Observations

Writers Tell Stories

“I stand in the mist and cry, thinking of myself standing in the mist and crying, and wondering if I will ever be able to use this experience in a book.” ~ Erica Jong

Writers don’t “reminisce.” We tell stories. There’s a difference. Everything (every experience) is potential grist for the mill, if not right away, eventually. Some part of every writer is ever the observer translating every moment into (possible) narrative. I think it’s one of the things that non-writers don’t grasp about what it is to be a writer.

I was also thinking the other day how being a writer is one of the few professions where so many people who aren’t writers seem to have some comment on it. I think that’s because it is generally viewed as a talent more than a skill, by those who aren’t writers. I think people don’t know what to say when they find out someone is a writer. If someone says, “What do you do?” and the answer is, say, “I’m a pilot.” People don’t usually say, “I used to fly planes all the time. I grew out of it.” If someone says they’re a gourmet pastry chef, you generally don’t hear people responding with, “I’ve got some great cup cakes ideas I’d like to run by you.” It’s just one of those things I’ve noticed about professions that are viewed to be “talent” based. “I play pro-basketball.”  As if only…”Yeah, man? I love to shoot hoops. State champs my senior year.”… it had gone another way. People really don’t know what to say if you say you write horror. Just an observation.

Just an observation, which would bring me back to the first point. Observation isn’t judgment, or isn’t necessarily judgment. Noticing the way someone holds a glass so you can describe it later doesn’t necessarily involve any kind of personal opinion forming about the person, the glass, what’s in the glass, etc. In many cases, the reader attaches far more meaning to whatever it is/was than there was for the writer at the writing of the thing, and that’s kind of how it’s supposed to be. Though certainly there are some things that are personal for every writer. What writers have to beware of is allowing/absorbing the imposition of reader perceptions on themselves. Writers tell stories, it is how we process our reality.

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live…” Joan Didion, The White Album

“I stand in the mist and cry, thinking of myself standing in the mist and crying, and wondering if I will ever be able to use this experience in a book.” ~ Erica Jong

TS

On This Valentines Day

 

One of the most wonderful things within the many fine and good examples that Bruce Lee left us with, is his example of inclusiveness. Despite being met with prejudice throughout his life, he seemed to hold no such feelings in his own heart. He continuously broke with traditions. He fell in and love and married who he wanted to marry. If you came into his studio, dojo, with an open heart, an open mind, a willingness to learn and be taught, he would teach you. It made no difference to him what color your wrapping paper was, no difference to him if you were male or female, his wife, Linda, was one of his students. He stayed true to what he believed in despite being met with continuous opposition and challenges to his ideas, his philosophies, his approach to living. Bruce Lee understood that prejudice is the product of ignorance, and the antidote, is education.

I’m at the beginning of really checking this out thoroughly, but I can show some love for that example for sure.

Have a Happy Valentines Day.

TS

 

Bruce Lee, website

Bruce Lee, wiki

The History of Valentines Day

Can You Hear the Quiet?

source

I’ve been doing some serious thinking about the world lately.

Can you hear the quiet?

This serious thinking isn’t a new thing for me. This bout of thinking began with the drug induced suicide of a rock star. I’m referring to it as drug induced because we’ll never really know and the fact is that those kinds of drugs can cause those kinds of thoughts, so, I think, in this case, give it the benefit of the doubt. Still though, I couldn’t figure out what it was about it that bothered me so much, I mean, I didn’t know Chris Cornell personally. I realized that it was that it felt like something of a betrayal, not that he owed any of us anything. But it felt like he was fifty-two years old and he had everything, he’d made it through when many of his contemporaries hadn’t, and, how dare he bail out, this icon of my generation. But then, remembering, it was probably the drugs. Then Powers Boothe died, but, he died in his sleep at sixty-eight years old and the general consensus seemed to be, “Good show!” Then a bomb went off at a concert, where kids where watching a former Nickelodeon star turned pop-princess perform, the bomb killed twenty-two people, the youngest victim of the Manchester Attack was eight years old. Then Greg Allman died. Then it was June. This week the President of the U.S. withdrew from the Paris Agreement on climate change, and everyone lost their nut over it. If you’ve not read the agreement or anything about it and you’re interested in having an informed opinion, you should read it, and try to understand what it says and means, that’s my advice on having an opinion, take the time to educate yourself to figure what you actually think about whatever it is. At this point in the proceedings the internet became incredibly noisy.

Can you hear the quiet?

I got to thinking about some things, I’d been thinking about some things anyway.

Everyone is talking. No one is listening. Everyone has an opinion. Despite that, the first thing that I saw when I logged onto facebook was a post that read, “FUCK NO. Not again.” I haven’t read all the details of the latest incident in London. I’d gone out, to get some air, to get some quiet. To think. Despite my having gone out, and despite my sharing my thoughts on any number of things in the last day or so, this latest attack in London still occurred. Despite the multitude of opinions and thoughts offered up by everyone about everything, these things still happened, and they still happen.

tornado gif

Can you hear the quiet?

I know that venting and opinionating and ranting and all of that, can be a great stress reliever. You read this stuff, you hear about it, you’ve got something to say because it’s getting to you or everyone, you’ve been sitting in traffic for too long, or dealing with rude people or you feel helpless and powerless and it seems like the world is going to hell in a hand-basket and enough already! ENOUGH! The internet gets very loud with people saying, in their own ways, “Enough.” I understand that. I do. I’ve been sucked into that storm many times. It can make it tough to hear yourself think.

Are you free?

Are you a free person, a person who enjoys freedom? Is your mind free, have you freed your mind?

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i before e except after c. i didn’t make this one. but, still…

What does that even mean?

I was thinking about the Terracotta Warriors, also known as The Terracotta Army. Qin Shi Huang ascended the throne at the age of thirteen and would become the first Emperor of China. The Terracotta Warriors are life-size sculptures depicting his army, his whole army. Each one is different, they were not cast from a single mold. They were buried with him, along with many treasures, in order to protect him in the afterlife. Qin Shi Huang believed that “Yes, you can take it with you” and he believed it, they believed it, so completely that he replicated his entire army in these terracotta statues, more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots, 520 horses, cavalry horses, as well as many other figures and statues. The scope of it is truly stunning, completely breathtaking, to contemplate.

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stock photo, internet

Here’s a link. And on Wikipedia.

My fascination with this subject isn’t new. I happen to have a Terracotta Warrior of my very own. I should name him. I’ll think about that.

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What I got to thinking was about how Qin Shi Huang had the full conviction of his beliefs, or, did he have his army replicated you know, just in case? What about Egyptian beliefs about the afterlife, all the treasures sealed in their tombs?

Different people, peoples, believe all different sorts of things.

This got me thinking about the Ganges River. Do you know about the Ganges River? The Ganges River is sacred to Hindus, present day. Hindus believe that having at least their ashes thrown in the Ganges will end the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, allowing them to attain eternal liberation of the soul. Many unburned remains find their way into the Ganges, that is, the recently deceased are regularly, ritually, thrown into the Ganges. It is one of the most polluted rivers in the world. You can read about this, and you would look at it, and you would think that the solution, to begin with, seems simple. But, they believe what they believe, completely. The Most Polluted Rivers In the World.

Don’t litter.

Some believe that there is probably life on other planets.

This is where I’m not saying what I think about “science” that goes tripping off to Mars while we’ve got all kinds of problems right here on Earth.

Does me knowing about any of this, Does me getting stressed out about any of these things, does it do any good? Does one more voice added to the din do anything other than raise the level of noise pollution? The other day I took one of those just for fun quizzes about “What’s your purpose in life?” and it said that my purpose is to achieve world peace. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, probably, that isn’t “really” my gig in life, and that the quiz came up with that answer based on information gleaned from my having shared a picture of Sandra Bullock as “Miss Congeniality” with the caption “And world peace.” Isn’t it enough to just take care of our own families, our own jobs, houses, cars, lives? ( Don’t litter.)

Can you hear the quiet?

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So there’s this story about this woman, about her whole family, and how they went into the Siberian Wilderness during Stalin’s reign, and how at 71 years old, she has lived in the wilderness all of her life. The world has gone on, but, her lack of knowledge about what has gone on in the world hasn’t prevented her from living, that’s her reality. You can read that here.

Well, you’ve got to be informed. You’ve got to know what’s going on in the world! You’ve got to CARE! How can you can not care!

Are you free? There are a lot of people in the world who don’t pay any attention to any of the societal uproars and they’re just fine, people who never watch the news, they look outside if they want to know what the weather’s like, live their lives disengaged from the din. I think, in some ways, the internet is a kind of a modern Tower of Babel, and certainly, babble. You’ve got all these people from everywhere in the world able to connect and translate, using their computers, everything into one language, whatever their language is, that makes it all one language, able to read about and know, instantaneously in real-time, right now, if there is a high-speed car chase happening on the other coast, three thousand miles away. News of something that affects them not one bit, something that they can do nothing about, but that the knowledge of adds to, perhaps, depending on how they’re wired, their overall stress and anxiety level. The internet takes us out of the reality of where we are in our own actual present, and takes us into the reality of the world, the internet can make it feel like something that happened on the other side of the world, happened across the street. What that does is, as it affects people, it changes the way that people then go out into the world wherever they are. People are taking that stress from those faraway events into their own lives and then regurgitating it back out into the world, perpetuating stress and discord.

“I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to snap at you. It’s all the bullshit about the Paris Agreement! And some ass-hat celebrity decided to voice another opinion that I don’t agree with!” She said, as she threw her aluminum can into the trash.

Can you hear the quiet?

I’ve made a decision not to watch the news anymore. I’ve made a conscious decision to avoid the infighting that’s going on, whether it’s the Right calling the Left “snowflakes” or the other way around, or just the seemingly endless reposting of “he said this and then…she said this!” it is all fueling the fire, adding to the noise, raising the overall stress level, and exacerbating the strife, except for those who thrive on it and those releasing their own stress ranting, but really, it isn’t doing much of anything else. Is it fake news? On which channel? I’ve made a decision to disengage from the divide and conquer propaganda permeating the world these days. I’m sure I can find something better to do, and be happier doing it.

Also, for anyone who thinks that a person can’t create viable, relevant work or art if they are “out of touch”, disengaged from the noise, and/or so on, I’m just going to say google up famous recluses and you’ll find many a list of some folks who did all right going their own way and thinking for themselves. I’m not saying I’m a recluse, just not interested in the bullshit, nor in the misconception that it is necessary to the creation of viable art.

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Many, many, years ago, I lived in the desert. Now, this isn’t about the desert itself, and that is very much part of the point, though the desert, at that time, was the conduit for this experience and learning. The population where I was at, at that time, was about 1,200 people, spread out over a pretty wide area. There was no cable t.v. A few people had satellite dishes and this was back when that meant the huge satellite dish installed at ground level next to the house. You could get bad reception on one or two channels if you had a decent antenna, generally speaking, it wasn’t worth the trouble. During that eighteen months, the only television that I watched was, when it was airing, during the season, a weekly half-hour comedy show, at someone else’s house, and their reception was equally bad. Never watched the news, I don’t recall the television ever really being on. Trying to get a radio station to tune was an equally sketchy endeavor, though sometimes, late at night, I could get KLOS out of Los Angeles to tune in for a couple of hours. I used to borrow my brother’s cassette player, at length, to listen to tapes. We, I, had no idea what was going on in the rest of the world, no idea at all. If they’d dropped the bomb, we would have seen the mushroom cloud, same as everyone else everywhere else who had watched the news every night and spent every day all stressed out about something that they would have ultimately as much control over and foreknowledge of, as someone who hadn’t been paying attention at all.

What I was thinking was how quiet and peaceful that time was, in general. I thought, well, yeah, but there weren’t a lot of people out there in the desert. While that’s some of it, that isn’t the kind of quiet I’m talking about. There was an absence of external influence from the media, from popular culture, from society. What you find, also, is that you still manage to hear about the bigger things that go on in the world, through the periphery. It creates a peaceful mind, and a feeling of being very present in one’s surroundings. Is that “out of touch” with reality? Whose reality? I’m free not to watch the news. I’m free to disengage. You, ostensibly, can turn off the television anywhere, disengage from the “noise” wherever you are. I think that’s part of the problem with the world right now, we’re not, as individuals, obligated to take all that in. We’re not obligated to participate in the noise, especially if it does not serve us well. Some people thrive on it all. There’s that aphorism that says to take care of yourself, to nurture and feed your own soul, because what can you give if you haven’t taken care of you? How much more peaceful would the world be, if each person were at peace with themselves? I was thinking about that, at some point isn’t all the… social commentary, just someone else telling me how they think I should live MY life? (How many average people have it together enough that they should be telling anyone else – unasked- what to do or be or how to live?)(Personally, I’ve no use for the continuous spewing and promoting of the vitriol. In fact, I’ve had it with it. I’m going to quietly choose not to engage in it, whilst also dissociating myself from it and those who chose to engage in it because it is a choice. I’m not going to bother telling anyone how to behave, not my job. I’m saying this is what I’m doing. Each of us gets emotional on occasion, we all get defensive from time to time, making a habit of it makes that who you are. What’s that old saying? You never look good trying to make someone else look bad.)

I don’t know, but I can begin with me. If someone drops the bomb, I’m sure I’ll still see the mushroom cloud, same as everyone else. In the meantime, I’ll be happier, and that’s at least one person that I can improve the quality of life for. ( Really, don’t fucking litter.)

Teri

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i before e except after c.

Internet User Stats.

About 4 billion people in the world are NOT online and do not have internet access. Current world population estimated at 7.5 billion people. Between 600 million and 1 billion people do not have access to clean drinking water.

Man mows his lawn as a tornado looms in the background, really. Because you can’t control the weather, but you can mow your lawn.

It Is Still Beautiful. Chris Cornell.

Grunge is the music that my generation created, whether the label of “grunge” is one that was met with approval or acceptance or not. Passionately philosophically divested in many ways from the heavy metal and “pretty” hair bands and glam bands of the heyday of “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” of previous generations, the “heavy” in “Grunge” was born not only of a complete love of music, but of an emotional intensity extracted from a dissatisfied, sometimes bored, sometimes angry, raw, emotion, that infested not only the musical content itself, but the lyrics, which range from the poignantly poetic, the depressed and angry, to the sarcastic and sardonic, to the socially aware. Drawing on influences from both the punk sound and the likes of Black Sabbath, Grunge was music that was, and is, awake. Grunge said that whatever propaganda it was that the world was selling, they weren’t buying it, because it “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

“People were wearing flannel here long before grunge came out. It’s cold here. It’s a cheap and effective clothing apparatus for living in the Northwest. I don’t even associate it with a fashion statement or lack thereof. Eddie Vedder did more for flannel than anybody.” ~ Tad Doyle, from Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge by Mark Yam

“I think it’s come to mean alternative (grunge) in a way. I saw a grunge compilation album with a picture of a flannel shirt on the cover, and only half the bands were from Seattle. Now it seems like that word embraces anything that’s popular. You can watch a Tony! Toni! Tone! video and most of the people in there are wearing their version of grunge fashion. They look like they’re from Seattle, yet it’s an R&B song. So grunge has become an easy marketing reference, a handle for people who aren’t particularly interested in listening to music or what the bands do.” ~ Chris Cornell, Interview Magazine, 1994

What I remember about the beginnings of the stirrings of grunge, as it filtered down from the Pacific Northwest, was that it was only being played on alternative radio, or college stations. I remember hearing something about “grunge” having some claim on flannel shirt wearing and thermals and thinking, “We wear those here too (when it’s cold), well, some of us.” And no one quite being tuned into the fact that what was happening was a huge shift in our culture, this was music that was counter-culture. This was music that cared so much that it couldn’t care anymore what anyone thought of it.  It was a generation rejecting a post 1980’s pretension that it couldn’t sink its teeth into as any kind of a viable reality, certainly not an affordable one, and what’s more, it didn’t want to. “Grunge” didn’t want to be labeled as anything other than music. It took the garage band to the warehouse and then on to the stadium. It wasn’t stoner-hippie music, it was “damn the man” music coming from my generation, a generation that wasn’t sure it was ready for that when only moments before we’d been tuned into Miami Vice, Magnum P.I., and Family Ties. Nirvana’s “Nevermind,” and Pearl Jam’s “Ten,” broke in 1991, and so did Soundgarden’s “Badmotofinger,” and the tribute album, “Temple of the Dog.” While Nirvana and Pearl Jam stormed the airways into the mainstream with big hits there was something different about the voice of Chris Cornell, from the very beginning. This wasn’t music that was just willing to be dark, this was music that had jumped headlong into the primordial muck to mosh and try to body-surf through the ages. Balls to the wall, Grunge was the ultimate trust-fall. The song that stuck with me, that still stays with me from that time, that I’ve many a night before dinner said/sung, “Well, it’s on the table…” is Temple of the Dog’s, “Hunger Strike.” Then there was “Outshined,” with heavy lines that sound like a dirge and then it melodically takes flight, “it gives me the butterflies…” and traverses the depths again just as quickly.

The soulful anguish, the raw ache, the depth of emotion of Chris Cornell’s voice is at the beginnings of a musical revolution. If Kurt Cobain burned out, and Eddie Vedder became, to some, something of a musical statesman, if Dave Grohl became the embodiment of no-nonsense getting up and getting on with it while still having a good time, Chris Cornell became the poet laureate of grunge. To say now that some of his lyrics are haunting is obvious and redundant, his lyrics and vocals were always haunting.

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“I’m not a lyric writer to make statements. What I enjoy doing is making paintings with lyrics, creating colorful images. I think that’s more what music and entertainment should be.” ~ Chris Cornell

Is fifty-two years old, young? Is fifty-two years old, old?

Fifty-two years old is a person in my peer group, completely my generation. Chris Cornell had gotten sober. I’ve noticed lately that’s kind of a thing with my generation, if you’re of my generation and you partied as a teenager, or in your twenties, drank your way through your thirties, at some point in your forties, you run up against sobriety. In the 80’s we used to sometimes jokingly say, for one reason or another, “It was all the drugs I did in the 60’s.” even though, or because, that’s when we were born. Now, as middle-aged adults, we can say, “Well, it was the 80’s” and that passes as a cultural definition of excess. Grunge was the antidote for the 80’s, a coming of age emotional release, that for many of my generation has ultimately given way to sobriety becoming its own kind of rebellion. I think my generation fluctuates between, “The Power of Positive Thinking,” and “This World Is Hard, Don’t Bullshit Me.” Does it ever turn out the way that any generation thinks that it will? I’m finding my peace through the acceptance of this world is hard, but it is still beautiful.

