Excerpt from This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, Volume III, The Spanners Series, CHAPTER ONE, Excellent Skills Program (ESP) Final Test, Level 11-A: Dr. Clara Ackerman Branon, Ph.D., Chief Communicator (CC), and Rabbi Moran Ackerman, Chief of OverSeers covert and Special Operations (OSOps)

Excerpt from This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, Volume III,
The Spanners Series

CHAPTER ONE
Excellent Skills Program (ESP) Final Test, Level 11-A: Dr. Clara Ackerman Branon, Ph.D., Chief Communicator (CC), and Rabbi Moran Ackerman, Chief of OverSeers covert and Special Operations (OSOps)

by Sally Ember, Ed.D.
Copyright 2015 Sally Ember, Ed.D.
St. Louis, MO

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January 14, 2015/ November 2, 2014

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Fantastic accomplishments seem like something unattainable and everyone doing the extraordinary seems to be unlike you until YOU do something amazing. Then you realize those talented, heroic leaders are not different from you in any important ways.
—Clara Branon, Ph.D., Earth’s Chief Communicator, 2012 – 2042, responding, at her retirement, to: “How do you feel about being the first global leader and liaison for Earth to the Many Worlds Collective?”

Level 11-A: PRECOGNITION / POSTCOGNITION (stage II)

Improving accuracy/ Discernment of others’ accuracy

Earthers’ CC and OSOps Chief

Final Test Report to InterGalactic Council (IGC)
from “Led” and “Mick,” Assigned Trainers, Many Worlds Collective (MWC)

Excerpts from Video Transcript

[Simulation begins. Room appearance shifts to the setting of the exam. They are in a high-ceiling, large room of a rocky cave. It is mostly dark, but some stalactites glimmer above their heads, reflecting light from the cave’s entrance. A large pool of water is in front of Clara and Moran, between them and the entrance. There are stalagmites around and in the center of it, some apparently quite large. The way to the entrance seems blocked by them and the water, whose depth is unseen. The stalactites’ dripping into the pond are the only sounds.]

[Suddenly, the entire cave shudders several times. Rocks fall on Clara and Moran as the roof and walls crack. The pond roils. Some stalagmites crack and tumble down, further blocking the entrance. A few large rocks also fall and roll toward the entrance. A lot less light is visible at the mouth of the cave. Clara and Moran appear, seated on the cave floor, in the center.]

CLARA: Damn it, Moran. A cave? Why a cave? And, during a quake? Are you completely insane?
MORAN: It is fine, Aunt Clara. I timult our simulation and we do great.
CLARA: “Great”? Define “great”!
MORAN: You can trust me, you know.
CLARA: Trust is not my strong suit. As you well know.
MORAN: Noted. But, by Level 11, I believe you are supposed to be more, well, trusting. At least of me.
CLARA: I pick a city setting. Fraggers and Trenchers attack. We do “great” in that sim as well. Why do you override my choice?
MORAN: Because I can. No, seriously: because this one is better. I promise. We ace it. For sure.
CLARA: Look out!
MORAN: Whoa. Another earthquake! [He stands up to protect Clara from falling rocks.]
CLARA: [She stands up to push Moran away from the center, toward the wall.] Closer to the wall is safer! Come on!

[Outside the cave’s mouth are sounds of shouting, many people running, but none can be seen from where they stand.]

