Sunday, July 10, 2016

A Step Forward, A Step Back

It often seems like every step or two forward means a step back, and sometimes a slide down, far down. Or it could just be me and how I see things, like my pursuit of art. All the videos in the world merely show me how much I have to learn and how far away I am from adequacy. My view of my own adequacy. At least I keep plugging away, trying more things, being as daring as time allows, and often resenting the demands that being an adult make on me.

And then there is art.

Trying different media, different colors, different paper, and learning that I need to put down a shield when working with certain pencils, pastels, and charcoal. 

Quick sketches  to see if I still have it. I really should use clean paper instead of sketching (scratching) on paper (newsprint) where I've sketched other faces, body parts, interesting objects. Cropping can only eliminate so much and newsprint is especially smooth and erasing intruding lines would damage the sketch. I rather like this one, not only because it is nearly accurate, but because it didn't take me long at all. 

The photo on a new box of colored pencils. That pugnacious chin and unusual angle were all it took to interest me. Not bad for another quick sketch. 

An older drawing that I keep refining and working on. A touch here, a new technique there. I'll finish it one day . . . or maybe I'll paint this one. Yes, I know the right (left actually) eye is less vivid than the left (to the viewer), but it -- and I -- is still evolving. For now. 

Another drawing of one of my granddaughters. This one is Savannah. It is also when I began to toy with the idea that less is more. The original photo was posted on its side and I maneuvered it into a full frontal straight up and down image. Computers are wonderful and I'm getting better with PhotoShop -- barely. 

Another sketch, and the most recent in this collection, of Mahesh Jadu. The actor is currently portraying Ahmad (heavy on the ACH as if you're clearing a hairball) on Marco Polo. Mahesh is one of the villains of the show. His long, pointed nose interested me first and that is where I began the sketch, all done in sanguine hard pastel. Another not quite right sketch, but I do find his face and this sketch fascinating. 

It didn't dawn on me until I searched for the name of the actor playing Ahmad that his face was familiar because I had enjoyed his portrayal of Ophir from I, Frankenstein with Aaron Eckhardt. He does have a very interesting face and demeanor and he's from Australia. I would've thought India or the Middle East, or even the USA would be more likely. Wherever he was born, raised, or lives, I still find his face interesting and will definitely draw him again. I do that with faces that intrigue me. 

I am toying with the thought of reducing faces to basic elements to see how much of the person is recognizable. Not so much body parts, or facial features, although faces are part of the exercise, but light and shadow. Can I sketch a face and make it recognizable by just sketching the light -- or the shadow? I sketched two eyes, the hint of a nose, and the mouth but nothing of the light or shadow or rest of the face and it was instantly recognized as Sharon Stone -- which it was. I did that sketch in colored pencil more than 20 years ago on a piece of printer paper because the minimalist style intrigued me. I have it somewhere, likely in a folder in an old filing cabinet in storage in Ohio.  Asking for someone to go looking for it will be futile. Oh, well. Someday.  

There you have it, some of my recent forays into art as I exercise my artistic muscles and try new media. Some are good, some are less than good, and one or two are approaching mediocrity. Art is a process, a journey, and I am still on the path. 

That is all. Disperse. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

In The Wake Of Winter, Fire!

Tyrion, Daenerys, and Jon Snow

I'm a fan Game of Thrones and have been since the first episode. After that episode I immediately bought the first eBook, appropriately called A Game of Thrones, and dove in without reservation. I have not looked back. But I have looked forward.

When Cersei told her story of Maggie the Frog's predictions I had a very different take than my friends, who are also fans. Maggie predicted that Cersei would be killed by her brother and, knowing Cersei to be extremely myopic, I knew it would be Jaime, her twin, who would do the deed -- and maybe even die in the process. Cersei would not go down easily or without a fight. I didn't know then about Jaime losing his right hand or how that would affect the fight. After season 6 finale, I know I was right about many things and had some insight into the future of Westeros and the coming fight against the White Walkers. And, yes, I was right about Cold Hands. He is, or was, Benjen Stark. Take that, naysayers.

So here is how I see this simple story of George R. R. Martin's.

The truth about Jon Snow has finally come to light and, without knowing he is truly Stark, though not of Ned's getting, he has been crowned King in the North as he should have been all along. He takes precedence over Ned's children because he is the son of Lyanna and Rheagar Targaryen, though still a bastard. Ned took the seeming dishonor because of his promise to Lyanna to protect her son. I've always seen Jon as the ultimate winner of the Game of Thrones as played in Martin's Universe.

Whoever Daenerys weds or beds, she will ultimately end up with Jon. He is the ice and fire to her fire. He is the Prince Who Was Promised. I don't see him giving up the North or King in the North to wed Dany or rule jointly over a combined Westeros. I've always seen Jon as one of the 3 dragon riders to come and it makes sense since Daenerys will also ride one of the dragons, and likely Drogon. Jon will probably get Rhaegal and Viserion will like be commanded by Brandon Stark, the three-eyed raven or possibly Tyrion Lannister. My vote is for Bran as he is, as are all the Stark children, Jon Snow included, a warg.

I do like that Jon Snow, King in the North, is also called the White Wolf, especially since the white wolf, Ghost, is the only one left, other than Arya's Nymeria still loose in the wild. They will meet again as Arya crosses Westeros to return to Winterfell.

Littlefinger is about to get his comeuppance soon and Sansa will not be in his future, except maybe as a part of his downfall. He has finally loose the Cat out of the bag and admit he intends to take the Iron Throne. No big surprise for anyone watching or reading about the Westerosi wars and plots and double- and triple-crosses. Robert's curse fall on Littlefinger. No doubt Robert touched Littlefinger many times on his way into or out of the brothels.

Okay, back to my predictions.

Jaime will kill Cersei, which will leave Casterly Rock to Tyrion who deserves the title and the income it will generate. Tyrion will rule Casterly Rock as Hand to the Queen with Sansa, his wife, by his side. Sansa was married first to Tyrion, but the marriage was not consummated. Now that Sansa has had a taste of the fairy tale life she dreamed as a young girl at Winterfell and tasted the bitter ashes and gall that came with the dreams as they shattered, she may see Tyrion in a different light, less as the Imp and more as the intelligent and tortured (by his own family) man of parts he is. I've always liked Tyrion and I will definitely like to see him where his family, other than Jaime, never saw him or considered for him: Master of Casterly Rock and married to Sansa Stark with children playing at their feet.

Jon Snow will marry Daenerys Targaryen and unite Westeros but Jon will remain the White Wolf, King in the North. Daenerys will undoubtedly take the Iron Throne and she will once again bear children -- to Jon.

Mirri Maz Duur's prophecy for Daenerys was: 
"When the sun rises in the west and sets in the east. When the seas go dry and mountains blow in the wind like leaves. When your womb quickens again, and you bear a living child. Then he will return, and not before." 

I dislike prophecies like the above because they are never what they seem on the surface and I wonder if that is not due to the nature of prophecy being like a puzzle that must be solved or merely the nature of the prophet who cannot speak plainly or cannot decipher the other worldly voice into common speech. 

Let's try this on for size.

When Daenerys is Queen of Westeros and takes the Iron Throne, her domain will reach from Westeros (in the west) to Meereen (in the east). The great sea of grass is already dry and the pyramids of the slavers are burned and their remains blow in the wind. Dany bled when Rheagal and Viserion took down the pyramids of the slavers which may be the sign that she is menstruating again. Since Daario Naharis is no longer bedding Dany, that leaves whoever she decides to marry once she reaches Westeros to get her pregnant, but at least her womb has quickened. That may be the result of all three dragons being unleashed and nearly full grown -- or maybe are full grown already. If Dany names her first child, a son, Drogo, the prophecy will be fulfilled. Whether that will result in Khal Drogo returning is another thing altogether, but anything is possible when magic is involved.

