Mosquito Week, casting “Star Wars: Episode VII,” a dolphin’s first word, and the linguistic use of “totally”

I wish I had extra awake hours just to catch up on TED talks!

TED Blog

Bill Gates once released mosquitos into the TED theater to make a point about malaria research. Now, he's started Mosquito Week. Photo: James Duncan Davidson Bill Gates once released mosquitos into the TED theater to make a point about malaria research. Now, he’s started Mosquito Week. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Below, some intriguing news highlights from the TED community over the past month:

You’ve heard of Shark Week, but what about Mosquito Week? Bill Gates declares it a thing on his blog. (Watch the legendary talk in which Bill released mosquitos into the TED audience.)

David Binder cleaned up in the Tony nominations today. His revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, starring Neil Patrick Harris, got eight nominations, while his Of Mice and Men got two. (Watch David’s TED Talk, “The arts festival revolution”)

In other entertainment news, JJ Abrams announced the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII, and fans flip because Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford and Peter Mayhew (aka Chewbacca) are all returning. (Watch…

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10 Things Creative People Know

Support the #arts in #education and at #home!

Inspired Journeys

A recent UCLA study found that when young people engage in the arts at an early age, they outperform their peers in every category, from academics to life skills. Cross-cultural anthropologist Angeles Arrien tells us that in many traditional cultures, when an ill person goes to the healer, he or she is asked four questions: When did you stop singing? When did you stop dancing? When did you stop telling your story? When did you stop sitting in silence? She calls these the healing salves. Numerous studies show that activities like drawing and creative writing—even knitting—raise serotonin levels and decrease anxiety.

This quote is taken directly from Peggy Taylor and Charlie Murphy’s article on the things that creative people know.

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When Your Father Dies

For all those who have lost their fathers recently or who still feel the loss.

Red's Wrap

When your father dies, you will be at a loss for words.

If it’s a surprise, you will burst into tears. You will cover your face with your hands and cry like you were six-years old, like the time you got lost on the way home from school and all the houses looked different and you couldn’t find your way. That’s how you’ll cry.

If you knew it was coming, that your dad was going to die because he was so ill, you will lay your head down on your folded arms and weep. You will be tired and part of you will be grateful because nothing is worse than seeing the man who laughed and lifted you up and twirled you around confined to a hospital bed, silent and hurting.

You will wonder who you are now that your father is dead. If your mother is also dead, it…

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The Story Behind Leo

OK: friends and family, weigh in on THIS Leo! Leave comments, please!

Jessica Davidson

Leo Symbol Each sign of the zodiac represents an archetype. These are elemental structures in the psyche which give shape to our lives and inspire meaning through myth. Astrology is a multidimensional, multivalent system of storytelling. The myths behind your horoscope form a complex web of meaning which underpins the narrative of your life. The gods are alive and living through you…

Leo Myths

Leo is all about creativity and self-creation. They are intuitive, childlike, idealistic, and fiercely loyal. Leo is almost more of a noble Knight than Aries, but instead of all the fighting, it’s more about the poncing about and showing off, as they do tend to think the world revolves around them. Leos are truly original and charismatic, although often not as confident as they seem.

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8 Great Literary, Book Nerd, and Storytelling Podcasts

Worth exploring!

Andrea Reads America

I am a huge fan of the podcast medium. I listen while I clean, while I walk, while I cook, while I dress after my shower. I do not subscribe to print periodicals that run book reviews, I am not a librarian, and I no longer work in a book store, but I am a reader who is interested in what’s going on in the book world, in reading culture, and who loves a well-told story. With limited time to consume print media, but with ample time to listen, I have become an avid fan of podcasts, and my hungry mind devours the bookish and storytelling podcasts below. These shows provide the literary fix I need as a word nerd. I plan special walks or add extra chores to my list when any of these drop new episodes. I hope you enjoy them, too.

The New Yorker Fiction Podcast icon on iTunesThe New…

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5 Things Wrong with #Sex Scenes in #Romance Novels and How to Improve Them

5 Things Wrong with #Sex Scenes in #Romance Novels and How to Improve Them

1. Men, even the first time having sex with a long-awaited or extremely attractive partner, can last more than fifteen seconds (three thrusts) before orgasm, even when impassioned, unless they are under age 20 or suffer from PME (Pre-Mature Ejaculation), in which case, that man is not a good candidate for being the romantic lead.

Dear Jayne Ann Krentz/Castle/Amanda Quick or any of the 4 other pseudonyms you use: I’m sorry the men/man you have sex with can’t last more than fifteen seconds after being undressed, touched, licked or inside a woman. The rest of us have had better lovers. I pity you.


PME timer
image from healthystateofthinking.blogspot.com

2. Oral sex in the 2010’s is not shocking, novel, strange, shameful, disgusting or horrifying. Really. No recipient or provider should be having these reactions unless the participants are ages 15 and under, in which case, please do not depict them having sex. That is not “romantic”: that is sexual exploitation of minors.

Dear YA Authors: take note. Teens having sex (and oral sex DOES count, despite President Bill Clinton’s assertions to the contrary) with older lovers (having more than a five-year age difference when over 14; more than a two-year difference when under 14) are victims of statutory rape in most US states.

3. Having protagonists/female leads who are “virgins” or incredibly inexperienced with sex in the 2010s, yet who are stunningly beautiful, capable and independent who are older than twenty is absurd. This characterization of inexperience as what makes a woman desirable caters to archaic/paternalistic fantasies.

Dear Historical Fiction Romance Authors: You may be exempt from the atavistim, but you are nonetheless feeding into these fantasies. Please stop. It’s okay to depict these girls/women as appropriately inexperienced, but to make that lack of knowledge the center of their attractiveness means that after one encounter, they automatically become less attractive. Awful.

4. Thanks for including clitoral stimulation in heterosexual sex scenes. Thanks for depicting male romantic leads who not only know the clitoris exists, but can find it, know how to please a woman, and want to do this. It only took about 100 years of romance writing to get men to be this aware. Okay.

Dear Modern Romance Writers; Now that we’ve established that clitoral stimulation is important and necessary for females’ sexual satisfaction, not every sexual encounter has to depict women’s having both oral and digital stimulation to the point of orgasm, always having multiple orgasms and the woman having the first orgasms before the man’s, every time. Repetition and routine kill sex. When a reader becomes bored reading the sex scenes, you have failed.


how to find clitoris
image from http://www.buzzfeed.com

5. Bondage, rape, domination and other masochistic sexual relationships are NOT psychologically healthy sexual expressions even if consenting adults decide to act these out. Also, these “relationships” do not accurately depict what occurs in most women’s lives and your characterizations set women back about three centuries.

Dear Shades of Whatever Authors: We know your books sell well. We know they’re not especially well-thought-out or well-written, are easy to write and are quick to get published. Since you insist on writing and publishers insist on publishing these types of drivel as “romance,” could you at least occasionally depict a strong, intelligent, capable woman who refuses to engage sexually with such mentally ill men? PLEASE?


not-sex
image from feministing.com

Three ways to write better sex scenes:

1. Have sex scenes in which a variety of activities occur with enthusiastic, willing participants of legal ages and with male participants who can last longer than fifteen seconds when erect.

2. Depict at least some of your female leads as strong, capable, experienced and independent prior to having sex as well as during and after meeting their romantic lead.


feet
excelle.monster.com

3. Include some sexual encounters in which female’s multiple or simultaneous partners’ orgasmms do not occur and participants are happy with each other, anyway.

Thanks, Romance Authors who already write sex scenes like this. Many of you do.

5 Things Wrong with #Sex Scenes in #Romance Novels and How to Improve Them

5 Things Wrong with #Sex Scenes in #Romance Novels and How to Improve Them

1. Men, even the first time having sex with a long-awaited or extremely attractive partner, can last more than fifteen seconds (three thrusts) before orgasm, even when impassioned, unless they are under age 20 or suffer from PME (Pre-Mature Ejaculation), in which case, that man is not a good candidate for being the romantic lead.

Dear Jayne Ann Krentz/Castle/Amanda Quick or any of the 4 other pseudonyms you use: I’m sorry the men/man you have sex with can’t last more than fifteen seconds after being undressed, touched, licked or inside a woman. The rest of us have had better lovers. I pity you.


PME timer
image from healthystateofthinking.blogspot.com

2. Oral sex in the 2010’s is not shocking, novel, strange, shameful, disgusting or horrifying. Really. No recipient or provider should be having these reactions unless the participants are ages 15 and under, in which case, please do not depict them having sex. That is not “romantic”: that is sexual exploitation of minors.

Dear YA Authors: take note. Teens having sex (and oral sex DOES count, despite President Bill Clinton’s assertions to the contrary) with older lovers (having more than a five-year age difference when over 14; more than a two-year difference when under 14) are victims of statutory rape in most US states.

3. Having protagonists/female leads who are “virgins” or incredibly inexperienced with sex in the 2010s, yet who are stunningly beautiful, capable and independent who are older than twenty is absurd. This characterization of inexperience as what makes a woman desirable caters to archaic/paternalistic fantasies.

Dear Historical Fiction Romance Authors: You may be exempt from the atavistim, but you are nonetheless feeding into these fantasies. Please stop. It’s okay to depict these girls/women as appropriately inexperienced, but to make that lack of knowledge the center of their attractiveness means that after one encounter, they automatically become less attractive. Awful.

4. Thanks for including clitoral stimulation in heterosexual sex scenes. Thanks for depicting male romantic leads who not only know the clitoris exists, but can find it, know how to please a woman, and want to do this. It only took about 100 years of romance writing to get men to be this aware. Okay.

Dear Modern Romance Writers; Now that we’ve established that clitoral stimulation is important and necessary for females’ sexual satisfaction, not every sexual encounter has to depict women’s having both oral and digital stimulation to the point of orgasm, always having multiple orgasms and the woman having the first orgasms before the man’s, every time. Repetition and routine kill sex. When a reader becomes bored reading the sex scenes, you have failed.


how to find clitoris
image from http://www.buzzfeed.com

5. Bondage, rape, domination and other masochistic sexual relationships are NOT psychologically healthy sexual expressions even if consenting adults decide to act these out. Also, these “relationships” do not accurately depict what occurs in most women’s lives and your characterizations set women back about three centuries.

Dear Shades of Whatever Authors: We know your books sell well. We know they’re not especially well-thought-out or well-written, are easy to write and are quick to get published. Since you insist on writing and publishers insist on publishing these types of drivel as “romance,” could you at least occasionally depict a strong, intelligent, capable woman who refuses to engage sexually with such mentally ill men? PLEASE?


not-sex
image from feministing.com

Three ways to write better sex scenes:

1. Have sex scenes in which a variety of activities occur with enthusiastic, willing participants of legal ages and with male participants who can last longer than fifteen seconds when erect.

2. Depict at least some of your female leads as strong, capable, experienced and independent prior to having sex as well as during and after meeting their romantic lead.


feet
excelle.monster.com

3. Include some sexual encounters in which female’s multiple or simultaneous partners’ orgasmms do not occur and participants are happy with each other, anyway.

Thanks, Romance Authors who already write sex scenes like this. Many of you do.

Support An Author Month ~ #saam14

Support an author month = May? Fantastic! There is a “DONATE” button on my website (and many others’, sometimes called “Tip Jars”), so please feel free to express your support with cash! Comments, Follows, LIKES and purchases of /downloads of and reviews, ratings, rankings, votes on lists for our books also very welcomed! Thanks to ALL #authors and #readers!

Part 2, Grants for Writers

More opps for writers, with MONEY or free stays for writing time. Thanks, Savvy Writers!

Savvy Writers & e-Books online

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file4071332781969

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Would you like a free work-vacation stay, maybe in Paris, France or in Bellagio, Italy? Sometimes even paid… as a Writer-in-Residency? Book mark these tips and links and check periodically the deadlines for grants, fellowships or writers residencies. Besides accommodation, writers often receive a stipend and travel expenses paid. A great way for writers to get out of their routine, find time to write, solitude and possibilities to advance their career. See also Part 1 of Grants for Writers.

