Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A small tribute to Robin Williams: Oh Captain My Captain!

Robin William’s performance in Dead Poet’s Society is the reason I want to be a teacher.  Robin’s character told his students to “Suck the marrow out of life!”  He inspired them to live, to be and write their truth.

Robin was one of those people who everyone liked.  If you met someone who didn’t like Robin Williams, wouldn’t you be suspect of their character in general?  What was there not to like?  What was there not to love?  Why didn’t he love himself?

Robin Williams suffered from depression: I truly understand that.  It was his brilliance that I have trouble understanding, how could one human be so powerful? He made me laugh, cry, think all in one sentence.  Honestly he was one of the most beautiful people I have ever observed.   

He killed himself.  A friend of mine was angry with him; he said it was selfish. I told him to have compassion, there is no way we can understand the pain Robin was experiencing.  We don’t know how bad it was in his own head.  Just because his external circumstances seemed outstanding, it’s obvious that outer riches mean nothing to most people. 

What’s interesting to me is that I don’t have the external circumstances that people measure their lives with.  I don’t have a significant income; I don’t have a husband or kids.  However there is now a string of happiness within me, a light, that no one can eradicate.  I think it doesn’t matter if you are “successful” in the eyes of the world, but it only matters what you are in your own eyes.

Obviously Robin Williams did not think he was very “pretty” when he looked in the mirror.  He could not love his own beauty, though millions loved him.  He touched us in ways that are immeasurable.  He moved us, made us laugh, and made us cry. 

It is interesting to me that so many people, who are loved by millions, can’t get it in their heads to love themselves.  Imagine that if someone who is famous cannot love themselves, then how do we ordinary people love ourselves.  Apparently you don’t need a fan club in order to be happy.  In fact it seems like a fan club could harm you more than help you. 

I wonder about that since I want to be a famous writer.  Do I want people to love me because I don’t love myself?  I do love myself, but there are times that the appreciation from complete strangers is somehow satisfying.  It’s not real though.  My “fans” don’t know me.  Like in the case of Robin, my fans only know the nina that I show. 

Someone said of Robin Williams last night that he was always “on.”  Meaning whenever he talked to the press, he put on a show.  He didn’t exactly reveal his true self to the public.  Not that it is necessarily any of our business.  However, we would have still loved him had we seen him in his boring and mundane moments.    

Robin Williams, i.e. Mork, is dead.  It’s still had for me to fathom that.  He was like a father figure to me.  He was real, in a world like Hollywood that is full of unreal people. 

I’m sorry that the world is so crappy that an amazing person like Robin Williams could not live in it anymore.  I wish I knew him personally and could have told him how much he meant to me. 

If you are out there, Robin, read this.  Know that you are loved.  Still.  That none of us will ever forget you. 


Monday, August 11, 2014

Guest Blogger: Keith Blenman

Feelin’ Kinda Hot

An fun thing about being in my thirties is discovering all these new and exciting ways that my body is going to crap out on me.

I’m sure matters would be different if I had taken care of myself more through my twenties.

“Yeah. We COULD go to the gym. That is definitely an option. But let’s really think about this. Have we really explored the possibility of ordering pizza and playing video games.”

I was perhaps not as responsible as I could’ve been. And the result is spotting the beginnings of eventual ruin.

“Oh! I sag in those places now.”

“Note to self: Milkshakes, while still tasty, now cause a day long escapade of gassiness.”

“The thing is, officer, several years ago I could function rather well on two hours of sleep. Turns out that if I don’t get a good night’s rest now I get sort of cranky and am more likely to commit to my idle threats of arson. That said I thank you for your service and for talking me down from cackling over my matchbook and puddle of gasoline. I’ll just be on my way now.”

About eight months or nine months ago I discovered that my inner ears have dramatically increased their production of hair. I spent several tearful hours staring at myself in the mirror, trying to will my body out of this decision.

“I’ll just wear more hats! It’ll be great! Think of all the beanies I could be wearing that’ll work much better than ear hair! Why, there’s black ones. Gray ones. Some of them have stripes or zigzags. I could even get matching scarves so there’s really no need to continue with all this neck hair either.”

