Bill Clinton, power, and denial

Bill Clinton has never owned his egregious misbehavior with women. He is a symbol of our culture of denial, in which charisma, money, and power mean that you can take advantage of anyone less powerful.

To be the most powerful man in the most powerful country and to take advantage of a 22-year-old woman working for you and then to smarmily split hairs over what type of sexual contact took place…

A few years back I read all of the sexual assault accounts against him through the years, and at least one seemed absolutely credible.

That’s the problem with rape, even if physical evidence is immediately collected, it boils down to one person’s word against another.

Bill Clinton’s word became meaningless to me. Any politician who has him endorse them, I really question their integrity.

Bill Clinton also pooh-poohs that the Glass-Steagall Act disappeared on his watch. The legislation that kept investment banking and commercial banking separate was the lesson learned from The Great Depression and lasted from 1933 to 1999. Economics is tricky, and it is difficult to assess the magnitude of the repeal of Glass-Steagall.

I am so sick of politicians who are out of touch. Those with integrity still exist. Senator Elizabeth Warren for one who co-authored The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle Class Parents are Going Broke.

 

 

 

 

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“Heather the Totality” by Matthew Weiner

Provocative. Evocative. Compelling. Matthew Weiner’s debut novel Heather, the Totality delivers characters who will linger in my imagination for a long time. Characterizations are captured in short, visually stimulating scenes that keep the action moving and the reader reflecting on karma, the many nuances and challenges of parenting, and the pursuit of personal fulfillment.

“Her parents weren’t bad people, but they were living in a self-righteous delusion that they deserved everything they had,” Matthew Weiner, Heather, the Totality.

I can’t remember the last time I was disappointed by a non-fiction book that I read based on a review. I’d say I’m batting less than 1,000 when it comes to fiction I have chosen based on reviews. One best-seller was written from four points of view… that all sounded like the same whiny character.

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Sidelined

A tug on my arm woke me up. The tug was immediately followed by Nicholas’ gentle voice saying, “I’m hungry Mommy.” The clock radio read 7:03 a.m. Donald was gone.

All it took to appease Nicholas was a bowl of corn flakes. I munched on my peanut butter and whole grain bread and watched him methodically use his spoon as he took great care not to spill any milk.

Donald returned at 7:40 a.m. with bagels and cream cheese. “They look divine. Except I can’t eat them. White flour,” I reminded him for the umpteenth time.

“I forgot. Sorry,” he said sheepishly.

“Nothing says sorry better than scrambled eggs,” I replied in my best Mary Poppins voice.

At 9 a.m. I was finally able to push Nicholas and Donald out the door. The neighborhood park was barely half a mile away, and if Nicholas didn’t get there by 10 a.m., he would be shimmying down the curtains.

I immediately fell back to sleep until 11 a.m. when they arrived home. The six hours from the night before and those two hours only added up to eight hours though, and I woke up groggy and instantly realizing that I was missing my seminar. Still feeling uneasy about the baby, I comforted myself by visualizing the grey and white wiggles from the sonogram the night before.

Donald was itching to play tennis and “hang out.”  Although the basketball courts were a five-minute drive from our house, the neighborhood bar was only an additional three-minute drive. I knew he’d be gone until dinnertime, but I smiled and kissed him good-bye.

By 4 p.m. Donald had been gone four hours, and Nicholas was restless. The rain had kept him inside Saturday, and he wanted to go to the park again. I didn’t have the strength to take him. Donald wasn’t answering his cell phone, but luckily Legos came to the rescue.

While Nicholas focused on making a roof, I fumed. What the hell was Donald thinking?  This was supposed to be my rare weekend off mommy duty.  He wasn’t supposed to have even been able to go out all day.  I spent all that time in the hospital going through another miscarriage scare and am supposed to be in bed all day, and he can’t pry himself away from his bar stool?

