Her niece was getting married the very next week. A lovely young woman, about the same age as she was when the body clock sounded its first alarm.
Instead of retiring “at a decent hour” as her beloved departed father would have insisted she decided to succumb to the more customary, post midnight mania and try on her intended outfit in front of the full length mirror. Her gut was talking; should she look frumpy, maybe last minute flight cancellations wouldn’t be the only reason to stay home.
The sleeveless jersey A line with its graduated greens to blues seemed a fit; thank God, becoming scrawny again still bore up under generic M sizing. Her faded greying hair, freshly trimmed and styled, seemed the right length for the scoop neck and bangly geometric necklace. Bohemian fabric ankle boots held up well around thick, multi colored socks and the olive stretch leggings, their color chosen to complement the bridal party palette, would likely work nicely to hide untanned calves. By all appearances, she was cleared to take off for the much anticipated event celebrating the last single child of her eldest brother’s brood.
Then, facing the glass, she saw them. Bubbles, and ripples, cascading down her forearms and over the tops of her hands. What?
Blood vessels. Every vein, bulging, like a 3-D map of the Interstate highway system. What? She stared, recoiling. Is that why she looked so old in the candid front porch photos beside the beloved little 4 year old music student? She’d thought it the bright sun, meeting the digital phone lens designed to capture detail beyond that which the human eye could see. But, this. This? This was how her arms looked – in real life?
Having melted all the midlife fat the previous pandemic year, she’d devolved to wrists the width of twigs. But, this was a different animal. This was a topography heralding the unmistakeable, unavoidable hallmark of old ladies everywhere. This was age.
At least, that’s what Google said. Skin, thinning; vein valves, weakening; blood, wearily making its endless, return trip back to the heart like some army of tired ants.
She’d remembered touching her grandmother’s skin, the part of her neck draping the throat, marveling at its velvety texture; was this nature’s way of making that which could barely be seen anymore in the half light of the old fashioned boudoir something to be felt, instead, tactile pleasure displacing what could no longer entice the eyes?
She wondered if a man would bear such a preference.
The gathering was a destination event, pulling all family members from the four corners of the continent to meet their new in-laws for the first time. As such she, the most remotely connected of any among her own kin, might put a kink in it. She’d stayed “home” to build her life; the rest had moved miles away. Career choice, and time commitment, plus the absence of proximity had formulated an equation, the opposite side of its equal sign a brand to a relationship void of social attachment; she would be as much a stranger as the whole lot of those awaiting their guests’ arrival.
Add to all that, age. Who’d want to talk to the old, childless aunt? Only those trained in the art of polite exchange would muster up. Could she adopt character, be the jester, an angle proving workable in the past? Oh, wait; in this clan, that would be the patriarch’s domain. Rob him of his coveted role she would not, lest he be named naked Emperor in front of all.
These were anticipating their first opportunity to establish extended family connection. Energy was to be focused. Best not to distract, by provoking extraneous noblesse oblige. Detach; observe; record, like the ubiquitous camera filming the reality show. Would anyone notice?
She’d been 36, the year of her own wedding; her niece was now 38. Twenty four additional months spent deliberating, in quiet expectation. Like ten minutes of Snooze on the alarm clock, more time to resist the inevitable.
Maybe the airline would discover a staff shortage. Perhaps maintenance, or an empty terminal bay, would send the schedulers in a mad dash through their Rubik’s Cube of impossible variables.
She’d let reality play, sans voyeur’s lens. Wedding days came, and wedding days went. Marriages were supposed to endure. Time to take ten, and wait it all out.
Copyright 9/4/22. Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, the old aunt, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. No copying, in whole, part, or by translation. Sharing by blog link, exclusively. Thank you for sitting with your own family.
Jehovah’d created the whole world in six, and the next day rested.
She was worn out.
Age made time move faster, she’d been told. But, she believed otherwise. State of mind, that’s what governed time. The degree to which mind attended to detail across the hours determined how quickly they were perceived to move. That, and resistance, the force designed to provoke action.
Back in the day she’d committed every waking minute, including those spent asleep, to action. Forty five of these, unassigned to task, was a vacation. Add to that the fertility cycle, applied to a body in constant motion, and you got what made a whole day take eons to end. That, and resistance, the force designed to prevent progress.
Now, she’d made every moment of these eight days deliberate. Wariness, the state of awareness heightened by foreboding expectation. She had to monitor her mind, across time now; it had become her adversary.
That, and resistance, the force with the capacity to frustrate.
Her thoughts always in charge, these days had been consumed by them. Intricate; hyper-conscious; fixated. Not on a single subject, but the juxtaposition of two. Then, convergence. Dissonance.
Thoughts driving action, she’d become skittish. Intent upon fulfilling predictable patterns, obligations, but determined to move through the newer resistance.
The two subjects were seemingly opposed. One, give; the other, take.
Each carried their own assigned actions. Were they mutually exclusive? Should she give or, instead, take?
Her existence had become about these questions, more poignantly now than ever before.
Notions of reciprocation having dissolved with a decaying fantasy, she was left only with the task of defining need. Her own.
If she continued to give, would doing so provide inherent satisfaction? Whence would the signal to take arise? If she chose instead to pursue the latter, would there be anything there to receive?
Would that the source of either be singular; but, historically, she hadn’t been so blessed.
Eight days hence, the decision to choose remained.
Thank God for the first day of another week.
Copyright 9/4/22 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose thoughts these are and whose name appears above this line. No copying, in whole, part, or by translation. Sharing by blog link, exclusively. Thank you for thinking, first.
Or, we humans lack the strength to bring them together.
But, what of the psychological forces which repel?
I have no memory of what could have provoked the first episode, nor can I recall the manifesting scenario. All I do know is, my tendency to be easily averted has been lifelong.
Basically, aversion is turning away.
As a force, aversion seems to drive me to move in a direction opposed to that which I would otherwise choose. I can avoid tasks, events, even people, for days to weeks, cause not immediately named. And, my emotional connection to the activity or the person doesn’t seem strong enough to prevent this.
Rejection, or its potential, always lurks as a catalyst.
Often, the behavior of a single, key individual affects whether or not I turn from something toward which I would normally run. It’s as if some negative power or influence attaches itself to what I love, rendering it hostile. Like a poisoning.
Several months ago, I was displaced as pianist by another available candidate who had actually been nominated by me to serve temporarily in my stead when I could not. I made this recommendation on the basis of another’s reference, something I rarely do without knowing the quality of the player. But, ultimately, I lost my seat to this person, the panel in place to choose having determined availability to be the sole criteria in line with their needs.
While all these appeared satisfied with their decision, I was fairly well demolished by it. Gradually, I lost interest in my association with the group and, even more astonishing, my desire to play the piano. Now, every time I so much as look at my beautiful Steinway grand, aversion grips my soul.
The initial emotion was, invariably, anger; how dare anyone infiltrate my precious relationship with the music I made on this magnificent instrument?
Yet, the anger gets directed toward that from which I’m averted! The piano itself embodies the negative force exerted by those who have expressed their rejection of me, as if to become a tool of their power.
The dishes in the sink, waiting to be washed, seize me similarly. If I do not wash them immediately, they become increasingly capable of averting me until not a single clean plate or bowl remains and the task demands attention.
I use the term “lifelong” because I cannot return to a time when aversion was not played out in my realm.
Psychologists posit that trauma is the originator. Pain, and the fear of pain, cause us to do everything in our power to prevent its recurrence. Somehow, trauma causes pain and pain becomes associated with that which we hold dear.
Childhood trauma has many aspects – physical abuse; sexual abuse; emotional abuse. Being beaten; being violated; having love and care withheld. Our brains make connections. A single event can permanently associate the pain it generates with any number of experiences in the future which trigger its memory.
Likewise, the source of the aversion attaches itself like a barnacle to that from which I’m averted. They meld. The source seizes ownership.
Many, many years ago I did experience a memorable trauma, one which can be isolated and named. That episode caused PTSD, a phenomenon still manifesting residually all these years hence. And, what did this affect? My other musical instrument, my priceless cello. The ghosts of the nefarious surround me every time I look in its direction.
My conscious awareness of the cause, plus my love for my students, are the only forces which overcome this realization; I deliberately penetrate the veil of hate every time I choose to grasp hold of that instrument.
Aversion isn’t just a psychological neurosis. It’s the power of hate to command control over that which is loved, very well one of the demons about which the ancients speak.
We must all rise, and stand against such a force. “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.” – Song of Solomon 8.
Nothing should touch that which is loved except love itself.
Copyright 8/28/22 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. Plagiarists, take your hate and turn away.
People might ask how it is that I never believe what others say, about somebody, until I’ve either heard or spoken with that person.
I think it’s because of 1999.
Don’t worry; that story is already chronicled, in a piece called No Excuse. Yes; after seven years of continuous avocational compulsion To Write, although this may be the first week I’ve actually listened to my Christopher Parkening duo CD all the way through, in print we’ve reached the blog recycle stage.
It takes having been the subject of public slander.
Once you realize that entire chunks of multiple demographics believe you to be the aggressive perpetrator of your own fleshly failings, you discover that what people say about anybody is forever tainted.
Tainted, by rumor, innuendo, the men who manage and their ladies who lunch about the lives of those to whom they only aspire.
Once you endure, first acutely and then forever, false characterization of your very self by remote strangers, you learn. You learn an even stranger magnanimity, a broadly stroking latitude, a prisoner’s forgiving heart.
And again, even this will be subject to the panel of self-assigned scrutinizers, those who remember or think they do, as if your very act of acceptance is an indictment.
To the world, your judgment is warped, your worth relegated, your life to know its place.
This is how, therefore, I came to actually hear Pierre Kory, MD speak about his bedside Emergency Room treatment of actively infected covid patients. To most paying him any attention at all, he’s right up there with RFK Jr on the list of those condemned to the social trash heap. But, I’ve been listening to him talk every week for several months, live online, along with his colleagues in the fight. And, just yesterday, he replied to my direct email. If we met in an airport, we could say Hello like old college buddies.
I listen to Richard Fleming, too. And, Dr. Mobeen Syed. And, Suzanne Somers.
If you don’t hear people, first hand, you won’t get their testimonies. And, personal testimony isn’t reserved for court. It’s what we are.
Anymore, the personal testimony of those who really do have our health and vitality at heart, while they still breathe air, are waiting to be heard.
Go, find them, and sit at their feet. It’s the way Jesus’ disciples learned the Gospel. They didn’t wait for somebody else to tell it to them. Granted, that Gospel has endured endless iteration, but we wouldn’t have the Good News at all were it not for those who listened, first hand.
Thanks to the wonder of audio technology, Christopher Parkening repeats his Recuerdos de la Alhambra as many times as I request him. I wasn’t there when he first recorded the piece, circa 1993; but, returning to a time when who I was had not yet been defined by those who still don’t know, I meet and revisit him, through his music.
People might say I know him, by name.
Copyright 8/22/22 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose name is real and appears above this line. No copying, translating, or quoting without sharing the blog link, directly. Thank you for your first hand attention.
Most writers derive from personal experience. Those who do not admit to doing so are lying. This category of the blog became its own, after several pieces had already hit Publish and seemed to stand alone as fictitious “Chapters” or stories unto themselves. In this author’s case, some so called Chapters are essential fantasy; still others are based in thinly veiled, frequently embellished, reality. If referenced, no actual identities are disclosed. Should you think you recognize anyone as you read, keep your suspicions to yourself. These pieces, as written, are fiction. Fiction is designed not only to entertain, but to teach.
Ruth Ann Scanzillo, author.
*Click on Short Stories, in the category banner at the top of the Home page.
The white Pilot approached head on, swung in front of her, and slid into the first spot.
She backed up. Was this the church lot where she’d parked, last year? Music had just begun wafting from the main stage, and every pedestrian was headed toward the sound. The scene was strange. Cues were missing.
She leaned onto the wheel and braked, waiting. A young woman with long, thick honey hair exited the Pilot, walking purposefully toward the sidewalk and crossing the street. Covered in short culottes, a high, wide pelvis and strong legs drove her torso forward like the back end of a camel.
The white Pilot bore a New York plate.
The young woman was alone, moving as if on a deadline, her comportment in stark contrast to the two and threesomes heading down the sidewalk anticipating an afternoon of live musical entertainment. And, in from New York state by herself, no less.
Removing her foot from the brake, she turned and parked a space away, only to think again and pull out around toward a closer vantage point for audio. Something wasn’t right. Spying a posted Restricted notice, she knew then that this was not the lot she’d chosen the year before; in fact – wrong church – she would need to head one full block further east.
Sure enough. Pulling into her now recognizable north/south alley between the college library and its neighbor, the cathedral, she stopped her car and shut off the engine. Windows open, cross breezes flowing, the music – soaring above the historic homes on 6th and wending between the overhanging trees – could now be clearly heard, right from her driver’s seat. Lowering the visors and adjusting her shades, she settled back to sit alone for the private concert which, this year, would be her consolation prize.
He’d been the single source of hopeful anticipation wrought by the whole, sorry pandemic, he with his keen curiosity and teeming desire for discourse. She’d been riding on his wavelength for weeks and then – with no warning – shut out, bereft, absorbing whiplash like a crash test dummy. Now, her only recourse to move through the stages of grief, she would plant herself within earshot of the very thing which had captured her in the first place: his music.
Familiar treble strains carried their opening tune. Looking off, her eyes half closed in reverie. Momentarily startled, she turned. Here came the white Pilot, yet again, pulling up through the alley and passing her on the driver’s side.
The young woman’s profile was now visible, softer and more youthful than she’d appeared from the rear. What had moved this woman to reposition her own vehicle, on such a fine afternoon? She watched through the mirror as the Pilot continued in search of a place to light. What might be directing its travels?
Her phone vibrated.
“On my way.”
She stared. This was her ex, an hour ahead of schedule. In the care of his dying mother, he needed to borrow her printer to prepare urgent care home intake forms.
Irony flooded the parking lot. This was a moment produced and directed by the Universe, Providence at the helm. Human will. The power, of choice. The fork, in the road.
Wearily, with the impetus of a grandmother whose alarm clock heralds breakfast for the child in her charge, she placed the key in the ignition and turned on the engine, its hum attempting consonance with the concert filling the air. Putting the car in gear, she headed down the drive, turning westward. The music swelled, almost plaintively after her retreat, calling, calling. She kept driving.
Theirs was a fraught intersection. Lasting, in her mind, nearly five years he was yet again in need of her efforts. And, with the regularity of familiar habit, she obliged. Documents forwarded, printed, rudiments accomplished, they headed to the beach to walk the dog. This time, he would dissolve into his own grief, anticipating an emotionally absent mother’s death, and she would embody empathy. To any onlooker, minus any familial resemblance he could be her brother.
The dog was older now, tiring earlier and, after a momentary stop at the clearing to test a flock of Canada geese they were headed home. She noted the time. The main stage had long since released itself to the festival’s next act.
Across on the bayside berm, a bright blue compact caught her eye, the newest car color to trigger her since his lone visit just three weeks before.
Parked directly behind it was a white Pilot.
Copyright 8/20/22 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. Please write your own songs. Thanks.
Nobody wanted her to find any happiness at the expense of the loss of their proprietary claims.
No mother, sister, old friend, ex girlfriend wanted her to take or get or receive or even be offered what was theirs to protect. How did anyone ever reach the conclusion that she was any kind of threat? How did she get labeled toxic? What was wrong with those who clustered in corners, conniving to exact pain upon her?
Was it the men, appealing to their women for advice? And, if so, why? Did she have too much testosterone? Was it because she wasn’t young, anymore? Was it because she spoke her mind? How could she not communicate how much she needed somebody, when she did? How could she fail, so completely, in this?
Was it the gifts? Did she have too many? Was she expected to accept her lot, and find fulfillment without being loved? Who knew what love was, except to say that having a need unmet was its absence?
There was so much more left, of life. She could inhabit her body for thirty more years. What would the response be, to her presence? Would she be wanted, in the room?
Action produced reaction. This was unavoidable, like every other law of physics. Move, and cause motion; speak, and generate word.
Best to remain still, and say nothing.
Copyright 8/18/22 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights reserved. No copying, pasting, stealing, pilfering, translating, or profiting. Go be your normal self.
Copyright 8/16/22 Ruth Ann Scanzillo All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. No copying, in whole, part, or via translation, permitted. Thank you for respecting original material.
Born with a large, round, dark nevus covering the base of her right thumb (the offender having been xrayed away before she could walk), she was subliminally repelled by them. Add her mother’s life curtailing melanoma to that mix, and you had a recipe for acute trauma at sight.
His was flesh colored until, the blood running during elevated pressure or arousal, it morphed black.
They’d not yet met. He’d found her on LinkedIn, the safe social space for working professionals. Rapid fire texting between two profile pics led to two hour plus phone convos, each voice pouring forth an obvious need to feed from the other’s fierce intellectual curiosity and creative drive. Apparently they had everything practical in common, as well; he played hockey, she played soccer and, furthermore, each had a passion for aquatic life. His, deep sea and hers, tropical fish; no matter. They’d work it out.
Box checking was the deceit.
She listened, pacing the house with her cell phone. He talked. He talked far more than most men she’d known. Her preference for the silent type taking a backseat to recognition, this was a man after her own heart.