After a while I got frustrated and pinched my longest hairs in either ear an attempt to pluck them out. Sadly the roots were stronger than I anticipated. Instead of removing the hairs I only managed to make them curl. So my effort resulted in looking as though I had one of those villainous twirly moustaches sprouting out the sides of my head.

My latest physical change is equally entertaining. About a week ago I was at work and started feeling as though my left shoulder was heating up from the inside out. Of course my initial thought was that I was on the verge of spontaneous combustion. I tried to rationalize it as a sunburn but couldn’t think of when I’d been outside in the past several months without wearing a shirt. Again, I’m growing hair in a variety of places. Some of them more disturbing than others. Between that and my other flaws I find it best for everybody if I stay pretty well covered up. So the sunburn on my shoulder wasn’t making a lot of sense.

I tried to ignore it. That lasted for about a day. I got a fairly good night’s rest. I went to work the following morning where I spent a majority of the afternoon cleaning and organizing a warehouse, moving up and down a ladder and heaving boxes of assorted sizes. And all the while my shoulder felt as though it had a heating pad wrapped around it. As the day went I started to feel the same sensation on the back of my neck. And then moving in waves up and down my spine. Little ripples of heat, traveling along my back. And then a bit in my chest, my other shoulder, and then my inner left thigh. It was about then that panic mode started to set in. Maybe it’s just me but as soon as unusual pains and peculiarities start honing in on the groin area it’s time to consider professional medical advice.

According to Google I was experiencing arterial diseases, diabetes, MS, delusions, early warning signs of a heart attack, nerve damage, and potentially had commit sati.

I started looking at my coworkers’ foreheads and hairlines, trying to spot beads of sweat and redness. I concluded that if other people were showing similar signs I could rationalize the heated feeling simply as result of the humidity. I asked a few people, “Is it hot in here or is it just me?”

“No, the AC is cranked. I’m freezing.”

That was not reassuring.

By the end of the work day I was feeling as though there was something seriously wrong with whatever this radiating from within was. As it seemed to be getting worse, I decided to have a doctor check it out. Unfortunately this was a Sunday night so my regular doctor wouldn’t be available until the morning. I decided that although it’s probably nothing, the “early warning sign of a heart attack” was worrisome enough that I shouldn’t sit on it. So I went to an emergency clinic after work. And after about an hour in the waiting room they took my vitals and the doctor had me take off my shirt.

“Well, Mr. Blenman, that certainly is a lot of peculiar hair growth but I don’t see a rash or anything out of the ordinary.”

My left ear at this point had turned bright red and was also warm to the touch. Evidently this is ordinary for some people. When I pointed that out the doctor said, “Yeah, you really shouldn’t be growing a moustache there but it’s not the sort of thing we can treat here.”

She asked how long I’d been experiencing this burning sensation and it gave me pause.

“No, it’s a heated feeling in my shoulder but spreading over my back and other places. But I’m peeing just fine.”

“Mr. Blenman, what you are experiencing qualifies as a burning sensation. Your body is radiating heat. There are many types of burning sensations that don’t involve sex organs.”



“…Do you feel silly calling me mister after discovering I didn’t know that?”

“…Quite a lot actually.”

“You can call me Keith.”

“The same reason I feel silly also makes me not want to be on a first name basis with you.”

“Yeah, I get that. Very understandable.”

So after what amounted to a quick once over the doctor told me, “It’s most likely muscle tension. And there’s two ways people can develop that. Either sitting in one place all day without taking breaks to move around and stretch or it could’ve developed through a lot of strenuous activity.”

I had been up and down a ladder all day while heaving boxes of various sizes. Also, I’m a writer, so my other job involves sitting at a computer all day. In terms of taking breaks, when I’m really into whatever I’m doing I often skip meals and lose all focus of anything going on around me. I started to wonder if that’s when my sati happened…

“What you’re going to want to do is not strain yourself for a while. Don’t do too much activity and also don’t stay in one position all the time.”

Well that’s perfect because you just described my entire lifestyle as wrong.

