Us vs. Them

Every time one of my Facebook “friends” try to politically cut me down or make a snarky comment on MY FACEBOOK PAGE, I can’t help but think about my in-laws.

“Trust no one except your own.”

I heard this sentiment from my Holocaust surviving mother-in-law in her thick German accent hundreds, no; thousands of times.

She’s gone from us.  Almost all of the witnesses to that unspeakable annihilation are gone.

I often wonder what she would say about the current state of politics.

I doubt that she would be surprised at all.

“Our neighbors turned us in. People we thought were our friends.”

He knew the “officials” he dealt with, my father-in-law would tell me. They’d attended the same schools, and knew each other’s parents, brothers, sisters.

“None of that mattered,” he would mutter. “I was their enemy,” he would state so matter of factly.

Am I the enemy?

Would my neighbors and friends turn me in if someone high-up in government asked them to?

I know in my ordered mind, that will never happen to me.

But then again, my in-laws thought the same thing.

Us vs. them.

Sometimes I read the hateful posts my Facebook friends share, and I cringe.

Some posts are a bridge too far, so those authors got the unfriending ax.

Other posts, I simply hide.

But is that enough?

My husband was born in 1950, here in the US of A.

If he had been born to Fritzi and Fred just a few years earlier, in Vienna, he would surely be dead.

Political hatred gone wild.

The Fates and the Furies

  The Fates

  The Furies

I love me some mythological figures.

And these days, myth is a whole lot easier to swallow than reality.

And come on, I know I’m not the only one obsessed with Game of Thrones’ Daenerys Targaryen and her three ill-tempered winged dragons.

The stories of Greek mythology have always fascinated me. From heroes and monsters to flying stallions, I found the creatures unnerving yet beguiling.

But none more than the Fates and the Furies.

THE FATES

I’ll start with the Fates: Three sisters, who determined human destinies and affected the paths of all of the universe. The ultimate girl power.

Clotho (The Spinner), Lachesis (The Allotter) and Atropos (The Inflexible) were goddesses of predetermination, spinners of the thread of life and dealers of some crazy karma.

And if you dared to step out of line and make these ladies mad? They didn’t get mad; they got even. Let’s just say karma was a bitch—times three.

Clotho, the youngest of the Fates spun the thread of destiny. Lachesis measured its allotted length, and when she decided that the thread was long enough, she would give the order to Atropos, the oldest of the sisters, to snip the thread with her shears, cruelly cutting through the cord of life.

In older mythology, the Fates were fatherless and created by the goddess Nyx (Night) without the intervention of man.

Clotho (the present), Lachesis (the future), and Atropos (the past) are almost always depicted as weavers of tapestry on a loom, with the tapestry dictating the destinies of men. The threads often appear incredibly delicate and yet we know that only Atropos’ sharp and menacing shears can cut through them. Her ability to end it all suggests the unforgiving power of karma.

THE FURIES

And then there were the Furies: Three furious and infuriated sisters.

Homer mentioned them in the Iliad as daughters of the night who had no pity in their hearts. And in the Odyssey, he referred to them as the “avenging Furies.”

Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone were three powerhouse goddesses who lived in the underworld and exacted vengeance and retribution on wicked men who hurt women and swore false oaths.

The Furies were spawns of earth and sky.

The three daughters were born of Gaia (Mother Earth), who conceived them in the drops of blood from Uranus (Father Heaven) that fell upon her body when he was castrated by his son Cronus with a jagged sickle made of adamant.  Ouch.

Their Latin names translate as follows: Alecto (Unceasing), Megaera (Grudge), and Tisiphone (Retribution).

They were guardians and protectors of the law when the state had not yet intervened or did not exist, or when the offense was a crime of ethics and not actual law.

Their brass wings made escape impossible; their ripping claws made their torment relentless. They would harass and injure their prey but never killed them.

They punished men for crimes against the natural order and were particularly angered by homicide, perjury, and unkind acts against one’s family. The Furies also protected underdogs and social outcasts.

A victim seeking justice could call down the curse of the Furies upon the criminal, the liar, the unethical, and those sisters would get to work.

Now, these are my kind of girls.

Tormentors who pursued unpunished evildoers and relentlessly hounded lying, cheating, unethical men.

The Fates and the Furies: six powerful badass women, who were the embodiment of divine order and law.

We sure could use some avenging and relentless Furies right about now, with a little fateful karma thrown in.

The Light Is Still On

He was born in the winter, on a cold and rainy Wednesday night.

He was finally mine, and I was struck with an enlightening love I had never before known. The January of my life.

