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Recove

Self

A Journal of Hope and Healing

Recovering The Self is a quarterly journal which explores the themes of recovery and healing through poetry, memoir, essays, fiction, humor, media reviews and psycho-education. Areas of concern include aging, disabilities, health, abuse recovery, trauma/PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Contributors come from around the world to provide a mirror of the experience of peoples of all cultures and beliefs. The premier issue explores a number of areas of concern including: Resilience and trauma recovery Healing the inner child Journaling and grief Forgiveness Lyme Disease Fibromyalgia Substance abuse Military families Nature of gender Children and trauma and much more!

Recovering The Self - A Journal of Hope and Healing

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US$9.95

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Periodicals : Literary - Poetry/Journal

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A Journal of Hope and Healing

Vol. I, No. 1

visit us online at

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Vol. 1, No. 1

Sep 2009

L H P r e s s

Vol. 1, No. 1

September 2009


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Recovering The Self: A journal of Hope and Healing Volume I, Number 1 September 2009 ISSN: 1947-2773 ISBN-13: 978-1-932690-09-5 Copyright (c) 2009 Loving Healing Press, Inc. Cover art copyright(c) 2009 by Cindy Moran. Used with permission. Published by Loving Healing Press 5145 Pontiac Trail Ann Arbor, MI 48105 USA Tollfree 888-761-6268 Fax 734-663-6861 www.LovingHealing.com Email to info@LovingHealing.com Distributed by Ingram Book Group in USA, Canada, and UK. To learn more about RTS or start your subscription please visit our companion website www.RecoveringSelf.com/subscribe Subscription rate card on page 56. Get your message heard in RTS, see www.RecoveringSelf.com/advertise or Advertising rate card on page 36

Editor-in-Chief: Ernest Dempsey Publisher: Victor R. Volkman Typesetting: Victor R. Volkman Cover design and logo: Matthew Ward

Vol. I, No. 1


Contents Inspirational Victims No More by Barbara Sinor, Ph.D. ................................................................3

Transformation Practically by Hugh Fox ..........................................................................................5 The Senior Dignitary by Patricia Wellingham-Jones ................................................7 Forgiveness: A God Thing? by Christy Lowry .......................................................10

Insight A Theory of Resilience by Frank A. Gerbode, M.D. ...............................................13

Emergence From that Darkness, Came the Light by Tami Brady..............................................21 Lyme Disease: A Death and Resurrection by Marjorie Tietjen ..............................23

PsyKey Sex, Gender, and Personality Disorders by Sam Vaknin .........................................27

Humor You have Two Options…by RD Armstrong ...........................................................34

Poetry The Highest Star by Bobbi Sinha-Morey ...............................................................37 Artists by Bruce Dethlefsen ...................................................................................37 Free to Fall by Charles P. Ries ...............................................................................38 the day I left hospital by Christopher Barnes .........................................................38 The Shadow by Ingerid White ...............................................................................39 Early Days by Janet Tobin .....................................................................................39 A Brief Walk by Mark Wisniewski ........................................................................40 Morss Gemini Mei by Murray Alfredson ..............................................................41 Beyond the Edge by Richard King Perkins II .........................................................41 Our Banyan Tree by Sweta Vikram .......................................................................42

Fiction The Blue Room by Christine Bruness ....................................................................43 She Had Not Slept for a Long Time by Matthew Ward .........................................45 Would That Be a Nonstop Flight? by Anis Shivani ................................................51

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Holding the Muse by Nazish Zafar .......................................................................57 My Dirty Little Secrets Exposed by Tyler R. Tichelaar .........................................60

Help Desk Helping Children Traumatized by Disaster by Dr Janet Hall ................................65

Excerpts Shadows on the Wall by Sherry Jones Mayo .........................................................67 Ten Thousand Francs for a Bullet by Dicho Ilunga ...............................................73

RTS Review More Than a Memory, Amazing Grays, The Deep Water Leaf Society (Books) .....80 Stephanie Daley (Movies).......................................................................................83

Press Release Military Families Say That Military Children Are the Forgotten Victims of the Iraq War ..................................................................84

Commentary Write For Us ..........................................................................................................86 Last Word by Victor R. Volkman ..........................................................................87

Vol. I, No. 1


...from the Editor’s Desk Ernest Dempsey

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reetings to all readers! Holding the premier issue of our new quarterly Recovering the Self in your hands, you all share with me the precious gift of life —one that is as tender as a rose petal and as sweet as itself. This certainly says less than what the phenomenon of life, in all its colors, comes to each one of us; all those gains and pains, expectations, fulfillments, disappointments, challenges, aspirations, fears, hopes, and innumerable other things that form part of our living experience. Allow me to look at life, broadly in, two main feelings (or sensations, or realities—you name it): pleasure and pain. By default, we love pleasure and dread pain. Pleasure is life’s beauty and pain makes it disagreeable. Yet, pain is real. It exists; it demands its share in our life; and many a time, we have no choice but to bear it— waiting each moment to get back to our ‘beloved comfort’. How natural! Pain invades our lives in different guises—illness, trauma, bereavement, accident, crime, and all forms of physical and emotional injury. Sometimes it’s a moment before we regain our usual comfortable feel of life; sometimes, it takes years or even one’s whole life to get over the painful experience(s). Whether we mange to remove the source of the pain or get used to living with it, recovery is a natural and desirable process for every sufferer of pain. Given the nature and kind of source that is responsible for our discomfort, we can—fortunately— benefit from a range of remedial measures. Developing various means of physical and

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psychological treatments and therapies has been a key feature of all human civilizations. But only recently have people started to acknowledge writing as a kind of therapy. Of late, we are coming to explore and accept the fact that the written word has the power to heal. In her book Strategies, Dr. Tami Brady lists writing and journaling as a useful practice/habit for relieving stress and easing pain (including physical pain) in Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Writing is a wondrous form of letting one’s self out of the stifling inner prison where pain and discomfort control ‘the moment’ in one’s life. Through ink and paper, or a computer keyboard (or any medium at all), we can pour our suffering self out for recovery. Our act of materializing our thoughts on a medium, which we can read, is similar to the human process of birthing; it is painful but it gives relief and joy once the child is born. I would dare place writing above birthing since it does not call for a midwife, or a doctor (smile), and the child does not pester you for changing diapers! Writing is seldom born alone; it is followed by its twin, ‘reading’—something that, in my view, also carries invaluable healing power. Writing encodes the ‘poured-out’ self for healing and reading decodes it to complete the healing process. The process of writing and reading makes a binary set of therapeutic tools that release the dejected or diseased sense of existence from the shackles of stress. This is where Recovering the Self comes in, a platform of writers and readers

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who want to connect together via the written word, aiming at recovering the self and making life a more comfortable experience than it has been in the past. Here, we tend to focus on healing from a loss, tragedy, illness, or setback through the conscious effort of reading and writing. And each word counts! For turning this new publishing endeavor into reality, I am thankful to Victor R. Volkman—publisher at the Loving Healing Press, a unique publishing house that is committed to making a positive difference in people’s lives through books that heal and teach selfhealing. Thanks are certainly due to all the writers and contributors who lit the pages of this premier issue with their therapeutic words, and I also thank all our readers with the hope that Recovering the Self will make a difference in their lives. Finally, I’d beg pardon in advance for any errors or shortcomings that might have gone into the issue, escaping my attention. At the same time, I’ll be thankful to you for providing your feedback—questions, comments, suggestions, and contributions—that may guide us in making Recovering the Self a truly healing publication. Happy Reading! Ernest Dempsey editor@recoveringself.com June 06, 2009

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Vol. I, No. 1


Inspirat ion

Victims No More Barbara Sinor, Ph.D.

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e create our reality from what we know; our held beliefs, values, and accepted self-image. However, our outmoded childhood belief systems lock us into a repetitious cycle of patterns and habitual processes. Many times, we find these patterns creating negative outcomes. You can learn to re-create your own reality by discovering these negative producing patterns, or scripts, which were accepted in childhood. You can accept that you are a cocreator of your reality and choose to re-create your past experiences, perceptions, and beliefs thereby shaping a reality by choice. Your inner child can become a messenger, a teacher, who brings long awaited information and instruction regarding the origin of your present beliefs, values, and motivations. You may become aware of hidden concepts and blocked emotions which can make it possible to re-create negative childhood conditioning and abuse into a reality of healing and recovery. When we let go of the old past programming, learned all too well in childhood, we can begin to re-create our lives into the successes we desire. Along with your own inner child, you can discover to the basic reasons for current blockages to your successful recovery from childhood conditioning and/or abuse and trauma. Your actions and thoughts, beliefs, and values are based upon the awareness and understanding of your present reality. If you truly become aware through self-discovery, you can proceed to heal through self-recovery, for in the final analysis we all heal ourselves. September 2009

We are constantly learning and testing ourselves and our reality. There is no finish line. There is no final test or red ribbon signifying an end to the race for recovery. It is an on-going race. If you were a victim of childhood abuse, you are a survivor, as I am. Much has been written about child abuse and the survivors of it. When I was counseling young women in a local women’s medical facility during the 1970s, I became familiar with the story of our physically, emotionally, and spiritually abused female population. For five intensive years, I sat and listened to literally thousands of young women (twelve years old being the youngest) who had accidentally gotten pregnant, or were terrified that they had. They shared their stories of incest, date rape, and psychological abuse. These young women had grown up in the enlightened decades of the late 1960s but were not enlightened about their own bodies or their rights to choose what to do with them. Now is the time to explore your past childhood conditioning and experiences in which you felt you were a victim. Today is the day to set yourself free from self-limitations and constricting emotions from being a victim of childhood abuse whether physical, psychological, emotional, or spiritual. We have all been victims in childhood in one way or another. The important point to remember and take action upon is how, as adults, we have the tools and the personal power to choose to stop being victimized by others, or society. As an adult, you have the power to control and direct your life and re-

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lease this negating role. Let us stand tall and proclaim we will be “victims no more” nor allow our children to be. Let us heal ourselves and let go of our own victimhood, thereby, instructing society that we will not tolerate the abuse and mistreatment of our children any longer.

About the Author Dr. Barbara Sinor has been a therapist dealing with childhood sexual abuse, addictions, and self-esteem for over twenty-five years. She is the author of four books, most recently Addiction--What’s Really Going On? and is currently working on a fifth titled Tales of Addiction. More about her and work is online at her web site www.DrSinor.com.

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Transfor m ation

Practically Hugh Fox

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’ve practically spent my entire life in or close to a hospital. At age five, I was coming home from a month with my grandmother in Cicero (Chicago), and my father (an M.D.) pulled the car over to the curb. “You look too...” feeling my head, then, “put your chin down on your upper chest....” I can’t. It doesn’t bend. “Polio!” he says. And mad genius that he was; he’d be right. And he knew some experimentalist who had been working on polio-vaccines and stuff. He drove me down there; they did some tests; it’s polio alright, and my father says, “So give him a shot.” “It’s still in an experimental phase,” said the other doctor, “we’ve only used it on mice and dogs and things....it could kill the boy.” “I’d rather have him dead than crippled all his life,” my father says. “I’d rather be crippled!” I say. But Mr. Experiment gets a huge, long syringe and sticks it into my spine, the worst single experience I’ve ever had in my life, like the Knights Templar stabbing me in the back. Later, after months of therapy, hot baths, massages, I slowly began to walk again. By the time I get to high school, I made it to the track team, no less. Then the usual stuff—like an appendix taken out; a gall bladder; years in the Andes with all kinds of amoebic dysentery; but the next big one isn’t until I’m 65 and start having problems urinating. My father’s been dead for decades, but I’m married to a beautiful Brazilian M.D., a plastic surgeon turned pathologist, and I end up in the office of a local doctor. friend of hers. Prostate September 2009

cancer! OK. A transurethral laser prostatectomy, up through the urethra into the prostate; melt as much of it as they can with the laser beams; a tube to urinate through for a few days, and it seems OK; but then after a few months all the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) tests go bad. I start taking Lupron, a biochemical way of cutting back on androgyne, the “trigger” in the whole mess; I end up having a heart attack; start reading on Lupron (after all I did have three years of pre-med and a year of medicine myself, didn’t I?) and find out Lupron’s a coagulationtrigger. So I ask Zuckerman, “What did you do before Lupron?” “Castration. Get rid of the androgyne that way...and it worked in 95% of the cases.” “So, OK, let’s go with it.” I get castrated. Goodbye to my wild, three times a day sexlife. A few years down the line, the PSA starts going up again. Androgyne isn’t produced just in the testes....so I’m put in the hands of a Warsaw-born chemotherapist, start taking Casodex. Five years pass. A sexual impulse once in a while, still loving the right legs and the right breasts, the right eyes and embraces, surrounded as I am by not just my Amazonian sex-machine wife, but all sorts of student beauties, beauties at the hospital, writer-pal beauties....some people say, “Try some, you know, erotic stimulators....” But I keep remembering my father’s heart (an aneurysm) rupturing while having sex with my mother. “No, that’s OK, just cool it....” Cool it. Concert it; out-in-the-country it; trips-down-to Brazil it; films and sleeping

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pills; my six kids and grandkids, writing, like this essay for the likes of you. Seventyseven. Read the obituaries every morning in the local paper. Lots of deaths of people in their 70s...one woman today made it to 100. Which would give me 23 years more. I notice most of the time women long longer than me....and, after all, I was castrated, no....? Let’s try watching The Reader tonight, and there’s a Berlinsky cello concert on Wednesday night; how about a ride to Owosso; walk along the river there; like a time-trip back into the pre-industrial; an afternoon with granddaughter Beatrice (age 2); a little Lunesta and sliding down (and up) into heaven dreams, dreams, dreams...

About the Author Born in Chicago in 1932, Hugh Fox earned a Ph.D. in American Literature from the University of Illinois. He is a Professor Emeritus, archeologist, editor, writer, and iconic poet of international fame. His poetic styles range from super academic to Dadaistic to surrealistic to avant garde to postBukowski realism. For decades, whatever his creative style at the time, fans have celebrated the earthy and erudite poetry experience that is Hugh Fox. Review of The Collected Poetry of Hugh Fox (World Audience, 2008) by Laurel Johnson.

Enter a Kafkaesque nightmare of assassinations, kidnapping and explosions, as a civilian struggles to return home “Issam Jameel's Iraq Through A Bullet Hole is evocative in the best sense of the word. A native Iraqi, he describes with measured sadness and authenticity the dismemberment of his country by a senseless war. His perspective on events there— both personal and general—will not be found in reporting done by the Western press. His tale reminds us that the things that matter most—family, friends, and faith can and will endure even the most severe trials. I highly recommend this book for its relevance and timelessness.” —Cristóbal Krusen, author and filmmaker

www.IraqThruABulletHole.com 6

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Transfor m ation

The Senior Dignitary Patricia Wellingham-Jones

I hate committees,” I growled at Mary, sitting beside me at the round table. “How did I ever get talked into this?” “Three reasons, Pat,” she said in her brisk voice, holding up her fingers to illustrate. “One, you’re a writer, published all over the place. Two, you’re a nurse and made the fatal mistake of saying once you’d like to give back. And three, you had a mastectomy and are doing great. Oh yes, four.” She smiled that wicked grin I knew too well. “I bullied and badgered you into it.” I simmered down to a quiet snarl and cast my eyes at the women around me. Roseann was the leader, of us and of the Cancer Center volunteers. Six feet tall, she would look gangly if it weren’t for the bright flowing clothes and scarves she wore and the dancer’s way she moved that lanky body. Penny was also tall—it seemed we all were, now that I noticed—and wore her shoulders hunched forward over her chest. She was a professor at our local university, teaching linguistics, with a smile sweeter than I’d seen in many a day. Tamara, on my other side, was much younger (not that any of them approached me in years) and wound an orange scarf around her throat, while a bold patterned one tied back her long brown hair. She was an adjunct instructor in creative writing at a couple of our community colleges and spoke in a gentle voice with a soft accent I couldn’t place; she was also a breast cancer survivor. Mary’s blue sweater matched her blue slacks and blue eyes under a thatch of blond hair; her years of teaching memoir writing were invaluable. And then there was me, with short gray hair and September 2009

glasses, sensible shoes. Roseann called us to order; explained that we were meeting to form a writing workshop free for cancer patients, their families and friends, and even the public. She suggested calling it ‘Telling Our Stories’, what did we think of that? As they launched into pros and cons, began tossing out ideas, I held up my hand and said, “I want you all to know where I stand.” Polite faces turned in my direction. “Mary sort of conned me into coming and I’m sorry if that doesn’t sound gracious, but I really do dislike committees and am also taking care of a frail and failing husband. I’m willing to give you feedback, but you can’t count on me to be an active member of whatever you decide.” Eyes blinked at the reluctant do-gooder; then Roseann said in a soothing voice, “That’s fine, Patricia. We’re just glad to have the benefit of your experience and whatever opinions you might offer. We don’t want you to do any more than you feel comfortable doing.” Well, I sank my deflated self back into my seat and began to listen. By the end of an hour and a half, we’d thrashed out the basics and decided to meet in a month for fine-tuning. By our third meeting we knew the workshop would be held once a month on the second Wednesday evening, Mary and Tamara would alternate leading, Penny would help set up, Roseann would oversee and host the event, and I, well, I would appear if the spirit struck me. The hospital was ready to print our flyers; we’d have an introduction in June; a full-blown reception to

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launch the program in August; and we’d start in early September. I was surprised to note that by that third meeting, I’d actually gotten interested in what we were doing and we five women were becoming friends. It was then that our youngster Tamara blithely referred to me as their Senior Dignitary. While we all laughed, I secretly relished my new title. In June, we held our teaser workshop, something to whet people’s appetites. We presented a panel on journaling, each of us bringing our own journals plus a few published examples as well. Nine journals were represented and we read snippets from each. Penny said it for all of us. “I’m surprised to see how different these are, in book and paper styles. And the way we wrote or drew in them. Isn’t that neat?” This showed us, the panel, and the audience that self-expressive writing has no specific rules, an important lesson we needed to learn. Our August reception was great fun. We turned the Cancer Center conference room into a party palace with food provided by Lilly Oncology beautifully displayed under the windows: fresh currants and grapes, apple and pineapple slices, a hunk of white cheddar with elegant crackers, succulent Brie with baguette, sinfully rich chocolate cookies, and more to tempt even the strongest of will. Three local writers, all cancer survivors, were invited to speak and read from their work. Roseann introduced us and said, “And here is our very own Senior Dignitary, Patricia Wellingham-Jones.” Everyone laughed, and so did I, as I rose with my books. Even though I wouldn’t be part of the ongoing program, I could participate at times. By now the curmudgeon had disappeared and I was telling people I met about our new program.

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For the first year, I was busy with caregiving duties but attended Mary’s and Tamara’s sessions whenever I could. I was struck by the growing closeness of the people who attended regularly. The quality of the writing, from folks who swore they were not writers, astounded me. An atmosphere of healing surrounded the pushed-together tables where people scribbled in fancy journals or pads of lined paper, then read their words out loud to the group. People said how good it felt to write together; to get their stories out of their heads onto paper; how they wished we could do it more often. My husband died in late winter that year. I was sad and exhausted, but attended our sessions anyway. Mary, Roseann, Tamara, and Penny wrapped their arms around me and gave me strength. We wrote together, with the rest of the group, and I started my own healing again. Then in the spring, Mary waylaid me in the hall. “Pat, I really need your help. My dad’s had hip surgery and isn’t doing well and my mom has dementia. I’m about to become a full-time caregiver, which you know all about.” I held her close in a comforting hug. We rocked back and forth outside the conference room, her eyes full of tears. She knew well, from watching me, what lay ahead. “Could you please take over my workshop nights?” she whispered. “I just can’t do it anymore. You’ll love it, you know you will, and it would help us out so much.” This old curmudgeon didn’t even stop to blink, but said, “Yes, of course I will. You do what you need to do, and come back whenever you can. Mostly, love, take good care of yourself.” I now lead the group every month, and talk to others about ‘Telling Our Stories’. I learned more about ‘healing writing’ as a therapeutic measure and give talks and readVol. I, No. 1


ings to writers and health teams. Our workshop goes full blast and we still want more. *** Afterword: Our dear Tamara died of cancer just last week. Last night our group wrote about her influence in our lives, or a special memory of her. We read the stories, laughed a bit with dewy eyes, and felt the healing power of the writing.

About the Author Patricia Wellingham-Jones, PhD, RN, is a former psychology researcher and writer/ editor, published in numerous journals and Internet magazines, including HazMat Review, Edgz, Rattlesnake Review, Ibbetson Street and Wicked Alice. She has a special interest in healing writing, leads a writing group at a local cancer center, and has work in several anthologies on related subjects, including After Shocks: The poetry of recovery, My Body of Knowledge, Under My Skin, and Bone and Tissue. Chapbooks include Don’t Turn Away: Poems About Breast Cancer, Apple Blossoms at Eye Level, Voices on the Land, End-Cycle: poems about caregiving and A Gathering Glance.

“Poignant and fierce, this book is moving, beautifully written, and urgently relevant.” —Kathleen Spivack, Author, Director: Advanced Writing Workshop “Achtenberg is a cutting-edge voice in the literature of the postglobalization age, an era in which we are uprooted geographically and spiritually, and redefining what it means to be home. What a superbly written book! Read it and be changed.” —Demetria Martinez Author of Mother Tongue “Powerful ‘make it new’ language that createsthrough the runaway energy and precise detail of the storytelling voice—a disturbing world in all its particularities,only to transcend it by grappling with what's at stake i hearger world.” —Stratis Haviaras Founder and former editor of Harvard Review

www.AnyaAchtenberg.com September 2009

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Forgiveness: A God Thing? Christy Lowry

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re we commanded to forgive, leaving revenge behind, no matter what happens in our lives? Dare we attempt it, alone or with others, despite its challenges? What happens if we do? And are we, or ‘Another’, in control of the process? In this story, the author reveals those people and events that stunningly clinched the issue for her, transforming her soul through what became a live act in a palpable journey of forgiveness that—by extension—infuses new life and strength into anyone who chooses it. Counselors and ministers alike tell us that, in order to heal and grow from life’s hurts, we must forgive the perpetrators and events that injure us. What a daunting prospect! Are we expected to do it alone? Without help? Is such possible? Like everyone else, I’ve carried my share of past hurts and disappointments, whether from unfulfilled hopes and dreams, or borne on the wings of circumstances beyond anyone’s control. Nor was I unaffected by, or free from, the anger and hurt that tag along with such unresolved issues. Was there, in the light of this latest blow—the loss of our daughter—a better way to live out my life? Would I… could I find it? If so, how—and did it have a name? How few answers we had in those early days after our eighth grade daughter died suddenly in a tragic car/pedestrian accident that first day of school! Yes, ours. Her tragic accident was a shared loss, cutting both ways. Not only had she lost her own hopes, dreams, and life with family and friends; but

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we—as parents—now tasted the bitter ashes of her life’s promise unexpectedly cut short. Neither her brothers, her dad, nor I would see her graduate from high school and college, start a career, or get married and bear children…giving us nieces, nephews, grandchildren... Yes, a tall order loomed before us. Not only must we deal with the anger that comes with our trust in life being violated; we must now accept that violation and go on with our lives as though nothing had happened. Or was that a simplistic misnomer? Moving right along in that scenario, must we really give up any claim to revenge, whether on the perpetrator (intentional or hapless) or a forensic system that, to grieving family and friends, moves with maddening slowness while seeking closure? Finally, was such surrender possible, especially leaving unresolved the innate tension between what’s morally right (just) and what’s impartially honest and equitable (fair)? Answers to this compelling flurry of questions at first eluded us until one deceptively ordinary day, when my husband Paul and I sat talking with a car salesman in the dealership’s sales area. As we three chatted about what we wanted in our next car, mutual rapport came easily. Relaxed in my chair, I mused out loud, “Now that we’re back down to four family members, we’re torn between getting the larger car we’d earlier planned, or going for a smaller model.” Noticing the salesman’s questioning look, Paul elaborated, “A year ago, we lost our daughter in a car accident. At that time Vol. I, No. 1


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action at hand. Incredibly, neither Paul nor the salesman had noticed my wandering attention. The vulnerable moment was gone; each resumed his outward daily role. However, this synchronistic ‘coincidence’ stuck in my mind even though we didn’t buy a car from him. But seeds of change had been planted: no longer was the driver’s anguished predicament beyond my comprehension. Down the road, those incubating seeds took on a collective name: balanced perspective, which culminated on another ordinary day in October nine years later. I sat at my computer editing the chapter on forgiveness for my first book, Pam: Life Beyond Death; Joy Beyond Grief. Not a tree branch moved in the wintry stillness; nor were the cedar waxwings here to nibble on the mountain ash berries, starkly exposed on the leafless tree out front. Silence permeated inside and out. A single image of the driver flickered in my mind, then steadied and intensified. I’d felt my attitude about him changing over the years, with first a willingness; and then a desire, for him to heal too. Was this change sudden? Did I numbly or glibly stumble into it, prematurely claiming him forgiven while I was still in shock—or superficially assuming that I was ready for this major step? Or had Paul’s and my encounter with the car salesman years before triggered it? I had to admit that meeting this salesman, plus our friends’ early and laudable compassion for the driver, underscored the importance of my resolving this issue once and for all. I couldn’t get him out of my head. Why today, of all days, was he taking center stage? How often had I reworked this particular forgiveness chapter without anything unusually memorable occurring? Something unusual about this moment caught and riveted my attention: What was happening

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we needed the extra room. But now, with only four of us left…” His voice trailed off, suddenly not knowing what else to say. But I was watching the salesman. Why was he picking up on this so closely? What did it matter to him? The salesman’s face flushed, and he swallowed hard—for some reason he was suddenly really nervous! Somehow I remained calmly in my chair. If we had to face meeting the driver who hit her, here and now, so be it. “I’m really sorry,” the salesman began. “Seven years ago when I was a policeman, I hit a 14-year-old girl walking down the street. She suddenly darted out in front of me; I couldn’t avoid her.” “Did she live?” Pensively, in between heartbeats, needing to know just how far the similarities went between this man and the driver who struck our Pam, I glanced again at his nametag. Immediate relief flooded me; it wasn’t him after all. The names and details were different. “No, she died,” he answered regretfully, his eyes misting over. How incredible! My feeling compassion for this man, not automatically lumping him in with the driver who hit our daughter! I thought I knew exactly how I’d react to him; now, here with his ‘surrogate,’ I wasn’t so sure. Risking the trauma of actually meeting the driver was still too raw for me; but with this man I could let it go because he was obviously still so distraught over what had occurred. Had he changed jobs because of his accident? Were we simultaneously and vicariously déjà vu for each other: he as he relived his own trauma through our eyes; we, shown by his pain, what ‘our’ driver went through? What must it be like for either man, reliving their personal tragedies through us? I forced my attention back to the trans-


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now, seemingly out of nowhere? As that question eased into my mind, I sensed someone with me, a divine teammate, Jesus, draping His arm around my shoulders, affirming His joint support that would help me complete a process begun many years before—almost forgotten at times amidst a busy mix of other ongoing grief issues. It felt as though He were using a ‘newly-surrendered me’ to do the forgiving, creating a living beachhead for forgiving others. Suddenly, I felt an incredibly expansive realization: I’ve forgiven him! Totally and completely! Through Jesus Christ Himself! That we all might be free! And this buoyancy, this blessed release! What energizing aliveness now flooded my being, transcending the hurting power of any unforgiven thing or person? In some mysterious way, I simply felt moved beyond such hurt as though it no longer existed.

