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Isn't it Illegal to Stalk and Harass Through the US Mail?

A weird and creepy fan can come out of anywhere, even your own neighborhood. I really don't know which one of my literary masterpieces that my super fan is referring to in the weird letter below, or why my superfan believes I waste much time thinking of them, or why I am deserving of a certified letter that costs five bucks, but I'm grateful for the clicks. I'm grateful to all of my fans and super fans that don't know how to make a bookmark and just click around all over my site looking for a single post or a single word. That drives up my Google rating.

But chronically accusing me and my dogs of something untrue, harassing us, is not okay. It's injustice 101. It's scary because it's a whole coalition. You can see that on the envelope. Anyone would be intimidated. No wonder I am so upset. I am officially ganged up on by an entire coalition! I'm losing it!

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I wonder if the dogs know they are accused of *insert drumroll*...barking!

Sometimes Travis does go out there to bark. Usually he barks when he's hearing another dog bark, and that dog is barking because another dog is barking over on a different street, and so on and on. He also barks at nosy people that stick their eyeballs into the fence. He barks at screaming babies and junk cars that rumble around, the trash truck, and occasional sirens. He barks when he hears people yelling and talking loud. But he isn't out there at night; he isn't out there in the cold or the heat; he isn't underfed or underloved. No evidence of any of these accusations of him barking exist anywhere--no pictures, no audio, nothing. If they had any audio it would be because they harassed him and made him bark by making noises of their own. He and Gladys are just normal dogs, living a normal life, minding their own business. They are a case study in how humans should be, especially the minding your own business part. Well, Gladys is nosy, but that's okay. The weird thing is that I was home on the days referenced below, except Monday. The author writes that the dog is barking for fifteen minutes, and I'm thinking, so what? It's baloney anyway. I have cameras all over the place, and I know when he is out there. I can see him. I can see him pee on the welcome mat, step in the pee, and jump right back into the house. It irritates me to death. He's a scaredy cat, and Gladys is such a coward she never visits the patio when I'm not home. She uses her pee pad.

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This isn't the only time that I've been harassed via mail, but this time does stand out for its cowardly flavor and pathetic nature. It's really dumb that someone would go into a nearby post office and send off such unpolished and unprofessional, pathetic prose. There must be a law against this kind of behavior. Surely the second letter they threaten to send will trigger the harassment law, or at least the law against bad literature. It's a disgrace to paper to send out something that lousy. Since I am just as much of a pretend lawyer, probably even better than the author of that pathetic letter, I'm going to impress upon Travis that he needs to get out there and do a bunch more barking. The more barking, the better. That way the author of the creepy I-Wish-I-Wasn't-So-Bored stalker letter could get some kind of rehab, and me and Travis could go to Austin to watch some bands.

I guess I felt pretty distressed when I first read all of this. Like any good English composition person, I started annotating it and making comments, running it through the copier, and downloading the documents into an Adobe file. But most importantly, and this really matters, I want the authors to know that the word is sot, not sod. Example: You are a drunken sot. When critiquing my writing the least they can do is get it right. And they remark in the letter below that "I left them no choice." People that know me can already testify that in most situations that are ridiculous and stupid, I am not interested in providing anyone with a choice. That's such a weird thing to write, almost like a little passive-aggressive threat. A threat cliché

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And seriously, it is incredibly sad and disturbing that adults can act like this when all they have to do is mind their own business. All they have to do is use their minds and their work for something good to benefit society, and not bother anyone. When they make a fake call to complain about me, when they fixate on something they think someone wrote, when they try to harm an animal at its own home, they are taking time away from something more important. They are choosing to exist in chaos and not thrive in peace. It's all in the Karma.

 


Thoughts on Last Night's State of the Union Address

Last night I watched President Biden's persuasive address to the nation, and it's clear to me that the Republican Party came out of the night looking foolish and out of touch. If people are sick of inflation, then look to corporate greed for a solution. Obviously, Biden is in a power struggle of sorts with big pharma and big corporations. If they can point to his policies as problematic, they can later line up to Trump's trough and slurp up lavish tax cuts at the expense of the working class and middle America. Big oil and other polluters like them will once again be allowed to operate without those pesky regulations that strive to protect ordinary citizens. They will once again start disregarding the rights of minority and immigrant communities. 

