hope and grit…

I’ve been very fortunate to serve as a guest columnist to a local, community newspaper from time to time. It’s allowed me to share my opinions on issues near and dear, here at home and abroad. The following was my latest submission for consideration by the editor.

HOPE and GRIT

Regardless of which side we were on during the presidential election, we all have Hope in common. Clinton’s campaign hoped love would trump hate; and Trump supporters are hoping the president-elect returns them to a time when America was great for them.

It’s more difficult for some than others to get past the divisiveness of the campaign, but do so we must for the good of the country. How best to do that is the question. Perhaps it would help if we began by focusing upon what remains familiar for all of us.

Transitioning from one presidency to the next is done peacefully, assuring that we can go on about our business the day after election. Freedom of speech is still protected by the Constitution. Individually and collectively, we can continue to voice our differing opinions. Regardless of our politics, we all believe in the sanctity of life. War abroad and at home is never a given. Above all, we continue to hold strong to our abiding belief in an America where dreams can still come true for all those who come after.

Personally, in our own lives, we can look to what remains familiar and comforting…our loved ones and our communities.

During the holidays we focus attention upon the happiness of others, whether they are from within our tight-knit circle of family and friends or strangers in need of our help. Our hearts and minds are opened to putting their needs before our own. We are all part of a unified spirit of goodness as we rush around like Santa’s elves.

In doing for others, however, we often overlook our own spiritual and physical well-being. The holidays always compound our oversight, and for some folks this season is especially exasperating because they remain traumatized by the recent election. In speaking with a couple of mental health professionals last week, it may be that those still reeling in the aftermath of the political upheaval are suffering signs of PTSD. War, real or imagined, can have the same effect upon a person’s psyche. Moving beyond a traumatic event takes effort, sometimes superhuman effort. “Grit” was a word referenced in my discussion with one of the experts.

In her book, “Grit” The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth signals grit as the ingredient necessary in a person’s character which drives him or her to succeed. Duckworth determined it as the single, common denominator as to why individuals succeeded whether she encountered them as a math teacher or psychologist. In fact, she credits grit, not talent, as the reason she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, also known as the “genius grant.”

I like to think of Americans as having grit. In our struggles to persevere as a democratic people in the face of national and global adversity, we have survived and will continue to do so no matter what.

Armed with hope and grit, we remain “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

…wishing you and yours…a holiday season filled with peace and joy.

………hugmamma.1127

 

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history repeats itself…

After leaving the White House, President Johnson said: “I don’t believe you would have had any Wilkinses, Thomases, or Eatons [the murderers of Viola Liuzzo] if you didn’t have leadership that gave them that idea that they could do what they did with immunity.”

Many white Alabamans had made their peace with integration and a new kind of South, but George Wallace was not one of them. In 1970 he had won election as governor for a second time applying an overtly racist strategy an aide described privately as “promise them the moon and holler nigger.”

As Wallace campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination for a third time in 1972, he continued to deny that he was a racist. The governor blamed the press that “got folks believing now that I’m against certain people just because of who they happen to be.” Out on the campaign trail, he was on his best behavior, but sometimes things would just creep out, as when he referred to United States senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass.) as a “nigger.”

Wallace had risen to power on racial issues, and wherever he spoke on his presidential campaigns, his audiences were full of people who feared or mistrusted black people. Now in the last years of his political career, he played the race card again, but in a different way.

Thanks largely to the 1965 Voting Rights Act that Wallace had fought against, black Alabamans had won the right to vote, and the day was coming when it would be impossible for a Democrat to win an election without their support. The governor had not even wanted black Alabamans to attend his first inauguration. Yet now, when he needed them, he went to Tuscaloosa and crowned a black woman the University of Alabama homecoming queen, and he appointed black officials throughout his administration.

In 1974, Wallace won reelection as governor for the third time with 25 percent of the black vote. In his fourth and final gubernatorial campaign in 1982, he received around 35 percent of the black vote in his victory.

Wallace sent out one of his new black appointees, Delores Pickett, to campaign for him among her people. “Forgiveness is in our Christian upbringing,” she told her black audiences. “It’s something that Martin Luther King taught us.”

Black Alabamans were for the most part churchgoing people who were taught that redemption comes from forgiveness. They wanted to believe the governor had changed, and if he of all people had changed, then the world had changed.

As he sat in his wheelchair filled with pain, Wallace said he had found Jesus. But that faith never led him to face up publically to his long-held beliefs. He claimed his actions were driven by a belief in states’ rights and that he had never felt prejudice toward black people. He might have taken the lynching of Michael Donald and the conviction of the two murderers as a moment to talk about the wrongfulness of so much he had said and how words led to deeds, but he remained silent.

Despite the limitations of his public apologies, in private Wallace was beginning to grasp that he shared moral responsibility for so many reprehensible acts. One evening during his final full year in office in 1986, one of his aides, Kenneth Mullinax, was over at the governor’s mansion. Cigar smoke wafted down from an upstairs bedroom, and Mullinax went up to chat with Wallace.

“I have a lot of regrets,” Wallace said, “and I really worry about my soul.”

“But you’re born again, Governor,” Mullinax said.

“I flew all them runs over Tokyo dropping bombs, but that don’t worry me none. It’s my words. They kilt a lot of people. That’s why I’m worried I’m going to hell.”

Wallace had spoken the most provocative rhetoric. Then he had stood back and taken no responsibility for what his words led people to do. Now after all these years, he had come to an understanding of what power he truly had possessed, how profound his impact had been, and how tragic the results.

This was taken from THE LYNCHING…THE EPIC COURTROOM BATTLE THAT BROUGHT DOWN THE KLAN by Laurence Leamer

…trump…wallace, all over again.

………hugmamma.

 

my story…

I’m never without a book when I crawl under the covers at night. And it’s usually a biography of someone famous. There’ve been a few infamous folks as well. Mrs. Wallace Simpson comes to mind.

Folks living in the glare of the spotlight captivate me. I wonder if what we see or hear or read about them is real. Or is much of it fabricated for public consumption? I grew up under the spell of Ingrid Bergman and Bette Davis, Errol Flynn and Cary Grant. Theirs was a Hollywood where movie stars were celluloid creations. What we saw wasn’t always who they were off-screen.

Historical figures also interest me. I’ve read the life stories of several presidents, including FDR, Eisenhower, Kennedy, LBJ, Nixon and Obama. What propels these men to choose the extraordinary instead of the ordinary path is a lesson in advanced psychology.

The common denominator in all of these biographies is parental influence. Most often it’s the lack of, or overabundance of…parental involvement. As a young boy, Cary Grant suffered the loss of his mother when his father had her committed to an institution. Grant didn’t learn of her existence until he was well on his way to becoming a Hollywood icon. Forever after, he sought her approval which he felt he never got.

Rose Kennedy left much of the parenting duties to nannies and staff. John was a sickly child who never received the doting care and concern of his mother. As an adult, he was not overly affectionate toward her. In fact, it was his father whose approval the son desperately wanted, and whose loyalty and love meant the most to the president.

