A SINGULAR SENSATION

This has been a heavy news year and I can’t imagine anyone arguing this point. No matter where you stand, the news hasn’t just been The News. It has been … THE NEWS.

Giant hurricanes. Massive flooding, Russians trying to steer our election. A moronic president and his equally moronic cabinet. Destruction of everything we believe in or at least an attempt to destroy everything in which we believe.  Mass shootings. More mass shooting. Fires sweeping entire states. Sex scandals that will eventually include every man in Hollywood.

With all of that going on, there has been hardly any reporting of gruesome crimes and criminals. Usually we are demented about serial killers and torture … but we haven’t had anything that could top the mass dementia that has taken over our government. That’s why I was thrilled to find this headline from overseas:


Italian lodger tells police he is ‘guilty’ of cannibal murder. 


I bet our newscasters would be thrilled to have a shot at something really juicy. Since the demise of Jeffrey Dahmer, there hasn’t been an incredibly disgusting, gory serial murderer to liven up the news cycle. It’s been all politics, government scandal … and tweets.

TWEETS! Do you believe it? I don’t. It must be fake news.

That got me wondering. Who among the outside world would I like knowing was reading our stuff? I know a few of my favorite authors drop if I review one of one of their books. They are polite and send thank you notes. It’s good politics for them and it makes me feel all warm and cozy, knowing at least some of the things we write is getting read by people who care about it.

But how cool to be followed by a cannibal? What a coup! That would definitely come with bragging rights!

While Garry was working, we occasionally got phone calls late at night from convicted serial killers, sometimes critiquing his performance. Turns out, they watched him on the telly. Who’d have guessed serial killers watch the news … and have phone privileges? They also sent Christmas cards and occasionally, letters.

Perpetrators of gruesome murders currently on trial used to wave and wink at him in the courtroom. I’m sure other reporters were jealous.

From my perspective, it was intensely creepy and occasionally, downright frightening. It also made me wonder if these weirdo’s fondness for my husband and his work might encourage one of these “fans” to drop by for an unexpected visit. They clearly knew how and where to track him down. And if they found Garry, they’d find me. They were his fans, not mine.

On second thought, I wouldn’t be surprised to discover I’m could be a big hit in prison. If seven or eight thousand of my followers are actually incarcerated, that might explain those thousands of nameless followers who never leave comments or even a “like.”

By any chance are one of you a big literary agent? Just asking.

DANCING BETWEEN THE RAIN DROPS

BETWEEN THE RAINDROPS — SURVIVAL DANCING


When Garry said it, it meant he was on the air live, had absolutely no material written and no one had told him anything … and he had to keep talking — intelligently — for as long as the station kept the mike open and cameras rolling. I once watched him dance through the raindrops for almost an hour on a runway at Logan Airport while waiting for one or another President to arrive. This kind of thing happened to him at least once a week and on a busy day, could happen several times in various locations. He was better than most people at doing the dance. They don’t give Emmy’s for it, but they should.

For me, it meant writing about something — intelligently — about which I knew essentially nothing, but I had five days to turn out 500 pages to meet a deadline. I got hired for a lot of jobs like that because I was really fast. I could write about pretty much anything if someone could give me an overview of what the product was supposed to do, for whom it was supposed to do it … and someone else would produce screen dumps for me because 500 pages, including book formatting and readying for press, is a lot of work even if you work very fast. I got paid well for the work and I deserved it. In the tech doc gig, they don’t give prizes … but earning a living is a prize. It’s not glamorous, but it has its moments.

I remember riding down the elevator at Channel 7 with Garry, on our way home. The anchor came on. He’d had a difficult show because they’d given him the wrong script. He had to wing a couple of stories. In other words, no script. Nothing to read. You’d never have known what was going on unless you were in the studio and realized he had no script. He never lost a beat and when the commercial came on, they gave him a script and an apology. He looked at Garry and said “Let no one say that I cannot dance between the raindrops!”

From teaching kids who have no interest in the course you are supposed to be presenting, to giving a speech when the audience isn’t buying it, to standing in the middle of a major catastrophe while trying to explain to the watching world — when you’re working without a script or a producer and all you have to go on is your experience. When the rain is pouring down, that’s when you find your tap shoes.