And, he was polite, empathetic, saying Thank you and How’s your day? and, promising to review selected videos or articles on every topic which she shared of interest to them both.
Finally, after adapting to a lifetime of social expectation, she’d found her kin. That last, neglected hormone wide awake, she was back in college, throbbing with thought and theory deep into the night. There was reason to thrive alive, again.
It was during one of his newsbyte reels that she spied it.
Just below the right cheekbone, raised, inherited, a proud moniker. Infused with color in the midst of play, for her a persisting distraction.
Six weeks had already transpired. Pandemic induced isolation protracting the phone phase, now he insisted he was “interested” and also “hurt.” Why had she not yet come to any of his games?
He arrived at her place, for a light supper and live conversation. Big, sweaty, and exhausted; the schedule’d been relentless, he said. Assuredly, she understood. The mood mole was pale, smaller in person, and asleep. Should she make a move?
After about an hour of platonic exchange off he went, again thanking her for an enjoyable time and good food.
The next day: silence.
She fretted. Was the absence of under eye concealer and lipstick to blame? Had she fussed, over the meal? Expectations, not realized?
Vowing to rectify all these perceived disappointments, and tenacious to the bone, she confronted the situation. His response was startling. They’d grown close, to be sure, but were just “too different”. She should…[ insert: a litany of instructions from a seasoned mansplainer, backpedaling furiously, evoking the image of ET’s bicycle ascending the starry night. ] Should she scream, or call his mother?
Instead: Hair. Makeup. Smart outfit, dress boots. She showed up. At half time, they spoke. His smile was bright. His pupils were dilated. The mood mole was black as pitch.
Why the small talk now, when he hated it, he’d said? Why the suggestion that she paint the town? And, two days later, why the same sing-song about just who was so different from whom? Now, skipping texts, or reading only the first line, missing the point…
Nothing was computing. None of it.
He could sing or say what he will, protestations be damned. She was calling out third party interference. Time to fire the self-appointed director of this production.
Nobody would beat the power of blood flow.
There was beauty in that mark.
Copyright 8/1/22 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the sole author of this piece, whose name appears above this line. Plagiarists be condemned to the fiery pit.
According to physicist James Beacham of The Royal Institution, we in our solar system could be living as a singularity in the middle of a black hole.
And, what keeps him awake at night is the question of how we can prove it.
Are ya still with me?
I’m not a scientist; I’m an artist. So, my ego really gravitates (npi) toward the idea of being a singularity. Hah.
Singularity. A density of infinite value.
The rest of me asks all the same questions posed by Beacham. How do we define gravity? We post menopausal women have some history defying it but, people, how do we know it’s true? And, as for black holes, how do THEY happen and why have we, up until this point at least, considered them so formidable?
The artist in me enjoys the image of being rapidly sucked away by something, only to disappear from observable sight. So does the residual, imaginary thrill seeker only willing to fancy such a feeling; after birth trauma compressed my cranium, any possibility of expressing such a gene was relegated to dormant right up there with math applications. But, I digress.
Apparently, it’s about how much matter is compressed, and then a nod to size. Black holes are incredibly massive, infinite amounts of the stuff, and their comparative size isn’t relevant; Beacham says there is one, in our solar system, about as big as a Delicious apple. But, as long as there is another large enough to contain “us”, we could conceivably exist as sustainable life within it as a singularity and, if so, infinitely?
Singularity. Oh; and, “event horizon” – the edge of the black hole, the point of no return. As a veteran stage performing musician who will always recall that tenuous moment right before the audience’s receiving applause, I strongly relate to both of these concepts. But, really understanding them requires some pretty high level math skills and, well, that’s where either I float in the ether or get pulled down by gravity. Gravity is the only bit I understand, experientially of course, with no ability to define it. Sigh. To digress, yet again…
But, Beacham says the theorists are captivated by wonder. Are these black holes actually capable of birthing other universes? Is the one in our solar system ready to go into labor? What about force fields?
If you continued reading this assuming you’d actually learn something practical, I’ll leave that conclusion with your notions; I’m a woman so, historically, we absorb new concepts via metaphor and analogy. The center of a black hole, the singularity, reminds me of the eye of the hurricane. Strange, quiet serenity, while all around is pure torque. In my final third of life, I rather like the idea of spending mine in that kind of locus.
The rest are striving toward proof.
I’m aiming for the core, and I’ll race ya.
Copyright 6/26/22 littlebarefeetblog.com Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Sharing by blog link, exclusively; no copying, in whole or part, including translation. Thank you for acknowledging originality.
And, David McCallum. To use a borrowed term: “…….Yumm.”
(Who knew why blond curls captured me, but my Kindergarten crush had so many.)
Heck, my own father – the first crooner, the first bones player…….he’d set the bar high.
How does a girl choose?
Before the hormones descend, it’s purely an aesthetic. Pretty faces. Strong bodies. Drummers. But, as the female child transforms, all her sought after features manifest on the random character in the story which tells her own……
Johnny Depp never drew me. His characters were cartooned buffoons. His skin was painted. He was masked.
By the time he showed his face, I had moved on. From 1987 through the 90s and beyond, after a five year dalliance into slumtown as a diner waitress/ pop band keyboard backup I had become a working professional, both accepting my first position in the related arts department of the school district for which I had spent my college years preparing, and taking the stage as a live musician. I was done with idol worship. There was real work to do.
Turns out, my commitment to reality vs. fantasy blew right past the two major heartthrobs of my first graduating class: Mel Gibson, and Tom Cruise. I would play catch up a decade hence, renting everything Mel ever did and writing him a screenplay which he never read because I, longtime step- skipper, attempted to bypass acquiring a literary agent by calling Ed Limato’s office on July 4th. Sharon Stone answered the phone. But, I digress.
So, my world unfolded, populated by literal men, competitive women, and hundreds of children – a gritty gruel of thrill and toil. There was hardly time to experience anything except all the forms of work that a functioning artist generates – rehearsing; performing; teaching; practicing; rinse, and repeat. A teacher by day, professional musician by night, if fantasy had fed imagination this was displaced by actuality. I had entered the realm of that about which others dream.
Perhaps because I was slave to my work, any men who entered my personal sphere saw an easy take. Never any energy left at the end of a week to protect myself from opportunists, the busier I got the less I could discern what was coming at me.
And so, the teacher became the reluctant student. I learned about what makes men seek women, why they keep them and why they discard them. I found out that relationships can be treacherous ground, best left for those who have the time at the end of a day for somebody else.
But, through my role as a public performer I developed a sense of kinship with those others glorified. I knew they were just worker bees, cloaked in familiar persona. I recognized their foibles, afflictions, and failings. And, it was this familial sensibility which drew me to Johnny Depp’s public display of one not so private life.
As captivated as the rest of the some two million, I paid keen attention to his daily, live testimony – whether on the witness stand, or seated at his doodle pad. I had, by this time, seen his dramatic roles, and respected the actor’s depth and timing. I watched his every move, training my ears to every word. His adversary also piqued my interest, as did the slew of ridicule which seemed to follow her everywhere. They each presented the selves they wished us all to see.
And, I peeled them apart.
What did I find? Johnny had ardent fans, but they mirrored what his life had become; Amber had virtually none, at least according to the media blitz. But, what Johnny revealed to me was a quiet child miserably abused, a young man with a gentle, soft heart for the mistreated, and a soul so tortured that benumbing it seemed the only act worth taking on his own behalf. Furthermore, he’d evolved as the commodity of those who saw in him what he’d never recognized in himself. His whole life had unfolded almost entirely outside of his own design.
As creative polymath, he set aside the artistic gifts he naturally possessed in favor of living out characters which seemed attached to an increasing number of external players – agents; producers; directors; writers; casting departments. And, as if to balance that precarious scale, he’d taken to gathering his trusted friends close and handing them extravagance on a silver platter. His indulgences escalated. Ultimately, his ill fated convergence with Amber the tipping point, Johnny’s life was now unmanageable.
The video and audio testimony convinced me of that about which I was very familiar; Johnny was a nearly lifelong substance addict. Many such unfortunates had been in and out of my life. And, Johnny was given to binging, these episodes likely producing periods of amnesia. If he testified to an action, his confession was only as good as his memory of the event.
Regardless the jury verdict, Johnny is still caught in a delicate situation. Were he to admit to the possibility of physically abusing his partner, acknowledging what he might not remember as potential fact, this would vindicate him as a man. But, his heart might not let him. He likely cares too much about those who, for decades, have come to both own him and depend upon him for their livelihood. Coming clean would, ironically, only serve him; by contrast, doing so could leave those he loves as well as his dependents bereft.
Some may also say that “wife beater” is a label to doom any career. I don’t disagree. All labels diminish, reducing every story to its most common denominator. The same is true of “Sexiest Man Alive”; one can neither top nor bottom out from under either. In this case, domestic abuse was proven in court, on both sides of the argument. It’s possible restoring honor is important to some, but for those too humble to crave it the point is moot.
I won’t idolize you, Johnny Depp.
I could forgive you, but you’d have to confess.
And, who among us would remove our mask, first?
Copyright 6/10/22 Ruth Ann Scanzillo littlebarefeetblog.com All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. No copying, in whole or part including translation, permitted. Sharing by direct blog link, exclusively; no RSSING. Thank you for respecting the writer’s honor, however craven.
that’s really at the crux of any argument that could win the case for amber heard, in my opinion, and I am not an attorney.
the video she captured of his behavior in the kitchen, slamming the cupboards around and drinking a lot of wine while he was already drunk in the morning, is enough evidence for anyone who has been in a relationship with somebody who is an active alcoholic. and, anyone who has been in a relationship with an active alcoholic knows that the potential for violence is always there.
many have actually seen aggressive behavior perpetrated toward inanimate objects, and have come very close to either being struck or being restrained or moved harshly -shoved – whatever; the potential is always there, and I would say it’s a matter of random luck of the draw who gets struck and who does not. because, when an alcoholic is in a binge drunk in the surly phase all bets are off as to whether or not that person can a) control what they do physically, or b) remember it.
it’s about whether they even remember it.
so, that’s the real issue. because, in a court of law, when you’re asked if you did or did not do something, as an active alcoholic how can you testify truthfully to something you cannot recall?
and, how can you defend it, if someone else has seen you do it?
that’s at the crux of this.
apparently, they both drank — we have enough evidence that Amber drank as well as Johnny — and, maybe all her wine consumption provoked her to slap back and and do the things that she did physically. maybe they both have alcoholic amnesia (although, her patterns seemed to be more about continuous drip, rather than black out) but, I don’t know how you enter alcoholic amnesia into a courtroom and assess it and measure it for its value. I think that should be considered because, obviously, it’s at the heart of this case.
alcoholics don’t remember what they say and do when they’re in the surly phase or in the pre-comatose phase, and if they have a habit and a behavior pattern of binging then they have a whole lifestyle of long episodes that they cannot retrieve – and, to them, don’t exist.
that side of the person as demonstrated
can’t be defended
nor can it be testified.
the alcoholic doesn’t realize or believe, in large part, that they’re capable of that kind of behavior.
now, some may remember some aspects of what they say and do. they may remember how they felt, perhaps, during the phase; but, they don’t remember what they did or said.
and, they may acknowledge evidence if they see it on film — ( they have to; they can’t deny that kind of evidence) — but, do they palpably, viscerally, tactiley, kinesthetically remember with their bodies and their minds?
that’s the issue, in my opinion. and, that’s just my opinion.
God bless the jurors, and Johnny and Amber – still vulnerable, both to each other and to themselves.
Previously presented on YouTube @ Ruth Ann Scanzillo’s Music & Musings. Verbatim, until the end.
In earlier years, the sterling silver eighth note or Treble clef populated these accessories, bestowed by the aspiring or devoted student, and my jewelry box is peppered with several.
( However, I can’t say whether I have ever actually worn any of them. As a working professional, I guess the doing always trumped the wearing; after all, musicians don’t generally feel the need to bear labels. They just show up and play. )
What we pin to our chest is a moniker. It tells the world of affiliation pride. From the American flag to the Masonic cross, so many associations and clubs require them of each member. But, what of such symbolism, and its affect on the subconscious?
Those who “pack” don’t wear theirs on the lapel. But, they might as well.
Because to these, the weapon is a mark.
They are part of the collectors’ culture. Some do use their rifles, to kill game in sport. Others place value on the history of the guncraft, its material detail and design, much as that of the fine wristwatch or other outmoded accoutrement.
To such afficionadi, history is what drives their interest. But, the lines blur here. Historian > politician……….many a retired general, on a visit to the officers’ club, might discuss his latest acquisition with those from whose social circle he or she seeks acknowledgement. Unfortunately, these are those whose power over legislation holds sway, and which has brought us to the scrutiny of the world stage.
Why? Because another “club” has arisen in our society, born and bred in its underbelly, populated by the disenfranchised, remotely located, and easily alienated. The anarchy of assault weapon acquisition is a burgeoning subculture, and poses a palpable threat to our social stability.
In fact, there are more assault weapons available in the United States per capita than anywhere else on earth. And, every time a lone shooter has massacred innocents, from Parkland to Uvalde, the assault weapon has been chosen to accomplish the deed.
The disparity between the culture of the elite collector and that of the stockpiling insurgent must be vanquished. Laws governing ownership are antiquated, and serve only the former while emboldening the latter. Those in leadership must recognize to which group they might belong, and legislate accordingly. And, the time to do so waits for no man, woman, or child.
My cello pin has a tiny, engraved bridge, set of strings, and protruding post known as the endpin. My real cello’s endpin is, when fully extended, almost two feet of sharpened steel, a weapon in itself. I know the difference.
Copyright 5/29/22 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. No copying in whole or part, including translation; sharing permitted via direct blog link, exclusively. No RSSING. Thank you for respecting authenticity.
A suppository, which dissolved on the inside, the bullet shaped insert created a sudsy barrier to the cervix.
The birth control of choice in the back end of the 1980s for a late-twenty something to whom the pill was entirely too deliberate and required a schedule of intent. Planned unpregnancy was unacceptable to the morally ambiguous.
The conception, therefore, was never expected.
Waking on up on day 49 in the context of a cycle which rarely deviated from 33, swollen, doubled over in cramping pain, crawling the length of the second floor apartment to vomit into the toilet and then the call to mother was also not to be predicted.
Being asked as soon as she arrived if there were any possibility of pregnancy was the moment of clarity, like the climax in a Woody Allen movie. Maybe because the topic of deliberate fornication had not, up until that point, ever been insinuated let alone confronted head on.
Starkly deliberate, almost methodical, was the manner in which mother and daughter prepared to travel to the lab to obtain the pregnancy test. The trip was entirely without drama, outside of what the situation inherently bore.
Sitting for the blood draw, followed by a need to urinate and the discovery of brown spotting indicating flow made the day shorter and the issue apparently self resolving. The test was negative.
The aftermath proved protracted. This potential mother had to face decades later the very likely reality that, in spite of one test result, what had since been revealed about the lability of hormone levels before and after a conception failed suggested that, for probably less than three weeks in the late 80s, the daughter had been with child.
Nobody survives abortion.
The woman experiences – unless drugged – visceral, cramping pain and nausea. The conceived embryo bears disengagement from the warmth of the womb and a perilous trip down the vagina at the hand of either muscular contraction or mechanical suction. But, once completed, the process leaves a wake.
Thought waves. Turbulent speculation. Transient recollection. Lifelong wonder.
Whether spontaneously induced, by the body, or provoked by surgical procedure the abortion separates the giver of life from life. How can this enmity not persist until time becomes eternity?
The awareness that life was, and then was not, plants its own seed. A name. Features, on a face. Hands. Feet. Grasping to assign place, a certain purgatory, allowing imagination to become a branding memory and remembrance to burn its own birth.
The sting, of death.
Copyright 5/13/22 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. No copying, in part or whole (including translation). Sharing by direct blog link, exclusively – no RSSING. Thank you for being trustworthy.
Everybody who hasn’t formed a crystallized opinion on Johnny Depp and Amber Heard is likely busy doing so, this week.
I came in late, but hot; been binging as much as my eyes and ears will allow, with great consternation.
Replaying from the beginning, hearing Johnny first drew me into his POV. His tone and inflection singularly seductive, his face and frame the perfect decoration….What’s not to captivate, there?
Plus, once I could identify with his childhood trauma via my own partner of so many years, his story was easy to personalize – which always blurs the lines.
By harsh contrast, his contender’s countenance seemed alternately contrived, sullen, supercilious. So, imagine the cognitive dissonance in my head once Amber took the stand.
No need to reiterate what can be found in endless loop anywhere on the internet. You go; you see; you hear.
My doubts about whether the jury will have an easy time of it are growing. The evidence is a mountain – of noise. Horrid verbal onslaught; drunken slurry; accusation, retaliation, condemnation. Intractable situation.
Unless they’re in cahoots, creating this drama in collusion to boost their mutual bankability, to my seasoned senses they’ve burned each other’s wick down to vapor. There’s nothing left but hot wax.
Hope the jury can swim their way out of that pool.
“There was an old woman, who lived in a shoe; she had so many children, she knew not what to do….”