I caught myself spiraling further and further into negative thinking and struggled to refocus by watching the intent expression on Nicholas’ face as he methodically assembled a structure. For such an athletic child, it constantly amazed me that he could get lost for hours in his Legos.

Donald finally showed up at 6:30 p.m. and headed straight for the refrigerator to retrieve a cold Budweiser.

“You ruined my weekend. I had to stay in all weekend,” he said as he slammed cupboards while looking for his favorite beer huggie, the one from University of Texas at Austin, his alma mater.

“You are so full of shit. I missed most of my writing seminar. I spent hours alone in the ER and almost lost the baby. And you were out most of the day,” I blubbered.

“This is why I didn’t want another baby, more work for me.”

I burst into ugly sobs and left the room.

It’s the alcohol talking. He’s making dinner. If you’re lucky, he won’t burn down the house in the process.

I know he only partially means what he says, part of him is so excited about the baby, I can hear that in his voice when he tells other people we’re expecting and when he talks to Nicholas about having a sibling.

Is he lazy or just an alcoholic? Is it he’s stuck in a college sophomore mentality because that’s when he started partying so hard? Is that just his personality?

He has so many good qualities, I try and focus on them — but it doesn’t seem like he pushes himself to grow.

 

 

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What Donald Trump could learn from the NFL

Integrity. Colin Kapernik had the courage to use his platform to make a statement, to force us to dump our cultural denial, to start a conversation, to make things better.

The NFL brings joy and community to so many Americans. Football gives youth something to look forward to, an outlet that helps them concentrate in school, strategic thinking skills, physical fitness, and teamwork. (It needs to figure out a way to make tackling safer. I vote for touch football until 18… but that’s a separate issue.)

Donald Trump is the most thin-skinned, negative celebrity I can recall. Make America Great Again? More like, Make America Hate Again.

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Brain dysfunction is motive enough re Las Vegas Shooter

Why are so many so shocked that Stephen Paddock the Las Vegas Mass Murderer aka Las Vegas Shooter had no apparent motive?

If he had been a happily married pediatric surgeon, a father of three children, and volunteered for Doctors Without Borders, I would be shocked.

A compulsive gambler who compulsively collected guns and exhibited traits of OCD who was almost completely disconnected from his community and who was verbally abusive to his girlfriend at times — I am not so shocked.

Brain disorders aren’t given respect. Compulsive gamblers are addicts and addiction can distort brain function. There is no logic with an addict.

Was there some early Alzheimer’s, some paranoia? Agitated depression escalated to psychotic depression? He’s not the first suicide to take others with him.

I just hope his brain is going to science.

 

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Healthcare maze inspired fiction

Ever since I became aware of Bernie Sanders’ platform in the fall of 2015, I have become a bit obsessed with healthcare, because he spoke single payer. Mathematically, it is the only system that makes sense, whether by each state or by the entire nation.

I have several novels started, but only one published, Dream Walking. Recently, it occurred to me that two of my novels were inspired by two distinct healthcare journeys.

I conceived Dream Walking twenty years ago, and it has been through many incarnations. Georgia’s journey through trading addictions and the mental health system is harrowing at times, because although there are many variables in the mental health equation, many of them are not addressed in conventional treatment.

Although brain disorders (a more accurate term than mental illness) and addictions are often braided, they are separate conditions and each needs its own treatment. The subconscious plays a huge role in addiction, which generally is not properly recognized, let alone effectively treated.

I am in the process of writing Baby Fever, a sequel to Dream Walking, which was inspired by my journey toward motherhood. I was a recurrent miscarrier, and then as time ran out had trouble getting pregnant. Without Fern Reiss’s The Infertility Diet: Get Pregnant and Prevent Miscarriage and the detective work of three amazing high-risk obstetricians, I would never have either of my two children. I ended up needing low-level intervention, but if your doctor can’t figure out the underlying issues, it’s hopeless.

For those with overactive imaginations, it’s much easier to tell a story through fiction than memoir.