We all learned to dance between the raindrops. Remarkably, our bosses never recognized how good we are. Never noticed or said thank you because we’d done a lot more than they ever paid us to do. We got no awards or raises for being able to perform the impossible. The best we got was from our peers. “Good job,” they said and that meant something. Sometimes, it meant everything.

We are amazing, aren’t we? Let’s clap for ourselves. Let’s tell each other how good we are. Because damn it, we deserve it.

“I DO” OR “I DON’T” – BY ELLIN CURLEY

My 37-year-old son just got engaged. He and his fiancée were both married before and neither are in a rush to get married again. They probably won’t have children so they feel there’s no reason to ever get married. They’ve made a life-long commitment to each other and that’s enough for them.

My son, David and his fiancée, Katie

I’m fine with that – for them. I still want to be married. I believe that marriage is more than a piece of paper. It’s a socially and legally reinforced creation of a new family unit. Does the social and legal recognition matter? I think so, at least for me.

I’ve been married twice. Both times, the marriage ceremony marked a subtle change in the relationship. Calling your partner ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ carries with it an emotional punch. Social mores and rituals effect us on an unconscious level even if we fight against them intellectually.

I have found that even symbols matter in relationships. In my first marriage, I wore a wedding ring but my husband refused to. It bothered me for 25 years. Tom, my husband now, wore a ring when he got married the first time. So he had no problem granting my wish that he wear a wedding ring for me. That still means a lot to me. I look at the ring all the time. It’s a symbol of equal commitment and equality within the relationship. Something I never had before.

Tom’s wedding ring

In Tom’s previous marriage, his ex-wife refused to take his last name. This really upset him. He wanted to be ‘the Curleys’, not ‘Curley and Jones’. When I married the first time, I continued to use my maiden name professionally, when I practiced law. For me, that preserved my separate identity in the aspect of my life that was separate from my husband, but I took my husband’s last name for social, legal and all other purposes. We had children together so it was particularly important to me that we all had the same last name. To me that symbolizes a family.

When I married Tom, I naturally took his name. He was so thrilled! It has always meant so much to him. And I’m happy to accommodate his desire for a new Curley family entity.

One of our Xmas tree ornaments

To me, the ceremony and the legal document mark a different level of commitment and connection. The fact that my son decided to get engaged, confirms the importance of social customs. He got his girlfriend’s father’s consent, he designed a ring and worked out all the details of the actual proposal. He followed all the social ‘rules’ about getting engaged.

He did it, in part, to show another level of relationship beyond boyfriend and girlfriend. He wanted the world to know that they are now ‘fiancees’. That they have taken a socially designated step toward a permanent commitment in the eyes of society. Marriage is just the next step in that continuum.

My wedding invitation with Tom

When I married Tom, I had a small, inexpensive, at home wedding for only close friends and family. It was a lunch, not a dinner. It was buffet, not sit down. I wore what was technically a bridesmaid dress but in white. The event didn’t have to be big or fancy. But for us, the ceremony and the affirmation before loved ones, did make a difference. We felt different and were perceived differently by the world. Maybe less differently nowadays. But I submit that there is still a difference.

My dining room table at our home wedding in 2002

A high school friend celebrated 25 years together with her partner by getting married! How cool is that?

I’m a chill mom, so whatever my son decides to do with his fiancée is fine with me. But I want my ring and my marriage license, thank you! The Curleys forever! Till death do us part!

 

THE 7-DAY BLACK & WHITE CHALLENGE – DAY 3 – A SECOND ROUND

Sue Vincent from Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo, a wonderful site and definitely a thinking person’s website. Anyway, she hailed me to come join this challenge. Again. And I said yes. Why not?

I did this first time around on behest of Judy Dykstra-Brown. Sometimes, getting roped into something is just what we need. My black & white photography never got the energy and effort I’ve used for color photography. This project improved my work.


“Seven days. Seven black and white photos of your life.
No people. No explanation. Challenge someone new each day.”


Having directly or indirectly finagled more than a few people to join this challenge a few weeks ago, I’d feel a bit bashful asking them again, but I invite you to consider giving this challenge a go, even if you’ve done it already. A push to do better work is always good for your art. Moreover, finding a good black & white picture that represents “you” in some interesting visual way poses an interesting mental challenge — an artistic double-whammy, so to speak. At least one of the pictures I used in the first round of challenges turned out to be one of my most popular-ever posts.

Who’d have thunk it.