Playing with Barbie, Ken, and Skipper was my first experience with dolls. I think I had a drink and wet baby sometime before that, but it wasn’t the Chatty Cathy like Bonnie had and I never saw any point in holding or cuddling a hard chunk of sculpted plastic with blank, glass eyes. For me, since mum was a seamstress, it was just about changing their clothes, whole outfits she would wrap or tuck into the Christmas stocking after hours of arduous toil handsewing tiny hooks, snaps, and lace trim. In spite of her loving and expert efforts, I think the shoes captivated me most – on Barbie, especially the backless dress slippers.
I don’t remember a baby, in our house, though Paul was just two years behind me. The playpen was my home inside ours, me with my crayons and my favorite, the record player, whose 45s I could place on the turntable for singing along. If Paul was to be held and cuddled, it wasn’t his big sister allowed to do any of that. Instead, after first throwing the Fisher Price percolator at my head and drawing streaming blood, he would become my playmate, even my roommate, us talking together in the dark each in our twin beds in the one downstairs bedroom big enough for the two of us.
So, girls with any affinity for baby raising populated a world outside of mine. But, I can remember when they’d be born of the ladies at the Assembly Hall on Sunday morning – wrapped, held, cooing and inevitably crying during what was intended to be a solid hour of quiet meditation interrupted only by a hymn sung or a prayer, stood to be given solo by the occasional man. Most of these cherubs were out of my close up view, being a toddler knee high to their mothers who gathered between Morning Meeting and Sunday School out on the sidewalk or clustered in the gravel parking lot. And, once every summer for a week, they’d pepper the evening humidity at Crawford Hall Auditorium in Grove City during Gospel Meeting at the Eastern Bible Conference as, one by one, their mothers would make the ritual trip up the aisle to the lobby carrying their crying cargo. As I grew, I remember wondering how many of these young women waited all year for their turn to be part of the display.
When I became a teen, there were neighborhood girls who expanded our ranks and who seemed completely enraptured by each new addition born to the fellowship. They would take turns holding the babies. I might have as well, once or twice but, always feeling a bit clumsy, preferring to just look as closely as I could whenever they were nearby. Newborns seemed especially strange, with no ability to keep their heads from wobbling or their faces from forming odd expressions. Yet, the ladies made sounds of adoration, all smiles, talking about not much of anything with each other until I walked away to see if the piano was free.
My cousins Kathy and Cheryl, the former the last of my generation and the latter the first of hers, were the first of the real babies to enter my family scene. Kathy’s family lived in Ohio and the story was that she needed a heart valve surgery in the months after her birth, so I don’t remember seeing her until she could talk. But, Cheryl came with her parents to our large family gatherings regularly hosted by mum’s eldest sister, her parents driving all the way from the Detroit suburbs to present her. Cheryl was nearly perfect, and she wore a tiny pink silk bow attached to the top of her head with clear plastic tape. I remember her mother, Bev, holding Cheryl who sat on her mother’s lap already for the endless pictures being taken by everyone.
Beyond all this, babies really never entered my sphere of fantasy. I don’t remember any desire to have one of my own and, once I found out how they came into the world, even less. Looking back, I suspect the cause was hormone levels slightly out of balance, a lifetime of low progesterone. I didn’t much care for children either, and my first baby sitting job was a night shift where I only had to check on the one sleeping in the crib and spend the rest of the time watching late movies on the Tv we didn’t have in our house. Though naturally messy, I found myself cleaning up after the mother of these much as my own mum might have.
Even the epiphany, which came decades later while driving home from Fredonia ( when I realized I could return there to college and train to become an elementary music teacher) did not draw me to the children themselves; rather, I’d decided that working with the youngest would mean I wouldn’t have to produce conducted concerts.
And, even learning to become that teacher never focused on children or their needs; I was preoccupied becoming their most effective leader and instructor. It was all about me.
Four years after my first teaching placement in the high school, on advice of a colleague I bid down into the elementary system – 34 years old, engaged to be married, and happier than I’d ever been.
Preparing that summer for the first day of school, I enjoyed a surge of creative energy – making large, colorful props, and devising costumes, planning the opening presentation like a Disney producer. The kids took to it like birds in a nest. I had them, transfixed, and would for the next five years solid. They became my willing audience. All the painful years growing up the weird kid at school with few friends dissolved, in the realm which had now become mine. In my insular mind, I was their creative hero.
But, something else also happened. I began to experience the thrill of a child running up and clasping me by the knees. Their cheers in the cafeteria rushed through my body. Their hilarious spontaneity, their endlessly creative questions, their crowing a song together….I fell in love. I fell in love, with children – by the dozens, by the hundreds, by the thousands. It was me and the kids, singing at the tops of our lungs, playing violins and brass, wind, and percussion en masse, dancing (dancing!) and filling the stage for, yes, bi-annual concerts of the entire student enrollment plus ten years of fully staged musicals.
I was the old lady who lived in the shoe and, by last count, had tried to help raise probably four thousand or more. Many of these grew to become my lifelong friends, bearing their own babies, faces I now view with a grandmother’s adoration as they appear in the social feed. I couldn’t love them all equally; that was impossible. But, my best efforts were made, hopefully weaknesses smoothed over by a genuine heart for their creative spirits. I pray, likely as most mothers do, that these were never irreparably broken by anything I said or did.
We teachers are a mixed breed. Many are mothers, themselves. Some have managed to cover hundreds of students per week like I did and still make dinner for their brood and help with homework. My private music students who have come to the house for 34 years, with their parents, have in so many cases felt like the nieces and nephews I never see. Their parents have allowed me to be a part of their lives, like the sprinter who takes the race in short, intense spurts, many of these for nearly a decade at a time. I could not ask for a better gift, after having missed motherhood.
Happy Mother’s Day. Happy Mother’s Day, to those who bore the children of each generation, and to all those who raised them. I’ll be here, in the shoe, with the rest of the women who live in it, doing what I learned to do from you, if and when you need me, baby.
Foreboding sounds, weaving movements, fueling explosive force. Being too close, too near the source.
My body, splitting in half – one part feigning calm, the other fortifying for the fight.
Setting my sight on the escape plan, relief in knowing there’s always someplace else to go.
The aftermath. Indigestion, and stark recognition that only I would ever know.
Alcoholic amnesia is real.
Scientific studies: done. Papers: published – in peer reviewed journals. Conclusions: reached.
Some have multiple identities, early childhood trauma causing their brains to diverge until personality becomes an adaptation instead of what the rest of us would learn to call our selves.
Those who pile on other agents – hallucinogens, opiates, stimulants……the brain responds. The save file sorts. The neurons, hormones, proteins…..all converge to devise a plan to find homeostasis, to maintain balance.
It’s hard for the rest of us self righteous slobs to imagine losing most of the hours in a day or days to a black out of time. It’s harder yet to endure when somebody we love is missing them, particularly at our expense. Soiled underwear; dishware and glass, smashed; random condoms and strange clothing; interiors, trashed. And, all the protestations, escalating to fever pitch. I DIDN’T DO IT. IT WASN’T ME. I WASN’T THERE.
What about these convicts who don’t remember brutal murders?
How far does temporary insanity stretch?
What’s the ratio of impulse to conscience? When does the brain flip the switch?
And, is there a drug to produce total recall?
Talk about an assault to the senses. How would one live through that scenario?
There are a few things about which most of us know nothing.
Rendering a wild horse civilized is likely one of them.
This past week, we all had the opportunity to be introduced to that remote subject. Our tutor was none other than actor, daughter, sister, mother, horse breaker…..Amber Heard.
Asked to describe her childhood, by a defense lawyer in court, she complied. Seems her father was the professional – a Texan, a rancher, and a specialist in the art of taming equine mammals for use in either breeding or racing. As a young girl, self described as the one designated to “be the boy”, Amber was placed on the animal’s back as soon as she was able and taught the skills which, as she outlined, were twofold: a.) stay on the horse, and b.) stay on the horse.
Taming the wildness in these 900+ pound creatures was simple, yet profound: remain on the horse’s back, whatever it took, until the horse gave up trying to toss you off.
For as little as we do know of life even after living a few decades, many of us do learn the value of guiding metaphors. This writer could not miss the one portrayed by this story, nor its power over a growing girl’s future outcomes.
To what end would the young horse breaker mount the wild man named Johnny who said he loved her? His habits bred behaviors in both himself and her which, according to her account, became at times life threatening. Could he be tamed? The possibility was at the mercy of her resolve; she would stay on. Did he want to be broken? His desires ceased their power; she would stay on. Would she be thrown? She would get back on. Amber would remount her wild horse, and remain, until he let her stay.
None of us is immune to the forces which compel. Whence these arise can be found in our deepest past. How we are trained determines in large part the manner in which we face life’s obstacles, and what we define as these can become our targets.
Did the daughter of a Texas rancher set out to vanquish the howl of the wild? Clearly, she learned to fight the bucking stallion. But, did she choose her prey, or did it choose her?
I’d written scathingly about Amber Heard, just 48 hours earlier. Viewing the long awaited testimonies in court had me late to the party but riveted forthwith. And, in its course, I’d formed an opinion of the woman being sued for fifty million.
Then, she spoke.
And, the past five years of my own life flashed before my eyes. In fact, she took me back to the beginning.
I was reminded that growing up and falling in love is the madness, and surviving in its wake the task of life. When she told the story of her heartbreak, I collapsed in tears. To me, most all the patterns she outlined were familiar.
Pain isn’t sourced when countries declare war. We hurt each other, one at a time.
Having read about this affliction, I would smirk at the thought; how could a true writer find no words?
In my case, there was little warning; I’d typed her name, in the title of what was to be another of many tribute pieces, only to find myself staring at the white screen. I could not begin.
But, after spending several hours this weekend viewing reruns of the Depp/Heard defamation hearings, I woke up this morning thinking of Katrina.
We’d first met when she was a piano student of Sam Rotman at Mercyhurst College, myself on staff playing for the students of vocal and instrumental performance. Forty years old, I was teeming with climaxing hormonal energy, overjoyed to be in such close proximity to fresh, anticipating youth. Katrina was a bubbling post-adolescent with residual acne and raw authenticity. Bearing a gift for theater show tunes, she brought cheerful joy into the room and loved everyone she met.
The tenor, to whom I’d been assigned, was her boyfriend. I played his senior recital, and we became well acquainted. At the time, he called Katrina his good friend and it wouldn’t be until I happened to catch them in the library after the recital exchanging a quick kiss on the lips that her actual status would emerge. I would learn, years later, that many men often categorized the women in their lives differently than the women who regarded such men.
Katrina was generous with praise. She was specific, for example, in acknowledging the thumb technique required in the piano accompaniment for the Britten after that recital. Vivid, to me, was the smile on her face and the light in her eyes. Knowing the part, she showed genuine collegiality and deference toward me, an act of humility.
Years passed. I would next see Katrina at a music faculty meeting, within the district. Myself having been at the high schools, I’d bid down to primary level and she appeared as a newest hire among them.
Katrina had changed. Now, she sat silently, her deference manifesting minus the characteristic extroversion, watchful and attentive. Her skin was smoothe and clear, her countenance thoughtful.
But, her reputation as a music teacher and theater pit pianist had spread quickly. The kids loved her. The staff loved her. The casts adored her. Everywhere she went, she still brought the light of her spirit and a selfless enthusiasm devoted to the successes of her charges. Silent at faculty meetings, Katrina conserved her energy for use where it mattered most.
Amber Heard sits in court, silence enforced. Her presentation is physically flawless. Perfectly tailored clothing, expertly fit; hair professionally set; complexion that of painted porcelain. Structurally, her face is enviably beautiful, its profile completely balanced, its angles bearing not a single weakness. One can marvel looking at her as if viewing one of the Creator’s most outstanding moments.
But, like the many masterworks of Rodin or Michelangelo, she appears as any stone sculpture. One searches to find the soul in her eyes. One notes the fleeting curl at the left corner of a petulant lip. One, as a member of her audience, contemplates what if any nourishing life might be found there.
Among contrasts this, the most stark, I think of Katrina. Cancer ravaged her neck and throat, seizing her ability to swallow. Still, she smiled, directing whatever ounce of remaining energy she had toward her daughter, Amelia, and her husband, Mark. To the end, she was ever focused on the needs of those to whom she was devoted, almost as sacrifice. Their world without her is a gaping and grasping testament to being loved entirely.
According to the American Bible Society, there are some 900 translations of the Holy Scriptures.
And, that number in English, alone.
Our esteemed and Oxford-emeritus vicar, First Unitarian Universalist Church of Girard Rev. Charles Brock, made this known on Orthodox Easter.
I sat in attendance from a physical distance of some 14.5 miles, virtually, via remote online viewing. This being my social mode for over two years, I’d become inured to the limits of two dimensions – the restricted frame; the often glitching, inferior audio; and, the perimeters of the space chosen for broadcast. Like the playpen into which I’d been plunked as a developing infant, its bounds were long familiar.
The subject was Mary Magdalene. She’d be the first on record – every record, in fact, including that of the Gnostic Gospels (finally also bound, but many centuries since the Holy Canon decreed around the table at Nice) – to see the risen Christ. Not actually recognizing him, at first, the prevailing mystery (“thinking him to be the gardener”); her eyes were opened, by way of her ears. Jesus spoke, and called her… “Mary.”
But, upon her realization, Jesus gave Mary an immediate directive. He told her not to touch him.
The love between this woman and her Christ has been contemplated by every scholar and pious, from the secular apostate to the devout. Perhaps there are several reasons why.
One considers the power of both magnetism, and its reverse; how she could keep from wrapping him in embrace, at the very moment when he spoke her name, defies common comprehension. But, enter those pesky 900 translations; one interpretation of his declaration reads: “Don’t cling to me.”
The school of that thought sees his instruction in a broader context. Christ could not be held – held on earth, held back from his destination, held by any force. He was on a path which would take his resurrected body away from the present space and time, the very moment of that encounter.
Well outside of the realm of codependent theory, “clinging” in this case was rejected not because of the nature of the relationship between Jesus and Mary but because, as Christ said, he had “not yet ascended” unto his “Father.”
Speaking of theory, there are many with regard to the intent behind this statement. Would the ascension be required, in order for Christ to be “touched” again by his beloved? Or, was the idea that being touched at all giving cause to defile him? Would human contact with his as yet unglorified body perhaps contaminate it?
There is momentary relevance, here.
The human touch. We’ve missed it, so. Any number of substitutions have had to suffice, from “virtual” hugs to gestures made in the air across a wide swath of grass or concrete.
What would Christ say? This writer clings to a yearning for human embrace. Humanity’s need for physical nearness is part of what makes us vitally healthy, and not just physically.
Like the opening act hired to warm up an audience that turns out to be funnier or more talented than the show’s headliner, grief upstages everything which comes after.
When my beloved colleague and lifelong friend, Louie, died of covid back in December, I sank into the deepest despair my increasingly unimportant life had yet to endure. His departure cut me in half, goring my creative core, leaving only amputated limbs to sweep the kitchen floor with a broom, wash the dishes with a handled sponge brush, cook an evening skillet of vegetable pasta with oil, and separate the sweaty laundry into loads to hang or fold when dried.
I was dried. There was no me left in me.
The cello slept, untouched, until private lessons demanded it awake. Even the piano loomed nearly dormant, desire to record and upload to the Tube channel after requisite virtual church services just a memory of a life since ground to powder.
Essentially excess fat, the burden of physical weight which had begun to melt a year before continued its steady disappearing act until I was smaller than I’d remembered being since college. Spandex jeans would slide down if I walked, requiring a belt and, forget the pajamas, which literally fell off to my feet.
Yes. Covid grief is its own killer.
It carries corollaries.
We can’t just miss the person, and honor their departure; we have to feel somehow singularly responsible. Our minds are a revolving door of “what ifs” and “why didn’t I?”
Therein the essence of my past four months.
I’d devoted the previous five years to one other solitary individual, the man I’d called my partner, my love. Even made his Pfizer appointment, an act I would rue. At last check, he was still breathing; albeit, as by fire, he’d survived the medical community’s gravest and rarest of afflictions, acute saddle pulmonary embolism. Look that up; this arterial condition is, among all of life’s most threatening, prophetically silent.
He’d surfaced, after ghosting me since I’d aborted Christmas dinner, texting from the ICU. Immediately, from my protective distance, I tried to be there as he awaited the catheter procedure which would successfully remove the obstructive clot, and remained ever vigilant in the days and weeks thereafter as he commenced his regimen of blood thinners and several follow up medical tests.
But, somewhere between my ongoing grief and this trauma bonding, something turned.
Ultimately, though the near death fright had given way to philosophical reflection, he would finally reveal himself. As suspected, this relationship I’d been nurturing, both in person and in my head, was largely a figment of my own hopeful expectation; he didn’t really want me, although he was happy to need me, and my being displaced without warning was always on his radar. I’d just never bothered to check the weather forecast.
Having yearned to pour myself back into caring for and about the one who had survived, grief had other plans for me; instead, I would know the desolation of discard. What a wake.
She calls him “babe”, that proclamation of assumed ownership, usually the moniker for having crossed into the realm of intimate bliss. My imagination is now hijacked by scenarios that disavow five, often agonizing years of God-seen devotion.