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Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio, Italy, Residencies
Four-week residencies between March 10 and July 31, 2015. Open to composers, novelists, playwrights, poets, video/filmmakers and visual artists from around the globe, with the goal of bringing together people of diverse expertise and cultures in a thought-provoking creative environment. Spouses/life partners may accompany the resident, or may apply for a concurrent residency. The Center also offers collaborative residencies for two to four persons…

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The 10 Social Media Commandments for Authors

Nicholas C. Rossis

10 commandments Photo found on telegraph.co.uk

Anne R. Allen published a great list with The 10 Commandments of Social Media Etiquette for Writers on her blog. Here’s a brief summary: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.

Not enough?  Alright then, here are ten tips for online behavior for people planning a writing career:

1) Thou shalt not spam.

What is spam?  Here’s the short version: if you’d ignore it in your own inbox, FB page, or Twitter stream, it’s probably spam.

2) Thou shalt support other authors.

Your fellow authors are not “rivals”. The number one thing a beginner should be doing on social media is getting to know other authors in your genre and subgenre and making friends.

One of the hottest sales tools in the business right now is the multi-author bargain boxed set with several titles by different authors. These boxed sets are getting on to…

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#Opportunities in May and June for #Writers from #Aerogramme

In case you missed this posting, check out these #publication opportunities, #grants, #conferences and #festivals, #competitions and #prizes/#awards and more for #writers. Occurring/deadlines are in May, June, ongoing/rolling and beyond.

Compiled by Aerogramme Writers’ Studio. Thanks!

My favorite: Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading
publishes one story a week and reopens for submissions on 1 May. Previously unpublished fiction ranging in length from 2,000 to 10,000 words will be considered and each contributor is paid US$300.
https://electricliterature.submittable.com/submit

trophy

http://www.aerogrammestudio.com/2014/04/24/opportunities-for-writers-may-june-2014/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+AerogrammeWritersStudio+%28Aerogramme+Writers%27+Studio%29

Have the Homeless Become Invisible?

This is chilling. We have generated an impossible economy to sustain. The people without jobs and homes are just the “canaries in the mines” whose “asphyxiations” we ignore at all of our perils.

Kindness Blog

In this social experiment, unsuspecting people walked by relatives pretending to be homeless. Would they notice their family members? Or have the homeless become invisible? Watch how each person reacts after the big reveal in the video below.

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Upcoming Grants for Writers

Want cash while you’re writing? Check out these opps!

Savvy Writers & e-Books online

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Switzerland

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Are you living in the USA, Canada or United Kingdom? The following grants, fellowships or writers residencies are mostly offered on a yearly basis, sometimes even twice a year. Bookmark their links and check periodically their deadlines. Besides accommodation, writers often receive a stipend and travel expenses paid. A great way for writers to get out of their routine, find solitude and time to write in order to advance their career.

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Iowa Artist Fellowship
The Artist Fellowship provides support to individuals who demonstrate exceptional creativity in the arts and the capacity for continued contributions to the excellence and innovation of the arts in the State. The Artist Fellowship Program seeks to elevate the arts in Iowa by advancing the artistic careers of Iowa artists through funding and professional development. The Iowa Arts Council awards each fellow $5,000 to support the development of their artistic career.
Deadline May 1…

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Links/Similarities between Tibetan and Native American groups.

I have also found striking linguistic and phenotype similarities between the the Navajo and Tibetan peoples, particularly in the syntax of both languages, influencing the tonal and syntactical ways many of the ones I have spoken with speak English as a non-native language and in their facial features. Can’t be coincidences.

Vegan Enlightenment

What do you think of this? I’m ambivalent.

The Search For Enlightenment

Vegan EnlightenmentMy friend and fellow vegan Juliet defines the vegan practice thus: Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.

Enlightenment is a state in which we are aware of the ultimate truth and meaning of everything. As a Buddhist, I strive for enlightenment and also try to avoid, as far as possible, bringing harm or suffering to any other living creature.

When we are aware that each moment of each day, each gesture and step we take, is truly mystical and full of wonder, we will live our lives with greater thought and care. We will also have greater respect and appreciation for the lives of others.

The two overlap in many ways, and although you don’t have to be Buddhist to be vegan, or vegan…

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And The Tantrums Will Follow by Nonnie Jules

A forward-thinking, innovative fellow indie author ! Get to know Nonnie and her work!

Bruce A. Borders

Today, I’m happy to welcome author Nonnie Jules! She is the founder and President of
Rave Reviews Book Club and is stopping by on her latest blog tour. And now, here’s Nonnie:

~ ~ ~
Hello, and welcome to Day 8 of my 15-day, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY:  ARE YOU WATCHING NONNIE WRITE” Blog Tour.  I’m so pleased that Bruce has welcomed me here today.  I’m equally excited to be sharing with all of you, his readers and followers.  Bruce and I are fellow Board Members at RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB,where we promote and support Indie Authors and readers alike.  If you’d like to know more about RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB, visit us here www.RaveReviewsByNonnieJules.wordpress.com.
This month marks the one year anniversary of my burst onto the social media scene and it’s also the one year anniversary of my blog “WATCH NONNIE WRITE!”, and during that time, I…

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19th Serialized Excerpt: Vol. II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.

Vol. II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.

final cover - digital and web

Cover and logo art by Willowraven.

19th Serialized Excerpt, 4/14/14

CHAPTER SNAPSHOT #2

Snapshots of Clara’s Daily Life: Fourteen Octobers, 1963 – 2017

October, 1968

(continued)

“I get sent to the office on several occasions because my skirt or dress is deemed ‘too short.’ This designation is made first by a teacher. Once at the administrators’ office, accused offenders have to kneel on the floor. If our skirt or dress does not touch the ground, we are to be sent home to change (meaning, someone has to come pick us up in a private car, since there is no reliable or close-enough public transportation), unless we opt to wear our hideous ‘gym suits’ the rest of the day.”

“Ironically,” Clara goes on, showing me with her hands how this outfit works, “this jump suit is a sleeveless top with shorts, so it shows more of our legs than any permissible skirt would. Since my mom is home with my youngest sister and often one of them is sick, I can’t get picked up, so gym suit it is.”

“‘Getting suited’ occurs on numerous occasions for many of us ‘popular’ girls. This circumstance, wearing our horrible gym suit around school for the rest of a day, becomes like wearing a badge of honor. We are the ones who dare to wear a skirt that we know in advance is too short (some of us roll the waistbands after leaving home in order to achieve a shorter hemline) and which ‘dooms’ us to wearing our gym suits. Everyone knows this must be intentional. My friends and I make ‘getting suited’ cool.” Clara laughs. “We’re such trend-setters in 1968!”

“You won’t believe the P.E. [Physical Education] classes’ misogynistic and unfair fashion policy: Here it is, summary fashion,” Clara says. “The boys get to wear a comfortable, regular T-shirt and shorts (in white and blue, respectively, our school colors) for P.E. Girls, however, have to wear these ridiculous gym suits. This detested thing is a one-piece, blouson number in an almost-royal blue color. It has an elastic waist and snaps on the too-loose sleeveless bodice with medium-length shorts attached. It has to have been designed to make every girl look terrible in it regardless of body type, which I suppose is a great leveler.”

“As I explain earlier,” Clara reminds me, “if girls forget this monstrosity at home or don’t wash it, don’t have it or don’t wear a clean-enough suit to every class (each girl is issued two and must have one to wear for each P.E. class, every day), we are marked down in our grade and also, made to stay after school (like, a detention).”

“These administrators are so uptight, they treat these infractions the same as forgetting homework or vandalizing the bathrooms. Earn enough detentions and we have to come on a Saturday, too (like the movie, The Breakfast Club), just for “not suiting up.” If we get marked down enough, we could flunk this required class and have to take it again in summer school. I am not kidding!”

Clara is still indignant, these 45 years later. “Lowering academic grades for appearance issues, particularly failing a student for noncompliance to a dress code, becomes illegal, but not yet.”

“Back to the dress code,” Clara goes on. “The only short skirts girls are allowed to wear to school have to be culottes, which are split skirts or skirts with shorts inside (sound familiar?), but only cheerleaders are allowed to wear them. Now you’re starting to understand some of the reasoning behind my wanting to be a cheerleader,” Clara tells me.

“In a typical fall or winter month, once a week all through 9th grade (on “game days,” meaning, a day the 9th-grade boys’ team of the season has a football or basketball game, usually a Friday), I get to wear my cheerleader’s outfit. The rest of the year I am at war with the skirt police and usually ‘get suited.'”

“I wear my gym suit proudly, regularly showing it off in defiance of the school’s absurd policies. There are usually a group of us on any given day. We walk down the halls showing off our legs and laughing at the adults for being such dimwits,” Clara explains. “We show more of our legs wearing these gym suits than we do in any skirt!”

I say mildly, “Quite the rebel, eh?”

Clara misses my light sarcasm, so intent on telling her story of these years. “Some teachers think I’m ‘interesting,’ ‘intelligent’ and ‘fun.’ I know because they tell me or my parents. Others detest me and the feeling is mutual.”

Clara grimaces. “Wearing short skirts and being a ‘smart-aleck’ are what passes for rebellion for a teenage girl in my era, in this town. So, yes. I am a ‘rebel.'”

Guess she does catch my sarcasm. I move to apologize, but she smiles at me and goes on.

“I earn a reputation for ‘being sassy,’ a term only applied to girls who talk back to authority in southern-bordering or actual southern states. In contrast—more sexism, here—a boy who talks back is told to stop ‘giving me lip’ by the adult who is being challenged.”

She looks at me, making sure I understand, then continues. “Disobedient girls are ridiculed and patronized; impertinent boys are given grudging respect by being viewed as threatening. See the difference?”

I nod.

Clara goes on with her reminiscing. “At one point in my dress-code and behavioral scofflaw years, my cheerleader’s status is jeopardized because I refuse to back down in some argument with the chorus teacher about where I am supposed to sit. I dimly remember that she is trying to separate me from my friends because we are ‘disruptive,’ meaning, we are talking and having fun in class. For these ‘bad behaviors,’ she wants to move my seat. I am an alto but she wants to move me to the second sopranos, which is not the part I sing. I refuse to move, declaring that we are now engaged in a ‘sit in’ (which are big in the civil rights and anti-war movements by now) to protest her unfair discrimination against my having friends, or something to that effect.”

“What happens next?” I ask. I am curious how much trouble she gets in.

Clara laughs. “She sends me to the office. I go off, waving derisively at her and happily at my friends. When I get there, the harried assistant Principal threatens to suspend me from being a cheerleader because he has nothing else to hold over me. What’s so ridiculous about this threat is that we’re already in March by now and the only sports ‘season’ left for me to cheer in is track and field, which we really don’t do cheering for, anyway. The Principal can tell his threat is not upsetting me, but he doesn’t know why.”

“When I get home, I tell my father. He decides to come in and threaten them with a lawsuit (he is an attorney by training but not by trade at that point), just for fun (for him, that is). My dad is not very involved in my life or even around much, but he does love a good fight.”

“The day of their meeting, I sit outside the Principal’s office and eavesdrop on the ensuing discussion. It is very funny, to me. My dad talks circles around these guys. They really do not have a leg to stand on, so to speak, since I have done nothing to get myself suspended from being a cheerleader, applying their own rules, my dad points out perfectly: I never smoke, drink alcohol, have public sex, skip classes, vandalize school property or commit any other school ‘crimes.’ There isn’t a policy that calls for a suspension of privileges for being disrespectful or having a ‘bad attitude,’ but they wish there have one, I’m sure.”

“As I see it clearly, now, I am an ‘impudent’ female who regularly gives certain adults much-deserved backtalk and ends up ‘getting suited’ for wearing short skirts (along with dozens of other girls) several times every month. I also have excellent grades and attendance and never forget my gym suit. I am a very good ‘bad’ girl and they don’t have a punishment for someone like me.”

“My dad prevails, but this does not endear me to my chorus teacher or the administrators. I’m glad to get out of that school and on to high school a few months later.”

“What is high school like at the end of the 1960s in the USA Midwest?” I ask.

Clara responds: “In the fall of 1969, losing the fashion battle and the legal war, unintentionally catching up to the rest of the country (at least, the coasts), the Roanne school board President announces that all dress codes are to be discarded across the school district.”

Clara is gleeful, remembering this “victory.”

“Within a few months of entering high school, we girls are wearing cut-offs, halter tops, going barefoot and bra-less to classes. The biggest change for boys is that no one forces them to keep their hair short enough not to touch their collars any longer.”

Clara recalls: “My sophomore year is quite fun and such a shocking contrast to the years of ludicrous restrictions by the fashion police that we are giddy with freedom. People are smoking pot in the courtyard, hanging out the windows playing rock music in the hallways, and generally being rowdy and undisciplined. I love it, but I don’t get into the wildest behaviors, myself.”

“It’s difficult for me to imagine having those restrictions at all,” I say, shaking my head. “By the time I get to kindergarten, we wear whatever we want. 1987, for me.”

Clara shakes her finger at me and exhorts: “Thank a feminist!”

“Thanks!” I tell Clara. I mean it.
************
“Here is the poem that won my spot in the statewide poetry magazine in 1969.” Clara reaches into a paper file folder and hands a yellowish page to me.

The poem is written in cursive writing on manila lined paper in blue ink. It has her teacher’s red-inked comments on it. I point to one part, silently asking Clara to explain.

“Mrs. Hay crosses out the last stanza all together, so I do not include it here, since it is not part of the winning poem’s form,” Clara tells me. Here is the poem.

TO DIE IN VAIN

by Clara Ackerman, 2/21/69, age 14

Sitting on a stool of self-pity

I glance up, casually,

To see if anyone had seen me

Dying.

(I wasn’t really dying, only dreaming of how much

They

would miss me) If I did

Die.

*******

“You could not pay me enough money to be 14 again,” Clara says emphatically.

“Nor me, either.” I agree wholeheartedly.

*********************************

Stay tuned on Sally’s blogs on WordPress (which has all links) and Tumblr, and on The Spanners Series‘ pages on Facebook and Google+, for each of the upcoming Excerpts from Volume II from March 16 – April 18, about one/day.

4/18/14, Volume II becomes available for Pre-orders via Smashwords, Kobo, iBooks and nook for half-price: @$1.99, through June 8, 2014.

On 6/9/14, Vol. II goes LIVE everywhere ebooks are sold for $3.99.

#THESPANNERSSERIES #THISCHANGESMYFAMILYANDMYLIFEFOREVER #THISCHANGESEVERYTHING

19th Serialized Excerpt: Vol. II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.

Vol. II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.

final cover - digital and web

Cover and logo art by Willowraven.

19th Serialized Excerpt, 4/14/14

CHAPTER SNAPSHOT #2

Snapshots of Clara’s Daily Life: Fourteen Octobers, 1963 – 2017

October, 1968

(continued)

“I get sent to the office on several occasions because my skirt or dress is deemed ‘too short.’ This designation is made first by a teacher. Once at the administrators’ office, accused offenders have to kneel on the floor. If our skirt or dress does not touch the ground, we are to be sent home to change (meaning, someone has to come pick us up in a private car, since there is no reliable or close-enough public transportation), unless we opt to wear our hideous ‘gym suits’ the rest of the day.”

“Ironically,” Clara goes on, showing me with her hands how this outfit works, “this jump suit is a sleeveless top with shorts, so it shows more of our legs than any permissible skirt would. Since my mom is home with my youngest sister and often one of them is sick, I can’t get picked up, so gym suit it is.”

“‘Getting suited’ occurs on numerous occasions for many of us ‘popular’ girls. This circumstance, wearing our horrible gym suit around school for the rest of a day, becomes like wearing a badge of honor. We are the ones who dare to wear a skirt that we know in advance is too short (some of us roll the waistbands after leaving home in order to achieve a shorter hemline) and which ‘dooms’ us to wearing our gym suits. Everyone knows this must be intentional. My friends and I make ‘getting suited’ cool.” Clara laughs. “We’re such trend-setters in 1968!”

“You won’t believe the P.E. [Physical Education] classes’ misogynistic and unfair fashion policy: Here it is, summary fashion,” Clara says. “The boys get to wear a comfortable, regular T-shirt and shorts (in white and blue, respectively, our school colors) for P.E. Girls, however, have to wear these ridiculous gym suits. This detested thing is a one-piece, blouson number in an almost-royal blue color. It has an elastic waist and snaps on the too-loose sleeveless bodice with medium-length shorts attached. It has to have been designed to make every girl look terrible in it regardless of body type, which I suppose is a great leveler.”

“As I explain earlier,” Clara reminds me, “if girls forget this monstrosity at home or don’t wash it, don’t have it or don’t wear a clean-enough suit to every class (each girl is issued two and must have one to wear for each P.E. class, every day), we are marked down in our grade and also, made to stay after school (like, a detention).”

“These administrators are so uptight, they treat these infractions the same as forgetting homework or vandalizing the bathrooms. Earn enough detentions and we have to come on a Saturday, too (like the movie, The Breakfast Club), just for “not suiting up.” If we get marked down enough, we could flunk this required class and have to take it again in summer school. I am not kidding!”

Clara is still indignant, these 45 years later. “Lowering academic grades for appearance issues, particularly failing a student for noncompliance to a dress code, becomes illegal, but not yet.”

“Back to the dress code,” Clara goes on. “The only short skirts girls are allowed to wear to school have to be culottes, which are split skirts or skirts with shorts inside (sound familiar?), but only cheerleaders are allowed to wear them. Now you’re starting to understand some of the reasoning behind my wanting to be a cheerleader,” Clara tells me.

“In a typical fall or winter month, once a week all through 9th grade (on “game days,” meaning, a day the 9th-grade boys’ team of the season has a football or basketball game, usually a Friday), I get to wear my cheerleader’s outfit. The rest of the year I am at war with the skirt police and usually ‘get suited.'”

“I wear my gym suit proudly, regularly showing it off in defiance of the school’s absurd policies. There are usually a group of us on any given day. We walk down the halls showing off our legs and laughing at the adults for being such dimwits,” Clara explains. “We show more of our legs wearing these gym suits than we do in any skirt!”

I say mildly, “Quite the rebel, eh?”

Clara misses my light sarcasm, so intent on telling her story of these years. “Some teachers think I’m ‘interesting,’ ‘intelligent’ and ‘fun.’ I know because they tell me or my parents. Others detest me and the feeling is mutual.”

Clara grimaces. “Wearing short skirts and being a ‘smart-aleck’ are what passes for rebellion for a teenage girl in my era, in this town. So, yes. I am a ‘rebel.'”

Guess she does catch my sarcasm. I move to apologize, but she smiles at me and goes on.

“I earn a reputation for ‘being sassy,’ a term only applied to girls who talk back to authority in southern-bordering or actual southern states. In contrast—more sexism, here—a boy who talks back is told to stop ‘giving me lip’ by the adult who is being challenged.”

She looks at me, making sure I understand, then continues. “Disobedient girls are ridiculed and patronized; impertinent boys are given grudging respect by being viewed as threatening. See the difference?”

I nod.

Clara goes on with her reminiscing. “At one point in my dress-code and behavioral scofflaw years, my cheerleader’s status is jeopardized because I refuse to back down in some argument with the chorus teacher about where I am supposed to sit. I dimly remember that she is trying to separate me from my friends because we are ‘disruptive,’ meaning, we are talking and having fun in class. For these ‘bad behaviors,’ she wants to move my seat. I am an alto but she wants to move me to the second sopranos, which is not the part I sing. I refuse to move, declaring that we are now engaged in a ‘sit in’ (which are big in the civil rights and anti-war movements by now) to protest her unfair discrimination against my having friends, or something to that effect.”

“What happens next?” I ask. I am curious how much trouble she gets in.

Clara laughs. “She sends me to the office. I go off, waving derisively at her and happily at my friends. When I get there, the harried assistant Principal threatens to suspend me from being a cheerleader because he has nothing else to hold over me. What’s so ridiculous about this threat is that we’re already in March by now and the only sports ‘season’ left for me to cheer in is track and field, which we really don’t do cheering for, anyway. The Principal can tell his threat is not upsetting me, but he doesn’t know why.”

“When I get home, I tell my father. He decides to come in and threaten them with a lawsuit (he is an attorney by training but not by trade at that point), just for fun (for him, that is). My dad is not very involved in my life or even around much, but he does love a good fight.”

“The day of their meeting, I sit outside the Principal’s office and eavesdrop on the ensuing discussion. It is very funny, to me. My dad talks circles around these guys. They really do not have a leg to stand on, so to speak, since I have done nothing to get myself suspended from being a cheerleader, applying their own rules, my dad points out perfectly: I never smoke, drink alcohol, have public sex, skip classes, vandalize school property or commit any other school ‘crimes.’ There isn’t a policy that calls for a suspension of privileges for being disrespectful or having a ‘bad attitude,’ but they wish there have one, I’m sure.”

“As I see it clearly, now, I am an ‘impudent’ female who regularly gives certain adults much-deserved backtalk and ends up ‘getting suited’ for wearing short skirts (along with dozens of other girls) several times every month. I also have excellent grades and attendance and never forget my gym suit. I am a very good ‘bad’ girl and they don’t have a punishment for someone like me.”

“My dad prevails, but this does not endear me to my chorus teacher or the administrators. I’m glad to get out of that school and on to high school a few months later.”

“What is high school like at the end of the 1960s in the USA Midwest?” I ask.

Clara responds: “In the fall of 1969, losing the fashion battle and the legal war, unintentionally catching up to the rest of the country (at least, the coasts), the Roanne school board President announces that all dress codes are to be discarded across the school district.”

Clara is gleeful, remembering this “victory.”

“Within a few months of entering high school, we girls are wearing cut-offs, halter tops, going barefoot and bra-less to classes. The biggest change for boys is that no one forces them to keep their hair short enough not to touch their collars any longer.”

Clara recalls: “My sophomore year is quite fun and such a shocking contrast to the years of ludicrous restrictions by the fashion police that we are giddy with freedom. People are smoking pot in the courtyard, hanging out the windows playing rock music in the hallways, and generally being rowdy and undisciplined. I love it, but I don’t get into the wildest behaviors, myself.”

“It’s difficult for me to imagine having those restrictions at all,” I say, shaking my head. “By the time I get to kindergarten, we wear whatever we want. 1987, for me.”

Clara shakes her finger at me and exhorts: “Thank a feminist!”

“Thanks!” I tell Clara. I mean it.
************
“Here is the poem that won my spot in the statewide poetry magazine in 1969.” Clara reaches into a paper file folder and hands a yellowish page to me.

The poem is written in cursive writing on manila lined paper in blue ink. It has her teacher’s red-inked comments on it. I point to one part, silently asking Clara to explain.

“Mrs. Hay crosses out the last stanza all together, so I do not include it here, since it is not part of the winning poem’s form,” Clara tells me. Here is the poem.

TO DIE IN VAIN

by Clara Ackerman, 2/21/69, age 14

Sitting on a stool of self-pity

I glance up, casually,

To see if anyone had seen me

Dying.

(I wasn’t really dying, only dreaming of how much

They

would miss me) If I did

Die.

*******

“You could not pay me enough money to be 14 again,” Clara says emphatically.

“Nor me, either.” I agree wholeheartedly.