CLARA: The Trenchers and Fraggers can find us here and then we are trapped. I can feel some of their psi-activated scouts searching for us now. SHIELD.
MORAN: Shield up. Thanks. I am trying to timult our way out of here. Can’t feel them and timult at the same moment, yet.
CLARA: Sure. Sure. Okay. [breathing hard] Moran? Do you feel them now? About six or more, I think.
MORAN: And counting…. Yes, seven. I sense two more powerfully. Those are the ones to monitor. Setting up surveillance.
CLARA: Quakes coming again. Not as strong, but several.
MORAN: How many more?
CLARA: I think three. Maybe. I can’t tell. You?
MORAN: InKC time. [He closes his eyes.]
CLARA: Right. [She closes her eyes.]
MORAN: Two more, I think. Each weaker, but creating more damage. We do survive this, CC, although I see many larger cracks occurring and this entire part of the cave’s collapsing. We have to go deeper into it and find another way out.
CLARA: Absolutely not! I don’t see the collapse. Going deeper is going nowhere, unless you see another exit. Do you? And, where are the psi-scouts? They can capture us as we exit!
MORAN: Maybe. Not sure. Checking. [closes his eyes]
CLARA: Well, I’m not going deeper if you’re not sure and I can’t timult it myself for whatever reason. I think we can move one of those larger rocks and get out this way. Use our telekinesis.
MORAN: No. That pond could be very deep and cold. How do we get across it? How do we not get bisected by one of those… pointy things on the way?
CLARA: Stalagmites. “Stalagmites try with all their might to reach the stalactites, which hold on to the ceiling with all their might.” Can’t believe I remember that, from fourth grade.
MORAN: Plus, you can’t move squat. Your upper body strength is terrible. You know that.
CLARA: Desperate times…And, TK does not require physical strength. Let’s try.
MORAN: Worth a shot.

[Moran and Clara close their eyes, then open them and point their fingers at the largest rocks, but not the same ones.]

MORAN: Aunt Clara, not that one: this one!
CLARA: Oh. Why? This one is blocking it more.
MORAN: Well, that one is closer to the entrance, but it’s larger. If we move this one, we can squeeze by and get out. I know we can move this one.
CLARA: Do you see that or are you guessing?
MORAN: Well, estimating. Can’t timult anything about that. You try.
CLARA: Nope. No views.
MORAN: Let’s try the smaller one, then.
CLARA: Okay.

[Entire cave shudders again. More falling rocks. They cling to the wall, Moran is covering Clara’s head with one arm and his own with the other. Larger rock rolls over the entrance, almost completely blocking it. Smaller rock near it cracks and falls apart. More shouting and running from outside the cave.]

MORAN: I can’t precog the rest of this for love or money. What is my problem? Can’t feel the psi-scouts, again.
CLARA: When we use our TK for something so large, all the other Excellent Skills are temporarily blocked. That happens to me frequently in difficult assignments. [She starts coughing.] Oh, oh. Gas. Probably CO2.
MORAN: How do you know?
CLARA: No odor. The other poisonous gases in caves would stink and burn our eyes; this one doesn’t. We’re lucky it’s not ammonia, sulfur dioxide or methane.
MORAN: [coughing] Great. Clear eyes, but I can’t breathe. Less oxygen, more CO2. What now?
CLARA: This my phobia, suffocating in some way. Anything that deprives me of air freaks me out. I don’t even like to be in vehicles or buildings without air moving, probably because of my having asthma attacks when I am a lot younger, right? Almost don’t learn to snorkel or SCUBA dive because of my fears. And, my general mistrust of equipment made by humans doesn’t help, either.
MORAN: A snorkel is hardly “equipment,” Aunt Clara. Really. The only failure with snorkels occurs by the user’s incompetence. [laughs]
CLARA: So? I admit to being so scared I choke. I breathe at the wrong time, I sputter, I forget the correct procedures, all due to fear. I know it’s my fault. That’s the mechanism of phobias: we make our own misery. What about you?
MORAN: Okay. Claustrophobia. Don’t put me in a tight space where I can’t move, can’t see, can’t get enough space to think. I freak. Probably due to my two older brothers’ “sandwiching” me in all kinds of places when they’re bigger and stronger. They think it’s funny. Kuni lemls [goofs, idiots; Yiddish].
CLARA: Like a cave whose entrance is getting more blocked with each quake? Like this?
MORAN: Don’t rub it in.
CLARA: We expect The Band to force us to face our fears, so here we are.
MORAN: We are going to succeed in this. I know we can.
CLARA: My latest method for overcoming my fear of not breathing is to practice dying. You know, when we leave our bodies, when we die, our last breath is an out-breath. We exhale and never inhale again in that form. But, our brains are not dead, not inactive at all. I have this extreme fear that, at my death, when I exhale that final breath, I have a total internal freak-out because my brain knows it wants air and can’t get it any longer. I know I am ridiculous, but at the same time, that must be what happens, if we’re awake and know what’s going on, right? So, I practice. I am making progress.
MORAN: How do you practice dying?
CLARA: Like this. Tune in. [She demonstrates three long, slow breaths, inhaling, exhaling, then not inhaling after the third exhalation. Moran watches intently. When she gasps loudly, he startles.]
MORAN: Wow! You are truly panicking in there, CC. Is that “progress”?
CLARA: Yes, Moran. It is. I can go longer and longer without breathing again. When I do take a new breath, it’s not from fear; it’s a choice, now. Can’t help how I feel, but I can be better at controlling what I do and my motivation for doing it. Those are my signs of “progress,” with everything.
MORAN: Another quake is coming. Feel that?
CLARA: Yes.
MORAN: Bracing. [He looks around, his eyes wide open. Stands up, move around. Pushes against the walls, which are stable. Checks for movement. He returns to their wall positions.]
CLARA: Breathing. [Taking long, slow breaths again. Coughs at the end of them.]

