Posts Tagged With: spotlight

Spotlight on Stacey Roberts – Author of “Trailer Trash with a Girl’s Name – Father Figures”

 Excerpt from Trailer Trash with a Girl’s Name – Father Figures

 

Tin Cup on Prison Bars

 

I had more sidebar conversations with law enforcement before the age of sixteen than a hustling middle-aged criminal attorney.

One of the high points was when I conferenced in our driveway with the federal marshals who had just arrested Ted the Drug Dealer in hopes of finding out where they were taking him and what he was being charged with. Layne the Favorite was too busy gloating over Ted’s downfall to worry about logistics, but I knew my mother would want to get her attorney on the case. Also, I had to get to school; I couldn’t spend my whole day on it.

Another was when I got hit by a car crossing the street near our trailer park. The ancient woman who had hit me had no recollection of doing so, even though my bike was pretzeled under the wheels of her Cadillac and there was a smear on her windshield where my face had hit. The police were quite sympathetic to my plight. I’m not so sure justice was served; I never got a new bike.

Then there was the time my Uncle George the Bastard had to come down to my Hebrew school after an unfortunate episode of bullying. He was a police lieutenant out of his jurisdiction, but he made quite an impression anyway. I like to think my involvement prevented some well-deserved police brutality against my oppressors.

Overall, I felt like I had a special connection with those sworn to protect and serve, a calming voice of reason amid the maelstrom of criminal happenings. Or it could be that in each case I was trying to keep my mother from getting involved.

Like the time Layne the Favorite clocked Steve the Rat Fink upside the head with a squeegee.

***

Steve the Rat Fink was fifth-generation trailer trash. His great-great grandfather had crossed the American plains in his Conestoga covered wagon and saw no reason to move out of it just because the group he was traveling with founded Sacramento and built houses without wheels. Steve’s tribe had no need for houses. Having a mobile home meant you could leave in a hurry when your neighbors came after you with pitchforks and torches. If Steve the Rat Fink’s ancestor was anything like him, the other members of his wagon train had likely tried to leave him in the desert or entice a marauding Indian tribe to engage in a pinpointed massacre of one.

It may have been wrong of me to think Steve the Rat Fink’s entire family tree was full of mean-spirited jerks, but I was twelve. Snap judgments are the hallmark of youth.

Also, apparently, of my mother. The first time she met Steve—he had slinked his way over to our Winnebago looking for food and things to steal—she made up her mind about him. She had been handing out titles like a medieval potentate trying to shore up support for her regime for as long as I could remember. It was how Uncle George became a Bastard and my father was anointed a Son of a Bitch. Steve was going to get his.

Mom: “That kid, Stan.”

Me: “Steve.”

Mom: “That’s what I said.”

Me: “He’s a real douchebag.”

Mom: “SSSSSSSSStace. You know what he is? He’s a rat fink.”

I had no idea what that was. I didn’t know it back in 1983, but what I really needed to do was invent some kind of globally interconnected network of computers that would have the sum total of human knowledge on it for easy and immediate recall. The modern equivalent of the lost Library of Alexandria, a world-spanning web of information. I’d call it the Webbernet. Or Interweb. Maybe Cybernet. Or, because it would be an international thing, the Infobahn. My mom would freak out if I used a German name. Better to let her name it. She liked naming things. Like Steve the Rat Fink.

Me: “What’s a rat fink?”

Mom: “SSSSStace. A rat fink! You know! A rat fink!”

Well, that explained it. Good thing the Department of Defense was already hard at work building that Cyberwebbernet thingy I wanted. Years later, I was able to use it to access urbandictionary.com and finally find out what rat fink meant:

Urbandictionary.com: “Rat fink: tattletale, stool pigeon, squealer, snitch, double-crosser, weasel.”

Steve the Rat Fink did look a bit like a weasel, but that didn’t tell the whole tale. Perhaps a more scientific definition:

Urbandictionary.com: “Rat fink: A bastard modifier. A person exhibiting especially abhorrent levels of bastardry is known as a “rat fink bastard.” Alternately, for a milder offense, the term “rat fink” can be used independently of bastard.”

That made more sense. Steve the Rat Fink did, at times, exhibit especially abhorrent levels of bastardry. I was getting there.

Urbandictionary.com: “Rat fink examples: Do you know where Louie is? Next time you see him, tell that rat fink bastard I’m going to tear out his scrotum for knocking up my sister.” Or: “Timmy’s the kind of lazy rat fink that leaves half a sheet of toilet paper on the roll just so he doesn’t have to replace it with a new one.”

 This Interwebobahn invention of mine was going to be a game changer. You’d never have to leave the house. Unless I invented some kind of portable device small enough to fit in your pocket that could access the Cybernetterweb from anywhere. That would be something.

Where was I? Right. Steve the Rat Fink. He was a real douchebag.

Mom: “SSSSSStace. I told you! That Sam, he’s a rat fink! A rat fink!”

Me: “Steve.”

Mom: “That’s what I said. He’s such a rat fink, that kid.”

***

Steve the Rat Fink looked like other trailer park kids I had known over the five years we had been trailer trash. He and I were both twelve but he was small; he was a full head shorter than me, and I come from a long line of short, stubby people. He was skinny and wiry, covered in ropy muscle and sinew. I never saw him wear a shirt, and the whole upper half of his body was burnished permanently brown from sun exposure. His blond hair was close-cropped and his light gray eyes squinted with a huckster’s conniving look. He moved furtively, like a rat, appearing one day at the inevitable grouping of trailer park kids that convened every day after school. We couldn’t stay inside the cramped boxes we lived in, so we stayed out until after dark. The trailer park had a lake at its center as a thin refuge against the possibility of all the bottled propane we used going up in a fiery maelstrom and igniting our stored sewage. We often hung around the shore, throwing rocks and looking for alligators.

My closest friend in the trailer park was Shawn the Black Belt. He lived alone with his father in a decent Airstream a few streets away from our Winnebago. He was lumpy and awkward, and his hair was always flopping all over the place. He had the limpid brown eyes of a nascent serial killer. I suspect his father got him into karate as a possible way to channel Shawn’s latent sideways tendencies, but it might have just made him a more effective killer later in life.

Shawn the Black Belt and I were standing in the shallows of the lake. I was alert, as ever, for the telltale yellow eyes of the gators. Shawn was talking about something, but I wasn’t listening. In my peripheral vision I saw Steve the Rat Fink scurry his way toward us. His head was cocked, his eyes narrowed; it occurred to me that even at his age he had the look of a smoker, but couldn’t get the cigarettes. Not because of age—they were just so expensive and precious to his chain-smoking parents that they wouldn’t share them.

Steve ignored me and glared at Shawn the Black Belt, who was taller than me. Shawn had turned to face the new kid; his arms hung lazily at his sides, but he had a dangerous look of capacity about him. The new kid really needed to tread lightly, make a good impression. That sort of thing.

Steve the Rat Fink: “What are you looking at, fuckstick?”

Two seconds later Steve the Rat Fink was face down in the sand, his right arm bent so far behind him that the backs of his fingers brushed his left ear. He squealed like a baby pig stuck in a blender.

Steve the Rat Fink: “I give! I give!”

Shawn the Black Belt looked over at me with his dead eyes.

Me: “I think you got him.”

Shawn the Black Belt got to his feet and glided backwards. Steve the Rat Fink got up slowly, covered in sand, his right arm held painfully away from his body. He glared at Shawn the Black Belt.

Steve the Rat Fink: “You got the drop on me that time, you fat fuck, but if I was ready—”

Shawn the Black Belt took an economical step forward and chopped Steve’s throat with the side of his left hand. Steve the Rat Fink’s pronouncement cut off with a harsh, choking bark. Shawn swept his right leg and Steve knelt in the sand just in time for Shawn’s knee to hit his nose and knock him flat. Steve the Rat Fink lay on his back, staring up at the sky, blood running down his cheeks. His eyes were wide and dazed. Shawn stood calmly, legs apart, arms up, waiting to see if Steve would get up.

After a minute or so Steve rolled over on his front and got to his feet, blood and snot dripping into the imprint of where his body had been in the sand. He limped away toward home, holding his head with his left hand. The right one hung numbly down at his side.

This was the picture we often had of Steve the Rat Fink—working his slow way home after someone beat the snot out of him.

***

We learned pretty quickly not to leave anything valuable outside our motor home; Steve was a conscienceless scavenger and had no problem taking whatever he wanted. Some of our neighbors who didn’t lock their doors started to complain about missing jewelry, cigarettes and food. After a while, everyone locked their doors.

We came home from school one day to find Steve the Rat Fink riding Layne the Favorite’s bike up and down the street in front of our Winnebago. He had to stand on the pedals because he was too short to reach them while sitting. He was going lightning fast, pedaling for all he was worth. He would suddenly slam the brakes, leaving scorch marks on the asphalt. Layne the Favorite was horrified—he treated his bike as if it had been made by the gods of Mount Olympus and presented to him by winged Mercury himself.

Layne the Favorite: “That’s my bike!”

Steve the Rat Fink skidded to a stop in front of us, smirking.

Steve the Rat Fink: “It’s mine now, shitbag, so shut the fuck up.” He took off on the bike. Layne the Favorite’s fists clenched at his sides and his face turned red.

Me: “When he comes back, let’s pull him off of it and beat his ass.” The two of us could surely take Steve down.

Layne the Favorite: “I’m telling mom.”

***

My mother got home right as it was getting dark. Layne the Favorite stood at the driver’s side of her car as she got out. I didn’t hear what was said, but she patted his cheek while glaring over his head at Steve the Rat Fink’s trailer, where Layne the Favorite’s stolen bike leaned brazenly against the hitch.

I had no skin in this game; my bike had been crushed by an old lady’s Cadillac a few months before and never replaced. There was no chance of me ever getting to use Layne the Favorite’s bike, either.

Mom: “SSSSSStace. That bike belongs to your brother. It’s important for him to have things that are just his.”

Me: “That does sound fun. Any chance I’ll get a bike soon?”