When I would call him mister-man in my baby talky voice, he smiled big and toothless, his brown eyes twinkled, and I felt warm in his love.

And when he needed me most, I rocked him through the pain, the dark, the disquiet.

I refused to put him down, lest he roll over amidst the bandages.

And a light was always on, more for me than mister-man.

That was before the silence, before the break.

Seasons come and seasons go.

Too many, I fear.

But the light will never dim.

 

The Teri Tome – Top Hits and Duds of 2018

 

On March 18, 2015, I launched The Teri Tome, and for almost four years I have been sharing, sharing and oversharing.

For those of you who have stuck with me, post after grueling post, you know The Teri Tome is a mishmash of my life, my potential (or not), my political opinions (sorry about that), and everything in between…

…While desperately trying not to drag my family or friends into The Teri Tome fray.

Blogging has been my creative and mental release.  Some would accuse me of TMI.

And I would agree, but it feels good getting all that you-know-what off my chest.

At the end of 2017, I put together the TOP TEN BLOG POSTS IN 2017 based on the posts that received the most page views.

Now, I know you are eagerly waiting for my Top Posts for 2018, but I thought I would change it up a bit by giving you the Top Hits and Duds instead.

Since I only wrote 18 posts in 2018, the pickings are slim, so I’m only going to bore you with four 2018 posts: The top two duds, and the top two hits.

And since I need to stretch this post out a bit, I thought I would also throw in the best and worst of all time (2015-2018).

The 18 posts I wrote in 2018 generated almost 100,000 hits, which I will happily and appreciatively take.

I’ll start with the 2018 duddiest…

#1 DUD 

GLOBAL WARMING – THE NEW NORMAL:  Our world is hotter today than it was yesterday, but this post was a B-O-M-B.  Climate change keeps me up at night but apparently not so much for my readers.

#2 DUD

LIKE A PRAYER: This post was written as fiction to disguise a wedding I attended. I’m sorry it was a dud because the topic is one that many of us know all too well: Siblings who hurt each other.  I didn’t get a ton of hits for this post but it did generate a flurry of emails, mostly to point out that the lyrics of Like A Prayer had dual meanings of sexual innuendo. But I did not intend for it to be anything more than a post about a deceased mother who loved the song, and about her children who found it impossible to love each other.

And now for my top two 2018 besties:

#1 BEST

SELF-PUBLISHING TIPS:  Okay, so bad enough my climate change post was such a dud, but come on people. I’ve been pouring my heart out for a full year, and this post was my winner?

#2 BEST 

AN OPEN LETTER TO AMERICA’S YOUTH: IT’S UP TO YOU TO STOP THE GUN VIOLENCE:  Young people are more than just victims of gun violence; they are now among the leading voices calling for adults to wake up and change our nation’s weak gun laws and deadly gun culture.  Why this post wasn’t my reader’s number one, I have no clue. But it was my personal number one.

G.O.A.T. (THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME)

BULLIES ARE COWARDS AND WHY I REFUSE TO TURN THE OTHER CHEEK: This post has garnered close to 300,000 page views. I should be happy for the views, but I’m saddened that my number one keyword on The Teri Tome is “bullies.” Many bullies also fit the DSM-5 diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder: A mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their importance, a deep need for admiration, a lack of empathy for others, are vulnerable to criticism, and attempt to get his or her way through aggressive, threatening, and hurtful behavior toward those who have less power. (Does this sound like anyone you know?)

D.O.A.T. (THE DUDDIEST OF ALL TIME) 

FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY: In 2014, I wrote a novel titled Our Romantic Getaway in which I mention nine songs. My marketing genius idea was to mail out a free signed book to anyone who emailed me their fave song out of the nine.  Except that as my duddiest post of all time, no one got the free book giveaway memo!  FYI: I still have plenty of books so email me a shout out! (Oh and one more FYI: NO, the book is not about me, and YES, I am wearing a top in my author photo.)

In reviewing my duds and hits for 2018, I can honestly say that regardless of their popularity, I’m happy that I put it all out there, and I still have no regrets. Not yet, anyway. Plus, I write because it’s not a choice, it’s a must, and one of the few things in my life that feels genuinely me.

The Teri Tome has allowed me to sate my obsession with words and the power they have.  I am also blown away by the realization that my thoughts and dreams and fears and loves and even hates can all pour out of me with just 26 letters.

I wish you all a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2019!

This One’s for You, Ken

 

The photograph above is my all-time favorite, the back story of which I will share more about later, so stick with me.

On November 13, I ranted about something Trumpian on Facebook, which prompted my dear and old college friend Ken to post this response: “I like it better when you are happy.”

