The Tale as Old as Time

I had a boatload of to-do items on my list for this past Monday, March 20:

Email an assignment to my ColdFusion tech guy, finish decoupaging an old end table, add an article on my website, post another chapter of My Stolen Diaries on my blog, The Teri Tome, write an inscription in a Maya Angelou book I was mailing to my friend Kathy, swing by the post office to drop off two packages before getting a mammogram/sonogram, and then dinner at 7:15 with a friend.

Whew. It was going to be a busy day.

But then, at 3:30 am, I woke up drenched in dread and sweat after interrupting an awful dream — about him. As I tossed and turned, unable to will myself back to sleep, I asked my dead grandmother to send me a sign to help me get through the day.

I was sleepless in New York, so I went down to my desk, wrote the inscription below, and taped it into the front pages of Maya Angelou’s poetry book titled Phenomenal Woman:

For Kathy,

I’d like to think that, like Maya Angelou,
sharing some, but not yet all, of my truth
has helped me to rise above insecurity,
abandonment, guilt, abuse, regret, shame,
remorse, sadness, depression, and who
knows what else. And yet I have somehow
managed to rise.

I have often described myself as a bird with
a broken wing — maybe two. A fragile bird
afraid to sing and unable to fly.

Not because of my impoverished, chaotic
upbringing. But because my metaphorical
cage was and still is, my inability to say his
name — not through song but through words.

I still carry deep remorse for many things
that happened or didn’t happen in my past.
Even the tiniest regret leaves me wondering
how I missed the things worth stopping for.

Like you, Kathy. How sad we didn’t get to
know each other very well at Brevard. I
am convinced that we would have been
great friends.

But I have learned through my sometimes
painful, often weary, yet wondrous seventy
years that it is never too late to surround
myself with brave, phenomenal women.

A phenomenal woman, that’s you.
~Teri 3/20/23

By the time I finished writing, taping, and packaging, it was time for a shower, followed by a strong cup of coffee and the New York Times. To say I was emotionally spent would be putting it mildly.

But then there it was. The sign.

In the New York Times, there was an article about filmmaker Jennifer Fox (my grandmother’s last name), who, after a half-century of refusing to name her sexual abuser, had finally come forward with his name almost two years after his death. She identified him as Ted Nash, a two-time Olympic medalist in rowing — a legend in his sport.

In 2018, Fox wrote and directed The Tale, an acclaimed American drama about her pieced-together memories of sexual abuse when she was 13, at the hands of an older man, but she never revealed his identity.

Fox recently told the New York Times that she finally said his name because she wanted abusers to know that even death wouldn’t spare them from being found out.

The last paragraph in the article was a quote from Fox, and it gave me the chill bumps:

“The adult part of me wants to move on, but that child in me, she wants to face him and get it over with and name him. There was a part of me saying, I will not let you rest until you name him.”

My Mammy

Today marks forty years since I lost my precious grandmother.

My grandma, who I called Mammy (pronounced May-Me), was my everything.

My mom had me at a very young age, so she had difficulty caring for me. Thank goodness for my grandmother, who so lovingly stepped in and took over for her.

As I got older, I understood the importance of Mammy and was very thankful that she raised me to be a strong, courageous, independent young lady.

She also taught me how to cook, clean, and bake. But most of all, she taught me how to be a loving mother and grandmother.

Everything I am is because of Mammy. And even though she was everything my mom couldn’t be, that was okay for me. Because I knew that my mom was doing her best, and as long as I had Mammy, I felt safe.

The only downside to being raised by my grandmother was that I never knew what it was like to have a traditional “mom.”

My grandma raised me as best she could, although there were always unsaid boundaries because she didn’t want to hurt my mother’s feelings or cut her out as a mom.

There were many occasions when I was told to lie and tell people that Mammy was my mother so as not to be poorly judged.

And then there were many times I freely lied — and answered “yes” when asked if Mammy was my mother. I learned early on that people could be cruel and unfairly judgmental regarding my untraditional family.

Of course, I always knew who my mother was, but with each leaving space for the other to step in, Mammy and my mom unintentionally left a lot of the parenting void up to me to fill in and figure out on my own.

And being from a “broken home” was a permanent stain, and as they say in Catholic speak, my cross to bear.

Let’s just say that I didn’t garner any trust points with the moms and dads of my friends, as they were wary of me and my unorthodox family unit.

For as long as I can remember, I have been a creative writer, voracious reader, and deep thinker.

One of my most treasured books was my children’s dictionary. I can still see its bright yellow cover — the title displayed in a rainbow of primary-colored letters. I poured through the pages of my dictionary while most other kids were reading about magical and imaginary beings and lands.

There are so many words that I can still recall being used to describe me and my female dynasty as a kid.

If nothing else, I was a curious, practical child, so for every word spoken that I didn’t understand, I would look up. Here are a few I can still recall coming up a lot back then.

Broken. The meaning of “broken” is having been fractured or damaged and no longer in one piece or in working order. That’s not how I remember my “family” of women: My mom, grandmother, and great-grandmother were my pillars. Another word that I learned very young in life.

Pillars. A tall vertical structure of stone, wood, or metal used to support a building or as an ornament or monument. Or, in my case, they were flesh and bone pillars used to support and lift me up.

Awkward. Causing difficulty, embarrassment, or inconvenience. There was nothing awkward or embarrassing about me or the three women in my life, although sadly, my mother often considered me so. I sometimes wonder what she thinks of me now or if she thinks about me at all. I wish I could call and ask her, but that ship sailed a long time ago.

Even though Mammy has been gone for 40 years today, her memory still brings tears to my eyes, and I think about her every single day.

Rest in peace, Mammy. I miss you terribly, and I sure hope we meet again.

My Stolen Diaries – Chapter 17: Somebody Has to Go



November 1964

Adam is getting sicker and weaker by the day, and Mem spends all her free time caring for him. Mem says Adam is on his last legs, which I think is a weird thing to say because poor Adam had both his legs amputated a while back. He’s been so ill that Mem doesn’t want me there much anymore, so I’m back to my routine of going to Steve’s Market with Rib every day after school.

Steve refuses to let up on Adam, and it has caused a lot of trouble with Mem. I keep reminding Steve that Adam is almost dead and beg him not to mess things up. I warned Steve that giving Mem a hard time over a dying man was not the best way to win her over. But Steve won’t shut up about Adam and keeps accusing Mem of being ungrateful and selfish.

I sometimes wonder if Adam is also trying to cause trouble. Since I’ve been spending more time with Steve, Adam has been asking Mem to see me on a more regular basis.

Adam has a fancy baby grand piano, and he recently told Mem that he wanted to pay someone to come over to his house and teach me how to play. I think that’s Adam’s way of getting closer to Mem.

Adam also has a fancy car that he told Mem she could borrow anytime. Mem studied hard and got her driver’s license, so now we don’t have to walk or take the bus everywhere we need to go.

Two weekends ago, Mem and I stayed overnight at Adam’s house, which according to Mem, made Steve mad as a hornet. Adam hired a piano teacher, as he promised, and I spent the entire weekend learning how to play Minuet in G Major by Bach.

Mem was in the bath when Steve stopped by our apartment that Sunday night with some porterhouse steaks. He demanded to know whose car was in front of the apartment. I told him it was Adam’s car and warned Steve to keep his anger about Adam to himself or else.

“Or else what?” he asked me. I ran my right hand across my throat, which I hoped he took as a sign to stop his nonsense. Doesn’t Steve see he’s pushing Mem away? I asked him how he could be jealous of a man with no legs, who’s on his last legs, but he just shrugged.

The more Steve gives Mem a hard time, the more time Mem spends with Adam, which is fine with me because I’ve been learning piano, and according to my piano teacher, I’m a natural!

Last night Steve told Mem he thought she cared more about Adam than she cared about him. Then Steve said to her that “somebody has to go.” Mem answered that she wanted to take a break from their relationship and that the somebody that had to go was him. Steve can’t say I didn’t warn him.

And according to Mom, not only will we have to go grocery shopping somewhere else, but without Steve, we won’t be eating steak any time soon.

Stay Tuned for Chapter 18: Mem’s Window

My Stolen Diaries – Chapter 16: In Over My Head



August 1964

We went to Caribou, Maine, two weeks ago, for our annual St. Germaine family reunion. Mom is mostly dating Roberto, but she still goes out with Nick from time to time. Since Nick is Mom’s backup boyfriend, I was shocked when she told me Nick was driving us to Maine.

I suppose I shouldn’t have been that surprised because I’m not sure how we would have gotten to Caribou since we still don’t have a car, and Roberto still doesn’t know I exist.

I think Nick must really love Mom because even though she told him that she loves someone else, he hasn’t given up on her.

When we got to Caribou, Mom showed Nick around, although there wasn’t much to see except a bunch of potato farms and the Aroostook River.

Then we drove from Caribou to Eagle Lake for the family reunion. I helped Mem, and her sisters set up the picnic tables for lunch until a bunch of the kids decided to swim out to the floating lake dock. I didn’t know how to swim, but I really wanted to go with them, so I grabbed a swim tube and paddled out anyway.

The kids were diving off the dock, which roughed up the water, and I somehow slipped through the tube. As I sunk under the water, I panicked but luckily bobbed back up to the surface. But my tube floated away, and the water sloshing into my mouth made it impossible to yell for help.

I struggled to stay above the water, but I sank anyway. As I slowly dropped under, I could see the sun’s brightness above me. I thought I was a goner until a shadow blocked the sunlight, and someone grabbed me by the arm.

It was Nick! He was shaking, maybe even more than me, but he was a strong swimmer and dragged me to the sandy shore where Mom and Mem were crying hysterically. Mom was hugging and crushing me. I shoved her off of me so I could throw up. Mem was screaming at Mom that she should never have taken her eyes off me.

“Are you ever going to take responsibility for Tony?” Mem asked Mom. Nick tried to calm Mem down by saying he was watching me the whole time, but Mem told him while looking in Mom’s direction, “that’s what a mother is supposed to do.” Mere Germaine nodded in agreement which was a shock because she usually takes Mom’s side on everything.

Even though I was throwing up, I made sure not to miss a single word of what was being said. Mem made me promise never to go into the water again, which is more than okay with me because the only water I plan on ever getting into is in the bathtub.

The next day, Mem refused to speak to Mom even though Nick tried his best to calm down the situation. But Mem wasn’t calming down. She wouldn’t let me out of her sight and kept repeating that it was high time Mom woke up to the fact that she was someone’s mother, and again, Mere Germaine agreed.

With Mem and Mere Germaine giving Mom a hard time, she insisted we cut the trip short, so we left Caribou two days early. As usual, what Natalie wants, Natalie gets.

When Nick dropped us off, he lifted me out of his car and hugged me. When I thanked him for saving my life, Nick took my face into his hands, kissed the top of my head, and said, “You know I love you, Kiddo.” That was the first time a man ever said he loved me. “I love you too, Nick,” I said back, which was the first time I had ever said that to a man.

I wasn’t happy that I almost drowned, but it was worth it to have Nick say he loved me and to say I loved him back. Now all I have to do is get Mom to love him too.

Click here for Chapter 17: Somebody Has to Go

My Stolen Diaries – Chapter 15: Roberto, Roberto, Roberto



June 1964

Since Roberto doesn’t know I exist, I almost never look out the window when he picks up Mom because I don’t want to ruin her chances with him, even though I wish she would choose Nick.

She keeps telling Mem and Mere Germaine that she loves Roberto, but their answer to her is that it would be better if she finds a guy who loves her more than she loves him. It sounds to me like Mem and Mere Germaine both think that Roberto might not love her as much as Nick does.

I’m not sure Roberto even likes her. Mom is always coming into the apartment after their dates crying, and Mem always tries to calm her down.

If Mem is asleep when Mom comes home from her stupid dates with Roberto, she sits at the kitchen table in the dark for hours, smoking cigarettes. Mom never comes home crying or upset when she goes out with Nick.

Mem keeps saying that just because Roberto is rich and comes from some fancy town called Westport doesn’t mean he can treat Mom like she’s lower than him. Mere Germaine keeps telling Mom that with her beauty, she can get any man she wants.

“You look out that window when Roberto drops me off, and I’ll kill you,” Mom always says, so I’ve been careful about when and how I look.

Since Roberto always makes Mom cry, I wish I could get up the courage to stick my head out the window and show him once and for all that Mom has a kid, but I don’t dare. Not yet, anyway.

And I still can’t figure out why Mom doesn’t love Nick. Why does she waste her time with Roberto when Nick adores her? Plus, Nick knows I exist, and he’s okay with it. More than okay with it. He told me he loves me!

I sort of understand why Mem and Mom needed to lie to St. Ambrose about me being Mem’s daughter, but at least at school and church, Tony is a human being who belongs to somebody.

Roberto thinks it’s Mem, Mom, and Mere Germaine. That’s it. No Tony at all because he has no idea that Tony exists. Why can’t Mom tell him about me? Why would a mother lie about being a mother to the man she loves and who supposedly loves her?

Mem told Mere Germaine that Mom hiding me from Roberto was proof that he wants Mom to be someone she isn’t and that she would be better off being with someone who loves her for all of her. Mere Germaine agreed.

I’m also hoping Mom gets rid of him, but only if she chooses Nick because I’d hate to see Mom sad, and I don’t want her to be alone, even though she might ruin my life.

Click here for Chapter 16: In Over My Head

My Stolen Diaries – Chapter 14: Almost in the Nick of Time



May 1964

Let me tell you about Nick.

He’s tall, handsome, and the best thing that has happened to Mom in a long time, maybe even ever. And even though Mom says Nick has his selfish reasons, he likes me!

Last week, when Nick came to pick up Mom to take her to Seaside Park, I screamed out the back window for her to take me with them, which I could see made her furious.

