Drumpf 2: Chapter 6

To paraphrase a national news source, Roald Drumpf once again had a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad,” week.  The most publicized had been the news surrounding the funeral of a well-liked senator.  Drumpf was told (in no uncertain terms) to stay away.  He spent the day of the services on the golf course, but his daughter and her husband were in attendance.  Their presence was not well received by those active on her father’s favorite social media, and it didn’t stop several speakers there (including the senator’s daughter) from taking digs at Drumpf and his favorite political meme, “Make America Great.”  His comment was, “Mission Accomplished.  America is great again.”  Hers was, “America was always great!”

A big deal was made by Drumpf’s supporters when he donated his  40K salary (a drop in the proverbial bucket to a man of his great wealth) to charity (tax deduction, anyone?), but less was said when he rescinded the minor 2.1 percent raise which had been promised to civilian government employees.

Drumpf is currently battling  with his Attorney General, who he still blames for recusing himself from involvement in the Russian investigation.  The current bone-of-contention involves the AG’s continued refusal to allow the justice department to be influenced by a political agenda, and this time it may cost him his position.

The confirmation hearings for Drumpf’s nominee to be the next Supreme Court justice began this week.  The opening was marred (or enhanced) by protestors demanding that the hearings be delayed.  Knowing that the results of the mid-term elections might change the balance of power in Congress, and thus lower their chances of pushing their candidate through, the questions continued.

Drumpf’s nominee is known to be ultra-conservative, and to be a real threat to our civil rights.  He has made no secret of his opposition to Roe Vs. Wade, and has even stated that birth control is a sort of preemptive abortion.  The greatest threat he holds for the nation is his fervent belief that a sitting president cannot be indicted for federal crimes.

In a surprise move the White House recently released 42,000 documents pertaining to the nominee’s legal history, leaving no time to adequately read and examine them.  A hundred thousand pages are still being held back; what are they hiding?

The more that is discovered concerning the probe into the Russian interference in the election, and Drumpf’s part in it, the closer we come to the possibility of impeachment.  Roald Drumpf, of course, insists that will never happen.  “How can they impeach me,” he insists, “when I’m doing a good job?  They have no reason to impeach me while I’m doing such a great job.” He insists that his supporters will revolt if he is impeached, and at least one right wing faction has threatened (no, promised) bloody revolution.

With mid-term elections looming, Drumpf has been spending as much time “stumping” for his parties candidates as he has doing his job.  (Perhaps we should be grateful for that.)  He claims that, should the blue party gain control of the Congress, violence would occur.  He clarified by saying that they would quickly (and violently) take away all that he had accomplished since taking office.  Hmm… isn’t that what he’s been doing to the administration that came before him?


 

 

“Calm down, Grace,” she told herself as she pulled out of the parking lot.  “You can’t let Reginald know what you’ve found out or he’ll know what you’ve been up to.”  She decided to stop at a local diner to get a bite to eat, and to let her nerves settle before returning home.  Reginald wouldn’t be expecting her for a while, and she needed some time to figure out her next move.

Iced tea and an egg salad sandwich were just the ticket.  Grace had chosen a booth near the back where she could watch without being noticed.  She had parked her car in the rear of the building where it wouldn’t be seen; no point in drawing unnecessary attention, she thought.  As usual, she was careful to lock it before walking away.

She thought about the conversation she had just shared with her friend from the resistance.  She had, she said, tried to call after the first murder because she recognized Grace’s address.  Reginald had taken the call, and assured her that all was well.  When the killings continued, she’d tried to call back to tell Grace to be cautious.  Once again Reginald had answered the phone, and this time he had angrily told her to stay away.  “We can take care of ourselves,” he had said, “and if it’s ‘your kind’ he’s after, I want nothing to do with you!”

Grace wondered why he hadn’t told her about the calls, or about what he knew.  Any time she had tried to discuss the situation, he had become angry and told her to stay out of it.  He got angry a lot lately, she thought.  Grace decided that, while she couldn’t talk to Reginald, she needed a way to keep herself safe.  If she couldn’t trust him to be honest with her, she certainly couldn’t trust him with her security.  She stifled a giggle, suddenly remembering  the “Home Alone” movie franchise.  “A bit far fetched,” she thought, “but I’ll come up with something.”

She paid for her lunch with cash, leaving just enough tip that she wouldn’t be remembered.  When she got to her car, there was a torn piece of paper stuck under her windshield wiper blade.  In block letters, it read, “BACK OFF”.  A newly terrified Grace checked her back seat, floorboards, and even inside her trunk, before unlocking her car and getting in; she relocked her doors before beginning her drive home.

When she arrived there, it was to find Reginald at the kitchen table enjoying a plate of reheated leftovers.  Looking up, he said, “You should make this more often, it’s pretty good.”  Grace didn’t answer, and he didn’t seem to notice that she was upset.

“You’ll ruin your supper,” she said as she walked past him to put her handbag in its usual place.  Before putting it away, though, she retrieved the .380 caliber pistol she had carried on the road, making sure it was loaded and the safety on, then tucked it neatly inside.  She felt a little better already.

Three days went by without incident.  As a precaution, Grace had stretched noise making trip wires between the bushes outside.  She had considered scattering shards of glass, but her concern for possible stray animals caused her to reconsider.  Reginald was annoyed by her insistence that they hang sleigh bells, salvaged from the Christmas decorations in their attic, on their doors at night.  In finally giving into her desire to do that, he made it clear that he was just humoring her.  “Really, Grace,” he had said, “You have got to stop being so paranoid.”

“Even paranoids have real enemies,” she mumbled under her breath.  She and Reginald had always had their differences, but she’s never before had reason to distrust him; she didn’t like it!  She also didn’t understand it.  Reginald was not the were-man, of that she was certain, so what was his part in all of this, if any?

On the evening of the fourth day, and just as they were finishing yet another silent meal, the phone rang.  Before Grace could respond, Reginald pushed back his chair and jumped to his feet.  “I’ll get it,” he said, and with that he hurried to answer the phone.

Grace cleared the table, then walked over to listen in the doorway.  Reginald was speaking softly with his hand covering the phone, so she couldn’t hear a thing.  She’s slipped back into the kitchen before he could see her and began her usual clean-up.  What was there about this conversation that he didn’t want her to hear, she wondered.  She made up her mind to find a way to figure out who he was talking to, and what they had to say to each other.

The next morning, Grace awoke to find that Reginald had already gone.  It was nearly noon before his return.  He immediately went into his den and shut himself inside.  Soon, Grace could hear the sounds of DNN filtering through the door.

She had spent her morning on the phone with her friend from the resistance, and she had gained some valuable advice on what she needed to do next.  There was a good electronic supply store in town, and she planned to “bug” her own house.  It made her feel foolish, but she wasn’t taking any more chances.

Before the car engine had a chance to cool, she was behind the wheel and on her way.  The woman at the electronics store had been most helpful.  “You’d be surprised how much home security equipment we’ve sold since these killings started,” she said.

Grace bought a motion-activated system for outside; she’d get Reginald to help her put it up when she got home.  When she asked about the “kind of stuff private-eyes use, you know, to listen in on private conversations”.  The clerk hardly blinked, “We sell a lot of those, too.” she said.

With her purchases secured, Grace headed for home.  That night, after Reginald had gone to sleep, she planned to put her “bugs” in place.  The mics were so small, and the recorder easily hidden, she figured he would never find them.  Grace didn’t know what she was doing, and she wasn’t sure she could handle what she might discover, but the one thing she couldn’t do was stand by and do nothing.