Almost in anticlimax, the phone rang. It was my mother, calling from the East coast. “I’ve been thinking about you and your need to forgive the driver all week long. I wonder how have you come along with that?�

About the Author Christy Lowry (AA degree: El Camino Jr. College; BA in History, English minor: Cal State University, Long Beach, CA) authored Pam and Hope Renewed after losing her daughter in an auto-pedestrian accident. Contributing author to two other books, she currently writes inspirational and devotional poetry from her home in Boise, Idaho.

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Vol. I, No. 1


Insigh ts

A Theory of Resilience Frank A. Gerbode, M.D.

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started thinking about this talk a few weeks ago, when I realized how much I enjoy a good argument. Maybe by the end of this talk, I will have given you ample cause to argue with me. But I also know that many if not most arguments are resolved by a careful definition of terms, so I propose to be proactive by starting off with one of my favorite things: a definition, in this case, a definition of resilience. In physics, ‘resilience’ is the ability to return to one’s former shape after being deformed. In human affairs, ‘resilience’ is the ability to recover rapidly from the effects of a stressful experience, and, I would say, we can extend this definition to also mean the ability to deal with a variety of experiences without being stressed. But now I have to move on to another definition; i.e. of ‘stress,’ which we have used loosely for years without ever giving it a clear definition. Stress occurs when a situation or incident (I’ll use these terms interchangeably for now) is difficult or impossible to deal with or manage. I’ll give you an example of a rather catastrophic-seeming stressful experience that I had a few years ago. I play the lute (which, to quote Frazier’s Dad, is ‘a funny kind of guitar’). A lute can take the place of a harpsichord, playing chords behind one or more soloists. On one occasion, I was accompanying four singers in a beautiful early 17th century piece. I had to play from the score, which, because it had all the parts on it, was perhaps 15 pages long, and I had to see the September 2009

whole score in order to play the chords that would fit it. We rehearsed for an entire week, and I put special marks on the score to tell me when to turn each page, and dogeared the pages so they would be easy to turn. The whole thing was quite tricky; but after rehearsing for an entire week with my singers, I felt confident. Finally, the actual performance came, for an audience that consisted of people who were very knowledgeable about the music I was playing, including some of the foremost experts in the field, so the stakes were high—I had to do well. About two pages into the piece, I was trying to make a quick page turn and tipped over the music stand with a resounding crash, scattering the music quite randomly on the floor, where I had trouble reaching it because at the same time I was trying to hold my lute. With 2020 hindsight, I realize I should have followed the example of another performer who shouted, “Abort! Abort!”, when he lost his place. But I didn’t, and my four singers continued doggedly on, sans accompaniment; finished on their own; received faint but polite applause; and I went down into ignominious defeat. That was stress. People who were there still kid me about it. If the same thing had occurred during a rehearsal (which, of course it didn’t), it would have been annoying and embarrassing but not really stressful. So it wasn’t the actual occurrence itself that caused the stress, but the circumstances and my considerations about them: “Now no one will ever want to play with me again. Now they will

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think I am a fool,” etc. The situation itself was neither stressful nor non-stressful. It was my inability to manage it that caused the stress. Stress occurs when a situation becomes unmanageable. The degree to which a situation is manageable admits of degrees. There is a scale of manageability, if you will. When a situation is completely unmanageable, it is a severe trauma; when not quite so unmanageable, it is a moderate trauma; when manageable to a somewhat greater degree but still very difficult, it is mere stress. When it is easily manageable, there is no stress. From here, we can extend the scale to more positive experiences, in which an experience becomes so manageable that a person takes pleasure in dealing with it or may even feel enthusiastic about it. A sexual experience, for instance, can run the gamut from severe trauma to ecstasy, depending on the circumstances and how it is received. This is a fuller statement of what we have said in the past—that trauma is a relationship between a person and an experience. What gives an experience a greater or lesser degree of manageability (on the positive side) or unmanageability (on the negative side)? There are two components, and the manageability may be thought of as the result of multiplying these two factors together: 1. How well the person considers s/he is doing, his/her condition with respect to the situation, with its corre-

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sponding emotion. 2. The relevancy of that situation to that person’s intentions, that is, the importance of that intention in the person’s grand scheme of things and the degree to which the experience affects that intention. (1), above, gives us the emotional level— the ‘pitch’, if you will, while (2) gives us the ‘volume’—how loudly that pitch is played. I would have felt the same emotions during the rehearsal if I had dumped my music: embarrassment, fear, guilt, etc. And I would have being doing just as bad there. But the presence of all those experts in the audience, and the fact that it was a performance, not a rehearsal, raised the volume of these emotions to an overwhelming level; thus converting something perhaps unsettling to something quite stressful. On the positive side, if I play well in a rehearsal, I’m mildly pleased. If I play well in a performance, I may be ecstatic, because the stakes are higher. I want people to like me and am disappointed if they don’t. Today, I let go of my baggage cart and it started to roll toward the street. I stopped it with a dramatic gesture and smiled at a man sitting on the bench waiting for the bus and watching me. When he glared back, I was disappointed but not really stressed, because his opinion of me did not really matter much in the grand scheme of things. But if my wife or my daughter said they didn’t like me, I would be truly stressed out. I may want a chocolate bar, and if I fail to get it, I may be mildly annoyed or despondent because it is not really such a big deal—unless I am a chocoholic. If I succeed, I will be mildly pleased—unless I am a chocoholic, in which case I may be ecstatic. Relevance is the key to intensity of the reaction to a situation. While talking about the ‘Grand Scheme of Things’, I am referring to a person’s hierVol. I, No. 1


archy of intentions. We have very high-level intentions, such as, to be in a loving relationship; to have a significant positive effect on the world; to create beauty etc. Then we have lower level intentions, which are means to these higher ends: to court a prospective partner; to engage in philanthropy; to play music well (playing it badly is not increasing the beauty in the world). And below that may be to send flowers; to create a nonprofit corporation; to practice etc. There are usually several lower-level intentions that contribute to any higher intention, so the hierarchy of intentions has a tree-like structure, with roots at the top and branches beneath. Cognitive therapists have long known that one way in which people stress themselves out is to be stuck in a lower-level intention and not able to let go of it. You might call this the ‘single means’ fallacy. Basically, I am telling myself ‘This way or the highway!’ For instance, if I think a certain woman is the only one for me, then being rejected or abandoned by that woman is tantamount to failure on the higher-level intention to have a loving relationship. A cognitive therapy technique invented by Henry Whitfield, one of our own colleagues, addresses this issue very effectively. The stress level decreases markedly when we see that the relevance to our higher-level intention was not as high as we thought, because there are other approaches to finding a loving relationship—e.g. other fish in the sea. Buddhists are also big on getting rid of these fixed, lower-level intentions. Gautama Siddhartha thought that fixed intentions or ‘cravings’ or ‘attachments’ are, in fact, the root cause of all suffering, and from a certain point of view, we could say that he was right. The other side of the coin, of course, is that when we are being successful, the September 2009

greater the relevance, the greater the sense of pleasure or ecstasy. One could play a brilliant game of pinball, but that would be nowhere near so exciting for most people as finding the love of their life. What we are saying here aligns well with our definition of happiness as the knowledge that one is making progress toward the fulfillment of our goals—the greater the progress (i.e., the higher the condition) and the more important the goal one is winning on, the greater the sense of happiness. Survival is a very important goal for a person, for the not inconsiderable reason that it is a means toward almost every other goal. We can’t do much if we are dead. So, even a small threat to survival creates a great deal of stress (e.g., finding out that we have cancer—or even that we might have cancer). And when we find out that we don’t have cancer, the relief is equally strong. So we could say that resilience is the ability to manage situations well, or to bounce back rapidly when we find that we have not done so, and we could define the opposite condition as fragility. The ultimate in resilience is to experience everything as a joyful challenge. Few, if any, can truly live up to this ideal. The ultimate in fragility is to regard all of life as traumatic. Luckily, few, if any, are this badly off; but if they are, we truly have our work cut out for us. In fact, as with the conditions and with the emotional scale, one’s level of resilience may be greater in some areas than in others. One may be able to manage one’s job extremely well and be in a high condition there but be completely overwhelmed in a personal relationship. One has a kind of general or habitual level of resilience, which is the average of all of the specific resiliences one has in different areas of life. The obvious, burning question, here is: why are some people more resilient than

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others? Some people seem to be pretty much born with a high level of resilience, possibly due to genetics or, some say, past life experiences. But as this is not something we can deal with directly unless the person comes up with past-life experiences or genetic, treatable, illnesses, it need not concern us. One of the keystones of Applied Metapsychology is not to raise the client up to a certain absolute level of resilience, but rather to help the client achieve a significant improvement in his/her resilience. With this in mind, what factors can make a person fragile? Obviously, past traumas have to be a major factor. These are past times where a situation was completely unmanageable to a person, where that person had little or no resilience in the situation. These are times when a person was, as it were, forced to ingest an experience without being able to digest it, i.e., without being able to integrate it with the rest of his/her experience and thus to manage it. When a trauma, a time of low resilience, gets restimulated, the sense of fragility, of helplessness in the incident is also evoked. Now the person is unable to cope with a number of situations that are only tangentially related to the original situation because of the feeling of fragility that arises in them because of the re-stimulation. This causes one’s general level of resilience to drop markedly, and more and more aspects of life become stressful or traumatic, creating new sequences of traumatic incidents. Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR) is one such brief treatment that may be an effective remedy. The reason why the person could not cope with the original trauma was because there was insufficient time or the lack of a safe space in which to do the necessary integration and psychological coping. TIR provides the time and the safe space. When the original trauma gets handled, the

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later re-stimulations fall away, and both one’s coping level in the area of the trauma and one’s general coping ability are likely to increase markedly. In the use of Applied Metapsychology, we address eight key Sections (or areas) of a person’s consciousness, including Help (giving and receiving), Resolution, Reconciliation, and Rightness (the need to be ‘right’, regardless of cost). A client will look at how a Section applies to their own experience in a series of several consecutive sessions until he/she regains ability, confidence, and success in that area. Each of the Sections addresses its own type of fragility. Each addresses a particular type of stress in life. The Help Section deals with times a person failed to help or be helped by others and actually improves the person’s ability to give and receive help. Overcoming blockages to getting help is surely an important way to increase resilience. Just the fact, for instance, that one knows viewing exists and is available emboldens one to confront difficult situations, because one knows that if one is traumatized, one will be able to get help. In other words, a support system actually makes a person stronger. Also, being able to help others itself seems to be a major factor in making a person stronger. That is one reason why training can provide as much personal gain as viewing. The Resolution Section deals with internal conflicts and incongruities in life, which cause stress by violating the universal need for order in life. Helping the client resolve conflicts and, more importantly, helping him/her to gain a greater ability to resolve conflicts in general has an important effect of increasing resilience. The Reconciliation Section addresses stress originating from committing harmful acts toward others. People who harm others will sooner or later make themselves Vol. I, No. 1


weaker, because people are basically good and will protect others by becoming weak or leaving the scene. If we can simply acknowledge what we have done and understand and forgive ourselves for doing it, we will allow ourselves to become stronger. The Resiliency Section has obvious relevance. Here a person learns how to confront the sometimes overwhelming changes life throws at him/her and how to bounce back even stronger. The focus here is on learning how to manage novelty in life. [This greatly increases the number of areas of life in which one is resilient.] But what actually started me on the topic of resilience in the first place was a realization about the relationship between resilience and rightness, which ties in resilience with the Rightness Section. I was walking down the street in San Francisco and musing, as I said earlier, about how much I enjoy a good argument. By a ‘good’ argument, I mean a situation where two people are communicating about a disagreement, not in order to be right or make the other person wrong, but simply in order to arrive at the truth, where logic, reason, and experience rule the discussion and determine the outcome. One time, after Socrates won an argument (he always won the arguments, by the way), the other person exclaimed, “You have utterly defeated me, Socrates,” to which Socrates replied, “Socrates has not defeated you; the truth has defeated you.” I don’t think the other person was especially pleased with this statement because to him, it was a personal issue. But in any case, to me, a good argument is one where when you lose, you win. It’s not a zero sum game; it’s a win-win scenario. If we have a disagreement and you win, you have the pleasure of teaching me something and I have the pleasure of learning something new. Paradoxically, by being September 2009

made wrong, I am actually made more right, because the new belief system I acquire is stronger than the old one I had to abandon. And the same is true for the other person if I prevail in the argument. And if we discover that Socrates neither of us was entirely right, which usually turns out to be the case, both of us become more right as a result. At any rate, I was musing about this and realizing that the reason why I can take this attitude is that I feel pretty confident about my own ability to discover truth and to recognize untruth. So I am not afraid of encountering intellectual adversity, if you will, because I feel confident that a good result will ensue. I have trust in my ability to construct a strong worldview, one that works well for me and might work well for others. Indeed, though there are many other areas of life where I am not so strong, this is an area of strength for me. I feel grateful that I have this ability, because I think it’s a very important and fundamental one: the ability to construct a worldview that works for me, and for others, should they choose to accept it. In fact, you could say that creating this world-view has been my biggest life work. A confidence in one’s ability to construct a reality can be regarded as a kind of cognitive resiliency: the ability to confront differing world-views and even take delight in the encounters instead of being stressed by them. Isn’t this what celebrating diversity is all about? People weak in this skill are at a

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real disadvantage in life, because they have trouble growing and making beneficial changes. Nelson Goodman, in Ways of WorldMaking, says that constructing a reality is like redesigning a boat while we are sailing it. It requires a lot of skill and care because if you make too many modifications, or the wrong kind, the ship may sink. This is similar to Karl Popper’s idea that social changes should be made gradually—what he calls ‘piecemeal legislation.’ In the French Revolution, the revolutionaries tried, overnight, to change the system from a monarchy to a democracy. After a period of chaos from which no one benefited, except maybe Joseph Guillotine, Napoleon crowned himself the Emperor of France, re-established the old monarchic system, and went on to conquer most of the Europe. Had he not made the mistake of trying to conquer Russia as well, the French Empire might still be with us. We will do almost anything to keep our ‘reality boat’ from sinking, and where we perceive a threat of sinking from a new idea, we will resist it with considerable force. A person with a well-constructed boat will be more willing to consider changes, because such a boat has many safeguards against floundering, such as water-tight compartments, a heavy keel, etc. But we must allow for change and growth through disagreement and adversity.

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If we never encounter any disagreement, any new ideas that challenge our own reality, we lose a valuable opportunity to improve it. Toynbee spoke at length about the need for adversity to keep a culture vital, and in the Tarot, the Devil signifies enlightenment, because it is through confronting adversity (‘Shaitan,’ or ‘Satan,’ meaning ‘the opponent’) that enlightenment can occur. Socrates said, “An unexamined life is not worth living,” and I would add to this “An unlived life is not worth examining.” One of our most fundamental needs is a need for ‘heuristics,’ an environment from which we can learn. We need a certain amount of disagreement, and if we don’t get it, we can be frustrated. A friend of mine used to regale me with stories of his conquests in the area of girls, and he described one such conquest that didn’t turn out so well. The girl was beautiful, sweet, willing, and sexy; but after dating her a few times, he noticed that whenever he expressed an opinion, she would immediately agree with it. This happened enough times that he decided it was not a coincidence. So to test this hypothesis, he tried to elicit disagreement. He would express one opinion, to which she would agree; then another, to which she would also agree. Then a short time later, he would shift back to the opposing opinion, and she would agree with it. No matter how many times he did this, she would agree, seeming unaware of what was going on. So he lost interest in her because it seemed as though no one was really there. This is a gross violation of the principle of heuristics. Surely, a major joy, if not the most major joy, of having a relationship is to experience the growth that results from two realities rubbing up against each other—a kind of reality montage, if you will. People might think that they want a robotically obedient and calm partner (as deVol. I, No. 1


picted in the movie The Stepford Wives) I suppose—but if they ever got one, they would soon realize there was nothing there but a machine. Thus to me, one of the biggest pleasures in life is to communicate with someone who disagrees with me and is willing to carry the dialog to its logical conclusion, whatever that might be. And, in fact, if we do so, I believe that we will eventually reach agreement, in fact, because everyone, I believe has, at the highest level, the same criteria for accepting or rejecting an offered reality. These are the principles I have discussed at some length in Beyond Psychology: an intention to maximize pleasure, order, and heuristics in our lives. Any datum offered will ultimately be judged following these principles. As time permits, I will review these briefly, because I believe it is crucial to understand them. The first is what Freud called the ‘pleasure principle.’ All else being equal, one will choose a more pleasant or less painful datum over a less pleasant or more painful one. Pleasure is of two kinds: negative pleasure or relief, stemming from the removal of pain or discomfort; and aesthetic pleasure, which comes from the contemplation of beauty in all its various forms. Even in the hard sciences, which are perhaps as far from art as one can go, a more elegant hypothesis is preferred over a more ugly one. Scientists have, for almost a century, been seeking to remedy one of most ugly aspects of scientific theory—the disconnect between quantum physics and General Relativity. The second is the principle of order. We seek to make our world as simple (both easy and non-complex), predictable, stable, and selfconsistent as possible. We will accept a hypothesis that can increase order. Finally, as discussed above, we seek a world from which we can learn. September 2009

We are looking for an optimum balance between these three principles. Thus we may tolerate conflicts and contradictions temporarily as a means toward a greater congruity once these contradictions are resolved. That is the famous Hegelian thesis/antithesis, and synthesis idea. We may defer pleasure for the sake of learning and to put order into our world, with a view to feeling more pleasure and less discomfort in the future. And we will take a break from learning at times to enjoy life and make it more orderly, which will give us a safe and pleasant space in which to learn in the future. A self-confident person will allow these tensions to play out, knowing that the result will be a more acceptable world-view. Such a person could, ideally, take any experience, ingest it, and digest it as a nutrient for personal growth, whether it be a change in life circumstances, in a relationship, or in a belief system. Such a person would be ideally resilient. To return to the ship analogy, each of us has a ‘ship,’ a world-view given to us at the beginning of life, whether by genetics, by accidental brain connections, instinct, or possibly past lives. Then our parents give us modifications on top of that, which we are not in a condition to question. The result is what we might call the ‘prototype’ we start with. Some of us are lucky and start with a prototype that is easy to build on; others start with one that is non-functional or only marginally so. As a result, some of us start with a ‘ship’ that is easy to build on; others start with one that is marginally functional. The latter are hard to modify because they are closer to capsizing in the first place. Or the prototype may not be designed for easy modification or maintenance. If you have to rip off an entire deck to access the engine, it makes change harder, but if you have in-

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stalled a hatch that you can open to access the engine, you are better off. So a viewer is lucky—and more resilient to begin with—if s/he is in the latter condition. Otherwise, you have a lot more work to do to remedy the situation. It’s not impossible, just more difficult. The ship may be built with flawed materials or materials that are not where they belong, and the person will have to replace them with proper materials or put things in their proper places. Work on the ship will have these goals: 1. A ship that can easily change or be modified to deal with new circumstances. 2. A ship that works better, is more comfortable, and gets you where you want to go (a more workable world-view). Moving away from ships and toward people and their world-views, it is true that some people are dealt a bad hand of cards at the beginning, because of genetics, upbringing, etc. The prototype world-view may start off being either fragile or resilient. The Rightness Section contains several useful tools for constructing a better, more resilient cognitive reality. Using Information Correction, we can search out non-functional ideas that the viewer acquired before s/he was old enough to challenge them. We ask for beliefs that seem not to be working for the client. These ideas are hard to change just because the person does not know where they came from. Unless you know why you have an idea, it’s impossible to change it; it seems completely immutable. From the adult perspective, then, the client views the time s/he acquired the idea and sees why he adopted the idea in the first place. Often it’s just because a parent said it. At any rate, spotting the act of acquiring the false information gives the client the power to accept or reject the idea. The Rightness Section also addresses

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fixed ideas. These are ideas or beliefs the person comes up with in order not to have to deal with something. They are in the service of not confronting, of unawareness; and for that reason, I call them ‘anaesthetic ideas.’ Concept Clearing addresses these fixed ideas and by eliminating the fixation, allows the client’s belief system to be suppler, and hence more resilient. Finally, locating areas of confusion and resolving misunderstood words and phrases can do a great deal to create a reality that is more consistent, clearer, and more stable. Thus, with all the tools at our disposal— TIR and the material on the different Applied Metapsychology Sections, we can address all of the reasons why people are not as resilient as they could be, and when we do, we will get a snowballing effect in which the viewer achieves ever-increasing levels of resilience.

About the Author Frank A. (“Sarge”) Gerbode studied philosophy at Cambridge and psychiatry at Yale. His unique perspective applies rigorous philosophical arguments to the tenets of person-centered psychology grounded in the principles of Karl Rogers and Thomas Szasz. His seminal work, Beyond Psychology: An Introduction to Metapsychology (3rd Ed., 1995) remains the definitive reference on the subject.

Vol. I, No. 1


Emerge nce

From that Darkness, Came the Light Tami Brady, PhD

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ometimes the things we fight the hardest against are the things we need most. It seems to be a recurring pattern for me. I see something new coming into my life and immediately I decide that this new possibility is ‘bad’. Deep down in my being, I know that this potential situation can’t possibly be true. It would ruin all my plans. My hopes and dreams would be utterly crushed. I can feel the dread and the fear rising. I will never be happy again. Then, as I feel the reality of the situation looming ever closer, I convince myself that I will find a way to fix the problem before it happens. I try everything in my power to ensure that this thing will not come to pass. When all seems lost, I just push a little harder. Like all things meant to be, I eventually come to terms with the truth. It usually isn’t a pretty transition. I show very little grace and I fight the process until I am exhausted. They say hindsight is 20/20. That’s usually the case for me. While in the midst of transition, I simply can’t see the potential. After the storm has passed, that’s when I see the opportunity or gift that life has given me. That is the way it was with my Fibromyalgia diagnosis. I had such big plans. With my children all in school, I was about to start my own adventure. I was going to become an archaeologist. It was something that I’d dreamt of doing since third grade when I spent my recesses excavating blocks of snow from the schoolyard looking for remnants of ancient people. Nothing was going to stop me from making my dream beSeptember 2009

come reality. Not my father-in-law’s heart surgery. Not working around family responsibilities to complete my studies. Not even Fibromyalgia. For about a decade, after my diagnosis with Fibromyalgia, I suffered in silence. Debilitating pain, fatigue, muscle weakness, and Fibrofog were my daily companions. Depression and constant worries about possible future mobility issues took a heavy emotional toll on me. Yet, to the outside world, I seemed perfectly fine. I worked. I achieved. I took care of all my responsibilities. For all intensive purposes, I was superwoman on steroids. I worked very hard to be that mask, to appear perfect while in private I was falling apart. My greatest fear was that someone would find out about my condition. Then, all my dreams of becoming an archaeologist would dissipate. Despite my fears, I did complete my undergraduate and my Master degrees in archaeology, with honors and distinction respectively. I went on to work as a field archaeologist doing archaeological survey work for large-scale residential and commercial developments. Eventually, I started taking on independent contracts for oil and natural gas projects, which turned into a fulltime business. Throughout this time, I lived in agony and wallowed in self-loathing. I would walk for miles to complete surveys then spend days hardly able to get out of bed. Each time, I would berate myself as my body complained. Deep inside, I knew my body

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was trying to tell me that something was wrong. However, at the time, I mistakenly took this as a sign of weakness and a foretelling of my inevitable failure. At the time, I knew I was losing the battle but that only made me fight harder. I had completely convinced myself that I could out-stubborn Fibromyalgia. What would happen next snuck up on me. Since independent contract work is feast-or-amine driven, I began to write in my spare time. At first, I wrote articles and did book reviews for a number of online sites. Later, I added ghostwriting to my repertoire. Eventually, I started working on my first book. There was a period of a few months when everything seemed perfect. The contract business was booming. I was subcontracting for two companies with a third courting me. Often, I had four projects to complete each week. Normally archaeological projects start tapering off in September, but that year I had had work right through to January. I began writing a regular column. This led me to a part-time job as the Dean of Spirituality at an online university. Since I was getting so many requests to review books, I started up my own book review site, TCM Reviews. The topping on the cake was when Loving Healing Press agreed to publish my book, The Complete Being: Finding and Loving the Real You. Then reality reared its ugly head. Contracts suddenly dried up. I lost my column and my Dean position due to restructuring. I fought hard but everything crumbled. The only things I had left with were the review site, working on my next book, and the obvious conclusion that I couldn’t outrun Fibromyalgia. From that darkness, came the light. With no one left to impress, I found I was left alone to face myself. Out of the options, I decided that I needed to start looking within. Why couldn’t I make things work?

