, and to music education, an “extraordinary teacher”, generous of spirit. Her maiden name was Munro, Irish to Scotland to fight for William Wallace. Robert Munro served Robert The Bruce; Alice Munro would descend to write sterling short stories, her characters never socially important but always both starkly recognizable and memorable.

Peggy Munro was entirely without ego. Preferring to observe from a distance, watch she did; I can remember more than once looking up, from my seat at the front of the orchestra we shared, to see her gaze directed at me. Peggy was keenly aware; she likely picked up signals from body language that others missed entirely. Perhaps she was just alarmed by any number of reactions which I so irrepressibly demonstrated, but I often wondered if Peggy was the only musician in the room who perceived my needs. Whenever I felt frustrated, or dismissed, or ignored, I could feel Peggy’s eyes on me.

Peggy’s career in the world of professional performance wasn’t so brief – 25 uncelebrated years. Like me, she came to it all by default, receiving an appointment at a time when someone with her qualifications seemed right. And, just as quietly, when the players at the card game increased in power and might, she lay down her hand and bowed out.

This past week, Peggy died. She was only 55 years old, nobody with the power or might to prudently diagnose the disease which took her life having stepped up to save it. And so, another sweet one escaped the earth, to leave behind all those whose hearts hurt because they were so touched.

And, these were innumerable. So many young, eager students. So many colleagues. So many family and friends. And, even one such as I, from the distance between her eyes and mine.

I will miss you, too, Peggy.

Perhaps some are born to live briefly. All are born to die.

It’s the nature of life.

Thank God for those who are born to bring the sweet.

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Mary M. “Peggy” Zeppenfeld

January 1963 – January 2019

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© 1/19/19   Ruth Ann Scanzillo.  All rights those of the author, who can be sour, and whose name appears above this line. Thank you for respecting this tribute.

Just Girls.

 

A long time ago, when there were “used books” and “junior high”, and something called “playing outside”, we were the American girls. Much has been said, steeped in nostalgia, about how much simpler life was then. Implied in that descriptor is the unspoken conviction that life was also somehow better. These days, we “downsize”. Yes; we crave a return to that something.
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Come with me, back to 1969.
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Now, we in our family were Christian fundamentalists; as such, we were taught to “come out from among them, and be separate”. I was never fully in on that concept but, back then, I obeyed my mother. God’s retribution scared me into submission, He nothing if not male, and females were taught from breath number one to take second.
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Many things mattered to my mother. One of them was territorial protection. She didn’t want me to have school friends for sleepovers, and I was not allowed to stay all night anywhere but at my cousin’s house in Lawrence Park. So when Darlene, from school, invited me to spend the night at her parents’ barn out in the county,  literally in the hayloft, I held out little hope.
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Who knows what went on inside my mother’s head? One thing was certain; plenty did. Mum was a romantic. She’d read every Christian romance novel in the Elsie Dinsmore series. She’d had a French soldier pen pal for years before she met Dad and, even when she became old, hoped I’d find him on my first and only trip to Paris. Perhaps my mother thought sleeping overnight in a haystack in a barn was just as pure and worthy as her best fantasy because, to my astonished surprise, she let me go.
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And, it was all that. Darlene was great company. She was among all the other girls the embodiment of what used to be called “self possessed”, and she knew – in spite of the sprawling city planning maps we built in our “Urban Geography” class – that everybody should experience what she had to offer out there on the county farm.
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Because, even though we had a grand time romping around the property into the late afternoon, and crawling all the way up into the loft by nightfall, what we’d witness the next morning Darlene knew would trump all the rest of it.
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I was always a night owl. That night, I can’t tell you if I slept at all. But, I do remember that Darlene was up at the crack of dawn and, somehow, managed to wake me, too. And, she was eager. I had to follow her, out the barn and down into the field.
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The field…of wild strawberries.
The morning dew was peaking. But, the berries weren’t even host.
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It were the spider webs. Dew drop decked spider webs, dozens of them, draping and lacing rows and rows of the nearly hidden wild berries beneath the early morning sun.
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We squatted all the way to the ground, and peered down each long row as if gazing through an infinite prism. The glistening geometry rivaled a crystal landscape.
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Everybody knows that there are some things impossible to forget. It all has to do with the senses. If one is sufficiently aroused, every detail imbeds in memory. And, there was something about that whole idyllic scene: the musty crackle of the hay bales, the scent of unseen critters, the feel of farm living, setting the backdrop for the secret which had unfolded that morning.
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For two days, I was with my friend. We were just two girls. Her father was quite away, inside the farmhouse, just enough presence to play landlord. He left us to our own. We didn’t have to obey him, or God, or anyone. The farm, and the barn, and the field, and the strawberries, even the spiderwebs bathed in dew. There was no fear, and no reason for any.
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At the end of this past year, Darlene came back. I hadn’t seen her since junior high, she being one of only a couple who hadn’t remained with the rest of us in our class. She’d been married, had five kids, divorced, married again, one more baby. Six children, and her husband, the love of her life. That precious man had just passed away, far too young, succumbing to the side effects of a disease. Months before, her mother had also died. Yet, just as I had remembered her, the girl was still in possession of herself. She, in spite of everything happening around her, remained visibly undefeated. She still knew, even in the wake of death, how to find what was so special in the simple life and, even after over forty years, was ready to share that essence again with a girl she still called her friend.
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The disparity between the haves and have nots widens every day. Technology has produced more collateral for consumers to covet than ever before, so much so that even the Christmas stocking is obsolete. But, that which fills our senses and our hearts has not changed.
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Find the freshest air, the clearest water; go to the untouched places, and leave them undisturbed. Take only the sensations with you, when you go.
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And, then, share them with your oldest friend.
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© 1/12/19   Ruth Ann Scanzillo.     All rights those of the author, an old girl, whose name appears above this line.   Thank you, Darlene Pitonyak Brown.
littlebarefeetblog.com

Disappearing Realities.