So much for Martin's simple story. I'm still waiting for the book, The Winds of Winter, but with Martin imminent release is uncertain. Such has been the case since The Game of Thrones was released. It's easy to get caught up in other projects and making a living that does not depend on a book or a series. Mortgages must be paid, food, shelter, and necessities, as well as wants, must be provided, and life still goes on, and Martin has a very full schedule with his appearances, interviews, other books and anthologies to compile, edit, and release, and his movie theaters and other business ventures to see to. I'd say it's difficult to focus on only one ball when juggling so many balls in the air. HBO will make sure that season 7 of Game of Thrones will roll out on time with or without Martin's final books in the Song of Ice and Fire.  

In the meantime, I'll get back to juggling my own balls and focusing on what I can control and leave prophecies to the Winds of Winter.

That is all. Disperse.   

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Teenage Shame

I've posted some of my art without shame. I'm still scrubbing off the rust so the work reflects that. It's a learning process. Even in the summer of 1970 when I attended an honors class in art in summer school I knew the painting of my youngest sister was not good. My mother kept the painting and hung it out for all to see and I cringed every time I passed it. That portrait was not my best work. It still isn't.

The portrait is done in acrylics, a brand new medium to me in 1970, and I had a lot of problems with the paint drying almost before I could apply it to the canvas. Acrylic paint turns to plastic when it dries and, while I appreciated the freedom to bring my sister to school and have her son, I didn't appreciate the lack of instruction I got from the teacher. Lack of instruction as in none at all interspersed with being told to let loose and be free with the paint and the brush. Had it been left to me I would've applied a coat of primer and started over with something else or repainted the portrait with oils or even wrestled with acrylics some more and found some way to compromise with the limitations of the acrylics.

Luckily, acrylics have improved since 1970 and so have my skills in working with them. In the meantime, I'm still learning the pros and cons of colored pencil and brushing up my technique with charcoal and pencil. It's a process and a process that may well take the rest of my life to master. I'm not worried. Erte went from drawing and designing magnificent costumes for the stage in the 1920s and in his 80s turned to ceramics with the same flair and unquenchable thirst for new ways of expressing his art.

My teenage shame,
Beanie at 5 in blue dress to match her eyes.  

It's more of a cartoon than a portrait and I have done better since -- and even before I painted this. I threatened to destroy it when Mom died so she gave it to Beanie to protect it. So much wron
g, but there are glimmers of possibilities never realized. Maybe now I can find some way to rescue the feelings of joy trampled by the realities of my own limitations and the limitations of the medium and learn. After all, life is about living and learning and life is far from over. 

That is all.  Disperse.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Chasing The Past

Last year I jumped back into art in a big way, buying supplies, and trying out new media -- new to me -- and kept coming back to where I began 50 years ago when I discovered I could draw. As with everything in my life, I went from drawing pictures out of my piano lesson books to Sunday comics in the newspaper and eventually right into painting portraits in oils with brushes and pigments and linseed oil. I didn't know all the techniques and how it all went together and I plunged ahead experimenting with canvas boards and stretched canvas and eventually buying canvas and frames and stretching canvas on my own. Good thing I had a job by then at the age of 15 and bought my own supplies. The supplies that come in a single Xmas gift of painting materials didn't last long. I got a scholarship to the Columbus College of Art and Design when I was in 9th grade at Westmoor Junior High and our first lessons were in soft pastels.

I fearlessly attacked still life and more portraits, drawing fellow classmates when I'd finished with the model posing at the front of the class. Hands a dozen different colors and scattered sheets with finished portraits and the occasional still life. I raced through everything with an ability I never questioned and didn't appreciate -- or fully understand. I was in my element, testing the waters of various artistic disciplines offered in the art classes in high school. Never enough, I experimented with sculpting clay (and plaster of Paris at home), cutting lineoleum blocks for block printing (still have the scar where I gouged out a hunk of skin over the knuckle of my right index finger), screen printing, and finally into painting again, at home with the oils and frustrated with acrylics because they dry too fast and end up looking like hunks of stretchable plastic. Watercolor was fun, but we never had enough time in class -- or in the classes at OSU where I got my first taste of live nude models on Saturdays all summer long. I never learned about using negative space or glazing or dead layer (grisaille) paintings that lie beneath the glazes.

Here I am after nearly 40 years of ignoring the artistic abilities seething just beneath the adult facade of wife, mother, and working to earn a living because it's the mature thing to do, give up dreams for the reality of making a living that I stumbled through half alive. Art won't make me a living or feed my children and neither will writing. "Wake up, girl. Get a job and make sure to marry some guy who will take care of you. You won't make it any other way."

My hands were always moving, picking up a pencil to sketch an interesting face in TV Guide or Woman's Day or evenPlaygirl.  I couldn't help myself. No matter how I ignored the pull of the pencil an interesting face and whatever pen or pencil was closest to hand, even crayons on occasion, I sketched what interested me and hid it, put it away in a book or left it laying around until someone else put it in the trash. The drawings were more mature, more refined than what I produced as a teenager. I clung to the knowledge that even as I got older the art would always be there and would get better as I matured and viewed the world from a different perspective. It would wait for me --

-- until I took another plunge into the artistic stream when there was no one to stop me, to remind me I had obligations, to tell me no and found that my drawing skills had atrophied. The art didn't wait for me and I wasn't about to let go after I got used to the idea that I'd have to start all over.

Some of the skill remains beneath the rust and dust and I scraped it all away, dusted my atrophied skills, and did what I never had to do before when I was younger. I drew the same thing over and over, taking it apart and drawing the parts that make up the portrait. An eye drawn repeatedly, first the right and then the left, until I approached something almost like the photo. Lips in colors. Lips in pencil. Lips in charcoal. Refining the technique and the anatomy one feature at a time.

A year ago I finished this drawing -- in colored pencil, a medium I am not yet completely comfortable with -- and the features are distorted. Disheartening, but it was a first effort.

Click on the pictures to ee the actual size. 

Talk about a square jaw. I got that down, but it's still wrong. The proportions aren't too far off, but they're still not right. I sketched other faces from my desk calendar, pictures of my granddaughters pulled from Facebook, pictures of my grandchildren, Sierra and Connor, whatever picture stirred my juices.  I still hadn't conquered this portrait. It took me 6 months to get up the gumption to try it again. 

I can't tell you how many times I practiced the eyes, nose, ears, lips, chin, and ear and finally ended up with this version. I erased so many time I thought I'd ended up with fuzzy almost there lines and would never get to the point where I was satisfied. I covered pages and pages of facial features, my Great Aunt Ann's facial features. Still not there.

Getting closer. Still not happy with the eye and the lips aren't quite right. I saw my mother in every line, recognized her eyes that looked liked Aunt Ann's eyes. Of course, she was Grandpa's sister and Mom looked so much like her. I didn't realize at first why the proportions were off. I figured it out when I noticed the cheeks weren't full enough and the double chin was minus the other chin. Aunt Ann's hair was just like Mom's, the same dark brown, thick and perfectly coiffed. Aunt Ann owned a chain of beauty shops and she had learned much over the years she ran those beauty shops. She knew fashion and style and how to fix hair. She was always perfectly turned out.

Yes, that is a mink coat. I still have her black ostrich feather hat, the one that still has the haute couture label in it and looks like it was worn by Betty Grable or Katharine Hepburn or even Grace Kelly. It was the height of style in the 1930s and would've been a lovely contrast with Ginger Roger's blonde locks, dramatic. 

The angle of the photo is off, shot from too far below, but the finished result is really close. Not perfect, but an improvement on the one I did 6 months ago. It's in pencil because I'm comfortable and have lots of experience with pencil. I'll give the colored pencil version a shot again now that I'm almost there or I'll break out the oils and do a painting to hang on the way. If it turns out subpar I can always paint something else over it and give acrylics another shot. Or maybe charcoal.