Most doctors don’t publicly question COVID vaccines and the pandemic response, but their private exchanges on social media suggest there may be a growing but silent minority of physicians who disagree with official policy yet are unwilling to speak out for fear of retribution
In late 2020, a colleague of mine, board-certified in pulmonology and critical care medicine and who had been on the front lines treating COVID patients, invited me to join a large, private social media group of physicians who had assembled to educate each other in a time of uncertainty.
At the time, I was mystified at the confidence our authorities had in the COVID-19 vaccines’ safety and efficacy. Published trial data included only a few months of observation.
In Pfizer’s trial of some 40,000 participants, only 10 (page 1, Results) came down with severe COVID.
Do 10 outcomes (9 in the placebo wing and 1 in the vaccine) justify the deployment of this intervention on hundreds of millions of people?
Furthermore, these numbers meant we would have to vaccinate more than 2,500 people to prevent a single case of severe COVID. Because 0.6% of vaccine recipients suffered a serious event, we can expect 15 people to be injured for every severe covid case prevented. A serious adverse event, according to the FDA, is one that includes death, permanent disability and hospitalization. How could this product be authorized for use under any circumstances?
Were other doctors asking the same questions that I was asking? I joined the social media group to find out what other doctors were saying.
This group has more than 20,000 doctors, each one vetted by the group’s administrators. Admission to the group is through invitation by a member only. The members span nearly all specialties of medicine, from rheumatology and pediatric cardiology to ER medicine and infectious disease.
The intent was to share our understanding and personal experiences in order to care for the public more effectively.
The general public’s understanding of this complicated threat is rudimentary at best. It’s not their fault. They are constantly being bombarded by a relentless stream of messaging that can be summarized like this:
“COVID-19 is a threat to everyone. The vaccines are extremely safe and effective. Doctors and Scientists are in unanimous agreement. Any medical professional who expresses a different opinion must be part of an extremely small fringe minority.”
Every element of this message is factually incorrect, including the idea that doctors have been in complete agreement, more or less, from the very beginning. Their comments to each other tell a different story.
Although we may think the medical establishment is monolithic in its scientific opinion, this is not true.
The majority of medical professionals continue to trust the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — but there has never been unanimous support, despite what the public is being told.
In my survey of physician exchanges over the last 18 months a pattern has emerged. There has been growing skepticism, which was vehemently attacked from the beginning.
This undoubtedly delayed the formation of a unified minority in opposition to the mainstream narrative.
Another doctor who is a member of this group who, for the purposes of this article wished to be identified only as “a physician with experience treating COVID-19 patients who has been frequently referred to as a community resource on the pathology in my region” summed up his experience with the group as follows:
“I have been a member of the [physician group on social media] since early in 2020. Early on, this and other groups were extremely useful in sharing information from around the world as we learned how to manage patients suffering with COVID-19.
“I have forged numerous professional relationships and friendships with individuals whom I first met through these groups. I often turned to them first when seeking information, as the rapid progression of literature on the topic made it difficult to stay up to date.
“I soon noticed that all concerns were not treated equally. The group was initially filled with individuals from a variety of different perspectives on early treatment, non-pharmaceutical interventions (such as masks and lockdowns), school closures, and the management of hospital crowding.
“This rapidly shifted to a situation in which most perspectives weren’t welcome. There was no formal censorship per se. Rather, the group tended to follow a linear viewpoint and post literature that specifically supported that viewpoint. Alternative perspectives were slowly whittled away through a combination of peer pressure and moderation.
“It appeared to me that many of those who held different opinions were still present. They would occasionally comment on posts or contact me privately. They did not tend to share literature or start new threads.
“As the pandemic progressed, I became aware of a number of individuals who were personally attacked for holding alternative viewpoints.
“I am aware of multiple threats issued toward members of the group, and I am aware of at least one situation where someone’s opinions expressed in that private group ultimately led to a complaint to a state medical board.
“While this sort of thing was rare, it didn’t take many instances of individuals having their livelihoods threatened before most dissent just stopped. This had the impact of turning these groups into echo chambers in which only one type of opinion was presented. “When literature was presented, only one perspective was often expressed. If that literature was supportive of the mainstream approach to Covid, then scientific criticism tended to be sparse. If it opposed that approach, it seemed that the goal of the group was to tear it apart. “These groups tend to be a primary source of information for a lot of people to this day. One could be forgiven when reading through their social media threads for failing to recognize that alternative viewpoints exist. I will say that there remain individuals who are willing to engage in debate, and there are certainly still people willing to challenge dominant narratives and interpretations of the literature. “I’d argue that in spite of this, most people do not feel comfortable giving their own genuine interpretations of what they are reading. “This means that in spite of an initial appearance of objectivity, the end result is often anything but.”
The group, as this physician said, evolved into an echo chamber. Initially, it was due to peer pressure and involvement by the moderators. But threats to physicians’ livelihood? Complaints to state medical boards based on opinions expressed on a private group on social media? Below I have selected actual comments from the group on just a handful of the most pivotal topics. I don’t divulge any information that would reveal the identity of the commenters. I also concede that nothing I share here can be independently verified, including the comments above. Doctors have been traumatized Nobody likes to be attacked. However it was shocking to me to see that doctors would resort to personal insults to squelch the opinions of other doctors. Why was this happening? Perhaps the biggest reason is that doctors were traumatized by the enormity of the medical disaster that was unfolding during the early spring of 2020.
Here is one of the first posts in this group, offered as a PSA. In it, the physician is sharing personal experiences treating COVID patients at a time when there was no vaccine, no early treatment protocols, limited PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and absolutely no guidance from the CDC:
“I am an ER (Emergency Room) MD in XXXX. Every one of my colleagues have now seen several hundred Covid 19 patients and this is what I think I know.
“Clinical course is predictable. “2-11 days after exposure (day 5 on average) flu-like symptoms start. Common are fever, headache, dry cough, myalgias(back pain), nausea without vomiting, abdominal discomfort with some diarrhea, loss of smell, anorexia, fatigue.
“Day 5 of symptoms — increased SOB, and bilateral viral pneumonia from direct viral damage to lung parenchyma. “Day 10 — Cytokine storm leading to acute ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome) and multiorgan failure. You can literally watch it happen in a matter of hours.
“81% mild symptoms, 14% severe symptoms requiring hospitalization, 5% critical. “Patient presentation is varied. Patients are coming in hypoxic (even 75%) without dyspnea. I have seen Covid patients present with encephalopathy, renal failure from dehydration, DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis). I have seen the bilateral interstitial pneumonia on the xray of the asymptomatic shoulder dislocation or on the CT’s of the (respiratory) asymptomatic polytrauma patient. Essentially if they are in my ER, they have it. Seen three positive flu swabs in 2 weeks and all three had Covid 19 as well. Somehow this [expletive] has told all other disease processes to get out of town.”
The clinical picture this doctor painted was dire. Patients who came to his facility for other reasons also had findings consistent with acute COVID infection. He summarized the situation well. It was pretty much all COVID, all the time. The doctor offered more disturbing information: “China reported 15% cardiac involvement. I have seen covid 19 patients present with myocarditis, pericarditis, new onset CHF and new onset atrial fibrillation. I still order a troponin, but no cardiologist will treat, no matter what the number in a suspected Covid 19 patient. Even our non covid 19 STEMIs (S-T segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction) at all of our facilities are getting TPA (tissue Plasminogen Activator) in the ED and rescue PCI (Percutaneous Coronary Intervention) at 60 minutes only if TPA fails.”
The doctor is reporting that invasive cardiologists were choosing not to intervene in their typical fashion in patients showing signs of a heart attack because COVID infection is causing similar diagnostic test results. The physician went on to edify the group about further diagnostic findings and then revealed another startling reality: Patients are getting discharged to home despite their need for supplemental oxygen — a clinical indicator that hospitalization is necessary. They simply didn’t have the resources to manage this crisis: “I had never discharged multifocal pneumonia before. Now I personally do it 12-15 times a shift. 2 weeks ago we were admitting anyone who needed supplemental oxygen. Now we are discharging with oxygen if the patient is comfortable and oxygenating above 92% on nasal cannula. We have contracted with a company that sends a paramedic to their home twice daily to check on them and record a pulse ox. We know many of these patients will bounce back but if it saves a bed for a day we have accomplished something. Obviously we are fearful some won’t make it back.
“We are a small community hospital. Our 22-bed ICU and now a 4-bed Endoscopy suite are all Covid 19. All of these patients are intubated except one. 75% of our floor beds have been cohorted into covid 19 wards and are full. We are averaging 4 rescue intubations a day on the floor. We now have 9 vented patients in our ER transferred down from the floor after intubation.”
In my mind, this doctor is a hero, not only because of the commitment to treating a devastating disease under horrendous circumstances but because of the final advice offered: “I undress in the garage and go straight to the shower. My [spouse] and kids fled to [my in-laws home]. The stress and exposure at work coupled with the isolation at home is trying. But everyone is going through something right now. Everyone is scared; patients and employees. But we are the leaders of that emergency room. Be nice to your nurses and staff. Show by example how to tackle this crisis head on. Good luck to us all.”
Most doctors at that time had little first-hand experience treating the devastating infection that was ravaging the globe. This report from the front lines was confirming their worst fears. Young and old, healthy and infirm were showing up in emergency rooms and ending up on ventilators. Hospital staff was getting overwhelmed. It was only a matter of time before this macabre scene would appear in their own emergency rooms and ICUs. I have read through the rest of the details given. They were, for the most part, sound. Of course, there was no mention of early treatment for it was very early in the pandemic. However many doctors still refuse to accept that this disease can be treated with remarkable success outside a hospital.
The controversy begins: Early treatment
In the summer of 2020, doctors began hearing of early and effective treatment for COVID patients.
One would think that when faced with a hopeless situation any potential treatment would be considered rigorously with an open mind.
That didn’t happen, at least not in this large group of physicians.
Here’s a post from July 2020 attacking America’s Frontline Doctors, headed by ER physician and Stanford-educated attorney, Dr. Simone Gold:
“Thoughts about how to combat the “America’s frontline doctors” press conference video that has gone viral? Basically claiming that they are using hydroxychloroquine and zinc to cure and prevent COVID-19 and scientists are lying about it not working and not being safe.
“At one point one of them said those of us not using it are like the ‘good Nazis’ who watched Jews die and didn’t do anything. And said to stop telling them we need double-blind studies. They obviously have an agenda of their own and support reopening the country and schools because we have a ‘cure.’”
This particular post is fascinating. America’s Frontline Doctors was bringing light to the fact that they were having documented success in treating COVID cases though there were no double-blind studies to validate their protocol.
But why demand double-blind studies in the midst of a pandemic when there wasn’t any treatment to begin with?
Members of America’s Frontline Doctors were well-trained physicians like those in our social media group, but they had a remedy that was being ignored for no good reasons — especially given the plight that the country was in.
Why did they have to be “combatted?” They supported reopening the country and schools because a cure exists. Is this any evidence that they “have an agenda of their own?”
The physician group’s members had much to say about this. Hundreds of comments were posted, and overwhelmingly the response was shock and fury.
Here are a few representative examples:
“So frustrating. They lost me right at the beginning. None of them have masks.”
“It’s really sad how easily propaganda thrives in our social media environment.”
These first two comments reflect the majority opinion of our group of physicians. It must be propaganda, after all, what kind of doctor would appear in public without a mask?
This one was one of the most popular responses:
“They need to be discredited. They’re not acting responsibly. They are not advocating for a treatment that needs to be looked at legitimately. They’re claiming to have a cure that is being denied from the general public by mainstream medicine and science. They are literally trying to discredit the rest of us.”
This one received the most support from the group:
“Nothing saddens me more than the willful dissemination of false information by our own. It’s bad enough for the Limbaughs, Hannitys and Joneses to push this type of narrative, but it’s unconscionable when a physician does it. The only recourse we have is to professionally tell the truth to our patients and our community and to report unethical physicians to their states’ medical boards.”
These comments did not cite any emerging medical opinion from other parts of the world or previous research that demonstrated hydroxychloroquine’s (HCQ) antiviral properties against previous SARS coronaviruses.
Instead, suggestions that COVID-19 could be successfully treated were labeled “false information.”
They were calling America’s Frontline Doctors liars.
I was witnessing the emergence of an unthinkable attitude among medical professionals: Those who have differing opinions must be unethical and need to be reported:
“How are these ‘real doctors’ not under board review for spreading such misinformation during a pandemic?? Has their board been notified?”
“The Texas medical board should pull her license.”
“All of the physicians in the video who have active licenses should have them revoked. All of them need to be reported to their state board.”
Note that the following doctor mistakenly believes HCQ requires “emergency use approval” (a term that does not exist) in order for a physician to prescribe it for COVID-19:
“Inform their state’s medical board. HCQ emergency use approval for COVID has been revoked.”
In just a few short months, doctors’ attitudes toward data and each other radically changed. A group of physicians who found a potential cure for a disease ravaging the world was being attacked by other doctors.
There was no sanctioned treatment at the time. Why would the possibility of a cure be anathema to physicians themselves?
Moreover, doctors know full well the immense personal sacrifices required to obtain a license to practice medicine. What kind of treachery would justify immediate revocation of a medical license? The off-label use of a generic drug to cure a potentially lethal infection?
Of the hundreds of comments this topic drew, the overwhelming majority shamed Dr. Gold and her team. Only a handful of physicians chose to cite data that supported the use of HCQ as an early treatment for COVID.
None of them received any broad support.
Here’s one that received a modicum of attention:
“Hydroxychloroquine has not been shown to have adverse effects at the doses they are using. There are many treatments that were initially mentioned at the start of the pandemic as being harmful, that are now beneficial… such as high-dose steroids. I think we should be open-minded about treatments for covid. These physicians have found that Hydroxychloroquine and zinc have worked for numerous patients. We cannot discount this information.”
But by and large the group continued to regard America’s Front Line Doctors as “fringe” and misinformed:
“There are all sorts of legitimate MD’s with fringe views or who can’t read or interpret updates on hcq. Even in these groups how many times do we keep bringing up hcq already still?”
The following response came quickly but was not acknowledged. In it, the physician sheds light on an important point: Not every doctor believes that early treatment with HCQ is crazy.
This was one of the first clues there may have been a quiet minority that sided with Dr. Gold.
“I don’t think it’s as fringe as you think. I think we’re divided at a rate closer to the general public than we’d like to think.”
Nonetheless, another member summarized the situation differently. Notice the extreme language used:
“We have entered a new era of being a physician. Integrity and compassion have been replaced by financial gain and fame as worthwhile traits to be pursued. I know it has always been the case in a minority, and maybe it is just that the minority now not only have a platform but a cause.
“But by doing this they are undermining the rest of us who are trying our best to help people who are desperate and now are looking at those of us using the latest research and best practices like we are just wanting people to die to achieve some agenda. It is sickening, disgusting what these others are doing. And state medical boards are afraid to do anything about it.”
Only four months into the pandemic many doctors in this private group seemed to have largely abandoned their logic and curiosity. Apparently having a treatment “undermines” those who had nothing to offer people who were dying.
We must remember these comments were made in July 2020, before there was a vaccine available. There were no sanctioned options at the time — yet any doctor who suggested there were options became a pariah.
How could so many trained medical professionals unite in a mission to excise dissenters, abandon open inquiry and devolve into what might be best described as tribalism?
Could it be that the idea that a commonly used generic drug and an over-the-counter dietary supplement might actually be a life-saving, pandemic-ending solution was too outlandish to be true?
There was another possible reason. Most physicians were aware that Pharma giants were working at a feverish pace to formulate a COVID vaccine to save humanity, yet few knew that in order to receive FDA Emergency Use Authorization (and the relaxed standards for evidence of safety that come with it) there must be an emergency AND there must not be any effective, alternative treatment available.
If HCQ were acknowledged as an effective therapy, neither stipulation would have been satisfied. Dr. Gold became the target of a relentless media attack while Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, stubbornly refused to budge unless a randomized double-blinded trial proving that HCQ was effective against SARS-COV2 was published and peer-reviewed.
Mainstream medicine had been hoodwinked by a smear campaign that targeted some of their own.
We have a vaccine!
I joined the group shortly after the vaccine rollout in the United States. I wanted to know what doctors were saying about all of the exuberance around this rapidly developed and even more rapidly tested product.
Why was everyone so confident the vaccines were going to work and pose little risk?
Trial participants were monitored for only a few weeks after their second dose and there were no COVID deaths in either wing of the trial.
There were only a handful of severe COVID infections, making it impossible to draw any robust conclusions about efficacy.
How would we know they were safe if adverse events were passively reported for only a few weeks?
Although there seemed to be an impressive, almost difficult to accept, reduction in relative risk, there was only a tiny reduction in absolute risk of severe COVID. How could we even calculate a risk-benefit ratio?
The trial data didn’t warrant a rapid vaccination campaign on hundreds of millions of people, did it?
Not surprisingly the many doctors in the group had questions similar to these:
“My grandfather is 90 with heart disease. Vaccinate or wait?”
“Have a patient with lupus and a history of anaphylaxis with flu vaccines. What do people recommend?”
“Cancer patient, immunosuppressed on dialysis. Vaccinate?”
I certainly didn’t know the answer to these questions, but who did? The trial participants were relatively young and healthy.
Apparently having no relevant data from the trials didn’t stop doctors from opining, often with confidence, on these matters. The near-universal opinion was to vaccinate, vaccinate and vaccinate.