Flip phones.

There are three of us left who use them.

We love their portability. They even fit in the back pocket of a ghetto butt in jeans.

And, they take a spectacular photograph.

The I-Phones are in their, what, sixth or eighth incarnation? They’re supposed to be so “smart”, but somebody keeps making them bigger and better. They talk back. They respond to voice commands, the little robots.

But, take this. You just think you have a telephone.

You don’t. It isn’t.

It’s just a little thief, in a radioactive frame.

And, the thing has the power to take over your very life.

I’m one of those they always called an “artist”. With an old fashioned, hard formed tool, I draw. On paper, no less. In a nearly single gesture of beveled Conte, I plan to keep newsprint from going belly up. See, give me a stylus, with a real core of graphite; mine is a concrete world, using stuff you can actually hold in your hand until you’re ready to put it down.

The last time I tried to send a text on a “smart” phone, there were so many altered parts of speech my thought was rendered unintelligible. I couldn’t even use an expletive for effect; the little beggar had other plans. Insufferable plagiarist.

But, what really sends me screaming for the actual hills is the swipe.

With one casual brush, just one fleeting nudge, everything you think you just said or did can vanish.

And, you won’t even quite know what or how or where it went. The previous window? Check “history”? Even if it is to be finally retrieved, there is no denying: at any moment, you can be staring down utter blankness. This devil device can shut black, with no warning at all.

And, that is the demon.

Because, even when you can get the thing to say what you mean, or make what you put into it, and you even save to print well, let me tell you, from the invisible realm there are no guarantees. If they can let you make it, they can take it. Yah. You think you always knew what an original could be. Trust me; only your smart phone knows, for sure.

So, call me. Text me. Send me a link. I’ll open my little flipper, and accept it. And, worthy of my save file, I’ll keep whatever you send me. Indefinitely. Just like I’ll keep pressing the tiny buttons which represent the alphabet I learned when I was four. I like the kind of reality I can pinch with my own finger and thumb.

Better to touch what’s really there.

And, hold on.

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© 1/6/19  Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, who lives in real skin, and whose name appears above this line.  Thank you for respecting reality.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

 

 

 

 

The Cheese.

 

Lisa worked in advertising.

Big, commercial advertising.

She was a music producer for Ogilvy & Mather WW, in midtown Manhattan.

And, she’d been my college housemate.

I can remember the accounts. Winter Olympics. Huggies Disposable Diapers. And, the piece de resistance: Folger’s Coffee…..the first, serial ad in anybody’s memory, complete with installments which brought a sweet couple together forever ( everybody hoped.) Hardly a word ever spoken. Just that knock on the door;  a lot of deep, eye gazing; and, the music, underscoring the whole story.

Lisa was always quiet around people. Like, silent. Applied music/flute morphing into a degree in sound, she was an aural learner, storing endless loops of tunes and calling them to mind in an instant. Rising to rank after assisting Faith, who retired to open a B&B in Santa Fe, her working girl day began with meetings. The video would either already be complete, or clients sat at table describing what they envisioned. Within minutes, Lisa would have several ideas, heading to the agency library to pull four or five reels for their perusal. One chosen, the edit would begin.

She performed all this grandly important work in the name of international (they had offices in London and LA, as well) product presentation. And I, her loyal housemate all those years prior, wondered with admiration and pride. There would never be a TV ad, from that point until the big layoff after her David was born, that didn’t pique my attention and respect.

Last week, CNN was drumming along in the background as I finished the pre-holiday preparations. These days, what with the new pause and rewind options provided by cable, I was wont to mute and FF when the commercials kicked in.

But, this one caught me.

A certain, familiar insurance company having dispensed with its inane gecko for the holidays, the goofy lizard had been displaced by two humanoids. Seated shoulder to back on a laminate floor, faux [ electrically flickering ] fireplace behind, equally faux brass poke and stoke set alongside, laminate paneling, the gushing couple faced camera holding drinks. The only notable feature of the man being his Persian blue contac lenses, the woman by contrast was bedecked: polyester ski sweater over a starched, button down shirt, outsized faux coral hoop earrings, haircut overgrown just enough to have required large rollers for shape, jeans and, just as the camera pulled back – knee high, faux leather, heeled boots.

Their only dialogue byte to pull me out of my stream of subconscious was a reference to “starring in a real commercial”. Might it have been the angle of her jaw, or the artificial lilt in her voice? I stared, momentarily, at her face. Suddenly, it all came together.

Perhaps I’d taken one too many cheap flight connections from Detroit to parts east. Maybe fussed just a bit too much getting strapped onto my seat in coach. But, somebody was watching. Somebody who’d replaced one of Lisa’s coworkers in video all those years ago. I didn’t have to take any bait, from GEICO or anybody else. Somebody, as I stood in the shoot waiting for my orange ductape labeled Travelocity carry on, saw me and said: “Ope. There she is. There’s our girl.”

Cheese is a favorite of mine. I like them all. Brie; Havarti; Colby Jack; Muenster; Feta; Goat; New York Sharp. If you need cheese, or cheesy, just call me. I’ll be sitting by the phone, branded, waiting for the role of your lifetime.