*********************************

Stay tuned on Sally’s blogs on WordPress (which has all links) and Tumblr, and on The Spanners Series‘ pages on Facebook and Google+, for each of the upcoming Excerpts from Volume II from March 16 – April 18, about one/day.

4/18/14, Volume II becomes available for Pre-orders via Smashwords, Kobo, iBooks and nook for half-price: @$1.99, through June 8, 2014.

On 6/9/14, Vol. II goes LIVE everywhere ebooks are sold for $3.99.

#THESPANNERSSERIES #THISCHANGESMYFAMILYANDMYLIFEFOREVER #THISCHANGESEVERYTHING

The Heartbreak of Heartbleed

More about internet security and “Heartbleed” issues.

LibrarianShipwreck

Periodically when a person uses a computer one may receive notifications that contain phrases such as “do you trust this connection” or “do you trust this site.” While it is unlikely that such prompts are intended to send users tumbling into an existential abyss they nevertheless carry a very important question bundled in the guise of a simple yes or no (“allow” or “don’t allow”) moment. That question: “do you trust…”

Well…do you?

Using technological systems in contemporary society (in particular “high technological” systems) is often premised upon an oft unspoken level of trust, which relies as much (if not more so) on subconscious consent. We trust that our devices will function the way we have been led to expect them to function, we trust that the applications we use will do what they advertise, we trust that the passwords we use are being kept secret by the sites to…

View original post 1,212 more words

#BBC’s The Real History of Science Fiction starts April 19

BBC America’s The Real History of Science Fiction starts April 19!

“Co-produced by BBC America and BBC 2, The Real History of Science Fiction series is narrated by Mark Gatiss, the writer and actor who appeared on Doctor Who and created last year’s An Adventure in Space and Time, the TV movie about the creation of Doctor Who. He also acts and has co-created the BBC series Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.”

science-fiction
image from http://balldini.wordpress.com

On BBC America on 4 Saturdays starting 19th April at 10 pm ET
SEASON PREMIERE: EPISODE 1 – ROBOTS

Episode 2 premieres Saturday, April 26, 10:00pm ET
EPISODE 2 – SPACE

Episode 3 premieres Saturday, May 3, 10:00pm ET
EPISODE 3 – INVASION

Episode 4 premieres Saturday, May 10, 10:00pm ET
EPISODE 4 – TIME

“The four-episode programme will appear on BBC Two (times and dates to be announced).”

“Among those taking part are:
William Shatner (Star Trek),
Nathan Fillion (Firefly),
Zoe Saldana (Avatar, Star Trek),
Steven Moffat (Doctor Who),
Richard Dreyfuss (Close Encounters of the Third Kind),
Chris Carter (The X-Files),
Ronald D Moore (Battlestar Galactica),
John Landis (An American Werewolf in London, Schlock),
David Tennant (Doctor Who),
Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future),
Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner),
John Carpenter (Dark Star, The Thing),
Karen Gillan (Doctor Who),
Neil Gaiman (The Sandman, Stardust),
Kim Stanley Robinson (Mars Trilogy),
Scott Bakula (Quantum Leap, Star Trek: Enterprise),
Ursula K Le Guin (The Left Hand of Darkness),
Syd Mead (Blade Runner),
Kenny Baker (Star Wars),
Anthony Daniels (Star Wars),
Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek),
Peter Weller (Robocop),
Edward James Olmos (Blade Runner, Battlestar Galactica) and many more.”

“The documentary focuses on everything from Star Wars to Star Trek and of course Doctor Who. Gatiss reminds us how good sci-fi engages audiences on a emotional level. It isn’t just jaw-dropping special effects and aliens but a way to address social issues, big ideas and human issues.”

For more details, episode summaries, trailers and more, follow the link, below, and see the BBC official website on The Real History of Science Fiction.

Read full article, watch trailers and get links to more info here:
http://www.peter-capaldi-news.com/blog/new-trailer-real-history-science-fiction/?utm_source=whonews&utm_medium=whonewsapp

#BBC’s The Real History of Science Fiction starts April 19

BBC America’s The Real History of Science Fiction starts April 19!

“Co-produced by BBC America and BBC 2, The Real History of Science Fiction series is narrated by Mark Gatiss, the writer and actor who appeared on Doctor Who and created last year’s An Adventure in Space and Time, the TV movie about the creation of Doctor Who. He also acts and has co-created the BBC series Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.”

science-fiction
image from http://balldini.wordpress.com

On BBC America on 4 Saturdays starting 19th April at 10 pm ET
SEASON PREMIERE: EPISODE 1 – ROBOTS

Episode 2 premieres Saturday, April 26, 10:00pm ET
EPISODE 2 – SPACE

Episode 3 premieres Saturday, May 3, 10:00pm ET
EPISODE 3 – INVASION

Episode 4 premieres Saturday, May 10, 10:00pm ET
EPISODE 4 – TIME

“The four-episode programme will appear on BBC Two (times and dates to be announced).”

“Among those taking part are:
William Shatner (Star Trek),
Nathan Fillion (Firefly),
Zoe Saldana (Avatar, Star Trek),
Steven Moffat (Doctor Who),
Richard Dreyfuss (Close Encounters of the Third Kind),
Chris Carter (The X-Files),
Ronald D Moore (Battlestar Galactica),
John Landis (An American Werewolf in London, Schlock),
David Tennant (Doctor Who),
Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future),
Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner),
John Carpenter (Dark Star, The Thing),
Karen Gillan (Doctor Who),
Neil Gaiman (The Sandman, Stardust),
Kim Stanley Robinson (Mars Trilogy),
Scott Bakula (Quantum Leap, Star Trek: Enterprise),
Ursula K Le Guin (The Left Hand of Darkness),
Syd Mead (Blade Runner),
Kenny Baker (Star Wars),
Anthony Daniels (Star Wars),
Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek),
Peter Weller (Robocop),
Edward James Olmos (Blade Runner, Battlestar Galactica) and many more.”

“The documentary focuses on everything from Star Wars to Star Trek and of course Doctor Who. Gatiss reminds us how good sci-fi engages audiences on a emotional level. It isn’t just jaw-dropping special effects and aliens but a way to address social issues, big ideas and human issues.”

For more details, episode summaries, trailers and more, follow the link, below, and see the BBC official website on The Real History of Science Fiction.

Read full article, watch trailers and get links to more info here:
http://www.peter-capaldi-news.com/blog/new-trailer-real-history-science-fiction/?utm_source=whonews&utm_medium=whonewsapp

18th Serialized Excerpt: Vol. II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.

Vol. II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.

final cover - digital and web

Cover and logo art by Willowraven.

18th Serialized Excerpt, 4/12/14

CHAPTER SNAPSHOT #2

Snapshots of Clara’s Daily Life: Fourteen Octobers, 1963 – 2017

October, 1968

    Age and Living Circumstances/Location:

9th-grader in Roanne Junior High School, Missouri; living in Bayonne, suburb of large city in family home with her: father, Isaac; mother, Rose; older brother, Thomas; and, two younger sisters, Cassie, 8, and Violet, 3; and, a dog.

One boyfriend, ongoing since beginning of 8th grade, and many local friends from school, Camp Cedar and same Sunday School as earlier.

    Writing:

stories, articles, songs, poetry (poem selected as winner and published in Missouri’s Youth Writes).

    Books:

Childhood’s End, Arthur C. Clarke; More than Human, Theodore Sturgeon; Pilgrimmage: The Book of the People, Zenna Henderson; Sword of Aldones, Marion Zimmer Bradley; The Time Machine, Jules Verne.

    Music on the Radio:

“Hey, Jude,” The Beatles; “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay,” Otis Redding; “Bend Me, Shape Me,” The American Breed; “Born to be Wild,” Steppenworlf; “Build Ne Up, Buttercup,” The Foundation; “Can’t Take My Eyes off You,” Andy Williams; “Chain of Fools,” Aretha Franklin; “Do You Know the Way to San José,” Dionne Warwick; “Hello, I Love You,” The Doors; “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” Iron Butterfly; “MacArthur Park,” Richard Harris; “Mrs. Robinson,” and the Bookends album, Simon & Garfunkle; Piece of My Heart,” Big Brother & The Holding Company (Janis Joplin); “Stoned Soul Picnic,” The Fifth Dimension; “Sunshine of Your Love,” Cream (Eric Clapton); “The Weight,” The Band (Bob Dylan); “Young Girl,” Gary Puckett and The Union Gap; Bonnie Raitt; Linda Rondstadt; Bob Dylan; Peter, Paul & Mary; Little Stevie Wonder.

    Popular Songs in Sheet Music:

“I’ve Gotta Be Me,” (sung by Sammy Davis, Jr.); “The Look of Love,” Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66; “Eli’s Coming,” Laura Nyro; “For The Good Times,” Kris Kristofferson (sung by Rita Coolidge); “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,” Burt Bacharach & Hal David (sung by Dionne Warwick)’ music from Cabaret (Kander & Ebb), Hair! (Jerome Ragni, James Rado), Man of La Mancha ( Joel Darion, Dale Wasserman); Yellow Submarine (The Beatles).

    Activities:

► Taking Honors classes, including Spanish
► Cheerleader
► Member of chorus and selected for performance ensemble
► Taking weekly piano lessons; wins 2nd place at regional classical piano competition for ages 12 – 14.
► Attending Jewish religious classes every Sunday morning (Sunday School) (under duress); wins engraved Bible in essay competition
► Playing outdoors, tennis, softball, soccer, field hockey
► Indoors, competing on balance beam/gymnastics
► In summers, bike riding; waterskiing, canoeing, Israeli folk dancing, swimming at Camp Cedar (Jewish residential camp, Lake of the Ozarks) and local outdoor pool

ESPE: For junior high school, Clara tells me, her 7th-grade year is pretty awful. She has braces on her teeth, her hair is curly when having straight hair is fashionable, she is slightly overweight, she has no boyfriend, she is in all Honors classes with almost none of her former friends. This school serves students from five other elementary schools, so it is quite large and most of the people and the entire set up are unfamiliar to Clara.

Each student is assigned a 9th-grader as a “Big Sister/Brother” for the first month or so. Clara gets one of the cheerleaders as her Big Sister. One Friday, which are “game days” for football in the fall, Clara immediately timults herself as a cheerleader: she sees herself walking down the hall, laughing and talking with her friends while wearing her uniform, just as she sees her Big Sister, Cindy, doing on that Friday between classes. It is the first time Clara is aware of timulting something about her “future” which turns out to occur.

After losing the extra weight during 7th grade and having a very successful summer at Camp Cedar, Clara is set for a change. At the beginning of 8th grade, Clara gets the braces off, she learns to straighten her hair, makes some new friends. Her social life changes to the point that she becomes “popular” and a leader, again.

Clara says she gets a “great” boyfriend with whom she “goes steady” through all of 8th and half of 9th grade, when they break up amicably because they’re “both tired of each other,” she tells me.

Near the end of 8th grade, Clara practices for months so that she and nineteen other girls are nominated by adults (from “try-outs” of over fifty girls) to be voted on as cheerleaders in the election for class officers and other positions.

Clara, with seven others, is elected to be a cheerleader. As one of the leaders of her class, Clara also ran for “Pep Club” President. Clara cultivates many friends in order to get selected by the committee to be a finalist and elected by the students.

Her popularity ensures that she is elected to both positions. However, the Principal makes her choose between these rather than allowing her to be both.

Viewing being a cheerleader as the pinnacle of female achievement for that era and since she already timults that outcome two years before this, Clara chooses to be a 9th-grade cheerleader. Bonus: one of her friends, her “opponent,” becomes Pep Club President.

However, Clara tells me, “After learning all the cheers and being so excited to be elected, turns out that being a cheerleader is usually quite boring for me because I don’t actually like or care about team sports. Joke is on me.”