Mem yanked me away from the window and made me sit facing the wall in the living room for fifteen minutes. I thought they had left, but then Mom came upstairs and said Nick felt awful that I was begging out the window and insisted I go with them.

When I yelled to Mem that I needed to come off the wall because Nick was waiting for me to go to the beach, mean Mom told me Nick could care less about me. “He only told me to let you come with us because you screamed out the window like a nincompoop. You’re a pathetic beggar, and he feels sorry for you.”

Mem asked Mom why she had to say such hurtful things to me, but I didn’t care because I was just happy to be going to the beach.

I thanked Nick later, and he told me it was no big deal since he’s Mom’s boyfriend now and wants us to be friends. Nick should only know the truth—that Mom has another boyfriend.

Mom is also dating a guy named Roberto. I’ve never met him, but I’ve seen him from Mem’s window a few times. I’m forbidden to look out the window when Roberto shows up, so I am as careful as all get out.

Mom told me if she ever catches me spying on them, she’ll give me the strap, which is way worse than the wall.

I know Roberto doesn’t know I exist because, according to what Mom tells Mem and Mere Germaine, she’s afraid to tell him she has a kid.

I was going to let Nick know that he isn’t Mom’s only boyfriend, but he was so nice to me, I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, and at least Mom told him about me. And unless Nick is good at hiding his true feelings, it seems like he’s okay that I exist.

Mom was reading a book on the blanket while the two of us dug for clams. We talked about White Street and what it was like living there. I told him about the rat traps, but he already knew. He asked me if I was afraid like Mom, and I lied and said no.

He seems to care about what I think, and I like him a lot. He calls me Kiddo, and I like that too.

When we got home that night, Mom stayed in the car with Nick while I went upstairs. I tried to look out the window to see if they were making out, but Mem pulled me away and yelled for me to give them some privacy or she’d put me on the wall again.

I pretended to go to bed and took one more peek out the window. Mom wasn’t kissing Nick, and it was obvious that he was upset about something because he had his head in his hands, and she was patting him on the back, which I took as a bad, bad sign.

Click here for Chapter 15: Roberto, Roberto, Roberto

U.S. Senate Seats up for Reelection

Of the current 100 Senators, 51 are Democrats, and 49 are Republicans.

If we’ve learned anything from the 2022 elections, it’s that one senator can make a significant difference on some extremely consequential issues, especially if the party control of the Senate is close.

It’s never too early for reelection vision time. The time to start organizing is now.

There are a total of 535 Members of Congress. 100 serve in the U.S. Senate, and 435 serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Each state sends two Senators to represent their state in the U.S. Senate. In the Senate, the majority has the power to schedule when various bills come to the floor for voting, but a single Senator can slow legislation from coming to the floor for a vote.

Since debate in the Senate is not concluded until 60 Senators vote for a cloture motion to approve a bill for consideration, the majority must also coordinate with the minority party to set the rules for debate on legislation.

Under this system, legislation can be debated for one or two weeks on the Senate floor alone.

Senators serve a six-year term, and elections to the Senate are staggered over even years so that approximately 1/3 of the Senate is up for reelection during any election.

To contact your Senator, click here.

Below are the Senate seats up for reelection in alphabetical order by political party, reelection year, and state.

Democrats up for reelection in 2024:

California: Dianne Feinstein (Retiring)

Connecticut: Chris Murphy

Delaware: Tom Carper

Hawaii: Mazie Hirono

Maryland: Ben Cardin

Massachusetts: Elizabeth Warren

Michigan: Debbie Stabenow (Retiring)

Minnesota: Amy Klobuchar

Montana: Jon Tester

Nevada: Jacky Rosen

New Jersey: Bob Menendez

New Mexico: Martin Heinrich

New York: Kirsten Gillibrand

Ohio: Sherrod Brown

Pennsylvania: Bob Casey Jr.

Rhode Island: Sheldon Whitehouse

Virginia: Tim Kaine

Washington: Maria Cantwell

West Virginia: Joe Manchin

Wisconsin: Tammy Baldwin

Independents up for reelection in 2024:

Arizona: Kyrsten Sinema

Maine: Angus King

Vermont: Bernie Sanders

Republicans up for reelection in 2024:

Florida: Rick Scott

Indiana: Mike Braun (Braun is running for Governor in 2024. Representative Jim Banks announced he will run.)