That is as close as I'll get on this version, and it's really close this time. I'm happy enough with it to sign my name and add the date. Still a bit rusty, but much of the rust has been gouged off and the art is still there ready to be honed. I'll jump right into the middle of the stream with one of the media I haven't tried. I even got some pastels and will eventually get a set of pastel pencils. I like control and I like pastels -- or at least I used to like pastels. 

Time to scrape off more of the rust and chase down the old enthusiasm and intrepid nature. At least I'm willing to bear the erasures and scraping off layers of paint and dive in again. There no reason not to, except the urge to write another book or finish one of the several books I've started already. Rust gets into the most surprising places. I should buy a wire brush and get to scraping.

That is all. Disperse.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

What hot; What's Not This Season.

Hems are  up. Hems are down. Puce is the new black. Backless. Strapless. The fashion changes from season to season and from designer to designer. Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada spoke softly and confidently with a sneer on her face as she lectured her hopelessly unfashionable new assistant about the color of the shapeless sweater she wore as an illustration of the importance of fashion. 

The same is true of the media outlets in every country and around the world. Fashions change. So do the headlines and lead-in stories. Both change for the same reason -- to promote the corporate agenda. 

When I moved to Colorado in 2003 the big news was the pine beetle infestation that was destroying the forests. Pine beetles were burrowing into pine trees of every kind to feed and hatch their eggs. It was killing the pine trees from the top down. The crowns of the trees were dying first as the infestation spread. Rusty brown spread downward in a death spiral that left the trees unfit for anything but crumbling, mealy innards that could barely support a hearth fire. The best thing that could happen was a forest fire that would destroy the dying trees and the pine beetles. The biggest wildfire in ages had already spread across thousands of acres of pine forest the previous summer set off by a park ranger burning her cheating husband's letters and landing her in prison in Texas. The nearly decade long drought made putting out the fire difficult and increased the ferocity of the fire due to the dry conditions. Still the pine beetle infestation continued. Pine trees affected bled their red-brown life down to the roots of the forest and the trees leaned and crashed to the pine needle covered ground. 

Living surrounded by pine trees and reluctant to watch my isolation disappear, I checked the trees on the land and looked for the signs of pine beetle infestation. I watched the rigid spines of lodge pole pines afraid to see the rusty death descending from crown to root. Every red-brown sign became the end until I noticed the tell tale signs were scattered throughout the length of the tree as pine needles grew and died in the normal course of life. The only trees with rusty crowns were the trees that wore death from crown to lower limbs as the natural span of life ran its course. 

More than a decade has passed and I don't read or hear about pine beetle infestations. The forest where I now live is full of trees in various stages of life: saplings rising to mature trees and old trees past the prime bare of needles and standing, leaning, and falling as the seasons change. The natural cycle of life continues. 

I recently discovered geo-engineering, which is man-made weather control. The aerosols contain . . . "[a] mixture of parasites, pathogens, toxic heavy metals and nano-engineered particles have been found falling to earth from the trails of certain planes. Aluminum, barium, bacillus spores, radioactive thorium, cadmium, chromium, nickel, desiccated blood, mold spores, yellow mycototoxins, ethylene dibromide and synthetic nano-fibers are among the ingredients found in collected samples." The result of weather engineering is that trees die from the crown down as they are poisoned by the heavy metals contained in the spray -- just as the pine beetle infestations were said to destroy forests. Coincidence? 

I don't believe in coincidence. 

Though it seems like coincidence, Alzheimer's and other physical ailments, like cancer, Autism, and immune deficiency diseases (Multiple Sclerosis, fibromyalgia, chronic pain syndrome, and lupus) have increased over the years -- in line with the increase of weather engineering and chemtrails. I believe that is not a coincidence, but rather simple cause and effect. Poison the atmosphere, kill the plants, and poison the water and earth and the plants, animals, and people will be poisoned as well. It's not difficult at all to trace the connections. Everything traces back to the government which controls the process -- and controls the information that filters down to the people through the media outlets. 

Newspapers, magazines, and television report the news and they are owned by companies and corporations that control what news the people see, read, and hear. What the people get has been edited and changed and the corporate spin applied so that the news contains little of truth and even less verifiable, accurate news. I learned first hand how publishers edit the news.

I broke into reporting in an alternative media outlet: Columbus Alive! I pitched stories I was interested in investigating and the Editor in Chief bought or passed on the stories I pitched. They liked my work well enough to assign me to various front page stories. I was thrilled. I was being published and had become a stringer for a newspaper. I wrote about the Ku Klux Klan's U. S. Supreme Court battle over their right to put a cross on the Capitol lawn during the Christmas season and interviewed the Jewish lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) who eventually won the case, Benson Wolman. The paper even printed my photo of Mr. Wolman posing in front of the American flag poster in the conference room of the ACLU offices in Columbus, Ohio. It wasn't until I interviewed Karen Jiobu who grew up in an Arizona Japanese Internment Camp that I saw how my article was edited to fit Columbus Alive!'s corporate agenda. 

The newspaper published my picture of Karen Jiobu in her home in Bexley, an upscale community. They did not publish my article as written. 

My first paragraph compared the Japanese internment camps with the death camps in Germany, detailing the way the Japanese-American citizens were rounded up and transported to the camps in cattle cars on the trains. I described how those American citizens lost their homes and possessions and their freedoms when they were sent to the camps and how they lived during the war years as compared to the way German prisoners of war were treated in POW camps on U.S. soil. I included my father's descriptions of the U.S. POW camps and how the German soldiers could walk out of camp and go to nearby towns, returning after a night of beer and girls and music. My father knew because he lived near a POW camp in Michigan. He met and made friends with the German prisoners of war and how they were treated, not as prisoners of war, except for where they stayed at night and the work they did as prisoners, but as men captured in war and held prisoner while the war continued in Europe. The POWs had German accents, but some had American accents and were spies. They had more freedom than the Japanese in the internment camps. 

When the internee children were old enough to get jobs and leave the camps, they were sent to the other side of the country and had to live with American families. Japanese-American soldiers who were already in the Army when war broke out with Japan had two choices: serve state side or fight in the European theater. The U.S. government considered them a danger if allowed to fight against the Japanese; they might become double agents (if they weren't already) and spy for the enemy. 

Karen Jiobu's father refused to agree to or sign a loyalty agreement and remained in the camp after the war was over. Karen's husband was also a child of the internment camps, but he refused to be interviewed. 

When the article was published on the front page, the opening paragraph wasn't how the German death camps were similar to the U.S. Japanese Internment Camps but how the memory of summer camp brought up the very different memory of camp for Karen Jiobu. The publisher and owner of Columbus Alive! had decided that my opening paragraph was too provocative and might send the wrong message, especially as the U. S. government was about to issue an apology and offer payment to the survivor of the camps. I had no say in the matter because I signed a contract that allowed my articles to be edited by staff. I didn't even have the right to pull the article because it had already gone to print. Check and mate. 

In the years since that article was published, I have watched as the news became less about telling people the truth and informing them of what was happening in their worlds and their communities and more about entertainment. In fact, magazines, newspapers, and television are all about entertainment. Once in a while a bit of truth leaks out and the average person misses it unless they know what is really going on and they can read -- or see -- between the lines. 

One by one, the country that was founded on the ideals of freedom, liberty, and honor has been replaced by the world that George Orwell foresaw in his novel, 1984. The media have become the propaganda mill that churns out edited and rewritten versions of reality and the truth, the modern day equivalent of Rome's bread and circuses that kept the people docile and feelings of rage and betrayal focused in a more manageable direction, either against the countries and provinces Rome stole in war after war or gladiators and prisoners of war sentenced to die in the arena. The politicians and rulers stayed in power as long as they kept the people's fed and amused the same way that governments keep their people fed through the dole (Welfare and food stamps in the United States) and amused with Reality TV and celebrity gossip as they cheer and jeer the political races and the boogeyman of the day: Gadaffi, Saddam Hussein, Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, Osama bin Laden, Putin, and Russia. The boogeyman change as they rise to power and are defeated by the forces of the United States of America until a new boogeyman can rise from obscurity to rain death and terror and eventually be defeated in his/her turn. 