“I continue to want the status and there are not many routes to status for girls in 1968 in Missouri public schools. We aren’t allowed to run for President of the Student Council or our Class. Secretary; for ‘higher office,’ is the top slot we can run for, and only Pep Club is considered appropriate for a girl to lead. But, Pep Club is hardly the same thing as those other two, which actually have governing functions. Plus, sitting around in meetings seems much less interesting than going on buses with the team and being the center of attention as a cheerleader. I am a Leo, after all! These experiences help build up the feminist in me, as they do for Gloria Steinem, Robin Morgan and many other second-wave feminists, all cheerleaders!”

What happens when Clara gets to high school?

Clara explains: “Although the entire squad of us tries out for the sophomore squad, which is to be at the high school in which we will be combined with the other junior high school for tenth, eleventh and twelfth grades, only one of our school’s squad (not I) along with seven out of the eight cheerleaders of the other junior high school’s squad become the cheerleaders selected by the panel of adults. There is no election since the two 9th-grades’ students don’t know each other, yet.”

“Patently unfair,” Clara says to me, “but, not being selected to continue being a cheerleader is the best thing that ever happens to my personal development. I become more involved in debate, chess, theater, music, books and writing. These are much better choices for me. I become a ‘hippie-intellectual’ instead of a ‘jockette.’ Since I am very good in school, this is a more comfortable role. I can get excellent grades and make a better, more suitable group of friends in my honors classes than I can ‘on the field,’ so that is what I do in high school.”

Here is a poem Clara writes (after studying Julius Caesar in English class) about her feelings and experiences during and after this social transition. Clara goes from occupying the “popular” slot due to being a cheerleader to becoming involved in “cool stuff” due to her other (forced) choices. The “insider” becomes a different kind of “insider,” almost an “outsider,” but this time, mostly by choice.

Clara wants me to remind everyone that she makes no claims to being a great poet. However, it is significant to note that this and another poem she writes in 10th grade are submitted by her English teacher to a state contest. The other poem wins the Missouri’s Youth Writes competition and is published in the state students’ literary magazine in 1970, which is Clara’s first publishing credit.

Clara says: “It’s quite funny to me that I am first published as a poet, since I think my poetry is mostly mediocre to horrible.”

The poem is written on blue, lined spiral notebook paper (the left edge where it is removed from the notebook is ripped in spots) in cursive writing.

RUBICON SURPRISE

by Clara Ackerman, 11/11/69, age 15

Walking on my road

the way is easily seen.

Around the bend, the light

dims

and is gone.

Continue to walk, though

the way grows steep and feels

unfamiliar,

yet exciting.

Forge on through the dark,

stumbling over rocks and into

gullies

and potholes; what

is that swaying sensation?

Ah! The light returns,

only to show the way

already traveled to have been a

bridge,

smoking to ashes as I watch.

The light again dims,

but remains a dusk-glow,

enough to show me the

mockery

free will and decisive action

really are.

What else about your junior high years do you want people to know?

“I experience more misogyny, more restrictions, more unfairness due to gender than in grade school. I have two years of male science teachers and all three years of male math teachers who despise girls, even or especially those of us in Honors classes,” Clara complains.

“Furthermore,” Clara remembers, getting somewhat agitated in the remembering, “our 9th-grade biology teacher is so mean to the only three girls in a class of twenty-four boys that we generate ‘solidarity,’ which is great. We stick together even though we’re not previously close friends. Those girls and I create an informal support group, my first one.”

Also, Clara reminds me, there are more clothing issues; again, only for girls.

*********************************

Stay tuned on Sally’s blogs on WordPress (which has all links) and Tumblr, and on The Spanners Series‘ pages on Facebook and Google+, for each of the upcoming Excerpts from Volume II from March 16 – April 18, about one/day.

4/18/14, Volume II becomes available for Pre-orders via Smashwords, Kobo, iBooks and nook for half-price: @$1.99, through June 8, 2014.

On 6/9/14, Vol. II goes LIVE everywhere ebooks are sold for $3.99.

#THESPANNERSSERIES #THISCHANGESMYFAMILYANDMYLIFEFOREVER #THISCHANGESEVERYTHING

18th Serialized Excerpt: Vol. II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.

Vol. II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.

final cover - digital and web

Cover and logo art by Willowraven.

18th Serialized Excerpt, 4/12/14

CHAPTER SNAPSHOT #2

Snapshots of Clara’s Daily Life: Fourteen Octobers, 1963 – 2017

October, 1968

    Age and Living Circumstances/Location:

9th-grader in Roanne Junior High School, Missouri; living in Bayonne, suburb of large city in family home with her: father, Isaac; mother, Rose; older brother, Thomas; and, two younger sisters, Cassie, 8, and Violet, 3; and, a dog.

One boyfriend, ongoing since beginning of 8th grade, and many local friends from school, Camp Cedar and same Sunday School as earlier.

    Writing:

stories, articles, songs, poetry (poem selected as winner and published in Missouri’s Youth Writes).

    Books:

Childhood’s End, Arthur C. Clarke; More than Human, Theodore Sturgeon; Pilgrimmage: The Book of the People, Zenna Henderson; Sword of Aldones, Marion Zimmer Bradley; The Time Machine, Jules Verne.

    Music on the Radio:

“Hey, Jude,” The Beatles; “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay,” Otis Redding; “Bend Me, Shape Me,” The American Breed; “Born to be Wild,” Steppenworlf; “Build Ne Up, Buttercup,” The Foundation; “Can’t Take My Eyes off You,” Andy Williams; “Chain of Fools,” Aretha Franklin; “Do You Know the Way to San José,” Dionne Warwick; “Hello, I Love You,” The Doors; “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” Iron Butterfly; “MacArthur Park,” Richard Harris; “Mrs. Robinson,” and the Bookends album, Simon & Garfunkle; Piece of My Heart,” Big Brother & The Holding Company (Janis Joplin); “Stoned Soul Picnic,” The Fifth Dimension; “Sunshine of Your Love,” Cream (Eric Clapton); “The Weight,” The Band (Bob Dylan); “Young Girl,” Gary Puckett and The Union Gap; Bonnie Raitt; Linda Rondstadt; Bob Dylan; Peter, Paul & Mary; Little Stevie Wonder.

    Popular Songs in Sheet Music:

“I’ve Gotta Be Me,” (sung by Sammy Davis, Jr.); “The Look of Love,” Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66; “Eli’s Coming,” Laura Nyro; “For The Good Times,” Kris Kristofferson (sung by Rita Coolidge); “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,” Burt Bacharach & Hal David (sung by Dionne Warwick)’ music from Cabaret (Kander & Ebb), Hair! (Jerome Ragni, James Rado), Man of La Mancha ( Joel Darion, Dale Wasserman); Yellow Submarine (The Beatles).

    Activities:

► Taking Honors classes, including Spanish
► Cheerleader
► Member of chorus and selected for performance ensemble
► Taking weekly piano lessons; wins 2nd place at regional classical piano competition for ages 12 – 14.
► Attending Jewish religious classes every Sunday morning (Sunday School) (under duress); wins engraved Bible in essay competition
► Playing outdoors, tennis, softball, soccer, field hockey
► Indoors, competing on balance beam/gymnastics
► In summers, bike riding; waterskiing, canoeing, Israeli folk dancing, swimming at Camp Cedar (Jewish residential camp, Lake of the Ozarks) and local outdoor pool

ESPE: For junior high school, Clara tells me, her 7th-grade year is pretty awful. She has braces on her teeth, her hair is curly when having straight hair is fashionable, she is slightly overweight, she has no boyfriend, she is in all Honors classes with almost none of her former friends. This school serves students from five other elementary schools, so it is quite large and most of the people and the entire set up are unfamiliar to Clara.

Each student is assigned a 9th-grader as a “Big Sister/Brother” for the first month or so. Clara gets one of the cheerleaders as her Big Sister. One Friday, which are “game days” for football in the fall, Clara immediately timults herself as a cheerleader: she sees herself walking down the hall, laughing and talking with her friends while wearing her uniform, just as she sees her Big Sister, Cindy, doing on that Friday between classes. It is the first time Clara is aware of timulting something about her “future” which turns out to occur.

After losing the extra weight during 7th grade and having a very successful summer at Camp Cedar, Clara is set for a change. At the beginning of 8th grade, Clara gets the braces off, she learns to straighten her hair, makes some new friends. Her social life changes to the point that she becomes “popular” and a leader, again.

Clara says she gets a “great” boyfriend with whom she “goes steady” through all of 8th and half of 9th grade, when they break up amicably because they’re “both tired of each other,” she tells me.

Near the end of 8th grade, Clara practices for months so that she and nineteen other girls are nominated by adults (from “try-outs” of over fifty girls) to be voted on as cheerleaders in the election for class officers and other positions.

Clara, with seven others, is elected to be a cheerleader. As one of the leaders of her class, Clara also ran for “Pep Club” President. Clara cultivates many friends in order to get selected by the committee to be a finalist and elected by the students.

Her popularity ensures that she is elected to both positions. However, the Principal makes her choose between these rather than allowing her to be both.

Viewing being a cheerleader as the pinnacle of female achievement for that era and since she already timults that outcome two years before this, Clara chooses to be a 9th-grade cheerleader. Bonus: one of her friends, her “opponent,” becomes Pep Club President.

However, Clara tells me, “After learning all the cheers and being so excited to be elected, turns out that being a cheerleader is usually quite boring for me because I don’t actually like or care about team sports. Joke is on me.”

“I continue to want the status and there are not many routes to status for girls in 1968 in Missouri public schools. We aren’t allowed to run for President of the Student Council or our Class. Secretary; for ‘higher office,’ is the top slot we can run for, and only Pep Club is considered appropriate for a girl to lead. But, Pep Club is hardly the same thing as those other two, which actually have governing functions. Plus, sitting around in meetings seems much less interesting than going on buses with the team and being the center of attention as a cheerleader. I am a Leo, after all! These experiences help build up the feminist in me, as they do for Gloria Steinem, Robin Morgan and many other second-wave feminists, all cheerleaders!”

What happens when Clara gets to high school?

Clara explains: “Although the entire squad of us tries out for the sophomore squad, which is to be at the high school in which we will be combined with the other junior high school for tenth, eleventh and twelfth grades, only one of our school’s squad (not I) along with seven out of the eight cheerleaders of the other junior high school’s squad become the cheerleaders selected by the panel of adults. There is no election since the two 9th-grades’ students don’t know each other, yet.”

“Patently unfair,” Clara says to me, “but, not being selected to continue being a cheerleader is the best thing that ever happens to my personal development. I become more involved in debate, chess, theater, music, books and writing. These are much better choices for me. I become a ‘hippie-intellectual’ instead of a ‘jockette.’ Since I am very good in school, this is a more comfortable role. I can get excellent grades and make a better, more suitable group of friends in my honors classes than I can ‘on the field,’ so that is what I do in high school.”

Here is a poem Clara writes (after studying Julius Caesar in English class) about her feelings and experiences during and after this social transition. Clara goes from occupying the “popular” slot due to being a cheerleader to becoming involved in “cool stuff” due to her other (forced) choices. The “insider” becomes a different kind of “insider,” almost an “outsider,” but this time, mostly by choice.

Clara wants me to remind everyone that she makes no claims to being a great poet. However, it is significant to note that this and another poem she writes in 10th grade are submitted by her English teacher to a state contest. The other poem wins the Missouri’s Youth Writes competition and is published in the state students’ literary magazine in 1970, which is Clara’s first publishing credit.

Clara says: “It’s quite funny to me that I am first published as a poet, since I think my poetry is mostly mediocre to horrible.”

The poem is written on blue, lined spiral notebook paper (the left edge where it is removed from the notebook is ripped in spots) in cursive writing.

RUBICON SURPRISE

by Clara Ackerman, 11/11/69, age 15

Walking on my road

the way is easily seen.

Around the bend, the light

dims

and is gone.

Continue to walk, though

the way grows steep and feels

unfamiliar,

yet exciting.

