Category Archives: brain research

Recycling The Insufferable Optimist.

She couldn’t get into the house quickly enough.

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

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

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

Her mind sought solace, in reverie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes. Pessimism would have its day.

And, that season couldn’t come soon enough.

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

littlebarefeetblog.com

I Wrote A Poem.

I wrote a poem in my sleep

Each phrase, each rhyme, all true

The dream was one I wished to keep

If just to prove to you


Though the power of sleep, so vast and deep

Somnambulance withstands

To rise and write, its worth to reap

I could not move my hands.

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

littlebarefeetblog.com

YARD SIGNS.

For some reason, I had to make two road trips that weekend.
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The year was 2016, the season autumn, and I had to drive west toward Ohio and east toward New York in two days time. Four years later, I remember far less about the purpose of those excursions than the one thing I still cannot forget.
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All along our Great Lake Erie, it was what I saw posted along the roadside: Yard signs. Political yard signs. And, what disturbed me as deeply as the moment when the doctor opens his waiting room door and enters, carrying test results in his hand, was what I saw on those signs.
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Beyond a mere two or three, from New York across PA to Ohio and back again, they were nearly unanimously emblazoned with the two words which would change our world in ways none of us could have imagined:
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TRUMP.PENCE.
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For miles. That’s all I saw.
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Our city had been pretty determined to honor its long Democratic history by endorsing Hillary. I’d been a Bernie canvassing machine; his name appeared on MY yard sign, up until the election. But, what I saw stunned me with its foreboding. Clearly, everyone who lived on the lakefront – the monied – were a united flank and, that, all across the tri-state area. In fact, after the initial shock had waned, baffled national pundits and analysts would repeatedly point to Northwest PA as one of the pivotal forces which influenced the election results.
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I remember getting home on my final return trip, sitting down at the computer, and telling my friends on social media. “I think Trump is going to win.”
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Tonight, Michele Obama gave an unprecedented, heartfelt, bold, and pointed declaration to America. She withheld nothing. Our former First Lady told us to prepare to pack a brown bag and put on our old shoes, if that is what it would take to see to it that our vote would be placed, and counted.
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When she was finished, I thought about those yard signs. I realized that too many of us, myself included, had let the profuse presence of such signs affect our choices, in primaries past – so many offices, so many contenders, so much reading and listening required to make a truly informed decision. How many had always just depended on yard signs to teach name recognition, to register a subconscious vote already placed before due diligence had been paid.
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This November, forget about yard signs. If we see them, consider who put them there and ask whether those lawns were infiltrated by blind folly – or, worse.
Remember 2016. Everybody knows Joe Biden’s name. Keep your eyes on the sign in the sky, and make the only trip necessary. Just vote to save America’s soul.
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8/17/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo.