CORDELIA STREET: MY NEIGHBORHOOD

 

Cordelia Street:  My Neighborhood

by Carolyn Mendez

It is one of my life’s joys to showcase the great work of a good friend.  When I first met Carolyn some years back at the Rabbit Hill Writer’s Studio she had just started drafting Cordelia Street.  Some years later after Rabbit Hill closed and we writers were left to fend for ourselves — forming small writing circles to help keep us going — Carolyn and I met up again at a critique group.  At that time she had made great strides with the book, but as you will read below, she still wasn’t ready to publish.  Carolyn finally retired this year from her decades-long work as a clinical psychologist and with that, she felt empowered to let Cordelia Street loose in the world.

If you are not typically drawn to the memoir genre, it’s time to put your predilections aside because this one reads like a novel.  Here’s my review of Cordelia Street:

Out of unendurable pain comes an indelible, incredible memoir by Carolyn Shertzer. In this day of tell-all books full of drama-by-design where each little inconvenience is played out to exponential proportions, it’s surprising to read a book that has not been sensationalized, especially when the underlying facts are nothing short of scandalous. Cordelia Street:  My Neighborhood has a thousand secrets and Shertzer reveals them all slowly and methodically in this candid and uncompromising memoir, depicting life-crippling events with such a clear-eyed and steadfast gaze you would think they happened to someone else. Like how her hot-tempered Cuban mafia father almost killed her young, beautiful and gullible mother — his first of nine wives — because she reprimanded him for drinking the juice from the jar of blueberries.  Or how her mother’s second husband sexually abused Shertzer for years — while her mother was oblivious to the danger — but also made sure Carolyn read Reader’s Digest religiously because he placed a high premium on education and a good vocabulary. Or how her hard-scrabble and impoverished upbringing as a self-described Florida Cracker was no match for the tight-knit bonds of family and extended community on Cordelia Street. Perhaps it was Shertzer’s decades spent practicing as a clinical psychologist that gave her the ability to process the unspeakable, producing a memoir that reads like a work of fiction. Shertzer owns every one of the events in her story, asking no pity for herself or what she endured, only that we bear witness, not for her, but for all those victims today and forever more who lack her clear voice and the courage to tell their tale. This is a memoir you don’t want to miss.

Let’s spend some time with Carolyn and see what she has to say about the book, her life, and survivor trauma, and set the stage for your next read.

 

When did the idea to write a memoir first come to you?  Was it out of a need to self-analyze or simply to write and process your emotions?

I was always messing with writing, usually poetry, since my early college days. Then I heard about the Literary Guild in Lancaster and started attending a twice-monthly writing workshop. Once I started that, along with the “forced” writing exercises, it all started to flow. Mostly the pieces were about my childhood, and had fun sharing the characters with the group. I had a devastating experience with Tom Larson, a famed memoirist. He came to town to lead a workshop for the Guild about memoir writing, of course. I signed up for a private feedback session with him, and during that meeting he told me in no uncertain terms that I should tear up everything I had written and maybe start over. That, or save the stories for my children to read. He came as close as he could to calling me a failure. Boy, did that hurt. I nearly gave up writing. But my fellow writers at the Guild supported me totally; they were furious with Larson for his feedback. So I kept writing my stories.

Scholastic writing had always been easy for me, but I felt challenged to tap into more personal issues. My persistence usually drove me to try anything new and try my best to become good at it. That applied to skiing, cooking, decorating a house, creating stain glass, and even golfing. I never did master golf, but I enjoyed it enormously.

Where did you find the courage to put all your most secret secrets on the page?

One thing that makes it easier to reveal intimate details of my life, especially my childhood, was that no one is still living who will be hurt or embarrassed by my memoir. They are all deceased. So call me a coward for waiting for this eventuality. I deserve that label. That leaves my children and their spouses. And they are beyond being shocked about their mother—they know I’m “out there.” They want to read my book, and in doing so, I hope they gain insight into their lives via their parenting.