I was given Motrin and told to essentially not be me for a few weeks. And I felt this was something I could handle. Why, it could even be fun. Who wouldn’t enjoy the medical advice of “Don’t do what you normally would.” I could start wearing a beret and singing in public. And find the writing on CSI shows compelling. I COULD go exercise! I could try getting really, really good at math and pay all my bills on time. And most important, I could learn to enjoy the feeling of being engulfed in flames. Treat it as though it’s a gift.

The next day matters had both improved and disapproved. While the Motrin had diminished the –and I’m going to use this right- burning sensation it replaced it with more typical aches and pains. My arms had also started to feel heavy and I was having a difficult time keeping my hands open. Somehow I continued to go through the day telling myself, “Evidently this is just muscle strain. This is just how my body experiences pain now. It’s so terrible that my mind registers agony as being on fire. That’s just what I do now. Thankfully medication is reminding me of my younger days when stuff just hurt. This is not at all a problem.”

The fact that my hands wanted to stay in weak little fists was discouraging. Writing, working on my fiction, was a burden. It turns out you don’t always have the best spelling and grammar when all you can do is clop your fists against the keyboard. In fact, I’m just going to go ahead and say I was experiencing an odyssey of typos. Somewhere in there I MAY have even attempted using other parts of myself to type but they were all unwieldy. I filled MS Word with so many green and red lines that my computer screen looked like Christmas. A very poorly punctuated Christmas.

A few more days of this didn’t see much change. By late Tuesday my hands were functional again although my arms still felt heavy. The burning sensation was mostly in my bicep and I’d developed a stabbing pain below my ribs on the other side. Not a horrible stabbing pain like Freddy Krueger was trying to rip out my spleen. More like a Chucky doll was insistently jabbing a corn holder into my side. A little painful. A bit scary. But I’d live. Not without questioning the emergency clinic’s diagnosis of course.

I tried to talk myself down from the thought but by Wednesday evening that heated feeling was getting a bit more intense. I tried telling myself, “The doctor said it was probably muscle tension and it’ll go away. Doctor’s don’t just make up random diagnoses on a whim. If she felt as though it was muscle tension, guess what, it’s muscle tension.”

The following morning I made an appointment with my regular doctor. I told him I’d been to the emergency clinic but when he asked what the doctor there had said I only told him I was taking Motrin. This might make me even a bit more weird but when I go somewhere to get a second opinion I generally don’t like the person knowing what the original opinion was. He might focus on that. It might create some level of bias. I want him to approach my case with fresh eyes. Still informed. I explained my symptoms and how long I’d been explaining them. But still, I wanted his take on it.

“I told you the last time you were here that this is a family clinic. We don’t do cosmetic work and you’ll have to go somewhere else to get your ear moustache removed.”

He gave me a more thorough examination.

“Take off your shirt. –Oh my- Put it back on.”

All my vitals were checked. My blood pressure was abnormally high but they chocked that up as nerves. An EKG said my heart was fine. Listening to my lungs showed no peculiarities. He stuck a tongue depressor in my mouth and did the whole turn my head and cough thing but at that point I think he was just messing with me.

“Okay, now bend over and while I do my work start clucking like a chicken.”

“Where did you say you got your degree?”

“Eh. Places. You know.”

In the end he sat back and said, “What you’re experiencing is muscle tension. Come and see me if it doesn’t go away after a few weeks.”

“Hm. Well, okay. I’m glad I got that second opinion. …But just one more question.”

“Burning sensations aren’t always related to urination.”

“Okay. Cool. You’re the doctor.”

So two doctor visits later and the conclusion remains muscle tension. I still haven’t ruled out the possibility of an invisible devil or some sort of poltergeist living on my shoulder, but for the most part I’m satisfied in that this is just another thing my body can do now. Sprouting strange hairs whilst pretending to be on fire and starting to sag.

Yay thirties!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Patient Sikh: Part One

This is a story, a fictional story that is entitled:  “The Patient Sikh.”  It is a prequel to my novel and I will be sharing parts of this story on occasion.  Hope you enjoy! 