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Why did I keep setting myself up for failure? What was so inherently wrong about me that I deserved to get Fibromyalgia? It was a terrifying prospect taking off the mask to get to know the real me. I was sure that some horrendous monster lived beneath the well-organized and disciplined persona I had created. At the time, I knew with all my heart that somehow I deserved failure and pain. How strange that loving myself unconditionally could have been such an alien concept to me! Like everything in my life, the process took time. Every so often, I saw glimpses of my true self and felt moments of contentment. Not knowing how else to react, I often pushed harder trying to find myself, as if it were some sort of race. The ironic thing is that I always gain the most when I allow life to flow without judgment. It was during one of these periods that I started taking Reiki classes, which ultimately led to my creation of Whole Health Therapy for Fibromyalgia and Reiki for Fibromyalgia. Today, I make a solid effort to listen to my body while happily juggle my Fibromyalgia clients, the review site, and a little writing on the side. I can just imagine the ‘me’ of ten years ago pulling her hair out at the mere thought of my current life.

About the Author Dr. Tami Brady earned a BA and an MA in Archaeology and Heritage before turning her interests to alternative medicine (RP, RM, DD), largely due to her own experiences with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. Today she provides Whole Health Therapy sessions to help people with Fibromyalgia. She is the author of nine books the latest of which is Strategies: A Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Journey. More information about Tami, her Whole Health Therapy services, and her various publications can be found on her website atwww.tami-brady.com. Vol. I, No. 1


Emerge nce

Lyme Disease: A Death and Resurrection Marjorie Tietjen

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y life had never been particularly difficult. In fact I often felt guilty that others appeared to be struggling so, while for the most part, I seemed to sail smoothly along. Of course I had my little ups and downs, but never really experienced the ‘tragic’ in life. About 17 years ago, as I was driving to work one day, I vividly remember a conversation I had with God. “Dear God”, I said, “I am truly grateful for all the good in my life, but I feel as if I am spiritually stagnant, not growing, learning and helping others the way I feel I should be. So...if I need an experience to help me evolve and grow, please.... just don’t make it too difficult to bear.” Looking back, I can’t believe I was saying this! Little did I know what I was about to experience. As the year progressed, I gradually began to acquire odd unexplainable symptoms, such as tingling and numbness in various parts of my body, lower back pain, headaches, stiff and painful finger joints and fluctuating anxiety. I remember visiting our general family doctor for tingling and numbness in my arms and hands. Without testing of any sort, I was handed Valium. Of course, the Valium did not help. During this time I was working in the cafeteria where my small children attended school. This worked out well as I had the same schedule as my children. When school let out for the summer that year, we looked forward to our traditional activities—camping and boating. I will never forget the camping trip where my life was changed forever. One morning I woke up in our camper and felt extremely ill. It seemed as if I had September 2009

the flu but the symptoms were in some ways atypical. I was very weakened and sick and yet I could not sleep. What was the most unbearable to me, however, was the free-floating anxiety or panic—for no discernible reason. I would find myself pacing the floor, desperately trying to get away from it. I remember saying to myself that I would not wish this experience on anyone, not even my worst enemy. In the weeks and months to follow, I would plead with my dear family, who was so supportive and understanding (even though they couldn’t really understand), to just put me away in a mental institution because I felt as if I was losing my mind and I did not want to be a burden. I made an appointment with our family doctor and was given three weeks of antibiotics, just to be sure, in case I had Lyme disease. This was around 1989. They did not test me for Lyme at this point. I was told that it would be too early to show accurate results. It was assumed that if I did have Lyme, it must be from a recent bite. However, I feel the illness had been simmering in my body for quite some time. The treatment did not seem to touch my symptoms at all and in fact, I felt worse. The panic/anxiety became so intense that I was prescribed tranquilizers. For several months, when I was at my lowest point, I was unable to care for myself—or my children—so we temporarily moved in with my husband’s parents while my husband stayed at our home to continue working. Then the doctor decided that depression must be my problem so he prescribed antidepressants. He informed me that if needed, I could take up to three at a

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time. That night, I did end up taking three pills because they didn’t seem to be working and in fact ended up making the situation worse. I woke up in the early morning in a state of fear and with the thought that I needed help. As I went to the top of the stairs to call for assistance, I fainted and fell down the stairs. My seven-year-old son called the ambulance, which took me to the hospital. At the hospital, the doctors performed several tests, including a CAT scan of the head. When the doctor found nothing discernibly wrong with me, I was asked what I liked to do in my spare time. I told him I enjoyed boating with my husband. His only suggestion, before he sent me home, was to take more rides on the boat with my husband and that this would most likely make me feel better. When summer came to a close, it was time to return to work at the school. I was barely able to function but wanted to press on for fear that if I gave up and quit, my life would be over. At least this way, I thought I could keep up some sort of normalcy. My coworkers were not very understanding, to say the least. At times, I was so lightheaded and weak that I would immediately have to lie down on the cement floor in the stockroom to get the blood flow back to my head. With me, it wasn’t a matter of sleepiness but a simple inability to stay upright for very long. The women, I worked with, would say to me, “Well, we get tired too sometimes you know, but we don’t have to lie down!” Time went by, as I struggled every day to function, and I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Even though there was no cure, it felt good to have some diagnosis besides depression. I knew something was seriously wrong with me and that it wasn’t just “all in my head”. Actually, most of it was in my head, but in an organic way, and not psychologically. Every couple

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of weeks, a strange new neurological symptom would add itself to the others already in my repertoire. One of the most difficult parts was that most people just did not understand. How can anyone be so sick for so long while the doctors can’t find any concrete cause? I can’t blame them really. One has to have had this disease to appreciate the full implications of its diabolical fluctuating nature. Because I didn’t want people to feel that I was lazy or mentally ill, I set out to prove that I was really and truly organically sick. This drive led me to begin researching the vague diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). I would bring all my research to my doctors, hoping desperately that they would take an interest. My family doctor was very supportive but all the specialists I was sent to told me to accept my diagnosis; that I was depressed; and why was I doing all this researching? The doctors would tell me that diabetics, for instance, accept their disease and get on with their life, so why couldn’t I do the same? My neurologist told me that I should stop all the researching because I wouldn’t want her to get the wrong idea and that other doctors would also get the wrong idea about me. She was insinuating that I was crazy. I went home that day in tears. No one who is sick should have to be treated this way. Many patients with vague diagnoses, such as CFS and Fibromyalgia, often express the idea that they almost wished they had cancer so they would be taken seriously. Some have even expressed the thought that at least with cancer, many die and get it over with. After 8 years of having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, my research led me to Lyme disease. I noticed the symptoms of CFS and Lyme were extremely similar and decided I wanted to check this out. I made an appointVol. I, No. 1


ment with a Lyme literate doctor and began my still ongoing recovery. I was tested for Lyme disease by this doctor but the results were negative. However, I was treated anyway based on my history, symptoms, and the fact that I lived in a very endemic area. At first, my symptoms became worse, as I was warned. I was told that this was a good sign and meant that the antibiotics were hitting the target. I was on a high dose of oral doxycycline and it took four months before I even began to see any improvement and then finally, little by little, some of my symptoms began to fade away. It was a very slow process with many setbacks and flares but each month these cycles of flares would be reduced in severity. I learned that the setbacks and cycles were almost always temporary. I would often tell myself not to worry when an old scary symptom would reappear. Usually in three to four days, the particular symptom would disappear and another one would take it’s place. Again, in my experience, each month the symptom cycles were less and less severe. After four months of antibiotic treatment, I was retested and was now positive. The explanation I was given for this, which makes sense to me, is that those who are the sickest, most likely have the heaviest load of the Lyme bacteria. Many times, all of one’s antibodies are tied up to these bacteria in immune complexes. When the bacteria begin to be killed off, this frees up some of the antibodies, which can now be measured. So in other words, it is often those who are the sickest and chronically ill who test negative for Lyme disease when using antibody testing. Two years ago I had to switch to another doctor who specialized in Lyme disease. I was beginning to slip backwards because of breaks in treatment. I had never really been on consistent long-term treatment. This new September 2009

doctor had me tested with the Bowen test and I tested positive for Lyme and Babesia. Now that I am finally being treated consistently for the Lyme and the first time for Babesia, I feel as though I have my life back. During those many years in limbo, I felt as if I had lost my connection to God. Lyme disease had pretty severely affected my brain and nervous system, which made it difficult even to think, never mind to experience spiritual feelings. I couldn’t understand why I would have to go through a trial or experience, which would make it so difficult to feel God’s presence. As my thinking became clearer with treatment, my feelings of spirituality gradually began to reappear. I spent more and more time reading inspirational books. I wasn’t trying to be healed nor was I asking or seeking anything else material or specific. I just wanted to feel and be aware of the presence of Spirit or God. I wanted the joy and love and goodness I was receiving from God to flow through me and envelope those around me. As I focused in this way, I felt as if I have emerged from an egg into a new world of excitement, happiness, joy and love. So many wonderful people have crossed paths with me and for this I will be eternally grateful. Intuition seems to have increased; synchronicity abounds; and everyone I come into contact with is trying to serve humanity in their own special way. I have improved a great deal and seem to have acquired new abilities that I had never even dreamed of. It’s like watching a play unfold—a good play. I now feel as if I have a purpose in life. The thought of growing older and losing vitality now never crosses my mind. I am finding just the opposite to be true. Not that I will now be free of all problems, nor am I totally cured, but this illness has brought me

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to a point where I appreciate life and those around me; so much more. While I personally don’t believe that God sends evil or trials to us, I think our experiences reflect the degree to which we try to abide in Spirit. We all have a desire to know God and to feel God’s love so perhaps when we are focused on the wrong things, something inside us creates circumstances to head us in the right direction. So, despite the fact that I still have memory and organizational problems, and the world seems to be falling apart around us, I am experiencing a more consistent joy and assurance that in reality God is on the scene but that our real need is to open our awareness to this fact. Lyme can be a devastating disease but there is always hope, especially when we look for it in the right places. I am sensing, along with a growing number of others, that despite what the media is telling us, more and more people are coming together in the spirit of love and cooperation. This spirit of

love is the only thing that will truly heal our lives and the world. While, as many of you know, I feel we need to expose the corruption which is seemingly taking place all around us, it mustn’t be with a sense of hate, fear, or revenge. I can actually say, even though the Lyme journey has been a very difficult struggle, that if I could, I wouldn’t want to change a thing. I feel that the Lyme experience has brought me to a whole new place—one of wonder and amazement.

About the Author Marjorie Tietjen has a B.S. in nutrition from The State University of New York at Oneonta. She is a Lyme disease patient, activist and investigative journalist. Marjorie writes for The Public Health Alert, Peer Observations Magazine and she writes book reviews for The Price Pottenger Nutrition Foundation and for BookPleasures.com.

Irene Watson www.irenewatson.com “Brave and inspiring” —Barbara Robinette Moss

It’s never too late to change your life, it’s never too late to heal. Find your own wisdom within in The Sitting Swing: Finding Wisdom to Know the Difference ISBN: 978-1932690675 Publisher: Loving Healing Press (2009)

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Vol. I, No. 1


Psy Ke y

Sex, Gender, and Personality Disorders Sam Vaknin “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex (1949)

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n nature, male and female are distinct. She-elephants are gregarious, he-elephants solitary. Male zebra finches are loquacious—the females mute. Female green spoon worms are 200,000 times larger than their male mates. These striking differences are biological—yet they lead to differentiation in social roles and skill acquisition. Alan Pease, author of a book titled Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps, believes that women are spatiallychallenged compared to men. The British firm Admiral Insurance conducted a study of half a million claims. They found that “Women were almost twice as likely as men to have a collision in a car park, 23 percent more likely to hit a stationary car, and 15 percent more likely to reverse into another vehicle” (Reuters). Yet gender ‘differences’ are often the outcomes of bad scholarship. Consider Admiral insurance’s data. As Britain’s Automobile Association (AA) correctly pointed out, women drivers tend to make more short journeys around towns and shopping centers and these involve frequent parking. Hence their ubiquity in certain kinds of claims. Regarding women’s alleged spatial deficiency, in Britain, girls have been outperforming boys in scholastic aptitude tests— including geometry and math—since 1988. In an Op-Ed published by the New York Times on January 23, 2005, Olivia Judson cited this example “Beliefs that men are intrinsically better September 2009

at this or that have repeatedly led to discrimination and prejudice, and then they’ve been proved to be nonsense. Women were thought not to be world-class musicians. But when American symphony orchestras introduced blind auditions in the 1970s—the musician plays behind a screen so that his or her gender is invisible to those listening—the number of women offered jobs in professional orchestras increased. Similarly, in science, studies of the ways that grant applications are evaluated have shown that women are more likely to get financing when those reading the applications do not know the sex of the applicant.” On the other wing of the divide, Anthony Clare, a British psychiatrist and author of On Men wrote: “At the beginning of the 21st century it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that men are in serious trouble. Throughout the world, developed and developing, antisocial behavior is essentially male. Violence, sexual abuse of children, illicit drug use, alcohol misuse, gambling, all are overwhelmingly male activities. The courts and prisons bulge with men. When it comes to aggression, delinquent behavior, risk taking and social mayhem, men win gold.” Men also mature later, die earlier, are more susceptible to infections and most types of cancer, are more likely to be dyslexic, to suffer from a host of mental health disorders, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and to commit suicide. In her book, Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man, Susan Faludi describes a crisis of masculinity following the breakdown

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of manhood models and work and family structures in the last five decades. In the film Boys Don’t Cry (1999) based on the life of Brandon Teena, a teenage girl binds her breasts and acts the male in a caricatural relish of stereotypes of virility. Being a man is merely a state of mind, the movie implies. But what does it really mean to be a ‘male’ or a ‘female’? Are gender identity and sexual preferences genetically determined? Can they be reduced to one’s sex? Or are they amalgams of biological, social, and psychological factors in constant interaction? Are they immutable lifelong features or dynamically evolving frames of self-reference? In rural northern Albania, until recently, in families with no male heir, women could choose to forego sex and childbearing, alter their external appearance and ‘become’ men and the patriarchs of their clans, with all the attendant rights and obligations. In the aforementioned New York Times Op-Ed, Olivia Judson opines: “Many sex differences are not, therefore, the result of his having one gene while she has another. Rather, they are attributable to the way particular genes behave when they find themselves in him instead of her. The magnificent difference between male and female green spoon worms, for example, has nothing to do with their having different genes: each green spoon worm larva could go either way. Which sex it becomes depends on whether it meets a female during its first three weeks of life. If it meets a female, it becomes male and prepares to regurgitate; if it doesn’t, it becomes female and settles into a crack on the sea floor.” Yet, certain traits attributed to one’s sex are surely better accounted for by the demands of one’s environment, by cultural factors, the process of socialization, gender roles, and what George Devereux called ‘ethnopsychiatry’ in Basic Problems of

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Ethnopsychiatry (University of Chicago Press, 1980). He suggested to divide the unconscious into the id (the part that was always instinctual and unconscious) and the ‘ethnic unconscious’ (repressed material that was once conscious). The latter is mostly molded by prevailing cultural mores and includes all our defense mechanisms and most of the superego. So, how can we tell whether our sexual role is mostly in our blood or in our brains? The scrutiny of borderline cases of human sexuality—notably the transgendered or intersexed—can yield clues as to the distribution and relative weights of biological, social, and psychological determinants of gender identity formation. The results of a study conducted by Uwe Hartmann, Hinnerk Becker, and Claudia Rueffer-Hesse in 1997 and titled Self and Gender: Narcissistic Pathology and Personality Factors in Gender Dysphoric Patients, published in the International Journal of Transgenderism, “indicate significant psychopathological aspects and narcissistic dysregulation in a substantial proportion of patients.” Are these ‘psychopathological aspects’ merely reactions to underlying physiological realities and changes? Could social ostracism and labeling have induced them in the ‘patients’? The authors conclude: “The cumulative evidence of our study ... is consistent with the view that gender dysphoria is a disorder of the sense of self as has been proposed by Beitel (1985) or Pfäfflin (1993). The central problem in our patients is about identity and the self in general and the transsexual wish seems to be an attempt at reassuring and stabilizing the self-coherence, which in turn can lead to a further destabilization if the self is already too fragile. In this view the body is instrumentalized to create a sense of identity and the splitting Vol. I, No. 1


symbolized in the hiatus between the rejected body-self and other parts of the self is more between good and bad objects than between masculine and feminine.” Freud, Kraft-Ebbing, and Fliess suggested that we are all bisexual to a certain degree. As early as 1910, Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld argued, in Berlin, that absolute genders are ‘abstractions, invented extremes’. The consensus today is that one’s sexuality is, mostly, a psychological construct, which reflects gender role orientation. Joanne Meyerowitz, a professor of history at Indiana University and the editor of The Journal of American History observes, in her recently published tome, How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States, that the very meaning of masculinity and femininity is in constant flux. Transgender activists, says Meyerowitz, insist that gender and sexuality represent ‘distinct analytical categories’. The New York Times wrote in its review of the book: “Some male-to-female transsexuals have sex with men and call themselves homosexuals. Some female-to-male transsexuals have sex with women and call themselves lesbians. Some transsexuals call themselves asexual.” So, it is all in the mind, you see. This would be taking it too far. A large body of scientific evidence points to the genetic and biological underpinnings of sexual behavior and preferences. The German science magazine Geo reported recently that the males of the fruit fly ‘Drosophila melanogaster’ switched from heterosexuality to homosexuality as the temperature in the lab was increased from 19 to 30 degrees Celsius. They reverted to chasing females as it was lowered. The brain structures of homosexual sheep are different to those of straight sheep, a study conducted recently by the Oregon Health & Science University and the U.S. September 2009

Department of Agriculture Sheep Experiment Station in Dubois, Idaho, revealed. Similar differences were found between gay men and straight ones in 1995 in Holland and elsewhere. The preoptic area of the hypothalamus was larger in heterosexual men than in both homosexual men and straight women. According an article, titled When Sexual Development Goes Awry, by Suzanne Miller, published in the September 2000 issue of the World and I, various medical conditions give rise to sexual ambiguity. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), involving excessive androgen production by the adrenal cortex, results in mixed genitalia. A person with the complete androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS) has a vagina, external female genitalia and functioning, androgen-producing, testes—but no uterus or fallopian tubes. People with the rare 5-alpha reductase deficiency syndrome are born with ambiguous genitalia. They appear at first to be girls. At puberty, such a person develops testicles and his clitoris swells and becomes a penis. Hermaphrodites possess both ovaries and testicles (both, in most cases, rather undeveloped). Sometimes the ovaries and testicles are combined into a chimera called ovotestis. Most of these individuals have the chromosomal composition of a woman together with traces of the Y/male chromosome. All hermaphrodites have a sizable penis, though rarely generate sperm. Some hermaphrodites develop breasts during puberty and menstruate. Very few even get pregnant and give birth. Anne Fausto-Sterling, a developmental geneticist, professor of medical science at Brown University, and author of Sexing the Body, postulated, in 1993, a continuum of five sexes to supplant the current dimorphism: males, merms (male pseudohermaph-

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rodites), herms (true hermaphrodites), ferms (female pseudohermaphrodites), and females. Intersexuality (hermpahroditism) is a natural human state. We are all conceived with the potential to develop into either sex. The embryonic developmental default is female. A series of triggers during the first weeks of pregnancy places the fetus on the path to maleness. In rare cases, some women have a male’s genetic makeup (XY chromosomes) and vice versa. But, in the vast majority of cases, one of the sexes is clearly selected. Relics of the stifled sex remain, though. Women have the clitoris as a kind of symbolic penis. Men have breasts (mammary glands) and nipples. The Encyclopedia Britannica (2003) describes the formation of ovaries and testes thus: “In the young embryo a pair of gonads develop that are indifferent or neutral, showing no indication whether they are destined to develop into testes or ovaries. There are also two different duct systems, one of which can develop into the female system of oviducts and related apparatus and the other into the male sperm duct system. As development of the embryo proceeds, either the male or the female reproductive tissue differentiates in the originally neutral gonad of the mammal.” Yet, sexual preferences, genitalia, and even secondary sex characteristics—such as facial and pubic hair—are first order phenomena. Can genetics and biology account for male and female behavior patterns and social interactions (‘gender identity’)? Can the multi-tiered complexity and richness of human masculinity and femininity arise from simpler, deterministic, building blocks? Sociobiologists would have us think so. For instance: the fact that we are mammals is astonishingly often overlooked.

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Most mammalian families are composed of mother and offspring. Males are peripatetic absentees. Arguably, high rates of divorce and birth out of wedlock coupled with rising promiscuity merely reinstate this natural ‘default mode’, observes Lionel Tiger, a professor of anthropology at Rutgers University in New Jersey. That three quarters of all divorces are initiated by women tends to support this view. Furthermore, gender identity is determined during gestation, claim some scholars. Milton Diamond of the University of Hawaii and Dr. Keith Sigmundson, a practicing psychiatrist, studied the much-celebrated John/Joan case. An accidentally castrated normal male was surgically modified to look female, and raised as a girl, but to no avail. He reverted to being a male at puberty. His gender identity seems to have been inborn (assuming he was not subjected to conflicting cues from his human environment). The case is extensively described in John Colapinto’s tome As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl. HealthScoutNews cited a study published in the November 2002 issue of Child Development. The researchers, from City University of London, found that the level of maternal testosterone during pregnancy affects the behavior of neonatal girls and renders it more masculine. “High-testosterone girls enjoy activities typically considered male behavior, like playing with trucks or guns”. Boys’ behavior remains unaltered, according to the study. Yet, other scholars, like John Money, insist that newborns are a ‘blank slate’ as far as their gender identity is concerned. This is also the prevailing view. Gender and sexrole identities, we are taught, are fully formed in a process of socialization, which ends by the third year of life. The EncycloVol. I, No. 1


pedia Britannica 2003 edition sums it up thus: “Like an individual’s concept of his or her sex role, gender identity develops by means of parental example, social reinforcement, and language. Parents teach sex-appropriate behavior to their children from an early age, and this behavior is reinforced as the child grows older and enters a wider social world. As the child acquires language, he also learns very early the distinction between ‘he’ and ‘she’ and understands which pertains to him or herself.” So, which is it—nature or nurture? There is no disputing the fact that our sexual physiology and, in all probability, our sexual preferences are determined in the womb. Men and women are different—physiologically and, as a result, also psychologically. Society, through its agents—foremost amongst which are family, peers, and teachers—represses or encourages these genetic propensities. It does so by propagating ‘gender roles’—gender-specific lists of alleged traits, permissible behavior patterns, and prescriptive morals and norms. Our ‘gender identity’ or ‘sex role’ is shorthand for the way we make use of our natural genotypicphenotypic endowments in conformity with social-cultural ‘gender roles’. Inevitably as the composition and bias of these lists change, so does the meaning of being ‘male’ or ‘female’. Gender roles are constantly redefined by tectonic shifts in the definition and functioning of basic social units, such as the nuclear family and the workplace. The cross-fertilization of genderrelated cultural memes renders ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’ fluid concepts. One’s sex equals one’s bodily equipment—an objective, finite, and, usually, immutable inventory. But our endowments can be put to many uses, in different cognitive and affective contexts, and subject to varySeptember 2009

ing exegetic frameworks. As opposed to ‘sex’, ‘gender’ is, therefore, a socio-cultural narrative. Both heterosexual and homosexual men ejaculate. Both straight and lesbian women climax. What distinguishes them from each other are subjective introjects of socio-cultural conventions, not objective, immutable ‘facts’. In The New Gender Wars, published in the November/December 2000 issue of Psychology Today, Sarah Blustain sums up the ‘bio-social’ model proposed by Mice Eagly, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University and a former student of his, Wendy Wood, now a professor at the Texas A&M University: “Like (the evolutionary psychologists), Eagly and Wood reject social constructionist notions that all gender differences are created by culture. But to the question of where they come from, they answer differently: not our genes but our roles in society. This narrative focuses on how societies respond to the basic biological differences—men’s strength and women’s reproductive capabilities—and how they encourage men and women to follow certain patterns. “If you’re spending a lot of time nursing your kid”, explains Wood, “then you don’t have the opportunity to devote large amounts of time to developing specialized skills and engaging tasks outside of the home.” “And,” adds Eagly, “if women are charged with caring for infants, what happens is that women are more nurturing. Societies have to make the adult system work [so] socialization of girls is arranged to give them experience in nurturing.” According to this interpretation, as the environment changes, so will the range and texture of gender differences. At a time in Western countries when female reproduction is extremely low, nursing is totally optional, childcare alternatives are many, and

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mechanization lessens the importance of male size and strength, women are no longer restricted as much by their smaller size and by childbearing. That means, argue Eagly and Wood, that role structures for men and women will change and, not surprisingly, the way we socialize people in these new roles will change too. (Indeed, says Wood, ‘sex differences seem to be reduced in societies where men and women have similar status,’ she says. If you’re looking to live in more gender-neutral environment, try Scandinavia.)”