[Cave shudders again. More falling rocks. Clara uses TK to keep them from hitting her or Moran. Moran senses that and joins her efforts. They create a telekinetic shield above and around them.]

CLARA: Perfect. Should be doing that all along. We raise our psi shields against the scouts and forget to protect ourselves from rocks right here. We’re dopes. [coughing]
MORAN: Assuredly. Less dopey, now. Good shield, CC.
CLARA: Not bad, Chief!
MORAN: Ready to try that entrance, again?
CLARA: Giving up on going deeper?
MORAN: I can’t tell if that’s best. [coughing] We’re running out of air, here. How could it be better further in? I might be wrong…
CLARA: [coughing] Try to timult again. Timelines are shifting quickly. [coughing] I can feel them but can’t get details.
MORAN: Well, if you can feel them, why can’t you timult for both of us? [coughing]
CLARA: Don’t know. [coughing] You try.
MORAN: Okay. [closes his eyes. Opens them immediately.] YES! There is another way out, or in. Many, actually. I see them, now. [coughing] We can go deeper and get out. C’mon. [He pushes her away from the wall.]
CLARA: Hold on. Are you sure? [coughing] We could try to TK that rock, again. As long as we’re here…
MORAN: [coughing] We can’t stay here. Good air is running out too quickly.

[Hands appear in the space above the rock blocking the cave’s entrance. Shouting from outside the cave. “They’re in here!”]

CLARA: We have to get out of here. NOW. [coughing] Can you teleport the rocks?
MORAN: No. [coughing] Feeling too weak. I can move US, by walking. Let’s go!
CLARA: What if you’re wrong? [coughing] What if you merely see what you want to see? That happens a lot, you know. [coughing] Happens to me all the time. How can you tell? Let’s try to move that rock, first. [coughing]
MORAN: No. I’m right. [coughing] We’re moving. That’s it. [coughing] Now. Another quake any minute; we lose what air is left. [coughing] MOVE!
CLARA: Let me try….[coughing] Oy. I have thirty years on you and mild COPD. I can hardly breathe, now. [coughing a lot longer, panting]
MORAN: Aunt Clara: You have to trust me. [coughing] Go! [coughing]
CLARA: [coughing] All right. I’m going. [coughing, panting]

[Moran takes her hand and leads them toward the darker part of the cave. Both are coughing almost continually, not talking much. Cave shudders again. Falling rocks around them; their TK shield protects them as they move. Clara looks back to see another rock falling, completely blocking the entrance. She moves faster behind Moran, who is almost running, pulling her along. They move quickly, then Moran stops.]