What Trump and the Republicans aim to do is unethical, immoral, and anti-democratic. Republican Party personalities always lie to their constituents and claim that interfering in the personal lives of citizens is not their goal, but one only need to look at the mess after the overturning of Roe v Wade to uncover the false narratives around their ridiculous claims. 

Marjorie Taylor Green, Lauren Boebert, and disgraced US Representative George Santos clearly represent the level of low intelligence and obnoxious personality types that populate the Republican Party. Their refusal to send aid to Ukraine, while people die and a democratic European country is destroyed by Russian aggression, is only one example of poor judgement laced with hate and bigotry. 

Hate is an indulgence, and members of the Republican Party are morally irresponsible and unable to do what is right for our country and for the world. The fixation on hate and isolationism destroyed their sense of duty and justice. 

And last night's "kitchen rebuttal" looked and sounded completely ridiculous. Katie Britt snarled out a hateful, fear-mongering, rebuke that lacked any evidence, but capitalized on her hateful nature. As a woman, I felt embarrassed by her look and her sound. Every Republican bends over for Trump, a man that steals, lies, and sexually assaults women. Trump, the con-man, will destroy American progress.

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Bad Writing in Modern English

I teach my students George Orwell's classic essay Politics and the English Language because he attacks lousy, pretentious prose with comedic indirect satire that is largely dead in modern writing. The writing of today typically dips into sarcasm, an easy below the belt tactic that contributes to the death of civil discourse in professional life. No manager or supervisor should confuse poorly toned writing for professionalism or leadership. Typing out a poorly constructed directive in all caps and sending it out to team members at an inopportune time illuminates nothing in the workplace except the sender's lack of expertise. Poorly timed, poorly toned messages disappoint dedicated people and destroy emerging relationships.

One year during the pandemic on Thanksgiving day, I sat across an old friend in a dilapidated easy chair, and while watching television, the email on my phone dinged. A smart person might have ignored the dinging, but it was Thanksgiving day. I assumed an emergency happened at my work, maybe to a fellow colleague. Instead, this message asked me to verify someone's classroom attendance. This kind of thing can't be fixed during a holiday break. It is the sort of message that scheduled for a Monday morning delivery, might have been more digestible. All writers and professionals should know that the timing of your message is almost as important as the tone and content.

I love the way Orwell addresses the issue with tacked on phraseology. Right now I have a 'hen house' phrase that I am sick and tired of hearing: "That being said."

Anywhere you go, in any setting, you will hear or read some pretentious attempt at professionalism, but the aforementioned phrase above reduces whatever the writer or speaker is trying to say into a pile of meaningless rubble. Orwell, if he were here beside me today, would likely wish he was back in India working as a cop again rather than listen to the lousy prose present in 21st century mass media. He lists out "operator, or verbal false limbs" in his characteristic indirect satirical style without mercy or embellishment. Phrases such as, with respect to, the fact that, in the interests of, with respect to, and so on, exemplify what he means by "tacked on phrases" that convey nothing to an audience.

Many times my students try to write with pretentious diction. Sometimes the results are funny and charming, but overall this kind of writing will not assist the student in any academic or business venture. And people posing as professionals ought to write clearly and with empathy, timing messages with care, rather than trying to dictate to others as if they exist on a royal pedestal when, clearly, in today's society, anyone is replaceable.

