The Uphill Slide

There is always something.


What Do You Need?

Make me famous! someone begged on social media. Is that the ultimate goal? Not happy. Not loved. Not talented. Not honest. Not knowledgeable. Not efficient. Famous. What’s it take? Audacity? Arrogance? Self-assurance? Talent? Lies? How far would you go? Can you just ask? Does having a thousand followers or a hundred thousand followers on social media sites make you famous? Or does it take millions? Does appearing on one of those ratings-seeking, shocking-topping manipulative talk shows make you famous? There are people with household names who you would fumble around for words to explain the source of their celebrity.

Being famous could bring acclaim, money perhaps, a good coupling, the best seat at the table, a skip to the front of the line, thousands of selfies, sycophants. And it can bring some unwanted things. Invasion of privacy, opinions and criticisms of every move. Maybe that’s fuel for fame too. But it can damage a life. Do you know the name Oliver Sipple? I didn’t. His fame was not lasting. A perhaps reflexive heroic act changed his life. Made him famous. Made him useful to further an agenda. Made his personal life a story to sell newspapers. His fame severed ties to his family. And no one apologized for the damage. No one apologized for using him. The court followed the law, not justice.

Do you want to be famous for an instant, a lifetime, an eternity? I don’t think I ever wanted to be famous. If fame comes my way, let it be after my death when words of acclaim or disapprobation fall on my cold deaf ears. Let it not be infamous. Let it not be so dishonorable that my descendants disown me and change their names to forever disassociate from me.


Good Law? Bad Law?

Korematsu v. United States

From 33:50 to 39:10 in this podcast is a portion of the interview with Richard Posner, a now retired judge for the United States Court of Appeals on the Seventh Circuit.

“…And by the way, do you think these Supreme Court Justices are great big brains? These stars who were selected because they were the best lawyers in the United States and their decisions are usually great. You think all that? I don’t. I don’t have a high respect for the Supreme Court at all. You look at their decisions. You look at them. How they’re appointed. Who appoints them. So why do you think the Supreme Court is such a great balance to the President in a war?”


What To Do, What to Do

Why does she stay? Flesh it out. What reasons to stay with a spouse who buys beer and stays out doing who knows what instead of paying bills? The reasons aren’t logical. Love the least rational. Reasons falling on shaking heads responding, “I’d never do that.”

The skinny sickly looking blonde fought with her married boyfriend. They were loud. I had to work the next morning. I called the police. He said, “You have to press charges.” No. I’ll cover my head. I knocked on the door to ask them to shut up. They quieted at my sound.

During the day, he left her alone without car or phone. I drove her to a bar once or twice. She used my phone to call her family. I grew weary of her neediness. I stopped answering the door. They moved.




I’m reading the assigned essays. They make me feel and see and want to touch. I’m transported into other places, other rooms. I’m inadequate to this task. Afraid of being outed. A fraud. A spy among real writers. Why are you here? You don’t belong. I want to belong. I’m Grandma Moses. Late to the show.

I walk through the door to my creative writing class.



Stop Watching the Game Show

The great distracter. Those were not Bob Schieffer’s words on Charlie Rose from an interview broadcast on October 11, 2017. Just my interpretation of what Schieffer said about the race of Trump against other candidates who fell for his distractions. Trump made claims and statements and others wasted too much time responding. Defense vs. offense. Reactive vs. proactive. Always a step behind.

A poster at a storefront in Jamestown NY proclaimed “In Trump We Trust” and brought forth the word demagogue. Why such trust? There is nothing obviously similar in his background to mine or most people I know or meet in my life. In fact, there is little in his life to persuade me that any God would send him on this mission.

Trump’s rash statements according to one friend are simply because he’s not a politician. But he was. It’s the politics of business deals. Give ’em what they want. Tell ’em what they want to hear. Money, prosperity, jobs, the past, the future. In this race, his way of speaking was the novelty. It painted him as honest and down-to-earth. I’m attracted to novelty. But it’s the piece of clothing I only wear once or the activity I try and then abandon or the person who seems so attractive and becomes offensive. It’s hard to live with everyday. He was a very adept politician. He’s a people reader. He echoes them. He doesn’t always appeal to the best and says, “It’s OK”. He’s a politician. What he isn’t, is a statesman.

Schieffer explained his preference for covering the Congress over the White House as the difference between 50 bosses from all the states in Congress versus one boss in the White House.  Lots more stories in Congress. But the current White House, according to him, is a house of disorganization with many bosses and many stories. My friend went so far as to suggest that a military coup of Kelly, McMaster and Mattis has already taken place within the White House. And she’s OK with that because she believes they are only interested in military skirmishes and not nuclear war. They will keep the finger off the button. I’m not OK with that theory. Off the button. Yes. But not a military coup.

How did we end up with two undesirable candidates? Rose asked. I don’t remember Schieffer’s answer. Here’s my anecdotal answer to why Trump vs. Clinton ignoring the electoral college. Like that poster writer in Jamestown, some actually like, maybe love, Trump. But friends when asked why Trump, lobbed back, “Did you want Hillary?” What does that mean? That choice was less about issues and more about person or personality. And gender too. Another answer was, “I just couldn’t vote for a woman.” Not that woman, but a woman. Not because of the Clinton killers conspiracy theory or Whitewater or private emails. Gender. How long have women been voting for men? Do we say, “I can’t vote for man.” Not very many. We say, “I can’t vote for that man.” So if your vote for Trump was the lesser of two evils, then you too should be watchful and wary and questioning of authenticity and veracity.