 

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Drumf 2: Chapter 5

Let us offer a moment of silent respect upon the death of a good man, one who spent his life serving this country, both in the Navy and in the Senate.  Considered a maverick among his peers, he was known for putting the good of this nation above party politics.

Flags are flying at half-mast across the nation’s capitol in his honor, but at the White House this lasted less than forty eight hours.  Public uproar caused 45 to relent, and to declare that the flag would be returned to half-mast until after the service, one at which he had been told he was not welcome.  The White House plans to send representatives to the service in his place.  Two former Presidents, one from each political party, have been asked to give the eulogies there.


 

Public opinion, expressed with adequate vehemence, can make a difference.  Roald Drumpf will not be getting his military parade, at least not this year.  If there is any justice, it will never happen.  If there is any real justice, he won’t be in office to watch it.

With his allies walking away, and his “fixers” becoming foes, it begins to look as if the end result will resemble the Watergate scandal.  The investigation into the Russian interference into the election that brought Drumpf (and his handlers) into power is beginning to produce some exciting results.  There have been many indictments; one of the defendants, Drumpf’s campaign manager, has been found guilty of eight counts of breaking election finance laws “at the direction of and in coordination with” Drumpf,  and is now facing many years in prison.  A second, Drumpf’s former personal attorney, has confessed to his part in paying two women to remain silent about their relationships with Drumpf, who stated that paying “hush money” is not illegal, but that the defendant’s “flipping”, his cooperation and confession, should be.  It has been said that if Drumpf were not President, he would already have been indicted along with the rest of them.

A former employee, who also worked for a time in the Drumpf White House, has written a “tell all” book in which she accuses Drumpf of being a racist.  For proof, she offers recordings of conversations with him in which the N-word was used by him.  Unable to deny the content, Drumpf blustered that the recordings were made illegally, without his knowledge or consent, and so aren’t evidence.  Perhaps not in a court of law, but the court of public opinion may be a different matter.  Some folk believe everything she has written or said.  Others blame her for having “sold out” by having worked for him in the first place.  Their claim is that, in so doing, she betrayed her own race.  Doesn’t that seem to validate that what she has to say is true?  Now that her book is published, she stands ready to testify at his impeachment trial, should it occur.  Is it wrong to hope that the road to impeachment is now within sight?

In the midst of all this, the First Lady has announced an intended visit to Africa, a visit she will be making without the President.  Drumpf immediately initiated a probe into the region she intends to visit which made false claims about “improper” activities there.  These claims were immediately rebutted.

An amusing observation has been that the First Lady has been “trolling” the President, watching news media of which he disapproves, and sending subliminal messages by way of her clothing choices.  Twice, she has worn a blouse sporting a detail known as a “pussy bow”.  At his State of the Union address, she was seen wearing a white pant suit reminiscent of his political opponent, and who can forget the infamous jacket worn when visiting the imprisoned children at the southern border.  “I really don’t care. Do U?”  To what does that refer? Being a mother seems to be important to her, so it is doubtful it refers to the children, or even the situation (both she and her parents are immigrants).  Drumpf claimed it referred to the press, who were bound to see it.  Perhaps, just perhaps, she was voicing her opinion of him; or maybe it was just an unfortunate choice of wardrobe.



 

A restless night lie ahead for Grace, who was jolted awake by every small noise coming out of the dark.  Early in the evening, she had moved her attempts at slumber into the living room.  She and Reginald had begun to share a bed again during their journey, and that practice had continued since their return home.  It seemed considerate, given the circumstance, to let him rest, but she had to admit to herself that it felt natural to once again sleep alone.  When that sleep finally came in the predawn hours, it was deep and free from dreams.

When she awakened, it was to the sound of steady rainfall against her window.  It took her a moment to realize that the rain would have erased any evidence of last evening’s attempted invasion.  Reginald hadn’t believed her, and now the police wouldn’t either.

The day began like any other day.  Rain continued to come down throughout the morning.  They shared breakfast, then Reginald retired to his den.  After cleaning up, Grace settled onto the living room sofa with a good book.  Being tired, she soon rested her book against her chest and drifted back off to sleep.  She woke up later to see Reginald standing over her.  She sat up quickly, stifling a gasp.  “He attacked another one,” he said.  “This time she got away.”

Grace wanted, needed, to talk with the survivor, but she knew Reginald would not approve.  “Do you know who she was?” she asked him in a nonchalant way.  The name he gave her was unfamiliar, but then he mentioned that she was in the local hospital.  Grace knew what she had to do, but she had no intention of telling Reginald.

She waited a moment, then glanced at her watch.  “Look at the time,” she said, “I’m going to be late for my lunch date.”  When he asked “who with”, she named a woman she knew Reginald disliked, then asked, “Did you want to come with me?”  As she had hoped, he refused her “invitation”.  Before he could question her further, or change his mind, she grabbed her purse and made a quick getaway.

As she drove toward the hospital, she wondered what she might say.  It occurred to her that if the police were there, they might not let her in.  It was a chance she had to take.

Minutes later she was pulling into the parking lot of the hospital.  As she had feared, there were patrol cars in the spaces nearest to the door.  “That’s normal,” she told herself, “It doesn’t mean they’re guarding the were-man’s victim,” but the thought didn’t do much to calm her nerves.

After finding a parking spot, Grace took a good look around before walking toward the entrance.   She had seen no one on the lot, and she felt foolish for being so nervous.  No one paid any attention when she walked through the door, and no one seemed to notice as she made her way toward the intensive care unit.  As she had feared, there was a police guard outside the double door leading to the unit, so she slipped into a nearby waiting room to think.

To her great surprise, sitting there was her friend from the underground resistance.  “We meet again,” she said softly, smiling at Grace, who smiled back while taking her seat.  “What are you doing here?  No, wait…let me guess; you heard about the attack and had to see for yourself.”

Grace nodded, then asked, “Did you know her?”  Her friend flinched, “It’s DO dear, and yes.  She’s one of us.”

“Us”, Grace didn’t have to ask what that meant.  “Were any of the others…us?”  Her friend nodded, “Every one,” she said, “except your neighbor.  We thought maybe you were the intended target that night, but your husband…”

“My husband?!”, Grace interjected, “What’s he got to do with this?”  “Nothing,” she was assured, “He just told…ugh, asked… us not to bother you with our worries.   Remember, this was before all the other murders.”

Grace nodded her head.  She had found the answers to her questions, but those answers had come with questions of their own.  When her friend was called back to visit the patient in the ICU, Grace made her excuses and made her way home.  She had some questions for Reginald, and she was afraid she wouldn’t like the answers.

Drumpf 2: Chapter 4

During his much extended life span, Roald Drumpf has (metaphorically speaking) put his dirty thumb into a number of pies.  One of the more fruitful had been television production; he has always been good at creating drama.  For several years, he was the producer of a major beauty pageant, for which he was awarded a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.

During the production of those pageants, Drumpf was known to stride through the dressing rooms unannounced. Women in all stages of attire were subject to his gaze.  This is just one example of his total disrespect for women.

In the months since his election, Drumpf’s star has twice been destroyed, and a photo has gone viral showing it being used as a urinal.  The cost of repeatedly replacing it is an issue, but Drumpf’s mistreatment of females, including his battle against their health and reproductive choices, is a larger one.  For the first time in the forty years of the walk’s existence, the local government has successfully voted not to replace the twice shattered star.  The Los Angeles city council has the final vote on the matter, and each time before when a petition to remove a star arose, their vote was in favor of history, not conscience.  The Bill Cosby star is a prime example of this.  Since Drumpf’s star was last destroyed, an anonymous street artist has peppered the walk with “false” stars in protest.