Mom: “SSSSStace. What do you need a bike for? Besides, walking is good for your ssssspleen.”

I was relegated to foot traffic for the foreseeable future. The problems of the bike-borne were above my humble station, but the confrontation between my mother and Steve’s parents promised high entertainment value. I followed my mother as she stalked across the street and pounded on the door of Rat Fink headquarters.

Steve the Rat Fink’s Father’s Common Law Wife, For which there Is No Convenient shorthand: “Just a minute! Jesus!”

The door opened and a blue cloud of marijuana smoke billowed out, revealing a hulking round woman with stringy brown hair dressed only in a shapeless muumuu. Her face was lumped with fat in occasional protrusions, like islands poking out of the surface of a lake. There was a cigarette in her mouth; she must have left the marijuana behind. My mother, her arms folded, her hair and makeup perfect, glared at her.

Mom: “Your sssssson stole my son’s bike.”

Steve the Rat Fink’s Father’s Common Law Wife, For which there Is No Convenient shorthand: “He ain’t my son.”

Mom: “Your hair’s so brittle. Disgusting. Don’t you use any product?”

Steve the Rat Fink’s Father’s Common Law Wife, For which there Is No Convenient shorthand:  “When’s your husband get home? We’re running low on weed.”

This was getting good. My mother was a world-class dispenser of non-sequiturs, and she had finally come across someone operating at her level. It also turned out that Ted the Drug Dealer was the Rat Fink Family’s pot supplier.

Complicated.

Me: “The bike?”

Mom: “SSSSStace. What is wrong with you? You’re obsessed with bikes. I told you: walking is good for your gall bladder. What do you need a bike for?”

Me: “Well, Layne needs one.”

Mom: “Of course he does!”

Me: “And Steve stole it.”

Mom: “Right!” She pointed a long fingernail at the woman in the trailer.

Steve the Rat Fink’s Father’s Common Law Wife, For which there Is No Convenient shorthand: “Take it.” She flapped a hand at the picnic table nearby. It was covered with mismatched items – a lamp, a cigar box with toy cars in it, two bathrobes, and a gravy boat. It looked like a reluctant hoarder’s booth at a flea market.

Steve the Rat Fink’s Father’s Common Law Wife, For which there Is No Convenient shorthand: “If any of that shit’s yours, take it with you. That fuckin’ kid’s always takin’ people’s stuff.”

Steve the Rat Fink appeared behind her. Only his weasel’s head was visible. He squinted at my mother.

Mom: “You! You know what you are, Seth?”

Me: “Steve.”

Mom: “That’s what I said! A rat fink, Scott! You’re a rat fink!”

Steve and the woman looked at us quizzically. I really should start on inventing the Webberinternetwork–these episodes of uncomfortable ignorance could be avoided.

We took the bike and went home. My mother chained the bike to the hitch on our Winnebago and locked it. Live and learn.

I looked back to see Steve leaning against his trailer hitch where the bike had recently been. His not-mom sat at the picnic table full of Steve’s ill-gotten acquisitions. They were the enemy; our families were now at war. After years of trailer park living, I was a full-fledged trailer trash redneck. My family was now one side of a blood feud that promised to be as epic as the Hatfields and McCoys. That night, breathing in the residual marijuana smoke drifting in the air, I could imagine the day in 2183 when my great-great-great granddaughter shot Steve the Rat Fink’s great-great-great grandson down dead in the street with a laser beam, ending our world-famous feud. Bystanders would record it on the devices I had invented, the ones permanently connected to the Webbycybernet.

This was going to be great.

My mother marched past me toward Steve’s trailer, her citrusy perfume trailing behind her. She must have thought of some biting remark, some gauntlet to throw down that would fan the flames of multigenerational clan warfare. I tagged along.

She marched up to Steve the Rat Fink’s not-mom and handed her a bottle.

Mom: “Listen. Rub this into your scalp after you wash your hair. Make sure you get it down to the rootssssss. Then your hair won’t be so stringy and fragile.”

Steve the Rat Fink’s Father’s Common Law Wife, For which there Is No Convenient shorthand: “Thanks.”

I stood there, dumbfounded, as my mother turned on her heel and marched back to our Winnebago. I thought frantically of some witty barb, some cutting rejoinder that would remind all concerned that we had begun a centuries-long battle that would only end with the extermination of one of our family lines. Perhaps with a laser beam.

Me: “Your descendants are so screwed.”

Steve the Rat Fink’s not-mom was studying the bottle my mother had just given her. Steve glared at me and shrugged.

Steve the Rat Fink: “Fuck off, weirdo.”

2183 was going to be a great year.

***

Friday night, nine p.m.

I had been consigned to my bunk an hour before. My mother still cleaved to her notion that I needed more sleep than Layne the Favorite, as if two extra hours a night would round out my rough edges and correct my many flaws. All I got out of it was two hours of staring up at the ceiling while my mother and Layne the Favorite watched TV together. In a house that was only twenty-five feet long, there was no way anyone could sleep if the TV was blaring and the sound of self-satisfied popcorn munching was going on.

I closed my eyes and tried to achieve a Zen-like state of calm. Maybe that was the first step in becoming more like Layne the Favorite. In this way, finally, I might get a bicycle of my own.

I heard a metallic rattle coming from the back of the Winnebago, a disjointed clanging sound. It stopped. I listened harder and heard it again. Someone was at the back of the trailer we towed behind the Winnebago, where all our earthly possessions were stored. I got out of bed.

Mom: “What are you doing out of bed, Buster? I told you. You need your rest. Do you know what will happen to your pancreas if you don’t get enough sleep?”

Me: “Ted. I think someone’s trying to break into the trailer.”

***

Ted the Drug Dealer was sitting opposite my mother and Layne, not watching TV and probably trying to ignore them. He was engaged in his usual nightly inventory—the small tabletop in front of him was covered in cash, coins, and his arsenal of weapons. In addition to his .22 pistol and his switchblade, he had recently gotten a telescoping baton, like the kind the police used. It was about the size of a can of mace, but if you pushed the button on the hilt, it sprang to full size. He gazed at it blearily and belched. Dinner had been a paprika-showered chicken roasted with asparagus and prunes. My mother had found a cookbook at a yard sale and was now adding fruit to the mélange of horrors she dished up every night.

Her chicken with asparagus and prunes tasted like being picked last for dodgeball at recess.

Me: “Ted. We’re being robbed.”

Ted the Drug Dealer stood up, grabbed his telescoping baton and went silently out the door, leaving it open. I scurried out behind him.

Mom: “Get back in bed, Buster!”

Ted went left instead of right once he got outside, going around the side of the Winnebago opposite the picnic table and awning. He meant to sneak up on the intruder from the other side, where the water, sewage, electricity and propane hookups were. I followed. We made no noise. The sound of the clanking got louder as we rounded the corner of the trailer.

There was a skinny, shirtless man wearing a ball cap and dirty jeans with holes in them. He had a crowbar in one hand, prying at the padlock on the back of the trailer. There was a cigarette jammed in the corner of his mouth; his tiny eyes squinted through the smoke.

It was Steve’s dad, Merle—the paterfamilias of the Rat Fink clan. He looked askance at Ted the Drug Dealer, standing there with the small round hilt of the baton in his hand.

Merle the Ratterfamilias: “The fuck you lookin’ at, asswipe?”

Ted the Drug Dealer pushed the button on the baton. There was a barely audible click and the weapon sprang to full size. He reached out and tapped Merle’s right wrist; I heard a sharp crack as his wrist broke and a clang when the crowbar fell to the ground.

Merle the Ratterfamilias howled. He clutched his wrist and hopped up and down. The cigarette stayed glued to his lip.

Merle the Ratterfamilias: “You cocksucking nutsack! You broke my hand!”

He lunged at Ted, who calmly brought the baton down on Merle’s right shoulder. There was another cracking sound. Merle’s face squinched up and he hissed in a painful breath.

Merle the Ratterfamilias: “I give! I give!” He backed away toward his own trailer, his right arm hanging at his side. After a few backward steps he turned around and slunk away with the same halting gait his son used after one of his confrontations. Ted the Drug Dealer picked up the crowbar to add to his weapons cache.

Merle’s common law wife stood outside their trailer, watching his approach, her arms crossed. She stood under the street light, a silhouetted, shapeless behemoth. My mother and Layne came out of the Winnebago to watch, their half-empty bowl of popcorn held between them.

Mom: “Look at her hair. See how shiny it is? She used the product. I know what I’m talking about!”

Some blood feuds were better than others. Maybe we’d get it right over the next couple of centuries.

***

Steve the Rat Fink tried to defend his family’s honor and orthopedic injuries the next day. I was hanging out with Layne the Favorite and Shawn the Black Belt down by the lake. I found out years later that the lake was crawling with alligators and water moccasins. And to think my mother thought the greatest danger to us back then was white flour, red meat and refined sugar. Who knows: maybe her cooking made us unappetizing to the marauding swamp beasts we lived alongside.

Steve the Rat Fink scurried over to me and glared up at me with his squinty eyes. He had not bathed in days; no wetland creature would make a meal of him either.

Steve the Rat Fink: “Your dad broke my dad’s arm.”

Me: “He was trying to break into our trailer.”

Steve the Rat Fink: “He was out of weed, numbnuts! What’d you expect him to do?”

Me: “Buy it?”

Steve the Rat Fink: “We ain’t got no money, shit for brains! Lurleen’s disability don’t come in till the first!”

Me: “So breaking into our trailer was like buying on credit? What kind of—”

Shawn the Black Belt had tried more than once to teach me karate. One of the things his sensei had taught him was strategic silence–apparently a lot of people got punched in the face mid-sentence.

Steve the Rat Fink punched me in the face mid-sentence.

I didn’t feel the hit; I was just suddenly on the ground looking up at the sky. There was a ringing in my ears. Steve the Rat Fink’s face loomed large suddenly. His mouth twisted angrily; he was saying something, but I didn’t hear it. I remember thinking how great it would be if someone punched him in the face mid-sentence.