But why? Answer: Because COVID is horrible. This seemed to be a good enough reason for most group members.
Another line of attack was forming. This time it was against hesitance around COVID vaccines.
Any cautionary positions brought immediate suspicion. What if a doctor told patients to wait until we know more? People might worry the vaccines weren’t safe.
But what if they weren’t?!
Several months later, a new topic predictably emerged: Vaccine adverse events.
Early on, however, there was little acknowledgment of potentially severe adverse events. Instead, this phenomenon was considered no more than a myth.
In this post, a member of the group is looking for advice on how to respond to a growing sentiment of public distrust of COVID vaccines. The member shares this public statement coming from a parent who voiced concerns on a different platform:
“How do we combat statements like this:
“My daughter was vaccine injured at 18 months. There is no way in hell I’m allowing a drug that has no long-term studies & may cause sterilization to enter her body. You trust the FDA? You trust pharmaceutical companies who are racing to produce a drug that will make them billions $$$ in a matter of months? You trust your children’s health to the FDA who approved Agent Orange, GMO’s, mercury in flu vaccines, Gardasil which causes death & severe neurological damage, the same FDA that allows pesticides that cause cancer in your foods. I’d rather get CoVid & maybe it will be cold or flu like maybe it won’t. I’ll take my chances. Wear a mask sanitizer & keep doing as we have been.”
The group had responses that expressed frustration and absolute confidence this person’s attitude was born of ignorance and paranoia.
“People blame vaccines for all sorts of health issues, especially for kids. It’s incredible the lack of causation.”
“I honestly don’t have time for this in the ED. People have the right to be stupid, and I’m not going to break a mental construct in 10 or 15 min. We can only present the facts as they are available, render a medical opinion, and let them decide what to do. If people want to play Russian Roulette with their health/COVID/vaccine, its not really much different than drinking, drug use and promiscuous unprotected sex. We in the ED will always be there to try and pick up the pieces of their shattered lives when they come crawling to us in desperation later.”
“I’m sick of playing along and being “nice” with the antivaxxer rhetoric of paralyzing uncertainty.”
“When debating on social media, I think you have to keep in mind that you’re playing for the audience. For every idiot being vocal about this, there are ten others lurking and reading and trying to decide what to think. If you engage calmly and reasonably, cite evidence, and make it clear which side of the debate has the smart people and the evidence, and which side has the lunatics and the conspiracy theories, you can keep undecided folks from drifting info further nonsense.
“As to this specific post, it’s difficult to argue with because they are using a Gish Gallop (throwing out so many arguments that it’s simply too much effort to counter all of them, even if the individual arguments are weak). If there’s a specific point they’re focused on, debate that as best as you can. Keep in mind that there are skeptics and science communicators that spend a lot of time debunking this, and sharing their articles can save you the trouble of doing so yourself. Good luck! The misinformation is horrible.”
In the following response, a doctor offers some peculiar advice: Stay-up to-date on “misinformation.” That’s an interesting departure from what doctors are trained to do: Be familiar with information.
How does someone stay up-to-date on misinformation? See the comment:
Vaxopedia is an online site, run by a physician, that offers dozens of references that “debunk” vaccine concerns. Nearly every source cited on the webpage is a “fact check” or mainstream media source like Reuters.
No physician in the group pointed out the gross double standards with regard to evidence. Observational studies and randomized trials that demonstrated significant efficacy of repurposed drugs like HCQ and ivermectin were dismissed, yet a lone doctor’s website that quoted mainstream media was held in high regard.
However, I noticed a discernible shift happening in the group. Other doctors had started to back a more moderate stance, asking questions and granting some legitimacy to vaccine concerns of the “lunatics” and “stupid conspiracy theorists:”
“So, I’m not anti vaxx, and definitely playing devil’s advocate, but are any of her statements made about what the FDA has let and continues to let pass incorrect?”
“Questioning motives in capitalist democracy does not make you a heretic.”
“These are the beliefs of a lot of people and their fears are valid. Pharmaceutical Companies did race for-profit and a lot of people are getting rich off of this Vaccine, i.e. the stock prices of those companies and those that had insider trading knowledge and made millions. Monsanto was approved to manufacture Agent Orange as well as pesticides and GMO seeds. Obama signed the Monsanto Protection Act that relieves Monsanto from any legal recourse for harming people with their product. Blacks were injected with syphilis for over 30 years as a government experiment.”
“As healthcare professionals, we can’t be dismissive of these fears. We have to educate and gain trust back.”
One doctor even hints at being unvaccinated:
“I think we can choose to not fall into false dichotomy and have both vaccines and extreme oversight into how they’re formulated. So many things have been unleashed on the public and then been proven to be extreme health hazards. I’d rather wear a mask for the rest of my life than pay a pharmaceutical company to use me as living data collection.”
Myths become facts
Just two months into the vaccine roll-out in the U.S., a doctor in the group posted this startling anecdote:
“Just saw a patient, an RN, who received 2nd dose of Pfizer vaccine 3 days ago and that evening started experiencing dizziness, loss of balance and double vision which continues through today.
“Her husband also has reactivation of his trigeminal neuralgia after receiving 1st dose of Moderna.”
The doctor who posted this report is concerned because the patient is an RN (Registered Nurse and thus credible in their eyes) and has a spouse that also suffered neurological symptoms after vaccination.
How could this be a coincidence? The doctor queries the group for any similar anecdotes.
Remarkably a flood of adverse event reports ensued, some minor and others crippling.
Dozens of doctors reported that they themselves or their patients were suffering similar issues (I will list only a few here):
“I never had any underlying disorder but started a new lower lip twitch 2 days after 2nd dose of Pfizer. I’m almost 4 weeks out and still feel it intermittently. I never ever felt that before the vaccine. Some may not think related but I absolutely do.”
“After hours of a HR (Heart Rate) of 120-130s I was exhausted. Supposed to have my 2nd this week.”
“Has anyone seen slurred speech and word finding 24hrs after Pfizer dose. Went to ER, no stroke. Dx (Diagnosed with a) migraine. Now 4 days with same symptoms. Pt had COVID-19 in July 2020.”
“I had bilateral paresthesias of feet and hands one week after the moderna shot 1.”
“Saw a XX yo male who had a petit mal seizure 2 weeks after first dose of Pfizer and no other changes whatsoever in routine or diet or exposures or meds/supplements.”
“Had two days of the reactivation of the thoracic shingles neuralgia I had three years ago.”
“Have a patient who developed neuralgia at the thoracic region the next day after receiving 1st moderna vaccine. Suspected shingles but no rash has appeared and has followed 1 dermatome. Now they are 2wks out and still having the pain.”
“Had my first dose of Moderna 1/9. Had HA (Headache) and fatigue x 7 days. Had reemergence of trigeminal neuralgia since then. In remission 4 months after battling x 2 years. Consulted rheum about 2nd dose. They said to go ahead. I’m due Saturday. This post makes me want to not get it.”
“I personally had dizziness, loss of balance, and double vision with both my shots, worse with the second within 20 minutes of the vaccine.”
“I have had multiple pts with migraine.”
“One hemorrhagic stroke.”
“Local physician died (hospitalized with in a few days and never left alive,) Myocarditis and another with pericarditis and pleural effusion … My list goes on … and yes I have reported to VAERS it is time consuming and not purely passive as they also have contacted me on cases.”
“I had neuropathy of my hands and feet from one moderna vaccine in January.”
“In the past 3 days, 4 patients post J&J with neuro symptoms. 3 LOC (loss of consciousness) and AMS (altered mental status). One with bilateral LE (lower extremity) weakness and discoordination going to higher level of care for further eval.”
“Post Vaccine HSV1 (Herpes Simplex Virus) encephalitis. Pt had no history of HSV1 and 2.”
“I’ve seen a lot of reports of rashes, hives, tachycardia, stroke-like symptoms, dizziness, and in one case SVT (Supraventricular Tachycardia) after vaccination. I wish we could get better real-time data.”
Another doctor takes the time to reflect on how little is known about mRNA vaccines, the puzzling recommendation of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) to vaccinate the pregnant and how little is really known about these vaccines and how they work.
Furthermore, the doctor presciently reminds others of the potential danger of spike proteins and examples of how some vaccines have been deleterious:
“So everyone will have to help me out as I am very concerned about mRNA vaccines, specifically this one.
“I have seen a fair amount of reports regarding Neuro side effects, trigeminal neuralgia, transverse myelitis, shingles, etc.
“The way I understand it, the mRNA manipulates the ribosomes to encode the COVID spike protein which in turn is released throughout the body. At which point our own immune system develops antibodies to the spike protein. So we essentially are immunizing against the proteins of the virus.
“So we are filling the body with spike proteins. From what we know about COVID, MIS-C (multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children) and breakdown of the blood-brain barrier causing neurological symptoms; encephalitis from COVID are HIGHLY suspected to be caused from the spike proteins themselves.
“We do not know what long-term effects on the neurological system can be caused by these spike proteins, is there a correlation in the neurological symptoms and the spike protein which has been shown to be the cause of inflammatory response to the endothelial cells of the blood-brain barrier.
“Is this going to result in permanent demyelination of neurons or other neurological events?
“We do not know but there obviously have been some neurological side effects from the vaccine.
“ACOG states that the vaccination should not be withheld from pregnant women. We have no idea if there will be teratogenic effects on a fetus. Too early for that information.
“If mRNA vaccine technology has been around for a long time and has been researched in many diseases, why have we not seen any in stage 3 or 4 trials as of yet?
“We do not know long-term effects yet. We seem to have forgotten Rotashield.
“That vaccine was not pulled out until it has been administered for over a year because it took that long to recognize its adverse effects.
“The initial vaccine for Anthrax, initially given during Desert Storm has been highly suspected as a cause of a spike in cases of multiple sclerosis.
“Now I am the farthest from an anti-vaccine and lecture on the need for immunizations and have seen the effects of unvaccinated children.
“While I do not dismiss the COVID deaths, this virus still only has a mortality rate of around only 1.7%. Vast Majority of those >65 years old.
“443k deaths 26million cases.
“Around 600 total deaths under 25 in the nation!
“Vaccinate over 60 years old, those with Comorbidities etc.
“My question is do we really have enough information to properly educate our patients about this vaccine. Seems to me we have gone away from evidence-based medicine and are pushing theory.
“But you say that we have been researching mRNA vaccines for years, then why have we not used them yet and how did they cram decades’ worth of research into 6-12 months??”
Scores of doctors were reporting vaccine injuries since the inception of the massive vaccination campaign. None were being publicly acknowledged.
The following response attempts to rationalize a hush-hush attitude by explaining the disease is “likely” worse than the treatment. This opinion is not based on any data. but echoes a clear bias held by the medical establishment:
“So I guess what I’m saying is, pick your poison. This patient likely would have had worse outcomes if they had the virus. Who knows?”
Who knows indeed. Despite the dozens of documented adverse events coming from the group, this next doctor still urges a unified voice around “the science:”
“Big picture: Confirmed US deaths from COVID: >441K Confirmed US deaths from COVID vaccine: 0 For people wanting to wait or saying “pick your poison” when it comes to COVID vs vaccine, I sincerely hope you aren’t saying these things to your patients. The science on this is quite clear and the medical community must speak with one voice. We believe in science, we believe in evidence and we have faith in the data.”
The key word in the above comment is “Confirmed.” How were COVID deaths being confirmed exactly?
Throughout the pandemic all that was needed to log a “confirmed” COVID death was a positive PCR test.
Deaths following a vaccination require a full autopsy to confirm causation, and none were being conducted at that time.
The double standard with regard to proof undeniably led to an exaggeration of COVID deaths and the suppression of vaccine deaths. No doctor was willing to point this out.
By the autumn of 2021, the FDA had granted EUA for Pfizer’s vaccine in 12- to 17-year-old adolescents.
The social media group now was faced with another challenge: How would they respond to one of their own who had a child that suffered an adverse event from these inoculations?
“My son who is XX y old had an adverse reaction the day after his 2nd Pfizer vaccine. I reported it directly to the Pfizer database (I guess they are collecting their own adverse event database), and the local children’s hospital cardiologist who oversaw my child’s case asked my permission today, so he can make an official report to VAERS.”
This report drew relatively few responses from the group. Of the few, most expressed compassion. One doctor thought it was irresponsible to not include more details about the child in such a forum.
A few weeks later another member brought up another issue: Pfizer’s adolescent trial was not powered to be able to detect serious adverse events. Finally, someone else was voicing my own concerns:
“We want to get our kiddo vaccinated but are wondering if anyone is anxious about the relatively low sample study size for this group?
“Anyone considering waiting for a few weeks for more data to come out?”
“[I am a pediatric immunologist] No concerns. Everything is a risk, to me not vaccinating my kids is a greater risk than vaccinating.”
The pediatric immunologist’s opinion was that COVID posed a greater risk to their children than any vaccine danger. But how did this specialist know?
They couldn’t. The central issue was that the trial was too small to quantify or even detect the risk.
Nevertheless, the comment received no direct criticism.
The next opinion was cautionary. Here the physician states the uncontested facts from the trial: The study was too small to detect the risk of myocarditis. No child in the study developed any severe disease, hence it was impossible to calculate what the vaccine’s efficacy was in preventing severe symptoms, if there were one.
Furthermore, the trial showed no benefit from the vaccine for children who had COVID and recovered.
Eyes were not completely blind to what was unfolding in front of them. This comment received the second-most support of any others on the topic:
“I’m in the minority on this board. I’m waiting on my 8 year old. Cases of COVID were mild in placebo and vaccine arms, no cases of severe disease/hospitalization/MISC in either arm. No examination of preventing asymptomatic disease. At this point, until there is data that the reduced dose used in the trial actually does something to reduce severity of disease in an age group where 50% have asymptomatic disease, I’m holding off. CDC estimates 40% of kids in this age group already had COVID — zero kids in either arm with evidence of prior COVID got symptomatic disease in this study. Also study size too small to detect the only concerning side effect out there for me — myocarditis.”
However, the most appreciated analysis came from a pediatric cardiologist who, it turns out, had enrolled his even younger children in one of the trials. This doctor explained that he regularly see kids who are suffering from heart issues from COVID:
“My X year old and Y year old are vaccinated (from the trial). No concerns. As a pediatric cardiologist, I am much more concerned about the long-term cardiac effects from Covid which I am routinely seeing in children even when they have an asymptomatic or a very mild/short-lived course.”
The opinion of the pediatric heart specialist carried a lot of weight because he was also considered an expert on the topic.
Interestingly, the doctor did not quote statistics or trial data, only his experience to date, i.e., anecdotal evidence. Expert opinion and anecdotal evidence are considered to be the least robust in science.
Still, this was a step up from the immunologist who offered no more than platitudes like “everything is a risk.”
Finally, this comment:
“I vaccinated two of mine yesterday with joy. I am worried that this question is being asked over and over in a physician group. I can’t imagine the hesitancy in the general population. no concerns at all !!safe vaccine Bad disease … it’s as simple as that.”
This last comment is telling. The physician is worried that too many physicians have questions about the vaccine’s safety in children, especially around myocarditis.
This means the public will be even more hesitant.
But under what circumstances would a doctor worry that their own colleagues are expressing concern that a treatment that has not been tested adequately may not be safe? Isn’t that what doctors are supposed to do?
The doctor quoted above believes that a simplistic approach to a complicated situation would not only suffice, but it would also be more prudent. Her comment says it all: “Safe vaccine. Bad disease.”
We see the essence of the mantra that had been repeated from all mainstream media reflected in her comment. COVID is bad, ergo, the vaccine must be good. Although she doesn’t express conditionality here, it exists implicitly in many minds, perhaps in hers as well.
We may excuse the layperson for adopting a black or white perspective of a picture with many shades of gray but a physician?
Though the disease may be bad, it does not necessarily mean the treatment is safe. One doesn’t have to go to medical school to understand this.
Several times over the course of the last 22 months the group’s administrators were forced to issue statements reminding members to be polite and refrain from derogatory language and personal attacks.
Why was this necessary? We were all professionals. We had common goals. We all had taken the same oath.
Why were doctors condemning physicians who held different perspectives and not the perspectives themselves? There wasn’t any room for a second opinion in medicine anymore.
I recently reached out to the specialist who invited me to the group in 2020. I asked her for her general impression of the nature of the exchanges there. She responded flatly, “I don’t read or participate in that forum anymore. It’s become an echo chamber.”
She was right. But it didn’t start that way. It became an echo chamber because dissenting opinions were either not supported or attacked. When only one side feels comfortable (and safe) to speak out, it becomes impossible to estimate the popularity of contrarian stances.
I believe there is a growing silent minority in the medical community. Efforts to squelch dissenting opinions using tactics like medical licensure revocation may have silenced this minority but also strengthened it.
We will know how large this minority is only if and when they choose to speak up.
However last week the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, issued a request to major tech platforms to submit the scale of COVID misinformation on their sites to his office, including its major sources.
With this formal announcement of a government-sanctioned witch hunt, we may never learn how big the silent minority is.
What would it mean if the silent minority turns out to be a silent majority?