Gender Bias in Diagnosing Personality Disorders Ever since Freud, more women than men sought therapy. Consequently, terms like “hysteria’ are intimately connected to female physiology and alleged female psychology. The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the bible of the psychiatric profession) expressly professes gender bias: personality disorders such as Borderline and Histrionic are supposed to be more common among women. But the DSM is rather evenhanded: other personality disorders (e.g., the Narcissistic and Antisocial as well as the Schizotypal, Obsessive-Compulsive, Schizoid, and Paranoid) are more prevalent among men. Why this gender disparity? There are a few possible answers: Maybe personality disorders are not objective clinical entities, but culture-bound syndromes. In other words, perhaps they reflect biases and value judgments. Some patriarchal societies are also narcissistic. They emphasize qualities such as individualism and ambition, often identified with virility. Hence the preponderance of pathological narcissism among men. Women, on the other hand, are widely believed to be emotionally labile and clinging. This is why most Borderlines and Dependents are females.

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Upbringing and environment, the process of socialization, and cultural mores, all play an important role in the pathogenesis of personality disorders. These views are not fringe: serious scholars (e.g., Kaplan and Pantony, 1991) claim that the mental health profession is inherently sexist. Then again, genetics may be, is at work. Men and women do differ genetically. This may account for the variability of the occurrence of specific personality disorders in men and women. Some of the diagnostic criteria are ambiguous or even considered ‘normal’ by the majority of the population. Histrionics “consistently use physical appearance to draw attention to self.” Well, who doesn’t in Western society? Why when a woman clings to a man it is labeled ‘codependence’, but when a man relies on a woman to maintain his home, take care of his children, choose his attire, and prop his ego it is ‘companionship’ (Walker, 1994)? The less structured the interview and the more fuzzy the diagnostic criteria, the more the diagnostician relies on stereotypes (Widiger, 1998).

Quotes from the Literature “Specifically, past research suggests that exploitive tendencies and open displays of feelings of entitlement will be less integral to narcissism for females than for males. For females such displays may carry a greater possibility of negative social sanctions because they would violate stereotypical gender-role expectancies for women, who are expected to engage in such positive social behavior as being tender, compassionate, warm, sympathetic, sensitive, and understanding. In females, Exploitiveness/Entitlement is less well-integrated with the other components of narcissism as measured by the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI)— Vol. I, No. 1


Leadership/Authority, Self-absorption/Selfadmiration, and Superiority/Arrogancethan in males—though ‘male and female narcissists in general showed striking similarities in the manner in which most of the facets of narcissism were integrated with each other’.” Gender differences in the structure of narcissism: a multi-sample analysis of the narcissistic personality inventory—Brian T. Tschanz, Carolyn C. Morf, Charles W. Turner—Sex Roles: A Journal of Research—Issue: May, 1998 “Women leaders are evaluated negatively if they exercise their authority and are perceived as autocratic.” Eagly, A. H., Makhijani, M. G., & Klonsky, B. G. (1992). Gender and the evaluation of leaders: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 111, 3-22, and ... Butler, D., & Gels, F. L. (1990). Nonverbal affect responses to male and female leaders: Implications for leadership evaluations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58, 48-59. “Competent women must also appear to be sociable and likable in order to influence men—men must only appear to be competent to achieve the same results with both genders.” Carli, L. L., Lafleur, S. J., & Loeber, C. C. (1995). Nonverbal behavior, gender, and influence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 1030-1041.

About the Author Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Re-visited and 9 other books about personality disorders and abuse in relationships in various settings. He has also authored books in philosophy and economics. Download some of Sam Vaknin’s books here: http://www.narcissisticabuse.com/freebooks.html September 2009

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You have Two Options… RD Armstrong It all began rather innocently; at least that’s how I saw it, in my befuddled brain. I had a blister on my foot, which, for some reason, was taking its own sweet time healing. In actuality, the blister was more like a crater, a quarter inch deep and a little bit bigger across than a quarter. It kept oozing pus and blood; no matter how much Neosporin I put on it. Because I was working on a job, and couldn’t afford to stop, I just kept changing the dressing and hobbled around on my toes, hoping it would get better. This is when the Stupid White Man’s Disease kicked in. After about a week of this foolish behavior, I noticed my foot had started to swell up. It began to look like one of those Pickled Pig’s Feet you see in the soul food section of your neighborhood market. This was followed by my lower leg swelling to about double the size of my other leg; and then my knee, which became so swollen that it resembled a reddish-brown grapefruit half. And still I hobbled on, thinking that it would go away (perhaps by magic). Finally when my knee began to get dime-sized purple and blue splotches on it, I knew I had to go see the Doc. At the walk-in place on Willow, the Doc looked at my foot and said it looked funky but was fixable. He kept asking me if I was diabetic and I kept saying I didn’t know. But when I showed him my knee he kinda freaked out and said I was gonna have to go to the ER. I told him I didn’t have that kind of money or insurance and he said I’d have

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to go to the dreaded Harbor General (the place where all the po’ folks go; where you could catch more diseases in the waiting room than you could just about anywhere else; plus there was a 12 hour wait to see a doctor). So I screwed up my courage and drove myself over to Torrance to HG. I think I still thought they’d check me out and give me some antibiotics and some anti-inflammatories and send me home. I had a bad case of SWMD. I got there at 3:30 PM on 11/24. It wasn’t until 6:30 AM the following morning that I finally got someone to tell me what was going on. I was cranky from lack of sleep and food and (what seemed to me to be a lack of) follow thru by the staff. I practically pinned a Dr. against the wall and said, “Either you tell me what’s going on or I’m out of here!” That’s when he dropped the bomb on my skinny white ass; he said, “You’re a raging diabetic with a blood sugar rate of 320 (out of a possible 400—normal is around 110); your blood pressure is 189 over 90 (now its 121 over 60); you’ve got a septic infection in your knee; there might be a blood clot in your leg; and there’s a distinct possibility that you might lose your foot!” He said I was going to be admitted to the hospital in an hour or so and that I should go back to the waiting room and wait my turn like a good little guy. Well, needless to say, I was dumbfounded. I’d never been in a hospital before and I knew if I didn’t go now, there was a strong possibility that the next time I came thru the front door, I’d be wearing a toe-tag Vol. I, No. 1


Hum

September 2009

guys; two Hispanics, myself, and a guy from Somalia with around the clock supervision by some homeland security guards. While the rest of us were on a diabetic regime (2000 calories a day), he was eating 3000 + calories a day. Sometimes his guards would sit up all night long watching TV, eating burgers and fries, and talking a blue streak while we tried to sleep. My bed was next to the door; they’d go out to take a smoke; and they had a nasty habit of leaving it ajar, even after they’d come back inside; so I spent a number of nights freezing my ass and trying to sleep. Fortunately, my fevers kept me warm, and the T3 (Tylenol with Codeine) that they gave me for pain let me drift in and out. Eventually, I let it be known that I didn’t appreciate their shenanigans. Imagine a room with TV’s blaring Spanish language shows and 60s reruns of Get Smart and Star Trek. Then add the beeping of drip monitors and chattering nurses. Finally mix into that being awakened every so often so they can change out your IV, check your blood sugar, and shoot you with insulin. I don’t think I got more than four hours of sleep a night for the first 5 nights. The food was lukewarm, over cooked, and bland. But, at least, I still had my right foot; the two Hispanic guys were not so lucky. My primary Doc, a Sikh, complete with turban and beard, named Dr. S, had said to me on my first morning, “You have two options, I can cut off your foot or put you on antibiotics…” and the way he looked at me, I thought he was going to whip out a Scimitar and cut it right off, there and then, on the bed. I think I dreamed that night of him dancing down the hall with that Scimitar in his hand and a sash around his waist with severed feet hanging off it like so many souvenirs. I quickly said something like, “please sir, could I have door number two?” Thus began my adventure with the medical busi-

or

and a black zippered bag. An argument broke out in my head, which went like this: you know you want to die and here’s your chance! Wait wait! I know I talk a lot about wanting to go sooner rather than later, but I don’t know if that’s really true...Life hasn’t been a bowl of cherries, for sure, but too many people are depending on me, to just give up now would be stupid. I made a few calls to let my mom and a few of my friends know where I’d disappeared to and waited for my name to be called. Soon I was in the main ER (apparently the room I’d spent the last fifteen hours in was merely a triage area) wearing nothing but a gown and on a gurney with monitoring devices plugged into my chest and an IV drip of potassium fluids and antibiotics going into my arm. A string of Docs came by, each saying the same thing as the one before, some trying to assure me that it would all be ok, some making me think that I was a living pariah ruining their morning. I soon lost track of the time and would only know if it was day or night by the changing light (though the first 25 hours I had no clue). They X-rayed me and checked me for blood clots, which was kind of cool—they used an ultra-sound device and I could hear my blood flow—it sounded like some Pink Floyd special effects. Good news, no blood clot; just a swollen leg. Then I was parked in an exam room for 6 hours or so before being told that I’d have to go to another hospital since there were no rooms available. In my mind’s eye, a little calculator was guesstimating how much all this was going to cost, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I was playing on their court now, so I had to play by their rules. Their rules suck, btw. So, I ended up in Rancho Los Amigos, a county hospital in Downey. I came to call it The Circus. I was in a room with three other

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ness. It started on November 25th and ended on December 9th, almost two weeks later to the day. Now, I’m taking high blood pressure meds, vitamins, and two kinds of Insulin that I have to shoot into myself after every meal and before I go to bed. I’m on a 2000 calorie a day diet and I’ve had to quit drinking alcohol (the least of my worries at this point). My heel is mending quite well and the incision that Dr. C made in my knee last week (to drain the infected fluid—all 16 or so ounces of it—another exciting story which I’ll save for another time) is also healing quite well. I have a removable cast that looks like a boot, that I have to wear 24/7 (including while I sleep), except when I’m changing my dressings and/or bathing. I checked my blood sugar, made my first meal tonight, and shot my insulin for the first time by myself. In a while, I will check my blood sugar again, have a snack and give myself another shot, all before trying to go to sleep without the cacophony I have come

to know in the last two weeks. It’ll be weird not being poked and stabbed by nurses, but I hope I’ll make the transition, eventually.

About the Author Published in nearly 300 journals, magazines, anthologies and E-zines, Raindog has four books out in 2008: Fire and Rain Vols. 1 & 2 (Selected Poems – 1993-2007); On/ Off the Beaten Path (Road Poems) and El Pagano (Short Stories). Aside from that he operates the Lummox Press, which publishes the Little Red Book series (59 titles to date) and has just published The Long Way Home – the Best of the Little Red Book series 1998-2008 ediited by RD Armstrong. Lummox Press published New and Selected Poems by John Yamrus (2008), and The Riddle of the Wooden Gun by Todd Moore (2009). All can be viewed/purchased at www.lummoxpress.com or at www.amazon.com

Get Your Message Heard in Recovering the Self Journal Advertise for as low as $75 per 1/2 page! * Run Length 1 issue 2 issues 4 issues

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Vol. I, No. 1


Poe t Artists

Bobbi Sinha-Morey

Bruce Dethlefsen

ry

The Highest Star (for Denise) I’ll look to the brightest star when you are gone on your passage to heaven and know you were like a diamond in the grayness of my life before you left me broken as if from a dream. In the morning the sun stole me from sleep and told me to breathe in its light to let the new day begin. I didn’t expect to waken again, but the brightness you gave me let me risk joy in the raw wind and I cried to myself yes, the warmness of April is here. I’ll lean towards spring now that it’s come and I’ll dance in the wet grass grateful for the water on my skin.

Bobbi Sinha-Morey is a reviewer for the online magazine Specusphere, and a poet. Her poetry has been published in places such as Falling Star Magazine, Poetry Cemetery, Orbis, Smile, Oak Bend Review, Pirene’s Fountain, and Smile, among others. Her latest books of poetry, The Quiet Scent Of Jasmine and Stillness In The Garden Of Light, are available at www.ebooksonthe.net. September 2009

we chase the moon too hard sometimes and stumble in the stars that sparkle always blinds us we trip and tumble down we suffocate in stardust drown in floodlight and still recreate we sing we write we dance we paint we one more time in space ourselves remake return

retune

gracefully we rise again we're artists grateful for another dreadful chance to chase the moon

Bruce Dethlefsen is a retired library director and educator. His third book of poems, Breather, was published by Fireweed Press in February, 2009. He plays bass and sings in his “geezer” band, annaRANaway. Bruce is the secretary of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets and lives in Westfield, Wisconsin.

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the day I left hospital

Charles P. Ries

Christopher Barnes

Lover’s kiss, Snow White Stays stone cold Rejection No redemption In the modern world

the tree is laughing at me

Alone Without air Minding wrong things Circling voices Pin pricking me Bled red

power my nose when the wind blows

As I jump Imaginary arms Catch me So free to fly So far to fall

Charles P. Ries lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His work has appeared in over two hundred print and electronic publications. He is the poetry editor for Word Riot. He is on the board of the Woodland Pattern Bookstore and a member of the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission. You may find additional samples of his work by going to: http://www.literati.net/Ries/

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I’m inorganic keep my fragments in a plastic bag

there is a great cough in the sky the lightning is pointing at me I’m special like a snail inside a rock or a broken piano

Christopher Barnes 1998 won a Northern Arts writers award in 1998. In July 200 he read at Waterstones bookshop to promote the anthology Titles Are Bitches. Each year he reads for Proudwords lesbian and gay writing festival and partakes in workshops. 2005 saw the publication of his collection LOVEBITES published by Chanticleer Press. Vol. I, No. 1


The Shadow

Early Days

Ingerid White

Janet Tobin

Unmask thyself, o fiend And let thy hideous face be seen Thy counterparts are made of straw No one really stands in awe Of thee or thy sweet manners, dear So shrivel up and dry those tears Thy face consists of putty soft Which thy can mold and hold aloft And say, "O my, but aren't I sweet?" When true, thy mind smells much of feet They see thee as thou never will Though thou may sit and fret and frill Away the hours of the day Remove the snow from out the sleigh Or give the bony horse its hay Or curse the children as they play

Acacias blooming and scruffy clouds go blowing by. That’s what this day looks like—a partial truth, For hidden in the earth are other treasures waiting Longer days and warmer temperatures. My heart is melting from a decade’s freeze, And love comes trickling out of closed off places. My mind has loosed its grasp on ancient anger, To listen once again to silence. This day is full and precious, of that I’m certain. I smell the promise on the wind and sense The river deep inside the earth. I set my back against the wind and follow Love’s Vibration in this dance through time.

So thou must sit and draw thyself Up on that space thou callst a shelf And hide away thy feelings deep Which should be out, not back in sleep Behind the slumbers of thy brain And shadowed, as the clouds by rain

Ingerid White is a graduate in journalism with an emphasis on news/editorial, and has served in different capacities in advertising and publishing around the world. She has writtenfor magazines, newspapers, and the Internet. Ingerid is passionate about reading, photography, writing, music, and dance. September 2009

Janet Tobin is a visionary poet and spiritual counselor, living and writing in rural Sonoma County. She is a veteran seeker, having survived many years of psychotherapy, mainstream religion, and multiple 12 Step programs. Watch for Janet’s upcoming collection of poems and essays, Beyond the Rutabagas.

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A Brief Walk Mark Wisniewski irritated by light from the hall graveyard-shift voices & the itch of oxygen tubes in my nostrils I yanked out both tubes detached wires from the electrodes on my chest swung my legs off the bed careful not to reopen my sternum

I stopped near the couch faced the window behind it thus peering into an upper floor of a partially constructed new wing & I marveled

then I was sitting using fingers that worked to ring my own number

then I craned my neck to notice beside the construction a slice of clear sky

2 messages: a hangup & an editor of a magazine in which my work had never appeared & here she was

I hadn’t considered the sky in 6 days & though my legs wanted to walk a bit more

accepting me I enjoyed a shiver stood & placed one foot in front of the other: the first time I’d walked since they’d sawed me & I kept going to the end of the hall where a small visiting room offered a couch & tv

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at how humans can lay concrete so high & imagined this project finished: heart patients within none of them me

my eyes wouldn’t leave that dawn

Mark Wisniewski is the author of One of Us One Night, Confessions of a Polish Used Car Salesman, and All Weekend With the Lights On. He’s won a Pushcart Prize, the 2006 Tobias Wolff Award, the 2006 Cattarulla Award, and a 2006 Isherwood Foundation Fellowship, and his work is published or forthcoming in venues including Poetry, Antioch Review, Barrelhouse, and The Best American Short Stories 2008. Vol. I, No. 1


Poe t ry

Mors gemini mei (variation on Catulli carmina 101)

Beyond the Edge Richard King Perkins II

Murray Alfredson Half a continent I’ve sat inside a dry-aired tube of metal lined with plastic and flown to see you on your way, wombbrother. Nothing I have to give you now; and even the clothes I’m wearing were your jaunty suit. (I’ve startled some who saw me in the church, who almost took me for you back from death.) Coffin gifts in any case are little worth, and burn up with your mottled corpse. All I have to offer is my love and anger at you for dying, for robbing me of long-hoped company. I leave my anger with you to burn away to ashes; but carry what love I’ve left, forward to whatever comes.

Her contrasts skim and rustle quite unprepared for this peculiarity. Gazing past a startle of phrasing the world has things to be saddened by. As a death scream she has exploded them from her body gusting among reeds, teeming full, every word breathes rain, a black swan flows. Is it over? Have we come so far — speak the minders of a benediction, her risen soul. Heroic deeds are now pointless, no smile adorns her golden-age fugue. The woman is more than perfected — she is the slightest hairline perfection.

Murray Alfredson is a former librarian, lecturer and Buddhist Associate in the Multi-Faith Chaplaincy at Flinders University. He has been published in The Middle Way, Cadenza, Eremos; Orbis, Overland, and other journals, and a collection, ‘Nectar and Light’, in New Poets. He has won a High Beam poetry award 2004, and the Poetry Unhinged Multicultural Poetry Prize 2006. He lives by Gulf St. Vincent in South Australia. September 2009

Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He has a wife, Vickie, a daughter, Sage and five adult stepchildren. His poetry has appeared in hundreds of journals including The Red Cedar Review, International Poetry Review, and Sierra Nevada College Review.

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Our Banyan Tree Sweta Vikram Amongst all her siblings, my mother thought her oldest brother was the fittest. With a smile deep as the Ganges, he did defy age and malady with grace. Fat loathed him; freckles chastised his flawless skin and benevolent heart. In his late sixties with naturally black moustache, the oldest of his siblings, my uncle stood like the tall, unshakeable banyan tree, humbly providing shade to his branched family. Then one day, the phone rang. The ring was ominous, as if someone had scooped out my insides with a serrated spoon. I heard the news even before the voice at the other end spoke. Amongst tears and fears, without any ultimatum, my uncle had moved on. I cried until my eyes couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t feel any more sorrow. I wondered, with the strong banyan tree gone, what would happen to its branches, tomorrow?

Sweta Srivastava Vikram is an author, poet, writer, blogger, and marketing professional living in NYC. Born in India, Sweta spent her formative years between the blue waters of Libya and the green hills of Mussoorie. In 2008, Pabulum, her first book of poetry, was published. In March 2009, one of Swetaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s stories appeared in the short stories collection Inner Voices. She is a graduate of the Columbia University in New York.

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Vol. I, No. 1


Fict io n

The Blue Room Christine Bruness

Would you care for another, ma’am?” Sean, the tall slender bartender, with blonde spiked hair and small green eyes, asked the owner of the establishment, Miss Serena Sinclair. “Yes, please. Thank you,” Serena softly replied. She pushed her cobalt blue empty martini glass towards Sean. She lit a cigarette and scanned the small blue colored bar. No unknown patrons this late afternoon; just three loyal middle-aged male regulars, sitting quietly in the serene sapphire blue atmosphere, having their usual fix before the lonely journey home. “Here you are, my dear.” Sean placed a new drink on the bar directly in front of her. “Cheers, my friend.” Serena lifted her glass and toasted to Sean. They exchanged smiles and then he tended to the other patrons. Serena stared at herself in the large mirrored wall behind the bar. Her dark complexion contrasted dramatically with her white cotton sleeveless dress. Her skin appeared to be in excellent condition, making it difficult for one to properly assess her age of 40 years. Her long thick curly black hair was adorned with a white lily that she purchased from the floral shop around the corner. She purchased a variety of flowers at least twice a week and placed them in deep blue vases around the bar. She enjoyed garnishing her hair with them as well. A single flower in her hair and her sterling silver peace-sign pendant necklace seemed to be her trademarks. “Oh, Vera, it never gets any easier without you,” Serena sighed to herself. Her large September 2009

hazel eyes swelled with tears as she put out the cigarette butt in the blue glass ashtray. “Sean, I will be back shortly.” Serena rose from the bar stool and headed towards her small backroom office. “Of course. No problem,” Sean assured her. The Blue Room’s office was clean, small, and simple: just a medium sized desk, three chairs, two file cabinets, a small copy machine, computer, phone, and general office supplies. On the sapphire blue walls hung framed statements about peace: ‘Peace Is A Choice’, ‘Peace Begins Within’, ‘Peace Is Eternal’, (behind this one hid the wall safe) ‘Peace Is Freedom’, ‘Peace Be With You’, and ‘Peace Is A Beautiful State Of Being’, surrounded her in 11"x14" black metal frames. On the desk, stood a singular 5"x7" sterling silver-plated frame of Serena’s departed lover, Vera. Vera, in the picture, had chocolate skin, short black hair, with a wide smile, and big brown eyes that radiated warmth and kindness of the soul. “It’s time for me to light you a fresh candle, baby.” Serena lit a new patchouliscented one (Vera’s favorite scent) and placed it into the large blue candle-holder. “Here…there we go. It’s about all I can do for you, now.” She stared at the photo a few moments longer and then took a tissue from the desk to wipe her eyes. “Peace and joy are choices, right?” Serena laughed. “I know, I know…it’s hard to live it all the time, though, baby…it’s hard to live it—without you.” She massaged the back of her neck. “I am doing more and more each day on

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a personal level to create peace, just like you always hoped that I would do. I got the bar looking really calm and serene and I am mindful of my speech and actions, you know? Like you said, peace does start with me; I know that now.” “You’re family wouldn’t let me cremate you, like you wanted. I still feel guilty about that; but…there was nothing I could do about it. They still won’t talk to me. Said I made you ‘evil’ and ‘brainwashed’ you to make you gay. Can you imagine?” Serena laughed with a deep hint of sadness. “As if anyone could be capable of such a thing!” “My family won’t speak to me, either, still. Such progress, ha? I had to have been named ‘Serena’ for a reason, right? All I can do is let them know that I still choose to love them regardless of how they feel about me. I still send birthday and holiday cards and they all come back ‘Return to Sender’. I keep hoping they’ll come around before it’s too late, Vera. Your death taught me the fleetingness of it all.” “That night…that night you were killed still plays in my head every day. If only we weren’t holding hands, I think to myself, maybe that wouldn’t have drawn the attention to us in the first place. I was just so thrilled to see you so happy and alive with dreams on your birthday that night. I wanted to hold my lover’s hand. I was so proud of you—of us. We were ecstatic about your acceptance into med school. We had our whole future together planned out. We were on fire with life that evening! Who would have thought that man who was hassling us could’ve had a gun?” “Oh…I can’t go back, can I? All I can do is wake up every day and try to make the world better. I want a world where two women can hold hands walking down the street without being hassled and ostracized and KILLED! My goodness, what a world!”

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Serena ‘collected’ herself by taking deep breaths. She inhaled, held for ten seconds, and then exhaled deeply. In with the positive, out with the negative…. “I went online and joined every peace and human rights organization I came across, too. You’re looking at a proud cardcarrying member of over 150 organizations, baby! Whenever I can, I make donations in your memory. When the bar does well, I gladly ‘spread the wealth’, so to speak. It’s become my life now.” “Happy birthday, Vera-Baby” Serena kissed Vera’s photo and returned it gently to its place on the desk. She removed the white lily from her hair and placed it in front of the photo, next to the burning candle. She turned off the office light and opened the door to exit. “Peace is eternal,” Serena whispered, “my mantra for survival.”

About the Author Christine Bruness is an award winning author and artist who has been a creative free spirit her whole life. She has recently received a Pushcart Prize nomination for her poetry book, Alley Cat. Christine has had hundreds of poems, articles, and artwork published, and is the author of three published books. She is a lifelong cat lover who lives with her beloved husband, Richard, and their two cherished cats: Daisy and Shadow. Strays/visiting cats often stop by and are always welcomed and fed.