Orwell1984

 


Cancel Russia and its Petulant, Whining Leader: Reject Fascism 🌻 #StandWithUkraine

Russia, a petulant, whining child, complains about the consequences of something that is entirely its own fault, the bloody invasion of Ukraine, an invasion based on obvious lies and foolishness. The rest of the world, according to the Kremlin, must capitulate and give them Ukraine. Why? Well, because it once belonged to them, back in the good old days of Soviet oppression. Don't forget, if you are leaning towards fascism, or if you are someone thinking that kowtowing to the Kremlin will protect you from harm, that Soviet citizens couldn't make choices or engage with the outside world. They lived by a rigid standard of rules that were designed to trap people into a life of subjugation and slavery. Even now the Russian government stealthily enslaves people that it considers unworthy of partaking in the common "civil" society, so what you are worth?

How would you stack up on Putin's rubric?

Frankly I'm sick of their tired and meaningless diatribes, especially that rat Minister of Foreign Affairs, their murderous and ugly intentions, and their selfish imposition on the world order. Just like any other adolescent cry baby, this regime will never be satisfied until they completely dominate the entire free world power structure. Every day they threaten a new border, a new ethnic group, or offer to pony up a nuke or chemical weapon. The world does not have to sit around and look at this.

We can take action too.

As if Putin and his cabal of greedy, rich and ugly, disgusting followers and oligarch zombies didn't already have enough wealth and land, exclusive power over vast populations, and at least prior to this cruel and murderous invasion, substantial prestige and unlimited luxury. How much do they need? Why couldn't they turn their ugly impulses into something beautiful and become kind neighbors to the countries around them? Think of how duplicitous and influential a different kind of Putin could have been. Even if he is just a hardcore Soviet, imperialistic nut-show, he could have seemed so different and thus benefit exponentially for his country, his cabal, and his personal greed. 

Putin and his oligarchs blindly threw away the greatest opportunity in the history of humanity. They took an opportunity of positivity and turned it into the ugliest mess since WW II. No doubt the hand he played in Syria defined him and allowed for future atrocity, but still a shroud of decency, even farfetched, might have been cast over his crimes considering the massive disinformation campaign that precludes such barbarism. His holding of a lighted candle during an Orthodox Easter service seems to parallel with Trump holding a Bible while protesters are gassed and beaten because in every move that Putin makes, rather it be abstract or concrete, a threatening message is sent. Every move Trump makes, even though they are completely amateur in comparison, share the same hateful and indulgent set of goals. Putin is telling us that he will use gas on Ukraine.

The fascists are here even if they are unable to define themselves due to cowardice or a lack of education. They are here and we must acknowledge their presence, just as if they too are whining petulant children. In our country, people are free to think as a fascist, but they are not free to act as a fascist. But I want to make it clear to the people that bother to read my thoughts, the toxic pond we wade in is deep because of Putin and his outdated Soviet philosophy--the modern fascist world will make the old fascist world look like a peaceful playground full of happy children. We must rise up and defend freedom or the suffering and horror will never end. Fascism, in alignment with Putin's world view, will be nothing but atrocity after atrocity. 

Ask a Ukrainian if you don't believe me.

BombedPlayground

 


Putin: Words Are Insufficient to Describe this Horror

All of these years we have sat around as a country and let Putin unleash genocide and terror on humanity with no consequences to him or his oligarchs. We enabled him to rise to this level where he can get away with threatening us with nuclear weapons and we sit on our hands and do nothing to him in return. People will cry, "Sanctions, we have done sanctions." And I will remind those nice, well-informed, people that while we rely on nonviolent sanctions and while we ship some arms to his victims, we are doing something that does not stop the genocide or Kremlin fury. Genocide perpetuates itself as soldiers and "yes men" get in line for dictator favors. They represent the lowest of humanity, men and women that will literally extinguish life for material gain or their own personal safety.

Sadly, and I am ashamed of this, our President speaks when he should shut up, and he fails to act with force and fury when appropriate. As the clock ticks, more people, including little children, endure horrific violence, suffering and death, but Biden is resolute in his crap decisions. 

Some of you may whimper, "But nukes." Well, go ahead and live on your fears because these fears determine the future for millions of people around the world barely surviving the oppression of a nearby dictator. We fail to recognize the threat that exists for all of humanity when we allow a bloodthirsty tyrant to terrorize one ethnic/cultural group after another: Syria, Chechnya, Georgia, Ukraine, and so forth. We allowed these things to take place, these genocides. 