MORAN: Wait. Wait here. [coughing] I have to…. [He closes his eyes, then a ball of light appears in front of him.] There. Okay. Now we can go. [coughing]
CLARA: When do you learn to do that? I don’t remember that class. [coughing, panting]
MORAN: Mick. [coughing] Special lessons. OSOps. Comes in handy.
CLARA: How much further? [coughing]
MORAN: Not much.
CLARA: I’m getting tired. [coughing]
MORAN: Energize, then.
CLARA: What?
MORAN: Energize. Like this: [Moran blows two quick breaths out, then three quick in. Repeats.]
CLARA: [imitates Moran] More from Mick?
MORAN: I guess. I don’t know what you aren’t getting. Sure.
CLARA: That works! Thanks! Less coughing, too.
MORAN: Not much further. There! [Moran points to a ray of light to their left.] That one!
CLARA: The air is better, now. You save us, Moran.
MORAN: Perfect. It’s large enough that we can walk right out!
CLARA: Wait. Checking for scouts.
MORAN: Right.
CLARA: Clear?
MORAN: Clear!
CLARA: I’m sorry for not trusting you. You are good at this, Moran!
MORAN: Getting better, for sure. Thanks. Ready to ‘port back?
CLARA: Teleport us in your best style, please, Chief!

[They exit the cave, then emanate at The Campus. Simulation ends.]

Evaluation Summary
Clara and Moran engage in day-long simulation as Final Exam for ESP
Pre- & Postcognition, Level 11-A, January 14, 2015, Earth Calendar

—Moran disputes Clara’s assessments in several sections. Arguments ensue.

—Without Clara’s concessions to Moran and Moran’s successful assertions of his correctness, they both must re-take the exam.

KEYS:
—Certainty in discernment of others’ accuracy.
—Elimination of attachment to one’s own rightness.
—Appropriate confidence vs. inappropriate/misplaced pride.
—Trust in the other’s abilities.
—Managing phobias to think clearly.

PASS

APPLICATIONS:
—They utilize their strengthening capabilities to trust one another to argue, concede, decide, move on, in many situations, e.g., when capturing Eli Kriegsman and when Liora Ackerman is kidnapped, alternating who concedes, who assesses accurately, with greater ease.

RECOMMENDATIONS:
—Clara to practice relinquishing control and attachment to being “right.”
—Moran to assert his assessments with more confidence, particularly with senior OSOps.
—Clara to build on this to trust Moran more.
—Both to continue to manage phobias.
—Both to continue to check and double-check the other’s assessments often.


Spanners - volume 3 cover final

Clara, Moran, Espe, Epifanio and the alien Band of holos are back in Volume III, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, of The Spanners Series. Psi-Defiers launch increasingly violent protests during this five-year Transition, attempting to block Earth’s membership into the Many Worlds Collective. Earth’s nations and borders must dissolve and Psi-Warriors must strengthen in their battle against the rebels.

Clara, as Earth’s first Chief Communicator, also juggles family conflicts and danger while creating psi skills training Campuses to help Earth through the Psi Wars. Clara timults alternate versions of their futures as the leaders’ duties and consciences force them to make difficult choices across multiple timelines, continuing to train and fight.

Will the Psi-Warriors’ and other leaders’ increasing psi skills, interspecies collaborations and budding alien alliances be enough for Earth to make it through The Transition intact?

If there is no clear path for Clara’s and Epifanio’s love, does she partner with Steve or go it alone?

What do YOU do with wanted/unwanted changes?

Sci-fi/romance/utopian/multiverse/psi/paranormal for adults, new adults, young adults, now in ebooks and paperbacks, Volumes I, II, III:

PAPERBACK on CreateSpace: Volume III, $19.99 https://www.createspace.com/5844474

PAPERBACK on CreateSpace: Volume II, $19.99 https://www.createspace.com/5844431 

PAPERBACK on CreateSpace: Volume I, $17.99 https://www.createspace.com/5837347 

Ebook of Volume III is $1.99 for a few more days (during pre-orders, through 12/7/15) then $3.99:
SMASHWORDS: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/588331
AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0177Z1KRM