Layne the Favorite had taken a few steps forward when I got hit, but Shawn the Black Belt was faster. He was always poised and waiting for an opportunity; I think he needed to release some violence on a regular basis or something horrific would befall an innocent person. It occurred to me that perhaps it was time to move to a new trailer park.

Shawn the Black Belt slammed an open palm under Steve’s chin. His head snapped back and the rest of his body followed him to the ground. Shawn stood immobile, legs apart, knees bent, hands up.

I got to my feet and swayed. The world wobbled before sliding back into place. I nearly puked on my shoes.

Steve the Rat Fink got up and faced me. There was a lurid red welt on his chin where Shawn hit him.

Steve the Rat Fink: “That’s it? You gonna let the dough boy do your fighting for you?”

I looked over Steve’s right shoulder, a look of alarm on my face. He turned his head to look and I kicked him in the nuts. His eyes opened wide, his mouth a huge O of surprise. His face crumpled and he folded in on himself, spinning slowly down to the ground.

Steve the Rat Fink: “I give! I give!”

***

We got back to our Winnebago right as my mother was pulling a roast pan out of the oven in a hellish parody of demon birth. It was lamb with an applesauce glaze, black pepper, and mandarin oranges.

It tasted like the pointed, helpless shame one feels at being ostracized by one’s community.

Layne the Favorite: “He got in a fight!”

Mom: “With who?”

Layne the Favorite: “Steve!”

Mom: “SSSSSSStace. You need to stay away from Sylvester. He’s a rat fink!”

Me: “Stuart.” My head was still ringing.

Mom: “That’s what I said!”

Layne the Favorite: “I hate that kid.”

***

Layne the Favorite and I were outside later that evening, trying to escape the wretched fumes of fruity lamb, when Steve the Rat Fink came sauntering along. He walked disjointedly down the middle of the street, shirtless and barefoot, his bruised head turning from side to side, scoping out whatever unsecured baubles might have been left out. Pickings were slim; the villagers had learned the hard way.

Layne the Favorite: “I hate that kid.”

Me: “Give it a couple centuries. There’ll be laser beams. We can’t lose.”

Layne jumped off the picnic table and walked over to the bucket with the squeegee in it. It was sitting next to the back of the Winnebago, because I was supposed to be cleaning the camper’s windows. My mother had been put out by some of the comments I had made about Mandarin Applesauce Pepper Sheep, and this chore was my punishment:

  1. “Is it supposed to taste like an orchard fire?”
  2. “What disease killed this sheep, anyway?”
  3. “Does all lamb smell like sweat?”
  4. “Can I go outside?”
  5. “You know what would be good? A baloney sandwich. Or a bike.”

My head still hurt from my earlier run-in with Steve. I didn’t feel like cleaning windows that were permanently shuttered anyway; my mother kept the curtains drawn. Besides, there was no punishment worse than Mandarin Applesauce Pepper Sheep.

Layne grabbed the squeegee and walked over to Steve the Rat Fink. Steve was preoccupied with his nightly scavenger hunt and didn’t notice Layne standing there until he nearly ran into him.

Steve the Rat Fink: “Holy shit, turdface. Why you sneakin’ up on me?”

Layne swung the squeegee. Steve jerked back, but the scraper edge sliced his forehead open. He spun around and landed flat on his face. I saw blood starting to pool in the street.

Maybe we wouldn’t have to wait two hundred years for the feud to come to an end.

***

One thing about trailer park living: you never knew who it was who called the cops. By the time the flashing lights arrived, everyone was out in the street standing around and affecting a dewy-eyed innocence. No one ever wanted to take the heat for bringing the police into our community. In such ways are blood feuds begun.

I suspect one of Steve’s larceny victims had watched him stagger toward home with his whole face and torso covered in blood and figured the rat fink had finally committed a crime that would get him sent away for good.

Layne the Favorite was sitting on top of our picnic table, the bloody squeegee held in his hand. He glared over at Rat Fink headquarters, where Steve sat at their picnic table. Lurleen held a bandanna to his bleeding head, a cigarette dangling from her lips. Merle the Ratterfamilias, shirtless, his arm in a makeshift sling, chain-smoked and gazed over at us. It was one of the few times I wanted Ted the Drug Dealer to be home; it looked like we were going to need better weapons than window cleaners. I wondered briefly if we could somehow force-feed the Rat Fink clan some Mandarin Apple Pepper Sheep, but there was no nobility in that. It was probably best if I just sat quietly and stayed out of it; I had recently been punched in the face.

The trailer park manager, predictably, showed up in his trusty golf cart.  He was in his fifties, enormous, balding, and sweaty. He always wore an incongruous short-sleeved button-down shirt with a tie. The top half of him looked like a third-rate accountant or substitute teacher. The bottom half of him was a golf cart, canted down toward the driver’s side. He had to weigh four hundred pounds. Despite the wet Florida heat, he kept a tan blanket over his lower half, so his shapeless body ended where the golf cart began.

He was the one we called when the water or electricity stopped working or the machines in the laundry room ate our quarters. He didn’t actually do anything – his right hand man was a mute, nameless Guatemalan, thin as a rail, bespectacled, a genius with mechanical things. The last time I had seen this team in action was when a sewer line across the street broke. The trailer park manager sat in his cantilevered cart while his silent manservant fixed the line, covering himself in unspeakable brown goo.

There was nothing to fix this time, so the trailer park manager showed up alone. His cart zoomed to a stop in the midst of the assembled villagers. He looked over at bloodstained Steve and then at me, sitting on top of our picnic table. He and I had had run-ins before—I was the last man standing at an unfortunate broken window incident, and he had been on the scene when I got hit by a car, which he thought was an appropriate karmic comeuppance for my backsass. His eyes lit up when he saw me. I had no interest in sparring with him today. My head hurt.

Trailer Park Manager: “What’d you do now?”

I was saved from answering by the arrival of a policeman. Interestingly enough, I recognized him. I had dealt with this cop before.

***

The officer was Patrolman 1, who had helped me out after I got hit by the Cadillac. I had served as translator for the ancient driver’s stream of old country invective. Angry Jewish women had been flinging intemperate Yiddish around me since I was a toddler, so it was easy to decipher her ranting.

Patrolman 1 quickly assessed the situation and walked over to where the Rat Fink family sat tending their wounds. Between Steve’s blood-soaked face and chest and his father’s broken bones, they looked like they had been on the business end of a nasty car wreck. Steve’s not-mom kept pointing over to our Winnebago.

Her hair was perfect.

Patrolman 1 headed over. He saw me sitting there and winked.

Patrolman 1: “So. This situation’s kind of facochta.”

Me: “Also a good bit of meshuga going on.”

My mother glared at Patrolman 1.

Mom: “You don’t look Jewish. How do you know Yiddish?”

Patrolman 1: “Your son taught me a few words. It’s come in pretty handy. There are a lot of crabby Jews on the wrong side of the law.”

Mom: “Jews don’t break the law, Lieutenant!”

Patrolman 1: “Sergeant.”

Mom: “That’s what I said! Jews are oppressed! We don’t ever do anything wrong. It’s always the goyim.

Patrolman 1: “It looks like your son hit that boy upside the head with a squeegee.”

Mom: “He was defending himself!”

Patrolman 1: “A couple of witnesses told me your son just swung at him for no reason.”

Mom: “He had a reason! Simon is always picking on him!”

Patrolman 1: “Who?”

Mom: “Stewart! Sheldon! Shane! You know—Spencer!”

Me: “Steve.”

Mom: “That’s what I said!”

Patrolman 1: “Even if they have a history, it’s irrelevant if your son just hits him without provocation. And because he used a weapon, it’s a serious crime.”

Mom: “It’s a squeegee! It’s not a weapon!”

Patrolman 1 gave up on her and walked over to where Layne sat, twirling the bloody squeegee. The officer drew himself up to his full height. All the leather he had—shoes, gun belt, holster—creaked as he walked. He stood in front of Layne the Favorite, his arms folded over his broad chest.

Patrolman 1: “You hit that boy. With a weapon. Unprovoked.”

Layne the Favorite: “I hate that kid. I’d like to hit him again.” He gripped the handle of the squeegee tighter. Patrolman 1 took it out of his hands.

Patrolman 1: “I’m going to have to take you in, son.”

My mother squawked and flew at him, pushing her way between Patrolman 1 and her son.

Mom: “No way, Buster! I won’t let you take my son to jail, you jakbooted tag.

Me: “Jackbooted thug.”

Patrolman 1: “Ah.”

Mom: “My son is innocent! This is not his fault! It’s that gneyvish ganev , az kleyn shtekhn!” Me: “Sneaky thief, that little prick.” My mother glared at me:

Mom: “SSSSSSStace! What is wrong with you? Why are you talking to this beyz khzir?”

Me: “Evil pig.”

Patrolman 1: “I knew ‘pig.’ I’ve been called that one before. Your people really don’t like them.”

Me: “It’s because we don’t know how to cook, and we’re afraid of trichinosis.”

Mom: “And God!”

Me: “Also, apparently, God.”

Mom: “Stop it! He wants to take your brother to jail!”

Patrolman 1: “Ma’am. He assaulted that boy with a weapon. I have to take him in.”

Mom: “Then you’ll have to take me too! You’ll have to lock me up with him!”

Layne the Favorite sat calmly. He seemed to accept the consequences of clocking Steve the Rat Fink upside the head. I liked to think he, at least, understood the gravity of a blood feud. Sacrifices had to be made. Although him and my mother sharing a cell at the Hollywood police station, mom sliding a cup across the bars, shrieking “Attica!” was a bit much. Dignity was a hallmark of the really good blood feuds.  I walked over to Patrolman 1.

Me: “Can I talk to you in private?”

Mom: “What for?  Why do you want to talk to this narish pots?”

Me: “Stupid dick.”

Mom: “Stop telling him what I’m saying! You’re making it worse! He’ll lock us up and throw away the key!”

Patrolman 1 led me over to his squad car. The trailer park manager, half man, half golf cart, grinned.

Trailer Park Manager: “Lock him up too, Officer!”