I’m upset about the death of Chris Cornell in a way that I can’t quite explain. I think that I’ve listened to “I am the Highway” about I don’t even know how many times now, I love that song. I’m looking at the world starkly, that’s what works for me, I’m not a puppies and kittens and rainbows kind of gal, I’m the other side of that coin, even though I am certainly a romantic. The world needs both, balance. But I’m thinking about that too, the world, and what are any of us doing here. Earlier today, I saw a news story about how Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is flattered by those who think he really should run for president, how “popular” an idea that is to some, and that he, The Rock, told GQ magazine that a bid for the White House is “A real possibility.” I don’t think that’s even the least bit funny or amusing. I thought it was deep down sad that that is where the mindset of anyone in this country is at, not that former actors haven’t taken up political office before, and not that I don’t like The Rock, as an actor, and hey, he might even be great at being president if that were to happen, but it’s this idea that celebrity, that “popularity,” rules the day. It’s boneheaded. I was thinking about how, in the same interview from 1994 where Chris Cornell talked about how you could watch a Tony! Toni! Tone! video and see a grunge fashion statement, Kim Thayil said that they had taken to avoiding wearing flannel in order to try to help distance themselves from what had become cliché, because it had become popular in the mainstream. What was the very antithesis of fashion, became fashion, and then the people for whom it was a usual mode of dress, they abandoned it, I was thinking how messed up that is. I was thinking that it’s awful that not even six months into the current administration the fighting between political parties has reached epic proportions and it is beyond pathetic to the point of being ludicrous. Everyone has an opinion, including me, and I thought, that’s it, this is it, the exact moment when I ceased to engage in political discourse, the moment when I heard that The Rock was seriously considering a run at the White House. I thought of the movie “Idiocracy” and of Flint, Michigan, and Brawndo, it’s popular, it’s what plants crave. Everyone seems to be feeling instead of THINKING. Has the world always been this crazy? Has the world always been this dumb? I think, it’s important to remember to find healthy ways to keep from feeling overwhelmed and to disengage from the din.

The last thing that I read about the death of Chris Cornell was that he may have taken an extra Ativan or two. ( Rolling Stone.) Ativan is used to treat anxiety. You never know what someone else is going through. Addiction is a big demon. You think, the guy had everything. But there’s no judging that, for anyone, what is everything? I think, am of a mind, to say, stick around, fight, see what happens, to hell with ’em! But there’s no judging that for anyone either. I don’t want to descend into a discourse on battling dark times, just, there’s no judging what it’s like for any other human who isn’t feeling great or well or thinking clearly. Reports of his last show in Detroit have been that something wasn’t quite right with him. I haven’t watched the concert footage and don’t know if I will. I thought about, wondered about, how far away do those guys get from where they started? How far away does anyone get from who they began as, if they get where they think they wanted to go? It seemed to me that Chris Cornell stayed pretty true.

I made up my mind not to watch anymore news today, I don’t know if I’ll watch any tomorrow either. Am I obligated to? Am I obligated to pay attention to the mess or to be a voice for anything? I straightened up my house, did laundry, made some food. I looked at a catalog, thought about ways to decorate, about how much I like flannel shirts and don’t give a flying fig if they’re fashionable or not, ever. I thought about the irony of the fact that the renaissance of coffee-house culture was spawned at the birth of grunge, the Seattle Sound, and how that gave way to the very corporate Starbucks, something that is the antithesis of everything grunge was about. Grunge, though, outgrew the label, the terminology, and grew into itself from those roots, the bands and musicians that emerged from that era, are the creators of the musical landscape of my generation. I gathered up some cd’s, made a plate of chicken and rice and sat down to write something about it all.

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Chris Cornell’s music has seen me through many a long night writing, and, providing that I have anything to say about it, it will see me through many more seasons to come. An important artistic voice of my generation, a musician, a poet, a soulful singing prince with an intense Jesus gaze and flowing locks, an originator and innovator, of not only musical change but of a cultural shift in awareness, Chris Cornell left us with many gifts, he will be missed. The world is a hard place, but it is still beautiful.

Carry on, my friends. Get up. Go on.

Teri

The Promise Lyrics

If I had nothing to my name
But photographs of you
Rescued from the flames
That is all I would ever need
As long as I can read
What’s written on your face
The strength that shines
Behind your eyes
The hope and light
That will never die

And one promise you made
one promise that always remains
No matter the price
A promise to survive
Persevere and thrive
As we’ve always done

And you said
“The poison in a kiss
Is the lie upon the lips”
Truer words were never shared
When I feel
Like lies are all I hear
I pull my memories near
The one thing they can’t take

And one promise you made
one promise that always remains
No matter the price
A promise to survive
Persevere and thrive
As you’ve always done

The books still open
on the table
The bells still ringing
in the air
The dreams still clinging
to the pillow
The songs still singing
in a prayer

Now my soul
Is stretching through the roots
To memories of you
Back through time and space
To carry home
the faces and the names
And these photographs of you
Rescued from the flames

And one promise you made
one promise that always remains
No matter the price
A promise to survive
Persevere and thrive
And dare to rise once more
A promise to survive
Persevere and thrive
And fill the world with life
As we’ve always done

Quotes from Chris Cornell.

Believing Again, II.

This will be the first of two posts today.