Keep the masses fed and amused and give them new gladiators and terrorists to hate and cheer as they fight to the death or are sacrificed on the altar of Justice. 

Each year, each day, the propaganda mill churns out new crusades with new villains to loathe and despise as reality is twisted and hidden beneath the weight of the masses whose minds have been controlled and their reason warped. They are teased with the latest revelation on the real cause of heart disease and obesity, offered another quick fix, and sold the latest medical marvel to keep them docile, drugged, and debilitated. 

Like fashionistas that followed the hem lines, color, and styles from season to season, the rest of the world follows the latest and greatest in propaganda. After all, even publicists and corrupt politicians need a job while the corporations keep raking in the money while keeping the masses fed and entertained. 

That is all. Disperse. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

What Are You Worth?

I keep reading and hearing people say that if people can get the book, and hence the writing, for nothing then that is all the book is worth -- nothing. Every time I think about that point of view I keep coming back to: if payment is the only measure of what something is worth no wonder the world is screwed up.

I do believe in a world and a society that is driven by money the only measurement available is money, but is that really valid? Story tellers throughout the ages have wandered from place to place telling their stories, some invented and some told and retold for centuries like Homer. Homer was a blind storyteller and his version of The Illiad and The Odyssey have become immortal and last through the ages. They will probably last for many ages to come. Storytellers and minstrels and bards and wanderers received payment in the form of shelter and food and help and often not even that because the communities where the wanders landed could not afford more than a bite of food and a post by the fire to sleep. Richer towns and wealthy landowners paid more for the wanders' services but did the amount of remuneration mean the rich enjoyed their stories and songs more or that they were more generous? That is the trap I believe we fall into today.

We have come to believe the amount of payment is equivalent to the product, in this case a book. But is it? I've read some truly awful books that cost me far more than I thought they were worth and wonderful, magical books that I would've paid three times the price to read again and again. It's not, in my estimation, the price that defines excellence but the story and the author of that story. If you write because you love writing and want to tell stories why debase that desire by counting coins?

Yes, we all need money to live because that is the way the world works, but are we happier when we have more money, more things, more everything or are we merely following the crowd?

If you write because you must, because telling a story is as necessary as breathing, then write. Demand payment from those that can pay, but be willing to give your work to those that cannot. Paid or free, it is not the coin that defines worth, but the writing itself.

As for me, I look forward to the day when the world no longer runs on money but on community and the worth of art and literature and even ditch digging is determined by its value to the worker, the artist, the writer, and the person. 

That is all. Disperse. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Temporarily Banished

I was asleep, minding my own business in a dream that was just a dream. Only it wasn't. I see now that the dream was born of issues I may not have fully dealt with or at least an issue that remains a part of me -- as some things often do no matter how you banish them or ignore them. It became a nightmare that catapulted me into the wide awake world where I usually live with a raging anger and the same sense of betrayal and loss I felt when I ended things several years ago.

And now he's back, still a coward, still a jerk, and still upending my peace of mind.

The dreamscape is one I've visited numerous times before. It's one of several dreamscape that recur in my sleeping world.

I was in an apartment I usually don't live in when I visit that dreamscape. It was smaller than the usual digs, but comfortable with room for my hobbies and mental pursuits. I gathered the trash and picked up a bucket of water I'd used to mop the floors -- on my knees, so I knew it was a dreamscape immediately. I don't scrub floors on my hands and knees.

Anyway, I took the trash and the bucket of dirty water outside where some of my neighbors were dumping their trash and chatting (gossiping most likely) about whatever. As I dumped the bucket on the grass someone said, "Well, that's new. No one dumps such things out here. Usually use the toilet or the sink."

I ignored the comment until the other neighbors' ribbing pricked the edge of my tolerant mood the wrong way. "I felt like taking a walk and perhaps bumping into my friendly neighbors." I bit down on the sharper edge of my tongue. I didn't add that I should have walked farther or that I should've waited. I really wasn't in the mood for the usual onslaught of hurt feelings and injured cries of bruised egos and pricked self-importance. I just wanted to finish the task and go back to my cozy little nook where I could shut the door on petty minded busybodies.

Almost at the outside door reaching for the handle, he came at me from behind offering sympathy for the rude people and setting the nape of my neck tingling with upraised hair. Oh, how I wanted to escape his insincerity and his subsequent attempt at 'let's be friends and talk about us' before I gave into the urge to slap his face -- with a hand rake.

I consciously lowered my shoulders and eased the tension evident to anyone but clueless him, murmured my thanks for his attempt at empathy and slowly and deliberately opened the door. He was determined to make the most of me speaking to him at last. Sure of his welcome, grudging though it was, he stepped between me and the open door and took the bucket in hand. "Let's set this down here out of the way so we can take a walk."

I could've shoved him aside, got my bucket, and left. I didn't. Damnable manners got in the way and, if I'm to be completely honest, politeness and a smidgen of hope quickly quashed and stuffed into the nearest dark, blind niche. A moment of politeness costs nothing. Well, nothing more than lowering the thick, seemingly impenetrable wall built to keep him out and away from the shreds clinging to the remains of my heart.

"I did want to get some fresh air," I said and backed away from his outstretched hand. I'd walk a few steps but there was no way he was going to touch me. I'd slug him first.

We strolled past the goggle-eyed neighbors without a word and toward the massive tree that towered over the yard, its bottom branches so high they couldn't even brush the tops of our heads. No, not there. I veered away from his intended route and down the long lawn toward the river.

It must've dawned on him that the way he imagined our reunion I wasn't going along with the program. He stopped while I walked on. Since I continued to walk toward the river he pointed to the sky and called my attention to a shooting star. Rational mind kicked in with meteorite blazing to earth from friction as it screamed to its death, a death I had heartily wished on him a few -- million -- times since I'd last seen him.

Come to that, I don't remember him moving into the building and yet here he was. Bold as brass and twice as irritating against my skin. I resisted the urge to claw at the hives I imagined humping up the longer I allowed politeness to keep me from the cozy confines of my rooms.

Politeness can only move me so far. I'd had enough fresh air. Time to shake this hound off. Now. "Thank you for the walk." I turned about and walked toward the building. Sputtering protestations followed a few steps before he grabbed my arm and yanked me to a stop. Bristling, I hesitated just long enough for him to vomit up an apology and "I was wrong," stopping me from slapping the taste out of his mouth.

"Nice to hear you admit it. Too little, too late." I brushed his hand off me. "What now? Should I relent and fall into your arms?" He held out his arms and flashed me his patented crooked grin. "Not happening." His arms dropped as though made of lead held up too long for his puny muscles to withstand. "Thanks for the walk and the air."

"Please." The longing and desperation reeked from that one word. Tears threatened. I stopped to gain some semblance of control and he emerged from the shadows to stand in front of me. I never knew he could move that fast -- or be that decisive. He was all about over thinking everything and planning to bolt. "Please," he repeated.

"Please what?"

His head jerked back as if my fist had connected. "Please wait. Let me explain."

Angry retorts battered his limp excuses. Too much time, too much hurt, and too much silence stood between then and now. I felt my resistance waning, giving into the dis-ease I felt standing that close to him. My vision blurred with unshed tears. My stomach ached. My heart ached. Everything ached from the stifled emotions and resentment and repressed anger. Not sure which was stronger, the fury at myself for letting things get to this point or the horrible loss because he was -- and continues to be --- a coward and not being honest from the start. I should have been less naive and more cynical, but I have learned. Finally.

Suddenly, my temperature cooled . . . as it does when I have reached the outer limits of fury and anger, and the temperature around me dropped. He stopped dead in his tracks. His arms dropped to his side and he stared at me as I gathered myself, turned, and slowly walked away leaving him behind me. When I reached the building and opened the outer door I looked back. He had not moved.