As the time approaches to establish a national budget, Drumpf has once again threatened to shut down the government if he is not given more money to continue building his wall.  The idea is a travesty and a farce.  There are legal ways to enter this country, but Drumpf’s policies have made them all but impossible to access.  Meanwhile, The First Lady’s parents (who have been living here as permanent residents for at least five years) were just given full citizenship.  This was done by taking advantage of a program, vehemently opposed by Drumpf, which allowed their green card to be sponsored by a family member; in this case the First Lady herself.  Is this Drumpf’s notion of value based emigration?

Drumpf’s fifty million dollar military parade is set to happen on Veteran’s Day.  He claims it will focus on the contributions made by veterans throughout history, but tanks rolling through the streets of the nation’s capitol can only by seen as an aggrandizement of his own power.  Make no mistake about it, Roald Drumpf cares more about what he wants than the good of the nation.  The money being spent here could be much better spent feeding and housing those veterans he claims to be honoring with this parade.

Roald Drumpf has called for the creating of a new branch of the military, the United States Space Force.  Its primary directive would be to protect the country from attacks on our communications systems, primarily those satellites orbiting the planet.  (Maybe he wants to protect our spy satellites from their satellites.)  There are mixed opinions about the usefulness of this program.  It would cost eight billion dollars and involve thirty thousand people to create this new layer of the military.  The United States Air Force already has the necessary bureaucracy in place; this branch once included a Space Command which was shut down because it could not properly accomplish what it was tasked to do.  That its mission would be an important one is without doubt, but  what proof have we that Drumpf’s Space Force would do any better?

What Roald Drumpf calls a “witch hunt” continues, with the special council gathering evidence of collusion with the Russian government interference in the latest presidential election.  That Drumpf Jr. met with the Russians is without doubt.  The question is now when, not whether, Drumpf Sr. knew about the meeting.  The current party line is that the meeting happened, that it was solely to gather information against a political opponent, but that such collusion was not against the law,  Drumpf continues to deny  knowledge of that meeting, although his former attorney testified that Drumpf knew about it in advance.

The House of Representatives, in an effort to bringing the Russian investigation to an end, has made an effort to impeach the Deputy Attorney General in charge of overseeing the special council.  Their reasoning is that he failed to disclose evidence found to the Congress.  Even if that evidence leads to an indictment of Drumpf, it may not make much difference.  If his choice for a new Supreme Court justice is approved (despite protests, the date for the vote has been set for Sept. 4, months ahead of the mid-term elections), that justice would write the opinion, sure to be agreed upon by the new ultra-conservative court, that a standing President is not subject to indictment. (Does that include impeachment?).  If all else fails, Drumpf will just pardon himself.


 

Grace bolted upright out of a deep sleep.  She had been dreaming of him, the were-man, and in her dream she knew who he was.  He had looked right at her, and then he had whispered, “You’re next.”

For a few minutes, she sat there shivering.  Was there something about him which had seemed familiar?  Had he looked in her direction?  If he had seen her, might he have known who she was?  “Don’t be foolish,” she told herself, but she was frightened by the idea that he might come for her.  She eventually eased back onto her pillows, but it would be some time before she was able to drift back to sleep.

The latest murder had been number six, and thus far there had been no discernible pattern to the choice of victims.  Grace would almost have said that the randomness was intentional.  “That makes no sense,” she thought to herself, “It’s like a plot line out of one of Reginald’s movies.”  The more she thought about it, the more she wanted to know why those particular people had been killed.  To satisfy her own curiosity, she decided to search the internet to see what, if anything, she could find.  She knew Reginald wouldn’t approve, so she decided to use the computers in the public library to make her search.

Grace waited until Reginald was busy to tell him, “I have a few errands to run, I’ll be right back.”  Before he could respond, she got into the car and pulled out of the driveway.  Promising herself she would pick up the few things they needed before her return, she headed toward town.

Once at the library, she quickly took her seat at the first available computer terminal.  As she typed the first name into the search bar, she heard “It’s good to see you again.”  The vice, coming out of nowhere, startled her.  She looked up to see the woman who had introduced her to the “resistance” standing there.  Her words had been spoken softly, but they sounded loud in Grace’s ears.  The encounter was short; by the time her head was lifted, the woman was already walking away.  Grace found it best to lower her eyes back to the computer screen.  A casual observer might imagine her merely responding to a sudden thought, or at least that was her hope.  The last thing Grace wanted was to draw attention.

She only had a short while to “surf the ‘net” for information, but in this time she noticed that one of the victims had been known for speaking out publicly against Roald Drumpf and his policies.  Grace wondered whether any of the others were politically active.  She determined to check on that when she had the time, but she couldn’t remember ever seeing any signs on her neighbor’s lawn during this, or any other, election.  “Probably just a coincidence,” she said to herself.  Making an effort to delete her search, she logged out of the computer and headed out of complete her errands before returning home.

When she arrived there, Reginald was visibly annoyed.  “Where have you been?” he demanded to know. “The police were back asking questions.”

“What kind of questions?” Grace asked.  “We’ve told them everything we know.”  Reginald huffed, his face turning red.  “About your were -man, Grace, don’t be stupid!  We agreed to stay out of it, to keep it to ourselves.  You must have gone to the police behind my back, and now we’re caught up in the drama again.  Wasn’t being tried for murder enough for you?  All I want out of life, Grace, is privacy and a little peace, do you think you can manage that?”

Grace’s heart was racing, “What did they want to know?” she asked.  She assured Reginald that, contrary to her initial instinct, she had spoken to no one about the sighting, but she could tell that he didn’t believe her.  “When, where, what he looked like; the usual  I told them I didn’t see anything, they would have to talk to you.  They’ll be back, so you better figure out what you’re going to tell them.  Better yet, tell them they made a mistake.  You saw a hobo, Grace, just tell them that.”

The police officer didn’t come back that night.  Grace was on edge wondering what he would have to say when he did return.  She prepared a simple meal which they consumed in silence.  Afterwards, Reginald retired to his den for his nightly dose of DNN.  Grace cleaned up after the meal, then sat at the kitchen table with her head in her hands.  She could hear the television in the background, blaring Drumpf’s particular brand of propaganda.  “He’s changed,” she thought, “He drank the kool-aid that channel is selling.  I want my old Reginald back.”

While she sat there deep in thought, Grace suddenly heard the sound of rattling, first at the door, and then a window.  She looked up to see the shadow of someone trying to pry it open; a far too familiar shadow.  “Reginald!” she shrieked.  The shadow moved away quickly, but not before she had seen the awkward gait she had seen before.  It was less pronounced this time, but unmistakably the same, or perhaps an imitation.  He was gone before Reginald got to the kitchen.  With nothing to see, he scolded her, “There’s nothing out there, Grace.  You’re just letting your imagination get to you.”

Drumpf 2: Chapter 3

A military parade is an exhibition of might, usually reserved as a way to honor those victorious in battle.  Those who study history, or who are old enough to remember, may recall those demonstrations of power which were the show pieces of the Fascist leaders of our far too recent past.

Roald Drumpf is demanding a military parade in his honor.  As commander-in-chief of the American armed forces, he is (perhaps) entitled to it.  As someone who managed to dodge his way multiple times around serving in that military, his moral standing on the subject is weaker, but when did he ever let morals get in the way of having what he wanted?  Drumpf’s parade would cost the American taxpayers fifty million dollars to produce.  Surely there are better ways to use that money than to put on such a show, but we can (sadly) be sure that there would be plenty of spectators lined up to see it.

