With Eloquence: W. E. B. Du Bois

I published my first “With Eloquence” post last month with an excerpt from a very eloquent speech delivered by Booker T. Washington as a response to what I see as society’s writ large degenerating verbal and written communication skills.

The post was also intended to be a lead in for me to set up for this month a Relating to Humans all-call for submissions celebrating African-American History Month similar to what I did for last year’s Women’s History Month.

Well, like the reason for so many of my productivity issues lately – I blame Trump for knocking me dizzy with all his scary and/or moronic autocratic antics. thereby making me lose my focus.

Continue reading “With Eloquence: W. E. B. Du Bois”

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THE PHILOSOPHY OF INSPIRATION | A Relating to Humans Philosophical Issues Feature

THE PHILOSOPHY OF INSPIRATION
by Rana Tarakji

As Kurt explains it on his Welcome page, it is impossible to mingle with other human beings in an entirely pain-free manner. However, there is a difference between pain that aims to makes a person stronger and pain that aims at the opposite or has no aim at all. How can we inspire others without a bit of tough love anyways?

For instance, telling the truth can hurt sometimes, but isn’t it in the favour of the truth-receiver? Doesn’t it enlighten the person with truths that make him or her wiser and allow him/her to be more successful in his/her future life? Perhaps not knowing the truth might keep the person content, however, there’s usually a bigger chance that not knowing the truth can hurt a person in the long run.

What about giving advice? Advice can be tough for some people to swallow. They might not want to hear what you want to say to them, even if it makes perfect sense. A lot of people prefer not to get involved in other people’s decisions and not to offer their advice if it stands against the other person’s beliefs. But does staying quiet in critical times help that person? No, it doesn’t.

Celebrities are often looked up to because they have usually gone through a lot of ups and downs and tough times to get where they are in their lives. It’s never an easy thing to become well-known, respected and adored by millions. And sometimes, simple but wise words from these inspirational people can motivate us to make small changes in our lives, to the better. The following infographic lists some of the top inspirational celebrity quotes by life coach spotter that will leave you inspired:
 

CLICK TO ENLARGE

lifecoachspotter.com

 


 
Learn more about our open-submissions Relating to Humans feature here.

 
 

GLITTERS OF BLISS! | A Relating to Humans Poetry Feature

GLITTERS OF BLISS!
by Priyanki

 
If the clouds could come & give me a ride
I would sit on them & sway away in delight
And ask them to take me in their cozy coat
Covering me all in the softness galore
Ask them to take me in the world up away
High up in the clouds where they say fairies stay.
As I reach there, I will learn a few skills to tap & whoosh & fulfill some wish
Wishes of all those who are in need.
Those wishes of cute eyes of kids crying for help.
The ones who are lost in war, with no one to help.
Those unanswered prayers of people with disease, the ones suffering & asking for relief.
Those hard to be fulfilled wishes & prayers with which are linked the needy’s care.
Wishes of such kind seems impossible in today’s time. There is so much going around in those with dirty minds,
Those who cause chaos & all the mess.
& are killing ruthlessly & causing much stress
I may sound kiddish to dream of fairyland & bring glitters of kindness with me in my hand
However it may sound, but I don’t mind
As long as I wish to bring some good in Mankind.
Often I wonder where does the “kind” go from man.
Maybe I’m thinking too much, what can I do, I’m a woman.
I was born to think,
That’s what many say.
Woman think a lot
They are made that way, and I think again, “Thank God that I think.”
It’s my thinking that makes me ponder, to be a better being.
Everyday I think & try to reach my soul.
And
today my thinking wants to take a tour
In the world of clouds, where they say Angels live.
With a hope to bring in my palm, some glitters of bliss
So I have few powers to whoosh away the pain
That causes chaos often unexplained.

jollyprivy.wordpress.com


 
To learn how to have your poetry or other work profiled here, visit the Relating to Humans feature.

 
 

This is how music is done…

Hey what’s up?!

We’re going to be promoting our first Reward Package on Friday. If you would like to help me help you then please consider donating to help me make a movie and I will help you promote your book or other project. Huh?

Yeah.

So… I’m not going to be posting much for the next few months so please submit your work to one of the Relating to Humans features so I can post it to the blog in stead of my rambles and blather.

Can ya dig?

Anyway, here is some music that will make your toes tap and ears wiggle.

I guarantee it.


 

Oh yeah…

 
 

WILL YOU?

DONATE TO SUPPORT MY WOMEN’S ISSUES SHORT FILM AND PROMOTE YOUR WORK?

AND WILL YOU…

SUBMIT YOUR HUMAN-RELATING WORK TO THESE HUMAN-RELATING FEATURES?

PLEASE.


 

#independentartistssupportingindependentartists

 
 

YOUR DREAMS ARE DEAD | A Relating to Humans Women’s Issues Feature

YOUR DREAMS ARE DEAD
by perfect_mayhem

These four words flew into the forefront of my brain along with what felt like gallons of blood as I was bent over the floor around my son’s desk retrieving his crumpled up artistic attempts. He is nearly 7 years old and a truly gifted artist. I do not say this because he is my son. A sharp pencil or pen and paper is his chosen medium and from the depths of his soul he creates beautiful and intricate abstracts and hilariously haunting caricatures. We are a homeschooling family therefore he is privileged to practice and delve deeper into his art every day for hours on end. I encourage it, I love it. This is what I want for my children, why I homeschool, so passion can arise organically and be nurtured.

As I am in his room tidying up and thinking “your dreams are dead,” I shout out to my husband “is this it for me, is my life over?” “Yes,” he says. He always answers my nihilistic questions nihilistically. To a large extent, he is right. In a permanent way that you cannot change your mind about like you can the dream of wanting to be a successful blogger or to own a Louis Vuitton bag, bringing children into the world is a dream all to itself. The dream of children trumps all other dreams. I remind myself of that anytime I despair about not having an aspiration to call my own or even an uninterrupted shower to call my own. I wanted this. These children were and are my dream realized. It is exciting to watch the unfolding of these beautiful human beings. And I am their mother. I am honored to be their safe-space, the place-holder as they venture in and out of their artistic worlds through play and meaningful work.

However. As I near my mid-30’s, I find myself being less and less content with this idea. I still have something to offer, I have ideas that flood my head nightly once everyone else is asleep and the silence settles in. There have been times when I felt disgruntled about life and have thought about this character that I have seen portrayed in television and movies of the overbearing mother who regrets that she never did anything with her life so she nags, meddles, cuts-down and eventually alienates her children. It could have been different if only she had made a life for herself outside of her role as wife and mother. This persona would top the list as the worst version of myself. I don’t want to envy my children and begrudge them of their dreams.

There is another way. And I already know where to start. I have been cultivating hopes and desires for people in my family for years. For a passion to bloom, a person needs tools, space and opportunity to create. My children deserve that. I deserve that. You deserve that. As adults, we have to make that happen for ourselves. There is no mother or father around to do it for us now, or maybe, ever. We are creative-space incarnate. No. More. Excuses.
 

perfectmayhem.org


 

Our vision for our short film LEAVE is to create a cinematic work of art that both entertains and inspires positive change. If you are a #WomeninFilm Los Angeles-based Director interested in captaining our production, please contact me.

 
 

PARIS | A Relating to Humans Women’s Issues Feature

PARIS
by elizabeth stokkebye

Seventeen and in Paris on my own.

It was my first encounter with the city of love and I was fortunate to stay with an aunt and uncle, who both being workaholics, left me with oceans of time to explore. I hurried out the door to experience the vast world of Paris with its majestic architecture, its towering cathedrals, its world-renowned art collections, its peaceful parks, and its crowds of people.

The air was spring like, mild and sunny, although I was spending my Christmas holiday away from my home in Denmark. Traveling by myself in a foreign world filled me with a sensation of pure freedom. I remember how my breathing felt different: effortless and silent but steady and consistent. It was breathing devoid of depression and anxiety. I breathed without past or future and let the air be present.