Vol. I, No. 1


Ficti on

She Had Not Slept for a Long Time Matthew Ward

C

eleste sat by herself in her Sydney apartment. Sitting down with her knees against her chest, sitting on the bare-timbered floor in the lounge room in the corner of the room sometime early in the morning, staring into the room in darkness—semi darkness—the curtains & verticals drawn, the early morning light just trying to seep through. That tan-gold tinge from the early morn & the gold of the floor so lacquered, a bit roughly, but there was the wideness of the boards, & this was an old, old place. The windows & door had remained closed for God knows how long & the air was stuffy & stale. A room that smelt of sweat & air & just stuffiness in general. She wore a pair of jeans with the ripped legs that was so in vogue years ago, but these were gone naturally through the kneeling & falling etc in the regular wearing & the knees first ripping around even in the seat, her knickers seen through the ass when she stood—but now she sat. No makeup, her face looking all washed out with whitewash or something white, the eyes looked as if lined with mascara but her blackness around the eyes was due to the fact that she had not slept for a long time, perhaps a week perhaps two weeks, maybe even months, she did not know nor did she think of this much. Head leaning on the knees every now & then & not moving the position of sitting as she felt like being the martyr, wanted to suffer, you know this surely? Coughing, the throat dry but no energy September 2009

to get up & get water. The bottle next to her smiling, shining in the early morning light that crept in like John Donne’s sun in the poem about interrupting the lovers, you know?—with the supposed theme & metaphor of challenging God & God’s position in the great hierarchical pyramid awaiting for some to climb & fall & others—the rest—to just stay in the station allotted? The bottle was sherry or muscat or one of the other filthy fortified wines so popular with drunks & it pains me to say that Celeste—oh once heavenly creature who flew as one of the wing-eddddd ones—had now become a drunk, & she knew it & swam through it like it was Eden—a next world of happiness; the bottle smiled, a dribble drop of amber light-colored fluid branched, braced on the threaded end near the neck with the sparkle like bombshell Sharon Stone’s twinkle snatch interrogation scene in Basic Instinct. The label on the bottle, gentle reader of my words, obscured against the wall not wanting to see another like the derrohs—the derelicts on the wharf who do the same but in different ways, the sherry & the muscat & the port & not forgetting the metho filtered through day old loaves of bread & tinted with tepid orange drink to make it appear more seemly & taste more seemly, like a cheap Screwdriver down in one of the less expensive dives in the town. Celeste jerking the bottle up with her right hand, taking the neck to her mouth, the bangles on the wrist dangling, jingling in the early morning; the day must have been

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Sunday she thought as there was little noise, then the bells of the church—so either that or it was a holiday or that someone had died & there was a church but she wondered whether they rang bells for funerals; they did for weddings she knew that, but for funerals?—she wondered whether people liked to be awoken from their slumber so delicious by funeral or wedding or regular Sunday bells, then realized it must have been Sunday & then she realized the concept of days, & then... the concept of concept. No sound or even music from the next apartment, the people there usually stayed up listening to retro rock clip shows on the television doing booze & tokes & the rest, tag-team shagging in the several rooms as they were all seeing someone or everyone!— she knew that as she used to (now & then) with Isaac (the maybe father) go in there on some nights when they had parties—allnight drinking binges—& she recalled that on one night she & Isaac had got it on in one of the rooms! They bolted the door, then onto the bed on top of the coats that people had dropped there on their way to the lounge room; on top of great-coats & leather jackets, denim jackets & a few purses also moved aside as they got in the way. Isaac on top of her, both of them silent at the time with the music heard thumping from the other rooms & the people there too singing or just talking in the halls: & here we have Celeste & Isaac then-eternal lovers on the bed of one of their neighbors doing the wild thing as they say, her moisty oceanic knickers thumbed aside & the easy ready access through the opening up through the middle of the long flowing skirt, the giggles at first as this was a funny situation & if I recall they had finished a couple a glasses of wine so they were tipsy & happy; then there was a knock at the door, Isaac’s “Hang on...” then Celeste’s laughter,

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Isaac’s “Shhh...”, his laughing as well, then a kind of change of mood through the sexual ecstasy tunnel where it would occur that if anyone broke in through the door, if they knocked the thing down neither of them would have cared in the slightest as OrGaSm was the place that both of them wanted to go, that was the purpose there & adding to the fact that they were in a strangers’ house & this was sorta naughty. But there was no music next door now— now they were all asleep next door; Celeste crouched where she was, her knees up against her chest, as I said, the sherry bottle—‘old browndog’ as it was called by some, & she only drank this as there was nothing else left in the place, she had delved into the clink-clink booze cabinet days before, then went to the shelves in the kitchen & had taken the dregs from bottles left there before at parties that she & Isaac had had, parties that she & her ex-ex-boyfriend Keller—the one she dismissed & eventually caused to mope into the sunset—had had before the boredom had set in. Keller hadn’t gone with her to the clinic when she did it. Isaac either. No one did. She didn’t know who the father was. She didn’t tell anyone. This was the price she paid for being nice & sweet, & then blossoming into a Free-ForAll upon approaching the Big 3-Oh. She was in her 30th birthday month already, she believed—it had come finally & she knew it would come to her eventually & here it was but she was so fucked up with piss & lack or sleep that she was unfamiliar with whether it was a week ago—the birthday—or that it may be a week to go—she didn’t know. She had set the answering machine 2 weeks before to say she was going to Melbourne & this was something she promised to herself that she did not want to spend her 30th with her friends or family or anyone Vol. I, No. 1


who knew her—as she hated getting old— she just wanted to get on the train & go to Melbourne & hang out there, then come home to prevent anyone wishing happy birthday coz she didn’t want this, you know?—so the answering machine was set with her voice more crystalline before she went into this dive (she took the bottle & swigged it again, the face smarting with the filth of this drink that she drank, almost spitting it out but keeping it in) & now & again at any time of the clock there would be the phone ring just heard as she had turned the volume down, then her voice on the machine heard there in the lounge room in the dark & the machine was in the bedroom & she could not remember the last time that she went to bed, the last time she spent the time of the night or the day for that matter in the bed, in that bedroom, the place where it all happened—the machine would hum then come on with her voice: “Hi guys, Celeste here... ummmm... I’ll be in Melbourne for the next couple of weeks so if you wanna leave a message after the beep then I will call you when I get back. Bye...” The message then after by someone who just had an Australian accent, Celeste could never pick the message as it was too far away but she tried to listen then to shut it off in case she did listen... & she had no intention of listening as she had no idea or intention of loving anyone at this stage. She had been in a safe relationship with boring & frugal but safe Keller, threw it all away to ‘dance’ with other men & didn’t have the opportunity (read, guts) to end the relationship with him. Keller, love-wrenched fool that he was, hung on, sleeping in the back room on the floor, cramming the corners of blanket into his ears to block out the rutting moans of Celeste & any number of much younger beaus from her bedroom. She knew September 2009

what she did, & she felt bad. She had justified it in her mind, but still she felt a cold pain in her heart. Another swig from the bottle—sucking it this time, fellating it—wanting as much of the stuff in her mouth in her as well as possible as this was a punishment time for her, a flagellation. A bleary-eyed vision looking through shades so earthy so gold her head throbbing but dulling the more she drank, so at the time as she sat there this was the answer to drink the viscous fortified wine— she was a wino, a drunk-ard & she was proud for some reason, & she pictured those pictures, drawings, etchings or whatever they were of the time when there was the Great Fire of London or something—oh that’s right, the Great Plague, the Black Death, then after with all these people drinking cheap gin & falling down laughing all emaciated not eating anything & drinking nothing but gin... & letting their babies die—Hogarth was responsible for the art— she had learned this from year 8 history at age 14—she remembered this & this was one of the few history things that interested her & this was probably due to the fact that she respected the teacher & she liked him in a father-figure way thing like many of the other girls in the class much louder & verbose in their newly found sexuality (& Celeste was quiet, she was shy-er than now, she was shy). Another swig from the bottle, the phone in blurry ring again then the again repeat performance of Celeste in her recorded stardom in her recorded element & the message again, & the either stilted reply message or the hang-up coz you know how people refuse utterly refuse to use the answering machine & when they do they spend hours wondering if they sounded stupid & wish they could go back & change their response or to erase the message entirely a la George

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in ‘Seinfeld’? Another upturned bottle & the last of the sherry went into or on top of Celeste, the fluid spilling a bit on her shirt all dirty with perspiration & it looked like this would be another scorcher & the weather man had probably been advertising this for weeks but Celeste had little idea as the last time she had heard the news on the ‘early morning work get up’ clock radio had been weeks ago, so she guessed in the stupor that she should have been in that position there on the floor—her friend, her lover—for a few weeks at least. It was December sometime near Xmas but any month just after June is so close to Xmas isn’t it?—Xmas will soon be here won’t it? daddy mummy can I have this can I have that? I will go without everything all my pocket money ‘til I am 23 if you get me that can you? can you? please—oh xmas will be here & the billions upon of brochures advertising bargains that all wanted & used the ole reliable plastic cards to pay for it coz everyone knows that using the cards means you get it all for FREE!— that is until the new year when the wolves come a’calling, the friends send the wolves & do just enough understanding to last one week then send the letters & then the red letters & finally the wolves themselves present themselves on the doorstep; oh Xmas of my dreams included Santa & snow but in the southern hemisphere you try telling that to kids, & they seem to adjust, even when they have their own May-July Xmas I think winter with no snow, & they adjust. Xmas is a time for children, & her child loved Xmas... would have loved Xmas... What could I watch if television was on? She thought if she had a television it would have made the whole process a lot easier, & the neighbor’s apartment downstairs that Keller was so fond of entering to watch TV had gone months ago, had moved to the

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west to work on a construction site someone had said, but she had little idea coz by the time they went Celeste was not speaking to them—Celeste had a habit of rubbing her friends up the wrong way if you haven’t already guessed & her friends at the present would count one, if you can count yourself as a friend & when one is short of friends & seeking them the numbers people are very important—& you can always count on yourself as a numbers person, man or girl regardless. The bottle thrown skidding across the wooden floor, stopping at a skirt short so cheap in the looking in the middle of the room—Celeste trying in vain to see it but only the blur & the short-sightedness so ever denied didn’t help either. Sirens now & then the early morning warnings the early morning emergencies she guessed or just the emergency guys—the cops firemen ambulance—letting off steam maybe, & the temperature of the day might possibly see the fire season start again (if it hadn’t already started again of course, & this could be the case). Ring of the phone yet again, but these stopped after a while & it was plain to see that certain people cared & others just lost their patience. She had not told her work she was taking time off & this was probably them asking understandably so, ‘What is the go?’—& what was?—Celeste had no concept & the concept was unknown to anyone. Celeste knew this & this made it gospel, so it was true. She knocked her head on the wall behind accidentally & said ouch & it took half & hour before she realized she said it. Midnight she guessed now, the stupor the sleep had come & her joints ached as if she had been sitting in this position forever, & she had by the way. Still drunk, had found another bottle of port this time in the Vol. I, No. 1


cupboard this time & drank it like the sherry this time & she noticed by the fluid on the floor this time that she had been sick or rather that someone else had been sick as she had no idea of anything—she had also pissed herself, the puddle–little stream had visited there & then evaporation but now only the stain. ••• Moon through the slats in the verticals again & this was the second night where the moon came through & it was hot where she was & the stench! The cane chair in the corner of the room all painted in the blue paint that looked so cute when Keller had painted it when they first met—he had bought it at one of those flea market things on the Sunday morning, you know? & he had painted it & there it sat in the corner of the room & Celeste noticed that the window was now open & the verticals were separated letting in the air & the wind outside it blew in gentle, gentle wisps blowing the white curtains, light—they were in their thickness back & forth & the then darkness shadow over the chair taken over with the light, just so! so! so! white but almost blue in its hue the light of the chair like a beacon & here we have Celeste sitting in this same position as the beginning of the story looking at the light coming in & not stopping once to amaze herself or wonder at why in the hell, why the curtain had blown, how the verticals had been opened, how the window was opened when she didn’t open it. The blackness or more graphite in its gray blackness blowing the curtain there & the blue & then the baby sat there!—in nappy & cute bought top there chubby wrists slowly shaking a rattle of yellow but looking white there in the light, stripes of the shadow across the face of the child & she was a girl. The wind dying down, the baby’s gurSeptember 2009

gling high-pitched sounds. The cars outside now & then the middle of the night driving probably taking babies around to get them to sleep, she thought, like when she was a baby & couldn’t sleep. Drinking without thinking from the port bottle—evil senseless liquid like medicine almost you know that brown medicine that kids drank to get high? the bottles that were found in the alley on the way to school? & the bottles that were bought from the local corner store on the way to school? & the stuff that contained codeine & belladonna—these were the elements that attracted? & that all the kids knew this?—well the medicine tasted like the cheap port & visee-versee & the feeling it gave was more or less the same although with the port there was more or less a more savage throat afterfeeling. The child there looking at her chubby feet there as she sat on the chair there in the moonlight the child a couple of months old & looking so healthy there, so content, so quiet & engrossed with the rattle, then looking directly at Celeste, holding the rattle to Celeste who saw everything else in the room as a blurry mess like the marbled paper of 4th class craft classes but with the baby there was a clarity & she saw the offering— the brightest clearest eyes looked at the most OUTofIT eyes in Celeste’s—she sat where she was looking for ages & not knowing. She sat there not knowing what to do or say, that maybe she should call someone. “Is she mine?....” she heard herself utter. “She’s mine... must be mine.... I can’t even remember recall (recall) being pregnant... having it... but she looks like me doesn’t she?” The baby smiled. “She must be mine... hello... hello there, are you mine?” The curtain blew into the baby’s face covering her for a few seconds, the baby covered with the curtain the shape of the baby evident like a shroud... playing there

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contentedly next to the window, playing with the rattle, looking into the Moon’s light so blue-white, the beam of the Moon, the smiles & giggles of the baby... then stopping & the concerned concentration to the rattle & the cherubic feet with an anklet there, a gold chain hanging there & the little girl’s playing with it... Celeste looking through mid-air to the child....

About the Author Matthew Ward lives & writes in Newcastle Australia. He has had three books published: Jake—a novella (Australia, 2004); Her Mouth Looked Like a Cat’s Bum—short stories (USA, 2006); and Cats Creep the Fire To Art—poetry (USA, 2008). His short stories have appeared in several magazines, printed as well as online. Ditto, his articles—both serious & satirical. He dreams of writing the great Australian novel; failing that, the great American one. He is also the publisher of Skive Magazine (2003-2009).

Superior Book Promotions Because The Time is Now to Promote Your Book x Book Editing x Proofreading x Book Reviews

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Owned and operated by Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D. (in English) Award winning author of five novels, including The Marquette Trilogy “Superior Book Promotions provides fast, incisive, and authentic reviews. I am indebted to the depth and acumen of Dr. Tichelaar's editorial skills.” —Victor R. Volkman, Owner, Loving Healing Press Contact Tyler today: tyler@marquettefiction.com www.SuperiorBookPromotions.com 50

Vol. I, No. 1


Ficti on

Would That Be a Nonstop Flight? Anis Shivani

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r. Saeed likes his tea strong and dark, unlike my own father, who takes it heavily diluted with milk, which already comes thinned with water, at least where my family buys it. Mr. Saeed talks often about his wife, Jehanara, and his two daughters, Mariam and Zubeida, both in their early twenties, wondering if my experience and outlook are similar to theirs. I’m his twenty-eight-year-old right-hand woman, Shakira, which makes me old enough for older men, calm in their loneliness, to approach me as if I were a receptacle for all their woes, particularly the trifles, since I can’t be taken seriously as someone with her own prospects still in sight. I’m an old woman, on many counts, in these parts. On the other hand, men think my crossing the age of desirability—between eighteen and twenty-two, I should think—also makes me perpetually itchy for intimacy, of any kind, wanted or unwanted, hot or cold, lasting or fleeting. This presumption used to bother me when I first started working for Mr. Saeed at the Instant Travel Agency, next to the Metropole Hotel and close to the American consulate. Our travel agency is a popular first stop for young married couples hoping to convert their newly acquired tourist visas into green cards within five years—the man already boosted enough by the shot of confidence given him by the visa officer to flirt with me in front of his wife— as it is for portly businessmen who spend weeks in Amsterdam and Lisbon trying to sell fabric and crafts Europeans don’t seem very interested in buying, and who think I’m emotionally available to make their financial woes more tolerable. September 2009

This quick familiarity is ironic, because the only man I’ve been intimate with turned out to be a fraud, and anyway was not around for a repeat experience of the quick—shall I say, lightning-fast— intercourse he deigned to perform with me. His name was Murad, I knew him as a statistics tutor at the IBA, the Institute for Business Administration, and he claimed to have in his possession a five-year multiple visa for America, which he was going to utilize just as soon as he finished his MBA. It turned out that he was on the run from the long arm of the law, having embezzled several million rupees from the textile factory he used to work for, and having undergone a complete identity makeover. So when I say I slept with Murad, I actually don’t know whom I slept with. Mr. Saeed has lately been more agitated than usual because his wife has been threatening to join her parents in New Jersey— they’re getting old, and her sister there is too much of a nincompoop to know how to take care of them, and besides, what harm is it if, at their age, she spends only half a year with Mr. Saeed—and his daughters want to start a boutique, which, in Mr. Saeed’s opinion, will definitely disqualify both of them for the attentions of respectable suitors, if they still have any chance left. *** “Wednesday evening, then,” Mr. Saeed says, while distractedly signing off on the latest batch of invoices. “My wife’s looking forward to it. And so are my daughters.” It’s settled then. I’m to visit Mr. Saeed’s home, at his insistence, for the first time. I

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decide to wear my bright blue dress—a gift from my cousin in Nebraska—that I’ve only worn once, at the same cousin’s engagement two years ago. “Do hotels in Peshawar really cost that much?” Mr. Saeed is talking about his nephew, Amjad, the newest employee of the Instant Travel Agency, who’s been sent upcountry to look into the possibility of opening a branch in the Frontier province. I have a suspicion that Amjad is overstating his expense account, but I keep quiet. Over the last few weeks, a new note of agitation has crept into Mr. Saeed’s interactions. Unlike in the past, when he was glad to unburden himself, given the slightest opportunity, I now sometimes have to wheedle information out of him. His wife’s plans to immigrate to America are becoming more concrete. A visa appointment is scheduled for a couple of months later. Meanwhile, his daughters have decided to do an MBA together, at the IBA, to acquire the business acumen to invest in a boutique. Already, while Mr. Saeed prevaricates, some of their richer relatives have offered the startup money. This much Mr. Saeed can handle. But this isn’t all. The killer is that Mr. Saeed himself has been offered an opportunity by his aging uncle in Baltimore, to take over a thirty-year-old travel agency. The Instant Travel Agency has a mysterious owner who has never actually been seen around the offices, although Mr. Saeed, who has pretty much unlimited authority, is said to be compensated as handsomely as if he were the owner. Mr. Saeed, for the first time, is becoming tongue-tied. It’s amusing, I suppose. It gives me an excuse not to think about my own pressing dilemmas: how to take care of my parents when they become really old, on a salary that’s barely enough to keep myself in good shape; how to ward off the fear of losing my

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looks and being alone the rest of my life, becoming an oddity in a society that values only connections and togetherness and community. “Mr. Saeed, do you think I’m getting ugly?” Had I stopped to think of asking a question like this, my nerve would have failed me. “Why, of course not, Miss Humayun,” Mr. Saeed says, using my last name, as he’s apt to do when wanting to appear wise. “If either of my daughters was half as pretty, no doubt, by now…” “Your daughters are pretty,” I console him. “You’ve shown me pictures.” “Indeed, I have.” I’m surprised when Mr. Saeed doesn’t pull out pictures of his family from his thick black wallet. He must be really worried about having to move to Baltimore, when he’s too afraid to visit Peshawar on his own. I’m working on a theory that the travel business attracts some of the most egregious homebodies. *** “If everyone leaves for America, who’ll take care of things here?” I wouldn’t have expected Mariam, the more giggly and flippant of the two girls, to have had the ability to turn dead serious at the flick of a switch. “Not everyone is leaving,” Zubeida protests. “Out of a population of ten crores, if a handful leaves, who cares? Only the smart ones have the gumption; the more educated ones.” “And the stupid ones remain here?” says Mariam. “Then who’ll build the country?” “We aren’t about to build the country,” Zubeida says. “We’re about to start a boutique.” Mr. Saeed still seems distant. His apartment, in one of the older high-rises not far from Clifton beach, dating back to the early seventies, gives the impression of darkness. His wife Jehanara is fond of replicas of Vol. I, No. 1


Mughal paintings, and every wall has one or two. The dinner has lamb kebabs and chicken biryani—heavy food—although lightened by fresh lassi. Jehanara has adopted a world-weary tone throughout, as if she got over Mr. Saeed’s shenanigans long ago, and now only inhabits the marital state because it would break Mr. Saeed’s heart if any major disruption were to occur. The daughters are smarter than I expected; but the reason why they aren’t married is also immediately obvious: they’re both chubby, especially around the hips. This wasn’t apparent from the pictures of their faces Mr. Saeed has been showing me. Curiously, Jehanara has none of this chunkiness. She is slim as a sixteen-year-old virgin on a vegetarian diet. Jehanara eats more than anyone at the table, though, and is refreshingly free of the Eastern woman’s habit of lingering around unfed until the guests and family have all eaten. She speaks with her mouth full most of the time. Could it be that Mr. Saeed has only been with Jehanara, just the one woman, in his whole life, or at least since he married her almost thirty years ago? I can’t imagine him being unfaithful. He looks sedated in the fold, so cozily entrapped within his familial realm. It’s possible that in his youth, Mr. Saeed might have been handsome and charming. He still has all his hair—and he’s never tried to flirt with me, shoot double entendres my way, like other men. “I hear in America men don’t care if you’ve been married before,” Jehanara says. “They consider it a good thing almost, if you’re experienced. You could be a divorcée, a widow, young or old, and you don’t even have to be too pretty. They’re mostly interested in how well you can take care of them; which our women already know how to do.” “Everywhere men care for the same September 2009

thing, respect,” Mr. Saeed says. “Respect for themselves?” Jehanara asks. “Abba, don’t go to America,” Mariam says to her father. “At least wait until we finish our MBAs.” “You should ask Shakira how her MBA experience was,” Mr. Saeed says, “if it was all it’s cracked up to be. Was it?” I try to cue in to what I’m supposed to say. “It can be, if you put your heart and soul in it,” I offer noncommittally. “Anyway, my father and mother need me in New Jersey,” Jehanara says. “My older sister—her husband, who was an engineer, died years ago—is a bit disorganized when it comes to the practical things in life.” “It seems like there are a lot of decisions to be made,” I say. Dinner over, we watch a video of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan performing his vocal hijinks. I always thought there was more show than knowledge in his range. He seems desperately trying to impress someone. Later, Mariam and Zubeida show me their designs of lehengas and shararas, cutouts of fabrics that take me a while to process in my mind as complete outfits. I’m not fully impressed with their fashion instincts but, for some reason, shower inordinate praise on their work. *** Everyone’s attitude toward me seems different since word got around that I visited Mr. Saeed at his home. Now, it’s as if I’m his daughter, since Mr. Saeed taking me for a paramour is beyond the bound of speculation. The nephew, Amjad, has finally returned from Peshawar, with the news that there are no prospects whatever for expanding business there. The competition, he says, from desperate, wily Afghan refugees, is too stiff. I suspect his verdict has to do with his not wanting to be exiled to the Frontier. Amjad takes to chatting with me in my

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office—I’m the only one, other than Mr. Saeed himself, with the privilege of having a small private office, because it’s expected that the men, even if more senior than me, won’t have as much need for privacy—and one day tells me that he wouldn’t mind if I dropped a good word or two about him to Mr. Saeed, since that might help with his proposal to Mariam, when he makes it. “Why can’t men here find women outside their immediate families?” I bark at him. “There are millions and millions of women. But men can only marry their cousins?” Amjad looks shocked that I’d be so aggressive. “Sorry, sorry, no harm done, no harm,” he excuses himself. “You should be sorry!” Some days later, Mr. Saeed calls me into his office to tell me that he’s decided that Amjad should have more responsibility at the office here, since Peshawar isn’t going to work out. “What about the expense account inflation?” I remind him, since that’s the only concrete complaint I have against Amjad. “Oh, that,” he says. “Boys will be boys. He probably had some fun on the side. It’s not as if he tried to bankrupt me.” “I guess.” “Look Shakira, family is family. You have to make certain allowances. Otherwise, everyone would die alone, and not have anyone to hold their hands when they’re sick and miserable.” “Does this mean you’ll be going to Baltimore?” “I don’t want to,” he protests. I’ve surmised correctly. “But Jehanara is determined to be with her parents. And if she goes to New Jersey, then what will I do here?” I knew this was coming. No one can resist such temptation.