Happy Teri seems like an oxymoron to me, although not quite at the jumbo shrimp level.

But Ken’s one-liner called me to happy action. Sort of.

Now, the last blog post I wrote back on October 17, was about My Elephant, which was not even close to happy.

So, in honor of Ken’s request, on November 14, I set to writing a happy Teri blog post.

November 14 turned into November 21, and then Thanksgiving arrived.

For those of you who are not in the know, holidays don’t make Teri happy.

So, I figured I would wait until early December to find my happy, but then, you know…those damn Christmas songs on FM 106.7 that I hate to listen to, but can’t stop myself from listening to, make anything remotely close to happy Teri, impossible.

Teri with her hands tightly glued to the steering wheel bawling her eyes out, while weepily singing ♪Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire ♪ would not make Ken proud.

I promised myself—for Ken—that I would not write another post unless it contained some morsel of happy Teri.

(FYI: I have never gone this long without blogging, so thanks for nothing, Ken.)

Fast forward to Christmas Eve, and here I am still searching for any flicker of happy for my next blog post.

Flicker?  Just writing the word has me teetering toward the dark side.

It’s Christmas Eve. You know what that means—the dreaded flickering yule log. Just thinking about those wretched logs perfectly burning in that perfect fireplace makes me well up with unhappiness.

So here I am sitting at my desk at 4:38 pm on Christmas Eve, and I’m struggling Ken.

Almost ready to throw in the happy towel, I look around my desk and think that maybe something might give.

And there it is. Sitting right in front of me on my desk, in all its glory.

The fave photo of me with my grandmother, Mammy (pronounced May-Me), given to me in 2001 by my aunt—the first time I met my father’s family.

I had never seen the photo before, and I was obsessed with it for so many reasons, and on so many levels.

But mostly because I saw a happy Teri.  Okay, I wasn’t full on smiling, but oh my, look at that grin.

Now mind you, I’m sure at whatever age I was in the photo, I didn’t know anything about happy.  It seems to me that being happy is an adult obsession.

My aunt presented the black and white photo to me at a lunch she hosted at her home with my other aunt and three of my half-siblings for what I assumed was our first ever meeting.

It was an out of body experience for sure.

But even weirder than meeting my aunts and siblings at forty-eight years old was that photograph of Mammy and me in front of a Christmas tree.

My eldest aunt explained in meticulous detail that the photo was taken at my grandmother’s apartment on Huron Street. (Now for any of you that know me or have read my posts, Huron Street does not make Teri happy.)

She went on to tell me a lovely Christmas Eve story about my two aunts being there, as well as my Uncle Lou (who I hadn’t yet met), and my mom.

I fingered the photo gently. I traced my grandmother’s heart-shaped face juxtaposed to my chubby round one.

I spoke out loud, explaining to my newly found family, where, in the Huron Street living room, it looked like the tree stood—most likely in the far-left corner. I told them that I was certain we were seated in the old musty club chair that sat in that room for years.

Mammy’s arm was protectively wrapped around me, and she looked glowing. My tiny hand was lightly touching hers.

Behind us, I could see a stocking hung on the tree, most likely home-made by Mammy, and a card perched on a branch that may or may not have been Mother Mary. I wondered if my dress was also home-made.

“Were we both dressed in white?” I asked my aunt. She couldn’t remember.

When I came back to my grinning face, I noticed my eyes. They were gazing up at someone.  And I could tell—that someone was special. Very special. Happy special.

There was a happy twinkle in those eyes; I could see it. Can you?

The studying eyes were intently fixed—staring steadily, watchfully, and with complete adoration.  The person on the receiving end was making baby Teri immensely happy.

“Who am I looking at?” I asked my aunt.

She couldn’t remember.

My Elephant

A Republican guy friend recently asked me: Does everything in your life lead back to Me Too?

Now in the old days, I would never define my friends as Democrats or Republicans.

But that was waaay back when, before you-know-who.

Plus, my friend’s question was laced with thinly veiled skepticism, while shoving in some other hurtful rhetoric about protecting men and boys, with poor Judge Kavanaugh thrown in.

I felt anger, frustration, sadness, and madness. But I kept my mouth shut.

I regret that I did not answer him, but I was afraid that if I did, something vitriolic would pour out of my mouth, and that I might later regret my words.

Regret vs. regret.

Yesterday I saw a movie trailer about Dumbo, directed by Tim Burton, to be released March 29, 2019.

As I watched Dumbo soar over the crowd, I got full body goosebumps.

Good for you, Dumbo.