Walking along grand boulevards beneath a blue sky sporting white clouds I felt my loving heart circulate blood through my veins.

On my way past one of the many cafés lining the wide sidewalk, my sway caught the attention of a street performer playing his violin. As I danced by him he let go of his instrument and started to sing Ne me quitte pas. I stopped, turned around, and listened to his chanson. Was he performing especially for me?

My youthful disposition was romantic and I was attracted to him. At the same time, I could hear my mother’s voice: “I’m so proud to have brought up a good girl!” I didn’t move. When he was done with the song, he waved me over. I blushed but followed his hand. He grabbed mine and kissed it. I felt the touch of his soft lips. My skin everywhere reacted by turning prickly and my breathing intensified.

“Ma Cherie,” he whispered.

All of a sudden my body felt heavy and I pulled away. Caught between wanting to leave and wanting to stay, I sat down on a bistro chair.

“Please, I need a minute,” I uttered.

“Bien sûr!” he smiled.

He put his violin to his neck once again and with closed eyes, he played the sweetest melody riding through the air and penetrating the toughest disposition.

Paralyzed, I tried to think. Should I leave or should I stay? My sense of freedom had slowly vanished which made the decision so much harder. The guy was cute, romantic and talented.

A waiter came over and I asked for a café au lait. As more people gathered around to listen to the soft music, I started to relax. He didn’t sing again which made me feel special.

Immersed in the music, I let go of time. Slowly, the morning faded, noon hour came around, and with his violin case full of money, he sang out:

“La dernière chanson!”

From his slender body came Que je t’aime and I didn’t know where to look. My gaze fell on a young woman advancing hurriedly towards us and embodying a sense of pure joy. She stepped right up to my singer and kissed him on the mouth.
 

elizabethstokkebye.com


 

HAVE YOU SEEN THIS?

 
 

Two Marines walked into a bar…

…and the Sailor ducked.

Ba dum bump!
#militaryhumor

Okay, just a couple of quick announcements while I’ve got your attention.

I am overwhelmed with happiness and joy now that it is Spring, and because of all the wonderful submissions we’ve received to the Relating to Humans Women’s Issues feature in celebration of Women’s History Month. We still have a week or so to go for #WHM2016 and I am still posting to the blog all submissions received to the feature.

If you’re not sure what all this Relating to Humans stuff is all about. I attempt to explain it all here.

All RTH submissions received prior to 2016 have been moved to the RTH Archives. There is a lot of compelling reading to be found there so check it out if you have a chance.

Aurelius, Zeno, and I are vibing to some Nine Inch Nails Ghost I-IV right now, in case you were wondering.

Zeno & Aurelius rockin' the NIN... and their space heater.
Da Bro’s vibing some NIN… and their space heater.

Anyway… With just about all RTH past submissions now archived, that means there is a lot of white space for you to post your work.

We all know that the early bird gets the best spot where all the book worms like to hang out, if you know what I mean… So submit early and submit often, but only submit one article or piece at a time per feature. If you want to submit something new to a feature that you already have something submitted to, let me know and I’ll archive the old so you can share with us the new.

From now through the summer months, I plan/hope to be heavily involved with the raising of funds and then the production of my short film LEAVE out in Los Angeles. Fingers crossed.

Consequently, I am not going to have as much time to spend writing stuff here for you to read, hence the awkward necessity of this awkwardness. Consequently, I am going to be looking to your submissions to the various RTH features to pull from and post to the blog. Consequently, I am going to need you all to post a lot of compelling and awareness-raising stuff up there for me to pull from. Consequently, I am going to be adding even more features for you to submit your work to.

Can you dig it?

I’m thinking new features such as: “Health Issues,” (notice how I put that comma before the closing quotes? strange how we do it that way here in ‘Merica (prounounced: mur/e/ka) when our good friends across The Pond would put them outside the closing quotes… isn’t life wonderful with all its little peculiarities like that? though, in actuality, since I’ve now added this interesting – at least to me – parenthetical aside, I guess the comma really should go after the closing parenthesis… oh well. my blog my (broken) rules.), “Criminal Justice Issues,” and although I’m a bit hesitant about this one because I’m not totally convinced it fits comfortably with the other features but we’ll see how it goes… “Relationship Issues.”

I am going to ask/require that all human-related creative submissions, such as poetry as the primary example, be submitted only to its designated creative artsy-type feature. In other words, please submit your poems, photography, flash fiction, etc. only to its specific feature. In other words, all poems submitted to the “Women’s Issues” feature will be moved to the “Poetry” feature. To me it will be more interesting to read poetry or any other pieces submitted to the artsy-fartsy type features that cover many diverse, human-related topics in one feature. In other words, I hope I didn’t confuse you as much as I just confused myself.

April is “Sexual Assault Awareness Month” so, unfortunately, there may be opportunities to speak to that very unfortunate and sadly big issue.

Let’s start identifying “Trigger Warnings” where applicable, please. I think for a place like this those are a crucial necessity.

So… that’s about it. Please start submitting away and I will move all the submissions that move me to the blog so they can move all of us into a broader, more compassionate understanding of all that’s going on in and all around this pretty yet petulant planet of ours that we all can and do and must relate to because like it or not we are all humans and we are ultimately all related.

All** cool?

Yeah…

One last thing!

Have you considered donating a buck* or two to help me get my short film off the ground? If you do, I will help you promote your book, your project, or a cause your most passionate about. You can learn how here.

And if you’re a Newsletter Love subscriber, I’ll promote your work to our dedicated, and growing, newsletter group, as well.

Right on?

Write. On!

And remember…

Friends don’t let friends drive drunk, vote for Trump… or stumble headfirst into bars.

For pain will surely ensue if they do.


*Paypal accepts just about all major global denominations.
**Yes, you’re right. I did use an awful lot of “alls” in this post for some reason.

 
 

HEROES FOR A MODERN GIRL | A Relating to Humans Women’s Issues Feature

HEROES FOR A MODERN GIRL
by Pamela Schloesser Canepa

The poet Maya Angelou
shared wise words that moved me so.
Songbird Nina Simone
Did not fear walking alone.
Nikki Giovanni
Laid the truth on me.

Mom bravely raised me alone,
in the warmest, loving home.
Simone deBouvaire taught me
women are not property.
Toni Morrison’s Pilate
was free like a wild lilac.

And I thank them all
for helping me stand tall.
Men’s rules, commandments, and laws
once confined us, we felt lost.
But there was no stopping
rebels like Janis Joplin.

I benefit from their stand,
and I’m fed by my own hand.
I thank them all
For helping me stand tall.
 

pamelascanepa.wordpress.com


 

HAVE YOU SEEN THIS?

 
 

THE LIES WE TELL OURSELVES | A Relating to Humans Women’s Issues Feature

THE LIES WE TELL OURSELVES
        by Manivillie Kanagasabapathy

** TRIGGER WARNING: Abuse **

Deep Brown eyes stare back at me,
Fleeting whispers floating between us,
Shadows creep silently,
Across broad brown shoulders,
The darkness melding within the chocolate hues,
Lengthening to point accusingly,
At the faded bruise
That still held faint outlines of his hand.

“Are you okay? Should I call someone?”
I hear the teacher’s voice whisper
Behind
In front
Avoiding.

My eyes jump back up,
Shamed to be caught,
Starting at the dark eyes,
That hid darker shadows.

“I’m fine, I fell”
I watched her rouge tipped lips open in reply,
Tasting the words,
Rolling them around her tongue
Until they fit,
Like words spoken
In love
In faith
In truth

“Should I call a doctor?”
The persistent voice asked again,
Concern and patronization moving together
To create a melody of the question,
“No really I am fine, I fell.”
Stronger, this time
The eyes lit with the flame of memory,
Recreated to a story to be told over and over,
Each time more real than the last.