Forge on through the dark,

stumbling over rocks and into

gullies

and potholes; what

is that swaying sensation?

Ah! The light returns,

only to show the way

already traveled to have been a

bridge,

smoking to ashes as I watch.

The light again dims,

but remains a dusk-glow,

enough to show me the

mockery

free will and decisive action

really are.

What else about your junior high years do you want people to know?

“I experience more misogyny, more restrictions, more unfairness due to gender than in grade school. I have two years of male science teachers and all three years of male math teachers who despise girls, even or especially those of us in Honors classes,” Clara complains.

“Furthermore,” Clara remembers, getting somewhat agitated in the remembering, “our 9th-grade biology teacher is so mean to the only three girls in a class of twenty-four boys that we generate ‘solidarity,’ which is great. We stick together even though we’re not previously close friends. Those girls and I create an informal support group, my first one.”

Also, Clara reminds me, there are more clothing issues; again, only for girls.

*********************************

Stay tuned on Sally’s blogs on WordPress (which has all links) and Tumblr, and on The Spanners Series‘ pages on Facebook and Google+, for each of the upcoming Excerpts from Volume II from March 16 – April 18, about one/day.

4/18/14, Volume II becomes available for Pre-orders via Smashwords, Kobo, iBooks and nook for half-price: @$1.99, through June 8, 2014.

On 6/9/14, Vol. II goes LIVE everywhere ebooks are sold for $3.99.

#THESPANNERSSERIES #THISCHANGESMYFAMILYANDMYLIFEFOREVER #THISCHANGESEVERYTHING

Branding Oneself, by Angelia Vernon Menchan

What do you think, authors and bloggers How do you brand yourself?

Nicholas C. Rossis

Angelia Vernon Menchan I met Author Angelia Vernon Menchan through the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB , and she has kindly offered to share a guest post here, regarding the all-important brand concept.  So, here it is:

“I created a brand once I became an author quite by chance. I was encouraged to start a blog and within a very short period of time I became known as a positive speaker and motivator.

How did that brand tie in to my work?

I always have a theme of overcoming or using mentors in anything I write. I write fiction, non-fiction, women’s fiction and YA fiction, as such it was easy to promote my books with who I had become known as.

Making sure your brand isn’t tarnished.

This is tricky because we all have a tendency to vent, particularly via social media.  Be very careful about that because if you are writing books about faith…

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RRBC Spotlight Author Angelia Vernon Menchan

Haven’t had a chance to read this, myself, due to a recent accident and intensive writing prior to that, but we do want to support fellow authors! Please share!

Cultural Cocktails

AM copy

(Please join me in welcoming this week’s Rave Reviews Book Club SPOTLIGHT AUTHOR Angelia Vernon Menchan!)

*****

EXCERPT2

SOUL TIES: BE CAREFUL WHO YOU BED AND WED…

 by Angelia Vernon Menchan

Chapter One

Two Years Earlier…

Walking into the nightclub, Fletcher Mitchell could feel the pulsing music. He had decided to attend graduate school at USC and was enjoying the left coast. He was an east coast man in his blood but after breaking up with his longtime girlfriend he needed distance. Los Angeles was a long way from North Florida. After graduating from the University of North Florida he had worked for a few years at United Parcel Service because they had paid his tuition. The management training program was good but he wanted more. When USC accepted him and his company provided him with a transfer that paid more, he was all in. The company had found him a…

View original post 1,188 more words

What are the Four Major Upsides and Downsides of #Paranormal #Presentiment?

How does someone with no small measure of psychic ability and numerous accurate “previews” of the future incur so many injuries? I’ll tell you, exactly.

psychic-predictions

After several days of intensive foreboding and weeks of a feeling of impending doom, last Sunday night I walked into a restaurant and tripped over an unseen hazard that partially blocked the entryway. I went flying parallel to the ground, smashing face-first into the wall beneath the ordering/pick-up counter, breaking my nose, injuring my forehead, incurring a concussion and numerous impact injuries, including whiplash.

Many negative results, obviously, which I am still recovering from, but one positive one: the sensations of ominousness that had been hanging around and inside me for weeks were gone.

How does that all work, exactly?

My definition of presentiment includes: prescience, precognition, premonition, which, taken together, translate into vague or specific feelings, knowledge, images, words, or other sensations of the future for oneself and/or others.

Key problem with the kind of presentiment I had been experiencing: VAGUENESS. Meaning, nonspecific: No details, images, words, dates, times, locations, circumstances; not even a list of who’s involved or who’s to be negatively affected.

I developed the following list, the Four Major Upsides and Downsides of #Paranormal #Presentiment, to explain my precise predicament.

UPSIDES
1. Time for advance planning.
For me, this meant I did a lot of cooking/shopping for food, laundry, blog posts, writing/editing and other tasks much more in advance than usual so that when I became mostly incapacitated, “life went on.”

preparation is the key
Image from scottsactingtips.blogspot.com

2. Emotional preparation .
Even as I was literally facing disaster, I wasn’t surprised, emotionally shocked or refusing to acknowledge the extent of my injuries. I immediately understood, as soon as I went flying, that “this was it.” Fortunately, I was remained conscious. Because I had been “warned,” I was not in denial. Therefore, I was able to make several key decisions with a clear head that helped me later.

3. Advance warnings for self and others.
See #numbers 1 & 2, above. Also, I had followed my intuition and cleared my schedule for this week without knowing exactly why. Having almost no obligations during the first crucial week of recuperation left me with less stress, aiding recovery.

4. Possible avoidance of the worst aspects by being especially cautious and observant.
In the weeks immediately prior to this accident, I had had three near-misses on the road, including having a tree branch fall just in front of my car during a bad storm (but I was able to swerve around it since I was going very slowly) and several other small mishaps that could have been a lot worse had I not been exceedingly cautious already.

DOWNSIDES
1. Vague premonitions of doom and general senses of tension and foreboding cause elevated stress levels for indeterminate periods of time.
Human bodies do not do well with chronic stress. Mine has had way too much from actual stress as well as perceived or anticipated stress: not recommended.

2. Focusing on the negative can cause undue paranoia and suspicion.
When I have this strong sense of impending disaster, I get very jumpy, especially when I have no idea the scope, timing, location, cause or target. Everyone is a bad driver, every rumble of a truck sounds like an earthquake (I live in California on a fault line), every airplane overhead sounds as if it might be flying too low (I live under the flight paths of two major and one minor airport), every passerby might be a mugger… you get the idea. Nischt gut.

3. Intensive self-referentialism and self-absorption to the point of unhealthy obsession does no one any good, ever.
Did you know there is a serious mental illness diagnosis consisting of a person having the unshakable belief that everything is a sign, message or communication meant just for him/her, like the character played by Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind? Also, it is antithetical to Buddhism to spend much time focusing on oneself, which is a temporary embodiment of an illusory existence, at best. Try sitting around believing that disaster is about to strike while trying to meditate: bad plan.

4. Once any negative circumstance arises, one may relax prematurely and then lose special cautiousness just when it’s most needed.
Three small mishaps had already occurred, however (stubbed my toe very badly at the pool; cut my finger when a knife slipped; hit my foot on the edge of the shower/tub enclosure). After the third one, I made the mistake of believing I had encountered all the negativity associated with this premonition. I did not see nor did I expect the floor obstacles in the restaurant. Hence, the face-plant.

presentiments-death
Image from weirdaustralia.com

Perhaps, next time, I won’t believe the doom warnings have been fully heeded until the presentiment actually passes.

What are the Four Major Upsides and Downsides of #Paranormal #Presentiment?

How does someone with no small measure of psychic ability and numerous accurate “previews” of the future incur so many injuries? I’ll tell you, exactly.

psychic-predictions

After several days of intensive foreboding and weeks of a feeling of impending doom, last Sunday night I walked into a restaurant and tripped over an unseen hazard that partially blocked the entryway. I went flying parallel to the ground, smashing face-first into the wall beneath the ordering/pick-up counter, breaking my nose, injuring my forehead, incurring a concussion and numerous impact injuries, including whiplash.

Many negative results, obviously, which I am still recovering from, but one positive one: the sensations of ominousness that had been hanging around and inside me for weeks were gone.

How does that all work, exactly?

My definition of presentiment includes: prescience, precognition, premonition, which, taken together, translate into vague or specific feelings, knowledge, images, words, or other sensations of the future for oneself and/or others.

Key problem with the kind of presentiment I had been experiencing: VAGUENESS. Meaning, nonspecific: No details, images, words, dates, times, locations, circumstances; not even a list of who’s involved or who’s to be negatively affected.

I developed the following list, the Four Major Upsides and Downsides of #Paranormal #Presentiment, to explain my precise predicament.

UPSIDES
1. Time for advance planning.
For me, this meant I did a lot of cooking/shopping for food, laundry, blog posts, writing/editing and other tasks much more in advance than usual so that when I became mostly incapacitated, “life went on.”

preparation is the key
Image from scottsactingtips.blogspot.com

2. Emotional preparation .
Even as I was literally facing disaster, I wasn’t surprised, emotionally shocked or refusing to acknowledge the extent of my injuries. I immediately understood, as soon as I went flying, that “this was it.” Fortunately, I was remained conscious. Because I had been “warned,” I was not in denial. Therefore, I was able to make several key decisions with a clear head that helped me later.

3. Advance warnings for self and others.
See #numbers 1 & 2, above. Also, I had followed my intuition and cleared my schedule for this week without knowing exactly why. Having almost no obligations during the first crucial week of recuperation left me with less stress, aiding recovery.

4. Possible avoidance of the worst aspects by being especially cautious and observant.
In the weeks immediately prior to this accident, I had had three near-misses on the road, including having a tree branch fall just in front of my car during a bad storm (but I was able to swerve around it since I was going very slowly) and several other small mishaps that could have been a lot worse had I not been exceedingly cautious already.

DOWNSIDES
1. Vague premonitions of doom and general senses of tension and foreboding cause elevated stress levels for indeterminate periods of time.
Human bodies do not do well with chronic stress. Mine has had way too much from actual stress as well as perceived or anticipated stress: not recommended.

2. Focusing on the negative can cause undue paranoia and suspicion.
When I have this strong sense of impending disaster, I get very jumpy, especially when I have no idea the scope, timing, location, cause or target. Everyone is a bad driver, every rumble of a truck sounds like an earthquake (I live in California on a fault line), every airplane overhead sounds as if it might be flying too low (I live under the flight paths of two major and one minor airport), every passerby might be a mugger… you get the idea. Nischt gut.

3. Intensive self-referentialism and self-absorption to the point of unhealthy obsession does no one any good, ever.
Did you know there is a serious mental illness diagnosis consisting of a person having the unshakable belief that everything is a sign, message or communication meant just for him/her, like the character played by Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind? Also, it is antithetical to Buddhism to spend much time focusing on oneself, which is a temporary embodiment of an illusory existence, at best. Try sitting around believing that disaster is about to strike while trying to meditate: bad plan.

4. Once any negative circumstance arises, one may relax prematurely and then lose special cautiousness just when it’s most needed.
Three small mishaps had already occurred, however (stubbed my toe very badly at the pool; cut my finger when a knife slipped; hit my foot on the edge of the shower/tub enclosure). After the third one, I made the mistake of believing I had encountered all the negativity associated with this premonition. I did not see nor did I expect the floor obstacles in the restaurant. Hence, the face-plant.

presentiments-death
Image from weirdaustralia.com

Perhaps, next time, I won’t believe the doom warnings have been fully heeded until the presentiment actually passes.

Brain ‘15-second delay’ shields us from hallucinogenic experience

Oh, goody. I now have a new excuse for being less than accurate. Please tell my son.

This and That

……………. “It actually means that what we do see is, in fact, a mixture of past and present. According to the research, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, stability is attained at the expense of accuracy.”……….
To read the full article go to
http://www.redicecreations.com/article.php?id=29722

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17th Serialized Excerpt: Vol. II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.