                                  The Patient Sikh: Part One

“I don’t know you,” I want to say to the mirror as I looked closely at what is going to become a zit.  I have a clear face generally speaking.  But I’m so paranoid I won’t because of that bout of acne I had when I was sixteen. I guess that was almost three years ago.  My hair is so long I barely know what to do with it sometimes.  I don’t cut my hair because I’m a Sikh. 

I never think about it, except for times like this when I’m explaining it to someone.  I do a lot of things automatically without thinking about them.  I guess maybe I’m on autopilot more than I would like to admit.  I wish I were the pilot of my own life, a little more.  Where am I going?

Oh yeah, the cafeteria.  This boy that was in my orientation is in line ahead of me.  He’s so not cute and not cool.  But he took me aside during orientation told me he thought I was amazing, that there was “Something about me.”  He especially liked that part where I explained about being a Sikh and how it meant something deep to me. 

I’m a snob, I think he wanted to date me but I sort of brushed him off because he’s not good looking or “cool.”  We were at the orientation for The University of Michigan.  I got into this school on the skin of my ass, literally.  My G.P.A. was pseudo average but I think my essay was great, and I explained why my G.P.A. was pseudo average.  I got a 4.0 my junior year, so that’s how I really got into college. 

“Hey,” the blonde haired boy who was in my orientation says to me as I pass him in the pasta isle. 

“Hey,” I say and pseudo smile.  Everything in my life is a pseudo joke.

I want to tell him to stop looking at me because I have a pseudo zit.  And life’s a pseudo joke.  And sometimes I can’t pseudo breathe.  Sometimes I want to scream in my room at night, when I’m alone.  Although I’m never alone at night because I have this bitchy roommate. I roomed blind, and that’s why you should never do that.  It’s a crapshoot.  I guess I don’t have good luck. 

Sometimes I think I’m so insecure I’m insecure about what I’m insecure about.  Well first of all I’m not sure I know anything.  I’m serious, what do I know?  What do I not know, that’s that real question.    

 I’m only freshman so what can I really know?  

I barely know how to get to my classes, much less how to pass them.  I’m taking Statistics which is really boring and confusing.  I really like my Biology for Non-Science Majors class; I find it so interesting. My English class is pretty decent. 

I’m waiting, waiting for my life to actually start.   I wish people would stop taking away my Zen.  It’s like they are chasing after it; they want to kill it.  And I don’t even know if I have a proper Zen state of mind anyways.  How would I know?  I’m only a freshman.

Stockwell, the dorm I’m in, is an all women’s dorm.  They call it the Virgin Vault.  You hear stories.  There was a woman who went insane in the “pot smoking hall” and was found in a puddle of her own feces.  I don’t want to think about that. 

Let me tell you my roommate is no virgin.  Her boyfriend spent the night in our room, and we have a bunk bed.  The bed moved one too many times for my taste, so I went home that weekend.  I don’t like her.

I sit next to Sarita in the cafeteria.  We have been friends since seventh grade.  If anyone really knows me it’s Sarita.  I notice that she has washed her curly hair.

“What up dawg?” she asks me.  Yes we talk like this.

“Not much freak show,” I reply and sit down next to her.  My green tray is full of pasta and waffles with maple syrup.  It’s brunch.  I know about the freshman fifteen, but I don’t care because I’m not fat. 

“Alright can we get through one meal without you saying his name?” Sarita asks.  I think that’s an unfair request.  She’s referring to Sonny, the guy I’m in love with.

“But I have to tell you how he hasn’t called,” I protest. 

Sarita lifts her hand in front of my face.  “Talk to the hand.” 

“I mean do you think he’s gonna call?  Ever?”  I ask and take a bite of my waffle.  Breakfast first then lunch.

Sarita shakes her head at me sideways, neither a yes or no.  Typical, Sarita can’t make a decision to save her life.  And I can’t get over a guy who refuses to acknowledge there must be something between us. 

I leave lunch after I finish both the huge waffle and a bowl of bowtie pasta that is overcooked.  I feel a little bit like throwing up.  I have a friend who is bulimic; I never went that route.  Not because I’m noble, but because I could never make myself throw up.  I’m lying on the top bunk of my bunk bed in my room.  My roommate is thankfully not around. 