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Ebook of Volume II is $3.99:
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AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KU5Q7KC

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Ebook of Volume I is PERMAFREE:
AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HFELTG8   
SMASHWORDS: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/376197

And on ibooks, Kobo, nook: look right, scroll down for all links for Volumes I, II, III, interviews, book trailers, reviews, more:
http://www.sallyember.com

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All art for The Spanners Series by WillowRaven
http://www.willowraven-illustration.blogspot.com/

Excerpt from This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series, CHAPTER THIRTY-THREEClara Explains Human Relationships to The Band: The Romantic Paradox

Excerpt from This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series, CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE

Clara Explains Human Relationships to The Band:
The Romantic Paradox

by Sally Ember, Ed.D.
Copyright 2013, revised 2015 Sally Ember, Ed.D.
St. Louis, MO

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July 14, 2013

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“You want to know something no one wants to know?” I ask Led, whose bluish-gray, ovoid, bouncing hologram is hovering around and “on” my 5′-round table in my living/dining room in Kirov. “You have extensive knowledge of modern, Western literature and are familiar with movies, television programs and song lyrics as well, right?”

Led is visiting me today, July 14, 2013, to check in, something he or one of the other members of The Band do periodically when we don’t have a training session for more than a day or so. Six months ago we start my Excellent Skills Program and CC trainings, but we’re not exactly on a regular schedule because of all of my public appearances, interviews Espe has to do with me for her ‘blog and formal articles, and what little time I can grab to catch up with friends and family. Also, some sessions require more extensive practice to be done on my own before the next training can occur.

My most recent session focuses on the intentional manipulation of matter. Mainly, I practice causing something (usually the size and shape of a large book) to manifest and disappear at will. Or not. The stubborn refusal of this volume on my table to disappear starts me thinking about stubbornness in general and the recalcitrance of one man, in particular.

Yes, my dear Epifanio.

The book I practice removing from and returning to our timeline is a compendium of romance-genre novellas by a little-known author that my mom and I enjoy. In every one of these stories, the female protagonist spends most of the plot in a state of suffering from unrequited love. Then, very near the end (triggering the end, in fact), the object of her affection realizes/ discovers/ announces that he, too, loves her. They embrace passionately, usually leading to perfect sex (e.g., simultaneous or “ladies -first” climaxes, exceptional technique and rapport, fireworks, etc.) and/or engagement leading to marriage and the promise of perfect sex. Since the novellas (and almost every other story of this type from any Western author or film/TV writer) all follow this format, it sets me to thinking about the way authors stop the stories too early.

This starts a chain of thoughts that leads to the above question I pose to Led. “Led,” I go on, “you, I and the rest of The Band all know that Epifanio and I do not work out together as a couple. No matter how many ways I timult us, or how many Re-sets you or I establish in which our relationship happens to change, the alterations in the timelines do not result in our being able to stay together, if we get together at all. Do you know why that is?”

“Clara,” Led starts to respond, but POP POP POP POP: here are the rest of The Band.

Ringo extrudes one light orange, upper arm-like appendage and wiggles his “fingers” at me. I wiggle mine back in greeting. His pyramid-shaped, top part opens slightly, the shinier side facing me.

Mick angles his turquoise blue flat-top toward me and his lights blink. If I had blinking lights, I’d blink back; but, lacking those, I say “Hi” to Mick.

Janis—Diana move toward me. Their pickle-body holos “bump” my upper body, twice. I angle my shoulder toward them and “bump” back, three times, in our established greeting.

“Are you ready for your next session?” asks Mick. He’s the one tracking my ESP training most closely.

Janis answers before I get a chance to: “No. Clara is going on about Fanio, again. Really, Clara? What, now?” her tone is teasing and affectionate, so I am not offended.

Diana jumps in, again, preceding my response: “Don’t be so hard on her. You know humans love very differently than we do and her heart is corroded. Right, Clara? Corroded?”

Diana often gets our slang incorrect and I hide my smile so as not to offend her..