The candidate is now the President and still the great distracter. Call attention to the military and patriotism to distract people from the message of the NFL players. He successfully ignored the issues and whipped up a frenzy of ‘true patriots’. He started a feud with the mayor of San Juan and even had the FEMA director dissing Yulín Cruz. Then he threw paper towels like some game show host trying to inject an absurdity into disaster. He suggested that a number (deaths) can measure pain and devastation. If you’re the one whose loved one died, can you feel the difference between 1 and 1000 deaths.

The President is making himself the show. He is providing entertainment and using us for distraction. And there is nothing more entertaining to me than watching him twist his arm out of the socket to pat himself on the back. But I’m going to stop watching the game show and turn to the news and try to gather facts.




It was the time between night and day. That time when I want to crawl back into bed to hide from light. But as the dawn, I will brighten with each minute.

My headlights lead. In the distance a trio of small bobbing lights and then a small fluid one coming closer. The biker and I pass each other. The joggers bob along and disappear behind me. The night dream jolts into focus. Moving headlamps coming at me in a dark limestone room. The light hides the faces. Here I am back in the mushroom mines.



Who Are They And What Do They Want?

I get mail on my blog that dumps immediately into spam. Selling things and ugly rants about groups all rolled into a big ball. Conspiracy theorists. Last week an email about the holocaust lie. Now that’s a huge hoax to perpetrate on the world. I could believe that if I also believe we are in some alternate universe or zillions of alternate universes where every decision creates another universe. There actually is no number known to man to even count that high. Or perhaps we are mere AI playthings in some Twilight Zone episode?

And yesterday another about grasping manipulative women, especially white women, leading to an argument for legalized prostitution. He (I use masculine pronouns because of the essay he claims authorship to.) directs his reader to “Are Prostitutes Better than Normal Women?” by John Doe. I didn’t hit his link but searched online. He itemized the cost of dating and marriage just so he can get him some sex, ∵ prostitution. And it’s not just the money but the mental strain of the pursuit. Why not just pay for it and move on to some more enjoyable pursuit than wasting money and brain power on wooing a woman? He says he wants it cheap but $250 for 2 hours of work seems well-paid. Somewhere between lawyer and manual laborer.

But what makes him think women prostitutes aren’t ‘normal’? They are as ‘normal’ as me or any other woman but doing a job that is sometimes illegal and not one that a school child answers when asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” 

I agree with John. Prostitution should be legal. Not for his easy fix but for his employee. Keep minors out of this profession and provide equal protection under labor and criminal laws. Make it a legal transaction and take out all that griping about money and manipulation by girlfriends and wives. And I think perhaps some male blogger is getting a rant from a woman with the same complaints about men. The things that divide us. 



A local said, “It’s a treasure. We do something everyday with it.” He was talking about Lake Chautauqua. It was a warm summer-like day this past Saturday but during the night it rained. I awoke to overcast coolness.  But enough of the weather.

This man was not an employee of the New York State Parks Recreation & Historic Preservation but had permission to erect his purple martin houses at the marina of Long Point State Park. That’s where I met him. He had one of the birdhouses at people height. The birds were gone. Off to the Amazon according to my informant. I excused my ignorance of purple martin habits by saying I was not a ‘birder’. Not knowledgeable.

I asked questions. The martins will return in April. The males come first, to check out accommodations perhaps, then fly off to bring back females. The birds will stay until August and fill all of his houses. There will be babies. The houses are metal-clad wood with entrances designed to keep out the wrens and sparrows. Hanging beneath the houses are faux gourds. I grew and dried those bird house gourds on a frame one summer. I like the authentic better but can see the practicality of plastic for cleaning and reuse.

On Sunday he was checking if the bees had moved out. He didn’t want to disturb them hearing of their plight. They were gone but left drippings on the clean white houses. He was waiting for all the bugs to die off and then would clean out old nests and abandoned eggs. There was a corner nest with three or four eggs and one on the entrance just waiting for a kick out the door. That’s what martins do with the no-good eggs. Push them out.

Next April this man will return to crank up the houses and gourds for the return migration. If you’re interested in relaxing or hiking along the water and watching purple martins, stop at the marina at Longs Point State Park along Lake Chautauqua.


Idealism meets Pragmatism

Congressman Tim Murphy could be called a hypocrite. I call him a man face to face with idealism over pragmatism. If you don’t know him, he is a pro-life advocate who suggested abortion as an option for an unplanned pregnancy (scare). He entered a woman’s world of decisions where abortion is an option. Only a woman should have the right to make decisions about her body. And to live with whatever emotions come with those decisions. It’s that simple for me. It’s always been that simple for me. Call me a murderer or whatever names you choose. I’ll live with it but just give me and every other woman the autonomy over her own body.

Why don’t we make a pact between men and women? You control all decisions over your body, and I control all decisions over mine. If we’re in a relationship that shares decision-making, how joyous! But if my decision about my body disagrees with yours for my body, then my opinion trumps yours. And vice versa. (The word trump has taken on double entendre. And I hate to give him even that.)