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“New Jersey is hundreds of miles from Baltimore,” I say. “Not that far,” he says. “In America, freeway travel makes distances short.” “Will your uncle cut you in on a good deal?” I’ve become rash in my desperation. What’s prompting me to indulge in this concern for him? Mr. Saeed smiles. “Shakira, Shakira. Don’t worry. Everything will be all right. The new manager here, I’ll make sure he’s someone good.” I wasn’t thinking about my own fate at the Instant Travel Agency if Mr. Saeed leaves. Now it occurs to me that Mr. Saeed must already have started looking for his own replacement but hasn’t even talked to me about it. Shouldn’t I have been considered too? I have as much experience as anyone else in the company. I hold myself personally responsible for at least a quarter of the business the company does. I have many loyal clients. “Amjad wanted me to tell you that he wouldn’t mind if I put in a good word with you on behalf of him. Because it might help with his proposal to Mariam.” This is rude and disloyal, in addition to being reckless, but I’m past caring. “That’s strictly a family matter,” Mr. Saeed says. Now he’ll shut himself down completely. I’ve lost his good faith, his trust. I’m surprised that I don’t feel regret. My blood boils, and I feel rebellion coursing through my veins. Where was this defiance when I needed it ten years ago; when I might have tried to do something as daring as leave for America; leave my parents and be done with it? “I’m sorry, Mr. Saeed, I’m so sorry.” He looks benevolently at me for a moment but then becomes distant again. “We all have to do what’s in our best interest. No one can look out for your own interest as Vol. I, No. 1


well as you can yourself.” By the end of the week, Amjad has become de facto manager. Only days later, it’s announced that Mr. Saeed will be taking care of family matters, and appearing at the office only once a week. *** I feel weary climbing the six flights of stairs up to our two-room apartment. The neighbors have grown increasingly seedier over the years, as the building gets older, as they get older, and stop caring. Two black cats growl at me as I disturb their concentrated feeding on the landing outside our door. We’re lucky at least to happen to be in a block that doesn’t get its electricity cut off as often as other neighborhoods do. There isn’t a single empty apartment in the building. It’s not supposed to be done but the renters charge upwards of a hundred thousand rupees as ‘goodwill’, for the privilege of transferring the lease from their names. My father has a bad cough. He refuses to get a test for tuberculosis at the government hospital, which is only a few doors away. My mother has turned fatalistic in recent years and also started praying, which she never used to do. A woman in the neighborhood, who performed the hajj at age sixty and underwent what she calls a transformation from her sinful days to an era of enlightenment, is developing a cult following, as she gathers other women, my mother included, in her daily milads and dhikrs. The one good thing—or bad thing, depending on how you look at it—is that neither of my parents ever bothers me about when I’m getting married, nor do they object to my late hours, or question me about my comings and goings. “Mithi Bai”—that’s the woman with the cult following—“sent some sweet rice.” My mother greets me every evening with news September 2009

of food. “I don’t care for sweet rice.” “It doesn’t hurt to try.” My father coughs loudly, as he comes out of the bathroom. His white kurta pajama is threadbare. “Your mother won’t make an appointment to see a doctor about the pain in her knees.” “You won’t make an appointment to check out your TB,” I say. “I don’t have TB; just a cough. It comes and goes.” “It doesn’t come and go,” I say. “It stays all the time.” He looks at me as if I have some overly acute sense of hearing, due to some genetic mutation, and then smiles broadly. “It’ll please you to know that I’ve joined the building committee, and plan to do something about the trash and filth.” I do the right thing and respond well to this news of activity. This is the only father I have, and the only mother. If they’d had a son, life would have been easier for them. It’s not their fault if they’ve given up on a brighter future. “Is there really a problem if we pull the curtains open in the daytime?” I ask. There’s a bit of daylight left yet. I head to the windows and throw the curtains wide open. The view of the fire escapes in the buildings facing ours isn’t exactly that of paradise; but it’s something. I worry about unsupervised kids falling off those steep, winding stairs, but no such accident has happened yet. There is a flash of lightning in the sky, although no clouds seem to be in evidence. Then the lights go out, which hasn’t happened in a long time. “I’ll go get the candles,” I say. “We’ll need them in a few minutes.” I take a quick reassuring look at my face in the mirror; then head down to the general store in the front of our building.

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Self About the Author

Anis Shivaniâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s story is from his collection, Alienation, Jihad, Burqa, Apostasy. His other collection, Anatolia and Other Stories, is being published by the Black Lawrence Press in September. A poetry collection will also be published this fall. Fiction, poetry, and criticism appeared recently in Georgia Review, Threepenny Review, Prairie Schooner, Agni, Nimrod, Harvard Review, Washington Square, North American Review, Texas Review, and elsewhere. Anis is currently finishing a novel, Intrusion, and a book of criticism about the state of contemporary American fiction.

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Vol. I, No. 1


RTS Ta lk

Holding the Muse: Sohaib Omar’s Hope for a Better Tomorrow Nazish Zafar

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hese days, glossy magazines feature exhibitions of art in big cities of Pakistan, especially in Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi. However, art and many artists continue to suffer from neglect and misery in many parts of the country. Their talent is drowned in a slew of familial, social, and financial hardships while they keep struggling to fight back and keep their artistic soul alive. One such young artist is Sohaib Omar of Chakwal (Punjab, Pakistan)— a young man of 21 whose passion for creating nude art has received bitter criticism from his kin and the society at large. Suffering from familial and financial crises, Sohaib continues to hold the hand of his muses in the hope of a better tomorrow. Here is my brief chat with Sohaib about the history of his artistic creativity and the hurdles in his pursuit of art. Nazish: Sohaib, let’s start with a little about your family and what you remember of it as a child? Sohaib: My family has five members— my mother and four siblings, including me. I can’t bring myself to introducing my father; it feels strange. I am, in fact, not acquainted with the very word. I feel as if I am not quite aware of the father-child relation at all. I have known my father only as a person, a point in my life from where I have encountered a confusion and from where I started a torturous toil which seems to continue endlessly and that has by now left permanent wounds on my soul—those that I’ll carry to my grave. And not my father but a person called ‘my father’ exists for me. Of my early age, I remember myself as a scared child, fearful of committing any act

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thought wayward by my elders that included my penchant for drawing on walls with whatever I had—a pen, a crayon, or a piece of coal. Nazish: What kind of domestic environment you grew in and how did you experience your life as a child with your parents? Sohaib: The atmosphere at home was always tense. Ours was a traditional religious family mainly headed by my grandfather— a very stern authoritarian figure. My father had committed himself to religious service and would devote all his time to the religious group that demanded of him sacrificing his worldly duties to those demanded by the religion i.e. spreading the message of Islam, which I think was only an escape for him from providing bread and butter to his family. He would come home for a few days after a months’ absence and those were the toughest days for us since his visits always brought the toughest decisions for us. He had my elder sister married when she was only 13. In his logic, religion had an aversion to having unmarried daughters at their parents. My sister lost her golden time of play and study, and I still feel intensely for her deprivation; even now when she is a mother of two. My father had me admitted to a religious school, a madressah, where I was supposed to learn Quran by heart as the only course of studies. The place felt like a jail for I could hardly get an off and hardly had any visitors. My mother couldn’t come to see me for she observed the veil and was thus not allowed by my father to be out. When I did come home, I could see my cousins who were going to secular schools and seemed to

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know everything about the world. I felt envious of their knowledge and confidence. I suffered badly, inwardly aware of the fact that my potential was being clipped. My time was being snatched away from me to be lost into that dull, lifeless place of my madressah where I was to cram the words of an alien language under the tutelage of bearded people who knew nothing of respecting a child’s rights. My mother bore poverty, father’s carelessness, and her children’s deprivation with patience, for she couldn’t afford to go back to her parents’. But she was left with little choice when my grandfather refused to afford our family’s expenses any more. And she knew little where her husband exactly was until he decided to show up after months of absence. She moved to her parents in his absence, with my siblings. My father later divorced her on account of that ‘disobedience’. Nazish: And that made things harder for you and your mother? Sohaib: Her decision brought me a little relief, for she had me out of that madressah and admitted me to a normal school with my maternal grandfather’s help. I now had an access to all kinds of books. Learning different subjects and having an opportunity to make play with pals was no less than a picnic period for me. I could easily make up for the lost school years and did my grades with flying colors up to middle standard. Through books, I could overcome my pessimism and inferiority complexes. I earned teachers’ and friends’ awe for my performance at school. I actually enjoyed being able to study secular material. I would read all kinds of books by writers all around the world. By then, I had a clear experience of knowing what difference education can make to a person. I kept making drawings, meanwhile. I was often snubbed by my

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teachers for having filled my notebooks with different illustrations of any object that attracted my interest. I usually drew the human figure. My mother was concerned that my inclination towards drawing would distract me from my studies. And she was rightly concerned because as a painter her child wouldn’t have financial security in future. Nazish: So things apparently got better for you after your parents were divorced? Sohaib: Yes but the few days of repose ended soon when my maternal grandfather retired from his job. There was no one to financially support the family any more. My pleasure of learning was now thwarted by an immense pressure to divert all my energies towards earning a livelihood. At that time, I had hardly finished my high school. I had always dreamt of graduating with fine arts. But continuing my studies, as a regular student in college, became unaffordable for me. My dream of studying fine arts was shattered as no educational program in fine arts was available in my hometown and I was supposed to move to a bigger city in my pursuit of fine arts courses. I started making some money from part time jobs; the earning was consumed in buying the family’s bread and butter, and I could only think of buying myself paints and canvas. Nazish: Painting had become your hobby then? Sohaib: I won’t say painting was a hobby for me as I found myself drawing sketches with a peace of coal on a wall or even with my finger on earth; I would hardly spare any plane of any texture at home. I think I was born with a sense to draw; just like I was born with senses to smell and taste and touch. Drawing is part of me or I would say “it’s me”. Nazish: Did your family and teachers enVol. I, No. 1


courage you to create art? Sohaib: I remember the day when my maternal grandfather tore my sketchbook down to strips and I could feel my soul wailing at losing a part of it. I had very few admirers of my work around me; there were a few teachers who predicted that I was destined to become a famous artist some day. Those few encouragements mean a lot to me. Nazish: What was the favourite object of your artistic creativity? Sohaib: Although I found little time from my sales work to be spent on painting, I would somehow take some time out for my sketchbook. I did suffer from the loss of muse and inspiration. I would sit for hours in the night, waiting for some figure to come out from my lead pencil, but it wouldn’t. I would even fall a prey to ennui from drawing still life and landscape; and at last I came to draw a human figure. My interest was renovated vigorously while I would imagine and draw different human postures. Of all living figures, birds and animals, I find the human body to be the most magnificent creation. It calls me toward immense interest and curiosity. I always found my soul clipped; my emotions fettered; and drawing nude human figures was like opening myself; setting myself free. I would take great pleasure in discovering my own self and the soul of the universe through drawing this beautiful design of nature—the human body. And this newfound interest of mine would only win me more criticism from my folk. They thought I had become a pervert; one interested in pornography. Nazish: How did the stress affect you, physically and mentally? Sohaib: A few months back, a medical test confirmed that I was suffering from tuberculosis. And the ailment had crossed the September 2009

initial curable stage. I was put on a regular course of medicine that required healthy food and plenty of rest in addition. All of it was unaffordable for me. I have lost my job on account of my illness. After a period of pessimism, I am once again ready to fight life’s hardness back. I concentrate on my painting, trying different mediums and subjects, in the hope that I may sell them some day and make good money. I also expect to find some support from some elder, educated relatives who would buy me the material for creating art. I am also being assisted by them in finding me cheaper health facility. I am determined to fight my physical illness and my spiritual barrenness for my mother’s sake— the woman who has already suffered much in her life.

About the Author Nazish Zafar is currently associated with electronic media, working as Associate Producer for a news channel in Pakistan. She has a Masters degree in English Literature from Punjab University (Lahore) and from the same university, she is working on her second masters in Urdu Literature. She writes both in English and Urdu. Her poems and articles have appeared in local magazines, newspapers, and newsletters.

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ony Mandarich was born in you, since there has been so much awareness Oakville, Ontario, Canada, the son in the media in recent years about steroid of Croatian immigrants who instilled abuse by athletes, and many stories of athin him a grit and determination to accom- letes who have fallen to rise again, what plish the impossible. Tony grew up with a made you decide at this time in your life to love for football, and decided write this book and why do you early in his life that he would play think your story stands out comprofessionally. After a highly sucpared to the stories of many other cessful and nationally publicized athletes whose stories, at least on collegiate career at Michigan State the surface, would appear to be University, Tony was drafted similar? number two overall in 1989 by Tony: That’s a fair question… the Green Bay Packers. The hype if it had been up to me, it would about being ‘the best offensive line have been released ten years ago, Tony Mandarich prospect ever,’ along with Tony’s after I retired from Indianapolis, addictions, was more than he could live up but none of the publishers were interested, to; and his life came crashing down around so I left it alone. Five years later, in 2004, I him. After three more years of alcohol and tried to write it again and get a publisher inpainkiller abuse, Tony accepted the hand of terested, but still no interest. Eighteen God, went into treatment and now consid- months ago, my co-author Sharon Shaw ers it a privilege to be able to help other ad- Elrod pushed to get the story out there, bedicts and alcoholics when called upon. Tony cause she said it could really help people. and his wife, Charlavan, have four children; Again, not many publishers were interested they own and operate Mandarich Media because I wouldn’t tattle and give names; Group, LLC, in Scottsdale, AZ, a full-service however, when we went to an independent web media business specializing in web site publisher, the book sold in twenty-four development and optimization, video pro- hours. duction, photography and Internet marketOne of the reasons my book stands out ing. is that I do NOT name names; I choose not Today, Tyler R. Tichelaar of Reader to capitalize on other people’s misfortunes. Views is pleased to interview former pro The second reason—there was so much football player Tony Mandarich, who is hype and speculation about my steroid use here to discuss his new book My Dirty Little over the last twenty years, and now it’s conSecrets: Steroids, Alcohol and God, The firmed ‘from the horse’s mouth’. Little do Tony Mandarich Story. people know, however, that steroids were Tyler: Welcome, Tony. It’s an honor to only part of the problem, and this is where speak to you today. I’m excited to discuss readers will be shocked and begin to underthe details of your book and your profes- stand what really happened behind closed sional football career. But first, I want to ask doors.

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Tyler: Tony, let’s go back to your earliest off after the end of the season instead of six days of playing football. Was it always your weeks like the other players. dream to be a professional football player? Tyler: What would you credit this motiTony: At age eleven, it became a very real vation and hard work too? Did you want to dream to me, and at that age, I made a deci- be a football player more than others, or did sion to do everything that I needed to do to something else or someone else inspire you? prepare myself to make it to the NFL. I Tony: My parents’ story was a huge inplayed a lot of playground football when I spiration to me; their immigration to was young, but I never played organized Canada to escape Communism in Yufootball until my freshman year in high goslavia—sneaking across the border in the school. dead of night with armed soldiers Tyler: Millions of young boys on the lookout, coming to a coundream of being great athletes. Why try where they didn’t speak the do you think you succeeded where language with only the clothes on the vast majority does not? Was it their back—their story makes my natural talent, athletic ability, or a struggle pale in comparison. I got greater desire to succeed than what my drive and determination from others had? them; they showed me through exTony: I think it was a little bit ample that hard work does pay Tony at MSU of all three, combined, that gave me off, that if you want something the best opportunity to succeed. There are badly enough, you can make it happen. people with great athletic ability and poor Tyler: What did it feel like to be picked drive; and there are people with great drive for the NFL draft in 1989? Can you tell us and minimal ability. The combination of all about that moment of success? three, and some luck along the way, in not Tony: It was the culmination of the ever getting injured, helped me succeed at biggest goal I had had in my whole life, to the level I did. be drafted into the NFL, so there was a lot Tyler: In your years of dreaming of play- of satisfaction and a lot of relief that I had ing professional football, were there naysay- finally accomplished my goal; little did I ers in your life who said you would never be know what was waiting in front of me. able to do it, and if so, why do you think There wasn’t really any specific moment of you succeeded anyway? success, though, since in the last six months Tony: There were absolutely naysayers, before the draft there was a lot of speculaespecially at the high school level. May be it tion that I would be among the top five was a mistake, to let people who weren’t picks. As the draft drew closer, that became close to me know my dream of playing in concrete, so it wasn’t really a surprise. Two the NFL, since they told me what a long weeks prior to the draft, the Packers let me shot it was. On the other hand, however, I know they were going to take me, so Draft used that as motivation to prove them Day itself was a little anti-climactic. wrong and succeed. I succeeded because I Tyler: When did alcohol and steroids was willing to do things that other people first enter the scene for you, and how did weren’t; work out on Friday nights instead you start down that road? of going out partying, stay home on Spring Tony: Steroids started my last few Break so I could train, and only take a week months of high school, but I never started


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drinking alcoholically until I left Michigan State. My brother introduced steroids to me, although by no means did he force me to do anything; he just mentioned them as an option to get stronger. I was the one who made the decision to do it. Alcohol started at parties in my senior year of high school, and continued that way through college, but it never made my life unmanageable until I left college. Tyler: Tony, can you tell us about how athletes get access to steroids, and do you think the situation with steroid use has gotten better or worse since you were first in professional football? Tony: Athletes can get steroids in a lot of ways: from people at their local gym, from a doctor, or from the Internet. Whether it’s gotten better or worse is tough to say, because I now only have an outsider’s perspective and an outsider’s information. But with all the nonsense in pro baseball lately, I don’t think it’s gotten better! Also, I think a lot of players are switching to human growth hormone (HGH). Tyler: What is the difference between steroids and the growth hormone? Tony: One is a hormone and one isn’t, for starters! Steroids are a lot cheaper and easier to get while the growth hormone is expensive and more difficult to purchase. Steroids will make you stronger; the growth hormone helps you recover more quickly. The HGH improves overall wellbeing; and it’s difficult to say that about steroids. And also, the HGH is not a steroid, contrary to what many people believe. Tyler: Tony, what drives athletes to use steroids? Obviously they want to perform better, but they must realize the risks they are facing. Do they feel that fame is more important than health or longevity? Tony: Yes, they do feel it’s more important—a lot of it is competition, and a lot of

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it is the pressure to perform, and a lot is millions of dollars at stake if you lose your job. That little bit of extra strength may help athletes keep their jobs. I’m not sure ‘fame’ is the right word; it’s more like competition to be the best and earn a good living. There are a lot of risks, and of course the athletes know about them, but a lot of the time athletes think they are bulletproof. Tyler: Included in your book title is ‘God’. Will you tell us where God fits into the picture? Tony: Well, without God in my life, there is no picture. All the things that I’ve accomplished since I got sober in 1995 have been a direct result of not drinking, not drugging, AA, the people in AA, and God. By no means am I a bible-thumper, nor do I tell people what to believe and how to believe. Organized religion doesn’t work for me but it does work for millions of people, and I don’t knock it. In my situation, I had to almost die to find the God of my understanding. Tyler: Did you have a relationship with God as a child, or when did He come into your life? What made you turn to Him during your troubles? Tony: Yes, I did have a relationship with Him as a child, being born and raised Catholic. He never left my life; I had turned my back on Him. He was always there; all I needed to do was be willing to ask for help, and when I did, He was a gentleman and gave it to me. I turned to Him because I was sick and tired of being sick and tired; I finally realized I couldn’t do it on my own, and that I needed His help. So I asked. Tyler: Tony, would you say there was a moment when you knew you had hit ‘rockbottom’ and that made you realize you had to turn your life around? Tony: Yes, I had hit many bottoms but one of the biggest ones was when there was Vol. I, No. 1


a plate-throwing incident in my house (described in the book), and my three-year-old daughter was there and was terrified, full of fear—that’s when I realized that I was at the bottom and something had to change. Tyler: Did substance abuse contribute to the end of your first marriage, if so how? Tony: Yes it did, because once we got sober, we realized that we were two different people, and not the people that we were when we were in the midst of our disease together. Tyler: So would you say your family had a major impact on your ability to make a change? Tony: No, I had to change because I wanted to change and needed to change; nobody was going to change me; I had to be willing to change myself. I realized that I wasn’t a good father to my daughter; and that helped me see that I needed to change something –but that willingness is something internal, and unless it comes from your own heart, the changes you make won’t be permanent. Tyler: Will you tell us about your second NFL career and how it was different from the first? Tony: The biggest difference was I was sober; I was never sober a day in Green Bay, and I was sober every day in Indianapolis— that was THE difference. Tyler: Tony, our reviewer at Reader Views commented upon how honest you are in telling your story. As you were writing the book, were you tempted to leave things out or not tell the full truth because you were afraid it would make you look bad? What made you decide to be so completely honest? Tony: I wasn’t even going to attempt to write the book unless I told everything about myself. I felt that readers have the right to know about everything that hapSeptember 2009

pened with me, and the mistakes I made, and the things I did right. I wasn’t concerned about looking bad; I was concerned about telling an accurate story so I could help other people not make the same mistakes. Readers who may be in the same desperate situation deserve to know the whole truth, so they can see their way out of it in the same way that I did. Holding things back may make them think they are worse off than I was; I need to be honest to inspire hope. Tyler: Besides writing this book to raise awareness, what other work have you done to help addicts? Tony: Going to Twelve step meetings helps both myself and the other people in AA. I’ve gone to hospitals, institutions, prisons, jails, high schools, colleges, corporations, and special interest groups to share my story. Sharing my story helps people get a better understanding of how cunning, baffling, and powerful alcoholism and drug addiction can be. Tyler: Thank you for joining me today, Tony! Before we go, will you tell us about your website and what additional information may be found there about My Dirty Little Secrets: Steroids, Alcohol, and God? Tony: At my website, www.TonyMandarich.com, you can find part one and part two of the ‘Inside the NFL’ interview conducted by Armen Keteyian. You can also pre-order the book there, which gets you a personally autographed copy. There is an electronic press kit up there for media to access images, Q&A’s, and press releases. There is a place to ask me questions, and some of my favorite inspirational stories are in my ‘Recommended Reading List’. Thanks, Tyler! Tyler: Thank you, Tony, for a great interview, and for your willingness to share your story to help others.

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My Dirty Little Secretsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;Steroids, Alcohol and God: The Tony Mandarich Story Tony Mandarich and Sharon Shaw Elrod Modern History Press (2009) ISBN 9781932690781

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Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D. (in English literature) is the author of five published novels including the Marquette Trilogy, a saga of 150 years on the shores of Lake Superior. Tyler has spent many years teaching writing and literature at three universities and writing his novels. He has lectured on writing and literature throughout the U.S. and Great Britain. He is current President of the Upper Peninsula Publishers and Authors Association and proprietor of Superior Book Promotions (www.SuperiorBookPromotions.com).

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Helping Children Traumatized by Disaster Dr Janet Hall Children are able to cope better with a traumatic event if parents, friends, family, teachers and other adults support and help them with their experiences. Help should start as soon as possible after the event. It’s important to remember that some children may never show distress because they squash it inside, but it may begin to ooze out in uncharacteristic changes in behavior after several weeks or even months. Other children may not show a change in behavior, but may still need your help.

Behaviors children may exhibit after a disaster: 1. Be upset over the loss of a favorite toy, blanket, teddy bear, or other things that adults might consider insignificant, but which are important to the child. 2. Change from being quiet, obedient, and caring to loud, noisy, and aggressive; or may change from being outgoing to shy and afraid. 3. Develop nighttime fears. They may be afraid to sleep alone at night with the light off, to sleep in their own room, or have nightmares or bad dreams. 4. Be afraid the event will reoccur. 5. Become easily upset, crying and whining. 6. Lose trust in adults. After all, their adults were not able to control the disaster. 7. Revert to younger behavior, such as bed wetting and thumb sucking. 8. Not want parents out of their sight and refuse to go to school or childcare. September 2009

9. Feel guilty that they caused the disaster because of something they had said or done. 10. Become afraid of wind, rain or sudden loud noises. 11. Have symptoms of illness, such as headaches, vomiting or fever. 12. Worry about where they and their family will live.

Things Parents or Other Caring Adults Can Do 1. Talk with the children about how they are feeling and listen without judgment. Let them know they can have their own feelings, which might be different from others. It’s OK. 2. Let the children take their time to figure things out and to have their feelings. Don’t rush them or pretend that they don’t think or feel as they do. 3. Help them learn to use words that express their feelings, such as happy, sad, angry, mad, and scared. Just be sure the words fit their feelings—not yours. 4. Assure fearful children that you will be there to take care of them. Reassure them many times. 5. Stay together as a family as much as possible. 6. Go back as soon as possible to former routines or develop new ones. Maintain a regular schedule for the children. 7. Reassure the children that the disaster was not their fault in any way. 8. Let them have some control, such as choosing what outfit to wear or what meal to have for dinner.

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9. Help your children know that others love them and care about them by visiting, talking on the phone, or writing to family members, friends, and neighbors. 10. Encourage the children to give or send pictures they have drawn or things they have written to family and friends. 11. Re-establish contact with extended family members. 12. Help your children learn to trust adults again by keeping promises and including children in planning routines and outings. 13. Help your children regain faith in the future by helping them develop plans for activities that will take place later—next week, next month. 14. Children cope better when they are healthy; so be sure your children get needed health care as soon as possible. 15. Make sure the children are getting balanced meals and eating enough food and getting enough rest. 16. Remember to take care of yourself so you can take care of your children. 17. Spend extra time with your children at bedtime. Read stories, rub their backs, listen to music, and talk quietly about the day. 18. lf you will be away for a time, tell them where you are going and make sure you return when you promised or call at the time you say you will. 19. Allow special privileges such as leaving the light on when they sleep for a period of time after the disaster. 20. Limit their exposure to additional trauma, including news reports. 21. Children should not be expected to be brave or tough, or to ‘not cry.’ 22. Don’t be afraid to ‘spoil’ children in this period after a disaster. 23. Don’t give children more information than they can handle about the disaster. 24. Don’t minimize the event.

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25. Find ways to emphasize to the children that you love them. 26. Allow the children to grieve losses. 27. Develop positive rituals and ‘anniversary’ activities to commemorate the event. Help children understand that these events may bring tears, but these are also times to celebrate survival and the ability to get back to a normal life.