Vol. II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.

final cover - digital and web

Cover and logo art by Willowraven.

17th Serialized Excerpt, 4/10/14

CHAPTER TWO

Leah Iris, 29, Niece of Clara Branon, Ph.D., Chief Communicator

Interview Date: May 26, 2018

10 Questions for Clara Branon’s Niece:

the Transition, 5 Years Later

(continued)

9. How do your friends, family, sig other feel about your aunt as the CC and how does this affect your own relationships?

LEAH: Here’s the story of how I meet Josh. It shows some of the ways things are going during the Transition for my family.
********
Zephyr and Kayla aren’t ever going to get married and then they change their minds. I’m not sure why. They already have Kendall, so it’s not about the parenting-marriagebond. Anyway, we’re all—my giganza family—invited.

At large family events we do several things: eat, play and make music, laugh, talk and play games (all at once, usually). As the cousins all get older, we usually play cards with the older adults, definitely Hearts.

If any of us brings a newbie, like, a new sig other or spouse, they can opt out once, but, after that, they HAVE to play Hearts. It’s required. The Hearts games are a kind of trial-by-fire for joining our clan.

At someone’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah, that’s part of the teen’s new status. You can’t play until you’re about 13; it’s that heavy! It’s a kind of initiation-hazing ritual-inclusion thing. When we play Hearts, many cry. Always from laughter, and sometimes from being freaked out at how mean we all get. Or, being on the losing end of a vicious pass or strategy. Usually, no outsiders are invited to play: no random guests or friends, just family and sigs.

I’m at the wedding weekend in old New Hampshire, where they and Zephyr’s dad live, Zef is born and grows up, Aunt Clara lives while Zef is growing up. Summer there is beautiful and I’m glad to be there.

The wedding is on Sunday, but we do things all weekend since people come from far away. I’m noticing this one guy I don’t know who keeps appearing but doesn’t talk to me. Very appealing, to me, somehow.

During meals, I make sure I sit where I can see him. For “down” time—no scheduled thing happening—I look to see what group he’s hanging with and nonchalantly join on the fringes. Or, if I’m already in a group, I notice he drifts over to it. We’re like non-acquainted, exopod dolphins, swimming closer and closer to one another, playing and eating in the same area, but no direct contact.

Lots of smiles, some eye contact (he has amazing, green eyes), electric charges abound. No words. I find myself wanting to rub against him the way a dolphin would do to signal interest in being friends or starting to play, but I restrain myself. I also have the urge to try whistling and squeaking, just because, but I don’t know he could answer me, so I do not do it.

Josh says later he wishes I do these things! I don’t realize at the time that he is a Cetacean specialist and through my unconscious use of some of my Excellent Skills, I’m tuning into this affinity we share.

I don’t ask anyone who he is. I’m enjoying the “dance,” we’re engaged in, which is pleasantly and intriguingly intensifying from Friday to Saturday. Saturday, late afternoon, when we’re getting together for the third or fourth Hearts game of the weekend, when it peaks.

People are setting up the large outdoor table, counting and shuffling cards, talking, laughing, organizing who’s playing and making sure the cards are set up right, removing 2s, doubling the decks, etc., for however many are playing. We’re about to start. All available and eligible in the family are at the table. That’s about a dozen for this particular game.

We’re watching my brother and my mother share the dealing when this guy I am hyper aware of comes over and asks if he can play. Nice chutzpah [audacity, courage, Yiddish].

Zephyr and Kayla look at him, at each other, then at me and say “Yeah! Sure!”

Aunt Clara gives him the eye and asks, “Josh: are you sure you want to do this, now, today?”

She is deliberately daring him. Why? His name is “Josh.” I like that name.

My mom, still dealing, says: “No way; family only!”

A few others murmur their opinions, mostly “no,” a few “next game, maybe.”

Aunt Clara holds up one hand, looks at me, at me, and says: “It’s up to you, Leah.”

Why me? But I nod. It is up to me. I accept that.

CeeCee, my mom, my aunt Violet, Zephyr smile in a way that makes the butterflies in my stomach wake up and start flying around chaotically.

Oh, oh.

The dealing is over but no one moves to take their cards or push the hands out to us. I count silently: fourteen. There is one extra hand. Shit!

Everything stops, then. No one talks or laughs, which is a minor miracle in my family. I swear, even the breezes stop blowing and the birds stop singing for a couple of seconds. I know that’s not likely, but that’s how it seems to me. Time strrrr-etch-es out and slows down, you know?

Josh looks at me and I look at him.

I know.

And, I can tell, he knows.

Given the way ES run in this family, most of us know.

So I, being somewhat an introvert (I know, not obvious, but I am), and a bit wary, blurt out: “But, who are you?”

Josh comes closer to me, gets down on one knee so that he’s eye-level with me, extends one hand to hold mine, and says, “I’m your sig, Leah. I’m Josh.”

All the breath whooshes out of me as if I am a balloon letting go. Then, I can’t breathe right. I’m hot, I’m shivering, I’m dizzy. I stare at him, at his wonderful, interesting face, at his hand holding mine with his beautifully tapered fingers, at his clear, green eyes.

I can feel everyone staring at us, waiting for me to respond. I reclaim my hand. Why does this look and feel like a marriage proposal? We just spoke for the first time!

I reach across the table and grab my cards, trying to make the game start. I look wildly at everyone, but no one is meeting my eyes. I could ignore him, but I am drawn back, against my will, to stare into his eyes. I’m speechless.

I’m so hot and my face is so red I’m sure I am about to catch fire or something. Then, right after I put them into my hands, my cards explode all over the table. Everyone but I and this guy gasps.

I am sure Zephyr has something to do with that trick. I turn to glare at him. He smiles sweetly at me. The picture of fake innocence. I may have to hurt him.

But, I am paralyzed. I stare at the scattered cards and can’t pick any up.

Josh is able to move easily.

Why is that? What’s wrong with me?

He takes both my hands, since I no longer have any cards in either.

Josh says, “Whenever you’re ready, let me in.”

So, Zephyr, being Zephyr, says: “‘Not by the hair of my chinny, chin, chin!'”

We all burst out laughing which takes the pressure off a lot.

I breathe. Once, twice, three times. I look over at Josh. He’s so patient, so kind, so right for me. Why am I resisting?

This has been coming all weekend. Carpe Diem!

“OK. Fine. You’re in.” I say it fake huffily, as if I object, but no one, including me, is the least bit fooled.

I pat the chair that suddenly snaps into place right beside me (Zef’s work, again) and say, “Deal Josh in.”

Caleb snaps the extra hand over to Josh’s place at the table.

Everyone else puts their cards down and applauds. The silence broken, everyone is now talking, laughing, smiling at or groaning about their cards.

Josh plops into the chair, smiles at me, picks up his cards and starts arranging them as if he’s always been here, at our Hearts game.

Maybe he has. CeeCee winks at me. Sheesh. She hears that.

I lean over to squeeze Josh’s shoulder. “Welcome,” I say, more warmly.

He leans into me but keeps arranging his cards.

Oh. It’s like that, is it? Game on!

And, that’s it. Josh is in. In every way. We play Hearts. We start being together. He’s a great dancer, too.
********
LEAH: The rest is, well, private. [laughs].

10. What else do you want to tell us about your experiences of Clara as the CC or the Transition?

LEAH: I can add one important thing: Aunt Clara is the best choice Earthers could have. I know not everyone understands that, so let me explain.

She is off-the-charts in honesty, courage, integrity up the whazzoo. She is dedicated to benefiting all beings—the Buddhist thing, you know? Those all contribute, but most important, Aunt Clara has a humongous heart. She is fiercely protective and loving when she takes anyone or anything on.

Earthers are lucky she took us on. For sure.

*********************************

Stay tuned on Sally’s blogs on WordPress (which has all links) and Tumblr, and on The Spanners Series‘ pages on Facebook and Google+, for each of the upcoming Excerpts from Volume II from March 16 – April 18, about one/day.

4/18/14, Volume II becomes available for Pre-orders via Smashwords, Kobo, iBooks and nook for half-price: @$1.99, through June 8, 2014.

On 6/9/14, Vol. II goes LIVE everywhere ebooks are sold for $3.99.

#THESPANNERSSERIES #THISCHANGESMYFAMILYANDMYLIFEFOREVER #THISCHANGESEVERYTHING

17th Serialized Excerpt: Vol. II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.

Vol. II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.

final cover - digital and web

Cover and logo art by Willowraven.

17th Serialized Excerpt, 4/10/14

CHAPTER TWO

Leah Iris, 29, Niece of Clara Branon, Ph.D., Chief Communicator

Interview Date: May 26, 2018

10 Questions for Clara Branon’s Niece:

the Transition, 5 Years Later

(continued)

9. How do your friends, family, sig other feel about your aunt as the CC and how does this affect your own relationships?

LEAH: Here’s the story of how I meet Josh. It shows some of the ways things are going during the Transition for my family.
********
Zephyr and Kayla aren’t ever going to get married and then they change their minds. I’m not sure why. They already have Kendall, so it’s not about the parenting-marriagebond. Anyway, we’re all—my giganza family—invited.

At large family events we do several things: eat, play and make music, laugh, talk and play games (all at once, usually). As the cousins all get older, we usually play cards with the older adults, definitely Hearts.

If any of us brings a newbie, like, a new sig other or spouse, they can opt out once, but, after that, they HAVE to play Hearts. It’s required. The Hearts games are a kind of trial-by-fire for joining our clan.

At someone’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah, that’s part of the teen’s new status. You can’t play until you’re about 13; it’s that heavy! It’s a kind of initiation-hazing ritual-inclusion thing. When we play Hearts, many cry. Always from laughter, and sometimes from being freaked out at how mean we all get. Or, being on the losing end of a vicious pass or strategy. Usually, no outsiders are invited to play: no random guests or friends, just family and sigs.

I’m at the wedding weekend in old New Hampshire, where they and Zephyr’s dad live, Zef is born and grows up, Aunt Clara lives while Zef is growing up. Summer there is beautiful and I’m glad to be there.

The wedding is on Sunday, but we do things all weekend since people come from far away. I’m noticing this one guy I don’t know who keeps appearing but doesn’t talk to me. Very appealing, to me, somehow.

During meals, I make sure I sit where I can see him. For “down” time—no scheduled thing happening—I look to see what group he’s hanging with and nonchalantly join on the fringes. Or, if I’m already in a group, I notice he drifts over to it. We’re like non-acquainted, exopod dolphins, swimming closer and closer to one another, playing and eating in the same area, but no direct contact.

Lots of smiles, some eye contact (he has amazing, green eyes), electric charges abound. No words. I find myself wanting to rub against him the way a dolphin would do to signal interest in being friends or starting to play, but I restrain myself. I also have the urge to try whistling and squeaking, just because, but I don’t know he could answer me, so I do not do it.

Josh says later he wishes I do these things! I don’t realize at the time that he is a Cetacean specialist and through my unconscious use of some of my Excellent Skills, I’m tuning into this affinity we share.

I don’t ask anyone who he is. I’m enjoying the “dance,” we’re engaged in, which is pleasantly and intriguingly intensifying from Friday to Saturday. Saturday, late afternoon, when we’re getting together for the third or fourth Hearts game of the weekend, when it peaks.

People are setting up the large outdoor table, counting and shuffling cards, talking, laughing, organizing who’s playing and making sure the cards are set up right, removing 2s, doubling the decks, etc., for however many are playing. We’re about to start. All available and eligible in the family are at the table. That’s about a dozen for this particular game.

We’re watching my brother and my mother share the dealing when this guy I am hyper aware of comes over and asks if he can play. Nice chutzpah [audacity, courage, Yiddish].

Zephyr and Kayla look at him, at each other, then at me and say “Yeah! Sure!”

Aunt Clara gives him the eye and asks, “Josh: are you sure you want to do this, now, today?”