Hands lift reaching across
Touch the fading bruise,
Face flinching from where my fingers lay,
Turning to look away.

With a breath, I slowly withdraw my hand
Shaking as it moves from the mirror.
Square the shoulders,
Bright smile,
A deep inhalation and whisper…
“I am fine, I fell.”
 
mypoeticheart.com


 

Please submit your creative expressions that bring awareness to women and gender issues to the Relating to Humans Women’s Issues feature. All submissions will be profiled on the blog throughout Women’s History Month.

 
 

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: Celebrating the Success Worldwide

I don’t normally do this kind of thing but, because this is a day to celebrate the grand achievements women all around the world are making, and because this is such phenomenal information (albeit excessively long and highly wonky), I am sharing this cut and paste from the National Business Women’s Council, a US Government organization*.

My summary of this Executive Summary of a US Census Survey regarding US Business is that basically what follows is the empirical data/evidence of what I see happening in all sectors of US society… especially that of the Publishing Industry.

And that is…

WOMEN. ARE. CRUSHING. IT!

Yeah…

The King is dead…

Long live the Queen!
 
*As I understand it, unless specifically marked, anything produced by the US Government is in the Public Domain and free to use. Howeever, if you are planning on doing any copy and pastes of anything you do not own the copyright to, learn the rules first for yourself before you do. I am not a copyright lawyer so do not take my word for it. See my Terms of Use page for more on this.



The Growth and Development of Women-Owned Enterprises in the United States, 2002 – 2012: An Analysis of Trends from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners

Women continue to enter into the ranks of business ownership at rates exceeding the national average. Indeed, the rate at which women are launching businesses is on the rise.

  • As of 2012, there are nearly 10 million women-owned businesses[1} in the United States. These enterprises employ over eight million workers and generate over $1.4 trillion in revenues.
  • Between 2002 and 2012, the number of women-owned firms increased at a rate 2-1/2 times the national average (52% vs. 20%), employment in women-owned firms grew at a rate 4-1/2 times that of all firms (18% vs. just 4%), and the growth in revenues generated by women-owned firms paralleled that of all firms (up 51% compared to 48%).
  • The pace of business formation among women is on the rise. Between 1997 and 2002, the number of women-owned firms grew by 20%, as it did between 2002 and 2007. Then, between 2007 and 2012, the number of women-owned firms increased by 27% – a significant uptick in business start-ups.
  • On average, between 2002 and 2012, women launched an average of 928 net new firms each and every day. Within that ten-year period, there were an average of 714 net new women-owned firms per day between 2002 and 2007, and 1,143 per day between 2007 and 2012.

While more and more women are starting businesses, those businesses remain significantly smaller than average.

  • Women-owned businesses comprise 36% of the country’s businesses, employ 7% of the private-sector workforce, and contribute 4% of business revenues. Ten years prior, women-owned firms represented a smaller 28% of the country’s businesses, but contributed a similar share of employment (7%) and revenues (4%).
  • In terms of employment, fully 91% of women-owned firms have no employees other than the owner, and just 2% have 10 or more employees. Women-owned firms with 10 or more employees provide three-quarters of the jobs provided by women-owned firms. While most women-owned firms remain small in terms of employment, it should be pointed out that the number of women-owned employer firms (which now numbers over one million) has increased by 13% between 2002 and 2012, while overall the number of U.S. employer firms has declined by 1.8% over the same period.
  • With respect to revenue size, 82% of women-owned firms generate less than $100,000 in annual revenues, and just 3% generate $500,000 or more in revenues. This top 3% of women-owned firms accounts for three-quarters of the revenues generated by women-owned businesses. Further, it should be noted that – while less than 2% of women-owned firms generate $1 million or more in revenues – the number of those firms increased by 47% between 2002 and 2012, compared to an 18% increase among all million-dollar enterprises.
  • The average revenue per woman-owned firm is $143,731. This compares to average revenues of $440,190 among all privately-held firms and $1,213,944 among all firms – which includes large, publicly-traded firms (which average $48.2 million in per-firm revenues).

Perhaps the most remarkable trend in women’s entrepreneurship seen over the past decade is the phenomenal growth in business ownership among women of color.

  • In 2002, there were fewer than one million (909,321) minority women-owned firms in the U.S., representing 14% of women-owned firms. As of 2012, there are nearly 3.8 million firms owned by women of color, comprising 38% of women-owned businesses.
  • Between 2002 and 2012, when the number of women-owned firms overall increased by 52%, the number of non-minority women-owned firms grew by just 9%, while the number of minority women-owned firms overall grew by 315% – a quadrupling in numbers. Specifically, the number of Native American/Alaska Native women-owned businesses increased by 67%, the number of Asian American women-owned businesses more than doubled (up 121%), the number of Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander women-owned businesses increased by 136%, and the number of Latina-owned businesses nearly tripled (up 172%) – as did the number of African American women-owned businesses (up 178%).
  • As of 2012, there are 1,521,494 African American women-owned firms in the U.S., 1,469,991 Latina-owned firms, 749,197 Asian American women-owned firms, 131,064 Native American/Alaska Native women-owned firms, and 24,982 Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander women-owned firms in the U.S.

As the number of women serving in the military has grown, so has the number of female veteran-owned enterprises – at a rate exceeding even that of minority women-owned businesses.

  • In 2007, there were 97,114 veteran women-owned firms in the U.S., representing 4% of all veteran-owned firms. As of 2012, there are 383,302 veteran women-owned firms, comprising 15% of all veteran-owned firms.
  • Between 2007 and 2012, when the number of all veteran-owned businesses increased by 3% – from 2.4 to 2.5 million – the number of female veteran-owned businesses increased by a phenomenal 295%, a near quadrupling in numbers in just five years.

Regionally, the sharpest rise in the number of women-owned firms has been seen in the southern region of the U.S., where overall population growth has been the strongest. However, women-owned firms in the central part of the country have bounced back most strongly from the 2007-2009 recession.

  • Between 2002 and 2012, the greatest growth in the number of women-owned firms has been seen in Georgia (+92%), Mississippi (+89%), Texas (+85%), Florida (+85%), and Louisiana (+74%) – all Southern states. Indeed, all of the states where women-owned firm growth exceeds the national average by more than 10 points are in the South, except for Arizona and Nevada.
  • Four out of the five fastest-growing metropolitan areas for women-owned firms are also in the South: Memphis (+160%), Charlotte (+138%), Orlando (+127%), Las Vegas (+101%), and San Antonio (+101%).
  • While states in the South lead the way in business growth over the entire ten-year period, Central states are home to the most positive trends when comparing growth during the 2007-2012 post-recession period to the 2002-2007 pre-recession period. There are 19 states in which post-recession growth in the number of women-owned firms is at least 10 points higher than pre-recession growth; most are in the North Central or Midwest regions of the U.S. The leading “bounce back” states are Louisiana, Nebraska, Iowa, North Dakota, Indiana, and Mississippi. At the other end of the spectrum, ten states currently lag pre-recession growth rates – including Maine, Georgia, Hawaii, and New Hampshire, where post-recession growth is more than 5% lower than pre-recession growth.

As women business owners themselves are growing more diverse, so are the businesses that they are starting. Despite growing industry diversification, however, the largest concentration of women-owned firms is still seen in the most traditional areas of business ownership for women – sectors that have lower than average revenues per firm.