I almost expected to see snow falling. The neighbors rubbed their arms and complained about the creeping cold. A few pulled their sweaters, jackets, and coats closed and moved away to go home as they shouted hurried goodbyes. I picked up the bucket and went back to my cozy apartment. I wasn't cold. I wanted to be safe inside away from prying eyes and nosy neighbors. Away from him.

It did not feel like a long time, but the expected knock thumped on the door. When I opened it he stood outside in the hall. "Why did you see me in that first time?"

"Of course I wanted to or I'd not have invited you."

He turned and walked away. We were obviously done at last.

Why is it that a man can't take a woman's word when they end? Why do they believe only a man can end it? My second husband told me that we would never end until he said we ended. I laughed at him and laughed even harder when he came back with "I asked you to marry me. It's not over until I say it's over." I told him, "But I had to say yes first." He didn't get it and I spent the next few years proving it to him when I moved away and made my family promise never to tell him how to get in touch with me or I'd not let them know either.

Not that I worried too much they would take me up on the promise to cut them out of my life. They wouldn't mind. They'd wanted to get shed of me for most of my life. I had provided what I was adopted to provide -- children of their own. My purpose was fulfilled. All they needed to do was get rid of me so their family, finally complete, could go happily on as a family without me. I was used to being alone and without family. My own birth mother didn't want me back. She had her own happy family. Oh, she loved me, but I was the past. I should stay in the past and not be a constant reminder of what she had given up. I was her child, but only by biology. She had sons now. Her daughters were part of the past. I was part of that past.

A few days later -- or hours since it was dream time -- the phone rang. I answered and confirmed I was me. He wanted to take me out, get to know me. He had been given my number. No surprise there. He knew all about the affair and he thought I might be lonely and wouldn't want to remain lonely. My girlfriend listened to my side of the conversation amused at the way I handled the caller. She was a little surprised that I was so calm, that I seemed to tease him and flirt. All I can say about that is that is my default mode: teasing, flirting, pleasant.

"Keep listening," I said and hung up.

"What was that all about?"

"He wanted to keep me company," I responded, voice tight, temperature dropping. My jaw worked as I clenched my teeth and sought to master the feeling of betrayal and anger bubbling like lava toward the surface. Our conversation was terse on my part and full of wonder and the need to get out of the blast range on the other as she sidled toward the door.

What had sounded like light-hearted banter was obviously not so light-hearted or pleasant. The caller had presumed too much and that presumption came from the man who gave him my number. A man who might as well have written it on a bathroom wall. A man I once trusted and, Goddess help me, I still loved. A man who had tossed me away without paying me off first as any good prostitute would have demanded. I never expected to be passed around like a dirty joke, but that is evidently where I found myself.

Even when it's over it's not really over. Not until the man says.

No wonder I was instantly awake last night. Betrayal and calculated disregard -- mine or someone treated that way -- always gets my attention. Had I answered wrong when I told him I let him in because I wanted him, because I wanted to be with him? Had I brought everything on myself with my feelings for him? I didn't know. I would never know. He was too much of a coward to face me or to tell me his promises and our plans were empty dreams. Had he told me, I would have still wanted him the way I've wanted anything that is out of reach -- without emotional investment. Or time. Or belief. Or trust. Or dreams of a future together.

And it would have hurt so much less.

Even the relationships that have ended and the men banished, the banishment is only temporary.

Or so it seems.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Wite-Out Sky

When I woke this morning the world was white. The sky was white. That usually happens when there are big fluffy clouds covering the sky, but this sky was Wite-Out white. Liquid paper spilled over the dome of the sky -- or white chenille stuck up there with the chenille side facing me. I had to go outside to make sure I wasn't missing part of the picture. 

I wasn't. 

I hadn't.  

It was all there.  The sky was white in every direction, not a sign of clouds overlapping or cobblestoning the heavens. White. Blank. Albino. Nothingness as far as my eyes could see. The absence of everything. Everything except the sun's light illuminating my world without a sign of the burning orb anywhere. Just light. White cold light that struck no answering faceted brilliance of gem fire like sparks struck from crystalline jewels. Just white. Absence. Cold emptiness. 

I expected to see snow -- on the trees, on the deck, on the railings, on the ground. I had watched yesterday's rain and sleet and smaller than pea size hail turned into thick clumps of snowflakes while I watched, and eventually into ground covering weighted with all the rain that had fallen moments before -- for several hours before. Seeing that white sky sent me outside to take photos and to marvel at the sheer surprising endlessness. A white hell pregnant with portents, frigid fingers creeping slowly up and down my spine, firing all my nerve endings with incandescent flames more pervasive than any Brian Keene novel. I fought the urge to load the shotgun and barricade the glass doors from where I would goggle mute, horrified, uncomprehending at the shambling, relentless hordes.

The Rising lurches like broken marionettes barely attached with rotting and broken strings from termite-infested crossbars at the edge of my brain to be glimpsed from the corner of the third eye, there and not there, threatening to become tangible.

There is a blue cast to the photos above, the same blue cast that tinges all my winter snow pictures. Must be the blue light the camera picks up that my eyes see as white. Unadulterated and untinted white. Dead white. Wite Out white. White that is not the absence of color but the presence of all colors and all light waves and all the colors of fear and apprehension and . . . ominous shades of chaos and . . . something more primal, more basic, more . . . nightmarish.

I am not given to flights of fear or nerves and hair standing on end normally. I am a rational person able to face the abyss as vertigo unsettles my vision and sets my heart thump, thump, thumping in abject terror with a smile on my face and reflexes tensed to spring toward safety should the edge crumble and tumble me to the center of nothingness. Always alert. Always ready. Always poised to flee. And yet here I am watching the heavy snow weigh the branches, bending the sturdy branches into arcs as though ice froze the branches and pine cones and needles into an eternity of stillness, until drips and drops and clumps and spilling walls of wet white cascade in crystalline curtains and drapes and frosty lumps to the mounded dunes growing up from the ground. Albino stalagmites growing toward the Wite-Out sky.

I wonder if my fantasy has overtaken my common sense in an avalanche of restless waiting for the inevitable while the world outside this snow packed dome that isolates me and keeps me prisoner in an albino world as the long day of watching -- and waiting for . . . something -- leaches color from my rosy skin as it has silenced this corner of the mountain in an upturned milk glass bowl. Only time will tell what slouches this way, time that has been plucked from the normal stream of seconds, minutes, and hours, slowed to a crawl, gliding along its freezing slime trail and the heart thunders to a diminishing crescendo of purpose . . . before it falters, stalls, , and . . . stops.

That is all. Disperse . . . while you can.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Hidden Costs in Colorectal Cancer Screening

In my email this morning was a advertisement for a free report (free means free as long as you purchase the other reports and a membership, so not really free) on the myths and lies we have all been told about cancer and treatments for cancer, like colonoscopy. The very LONG advertisement (repeating buzz words and not getting to the point until you click the link for the free report) stated a simple truth hidden among the buzz words and advertising. The only medicine we need that actually works every time is good food. Good RAW food. Imagine that. We actually are what we eat -- and are affected by what we eat. Good RAW, ORGANIC food. That would be the same organic food the government is currently trying to eradicate by geo-engineering the weather that has created and is prolonging the drought in California to destroy the organic food growing industry since they couldn't get rid of organic food by passing a federal law that labels organic food as medicine and puts it under the aegis of the Food and Drug Administration that has protected our health and food by giving the go for drugs that have killed a large swath of the population with drugs that have horrible side effects that require more suspect drugs that have their own side effects.

These FDA approved drugs kill over 100,000 people a year. That does not include the test subjects in clinical trials that died as a result of the drugs in testing.

A hundred thousand people every year doesn't seem like such a high cost to pay for curing the rest of the population.  The only problem with that way of thinking is that the drugs still cost more in the USA than in Europe and still cure nothing and very few people. The drugs might extend a patient's life but the quality of life is not there. People spend years suffering while the medical community prescribes more drugs that may or may not (usually not) work. It's like throwing something at the wall and if it sticks good. If not, well, throw another drug at the wall and see if that sticks. Repeat, repeat, repeat and add up the cost increase.