Murthy’s “request” extended beyond tech platforms, social networks and messaging systems. According to the New York Times, the surgeon general called on healthcare providers and the public to submit information about how COVID misinformation has negatively influenced patients and communities. He said:
“We’re asking anyone with relevant insights — from original research and data sets to personal stories that speak to the role of misinformation in public health — to share them with us.”
My efforts to protect the identity of the commenters I quoted may ultimately have been in vain.
Public opinion around our pandemic response, polarized by rhetoric and now explicit demands from our government, has become binary: “You are either with us or against us.”
These kinds of overgeneralizations handed down by authorities in times of imminent peril are usually effective in unifying the public around a common goal and strategy.
They also cause unavoidable collateral damage by destroying inquiry and discussion.
I never expected this sentiment to penetrate the psyche of medical professionals. After all, we as physicians are constantly dealing with uncertainty.
Human physiology is elegant and still largely mysterious. This is why, despite all of our 21st-century medicines and interventions, we as physicians have not been able to expand our vow beyond “primum non nocere,” or “first do no harm.”
We cannot promise everyone a long, healthy life. We cannot promise a cure for many a disease.
We promise to do no harm. That is still the most we can commit to.
Are doctors being pressured to break that promise, too?
We’d both studied with the same first teacher, Dimitri, but several years apart, never crossing paths coming up. However, about a year ago, in that roundabout random way, somebody hooked us up and Bill became yet another adult member of the studio of multi-aged students I’d established back in 1989 after my first trip into the world of Suzuki-based musical instruction at Stephens’ Point, WI.
The two of us, Bill and I, were now nearly 65 years old.
We private teachers of musical instruments run the gamut. Some are self taught, promoters of their own unique styles and approaches; others are conventionally and soundly trained by conservatories; still others come by their skills employing a mixture of acquired pedagogies and “shoot from the hip” instinct.
But, we all take on students, and that for reasons both selfish and noble. Some do because it’s easy money, no accounting for quality; others want to produce the next Perlman, Botti, or Ma; but among us authentic, Suzuki-registered devotees is a collective desire to help each, young or old, grow to enjoy the ability to make good, solid, beautiful music.
Bill was immediately likeable. He had the twinkly eyes, a clean cut presence, and a gentle demeanor. And, he said, his daughter (with whom I’d collaborated while she’d been a college student) wanted him to get some help with intonation. Sure thing, I told him; he’d come to the right place.
We set about some serious ear training. Dimitri had always been about tone, the bow trajectory, himself tall and lean, striding back and forth before us with puffing pipe, declaring with sweeping, long armed gestures: “Seeeng mit de chellow! SEEEEENG!” And, seeeeeng we did. We sang with our bows, drawing full resonance, sound albeit perhaps sourly out of tune, but big and glorious for Dimitri.
Bill already knew how to produce full, Dimitri style tone. So, the two of us worked on his ear, via his muscle memory, with keen aural attention. Pitch by pitch, Bill mastered the G major scale, pocket by pocket, until he could get through a whole Book I tune without losing its tonal center.
We moved on, into pieces which had more complex structure. He’d played some pretty advanced works of music by master composers, in the years between our lessons with Dimitri and the day we’d finally met. They’d been out of tune then, and they were now as well. We addressed all that, phrase by phrase, and there was no denying how much he cared, how earnestly he applied himself, and how each week he’d demonstrate noticeable improvement.
But, once we were all forced to go virtual, and Zoom et al afforded us zero opportunity to play together, I began to pick up on another curious feature about Bill. When playing alone, he seemed completely devoid of any internal rhythm. Even when counting, he’d start out fine but lose it midway, either accelerating or dragging until the steady beat was a vapor.
Bill understood note values. He realized that they each had specific duration. He just couldn’t express duration, when he played. Relative recognition, but complete imprecision, there was no steady beat in his consciousness.
Before anyone reading this thinks that I am in the habit of denigrating or throwing shade on any of my students, stay with me; there’s a point, here, and it’s probably not what you might be thinking.
Teachers are supposed to care about their students, hands down. But, I believe we should also strive to know them. Know them, fully. Get into their heads. And, with adults, this necessitates getting into their histories.
What was Bill about? How had he spent the bulk of his adult life?
Not as a cellist. Nope. Bill was a Security guard.
In fact, he’d begun his career as a policeman, in one of our outlying counties. From there, he’d moved to Baltimore MD, joining a force of about four thousand. Then, he became a Federal Marshall, spending decades in this field and, now, in retirement, Bill was the lone Security Guard for a major, local medical center.
As I sat listening to Bill play, I tried to get deeply into his brain. I wanted to become familiar with how his lifelong habits informed everything about him. Why was he unable to stay focused on the steady beat, even with the metronome pounding into his left ear?
I followed him from the beginning of the song to the end, and then it hit me. Bill had been trained to employ a global view. He was all about the entire scope of the environment, not the details. Any officer caught fixating on one aspect, one person’s behavior, is a cop waiting to be overtaken by a crafty criminal specializing in slight of hand. No wonder he couldn’t stay with the pulse; about a minute in, his brain would go panoramic. To the observer, his mind may have appeared to “wander”, to have “lost concentration”; but, in Bill’s world, he was merely returning to his job — as grand surveyor.
Bill being more than just pleasant, but gallant, he took to my confronting this with grace and deference. In fact, he concurred completely. I posited that he might, at work, entertain the occasional interchange of small talk with the proverbial smile and nod, but that absorbing conversational content was all an act. Again, he concurred. He didn’t like big parties, he said. He couldn’t concentrate on anything anybody ever said to him. At this point, surprise; I told him I was exactly the same. Relatability, the essence of common ground.
So, now Bill had a plan. He could harness his widely scanning, revolving, weather vane of a brain to the task of actual focus for 3 solid minutes during the passage of time required to produce a musical tune. He knew now when during the piece he’d likely veer off, and would set his intent with resolve to stay with that pulse through to the end.
Many teachers might question this conclusion. Excessive over think. Unnecessary analysis of basic inability. I stand in challenge, to all that. To my seasoned experience, there is no such thing, inability. There is only absence of informed understanding. The brain, and the mind which governs it, continues to produce – new cells, new blood vessel pathways; the mind, who is kidding whom, here? is as infinite as the God Who created it.
As we age, let’s remember that our successes are never either defined or limited by years.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13.
I could have.
Word was, you were breaking the law if you gave life saving medication to a friend for whom it had not been prescribed.
On November 28, 2021, I had enough of such medication sufficient to save a life.
Hoarding my stash of physician prescribed Ivermectin for weeks I’d calculated that, if I took the recommended biweekly dose, it would get me through Christmas. The packets sat beside me, on the sofa, surrounded by their accompanying bottles of vitamins and immune supporting supplements, filling the place where another person might sit were anybody to actually be in the same room with me.
Only one person actually had been, in some 18 months – just for an hour, and not even on that sofa but in the chair nearby. I’d opted to respond radically to the whole nightmare by refusing all vaccines and all human contact, sure that in just a couple more months the doors could finally open.
We all know how that panned out.
So, now it was late November, and my friend with whom I’d just spoken maybe ten days prior was sick. Moreover, he’d been sick – for over a week – only now contacting me to say that the product whose repurposed action I’d recommended wasn’t helping and he seemed worse.
Upon painstaking query, mostly on his part as his mind was in such a fog he could barely read the package insert, we discovered that the product he’d opted to purchase was one I’d not even known to be on any market, animal or human; it was, in fact, a formulation designed for subcutaneous injection, not even meant to be consumed by animals let alone people.
Furthermore, somebody else he knew had been consulted in the interim between purchase and use, somebody who claimed to be a physician, somebody who directed him to measure it using a syringe she gave him, mix it with water, and drink it. The drug hadn’t been absorbed into his tissues in any therapeutic amount, and the additives alone would prove deadly.
My sense of altruism always having been mediated by a narcissistic ego, I rationalized that one of my precious doses should maintain him overnight until he could obtain a legitimate prescription. In grand, meticulous style only possible among the most self serving I engineered a pickup by his step daughter who lived at the opposite end of the county, directing her to purchase the replacement pulse oximeter he badly needed plus the nasal steroid from the protocol I followed before heading west to my porch to retrieve another supplement I’d purchased plus the single, relinquished dose.
I didn’t have his house address. Emailing a colleague, I obtained it. I could have gathered my own pulse oximeter and the rest of the medicine, and driven enough doses out to him that evening to carry him through the next several days. I had enough. I could have defied the law, and saved his life.
But, I didn’t.
Relinquishing to the hierarchy which would play out, both medical and familial, I would spend the next ten days enduring his slow, incremental, predictable death.
So many have said it’s all about choice. His choice, not mine. Sure, I led him toward the drug. I even led him toward more than one option for its use. What I didn’t do was lead him toward a product never meant for consumption, a product which – though a carrier of life saving medicine – had been prepared in such a way so as to prevent that medicine from rendering any therapeutic effect. That part I didn’t do, because my failure was in never investigating all the potential options, never discovering that while one alternative product applied topically could render benefit, another of similar name sold on the same shelf could render harm. I didn’t do that. What I did do was help create the scenario in which he chose to act out his decisions. I prepared the way, and he moved.
Forty eight hours hence, he’d taken the single dose of pills, felt better the next morning, but called his assigned doctor, accepted a prescription of albuterol and a different steroid and, by evening, declared that he needed to go to the hospital. My pleas that he just wait, and get the prescription filled, those would be subject to his further mental confusion; he’d called the doctor whose number I’d given, but had not realized a need to sign up to secure an appointment. Now, he would go to the hospital, instead, where all options for further treatment from this medication would cease.
The chronology of details which would follow do not bear repeating. They do not bear repeating because I cannot bear repeating them. My friend, my devoted professional colleague, a man I had known since high school with whom I’d performed countless weddings and masses over some thirty years, lay in a hospital ward for ten more days while the life ebbed out of his body. Something about kidney function. Holding his own. No worse. No better. The palliative definition of dying.
I could have saved his life. There is no doubt. Enough ivermectin over a course of just a few days would have turned that ship around. We’d still have our sweet blues and bluegrass violinist, our quiet, twinkling, thoughtful, observant, sweet, gifted friend, maybe for thirty more years, reaching the age of 90 still appearing at most weddings, college chapel convocations, jazz and blues festivals, rustic county parties on rigged stages, symphonic concerts in grand theaters. The man who played string quartets of Moon Dog’s music at Carnegie Hall. I could have single handedly saved that man’s life.
I didn’t. I groused, and fretted, and pulled my old lady sweater closer around my diminishing frame. I messaged his family members. I begged them to do for him what I should have done. I implored them to take the legal risk I could have taken. I passed the buck to terrified siblings and their offspring. I cowered in my tower.
The good definitely die young. The selfish linger. From their wheelchairs in the nursing homes, the mean make louder demands. They strike against their caregivers. They claim every next breath as if entitled. Their bodies remain on the earth until the most bitter of final moments, draining all within reach of every last bit of compassion and endurance.
Three unsolicited psychics have said there is longevity in my body. My singular dread is that I be one such scourge on the best of society. If you survive, and the years go by, and you should happen to find me at the back end, hunched over in a chair, squinting and moaning for my next bit of expected attention, please walk away. Please leave me to my just reward, the embodiment of the failure to love greatly.
It’s implied trust. It’s trust which is almost automatic, reflected in actions which represent that trust. Unfortunately, massive numbers of people act on implicit trust – and, most of them never take the extra steps required to verify that the foundation of their trust is worthy.
The medical industry was thought to be an institution worthy of implicit trust. But, as of about 1947, when the Rockefellers basically paid for the medical school concept and gave birth to pharmacology, American citizens handed off their precious willingness to trust to those whose agenda had nothing to do with actual human health. What I have learned by delving into the documented evidence as disclosed by those with direct access to it is both mind boggling and spirit scathing.
Now, the insurance industry, with planned obsolescence(calculations based in likely length of life – did you know that your coverage is based in your predicted date of death?) as its governing mentality, is the foundational funding source for all American medicine. Corporations offer major medical insurance to their employees, and the medical industry takes profit to the bank under the auspices of care and compassion. Individual medical practitioners are neither at fault for this, nor can they exert any power or control over it; in actual fact, they are completely subject to it!
Ask any physician how much is spent per year on their own insurance, particularly malpractice, and you will have gathered a valuable piece of data to support this argument. Yes; everyone except the insurance companies, and the medical corporations funded by them, are now their obedient subjects.
Enter the sick patient, and the family surrounding that patient. Whence their actual choices? What are the parameters, the freedoms and limits, of said choices?
Primary care physicians only think that they can act independently; in reality, unless they give up all affiliation, they cannot. Only recently, at the state level, dictates have been handed down to all of them collectively: support the promoted vaccines exclusively as treatment for covid, with no discussion or debate of alternative treatments allowed, or risk losing the very medical license one has earned. That is fact. Look it up.
What of hospitals, or major medical centers? Private hospitals depend on private funding, just like private educational institutions. These struggle mightily to remain financially afloat as they witness the swift conglomeration of corporate consolidation. Now, major medical centers’ monikers reflect not venerated medical legends by name, but the financial institutions which fund them. And, said financial institutions are invariably insurance based.
Yes. The insurance industry has displaced every other industry in both power and influence. The insurance industry calls all the shots – an alleged institution which is based in controlling how much money is allocated to humans based entirely upon their predicted life span. How chilling is that. Makes me want to scurry out to the garden and check on the winter vegetables. Oh, wait. I’m behind. I have to plant those, first.
Know this reality. You are hardly free. You are become a subject – not to the Power greater than self, but to an entity which seeks to displace the very Power which breathed life into each of us. All we have remaining is our will, and our determination, and our tenacity to withstand.
We must no longer be complicit. We must mobilize. Strength in numbers, while we are still alive, defying the very insidiously corrupt system which seeks to determine our very length of days. Let’s put our faith in our collective strength, and make that trust implicit.
Tables. They serve many functions, most recently as “catch-alls” for everything lacking its own place. Time was, they had a purpose.
Like the rest of the hundreds of thousands, all this week I’ve been scrolling. I’ve seen you. Many of us only now realize that presenting family photos reveals one thing: those who post them can, or need to, provide proof that they have families who agree to gather around a table – for Thanksgiving.
Agreeing to gather is the tradition. Most who do so across this wide swath of what remains of the actual United States rarely see each other during the year. Because the world has been flat for a good two decades or more, emotional bonding has taken on a different flavor. Those we still consider our closest by moniker see us either via Facetime or texted videos. The ones who’ve been in our lives the longest are now often the furthest away.
Many of those are even further away, emotionally. We have formed bonds with newer folk, those with whom we either work or live or, now, share a “bubble”. And, naturally, our emotional energy goes toward those who, in some small part, are available to meet needs we cannot meet for ourselves.
The self help gurus repeatedly intone: “Love yourself, first.” What does that mean? May be, given the looming need to eke out survival where we currently exist, we are compelled to find a way to live alone without allowing external forces to condemn us to it. That means being alone, and thriving.
How is that accomplished?
I’ve been shifting my focus. One guru has said to find one’s center, one’s actual physical center, and I think that is located somewhere near the heart and thymus. It’s a place to put our attention, our core.
Once there, with all mental and physical energy, no external forces — whether they be actual concrete gravitational pressures, or fleeting, dread filled thoughts — can survive against us. We are that one living being, life force emanating outward from our center. And, to my history, what I was taught to find there would be the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles of Jesus after the Son had ascended. Each saw a flame of fire over the other’s head. Paul said that Spirit would indwell each, to seal each according to the promise which would manifest in eternity.
I can’t defy such a Spirit. Nor can I prove any such Presence. But, I can lay hold of belief, both in that Spirit and in the manifestation of the Power greater than myself whenever I am alone, centered on my core. When in solitude, an inner knowledge that I did not myself either create or sustain overtakes me. I know with a kind of knowledge which comes into consciousness that I am not here of my own volition.
Gratitude comes next. Thankfulness, manifest in awareness. Being alive, feeling, hearing, touching, seeing, sensing as a human living in a body. At such a moment, there is no fear at all. There is a very quiet joy. Safety, in being, and being aware.
Choose to find yourself. Just you. In so doing, all expectations, conditions and even traditions will fall away. Because if we do not start with ourselves, what can we possibly bring to any table?
Last night. Momentary maxillofacial symptoms, then one sided nasal congestion. Hard to name how or why, seeing as the four plus hours just spent over two days working in my own yard and on the sidewalk beside my house hardly qualified as social immersion. No fever; just breathing restriction. Popped a squirt of HP in the ears and Budesonide in each nostril, and went back to bed. Had taken my most recent dose of IVM the previous Thursday.
The next morning, after a starkly sleepless night (anxiety…nasal steroid…) I pushed through two and a half hours of carotid and veinous ultrasound, flat on my back. The tech had taken the vax but had also had covid, a year ago; so, though we both masked, he wasn’t a concern. The pharynx was still irritated, and I was in denial.
Upon arriving home, pacing a little, I stared at the packet of meds which had been my prophylaxis of choice for the past five months. Did a quick cheese toast, and took two more IVM pills. Within an hour, did I feel better?
Outside, to continue tackling my newest manic creative project, the backyard renovation. Some children new to the neighborhood had set a small fire on my grass. I was inspired.
Thirty minutes and, back inside, to eat, and socially mediate those I had offended, a daily occurrence anymore. By 8:30pm, my body had finished with this charade; it was time to get twelve hours of uninterrupted, deeply deprived REM. But, was the pharynx getting raw again, and why was the house cold?