The last few years, as previously mentioned, have been not a little challenging. I made up my mind a long time ago to let the challenging times, that’s a nicer way of saying the bad times or the hard times, make me a better person, not a bitter one. I wasn’t ever a person to hang onto a hurt. I’d acknowledge it, feel whatever I felt, but I’d move on from that sort of thing pretty quickly because hanging onto it, that keeps you stuck. It’s taken me a while to understand why I was hanging onto some hurts, how that happened, how I got into a mindset that was taking me down the lonely road to bitterness! That’s an actual road. Some of it had to do with unrealistic expectations, of myself, of other people, and of life. We’ve been through some tough times, trying times. But, those unrealistic expectations I had, they existed because I didn’t realize how hurt, and scared, I already was, that there were some hurts that I really hadn’t let go of or even understood yet, and that I was carrying that with me, and then trying to create, hoping and expecting to create, a “perfect world” in which no more hurt could ever occur or happen to me again, where everyone always behaved properly, never took advantage, appreciated things accordingly, had the proper amount of respect for things that are sacred to most everyone, home, marriage, children, livelihood or one’s work, personal property that was worked very hard for, personal privacy, and so on, the things that you would think that everyone takes seriously, and wants respected. For many years I was also very protective and private because of certain situations in my life that have since resolved themselves in one way or another, some things run their course. In other words, I wasn’t actually closed off, but, being a mature person who is also a mother, well, it wasn’t all just about me, not ever. I had very definite ideas about parenting my child and how to conduct that. If other people didn’t agree with, or understand those things, decisions, that is something I will never be sorry for. There were also Norman Rockwell type holiday family dinners involved in those expectations, ideas, or imaginings, where no one took sideswipes at anyone else, ever, everyone loved and appreciated one another, friends were exceedingly loyal to a fault, the bird was never too dry, and certainly, no one was ever trying to turn everything into a joke, or telling you to lighten up because you were so wanting this fairy-tale, this unshattered dream, no one was ever fighting or passing out in the Azaleas, breaking grandma’s swan that’s been on the mantel for years, and so on. That isn’t even including all of the things in life that there’s no way to plan for and that you never see coming, like illness. And every time a new “betrayal” or hurt happened to me, or in my world, my world shrank. It’s one of those things where it’s a self-protective kind of a mechanism, because a person doesn’t want to be hurt anymore, or simply can’t absorb another hurt, but it ends up having the opposite effect at some point, and it ends up being hell on everyone around, and hurting others, because people are only perfectly imperfect.

It gets to be hell because there’s no way to make it perfect. There’s no perfect thing that if it was just this thing then it would all be all right or all right again. Then its walking on eggshells over everything, because still hanging onto some hurt. You can be protective of something into oblivion. Sometimes people are so afraid of something being taken away from them that they’ll destroy it from the inside out without meaning to. Sometimes, when you have something really good, it can be difficult not to be afraid. And then how do you trust something good again after a difficult time?

Closing oneself off from life, from the world, however, because other people have hurt you, isn’t the answer. It’s kind of a strange thing for me to say because it’s obviously something I’m pretty well versed in, but, life is often quite messy. Therein, too, has been some of the issue, because I’ve been one of those people who has tended to think that life is messy because people are messy, so, don’t be messy. Again, unrealistic expectations, in general, I’ve been messy too sometimes. The thing is, that sort of thing can be contagious, etc. and so on. Would the perfect world be the one with no other people in it? Adam and Eve alone together in the Garden, without the interference of the devil? Would it be Henry Bemis, “Time Enough at Last” in The Twilight Zone, with an unbroke pair of glasses and all of those books? Would the perfect world be the one with not that many other people around? It often happens that people get to feeling that way and they go off to live places where there aren’t quite so many other people, and, there’s something to be said for that in some regard. But, even in places where there’s only say, a hundred people, percentage wise, there’s still going to be those one or two jerks.

“Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, be sure you’re not surrounded by assholes.”   ~ quote usually attributed to William Gibson

People, can be baffling. But, if you’re closing yourself off, don’t expect the world to miss you, to care, or even to understand it.

However, if you’re closing yourself off from the world to the point where you’re not doing things that you want to do, well, then you’re the one who is missing out on your own life. I wasn’t a closed off, fearful person, far from it, I was the exact opposite of fearful and closed off,  but I did become that way. I’m also the only person who can fix that. That’s really important to accept responsibility for. I am the only person who can fix it. Like quitting drinking, taking better care of myself, it’s something that I’m looking at and wondering, when did this happen? How did this happen? I was never this closed-off, fearful person. I am the only person who can fix it. People will always be people. The world will always be the world. There’s a lot of good out there too. I am, once again, making the conscious choice to let it make me better, not bitter, and live.

Teri

 

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That one Twilight Zone episode where…

Intellectual De-Evolution or a Cultural Cycle?

SO…
Second episode of Wayward Pines, season two… Blood Harvest…
The youth leader Carrie utters the line…
“Our lives are more important than his arrogant.”
My thought… “arrogance.” Incorrect usage of the word, wrong form. The line should have been…
“Our lives are more important than his arrogance.
What I think is, how many people heard that and didn’t realize that it was incorrect?
Did they write it that way intentionally? To further illustrate the ignorance of the well intended, however misguided, youth leadership of Wayward Pines?
I then proceed to fill two pages, longhand, about the possible, potential, probable, dumbing-down of pretty much everything.
I stopped myself as I began to delve into the area of some of the nearly unintelligible, if not purposely slurred, lyrics of some of today’s popular music.
I think to myself, as I look at the cover of the notebook that I’m writing in, the one that says “Lynyrd Skynyrd” on it, spelled all kinds of wrong, possibly, then I think about the other notebook that I have like that where upon “Deaf Leopard” is spelled “Def Leppard.” I think about all of the unintelligible lyrics uttered throughout music history and realize, that’s probably not a good leg to stand on. At which point I am reminded of a scene from the movie “Hollywood Homicide” wherein Sgt. Joe Gavlin is telling Olivia Robidoux that he doesn’t get today’s music and she tells him, “You ain’t supposed to.”
And I think yeah, okay.
Still though, I wonder.
Is this just the repetition of a cyclical cultural changing of the guard from one generation to the next?

Or is there really a more serious problem going on in this country, this world? Meaning, more serious than we’ve seen before? Or is it simply that it is the first time that my generation is having to really deal with any of it? There have been a lot of jokes about the film “Idiocracy” this election season, but really, it isn’t that funny.

Put some Brawndo on it?