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c 1/1/19   Ruth Ann Scanzillo.   All rights those of the author, somebody who looks exactly like the person she isn’t, and whose name appears above this line. Thank you for respecting original material.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Italians.

DadRima&amp;AngeFINALCROPPeople.

It takes all kinds.

And, I’m glad to say so.

What if we were all reticent and deferential? In America, we’d be stuck on a street corner, bowing and gesturing for the other to cross. Crowds would form. Traffic would stall. Chaos to commerce. Only the strong would survive. Finally, one lone person, likely among the shortest, would push through the throng and head across the road, shaking his or her head in disbelief at the inefficiency of it all. That would be the Italian.

For every proponent of tolerance, acceptance, and the next festival in celebration of diversity there’s an old Dago who sits, reading the paper and chuckling. Somebody brings him a sandwich. Talking with his mouth full, he’ll tell you what for. He knows. He’s Italian. We always do.

For the final decade of my twenty five in public education, I worked at an elementary school at the cusp of the county line. Demographically, there were few Italians living over there. True to their history in our town, the surviving generations were still maintaining their family homes closer to the center of the west side. I remember being told by my then very blonde and fair skinned boss that I was “a bit harsh.”

Nobody at the other school, over in Little Italy, would have called me by that moniker. Everybody who worked there or ran that building told it like it was. There was a happy extroversion in that climate. And, the faculty was the most cohesive social group in the entire city. I will never forget the night of my first all school program; there had to have been seven teachers there, all helping run herd, and they’d all organized entirely unsolicited by me. They were led by one woman. She was Italian.

For just under three years, I had a mother in law. She thought Italy was a third world country, and “loved my brown eyed grand children just as much as my blue eyed grandchildren.” Everybody tries, some more than others. But, we’re all different, it’s always easier to stay the way we are, and inherent bias is unavoidable. But, when you cross the line, the Italian will tell you so.

What line?

Well, back when civilization was trying to evolve beyond barbarism, there was a people who, though their motive was to establish power, were adept at assessing a situation, identifying its obstacles, and spending intelligent energy and willpower developing a solution. To expand their influence, roads were developed and constructed, the kind which could be traveled beyond the dusty sandal and walking stick. In fact, entire transport systems were created which ultimately established connections, yielding an increase in trade and cultural exchange.  Prior to this, there were kings and their extended families, and land owners, and slaves, and the poor – the latter, in droves. These expanding road systems enabled pockets of civilization to become independent and self governing, by virtue of their access to resources which existed, well, down the road. These pockets became known as cities.

Yes. The very structure of workable American society is framed by transit routes and cities. And, we have the Romans, from Italy, to thank for it; their drive to achieve a dominating empire left behind what we now call infrastructure.

Oh, and the next time you look at something beautiful that did not occur in nature, take a moment. Be they paintings, sculpture, even cathedrals, much of the world’s most magnificent works of art were created by Italians. Inlaid tile. Stained glass. Frescoes. Even before Michelangelo and DaVinci, there were artisans. These swarthy, well oiled, slightly hairy brutes did their part to decorate the entire, known world. They frosted the cake.

Yes. Every human frailty eventually makes itself known. There is weakness, right along side strength. Nothing lasts forever, not empires, not even life. But, for every moment constrained by decorum, there will be an emergent crisis. Let’s be ready to thank the personality which steps up. That will, eight times out of ten, be the Italian.

From us, you will get candor. We’ll smile at you in public if you deserve it, and reprimand you in kind. You’ll always know where you stand, with us. We are as proud of our heritage as you are of yours, and we know one more thing. We know the value of preserving that history. We are a part of the greatest generation, in this country we call home, and you can call us by our name. It’s pronounced exactly the way it’s spelled.

Let’s eat.

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© 12/22/18    Ruth Ann Scanzillo.        All rights those of the author, whose name is pronounced “Skan – ZILL – o”, and appears above this line. Thank you for your respect.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fluke.

Between Roger Stone and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the eyes tell the story.

The first time I ever saw a fluke, my then husband and I were fishing off Mystic Point.

According to AnimalSake, the fluke is a member of the flatfishes. As these types lie low on their side at the bottom of the oceans, they express a freakish feature: both of their eyes appear on the left sides of their heads!

Such an eye position serves them critically. Found in the Atlantic, low on its undersurface, they blend with their environment where a mottled camouflage helps them to take their prey by surprise and hunt it down.

Fluke fish   (photo credit: AnimalSake)

Never having so much as held a fishing pole, I took to this new pastime with gusto at my tender age of 34, finding the whole enterprise juvenating and the light, flaking meat delightfully mild.

But, though decades have passed since both my last fishing expedition and the marriage which began and ended it, the eyes of the fluke are these to which I now return.

It would seem that all life forms at any proximity to the grande unraveling in Washington, D.C. would do well to have eyes in the backs of their heads. No one has a clue what the leader of the free world will say or do next, only that all within range will be both duly shocked and awed by his baffling incongruity with law, order and any form of conventional governance.

Speaking of incongruity, take Press Secretary Sanders. I watch her keenly, every time she appears at podium to face the queries. Facial asymmetries notwithstanding, there is something about her eyes which sends me back to Mystic Point.

I’m in the boat, dropped anchor. Water laps quietly, on all sides. The tug on the line is almost imperceptible and, with a silent woosh, up comes the catch, flapping its tailfin with every muscle on a smooth, flat back. And, staring up at me, from some other dimensional realm, are its two, side eyes.