Patrolman 1: “I see you’re still winning people over wherever you go.”

Me: “It’s a gift.”

Patrolman 1: “You know I’m just trying to put a scare into your brother. And those lowlifes—” he jerked his head over at the clustered Rat Fink family. “—want to press charges.”

Me: “They won’t press charges. Just tell them you’ll need to step inside their trailer to take their statements in private. They’ll fall all over themselves to send you away.”

He grinned.

Patrolman 1: “And why is that? Do they not want me in their trailer for some reason?”

Me: “They do not.”

Patrolman 1: “Interesting. Tell me. Is your brother a danger to himself or others?”

Me: “Probably not. But my mother will be a danger to you if you take them to jail. Can you whip up some sort of hideous kosher meal for them? Will they get to watch TV together? And just wait till her lawyer shows up. She’ll sue you and the city for a hundred million dollars.”

Patrolman 1: “For what?”

Me: “Does it matter? Do we all want to be on the news, for God’s sake?”

Patrolman 1: “Probably not.”

Me: “Besides, if you haul Layne and his mother off to the big house, I’ll be left here alone. My stepfather’s working, and I’m a helpless minor.”

Patrolman 1 (chuckling): “You poor thing.”

Mom: “SSSSSStace! Quit talking to that Nazi!”

Patrolman 1: “I think she wants to go to jail.”

Me: “By now she does. She and her son are going to martyr themselves for the cause.”

Patrolman 1: “What cause is that?”

Me: “No one knows. But they can’t stop now or all will be lost.”

Patrolman 1: “That actually makes some kind of sense.”

Me: “We’ll make a Jew out of you yet. Can I come to your Bar Mitzvah?”

Patrolman 1: “As long as you bring a gift.”

Me: “That’s the spirit.”

I followed him back to where my mother and Layne sat side by side, waiting to be handcuffed, beaten with sticks, and shoved into the back of a patrol car.

Me: “Take them away, Officer.”

My mother glared at me.

Mom: “You’re just like your father, that son of a bitch.”

Patrolman 1: “Ma’am, I’m not taking your son in.”

Mom: “Because he’s innocent! I told you!”

Patrolman 1: “It would leave your other son here by himself.”

Mom: “Oh, him. He’ll be fine, that one.”

Me: “Do you want to go to jail?”

Patrolman 1 looked at Layne the Favorite.

Patrolman 1: “I’m going to let you off with a warning. Never pick up a weapon if you get in a fight. Unless you’re defending yourself.”

Layne the Favorite nodded.  Patrolman 1 walked over to the Rat Fink family, his arms folded. He said something to them. Merle the Ratterfamilias ripped the ball cap off his head with his one good arm and flung it on the ground. I could hear his voice raised as he yelled at Patrolman 1, but not what he was saying. Patrolman 1 gestured at their motor home and took a step toward it. Merle the Ratterfamilias got in front of him, his hand out, a toothless grin on his face. Patrolman 1 shrugged and walked back to his car. The crowd gazed at him expectantly. The trailer park manager kept looking between me and the cop. His face fell when Patrolman 1 got in his car and drove away.

Me: “Better luck next time.”

The trailer park manager glared at me and zoomed away, nearly clipping some of our neighbors with his golf cart. The crowd dispersed after that. The Rat Fink family retreated to their trailer, looking like survivors of a vicious animal attack.  It felt like we were winning this blood feud. We had them on the ropes.

Mom: “Her hair really does look good. I’m going to go ask her to come down to the salon for a conditioner treatment.”  I sighed. Hopefully my descendants would do better.

You can buy Trailer Trash With A Girl’s Name: Father Figures on Amazon.com.  Follow Stacey Roberts on Facebook and Twitter

Bio

Stacey Roberts spent his childhood traveling the country in his family’s Winnebago. They eventually settled in Florida, where he attended Florida State University and the University of Miami. To his mother’s consternation, he pursued a major in English literature instead of finance. He rebelled further by receiving his master’s degree in early-modern European history from the University of Cincinnati. He can now both impress and frustrate the room with obscure references to Roman emperors and English monarchs.

Roberts founded his own computer consulting firm in 1994. He lives in Northern Kentucky with his wife, Nikki, and their Goldendoodle, Augustus.

**********************

Paul De Lancey
www.pauldelancey.com
www.lordsoffun.com

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Spotlight on Wil 3 – Author of “Heartly God?”

Excerpt from Heartly God?

 

Chapter Three

The protestors’ movement, if it can be deservingly titled as such, was aimed at the removal of Father O’Toole from St. Mary’s Parish and the whole Catholic Church. It started with a few unhappy parishioners who didn’t take kindly to Father O’Toole’s most recent and more progressive sermons. A few unhappy parishioners led to a few unhappy families, who then enlisted the help of other, very concerned, non-parishioners who were equally offended by what Father O’Toole had to say. Although they never actually heard it first-hand, but through their friends, which apparently was good enough to cause them to be offended.

At first, the movement was easily ignored by the remaining St. Mary’s faithful and by Father O’Toole. But when it became apparent that it had grown and was not going away, Father O’Toole decided it was time to engage the protestors in dialogue. That was a mistake. The dialogue was short-lived and within a matter of minutes, Father O’Toole’s Irish got the better of him and he had to be physically restrained and separated from the group. The “swear jar” Father O’Toole kept in the office behind the altar was contributed to heavily that day by him.

It used to be easy for Father O’Toole to bridge gaps between those who were with him and those who were against him. He made a short career of that in the Army prior to the priesthood. It seemed to him that he was losing that ability due to his old age in the same way that he was losing his hair and his hearing. Sadly, Father O’Toole’s lack of statesmanship only fueled the fire of the protestors’ movement. The following week, after word got out via social media, the movement doubled in size. The week after that, the local media was at the 9:00 AM. Mass to cover the protestors. A thirty-second clip of the protestors aired on local news the following Monday.

“We are protesting Father O’Toole’s ludicrous message! The Bible says that a man should not lay down with another man. That is a sin. It’s an abomination against nature! Women who have abortions are killing babies! They don’t need forgiveness; they need to be locked up!!”

Once the media coverage of the protestors’ movement aired, the Bishop and other higher-ups in the Church became heavily involved in the situation. The Bishop didn’t necessarily agree with Father O’Toole’s new message or ministry. In fact, he never really saw eye-to-eye with Father O’Toole on much of anything. But more importantly, he did not like to see one of his churches under siege. It was bad for business. Attendance at Mass was down because many of the remaining parishioners felt uneasy trying to navigate amongst the protestors as they tried to get into the church. Accordingly, the weekly collection started to come up short … very short at times.

The stress on the income stream necessitated constant communication, which Father O’Toole equated to constant aggravation, between him and the Bishop. If he wasn’t talking to the Bishop, he was talking to one of the Bishop’s underbosses. If it wasn’t an underboss, it was someone from the Diocese public relations department. If it wasn’t public relations, it was a Diocese lawyer. All the stress and constant watchdogging of Father O’Toole made him physically tired and mentally weak. Making the situation worse was Father O’Toole’s acknowledgment that he simply did not have the time to devote to the parishioners who still needed him, or to those unfortunate sick and dying people that he would minister to in three of the local hospitals.

Father O’Toole was no longer a young man. Far from it. He should have retired years ago, by his age. But he grew up in the Strip District, went to St. Mary’s grade school and he welcomed the opportunity to become the pastor at St. Mary’s when the opportunity presented itself. Truth be told, St. Mary’s was on the verge of collapse before Father O’Toole’s arrival. The Diocese plan was to let Father O’Toole run the parish for one or maybe two years, then close it down and sell it to a developer for a big profit. It was expected that Father O’Toole would retire after that. It was a clever and convenient strategy by the Diocese and their legal think tank. Fortunately, or unfortunately, Father O’Toole actually grew the parish in the short time that he had been pastor. Prior to the protestors’ movement, St. Mary’s Parish had become bigger and stronger than ever. Father O’Toole initially felt a youthful resurgence as the parish grew around him, but in the wake of this protest movement, Father O’Toole was not sure how much longer he could last. He was clearly nearing his breaking point.

The easiest way to resolve the problem would have been to reassign Father O’Toole to another parish. However, the higher-ups in the Diocese thought that move would signal the Church’s acquiescence to the will of the protestors. Besides, reassignment did not guarantee that the same thing would not happen at a different location. The last thing the Diocese wanted was to engage in war on two fronts. The Diocesan leaders asked Father O’Toole to retire, but that conversation was even shorter than Father O’Toole’s attempt at dialogue with the protestors. With all the brain power and money of the Diocese, nobody had any clear solution for resolving the situation. And they also knew that they were dealing equally with a very hard-headed old Irishman who never backed down from a fight before. Thus, they were all stuck and decided nothing could be done other than to ride it out. The situation evolved into a chicken fight between three entities to see just who had the most stamina.

One thing was for sure—the thick concrete walls and enormous oak doors of St. Mary’s that once created a spiritual and a physical safe-haven for the parishioners could no longer keep the din and ruckus of the protestors outside. In calmer days, the only sound that might have been heard from the outside during a Mass was the occasional siren on a police car or ambulance. Now, even the sirens couldn’t be heard over the protestors’ fanatical rants and chanting.

Bio

Wil 3 is a father, an educator and a retired college assistant basketball coach who graduated from Washington and Jefferson college with a double major in Political Science and Secondary Education. He has worked as a teacher and curriculum developer in several school districts and post-secondary institutions.  An advocate to end homelessness, Wil currently sits as a Board Member at “Hearts of the Homeless,” a 501(c)3 non-profit and regularly volunteers at Light of Life Mission in the North Side of Pittsburgh, PA.  Prior to releasing Heartly God?, Wil authored several one-act plays that have been performed by various theater groups in Western Pennsylvania.  Heartly God? is his first full-length novel.  When not writing, Wil can be found trout fishing or on a stand-up paddle board with his son Rider and occasionally practicing law, if time permits.