Activities for Children 1. Encourage the children to draw or paint pictures of how they feel about their experiences. Hang these at the child’s level to be seen easily. 2. Write a story of the frightening event. You might start with: Once upon a time there was a terrible ___________ and it scared us all_________. This is what happened: ____________. Be sure to end with “And now we are safe.” 3. Playing with playdough or clay is good for children to release tension and make symbolic creations. 4. Music is fun and valuable for children. Creating music with instruments or rhythm toys helps relieve stress and tension. 5. Provide the children with clothes, shoes, hats, etc. so they can play ‘dress up’ and can pretend to be adults in charge of recovering from the disaster and ‘being in charge.’ 6. Make puppets with the children and put on a puppet show for family and friends, or help children put on a skit about what they experienced. 7. Read stories about disasters to and with children making sure to talk about how people coped and recovered.

About the Author Dr Janet Hall is a well-known Australian psychologist who regularly appears on the media. Visit her at www.drjanethall.com.au. She is the author of several books, including Fear-free Children. Vol. I, No. 1


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Shadows on the Wall Sherry Jones Mayo, RN, EMTP When working as an Emergency Services (ES) worker, one maintains a clinical distance to be able to perform professionally and impersonally; if the distance is compromised, the familiarity can bring the worker to a point of emotional discomfort. When that professional and emotionally distant worker is on the other side of the cot becoming the patient, their negative experience is tenfold and the once close-knit family of emergency services workers become seemingly cold and uncaring… the connection is lost, leaving the ES worker turned patient in a place over which he feels he has no control. ‘Sara’ (not her real name) was an EMT who was deeply into unrecognized caregiver burnout; having given all of herself to others, she had nothing left to give herself, least of all love, compassion and understanding. [Shadows on the Wall will appear in the upcoming book Confessions of a Trauma Junkie from Modern History Press. ~~~ ara sat in the dark, watching the moonlit shadows frolic across her living room walls. There was a warm breeze choreographing the trees’ movements as they playfully caressed the silky night sky. She wished to be with them, be one of them, to be a part of something bigger and more valuable than herself as she allowed her perception of self-worth to diminish. The darkness had become too void of light or hope lately and her usually strong shoulders began to buckle beneath the weight of too many expectations. Perfection was a stan-

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dard that was becoming tiresome and unrewarding, a standard that she could no longer impose upon herself, a standard that lost its once shiny attraction as a valued goal to attain or maintain. Too many people wanted a piece of Sara but there was only so much to go around, and now with her emotional tank nearly empty and sputtering along on fumes, she picked up the phone and carefully dialed. “Hi, John. How is life in Bryn Mawr? I just have a quick question, if you have a minute. Does God forgive you for killing yourself? I mean, because you don’t have a chance to ask for forgiveness after the fact, since you’d already be dead. I just want to make sure, I mean, I just wanted to know.” John and Sara had been friends for two years. They met at a church revival meeting and John was the more spiritually advanced of the two of them. Sara often asked him complex questions about her newfound, newborn life because the research (reading the bible) wasn’t a short study. More often than not, John got back to Sara after consulting with his dad or some other more learned and experienced member of the Oversight who had spent years studying the document of Christianity and could cite chapter and verse in answer to almost any inquiry1. This last question required an immediate response, and John was not prepared to give any type of intelligent response. “I don’t really know, Sara. I guess I’d never given it much thought. I mean, you’re not talking about you, are you? This whole

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situation that you’re asking about is completely hypothetical, isn’t it?” Sara felt a pang of guilt at having involved an innocent party in her plan. She wanted this decision and its implementation to be a private affair and had gone to great measures to assure that the contrivance would be covertly executed. Her recent oral surgery provided a full bottle of prescription painkillers and she had done her homework on the medication’s effects. “No, John. It isn’t hypothetical. I have a bottle of thirty pills that will assure my stepping over to the other side. I called the poison control hotline and gave them a made-up story about my ex-husband taking the pills from me. I told them his height and weight and asked what I should look for as far as symptoms go if he were to ingest the whole bottle. He’s heavier than me, so the effects they described would be intensified. I guess I wanted to be sure not to botch it and end up a veggie or gross anyone out by my being found lying in a pool of vomit. Anyway, they told me that the breathing would become slower and slower until it eventually stopped, then the heart would stop. It seems all very clean and peaceful, thank you very much. I didn’t really want to tell you, but you’re the only person who I can ask about God and stuff. So tell me, if I do it, knowing that it’s wrong, will God be angry with me? I mean, it’s not like I could lose my salvation or anything, could I?” “You can’t lose your salvation, Sara. God’s gifts aren’t returnable. But I don’t know if it would be ... if it would have any ... I can’t say for sure if ... I just really need to talk to my dad.” “I don’t want you to do that. Please promise me, John that you’re not going to tell anyone. They’ll all find out soon enough and they’ll be momentarily surprised, then they will forget all about it and about me.

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They will probably say it was just as well, ‘she wasn’t one of us, after all — she’s been divorced, you know.’ Besides, I don’t fit. I’m not part of your world, mine just doesn’t make sense anymore and there is no hope of changing the perspective of either side. I’m tired. I’m just so very tired. So tell me, does it make a difference or not? To God, I mean. Does it mean that I’m not going to be wellreceived in Heaven? I need to know if God will forgive an intentionally committed sin.” “Why do it now, Sara? Can’t you wait? Besides, I need to know something. I need to know if you forgive me.” John’s anxiety continued to rise as he realized this was not something he could pass along for stronger hands to deal with. He was used to reassigning problems to God and waiting patiently for His timing. For some unknown reason, John felt partially responsible for his friend’s apparent despondency. His head swam with thoughts of what he might have done differently or additionally to have kept his friend from veering down this very dark and lonely road. He wondered how he could have missed the signs that surely must have been there, and as an up and coming preacher, he knew that he was supposed to be sensitive to spiritual needs. How could he have not seen any of this coming? “Forgive you? Forgive you for what? You’ve done nothing that warrants being forgiven, John. You’ve been a wonderful friend, and I’ve enjoyed our times together.” There was a long silence as Sara began to swallow the pills. She wasn’t sure if she should do it daintily, one by one, or just tilt the bottle back and take them all in one gulp. From somewhere, tears began to well up in her eyes and her throat closed a little as she tried to choke them back. Swallowing the pills all at once was definitely too difficult; she opted for three at a time. What a symbolic gesture, she thought, of the Father, Vol. I, No. 1


Son, and the Holy Spirit. She thought of the spiritual triad, the constitution of man … thoughts all too abstract and consuming as Sara sought desperately to simplify the weight she carried and the conflict between spirit and flesh. “What are you doing?” John feared the answer, but asked anyway. “I’m taking the pills, John. I want to go to sleep and wake up in Heaven. Remember the scriptures? It’s a place of “no more tears, no more crying.” There will be no more pain. I can’t be what everyone expects me to be here. I’m human. I thought I could fly until someone told me I couldn’t, and I’ve been falling down ever since. Maybe part of telling you was because I knew you couldn’t stop me. We’re pretty far apart and quite frankly it seemed safe to talk to you since you couldn’t intercede.” Sara was right; there was really no way for John to immediately intervene. He didn’t want to let her go, especially since it meant literally setting her life down, but he’d never had to fight before ... and he virtually didn’t know how. Living with his parents and sister in a fashionable suburb of Philadelphia, John had been brought up with all the creature comforts and although he worked hard at school, he never wanted for anything. The year between college and grad school was spent touring Europe, a gift from his father, a respite between one goal and the next in a cleanly orchestrated professional future. John owned several dark suits with properly starched white shirts and traditional ties — the accouterments befitting an up-andcoming architect, and acceptable for his hours in the pulpit as a lay minister. All of John’s battles were handled on his knees, beautifully spiritual but lacking the experience that buys understanding and empathy in regards to the suffering of mankind and the reality of the world surrounding his September 2009

cushioned existence. John tried to remember if there was anything he could have done differently; any way he might have been a better friend to Sara; any way he could have prevented her despondency. He had written her once a month, even sending a pen and ink sketch he’d rendered of a bridge and peaceful hillside of Wales, knowing Sara had a grandfather who was Welsh; Sara framed it and told him she would cherish it always. Sara had flown to John’s home in Bryn Mawr last winter to ski with a group of young people from the local Gospel Hall, a group that matched her age if not her history; they were all unmarried and she was divorced with a young child. Sara realized more fully by that trip that she was indeed different and while certain kindnesses may have been extended to her—in the Christian way—Sara’s sordid past (being a divorced woman and now a single mother) made her ineligible to remarry in their eyes, a scarlet letter that separated her from her peers. In Pennsylvania, the snow had melted, and even though the trip brought to the forefront a painful awareness of the third world (where the newly born-again Christian, who was scorned for past indiscretions, must live), she and John had a wonderful visit and Sara had promised to come back when John could assure something better than mudslopes. His past and hers, the differences in their lifestyles and upbringing, and memories of the two years they had shared as friends melted together as John struggled for something to say. He realized in the depths of his heart how much he had meant to Sara and how their relationship might have taken a different road if she had been ‘acceptable’ in the Oversight’s eyes. Now, facing the harsh reality of humankind outside of his contented and protected world, he had no words. He was as lost in an attempt to guide

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Sara as she was in trying to find the answers to his questions. “John, have I ever told you about my front door?” Sara tried to offer John comfort through distraction and possibly hint toward some level of explanation. “Have you told me about your front door? Is this the appropriate time, I mean, do you really want to talk about your door?” “You should see it, John. It’s very old, filled with character if not a little worse for the wear and weather, as with all things in life. Have you ever thought about the symbolism of what a door represents? Your perceptions decide whether it is an opportunity or an obstacle. It can be a portal, or a gateway to a purpose beyond yourself and your limited concept of time and place. It’s the passageway from an area that is open and seen to an unknown. What lies behind the door is subject to a million variables that change with each moment, adapting to the specifics and influence of each life force that passes by. My door leads to a dominion that no one else would understand unless they passed through to experience it themselves and I can assure you no one would want to walk in my shoes or through my door. Anyway, this door has a diamond-pattern etched in smoked and clear glass. As the moon passes through the night sky, the diamonds change shape and position on the wall. They are my own shining stars, set in the night sky that surrounds me. I’ve been watching them tonight, along with the shadows the trees make as they move with the wind. I can make my own falling stars and wish on them at will. It’s sort of like creating your own reality, I suppose. Sometimes, though, the diamonds look like mysterious, unforgiving eyes watching me wherever I go. There’s no rest for the wicked, right?”

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John had only been half-listening as Sara’s words softened to a whisper and slowed with deliberation. He was trying to attract his dad’s attention as he passed down the hall by John’s bedroom. John grabbed a tablet, and quickly scrawled, “Sara — took pills. What do I do?” His dad wrote, “Where is she?” and John answered, “Home.” As John’s dad heavily penciled “WHERE IS HOME?”John handed over his address book, opened to Sara’s name. Dad whispered, “Hang up,” and John, offering an excuse about his father wanting to use the phone, quickly complied. Sara put the phone back in the cradle and finished the bottle of pills. The water tasted bitter as she washed them down and she found herself surprised that it wasn’t sweet. She had made her decision, after all, and the hardest part was past. The notes, brief and succinct, penned to her loved ones as well as those who would expect them, were written and the flat was company clean. This world would soon be behind her. This world, with all its tentacles pulling her away from everything that might have been good and worthwhile, would not extract another ounce of flesh. She had sacrificed herself to please humanity and humanity just wiped its feet on her repeatedly and walked away without as much as a glance back. There was no more thought given to those who she attempted to care for, who simply wouldn’t be pleased in spite of her efforts; she let the weight of her perceived failures go and stepped back into the moment. The shadows on the wall began to dance anew with a rhythmic blue light. Peeking out the window, Sara watched a cruiser quickly come to a halt and park in front of her flat. Two uniformed officers leisurely approached the front porch, saying to each other that it didn’t look like anyone was home, but a complaint was filed so they had Vol. I, No. 1


to check it out. Walking quickly to the back door, Sara slipped outside as the officers knocked loudly on the front screen door. She knew that it would be only seconds before they came in, because Sara never locked her doors when she was home. Trusting everyone was one of the reasons she became such an accomplished doormat. Hearing the front door open, Sara jumped the back fence and ran down the alley. It was amazing how quickly the neighbors, who never knew Sara existed before, suddenly took great interest in her visitors. Sara walked down the alley and around the block, standing with the forming crowd of onlookers as a second cruiser arrived. Two officers stood in the front yard talking as the other two checked the back yard and spoke with a tenant in the upper flat. “So what’s going on?” asked one of the onlookers, to no one in particular. “I couldn’t tell you,” responded another, “but those cops came in pretty fast. Maybe it’s a drug bust or something. They haven’t been in there long.” Sara listened to the theorists and their proposals, occasionally joining in to giggle about how their dull neighborhood was enjoying a few moments of notoriety. These unknowing souls were joined because of a fissure in one young woman’s life. In a single moment, the seams of her emotional and spiritual being burst apart and there was no one there to mop up the mess. These neighbors didn’t know Sara before, didn’t ask who she was as she became part of their circle in the night, and didn’t notice that she was the only one among them not wearing shoes. Sara walked back down the alley. Hopping over the fence to her backyard was a little more difficult as energy seemed to float, almost visibly, out the ends of her fingertips, back into the cosmos. It was, after September 2009

all, not hers to keep, but only loaned for the time she walked this earth. “There is a balance in the universe,” she would always say. “What you put out comes back to you tenfold.” Sara had always been the giver, never asking for anything in return, hoping only that her gifts would be accepted without anyone chastising her for giving them. Now she prayed for a smooth transition into the next phase of her spiritual walk, wishing not to be rebuked for taking a side step away from the path she had been set upon. “She’s not here.” Sara listened to the officers from her post outside the kitchen window, dumbfounded that these professionals couldn’t find a 103# female standing only two feet away from them. “If people want to kill themselves, let ‘em. I just wish they would do it and get it over with. It’s a lot less paperwork for me, less hassle for everybody else. If people are that crazy, we’re better off without them anyway.” The words stung a heart that Sara thought was beyond feeling. Being on the other side of the line drawn between caregiver and client was already difficult but hearing one of her own declare her as not worth being confirmed her decision and plan as being sound. The suffering had become intense and the pain pills were just beginning to blur the ache of open emotional wounds. Sara’s old coping mechanism, to clinically over-intellectualize, began to fall away with the dulling of the pills. She sat on the flat’s back stoop, the weight of her head in her hands, feeling the chill of the night air coldly reminding her that in spite of their declaration of her lack of worth, she was still a part of their humanity. She pitied their deficiency of insight or understanding. The difference between them and her was actually very small, in spite of their having reached the conclusion that she was crazy. Sanity is a fleeting thing, after all, and no

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one who knew Sara would ever have labeled this bright, attractive, energetic, and overachieving girl, who had everything going for her as crazy. Sara dragged herself back inside, curled up on the couch with a familiar old knitted comforter and phoned John. “You called the police, didn’t you?” “My dad did, Sara. Don’t be mad at me; do you forgive me? Please, it’s very important to me to know that I’ve been forgiven.” Sara found it strange that she was dying and the last person she would speak to on this earth was so terribly concerned about being forgiven for his sins. This final piece of absurdity failed to attach to any significance for her as those were the types of oddities and analyses she no longer had to consider; neither words nor actions had any meaning and she was truly satisfied that the things and people and considerations of this world were past. An incredible thinker, always the intellectual theorist and evaluator, and a person who had a thousand plans running in multiple directions with eventual successful outcomes, Sara wanted to finally be free from the responsibility of thought, the gift and skill she used to value as being one of the best parts of her. The last tear fell and Sara finally took a wonderful, deep breath, feeling it fill her lungs and then exit to the far edge of the horizon, of the universe. “You’re forgiven, John. Now I’m going to sleep. I’m tired, and I can’t think any more.” As she fell into the sweetest sleep she had ever known, Sara watched the shadows of trees and diamonds sparkle with life on the walls, inviting her to join them. She reached up toward the dancing shapes as they beckoned, wondering if they were really shadows, or perhaps an apparition of outstretched hands offering forgiveness. To each entreaty, she gratefully accepted.

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Vol. I, No. 1


Exce r pts

Ten Thousand Francs for a Bullet by Dicho Ilunga Ten Thousand Francs for a Bullet is a story of genocide by African writer Dicho Ilunga. Edited by Dr. Rowan Williams, and inspired by the story of Tromp Beauregard, it is part of the up coming novel of the same title. ~~~ Denise Rutindika wasn’t one to sit back and wait for something to happen. She was the kind of girl who made things happen whatever the cost might be. At the tender age of sixteen, her forthright manner found expression in her love for dressing up like her favourite movie stars in the films she’d recently seen. Even so, I was surprised when this energetic and beautiful girl, who only days before had blatantly accused me of arrogance, talked her way past the doorman into the gymnasium where my basketball teammates and I were practicing. As I saw her enter the building, my mind reviewed our previous brief encounter: “Why are you so full of yourself?” she had said. “You think you’re a big man, a star who can ignore anyone he likes.” It’s true; I had pretty much ignored her. However, it wasn’t really intentional, and I didn’t feel like ‘a star.’ I was too young for that—barely twenty-one. However, I had done well since moving from Zaire to Rwanda. In just two years, I had advanced to a managerial position. My earnings allowed me to eat well at least, and perhaps I did seem to parade around ‘like a proud peacock’—a label she also assigned to me that day. I recall that I tried to reason with her. Of course, I couldn’t. No one could. She left. It was hours after she had left that I realized September 2009

how badly I’d behaved. Apart from my daytime work, I spent most free time training with my basketball team. We called ourselves ‘Virungans.’ Virunga is a volcano in the eastern Congo, close to Uganda. The name seemed appropriate. We played hard. When we had possession of the ball in the midst of a game, we were almost invincible. Yet, we were more than just a team. We were a group of ‘brothers’ helping one another succeed in a strange new land. Most of us had recently immigrated to Rwanda from Zaire. In 1989, at eighteen, I had left Goma, a district capital in eastern Congo. I left because of the crippling economic impact of the Mobutu Sese Seko regime. I saw no economic future for myself in Zaire. I left to seek for work in Rwanda. Others, many others, were leaving Zaire in search of better jobs and hopefully, a better way of life. Leaving my homeland was not easy. The mode of travel in the area was also primitive. For three days I walked and camped along the roadside, waiting and hoping for someone to pass. I was waiting for a lift— and hoping for a lifeline to get me to where I could begin to pursue new goals. Finally, I was picked up by two basketball players, who recognized me. They not only gave me a lift, but they also let me share the room they leased in an apartment near Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. In the evening after work, the three of us practiced basketball out behind our apartment house for as long as sufficient light remained. We were good, even as just a trio. Our practice sessions began to attract onlookers as well as other players.

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I have always loved basketball, and it was around this time that I adopted Michael Jordan’s surname as my own first name. Hence, I became known as Jordan Simaro instead of Jackson Simaro. The fans soon picked up on this, and the ‘loan’ of a wellknown professional player’s prominent surname seemed to lend strength to my game in some subjective way. For eight months we youths did little else in our spare time but practice in this way. Our lives seemed in near isolation from the lives of others around us. However, the team grew and by the end of this incubation period, we had expanded to twenty-two members. We devoted ourselves to the development of teamwork, a cardinal element in this unusual sport. On weekends, we were allowed the use of a large practice hall in a school gymnasium nearby. Here, the twenty-two of us would divide ourselves into well-balanced teams. Our quiet, skilful movements, and the incessant thump of the ball on the hardwood floor, continued to attract a steady crowd of onlookers. As fate would have it, a self-confident sixteen-year-old girl was among the crowd one evening. The doorman later told me that as she pushed past him she said, “Tell Jordan that I’m here.” Denise, by any standard, was a young beauty. She stayed about two hours that time. Our eyes met too often and I played badly. As practice ended, she got up and left without saying a word. I remember thinking; what does this strange girl want of me? My teammates soon warned me that this girl’s flirtation could lead to dangerous consequences. Her father and brothers were huge men whom everybody in the area feared. They were leaders among the Tutsi people of Rwanda. As I had left my homeland partly to avoid overbearing men like

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these, I promised myself not to pursue her. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, that promise lasted almost no time at all. I was cooking myself a late lunch one afternoon when I felt someone’s hand caressing my chest from behind. I grabbed the hand and turned around. Of course, it belonged to Denise. Day after day, and especially on weekends, Denise would find an excuse to visit me where I lived. My people say that life begins when you meet a woman and you know she was born for you—intended for you. That saying soon proved true for me about Denise. We found ourselves overwhelmed by a love that blossomed far too soon. One fateful day, Denise’s cousin, the man her family intended for her to marry, came looking for her. The deviously clever man wandered onto the apartment property and apparently took his time moving about the outside and peering into windows. A certain two lovers failed to hear him when he peeked through their window. You see, we had neglected to draw the blinds. In what seemed only minutes, Denise’s entire family: father, mother, four brothers and a sister, had gathered at our door. The father led the pack. Pounding on the door he shouted, “Foreigner! My respect! My honor!” One of the gigantic sons broke in the bedroom door and heated words were exchanged. Neighbors and friends eventually calmed down the dismayed father, pleading with him not to make a spectacle. However, before he left, he launched a fearful threat; “Zairois,” he shouted, “if you not pay money and marry my daughter, I will kill you. That you must believe!” From that moment on, Denise lived with me, and during that time, Sandrine was born. Six months and an eight-hundreddollar dowry later, we were married. For Vol. I, No. 1


many months thereafter she used to tease me and say, “My father do a good thing. I know you not marry me otherwise.” And I’d tease back with, “So that was your plan all along?” Denise’s mother used to urge her to have children with Tutsi men instead of with a “worthless Zairois.” No doubt, her scheme was to bolster the Tutsis’ numbers in Rwanda. Tutsi and Hutu friction was already on the rise. Oddly, the mother seemed genuinely serious; and this, too, became one of our little private jokes. During 1992, we bought a new house on a peaceful small lakeshore near Kigali. A year later our happiness doubled with the birth of beautiful Bijoux. With the joy of a newborn child—with melodic sounds from the lake drifting through the open windows of our new home—life was indeed beautiful. Denise was such a lovely mother. She nursed Bijoux and took exceptional care, not only of the children, but also of herself. She maintained her strict diet, which included lots of bread, vegetables, sweet potatoes and milk. She wouldn’t touch meat in spite of her Tutsi heritage. She felt that the vegetarian diet would be better for her children as well. Sometimes I used to just stand and admire her. For some social occasions she would dress up like a favorite movie star just as she had done in her adolescence. The clothes transformed her and would charm everybody around her. Our joys were simple, our bounty sufficient and the years we shared were idyllic. However, the events that were soon to follow brought incalculable change. On April 6, 1994, the basketball team stopped playing and the neighbors bolted their doors. President Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane had been shot down. At first, as I listened to the news, I didn’t know what to September 2009

think. Then, gradually, as the reality of the situation began to sink in, I heard my mind warning that Oh my God! Now they’ve really done it. Within hours, prominent members of the government began calling for the death of all Tutsis. Gangs of Hutu, armed with machetes and clubs and coaxed on by soldiers and government officials, began killing Tutsis by the hundreds, The Rwandan genocide had begun. Everyone of Tutsi heritage was in danger. Each day brought more deaths than the day before as the news spread like wild fire throughout the nation. Hutu and Tutsi neighbors, who had lived side by side for generations, now eyed each other with contempt and suspicion. Neighborhoods, the length and breadth of Rwanda, turned into killing fields as army units joined the militias in wiping out ‘the Tutsi problem.’ There would be no middle ground. The number of fatalities grew at an alarming rate. Inevitably, four soldiers one day arrived at our front door too. On entry, they stood with their AK47s at the ready, surveying the living room. “We are looking for the snake,” one said. I was at home, watching my children and the neighboring kids play a game when the soldiers entered. Again, one shouted, “We are looking for the snake.” “There is no snake here,” I said. But just as I said it, Denise opened a door to see what was going on and their leader immediately shouted, “There she is! There’s the snake!” They grabbed her and dragged her out the front door. She and I fought them all the way, but they were too strong. I begged them not to hurt her with every argument I could think of. The children followed us outside and the neighbour’s kids fled. I hustled my two back into the house and tried quickly to reassure them. When I returned to the scene

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outside, Denise was on her knees begging them not to kill her. She had recently befriended a French couple, who had left Rwanda and had given her many of their belongings including a television, a stove, a fridge, and a video recorder. I offered them everything in the house, but they just kept saying, almost chanting, “We must kill the snake.” One of them drew a machete. Another held a heavy club. To my horror, I realized that they intended to butcher her as they were doing to others all over Rwanda. They couldn’t waste bullets on snakes. They had to use knives and clubs. No! More than that! They wanted to use knives and clubs. It’s strange what the human mind thinks in a crisis. Mine turned to related instances about which I had read. Mobs gone mad with killing seem to choose to do their evil work up close and personal, hacking off limbs and smashing skulls. There are records of such occurrences where babies were flung into the air and impaled on bayonets; where churches, full of refugees, were set on fire, and where those who fled with their backs engulfed in flames were shot on sight. While in this helpless, frantic state of mind, I begged, “Please, not like this! If you must kill, then shoot. Please, have mercy!” How could humans harbor such hatred? I tried one last time to pander to their greed, “You want money? How much money?” They agreed that if I gave them 10,000 Rwanda francs they would shoot her instead of butchering her. I rushed into the house, grabbed Bijoux and went to where I’d hidden our money. I heard a shot. When I came out they were already leaving. They didn’t even wait for the money. Denise was lying in a pool of blood. What great crime had she committed? Why would they call her a snake? For hours I sat on the ground beside the