The FDA has been in league with the Big Pharmaceutical companies for decades and their testing ground is the population of the United States of America. You'd think the people were cannon fodder for their war on cancer and high blood pressure and diabetes and . . . the list goes on and on. We, the people, are the lab rats and no one managed to tell us -- not the media, not the medical profession, not the government, and not the drug companies. Why tell the rats that they might live but it will cost them everything . . . including their lives? After all, we need pharmaceutical companies for the drugs they provide us that often are addictive (ensuring funds in the Big Pharma pipeline) and costly. After all, what is insurance for but to pay for the costs of getting well.

If the goal was wellness and health for the US population, the government wouldn't meddle with the weather creating droughts to stamp out the best medicine in the world -- good, organically grown and farmed food. Good, healthy food won't put money in Big Pharma's pockets or keep the money flowing in the pipeline or keep companies like Monsanto in business while they keep genetically modifying seeds that make its own herbicide and insecticide and increase growing rates on what is only marginally food with less nutritional value than cardboard images of food.

All that rain that is being diverted away from California is falling in the Midwest in record levels and the resultant floods are washing all those lovely Monsanto chemicals off the land and into the Gulf of Mexico where even the bottom feeders, like catfish, can't exist on it and plankton and shrimp and other food sources for fish and waterborne life die off taking the larger aquatic life with them.

Genetically modified food isn't food; it's poison. It's information that looks like food but has so little nutritional value that it cannot provide even the smallest levels of bio-available food -- and it is the source of many cancers, especially intestinal, stomach, and colorectal cancers that will require expensive testing to seek and destroy and even more expensive treatment to manage because there are no curative properties in chemotherapy and radiation. Such claims of a cure are a smoke screen to cover up what is really going on -- fleecing of the American people.

Colonoscopies in Europe cost a few hundred dollars while the same procedures in the US cost anywhere from $6000 to $20,000 per person per test. There are no reviews of the data proving that colonoscopies actually reduce the incidence of colorectal cancer or that detection actually increases the cure rate or possibility of finding cancer in the early stages. There are a few peer reviews recently instituted, but the results will take 7 years to come in. Do you have the time to wait for the results? Probably not.

There are options, noninvasive tests that are just as accurate in detecting signs of cancer without the pain, the damage to the intestines, and the serious side effects that accompany colonoscopies. Things like dirty instruments. You cannot put a colonoscope in an autoclave for sterilization because it would destroy the instruments -- they're expensive enough without having to replace them after every procedure. The colonoscopes are cleaned, but those flexible wires are still contaminated with blood, tissue, and fecal material from the last patient. The blood and tissue are often from polyps and cancer and spread those cancers to your colon and large intestine. Bet that's not in the medical brochures . . . and yet that is what happens. Nothing like infecting you with another patient's cancer and polyps and spreading the disease around.

You could opt for a sigmoidoscopy (and still run the cross contamination risk), which is more uncomfortable than the colonoscopy but a little less invasive. Pumping up your lower intestinal tract with air won't make it any less painful (rather more painful) but less dangerous and less invasive: a rubber tube with a camera on it rather than a bulky instrument already contaminated with someone else's tissue, blood, and fecal matter.

Even less invasive than the sigmoidoscpy and colonoscopy is the capsule endoscopy. The capsule endoscopy is a package of technology about the size of a cold capsule or gelcap you swallow that travels down the length of the digestive tract taking pictures of the entire length of the stomach and intestines and retrieved from the rectum, opened up, and the photographs developed and studied. A lot less invasive. After all, how many capsules have you ingested over the decades and suffered few if any ill effects?

Then there is the colon prep before each invasive procedure. The bland diet for a day or two followed by a liquid diet and then by a gallon jug of laxative, usually GO-Lytely, which is a strong laxative and the serial diarrhea and cramps that follow before the test. Those all go together with the dehydration and discomfort and pain with the prep that cleans your digestive tract from lips to rectum. Not to mention the starvation and lack of fluid intake that sends you to the nearest fast food restaurant for mass quantities of processed food to fill the void since waiting until you get home to get a good meal is really not an option worth contemplating, let alone going along with. You need FOOD and you NEED IT NOW!

On the noninvasive side of the medical smorgasbord there is the FIT (Fecal Immunochemical Test) kit you can buy for about $20 over the counter. The FIT test is also known as the IFOBT (Immunochemical Fecal Occult Blood Test). And there are stool guaiac cards that are basically the same as the FOBT cards, testing for hidden blood in the stool.

The test is simple. Flush the toilet, defecate, wipe and put the used toilet paper in the provided waste bag, use the included brush to take a sample of the stool, dip the brush in the toilet water, and brush the sample onto the provided card. Some doctors require brushings from multiple stools. Send the samples to the lab in the provided packaging and envelope and wait for the results. The test looks for blood in the stool that may not show up on the toilet paper or in the toilet bowl. Fecal occult blood is usually one of the symptoms of cancer in the colon. Any aberrant cells would also be in the stool sample and would indicate the presence of cancer -- if there is cancer present.

Aside from the ick factor of having to deal with fecal material compared to the pain, inconvenience, and danger of a more invasive procedure would be minimal. Or you can get a loved one to do the dirty work for you and avoid the ick factor.

There is also the Cologuard test, another noninvasive test you can do at home. Cologuard costs $649 and is covered by Medicare and most insurances. No doubt it is also covered by Obamacare (Affordable Care Act). Cologuard is a DNA based test that identifies the cells in fecal material that has passed through the digestive tract and would pinpoint cancer cells.

With so many noninvasive colon screening tests available for a fraction of the cost of colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy, and even capsule endoscopy, and covered by insurance, who needs the discomfort, pain, inconvenience, and stress of invasive colorectal screening.

Did you know that there is no need to check beyond the colon and into the large intestine to screen for cancer? The colon is the last section of the intestine that feeds into the rectal vault and rectum and only that small section needs to be scanned. And you get to pay extra for the more thorough examination that does not guarantee more comprehensive results.

Feeling better now? Remember. The doctor works for you; you do not work for him. You have the right to refuse any testing and procedures you don't want. Take charge of your medical care and choose what you are willing and not willing to pay for and endure. Demand answers. Ask questions. Research everything your doctor presents to you and never accept something you do not want and are not willing to undergo. You are the boss. It is your body and your health. Take charge. Don't leave the responsibility for your health an well being in the hands of doctors more interested in taking your money than taking care of your health.

That is all. Disperse.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Just One

So often we forget in the midst of the din of denial and accusations that all it takes is for one person to stop and listen and believe to the one voice rising above the chaos that warns of the danger ahead. Listening to that one voice will often spell out the difference between joy and tragedy.

We get so lost in the rush to to get out of the way it's hard to think, hard to see, hard to believe that anything can be different, and so we give up. That is what life is like for so many of us when we are so overwhelmed by whatever assaults our senses, our minds, our spirits. It's easier to stop, drop, and roll into the grave prepared for us.

I spend a lot of time researching, reading, and looking for more clues to the trail I've been following. The clues are hard to see and I miss them sometimes, so I give up for a while. I walk away or move on to something else. I need to take a break and give my mind a rest and so I read something else. Reading is never the problem. It's the flow of information and the onslaught of that juggernaut of doom and gloom bearing down on me that turns my knees to a rubbery mess that will no longer hold me up that forces me back and away because  I need to give in and sit down.

I have been pointing out the dangers of relying on the media to give me the truth. Expecting a service that is paid to lie and cheat and lead me into danger to tell me the truth is like picking up a rabid dog and expecting it not to bite and infect me with its disease. I'm a little smarter than that -- not much, but a little.

Few will thank me for lighting a candle in the darkness and I accept that. Some people resent the rapid change from darkness to even the flickering light of a candle in the wind. Their eyes tear and they feel safer in the dark. After all, the candle won't last forever and they will be in the dark again so why bother?