Nixon’s Quaker mother instilled in him the ambition to always do well…no matter the odds. And Sarah Roosevelt made it impossible for Eleanor to follow in her mother-in-law’s footsteps. She whose very life revolved solely around her beloved Franklin.

So what’s different between these lives…and mine? Mostly the trappings. Articles about their comings and goings are devoured by millions of adoring fans; I have a few loyal readers following hugmamma.com. They dine at 21 in NYC; I’ve been there a handful of times as the guest of one of my husband’s clients. They fly hither and yon in first class accommodations; I’ve been fortunate to ride up front a time or two. The world is their oyster; I’ve traveled enough to know contentment…sitting on my deck, watching the world go by.

More importantly the death of my father, which left my siblings and me in the care of an uneducated, impoverished 30-year-old mother, left invisible scars that no amount of time will ever erase.

When we delve beneath the surface of our lives, what we find is a commonality to our human story. No matter what we go on to make of ourselves, we are the product of how we were raised…by whom…and how they were affected by their own life stories.

The only difference between one story and another is what we each bring to it. Do we improve upon what came before? Or do we let the story play out according to script. I prefer to think we can tweak a line here and there, maybe even rewriting a chapter or two. The ending can resemble a happily-ever-after, even if it’s not the one in An Affair to Remember, or Sleepless in Seattle.

Life is not a done deal…until it’s done. There’s time…minutes, hours, days, months, years…to do some rewriting. All it takes is a bit of imagination…

…and a whole lot of guts.

………hugmamma.

 

 

stream of consciousness saturday: “store”

Store as in “put away.”  Something at which I’m an expert. I have so much stuff…mostly cherished vintage collectibles…it’s scary. While I continually vow to downsize, I find it difficult to actually do so.

Partner in crime with my talent to store things efficiently is my gift to do so beautifully. Decorating, in fact, is the culprit behind my inability to rid my life of stuff. I can stylize everything down to the minutest of details. My motto, whether I’m speaking of home décor or of life in general…”it’s all in the details”.

Storing what I own becomes synonymous then with…arranging everything into vignettes. Picturesque stories. If it weren’t for my dual capabilities of storing and displaying, I would definitely be considered……a hoarder. Big time!!! Instead, visitors to our home oohh and aahh over all they see. They comment…”Your home should be in a magazine!”…”You’re an artist!”…”You should do this professionally!”Imported Photos 00168

My head swells at such exclamations, but in my heart I know that I’m just storing things with which I’ve formed a strong bond. They represent 40+ years of my life as a wife and mother. If I rid my life of more than a few pieces at a time, I’d be excising chunks of who I am today. So I whittle away at the edges…a primitive, blue bookcase here…an old carnival game wheel there. The core remains intact…an oversized, red cupboard purchased in Pennsylvania which holds antique quilts. A large, blue immigrant’s chest found in upstate New York which holds a variety of board games. Games our family played long ago, when our daughter was a youngster.

Now 29, soon to be wed, our only child will one day inherit all that we own. Attempting to spare her the task of relinquishing all this stuff when we die, I am trying very hard to erase more and more of my physical presence while I’m still here. No easy task, but one which I must assume so that she, my precious daughter, won’t have to choose which memories of us she’ll want to…

…store in her heart.

………hugmamma.

Xmas 2010 00055
(Note: To read more SoCS creations, visit…
http://lindaghill.com/2015/12/18/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-dec-1915/

 

 

the kennedy legacy…

…includes a belief in entitlement…and wanton womanizing.

I’ve read a number of biographies about the Kennedy dynasty. The latest, RFK Jr. – Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and the Dark Side of the Dream by Jerry Oppenheimer, is by far the most disturbing. The fact that he probably continues to live a life driven by the demons which have haunted many family members following in the footsteps of patriarch Joseph Kennedy, is downright scary.  Scary for those driven mad when they get tangled up with the Kennedys. A family living on the edge…pushing the envelope. I would even go so far as to say, Princess Diana’s embattled years with England’s royal family pale by comparison.

The Kennedy women, beginning with its matriarch Rose, turned a blind eye to the philandering of their men. Her husband, Joseph, carried on with Hollywood legend Gloria Swanson. President Kennedy followed suit by bedding tinsel town’s blonde bombshell, Marilyn Monroe, among many others. When he was done with her, he handed her off to brother Robert. Until he married his last wife, Vicky, Ted Kennedy was an infamous philanderer as well. Brother-in-law, actor Peter Lawford likewise cheated on Kennedy daughter Pat. Maria Shriver famously suffered the same fate when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was found to have fathered a child with their live-in housekeeper.

Whatever the reason…religion for Rose…wealth for Jackie…obsession for Ethel…naivete for Joan…family first for Pat and Maria…all these women enabled their husbands by their quiet subservience to the status quo. That they loved their husbands was beside the point. Their gilded trappings belied their comparable situation to ghetto women suffering the same fate at the hands of abusive husbands. The only difference is that the Kennedy women had the means to escape the trauma of their everyday lives.

Turning a blind eye to their husbands’ indiscretions fed these men’s sense of entitlement. With wealth and a wife to keep the home fires burning, they could confidently set about vanquishing the world beyond…especially women mesmerized by the Kennedy charisma.

What none of these couples seemed to consider was the serious effect their transgressions would have on their offspring.

For some philandering was like a right of passage.

Michael, the 6th child born to Robert and Ethel, carried on a 5-year relationship with babysitter, Marissa Verrochi…in front of his children. According to biographer Oppenheimer…

 

Michael Kennedy’s trip to rehab had followed within hours the shocking discovery by Vicki Gifford Kennedy of her husband in bed with Marisa Verrochi in one of the Kennedys’ spare bedrooms at their home.

Kennedy had blamed his drinking for his illicit affair with the teenage babysitter and family friend, and his wife believed him for the time being. …

Around that time, Michael Kennedy was caught stalker-like on a security camera breaking into the garage where the teenager kept her car. He left behind a bizarre offering–an “artificial penis” that he had attached to the windshield. …

Kennedy subsequently did a stint in an Arizona rehab center for his sex addiction, and he followed one of the rules set down for him: identify in writing the names of all of the women with whom he had had sexual trysts. (A few years later, Bobby, in a diary, would do something similar.)

When the sordid details of Michael Kennedy’s philandering were revealed, Vicki Gifford Kennedy–shocked by the number of women with whom he obsessively had had sex, some of whom she knew–took their children in the spring of 1997 and left him after sixteen years of a troubled marriage. …

Having turned eighteen and become a college freshman, Marisa finally decided to confess all to her parents. Her mother was so devastated that the next day she climbed to the roof of the trendy six-story Boston building where she and her husband had a chic apartment and threatened to jump. According to reports, a spokesman for the family denied that suicide was the motive.

Bobby Kennedy, Jr.’s history of womanizing rivals that of the elder Kennedy men.

With his diary entries, Bobby became the first Kennedy male known to have documented his philandering in writing, albeit in a private journal. His reputed womanizing forebears–the patriarch, Joe; his uncles JFK and Ted; and Bobby’s own father–had never done so.