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body of my beloved. Had I done the right thing to goad them into shooting instead of slaughtering? Was there some other magical way I could have saved her? Three years earlier, she had won my heart by her forthright manner. Perhaps she had angered some government official somewhere in Kigali with that same haughty behavior. But how had it come to this? True, she was a Tutsi by birth, but she was married to me, a citizen of Zaire. There was nothing now to be done. The love of my life was dead. At the time, nobody was allowed to bury Tutsis without the express permission of the army. Instead, I was required to wrap her body in sheets to await permission. The neighbours would not help with this for fear of bringing the Hutu wrath on themselves. I dragged her body to the back of our house where she would be safe while I waited authorization. When I entered the house my children were silent and trembling. They had witnessed images through their tear-filled eyes that would remain with them for the rest of their lives. I, too, was trembling. I couldn’t think what to do to help my babies. I was still inside the house in this numb and near catatonic state when three more militia burst into the living room and found me. I could not even make myself protest when they told me to strip and made me kneel in front of them. One pulled out his machete and held it flat against my chest just above my heart as though to take a measure of where to strike a blow to the back of my neck. Bijoux began to scream at that critical moment and that instantly brought me out of my stupor. I closed my eyes. God, it is finished. Now I will join Denise. I spoke to the one with the machete as calmly as I could, “All I ask is that you take my children home when this is over.” Vol. I, No. 1


At that moment a friend whom I knew only as Sylvain burst into the room. He also held an AK47. He was a leader in the militia, but also a genuine fan of our basketball team. Sylvain spoke quickly to the three. An argument over my fate ensued. The one with the machete turned the blade a quarter turn and cut me across the chest. Then they dragged me outside, arguing all the way. Once back on my knees outside, Sylvain and the other three then drew some distance away and cocked their rifles. I caught my breath. Nothing happened for maybe ten seconds. They began to argue once again and when I glanced up I saw that Sylvain held an armed grenade. “If you kill him,” he said, “none of us will leave this place alive.” After a tense moment that seemed to last forever, the three lowered their weapons and backed off. Before he left, Sylvain quietly warned me that there was more trouble coming. That I should flee to the Zaire embassy straight away. My greatest fear lay in the fact that Bijoux shared her mother’s slender build and sharp features, so characteristic of the Tutsis. She seemed in many ways a miniature of her mother. “Sylvain,” I said, “they killed my Denise. If only you had come an hour earlier. They will want to kill Bijoux too. But if they do, I warn you that I will return and kill every Hutu I can find. I will kill you and your entire family. You will all die.” Sylvain stepped back with a look of indifference. I suppose he chalked up my outburst to the ranting of a broken heart. I watched them for a long time until they were out of sight. Then I went inside to pack food and supplies and to prepare the children for the trip to the embassy. Thousands of Zairians had fled to the embassy, creating a chaotic and desperate situation. In the madness of what was September 2009

Rwanda, there seemed to be no respite, no ‘enough.’ Outside the embassy, the roads to the border were long and reportedly filled with Hutu predators. Even while temporarily safe in the embassy, we were far from being completely out of trouble. Elsewhere, scores of people, unable to reach the embassy, were streaming towards the nearest border with only what they could carry. The death toll along the way was enormous. In the fields, dogs fed on the carnage. Rwanda was in flames. Foreigners from every nation were fleeing their embassies in Kigali, desperately seeking to avoid the killing fields around them. Conditions in the embassy were not much better. Close to four thousand crowded the gardens outside and the rooms and halls inside. Food was scarce and thankfully most had brought food with them. Sanitary facilities were hopelessly inadequate. Many people were ill. Medicine was not available. Some oldsters had died. Some babies were born. By pooling resources, groups could hire buses to transport them to the border. The cost was one hundred and fifty thousand francs per trip. I found a group from our basketball team camped out behind the main building. Among ourselves, and with the help of a few others, we raised the money for the trip. Even more difficult was a requirement that we be accompanied by a government official, and that we have a letter from the government of Rwanda stating that we were Zairian refugees on our way home. Our group left nine days from the day I and the children had arrived. We flew a huge homeland flag from our bus as added protection. All along the route we were stopped. In a town along the Mwogo River, they made everybody get out of the bus. They lined us up and examined us. They took Bijoux to

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one side. They ignored my demands that she was my daughter. They saw in her too many Tutsi characteristics to let her pass, and they placed her against a wall pock marked with bullet holes while they searched for others. There were no others. The firing squad began loading their weapons. I walked to the wall and shielded Bijoux with my body. In a moment of incredible self-sacrifice and tremendous risk, a dozen of my basketball teammates joined me, some even with their wives and children. They refused to leave when the officer in charge accosted them. Unbelievably, the officer relented and we were all allowed to continue on our journey. We were stopped repeatedly all the way to the Ruzizi border gate. Zaire was a poor place of refuge at this time. The dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko, headed a government that was rife with plundering the nation’s resources. These had been depleted to a point where there was little left to pay civil servants, much less military personnel. The country’s economy was in free fall. Prices were surging. Supermarkets classified products by groups rather than pricing individual items. This apparently reduced their risk and allowed them to keep up with inflation. The value of money was dropping by the minute. At the border, we were forced to fend for ourselves. Looting, bribery, and corruption prevailed as the soldiers from Zaire searched through our belongings for valuables to steal. Most of us were too tired and discouraged to complain. In the flight from Rwanda, I had packed the team equipment; a pair of expensive boots stuffed with some of Denise’s jewelry and a leather jacket. As I opened my bags for inspection with little Bijoux by my side, one by one the vultures came to claim their booty. A colonel made off with the boots and jewelry. Then a major took the team jerseys. A captain took five

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basketballs. A few from the lower ranks picked through the scraps. I didn’t say a word at the time, but as I left the line, my anger grew. I turned and went back to accost them. Why should I be frightened of my own people, I thought. Standing over the pile of my confiscated belongings, I shouted, “I will kill you and your family. I have just lost my wife and this is all my babies and I have to start over with. You will all die.” Then I went outside, sat down and cried. Whether out of genuine concern for my threat, or because of my pitiful circumstances, one by one, and without a word, the soldiers returned my possessions. First the boots and jewelry, then the jerseys, and then finally the basketballs. From across the border, the full impact of what was happening in Rwanda became even more evident. Vehicles, by the thousands, crowded the streets of the border towns of Zaire, their progress hindered by tens of thousands of refugees on foot, many of them Rwanda citizens who had walked from their homes. Along with their meager belongings, these hoards brought tales of horror, the scale of which may never be fully known. Three months after the start of the genocide, the composition of those who were fleeing Rwanda began to change. An angry and well-equipped army of Tutsi refugees and exiles had reinvaded Rwanda and was marching to recapture the capital. Now it was Hutus, fearing retribution from Tutsis who were filling up refugee camps all across eastern Zaire. Many of these were the same who had murdered only days before. Somewhere among them, no doubt, were the four that murdered Denise. I found it hard to cope with my own trauma. For a time, I searched refugee camps in the hope of finding the men who killed Denise. The hunters had become the Vol. I, No. 1


hunted. Eventually I ceased this searching. I realized that it had to stop somewhere. I had to live on, even if only for the benefit of my children and to honour the memory of their mother. I began to rebuild my life by working first as a security guard and then as a coordinator for the Red Cross. Ironically, some of my previous training equipped me to help other refugees—even Hutus, irrespective of their probable guilt. I felt that I had to rise above my losses. In my family background there are Hutus, Tutsis, French, and Arabs. If I were to continue to hate the Hutus I would be hating a part of myself. The genocide in Rwanda was not an incident in isolation, and some deep hatreds remain in the border cities on both sides. Bijoux, almost daily experiences incidents at school. Born in Rwanda, in the minds of the Zairian children, she is Rwandan. “Sometimes,” she says, “when I am ac-

costed by other kids at school, I feel very bad and question my own nationality. I don’t really know where I belong.” Once I asked, “Would you want to leave here when you grow up?” “It is not a question of when I grow up,” she said. “Even right now I would like to leave here and find a quiet place where there are not always the probing questions.” Her hurt, even at the age of fourteen, is far too close to the surface. Our basketball team is back together once again. Communicating in Mashi, Lingala, Swahili, and Kinyarwanda, once again the team practices almost daily in the evening near where we live. But the practice lacks the authenticity it had before. We each had a hurtful story almost too painful to retell. In some strange way, our togetherness helped to bind the wounds to our hearts that each of us feared would never heal.

From the darkest hour of American history emerges a mesmerizing tale of tender love, a life interrupted, and faith recovered. “Highly recommended.” ––Faye A. Chadwell, Library Journal

“Eloquently written, a must-read for any one interested in exploring the lived experiences of Muslim women in the United States.”

www.shailaabdullah.com

––Dr. Ali Asani, Professor, Harvard University

“This book is simply stunning. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with the depth and eloquency of Saffron Dreams.” ––Marta’s Meanderings

Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-932690-72-9, Paperback ISBN: 978-1-932690-73-6 Available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble

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RTS Book Reviews from Reader Views More Than a Memory: Reflections of Viet Nam Victor R. Volkman, Editor Modern History Press (2008) ISBN 9781932690644 Reviewed by Dr. Michael Philliber Synopsis: 15 Viet Nam veterans share their experiences during the war, the decades afterwards, in poetry, stories, and essays. Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) is the new kid on the block, or is it? Certainly, the diagnostic category may be new, but the emotionally tumultuous concoction behind it seems to have been around since the dawn of human consciousness. Victor Volkman has compiled a bundle of stories and poems from Viet Nam veterans who are struggling with PTSD, for decades now, after their involvement in combat. More Than a Memory: Reflections of Viet Nam is part of the ‘Reflections of History’ series put out by Modern History Press. This short, 221-page, paperback dossier places in the reader’s hand a bundle of firsthand accounts on the personally harrowing struggles of over 15 authors, in the form of narrative and verse. The one major theme that gradually dawns on the reader is that almost every writer in More Than a Memory is rehearsing their battle with PTSD. From hyper-vigilance and anger to depression and self-medicating drug abuse, each participant bares their bleeding soul. Many of the accounts are about the gruesome events of combat, loss of friends, violent actions of fellow GIs under constant stress, individual fear, the absurdity of leadership decisions, and nu-

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merous regretful events that still feed on the writers’ psyches. These veteran combat soldiers and Marines bring out the grueling and gory death they lived through, in brusque and harsh detail. These are not sissies! These are men who need relief, who want release, and some of whom have finally found reprieve. If there is any aspect that detracts from the theme of More Than a Memory, it is the short piece promoting the left-leaning American Servicemen’s Union (ASU). With this article smack in the center of the book, it taints the whole work. If the volume has not been pulled together to show the ‘rightness’ of the ASU, then this particular chapter deflects from the real theme of the manuscript. Either way, this section turns More Than a Memory in directions probably not intended by the editor, or the writers. Overall, this is an important resource for those professionals or family members trying to help combat veterans struggling with PTSD. It may also be a step closer to healing for those veterans wondering what is happening to them, who worry if they’re normal, and where might they go for help. I highly recommend More Than a Memory.

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Revie Maggie Rose Crane FTA Press (2008) ISBN 9780966087499 Reviewed by Danelle Drake Synopsis: A woman discovers her inner strengths and vitality upon reaching maturity. You have probably never heard this before, “When I grow up, I want to be just like my mother-in-law.” I look at her and think, wow, how does she do it? I know this woman; life has not always been easy. She has aged so very gracefully and I just know she is a member of the growing ‘Amazing Grays’ movement that’s proving: Maturing women CAN be vibrant, healthy, wise, engaged with life, sexually active, spiritually connected, physically fit ,and alive well past 100! She, like all of the beautiful women in Amazing Grays, makes me now look forward to each birthday. I find myself looking at each woman I see that has made that decision and became a ‘Silver Sage’ wanting to shake their hand and let them know how encouraging they can be to those that will follow. Media and culture have long stressed that women should be young, shapely, and such, and when you have reached a certain point, you are moved on into the sub-culture of ‘older-woman’. How wrong! Pick up this kickin’ guide if you are “Not ready to be a feeble old woman with boobs in your lap, dreams on the shelf, and ‘Memory Lane’ your only destination!” As Maggie Crane writes, “I decided that rather than succumb to my limiting beliefs and fears about aging, I would challenge them by holding them up to the light of day.” Instead of accepting the old adage ‘just because’ she lives life the way she wants to, and by doing so is enabling others to find the strength to give up the ‘just because’ life September 2009

as well. With humor and grace, she will cover social perspectives, ‘What Aging Means to Us’; then jump into physical perspectives, ‘Becoming Body Wise.’ By the time you are well into this section, there will be no turning back and you will be ready for psychological perspectives, ‘Discovering what’s real.’ As you come to a close in the final section, spiritual perspectives, ‘Roots of a Deeper Kind’, you will truly be a new woman; a woman who is proud of who she has become; and this pride will show in every aspect of your life. You can read all of the medical books available to prepare you for the transitions life has in store but none will compare to, Amazing Grays. This information-filled book is so much more than a guide; it lets you know how real women face this experience and ways to better prepare yourself when it is your turn. Hat’s off to you Maggie Rose Crane! I look forward to reaching that age 50 milestone and, with her guide, plan on making the next 50 the best 50! I plan on leaving this book on my nightstand and will revisit it often. By mulling over the practical questions and insight, Maggie provides throughout Amazing Grays, I now have a better understanding of what to expect as I age. I intend to embrace my new self and instead of wondering how I will make this midlife transition, I now trust that I can do it with grace, gratitude, and gusto!

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Amazing Grays: A Woman’s Guide to Making the Next 50 the Best 50


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The Deep Water Leaf Society Claire M. Perkins Intuitive Journey Press (2008) ISBN 9780982105610 Reviewed by Carol Hoyer, PhD, Synopsis: After a son’s suicide, a mother reaches out to help others achieve peace in their lives following similar tragedies. Claire Perkins lost her son Cameron to what the police called an overdose while he was being held in a local jail. She is stunned and is in a downward spiral dealing with anger, guilt, and not being able to move forward with her life. When finally being able to get enough strength to work on her loss and lack of faith in her son, Claire discovers that you can transform your life regardless of what the loss or issue is. Through many years of journaling, music and expressive arts she is able to come to terms with Cameron’s death. Ms. Perkins believes “we each come into this life having a plan for what we want to learn and accomplish.” Through her own personal story, she shares this journey of growth with the readers. In each and every page, she gives examples of journaling, interpreting dreams, and how to use art to discover who we are and who we are to become. Claire has questioned why God would let something like this happen as well as question if she was a good mom who did all she could do for her son. We all have asked these questions. As a result of her son’s death and her own growth, Ms. Perkins developed the Deep Water Leaf Society to help others who have gone what she has gone through. Today, with over thousands of fans, Ms. Perkins has helped others heal and become at peace with their life. Not everyone will take the same journey as Claire did. She experienced dreams where her son talked to

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her and shared his love for her through music. Many times when she was questioning herself, a special song would play on the radio and she knew it was her son talking. In a very personal and sincere account, she shares her time with a medium that let her know her son was talking to her—she just needed to take the time to listen. As a psychologist, The Deep Water Leaf Society by Claire M. Perkins is a book that I found would help you turn your life around. You will learn more than you know about yourself and why you are here. And most of all, it will let you heal.

Book Reviews: Courtesy of Reader Views Reader Views is a book review and author publicity service based in Austin, Texas. We thank them for permission to reprint their reviews in this forum. For weekly reviews, interviews, and more, please visit www.ReaderViews.com. Vol. I, No. 1


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RTS Film Reviews Patricia Wellingham-Jones Stephanie Daley Starring: Tilda Swinton, Amber Tamblyn, Timothy Hutton Director: Hilary Brougher Production Company: RedBone Films Year of Release: 2006 Run Time: 92 min Genre: Drama www.stephaniedaley-themovie.com/ Stephanie Daley stars Tilda Swinton as a 29-week pregnant forensic psychologist for the prosecutor working with 16-year-old Amber Tamblyn, who may or may not have killed her newborn. Far from being clearcut, the story dives deeper and deeper into the secrets and fears of these two women. Swinton’s character, Lydia, suffered a stillbirth just three months before getting pregnant for the second time, refusing to grieve for that child, but marching forward with her busy life. Tamblyn’s character, Stephanie, had unexpected sex at a party and insisted she didn’t know she was pregnant, nor did she kill the child. The strongest scene in the whole movie takes place in the bathroom where Stephanie suffers the trial of birth but there are plenty of moving scenes as the characters develop and deal with the people in their lives. I’m glad that I watched this with two women friends, as I found the ending ambiguous, leading to an interesting discussion about several points in the film. Some of our comments: It’s really thought-provoking. The viewer brings her own experience to it. It’s open-ended, doesn’t judge; keeps the urge to question. The women struggle with morality and fear and, ultimately, underSeptember 2009

standing. Both lived with guilt and secrets. Baloney! She had to know she was pregnant (we all have children and know the sensations of the body). Responsible choices are the key to the film. The images are fantastic. The audio is spotty (one friend couldn’t even hear some parts, they were so low in decibels) and frustrating, but the film itself is excellent. From a healing perspective, we agreed you cannot have healing without honesty. And healing, in its various forms, did occur by the end of this tale. Each of the two women arrived there in her own painful way. Other characters in the film did not. We think teens (including boys, though they might squirm) and their parents should watch this film, preferably together.

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Military Families Say that Military Children are the Forgotten Victims of the Iraq War April 2nd, 2009—Celeste Zappala’s grief people would thank him for his service, I over her son’s death is compounded by the wanted to scream at them ‘Thank my son!’ pain of watching her grandson grow up He’s paying the highest price. without a father. “Two years later, we’re still dealing with “When I see my grandson, now 14 years the repercussions: age-inappropriate separaold, and looking more like his Dad every- tion anxiety, crying some nights before bed day, I ache for the years of a loving Father that Mom or Dad will get on an airplane he has lost.” said Zappala, Philadelphia, PA and never come home. Even at four, I canwhose son, Sgt. Sherwood Baker, was killed not explain to him that Daddy never wanted in Iraq on April 26, 2004, “His Dad died in to leave him, but did. That it won’t happen Iraq five years ago, and he is navigating again; that he can relax and be four. We’re growing to manhood with one of the lucky military out the best role model there families—we’re not facing could ever be. I look at this another deployment. This quiet, guarded boy and think has been incredibly hard, he did not agree to lose his faand will remain with him ther in a senseless war, and for the rest of his life.” yet his loss has turned out to The sons and daughters be the greatest sacrifice of of service-members are not all.” the only American children As we enter April, the suffering as a result of the Celeste Zappala and Sherwood Baker “Month of the Military war in Iraq—children also Child,” Zappala and other members of Mil- suffer when their sisters and brothers are itary Families Speak Out (MFSO) are re- sent to war. Elaine Brower, another memflecting on the toll the war in Iraq has taken ber of Military Families Speak Out from on children growing up in military families. Staten Island . New York is the mother of a Annie McCabe of Minneapolis, MN, Marine Corps Reservist now serving in who serves on MFSO’s Board of Directors, Iraq. She has watched her son’s three destated, ployments—two to Iraq and one to “My husband deployed when my son Afghanistan—take a heavy toll on her was 16-months-old, and we were told by daughter. Brower said, both the Army and any ‘experts’ I could find “My son and daughter were inseparable that he was too young to notice what was as kids. They slept in the same room until going on. They weren’t the ones waking up they were pre-teens, sharing a bunk bed and in the middle of the night to broken-hearted laughing all night, until I really needed to get cries of ‘Daddy!’ or spending the next 16 some rest. My daughter loved her older months literally peeling a toddler off their brother, and he was her companion, since I neck every time they needed time alone. was a single mom for a very long time. She When my husband was home on leave and followed him around as a toddler, up until

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Press R families, with new families joining daily. Learn more about MFSO online at http://www.mfso.org/.

About the Author Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) is n organization of people opposed to the war in Iraq, who have relatives or loved ones’ who are currently in the military, or who have served in the military since the buildup to the Iraq war in the fall of 2002. Formed by two families in November of 2002, we have contacts with military families throughout the United States, and in other countries around the world. Our membership currently includes over 3,400 military September 2009

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he enlisted in the Marine Corps. at the age of 17, she was 15. When he was first deployed, she became a changed daughter and sibling. At 17 she locked herself in her room, became totally unsocial with everyone, and always sullen. She started writing dark stories and painted sad pictures. Her response to his calls home were in anger, she wouldn’t speak with him. Now, on his third tour, my daughter, although 25, cries at the mention of her brother. To her credit, she became a high school teacher, but remains sullen and sad. Reality hit her at a very young age, and changed her forever.” McCabe remains deeply concerned about the continuing impact of the war in Iraq on military children: “By continuing the Iraq War, not only are we causing bodily and mental harm to our troops and the people of Iraq, and spending money we don’t have, we’re causing long term psychological damage to a generation of military kids—damage we clearly don’t understand. Kids are facing parents’ multiple deployments like never before, and living in a world that doesn’t understand their struggles, because most Americans are barely aware of the war that is at home every night for military families.” Members of Military Families Speak Out and Gold Star Families Speak Out are available for interview.


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Write For Us! Recovering the Self : A Journal of Hope and Healing is actively seeking submissions of previously unpublished material in the form of informative articles, poetry, artwork, short stories, and commentary. Article lengths are suggested to be from 1,000 to 4,000 words, although we are willing to be persuaded to other treatments if the story needs it.

Subjects We are tracking the following subject areas with respect to adults, children and elders around the world: • Personal growth, • Relationships and family • Trauma recovery • Living with disabilities • Substance abuse recovery, co-dependence, and addiction • Military veterans’ issues • The struggle for identity, and • Bereavement

Articles should be submitted in Microsoft Word 2003 format (or something equivalent) with as little formatting as possible. It is not necessary to write a query letter in advance. We do accept work that has appeared before on the web, but generally are not interested in reprinting work that is already published in print. You will receive an email acknowledgment within a few days that your item was received. Please direct all inquiries to editor@recoveringself.com

A Token of Our Appreciation As a small token of our appreciation, we will send a post-paid copy of the journal edition in which your work appears. Additional copies may be purchased for US$5.95 plus cost of shipping. www.recoveringself.com/about/write-for-us

“...a guide to living a full, satisfactory life, a philosophy, and a challenge. —Robert Rich, Ph.D. • Learn quick techniques to assist another person after a shock, injury or other distress. • Learn simple methods for expanding your awareness on a daily basis. • Gain a deeper understanding of what a relationship is, and how to strengthen and nurture it. • Learn the components of successful communication, what causes communication to break down, and how to repair breakdowns. • Learn an effective tool for making important life decisions.

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Last Word Victor R. Volkman First of all, thank you to everyone who contributed to this premeir issue of Recovering the Self: A Journal of Hope and Healing. This represents the sixth anthology I’ve published, and I know quite well that these things don’t just happen by themselves. Specifically, shout out to Matthew Ward for designing the logo and cover layout. Special thank-you to Cindy Moran, who graciously offered us her painting for the front cover. I feel that the image offers multiple layers of interpretation, one of my favorites being “life as a dance.” Without the steady hand of Ernest Dempsey as Editor-in-Chief, this would have been another “someday project” instead of the wonderful cornacopia we humbly submit for your reading pleasure. Publishing is a strange endeavor. Any fool can put ink on paper, but to call yourself a publisher you must be critic, editor, marketer, dealmaker, entrepreneur and so much more. This issue of Recovering the Self marks the completion of the first 100 International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs) that I have used in publishing. As I look back to 2003, when I had no idea what this enterprise would take, I am still amazed that I’ve taken it on. Since then, the publishing world has changed immensely. Most notable, electronic book readers have sprouted everySeptember 2009

where from the Amazon Kindle in late 2007 to the iPhone and now it looks like almost all our devices will have eBooks on them before the year is out. Are we crazy to launch a new print-based journal in 2009? I have mixed feelings on this as I still appreciate the feel of a book running through my fingers. Although we’ll continue to push Recovering The Self into electronic distribution, I still plan and think and act as if reading on paper is everything. Going to print is a deliberate act, as opposed to dashing off ten minutes thought and hitting “Post” on your blog. With the debut of the Espresso Book Machine 2.0, we’ve expanded the Print On Demand capability of RTS and all our products to all the continents (except, perhaps, Antarctica... for now). Anyone in Australia can wander in to an Angus & Robertson store and ask for one of our books. In 5 minutes, the EBM will deliver a perfect bound paperback book ready for local delivery. There’s even one in my hometown, Ann Arbor, as many prestigious universities now want an EBM on campus too. Look for us everywhere!

Victor R. Volkman Publisher, Loving Healing Press, Inc.

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A Journal of Hope and Healing

Recovering The Self is a quarterly journal which explores the themes of recovery and healing through poetry, memoir, essays, fiction, humor, media reviews and psycho-education. Areas of concern include aging, disabilities, health, abuse recovery, trauma/PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Contributors come from around the world to provide a mirror of the experience of peoples of all cultures and beliefs. The premier issue explores a number of areas of concern including: Resilience and trauma recovery Healing the inner child Journaling and grief Forgiveness Lyme Disease Fibromyalgia Substance abuse Military families Nature of gender Children and trauma and much more!

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Recovering the Self: A Journal of Hope and Healing (Vol. I., No. 1)