Twitter Lenten Penance

Lent begins on Wednesday. Like other Catholics all over the world, I will attend a Mass where the priest spreads ashes on my forehead in the sign of the Cross upon which my Lord died.

Lent is meant to be a sober reflection period. As part of that reflection, Catholics self-impose a kind of penance on themselves to help them share more fully in the suffering of the crucified Jesus.

This has always been a difficult period for me. My brother, Gary, was killed at the age of 20 in a car crash at Easter time on a slick Indiana country road made icy by a snow storm.

I was five then. (Gary was my “brother” in the sense his mother also raised me as if I were her daughter. She was my step-grandmother.)

Sixty years later, I remember that period of time. The state troopers coming to the door, my Mom’s scream and collapse. She would go on to have a white streak in her jet black hair where her hand came to her head on hearing the news.

I remember how Gary looked in his coffin as my Dad (really my maternal grandfather) carried me around the funeral home on the night of the viewing.

Easter is tough for me because it brings to mind a tragic accident that forever changed the trajectory of our family life, not always in the best ways.

As each year of my Catholicism passes (I converted in 2008), I greet Lent with trepidation and difficultly in choosing an appropriate penance. I don’t drink or smoke, and while I love it, I rarely eat chocolate. Not because I don’t love it, but because I do!

Fasting is not an option for me due to my autoimmune and other ills and the medications I take for them.

The past couple of years, I have tried to “take something on,” to add an extra burden so that I might feel a heavier load in my life and walk in the Way of the Cross.

This year, I have decided on the more traditional penitential act by giving up my activity on Twitter.

Simply put, I tweet too much. Not that I believe what I have to say is so significant or because that many people read and either like, retweet or comment on what I have to say.

It’s just that a long time ago, I was a journalist. And like the paths not taken, we often wonder what our lives would have been had we stayed on our original path and not taken that fork in the road.

Naturally I dream mine would have led to a Master’s in Journalism from Columbia and a staff position at “The New York Times.” Oh, and maybe a Pulitzer or two.

Because Twitter is so news and politically focused, it has become my social media platform of preference. Although I have grown to love Pinterest for all the new yoga poses, Klimt renderings and crochet patterns I have started saving.

Still, Twitter is my thing. It has been since I detached myself from the GOP in 2016 even before the nomination of Trump.

It is my way of having a voice to protest all I abhor about this President’s hateful rhetoric, incoherent policies (especially his astoundingly bad foreign policy), and his unsuitability to govern this country that have nothing to do with Russia’s interference in the 2016 election on his behalf. Although that is upsetting in and of itself.

I fear for the future of my country, and that our representational government – rooted in democratic principles – will hold.

And as a person of faith, I do not like seeing people who would seek to impose their Christian values on others. Nor did our Founding Fathers.

Everyone who comes to Christ does so in his or her own personal journey. We would do well as a country not to enforce the will of believers on our system of government. That isn’t why Christ became Incarnate. He came so we could each choose whether or not to accept His Divine Mercy. He came to save souls, not nation build. He already has a kingdom of His own.

So talking about these things is one of many reasons for being on Twitter and speaking out.

Which is why my penance is to give it up. Because it matters so much to me.

And so I can allow Christ to matter more.

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Being Sick Sucks

Being sick…sucks.

Being chronically ill sucks even more.

My Twitter screen time wasn’t dramatically up last week because I think I am some grand maven whose voice just has to be heard in public discourse.

It has more to do with:

a.) Though too sick for much else, I am able to lie on the couch, watch TV, and listen to and simultaneously read the news, and

b.) I used to be a reporter in my younger days and the Twitter platform is full of users paying attention to the news of the day, so it interests me more than other platforms, and

c.) It is easier to write a Tweet than work on a blog when you are chronically ill. Kudos to those who are able to manage their autoimmune and other disorders and do both.

When it is fibromyalgia pain, using meds, I can do both. When my depression becomes overwhelming for me, I fall silent. Sometimes for months.

But when I am nauseated and dizzy as well as in pain, I cannot function. My couch becomes my safe haven, the one place I can navigate without my internal GPS swirling and my stomach churning.

Not that certain Tweets cannot have similar effects on my system.