Reading published portions of the diary, one might wonder whether Bobby inherited his uncle Jack’s affliction. As the president told power broker Bobby Baker, “You know, I get a migraine if I don’t get a strange piece of ass every day,” according to Seymour Hersh’s The Dark Side of Camelot.

The almost four-hundred-page diary had a legend. The number “10” represented women with whom he had had intercourse. Sixteen had fallen into that category. In one day alone, less than two weeks before he and his family celebrated Thanksgiving 2001, he documented that he had had three separate sexual encounters. That same month one woman’s name–only first names were written–was noted in the diary twenty-two times, and on thirteen consecutive days, the Post reported. …

In early November 2001–two months after 9/11–he wrote that he felt “great,” and went on to note, “So I’ve been looking for ways to screw it up. I’m like Adam and live on Eden, and I can have everything but the fruit. But the fruit is all I want.”

At another point, he boasted: “I have been given everything that I coveted–a beautiful wife and kids and loving family, wealth, education, good health and a job I love yet always on the lookout for something I can’t have. I want it all. No matter how much I have–I want more.”

Sadly, confronted by the reality of her husband’s womanizing,and his desire to end their marriage for another woman, Mary Richardson, his second wife, committed suicide on May 16, 2012. She was obviously not prepared to be left behind, even though Bobby had gotten her pregnant when he was still married to his first wife, Emily Black, whom he had also left to marry again.

One of the big shockers for Mary, a confidante maintained, was when she learned that Bobby was having an affair with the TV actress Cheryl Hines, who would become his third wife. It was a shocker because Mary claimed she had introduced Hines to Bobby at a charity event, although Bobby and Hines asserted that their friend the comedian Larry David had brought about the introduction. Still, Mary felt “very betrayed” by what she termed the “Sisterhood,” said a confidante. “The Sisterhood was very important to her–women sticking together, women supporting one another.”

Hines already was publicly boasting about her relationship with Bobby, which infuriated and humiliated Mary. Online, she saw that Hines had tweeted that she had become friends with one of Mary’s pals, the actress Glenn Close, and had bonded with Kerry Kennedy. [Bobby’s sister] She boasted on Twitter that she had become pals with Bobby’s then-eleven-year-old son, Aiden, talking football with him.

In the wake of Hines’s controversial and embarrassing tweets, an Internet commenter observed, “Was Hines so self-absorbed that she did not think her giddy and public celebration would have no effect on the woman left behind?

According to the N.Y. Post online article “43 Suspected Mistresses Found in RFK Jr.’s Phone,” dated 7/13/14,

Kennedy’s name was dragged into another divorce battle last month when he was alleged to be the “other man” in Kirwan’s divorce from plastic surgeon Laurence Kirwan.

Laurence Kirwan believed his 42-year-old wife was having an affair with Kennedy, whom she met at a Westchester gym, a confidant of the surgeon told The Post. The couple separated in July 2012, but Laurence Kirwan believed the relationship began several months earlier, while Richardson was still alive, the friend said.

Cellphone records showed Chelsea Kirwan and Kennedy spoke five times a day in the summer of 2012, according to the friend, who said Kennedy, 60, could be called as a witness in the divorce case.

Chelsea Kirwan is supposed to testify on July 22 in a Stamford, Conn., court hearing.

Her name and number were copied off Kennedy’s Sprint Samsung phone by Richardson.

When contacted by The Post, the mother of four asked to know where her name fell on the list and whether there was any notation beside it.

According to the Daily Mail’s online article “EXCLUSIVE: The wedding is still on: RFK Jr WILL marry Cheryl Hines despite affair allegations with surgeon’s wife.”

And so, it seems, Hines was willing to turn a blind eye to her fiance’s philandering…

…continuing in the kennedy family tradition.

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

 

be kind to your spouse…

…or you might wind up drowning in the ocean…like Natalie Wood.

The trick to enjoying celebrity and wealth is not allowing either to take on a life of its own. Unfortunately, too many in Hollywood lose their real identities to the ones portrayed on the screen, whether it’s in the movies or on television. Once he or she is bitten by fame, there’s an overwhelming desire to keep it going…at any cost.

Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour by Marti Rulli with former Splendour Captain Dennis Davern, reads like a thriller-soon-to-be made into a movie. Why it never made it that far is a puzzle all by itself. Probably because celebrity and wealth bought everyone’s silence…most of all…Hollywood’s.

After all, Robert Wagner was one of Hollywood’s own.

Too many lives, big and small, would have been affected…negatively. The tentacles of celebrity and wealth are far-reaching as was evident in the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of Natalie Wood.

True. Natalie Wood was one of Hollywood’s sweethearts, ever since she charmed her way into our homes and hearts as the beguiling Suzy Walker in Miracle on 34th Street, an iconic favorite at Christmastime. However once Natalie Wood was found dead, there was no bringing her back. So why destroy another Hollywood star in a sordid investigation that would leave the public wondering about Tinsel Town’s morals. There was no fool-proof evidence of Wagner’s involvement in his wife’s death, so why have audiences turn away from the golden goose that was Hollywood for all who made a living within its protective confines.

What about those charged with investigating the death of Natalie Wood? Good question.

Remember Marilyn Monroe? O.J. Simpson? Robert Blake? Michael Jackson?   What they all had in common was celebrity and wealth…in varying degrees. Nonetheless, it seems anytime someone famous is involved…the rules go…bye-bye.

Everyone involved in solving the case is entangled in the celebrity and wealth surrounding the high profile personality. Whether it’s that they are overwhelmed and intimidated by the fame, or they want some of it to rub off on them.

Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour makes a compelling case against Robert Wagner as the person responsible for the death of Natalie Wood. 

The only person alive–Robert John Wagner–who undoubtedly knows how Natalie Wood got into the water, will obviously never talk about it, so exactly how Natalie got into the water may never be known, but what is known is that Wagner was with her when the “mystery” was born. What is known is that Wagner argued terribly with his wife. He was raging mad and acted upon the rage by taking a marital fight out to an open deck on his yacht. His wife was in her nightgown, arguing with him. Minutes later, she was in the water–wearing her coat–and crying to be saved.

The “mystery” of Natalie’s death would not have been too difficult to solve, certainly not for a police department and a medical examiner’s staff, had they pursued every angle of the case together. Many novices have no trouble solving it through the use of common sense. It seems the public is all that Natalie has left.

Wagner has never addressed his drastic delay in searching for Natalie. No one asks him for details. His fans defend that waiting for hours is logical, even though the number one rule in boating is to call for immediate help when someone is missing. Dennis Davern knows the proper procedures to follow when someone is missing from a boat. Wagner’s refusal to allow Davern to search for Natalie indicates that he did not want his wife to be helped: perhaps not ever to be found. Natalie’s jacket kept her afloat, helping her to be found shortly after a proper search.

Wagner then still balked on calling for professional help when harbormaster Doug Oudin pleaded with Wagner after three o’clock in the morning to allow him to call the Coast Guard. The harbormaster waited for Wagner’s approval.

Avalon Sheriff Kroll saw the inside of Splendour–the broken glass, the master stateroom in disarray–and ignored it.