  • Women-owned firms are found in every industry. In fact, 2% or more of the nearly 10 million women-owned firms are found in 13 of the 19 major industries – including over 260,000 women-owned construction firms, over 200,000 women-owned finance and insurance firms, and nearly 160,000 women-owned transportation and warehousing enterprises.
  • Despite the growing diversity in the types of businesses that women own, nearly half (49%) of women-owned firms are found in three sectors: other services (1.9 million firms, within which there are nearly 1 million beauty and nail salons), health care and social assistance (1.6 million firms, within which there are over 600,000 child day care service businesses), and professional/scientific/technical services (1.3 million firms, within which there are a cornucopia of such firms as management and human resources consultancies, translation services, and veterinarians).
  • Between 2002 and 2012, the greatest growth in the number of women-owned firms has been in educational services (+91%), administrative services (+90%) and other services (+86%) – growth rates nearly double the overall 52% increase during the period. However, even within slower-growing industries, the rate of growth in the number of women-owned firms outpaces overall growth in every single industry sector.
  • Women-owned businesses are more likely than average to have achieved revenues of $500,000 or more in five industries: wholesale trade, manufacturing, accommodation and food services, construction, and transportation and warehousing. However, women-owned firms in these industries comprise only 11% of all women-owned firms.
  • Conversely, among some of the most populous sectors for women-owned businesses – most especially other services, administrative, support and waste management services and health care and social assistance, average revenues are well under $100,000 per firm. Raising the overall economic clout of women-owned businesses would then require a two-pronged approach:
  •         1. Assist women in the more populous, lower per-firm revenue sectors in scaling-up their enterprises, and
            2. Encourage more women to start businesses in the less populous but more likely to scale sectors.



     

    [1] Throughout this report, the term “women-owned” refers to enterprises that are at least 51% owned and operated by a woman or group of women. Businesses equally-owned by a man and a woman (or equal numbers of men and women) are not included – primarily because the way that equally-owned firms have been identified has differed in each of the past four business census years, thus precluding accurate trend analysis.

     
     

HEY WHAT ABOUT ME?! | A Relating to Humans Women’s Issue

HEY WHAT ABOUT ME?!
Exploring the Mind of a Man Who Didn’t Give Me His Card
by pixie

FROM THE WOMEN’S ISSUES ARCHIVE
 
I recently went to a conference with my fiancé – one of those social affairs where everyone is given a name tag and you’re expected to mix and mingle with the crowd. An awkward moment with a stranger got me thinking…

For a brief couple of minutes during the conference coffee break I was left alone. Next to me, I observed a quiet, bashful middle-aged man fumbling through his conference materials and we caught each other’s eye for a moment. I smiled, being polite. He returned the smile and extended his hand to introduce himself.

We went through the usual ice-breaking questions of what we do, why we were there. The banter was friendly and a connection was made. Moments later my fiancé rejoined me. Seeing that I had made a new acquaintance, I introduced him to Mr Bashful and they went on to talk about themselves, dutifully going through similar introductory questions. Mr Bashful at one point reached out for his business cards and gave one to my fiancé, then proceeded to store his business cards back into this pocket.

I was taken aback and thought to myself, “Wait, what about me?!“

So I said to Mr Bashful, teasingly, to remind him of the etiquette faux pas he just committed, “Oh, how come I don’t get a card?“

Alarmed at his own mistake, he immediately made a comeback. “Oh I am so very sorry!“ quickly fumbled through his pockets to get his stack of business cards, and embarrassingly passed one to me with the usual two hands as a gesture of respect.

It was a small incident, but one which demonstrated how we each may have prejudices against certain people. These prejudices are mostly hidden, but occasionally let themselves out the bag through accidental gestures.

I don’t know why Mr Bashful didn’t give me a card and practically ignored me the moment my fiancé stepped in. It could have been a myriad of reasons: his nervousness in front of women, his thoughts that guy to guy conversations are more appropriate, seeing more value in building a relationship with my fiancé instead of me. I don’t know, I can only guess. My guess is that he has certain views about women which inadvertently influenced his behaviour – a small gesture of neglecting to give me his name card, despite me having been the one who first struck up a conversation with him.

I felt a bit brushed off, but forgave the small mistake. It’s not the first time this happened. Not long ago at a wedding an older surgeon similarly extended his business card to my fiancé but not me, despite having spoken to both of us.

I’m not timid and shy – no – that wouldn’t have been the reason why Mr Bashful passed me by. Our conversation before my fiancé arrived was cordial, witty, and appropriate. We had made contact but the conversation quickly shifted to “men only” the moment my fiancé arrived, and I was ceremonially excluded at the business card round. The next time, I should conduct a social experiment: if I presented myself as an independent woman, and was by myself during a similar occasion, speaking to a similar man, would he treat me differently? My hypothesis is I would be given a business card if I were alone!*

In summary, my hunch is that the forgetting to hand me a business card (I was standing right there!) had to do with the following reasons:

  • Mr Bashful perceived me to be taken, someone else’s – he saw my fiancé and I as a single unit, and to give my fiancé a business card would suffice. I was covered.
  • Mr Bashful subconsciously believes that business cards are a male matter.
  • Although he ordinarily tries to be “equal” in giving both men and women his cards, this time he had a slip of the mind and forgot his manners.The fact that he was genuinely embarrassed when he was called out revealed that he too thought the omission was inappropriate.
    It could have been both reasons above. Or Mr Bashful could have simply forgotten – an honest mistake. I can only hypothesize at this point.

Or, I could just email Mr Bashful and ask, since I now have his name card…!

What about you? Have there been instances where you were brushed off, forgotten or neglected because of your sex, gender, race, age, or any other reason?

Have you forgotten to give your business cards to certain persons in a social setting? Or worse, was the omission purposeful?

************************
*it would be hard to come up with scientific conclusions, since it’s hard to control the main variable, i.e. the male subject: Mr Bashful could have been a unique case; another man in the same social situation may have given me a card
 

pixiedustbeach.wordpress.com


All submissions to the Relating to Humans Women’s Issues feature will be profiled on the blog all throughout Women’s History Month. Please share your creative expressions discussing Women’s Issues by submitting them here.

With a Vision to Create a Cinematic Work of Art that both Entertains and Inspires a Discussion for Positive Change, your support will be key to the success in Kurt’s and the Crew’s effort to bring their “Women’s Issues” short film to the screen.

To be notified when their Indigogo Campaign to raise the funds needed to produce the film goes live, please sign up here.

 
 

THE AMERICAN FAMILY IS BROKEN | A Relating to Humans Woman’s Issues Feature

THE AMERICAN FAMILY IS BROKEN
by Erin Byerly

 

It was your choice to have a baby, so why should my tax dollars pay for them?

Americans pride themselves on rugged individuality and a tireless work ethic. After spending such long hours in the office with so little vacation time, why should we be expected to subsidize the kids we may not even be having? And why should employers bear the brunt of pregnant employees and the inconvenience of maternity leave?

We may be one of the wealthiest nations in the world, but we’ve forgotten who we are. People talk about children as though they were vintage cars, expensive and unnecessary luxuries that shouldn’t inconvenience anyone but their owners.

We pay a lot of lip service to how much we love children, but when it comes down to it, we resent every last dime we collectively spend on them. We don’t want them in our restaurants or in our airplanes, and certainly don’t want the workplace to accommodate their parents.

Not everyone wants, needs, or is able to have children, but putting the entire burden of our species on the backs of individual families has become unreasonable.

Women’s roles have drastically changed since fifty years ago, and for good cause. Women should neither be kept from employment nor forced into economic dependence on men who could abandon them, die, or even become abusive.

Problem is, relative wages have dropped and most families require two incomes, yet Americans seem blind to our changing circumstances. We vilify families living on public assistance while simultaneously viewing workplace pregnancy accommodations, universal healthcare, parental leave, and subsidized daycare as selfish “entitlements.”

And we don’t want to pay for them, unlike every other developed nation on Earth.

No other First-World country fires pregnant women for medical complications or rips new mothers from the arms of their newborn babies within days of delivery. We barely acknowledge the idea that fathers need bonding time too.

No one else in our fighting class expects parents to shoulder low-quality daycare costs that exceed college tuition rates or applauds making children go hungry when their parents can’t afford lunch money.