**********************

Paul De Lancey
www.pauldelancey.com
www.lordsoffun.com

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Spotlight on H.J. Worthington – Author of “Farewell, Amelia Mary: Long Time Looking”

Farewell, Amelia Mary: Long Time Looking

 

The stories and vignettes in this book represent the experiences and memories from World War II veteran H.J. Worthington. A first-time author at the age of 90, Mr. Worthington offers readers a personal journey through some of America’s most important moments in time.

Excerpt

Special Note

Friday afternoon, November 23, 1963 the nation heard the news: President John F. Kennedy shot and killed in Dallas, Texas.  All that day, Saturday, Sunday, and into the next week the event unfolded right before our eyes on our television screens.

I wrote the Kennedy memorial poem while watching the news coverage each day.  It did not matter what your political connection.  World War II was only 18 years back in the collective memory.  We had lost a kindred spirit – a fellow warrior – in the cause that saved the world from a new Dark Age of barbarism in the 20th Century, and possibly beyond if we had not prevailed.  Who knew? The raw emotional scar had healed over but was still tender to the touch of a lingering remembrance.

Robert Kennedy’s killing, less than 5 years after his brother’s, destroyed the possible promise of a bit more peaceful kingdom.  Dream denied.


In Memoriam – John F. Kennedy

On that morning… an hour before his final ride

He spoke of his brother,

Who had gone before him to the war… and died.

And she…when accepting the roses of red,

Held them and kept them,

Til her husband was dead.

 

There he sat and smiled and waved,

All through the ride;

She at his side … holding the red roses,

When there from out the sunlit sky,

A killer bullet flashed and said:

“You must die”.

 

And so; one week before Thanksgiving,

Under the Texas Sky,

She saw him live and smile … and touch,

Red roses that would die.

 

There beneath that Texas sky,

Where the President is dead,

There cries and anguished people;

And some roses that are red.

 

 

Now the lonely vigil,

Of a nation’s grieving heart,

Returned to waiting Washington,

The requiem to start.

She did not leave his lifeless side,

When the Hand of God said “NOW”,

But pleading she touched God’s Hand,

And asked: “Please … keep him here … somehow”.

 

Through the soul-sick shrouded night,

The line of sorrow filed beneath the great Rotunda dome,

Where lies their young and fallen Chief,

Who now has journeyed home.

 

And on that morning,

When they came to bear him slow,

It was heard by all who watched and harked,

His muted whisper softly said:

“I am ready now … to go.”

 

They bore him from the solemn church,

His requiem was done,

And there his little boy saluted him,

And softly back across the hallowed air he whispered:

“Happy birthday … and farewell my son”.

 

And standing there; just six years old,

Was his little daughter brave,

No longer could she run and hug;

Or for him,

All her kisses save.

 

And there on the side of a hill that day,

She whispered her husband’s name.

She took a ray from the setting sun,

And lit their eternal flame.

 

…So now we truly ask ourselves,

What kind of man was he,

What killed our president of tender years,

Who loved the wind and sea.

 

A very few of you may say:

“The man is dead,”

What more is there to say,

The evil plan is naked here before us,

All the certain consequences light the way.

 

Let us here speak finally …

Let us quit our rhyme,

Let us raise our urgent sight,

Let us press our words to freer verse,

Let us set the record right.

 

Yes… he is dead.

His day is done,

His manuscript is closed.

But there remains the reason WHY,

The tragic, wasteful painful reason WHY?

 

The sure and true malignant residue of hate,

Unleashed like a famished phantom in our midst,

Struck down this man.

For he; like the tall Emancipator before him,

Had thrust upon him,

An overburdened share of relentless condemnation.

 

He was struck down,

Not for the way he prayed to his God;

But for the way he prayed to his fellow man.

His warm prayer;

His clear and poetic words of truth and justice,

Fell upon cold hearts and dead consciences;

And they were stirred to anger and fear and despair.

This was his sin,

And it was a sin against those who hate,

For any reason; and in any measure,

And hate triumphed;

And he was gone.

 

 

And what have we lost?

…We have lost the sight and voice,

Of little children in the marbled halls of state.

A generation has lost a warm and kindred mystic spirit,

Who lived and shared a dear nostalgia,

Of younger urgent times.

Gone is a sweet embrace of memories,

Of not too long ago.

We have lost the simplicity,

Of the natural boyishness,

Of a great man.

Some say that he had no emotion.

He WAS an emotion;

And we have lost him.

We have lost the smile of a truly beautiful woman.

We have lost a President.

We have lost our hearts.

 

And so…

Time will go on,

Memory will fade,

The years will pass,

Men will forget.

And the millions of words of eulogy …will,

After a while;

Languish and fade,

On the yellow pages of dusty volumes.

Those of us who now silently weep;

We, who cannot dispel the ache;

We know, that death is but a changing of life;

And we will find our solace and peace in knowing,

That we will see him and greet him,

One day again,

In the long forever of eternity.

 

In Memoriam – Robert F. Kennedy

 

Four years and seven months

Since sad November,

Now sad June; more heartbreak

To remember,

We have loved and quickly

Lost again,

We have dreamed another dream

In vain.

Bio

 

H.J. Worthington is a WWII veteran, father of six and grandfather of nine. He has no publishing credits and this is his first book. He is not looking for fame or fortune. His next birthday will bring him to his tenth decade.

The stories and other offerings in this book are a selection from the archives in his mind from long ago—up to 2016. He finally realized that if he is ever going to see his work in print, he better take his own advice from one of his many vignettes:

Get going or you’re gone!

 

**********************

Paul De Lancey
www.pauldelancey.com
www.lordsoffun.com

 

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Spotlight on Cathy Sikorski, Esq. – Author of “Who Moved my Teeth?

Excerpt from Who Moved my Teeth?

 

CHAPTER ONEfuckingteeth

WHAT SHOULD I HAVE ALREADY DONE?

Here’s a list of things you should do if you haven’t done them already, either for your loved one that you are/or will be a caregiver for quite soon…OR FOR YOURSELF!

  1. GET A DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY….ACTUALLY GET TWO OR THREE!

What is a Power of Attorney? This is a critical document that allows someone to take care of your healthcare and business affairs. And everyone in the healthcare and caregiving business will ask you if you have a POA (Power of Attorney).

A Power of Attorney document comes in a few flavors. There are generally two types of POAs and they need to be Durable, kind of like a good pair of Levi Jeans. Durable means that no matter what happens to you, as a living person, the POA stays in effect. That’s a good thing because what would be the whole point of a POA if it doesn’t work when you can’t.  Like my Nana’s orthopedic shoes, she was never without them because she needed them for her health. And, during your life, you should never be without your Durable POAs.

  1. Durable Health Care Power of Attorney

This document allows a person to make all major and minor healthcare decisions for their loved one. The person who signs the Power of Attorney is giving the power to you or someone else to act as if you are the signer. So, if your mom signs a Durable POA, and gives the power to you, she has made you her agent.  You now have the power to act as if you are your mom in all health care situations. If you sign a POA and make your spouse your ‘Agent,’ your spouse now has the power to act as if he is you in all health care decisions concerning you.

This does not prevent Mom from continuing to make her own decisions about her health care. It does allow the agent, the POA, to make decisions, if necessary. Or, at the very least, as the POA you now have the authority to talk to everyone about your mom’s health care.

Does this replace that damned HIPAA form? Yes and yes. There is nothing wrong with you also having your loved one sign a HIPAA form that gives you authority to discuss medical issues, but the Durable Healthcare POA is the best and most powerful document you can have. And it lasts forever, until the person who signed it cancels it in writing. That’s why you need 2 or 3 originals. I always gave my clients 3 originals. In case one gets lost, is never returned, or becomes lining for the cat litter box somehow.

An original Durable POA means it has all original signatures and it is signed and witnessed by a Notary Public. So, if you have three original Durable POAs, you will have to sign in all important places 3 times and the Notary will sign each one separately as well.

  1. Durable Financial Power of Attorney

This document is different from a Health Care Power of Attorney. The person who signs this type of Durable Power of Attorney is giving the power to you or someone else to act as if you are that person in all financial situations. So if your mom gives you a Durable Financial POA, you now have the power to act as if you are your mom in all financial situations. This too, is a very powerful document. Since the agent is in the shoes of the person who assigned the power. The agent can buy, sell, transfer, pay, not pay and clean out every penny and asset there is. It sounds bad and ominous.  And there is no doubt that checks and balances are a good thing when you give a Durable Financial POA to someone. But never underestimate the NEED for this document.

  1. Between Spouses

Unless you have a real problem with your spouse, and I’m pretty sure that’s a Dr. Phil book, or if your spouse is already suffering from mental incapacity or incapable of making financial decisions, you and your spouse under normal circumstances should give each other Durable Healthcare and Durable Financial POAs.

This is a protection in case anything unplanned would happen to either of you. You would already have these documents in place to handle any emergency. I’m talking to you. The healthy baby boomer who is reading this, or the Gen-Xer who suddenly realizes their mom and dad are getting older. Hey! We are all getting older! If you are over 18 years old, you should consider Durable POAs for yourself. When my children went to college, I had them sign Durable POAs. As adults living hours away from home, I did not want any nonsense from a hospital or a college administration saying they wouldn’t talk to me about my child’s condition, be it a health or financial condition.

Fast forward to your own life now. You are 30-something or 40-something. You have kids, a nice house, a couple of cars. You have an accident. You are disabled. You’re in a coma. Your husband can’t sell the house, car, or shares in Microsoft, because they belong to you. The hospital wants to put a shunt in your brain to stop the bleeding but no one has the authority to say “yay” or “nay.” That’s why everyone needs Durable POAs at every stage of their adult life. Not when you’re 85 years old and you think, “hey, something might happen to me.”

DO IT NOW, DO IT NOW, DO IT NOW.

No one even needs to know you have these documents. You can go to your local wonderful attorney, get the paperwork done, put it in your fireproof box in the basement, and when someone needs to find your important papers….Voila!! There it is. Just make sure someone knows you have important papers and where they are located.