She is deliberately daring him. Why? His name is “Josh.” I like that name.

My mom, still dealing, says: “No way; family only!”

A few others murmur their opinions, mostly “no,” a few “next game, maybe.”

Aunt Clara holds up one hand, looks at me, at me, and says: “It’s up to you, Leah.”

Why me? But I nod. It is up to me. I accept that.

CeeCee, my mom, my aunt Violet, Zephyr smile in a way that makes the butterflies in my stomach wake up and start flying around chaotically.

Oh, oh.

The dealing is over but no one moves to take their cards or push the hands out to us. I count silently: fourteen. There is one extra hand. Shit!

Everything stops, then. No one talks or laughs, which is a minor miracle in my family. I swear, even the breezes stop blowing and the birds stop singing for a couple of seconds. I know that’s not likely, but that’s how it seems to me. Time strrrr-etch-es out and slows down, you know?

Josh looks at me and I look at him.

I know.

And, I can tell, he knows.

Given the way ES run in this family, most of us know.

So I, being somewhat an introvert (I know, not obvious, but I am), and a bit wary, blurt out: “But, who are you?”

Josh comes closer to me, gets down on one knee so that he’s eye-level with me, extends one hand to hold mine, and says, “I’m your sig, Leah. I’m Josh.”

All the breath whooshes out of me as if I am a balloon letting go. Then, I can’t breathe right. I’m hot, I’m shivering, I’m dizzy. I stare at him, at his wonderful, interesting face, at his hand holding mine with his beautifully tapered fingers, at his clear, green eyes.

I can feel everyone staring at us, waiting for me to respond. I reclaim my hand. Why does this look and feel like a marriage proposal? We just spoke for the first time!

I reach across the table and grab my cards, trying to make the game start. I look wildly at everyone, but no one is meeting my eyes. I could ignore him, but I am drawn back, against my will, to stare into his eyes. I’m speechless.

I’m so hot and my face is so red I’m sure I am about to catch fire or something. Then, right after I put them into my hands, my cards explode all over the table. Everyone but I and this guy gasps.

I am sure Zephyr has something to do with that trick. I turn to glare at him. He smiles sweetly at me. The picture of fake innocence. I may have to hurt him.

But, I am paralyzed. I stare at the scattered cards and can’t pick any up.

Josh is able to move easily.

Why is that? What’s wrong with me?

He takes both my hands, since I no longer have any cards in either.

Josh says, “Whenever you’re ready, let me in.”

So, Zephyr, being Zephyr, says: “‘Not by the hair of my chinny, chin, chin!'”

We all burst out laughing which takes the pressure off a lot.

I breathe. Once, twice, three times. I look over at Josh. He’s so patient, so kind, so right for me. Why am I resisting?

This has been coming all weekend. Carpe Diem!

“OK. Fine. You’re in.” I say it fake huffily, as if I object, but no one, including me, is the least bit fooled.

I pat the chair that suddenly snaps into place right beside me (Zef’s work, again) and say, “Deal Josh in.”

Caleb snaps the extra hand over to Josh’s place at the table.

Everyone else puts their cards down and applauds. The silence broken, everyone is now talking, laughing, smiling at or groaning about their cards.

Josh plops into the chair, smiles at me, picks up his cards and starts arranging them as if he’s always been here, at our Hearts game.

Maybe he has. CeeCee winks at me. Sheesh. She hears that.

I lean over to squeeze Josh’s shoulder. “Welcome,” I say, more warmly.

He leans into me but keeps arranging his cards.

Oh. It’s like that, is it? Game on!

And, that’s it. Josh is in. In every way. We play Hearts. We start being together. He’s a great dancer, too.
********
LEAH: The rest is, well, private. [laughs].

10. What else do you want to tell us about your experiences of Clara as the CC or the Transition?

LEAH: I can add one important thing: Aunt Clara is the best choice Earthers could have. I know not everyone understands that, so let me explain.

She is off-the-charts in honesty, courage, integrity up the whazzoo. She is dedicated to benefiting all beings—the Buddhist thing, you know? Those all contribute, but most important, Aunt Clara has a humongous heart. She is fiercely protective and loving when she takes anyone or anything on.

Earthers are lucky she took us on. For sure.

*********************************

Stay tuned on Sally’s blogs on WordPress (which has all links) and Tumblr, and on The Spanners Series‘ pages on Facebook and Google+, for each of the upcoming Excerpts from Volume II from March 16 – April 18, about one/day.

4/18/14, Volume II becomes available for Pre-orders via Smashwords, Kobo, iBooks and nook for half-price: @$1.99, through June 8, 2014.

On 6/9/14, Vol. II goes LIVE everywhere ebooks are sold for $3.99.

#THESPANNERSSERIES #THISCHANGESMYFAMILYANDMYLIFEFOREVER #THISCHANGESEVERYTHING

16th Serialized Excerpt: Vol. II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.

Vol. II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.

final cover - digital and web

Cover and logo art by Willowraven.

16th Serialized Excerpt, 4/8/14

CHAPTER TWO

Leah Iris, 29, Niece of Clara Branon, Ph.D., Chief Communicator

Interview Date: May 26, 2018

10 Questions for Clara Branon’s Niece:

the Transition, 5 Years Later

(continued)

5. How do you feel about Clara’s role when it starts? How are you affected immediately?

LEAH: Let’s see. How do I feel, not what do I think? OK. I feel kind of proud. I mean, my aunt is now the most important person on the planet. Right? That’s amazing! [laughs] And, yet, somehow, not as surprising as it might be. [laughs]

What does that make me, besides her very proud niece? Besieged.

Immediately, I have to change my cell number and make all my online and personal privacy settings more stringent because I am getting a zillion calls and messages from media people, almost as many as Zephyr (we compare). My boss starts saying I’m “out for the day” when I’m right there. The paparazzi can’t reach Aunt Clara because Espe is handling all that, but the rest of our family: we’re on our own.

Since I have a different last name (and I don’t even use mine), I’m not as battered by media contacts as Zephyr or any of the Ackermans are, but they do find me and my brothers pretty fast, through my being one of the main online posters, or through my mom, I guess (not that she gives me up; the ‘razzi always keep digging).

We all decide not to give out any interviews because we learn that, if one of us does, we’re all doomed. That refusal is your suggestion, E: Thanks! You are brilliant about all that. Precisely right.

Once media ghouls believe we won’t talk to them, they go away. Eventually. Bigger news stories than our reactions are happening, anyway, with the Transition issues, the Qings and ReInvolvements, and then the psi Wars, so relatives of the CC move lower on the ‘razzi’s priority list. Zephyr and the rest of us are “up” again when everyone gets Tinted, but that’s all right.

Then, I meet Josh, oh, about two years APC [APC, After Public Contact], and my life changes even more! We meet at Zephyr and Kayla’s wedding. So cool. Okay that I tell our meeting story later today, right?

[See Question # 10 for story.]

6. How do you feel about Clara’s role, now, 5 years later? How does her role affect you now?

LEAH: It’s funny. Not funny-“ha ha” but funny-peculiar. There are many months lately when I do not think about the MWC or Aunt Clara’s role or any of the larger goings on. Josh and I are involved with our jobs, our friends, each other, our family members as people, not as CC network nodes. Does that make sense?

Then, something will come on a vid or over the ‘net and we’re drawn into it, tractor beam on full speed. Occasionally, when I’m talking or having vid calls with Aunt Clara, she gets a visit from one of The Band and we all talk for a while. That’s cool.

I think, because of Josh’s work with the cetaceans and other marine beings, we’re invited to go to Janis—Diana’s planet any time we want. We plan to go this year or next. He probably would not be on the fast track for interplanetary travel if he works in some other field. Also, if he and I never meet Janis—Diana, we probably do not get to go as soon, either. So, being related to the CC can be useful!

During the height of the psi Wars, there is a lot of talk about assigning me and my brothers, our mom and everyone in Aunt Clara’s family protective OSes. She always has them, of course. And, Zephyr and Kayla, now Kendall, do for a while. And G-ma Rose. And, Moran’s family. We seem to have some for a while, but it’s kind of hush-hush. I really cannot remember what that is like, now. I think only Aunt Clara. you, Epifanio, Zephyr and his family have protection, these days. Right?

Mostly, I see Aunt Clara and my mom—that entire generation of women—as incredible role models. I hope to be like them as I get older. They’re awesome! So courageous, so innovative, so, well, uniquely themselves. [laughs]

7. Which of the MWC members or other species visitors do you have contact with? How and why, and how is that for you?

LEAH: Angelina, Meryl and I are good friends early on because of Aunt Clara. Then, Josh, a marine biologist and Cetacean Communicator before we even meet, introduces me to more cetaceans who become our friends. I already know ASL [American Sign Language] and Hebrew, so learning CetSS [Cetacean Sound-Sign] and PrimS [Primate Sign] aren’t horribly hard for me. I’m not as good a swimmer as Josh and many others, so the body language and positional parts of CetSS are like baby talk when I do it, but we manage.

Do you know how many spoken languages (not English), like Navajo, Mandarin and other Chinese dialects are tonal, so every inflection and pitch change makes and alters the meaning? Body position, directionality and angles are like that in CetSS, especially when the speaker is completely submerged. With our newer OPTS (thanks, Jessica!), which fit almost like a second-skin, humans underwater are completely visible and flexible enough, but I am such a klutz. I make hilarious clumsiness-induced blunders that Josh and I spend time rectifying regularly.

I feel that it’s more respectful and fun to attempt to speak with each being in something closer to their languages. I like the challenge! I always have the fish when I falter. Cetaceans are very forgiving, which is great. Some things just don’t translate well, even with the fish, and then add in my inadvertently mixed-signal comms and we’re often in confusion and amusement.

At first, I don’t know how we’ll be friends, exactly, given our different environments, but it gradually unfolds, mostly because of the tech: OPTS, iD and the fish are crucial. We message, we exchange info, we meet up in person when we can, and we use the interspecies versions of social media networking sites, which are ‘way cool. We joke about calling the Cetacean-Cephalopod-Pinniped site “Snoutbook,” but it does not catch on. Wonder why? [laughs]

The CHAT (Cetacean Hearing and Telemetry) humans create right BPC morphs into the sono-picto-graph machine which becomes the co-locating use of the fish: so amazingly cool. Wanna hear my name as whistled by Angelina? [I nod. Leah whistles a high-pitched, long note followed by 3 short blasts, laughs].

For Aunt Clara and Josh, interspecies interactions are a combo of professional and personal; for me, just personal. It’s important to me to know them as individuals, not for any “cause” or job. We play, we talk, we share our lives, as any friends do. It’s species-ist to assume otherwise, right?

8. What transforms your life more: your ifish [Interspecies Communication System], your iD [Individual Access Devices Interface], or travel to other planets/moons? How?

LEAH: I was so hopped to leave Wikijism behind and use my iD all the time. It’s is so much better than anything we have BPC! Josh and I are considering getting the implant iDs soon. Before we go off-p again, for sure. I never go anywhere without my fish, since we often interact with non-humans and humans who speak languages better than English for the purposes we’re engaged in that day. We aren’t regular off-p travelers, yet, but plan to be, soon.

I can’t say which is more important in general, but, for me, definitely the fish. I’m constantly communicating. [laugh]

*********************************

Stay tuned on Sally’s blogs on WordPress (which has all links) and Tumblr, and on The Spanners Series‘ pages on Facebook and Google+, for each of the upcoming Excerpts from Volume II from March 16 – April 18, about one/day.

4/18/14, Volume II becomes available for Pre-orders via Smashwords, Kobo, iBooks and nook for half-price: @$1.99, through June 8, 2014.

On 6/9/14, Vol. II goes LIVE everywhere ebooks are sold for $3.99.

#THESPANNERSSERIES #THISCHANGESMYFAMILYANDMYLIFEFOREVER #THISCHANGESEVERYTHING