Mississippi: Roger Wicker

Missouri: Josh Hawley

Nebraska: Deb Fischer

North Dakota: Kevin Cramer

Oklahoma: Markwayne Mullin

Tennessee: Marsha Blackburn

Texas: Ted Cruz

Utah: Mitt Romney

Wyoming: John Barrasso

Democrats up for reelection in 2026:

Colorado: John Hickenlooper

Delaware: Chris Coons

Georgia: Jon Ossoff

Illinois: Dick Durbin

Massachusetts: Ed Markey

Michigan: Gary Peters

Minnesota: Tina Smith

New Hampshire: Jeanne Shaheen

New Jersey: Cory Booker

New Mexico: Ben Ray Lujan

Oregon: Jeff Merkley

Rhode Island: Jack Reed

Virginia: Mark Warner

Republicans up for reelection in 2026:

Alabama: Tommy Tuberville

Alaska: Dan Sullivan

Arkansas: Tom Cotton

Idaho: James Risch

Iowa: Joni Ernst

Kansas: Roger Marshall

Kentucky: Mitch McConnell

Louisiana: Bill Cassidy

Maine: Susan Collins

Mississippi: Cindy Hyde-Smith

Montana: Steve Daines

Nebraska: Ben Sasse

North Carolina: Thom Tillis

South Carolina: Lindsey Graham

South Dakota: Mike Rounds

Tennessee: Bill Hagerty

Texas: John Cornyn

West Virginia: Shelley Moore Capito

Wyoming: Cynthia Lummis

Democrats up for reelection in 2028:

Arizona: Mark Kelly

California: Alex Padilla

Colorado: Michael Bennet

Connecticut: Richard Blumenthal

Georgia: Raphael Warnock

Hawaii: Brian Schatz

Illinois: Tammy Duckworth

Maryland: Chris Van Hollen

Nevada: Catherine Cortez Masto

New Hampshire: Maggie Hassan

New York: Chuck Schumer

Oregon: Ron Wyden

Pennsylvania: John Fetterman

Vermont: Peter Welch

Washington: Patty Murray

Republicans up for reelection in 2028:

Alabama: Katie Britt

Alaska: Lisa Murkowski

Arkansas: John Boozman

Florida: Marco Rubio

Idaho: Mike Crapo

Indiana: Todd Young

Iowa: Chuck Grassley

Kansas: Jerry Moran

Kentucky: Rand Paul

Louisiana: John N. Kennedy

Missouri: Eric Schmitt

North Carolina: Ted Budd

North Dakota:  John Hoeven

Ohio: JD Vance

Oklahoma: James Lankford

South Carolina: Tim Scott

South Dakota: John Thune

Utah: Mike Lee

Wisconsin: Ron Johnson

The Teri Tome–My Top Five 2022 Posts

According to Grammarly, a cloud-based typing assistant, I have used their program to word-check 1.2 million words in 2022.

And the total number of words Grammarly has word-checked since I started my blog “The Teri Tome” in 2015 is a whopping 5.9 million. That’s a sh*tload of words, but in the end, what purpose does all that writing serve?

For as long as I can remember, stories and miscellanea visions brewed around in my head. Free-flowing words and phrases were stuck inside my kiddie brain, begging to come out—the only proof of them was hidden in the pages of my mind or laid out in secret code in my diaries and journals.

I’ve spent a ton of time thinking about why I obsessively head-write and how I have managed to successfully transcribe those thoughts to paper.

To be honest, there is no rhyme or reason to my literary artistry, primarily because the words just spill out, and the stories tend to write themselves. So much for talent.

The writing is literally and literarily out of my control. It happens all day and all night—every day and every night. It never stops. The scribbling on scraps of paper, the pocket notepads always at the ready, my prowess at writing in the dark.

Countless words erratically squiggled right side up, sideways, and even upside down. Sometimes I try to piece them together like a jigsaw puzzle—a montage of edited and unedited thoughts, feelings, and dreams.

Reams of notes cover my desk, bedside table, kitchen counter, and my car’s center console. I keep paper and pencil with me at all times.

My writing element of choice is a PaperMate Sharpwriter #2 pencil. Even as a child, I never liked using pens—I always found them way too permanent.

To this day, a pencil is the only writing element I use.

WRITE – ERASE – WRITE – ERASE. That’s how I write it out.

And I write it out because my brain is hard-wired to spill and spell it all out. Or maybe it’s not my brain, but something deep inside my heart.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I am nothing, if not transparent—an open book. Maybe too open. But why?

Perhaps I feel compelled to write it all out because I was hidden in plain sight as a child. Sort of seen but never heard, and mostly invisible. My very existence was always carefully guarded and monitored by those in charge of me.

You probably think, “enough about the how and the why of your words; just give me your top five blog posts already.”

But sorry, not sorry, I can’t stop thinking about why I feel compelled to write it all down before it’s too late, or how my words will play into the memory of me, and what my written purpose is.

But the endless self-examination always brings me back to the same old place: A written, frequently uncensored record of my subconscious self.

In 2022, I wrote 24 blog posts, which collectively comprised about 72,000 page views.

The total number of page views for my blog was over 600,000 in 2022, up slightly from last year, so I’m thankful.