 

  1. A Word on Durable POAs

Besides being the most important document you may not have yet and need to get, POA’s can also be like a Chinese menu. Any lawyer worth her salt will take you through a process where you need to decide exactly how much power you want to bestow. In Pennsylvania, for example, where I reside, there are very strict rules about things like how much money can the POA give as a gift and to whom. So please, find a lawyer. Ask your friends, neighbors, someone you know who has dealt with issues like this. Research lawyers, but find one, and get your affairs in order. It’s that important, because if you need this and you don’t have it, this is what happens next…………….

  1. Whom Do I Choose to be my POA?

 

This question is complicated. Usually, if you are healthy and happy as a couple, you would choose each other as your primary POA. You should always have an alternate POA in case something happens to both of you simultaneously.

If your spouse is unable to be your POA, or you don’t have a spouse, you need to choose a person you can trust completely. This person will have power over your money and your health. You need to choose wisely.

Normally, it would be best to choose a daughter or son or other relative who lives close by. Making these decisions, especially with hospitals and doctors usually needs a person who is available to go to those places or meet with those healthcare professionals.

 

When deciding who to choose as your POA ask yourself some questions:

  1. Do I trust this person completely with my money and/or my health?
  2. Will they be available to make decisions at a moment’s notice?
  3. Are they capable of making these decisions?
  4. Does this person know how to find and ask for help for me?
  5. Do I want to put all the financial or health care power with one person, or do I want to give joint or several powers?

Caution: It can be challenging to have joint POAs because if they disagree, there is no one to ‘break the tie.’ You can have ‘either or’ POA’s. So that if you name your son and daughter as joint POA’s, your son and daughter can make decisions jointly or by themselves (severally). Note that they need to be able to work together for the several powers as they can make decisions without the other’s input. If you don’t see that happening, then choose one decider and an alternate.

 

Bio

cathysikorskiphotoamazon

Author of Showering With Nana: Confessions of a Serial Caregiver, Cathy Sikorski has been a significant caregiver for the last 25 years for seven different family members and friends. A published humorist, Sikorski is also a practicing attorney who limits her practice to Elder Law issues. Her combined legal and humor expertise has made her a sought-after speaker where she tackles the Comedy of Caregiving and the legal issues that affect those who will one day be or need a caregiver (which is everyone). Sikorski is a frequent guest on radio programs and podcasts where she talks about the importance of using humor in caregiving. With more than 30 years of law behind her, she provides critical legal information for our aging population. Her latest endeavor is her humorous memoir Showering with Nana: Confessions of a Serial (killer) Caregiver (HumorOutcasts Press 2015).  Sikorski has participated in memoir writing classes for two years at the prestigious Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. She has also participated in the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference where she won a Humor Prize in 2014. Sikorski blogs for The Huffington Post and is a contributing author for HumorOutcasts.com and she can been seen on the West Chester Story Slam YouTube channel.  Known as a “Thought Leader,” her work can be found in the HappinessRecipe Anthology: The Best of Year One, published 2014.  Sikorski maintains an active blog “You just have to Laugh…where Caregiving is Comedy…” at www.cathysikorski.com  where she continues to post absurd yet true stories that continue today.Contact Cathy Sikorski at cathy.sikorski@gmail.com and follow her on Twitter at @cathy_sikorski.

 

**********************

Paul De Lancey
www.pauldelancey.com
www.lordsoffun.com

 

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Spotlight on Margie Cherry, Author of “Mom’s Comedy Coloring Book”

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Spotlight on Matthew J. Pallamary – Author of “Night Whispers”

Excerpt From Night Whispers

 

CHAPTER ONENight Whispers Front Cover

The sound of a key sliding into the front door lock jolted him out of semi-consciousness. The musty smell of old perfume whispered in his mind, reminding him that he’d been waiting for hours. His feet ached. He strained to see more, but the closet remained shrouded in darkness. Razor thin silver light shone through the door leaving a slice of moonlight across the clothes hanging in front of him.
Disoriented at first, he gradually remembered what he had to do. Part of him didn’t want to go through with it, but the voice wouldn’t allow him to think of anything else.
As if in answer to his thoughts, it whispered in his mind. Remain silent, it hissed. Do not move. You mustn’t be found. Breathe slow. Deep. In measured breaths. You are the divine instrument of God’s will. His hand will guide yours. Sweaty fingers slid over the handle of the sickle at his side.
His back felt stiff. His legs shook. He longed to move, but the sounds from the hall outside the bedroom told him that to do so would mean discovery.
The bedroom light clicked on and a slash of gold stabbed through the crack in the door, stopping inches from his face. He cringed, catching his breath. She came straight toward him. He held his breath, tightening his grip on the sickle. The pretty blonde stopped with her hand on the door as if lost in thought, then turned away and began undressing.
He exhaled slow, studying her through the opening. Cascading blonde hair and smooth curves. When she pulled an angora sweater over her head he saw firm breasts and smooth, delicate shoulders. He nearly gasped when she unzipped her jeans and wiggled out of them. Her panties followed. Seeing her in this intimate way sparked long atrophied desires.
That’s not why you’re here, the voice admonished. Put those filthy thoughts out of your mind. The harsh words made him feel hot and prickly; the way he felt when his mother used to scold him.
She turned toward him again and stared. He tensed, then remembered the mirror on the closet door. She cupped her breasts and turned from side to side, examining herself. His gaze darted between her breasts and the honeyed patch of pubic hair that graced her smooth, toned thighs. If not for the voice, he might have gone for her then, but fear kept him in check.
When he reached the limits of control, she turned and disappeared from view. The sound of running water came from the bathroom, then the toilet flushed. When she passed the closet again he saw that she put on a nightgown, then the light went out.
The dull glimmer of moonlight filled his consciousness once more, followed by the creak of bedsprings and the beeping sound of her cell phone.
“Ken?” She said softly. “Yes, babe, I’m home, tucked in and thinking about you.” A pause. “I know. I miss you too. We’ll spend tomorrow night together. All night.” Another pause. “I’m sorry too. I love you.” Pause. “Goodnight, babe.”
More creaking came from the bedsprings, then the sound of her breathing, strong and regular at first, then slowing.
Soon, the voice said. When the silence nears perfection. God will guide your hand.
He drifted with the voice, trusting it as it strengthened him; an old, reliable friend. He couldn’t remember when he first heard it, only that it gave meaning to his life and promised him happiness and fulfillment. Tonight he would give in to its insistence and it would reward him.
He remained still until no other sound came except her breathing.
Slow and even.
Moving with the patience of a snake stalking prey, his hand glided forward, fingers touching the smooth door, stopping when his hand made full contact. He applied pressure until the closet door swung open noiselessly. The voice had seen to it that he oiled the hinges before settling in to wait.
He inched forward, slipping between her clothes, once again catching the lingering scent of her perfume, extricating himself from the confines of the closet, emerging into the full glory of the moonlight.
Fear, love, frustration, and unbearable longing held him immobile when he beheld the graceful curves of the girl beneath the sheets. If only…
She stirred.
He froze while she rolled onto her back and licked her lips, mumbling something before slipping back into peaceful slumber. He moved closer, pausing again to admire the childlike innocence of her face, stifling the urge to stroke her hair.
Do it! the voice commanded.
He flinched, then raised the sickle, momentarily fascinated at the silver glinting off its blade.
Her eyes snapped open. Wide. A sharp intake of breath. Her mouth opened forming an “O” before the tip of the sickle plunged down, turning what might have been a scream into a raspy gurgle. The stark fear in her eyes dulled as he pulled the sickle out, dimming further with each successive strike.

 

Bio

MattPhoto2

Matthew J. Pallamary’s historical novel Land Without Evil, received rave reviews along with a San Diego Book Award for mainstream fiction and was adapted into a stage and sky show directed by Agent Red, and was the subject of an EMMY nominated episode of a PBS series, Arts in Context.

He has taught a Phantastic Fiction workshop at the Southern California Writers’ Conference in San Diego, Palm Springs, and Los Angeles, and at the Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference for twenty five years, and is presently Editor in Chief of Mystic Ink Publishing.

His memoir Spirit Matters took first place in the San Diego Book Awards Spiritual Book Category, and was an Award-Winning Finalist in the autobiography/memoir category of the National Best Book Awards.  He frequently visits the jungles, mountains, and deserts of North, Central, and South America pursuing his studies of shamanism and ancient cultures.

San Diego, CA

 

Connect with Matthew J. Pallamary

 

WWW.MATTPALLAMARY.COM

Friend me on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/matthew.pallamary

Visit my Author Page on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/MatthewJPallamary

Follow me on Twitter:  https://twitter.com/mattpallamary

Connect on LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/mattpallamary

Favorite my Smashwords author page:  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/Picaflor

 

****************

 

Paul De Lancey
www.pauldelancey.com
www.lordsoffun.com

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Spotlight on Paul R. De Lancey – Author of “Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms?”