While Baywatch divers hunted for Natalie beneath Splendour, diver Roger Smith said he was angry that professional help had not been called for sooner. Smith had asked Bombard not to touch Natalie’s body. “Homicide might be involved,” Smith had said. Smith obviously suspected something sinister.

Everyone’s peculiar deference to Wagner carried on throughout the morning, as each and every official in contact with Wagner after Natalie’s bruised dead body was found felt the loss of this remarkable woman and thus related to the pain they believed Wagner endured. Everyone allowed the man with the “most pain” to direct the aftermath of his wife’s death. Wagner’s grief was apparent to Duane Rasure, and although Wagner had primed Davern on what to tell authorities and on what not to offer, Rasure had been so overwhelmed with Wagner’s suffering that he let it slide when Davern reacted to Rasure with nervousness, offense, and outright lies. Rasure got mad at the “lanky, drunk guy from New Jersey” instead–and has stayed mad at him.

Wagner wanted off the island. A private helicopter was summoned. Wagner did not want to be interviewed by Rasure. Rasure let him go home. Legal assistance was ready and waiting for Wagner and Davern at Wagner’s front door. It’s what money can buy. All of the right people made the wrong decision to allow Robert Wagner to direct a crime scene.

Celebrity privilege was indeed alive and thriving on the morning of November 29, 1981, at the Isthmus of Catalina Island aboard the moored boat, Splendour. Celebrity “get out of jail free cards” may as well have been issued. Years later, when Davern told the truth, he was threatened with criminal charges and jail time if he changed the story that the attorney provided by Wagner had prepared for Dennis in 1981. Years later, that same attorney cooperated with Davern’s choice to speak with a writer from Vanity Fair.

What’s bizarre is that Robert Wagner told Davern to accompany the authorities and identify Natalie Wood’s body.

Dennis, unable to bring his eyes to focus on her, choked out, “It’s her.”

“You’ll have to look at her, Mr. Davern,” he was told. …

Dennis trembled as he forced himself to move his eyes from Natalie’s torso to her face. Her arms were exposed, and he saw the bruises. The fronts of her legs also showed bruises, far too many. Dennis wondered why her nightgown had not been pulled down to cover her exposed legs. He caught his breath when he saw that her eyes were still open. Her face appeared swollen, but not deformed, a bit greenish white in color, and her mouth had gone limp. She looks at peace, though, he tried to convince himself.

He dropped his eyes and whispered, “Yes, It’s Natalie Wood.”

Someone took hold of Dennis’s elbow to lead him away, but he pulled back and looked again at Natalie. He scanned his eyes across her body and concentrated on her legs and arms, noticing even more bruises. He started to count. One, two, four, seven…ten…he had seen enough, but there were more, including a scrape on her left cheek.

Neither the author, Marti Rulli, or I for that matter, is claiming that Robert Wagner did not love Natalie Wood. Far from it, the man was possessive of his wife and his jealousy got the better of him.

After years passed, it became easier to convince himself that his anger and actions were justified. And to write the autobiography he presents in 2008 shows that he thinks he is utterly immune to doubt and suspicion. He had wanted to stop books and movies and other people from telling about their lives. He had asked people in show business to stay away from people he disliked. He wants the laws changed so that no one can reveal his true colors after his demise. He thinks he has gotten away with his part in Natalie’s death. And he indeed had a big part in it. He smashed a wine bottle, screamed profanities and fought a deadly argument with Natalie after she had gone to their stateroom to go to bed. She would have awakened the next morning if only her husband had left her alone. He took the fight to the back deck, and minutes later, Natalie was no longer on board. …

Actor Christopher Walken, the only guest aboard, was the person to whom Robert Wagner directed his rage after smashing the wine bottle across the table…”Do you want to fuck my wife, is that what you want?”

Since Natalie’s death, Wagner has been sheltered by his insider network of secrecy and privilege for so long he appears to believe in the image he has created for himself. He has never had to bear the brunt of a direct, in-your-face accusation or questioning. His media buddies and selected interviewers tiptoe around him as if a twenty-seven-year-old death can still shatter him. Interviewers start their questions with their sympathetic eyes and condolences even decades later, as if Wagner is still the victim of love lost and innuendo. Wagner interviewers rarely express sympathy for Natalie’s experience. It is Wagner they have coddled, while Natalie is the truest victim.

The saddest thing about the entire affair is that Natalie Wood’s worst nightmare…dying in dark water…could have been averted.

Marilyn Wayne and her fiance, businessman John Payne, anchored in a sailboat within earshot of the Splendour, had heard someone calling out for help.

…they were sleeping in their stateroom aboard John’s forty-two-foot sailboat, the Capricorn, which was equipped with a silent generator. John always slept with an open window in his cabin, and this night, despite the rain, was no exception. A distant voice, crying for help, awakened him. John sat up to listen intently. “Help me, someone please help me,” he heard again. He awakened Marilyn and asked her to listen. Alarmed, Marilyn called out to her young son, Anthony, who also heard the cries. He wore a digital watch, and Marilyn asked him for the time. It was just minutes after eleven o’clock.

The cries for help continued. John went to the control panel and switched on their beam light. Marilyn went on deck to look toward the sound, but it was dark and damp, and she could not see anything. Marilyn had a bead on the plaintive cry for help, though, and thought if she swam just about forty feet, she might be able to help. Marilyn, an avid and strong swimmer, told John she wanted to jump into the water and swim toward the cries, but John convinced her it could be too dangerous. “You have Anthony to think of. Whoever’s out there could pull you under too.” He persuaded her to stay on board. They called the harbor patrol but no one answered. They called the sheriff’s office in Avalon, twelve miles away, and the person who answered told them a helicopter would be sent. They heard loud music, too, so they thought there was a party on a nearby boat.

Then they heard a man’s voice, slurred, and in an aggravated tone, say something to the effect of “Oh, hold on, we’re coming to get you.” Marilyn was not sure of the exact words used, but there was no mistaking that it was a man’s voice, and he sounded miserable.

But the woman’s cries continued: “Someone please help me, I’m drowning, please help me.” The voice did not seem to be moving further away. It was clear and concise.

For fifteen minutes, John and Marilyn felt helpless as they waited for a helicopter that never arrived. Their dinghy had already been deflated for the night and would take more than a half hour to prepare, so they were at a loss to help. After a fifteen to twenty minute wait, the cries for help ended. A few minutes later, the music ended too. There was utter silence–a haunting kind of silence. Terribly disturbed, John and Marilyn could only hope that the pleas had stopped because of a rescue. They went back to their stateroom for a terribly restless sleep.

The following morning the couple learned that Natalie Wood had drowned. “…they felt sickened by the news and had no doubt that it had been Natalie crying for help.”

Marilyn Wayne had believed the death was an accident and for a time felt sorry for Robert Wagner. However when neither she nor John were interviewed by the police even though they claimed to have talked with the couple, and when someone from the L.A. Times called to interview her, Marilyn became involved. She went so far as to call L.A. County Coroner Thomas Noguchi to “correct him on his ‘timeline,’ which she knew was off.” Although the authorities knew of Marilyn’s account, they chose to dismiss her. In fact “Detective Rasure was reported to have said that Marilyn Wayne was just someone who wanted her name in the papers–to be connected to a celebrity’s legend. Marilyn, like Dennis, had been bombarded with requests for interviews, but she never talked to anyone again” until contacted by another author who was writing a book about Natalie Wood.