Why do Sanders’ eyes seem to fight for their presence on her face? The forehead muscles alternately pull her left orb upward, momentarily boggling and bulging it while the right eye, intent on maintaining some form of stasis, cannot control an involuntary reaction to the left. And so, they both lurch and roll in their sockets, like a couple mismatched  lychee nuts. What does this tell us about the war going on between her brain hemispheres, for God’s sake? Can anybody say “cognitive dissonance”?

As for Roger Stone, I am inclined to think that he keeps his Cliff Notes under his eyelids; can the man verbalize a thought without closing and holding both, completely? Watch him too intently, with your own hopefully healthy set, and your chest might notice a faint atrial flutter. Never have I witnessed such anti-rhythm since Glen Close in “Fatal Attraction” sat, catatonic, unblinking, flicking the lamp switch on and off with the erratic tempo of her own madness.

It’s winter, in the Great Lakes. Ice fishing is less common on Lake Erie and there are no fluke to be found in these parts, even in summer. Still, I’d love a fresh one, fried or steamed, to warm the cockles of my troubled heart this day. Tomorrow will come, soon enough. Best to be grateful for whatever clear vision it may bring. The eyes of the Lord are upon only the righteous; one wonders how many times, in recent days, God Almighty has had to turn in divine disgust, and look away.

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© 12/19/18 Ruth Ann Scanzillo.    Thank you for respecting original material.

littlebarefeetblog.com

The Game of Need and Seek.

An Open Letter to the Unsuspecting:

 

The holidays have a seductive quality. Be wary of prowlers.
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Oh, and know that I am not talking about those who skulk around property with burglaries in mind. I speak of those who, without realizing it, are looking for you.
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These are the ones who proclaim their independence. And, they’ll do it to anyone who appears to be listening.
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What is important is to first know that there are always layers. There are layers of skin – the epidermis, then dermis, then the fat, and so on. But, there are also layers in behavior. Human behavior.
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And because, though we may look upon them fondly, we are not dogs we are people, and we have needs far beyond those of food and sleep. These needs are many, occurring first on the surface and then running deep, reaching all the way to our core of being.
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If we are self aware, we know what we need. Add to that some self education, and we can distinguish between the sources which can meet such needs. Having established these, we can then seek the fulfillment which results in needs met.
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But, if we are neither self aware nor sufficiently educated, we may become prey. This is not a good thing.
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Should somebody treat you with unusual attention, begin by stepping back. Adopt a position of observation. Feel your own breath. Know your space.
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Because unless you maintain your self as distinct from the other, you may become an extension in the realm of someone who, at the very moment you are feeling special, displaces you. This is because you are likely being sought to meet a need in that person, a need for whose meeting you are vastly unqualified.
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Remember that the way you feel in the presence of another exists only within your own perception. Do not attribute to the other any credit for such feelings. We are, at any point along the journey of life, so often assigning to others credit where none is due. Doing this causes problems between us and everyone we know.
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If you do experience nice, soothing, exciting, or otherwise desirable feelings, enjoy them in that moment. Be grateful. But, be not deceived. You are likely merely responding to a synergy which is inherently momentary.
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We converge at any moment across a spectrum. Many believe such encounters to be profoundly divine in nature; these see God as directing all. Yet others are more detached, viewing the world of life as largely random. Whichever your position, know that you are still a distinct living soul, and do not have to accept that your meeting up with any other is anything attributable to the intent of that person.
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If your encounter is pleasurable, express gratitude. But, when you separate, take the experience and store it as just that, without any further expectation. The other person is also reacting to having been with you, and may register a completely different response.
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Pain exists to warn us, to heighten our attention and increase our focus. But, some pain can be avoided. Take your attention away from false beliefs that others can meet any of your needs. This places a burden upon all our relationships which is doomed to disappointment, what some call heartbreak, and can induce acute and entirely unwarranted pain.
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Instead, return to your own soul center. Name your need, and feed yourself. Regard all others as decorative, perhaps transient, across the scheme of your own life. Give as emergent crisis warrants, help with an attitude of love, but avoid sacrifice. Be, in all ways, who you are, without fear. In this way, nobody will ever take from you that which is truly your own. No one will steal your heart.
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© 12/18/18 Ruth Ann Scanzillo.  Thank you for respecting original material, and for taking your own advice.
littlebarefeetblog.com

Personalities.

 

We all have them.

In plural.

For every rare individual, in the grip of dissociative identity disorder, there is the vast remainder of relatively normal society. And, society, whether or not we are ready to admit it as fact, seeks to shape our personalities.

The earth is populated by so many nations, within them so much distinct culture. And, what each civilized group of persons grows accustomed to is a set of mores, actions, and reactions which are profoundly influenced by the behavior of those who founded and perpetuated them.

Back in the 18th century, Scottish philosopher David Hume developed his theory of social behavior and led his fellow citizens to assimilate it. He believed that a people is profoundly marked by its public persona, and established a specific protocol for interaction. As such, the Scots as a society became characterized by Hume’s notions of what was both a healthy and proper comportment.

Centuries hence, the essence of who we are has come to be known as personality. Within that, there are potentially many subsets of behaviors, all influenced by those with whom we have had to do since birth.

(Enter DNA. We are still learning, and most of us not privy to, the exact nature of genetic expression. What we do know is that we inherit much which will shape how we choose, act, and react to the world around us.)

But, if we are encouraged, from infancy, to express a wide range of emotion — smiling, laughing, crying, giggling, as well as reactions including surprise, shock, and even dismay — we will develop habits which include these expressions. Moreover, if we are rarely taught to suppress emotion, we will become capable of spontaneity. If, conversely, we are taught to stifle, we will become characterized as stoic.