“Um, well, not ‘corroded,’ exactly,” I start to explain the incorrectness of Diana’s term, but Ringo interrupts.

“Clara and Epifanio have a complicated set of timelines. Perhaps she is ready to examine a number of them today?” Ringo wonders.

Timulting personal stories is not on this week’s schedule nor is that part of Level 5-A,” Mick declares.

Diana intercedes, “Clara doesn’t want to timult the timelines. She needs to grieve, to worry, to anguish, to obsess. Maybe play some music that makes her cry. How about this?” She speaks in a sympathetic tone, then I hear “Love Has No Pride.” Linda Ronstadt’s soaring vocals fill my living room.

The music for desolation, not consolation.

She must “hear” my dismay, because now she plays Lonestar’s “Not A Day Goes By.”

I start to laugh. Right on target, but somehow not helpful.

“That’s not necessary,” I say, through my laughter.

Diana fades out the tear-jerking lyrics on “Baby, Baby, Oh, Baby…”

“I want to explain some cultural paradoxes to you. That’s the reason this conversation begins the way it does.”

Led bounces closer to me and says, “Go on, Clara.”

I know Led likes to be aware of the nuances of Earthers’ thinking, so I continue, despite Mick’s increasing frequency of blinking lights. “It’s like this; at least, it is for me. I fall in love (or so I tell myself) with someone who isn’t at that time in love with me or even considering me as a lover. We know each other in some ways and have contact, but per is not interested in me in that way.”

“Like Epifanio,” Janis offers.

Diana bumps her but Janis continues.

“He keeps saying he doesn’t feel ‘that way’ about you.”

“Yes, Janis. Exactly. So, unable to accept ‘No’ for an answer, I persist. I try to become necessary, irreplaceable, important in that person’s life. I seduce, I persuade, I sometimes ‘succeed.’ I become a trusted friend, a good companion, a significant colleague, a confidante, a part of cos extended family or inner friendship circle. We spend more time together, all so that I can become indispensable and irresistible to co.”

“Does that work?” asks Led.

“It often seems to,” I say. “But that’s exactly the problem I want to discuss. It depends on the way we define ‘work.'”

Ringo is getting interested, now. “What do you mean? How could something work and not work at the same time?”

“Therein lies the paradox!” I exclaim. “Human feelings and psychological conditions aren’t like machinery. They can operate in both the ‘on’ and ‘off’ positions simultaneously in this metaphor, as you soon learn.”

Now, Mick is intrigued, “Like a photon can be both a particle and a wave, but not when observed, because then it must be one or the other?”

“Very like that, yes,” I concur. “But, human love, passion, choice and autonomy are the contradictory occurrences, here. This is the way I understand it all, now. With my previous lovers and Epifanio: they believe that they do not love or want me, sometimes for many years. They are close to me in other ways, however. Then, at some point, they believe they do love me, want to be with me. Since that is what I want, anyway, we spend some time being together. It’s great, it’s wonderful, it’s amazing wish-fulfillment, for me, and, seemingly great for them, too.”

“So, what’s the paradox?” prompts Led.

“Endorphins and romance fade and real life takes over. The ‘honeymoon’ of new passion and excitement end, causing oxytocin to recede to normal levels. Or, it might work in reverse: perhaps oxytocin’s diminishing causes the feelings to change. My ‘lovers’ then begin to recall the traits or behaviors they do not like in me, the original reasons they do not want to be with me.”

I pause, considering all my important relationships and know I’m on the right track, here. “Whatever attracts them to me or ‘changes their minds’ about me is no longer accessible. They decide–―no, they believe–―that they don’t love or want me any longer, all in the space of a few months or years. Plus, they’re angry, resentful and withdrawn toward me.”

“But, you do not change or trick them at all, do you?” asks Janis. She sounds appalled.

Diana adds, “That is so unfair! That must be the reason your heart corrodes to the breaking point!”

