A WORLD IN PASSPORTS – Marilyn Armstrong

Weekly Word Prompt – Passport

The first time I needed a passport was when I was going to live in Israel. It was such a busy period, I don’t actually remember it. I remember having the passport, but I don’t remember the process or getting it or getting pictures taken, or anything else. I must have done all of it or I could not have gone to Israel, but it’s a complete blank.

I do remember the next passport, though because by then I was living in Israel and I had to get a passport at the American Consulate in Jerusalem.

I was also, by then, an Israeli citizen, so around the same time — I had to get an Israeli passport. Remarkably, the only thing I remember about getting my passport at the American consulate was that the guard was a Marine in full dress uniform. I was very impressed. He was like one of the guards at Kensington Palace — as still as a statue.

As for getting my Israeli passport, I remember that I knew my “number” by heart. Everyone knew their number. These days, I can barely remember my own phone number.

That was the same passport I used when Garry and I honeymooned in Ireland and the same one I used when I went abroad to work in Israel. I had to use my Israeli passport and it had the wrong name on it, so I had to use my American passport too, to prove I was me and will still be me.

The next time I had to get a new passport was when we were living here. I hadn’t even realized my passport had gone past due, but that was when suddenly, you needed a passport to go to Canada and we were going up to Jackman, Maine which is right on the Canadian border and thought we might want to wander into Canada.

Jackman, Maine

That used to be no big deal. You didn’t even need a passport. Just a driver’s license, a wave and off you’d go. Now you needed a passport and there was a line of cars. And prices were really high and there wasn’t any sense of “hospitality” for which Canadians are supposedly famous. Maybe it’s because we were obviously tourists.

Or maybe it’s because our friends were obviously Natives to whom not all Canadians are friendly.

NOBODY PROMISED LIFE WOULD BE FAIR – Marilyn Armstrong

Weekly Word Prompt – Fairness

No one promised me that life would be fair. Quite the opposite. My mother was a total cynic. Born in 1910, her earliest memories were of living through World War I which she always referred to as “The Great War,” and then living through World War II, which was simply “The Holocaust.”

She didn’t believe in God because how could any God allow such atrocities to occur to his people. She didn’t trust government because even when they sometimes did honorable things, behind locked doors they made dishonorable deals. She was convinced that they intentionally failed to blow up the Nazi concentration camp crematorium and gas chambers because they were good old rich white men and were happy that Hitler was getting rid of those annoying Jews.

She remembered how in the middle of the depression when there was more food than could be sold because people were desperately poor, the government put surplus food in empty lots and poured poison on it so no one could eat it. I heard this was a rumor, but she said it was true. She had seen it.

She knew that the U.S. had refused to let Jews desperate to escape from Germany enter the United States and many of them had died in ships that sank in the Atlantic, in view of the Statue of Liberty. She remembered the jailing of Japanese American citizens during the war and the destruction of Native Americans.

She despised the Catholic church because, she said, they were a bunch of pedophiles, something that proved true eventually.

Lady Justice – Old Bailey, London

She wanted me to get a nose job so I wouldn’t look “so Jewish.” She never trusted the government, always expected it to turn on us. I think she always had a bag packed in case she had to run.

So I never thought the world would be fair. But I also didn’t think it would be this ugly. I thought if we tried really hard we could make it better. That we could fix some of the broken pieces. That I could fix some of the broken pieces myself.

I was wrong but I tried.

Maybe someday we will succeed. May my granddaughter’s children — should she have any — will make things better.

No one told me to expect life would be fair. I always knew rich people would get the best “stuff” and the rest of us would get whatever was left over. It never crossed my mind that we were all genuinely “equal.”

We are all equal. Just some of us are more equal than others.

Those few times when life has gone well and things have seemed fair and evenhanded, it has been a huge surprise. It would be nice if there were more surprises to come, but I’m not holding my breath.

IS THIS A BLOG OR A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT? – Marilyn Armstrong

Weekly Word Prompt: Flu Shot

Flu shot as a prompt? Don’t take this the wrong way because I am very much in favor of flu shots, but it sounds like a public service announcement. Still, I don’t mind being a public service announcer.

Since we started getting flu shots every year, we haven’t gotten the flu. Not once. It doesn’t mean I don’t get sick with other stuff, but not the flu.

Don’t forget your flu shot …

Actually, I tell everyone to get the flu shot because the flu is not your everyday cold. It’s a big deal that even if you are young and healthy, will keep you out of work for a couple of weeks and has a knack for becoming the gateway for pneumonia and other breathing problems. And it really makes you feel like holy hell.

So I’m all for it.

We get flu shots every September and with the except of one year when there was another flu going around — yes, they are human and don’t always get it 100% right, but they do pretty well.

Now, all we need are people who don’t believe the anti-vaxxers more than they believe in science and doctors and we are home free!

