WATER WATER EVERYWHERE

Daily Prompt: SOS

by michelle w. on January 31, 2014

Photographers, artists, poets: show us WATER.

Harbor Reflections Hyannisport

Other Entries: 

  1. Perchance to Dream | The Zombies Ate My Brains
  2. Ethical Professor Boynton; Part 2 (Nothing to do with today’s Daily Prompt.) | The Jittery Goat
  3. Emergency Measures | The Dragon Weyr
  4. TAKE A MOMENT TO ENVY ME | Standing Ovation, Seated
  5. Daily Prompt: SOS | Tommia’s Tablet
  6. “A hundred billion bottles” | Hope* the happy hugger
  7. Daily Prompt: SOS | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
  8. Message in a bottle | Mindful Digressions
  9. Message in a bottle. | The Word Trance
  10. Listen to the Sea | The Silver Leaf Journal
  11. JUST BREATH | hastywords
  12. If You’re Reading This… | My Author-itis
  13. Wahine Wednesdays
  14. Footprints In a The Sand… | Steve Says….
  15. Daily Prompt: Water & Senior Portraits | Daily Prompt & Blogging Progress
  16. Daily Prompt: SOS | Occasional Stuff
  17. One Starving Activist
  18. Ocean – Illustration | Dina’s Illustrations
  19. S.O.S | Writing and Works
  20. Bottled Up | Rob’s Surf Report

PROTECTION DETAIL

96-BonnieInWindow_02

This is Bonnie’s spot, her lookout post. Up on the top of the sofa back, on her own cushion. Nose on glass with the picture window … which is so covered with nose prints, it is very nearly opaque.

She can see everything. She sleeps here, unless she is on the sofa with us and she would probably only leave there to eat or go outside and bark (and bark and bark and bark) if only we would join her rather than stubbornly insisting on sitting on the reclining loveseat — from which we can watch TV.

All the dogs have a “spot” that is their own. Nan’s is at my feet, under my desk in the office — if I’m in the office. Otherwise, on the foot of the recliner if I’m in the living room. Bishop sleeps outside when there’s snow cover. He really likes the snow. A lot. Inside, he sleeps on the landing at the head of the stairs or on the landing between upper and lower floors. I think it’s a guard dog thing.

Bonnie is the only one who cares about having a view. She watches. She looks asleep, but she is just resting, ready to spring into action in a heartbeat. Our little soldier, protecting her world and us.

THE 12-FOOT TEEPEE – A REVIEW I DIDN’T WRITE MYSELF

Obviously I didn’t write this.I would be embarrassed to say this much nice stuff about me, but I have to admit I’m kind of delighted. In the midst of the craziness of my life, all of a sudden I’m getting wonderful reviews of the book I’d pretty much given up on. It never went anywhere. I’m not even sure I know how to find my publication website … or have any idea what my password is. Or anything.

If nothing else, it’s humbling that there can be such a huge disparity between my perception of the book I wrote and other people’s view of it. That I might not be the best judge of my work goes without saying … but to be 180 degrees out of alignment forces me to wonder what else I’m completely wrong about.

teepee book shelf

In any case, I have taken the liberty of copying and pasting the review here because I have no idea how one reblogs a review that isn’t on a blog. And this is on the Canadian Amazon site, making it even more inaccessible. The title of the book is also a live link to the source, so please visit that site too. The author deserves your support.

I’m beyond grateful for this review. I’m touched and encouraged. This is a difficult time for me, for obvious reasons. Having something so nice happen right now makes me feel (sorry about the pun) heartened.

THE 12-FOOT TEEPEE

5.0 out of 5 stars

The fascinating construction of a life Jan. 30 2014

By Jiibo Dyallo

Format: Kindle Edition | Amazon Verified Purchase

Marilyn Armstrong is a widely read blogger on WordPress, and that’s how I became aware of her. I thought, ‘anyone who writes this well must have written at least one book.’ The 12-foot Teepee, in fact, is the name of the book and the basis of the blog’s URL, teepee12 dot com.