And then just like that, those sicko images crept into my brain.

[Push em out push em out.]

My elephant.

As a kid, I loved Dumbo. He was so relatable. He was an only child, no father (although his name was Jumbo Jr.), with a fiercely protective mother. I would often wonder what happened to his dad, and rationalized in my head that if Jumbo Sr. was in the picture, he would have saved his kid.

Poor Jumbo was taunted and bullied for his big ears—and given the cruel name of Dumbo.

He was ridiculed and treated poorly, but he was sincere, naïve, kind, and truly magical.

Sure, he had big ears, but oh my how he could soar and fly.

Aside from his mom, his only friend was a mouse named Timothy, who believed in him.

And then there was that crow, named Jim Crow, who first made fun of Dumbo, but then convinced him that he could fly with a magic crow feather. (And yes, his name was indeed Jim Crow.)

My favorite part in the movie was when Dumbo was getting ready to fly off the platform in the circus act and prove himself as worthy of love and respect.

I can so vividly recall that first time I watched in horror as Dumbo stumbled off that platform.

I was young, but I will never forget how I silently rooted and prayed that Dumbo would prove all of his tormentors wrong, change his life, and live happily ever after with his mom.

“Lord have mercy,” I will never forget praying to myself, parroting what my grandmother always said.

[Okay, so I can’t remember actual dates, and times, or when it started, or how I got there, or why I was alone, or lots of it, so how can I remember Dumbo and Lord have mercy?]

And then there was that happy ending; that memorable and joyous part when the feather falls out of Dumbo’s trunk, and he realizes that his greatness comes not from the magic feather, but from within himself.

The feather wasn’t his savior; he was his savior. It was up to Dumbo to save Jumbo.

And at that last final moment, Dumbo opened up his ears and soared over the incredulous crowd, proving to them that he was special.

Dumbo, the maligned, became Jumbo, the respected; the hero of the circus.

Why all this talk of Dumbo/Jumbo?

Because watching that trailer about Dumbo triggered Me Too.

Why? I have no clue.

But it triggered something that I had forgotten. One small nagging thing that for years I couldn’t remember.

But now I know.

Before Me Too I referred to my “issues” as “the elephant in the room.”

Unlike Disney Dumbo my elephant was dark and menacing, popping up here and there, in the unlikeliest and often inopportune of times.

Anywhere and everywhere, any occasion, every movie, any song, any anything, or, or, or.

Those despicable visions creeping up and in.

Despicable me and my despicable elephant.

“The elephant in the room” has been in that damn room with me for my entire life.

Actually, “the elephant in the room” has been with me in every room, in every corner, for every second, of every day, no matter where I go or who I’m with, or, or, or.

I know many of you are thinking: Get over it.

Don’t you think I want to? Who would want to live like this?

The answer to my friend’s question should and could have been a simple one: Lord have mercy, yes.

 

One Hell of a Movie Trailer

I feel sick to my stomach.

I keep looking back on the past two weeks and asking myself is this for real or am I smack in the middle of one of those spine-chilling Hollywood movies about the disintegration of the United States as we know it?

The vision of Dr. Ford won’t go away: Her soft, child-like voice, the heartbreaking definition of fight or flight, two front doors, the hand over her mouth, making eye contact with Mark Judge, Brett Kavanaugh looming over her defenseless self, the uproarious laughter.

The vision of Judge Kavanaugh won’t go away: His angry contorted face, his unhinged shouting, the lame definition of Devil’s Triangle, Renate Alumnius, his promises of revenge, his blatant denial about his drinking, the disrespect he showed to Senator Amy Klobuchar.

And all those old white men sitting decorously like strutting peacocks, making believe they come from a place of honor and integrity. Pretending they want what’s best for the American people.

It’s enough to make anyone want to chug a hundred kegs of beer.

Every time I watch the news and see any one of those nasty old men, I want to scream at the top of my lungs: TERM LIMITS!!!

Where the hell do we go from here?

Beginning in 1998, Igor Panarin, a Russian professor and political scientist, has been predicting that the United States will first collapse and then morph into six separate parts: The California Republic, The Texas Republic, the Central North-American Republic, Atlantic America, Alaska, and Hawaii.

Among other things, he forecasted that financial and demographic changes triggered by the intervention of foreign powers, mass immigration, economic decline, and moral degradation would lead to social unrest, national division, and ultimately civil war.

Panarin even predicted that the wealthier states might get so fed up with the corruption and partisan politics that they may even withhold funds from the federal government effectively seceding from the Union.