Okay, so finally, here are my top five best-performing blog posts from 2022.

And since many of the older posts brought in most of my page views, I’ve included the #1 hit of all Teri Tome time (2015-2022).

#1 HIT IN 2022

This Poem Is for You: I feel humbled by the massive number of views this poem received. I love to write poetry, but I’m not much of a rhymer, so I have little confidence in the poesy department. I’d like to think this poem got so many hits because everyone can relate to love’s ebbs and flows.

#2 HIT IN 2022

My Stolen Diaries – Chapter 9: Father Panik Village: I wrote this chapter almost thirty years ago. The thousands of hits this post accumulated keep me confident that uploading chapters of my novel My Stolen Dairies onto my blog is the right thing to do. To date, I have posted thirteen chapters, consisting of 51 pages, onto The Teri Tome. That leaves 101 pages of my novel left to post, so stay tuned.

#3 HIT IN 2022

What About the Sanctity of the Born?:

I’m happy this post got thousands of page views, but I’m also horrified and disgusted that women’s rights have been so cavalierly taken away. As a wordsmith, I chose the word cavalierly with purpose. During the English Civil War, the word cavalier was a negative label used to describe the wealthy, primarily male, royal loyalists and fervent supporters of King Charles I until his beheading in 1649. I’m not recommending any beheadings but get those creepy cavaliers out of our bedrooms!

#4 HIT IN 2022

Are You Reading This Poem?: Wow. Another poem. I can only hope that the person I wrote this poem for was one of the many thousands who viewed it. And I still have faith that one day we will reunite.

#5 HIT IN 2022

The Hourglass: Yet another poem! That makes three poems in the top five! I am both amazed and flattered that this poem about fragility on Mother’s Day reached so many people. And it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: Thank God for my precious grandchildren.

#1 HIT OF ALL TERI TOME TIME (2015-2022)

Wedding Centerpieces that Can Save the World: My #1 blog post of all time (2015-2022) is a repeat of last year. This post, which has garnered over 420,000 page views, is about making charitable contributions in lieu of wasteful and costly wedding centerpieces. I wonder how many brides actually took my advice?

My 2023 New Year’s resolution is all about closure, and although I am skeptical, I remain ever hopeful for the elusive to finally come to an end.

Lastly, I wish my readers a happy, healthy, and fortunate New Year. And I hope that 2023 brings freedom, equality, justice, and political peace to not just some of us but all of us.

My Stolen Diaries – Chapter 13: Is My Dad in the Mafia?



December 1963

Like any kid, I wish I knew more about my father and would like to see him again, but I know it’s not possible, especially now that Mom thinks he’s in the mafia.

Mom refuses to talk about him, so we never do. I can sometimes get Mem to talk about him, but not very often. She mostly tells me, “Go ask your mother.” When I do as Mem says, Mom gets ugly in the face and tells me to “Shut my trap.”

I know I’m French on Mom and Mem’s side, but I don’t know what I am on my father’s side. Before my Catholic baptism, I was Greek Orthodox, so maybe I’m Greek?

But when I ask Mem and Mom if I’m Greek, they both respond with, “Don’t start that up again.”

But I can’t help myself. I try not to start up or cause trouble, but every time I look in the mirror, I’m reminded over and over of all the things I don’t know about myself or my dad.

When Mom gets mad at me, she yells that I’m just like my father. I want to ask her why, but I don’t dare because I’m not an idiot.  And I sure hope I’m not just like my father because everyone in my family hates him.

I tried to ask Adam some more mafia questions, but he must have told Mem I was snooping around because he said he wasn’t allowed to talk about that with me anymore. When I asked him what could be worse than getting killed, he made believe he didn’t hear my question and changed the subject.

That made me angry at Adam, so to get back at him, I said that Steve was buying us a television set for Christmas, which I could see bothered him a lot.

Three days later, Adam had a television set delivered to our apartment, which made Steve furious, but he never said a word about how he felt to Mem. Steve asked me if I had anything to do with Adam buying us a television set, and I lied and said no.

I also lied and told Steve that Adam told me plenty about my dad and asked him what he knew. He said he knew nothing about my dad, but I could tell he was a liar, just like me. Plus, when I asked Steve if he thought I looked like my dad, he said “a little,” so he must know something about him.

Even though I tried, I couldn’t get Steve to say anything more except that kids are better seen than heard and that I should give up getting any family secrets from him.

So, I listened to Steve and gave up until the other night when I caught Mem and Mom whispering together about a newspaper article Mom had in her shaking hand.

They spoke French, but my understanding of the language is getting better by the day.