Take Senator John Cornyn’s (R-TX) Tweet quoting Mussolini as the political voice we should use as a compass point for the type of country we should be voting to support in 2020.

Never mind it was an inept attempt to conflate the issue of socialism and how far we take that path. In truth, we do have social programs in this country when it is for the commonweal. Access to healthcare for all, having as highly educated a citizenry as possible, and stopping and reversing climate change are not wholly incompatible with capitalism to me. Nor overly socialistic ideas.

The point is “I am old enough to remember” when true conservatives quoted Buckley, not dictators allied with the Axis powers of World War II. (In other words, the people we fought a generational war to defeat because they were – exterminating Jews and other critical things.)

I think many of today’s GOP political crop are part of the party because it more closely molds to their personal moral/business-centric values – or because the GOP has been more malleable to such. Do many of them have any true ideological, philosophical reasons for being Republicans? Reasons that are grounded in, say, “The Federalist Papers” or a limited and constrained view of the Constitution? Nah, not so much.

In fact, I think their “originalist” view of the Constitution and its Amendments is more like the Kleenex view – to be crushed and crumpled in their “own” original thinking and discarded when their views and the many years of Supreme Court consideration of Constitutional law does not align.

Psst. Hey, GOP, it is the SUPREME Court – not the “it only works if it meets my objectives” court. Not the packed court. Not the “let’s block the Presidential right to appointment” court.

(My personal heartburn over Merrick Garland is that President Obama’s candidate did not get a hearing – if he were not confirmed after that, well, like it or not, that’s the process.)

And that’s my other point – we have systems, processes, and ways of doing things that have developed over the last 200+ years because they work. They bring order out of the chaos of competing ideas into something w-o-r-k-a-b-l-e that we cooperatively agree to live together with – in society – as a nation.

With the Presidency of Donald Trump, Republicans have thrown process out the window. They have chosen fakery over truth. They will hand Trump a Memorandum of Understanding with China on trade but call it by anything other than its name to convince Trump it contains what he desires.

Because the Emporer needs desperately to be told he is clothed, when everyone can plainly see he is not.

In their rush to gain the political upper hand, I fear Democrats will make the same mistake (substituting radicalized voters and a presumption there is a supply of unlimited small donor voters for Trump’s Emporer.)

Please, for 2020, can we call things by their true names? And not trample the Constitution? As originally written and later interpreted by those with the legal brilliance to do so, without partisanship? And focus on what is w-o-r-k-a-b-l-e for as many people in this country as possible? To their benefit of the entirety of the SOCIAL community that makes up these United States?

And please, can we have quotes from leaders who have not suppressed their peoples in furtherance of any political ideology, right or left? Much less be allied with those who have? (Yes, Mussolini had concentration camps, Silvio Berlusconi.)

These seem like very small asks.

Now, please excuse. Nausea has set in. The 2020 type.

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To Snark Or Not To Snark: Question Of The Day

I have felt very “snarky” in my Twitter posts this a.m. Perhaps it is this half-headache I have due to sinus stuffiness as early as mid-February in an Atlanta that has seen daytime temps up in the 70s and turn around and be in the 40s the next day. But stuff has started blooming. And my head IS hurting. Should I blame weather or climate change? Frankly, in my present mood, I will just blame President Trump and call it a coin toss today. (Ah, finally, I have found a use for Trump – blamecatcher.)

While I didn’t watch The Donald vs. Beto competing rallies, I have read much about them. I have repeatedly looked at the video of the BBC cameraman assaulted by a Trump supporter. And I think that everyone is missing that at that moment, Trump was not only denigrating immigrants and asylum seekers from the Southern Border, but Asian Americans as well.

I did not realize the border wall would also keep Asian Americans out of the country. Oh wait…they are Asians who ARE American. I think they ALREADY belong here, Mr. President. 🤦🏼‍♀️smh

Had I been in El Paso, I would definitely have been jamming with Beto and the band. His vision of who we are as a nation is much more appealing than Trump’s dark, dystopian world. I mean, the man won’t even keep a dog. That alone should have been his absolute disqualification to be President-forget Putin.

Speaking of Russia, Kremlin aide Vladislav Surkov says we need to be more afraid that Russia is worming its way into our conscience than its interference in our elections. Yeah, that bare chested photo of Putin on horseback is rather unforgettable. But am I conscience-stricken about it? Not really.