Drumpf recently made yet another visit to Europe.  His state visit to Great Britain, postponed from early in his presidency, had finally been arranged.  It was a disaster.

His first meeting was with the Prime Minister, where he managed to insult her and tell her how her job should be done.  He tried to deny the insult, but the conversation had been recorded.  Roald Drumpf has an aversion to his meetings being recorded, that lack affording him that possibility of denial.  In this case, it hadn’t worked.

His meeting with the Queen was a series of social errors.  He first showed his lack of respect by arriving a significantly late, causing her to check her watch several times.  He did not bow to her when they met, and while this is not required, it is expected.  Instead, he shook her hand like the equal he believes himself to be.  During this meeting, Drumpf’s interaction with the Queen was kept to a minimum, but they did inspect the royal guard at Winsor Castle together.  During this inspection, he walked ahead of the Queen, forcing her to have to hurry and bob to keep up with him.  At one point, he even blocked her from view completely.  His lack of courtesy for a royal (or any 92 year-old female)  was astounding.  Later, when confronted with his errors, he claimed to have been thinking about his mother.  She had been born a British citizen, and was a great admirer of the Queen.  As such, she had taken advantage of every opportunity to watch her during ceremonial occasions.  Even if it may be assumed that Drumpf ignored his advisors on the matter, his only excuse for his behavior is not ignorance, but arrogance.

No other member of the royal family had been willing to accompany the Queen during her meeting with Drumpf, leaving her to face him alone.  The question is whether they are now ashamed, or relieved to have avoided the situation.

After a round of golf at one of his clubs in Scotland, where he greeted (probably imagining them to be fans) a group of protesters, he was off to Helsinki for a summit with his Russian counterpart.  This was his third meeting with the Russian president, but the first on a world stage.  The American First Lady was present for the pageantry portion, and was induced to shake hands with him.  The moment his attention was averted, the world saw a look of terror cross her face.  Some have noticed that the look was akin to the one observed during Drumpf’s inauguration.  Might it instead have been a look of disgust?

Roald Drumpf is a misogynist; he has absolutely no respect for women.  In his eyes, they are useful only as “eye candy” and playthings.  The manner in which he treats his wife in public is a prime example.  She is barely a second thought to him, relegated to walking behind him, or standing to the side, unless there is political profit in her presence.  When Drumpf reaches for her hand, she has several times been seen to flinch away.

During the public portion of the summit, the two world leaders were civil to one another, one might even say friendly.  Each made use of body posture in an attempt to be the “alpha dog” in the situation.  after the public display, they retired to a private meeting which lasted two hours.  It was not recorded, and the only other people in attendance were their translators.  An attempt to subpoena Drumpf’s interpreter was rebuffed by the legislature, and no one else knows what was said between the two heads of state.  The Russians seem anxious to implement whatever agreements were reached during this meeting, but no one seems to know what that entailed.  It seems reasonable to assume that the time has come to pay the bill for Drumpf’s election.

The special council had, by this time, indicted a dozen Russian intelligence agents as having interfered in the American Presidential election which had put him in office.  There is evidence that their specific actions had been suggested by Drumpf himself, or his minions.  He certainly knew about the meeting, as his former personal attorney testified that he had been there when Drumpf was told about it.  Further evidence suggests that Drumpf has been working with, if not for, the Russians for the past two decades.  He had accepted many loans from them over the years, and in exchange had provided for them a way to “launder” their money.

Many people simply refuse to believe anything negative about Drumpf.  Others are afraid to express their disapproval of him, his policies, or his actions.  Drumpf supporters are often vehemently expressive of their opinions, getting their “facts” only from conservative sources, and calling all else “fake news”.

Now that evidence of collusion has been proven, the far right is on the defensive.  “There’s no law that says a political campaign can’t accept information from a foreign government,” one judge has declared.  Another has said, “It’s not treason because we are not at war with Russia.”  If interference in one of our most important governmental processes is not an act of war…

The worst long term threat to American national security may not be outside interference, but the fact that we have become so politically polarized as a result of those actions.  “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”


 

Reginald and Grace had watched the police working through the window, so they were prepared when the knock came at the door.  Grace stood to one side as Reginald went to answer it.  He gave her a look before reaching for the handle, a look that warned her to keep quiet.  “I’ll handle this,” he said before opening the door.

The officer looked up from his notebook to see Reginald standing in the doorway.  “I need to ask you some questions,” he began.  Reginald nodded, then opened the door wide to welcome him inside.  The moment the officer entered, he caught sight of Grace.  His hand dropped to his holster, but he stopped short of pulling his gun.  “Ma’am,” he said; “Officer,” she responded.  It was obvious that he recognized her.

“How can I help you, officer?” Reginald asked, drawing the attention back to himself.  Grace took a seat as the officer’s gaze shifted back to her husband.  With every question, Reginald quickly took the lead in giving his answer first.  Grace nodded in agreement, or added a few words of her own, careful to never contradict what he had said.  Altogether, there wasn’t much to be reported, and the officer was quickly on his way.

Grace settled back into her chair with a sigh.  The officer had asked her how well she knew the deceased. and it had caused her to realize that they had barely known one another at all.  In fact, they had not spoken since Grace’s return.  She had no answer when the officer asked why she might have come there in the darkness (or at any other hour, Grace thought); she must have been running from, not to.  What if, Grace wondered, they had opened the door when they heard the scream.  Might their neighbor still be alive, or would they have been dead along with her.

The morning had been busy outside as the CSI team measured and photographed the crime scene, making plaster molds of the gouges in their lawn.  The area had been marked off with brightly colored crime scene tape, and a crowd had gathered to watch what was happening.  “Should have opened a drink stand,” Reginald grumbled, “Made some money off this side show.”  Grace had watched for a time, but moved away from the window when she saw people pointing at her.

She had noticed that people were less friendly since their return, lowering their eyes when she walked by, or even crossing the street to avoid her.  When she had mentioned this to Reginald, he had told her to “stop being so paranoid”.  So far, no place of business had refused their patronage, and if the sales staff was less helpful than before, he blamed it on the “changing times”.

Grace knew exactly when the times had changed.  Her world had begun to fall apart on the day that Roald Drumpf took office.  She and Reginald had often disagreed on social or political issues, but it had never affected her marriage  as had the events of the past year.  Despite how well they had gotten along while on the road, a return to normal living was quickly becoming a return to the “old” Reginald, opinionated and dominating.  To avoid an excess of arguments, Grace kept most of her opinions to herself.  Since Reginald had discovered the Drumpf News Network, that was becoming difficult.  He believed everything they reported, no matter how outlandish or contradictory.

When they were finished with their initial investigation, the police left their barrier behind on the lawn.  People continued to walk by and stare.  Grace stayed inside, away from the windows.  Her exposure to the outside world was limited.  While Reginald was asleep at night, she would watch the channels of her choice.  It was there, on a local news channel, she had learned that there had been a series of deaths not unlike that of her neighbor.  Of course, she was careful to return the television to it’s proper setting before shutting it off, and she never talked to Reginald about what she had learned.

After a few days, and after consulting the authorities, Reginald had cleared the “clutter” from their yard.  With nothing to look at as they walked by, people stopped staring.  Grace and Reginald began going outside again, but only during the daylight hours.  Whenever she went into town, he insisted on going with her.  She couldn’t tell whether he was trying to protect her, or just keeping track of what she was doing.