My husband and I were talking about going to the movies the other day and I said, “You know how I said that I hope that they don’t ever re-make any of those old Noir films, because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it? Well, I might have been wrong about that.” Because it seems like that the only movies that they’re making any more, or rather for the most part, are films that cater to the lowest common denominator in terms of intellect. But is that really true? Not completely. People are stressed out, they don’t want to have to think, they want to go to the movies to forget about things for a while, to be entertained, and that is completely valid and really, what the movies are for. But then I see today how the Supreme Court voted to strike down a Texas abortion law that would have required the clinics to raise the standards of the facilities providing the services to the women. Then it all went on about the “Constitutional Reproductive Rights of Women.” What’s wrong with that is the way that people are talking about it in general, as though their rights come from the government. So the government has granted you the right to marry, the right to get an abortion, the right to own a gun, a knife, a car, smoke a cigarette… well… NO. Some would then say that we get our rights from God. What if you don’t believe in God? What if you were here before there was a “government” and you didn’t believe in “God”?  Where do your rights come from?

My rights as a human being are inherent to my being, existing because I exist, not as a gift or a granting from some other source. But that’s all a lot to think about, isn’t it? The truth is, freedom, being free, is a really a big responsibility. I don’t know if we’re experiencing a cultural de-evolution or if this is just part of the normal cycle of human existence. But, I have noticed it.

TS

27 June, 2016

1910, Edward S. Curtis, Members of Qagyuhl tribe dance to restore an eclipsed moon.

( note: I never finished watching whatever episodes remained of “Wayward Pines.”)

Shakespeare, Darlings…

It’s Shakespeare, darlings, try not to screw it up.

Several years ago I went on a trip with my husband and there was this guy walking around wearing a red and white t-shirt with a picture of Shakespeare on it and the caption read, “This shit writes itself.” For some reason at that very moment it struck me as being one of the most completely ridiculous things ever and I laughed until there were tears streaming down my face.

I’m taking something of a social web break at the moment, or really, I’m checking in on the web less  and getting some work done, or I’m trying to post less, or…well, really, who can quit this thing? Changing habits takes dedication and time, one step forward, etc. So I check in on the interwebs today and I see this meme…

and what I want to say is, Come on, people! Really? 

I will be the first to admit that I am not necessarily the most well read person, certainly not as authors go. I’ve read things that have crossed my path in one way or another along particular lines over the years and for many years, avoided reading some things because I wanted to learn how to write like “me” first, and other such thinking. That is to say that I’ve actually thought about what I was feeding my brain, and sometimes over-thought it. ( That makes it sound like I haven’t read anything, and you know that isn’t true.) In fact, I’m generally flabbergasted by the number of books that some people have read, some, my husband among them. He’s read Don Quixote, and a list of other thick books that impress me and that I’ve got on my list of things that I’d like to read and plan to read and so on but I’m digressing, so before I completely derail this with why I like smart men and all of the real and true other reasons why I’m catching up on my reading, or why I got so far behind on it to begin with, let me get to the point and that is that you shouldn’t have to be a terribly well-read person to know that Shakespeare didn’t write the quote that is written in that meme, that meme is “Things that Shakespeare didn’t say,” times a million.


This kind of thing is dangerous to the overall level of intellect of our society, of the world.

Oh come on, Teri, it’s just a silly meme.

Well, the thing is that, yes, it is just a silly meme, and one would hope that most people are smart enough to figure out that Shakespeare never said that. However, the fact that such a meme exists means that someone either thought that they were being funny, which is one thing, okay. Or someone thought that Shakespeare really said it, or someone thought that they could pass it off that way. Or someone had something that they wanted to say and thought that maybe it would get read more if they slapped Shakespeare’s name on it, which is kind of ironic if you know that there are those who believe, think, that perhaps Shakespeare was more than one author.

A little surfing around and it seems that part of the quote was appropriated from a poem by William Arthur Ward.

But also attributed to Hemingway.

Well, they’re all dead. Why does it matter if they are being misquoted or if those quotes are being attributed inaccurately?

Have you ever been accused of saying something that you didn’t say? Or had someone leave out part of what you said so that the meaning of what you actually said is either changed or eradicated? ( Taken out of context?)

Sometimes that stems from genuine confusion. Sometimes people aren’t listening to what was actually said. Sometimes, we call that lying. Sometimes we say, “Well, I don’t care what they say. I know what I said.” And it really doesn’t matter to us. Other times, it might matter quite a bit depending on the circumstances. It’s been my experience that most squabbles, fights, between most anyone could have been resolved with some honest communication between the parties. Sometimes there are other issues, ideological and so on, of course, but again, I’m digressing.

What about the fact that right there are three writers who could have said it, according to these memes that people randomly circulate generally without much consideration for the source, I post them too sometimes, and that that is someone’s work.

Do you think that it doesn’t matter whose work it really is? Because they are selling William Arthur Ward drinkware at Zazzle and for my money, twenty-eight bucks is a hefty price for a coffee cup. But what do I know? I buy coffee cups at thrift stores and would pay forty bucks for a set of KISS mugs if I could get my rationale for it right. ( not really, maybe, I don’t know… but something else though, something equally cool.)

So, that means it kind of matters to whom the work really belongs, especially to those looking for things to make a buck off of. Just ask Gene Simmons. Or Prince. Or Taylor Swift. Or Adele.

You see, the thing is that most people tend to think that societies, worlds, empires, are destroyed in a day, in one fell swoop, in one great battle, the bomb, but that really isn’t how it happens.

How it happens is that they, whoever they are, start taking pebbles away from the base of a mountain and everyone says, “Oh well, it’s just a few pebbles, don’t make such a big deal out of it. It’s harmless, who cares.”

And then this taking of a few pebbles from the base of a mountain becomes accepted practice or behavior and no one notices it anymore or thinks about it anymore or pays any attention to it anymore.

“What are they doing over there at the base of the mountain with those buckets?”

Destabilizing everything above it from the bottom.

About the time when someone realizes that that’s what is going on, is when the fighting to save whatever it is begins. Then there are the big battles and all of that stuff that people tend to think are what destroy whatever it is or was when really, it was all of the pebbles that were being taken away from the base for however long.

These silly memes and things like them, they’re pebbles, in a way, being taken away from the base of our intellect, of our smarts as a society, it’s a very subtle part of the dumbing-down of everything.

Well, why do you need to know who really said that? Why do you need to be able to ascertain the truth? Who cares, it’s just a silly meme!

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” ~ Voltaire 

In other words, that’s how societies get owned, one person at a time. It’s not the meme itself, that meme is just a symptom of a bigger thing that is going on, it’s just one of the pebbles.