The phone rings.  “Hello,” I answer after jumping off my bed to try to get it on time. 

“Hey” he says.  It’s him.  “I’ve left messages for you with your roommate, how come you never call?”

Oh My God that bitch!  Oh My God, this wonderful man is calling me.  “Hey,” I say a little nervously.  “I never got your messages.”    


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Phenomenal People: Angela Lippard

Photo by Rafael Mallorca
Angela Lippard is a beautiful woman both inside and out.  She has taken the bold stance of becoming a Deacon in an Independent Catholic Church since The Roman Catholic Church does not allow women to become ordained.  This is her story:

Tell me a little about yourself?

I’m what they call a Cradle Catholic; I’ve been Catholic since birth.  My dad worked for the Roman Catholic Church, he’s a Deacon.  I’ve been with Catholicism since I’ve been alive.  Now I’m with an Independent Catholic Church that is not sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church.  I will most likely be ex-communicated because I have been ordained as a Deacon in the Independent Catholic Church.

Why are you doing this given the consequences?

Being ordained for me was not just a rebellion, is a calling.  Let me tell you a story.  I have a lot of gay friends: one of my good gay friends was having a party.  One guy at the party noticed that my dad was a Deacon and his walls came down and he started speaking openly to him.  The guy told my father that he was always worried that God hated him, he felt un-loved in his own church, and he broke down crying at the doors of the church.  My father basically told him that Jesus was there crying with him, for you are a loved child of God.  That story inspired me to want to do something like that with my life. 

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is, “All are welcome in my Father’s House.”  When I talk to most people about spirituality I don’t bring up God or Jesus or the Church.  I bring up love.    

What is the nature of your spirituality?

Experiencing God as goodness, and love, that is what I know of God.  We all have gifts to contribute in this world.

What are your duties as a Deacon?

I can assist at Mass at the Independent Church, weddings, funerals, and officiate ceremonies.  I can offer Spiritual Direction.  I have Bachelors in Religious Studies with an emphasis in Spirituality.  I feel like I see and experience God in all people. 

Explain excommunication from the Church:

Women in The Roman Catholic Church cannot be ordained, hence the excommunication.  What it means to be excommunicated is that I am not welcome in The Roman Catholic Church.   

This makes me feel hurt and sad.  Anonymous Bishops have ordained women, “illegally” for many years, however they have not been sanctioned or recognized by the Church.  Most of these women have been perceived as doing it as a statement. 

Why did you leave the traditional Catholic Church?

I have found an Independent Church.  I’m not in favor of the Church’s view of women and homosexuality.  I feel that this is a calling.  I also feel called to work with the LGBT population. 

There are many good things about the Catholic Church.  There is a small community within a larger community.  They believe in justice and peace and dignity in all people. 

Being Catholic is my identity in some ways.  I have learned to worship a certain way.  Even within my Church I can worship in a community of people.  The Catholic Church teaches us to reach out to our neighbors and in our Independent Catholic Church we welcome all faith traditions. 

As an outsider I tend to think of Christianity as Jesus obsessed.  Can you speak to that?

In any religion, any fundamentalist point of view will come across as extreme.  For me when it comes to the notion of Jesus:  Personally I feel there is Truth.  We often get caught in semantics.  I think Truth=God=Goodness.  I think there are several different doors to the truth.  My way doesn’t have to be your way.  I’m definitely not of the belief that if you are not Christian you will go to hell. 

I know karma is kind of an eastern thought process, do you believe in it all? 

I think that if you put negativity out there, you will get it in return.  I don’t think bad things happen to people because they are bad.  I think the reason bad things happen has a lot do with our free will.  Good things can happen to us everyday, but we have to be open to them.  If you open yourself up to good things, good things will start happening. 

What’s your relationship to God?

I often refer to God with the feminine pronoun as “She.”  I feel like if I was made in God’s image then I think of Her like myself.  I have found God in pieces and experiences.  I have God “moments” where I feel the presence in my life. I think of God as sort of the Great Spirit, much like my mother’s Native American culture.  I think of God as nature, community, friends, I see God in others.  I see God in solitude and I even see Her in the Eastern Market.