No one could have been more surprised than she when Reginald suddenly invited her to join him at the movies.  The genre was action (his favorite), but they hadn’t gone in years; she happily accepted his invitation.  They went to a late matinee; the theater was more crowded than they would have imagined.  They shared an expensive snack (Grace ate most of the popcorn), and even Grace enjoyed the movie.  The best part, she thought, was just being out of the house for a change.

The sky was darkening as they were leaving the theater.  They hurried to their car, hoping to get home before the impending storm.  Lightning sliced through the dusk, and a light rain soon began to fall.  By the glare of one of the flashes of light, Grace was startled to see a tall, gangly being moving swiftly through the rain, and keeping mainly to the shadows.  His gait was odd, and there was something peculiar about his silhouette.  By the time she could get Reginald’s attention to point him out, he had slipped out of sight.  “Probably just a drunken hobo,” he said, but he stayed alert the rest of the way home.  There, they hurried inside, where Reginald made sure all the doors and windows were securely locked.

Grace had a restless night, and woke up early to watch the local news channel.  It reported that there had been yet another murder by what was now being called the “were-man”.  Grace realized that this must have been the creature she had seen the night before, and became determined to report the sighting to the authorities.

Drumpf 2: Chapter 2

Every war has its casualties.  In the battle that is Roald Drumpf versus the world, the first losses were truth and justice.

Truth was the first to die.  From long before the election, Drumpf has played fast and loose with reality.  By the end of his first eighteen months in office, he had already told thousands of falsehoods, from exaggerations about his accomplishments to outright lies about the actions of others.  Anything unflattering about Drumpf, or which spoke an uncomfortable truth, was labeled “fake news” by his spin doctors.  They were kept busy redefining the xenophobic narcissist as a decent human being.  His sexual misconduct was painted as normal youthful behavior.  With so many other political and entertainment industry icons being accused of similar behaviors, Drumpf’s crimes got lost in the madness.  The question might be whether his spin doctors had anything to do with that.

Once in office, Roald Drumpf set about changing everything about the country which he had been elected to lead.  He first filled his cabinet with people who were determined to destroy the departments which they had been chosen to head.  From the beginning, he did his best to eliminate everything which had been accomplished by the previous administration.  He didn’t wait for the legislature to make the changes he wanted.  Instead, like the king he wished he could be (and perhaps thought he was), Drumpf tried to rule by proclamation.

One of Drumpf’s more economically destructive proclamations involved trade tariffs.  While it may have been intended to add tax dollars to government coffers, it had instead the effect of raising the price of foreign products here.  Other countries created their own tariffs which raised the price of American products overseas.  Several American vehicle makers  (including Harley Davidson) were forced to move some of their manufacturing facilities overseas in order to remain competitive in the world market.  This cost many American’s their jobs.  Drumpf’s response to Harley Davidson’s move was to claim their profits had been down (7%) in 2017 as a result of arguments they’d had with him in 2018.  Despite the dire consequence of Drumpf’s tariffs on other industries, none of these tariffs, of course, had any effect on his daughter’s business ventures.

Drumpf’s bullying behavior nearly caused a nuclear war.  He and the leader of North Korea had a name-calling battle similar to what one might hear on a school yard.  It continued until both were left in fear of an actual attack, which lead to the escalation of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.  Eventually, a private summit between Drumpf and the third generation dictator brought a promise of the end to that, but no signs that this promise was being kept.  The meeting between the two seemed to legitimize the North Korean government in the eyes of the world.  The agreement signed there allowed Drumpf to claim that he had prevented a nuclear war.

Xenophobic Drumpf’s primary goal has been to eliminate from American soil anyone who does not match his image of what an American should be.  His first target was Muslims, and those from Muslim nations.  When his first proclamation to keep them out failed, he just kept writing until one worked.  Next came Mexicans; he insisted a wall be built along the southern border, and then jailed anyone who dared to cross into America, including families with children, who were immediately separated from their parents.  Protests caused this to end, and a plan to be set in motion to reunite the families.  The date for this to happen has come and gone.  Drumpf then turned his attention to naturalized citizens, looking for those “undesirables” who may have slipped in before he had the power to stop them.  How long until he looks at anyone who writes, or even reads, ideas which disagree with his own?  The government may not watch us now, but it would be foolish to not be aware that they could.

Justice is a thing of the past.  With Drumpf’s choice of a new Supreme Court judge, it has come to an end.  The former justice retired from his lifelong appointment to the bench, but not without some coercion from Roald Drumpf, who implied that legal problems might appear for members of his family should he choose to remain.  The new judge was chosen before the old one had announced his retirement, and that choice was part of an agreement reached beforehand.  Any appearance of considering anyone else was simply a pretense.  Drumpf’s choice is ultra-conservative with proven loyalty to the president.  He is anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ, and believes the president should be immune to prosecution.  With the Supreme Court in his pocket, Drumpf will be unstoppable.

Roald Drumpf isn’t only a self-proclaimed Nationalist, he is an isolationist.  He’s made friends of the worst of our enemies, and enemies of our former allies and friends.  With Drumpf at the helm, there is no more America.


 

Several weeks after their return home, Reginald and Grace had finally settled into some semblance of a normal life.  The money that had accumulated in the bank while they were gone had been spent repairing the damage done to their home by the squatters.  “It could have been worse,” Grace mumbled to herself as she swept up the broken remains of those things she’d had to leave behind.  She had scrubbed clean some of the unbroken pieces, but others had been beyond redemption.  Grace behaved stoically as she tossed them out, but rocked herself in silent despair in the hours she was alone.  Any show of emotion seemed to upset Reginald, who worked hard making what repairs he could, and putting the outside of the house back in order.

Some of the money had gone to replace Reginald’s television.  In their search for all things necessary, they had discovered that few stores remained beyond the big chain stores.  Grace was saddened to see that her favorite donut shop had closed its doors.  “How could so much have changed in so short a time?” she asked herself.  So many small realities had begun to change with Drumpf’s election, but she could not have imagined a world so altered.

The place which had been her home for so many years had become a ghost town.  Buildings which had been abandoned when their owners left town had been destroyed by looters looking for anything of value which had been left behind.  Through windows cracked and broken, Grace and Reginald had seen drywall shattered where electrical fixtures and wiring had been ripped from the walls.  Reginald’s comment on the destruction was to say, “We were lucky they didn’t do that to our house.”  Grace thought about that comment while she scrubbed feces from her bathroom walls; she didn’t feel very lucky.

For weeks, police vehicles had continued their slow crawl past the house several times each day and night.  Grace watched them through a slit in their closed curtains and wondered if it would ever end.  Cruisers were not the only thing she spied through her window.  Several times she caught sight of her nosy neighbor peeking through her own curtains.  On occasion, Grace had spied her working in her yard.  When she had raised a hand in greeting, the woman had pointedly turned her back.  Grace had just shrugged and gone back inside; after all, the two of them had never been the best of friends.

Reginald and Grace got along well enough during this early time period after returning home.  Just as they had worked together to survive on the road, they now worked together to bring their lives back to normal.  Each morning they woke up hopeful, and each night they fell asleep exhausted from their efforts.  There was no time or energy for conflict, and each thought the other was happy.  For the most part, this was true.

Over time, they began to fall back into some of their old habits.  Reginald would retire to his den to watch television while Grace prepared their evening meal.  It was easy and comfortable, and neither of them thought anything of it.  When the news of the day began to reach the dinner table, they tried not to argue over its content.  This would change over time.  Eventually, Reginald had discovered the Drumpf News Network.  Things reported there had a tendency to cause controversy between the two of them.  Grace’s choice when this happened was to grit her teeth, or to enter into an argument she couldn’t win.