It's hard to see at first. The eyes burn and tears flood the vision. Wiping them away helps for a second and the eyes still burn and sting. What will they see when the blurriness clears, the tears dry, and they are able to see? Fear sets in. The mind recoils from the possibilities and from the ability to see clearly the deepest nightmares that force them awake with a scream shattering the silence. Not knowing is better. Being unsure of the danger is safer. All that is needed is to go back to sleep, turn away from the images burned onto the retinas, walk away from the light and the knowledge that their world is no longer safe and secure and known . . . even though the world was never known. It has always been a nightmare landscape littered with bloody bodies and shattered lives. Better not to know.

But is it?

Is it better to be unaware that your moments are numbered and you will be a bloody and battered casualty of a war you didn't know you were part of? That is the real nightmare. That is the real cost of following the herd over the cliff onto the jagged rocks below or into the cold embrace of the abyss struggling for just one more breath.

That is what it is to wake up to the reality of the man behind the curtain pulling the strings and creating the fearsome image blazing fit to burn you as you stand shivering before it. There's the initial shock that so small and insignificant a person is the real danger when the curtain is pulled back. First, the shock and then the realization and then the anger. The insignificant man cowers before your rage and betrayal and he inches forward. You are secure in your outrage and never see the thin sharp blade as it slips it's poisoned length into your vitals and slump to the floor amazed that such a nonentity defeats you in the end.

Fear was better. Fear kept you safe. Fear kept you unaware of the danger. The danger would not have struck had you never pulled the curtain, never confronted the puppetmaster, never known. Now that you know, it's too late. Better to have feared.

But is it?

All too often we forget that everything worth having has to be worth fighting for, struggling for, and even dying for. Over 200 years ago, men who lived well ordered lives, often lives of obscurity and peace, decided not having control of their destiny, their business, and their lives was to live as slaves. No, their motives weren't pure, the men who started a revolution that rocked a nation and sounded the clarion call for others. They often obscured their motives and rewrote the books to seem heroes, and in their own minds their actions were justified. They did pave the way for millions, for billions. Some would say their revolution was justified by the freedoms they bought with those lies and the blood of millions. I might say that was true and they deserved their heroes' legacies, but not today because they led us out of enslavement to one master and into eternal enslavement to a master less not willing to let us go, a master able to use our fear and modern methods to keep us enslaved as they changed our very biochemistry and enslaved our minds to an empty ideal that was little more than a hologram carrot on a very real stick with a stiletto hidden in its lure.

Welcome to the pit of hell where every good deed is punished and you walk happily to Lady Guillotine whose bite is swift and painless and sure. Welcome to your worst nightmare. Embrace it. You have been expected and will now serve the greater good as you have served the greater good with your ignorance and belligerence and willingness to be deceived because you couldn't be bothered to give up your precious time to look for the man behind the curtain.

You all will die, and so will the voices almost silenced by the din, but at least they will die knowing they warned you of the dangers and the lies, though you would not listen, As you ponder eternity knowing you had a chance to escape, what will it profit you but shame and regret and the possibility that your children or your children's children -- your legacy -- will escape the ultimate doom. Isn't that enough?

If only you had paid heed to that one voice telling you the truth, to that flickering candle lighting the darkness. If only...

That is all. Disperse.

Friday, March 25, 2016

In The Serpent's Eye

The story of Adam and Eve is one we all know and have been told since childhood, but have you ever thought about the story, really considered the story from the standpoint of reality? Paintings of Adam and Eve nearly always show them wearing fig leaves (or some kind of leafy covering that hovers over the genitalia) before they have even committed the sin of eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. There is often a snake coiled around the tree and inclined toward Eve. Try looking at the story from a more realistic point of view, taking the story out of the divine aspect that surrounds it and putting it into a more familiar reality -- as if it had happened.

Adam and Eve, according to the Hebrew Bible on which the Old Testament is based, were the first human beings. Forget about Lilith, another dramatic construct from the Jewish midrash (explanation and commentary on the Hebrew Torah (which became the Christian Old Testament with appropriate additions decided by the Roman council of Nicaea). What is immediately apparent is that though Adam was still the first (at least for this discussion) another female was created as his mate, Lilith. In the Vulgate Bible (first Latin bible written for the masses (vulgar - vulgate) Lilith was called Lamia, a Libyan serpent goddess, or Lamashtu, a female demon who killed children, drank the blood of men and ate men's flesh. She also caused pregnant women to miscarry, disturbed sleep, and brought nightmares. Basically, woman was a demon, an evil being wreaking havoc on the world of men.

Considering raging hormones during puberty, I can see how that would be perceived and how, from personal experience, it feels.

Lilith can be viewed another way -- that there was another female created with Adam from earth. It was Eve, the second female in this story, who was created from Adam's rib.

Putting this in context and comparing it to the older Sumerian account of creation, Lilith would have been the first attempt at creating earthlings and Eve perfected when the DNA retrieved from the rib of the Creator -- or Adam as the story goes -- made Eve more human. Consider that the creator of Adam and Eve -- however many attempts at creating a humanoid capable of thought and learning to perform tasks useful to God (or gods) -- perfected his model and sent two specimens, male and female, to the leader of the group (high commander or Commander of Earth) as a gift. It is very likely a pair from the first batch of earthlings, male and female, had also been sent as a specimen of the ongoing work to create a being able to carry out orders and do the hard work, freeing the rest of the colonists for less sweaty and dirty tasks. Would a pair of earthlings be sent as mature adults or as children?

I say children were sent, especially with the perfected batch of earthlings produced with the DNA taken from a male and female colonist obtained from the ribs. Like any modern scientist, the obvious source of DNA would be taken from his own rib and the female DNA would come from his scientific partner, the geneticist making it all possible. The new pair of children were sent to the Commander of Earth and he kept them as pets in his garden, naked as the day they were born, and just as unaware of who and what they were. But pets grow and they grow up.

When the latest Adam and Eve grew up, at least to the point of puberty and its inherent changes in body and mind, the scientist (Lord of Water) visited the Commander's garden to check on the progress of Adam and Eve. I can imagine the scientist saying, "How you have grown," when he encountered Eve. Probably through the worst of puberty, Eve would have answered the scientist's questions and told him about how odd and different she felt, how much pain she had had, and how funny she felt. She would have told him she had blood coming from down there and wondered if she was dying. The scientist was ecstatic. No longer would the earthlings be mules (infertile), they could produce children on their own. That was far more desirable than growing the earthlings in tanks or female volunteers and would speed things up nicely so the work force would be ready sooner.

The scientist is a sensualist. He liked women. He enjoyed them. He admired everything about them: their beauty, softness, receptiveness to his advances. They smelled nice good and, as he usually did, he was aroused. The scientist took Eve for a test run and was pleased with her willing responsiveness. She was still a child, but a talented and curious child eager to experience . . . everything, and so was the scientist.

After experiencing the new sensations of physical intercourse with the scientist, Eve noticed she needed to get cleaned up. She pondered what had happened with the scientist as she bathed and looked at herself in the water's surface. She felt she had changed and she looked changed. Her cheeks were flushed. Her breasts were fuller and flushed. She felt sore, but she also felt warm and tingling and . . . good.

She waited for the scientist to return so she could experience it all again. He had told -- and showed -- her they could be close many times and how good it could be. The initial pain dulled and was replaced by a warm and tingling feeling that did not go away immediately. It lingered. Her thoughts lingered on the experience long after the scientist was gone, her fingers and hands touching and stroking and feeling her body. How good it was and the feelings lingered.

Eve may or may not have known Adam, but it is likely they were companions, play fellows. She wanted to share the new experience with Adam. He was shaped like the scientist and she had seen his body change first thing in the morning when he awoke and sometimes through the day, his phallus growing hard and sometimes dewy with fluid. Eve had never really thought about it, but Adam's phallus got hard like the scientist's and she thought Adam might also enjoy the new experience with her.