Nothing in life is free. We’re turning our backs on the most vulnerable members of our species and our nation is paying a heavy price. Our maternal and infant mortality rates are criminal. Poverty and mental illness are reaching levels not seen since the Great Depression.

And with those costs come interest. Our child abuse, violent crime, and incarceration rates dwarf those of our European counterparts. These issues don’t arise from a handful of irresponsible parents, but a skyrocketing number of families who can barely cope with the strain.

You may not want a child and should never feel obligated to have one, but someone needs to.

Once upon a time, you were a child yourself. Not just you, but your coworkers, your boss, your friends, your family members, and anyone else you ever cared about. You grew up, as will most of the children in America today.

So, why should your tax dollars be spent on someone else’s children?

Because they are you.

They are us.

bubblesandbeebots.com
 


All creative expressions submitted to the Relating to Humans Women’s Issues feature will be profiled on the blog all throughout Women’s History Month.

 
 

MARY OF THE SUN | A Relating to Humans Women’s Issues Feature

MARY OF THE SUN
by jonna ellis holston

 

From Lowell , Massachusetts

My Aunt Mary wrote for The Lowell Sun for seventy-six years. She started while still a high school girl… under pen names… looong before women commonly reported for newspapers. She and my Uncle Charles G Sampas, a mild mannered executive news editor from a great historic city’s newspaper, were my God Parents. Often glued to Mary’s side, I recall The Sun as a chaotic place full of screaming, sweaty reporters desperate to read the ribbons spewed forth from the wire services. I still smell the ink and burnt coffee, and hear the deafening noise of the printing machines. “It’s a lot of work to bring news to the people,” she told me.

And remember those phones that had wires attached to walls? Mary Sampas was attached to one of those… always tucked under an ear, scribbling notes and trading in gossip and fact as she covered the glamorous stars of old Hollywood, Lauren Bacall, Cary Grant, David Niven, many others. Mary and Charlie even accompanied the Kennedys on their Paris trip with Charles de Gaulle and then off to Vienna for the Khrushchev talks. Even Jackie called on Mary for the inside scoop.

She slept late… till the calls began… then the typing would start. Evenings were usually spent socializing with those who were known to be in the know. Hers was a world of endless working parties with artists, writers or prominent Democrats. With non-stop, indefatigable charm and the brain of a word processor she would pursue secrets, discover, verify. What was show and what remained hidden in the backroom smoke?
Continue reading “MARY OF THE SUN | A Relating to Humans Women’s Issues Feature”

THE WOMAN IN ME | A Relating to Humans Woman’s Issues Feature

THE WOMAN IN ME
by Debolina Coomar

When I was a daughter, I had dreams,
I learnt that life is not easy, and nothing is what it seems.
When I became a student, I had aspirations,
I learnt that achievements are important, and learnings are an inspiration.
When I became a professional, I had goals,
I learnt that life is full of challenges, and we have to take up different roles.
When I was a wife, I had a duty,
I learnt caring, sharing and trust in a relationship is the real beauty.
When I became a mother, I had responsibilities,
I learnt to take up challenges and fulfill them with my abilities.
When I wear so many different masks everyday,
Each one is different and unique in its own way.
But, when I see myself in the mirror,
I see so many faces, but I cannot find HER.
The woman in me keeps calling me everyday,
I just avoided her as I almost have nothing to say.
But, one day, she saw me back into my eyes,
And wanted to know why I ignored all her cries.
I forgot HER as I was busy being everything else,
But, now I want to be ME and let myself out,
I want to open my heart and let it shout.
I want to start living as MYSELF and let the world see,
The WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE, because that is the best I have in me.

debolinacoomar.wordpress.com


 

Women's History Month

It is my pleasure and honor to kick-off our March-long celebration of Women’s History Month with such a beautiful and inspiring poem by Debolina Coomar.

Thank you for submitting your poetic creativity to our Woman’s Issues feature page, Debolina, thereby allowing us all to enjoy your words.

And I invite and strongly encourage you to visit the Relating to Humans feature and consider sharing with us some of your creative inspiration.

As was Debolina’s, all submissions meeting the editorial standards of yours truly submitted to the Women’s Issues page throughout the month of March will be published to the blog.

And now is a good time to submit your work to all the features, as I am in the process of archiving all submissions received prior to this year, which means each feature page will be empty and the early submissions will receive top billing, so to speak.

Please visit the Relating to Humans page for the Submission Guidelines.

Additionally, I invite you to click on the poster above to learn about some of the things the US Government, via the Small Business Administration and the National Business Women’s Council has planned to celebrate Woman’s History Month in its efforts to raise awareness of Women and Gender Issues.

And lastly, please don’t forget to show your support for our short film, LEAVE, by visiting and following (and spreading the word about) our facebook page at www.facebook.com/leavethemovie.

 
 

NO RACE TO CALL HOME: A Relating to Humans Race Issue by newmommytesla

NO RACE TO CALL HOME
newmommytesla
 

I have no idea what race or culture to identify with.
My blood is mixed. I don’t fit into any one category. I’m Aztec, Spanish, Scottish-Irish, English, German, and little slivers of many more.

It was difficult growing up, not being able to relate to one side. Not being able to deny or fully embrace one or another. I can’t speak Spanish. I don’t feel Irish or German. When I lived in North Dakota and was the only person with a last name like Rodriquez, I was known as “The Mexican.”

Being a mixed blood did nothing to help me find myself as a teenager, either. But as an adult it’s helped me to relate to more cultures and races than I ever thought possible.

I belong nowhere. And everywhere.

I know I’m not the only one.

After a thoughtful pause during a recent conversation with my mom, as she contemplated what else is in my blood, she said, “There’s going to be a little bit of everything in everybody at this point.”

She’s right. It’s rare to find someone of only one race or culture. America and the Americans in it are as much of a mixed blood as I am, yet we have some of the worst cultural, religious, and racial clashes.

Indian and the white man. Black and white. Muslims and Christians. The list goes on. Look at the news. Cultural clashes are among the top headlines.
America has a big opportunity to prove peace can be real, that cultural divides can be conquered. But we’re too busy concentrating on what one side of ourselves we want to identify with most – just as I did as a teenager.

It reminds me of a passage in the Bible my mother pointed out:. “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.”

Does America not want to stand? Do we not want to accept the truth staring us in the face?

We are all related.

Imagine what America could be if we embraced that. Imagine if the United States was actually united. Imagine the potential to excel for our children — for the mixed-blood child growing inside me now.

Let’s get out of the teenage mentality and grow into adulthood as the people of this country. Let’s admit that each race, culture, religion has done something — many things — wrong, and move on with breaking down the walls that divide us.

Let’s acknowledge, as I had to, that we are no one side. We are all.


trailblazingmotherhood.wordpress.com

 
Have you gained wisdom in how to relate with us fickle humans that you would be willing to share? Visit the Relating to HUmans page for submission guidelines.

 
 

SILENCE – A Relating to Humans Mental Health Issue

SILENCE
by l1brarygrl

It’s a family friend’s annual Thanksgiving party in Potomac. I stand in her elegant and eclectic front hall and gaze at the photograph my stepmother has just taken. The screen of her digital camera shows a lovely girl, radiating joy and quiet confidence with her smile. This smile highlights the dimple on her right cheek, her straight, strong teeth, and warm hazel eyes. The amber lighting softens the bold red of the sleek, shoulder-length hair framing her slender, graceful neck. The black and tan ruffled top, cut low, exposes taut, shimmery skin. The inviting hollow at the base of her neck releases a delicate swirl of lavender and honey, her favorite scent, dotted there a few hours ago. I know this because I am the lovely girl beaming up at me, a lovely girl who entertains thoughts of death each day.