Meanwhile, the Moscow Times announced that an “aurora” of polar bears has landed on a remote Artic archipelago. After checking the dictionary to make sure “aurora” was not also a grouping of polar bears, I felt compelled to send them the proper definitions of the word. And those bears were sooo cute. Like I said, I am full of snark today. (Also sinus stuffiness and my half-headache.)

I even snarked about Laura Ingram sending Trump a “comfort photo” of the crowds OUTSIDE his rally so his feelings wouldn’t be hurt that Beto had more people INSIDE his venue than Trump did. Well, snarking at Ingraham is actually something I periodically do, so maybe I shouldn’t feel too badly about it.

Is begging Hillary Clinton to sue Trump for copyright infringement for appropriating as a printed slogan the title of her book, “Stronger Together,” “snark?” How about sending her a tweet with praying hands that she at least send a cease and desist letter?

Oh Lord, he is on TV talking about his “big, beautiful Wall” and how well we are doing economically with the Trade War with China. He may keep going to the border with great frequency, but he obviously hasn’t talked to any soybean farmers in the MidWest recently.

My headache just got worse. For this, I do blame Trump.

To snark or not to snark? My Catholic belief would tell me to “not snark” is the more Christian attitude.

But my headache. So – snark. My answer and attitude for today.

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Writer’s Block

So I just finished watching “The Wife” starring Glenn Close.

While I don’t want to blow the movie for anyone who has not yet seen it, the final scene made me ache as her character, Joan, puts her hand to the blank page of her own possibilities.

I know that ache.  It has been with me since I was ten and wrote my first story about a robin sighting in the woods surrounding our lakeside home. It told me spring was on its way, and I had to share that news.

But like Joan, I have always doubted anyone would want to pick up a book that had my name on it as an author.  Not because I am a woman, mind you, but because I have always been afraid I had little to say, or that what I said would not be beautifully enough told.

My writing career has always been peripatetic, despite my degree in journalism; six years working for a local California newspaper; a win for my paper of a California Newspaper Publishers Association award.

Yet it was always my writing skill employers most appreciated, regardless of my official job title and duties.

After self-publishing on Amazon Kindle my own work of spiritual poems a couple of years ago, I thought I was finally able to settle down to write all the things I need to say.

Yet my fear of the irrelevance of my stories has stopped me cold-I am afraid they will end up strung out like Christmas lights upon the bushes, with mostly burnt out bulbs punctuated by the occasional sputtering light.

I so want all my words to shine.

I stopped blogging right before Christmas out of a sense of holiday depression and Trump fatigue. I was tired of his daily outrages spurring my posts rather than what I wanted to write myself.

But having met the character of Joan, I am encouraged to face the blank pages of this blog and the cursor that blinks wildly at me from my laptop.

Like her words, I am determined mine will be hidden no more.

With my former publisher, Dick Blankenburg, Five Cities Times-Press-Recorder, 1982

A Star Shone

A star shone over Bethlehem

To draw our eyes to see,

The Christ child who would grow,

Our Lord and Savior one day to be.

Wrapped in rags, lying in a trough,

The cows mooed lowly round him,

While shepherds on their knees did drop

And angel song resounded.

For the one to be Shepherd of all,

For the Man of Sorrows, Mercy, Love,

Who would break our sin upon the Cross

And all our fears dissolve.

This is the gift he gave us –

His love, our spirits free –

From hate, disputes and prejudice

For all eternity.

 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all. 

christmas decoration christmas ornament close up colorful
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Seeing Red

For those few people who regularly read my blogs, my apologies for an illness related absence.  My body just wouldn’t giddy up and go for the past several weeks. Autoimmune sufferers will understand. I was at 1/2 a spoon.

I started feeling better last week, but kept it low-key to be sure I had energy for family Thanksgiving.  It was delightful and I am grateful for another year.

I also managed (on purpose) a fairly Trump free holiday. I continued binge watching certain series (sorry Liev Schreiber – I made it up to half-way through Season Five of “Ray Donovan” and had to give up.  The Abby story line just got too depressing.)