Now, what of emotional range? Could a correlation be made between the degree of emotional expression and the capacity for multiple aspects within personality?

Some scenarios seem to call for grace, latitude, and acceptance; yet others demand assertive action, such as those of sudden health emergency or public threat. The degree of importance one places upon each as they emerge might call up a wide variety of personality expressions. The Scots, in the 18th century, likely never had to endure either challenge or threat to their social securities.

And, what of intellectual expression? How do distinct personalities demonstrate the way they think? And, how is this valued in a society?

Perhaps we might reflect upon those who seem different from ourselves. What are the aspects which distinguish us? Which among these could be encouraged, deemed of value?

America is unique, in that we have been attempting to survive as a society within which innumerable social mores and personality expressions have coexisted. Proximity has proved a challenge, for many. Judgments have been made. Inherent bias has ruled outcomes of disagreement. Crime has become a hallmark, instead of a rare aberration.

Consider these points for contemplation, the next time you register the following thought: “I don’t like that person.” Perhaps add a Why? And, then, take that additional, sometimes painful but objective step. Find something worthy in that personality. Then, inspect yourself.

Each of us has so many glorious features. Even as we celebrate diversity, let us broaden that resolve to include the details of multi-faceted individuality. We would feel so much better about each other, and our collective personality would become something of a masterpiece.

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© 12/15/18 Ruth Ann Scanzillo All rights those of the author, whose personality you may not favor but whose name appears above this line. Thank you for respecting original material.

LIFE…..on Facebook.

 

I’d crawled out of bed, after sleeping long enough to face another day.
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Following twenty five consecutive years of hitting the ground running and crashing after midnight this had, for the past six or so since early retirement, become the new normal – and, far closer to “normal” than its previous incarnation.
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Yet, on that particular morning sometime last month I’d padded over to the laptop to log in –  and, a startling announcement appeared.
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It was Facebook.
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They were posting to say “Congratulations!”
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I’d been on the site for ten years.
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It only took that moment. I stopped breathing and sat, motionless. My eyes went into my head. Searching, almost frantic. Ten years. A whole, God forsaken decade of……what?
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And so, in some pathetic attempt at justification, I began to catalog those ten years.
Herewith, the results of one, peculiar life on social media.
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1.) OLD FRIENDS.
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I’d never been a very good friend. At least, not the kind one learned about in first grade. I’d not been particularly friendly. I didn’t do things for other people. I wasn’t thoughtful. Oh, I was full of plenty of thought – just, not the kind which included other people unless one could count mulling over why boys farted for fun and girls laughed at other girls, categorically speaking.
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And, I wasn’t naturally social. Friends, to me, were best selected one at a time, and I chose the kind who had the patience to listen to my unending prattle. The Apple Jacks Club comes to mind. Held at my house, on my turf, complete with instructions on where to sit and what to do next, I can recall only two meetings before the whole thing was suspended indefinitely (with tears, and mum’s irritated declarations). Or, I picked the loner, the one for whom nobody else seemed to have any interest or time. Was this instinct? I prefer to think it just selfishness. Or, maybe I’m just depressed today.
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But, dejected or hopeful, I had to admit: Facebook had put me in touch with: a.) scores of former classmates, teachers, and colleagues; b.) dozens of relatives, scattered across the country; c.) those from the old church fellowship, also living in just about every state in the union and, best of all d.) a still vastly incomplete list from among the four.thousand.former students. In total, having been careful to accept the connection of only those known personally to me (or, to those known to those), I had amassed, to date, over thirteen hundred “Friends.”
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2.) NEW FRIENDS.
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Remarkable, however, were the number of new friends. These were those known to others, who would join a conversation thread. Many a long, healthy debate would ensue, the same enjoyed to this day. In fact, several have become confidantes, one or two especially so. (Interestingly, these have proved the most loyal, as well.)
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And, this is true of every Facebook addict. Oh, yes. We are.
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But, beyond the obvious dependency, there is something else.
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3.) PUBLIC IMAGE.
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Whether any of us realize it or not, the most transparent among us are become subject to a rather insidious force.
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Because, by its design, all members being encouraged to post, like, and comment, the most vulnerable are exposed. Bare.
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I’m talking about those of us who, whether by nature or intent, have no filter.
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Maybe it’s because of being deeply committed to the truth, our own truth, and the truth as it is capable of being apprehended. Granted, there have been times when I have spoken merely from belief, rather than fact; and, ready and waiting, there has always been somebody quick to correct me.
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But, over time, this kind of interaction has chipped away at something. And, that something is rather critical to human perception of human relationship. I think that, without having been able to predict it, we have subjected ourselves to public scrutiny. We have been silently assessed, even judged. And, those of us who have said too many unsettling things, alarming things, or just said them too often, have also been silently rejected.
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In short, the image we have portrayed in print has become the essence of our alleged character. There is a Scripture: “Out of the heart, the mouth speaks.” But, is what we say in print, minus any tone or inflection, not profoundly subject to the interpreter’s own, inherent biases?
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I used to write Letters to the Editor. But, our local newspaper was bought out by some conglomerate, the new panel of editors also bought by those intent upon monopolizing public perception of relative value and I cancelled my subscription. Left without that vital vehicle, with all my unfiltered flaws there has been only one intent on my part, that of using Facebook to play the role of public protector. And, I know exactly what has motivated this.
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But, those who prefer to live in denial may have been offput by one too many words of warning. And, a smaller subset of readers might have concluded that I am just a completely unpleasant person.
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In person.
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Am I?
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Apart from the bad breath, thank you to the boyfriend for so thoughtfully pointing this out, am I really the world’s most rejectable creature?
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Just how much has Facebook contributed to self – perception?
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How many suicides have taken place, predicated by preambles on…..Facebook?
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I mean it. Let’s get off.
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Can we remember the week we sent the laptop in for an overhaul? I can. I think I stocked the entire larder and cleaned the whole house. I might have even spent time with actual, live, in person humans.
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Maybe it’s just because I am a writer. Perhaps this propensity carries an inordinate, uncommon desire to say it all on virtual paper. But, do take this as my closing warning, and accept it from somebody who really doesn’t want anybody to be rejected in person for any reason: pick up the phone, and call somebody. Get out of the house, and go do something just because, today, it isn’t burning fire or freezing snow.
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If we don’t, another decade might pass, and we might not live to see anything else but the next Facebook post.
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© 12/3/18 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. Please visit littlebarefeetblog.com, when you have nothing else to do. And, thanks.