I noticed in the Russian news that the fascists point to our invasion of Iraq, and from me they will get no argument. I completely agree that invading Iraq ranked pretty high on the stupidity chart. But this time it is different. This time the option for survivors is not so-called Western style freedom, but the option is tyranny and subjugation, a stunning loss of freedom and an incomprehensible future. 

These other genocides, the ones that passed from our view, the oft-forgotten, indulgent and hedonistic violence that wiped out entire tribes and communities hid behind other news and dumb, superficial media stories. This genocide, thanks to the digital world, is lavishly recorded for all of us to watch. Even so, some news organizations try to look the other way in some shameful manner of mismanaged priorities; mingling corny jokes, laughter, and silly community stories, while barely glossing over the terrible predicament that our inaction has brought to us. 

This is not the first time I have felt terrible shame and feelings of disappointment and outright embarrassment concerning my country and the president I voted for; now I am not alone; the crowd of disgusted Americans continues to branch out like an angry web. When the details of this inaction comes to full light, no one will vote for Biden. He allows the extermination to go on.

UkraineVector

 


Explaining Myself: Why I Want to Become an Anti-Racist Teacher

First of all I would like to remind my readers that in spite of a stereotypical African American first name, I am a white person of western European descent with only a smattering of Native American thrown in. I know this for a fact because I took the 23&Me DNA test, and it turns out I'm nearly as white as a person can get. I do have skin that darkens up nicely in the sun, dark green eyes (cousin to brown on the DNA strand), and an overall 'Indian' look, but only one of my ancestors can be verified as native.

Discrimination and prejudice certainly impacted my life in an ongoing and rather problematic way because my family members stepped out in nontraditional roles and some of them worked in what could be considered as odd career choices, including myself. I'm not a stranger to white elitism and snobbery. But my challenges stack up nicely in the columns of inconvenience or mild heartbreak, even though I now realize that some of my old associates either hid their distorted and ignorant opinions from me, or have, over the decades, became disgustingly narrow minded and ridiculous, even ungrateful.

In recent years, some of my African American friends and coworkers quietly and patiently pointed out some of my own dumb blind spots and unearned privileges. Even if I earned the right to some of my privileges through hard work or suffering, I still enjoy a ton of White-Bread-American advantages that people of color righteously feel angry about. The best place to view this list of unearned advantages built into the racist American system are listed in Peggy McIntosh's essay White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.

McIntosh, associate director of the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women, lists 50 ways that white people experience privilege over people of color. All 50 of them are relevant and important, eye-opening and true, but for now I want to talk about number 39: I can be late to a meeting without having the lateness reflect on my race. 

The best school leader I have ever known was a younger and wiser African American woman. She is honestly gifted, an amazing writer and communicator, a wonderful teacher and friend to every person that knows her. She goes out of her way to think open-mindedly about people that I typically write off as plain stupid and fake (this is hyperbole because I seldom write anyone off). Obviously, her heart is ten times bigger than mine because she strives to see the good in everyone, no matter their background or identity, while I'm a skeptic when it comes to adults. But she sometimes, like a million other qualified and gifted people, would be late to a faculty meeting or other function. On one notable time, she was stuck in a meeting with a parent, and I watched and listened as she entered the room; I witnessed the negative body language and eye-rolling, and I heard the comments that were made:

"There she is, late as usual. I wonder if she knew we had a meeting. She's late all the time." 

It's true that occasional lateness happened, but if the occasional lateness happened to me, or some other white person, nobody ever cares or makes any audible comments. When it's a white person, people tend to mind their own business when it comes to lateness. When it's a person of color, it's because the person is not organized, or they are lazy. This is just plain wrong.