After a few choice Messenger sign offs, I slept.
Awake now, in a rush a bowl of gnocchi and one apple crisp to the oven. Did I have Delta? From whom, exactly? The dull witted unmasked millennial walking by who didn’t have the energy to lift my overfull bins to upright? Did I touch them, after he did? Had I bent down one too many times to scrape at the sidewalk traveled daily by dog walkers, mailmen, children, strange loners…all unmasked, many spitting on the pavement in some slumtown ritual of territorial dominance…?
The headline tonight, splayed across CNN, declared that Canada and Mexico will throw open their borders once again, come November. To the, well, you already know. To the vaccinated.
I’m not. Don’t ask. But now, fighting back against this pestery, lowgrade, hallmarking set of Delta encroaching symptoms, wondering how many days I’ll get and whether I’ll be spared the dreaded loss of life’s last pure pleasure, the taste of food…….I know my next soapbox. It’s all laid out, crisply painted, fresh and ready:
Since when on either this Earth or in my lifetime did a needle ever trump the human body’s natural immunity, AT THE BORDER?! How can Americans NOT be allowed to exchange their commerce and creative drive with Toronto or Mexico City, lest they take a SHOT?!
As usual, I’ll remain silent – acquiescent; compliant; obedient. NOT.
Since when did a robust immune system, able to fight off with a hardly noticeable 48 hours of infection, get punished at the state line for failing to secure a rubber stamp to the forehead? Just what is so wrong with this picture, and who are the puny holdouts still refusing to say so, aloud?
The lines will form. There are always several – one for cars; one for trucks; one for those waved over to relinquish the contents of their seam-bursting hatchbacks.
I met Kelly after a show, in 2015. She’d been in so many others, our meeting rendered me utterly fan girl helpless. Everything you’d ever want to experience, from a consummate dramatic talent, Kelly was impeccably, comically hilarious; deeply, even darkly introspective; and, visually dazzling.
What struck me most, in real world terms, was Kelly’s warmth. This girl wrapped her arms around a person, gathering you in like a grandmama in a much younger woman’s body. Her soul was so open. She really, genuinely, cared about other people and, even with an ever burgeoning audience of admirers, still able to take us one at a time. Perhaps it was a kind of timing, on my part, but I found her affection much needed nourishment to the heart.
I, being about ten years behind the social curve, had to catch up on this local gem. Turns out she was mother to three dear boys, two of them twins, and shared their parenting with a young man, Jeff, who would stun me with his own, equally gargantuan talent, versatility, and depth. Both together and separately, Kelly and Jeff easily displaced every celebrated actor whose characterizations I’d ever venerated. Not only were they both world class, to Kelly their relationship was special; I can remember her telling me, wide eyes glowing: “I’ve never loved anybody so much in my life.” Given that she had produced multiple lives at once (the twins, within a minute of each other), it was no wonder she had love that big – plus, enough for the rest of us, too.
As the years unfolded, we would continue to cross paths, more recently finding ourselves together in my home preparing a musical revue in rehearsal. I found her to be easily relaxed in ensemble, then earnest, intensely focused on her own skill building at closer range, as if not realizing how she’d long since already arrived beyond fully prepared. I was so honored with the opportunity to work directly with this magnificently gifted woman, even taking her interior home layout advice regarding my insistent red rug as coming from a natural set designer. After she left solo session I, who never let anybody tell me how to do anything, moved that rug into the next room just as she’d suggested.
As time and life events would change us all, so they’d altered Kelly and Jeff’s landscape. Discreetly, they’d become coparents in separate living situations, but continuing to thrive as performing professionals and enjoying their growing family. Via social media, I would observe as she and her boys interacted with a newly acquired pup, grieve with her after one of our last rehearsals when this dog had escaped the yard to be fatally struck on the road, then vicariously celebrate the next pet who came to comfort them. Through it all, I could clearly see; Kelly the grandmama spirit loved her house full of boys with the same, open, giving, heart we all had come to both feel and try to return.
The pandemic scourge was particularly hardest on these most gifted stage performers. They treasured their privacy, but thrived in live character; how to make life work, day to day, in such enforced proximity was new and almost formidable. Managing in home virtual learning scenes was a far cry from a sitz probe. Understanding young, tender boys entering adolescence even more daunting.
This is where the curtain rightfully closes. None of us from the outside looking on can know the challenges of another during this universally imposed condition reduced at times to mere existence. Life has become both momentarily exultant and cruel. Just the night before last, Kelly’s entire, rapidly blending family had celebrated her mother’s birthday and, the following morning, the unthinkable; one of her dear boys born within the same minute had breathed his last, reasons known only to the God we’d hoped would be there.
The obituary appeared just hours ago, written in bursts of expressive color, each detail tumbling over the next as if enough could not be said about this boy named Kris whose emerging dreams lay just before him. Primal screams with no outlet swell our chests. Arms whose reach we cannot even extend grasp the air for the feel of another’s beating heart. Kelly, Jeff, and Mark and the boys remain to endure. From Kelly: “Please be a good friend and a good brother in his honor…… talk to us about him when you see us, even if we cry.”
Kelly, I vow to grant this request. We’ll be bringing our tears, too.
For many years, this writer has been alluding to having been raised by a sect of Christian Fundamentalists. Most of the time, the context has been apologetic, or in the form of some excuse for alarming or curious reactions to life events. Almost assuming others are looking on with cocked eye or raised eyebrow, I have felt the need to explain why it is that I respond differently to just about everything.
Enter the coronavirus pandemic.
At first sign, I was sure we were in for a radical change in our social and professional landscape. Most thought me purely reactionary, alarmist, then sensationalist. Some laughed, handing me their version of a tin foil hat.
All this proved true but, by the time such reality was manifesting, my prophetic cries were muffled by dictae from the voices of hastily appointed if frequently shifting actual authority.
What ultimately ensued is still affecting everyone, today; yet, the ones out front sounding the call are still pushed aside in favor of some vaguely gathered general consensus by those firmly planted in the middle of the collective scope of reference.
You won’t find me among these. Why?
Because I was raised by a sect of Christian Fundamentalists.
What distinguishes me, and those of my ilk?
First, we view the world through firmly entrenched dependence on the black and white lens. It’s in our cells; we can’t – without excruciating, conscious effort – escape it. We see things from an all or nothing perspective; one is either saved or lost, bound or free, right or wrong.
And, this informs our judgments. When things happen outside of our deliberate action, we must immediately evaluate according to a moral paradigm. “Whatsoever things are true….honest….of good report……” Is there truth, inherent? Is there candor? Is the source trustworthy? Are the instructions clear, and appropriate? And, based on all of the above, what should our course of action then be?
But, it doesn’t end there.
Like most students of the Scriptures, we dig. Deeply. We read, and listen, and consider. We check references. We constantly ask of these: where is your evidence? From whom do you derive your data? No alleged, or self imposed, authority bends our knee. Having been taught to believe that the devil appears as an angel of light, we peel back face value to find what may be hiding behind.
Once we have made all of the determinations outlined above, we are compelled to act. And, act we do, but in a manner which some might term beyond earnest.
It’s called zeal. We don’t just decide, for ourselves. We stand, on the proverbial corner, and preach.
That comes from having been told to do so. “Go ye, into all the world, and preach the gospel to every tongue, people, nation…..” To us, there are no limits to either our scope or sphere of influence. We must tell it, on the mountain, to all.
So, the next time you find yourself recoiling at yet another declaration on social media which doesn’t quite align with that which you and your milieu have come to accept as true, stop. Look. Lean in. Take a moment, or more, and really investigate what is being presented. And, if it’s coming from me or somebody else so inclined, you might find yourself enduring a shift. Don’t let that frighten you. Many call this growth, and most celebrate its worth.
When you do, you may notice a certain kind of clarity of purpose forming. And, this will drive your action toward decisions which bring an even deeper peace. You will have developed a plan for living which no longer depends on following what just seems like an acceptable path presented by those with either the loudest or most pervasive voices; rather, you will have carved one for yourself, from the inside out, and nobody will be able to take that from you.
We in the Plymouth Brethren were taught that this source was the Spirit of God, and the gift given: discernment. I can’t prove the presence of such a Spirit. I have no hard data, on that. What I do have is a driving force, that comes from the center of my cellular nuclei, which moves me to both think, look, listen, read, compare, contrast, verify, contemplate, and then act. And, for that, I make no apology at all.
Quote footnotes: “How Shall We Then Live?” – Francis Schaeffer; “Go ye into all the world…” Mark 16:15; “Whatsoever things are true…..” Philippians 4:8.
Note: This piece is autobiographical. Names are authentic. It is included in Short Stories because, well, it is. This one, with more than a nod to America’s last Mark Twain, Garrison Keillor.
People live as cities to fight and flourish. How they do so determines whether or not they survive the winds of change.
In one of these, and to honor its venerated ship captain famed for the Battle of Lake Erie, Perry Street was rolled out through the east side of the city called by its lake. On a short, but memorable, stretch of this gradually ascending path southward, I grew up.
Mrs. Kubasik was stocky, thick, ever in house dress with opaque sup-hose and sturdy laced black work shoes, white hair pulled back tight, spiking strands about the chin on the whitest skin you ever saw. A first generation Pole with thick Eastern European accent, she lived on the corner across, looking left, in a white flat sided Cape Cod, and only came to the door on Hallowe’en.
The mottled grey brick flat was next, upstairs tenant a mystery, downstairs Marie & Honey who both smoked, Honey outliving Marie using a walker to get to the door and subsisting on vanilla ice cream and cartons of Winstons, which I had been enlisted to bring her weekly from Krush’s Superette down the hill and across busy 28th Street where you could buy lemon sherbet in paper push up cups from the cold reach in freezer with the top sliding glass.
Just beyond their driveway, the pale yellow house with the tiny, centered porch, flowers all around, owned and maintained by Mrs. Lacey and her slender, bald, adult son Harold who never said a word. The vacant field right next to them, and directly across from us, was always the easiest access to our cousins, the Marshalls, whose visible garage faced 29th but whose property could be entered by wading through the tall weeded grasses and squeezing past Aunt Dora Mae’s lilac bushes into their driveway. Cousin Frannie had a raccoon in a large rabbit cage on stilts smack in the middle of that garage, never used to house Uncle Frank’s maroon Chrysler which he kept at the curb spanking clean, all the way to any flecks appearing on the hood which he’d deftly capture with a moistened fingertip.
On the other side of the field was the biggest, whitest, single family porched clapboard you ever saw, owned by the Sawtelles, Timmy and his sister and his mother, who also owned the lot on the other side just next to the only Bungalow on the block. Mint green and small and elegant, with shiny hardwood flooring throughout, this demure structure housed Mr. and Mrs. Watson whose granddaughter was murdered out in the county. Mrs. Watson talked at a very rapid tempo, and might have been Jewish though the subject never came up. On Hallowe’en, she would keep the candy just inside the open front door, and we could all see in for quite a bit as she would emerge from the kitchen, across from the hardwood livingroom where Mr. Watson would be sitting near the fireplace in the wingbacked chair reading.
The ash blue Cape Cod on the right side corner at the bottom of our slight hill remained silent for most of my life on Perry until the unnamed man inside died and Mrs. Dias moved in, she without any apparent husband the mother of one girl. Mrs. Dias had dark hair, wore glasses, and was friendly.
Directly across from her were the Rogalas, in a dark red brick Shaker Heights style Cape with the sloping asymmetrical entryway. They had tall, blonde, grown children, all professionals, their son a lawyer, the twin girls one of them an airline stewardess, and Mrs. Rogala would frequently talk about her brood with mum when they’d both be out watering their lawns in the evening. About once a year, we might see one of the girls pop in and out on a visit, always heading to her car in the driveway facing 30th Street, never knowing which twin she was.
We lived in the mauve shingled house dad had built for mum before they remarried each other, which mum designed and whose plans I own rolled up as blueprint and stored in the tall cylinder plan can found a few years ago in an Edinboro antique store. Mum’s pink and purple azaleas and rhododendrons were the focus of bursting color right in the middle of the sunny side of the street, and we were the center of vocal noise on an otherwise quiet stretch of Perry.
Our nextdoor neighbors on the Rogala side were Joe and Vivien Fish, whose house was a small ranch with a 30 foot fir out front and a back cement patio where they’d sit with their black curly haired dog, Michael Sammy, and daughter Marian, drinking into the late evening together, Marian’s guffaws ringing out across to my bedroom window over their driveway. Joe owned a business which he operated out of his basement called Ken’s Permit Service, providing highway documents for semi truckers who would often park their cabs at the curb. We thought they played Poker in the basement every weekend or so, because a couple times a year the big, brown wailing Inhalator would idle by that same curb, revolving red light atop, and carry off some hapless gambler who’d just lost money on a bad hand.
Because only in America, our neighbors on the other side were the Tom Hookers. Theirs was a two story red brick solid, and son Tweed who brought purebred German Shepherds from Germany where he was stationed, daughter Kathy who always ran down the hill up the porch steps and into the house but who died of an aneurysm too young, and youngest Tom Jr who lay in the backyard summers and actually talked to me a couple times once I became of age all often seen, Tweed less so, eldest daughter Alex already married who smoked as much as her mother and died of lung cancer after only having a pain near her collarbone. Tom senior outlived his wife and two daughters, walked with a limp from the war, and tended his yard every day, chatting with mum across the chain link fence where the Honeysuckle grew as she trimmed and weeded the flowers and he always giving her huge, Beefsteak tomatoes from his garden. The week mum was dying, he was still outside even in the history breaking heat, warning us that Ensure was milk based and would cause more mucous in her throat.
The house next to Hookers faced 29th Street. Mrs. Yaeger lived there, also first generation like her neighbor to the right but German, the only German on our block on Perry though the entire east side had been settled by them.
We were the only Italians, for blocks, on Perry or the entire east side until 26th Street because dad met mum on a train. Everybody had porches, and flowerbeds, and driveways, and every house across from us had a big Maple tree on the curb except the two corners which took the sun full on. We had the telephone pole, and all the cables feeding everyone’s conversations came from it across front lawns and the street under the tree branches. Our short block and its slight grade to the right stood between the two steepest hills on Perry Street, which took all who traveled it all the way south to 38th, passing Lincoln School and Immanuel Presbyterian to the corner at the very top.
A few years ago, a major windstorm took down the 30 foot fir in front of what used to be Fishes house, throwing it across the road and blocking Perry Street for days. Joe and Debbie had moved in after the Fishes retired to Florida, replaced thereafter by Hank and Bonnie who lost the tree. Billy Blanks’ family bought Rogalas, Tullio Construction had a small house built on the field property where Ann, its first tenant, might still reside, Lee and Mary moved into Lacey’s and the rest faded into the future to become Dad’s new neighborhood after mum died, looking out for him and giving him leftovers whenever they were able.
As the fiery battle raged on the Bay, Captain Oliver Hazard Perry hoisted a flag upon whose face the inscription read: “Don’t Give Up The Ship!”. Those who’d settled that little block between East 29th and 30th never did, holding on to their own histories, their heritage, their identities, through ’til the last of their brood was grown and gone. The neighborhood is still quiet, shaded by Maples, mum’s azaleas and rhododendrons since removed by dad for the mosquitoes – did I talk to him, for a week? – replaced by rose bushes and children, playing in the now fenced in front yard she used to mow and hose all by herself.
Perry Street’s people always held on, knowing and caring for one another.
We never really escape filling in the blanks for those to whom we’re attracted, with traits we’re hoping to find. The biggest surprise is that the other person almost never possesses them.
I’ve done it, every time.
When the other person fills in those blanks for us, either deliberately or by expression, we either disregard them or choose to deny. No; she can’t really be a narcissist. No; he can’t really be needy.
I thought she was smart, cute, and talented but she insists she’s tedious, demanding, and starkly self centered. I thought he was strong, sexy, and self possessed but he insists he is arthritic, obsessive, and oppressed by a need to please.
If this pandemic doesn’t kill us, something will. I just want to know another, anticipate a time when I can feel free to be with another once again, and pray he’ll see the whole world like I do.
For so many, this has been a week of gutting loss.
When truly terrible things happen to other humans, everyone processes the reality. Some are able to remain detached, almost reflective or even cerebral. Others personalize. But, whether subliminal or literal, from its affect there is no true escape. How can any not be reminded of the fragility of every breath, when another’s is snuffed out?
To the traumatized, tragic events throw us back to our most recent assaulting experiences – however brief, however private. Even if identities are unknown, we seek them as if, in the naming, we can meld to them our own sensate responses, giving these place.
None of this is comprehended by the critical mind. One has to know with the tactile sense, or the auditory, held in deep subconscious. If memories of being stalked, or abused, are stored these emerge with a vengeance even at the news of ill befalling the vulnerable. Our wounded selves must make sense through the senses.
I once knew someone whose behavior patterns were self sabotaging, reckless, even life threatening. To this day, every time a vehicle matching in description the one this person drove is involved in a collision, my entire body endures multiple emotions in rapid succession: shock; panic; fear; uncertainty; obsession; compulsion; relief. This response is ingrained, trained by a period of years.