Obviously someone didn’t want Marilyn Wayne to talk about what she knew.

“Three days after Natalie died, Marilyn found a scribbled message on a torn piece of paper…that read, ‘If you value your life, keep quiet about what you know.’ She immediately knew it was related to Natalie Wood’s death because that’s all anyone had been talking about. She suddenly became pretty vocal about letting everyone know she believed Natalie’s death to be accidental.

Marilyn Wayne was afraid.

When threats continued, she contacted her attorney to let him know about it and went so far as to make provisions in the event something might happen to her. John Payne did not experience any of that same kind of trouble, but John was a highly respected businessman, far wealthier than Robert Wagner. No one would bother John because of his status. Marilyn suspected she was targeted because she was the more vulnerable of the two. 

In the end…

Because of the condition of Natalie’s lungs, indicating she had by legal definition drowned, and because the coroner decided the drowning must have been “accidental,” the cause of her entry into the water was neglected. There was no way to know if her death was accidental, and in view of all her bruises, “undetermined” was the only logical choice.

But we had a chief coroner being chased by celebrity.

…fame and wealth…is it worth it?

………hugmamma.

Natalie Wood, c. 1970.

errol flynn…an enigma

Remember him?  Errol Flynn…that swashbuckling, acting hunk who portrayed…Robin Hood…among many other memorable characters? 

I was absolutely delighted when I came across Flynn’s autobiography in a small, mom-and-pop type bookshop. It was sandwiched between a couple of other shops along the main road in a rural town where I often peruse for antiques, collectibles, and other vintage treasures.

Talk about unearthing a treasure!  

Errol Flynn – My Wicked, Wicked Ways – The Million Copy Bestseller – His Side of The Story in His Own Words has been more than I expected. Although the racy title was enticing, I was far more interested in learning about the man behind the gorgeous facade. What was he all about? What did he think of the actors with whom he worked? Did he and Olivia de Havilland, a leading lady with whom he’d starred in several films, have a yen for one another off-camera? Was he an alcoholic and a pedophile, as had been alleged and widely publicized while at the peak of his career?

In reading celebrity biographies I’m always curious to learn if, in fact, they lead such totally different lives from those of us whose lives hover below, if not completely off, the radar. Are they really all that special when not appearing as hot commodities on the big screen?

While a quick read on the surface, Flynn’s story was substantive enough to slow me down. He is definitely NOT the same man he portrays in all those super-macho roles. If what he writes is true, Errol Flynn was a man given to satisfying any and all curiosities regardless of the risk or devastating results. Sex and alcohol were his undoing, physically and financially. In the end, they were probably the cause of his departure from this world. Along the way, bouts of depression nearly did him in prematurely. It seemed he had a pact with death which he tried to cash in a couple of times, unsuccessfully. He got his wish at age 50, when he died of a heart attack.

In his journal entry dated 10/14/55, Flynn wrote of life as a contradiction.

I know I am contradiction inside contradiction. … I can love women and hate them and this may seem a contradiction. … You can love every instant of living and still want to be dead. I know this feeling often. …I might be quite famous, but not feel famous, only feel sometimes like a heel. I can be worth a million or two million and feel like a bum and be a bum and live like a bum. … I know that there are two men inside me. One wants to ramble and has rambled around the globe more than once, in the sky and below water. The other man is a settled fellow, who thinks sometimes he is or should be a husband-man, and that he should sit settled in a house by the side of the road or by the side of the sea. Both are inside of me. Each is true. … No, contradiction has a place in human nature, in social values, just as it has in mathematics. Contradiction is neither true nor false. It is.

As if he were a tragic figure soliloquizing in a Shakespearean play, Flynn lists his many contradictions.

If they say I am inconsistent let them say it, for it is true, because inconsistency is a part of living nature.
I am the epitome of the twentieth-century cosmopolitanism, but I should have been born an explorer in the time of Magellan.
I am sour on women but cannot do without them and I need them incessantly so as to feed my sourness.
I could have killed Bruce Cabot but I can forgive him.
I am bitter about what Lili Damita did to me, but I also laugh about it.
I crave the indulgence of my senses but this is countered by an interior desire that is even keener than my senses to know the meaning of things.
I want to be taken seriously. I feel that I am inwardly serious, thoughtful, even tormented, but in practice I yield to the fatuous, the nonsensical. I allow myself to be understood abroad as a colourful fragment in a drab world.
I have a zest for living, yet twice an urge to die.
I have a genius for living, but I turn many things into crap.
I am dangerous to be with because, since I live dangerously, others are subject to the danger that I expose myself to. They, more likely than I, will get hurt.
I will do a great deal for a buck; then when I get it I will throw it away, or let it be taken from me.
I am very tough, but also I am a patsy.
The pursuit of gold, pleasure and danger motivate most of my springs.
I am alternately very kind, very cruel.
I love art, but finance may be my forte.
I want faith, and I am faithless.
I look for causes, and they wind up with me a romp.
I love and hate myself.
I want to be loved but I may myself be incapable of really loving.
I hate the legend of myself as phallic representation, yet I work at it to keep it alive.
I despise mediocrity above all things. I fear it, yet I know some of my performances have been mediocre.
I generally deny that I was ever a good actor, but I know I have turned in a half-dozen good performances.
I call myself a bum, but I have been working hard most of the days of my adult life.
I portray myself as wicked, hoping I will not be regarded as wicked. But I may really be wicked in the Biblical sense.
Women do not let me stay single. I do not let myself stay married.
Cheers for Mama. Damn her too.
Give me the artistic life, except when I’m producing, directing, organising, banking, playing the stock market and in other ways being a businessman.
I hate the law and spend too much time with lawyers.
I have been called the eternal Sophomore, the perennial youth. I can do nothing to alter this. I am hung with it. The stamp is upon me. It is too late for me to become a scientist, saint or messiah. If I symbolise anything it is that I am the eternal sempervive.
I laugh a lot, and I weep secretly more often than most men.

I have requested all my life for truths and I wallow in bromides. The bromides themselves wallow in truth.
I live polygamously, but but I am fascinated by people who appear to live happily monogamously.
I am on the side of the underdog, except when I am on the side of the rich.
In me, contradiction itself, as a principle, finds its own raison d’ etre. I am convinced of the validity of contradiction. There are many worlds. Each is true, at its time, in its own fashion.

Parental relationships always interest me when I read about others’ lives. Oftentimes these relationships drive individuals to do what they do, for better or worse. In Flynn’s case, the physical absence of both parents since his teen years left the would-be actor to create a life for himself. And so he did.

All my life I have tried to find my mother, and I have never found her. My father has not been Theodore Flynn, exactly, but a will-o’-the-wisp just beyond, whom I have chased and hunted to see him smile upon me, and I shall never find my true father, for the father I wanted to find was what I might become, but this shall never be, because inside of me there is a young man of New Guinea, who had other things in mind for himself besides achieving phallic symbolism in human form.