Number 13 has to do with money: Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability. Let us be honest white people--most of us don't deserve the bank credit that we get. Some of us start businesses and fail to properly pay or compensate our employees. Some of us are not worth the paper we are printed on, and that includes me. I am just not worth much, and I may never be worth much. But I have something that most people of color don't; I have some generational wealth. It's not much, but it's still amazing. It's better than nothing. When I walk into a bank, I get a ton of respect, respect I definitely do not deserve. If my qualified and gifted person of color walks into a bank, she receives less attention and gratuity, even though she is trying much harder than I am to establish herself as a reliable and current bank customer. 

We all know these stereotypes and racist beliefs are built into everything American. The Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, wants to make it illegal for teachers to point these facts out to students. He wants to forbid teachers to speak freely about critical race theory; but I'm positive that Abbott doesn't know what CRT is, or he would want to have it taught in our schools, because, after all, isn't Greg Abbott an open-minded and well-educated man? Critical race theory basically teaches us to notice the built in racist structures that exist, and then it teaches us how to reject and resist these ignorant ideas personally. For example, CRT points out that many deed restrictions disqualify residents based on their race. This is a fact of life, not a fairy tale or fake news. If it is our goal as a society to make opportunities and the American dream available to everyone, then how do these deed restrictions concerning race further equity? And, of course, this example of deed restrictions is just a tiny, petty example. If you really want to examine CRT, then look at incarceration rates, the war on drugs, immigration, and healthcare disparities, to name just a few glaring, national problems.

The real threat to American life is right wing extremism--neoliberalism. Donald Trump, Greg Abbot, and a slew of other ignorant politicians and demagogues clearly aim to normalize white supremacy, and they personally enjoy indulging in hateful and divisive acts and speech. They want wealth for a few and subservience for everyone else. Wealth for a few and subservience for everyone else is the political and economic theory known as neoliberalism. If you are following this ideology, if you are falling for this scam, then you are part of the problem. You are voting against yourself. If you are indulging in hateful thoughts and ideas, then you are doing something that is causing you to feel a temporary relief from what is buried under your psyche: the knowledge that you are wrong. You are actually causing Americans, including yourself, to lose freedoms. Neoliberalism and white supremacy are dangerous ideologies, but Critical Race Theory is an idea that will help you understand our national history; CRT will help you know yourself better, especially if you are white.

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On this Last Day of Love Month, A Cat Story

I can't do my own writing anymore, especially after the angst and misery of Valentine's Day, and the month of love: the month of crazy, wild weather; the month of a near total Texas electricity blackout; the month of a broken service pipe; the month of extreme Covid swings; and another month of grief over the death of not one, but two, little, precious pets. 

On this weird night, on the eve of Women's History Month, I am thinking about writing an article that features an important female in the world of rhetoric, like Ida B. Wells, an African American writer, or maybe Christine de Pisan from the Medieval era. Women in the rhetorical tradition typically receive some pretty outdated criticisms, so I'd like to offset that with some strong opinions of my own.

How do women balance all of these silly expectations about communication? What's wrong with writing aggressively? Should I write like a girl so that men won't be offended? Should I defer to the male voice? Is civil discourse really that important, or is that just another term for oversensitivity? I was told recently that I talked too loud, but my response was that I thought I couldn't be heard. 

Is that what men think we are doing when we write an aggressive text? Do they think we are trying to yell? Is that what the good conservative woman thinks? 

Anyway, the cat story submitted by my writer friend contains a message about gratitude. I am grateful that my voice continues to matter to my readers and friends, even though I am an outdoor cat. I am grateful for all of you. I'm thankful that you don't find me too loud for trying to get your attention. I am hoping you will continue to support me through these weird times. 🌹

IthinkSiameseCat

To train the cat or be trained by the cat that is the question.... Whether it is better to take a shoe to the Siamese or squirt him with the water bottle, after his sixth attempt to get one up at 5:00 in the morning, when he has been howling at one's bedside since three, or just to give up and open a can of cat food and stagger off and wait for the alarm to go off in just a few minutes, or throw his hairy little bohuncas into the garage, where it is freezing cold but there are mice....? These run on sentences frame the eternal questions of cat owners, who've been struggling with their cat masters, since the Egyptians made the mistake of first letting the cat gods into their hearts and granaries, in order to kill the rodents eating the grain.....