So, are you paying attention? I mean, just ask yourself that question. I don’t expect to change anyone’s mind or even that a significant number of people will understand what I’m saying about this as something not to fight over,or argue about, but to understand. The main thing that got me about it was that they didn’t even put any effort into it. I mean, it’s supposed to be Shakespeare who said that, right?

I dare say unto you that it is incumbent upon the soul of man to be happy. Do you question as to the reasoning behind such thinking? Am I not always joyful? In my speech? In my manner? My mode of dress? My expectations from those around me are nil. I dare say that it would be unfair to expect anything of them, for it would hurt me so if they were to create these meme things hundreds of years after my death and slaughter the very language that I have made the means of my existence and with which I have chosen to leave my mark upon the world of literature, if not the very world itself. So by all means, love your life to the fullest and be joyful, I say unto you surrender to bliss at this very moment, for I assure you, I do, there are idiots about. Therefore prior to your speaking, listen for whom might be about behind some tapestry or velvet drapery with a bright dagger, or simply set to eavesdropping. Prior to setting quill to parchment or scroll, consider how it is that your words might be intercepted on the way to your love, or your accomplice, or the crown. Should you undertake to spend, consider whether or not your earnings will meet the debt or whether or not the proposed risk is worth the wager. If you discover that you feel that you must pray, consider forgiving your debtors. Prior to having any feelings of pain, contemplate whether not you are fit to have feelings and then feel those feelings at the first. Should you find that what you feel, after you have felt that you have feelings, is that the emotion of hate has found its way into your heart, I bid that you should love. For it is only love that is worthy of the possession of the heart, the passion of the mind, the obsession of the very soul, it is only love that saves us, that gives us reason beyond reasoning to wake and to rise when all else has perished, including the final embers of our spent anger that will only leave us in hollow exhaustion and unfulfilled in our regret, whereas it is love that replenisheth the well within us moreover time and time spent again. Surrender not lest you have considered whether or not your surrender is a fitting strategy for later victory, for most assuredly a man of my proclivities for a good yarn could not recommend surrender were it not prerequisite for some greater turn of events later in the story. Lastly, you most certainly must live before you can die, the perpetuation of the sense of the common depends upon this most of all, my darlings, the very most of all.     ~ Sir Willi… no.
Perhaps this shit doth really write itself. 
TS 
 
 

Believing Again

I pulled these quotes from other authors from facebook.

From Author Elizabeth Gilbert….
“BITTERNESS
Dear Ones –
I’ve always loved this quote, from WOMEN WHO RUN WITH THE WOLVES, by Clarissa Pinkola Estés.

There is such deep truth in this statement — that all of us will have to choose at some point in our lives whether to become bitter or not. And she is right — the choice usually comes in middle age.
Why? Because if you have been around for three or four or five decades, the fact is — some really crappy things have probably happened to you…just by EXISTING.
You’ve been dumped; you’ve been lied to; you’ve been betrayed; you’ve been physically harmed; you’ve been disappointed; you’ve disappointed yourself; you’ve had people fail you and you have failed yourself; you’ve been fired; you’ve been discriminated against; you’ve been unfairly blamed; you’ve been taken for granted; you’ve been stricken with disease; you’ve been impoverished; you’ve lost the people you loved most in the world; you’ve been screwed and sued and abused and used…
I don’t care who you are, or how pretty your life may look from the outside — after a certain number of years, it’s just a fact: some shit has gone seriously wrong for you.
But this is where the interesting part begins.
Because now you have choice.
What kind of a person are you going to be, from here on out?
What’s the rest of your life going to look like?
If you decide to become a bitter person, who could blame you? Chances are, you have a list of offenses as long as your arm to justify that choice. The world is a hellhole full of liars and scumbags, and you are its victim, and you can produce 87 reasons to prove it — and nobody can dispute your claims, because it’s all TRUE.

Or, you can become something else.
There are two kinds of happiness, after all. There is “innocent happiness”, and there is “weathered happiness.”
Innocent happiness is the sunshine happiness that comes (usually in youth) when nothing bad has ever happened to you. This is the easiest happiness there is. It’s the gift of not knowing better. It’s sweet and naive and blessed. It’s lovely and sugary…and guaranteed — eventually the world will beat it out of you.
After that, you have a choice. You can turn bitter, or you can embrace what I call “weathered happiness.” There is nothing naive about weathered happiness. It is fought for. (It is often even fought AGAINST.)
Here is how you earn weathered happiness — by fighting for the light, even when all signs points to darkness. You dig through your history with tweezers and you pull up every single scrap of evidence of goodness that has ever happened to you, and build a lifeboat for yourself out of that goodness.
And there is goodness, when you stubbornly search for it.
You hold onto EVERY bit of evidence of grace that the world has ever demonstrated to you — no matter how small or glancing — and you build your new life upon it.
Every person who has ever shown you a kindness – you put them in your file of evidence. (Because even when you were being betrayed by everyone, you were not being betrayed by EVERYONE; there was someone, at some moment, who showed you a kindness…even if it was just for a day. Even if it was just for five minutes on the bus.)
Every act of generosity you ever received, or witnessed, or participated it — you file it away, and cling to it.
Every tiny bit of luck that ever happened to you — even if it’s just finding a penny on a sidewalk — you stuff it in your pocket and you say THANK YOU.
Every moment of beauty you ever got to see — you hoard it.
Most of all, you grab every scrap of evidence that life has MEANING. And if none of the standard paradigms of meaning (standardized religion, for instance) work for you — then you create your own damn meaning.
You take all this evidence of goodness, and you put it in your boat, and you sail that boat away into the LIGHT. Most of all, you absolutely and categorically refuse to become bitter, no matter what the hell WHAT. You leave that to others.
After all that has happened to you, you may say, “My innocence is gone. I will never be the same.”
That is true. You will never be the same
But it’s possible that you will be BETTER.
Up to you.
ONWARD, LG” ( author, Liz Gilbert )

What also sometimes happens in life is that we get bombarded, too much at once, or too many things in a row, and that can make it feel or seem like a difficult or trying time is never going to end. And then there are all of the issues of forgiveness.