Whatever they were talking about, as far as I could figure, had something to do with my father running naked out of a swamp with his hands up over his head! His friend Anthony, who It sounded like Mom knew, was shot and killed, but the police couldn’t kill my dad because he wasn’t wearing any clothes and his hands were in the air.

Mom also told Mem that the article said my dad’s problems with the law had something to do with a bunch of arrests against some of the hitmen connected to the Gambino family.

Mem hugged Mom, who kept saying she was afraid someone in the mafia would try to hurt me to get back at my dad.

Why would anyone want to hurt me? And who was the Gambino family?

Then she hid the newspaper article on the top shelf of the kitchen cabinet over the sink.

In the middle of the night, while everyone was asleep, I snuck out of bed and tiptoed to the kitchen even though I was scared to death of the cockroaches and rats. But I had to read the newspaper for myself, so I took my chances.

I didn’t turn on the light, so the cockroaches on the wall didn’t move much.

I dragged a kitchen chair to the sink, climbed up to the cabinet, and discovered a pile of newspapers, so I pulled them all down.

The article on the top said: BRIDGEPORT MAN ARRESTED IN SHOOTOUT

And there in the newspaper was my dad’s name and address. It said that investigators from the State Organized Crime Task Force arrested Mick Michaels for assaulting a State Trooper. The guy Anthony, who was with my dad, got shot in the head. The police said Anthony, who had ties to Billy Batts and the Gambino Family, committed suicide. My dad was charged with assault and carrying a dangerous weapon, which I’m sure had to be a gun. They also charged him with violating probation, whatever that is. And he paid $25,000 to stay out of jail until his court date.

My heart was pounding as I read through the newspaper articles and wrote down as many headings as possible so I could read them later.


I went back to bed but couldn’t sleep. All I could think about was that my dad was a thief, a thug, a criminal, a dangerous man, and probably in the mafia.

The next day I asked Sister Regina Mary if $25,000 was a lot of money, and she told me it was almost one-quarter of a million dollars! I also asked her if she knew anything about the Gambino family, and she said they were mafia murderers.

Now I know that Mom is right, and my dad is in the mafia, but at least he’s not in jail. Not yet, anyway. And I pray he’s not a hitman.

So now, like Mom, I’m worried that the mafia might be coming for me, which makes me really angry at my dad. Doesn’t he know I could get killed or worse? Doesn’t he know I’m already living a scary life?

And since he came up with so much money, my dad must be rich, so why are we so poor?

Click here for Chapter 14: Almost in the Nick of Time

Secretaries of State – a State-by-State Breakdown

Secretaries of state can’t single-handedly change an election’s results, but they can undermine and disrupt the process and the system in undemocratic ways.

Knowing your secretaries of state can help you better understand your state’s election procedures and make you a more informed voter. And keeping up with your secretary of state’s policy actions, especially election-related ones, can help ensure accountability.

The secretary of state is an official in the state governments of 47 of the 50 states of the United States.

In three states, there is no secretary of state, so the lieutenant governors perform those duties: Alaska (Republican, Kevin Meyer), Hawaii (Democrat, Sylvia Luke), and Utah (Republican, Deidre Henderson).

Of the 50 current Secretaries of State, or Lt. Governors, 28 are Republican, and 22 are Democrats.

In 35 states, the secretary of state is elected by the people and serves a four-year term, except for Vermont, which serves a two-year term.

In the other 12 states, the secretary of state is appointed by either the governor or the state legislature. Maine and New Hampshire General Courts select their secretaries of state for two-year terms.

Below is a state-by-state breakdown of secretaries of state by voter elected or governor/legislator appointed, political party, state, and reelection year where applicable:


North Carolina (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2024
Elaine Marshall: Won by 51.2%
Four-year term
Term limit: None

Oregon (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2024
Shemia Fagan: Won by 50.3%
Four-year term
Term limit: Eight years in a 12-year period

Vermont (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2024
Sarah Copeland Hanzas: Won by 64.9%
Two-year term
Term limit: None

Washington (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2024
Steve Hobbs: Won by 49.8%
Four-year term
Term limit: None


Arizona (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2026
Adrian Fontes: Won by 52.8%
Four-year term
Term limit: Two Consecutive Terms

California (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2026 (Can’t run due to term limits)
Shirley Weber: Won by 57.7%
Four-year term
Term limit: Two Terms

Colorado (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2026 (Can’t run due to term limits)
Jena Griswold: Won by 53.6%
Four-year term
Term limit: Two Consecutive Terms

Connecticut: (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2026
Stephanie Thomas: Won by 54.9%
Four-year term
Term limit: None

Illinois (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2026
Alexi Giannoulias: Won by 53.8%
Four-year term
Term limit: None

Massachusetts (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2026
William Galvin: Won by 67.5%
Four-year term
Term limit: None