This doesn’t mean I think of killing myself each day, though, at times, suicidal thoughts batter down the chemical barrier built by precious pills. Musing on death, on being dead, brings with it a peace that smells of rich, moist soil and honeysuckle. When suicide cells sucker punch my chemical bouncers, all color bleeds away. Only black remains, bordering an empty space like a long forgotten page in a coloring book. I attempt to downplay it by imagining bits of my Major Depressive Disorder giggling mischievously, scurrying for cover as I swallow 150 milligrams of Effexor each morning and night. I concede, however, that my disorder deserves more respect. You see, the eleven-year-old me remains within. What she witnesses sets the stage for the starring role this disease plays in my life. The two of them intertwine like kudzu run amok. They distain any rosy blush of health and destroy green buds of promise like a late frost. Her penance involves keeping a record of my failures and playing it on a continuous loop, like a favorite song. She lingers, nurturing my enthusiasm for death, feeding the monstrous guilt for living.

Since December 2009, any strength and courage I possess in resisting their calls to desist comes from pills and weekly therapy sessions with Peggy. Pleasantly plump and comforting like a warm crescent roll, and hand picked to help after a talk with John on the suicide hotline, we fit together nicely. Nestled in the back corner of the practice’s suite, her office invites conversation and confession with a plush black leather sofa and Batik embroidered pillows in desert hues I embrace. The inherent problem in freeing grisly events and thoughts of the past and present to her, however, is that she knows me now. She reads and interprets me better than any one else. Like a mama bear, she senses when one of her cubs is in danger. She and I meet as I teeter on the precipice.

My older sister Jill and I live with Dad at the 1960’s ranch-style house in West Laurel after he and Mom divorce. Neither of them talks to us about their separation. Instead, they enlist our Presbyterian minister, Reverend Sonnenday, to break the news. It’s late summer and Jill and I play croquet in the front yard, the grass the color and texture of hay. It crunches under our bare feet. Out of nowhere, the Reverend approaches us and bending to our level, explains what’s happened. At age seven, his words and seriousness of the situation escape me. The only images I retain of my parents together are a hurried wedding day photograph and a recent Olan Mills portrait, the four of us in complementary shades of blue. Years later, I realize it’s a parting gift. Ten-year-old Jill understands, though. I believe her face ages at that moment. The first day of second grade, I raise my hand eagerly when my teacher, Mrs. Mumma, asks about our summer. “My parents are getting divorced.”

Peggy asks why Mom and Dad divorce. “She cheated on him. That’s why he got custody of us.” How do I know? “She told me.” I’m twenty-four, live in Towson, attending Towson State, my second attempt at a bachelor’s degree. Life glows tentatively with this upturn in independence: I pay for school and rent with my own savings. Mom and my stepfather, Hubert, live comfortably in suburbia. She drives up for a day of shopping. I notice the weight loss, the new outfit, and constant grin. Back at the townhouse I share with two roommates, she confides in me as we rummage through packages.

“I’m leaving Hubert.” “I’ve been in love with Ken since Geneseo (where she spent one year at college).” “We’ve seen each other through two marriages.” “He’s a wonderful man.” “For a second there, we thought you were his.” As my mind processes this heap of awfulness, I automatically say I’m glad for her and wish her much happiness. She giggles like a teenager. The sun through my window grows harsh, merciless.

Peggy asks how often I think of suicide. “Every day. As long as I can remember.” She lists numerous signs of major depression in a questioning way as I nod at each one: feeling helpless, hopeless, worthless, dread, fear, and self-loathing.

“Can you tell me why?”

The catalyst for my gradual decay occurs one evening of my eleventh year. Dad sits in his favorite chair: brown, orange, and ivory plaid that matches the long sofa in the living room. Trim and athletic from squash and volleyball, his short brown hair recedes but shows no sign of grey. He has hazel eyes and long eyelashes that I inherit. A tiny regiment of sewing needles stands at attention, stuck in to the left armrest. He grabs one and picks at the skin surrounding his fingernails. When he pulls enough flesh away, he tears it off with his teeth and spits it out onto the worn mustard carpet. He works his way diligently through all ten digits, leaving raw pink spots behind. I try it when he’s not around and it hurts.

At fourteen, my sister, Jill, exhibits more than the usual mood swings of teen girls. Too often, her thin, brown frame emits tremors of tension and anger like a rubber band stretched too tight. I sense a growing unease between her and Mom, who we see every other weekend and Wednesday nights after she and Dad divorce in 1976. Unaware of the scope of my sister’s suffering, she confuses and confounds me with her stubborn insistence to incur the wrath of Dad. I fear and love him in equal measure. One face slap and threats of “the belt” keep me cowering and quiet. He lashes out at Jill more often because she pushes and prods like a prosecutor, questioning his stance for refusing her requests, usually to stay out later with questionable friends.

I stand in the kitchen doorway as he denies her wish that night. In vain I will her to not press the issue, to back away, and return to her room. A raging fear fills my airways and my breath stills as it escalates, as Jill knows it will. Like a Shostakovich symphony, their voices become sharp and manic chords daggers thrown at each other, and then silence.

I hear the creak of Dad’s chair as he rises, his fists and feet making dull thuds and slapping sounds as they connect to Jill’s bony frame. His limbs take on a life of their own, finding exposed shins, arms, head, and inherited cheekbones. She totters backwards down the hall. It becomes a barbaric ballet. Without thinking, I pick up the phone receiver to call the police or Mrs. Green across the street. In the seconds it takes to decide Dad’s future, I turn my head and our hazel eyes meet. I don’t know if his look or voice says, “Hang up,” but I do. As the receiver clicks in place, I understand that, at age eleven, I have failed Jill.

The next day, I walk down the hallway and hear, “Hey,” as I pass our shared bathroom. I stop and turn. Jill leans against the anemic pink laminate countertop in her bra and underwear. A thin, tortoise-shell barrette holds her shiny brown hair away from her face. A wisp of lighter baby hair at her natural part escapes its grasp, framing a frank prettiness. Even at fourteen, she carries her beauty effortlessly, unconsciously. Her body bears angry red marks sparring with black and blue. Jill displays this nightmarish canvas with a neutral expression. No puffy eyes or tearstains compete with Dad’s brutal work of art. I blank on words spoken between us. Her eyes dig in to me as I memorize the chaos on her skin. I receive my just punishment with obedience, igniting the spark that causes chemicals in my brain to collide and clash.

A year later, Dad has married my stepmother, Faith, and decides Jill and I should live with Mom. He breaks the news to us just days before our scheduled move. Flooded with both relief and a sense of being tossed aside, I anticipate calmer waters in this new setting. Jill seethes with a new intensity. I strain to understand how she can miss a man who inflicts such pain. Her misery at being parted from him is palpable, though, as is the animosity she fosters for Mom.

One day I lie on the itchy beige and brown sofa in the stark white living room of her and Hubert’s new townhouse in Columbia. With pen and paper in hand, I scribble, “I want to die” on a torn piece and set it aside. My memory blurs as to whether I mean it, or want Mom to find it, but she does. In a hushed tone, she asks me if I feel that way. Fear hits me and I say no.

Silence reigns in this new place, interspersed with shouting matches and slammed doors when Mom and Jill collide. After an altercation outside, they enter the house with matching shiners. My sister attracts beautiful loser boyfriends with violent tendencies, too. Bruises outnumber hickies. Mom’s tiny frame is no match for such turmoil. She suffers hurtful breakdowns throughout my teen years. “I can’t take it anymore. I’m so sick of all of you. I’m leaving today. I hate you. I hate this life.” She aims this oft-repeated mantra at me like a backhanded slap. My bedroom, the loft, takes up the entire fourth floor, and offers a respite from the jagged air below. In my mind Jill should have this room. Hit after hit, and I remain mute. Still. Why am I rewarded for this?