There are details of my abuse that I probably will never fully divulge—they would not further the impact of the memoir, and, as I see it, serve no purpose. I intentionally left out many details that would embarrass me.

I purposely waited until I retired to publish my book, believing that my clients would have difficulty talking to me as a therapist and knowing so much about my personal life. It would have been uncomfortable for me to answer questions or, worse, have them pity me or have a prurient interest.

As a clinical psychologist, you have become a successful professional with a rich and storied history.  What lessons or activities — for lack of a better word — from your very difficult childhood have you employed to achieve the goals you have accomplished over the course of your life?  How did you choose what to keep and what to leave behind from those years?

In my book, I blurted out to Braulio Alonzo [high school teacher and principal] that I wanted to be a psychiatrist when I grew up, but that did not happen.

As a  clinical therapist, I believe I had the ability to focus therapy on my client, not on me. I could absorb their problems or issues without inserting my problems and issues into the process.  Occasionally some aspects of my neglect and abuse would allow me to phrase the client’s experience in a way that reflected a genuine understanding of their pain.

Thanks to my training years with Fanita, I possessed the analytical and communication skills to underlie my empathetic ability.  Fanita was my supervisor/trainer/mentor for years.  Once a month I put myself on a train to study at the Eastern Institute for TA (Transactional Analysis) and Gestalt. Fanita was the founder and director of that institute. I trained with about eight or ten fellow therapists, mostly in groups, with very little individual training. She was amazing! She escaped from the Nazis to come to the U.S. and studied with all the greats: Eric Burn, Fritz Perls, and the like. She and I were quite close — when I completed my Ph.D. she was so proud — took me to lunch and gave me a pair of pearl and diamond earrings.  She tragically lost her son and never recovered from that. She moved to California and we lost contact.  What a fantastic gift she was — the wise and caring mother I never had. 

If we are open, the universe always seems to provide what we need.  You needed a mother figure and you got Fatina.  Contrast that with the kind of freedom you had growing up to come and go as you pleased, some of which was probably the times you were living in and some because of your particular situation.  How did your childhood impact your own parenting style?  Did you give your children the same freedoms you had or restrict them knowing the dangers that may always be lurking out in the world?  Did you lavish them with things that you may not have had access to as a child?

Parenting is rigged from before the child is ever born. Each birth story is vital to how that child is handled—what in the hell was going on in the two parents’ lives when the baby was conceived? What was going on with each of their parents aside from creating a baby? It goes way back and the facts hardly matter — it’s the mystery of all ages.

I may have been programmed to be a lousy, at least inadequate mother and marry men who carried their own trunk-load of confusing impulses.

The book I’m writing now, What About Him? Revisits Cordelia Street and attempts to unravel some of the issues given inadequate breadth in my memoir. I talk about parenting with Cordelia, King Lear’s daughter, exploring her relationship with her father. I’m writing the story in magical realism.

I’ll be very interested to see where you take that.  I keep thinking of the juxtaposition of how your stepfather sexually abused you but also taught you how to read and, by extension, write.  How do we reconcile some of the bad things humans do to each other with some of the good that may be a result, and can it ever be made right, especially after the person has died?

This is the toughest question: what does a child do with the multiplicity of human characteristics in herself, her abuser, and other surrounding relationships?  Early on, Benny was the scary bad guy and the wannabe authoritarian parent  —  a problematic combination at best. His alcoholism was so consistent that he was never real, a frightening phantasmagoric figure less than human. It was never the case that he got drunk, abused me once or twice, and then came to his senses. Instead, he perpetually pursued me for years and never showed any remorse or acknowledgment that what he did was wrong. I view him as an incorrigible pedophile who may have married my mother to get at me. Now that I think about it, I spent almost no time with him in a normal relationship. The vast amount of time with him was when he was trying to have sex with me. Am I glad he didn’t rape me? Yes. I’m convinced that he didn’t rape me for reasons I can not understand, probably some version of damage control. I think he just wanted to keep me around to continue doing what he was doing and not ruin it for himself.