The Menagerie.

 

He said it, again.

“I need to be alone.”

Well, he might.

But, according to my calculations and a bit of simple math, he’s not.

At last count there were – first – two, large dogs. Brody and Bella, lab mix and Rottweiler each, occupying as much space stretched across the king mattress as another human slightly larger than his broad shouldered, 5’ 6” frame.

Then, little Fitz Willie (Fritz), the cat.  I’m severely allergic, but the anti-dander creme allowed us a sweet fondness.

Oh, but let’s take a walk outside.

Down across the grassy stretch of the first acre, just to the right of the pond we reach the fenced in coop. Four fluffy, extremely well nourished laying hens. We bought them, together, from the little store down the country road which closed last summer, when they were just chicks, days old. There were six, but Bella got one and a hawk the other. I brought home several scarecrows, to protect the remaining four who grew into beauties.

Follow me, back up toward the house. We’ll pass the gardens. Squashes, spinach, arugula. A whole row of red raspberries, still bearing fruit into November. The pear tree. The next, raised beds, framed with leftover wood from my front porch. Asparagus, first every spring, surrounded by gladiolas. More spinach, red and green leaf lettuce. Beets. So many radishes. A row of onions. A couple carrots. And, kale. So much kale, most of it left for the rabbits.

Another row, this one blueberries. I remember netting these, to try to save them yet again from the early birds, who got their feast even before the tiny fruit had matured.

The apple tree. Helping to gather them, soft green and sweet, and the applesauce later which needed no added sugar.

Stand with me, and turn. Gaze back down the yard, all the way past the four hundred foot hose I found so he wouldn’t have to haul sprinkling cans. Rows, and rows, and rows, and rows, of tomatoes. Red, and green, peppers. This year, added chilis, and a whole line of tall garlic.

Now, stop, and listen. Hear them? The birds. Cardinals, wrens, robins, bluejays, finches, Baltimore orioles, red winged blackbirds, chicadees. Hummingbirds.

The bird feeders, filled with sunflower seed – four, maybe five, of these, circumventing the entire house. I won’t forget the sight of their banquet, last winter at the first snow.

And, if you stay ‘til dusk, you’ll hear the final chorus:

Tree frogs.

For these, there are simply no words.

Yes; this is where he spends his time, “alone.”

 

For the past nearly two years, I’d spent much of my time there, too.

Never in my life had I ever been surrounded by the fruits of one man’s labor. Not ever had I been with a man who was truly self made, who needed nothing from me. I treasured every minute he permitted me presence, the true opportunity to share in his little world.

I was just, however, another form of life. Just one more. Letting me go, for him, would be comparatively easy, maybe even welcomed. One less mouth to feed. One less need to meet. One less voice, to interrupt the serenity. Hardly missed, one less heart to break.

But oh, how I will miss him. And, the dogs, Brody Ode and Belly Belle, mommy’s two velvet babies. And, Fitz Willie, preferring the guest room by day but padding across my fleece covered body, poking at me until I crawled out to feed him before the sun came up. And, the chirring hens, their abundance of eggs more than enough for both of us.

And, the birds.

I had tomatoes, this year. They all bore fruit, without once watering. And, in spite of neglect, last year’s kale shot up just ahead of the first frost.

I have birds, in my tree. And, the trees down the street. They offer me their own chorus, at summer’s end and, again, crackling in the spiraea through winter.

But, the tree frogs.

What will I ever do without them?

My love, and his menagerie. God, protect them all.

May they never be alone.

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© 11/28/18   Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose story it is, whose name appears above this line and whose menagerie is glass.

littlebarefeetblog.com

How To Grieve During The Holidays — and, Keep Your Sense of Humor.

R.A.UglySadFace

I used to have a wicked sense of humor.

Meaning: at school, R.A. was the funniest girl in class.

Of course, this was in that archaic phase of history formerly known as “junior high”. And, maybe the cusp of sophomore year. But, details don’t matter. Once life kicked into high gear, the end began.

Yes. Somewhere between the first side impact car accident and the onset of the migraines, something started to chip away at the old edge of wit. Perhaps the newest pain medication, intended to act on serotonin receptors. Whatever. Once I got to college, a secular state university, all my energy was required just to function semi socially and remain a virgin. Well, technically, anyway. While still a sitting infant I’d plopped down, on top of a phallus sized, lead painted steel truck from my elder brother’s collection, and broken my hymen.

But, yeah. Directly proportionate to the degree of accepted responsibilities, any vestige of humor pretty much konked out, was a burgeoning skill as a tedious bore. Add to that a vocal cord surgery, in ’98. Losing my hallmark guffaw was the icing on that cake; I was the most profoundly unfunny person in the world, and couldn’t even laugh about it.