That first summer home had been long and hot.  To supplement the meager supply of vegetables now available at the market, Grace and Reginald had planted a garden in their back yard.  The seeds they had purchased had been irradiated by the bombs, and so they waited to see if they would grow.  A drought had kept the garden from growing as it should have, but Grace had canned and frozen all she could.  She and Reginald were still trying to get along, but the heat hadn’t made it easy.  By the end of summer, they were barely speaking to each other.  On one night so hot that lightning streaked across a moonless sky, Grace heard a scream so blood-curdling and loud that it caused her to jump in fear.  Turning to Reginald, she said, “What on earth was that?”  His response was to lock the doors; “Mind your own business,” he said.

When the sun came up, they discovered their neighbor sprawled across their front yard.  Her blouse had been torn down her back, and deep scratches could be seen through the rip in her clothing.  Gouges from her attack dug deeply into their lawn.  Reginald ordered Grace back inside the house, and after a moment she complied.  “We should cover her,” she whispered, but Reginald insisted they leave things alone.  He went to call the police.

In the few minutes it took them to arrive seemed like an eternity.  Light flashing, the cruiser pulled to a stop against the curb opposite their house.  As he exited his vehicle, the officer could be seen loosening the fastener on his holster.  He took a hard look in both directions before crossing the road.    He walked up the driveway to get a good look at the crime scene.   Reginald stepped onto the doorstep, but the officer quickly ordered him back inside.  Watching through the window, Reginald and Grace observed as a CSI unit arrived and the coroner’s vehicle took their neighbor’s body away.

 

 

Drumpf 2: Chapter 1

What follows is a work of fiction.  If anyone or anything within resembles today’s reality, it is entirely intentional.

 

“Make America Great Again”?  In the months following his inauguration, Roald Drumpf and his hand-picked party of yes-men set out to destroy all that was good about the country he had been chosen to lead.  He seemed to believe that he had been elected dictator, as almost daily he signed one declaration after another.  From the bully pulpit of the Oval Office, he told the country, and the world, how things were going to be from that day forward.

Drumpf seemed determined to change everything which had come before, and to stand the world on its head in the process.  He withdrew America from several major international accords reached with allies, then set about joining into agreements with world leaders who had formally been the nation’s adversaries.  In reference to the leader of North Korea he said, “His people come to attention when he speaks.  I want our people to do that for me!”  To make things even worse, he imposed tariffs which started a trade war with countries around the world, hurting domestic businesses in the process.

Many of Drumpf’s decisions in his early days were shut down by the judiciary, and the legislature was no more effective on his behalf, with the red party’s inability to pass the laws he wanted.  The confirmation of Drumpf’s choice for Supreme Court Justice seemed to change his fortunes; by changing the balance of power within the court, he was able to push forward his conservative agenda.  With the impending retirement of one of the court’s more moderate judges, Drumpf’s stranglehold on the Supreme Court will become even stronger.

With the legislature under the control of the red party, corporations have been given many of the same rights as individuals; being allowed to deny health care options to their employees which went against the religious beliefs or moral standards of those in the corporate office.  Further strikes against a woman’s right to determine her own health care decisions  included increased regulations and decreased funding of any place which offered birth control, and even making it illegal to refer a patient to any place offering the choice of abortion.  Medical providers were encouraged to refer patients to places which offered only the options of natural birth control options (such as abstinence), or adoption.

Under Drumpf’s new Supreme Court, gerrymandering became the recognized law of the land.  California took these divisions one step further when enough signatures were gathered there to put it on the ballot to split the one state into three.  Should it pass, it would still require congressional approval to take effect.  Whether or not this might happen could be determined by the political party affiliation of the majority of the voters, and its potential effect on the congressional balance of power.

Drumpf’s wall didn’t stop people from crossing the border, but it did make it more difficult.  In an effort  to stem the tide of immigrant influx, families caught crossing the border were torn apart, with children taken from their parents and detained  in separate facilities; tent cities and metal cages.  Public outcry  put an end to this cruel and inhumane practice, but not before thousands had been traumatized.  Plans were made to reunite the families, but those plans were not to be implemented until the parents agreed to end their petitions for asylum and be deported.  Those few who had already been reunited with their children are being held in prison camps together.  The facilities are private prisons, owned and run for profit by Drumpf’s cronies.  Meanwhile, under cover of the immigration uproar, public lands and their mineral rights are being leased to yet another set of Drumpf’s associates for as little as two dollars per acre.

With the implementation of his “No Tolerance” policy, Drumpf had made his opinion clear.  People crossing the border illegally would be summarily returned to their nation of origin without due process of law.  The Supreme Court had already upheld a version of his travel ban prohibiting immigration of people from primarily Muslim countries; it wasn’t much of a leap to try keeping out all of the (brown) people he didn’t like.  “Immigration must be based on merit,” he said, “We need people who will help to Make America Great Again.”


 

In recent weeks, Reginald and Grace had travelled a country gone mad in the wake of Roald Drumpf’s election.  The populace had not been so divided since the 1860’s, when the nation had been torn apart by civil war.  Statues depicting the heroes of the rebellion had been torn down or removed from town centers across the south, perhaps so people would not be reminded of the last time the citizenry had stood up to the government.  Even so, it did not stop a significant portion of the population from speculating that it might happen again.

No one had claimed either credit or blame for the bombs which had so changed the land during their journey.  Some had blamed the North Koreans, or perhaps the Chinese, but others had blamed the American government for bombing their own people.  It had driven much of the population into the cities, and given Drumpf an ideal excuse to declare martial law.  Stopping just shy of naming himself dictator for life, he did suspend the other branches of the government for the duration.  He had mused earlier about countries whose leaders were chosen for life, wondering whether that might be possible here.  Gathering around him only his family and most trusted advisors, Drumpf proceeded to rule his own world.

The first thing the revised government did was to take over the news media.  With net neutrality a thing of the past, the internet was taken over by Drumpf affiliates and anything which conflicted with the official line was simply shut down; the same was true of television and radio.  Paper news became a thing of the past.

Reginald and Grace had returned home to a town that they barely recognized.  The dimly lit street lamps had hidden the destruction which had been created by the swift abandonment of the town, and by the subsequent looting by those who had remained.

Their own home had been damaged by squatters who had been without water or power for the duration of their stay.  The whole house smelled of sweat, smoke, and rotten food; the bathroom added the odors of urine and feces.

Grace had settled into an uneasy sleep in the hours before dawn, forcing herself to adopt a positive attitude.  She and Reginald had survived so much, surely they could make this into a home again.  “Tomorrow will be another day,” had been her final thought; it had, indeed, but not a good one.

Looking at the mess her home had become, Grace wanted to cry.  Reginald grasped her firmly by the shoulders and assured her that they could get it done together.  His new-found sense of co-operation, learned in their time on the road, caused him to dig into the task at hand.  A bit on the bossy side, he none-the-less did his share of the work.  The trash was soon cleared, but the damage  done to their home was apparent.

Patrol cars were seen to be driving past the house throughout that first day.  At mid-day, one stopped  and an officer came to the door.  Without introducing himself, he demanded to see their papers, then ran their names through the computer in his cruiser.  He looked up from the screen to glare at Grace; returning their papers, he stated emphatically that no nonsense would be tolerated.  “No problem officer,” Reginald answered, “We understand.”  Grace found his humble behavior troubling, but lowered her head in compliance.