Do you pray or meditate?

I pray.  I pray alone, in Mass. I also think serving others is prayer.  I think relationships are a form of prayer.  My ideal job would be to love people.  I think that’s prayer.   

To visit Angela’s Church please refer to:  Christ the Good Shepherd (

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Re-Post: Are We All Your People? A Look at the Wisconsin Shooting.

(Two years ago today, there was a shooting at a Gurudwara or Sikh Temple in Wisconsin.  This is was my response to the shooting ten days after it happened.)
I am an American Sikh, however I wasn't going to write anything about the tragic shooting in Wisconsin because I didn't think I had anything original or new to say.  And I don't.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying anything that many of you have not already thought, and even put into words.
But since I am a wordsmith, or so I like to think, I am obliged to say something.  So this is what I came up with:

There were tears in my eyes every time I heard or thought about the shootings for days.  I am not by any means a good Sikh.  I'm not religious.  I like to think I'm spiritual and many other things, but this may be a figment of my imagination.  But I know that these people in the Wisconsin Gurudwara seemed close to my heart because they were saying the prayers I grew up saying, making the food I grew up eating, they were wearing the things I saw people wearing in my community all my life.  They were my people.  Everyone has a group of people that for whatever reason, are close to their hearts.

Now, if this happened in a Mosque, would I have cried?  Should I have cried?  Are they not my people, as well?  Do they not breathe the same air that I do?  Drink the same water?  Walk on the same Earth?

I would not have cried if this happened in a Mosque.  This could mean that I am by no means a good person.  I like to think I am, but again, I could be hallucinating.  If I'm good then why do I only care about people who look and act like me?

My point is, if you are not a Sikh, for a moment, realize that Sikhs are just regular human beings.  Six human beings with friends and family and a life, died.  They died because some guy thought they were bad guys.  He thought he was in a movie and was going to be the brave soldier who killed the bad guys.

I would like to speculate as to why this incident really happened.  I may be wrong.  I think this happened because we live in a society that is obsessed with violence.  We live in a society that sees the world in black and white, where there are good guys and bad guys, and the good guys must kill the bad guys.  If we don't kill the bad guys, the bad guys will kill us.

Back to 9/11 for one moment.  The bad guy was a man with a beard and turban, translation:  all men with beards and turbans are bad guys.

Are we really that stupid?

Not all of us.  But in fact some of us are.  

We know in our hearts that it's not that simple.  But when we dance around when the bad guy is dead i.e. Osama Bin Laden we are teaching our children that when the good guy kills the bad guy the war is over.

No, no, the war has just begun.  The real war is within us.  The real villain is the one who thinks that wars are ended by violence.  Wars end because someone wants peace.  Killing the bad guy, Bin Laden, didn't end anything except a man's life.  

But why do we watch movies and television shows and read books like the Hunger Games that are all about violence?  What are we trying to escape from and what are we escaping into?

We are at war.  We are at war with ourselves.  That man, Wade Page, who shot all those Sikhs did not hate Sikhs as much as he hated himself.  We know that in our hearts.  We don't even know if he knew what a Sikh was.  He probably hated Muslims, but for GOD SAKES, does it even matter at this point!  They say that most White Supremacists don't come from racist families, rather they come from homes where they are abused or neglected.

Do I feel sorry for Wade Page?  No, I'm not there yet.  I want really badly to be there, I want to feel bad that he died.  But I don't care about him.  I just don't care.

What I do care about is the rest of us.  How long are we gonna pretend that as a society we did not create a Wade Page?  We willed him into being by simply hating and fearing.  He heard us, even when we whispered.

Who are your people?  Am I one of them?

Because I like to think in end we share a soul or something, maybe we even share a god.

Would you cry for me?