If I am sleep deprived, do I not get cranky? If I am tortured, do I not break? Even now, that Siamese is stalking me, complaining that the canned cat food doesn't meet up with his expectations for good service.... If I am harassed, will I not fight back; or will I just give up, give in, and buy the cat some tastier brand.....?

The outside cat thinks the canned cat food is damned tasty! He just ate it up in one gulp.

I give up.....

Just who is running this household?

Jennie (the Crazy Cat Lady)


Teacher and Student Burnout: The Battle is Real

I sit here helplessly in my little living room /slash/ office area of my tiny little apartment in this huge metropolis and I listen to people that have never worked in a public school, in any capacity, talk about how safe it is to go back to the classroom. I sit here and I listen to them compare me to the grocery store clerk, or the trash collection service. I hear them making a moral judgement about my courage and fearlessness in the midst of this crisis, as compared to my counterparts in other public service arenas. Well, I just want everyone to know that I'm not a coward, and I am tired of my opinion being overshadowed by people that have no experience in the classroom. At the same time, I'm not stupid either. I know for a fact that schools are disease factories; I know that schools can never be clean enough to "stop the spread"; I know how many colds, coronaviruses, streps, stomach illnesses, and other infections I have caught and/or transmitted over the past ten years of my career in public school, so how can this disease be any different? Uninformed people think if you throw some hand sanitizer, a mask or two, and some big cash at the problem, along with some attempted social distancing, that all of the kids can just march right back into the school. The reason that schools are not significantly contributing to community spread is because they are currently rather underpopulated, so how can anyone sit there and confidently pressure teachers and support staff to just go and willingly sacrifice their own health, or their family's health, for a job that they are not even adequately paid to do?

Kids and teachers are definitely unhappy right now. One thing that is getting my goat is this business about my online class. We are to slavishly follow the five-part lesson plan as it is laid out by Doug Lemov in his book, Teach Like a Champion. I have no problem with Lemov, and I like some of his ideas, but making a student do 7 Do Nows a day, along with 7 Exit tickets a day, all online, is just the dumbest thing ever. My kids are complaining voraciously about spending 7 hours a day doing a repetitious five-part lesson for each online class. That is 7 Zoom meetings a day. Making the teacher create 5 separate folders for each day and script out each step of the class, and then make that same teacher slavishly follow this five-part, five folder, five day a week, boring repetition is a burn out machine major-deluxe. I have heard in songs and stuff that it is better to burn out than fade away, but now I'm beginning to wonder. Maybe fading away is not a bad idea, a sentiment now shared by many educators.

This week I had the unique experience of getting an administrator in my online class asking questions. All of my kids can follow my class, open my materials, and work with my digital content. I am running 4 digital platforms: Schoology, the community college I work for, Skyward, and the College Board. All of these have some different requirements and portals to put grades in and different things for students to do. I am trying my hardest to keep it simple for my students by engaging them in creative and colorful discussion boards and assignments. My attendance is amazing, and the vast majority of my students are growing as writers, thinkers, and readers. Even though we are separated by distance and this disease, we enjoy our classes. In spite of everything, I have been able to build some robust relationships with my kids, so their suffering is my suffering. But I got a weird dressing down of sorts from my administrator because I don't have little folders for each day, with little lesson plans in each day, with my content spread out into these separate days. It's the craziest, most clerical intensive, mindless, and uncreative mandate that I have ever been asked to engage in. My students go back and revisit materials constantly, so I don't see how making them hunt and peck in daily folders is of any use to them; nor is this hunting and pecking of any use to me, as it completely stifles my ability to create a meaningful lesson plan or unit designed on the unique and specific needs of this crucial moment. My lesson plans, when I do them the way they are mandated, are fragmented and not unified. When I do them the way I have been taught in college, then my students are happier. I create a new folder every week, but these lesson plans and folders as mandated are harming my students' classroom experience.