Excerpt from Chapter 1-A Loaf Of Bread

DeLanceyPaul

 

The tennis lady gave Joe a long look, her lip licking insinuating a wild hour of addressing and stuffing envelopes. “You know you really should try out for the Lutheran Chippendales.”
She waved goodbye, turned the corner, screamed, and was never seen again. Perhaps the bright reflections off the floor’s gold tiles blinded her, perhaps she got lost in Hungry Hank’s endless Lithuanian-food section, or perhaps she had talked too much and an enraged group of Ronald Reagan mimes got to her.
Joe brought his loaf of Roman Meal bread and pig balls to the Ten-Items-or-Fewer line. In front of him, a blood-splattered Young Republican, Hiram the Insignificant, unloaded the entire contents of aisle 6A onto the checkout counter. Joe thought about moving to the Eleven-Items-or-More lines, but he had only two items. And Lutheran discipline expressly forbade such chicanery. So for 2.9 minutes he dreamed of mushroom-free Thanksgiving dinners until his items moved up to the checkout lady, Deborah Devil.
The parchment skin of her face barely covered her skull. She sported a long bony nose that could double as a handy letter opener. Two golden horns emerged from the scraggly growth of her silver hair. The tip of a small tail swished just below the bottom of her dress. Hungry Hank’s sure took its role as equal-opportunity employer seriously.
Deborah Devil, or as The Supreme Evil preferred to be called, Debbie, did not permit Joe to see any of these demonic warning signs. He saw her as Shania Twain. Why a beautiful, fabulously successful singer worked the Ten-Items-or-Fewer line at Hank’s, he couldn’t say. But his heart pounded. And pounded.
No, some of that pounding came from his fist hitting the conveyor. Part of his brain had revolted against a grave injustice. “The customer in front of me had way more than ten items.”
Debbie sneered. “So?”
“It isn’t right. You should have directed her to another line.”
The evil checker pulled the plug to the cash register. “I don’t like your attitude.”
“That’s outrageous.”
She smiled and leaned forward. Damn, how come Hungry Hank’s let Shania wear her blouse so unbuttoned?
“Sure, hon, I know that. I wanted to get your attention ‘cuz Lutheran men make me so hot. And you’re all Lutheran.
“Tell you what, I’ll ring you up, Joe. All you have to do is be mine tonight, just tonight. C’mon, let Debbie make life fun for you.”
Joe sighed and in just two attempts averted his Lutheran eyes from her heaving breasts. “No, I love my wife. She’s the best. You’re great, but you’re not her.”
Debbie grimaced and pointed a claw-like hand–which always counted against her in beauty contests–toward the display of George’s Mushrooms. “Then buy those. Eat them. Then I’ll ring up your bread.”
“No way, mushrooms are the Devil’s food. I learned that way back in Lutheran Sunday school.”
Debbie’s chest heaved as she drowned out the store’s Lutheran love songs with laughter. “But that’s how I’ll make you leave your Episcopalian mushroom-cooking wife for me.”
Joe shook his head.
Shania licked her lips.
Joe gripped the Roman Meal. “The answer is still no, and I demand to talk to the manager.”
The horned lady rested her elbow on the platinum counter, her chin on her wart-encrusted hand. “Honey, no one manages me.”
A quite distant relative of Achilles came up behind Joe and asked Debbie, “Gonna serve anyone this century?”
Her red eyes flashed and the customer turned into a short monotoned economist. The man scurried away to explain the notion of constant elasticities of substitution to slow fleeing grannies.
One at a time, Shania fixed her eyes on Joe. “I’ll do the same to you if you don’t eat those mushrooms and leave your wife.”
“Mrs. Twain, you should be ashamed of yourself. Doesn’t your husband object to your affairs?”
“Call me Debbie. And no, that limp loser is too busy fighting a forever feud with that holier-than-thou Big Guy to notice my doings and my NEEDS. Shoot, and the sausages on the men that come in here just aren’t big enough, if you know what I mean.”
Debbie leered at Joe’s burgeoning crotch. “But man, ain’t you history’s best hung Lutheran.” Joe blushed. She stared again at his groin. “Man, I’ve worked this job 900 days waiting for you to come along, ever since I met your wife at Chez Episcopalian Beauty Parlor.” Debbie licked her lips. “But your wife didn’t say you were such a hottie.”
She panted and gestured for Joe to come hither. Joe thanked God for the Swedish heritage enabling him to stand firm against offers of fun. He placed his right hand over his heart. “I shall never eat enslaving mushrooms, no way. I shall never dally with you, nor shall I ever, ever leave my wife while I am in my right mind and blood flows through this body.”
The evil temptress laughed. “Fine, then you’ll continue to get new minds and new bodies until you give in.”

 

Author’s Bio

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Paul De Lancey writes in multiple genres: adventure, westerns, morality, time travel, thriller, and culinary, all spiced with zaniness. He is a frequent contributor to HumorOutcasts. His novels Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms?Beneficial MurdersWe’re French and You’re Not and The Fur West  and his cookbook Eat Me: 169 Fun Recipes From All Over the World have won acclaim from award-winning authors.

Paul is also the writer of hilarious articles and somewhat drier ones in Economics. Dr. De Lancey obtained his Doctorate in Economics from the University of Wisconsin. His thesis, “Official Reserve Management and Forecasts of Official Reserves,” disappears from bookstore shelves so quickly that most would-be purchasers can never find it in stock.

Paul, known to his friends as Paul, was the proud co-host of the online literary events Bump Off Your Enemies, The Darwin Murders, and Tasteful Murders. He also co-collected, co-edited, and co-published the e-book anthologies resulting from these events. Perhaps Mr. De Lancey will someday  become a literary giant without having to die for the title.

The humorist is a direct descendant of the great French Emperor Napoleon. Actually, that explains a lot of things. Paul ran for President of the United States in 2012! Woo hoo! On the Bacon & Chocolate ticket.  Estimates of Bacon & Chocolate’s share of the votes range from 3 to 1.5% of the total. El Candidato also lost a contentious campaign to be El Presidente of Venezuela. In late 2013, Chef Paul participated in the International Bento Competition. The great statesman is again running for president, this time under HumorOutcasts’ sponsorship. Contact Paul before he gets elected to get that ambassadorship to Tahiti you’ve always wanted.

Mr. De Lancey makes his home, with his wonderful family, in Poway, California. He divides his time between being awake and asleep.

His books are available at: www.lordsoffun.com andamazon.com.

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Spotlight on Kathy Minicozzi – Author of “OPERA For People Who Don’t Like It”

Spotlight on Kathy Minicozzi – Author of OPERA For People Who Don’t Like It

 

 

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Excerpt

 

INTRODUCTION: Singing Opera and Writing Funny

I am weird, but not dangerous. Okay, maybe I’m dangerous when I’m on a stepladder trying to install a window shade. Other than that, I am harmless and kind of cute, in a way.

But I sing opera and I write funny stuff. Go ahead and look at me like I have two heads. I don’t mind. I wish I did have two heads, so I could change them back and forth, according to the look I wanted. But I don’t. Have two heads, that is.

Don’t ask me to explain in detail how I ended up being an aging opera singer and budding humor writer. It would take too long. Besides, I might write my memoirs someday, and if you already know all about my life you won’t want to buy a copy.

My father, who didn’t have much faith in the earning power of a singing career, urged me to get an Education degree so that I could become a teacher. The teaching profession is a noble one, and good, dedicated teachers are always needed. That was my problem. I would have been a terrible teacher, and I hated the whole idea. So I got my degrees – B.A. and M.A. – in music, and set out to be an opera singer. Fortunately, I had office skills to fall back on, so I didn’t starve in the process, and, although I never sang at the Metropolitan Opera or La Scala or any of the other major houses, I had a much better career singing in smaller places than most of my opera singing colleagues.

The process of building an opera career is difficult, filled with traveling on a shoestring, singing many auditions for every job you get, rejection which is relieved by an occasional encouragement, backstage intrigues, greedy, sometimes unscrupulous agents and colleagues who are either the finest people in the world or the most treacherous (and you have to find out who is which, sometimes the hard way). If you make headway in the business, you also have to deal with spending huge amounts of time away from home. For some of us, this means picking up and making a new home in another country, with another culture and another language. There is also a thing called poverty, caused in good part by the big expenses involved in a singing career: voice lessons; coachings; audition wardrobe; printed music; mailings; travel all over the place; etc.

When you get onstage, though, and you are in good voice and the performance is going well, it’s the most satisfying, practically orgasmic thing in the world.

Now that I am a woman of a certain age, no longer actively pursuing an international singing career, you would think I would settle down, get a job with benefits, look for some lucrative sidelines to build up something for my old age, and reflect back on all the fun I had. I actually did one of those things. I got a job with benefits, at which I work five days a week. Instead of lucrative sidelines, I chose to become a writer. I guess I can’t live without dedicating huge amounts of time and energy to something at which most practitioners never make any money.

The process of building a writing career is difficult, filled with things like submitting work to many publishers for every acceptance you get, rejection which is relieved by an occasional encouragement, greedy vanity publishers and other people dying to take a writer’s money, and colleagues who are either the most supportive people in the world or the most envious (and you have o find out who is which, sometimes the hard way). If you hope to be able to live only on your writing without any other source of income, you also have the prospect of poverty.

This is a clear case of déjà vu. I have gone from one profession where the prospects of getting rich are dismal and the rejection is constant to another profession where the prospects of getting rich are dismal and the rejection is constant. What can I say?

I’ll say this: writing is hard work, but it’s fun. Like singing, it is satisfying in a visceral way. It is even more satisfying to me if I can make people laugh. I can’t imagine a life without doing something that I love to do, so this is it.

The irony, which I think is hilarious, is that, in other ways, singing opera is the direct opposite of writing humor. I have listed the disparities below.

SINGING OPERA vs. WRITING FUNNY

Opera: I have played serious, tragic, beautiful heroines. I have died onstage of everything from tuberculosis to poison to hara-kiri to jumping off a building, while costumed in gorgeous gowns, peasant costumes, a poor seamstress’ dress, kimonos and nightgowns. I have worn glamorous wigs and complicated hairdos and my face has been covered with a thick layer of gooey stage makeup.

Writing: I often sit in front of my computer looking like a bag lady in the most comfortable things I have that are clean. Sometimes I just leave my PJs on. Nobody is looking at me, so what the hell. If by some chance anyone is looking at me, I’m covered up and that’s what matters. I never wear makeup if I can help it. And I have not died yet, at least not that I know of.

Opera: I am in front of a bunch of people, singing very loudly and hoping for a lot of applause.

Writing: I am in front of my cat, typing on a computer keyboard and hoping to get a few laughs. If I sing I scare the cat.

Opera: People have sometimes asked me to sing something on the spur of the moment, especially at parties or family get-togethers. On the other hand, if I break out in spontaneous song in public, the people I am with pretend they don’t know me.

Writing: Nobody ever asks me for a free writing sample, and I have to practically bribe my family members to read my stuff. I can sit in a public place, such as a café or a park, and write until my fingers get tired without attracting any attention at all.

Opera: Opera singers try to avoid getting sick, especially with performances coming up, even if it means putting themselves in an isolation booth.