Monday, August 4, 2014

Guest Blogger: Jeff Whitcher

After years of dabbling unsuccessfully and with little satisfaction in various genres of fiction including humor, science fiction and horror I recently decided somewhat by default that my real niche is writing poems for children. This is not the most prestigious direction to take as a writer and it’s nothing you’ll hear me bragging about at parties or to the cashier at Target. As it turns out, there are hundreds of thousands of other writers just like me who have come to the same conclusion. Do an Amazon search for books of children poetry. If you care to know there are approximately 6.3 billion books classified as poetry books for kids, give or take a couple thousand. But you know what’s really interesting? Mine are better than all of them. Yes, you heard me right. I could kick anyone’s ass in a children’s poetry slam (if such a thing existed) any day of the week. Do I really believe that? Am I really that arrogant? If I am, should I feel bad about it? 

Here is a sample from my second book. This poem is entitled ‘Have You Ever Heard’
Have you ever heard a goldfish burp
or a tiny hamster hiccup?
If you listen careful
you can get an earful
of a million sounds most folks don’t pick up
Like a salamander chewing gum
or a caterpillar sneezing
If you crouch near a thistle
you’ll hear a moth whistle
and maybe a butterfly wheezing
You ought to hear (if you haven’t yet)
a field mouse’s fingers snapping
And while out exploring
you should hear the snoring
of a grasshopper happily napping
You can sometimes hear a snail shriek
if you come up behind and scare him
Our world abounds 
with the strangest sounds
if you’re long enough quiet to hear them

When I was a kid I devoured all the Shel Silverstein books. I loved the imagery, the cadence, the cleverness, the sick humor, the fact that the dude who wrote them was a bald hippie who also wrote the lyrics to one of Johnny Cash’s most beloved songs (and as it turns out a whole shitload of songs by the band Dr. Hook - but I’m not holding that against him). And every time I read one I wished I had written, which was about 95% of them, I told myself, “I can write one just as good if not better!” That’s the thing about inspiration. You have to have a certain amount of arrogance to admire a work of art and try to emulate it. And why emulate unless you think you are capable of producing something that’s just as good if not better? I mean, why bother? I think that’s why I quit trying to write humor, science fiction and horror stories. Every time I read a great science fiction story I have a hard time convincing myself I could do better. Do I wish I could write a better horror story than Stephen King? Hell, yes. Do I believe I can? Hell, no. Today I read Dr. Seuss books and think, “That’s pretty good, but give me eight hours in a room alone with a laptop and I bet I can come up with something better.” So yes, I am in a sense very arrogant about what I do well. 

Here is another poem from my first book, ‘What if Balloons Didn’t POP?’
My bicycle has sixteen wheels
and yes, I need them all,
so when I ride I’m guaranteed
that I will never fall.
My bicycle has sixteen wheels
I’m glad each one is there,
Because if I should get a flat
I’ve fifteen more to spare.
My bicycle has sixteen wheels
It goes so fast it shakes,
and now I’m kind of wishing
that my bike had sixteen brakes!

Whether anyone else thinks my work stands up to Silverstein or Seuss is up to them but I’ll go right on believing I’m every bit as good, otherwise I’ll just give up. That being said the reality is that at the end of the day my first book sold barely 100 copies and I can count on one finger the sales of my second book (which by the way is entitled ‘Have You Ever Heard A Goldfish Burp?’ and is available for $6.99 on Amazon). Duck Dynasty will probably sell more children’s books in a day then I will sell in a lifetime. Did you know there is a series of Duck Dynasty books for kids? Guess what? Mine are better.  

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Megan Cyrulewski Book Blast Promotion

Dear Readers, Please Check Out My good friend's book.  "Who Am I"!  It's an excellent read and from an wonderful Author!
Who Am I?  How My Daughter Taught Me to Let Go and Live Again, by Megan Cyrulewski Megan’s book, Who Am I?  How My Daughter Taught Me to Let Go and Live Again, is about her journey into post-partum depression, anxiety disorder, panic attacks, stays in the psych ward, divorce, emotional abuse, domestic violence, law school, how she managed to graduate from law school and a beautiful little girl who emerged from all of this chaos.

Author Bio

Megan Cyrulewski has been writing short stories ever since she was ten-years-old. After attending Grand Valley State University, Megan eventually settled into a career in the non-profit sector for eight years. She decided to change careers and went back to school to get her law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School. While in school, she documented her divorce, child custody battle and postpartum depression struggles in her memoir. Megan lives in Michigan with her 3-year-old daughter who loves to dance, run, read, and snuggle time with Mommy. Megan also enjoys her volunteer work with various organizations in and around metro-Detroit.