I am living with this brand–even relatively happily–but I wish it hadn’t happened. I do not know whether I have conveyed it–or tried not to convey it–but I have been cut by my own sword, so deeply that I am ready for whatever befalls. Flynn is not always In. Sometimes he is far, far out–at the bottom of the chasm, at the bottom of the cleft.

It saddens me to think that Errol Flynn might have been so much more than…

…just another pretty face.  

………hugmamma.

NOTE: Photo courtesy of wikipedia.

 

 

 

nurturing thursdays: we are the result…

…of our upbringing. “That’s the unvarnished truth,” as some literary folk might say. Plain…yet not so simple.

Biographies, for me, are a treasure trove of personal information. It’s like mining for gold that I’m never prepared to find. I always know I’ll glean greater understanding of the human spirit, but I’m like a child opening that unexpected gift on Christmas morning when I find buried among the pages of someone else’s life a particular truth that resonates within myself.

One weekend morning as I sat at my mom’s feet clipping her toenails, a ritual begun at her behest, she casually informed me that I had been unwanted…a mistake. I was probably 9 or 10 at the time. I’m pretty sure my reaction was mild, more one of curiosity than anything else. She told me she didn’t want a ninth child so she did what she could to abort me naturally. Naively, she thought spending hours in the ocean would somehow rid her of my fetus. And perhaps more on the mark, she’d down lots of soy sauce in the hopes I wouldn’t survive.

As you can see, I’m still alive. However, the seed of self doubt was probably planted within my psyche that sunny day, long ago.

Parenting is like a magic trick. If done right, we are applauded for our skill at making something so difficult look…so easy. If we go awry, eyebrows are raised, tongues click and refrains of “she’s a bad parent” are doled out mercilessly.

Because of my own childhood experience, I’m particularly sensitive to the influence of parents upon those whose biographies I read. And as you might guess, not one of them leaves home without taking some of their parents’ baggage along with them.

Gary Cooper, whose biography I’m currently reading, was forever devoted to his mother. Trying to please her and keep her happy meant juggling her high opinion of him, while being romantically involved with scores of women his entire life. Of the dozens who met mama, only one or two scored a home run. Unfortunately, they didn’t last long with a man who was enamored of all women, and felt sexually empowered to bed the lot of them.

Mary Astor, never one of my favorites, was a particularly interesting read. Her immigrant, German father, a stage parent if there ever was one, railroaded her acting career from its inception. Her beauty and fledgling talent inspired him to quit his job and move with his wife and daughter, first to Chicago and then to New York, in search of his dream to be rich. Eventually he struck gold in Hollywood where he set up house entirely at his daughter’s expense, both economically and emotionally. She became an alcoholic, fell in and out of abusive relationships, weathered financial ruin, and hit “rock bottom” many times. Discovering God later in life helped Astor out of the hell that had been her life until then.

John Kennedy could have been so much more, in my estimation, had his parents been less self-absorbed. Joseph Kennedy, Sr. was a man driven to overcome his humble beginnings. His natural savvy for besting the next man would bring him wealth, and with that, power in high places. He bought the presidency for his son, and the perfect wife to be First Lady. What the senior Kennedy could never fully render however, was the approval his presidential son had sought ever since he was born into the shadow of older brother, Joseph Kennedy, Jr. What was meant for him only fell to JFK upon his brother’s death.

And what of Kennedy’s mother, Rose? Not allowed to divorce her husband, notorious for his philandering, she complied with the mandates of her mayoral father and her Catholic faith by devoting herself to God, while neglecting the emotional needs of her many offspring. She had a small cottage built towards the back of the main house on the family’s Hyannisport compound. There, the mother would often retreat to find comfort in God. It was also a common practice of both parents to be away from their children, each one going his and her separate way to find pleasure. Rose shopped abroad; Joe Sr. caroused with Hollywood starlets, most famously with Gloria Swanson. She was even amazed at his wife’s tolerance when he invited Swanson along on a European vacation cruise.

It was Richard Nixon’s Quaker mother who instilled in her son the ambition to excel…always. And as history can attest, he never, ever lost that desire to drive the political conversation…much to the chagrin of his wife, Pat. Resigning the presidency before his second term even got underway was a hard lesson learned. Nixon’s resiliency, however, brought him a modicum of success in his comeback as an elder statesman on the world stage.

 I could go on, but you get my drift.

What I continue to learn through these biographies is that parents were children once who thrived, and suffered, at the hands of their parents. We’re really no different from any other species in that we’re all just trying to survive in an alien world. We use whatever resources are available to eke out a life for ourselves as best we can. For humans, those resources include psychogenic ones instilled through the generations. Parents beget children who become…parents who beget children…and so on…and so on. 

So where does the blame lie when children lead miserable lives? Nowhere really. It’s so easy to point a finger, but it’s just as fitting to turn that finger toward oneself.

We don’t have to continue on within the confines of the lives in which we were swaddled since birth. We can change out our “soiled linens” for fresh ones that have been aired out in the sunshine and smells of the scent of a new day. It’s up to us to make up a new bed…

…in which we can rest peacefully…and happily.

………hugmamma.

calling out the posse…iraq

Having already made my way through several presidential biographies, I’ve decided to keep on the path of learning who the real man is behind the facade. So I picked up a book I’d purchased a while ago at Half-Price Books…The Family, The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty…by Kitty Kelley. 

I was never a fan of the president, or the author, for that matter. That’s why the delay in reading the book. I’d bought it thinking “Why not? I’ll get around to it one of these days, when I’ve nothing else to read.”

Since I was on a presidential roll, it was Bush’s turn. Knowing Kelley’s tendency for sensational reporting, having read Oprah: A Biography, I should’ve been prepared for her book. Well shame on me, I wasn’t.

It’s not to say Kitty Kelley doesn’t report facts. She does. It’s her explosive style of telling a story that has me on the edge of my seat. The lady is not averse to confrontation. Far from it. She welcomes the challenge.

According to USA Today

The Bush Administration and the Republican Party launched a vigorous campaign to discredit Kelley as a Democratic partisan and discourage coverage of her 733-page book….Kelley pointed out that she has never lost a lawsuit and ‘never, ever had to retract a story.’ “

…and the Houston Chronicle adds…

Doing what {Kelley} does is like poking a stick into a hornet’s nest. The holder of the stick gets a nasty reaction from the disturbed occupants….The resulting book, however, is a good read.

Describing Kelley as a woman “with balls,” is putting it mildly. She’s more like a bulldog on a mission. Point in case? Her tell-all on the Bush family was written while George W. was the sitting president.

 With every book I’ve written, I’ve encountered a certain amount of hesitancy on the part of potential sources, because they are understandably reluctant to talk about powerful people, either for fear of retribution or for fear of being socially ostracized. The amount of trepidation I encountered in writing this book was unprecednted, but perhaps that’s what comes from writing about a sitting President whose family has a long reach. Many sources were reluctant to tell their stories on the record, and much as I dislike using unnamed sources, in some cases I had no choice. Many people who know the Bushes–friends, former employees, classmates, business associates, and even a few family members–were skittish about speaking for {fear of retribution.} I heard an endless stream of excuses and apologies, some comical, others disconcerting: “You don’t know that family…If they think I’ve talked to you, they’ll never speak to me again.” “This town is too small to rile the Bushes.” “I want to live to see my grandchildren.” One man said, “You can’t use my name. They’ll come after me. The Bushes are thugs.”