Tempus fugit, especially for daily bloggers. Marilyn tells me, in correspondence, that she’s no longer quite the same person as the one who wrote the book. As a former resident of Jerusalem, though, she says she once lived near a place where archaeologists found “a Canaanite temple, on top of which (pillar on pillar) stood a Greek temple. On top of which (pillar on pillar) was a Roman temple. On top of which was – you guessed it, pillar on pillar – a synagogue.” No doubt today’s Marilyn stands pillar on pillar on the one who wrote this book, and I think that that keeps the book current. A life contains its own archaeology, and what is an autobiography (as I assume this is, in essence) if not a tell?

Protagonist ‘Maggie,’ as a child, was sexually abused by her father. That revelation is how the book begins. I worked for an LGBT newspaper in the 1980s and kept current on feminist and lesbian literature during the period when the magnitude of familial incest was first being disclosed to the world. I’ve read many dozens of accounts – brief, elongated, literary, plain, agonized, detached – by people who endured this experience. Also, I’ve read numerous complex bestsellers embedding the theme, such as Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin and Anne-Marie MacDonald’s Fall on Your Knees. I noticed right away that Marilyn was somehow overcoming the saturation factor and writing highly readable text. Perhaps it was her style of writing – plainspoken enough to be nodded at by Hemingway, yet subtly full of craft. Her approach was fresh, and witty at appropriate moments. Perhaps there was some engaging mystery, too, in the enigma of her father as an inconspicuously, but almost incomprehensibly, evil man. I’m not sure if I would even have credited Marilyn with restraining herself from exaggeration if I hadn’t read M. Scott Peck’s monograph on such folk, People of the Lie. I knew that such individuals really do exist. In any case, Marilyn’s way of telling the tale with judicious truth but without a show of anguish, and without the jargon that is now often used in such accounts, made the difficult events completely readable.

The book then progressed through subtly interwoven anecdotes to the unveiling of related tales: the construction of a knock-off Sioux-style teepee as a project for self-healing and for spending quality time with a lively granddaughter; the concurrent battle with spinal problems and surgeons of greater and lesser competence; and the challenges of new-found poverty for Massachusetts people caught up in the tech bust of the 1990s. This all sounds daunting, not to mention rather random and terribly personal, but Marilyn makes it as vivid and coherent a piece of writing as you will find anywhere. She wins your heart. The feeling that you want things to go well for her (I don’t know her personally at all apart from a couple of emails back and forth among fellow bloggers) turns out to be a waterslide of suspense that runs you right through the book from beginning to end. She also integrates a spiritual journey from secular Judaism into Christianity that is neither dwelt upon nor glossed over – it has its time and place in the story – and it also arouses interest – regardless, I should think, of the personal persuasion of the reader. The bottom line, though, is that Marilyn is a writer who can captivate you with a tale of how her son pieced together PVC pipe sections to make wobbly teepee poles. I can’t imagine what topic she couldn’t make interesting.

I think that this book deserves more attention than it’s had. Marilyn is not sure that it does – she says in her email that she has, to some extent, returned to religious skepticism in recent years. Life has gone on. The tell has mounded up further. Where a church once stood in her psyche, a big community teepee for comparative religion and degrees of religious belief now stands, pole on pillar. Its architecture is newer than the book.

If you have a sense of discovery, though, you still need to know how it got there, and this book is the only dig that’s been done.

THE HEART SURGERY UPDATE

The heart surgery I’ve been anticipating is no longer an abstract “someday.” It’s now got a date and a name. A place, a surgeon. A schedule.

I could have done it as early as next week but I’ve got a lot of things to take care of. Taxes to file, bills to schedule, maybe a few stories to write. I need to settle my brain because I’m not in a good place. Much too scared to think straight.

Heart broken

I’m not so much afraid of dying, though that is certainly a possibility. There’s nothing minor about this set of procedures. Septal myectomy and mitral valve repair, with a cardiac catheterization before the surgeries, just for fun. I really do know how to have a good time.