Buy links

Who Am I?  How My Daughter Taught Me to Let Go and Live Again is available in paperback from all good booksellers. eBook versions will follow.


On January 18, 2012, we all convened in the courthouse for the Motion for Parenting Time hearing. My dad and I arrived with my attorney, but Tyler loved an audience so he brought his dad, step-mom, and his new on-again off-again girlfriend, Heather. Tyler walked in with his posse in tow, cocky as hell. It took all of two minutes for the judge to knock him off his feet.
The Judge addressed our respective attorneys. “Why are we here?”
“Your honor,” Tyler’s attorney began, “my client has clearly been denied his parenti—”
The Judge didn’t even let him finish. “How?” She turned to my attorney. “Don?”
“Your honor, as you can see in the divorce decree, there was supposed to be a review when the minor child turned twelve-months-old. The Defendant has ignored that review.”
“I–if I may, your honor,” Tyler’s attorney sputtered.
“I see the review in the decree. It’s here in black and white,” she told Tyler’s attorney. “What is the problem? Why didn’t you understand the review? Your client signed the divorce decree.”
Tyler’s attorney tried again. “But your honor—”
The judge cut him off. “There is to be a review conducted by the Friend of the Court referee assigned to the parties. Until then, the Defendant will continue his parenting time schedule as agreed upon in the divorce decree. Dismissed.”
And that was it. After eight police reports and numerous harassing text messages, phone calls, and e-mails, we won. As Don and Tyler’s attorney went to speak with the clerk to file the necessary paperwork, Don told us to wait for him outside the courtroom.
As we exited the courtroom, the hallway was so packed with people that my dad and I were only able to find enough space to lean against the wall. We were talking about the court proceedings when we looked up at saw Tyler and his new girlfriend standing right across from us.
“Why do you lie about everything?” Tyler screamed.
Heather walked up to me and stood about an inch from my face. “As a mother myself, you should be happy that Tyler is the father of your child.”
My jaw dropped. “I’m sorry but I don’t know you.”
She smirked. “Well you’re going to get to know me, bitch.”
Tyler made a big show of pulling her from me like I was going to punch her or something. By this time, everyone in the hallway was watching us. We were pure entertainment.
Heather continued her rant. “Two times in the psych ward, Megan? What a great mother you are.”
“Where is your mom, the real mother of our child?” Tyler screamed. “She’s the one who takes care of Madelyne.”
My dad and I tried to move away from Tyler and Heather but they followed us.
“Do you have to take a Xanax because of your anxiety?”
“Go take your Xanax and sleeping pills, you drug addict,” Tyler shouted.
Finally, Don emerged from the courtroom and pulled us into a quiet corridor. He explained that I needed to call our referee to set-up a meeting to discuss a visitation schedule. I told Don about the verbal assault by Tyler and Heather. Don said he would call Tyler’s attorney to let him know that Heather would not be allowed in my house.
Upon leaving the courthouse, Heather screamed, “See you on Sunday, Megan.”
I turned toward her and said calmly, “I don’t know you, but you are not welcome in my home.”
That night, Tyler sent me multiple texts attacking my mothering skills, my supposed drug addictions, how he was going to fight for joint custody of Madelyne, how Heather would be accompanying him for his visitations, and a barrage of other insults:
  • “Get a life already.”
  • “Don’t you have something better to do than wasting your parents’ money?”
  • “Go take your pills and relax, oh yeah, then your parents would have to watch our daughter. Oh yeah, they already do.”
  • “Go talk to your friends. Oh yeah, you don’t have any because of how crazy you are.”
  • “Interesting to know you’ve been to the hospital a couple of times. You really need to get it together.”
  • “Better go call your lawyer and make up some more stuff about me.”
  • “Don’t be mad at your sorry life.”
  • “I am sure living with Mom and Dad the rest of your life will be fun.”
  • “When you get a job, then you can pay me child support. Fun.”
I finally had to turn my phone off at midnight.