Writing: I don’t want to get sick, but if I don’t get out and around (breathing germs and touching things like subway poles and escalator rails) I won’t find anything funny to write about. Agoraphobia jokes get old really fast. Writers are expected to be observers and interactors. It comes with the vocation.

That’s enough. You get the picture.

What is the one subject that an opera singer turned humor writer should write about? Opera, of course! Opera is one of the greatest art forms ever invented. It is a marriage of great music and drama. It can move audiences in a special way not shared with other forms of theater. Operagoers easily become hooked, because they love it.

It is also rich in possibilities for humor. That’s where I come in. Just because I love opera and even sing it doesn’t mean I can’t poke fun at it.

By the way, as a humor writer I am allowed to exaggerate to make something funny. Please remember that when you read this book. Opera is one of the greatest, most fascinating art forms ever developed and perfected by humans. Attending a good performance is an incredible, cathartic experience. Singing a good performance can be just as cathartic in another way. If I appear to be dissing opera in this book, know that that is the farthest thing from my mind. What I do here is like cracking jokes at a good friend who is free to crack jokes right back. In a way, I am also poking fun of myself.

I hope that, by now, you have been so captivated by my brilliant lead-in that you just HAVE to stick around and read the rest of this book.

Biokathy2

Kathy Minicozzi was born on Long Island, New York and raised in the Yakima Valley, Washington State. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Eastern Washington University and a Master of Arts in Music from Washington State University. As an opera singer, she sang with the Regensburg Stadttheater in Regensburg, Germany, the Israel National Opera in Tel Aviv, Israel, the New York Grand Opera in New York City, Opera of the Hamptons on Long Island, New York, the Ambassadors of Opera and Concert Worldwide and other groups. Although she no longer auditions, she continues to sing as a church soloist and in an occasional concert or recital.

She has now taken up a second career as a humor writer, and has been a regular contributor to HumorOutcasts.com.

OPERA  For People Who Don’t Like Like It is available on amazon.com.

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Spotlight on Mary I. Farr – Author of “The Promise in ‘Plan B’ What we bring to the next chapter in our lives

Excerpts from The Promise in Plan B: What We Bring To The Next Chapter In Our Lives

 

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Make Time for Community
Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.
—Anthony J. D’Angelo

A physiologist whose research focused on the human heart once offered me a provocative piece of information: “When you place cells from two separate hearts into a single incubating medium, they begin to communicate with one another.”

It seems that certain proteins in heart-cell membranes enable the cells to communicate with one another. Unlike other body cells, those that make up the human heart can transfer electrical energy from cell to cell. Once placed in a petri dish, the faster-beating cells tell the slower-beating cells to speed up until, eventually, the two kinds beat in unison, as one. Compelling evidence that at the very center of our beings, we humans are quite literally connected. So after all the science and technology has been applied, and all the quality assurance metrics benchmarks have been met, our mission in life comes down to just one thing—we simply cannot fail when we choose to connect with and care for one another. And caring for one another requires building and maintaining meaningful bonds through community. This lesson came early in my professional life, about the time I was unceremoniously dismissed from what I once thought was an important job.

26

Betsy O’Reilly—The Resourceful Planner
Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.
—Paul J. Meyer

A friend and I once facilitated a retreat titled “Healing of Memories.” During the course of three days, everyone engaged in a variety of group and individual exercises, including storytelling. No surprise, the stories covered an array of harrowing topics that ranged from abuse and alcoholism to divorce and bankruptcy. At the end of the second day, the group came together for a glass of wine and an informal discussion, during which we encouraged questions and comments about the program content. After fielding a handful of remarks, I noticed an older woman named Iris sitting by herself. She wore a rather pensive expression, causing me to wonder if she might have something to say.

“Tell me, Iris, was there anything about the first two days that that resonated with your experience?” I asked.

She seemed uncomfortable with the question and took a moment to think before answering.

“Well, truthfully, I feel a little embarrassed,” she finally replied. “I’m afraid I have nothing very dramatic or painful to add to what I’ve heard so far. My life has been blessedly calm and pretty predictable.”

The Promise in Plan B

Her comments served as a good reminder that a Plan B can be blessedly calm and pretty predictable. In fact, frequently a Plan A doesn’t implode but simply runs out of steam. Other times, a natural course of events, such as aging or a move to a different state or country, precipitates creation of a new blueprint. In any case, changing direction does not require a catastrophe. We assured Iris that her calm and predictable situation qualified as both gift and asset.

Consider This: Nothing Beats a Solid Plan
One look at the daily newspaper or TV news would suggest that chaos surrounds us and mapping an even path to the future is impossible. Not true! Creating a Plan B often begins with clear thinking and steady preparation. Betsy O’Reilly provides a fine example of a great outcome that began with a great idea and a solid plan to back it up.

A move to a new home, a new job, or a new adventure prompted by children leaving for college provides the perfect occasion for us to organize our thoughts before taking a next step. Changing direction does not require pain or crisis. It might, however, require shifting our perceptions to see the hidden opportunities ahead.

Think of a time when you found yourself making a plan that was not driven by a setback or emergency. Describe the gifts or assets you brought to the planning table.
□ _Intuition?
□ _Research?
□ _Patience?
□ _Tenacity?
□ _Preparation?

What previously undiscovered or untested talents came to light during this process?

Author’s BioNewMary

Mary Farr, a retired pediatric hospital chaplain, teacher, and motivational speaker has devoted more than 30 years to exploring the worlds of hope, healing and humor. Today she has infused these life essentials into her writing, including her wildly funny and gently inspirational book Never Say Neigh. Her capacity to light up audiences with laughter inspires kindness and concern for one another.

Mary has published five books including the critically acclaimed If I Could Mend Your Heart and Peace: Intersections Small Group Series. The Promise in Plan B explores themes of grace and gratitude seasoned with a generous dose of wit. Mary has been featured in numerous publications, conferences and radio programs and has inspired audiences including women’s leadership groups, the Hazelden Foundation, integrative medicine conferences and grief and loss seminars. Through her work, she seeks to shine a light that enables others to discover new meaning and richness within their life journeys.

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, Mary completed her divinity studies in the Episcopal Diocese of Eau Claire, Wisconsin where she was ordained to the permanent diaconate in 1983. She received a Master of Arts degree from St. Catherine University in her hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota.

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Spotlight on Roz Warren – Author of “Our Bodies, Our Shelves”

rozfrontcoverfinalExcerpt from Lewd In The Library

 

The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue just came out, and all over America librarians are flipping through its pages and rolling their eyes.

The swimsuit issue, which isn’t actually about swimwear at all, but, is, instead, about young, beautifully shaped female bodies, is the single most stolen item in any public library. Shelve it in your magazine section like any other periodical? It’ll vanish. Like magic. Always. But hide it behind the Reference Desk and make your patrons sign it out?

Is that just good sense? Or is it censorship?

Every year, the swimsuit issue gets a bit more lascivious — the bikinis skimpier, the poses more provocative, the expressions on the models’ faces less about “Look at my strong, healthy body!” and more about “Do me! Now! Right here on the beach!”

This year’s cover shows three stunning young woman, topless, their backs to the camera, smiling happily at the viewer over their shoulders, their gorgeous rumps more revealed than concealed by itty wisps of fabric.

Is this really what we want to display on our library’s magazine rack?

Of course, the collection of my suburban Philadelphia library contains all three books in the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, and numerous other examples of sexy contemporary “literature.” (And the sex scenes in the romances we circulate are hot hot hot.)

We librarians tend to be fans of the First Amendment. I’m a card-carrying member of the ACLU myself. I even subscribe to Playboy — for the articles and interviews, of course.

What I’m saying is that I’m all for pornography.

But there’s a time and a place for porn. I wasn’t sure this was the time or the place. I’m in charge of processing and then shelving incoming magazines. Before putting this one out on the floor, I decided to consult my supervisor.

Carol and I perused the issue together.

“OMG!” “Would you look at that?” “Yikes!” “Do you even see a swimsuit in this picture?” “Gosh!” “I hope her mother never sees that shot.”

This was pretty hot stuff.

We were inclined to stash it behind the reference desk, along with the other stuff that patrons like to steal. The Tuesday “Science” section of The New York Times. The Morningstar weekly stock market updates.

But first, we brought the issue to the head of the library.

Our boss took a look, then said, “Just shelve it. Don’t treat it differently than any other magazine. It’s no worse than what they can see every day on television.”

That woman sure loves the First Amendment.

And, of course, the truth is that we’re living in an era where anyone, of any age, can view all the naked tushies they want, whenever they want, online.
“Put a security tag on it, of course,” she added. Although we all know how easy it is to remove those tags.

Before I shelved it, my co-workers passed it around. The consensus? We weren’t exactly shocked. But we weren’t exactly thrilled either.

We’re all middle-aged women. Many of us are grandmas. Still, in our heyday, we too were hot chicks. But you can be a hot chick and not want to share that aspect of yourself with the entire world. The kind of young woman who is drawn to library work is rarely the kind of young woman who ends up spilling out of her bikini on the cover of a magazine.

We librarians don’t tend to let it all hang out.

Which means that we are, increasingly, at odds with our culture. Modesty? How retro is that? Dignity? Forget about it.

Still, we proudly stand behind the First Amendment. Perhaps, to a fault. And while I wasn’t exactly elated about adding that little touch of smarm to our quiet reading room, I went ahead and shelved the swimsuit issue, just like any other magazine.

Within 24 hours, it was gone.

 

Biography

 

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Roz Warren, “the world’s funniest librarian,” writes forThe New York Times, The Funny Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Jewish Forward and The Huffington Post. And she‘s been featured on the Today Show. (Twice!) Roz is the editor of the ground-breaking Women’s Glib humor collections, including titles like The Best Contemporary Women’s Humor, Men Are From Detroit, Women Are From Paris and When Cats Talk Back. Our Bodies, Our Shelves is her thirteenth humor book. Years ago, Roz left the practice of law to take a job at her local public library “because I was tired of making so damn much money.” She has no regrets.

Website: www.rosalindWarren.com
Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter

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