By way of outcome, or perhaps some damage to the central amygdala, across the multiple decades hence there emerged one topic about which I could speak as a veritable Rhodes scholar: grief.

It’s true. If any girl knew anything about sobbing her way through a workshop on teaching the gifted, it was I. Even attending a lecture presented for local women and hearing Nelson Mandela’s absolution on letting your light shine, I cried like a blubbering baby.  As for the dark of pre-menstrual night, and that old familiar fetal position, there would be me, screaming into the pillow like nobody’s mama.

Interestingly, grief being directly the result of loss, I seemed to have cornered the market on losing loved ones. Whether grandparents, parents, relatives, or significant others, I had spent more on funeral arrangements in the course of the gift giving budget than anything else. Add to that far too many failed attempts at intimate relationship and you had Doctor Ruth, minus the short legs and the cheery grin.

Now, as self appointed spokeswoman for the wisdom of aging, I come to you on the better side of post menopause with a seasoned appreciation for synthesis. Perhaps the out of pocket orthodontia to cure tempo-mandibular joint dysfunction gets the prize, because the migraines have significantly ceased and, with them, the need for brain chemistry altering medication. If there is anything to be gleaned from it all I now offer the following: grieving — with a sense of humor.

Herewith a list of tips. (And, no. Mind altering substance ingestion is not required.)

1.) CATASTROPHE.

As we all know, the state of the planet and the world upon it hanging on for dear life, we don’t have to look very far to find the latest disaster during the holidays. In fact, sudden horrific events seem to emerge out of nowhere just as the malls open for business. And, even if we’ve had to say goodbye to the one person we were sure would be holding our hand when we croaked, there is nothing quite like a tsunami on the Pacific rim to jolt us back into relative reality.

I recommend finding the channel which covers the latest world news, and scrolling til we find something geographic. There is a surreal comfort in gaping at massive destruction, particularly if we find ourselves a.) reasonably clothed; b.) sufficiently nourished, and c.) able to adjust the internal temperature of the room to our liking. Allowing ourselves to sit quietly and attune, as the warm surge of relief that none of what we are witnessing is actually happening in any remote proximity, can resemble momentary bliss. It can also gently nudge our better angels to remind us that we could count our blessings.

2.) CHARITY.

Speaking of taking a tally, even if we retired way too early to collect enough to pull us out of a declining demographic, sending twenty bucks to help victimized children does wonders for the dopamine. Contributing to these, as well as those who manage to survive catastrophe, is the most guilt free (and, grief releasing) pleasure on earth. We can do so joyfully, with absolutely no concern for subliminal self righteousness, which can lead to self loathing which, in turn, can frequently cause us to dial a friend and vent. Venting on friends, during the holidays, is the perfect way to get crossed off the last party list that held out hope for the most wretched among us.

But, be cautious; if we do send money, be sure that we have decided with certainty that we hate holiday parties. Sometimes the cascade of cause and effect is too powerful to quell and actually accepting that the phone won’t chime an invitation, at all, must be adequately addressed and confronted with a mature resignation.

3.) GORGING.

Everybody drowns their sorrows in consumables. I suspect that appetite is triggered by a gaping sense of loss.

That said, congratulating ourselves for being sufficiently devastated, we can set about the table before us with any number of syrupy, savory, and textured delectables knowing that – now that we are utterly alone in the world – we don’t have to share them with anybody.

However, keeping various protein sources at arm’s reach is strongly suggested. Every twenty minutes, as the eyelids begin to flutter, stuffing a block of cheese into the face will cut that glycemic rise, effectively preventing ten minutes of sudden coma. During grief, every ten minutes missed is ten minutes lost. And, we all know that the objective is to indulge, for as long as we can remain coherent and capable of sudden wailing and gnashing of teeth. Keeping a glucose monitor handy is also prudent.

4.) PUBLIC DISPLAYS.

Five days ago, I had to endure the excruciating extraction of my entire self from an environment into which I had voluntarily placed myself for twenty months. Granted, the psychic abuse of living in suspended disbelief, instead of squarely facing that hope for a future of committed mutual trust was likely a serious joke, had been preferable for a remarkably protracted period of time. Denial is the pablum of the pathetic.

Since then, to my personal chagrin, I have dissolved into tears in two, distinct Post Office service lines. Completely uncontrollable sniffling and face wiping, with the back of a fading red glove. And, this year, I cannot even blame a single hormone for the rush; all mine are externally introduced, on call or in the stickered ziploc.

The woman with the most empathic reaction actually allowed me back into my queue, after a failed attempt to help another customer carry her packaged burden to her car. The man in the next line who spoke the most encouraging words to me was none other than the service department manager at the car dealership where I’d purchased my Pontiac, with the lemon engine, whose six or seven gaskets had been replaced and for which I had successfully sued GM for five grand.

No. We truly cannot make these things up. Reality really is stranger than fiction. For this cause, I highly recommend that the grieving take it to the streets. Cry, out loud, whenever and wherever we go. Displaying raw, authentic emotion will spur the most outrageous outpouring of human altruism most never knew they possessed, including being reminded that crying is good because it detoxifies the body. A room full of weeping people could ensue. This would provoke entire gaggles of clasping hugs, grinding all commerce to a dead halt and shutting down the economy. Cars would remain parked, people choosing to walk, arm in arm, forsaking their petty materialisms and inviting one another in for a hot meal and some group singing around the piano, revolutionizing society for an entire generation.