Peggy asks if there is a history of depression in my family. Indeed, mental illness finds fertile ground in Mom, Jill, and me. Mom’s depression stems from a forced marriage to Dad in December of 1965, and Jill’s birth seven months’ later. High school sweethearts, she falls hard for Ken when Dad, a year older, leaves for college. Still, they sleep together sometime that fall, a mistake with steep consequences. July 1966 hands 19-year-old Mom a petal perfect, unwanted baby girl.

What I witness of my sister’s torturous upbringing sickens and shames, but relations’ whispers of abuse from Jill’s earliest days make my love for both parents traitorous. I remain ignorant of what she might have endured with Mom in the broiling tin box at Phister’s Trailer Park, while 23-year-old Dad worked and completed his Master’s Degree. I hear my paternal grandma’s tsk-tsk refrain: “Oh, Lisa, if you only knew what your mother did to Jill,” but refuse to contemplate injuries or neglect. It takes what little strength I have to hold in her son’s sins, compounding my own.

Mom discloses one long-ago visit to a therapist. She vaguely mentions the negative experience that keeps her from a second visit, or finding another therapist. It takes years for her to summon the courage to ask for antidepressants. Her primary care physician prescribes the lowest dosage to her, “no-kill pills,” she calls them, inadequate in strength and the absence of therapy. Repeated pleadings and the positive physical and emotional change she sees in me fail to move her to further action. She and Ken eventually marry and live in upstate New York. Romantic trysts differ greatly from day-to-day existence, however, and she slaps on a layer of veneer to cover the reality of a third unhappy union.

Jill and her most beautiful loser boyfriend, Danny, often hazy with booze and bong hits, conceive, again with steep consequences. At 16, failing at school, accepting casual beatings as her due, she balks at giving up her baby. Mom wears down this resolve in her oldest daughter, a rare, sound judgment. Jill acquiesces, but refuses to forgive Mom to this day. I cherish a grainy photograph of my sister holding her petal perfect baby girl. Her breasts bound painfully to prevent milk production, she offers a weak smile and tearstained cheeks to the camera lens as my niece holds tight to Jill’s finger. She hands over her daughter to new parents moments later.

It amazes me that one can exhibit such bravery and vulnerability at the same time. Jehovah’s Witnesses knock on Jill’s door one day, as if sniffing out the most gullible person in the neighborhood. They excel at selling her promises of an Eden-like paradise after death. Stoicism and resignation of life’s hardships will be amply rewarded to those whose faith in Jehovah remains steadfast. She grabs hold of this rope, her safety blanket. In time her devotion is deemed extreme to her fellow “brothers and sisters.” Even her Witness husband, Rick, who, stunned by the growing brilliance of Jill’s mental illness, follows the pathetic tradition of her family and ignores, denies, maintains silence. She embraces death like me, only as a means to eternal life in a Technicolor nirvana.

Peggy sits still while I sob and stammer, vomiting this bilious narrative. “Why?” I ask her. “Why am I here? It makes no sense. I make no sense.” She contends that my disease points the finger at me, insisting my departure is the answer. “Your medicine does sixty percent of the work. When it gets black, you need an arsenal of weapons to fight along side it. Who and what makes you happy?”

Nothing brings me joy. Listening to my beloved music causes numbness. I don’t deserve to enjoy, to feel all that my life’s soundtrack gives me. The sun grows too bright and it proves difficult to keep my eyes open. I stop driving. Years of residing with violence, hate, indifference, resentment, and silence results in a determination to fade from friends and family, then to nothing. Neglect becomes easy when you want to die. Neglect makes no sound. For years, it attracts no attention. When it causes physical pain, you carry it with pursed lips and perfect the response, “I’m fine,” with a shadow of sincerity that passes the test.

There comes a time, however, when the damage demands to be seen. Swelling fingers and feet turn painful, hot, and red, and a slight limp emerges. Occasional inquiries from family elicit the requisite, “I’m fine,” but the veneer begins to crack from wear. Teeth and gums ache and bleed when brushed. The limp grows pronounced and painful swelling travels to ankles, knees, and wrists. Teeth change position and loosen, jangly keys of an old piano. Gums ooze pus. The inquiries stop, replaced by silent looks of concern, disgust, or pity.

My first tooth falls out in my sleep November 23, 2009. Breathless about the inevitability of it, I remain calm when it happens. I spit it into a tissue, place it on the bedside table, and go back to sleep. I hobble behind Peggy to her office on the first of December.

One Tuesday morning, about two years into my therapy, Peggy reminds me of our first session when she asked me what I wished to achieve by working with her. She reads my response: “I just want some peace. I want to be the girl I used to be.” The latter couldn’t be farther from the truth. Eleven-year-old Lisa resides in me, still. Most of the time I want her wiped from the slate, though the violence of it frightens me. My hate for her, for us, has shrunk like a tumor from treatment, but Peggy and pills fall short of eradicating the wistful, powerful allure of a final sleep. She understands death remains my security blanket, my Plan B. What a relief to share this disappointment, this drug-resistant melancholy with her. I understand stronger measures may be taken to save me in the future. I know someone who’s undergone Electroconvulsive Therapy with mixed results. He regrets losing memories, the worst side effect of ECT.

I would, too. Peggy and my pills allow me to derive the utmost pleasure in my music again. I embrace it with the enthusiasm of a teenager. I find myself singing aloud at home or in my car, even with the windows open. My smile draws people to me—at work and at school, where I feel an addictive peace. Unlike my deathly peace, this one surrounds me with sound, color, and people. Friends and strangers compliment me on my beautiful smile. It showcases a wonderful set of dentures that replace my rotted teeth. Longer feminine hair replaces the boy-short style I wore to hide any errant sexual allure. It swings as I walk, and lifts and settles when I throw my head back in spontaneous laughter. Clothes cling and show more skin than anything I wore in my twenties.

I receive a diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis in January 2011. Chronic, degenerative, and painful, I learn to adjust my life to it effects. It adds another layer of depression to the stack I struggle to keep from toppling over. Instead of keeping it to myself, I discuss it, my mental illness, and teeth with a circle of friends who listen, support, take it in stride. A few take me aside and ask for Peggy’s phone number. Whenever the black creeps in, I recall these small acts of giving.

My most powerful defense is forgiveness–of Dad, Mom, and myself. Its duration varies. It’s habit-forming, though. The more I forgive, the more I desire life, although it still battles the longer-held habit that I can’t quit completely. I remember saying final goodbyes to close friends, parents, and Jill the week before my intended death. I apologize for hurts and slights aimed at them. Some invisible barrier breaks and apologies float my way. An unexpected dewy peace falls on me like a spring shower. The call of death reaches its zenith. I call the suicide hotline, unwittingly taking part in saving myself.

The images of my parents’ darkest moments remain. Jill receives a diagnosis of Pervasive Thought Disorder. Difficult to treat with a compliant patient, I accept I may lose her to this disease someday. I write her regularly, updating her on my health issues, reminding her of warm moments between us, sharing my love of school, books I’m reading, music I enjoy, and my fear of not finding someone who will love me despite my wear and tear. Recovery releases an abundance of love to share. She remains silent.