DO YOU COLOR? Marilyn Armstrong

Weekly Word Prompt: Adult Coloring

I know it’s all the rage. I bought some for my DIL for Christmas because I know she enjoys coloring.

I don’t.

I didn’t like coloring when I was a child. I preferred drawing and painting and these days, photography with doodling along page edges. I am a chronic doodler, but I don’t like anything with lines.

I hate lines. I hate definitions of where each color should go. I never liked coloring in OR out of the lines, so I don’t like it now, either. Sometimes, when I wonder what Garry and I share as a couple, I realize we hate being told what to do. We resent instructions, rules, and definitions.

Which doesn’t mean I don’t follow directions using tools or technology. I know where (so to speak) to draw that particular line. Garry doesn’t always. He will fight with me over everything.

He wants to do it his way.

I don’t mind him doing it his way unless it will (a) burn down the house or set the chimney on fire; (b) destroy dinner; (c) cause injury to something or someone (including himself).

Otherwise, I let him battle it out until eventually, he asks for help. At which point, I try to explain there are things where you can do as you please, but not everything.  Some stuff, usually involving electricity or technology and associated parts, you have no choice but to do the right way or it won’t work. Not even if you burn incense or pray to the gods of technology.

It’s why he’s no kind of mechanic and for the most part, neither am I.

But, just in case it’s your thing, I’ve included three photographs you can print and color. Birds, for people who find coloring relaxing.

As for me, there is reading, taking pictures, watching movies — and ultimately, sleeping!

PIZZA WITH PINEAPPLE AND CRISIS ACTORS – Marilyn Armstrong

WEEKLY Word Prompt: Question


The answer to most serious questions is another question. Serious things don’t have simple answers. For example, “Does this pizza require a longer time to cook or will it dry up?” There are no quick answers to any questions pertaining to pizza.

Pineapple pizza
Credit: Getty

Let’s discuss pineapple. Whose idea was it to put fruit on a pizza and why does anyone actually order it? I can understand anchovies, even though no one can force me to eat one. Salty is okay on pizza, but FRUIT? Seriously?

And then, there are politics. How can you look at yourself in the mirror when you are caging children … for any reason? How can you face a kid who survived a mass school shooting, tell him or her that “it didn’t happen” and “he/she is a ‘crisis actor'”?

What’s a crisis actor?  How do you recruit them? Do you advertise in a special “Help Wanted” section of some undercover actor’s journal?



HELP WANTED – CRISIS ACTORS FOR FAKE SLAUGHTER

Are you the kind of actor who plays dead really well? Can you stay very still while buckets of blood pour out of you? If you are under 18, white, and ready to play dead, we want you. Resume required. Non-union.



You’d need a second advertisement, too. For families. Grieving parents, friends, and teachers.



HELP WANTED – GRIEVING FAMILY FOR MURDERED KIDS

Can you cry on cue? If you can convey deep sorry and heartbreak on camera, we need you to play the devastated parents of crisis actors for mock, mass school shooting. Standard rates apply. Send headshots, color only. Ability to cry with real tears mandatory. Non-union.



So many questions, so little time!

TOO CURIOUS TO DIE – Marilyn Armstrong

Weekly Word Prompt: Curiosity


There’s a lot of talk about suicide going around and I know I could never do that. It isn’t because I don’t get depressed or because I have not been through periods when life hardly seemed worth living.


“Curiouser and curiouser!” Cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English).”

― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

Photo: Garry Armstrong

It’s just that I have to know what’s going to happen next. I realize this might sound a bit frivolous, but curiosity is a powerful emotion. I always want to know more. I always want to see how things will work out.

So, until I lose the interest in life, or my heart stops, or I get run over by an out-of-control beer truck, I think I’ll hang around.

A MIXED-MESSAGE NUISANCE – Marilyn Armstrong

Word Prompt: Nuisance


Speaking of shopping carts, this is one of those love-hate relationships. When I am leaning on a shopping cart, I can move through a grocery store with the best of them. I lean forward a bit, my back sighs with relief.

The wheels will take me wherever I need to go.

Left to their own devices, outside in the parking lot, shopping carts roll. Unless you have an awfully flat lot — and we don’t — they not only roll, but they wander as they roll. Because the wheels are never level or even.

Despite having installed storage areas throughout the parking lot– and of course, there’s always the option of walking your cart back to the store — people just leave them wherever they are. This wouldn’t be so bad, but they roll.

Then they roll into your car. They cause accidents. They bang into people in wheelchairs. They run over small children. They block parking spaces. They make driving lanes un-drivable.

All of which could be easily fixed by returning the cart to the store. After all, how much time would it take? A few minutes? Or even less time, putting it in one of the many stalls designed for that purpose?

I couldn’t shop without one. Neither could many of the disabled people and senior citizens who really need that cart in the shop.

So folks? Be nice. Take the cart and return to a place where it won’t roll elsewhere. Not into a car, a kid, or a driving lane.

Or my door!