“Exactly!” I say. “Instead of taking responsibility for those alterations in their feelings and for their own ever-changing choices, they blame me. They actually tell me they believe we got together because I use ‘magical’ seduction, deception and other methods to convince or even coerce them into falling in love with me and become my lover.”

As I recall specific incidents of this in my life, I am getting a bit intense. I take deep breaths to calm myself, then continue.

“One of them says I ‘put him under a spell.’ Another one tells me that I ‘took him for a ride.’ They claim, one day or several months or years later, when they then believe they no longer want or love me, that our relationship’s demise is all my fault, somehow. They refuse to take any responsibility for the way we get into this situation.”

I pause. Yes, The Band is with me.

“They tell themselves and me that they get involved with me without their complete consent or understanding. From their perspectives, they ‘never wanted to do that,’ so, I must trick them into doing it, to being with me.” I can feel the pain of hearing those things from my former lovers as if it were happening right now.

“This makes no sense, even for human Earthers,” Ringo says, tilting his pyramid away from me. “What is their major maladjustment?”

I laugh. Ever since I first say that in front of Ringo, he chooses to re-use that phrase repeatedly. Always appropriately, though.

“Yes. Please explain, Clara,” Led requests.

“Okay, ” I continue. “First, you all remember what ‘projection’ means and how it manifests, right?”

Mick responds, “Of course. Humans often put another person’s ‘face’ or their own inner characteristics, ‘on’ someone else, like, on you. But they do not realize that they are doing this. They then react to that person, not to you, as if those other person’s traits or their own traits are yours. Usually these projections are negative but they can also have positive identity confusions. Yes?”

“Oh, I get it!” Janis exclaims. “Epifanio projects his mother, his first wife or some older sibling or teacher or some other contentious, powerful person from his past onto you. Or, he projects the insecurities, fears, worries or dishonesty within himself onto you. He then feels inferior, threatened, invaded, betrayed or otherwise unhappy due to his original relationship issues with that person or to his struggles with his own inner demons that seem to be playing out with you.”

Diana picks up the thread: “Then, he attributes his reactions to you and your interactions with him. Talk about unfair! He shouldn’t do that to you!”

“That’s right,” I respond. “That is ‘projection.'” I feel sad remembering all the times this happens in my timelines with others and with Fanio. “He can’t help it, though. No reason to be upset with him.”

I realize as I hear myself say that to Janis–—Diana: I am not angry with Fanio or any of my other lovers anymore. It surprises me, but I’m so glad. Many years of therapy and intensive contemplation during meditation actually help with these issues.

I continue with my explanation. “It works both ways, anyway. I’m sure I do it, also. Most humans project onto one another until we don’t. My projections onto others are usually more positive than they deserve, but they are nonetheless projections: not better than theirs onto me, just different.”

I feel a familiar rush of certainty, mixed with shame. “When I make others ‘better’ than they actually are and relate to them as if that is who they are, I generate an inauthentic relationship just as they do. My ‘positive’ identify confusions are every bit as unhealthy as their negative ones.”

Mick interjects, “Your projections, Clara, are a bit more complicated, though, because you see other versions of some people when you timult. Because you prefer those versions to this one, you unconsciously favor the ‘better’ one. Also, ‘unfair,’ right?” He says this last part to Janis.

Mick nails it. I do that with Epifanio and many others. I timult from when I am a teenager. When I find what I believe to be better versions of them, I relate to those instead of the people who are right in front of me.

“Yes, that is unfair. Completely. To all of us,” I admit. “I am doing that with Epifanio, every day,” I add. “I would rather have another version of him here, with me, than the one who is here. I’m trying to stop. At least I don’t blame Fanio, anymore.”

“I’m still not understanding the paradoxical part,” persists Led.

“Yes, Clara. Go on about that, please,” requests Ringo.

“Well, I start out talking about one kind, but Mick points out another. In my original paradox, it goes like this: the romance authors want us to believe that, once someone is finally ready to love someone else—–after days, weeks, months, or even years of resisting, insisting they do not love that person–—suddenly, they perceive this new-found love and ‘everything’ is going to be great. The writers call that ‘living happily ever after’ in human fairy tales. But, that’s not really how it works out.