Michigan (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2026 (Can’t run due to term limits)
Jocelyn Benson: Won by 50.8%
Four-year term
Term limit: Two Terms

Minnesota (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2026
Steve Simon: Won by 54.5%
Four-year term
Term limit: None

Nevada: (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2026
Cisco Aguilar: Won by 48.9%
Four-year term
Term limit: Two Terms

New Mexico: (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2026
Maggie Toulouse Oliver: Won by 54.5%
Four-year term
Term limit: Two Consecutive Terms

Rhode Island (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2026
Gregg Amore: won by 59.4%
Four-year term
Term limit: Two Consecutive Terms

Wisconsin (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2026
Douglas La Follette: Won by 48.3%
Four-year term
Term limit: None


Kentucky (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2023
Michael Adams: Won by 52.3%
Four-year term
Term limit: Two Consecutive Terms

Louisiana (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2023
Kyle Ardoin: Won by 59.1%
Four-year term
Term limit: None

Mississippi (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2023
Michael D. Watson, Jr: Won by 58.8%
Four-year term
Term limit: None


Missouri (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2024
Jay Ashcroft: Won by 60.5%
Four-year term
Term limit: None

Montana (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2024
Christi Jacobsen: Won by 59.6%
Four-year term
Term limit: Two terms in a 16-year period

West Virginia (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2024
Mac Warner: Won by 58.3%
Four-year term
Term limit: None


Alabama (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2026  
Wes Allen: Won by 66.3%
Four-year term
Term limit: Two Consecutive Terms

Arkansas (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2026 (Can’t run due to term limits)
John Thurston: Won by 67.2%
Four-year term
Term limit: Two Terms

Georgia (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2026
Brad Raffensperger: Won by 53.3%
Four-year term
Term limit: None

Idaho (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2026
Phil McGrane: Won by 72.4%
Four-year term
Term limit: None

Indiana (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2026
Diego Morales: Won by 57.4%
Four-year term
Term limit: Eight out of twelve years

Iowa (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2026
Paul Pate: Won by 60.4%
Four-year term
Term limit: None

Kansas (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2026
Scott Schwab: Won by 58.8%
Four-year term
Term limit: None

Nebraska (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2026
Bob Evnen: Won by 100%
Four-year term
Term limit: None

North Dakota (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2026
Michael Howe: Won by 63.2%
Four-year term
Term limit: None

Ohio (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2026 (Can’t run due to term limits)
Frank LaRose: Won by 59.6%
Four-year term
Term limit: Two Consecutive Terms

South Carolina (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2026
Mark Hammond: Won by 63.3%
Four-year term
Term limit: None

South Dakota (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2026
Monae Johnson: Won by 64.5%
Four-year term
Term limit: Two Consecutive Terms

Wyoming (Voter Elected): Up for reelection in 2026
Chuck Gray: Won by 91.6%
Four-year term
Term limit: None


Delaware (Governor Elected)
Jeffrey W. Bullock: Assumed Office on 1/21/09
Length of Term: Serves at the pleasure of the Governor
Term limit: None

Maine (Legislator Elected)
Shenna Bellows: Assumed Office on 1/4/21
Length of Term: Two Years
Term limit: Four Consecutive Terms

New Jersey (Governor Elected)
Tahesha Way: Assumed Office on 6/1/18
Length of Term: Serves a term coterminous with the Governor
Term limit: None

New York (Governor Elected)
Robert Rodriguez: Assumed Office on 12/20/21
Length of Term: Until the end of the term of the governor by whom s/he was appointed and until his or her successor is appointed and has qualified
Term limit: None

Pennsylvania (Governor Elected)
Leigh Chapman: Assumed Office on 1/8/22
Length of Term: Serves at the pleasure of the Governor
Term limit: None

Florida (Governor Elected)
Cord Byrd: Assumed Office on 5/17/22
Length of Term: Serves at the pleasure of the Governor
Term limit: None

Maryland (Governor Elected)
John C. Wobensmith: Assumed Office on 1/21/15
Length of Term: Serves at the pleasure of the Governor
Term limit: None

New Hampshire (Legislator Elected)
David Scanlan: Assumed Office on 1/10/22
Length of Term: Two Years
Term limit: None

Oklahoma (Governor Elected)
Brian Bingman: Assumed Office on 2020
Length of Term: Four Years
Term limit: None

Tennessee (Legislator Elected)
Tre Hargett: Assumed Office on 1/15/09
Length of Term: Four Years
Term limit: None

Texas (Governor Elected)
John Scott: Assumed Office on 10/21/21
Length of Term: Serves concurrent with the appointing Governor
Term limit: None

Virginia (Governor Elected)
Kay Coles James: Assumed Office on 1/24/22
Length of Term: Four years
Term limit: None