To say that I’ve been through the proverbial wringer more than once would be something of an understatement. It takes time to get to the place again of understanding and knowing that forgiving other people isn’t about them or for them, that that is for me. It takes time after that to be able to do it, to forgive, to let it go, to let go of the hurt.
And then is the place of forgiving one’s self.

Having cut loose of every other thing of whatever else whoever else did or didn’t do, then there’s dealing with myself and forgiving myself for being human as well, for being fallible and imperfect. I’m quite good at pin pointing my own mistakes so it makes things acutely clear in some instances though hopefully that will help in avoiding those same mistakes in the future, and for being afraid.

You would think that after going through so much of whatever it is in life and being alive for this long and surviving…What is there to be afraid of?
Believing again.

Believing again that things will be good, that it isn’t all going to go to hell in a hand basket again the moment that I let myself believe in something good or trust someone or allow myself to enjoy something or be happy. Believing again that life can be good again, that it is good, and that it’s all right to forgive myself for not having been perfect, for not having lived up to my own expectations.

The idea of believing again is terrifying because it wasn’t the first time that the rug’s been pulled out from under me, or that I’d been blindsided or betrayed or any of the things that happen to a person after however many years on planet earth, far from it. I think that maybe I had hoped that the time before this time was the last time, though really, that might mean that life were over. There are no guarantees in life for anyone, no matter what you’ve already gone through, and no matter what or how much you have or don’t have materially, no matter what you manage to achieve. I was living in fear without realizing it. Perhaps I’m lucky though, that the fear that I most need to conquer is of being happy, or that if I am, that it won’t last.

In all of those things, those times when things were going wrong or went wrong, there were good things too, things so wonderful and amazing that they left me in awe of the beauty that there is in this world, and those are the things that matter. Get up, go on.

Teri Skultety

Favorite Books of 2014.

My favorite reads of 2014…

1.) Cry Father by Benjamin Whitmer
This is billed as a story about father’s and sons and it is, it is also a hard-hitting rural noir, a crime story, and a how to write a story story. Patterson Wells is a mess not even really trying to recover from the death of his young son, a death that likely could have been prevented, no, he’s just trying to get through the day, and if the sun comes up in the morning, then he’ll deal with that. And so it is that an unlikely and unintentional friendship haphazardly develops between Patterson and Junior, the son of his not exactly a friend neighbor Henry, in close to the middle of leave- us- the- hell- alone- out- here-we’re dealing with things- nowhere. Patterson’s broken relationships mirror Juniors broken relationships, but these two men don’t care in a very different way. While Patterson is well aware of his own pain and that its having made him particularly empathetic to other wounded souls or those in unfortunate situations and that that may not be the best thing judging by how much trouble it keeps leading to while he’s trying to help, sort of, Junior hasn’t felt any pain in a long time and is just living to burn, running drugs, and tearing up as many people along the way as Patterson seems to be trying to do the right thing by.  This is some hard-hitting stuff, graphic and gritty, there’s a body count happening, though not gratuitous, the writing is clean, the story moves, and as unfathomable as some of the situations seem, Benjamin Whitmer sells it, he tells the story well enough that you could completely see how one thing could lead to another and isn’t that how those messes happen? I mean, it isn’t like anyone plans for it to all go perfectly wrong. I wanted to keep reading it and get back to it whenever I put this book down. This story and writing has been compared to the likes of Cormac McCarthy, it’s better than that.

2.) Not For Nothing by Stephen Graham Jones
This is a detective story. However it’s a detective story done in a particular style that we don’t often see so much anymore. First of all, it’s written in the second person, you understand what I’m saying? So you pick up this book and you’re not sure what to expect, well this too is rural noir, only Nick Bruiseman was done being a detective and he’s not exactly a private eye either or maybe he’s not even private eye material anymore, he’s on the skids and back in the town that he grew up in having taken a job that was really kind of given to him as a favor, managing a storage facility, and you can tell how interested in that he is from the get go. In walks Gwen Tracy, former high school femme- fatale with her cheerleader knees, only she isn’t Gwen Tracy anymore, you see? She’s Gwen Gates, all grown up now, and wife of Rory, and she’s got some troubles that she can’t exactly take to the local authorities, and she won’t exactly elaborate, so this dame walks into his office and she’s scared, she needs someone she can trust, someone she can count on, you get the picture? Then in walks Rory Gates, because, you know, he thinks there’s something going on with his wife and an ex-con she was maybe teaching the finer points of English to and he can’t exactly go to the authorities either. Never mind that there was something, for a moment, between Nick and Gwen, way back when, and that Sherilita, who’s maybe keeping an eye on things from her lunch counter, could likely really tell you what time the last tumbleweed crossed the road and exactly who with. Never mind who Sherilita’s ex-husband is and how that happened. This is a story about trust and about betrayal, a complex, nuanced story about the intricacies of relationships, small town talk,  the details folding back over themselves in Jones’ trademark  subtle prose, revealing a-ha moments as we understand all of the things that none of them would say.

3.) How To Take A Bullet by Hollie Hardy
I heard Hollie Hardy read from this book at Beast Crawl in Oakland this past July and I knew that I was going to buy a copy. “These poems in this collection have titles ruthlessly appropriated from The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook.”  Damn it! That is so right up my alley, damn it! Why didn’t I think of that? Because she got to it first and she did it so right. Page after page of poignant, often humorous, hard-hitting, heart breaking, thought-provoking,  poems that made me want to sit down and start writing new poems. There were things in this book that are so familiar to me… “In the crackling after math, become a liquid …” from “How To Survive When Lost In The Desert” to the tough ending of “How to Treat Frostbite” which reads “A sky gallops across your brow, You are asleep in your bed, On fire, In the Winter of your history lesson” and that may be my favorite poem in the book, to the irreverent “How To Detangle a Bird Caught In Your Hair” which begins… “First you have to have hair, This trend toward baldness negates the problem…” Poets are the front line purveyors of language, poets do not just write words, poets create words, and new uses for words, poets provide us with comprehension of meaning and the expression of value in a deeper way and they tend to do that using fewer words to say more than in other forms of literature,  this collection has all of that and then some.  Completely loved it.

So that’s my list of favorite books that I read in 2014.

You can purchase these titles here…
Cry Father by Benjamin Whitmer
Not for Nothing by Stephen Graham Jones
How to Take a Bullet by Hollie Hardy