What’s beyond anyone’s imagination is the twisted and torturous economics that lie at the foundation of our healthcare system. Elizabeth Rosenthal’s compelling An American Sickness details the triumphs of the special interest groups that brought us to where most of us are today — one devastating accident or illness away from bankruptcy and needing a PhD in medical coding to interpret a hospital bill.

 

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Blood

As I entered the bathroom stall I could still hear the instructor’s words in my head. He had spoken with such enthusiasm about the techniques he had developed for screenwriting that I was already brainstorming scenes. Until I noticed the red stain on my blue and white pinstriped underwear. Blood.

My chest tightened as I flashed back to that morning. I hadn’t been sure whether the faint rust-colored stain less than the size of a dime had been old or fresh. I took some deep breaths and decided to check again at lunch.

<><><>

It had started to rain heavily, and my socks and flared jeans got soaked while walking to lunch, a nearby Subway. At lunch there was no more blood, and I began to relax.

<><><>

I settled into the lecture and discretely removed my socks. While I furiously took notes, the bottom of my jeans slowly went from drenched to damp, from midnight blue to faded denim.

At our late afternoon break, I rushed to the bathroom. There were definitely more blood stains on my underwear. My heart skipped as I realized that I had been slightly cramping on and off even though I’d been sitting down almost the whole day. With a history of miscarriages and my 40th birthday a memory, the cramps were scary no matter how much my high-risk OB reassured me. When the cramps had been on and off almost all day, I would spend the next day in bed or all evening after work anyhow, and then they’d stop.  But that day I had been cramping on and off for three days.

The spotting was ominous. I knew I had to leave the screenwriting seminar, even though it would not break for another two and a half hours.

The wind and rain chilled me as I trudged to the car. The Gothic setting matched my bleak mood. Disappointment crept through my body until I felt almost weightless. I had been looking forward to the weekend seminar for weeks. It had been one of my rare “me” things.  It was my gift to myself for finishing two and a half long years of pursuing my teaching credential.

The rain had washed my Matrix. Yet again, I was grateful that I had a red car, because I often had trouble remembering where I parked it. Once I navigated my way to the 405 freeway, I forced myself to look on the positive side — I had left with the course materials in hand, and I had absorbed so much during the time I was there. The steady rhythm of the windshield wipers helped me mentally recite the two shortcut writing techniques, which would expedite my rewriting of the first drafts of the two screenplays I had been working on. I always worked on two writing projects at the same time, because when one stumped me, I would turn in relief to the other one.

<><><>

After the ER doctor examined me, there was some more blood, not a lot, but enough to stain the paper cloth on the examining table. My cervix was slightly open, and he contacted the OB on call who said I needed a sonogram.

I kept telling myself to “turn it over” and not to panic, which helped.

At 9:30 p.m. I got the sonogram. Because I was scheduled for my 16-week one the following Tuesday at the same hospital, the cute, young sonogram technician performed the comprehensive sonogram, which involved lots of shots of the fetus from different angles.

Right away I could see the heartbeat and was reassured. The baby-to-be looked so scrunched up, but the technician said that’s the way they all looked. I could see that the fetus had grown a lot in the three and a half weeks since my last sonogram, which relieved me too. I had only gained a pound in those three weeks and was not definitively feeling the baby move yet, so it was nice to see proof that the baby-to-be was still alive.

I had been feeling rumblings, especially after I ate.  I would wonder if it was the baby, but they were so faint that I was never certain.

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The news report from the car radio informed me that the rainfall had already broken records for March, three and a half inches in one day.

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I got home at midnight. Nicholas was awake. All I could glean from prodding Donald, passed out on the couch, was that Nicholas had fallen asleep at 7 p.m. I fixed myself some scrambled eggs and read Time for Bed to Nicholas until his eyes shut. The sound of the rain hitting the windows lulled me to sleep.

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Filed under "Baby Fever" - Excerpts from novel in progress, Nutrition and Health