In a few days time, the house was put in reasonable order.  Grace had managed to stock their cupboards with basic supplies.  The task had not been easy; most stores were short on supplies, and many items were being rationed.  Until the proper papers could be obtained, these items could not be legally obtained.  Grace soon discovered that anything could be had if you didn’t mind paying ten times its worth.

Money was in short supply.  Their bank account had been closed when it became known that they had left town, and Reginald’s retirement check was being held in escrow awaiting their return.  The bank did not want to release the money, and it was only with great effort that Reginald was able to prove his identity and regain his funds.  With their money once again available and all their paperwork properly in place, Grace and Reginald settled in, hoping to live as normal a life as this new world would allow.

 

Insomnia

(Now for something on the light side.)

Like my father before me, I experience insomnia on a regular basis.  I would say “suffer from”, but in my case there’s very little suffering involved.

Insomnia comes in two forms.  In the first, it is difficult to fall asleep.  I have an acquaintance who suffers from this type, and is sometimes awake for up to forty hours at a time.  In the second type, it’s hard to stay asleep; that’s me.  I wake up multiple times each night and find it difficult to drift off again, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The wee hours of the morning are when I do my best thinking and writing.  I usually fall asleep early in the evening, but that rarely lasts.  Within just a few hours, I am wide awake once again.  What to do?  I have too much energy to just sit very long, and anything very active makes too much noise; just because I can’t sleep doesn’t make it okay to awaken my husband.

I like this time of day the best of all because it is naturally quiet, and because I generally get to spend it alone.  The television is usually still on, so I put it on one of my favorite channels and then set the volume to “white noise” level.  When I am ready to sleep again, I “watch” it with my eyes closed.  I need the noise to sleep, but a whirling fan works just as well, especially when I’m lightly covered by a blanket or throw.

If there’s mental work to be done, this is the time to do it; even the dogs are asleep on their chosen soft spots.  Most mornings, George joins me in the chair around four a.m., but he generally lets me work until then.  My lap is full of one of my many clip cases, or perhaps a thick lap desk that I purchased at (where else?) my favorite thrift store.  It’s sliding top hides and contains the components of whatever my current project may be.  Most recently, that was the contents of my “Word Hoard” notebook, which I mentioned in Dana’s “one good thought” email conversation.  Hand written, it contains literally hundreds of bits of wit and wisdom from dozens of people more intelligent and creative than I ever thought of being.

These middle of the night hours have seen me make progress on so many things, including sorting through various files, purging no-longer-wanted recipes, and even planning major social events.  I’ve written many thousands of words in the darkest hours of the night, which have proven to be both my creative and productive.

Each night, usually right after I first awaken, I make a visit to my computer.  It takes only a few minutes to catch up on my email and to scan Facebook for anything interesting.  Any comments to be written are composed at this time; it’s incredibly important to let someone know when they have touched you, either mentally or emotionally.

Food usually plays a part in my middle of the night routine.  During the day, I eat by the clock, but at night I eat because I feel something akin to hunger.  I’m aware that it’s not the real thing, but it is a tummy rumble combined with a desire to have a snack.  Most of the time it is carbs that call out my name, but now and again it’s dairy; nothing that requires cooking, and rarely anything closer to healthy than a banana or a piece of cheese.  Shame on me!

A variety of Mah Jong games may be found on my monitor screen at all hours of the day or night.  Most puzzle games are okay, too, but action games are lost on me.  I also use this time to pursue other more intellectual pursuits.  Eventually, I will become sleepy once again.  I slip under my cover and begin to “watch” whatever graces my television screen at the time.  It rarely takes long for me to drift off to sleep, only to awaken again at a still-early but more reasonable hour.

My circadian rhythms are a mess; exhaustion has me falling asleep multiple times during the day.  It is currently the wee hours, and writing this has made me sleepy again; perhaps reading this will do the same for others.

… this morning I opened my eyes at 0630 to see George staring expectantly at me from the foot of the recliner.  Even though it had been an exceptionally long rest period for me (about four hours), I was still exhausted.  Apparently George didn’t care, and so my day began.

My Class Reunion

Some weeks ago, my ordinarily mundane snail mail was made interesting by the arrival of an invitation to my 45th High School reunion.  Not everyone’s high school experience was a pleasant one, but I remember mine with fondness.

My initial response was one of happiness; here was my opportunity to visit with people I had not seen in many years, people who had once been my friends, or at least acquaintances.  I had been sort of a non-entity in high school, but I had managed to attend and enjoy an earlier such gathering, and so I knew that more people remember us than we might imagine.  I hadn’t seen many of them in the intervening years; I wondered who might be there, and how much they may have changed.

My secondary emotion was trepidation.  I’ve aged a lot in the past few years; what if no one recognized me?  What if I didn’t know anyone there?  While I wanted to see them, I wasn’t so sure I wanted them to see me.  At the last possible moment, I bought my ticket, telling myself that I could always back out if I changed my mind.  I live only blocks from the venue, so there was no other commitment necessary.

For the twenty year reunion, I had worried about fitting in, doing the right thing.  I spent days shopping for just the right outfit, then put together my accessories, manicure, and make-up.  It lifted my confidence to look my best, and so I had a good time.  I had hoped for the same at this reunion, but I my nerves made me hesitant.  In the end, I wore one of my favorite dresses, flat shoes, minimal jewelry, and no make-up.  I looked okay, but the most important part was that I felt comfortable.  I was dressed before I made the final decision to attend, and even then I told myself that no added expense meant I could come home if I wasn’t enjoying myself.

I shouldn’t have worried.  The moment I entered the building, I heard my name called out, and I was handed my name tag.  I must admit that I didn’t recognize every face I saw, and more than one person read my tag to see if they knew me.  Some spoke, others didn’t.  I walked around looking for those I knew best all those years ago, but most were not there.  Before I could despair, however, a classmate’s wife engaged me in conversation and invited me to join them at their table.  I felt so warm and welcome.  As the night went on, those faces changed by time began to morph back into those so familiar in my youth.

There was a good meal and fun party games, but the best part of the evening truly was the conversation and companionship.  Time really is a great equalizer; those who would have passed each other by without a thought back in the day now seemed genuinely happy to see one another.  I had real conversations with classmates I had never spoken to before, and many were prefaced with a hug.  I shared memories and dreams with those I’d known, but been too introverted to claim as friend.  I was happy to see them, and I think they may have been happy to see me.  That night I learned the power of three little words, “I remember you!”.

What surprised me the most, other than my own social comfort, was that so many of us shared the same nervous anticipation about the night.  One woman who had been very outgoing and popular in high school almost didn’t come because she had gained a little weight.  We’ve all aged, some more than others, and none of us still lives in the body we had at eighteen.  Another classmate, a smart, popular football star during our school years, expressed his fear of having been forgotten.  Some people seemed to want to remind me of who they used to be.  Some people talked about what they’ve accomplished, or who they are now.  A few talked about their dreams for the future.  We have among us an inventor, a famous doctor, and a blogger -Me!  Goodness knows how much special I didn’t get to know about.

I didn’t speak to everyone; I wish I had.  There was so much more I might have learned or shared.  Certainly, there were conversations I long to continue.  That this might have been my last opportunity to speak with these people is not lost on me.

One small table held a framed list of the names of those who have passed on.  For them, there will be no more reunions, no dreams and no tomorrows.  Sometimes I forget that we are all growing older, and that more of this life is not guaranteed.  The committee is already planning another reunion in five years time, and you may be assured that I will be in attendance… assuming.