Starting March 5th, I’ll be in at Beth Israel in Brooklline. First in the ICCU, then the regular cardiac ward for a week or two. Then back home for at least 10 to 12 weeks. No cardiac rehab because I can’t afford it. There’s a $50 per day deductible and essentially, no one I know can afford it. The hospitals and surgeons are well aware of this and don’t require rehab. So I’ll go home.

Assuming the surgery goes well and there are no complications, I should be able to write fairly soon after I’m home. It won’t mean I’m recovered, only that writing is the one thing I can (usually) do even when I’m not exactly up to snuff.

There’s a little more than a month and I hope it’s a good month. I hope all goes well and this surgery that scares the bejeezus out of me will ultimately improve my life. I live — simultaneously — in hope and fear.

Life is like that.

THE FOREST FLOOR

The ground under your feet in a woods is full of interesting colors and textures … and sometimes creatures. Although I glance down, usually to avoid tripping over something, I forget to really look — with a photographer’s eye. This is one time when I did look … and it was beautiful.

75-ForestFloorNK-1

TROLLS ON THE INTERNET

We blog for a variety of personal reasons. Some of us want freedom — to express our art and opinions. Most of us want a connection to the larger world, to join our voices with others in support or opposition to ideas and events. For me, the primary reason I wanted a site was to own a piece of cyber turf where I felt safe to be myself.

I had been moderately active on social media for a while before I began blogging. I had Flickr and Facebook accounts and a second Facebook page dedicated to antique dolls. I was active on a number of photography forums. I wrote reviews on Amazon.

From these places, I was driven out by trolls. On one photography forum, I was hounded until I resigned … and then (the same?) trolls found me on Amazon.

TROLLS - John_Bauer_1915

There’s nothing exceptional about my experiences because I don’t know anyone who has been active on public forums who has not been attacked.

The trolls are usually anonymous, but always vicious. They use fake names. Why do they pick on some people and not others? Who knows. You’d have to get into their heads to figure it out. It has happened to so many people, from well-known authors to folks like me — perhaps the attacks are random. Are these the schoolyard bullies of our childhood, using computers instead of fists?

The trolls are forever searching for new victims, seeking vulnerable people to hurt.

About a year ago, I reviewed a book on Amazon. I thought it was racist and said so. I got so slammed by trolls who clearly hadn’t even read the book, whose only goal was to “get me,” I gave up. I took the review down. I know defeat when I see it staring me in the face.

The trolls were banned eventually (I was not their only victim), but Amazon (and other sites) are often slow to deal with cyber bullies and trolls. I suspect (but can’t prove) they don’t necessarily mind a little ugliness, if it keeps people interested, reading reviews, commenting. Buying stuff.

I needed a safe place where I could play by my rules, have a civil environment where we treat each other with a modicum of respect. Without name-calling. I was tired of being bullied, picked on or taunted.

Authors are frequent targets of cyber attacks. Writers are sensitive. It doesn’t matter how long we’ve been doing it. Every piece we publish is our baby and that makes us ideal targets for cyber bullies. We put ourselves out there with a target painted on our foreheads. It makes trolls very happy. If we didn’t exist, they would have to invent us.

Trolls love causing pain. The more misery they cause, the happier they are. There’s no effective way to fight them. After all, we live in a “free” society where everyone is supposedly “entitled” to an opinion. To the best of my understanding, no one is “entitled” to an opinion. Our laws say we can’t stop you speaking your mind — no matter how baseless, ignorant, cruel or illiterate. But protection under law isn’t an entitlement, nor does any opinion automatically have value.

Most trolling comments aren’t opinions. Just meanness. They don’t represent a position, nor are they part of a disagreement between opposing viewpoints. Their intent is to spread ill-will and hurt people. Nothing more.

In this place, my space — I’m the Queen. I make the rules and enforce them. I try to be fair, but in the end, I decide what’s fair. This is not a public forum. Want a free-for-all, maybe provoke a fight? Go join the mobs on Facebook. In this place, I will protect any guest who comments and I will protect myself. Because finally, I can!

Serendipity is a troll-free zone.