Humans are wired to relive every unresolved experience which has threatened health and welfare. And, resolution is slow to realize. When another’s life is taken at the hands of a trusted partner, particularly inside the haven of home, the feeling of personal threat returns with a force beyond mere empathy. In the grip of such reaction, grief is not proprietary; it becomes the domain of all who have ever felt anything.
Yes. Tragedy triggers. We must give ourselves permission to not only grieve but accept that, in our grief, we are far from alone. We have become a part of a collective of loss.
A few years ago, a friend said “You can’t believe ‘mainstream media.’ They are owned, their message controlled.”
I considered the flawless graphics. The seamless edits. The impeccable delivery, coming from major news outlets. No; I didn’t believe what my friend said.
[ Having been lured, by at least two men – each with exquisite taste in both clothes and furnishings – and, who’d turned out to be sociopathic, somehow, I never even bothered to correlate, or take a lesson then, either – false equivalencies, notwithstanding. ]
By contrast, what my friend offered as a source of trustworthy information was kitschy. Glitzy. Overdone, and sensationalist. Surely, such a presentation had to be suspect, its content not worthy of a second look. So, I didn’t look. I didn’t believe it.
But, there were publications, my friend persisted, by first hand observers with credentials. I viewed the books, read the authors names – authors unfamiliar to me, their book jackets embossed with outsized, gaudy fonts. Shades of Scientology. More delusional grandeur. I passed; again, I didn’t believe it.
Still, my friend would not be moved. There were videos.
Wearily, I turned to see: more of same. Punchy anthems. Animated, attention grabbing cartoons, peppered with inflammatory symbology. From bad to worse, I wasn’t just offput; this was repugnant. Not only did I not believe it, I. would. not.
Fast forward. Beyond all the sleek, sophisticated, state of the art imaging – and, equally subliminal messaging.
[ Decades earlier, I’d trained in graphic design and product promotion. Surely, I knew the strategies, the tactics, the money trail following that which had earned top commercial attention? Again, a major gap, an absence of neurotransmission critical to direct correlation. ]
Something about a virus, coming across from countries far away and threatening everything I called real and sustainable. Matters of literal life and death became the order of the day and, with these, a paradigm shift in, yes; belief.
Today, I am living proof that what one recognizes as familiar, what is trusted because it presents convincingly, and what is ubiquitous by its very repeating appearance can be, in fact, a manipulation so insidious as to be capable of capturing even those in possession of respectably high intelligence. The only prerequisite is susceptibility. To being primed, if you will. Groomed.
[ Is one rendered susceptible? If so, by what means? By first being starved, until hungry and, parched, ready to absorb anything? ]
This evening, I viewed a news feature story on, yes; a major news outlet. This time, I sat from a very different perspective. The narrator was portraying an animal product about which I was very familiar. But, the product was being systematically maligned, point by point until, climaxing with a close up of a horse’s head, it was summarily dismissed and rejected.
The only problem with this story was that I was living proof of its contradiction. I had been consuming a prescribed form of the illustrated product – formulated for humans – for several months and, in fact, had never felt better. My metabolism had been jump started; fat had melted off; my digestion had improved, my skin was clear, and the lower back pain greeting me after sleep was as gone as the sugar cravings which had plagued me for years.
Yet, this product was being described as having poisoned people. To the unsuspecting (yes: susceptible) listener, the word “poison” would be a powerful deterrent, possibly even affect-ively arousing so much fear so as to block any discernment.
Discernment. Discernment would have permitted noticing that the pharmaceutical grade of the product, prescribed for actual humans, was being de-emphasized – though such very much did exist. Discernment would have revealed that only two alleged cases of adverse effect had even been cited, and that anonymously (masked by, yes; sleek, sophisticated camera work and the edgiest of computer graphics), almost to the level of heresay. Taken in totality, the story was an obvious slam, a near slander of a medication which had won the Nobel Prize many decades before, used continuously thereafter across the globe against life threatening disease.
Yes. Disease. And, now, mountains of real world data (the kind involving actual people, en masse, not controlled comparison trials which allow equal numbers, part of a placebo group, to risk losing their lives at the hand of a sugar pill) for many, many months had proved that lives were being saved from the pervasive, current threat using this same wonderful substance in the same kind of repurposed form that so many other similar preparations had been found to effectively function for years.
Suddenly, I’d come face to face with a tectonic shift. That shift was happening in my own mind. I was perceiving that which was being put before me with an entirely new perspective. I’d like to call this enlightenment, were it not for the shadow cast. That shadow is hereby indicted, responsible for the gross misleading of incredibly large numbers of people, huddled masses waiting to be fed, accepting as nourishment only poison.
According to the WordPress.com stats, my blog hasn’t had any hits since August 20th. An internal bug rendered my Privately set posts vulnerable, and I can’t even know if the site itself has closed all traffic to my pieces.
So, it’s been awhile since I’ve written anything. Too busy searching and viewing video testimonials, from scientists and doctors and other health authorities, trying to both maintain safe distance from threat and to forewarn those I love.
But, now, we have to confront another force.
I’ll call this The Travesty of Integrity.
An article popped up, today, at MSN’s Firefox set of recommended reads. The title appears in the attached graphic. Did I read the piece? Nope. Call it revulsion; not, at all, interested. Not interested in finding out how to get the job for which somebody else is more qualified.
To my mind, we have entered a new low in social responsibility. Disengenuity; false representation; masquerading. Call it what you will. People are not not only attempting to fake out potential employers, but actually ENCOURAGING the action?
This reminds me of a phase of early childhood development called “pretending.” Very young children learn to mimic roles they observe being played out around them. They “play doctor”, “teacher”……..”superhero”.
And, among children, this is considered by psychologists to be normal. Helps form identity, and identification with adult roles regarded as responsible or achievable.
NOW — individuals are being taught how to skip all the steps taken beyond that phase and actually seek a job interview, expecting to contribute equally alongside those who have spent the hours, days, weeks, months, and years becoming either fully credible authorities or skilled at a high level.
Do we WANT a society led by charlatans?
Will we survive, ruled by them?
Because, that is what will happen. This generation of unqualified pretenders may one day hold our very lives in their hands.
You know the type. Always “blessed”. Always proclaiming their countless blessings, to the world, specifically on social media.
Invariably, such blessings only qualify if they can be held in the hand, like, okay, say, the handle to the double doors of a converted Southern plantation, or the reins of a willing horse.
Sometimes, natural disaster strikes. Theirs is the only house spared. Another burst of thanksgiving, to the God who cares about them the most.
Being bailed out after stupid decision making, like surviving food poisoning after refusing to wash bagged big agra lettuce or successfully pooping after 48 hours of bareback riding? These, while qualified, rarely get any airtime; one mustn’t embarrass the God of All Creation, lest He be miffed and withhold future cloudbursts.
Somebody who loved so many and deigned to love me, too, provided what I’ve concluded is the meaning of being blessed by a God who is no respecter of persons. That person was Mammy Sweet, and she was my grandmother.
Mammy stayed home. She didn’t own a car. She didn’t have a driver’s license. While she was still able, she walked to Sunday morning meeting – down the block, left, then down the short hill to the church we all called the assembly hall because, English and Plymouth Brethren, the real church was the body of Christ according to Scripture.
When she wasn’t dressed for Sunday all day, she’d be up with the sun to put on her support hose, sturdy shoes, a cotton apron over her cotton shift, and be about the house and garden. There were rows and rows of vegetables to plant, harvest, can, and eat; there were roses and peonies to feed the bees, a plum and pear tree, and countless perennials close growing both near the trees and through the rock gardens out front. In winter, there was bread to bake, and rugs to braid, and clothes to alter or sew from scratch.
After a full day in sunlight, rest was defined by the rocker, near the phone, where she regularly called the family or wrote letters or prayed.
In her world, blessing was defined in small moments, undeclared and unobserved by anyone, recognized in silent smiles as the sun set through the criss crossing silken curtains. I like to think that, because she bloomed where she was planted, living a life of worship and work, she was blessed with length of days. In turn, those days provided the blessing for all who knew her, for every hour of her 98 plus years on the earth.
It didn’t matter who else knew. Her God saw, and was well pleased.
The drive south was almost welcomed, seeing as there still weren’t many places this pandemic-resistant girl could plant herself outside of home, sweet home. Thermograms were yearly, non-invasive, worth both the money and time. After assuming all the positions, and a nice chat with thermographer Judy, RN, about whatsoever was true and what wasn’t and how many friends had turned their backs, she reached into the Altoid box to present compensation. No small horror: was her recently replaced credit card truly missing??
Now, how many hours of brain wracking would it take to haul back and retrieve the last time that wretched piece of plastic had escaped her grasp?
With some meuwing and striving, she pinpointed: June 9. The drug store drive through – and, the skinny sack, with its new migraine autoinjector, package insert and, of course, those famous last words of the dispensing teller: “Card’s in the bag.”
(But, hadn’t she needed that package insert last week, only to come up empty?!)
Now, the required call to the bank, for a check of recent transactions. All familiar; all well. She’d be home in an hour, time enough to turn the house upside down.
Rifling through the receipt box for the umpteenth time, she was sure this exercise would be further futility until, two parts determination binding with equal parts go for broke, there it was: the drug store bag. Eagerly, she squeezed the base and popped open its mouth.
What emerged provoked a moment of delight powerful enough to obliterate the Delta variant.
No. It wasn’t the credit card. That, she would find in the kitchen, only moments hence, wrapped in, yep, the clear plastic pouch housing one cumbersome freezer pack used to keep the migraine injector frigid. No. This?
This was her precious – and, three week long lost – Kitty Mask.
The pandemic had created one fashion statement, and this had been it. Her Bonnie-made kitty mask – the favorite, with its silly smiling cartoon cats, bright sunlit liner, and yellow ear beads.
As if propelled, in only seconds she bounded toward the kitchen, honing in on the sack holding the credit card, too.
Ya hadda live in that house. Ya hadda get that everyone coped in their own way, and most never let on how dreary and even despondent life had made them. This was a two-fer. What was lost had been found – twice.
Carry on, little birds. May all your trips south be as bountiful.
You will want this information. Much of it will surprise you. You will be immensely grateful that the three gentlemen provided it for your viewing, and you should note that the man appearing in the middle is a credentialed PhD, the man on his left is an engineer, and the bearded, white-haired man on his RIGHT is Dr. Robert Malone, the inventor of mRNA vaccine technology and RNA transfection.
The link to their video interview, shared below in this post, does not travel with a preview. Trust me. I’ve viewed it in its entirety, and it is neither corrupted nor profane nor obscene nor vulgar nor violent.
Please click on it, and be sure you are seated comfortably, as the discussion is intense and runs over two hours. I recommend that you spend three sessions, devoting one hour apiece, to the presentation.
Thank you for visiting this blog. It is my earnest desire that I present what my own investigation has unearthed for the purpose of thoroughly educating my readers in matters related to their health, welfare, and safety. And, now, I give you How To Save The World, in Three Easy Steps:
HOW MANY OF YOU HAVE VISITED your OWN BLOG – WITHOUT SIGNING IN – and, NOTICED THAT the HEADER APPEARS AS IF YOU ARE SIGNED IN?
HOW MANY OF YOU LOG OUT, AFTER HAVING BEEN LOGGED IN DRAFTING A PIECE, AND DISCOVER THAT THE HOMEPAGE STILL APPEARS WITH THE HEADER ACROSS THE TOP – AS IF YOU ARE S.T.I.L.L. SIGNED IN?
HOW MANY OF YOU have asked the Happiness Engineers for Help with this, only to be told that you are still Signed In (even when you know you have signed out??)
How many of you have set some of your entries to Private, only to discover that, when you are LOGGED OUT of the SITE, and you visit as a guest just to check, your Private posts are still accessible in totality when you click on “continue reading”?
These are all problems which, on my site, have been ongoing.
One Happiness Engineer claimed that my Cache still had me Signed in, and that this is why – even though I was Signed Out – it appeared as if I was signed in when I visited a few minutes/hours later.
Does any of that make any logical sense, from a security standpoint?
Please feel free to comment liberally, below this post, IF you ARE a WordPress blogger and have experienced anything like this. If you are NOT a WordPress blogger, and are just an obsessive troll exploiting the opportunity to spout off about prophesying Israel’s Messiah, do NOT comment as I will NOT Approve your comment and nobody will ever see it.
Early on, hits from exotic places like United Arab Emirates, or Hong Kong, or South Africa fed my sad, yea hapless, ego. I thought people from all over the world were reading my stuff. What a dork.
Only in recent months would an old former colleague (he’s both) reveal how easy it was to fake a location online. South Africa was more than likely Wattsburg, PA and the reason for the hits?
How many college students were paying ghost writers to rip off everything I’d created from scratch since July 2014?
WordPress couldn’t protect my work. Nobody could. I’d likely been parsed out until there was nothing left. Only WordPress, ironically enough, had the time stamped evidence of the date of origination of my essays and poems. Would they show up in court? Whom would they send?
The pandemic was exhausting. The vaccine roll out, excruciating. The psychological horrors, mind devolving. Was it cognitive decline, or all of the above?
Where are the royalties? Will my self published series’ tell the tale?
Or, has everybody already long since forgotten the story?
Hardly anything in this life is more worthy of celebration than news of human healing. Who could possibly argue?
Hearing that a beloved young woman – beleaguered by protracted physical symptoms – has finally received both a diagnosis and effective treatment, I am moved to speak.
What will I say? That I’m grateful she has found a qualified diagnostician? That the prescription she’s taking is working? That her symptoms are finally receding?
ALL of the above.
Yes. I believe in science. Science – the discipline involving the harnessing of nature’s evidence and applying critical methods to what it can tell us about the physical world and the sustenance of life within it.
What are the roots of the scientific inquiry? Humans want to know about that which occurs over which we creatures seem to have no dominion. Hence, the study of physics, astronomy, geology, biology, physiology, ecology, and the first of humankind’s actions upon the latter, chemistry.
What I do know, to which historical documentation will attest, is that the advent of human healing practices dates back to early homo sapiens and their counterparts, Neanderthals. Things which arise from the earth itself, plant and mineral material, were among the first of what came to be known as human medicines.
Investigate the culture of Native Americans, and others across the globe; the evidence is virtually everywhere. Plant salves, poultices, oils, and powders. These were the first medicines. In some tribes, such formulations were the domain of shamans or gurus or other healers by name, those who made it their life purpose to prepare and provide the healing treatments.
“Modern” medicine, with its study of bio-chemistry and use of man-made technologies (leading to bio-chemical engineering), has reached a broad capacity to diagnose multiple human ills. But, the medicines formulated still contain fundamental features always present since time immemorial: plant and mineral derived material. The stuff of the earth, itself.
Controversies rage over the comparative value between pharmacologically prepared vs. naturally formulated offerings. Yet, whether one chooses to ingest a solid caplet or capsule, or a powder, or a solution; whether one injects, or swallows, or topically applies; the source of any one of such choices is the root of all science: earth’s basic elements, and the manner in which they interact molecularly.
Science is the study of that which occurs, naturally, and how humankind gathers all the evidence thereof toward practical use. As such, I believe in science – wholeheartedly, in all its manifestations, because I, as a creature, cannot deny it.
Yes. As a study, science is pure – the examination of the expressions of life itself. But, when the scientist ceases to be in service of health, wellness, and all forms of life sustenance and becomes a tool in the hands of the experimental, great and fearful caution need be taken. The manipulations which can occur within the scientific experiment can reveal nefarious motives. Moral compromise. Falsified data. Misleading conclusion. The list grows.
Ask any chemist. Harnessing molecules and creating new ways to bind them has birthed a man made world. Enter humankind, and its propensity toward greed, covetousness, and corruption. To what end will intellectual curiosity bend minds otherwise committed to the service of the quality of life?
I will never deny science. What I will challenge is human motive in its service. To that end, if I must, and in the interests of both self preservation and community protection, I will defy the scientist.
# break out of frames
Header always append X-Frame-Options SAMEORIGIN
Even from the track above her silky voice could clearly be heard, carried away by self-critique, salting the stuffy air more accustomed to beads of human sweat than the constant caption with which she underscored every volley.
In just one full lap, two of their doubles’ foursome had left the gym court. Alone with the man who had been her partner she sat, then, over under the basketball hoop, he in a preferred squat, and segued to conversation.
Her voice was the kind one would associate with a bedside nurse, light, childlike. One wondered if these were born to sustain such tones, or cultivated in families where being unbearably kind was the order. Hers, incongruous with the acoustics inside the gym at the YMCA, a sound unexpected.
Reference was made to the care of an elder, possibly her mother or father, and from the track above she could be seen demonstrating the method by which hers utilized a mobilizing walker, describing its function in detail. The man who had been her partner, from his squatted position, offered well placed affirmations, watching her talk.
She wore grey flared slacks and a light, cream colored knit long sleeved sweater appropriate for office work during the transition from fall to winter; the man who had been her partner was clad in gym shorts and a sleeveless, hooded boat jacket. Her elder was 97 now, she said, and he listened as she expanded her narrative to speculate about what could or could not be expected of someone who had reached such an age. There was so much to say. Was he married?
He was, he said.
Her head bowed slightly, rendering her words less intelligible, and she looked from side to side as she spoke. The man who had been her partner stood. One of them suggested returning to the court. The other obliged.