“Thugs? Surely, you’re kidding,” I said.

“Look what they did in Florida during the 2000 recount,”  he answered, and then detailed the “Brooks Brothers Riot” of Republican activists who helped stop the voting in Miami by storming the canvassing board. To prove his point, the man sent records showing that many of the rioters in pin-striped suits had been paid by the Bush recount committee.

With stability in Iraq hanging in the balance, George W.’s war against Iraq is once again called into question. 

Call me politically naive, but I’ve always thought the presidential son had a personal vendetta against Saddam Hossein for the assassination attempt against the presidential father. An article from the History News Network dated 3/6/07, “How Do We Know That Iraq Tried To Assassinate President George H. W. Bush?” lends credence to my claim.

On June 2, 1993, representatives of the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and others in the Department of Justice (DOJ) discussed the results of their investigations with representatives of the Clinton Administration. Three weeks later, the DOJ and CIA reported their conclusions. The DOJ and CIA reported that it was highly likely that the Iraqi Government originated the plot and more than likely that Bush was the target. Additionally, based on past Iraqi methods and other sources of intelligence, the CIA independently reported that there was a strong case that Saddam Hussein directed the plot against Bush. – See more at: http://hnn.us/article/1000#sthash.1KMHbZkx.dpuf

So in true Wild West style, George W. gathered up his posse and went after the bad guys. “Shoot ’em up, cowboys! Bang! Bang!” Too bad a lot of innocent people, Iraquis and Americans alike, got caught up in the bloodshed. Not to mention the trillions spent in the process…hard-earned taxpayer dollars. 

Minutes ago I visited another blogger’s site since she’d been by to view mine. From what I can surmise, she resides in the Middle East. It may even be that she’s an Iraqui. Reading her post, “Who Destroyed the Cradle of Civilization,”  it’s obvious she’s not speaking tripe. 

Saddam Hussein might have been the craziest of leaders but the man knew the geopolitics of Iraq. He was the impetus behind turning Iraq from a mere Arab nation to the most advanced Arab country in history. Iraq was always better than its neighbours. Healthcare facilities were excellent. Education was imparted right from the primary level up to the university, completely free of charge. Iraq was a nation where more human rights were granted to its citizens than any other Arab nation, especially in the areas of religion and liberation of women. The New York Times had thus, once called Baghdad “The Paris of the Middle East. Toppling Saddam Hussein was the biggest misstep US committed and now Iraq has to face people, I call pre-historic barbarians . I’d never thought a day would come when I’d have to support a man like Saddam Hussein over President Bush. Sometimes, I feel that the biggest Weapon of Mass Destruction in Iraq was Mr. President himself.

The day Saddam was caught President Bush had said, ” the world will be better off without you, Mr. Hussein.” Today Iraq has gone worse, and so has the world.

( http://akritimattu.wordpress.com/2014/06/19/who-destroyed-the-cradle-of-civilization/ )

I’ve always wondered why it is that some Americans insist other countries adopt our ways…lock, stock, and barrel?

Democracy, as we know it, works for us because it is founded upon Christian principles…because our ancestors were determined to free themselves from oppressive rulers…and because we’ve had centuries to make democracy our own.

How do Middle Eastern countries founded upon Islam adapt their values and cultures to Western ways? Not easily, that’s for sure. Should it be our battle? Or should it be that the people of the region figure it out with as little outside interference as possible?

A complex question with an impossible answer it seems. But it surely didn’t help…

to have a cowboy mentality in the White House. 

………hugmamma.

camelot revisited…

I’ve just concluded Jack and Jackie…Portrait of an American Marriage by Christopher Andersen. Published in 1996, it’s a biographical reflection of an iconic couple.

Why the love affair with individuals born into affluence and power, so far removed from those of us relegated to society’s lower stratosphere? Perhaps it’s through the celebrated we’re able to live out our fantasies, without having to deal with the inevitable pitfalls that accompany fame.

This particular biography, unlike others I’ve read about the Kennedys, puts a lot of meat on the bones of what others might have portrayed as mannequins in display windows.

The author’s concluding words summarize his adoit handling of two lives intricately intertwined. He gives us insight into a man and a woman, not unlike you or me. Only circumstances of birth and the resulting evolution of events, catapulted them into the spotlight.

Did Jack ever love Jackie? Patrick’s tragic death only a few months before the assassination was a pivotal event in the lives of the Kennedys, one that redefined the nature of their relationship. For the first time, Jack was able to reach out to his wife in ways he never could before. Did Jackie love Jack? There is no evidence that she ever stopped loving him.

Now that both Jack and Jackie are gone, perhaps the hysteria that enveloped them in life will be replaced with reason and understanding. Conceivably, we will be able to strip away the layers of hype and mystique to reveal the often vulnerable, tentative human beings underneath.

He was unquestionably a brilliant man whose vision of a better world continues to inspire millions. By virtue of her beauty, grace, and dignity, she is no less admired here and abroad. But to canonize them does us no less a disservice than to demonize them. For all their Olympian traits, Jack and Jackie argued over money, clothes, furniture, and in-laws. They grappled with infidelity, disease, and drug dependence. They fretted about infertility and childbearing, and both worried about and delighted in the children they had. They shared the death of one parent, the debilitating stroke of another, a miscarriage, a stillbirth, and the most crushing blow of all–the loss of a child.

They were nothing like us and everything like us. Theirs was an American marriage.

…thank goodness for writers…and the stories they tell…

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

could i do better?…could you?

Every now and then something on CNN prompts me to reflect upon President Obama’s handling of national and world affairs. I must confess I’m no expert in government matters.  Who is?

Yes, there are those with years, even decades of experience. Naturally, that counts for something. But so does an opinion. 

In the last month or so I’ve read a couple of presidential biographies, one on Dwight D. Eisenhower, the other on Richard M. Nixon. I’m now burrowing through one on John F. Kennedy.

Biographies are my favorite reads. They’re part history, part gossip…some factual, some speculative. I especially like getting to know the private person, the one the public rarely, if ever, sees.

My takeaway from Eisenhower’s biography was that he was a disciplined man given to sacrificing his personal life for his life as a public servant. His wife, Mamie, followed in her husband’s wake keeping herself intact, physically and mentally, as best she could. Eisenhower governed like the military man that he was, gathering his group of trusted, male cohorts about him to advise his next moves. Oddly enough, or maybe not, Vice President Nixon was not among them.

Political ambition had the starring role in Nixon’s life. It took him to the summit only attained by a few mortals, and it plunged him into the darkest depths where few souls ever tread. Pat, his “partner in crime,” believed her husband honorable in all he undertook. She saw the glory and the sorrow of a man driven to create the America of his vision. As we all know, Nixon fell far short of his ill-conceived plan.