“The authors don’t show the later months or years, when it all falls apart. The negative projections wear off or get superseded by the positive ones, at first, but they’re all still having projections. No one includes the part of the story showing when the positive projections fade away and the negative ones return to prominence.”

“Once the projections depart, does the relationship continue with more authenticity, then?” Diana asks, hopefully.

“No one is actually loving or desiring the other person the way they truly are. Once the partners realize that, they can’t be happy together any longer,” I explain. “Unless, once the projections all recede, they can find their ways to respecting, knowing and loving each other as who they are. That is very rare with current, Western humans.”

“It doesn’t happen with you and Fanio, does it?” Janis asks, sadly.

I feel my heart clutch and my stomach tense. “No, Janis. I do not think it does. But, to be fair, that’s as much my responsibility as it is Fanio’s.”

Led says, “If I understand you correctly, Clara, the human romantic paradox is that two humans may both love and not love one another simultaneously without realizing that. And, projections onto others may be both positive and negative at the same time as well.”

“Yes,” Ringo continues, “Human relationships are fraught with unrealistic expectations, feelings based on fantasies, and other neurotic tendencies playing out in interactive experiences. Many species are like this in the Many Worlds Collective.”

“They are?” I ask. “I hear about none of these. Please, go on.”

Led bounces closer to me, then hovers. “Clara, this is very educational. Thank you. We must depart and leave you to your practice.” He bounces over the book, then POP he’s out of sight.

“Okay,” I reply, but he’s already gone. Janis–—Diana, Mick and Ringo POP out immediately afterward, giving their good-bye gestures as they go. I return the gestures, but they’re gone before mine can be seen by them.

Typical.

Back to this Level 5-A, disappearing objects. This stubborn book. Gey avek, please? I exhort in Yiddish to the book. And take my projections with you, while you’re at it!

To my utter surprise, POP and it’s off my table. Wow! I have no idea what I am doing right, but I better do it again!

I get up to find another, larger book. This time, an old Atlas. Fewer distractions that way.


This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks

Dr. Clara Ackerman Branon, Ph.D., 58, begins having secret visits from holographic representations of beings from the Many Worlds Collective, a consortium of planet and star systems in the multiverse. When Earth is invited to join the consortium, the secret visits are made public. Now Earthers must adjust their beliefs and ideas about life, religion, culture, identity and everything they think and are.

Clara is selected to be the liaison between Earth and the Many Worlds Collective and she chooses Esperanza Enlaces to be the Chief Media Contact. They team up to provide information to stave off riots and uncertainty. The Many Worlds Collective holos train Clara and the Psi-Warriors for the Psi Wars with the rebelling Psi-Defiers, communicate effectively with many species on Earth and off-planet, eliminate ordinary, elected governments and political boundaries, convene a new group of Global Leaders, and deal with family’s and friends’ reactions. 

In what multiple timelines of the ever-expanding multiverse do Clara and her long-time love, Epifanio Dang, get to be together and which leave Clara alone and lonely as the leader of Earth?

This Changes Everything spans the 30-year story of Clara’s term as Earth’s first Chief Communicator, continuing in nine more Volumes of The Spanners Series.

Are YOU ready for the changes?

Sci-fi/romance/utopian/multiverse/psi/paranormal for adults, new adults, young adults, now in ebooks and paperbacks, Volumes I, II, III:
PAPERBACK on CreateSpace: Volume I, $17.99 https://www.createspace.com/5837347 

Ebook of Volume I is PERMAFREE:
AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HFELTG8   
SMASHWORDS: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/376197

And on ibooks, Kobo, nook: look right, scroll down for all links for Volumes I, II, III, interviews, book trailers, reviews, more:
http://www.sallyember.com

final cover print

Spanners - volume 3 cover final

logoAuthorsDen

All art for The Spanners Series by WillowRaven
http://www.willowraven-illustration.blogspot.com/

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

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

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