Strange Birds

“Birds of a feather, flock together.”

Have you ever been called a “strange bird”?  I have, and on a fairly regular basis.  This one’s for all of us, that small flock of odd birds that have become each other’s compass in this often confusing world.  I am speaking specifically to my on-line family.  Our numbers are small, but each of you plays a vital role in my life.  So often when someone passes, we hear or say, “I wish I’d said…”.  I am determined here to avoid that regret.

For most of my life, I have been the odd man out; I just didn’t fit.  That’s okay, alone has its virtues.  Now and again, I have been drawn to someone more like me than not, someone whose foothold in this mundane world is as tenuous as my own.  These precious few have become my true friends.  I have other friends and family that I care about very much, but those whose lives and hearts have touched my own here on line have come to mean as much to me as any of them

It’s difficult to know where to start; we are a family, each linked to the others.  We share our joys and sorrows, even if we have never met.

Marco is the head of our family, the magnet that has drawn us together, and the string that binds us there.  His life, from the beginning, has not been easy, but it has been full of adventure.  I admire in him his courage and tenacity, and his caring.  Was there ever a moment in which he doubted his ability to succeed?  Despite his often solitary life, he was born to be a leader, and has been the best teacher some of us have ever had.  He taught me to think, and to care about the world around me.

Dana was also his student.  Her life, too, has sometimes been difficult.  She is both beautiful and brilliant, with near-perfect memory and an uncanny ability to analyze any problem.  If she has a downfall, it’s that her heart is as big as her mind is sharp, and when thoughts and emotions collide, chaos erupts and it’s hard to find a compromise.  I admire most in her the ability to face her fears, and to walk away from those parts of her life which were toxic.  I love that, instead of hiding behind a wall of “things”, she’s kept her stuff to a minimum.  I love that her choice of heroes includes imperfect men who accomplished great things.  I admire her far more than she knows.

Br. Mark is Marco’s long-time friend, and a man of great faith.  He had a life before the monastery, but I truly believe he has found his home there.  I admire his unwavering faith, and I admire his open and honest discussions when doubt appears.  He is, to borrow one of Marco’s phrases, “in this world, but not of it”.  Above all things, he has learned to (to borrow another phrase) “Let go and let God”.  I still seek my own truth, as I believe we all should, but I am incredibly happy that he has found his.

For various reasons, some of us have issues with accepting organized traditions, aka religion, but we are all spiritual in our own way.  That we accept those differences is a part of what makes us strong.  My granddaughter delights in calling me pagan, and herself pantheistic.  As pagan means believing differently from those around you, I happily accept her title.

Lory is the one of us who has never met Marco.  She is Italian by birth, but has become acculturated to life in Japan.  She and I are the same age for a few days each year.  Her connection to Spirit is very different from Br. Mark’s, but it is very strong.  Angels visit her in dreams.  When I first became “acquainted” with her, the book she had written on the subject was just being published.  I recently (finally) got a chance to read it, and I found it an inspirational delight.  I admire her intelligence, faith, and courage.  She is the most genuinely humble person I know (sorry, Br. Mark), and yet she has so much to offer all of us.  It is my dream to meet her some day; well, all of you, really!

Among these birds, my plumage is the least shiny.  Mary was our hummingbird, and she has flown on to her well-deserved reward.  I hope Br. Mark is right, and that there is a heaven; Wiccans call it Summerland.  Before any more of us go there, I want to thank you all for being a part of my life.  It has been made much richer by your presence.

I’m thinking…

My mother says I think too much; what does she know?  Being inside my own head so much has a tendency to make me over-analyze things, followed by the tendency to be overly critical of my own flaws.  I say it beats thinking you are flawless, when what you are is human.

I embrace within myself what others see as insanity.  It’s not that I think they actually call me crazy, but I’m more than aware that we all know I have issues.  Truth be told, I have subscriptions.

I am motivated to change, but the fine line between inspiration and action is proving difficult to cross.  Progress is happening, but at a snail’s pace.

Most of my favorite television programs, watched primarily in the middle of the night, involve people who are attempting to make improvements in their own lives.  The shows are a way of measuring the level of my own dysfunction.  Other people’s problems, at least the ones on television, are worse than my own.  It helps to see the improvements they are able to make, but it’s also a reality check to see how bad it has the potential to become.

While it could be worse, it could also be better.  Tracking and tackling the reasons behind my problems should help to kick-start the solutions.  I have accepted the way things are for far too long.  No one else caused these issues, and no one else owns the answers to their solution.  I am finally ready to take on my own demons; let the battle begin!

My worst problems are the ones from which all others have grown:  procrastination, and a severely short attention span.  I have to do things in stages because I have trouble concentrating long enough to complete a complex task all at one time.  As a result, things tend to get a lot worse before they begin to get better.

Stage one, step one:  recognize and identify the problem.  Knowing that something is broken is the easy part; figuring out how and why it broke is harder.  Finding the solution, and then implementing it, is where the real work begins.  My problems are two-fold; I have chronic mental issues, and I live in a cluttered mess of my own making.  Each contributes to the other.

Usually, lack of organization plays a part in the creation of the clutter problem, and is a detriment to its solution.  In my case, things going into and out of storage over the years has caused them to become scattered.  Like with like tends to be my first step, and I rarely fail to be surprised at how much I really have.  It’s good stuff, there’s just too much of it.  Each piece had a specific purpose when it was purchased, but as it was rarely immediately put to that use, it piled up, or it got lost in the mire.  We joke that we have a poltergeist who steals, but the truth is far more mundane.  We put something down, then something else is place on top of or in front of it, and it vanishes from sight; we call that being “behind the milk”.  It is one such vanishing that was the inspiration for this ramble.  My dad used to say that it was easier to buy new than to find something that had not been put away where it belonged.  Once like is with like, I can begin to decide what stays (an easier decision than what goes), and finding it a designated place to be.  Too much won’t fit, so it is easy to tell when it’s time to purge again.

Clutter is not my only issue.  Each problem, untended, makes the others worse.   The chronic depression from which I suffer, while rarely severe, drains me of my energy.  I’m tired and sad, and so few things seem worth the effort.  What’s the point when no one seems to notice?… or so my muddled mind keeps telling me.  It leads to lethargy in all areas of my life.  I don’t take care of myself or my environment.  Odd, it never seems to stop me from being at the beck and call of others.

I’ve never been much of a social butterfly, but for a while karaoke was my passion.  I enjoyed dressing up and going out to sing with my friends.  That’s in my past now, a part of a mid-life crisis that holds on only by the thinnest of threads; gone are the excuses for dressing up and going out.  This had lead to feelings of isolation, which in turn has exacerbated my depression.

…and nothing gets done.  Things pile up, making it hard to move or find things.  It could be worse, but I hope to take action before that gets any more chance to happen.  The worst part is, restricting my ability to move causes what feels very like a panic attack.

Years of giving lip-service to these issues has had the effect of maintaining the status quo, with very little real progress.  The frustration of that has added to the depression.  I tend to look at things holistically, and so I know that the mess and the mental issues are interconnected; both are cause and effect, and so progress in one should equal progress in the other.  In point of fact, every issue I face falls back on these two.  I can fix it, all of it, if I can conquer any one part.  Where do I start?  I’d say “wish me luck”, but luck is a false god which will fail you every time.  Instead, wish me patience and endurance.  One day at a time, one step at a time, one breath or heartbeat at a time, I will prevail.