There were moments of greatness in Kennedy’s life. His inaugural speech challenged us to “Ask not what your country can do for you…ask what you can do for your country.” Thousands answered the challenge by joining the president’s newly instituted Peace Corps. The Cuban Missile Crisis probably aged Kennedy faster than all other obstacles combined…chronic back pain…a spendthrift-fashionista-first lady…an insatiable appetite for women…and Governor Wallace’s hard-core opposition to black-equality.

And where was Jackie in all of this? She loved Jack is all…and his money. Evidently the Kennedys were a good match. He had his faults; she had hers. Great thing is…they both understood each other’s imperfections and still managed to love one another “until death do us part.” Which it did, unfortunately.

The Obamas seem a different breed from what we’ve encountered before. At least I think so. 

President Obama, as a former law professor, governs as though he is still in the classroom. He welcomes, even encourages, creative thinking. In the end, however, it’s his lone voice that decides the course of events. Yes, he has campaigned hard for tenure, and won. How he has managed to do so in the face of the Koch brothers and the billions they spend advancing the cause of the Tea Party is unfathomable.

I like to think it’s because Obama’s cause is morally right. I’m a sucker for those showing compassion for the less fortunate. And although the president has an ego the size of the universe…what leader doesn’t?

Funny how I can relate to Obama’s thought processes in making decisions, and the mistakes he’s bound to make given that he’s human. And maybe that’s just it…he’s human. It might also be that he lived a life more similar to mine, especially since he grew up in my native Hawaii. Beyond that, however, he wasn’t a product of a military background like Eisenhower. Nor from what I can surmise, Obama wasn’t driven by a burning desire to star in the White House. That came later, after he failed to move mountains as a human rights activist in the Chicago projects, and a stint in the senate.

While I’m an unlikely prospect to be one of Michelle Obama’s best buds, I get what she’s about. First and foremost, she’s a mom like me. Moreover, she will preach her husband’s goodness to all and any. Woe to those who dare challenge us on that front. 

No, I don’t consider myself in the same league as these notables. Nor would I ever care to be. With their power and celebrity comes a whole host of problems I wouldn’t want. Given their unique circumstances, I think the presidents and their first ladies do the best they can. It may be difficult for them to remember that they’re made of clay like us, given how the media keeps the spotlight on them 24/7.

Maybe we can remember for them…

…they wear bvd’s and girdles too!

………hugmamma.

(I know. I know. I’m dating myself…) 

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why do writers…write?

 I’ve come across two quotes that seem to go hand-in-glove in describing writers.

The first is that of Anton Chekov, renowned Russian author. It was shared by http://www.livesimpletheblog.wordpress.com

…people who lead a lonely existence always have something on their minds that they are eager to talk about…

The second is a line spoken by Walt Disney to author P.L. Travers in the film Saving Mr. Banks.

Our stories are redemptive. That’s what we story tellers do. We restore order with imagination.  We instill hope again and again and again.

According to psychotherapist Linda Hoff-Hagensick at http://www.marriagetherapy101.blogspot.com,

Both P.L.Travers and Walt Disney found redemption and healing for their childhood pain through telling their stories through the magical lenses of their characters.

I think it’s fair to say that writers can lead a lonely existence given their need for isolation while getting in touch with their creative genius. I wonder how long C.K. Rowlings kept her own company while knocking off volume after volume of the iconic Harry Potter? 

Judging from my own experience, words can haunt a writer’s every thought. Not until allowed to escape the confines of the mind, will the words give a writer some peace, if only for a few moments.

So for me, it’s not that I seek solitude, it’s that my constant companions, my thoughts,  long to escape into print. They do not relish captivity; rather, they long for escape. Escape into the light of day. It’s my task to arrange them into some coherent story that others might want to read. And that, as every writer knows, takes time and…solitude. 

In recent months I’ve taken to having my laptop on the kitchen island so that I can write in between my other duties as a housewife. Of this relocation from the dining room table to my current station, my daughter lovingly commented “You really are a writer!”

I often wish I could ignore other duties and interests, and simply write the book that’s still on hold in my brain. Actually, there are a handful waiting to be written. For me however, life is too precious to let slip away for hours, days, weeks, even months at a time.

One day soon, I’ll see my way clear to balancing both. Until then, blogging remains an excellent outlet.

Storytellers come in all shapes and sizes. What they have in common is the desire to express their thoughts and feelings in a comprehensive manner. The icing on the cake is to capture the attention of an audience of readers or listeners. To bring them along on a  journey, whether it’s into familiar territory or uncharted terrain.

Writers are usually inspired by strong feelings about the environment in which they live. Whether it’s physical or psychological. Whether it exists in the past,the present, or the future. Whether it’s just a fantastical concoction of their imaginations. Or whether it’s a little bit of everything.

Like Disney I prefer writing redemptive stories, where chaos is banished, order restored, and hope is renewed. 

I’ve always been a huge fan of Tinker Bell and her magical fairy dust. I like to think it represents…

…never ending hope…

………hugmamma…and tinker bell.

...sprinkling fairy dust for hugmamma...

…sprinkling fairy dust for hugmamma…

 

 

friday fictioneers: moral dilemma

Copyright-Dawn Q. Landau

“I’ve heard of foreclosures, but this is going a bit far, don’t you think?” I asked my banker.

“Well, since your home was ‘under water,’ that is since your home was worth less than you owed, we thought we’d blast it to smithereens and collect on the insurance. That way you get 50 and we get 50…and we all make out handsomely.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. My upstanding mortgage company was going belly up as far as morality was concerned.

The ball was in my court.

What to do?

Play ball? Or go home?

Click.

“You’re watching House Hunters International.”IMG_2336

 

friday fictioneers: first love…forever love

Copyright- Jean L. Hays

A tiny hand tucked securely into a larger one.

Adoring eyes glancing upwards at the love of her life.

Smiling at him as he gazes down at her, eyes wrinkling at the corners.

Fun times together, whether raking autumn leaves or gliding down snowy slopes.

Favorite outings were always visits to aquariums. 

Barking seals. Playful penguins. Floating jellyfish. Jumping dolphins. 

Dancing seahorses, mini ones clinging to giant kelp in underwater forests.

Hot dogs and cotton candy for two hungry landlubbers.

Weary arms hugging his head as her little body lay draped about his neck.

Pops…and Pumpkin Pie…then, now, and always.

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friday fictioneers: barbara cartland

Copyright - Ted Strutz

With heart pounding, Annalise watched for the dock where handsome Schuyler would be waiting.

How long had it been since they last locked lips? Too long, it seemed.

Would they drive at break-neck speed to Thistle Inn and make mad, passionate love? Or would they prolong the inevitable, lingering over  drinks at the cafe?

His cologne. Obsession. His eyes. Glassy pools of aquamarine. His hair. Corn silk. His body. Hugh Jackman. His mouth. Succulent.

“If he doesn’t propose, I will!” conspired Annalise. “Ha, ha. I’ll sweep him off his size 11 feet!”

“Another best seller for my sex-starved housewives!” exclaimed Barbara.