I caught up on “Versailles” on Ovation and watched some docudramas on the Bourbon dynasty of Louis XIV, XV and XVI.  I think the GOP should have watched how over-taxing the lower classes and not taxing the “nobility” (aka the 1 percent) cost them their throne.

Of course, “Gladiator” is always a good movie choice and another cautionary political tale for our times. The first two episodes of “Escape from Dannemora” were interesting.  (Paul Dano, you look so different from Bezukhov in “War and Peace!”  Patricia Arquette, I hardly knew ye!)

Ooh, and “Dirty John” on Bravo is a very, very bad boy, Eric Bana.

And I don’t know why, but I can always count on “Black Rain” to take me to dream land, despite my decades long crush on Andy Garcia.  Or maybe because of it. (Who knew a violent movie about the Yakuza could be sleep inducing?)

Then today there were the nightmarish pictures of the shoeless, diapered migrant children being tear gassed on Mexican soil. No, the babies were not storming the gates, and those adults who did reportedly did not touch U.S. soil.

Thank God it was not our soldiers having to decide if Trump’s lethal force order was in order.

What is our sovereign right to tear gas people on Mexican land any way?  Hello?  Any international law expert available?

And tonight it is all about Trump’s efforts to subvert our legal system to jail his “political enemies” ( Clinton and Comey). Again, a not legally cool move.  How many dubious legal and policy decisions is one President allowed to make?

This leaves out Russia’s ramming a Ukrainian cargo ship, firing upon it and taking crew as prisoners, or the climate change report just issued, a damning report about the fire and ice that will destroy us.

In fact, the world seems to be spinning faster on its news axis than ever before. Is it a combination of the advancing Christmas shopping rush along with Democrats taking power in the House come January?  Anticipation for Mueller to do something, anything, that shows his investigation is still on target after Manafort has trashed his plea deal?

It seems like I have come down with Trump Tizziness just as I was feeling better.

I even fantasized Melania took Elmo’s fur and created red cone Christmas trees to decorate the White House.  Somebody please tell me I was indeed hallucinating.

Lord, I pray I make it to the New Year.  And please hurry up the schedule for the rest of the “Vikings” season on History Channel.  Ivar the Boneless looks good to me as a 2020 candidate about now.

Elmo would be even better.  Hopefully his fur grows back by then.

red bauble attached on a pre lit tree
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Voting in My Dreams

First, I voted early yesterday – hooray!

Then today I woke up dreaming that I worked for Donald Trump, entertaining pets. Except he has none. Weird.

And he was staying in this big, white house – not The White House – and I was advising him that he needed to fly in a gardener to mow the lawn because the grass was weedy and high and it made the house look inelegant for a President to live in.

The pool needed cleaning up too.

Any psychologists out there – have a field day with the dream analysis. And yes, I really was in the midst of dreaming this when…well, nature called.

I love Mother Nature.

I don’t ever recall having had a dream like this before after casting a vote, regardless of whether or not the person I voted for was on the ballot, won or lost.

Except this election IS about Trump because – well – he makes everything about himself. Even when it shouldn’t be.

He MUST steer the national conversation all the time, because if we aren’t talking about him, I think he would cease to exist in his own mind.

Such as when he tweets his “expert” advice about how the World Series should be managed on a day a man took an assault rifle and several other rapid fire guns into a Synagogue and killed 11 people.

His own grandchildren are Jewish; just a reminder.

You would think it would have given him sober-minded pause that was genuine.  It seems not.

(I am no baseball fan, but if someone has pitched seven perfect innings, as the manager, might I not think his arm should have a rest? Especially with more games in the series to be played? Just seems kind of a, well, rational decision to me.)

The point of all this is that I am tired of Trump permeating my thoughts to this degree. Neither Barack Obama nor any of his predecessors ever did.

(I do admit to still being angry at Bill Clinton for all the lying about Monica Lewinsky and the way he called her “that woman,” as if he played no role in what happened between them.  There was about 9 months of hellishnish the country didn’t need and his family didn’t deserve.)

Ah, Presidents. What are you going to do.

Vote early.  Vote absentee.  Vote provisional.  Vote Election Day.

Just vote.

A2D66CBE-53BA-4C94-94A6-573DE7244274Selfie by moi