I want to know when it started becoming important for me to write lesson plans that prioritize my administration over my students so that I can be judged, not for my teaching, but for my ability to make little daily folders, and all of this during a world health crisis.

This kind of negativity, looking for fault and calling teachers cowards, should be forbidden during this crisis. It is an all-hands-on-deck kind of a mess. Administrators and the public should be looking at ways to get teachers and kids safely back into the classroom where we do our best. If that means moving teachers up the line to get a shot, then why not? When you ask a politician or some high-level administrator this question about the vaccine, you get a bunch of weird lip service, but no answers. We are talking about the safety of our kids and the people in the schools that are charged with spending long hours everyday with them in close proximity. Only a fool or a charlatan would go around making the claim that schools are safe. Clearly, they are not, and they won't ever be if people in power can't focus on what is important, rather than what is petty. 

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Pandemic Diversions: The Crazy Cat Lady Wins Again

Dear Readers, 

In this installment of my favorite cat lady tails, night animals collaborate to keep a human awake in the deep of the night. Something similar to the following story happened to me the night before last when I mistakenly left the doggie door open all night, and Bill ventured out and was unable to hoist his fat self back into the house. I stumbled out of bed and down the stairs to open the door for him because he was barking his head off, and then I tossed in bed all night thinking about my various lives: the struggling new personal life that means more to me than anything; the struggling work life that is causing me to experience different layers of burnout; the struggling financial life that whirls around the credit universe in a long series of minus signs; and, of course, the never-ending parental worries about my struggling musical artist that lives in a sort of artist camp with a bunch of other artist types. 

And of course, all of us are worried about Covid disease; I know we need to divert from this horror and weirdness as much as possible. The stories that independent writers produce are valuable in this regard because they provide moments of peace by temporarily moving us into a different realm free of disease and chaos while we safely wait out a viable solution for our return to normal life. Anyone currently suffering from Covid disease has our sympathy. I would like to introduce another such story from my favorite indie writer.

This story won a flash fiction prize, and, no, it is not mine.

Stranger in the Night

Leaving my parliament of night owls on their own recognizance—for some reason, a group of owls is not called a “congress”, but that is another story-- I hit the bed early, hoping to catch up on some much-needed rest. I toss. I turn. All goes blank. I must have fallen asleep because out of the blissful quiet, in the middle of the peaceful night, a teeny-tiny voice at the foot of my bed politely asks:

“Mew-myeow?”

“Go away,” I command. Refusing to obey the Siamese Tom, who clearly has a job for me to do, I settle back down to more peaceful slumbering. All is silent--even my inner monologue has fallen still, until:

“Mew-MEOW??”

“Go away. I am asleep!” I say, raising the amplitude of my voice to equal the insistence of his cattery demands.

This cat must be the reincarnation of the hideous, Dr. Mengele, who is obviously alive and well and conducting sleep deprivation experiments on me. I muse before I lapse into waiting for Cat- Mengele to rouse me again. His extreme patience pays off. Just after my breathing becomes regular and deep and I am nodding off, I hear:

“MEW-MEOW???”

This time the caterwauling falls right into my ear. Are those notes” D” followed by “F” in the key of C? Even if it is the middle of the night, I would know if I had perfect pitch! I may be a music lover but I have had enough.

“Get! Get! Get the hell out of here!” I roar, jumping out of the bed and chasing Siamese-Mengele out the bedroom door. Bam, the door slams. No need to fear waking the hoot owls, they never ever sleep.

I return to my bed and sweet repose until a laughing child’s voice inquires, “Are you okay?” “He was yodeling in my ear.”
“Dad says you were impressive!”
“You mean you could hear me?”

“We all heard you.”

Suddenly, I realize that my throat hurts. I yelled at the cat one full octave below my normal speaking voice. Damned cat! Now, I have throat nodules! My conscious collapses into a tiny purple painful asterick in the center of my skull, where it pounds relentlessly until I can no

longer lie still.