How to forgive Dad? I think back to when I slept on a mattress on the floor of the cheery yellow spare room as a kid. Jill joins me most nights after a half-hearted attempt to sleep in her cool lavender room. In unison, we call out, “Daddy, we’re ready!” In he comes, usually holding his grandfather’s set of Peter Rabbit books. He reads to us as I admire the glossy pages and watercolor illustrations once more. We sing “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “On Top of Spaghetti,” and my favorite, “You are My Sunshine.” I devour books and music because of Dad. Mom passes down her pretty singing voice, love of writing, and remembering to always say, “thank you.” Besides Peggy and my pills, these gifts form battlements to beat back the black. Still…

I gaze often at the photograph of the lovely girl from the Thanksgiving party. Throughout the evening she walks up to people and introduces herself. She speaks with an easy confidence to professors, doctors, lawyers, and Ivy League students. She discusses the resurgence of college plagiarism and new favorite authors with an art professor, who confesses his fear of reading David Foster Wallace. She suggests, as it was suggested to her, that he begin with Wallace’s non-fiction before delving into his darker, denser fiction. She gushes about his work enough that the professor declares a renewed enthusiasm in tackling Wallace. He asks her what she’s studying in college. Writing, she says. She wants to write.


iloveseble.wordpress.com

 
 

THE GHOSTS OF THE EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT – A Relating to Humans Philosophical Issue

It’s been a while since I have shared a submission from the Relating to Humans feature and I so pleased to get things started again by sharing this hauntingly beautiful piece from our Philosophical Issues feature by Philip A Green.

As a quick update, on Wednesday evening we’ll have a much anticipated (certainly by me) Guest Post by author Manizha Sepas (bedvilledadventurer.wordpress.com) and next Friday evening I will post my review of our IABS&R Volume 3 pick HAWSER by author J Hardy Carroll (jhardycarroll.com).


THE GHOSTS OF THE EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT
by Philip A Green

I worked in an ER once with old wooden doors on the rooms. The patterns created by the grains in the wood became a Rorschach test for patients- some saw mountains, some saw animals, some saw nothing at all. But room nine, directly across from the trauma rooms, was different. Something in that door frightened patients.

It was the schizophrenics who first made me aware of it. God, they hated that room when the door was closed. I lost track of how many times the crash of that door being kicked open shook the department. The wall behind it had a fist sized hole from the handle punching into it. It finally reached the point where I had to make a rule, no psych patients in room nine.

I blew it off for years as a strange quirk until one morning, about three am, when I was interviewing a patient. In a sleep deprived stupor I sat on the stool next to the room nine bed, the gurney with the patient on it between the door and myself. The door was closed to give us some privacy. I was talking to the patient when the hair on the back of my neck began to rise.

There were faces in the door watching me. They wavered back and forth between a pattern in the wood and the Lost staring me down. I sat afraid, frozen in place, unable to understand what they could want from me. Finally, my patient on the gurney before me gave an awkward cough, and asked if I was ok.

That was a long time ago. I’ve moved on since then. Other ER’s, other towns, other stories. I never told anyone at work that I too, could see the faces. I’ve often wondered if a few of my nurses saw them as well. More than once during a trauma I’d catch a nurse staring off at the door on room nine across from us. The nurse and I would make eye contact, both waiting for the other to acknowledge the impossible. In the end, we never spoke of it, some things in the ER best being left alone.

The roughest part of what I do is getting out of bed each day, knowing an onslaught of suffering is barreling towards me. As I wake, so too are my patients. Perhaps we all drink coffee, sitting at our own breakfast table, chatting with our families about the day ahead.

I can’t help but think if only there were some clue, some way for me to warn them. Today is the day we will meet in the ER. Do not glance down at your phone on the way to work. Stay off Division Street. Wait, just one extra second, that’s all, just one second, before you step into the crosswalk in front of the school.

I imagine myself a ghost. Begging, pleading, screaming at them to stay home. Yet as a ghost, no one can hear me. My words have no meaning, my warnings no heed, my panic no justification. Nothing has happened yet. Today is starting out like every other day has started out, and those days were fine.

So instead we all get up, we go to work, and the day begins. I arrive at the ER, knowing my warnings have been unheeded. All I can do is prepare.

I walk through the department at the start of my shift. Airway equipment, check. Central lines, check. IV equipment, check. IV fluids, check. Room by room, item by item, I mentally touch and confirm each tool. As I see each item I make a quick practice run in my mind, so that when I need it I don’t have to think or feel. I can become pure action and resuscitation when need be.

Step by step I approach readiness, while somewhere, step by step, someone else approaches disaster. Like two planets whose gravitational fields pull them together, we begin on a collision course, gathering speed and momentum, neither of us yet aware of the other. I know a crash is coming but not who or what or where. My day is 10 hours of bracing for impact.

The buzzer on the radio squawks out through the department that a car has hit a pedestrian. The victim is unconscious on scene, rigs 7 and 12 are responding, and I know our planets are about to collide.

A hush falls over the ER as we listen to the call. They are on scene now, it’s bad. The victim is a child. She is critically injured. The car was speeding through a school zone. The quiet ding of a cell phone text has once again changed the course of the universe.

The medic phone rings and through the chaos and the static of the call there is only one thing I hear- the shakiness of the medic’s voice. ETA two minutes, he says, extensive facial trauma, chest trauma, maybe a collapsed lung. IV established, patient being bagged, not intubated.

My job now is to drain the department of all emotion. I become a human black hole. We cannot afford to feel. A child is dying. Feeling is for later. Now, we must focus. We must move. But we must not feel, or we will lose focus and fail.

My voice is calm, business like. As if we are getting a shipment of broken computer parts that require nothing more than reassembly in our shop. Part A will attach to Part B will attach to Part C. Nothing more.

I sound confident and ready, even to my own ears. It’s so convincing I almost believe it. Yet inside I feel it. The sheer terror. There’s no other word. The faces in the door of room nine show up in force for the show. They stare out at us, watching, observing, grading us. I try to ignore them as I prepare myself to once again bear witness to the horror of life tearing apart before me.

I take in a deep breath and push it down. Somehow I find a little space left inside to cram some more suffering. I shove one more round of fear into it, knowing at some point it’s going to break, but hopefully not today, not now.

We scramble to get the trauma room ready. There is motion everywhere. People run. Voices shout back and forth. Tubes are prepared, drugs are drawn up, machines are wheeled about through the department. Bright yellow gowns and blue gloves are handed out like bullets and helmets before a battle.

Everyone knows their role. The techs prepare the monitors and gurney. The nurses draw up meds one by one, laying the drug filled syringes out on the counter in a row, ready for whatever the enemy throws at us. Pastoral services arrive with a Bible. I stand off to the side, my head racing through protocols, doses, tube sizes, and back up plans. There is an excited buzz in the air as we prepare. Then it happens. We achieve readiness.

A silence settles over the room like a lens focusing us into existence. Nothing moves. Each of us alive and vivid and real and anxious and excited and terrified at what’s coming. The colors of the room seem brighter, my friendships with the nurses feel stronger, my mind feels sharper as I breathe air that suddenly feels cleaner. I can feel my heart in my chest, my hands, my skin, every part of me.

The medics come crashing through the door, CPR in progress, and once again motion returns. As they roll into the trauma room time slows. I focus all of my being onto the child sprawled on the stretcher before me. She is twisted and broken like a flower that has been stomped part way down into the soil. I know this battle has been lost before I even touch my stethoscope to her blood-covered chest.

The next several minutes are holy and private and terrible. And they shall remain that way forever. That is the one small power that I do have. Suffice it to say there is another face that stares out from the door in room nine, watching, waiting, perhaps remembering.

Weeks later, months later, years later, her face comes to me. I will be camping alone in the desert, as far from another human being as I can get. The door of room nine will rise in my mind, and I can feel the faces out here with me.

The desert, the stars, the heat, the desolation, the emptiness are not enough to keep them away. They follow me everywhere. That womb of stuffed down fear and horror inside me has to give birth eventually somewhere in my life.

I stare into my small campfire, the smoke twisting like ghosts rising to the night above. I wonder. Do the stars know? Does God know? Does the dirt know? What is this place, this life, this brief flash of light before we fall back into the darkness again from which we arose?

I watch the fire dance and the smoke rise for hours. The faces sit with me. I can feel it. They too wonder at it all. Finally, my fire burns out, the smoke stops, and the sun rises. In two days I have to go back to work. But now I understand.

The faces will always be with me.

Waiting. Watching. Making sure that I’m never alone when the next trauma comes.

philipallengreen.com