Panarin also said this: “The U.S. dollar isn’t secured by anything. The country’s foreign debt has grown like an avalanche; this is a pyramid, which has to collapse. … Dissatisfaction is growing. … There’s a 55–45% chance right now that disintegration will occur. … There is a high probability that with the collapse of the United States, Russia and China will become economic superpowers, and will need to collaborate to rebuild the world economy with a new currency once the United States (and the U.S. dollar) cease to exist. …Occupy Wall Street protests have highlighted the ever-deepening split with America’s ruling elite.”

At the time of his predictions, the first thing I thought was that the guy was bonkers.

The second thing I thought was that it would make for a great movie!

Pure fantasy, but it could be an apocalyptic best seller!

And now, well I feel like I am watching the trailer of a doomsday movie that is soon to come out.

To know the fate of the United States, don’t forget to tune in on November 6th!

He Could Not Comb His Own Hair Without Help

After five and a half years of captivity and horrendous torture in North Vietnam, John McCain finally came home. His body was broken, but not his spirit. McCain was left permanently disabled and was unable to raise his arms above his shoulders.

And yet, according to “President” Trump, John McCain was a bogus war hero, and he made a mockery of his years of torture and captivity: “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

Mr. McCain said nothing in response. How many people would have been able to do that?

I wonder how long Trump would have lasted as a prisoner of war in Hanoi?

Oh wait, he was a draft dodger and received five deferments during the Vietnam War—four for education and one for bad feet. Aw, poor Trump had bone spurs.

John McCain endured among other unimaginable torture: Bayoneted in the left ankle and groin, a broken shoulder as a result of a rifle butt, suspended by ropes with his broken arms behind him, two years in solitary confinement in a cell infested with roaches and rats, frequent beatings, and tortured with cables.

Someone had to help him comb his hair.

Upon reading those words in the New York Times today, my heart was heavy.

Not only because we lost a true American hero, who loved his country, but also because we are left with a germaphobic, self-absorbed, self-concerned tyrant, who copped five draft deferments and has yet to visit the thousands of American soldiers on the front lines in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Trump is not invited to McCain’s funeral, and I’m happy about that. Not that he would have attended, because he’s a coward.

I regret not having mailed the letter I wrote to Mr. McCain following Trump’s searing put- down of him and amidst the booing of McCain at Trump rallies.

In part here is what it said:

Dear Senator McCain,

I am so sorry that Donald Trump made a joke about your time in captivity because if not for your sacrifice, I might not be free.

And thank you for answering the call to defend our country’s freedom, and for putting America before yourself and for your undying patriotism.

Finally, thank you for defending the Constitution, which allows me to be able to write this letter to you at all.

And most importantly, I needed to tell you that despite Trump and his booing followers, most Americans are filled with fiery patriotism and consider you a true American hero.

Here are some of my favorite quotes by the late great John McCain:

“We are Americans first, Americans last, Americans always.”

“I will not take the low road to the highest office in this land. I want the presidency in the best way, not the worst way.”

“I don’t mind a good fight. For reasons known only to God, I’ve had quite a few tough ones in my life. But I learned an important lesson along the way: In the end, it matters less that you can fight. What you fight for is the real test.”

“I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else’s. I loved it for its decency, for its faith in the wisdom, justice, and goodness of its people. I loved it because it was not just a place but an idea, a cause worth fighting for. I was never the same again; I wasn’t my own man anymore; I was my country’s.”

Respect — Just a Little Bit

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that my life was forever changed in the summer of 1967, when I was the ripe young age of fourteen.

1967 was a tumultuous year for me. The rest of America was in a tumult as well, dealing with peace rallies, the Vietnam draft, race riots, and war demonstrations.

A real shitstorm of a year that I wish I could forget.

But what I will always remember was the connection I had with the then unknown Aretha Franklin’s hit song:

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me.

What R-E-S-P-E-C-T meant to me in 1967 was a hope for dignity, bravery, empowerment, strength, guts, courage, nerve, daring, confidence.  Every time I heard that song, I felt a kinship with it.

A year later, in the late great 1968, Aretha released (You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman, but this time her words did nothing for me.

I was certain that no man could ever make me feel inspired.

But then I heard it on the radio in 1984, and it was like I was hearing it for the first time.

It was a few months after my son was born, and it hit me that I could indeed be inspired by a man. Not as a wife, but as a mother to a son.

When my soul was in the lost and found
You came along to claim it
I didn’t know just what was wrong with me
Till your kiss helped me name it
Now I’m no longer doubtful, of what I’m living for
And if I make you happy I don’t need to do more

Rest in peace Aretha and thank you for inspiring me.