I glance at the alarm clock. The time is 2:30 A.M. I rise to find the hoot owls congregating over a bowl of salty snacks, dried mangoes, and assorted nuts. I guess, the cat was howling mad because he didn’t get his share!

“Where is Siamese-Mengele?” I inquire of the youngest owl. “Hiding under the table with PTSD,” the eldest owl growls.

I join the snacking parliament then return to bed. Suddenly, from next door comes the anguished howls of the abandoned Pit Bull, Ruger, who must have starred in Norman’s production of “Hounds of The Baskervilles”. Oh God, I whine. It has started again!

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Musings from the Crazy Cat Lady on Election Eve: The Resistance and J.K. Rowling

My Favorite Author

I am an old-crazy-cat-lady that writes. I have ascended to this august status from the state of just plain crazy cat-lady that reads prolifically! You might wonder, but probably wouldn’t ever, now, which author does a b@+$h!t  writer with a runaway imagination like best? The answer is J.K. Rowling—definitely J.K. Rowling. The reason is as follows: tomorrow is election day and young people, who cut their teeth on Rowling’s moral compass, are turning out to vote in droves to drive a certain unnamed Wizard out of the White House. Rowling’s avid readers, Generations M and Z, know a Lord Moldy-wort when they see one. I am confident they will do whatever it takes to defeat both the princess of darkness and his soul-eating cabal. Voting to oust HE, whose name should never be mentioned, is only the younger generations first step to magically creating the world of compassion and fairness that live in the Harry Potter series. So, thank you, J.K. Rowling for your contribution to literature and your call for all good young witches to fight for the side of common decency. The young ones, having lived through a devastating wizards’ war, know that anything of value comes only at a great cost. Therefore, if we should lose this battle, our young agents of change will come back to this ongoing war on darkness fiercer and more resolute in their determination to defeat self-serving and aggrandizing evil-- once and for all and in the next election. Thank you, now, I am off to buy a new broom. I will need it to go vote and sweep out the White House.

FatPat


Coronavirus and My Late Relatives: What Would They Say or Do?

It's my late brother's birthday today, and usually I dedicate this date to him as a sort of holiday or time of reflection. But today is so incredibly bizzarro with Covid-19 declared as a pandemic and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo shut down, that I'm just totally discombobulated, like a person in a corn maze wandering around lost.

I always try to think how my late relatives might feel about current events, as a means of putting it all into perspective while attempting to access some of their wisdom. 

My brother would probably make rude comments about Asians and wet markets and what animals certain people are drawn to eat. Then he would probably flip right around and tell me that it's none of my business what people of other ethnicities are eating, and that I should learn not to judge. My brother fought against his bigotry on a daily basis. His granite colored eyes would glaze over when he struggled with something ethical, reminding me he was nobody to underestimate. Remarkably rough and uncivilized at times, he seemed to have an honest affinity for dogs and babies, but everything else was dispensable. 

My Uncle Alfred would sputter angry curses and blame the "women."  He taught me everything I know about horses and random acts of kindness, but he was a total misogynist from day one. 

My mother, in spite of periodic fits of anger and drama, always remained calm and logical in a complete meltdown of all social or family norms. In the midst of this pandemic, my mother would recommend stocking a few groceries and making some good cocktails even though she never drank herself and didn't cook much. She would be on top of everything for at least a minimal length of time, and then she would wither away into her room and start making threats via phone or letter that would make the pandemic seem unimportant. 

My grandma could manage the whole crisis from the top of her cookstove, ordering people around as if they were drawing a salary from her neat and well computed check book. Her hand, extremely calm and nurturing, could quickly clip a grapevine for a sound thrashing if you dared get lippy in the midst of an emergency. Grandma would have a lot to say about Trump, and none of what she would say would be feathered in any notion of kindness. She would hate his guts.

Tonight my relatives would wonder why specific questions weren't answered by their president. They would all sit around the kitchen table and talk about how our lives are going to change. They would wonder why the Republicans are so selfish.

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