So, throw back your head. Squeeze your wet eyelids til they squint out the last tear. Tomorrow will never come. Instead, you will wake up from your sleep, when your body is finally done resting, and your today will be waiting right where you left off.

Isn’t it funny how that works?

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© 11/27/18  Ruth Ann Scanzillo. Thank you for respecting the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line.  Try not to laugh.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

 

Euphemisms.

 

“I’m treading water.”

“We could both use a break from the ‘unhealthy pace’.”

“I need space to process feelings, desires, choices and goals.”

And, to add, the operative noun:

“Imperative”.

 

All euphemisms.

For never coming back.

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The tenacious ones always get hurt.

Being a barnacle. Hanging on, trying harder, being mindful, vowing to practice good listening skills. Harvesting scraps, from dinner.

Denying how much the one so loved wants to leave.

He’d been talking about “incompatibility” for months. Good listening skills notwithstanding, I’d refused to hear it. Compatibility was a small thing; heck, I’d been “matched” for it at eHarmony.com in 2006, spending three weeks with a bona fide, raving psychotic. You laugh?

I thought that really caring, providing nurture, being helpful around his house, thinking of his needs first whenever I entered a store, trying to find solutions to an endless litany of problems, and being willing to drive the twenty three minutes each way to his place three, four times per week were the ways to show love. Oh, and, the big one: forgiving him all his sins. Past, and present. Repeatedly.

I was mistaken.

In the end, everything I said or did, and how I said and did it, drove him away. He couldn’t stand being around me. He only wanted me there when I wasn’t.

And so, he treated me in kind. I often found my words dismissed – grammatically and syntactically correct texts, each one requiring an intolerable twelve seconds to digest – deleted because there were just too many of them; my overall behavior frequently subjected to declarations tinged with sarcasm and outrage; sweeping generalizations about what was “normal” regularly put up as the barometer against my every act. And yet, to sum it all up, this was “just me”, and who was he to try to “change” me?

By now, with the single exceptions of downhill skiing, skydiving, scuba, performing surgery, and giving birth, everything about life had happened to me. There’d hardly been an experience to which there hadn’t been at least some tangential connection. I’d hiked to the top of Mt. Washington, reeled in a mahimahi off the Honolulu coast, and played on stage with YoYo Ma. Taught competitive marching band (not very competitively, being a poet and aesthete), choir, chorus, hundreds of strings, scores of private students, and coached/produced/directed childrens’ drama ten times in ten years. In 1984, traveled alone to Scotland, England, France, Germany and Switzerland. Written and illustrated three childrens’ books. Bought my own house at age 29, my own cello at 28, and my own Steinway at 57.

But, being dumped as a single woman, at age 61. That smelled more like terror. Who wanted an old woman, for a partner? Surely not an old man. Men were largely unteachable, to begin with, unless groomed by a registered Suzuki instructor by age 4; how could they be expected to adapt to anything, by this time?

I suppose that, just like I myself declared in the musings of a prior piece, beginning again at age 61 might entail going more solo than ever before. That multiply published author, as she traveled the college keynote circuit, never made mention of either a husband or even children. But then, the tiny one, in the bookstore. Carefully laying out all the major novels as her world for the remaining winters of her solitary existence.

So, what did I want? And, what would it be? Serving at the soup kitchen, on Christmas day? My own mother had regularly helped do the very thing, every week in the final few years of her life. She died, anyway, at age seventy six, not a day older than she was at seventeen.

Ask, and ye shall receive. But, isn’t it better to give?

Well?

I’m tired of giving. Giving up, that is – most of my entire self, for another (but, keeping the house, dammit. The only thing I hadn’t done was build it, for God’s sake.)

Maybe spreading love around is the secret. I’m a sprinter anyway, after all – good in short, intense spurts. For the long haul? The biggest load since the space shuttle crossing country on a flatbed.

No matter that the shuttle altered life on the planet as we all knew it. The shuttle was never intended to win friends or influence people, or get tucked into bed at night between the dogs and the warm, familiar embodiment of romantic idealism.

Even as a child, I was not well liked. My own mother found me irritating. And, she was quick to say so. I bore every, single trait inherited from her husband which she never knew until after he’d married her.

So, time to go.

Or, stay.

Tonight, I’ll be at my house. It’s warm, inside. Been mine, for thirty years. Plenty of space, to fill with perpetually collecting reminders of everyone who’d ever been next to me in the room, now to sit alone and think.

But, just don’t ask me to feel.

For that, I would need a really exquisite, carefully selected, and truly exceptional metaphor.

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© 11/26/18   Ruth Ann Scanzillo.   All rights those of the world’s most rejectable woman, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. Thank you for stifling your self satisfied derision.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

Never.

 

Never a “thank you”

Never a “please”

Rarely “I’m sorry”

Except to appease

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Never a need

Ahead of his own

Except when the dogs

Are expecting a bone

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Always love, first

My mother would say

For love is of God

And, remember to pray

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Forever the giver

Of love, even still

She endured to the end

As an act of the will

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Always the teacher

Who never learns

Love never fails

Except when it burns

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True love may elude

When two lives combine

Never is always

The telltale sign

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© 11/22/18    Ruth Ann Scanzillo        Thank you for respecting original material, however lame.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Fire.

 

The desire to fire

implicates

so, higher ups are hired

to light the match.

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© 11/21/18   Ruth Ann Scanzillo   from the forthcoming “How To Succeed Human Relationship [by Building a Robot]©”, by the author whose name appears above this line. Thank you for respecting that which is sacred.

littlebarefeetblog.com