That's what happens when a new experience is introduced. We want to tell our friends and companions. We want to talk about it and get others to help us understand it. We want to share those feelings and experiences.

Adam might have noticed that Eve touched her body more and he could have noticed that her body changed when she did so. Adam likely caught Eve bathing after the scientist left and acting strangely. When Eve emerged from the water she might have covered her genitals and breasts. That would have piqued Adam's interest. She would have gathered a branch or stepped into the bushes while she talked to Adam, gathering leaves and flowers and weaving them into a belt or apron to cover herself and hide the swollen pudenda that still tingled and felt warm -- and was growing warmer and tinglier as she told Adam what had happened with the scientist.

Eve touched Adam as she told her tale and Adam's body responded in a way that was natural and yet different. His body tingled in ways it had not tingled before. He felt warm. His phallus swelled and became erect and his scrotum tightened and tingled. Adam touched Eve as she touched him, cupping a breast and stroking the suddenly prominent nipple, teasing its sensitive tip while Eve touched the tight buds of his nipples. Ripples of tingling warmth coursed through their bodies and Adam gasped as he felt Eve's warm, wet embrace as she mounted him, wriggling as she guided his swollen phallus between her legs and deep inside. Adam and Eve began to move together, lost in their bodies awakening to each new sensation. At first, they were a little awkward. Then the pace smoothed out as the alien sensations overwhelmed them, finally giving into the rushing waves of heat and the growing sense of racing toward . . . something -- an abyss, a warm ocean swell, a crashing sensation and fullness that engulfed them and forced squeals of pleasure and surprise and climax.

Adam and Eve fell together, sweaty and excited and somehow replete as from a feast, marveling at how everything seemed different, felt different, was different. Every inch of their bodies tingled and they giggled and smiled as they touched each other. They were tired and excited and drooped a little.

As they continued to explore each other's bodies, they discovered they were ready for more, and they indulged themselves laughing and giggling and sighing and groaning with every sensation. When they were exhausted from their new experiences, they bathed, splashing each other, drawn together to experience it all again in the cool waters. When they finished and stepped up onto the bank, they blushed all over as they looked at each other. They would never look at each other in the same way. They knew each other in a very different way, an intimate way. They immediately felt shy and covered their self-consciousness by weaving leaves and flowers into a covering so they could go about their usual tasks or get some food to eat.

The Lord of Earth's pets looked different when he came upon them as he walked through his garden. They seemed fuller, more aware, and wore coverings of leaves and flowers. Was it some new game? Had they begun to imitate the colonists, to imitate him? Clever earthlings . . . or were they merely clever mimics?

The Lord of Earth questioned his pets and the answers he received explained so much, explained the strange noises he had heard and their exotic behavior. It didn't take long to find out that the Lord of Water had visited and been up to his old tricks. He would not allow his private sanctuary to be violated in such a way. His pets would have to leave his garden and live with the other earthlings. They would learn to toil and feed themselves and no longer be loved and petted and cared for. They were no longer pets. They were something more, something else. His brother had gone too far.

The Lord of Water's symbol was two snakes coiled around a staff, the symbol of his calling as a scientist and his creation of the slave species. It is not surprising that he would be called a snake by future generations as the snake was a symbol for the creative branch of science. Call it poetic license, a poetic license that has turned a scientist into a living serpent, a demon tempting innocence into the sin of knowledge of the full extent of the changes made in the earthlings. The earthlings could procreate and probably had souls. They were no longer just slaves and pets because they contained the essence of the colonists's being.

By his meddling, and his own curiosity, the Lord of Water had changed humanoid beings into beings closer to the humanity of the colonists.

I have often wondered if the First Sin was not a sin of eating a piece of fruit, but of introduction to sexual intercourse with the Serpent (the scientist that created earthlings) and the eventual pregnancy and birth of the first earthling child, Ka-in (Cain to Christians). Adam and Eve would have continued enjoying the experience of intimate intercourse and Eve would have become pregnant again, giving birth to the first earthling child. As a hybrid, Cain would have been obviously physically different from Abel, the second child born to Adam and Eve, and would have been treated differently by the Lord of Earth, the Commander. He would have favored the earthling child over the further hybridized child and that would have created further conflict between the half-brothers. They each had their own tasks, but Abel, favored by the Commander, would have lorded his favored status over his brother because he knew the Commander would side with him.

Children are sensitive to what goes on around them. Try as we might to shelter them from discord, children will be aware and know not only something is wrong, but what the something is.

Sin and shame are social constructs. Left to their own devices, people (earthlings) will find no problem with a woman sharing intimacies with whomever she wants or wants her. Children are a byproduct of that physical communion and the only thing that affects the harmony in their lives comes from outside. In Adam and Eve's case, their previous master's affection for their second child and their creator's affection for their first born would have been apparent, but not an issue until it became an issue between their sons, ending in the death of Abel at the hands of Cain when they argued and fought over the importance of their jobs and which of their overlords favored which.

Cain was probably as shocked as their masters and his parents, but he was to be punished and that was the end of it -- for him. His actions would become legend and be used as a cautionary tale to future generations.

Finding out that I was not the only person that believed the First Sin was the earthlings' creator explaining -- or showing -- Eve she could procreate was comforting. I was not the only weirdo in the world. How could I be when others read the words in Genesis and see a different tale? Not just because I am a writer but because I saw the story differently as a small child. No amount of bowing to my parents' will and trying to fit in lasted long. I did not see things as they did and no one could shake me from the certainty coming from deep within me. I imagined the story as I've written it above, although the sexual content came when I had my first experience of sex as a teenager of 18, nearly an adult. I remember the wonder -- and the shame -- that accompanied the strange new emotions and sensations, even more so when I discovered I was pregnant. That is when the shame kicked in.

Actually, the shame kicked in when I realized I would have to tell my parents. Facing my overlords was a lot more difficult than it would have been for Eve since she had no idea what had happened to expand her awareness of herself and the world around here would be met with anything but kindness as she had known from the first time she stepped foot into the master's garden. She was a child, not in body, but in mind. She had never been ill treated and she expected understanding and kindness from her master just as if she had found and presented him with a new flower or a unique stone or shell or animal. She did not expect the shock and revulsion on the master's face when he realized that her pregnancy was as a result of his brother lying with his pet. No doubt my parents would have been more stunned had I told them I had had sex with the family German Shepherd.

Others will see -- do see -- the story of Adam and Eve differently than I do. It is to be expected since we do not see the world in the same way. Others may or may not believe the story in the Bible and the way it is told and some may even call it a myth, a story told for children, to explain how the ancients explained and viewed the world around them. Whatever point of view others take, for me, the story of Adam and Eve is someone's version of events and a propaganda tale to make women out to be the villain of the story secon only to the serpent that tempted her.

Woman is weak and easily tempted and she is a seductress that lures man from the straight an narrow path and onto the dark path that leads to sin and destruction.

The truth is that the scientist was a sensualist and given to enjoying females. He took every opportunity to indulge his desires whenever and wherever he found them, much as Zeus did when he turned himself into a swan, a shower of gold, or a sunbeam into a dark room, or cuttlefish in pursuit of a sleek-bodied goddess disguised as a fish, or even taking on the likeness of the female's mate to enjoy the exercise of his desires. Whatever tale in which the scenario of seducer and seduced appears -- and there have been many -- someone with knowledge uses that knowledge to take advantage of a more naive prey. Today, we call it rape or sexual harassment, but at the heart it is the same tale of the serpent and Eve. Assign blame where you will, the tale becomes either a story of sensual expression or sin based on your own beliefs and experiences. These differing views are portrayed admirably in art, born of creative impulse ending in beauty and the representation of society's sensibilities.

Shakespeare was right when he wrote all life is theatre and we earthlings merely players fretting our hour upon the stage.

Take the tale of Adam and Eve as allegory or cautionary tale or celebration of the beginning of knowledge of self and the world and use it as a stepping stone to wisdom.

That is all. Disperse.