As an adult, I never blamed myself for what Benny did to me, always knowing I was never responsible for his actions. Neither did I expect to forgive him for those actions. No doubt forces and experiences in his life contributed to his pathology, but explaining him or understanding him was never my job. Neither do I give him credit for my eventual success academically. Possibly, I could have achieved more in that area had I not been so screwed up emotionally, but I will never know. Do I thank him for teaching me to read? Absolutely not. I would have been a good reader without his help.

The important message in Cordelia Street, I hope, is that I didn’t save myself. Benny certainly didn’t save me, nor did my mother. My neighborhood and those that loved me and looked after me, who gave me safe shelter, saved me.

Perversely, I do not regret keeping my secret for thirty or more years. I regret my failings as a woman and as a mother. Those failings may have been less severe had I revealed my abuse earlier and dealt with it more directly, but I will never parse that. My failings are mine, mine alone. I made choices that I am responsible for; no one, even Benny,  gets that put at their feet.

The book stops the year you are 12.  How old were  you when you were finally able to put all the hurt of your childhood behind you and achieve equilibrium?  What were the factors that helped you get there?

Yes, the memoir stops when I am twelve. I was in seventh grade and threatened my abuser with death or exposure, and he went away.

Maybe thirty years later, while participating in a wild encounter group, I decided to make up a song and sing it to the group. I had no idea what I would sing, but I felt ready — ready for what I had not a clue. Unplanned, my song fell out of my mouth: I sang to my little three-year-old-self, letting her talk, letting her tell, or begin to tell her story. All fifty people in my group started crying and moving toward me, and before I knew it, I was in the middle of a huge group hug. All my fear and reticence about speaking of my abuse disappeared, and I never again felt any taboo. That was my second “village.” And I took it to heart.

There is something about that kind of “witness” energy that is so powerful.  What a gift to sing your song.  What other gifts have you taken from your childhood, both the best and the worst?

I was lucky to have been born when I was and where I was. Cordelia Street: My Neighborhood describes my gifts of grandparents, aunts, uncles, great-grandparents, and neighbors. I hope I gave adequate appreciation to my teachers. From first grade through graduate school, my teachers carried me through. Remembering each one still gives me a smile and a chuckle.

Whenever I am filled with love for my children, my chest swells with the same emotion I had with Charles [you’ll meet Charles when you read Cordelia Street]. What a blessing.

On the flip side, there is no flip side. My identity includes Benny,  Grandma Ida, the Blanch, Uncle Lee, and all the rest. They play together quite nicely.

In the constant quest that each one of us has to become the best version of ourselves, how has your childhood hampered or spurred you on to becoming that version?  It seems to me to be a walk on the razor’s edge and at any time it can go either way.

Fantastic question. I wish I had a good answer. I’ll make something up.

One aspect of your question is the role adversity plays in shaping character. Whenever a person experiences abuse, neglect, poverty, ill-health, racism, or other types of hardship, he or she responds in a myriad of ways—including defeat, mental anguish, aggression, to name a few. Finding a reasonable and practical reaction to any hardship and trauma requires risk and good decision making. Each time I have responded poorly, I tried to learn from that and not make the same mistake again. When I have responded effectively, I learn from that also. The accumulation of those responses, on either side of the ledger, contributes to growing stronger and wiser. 

Helplessness can be real, learned, or imagined. Helplessness is rarely a positive condition or emotion. Most clients entering therapy are feeling helpless in some way—emotionally, financially, medically, relationally. What I have tried to do is empower my clients to think clearly and make good choices. Sometimes I feel like a survivor who knows a little more than the average person about overcoming deprivation, abuse, and other impediments to a healthy life. 

There’s a joke among therapists and their supervisors that therapists who had an ideal childhood make lousy therapists. Being happy, well-cared for, having all of one’s needs met are not the best precursors to being a successful therapist. 

Carolyn, thanks for joining here today.  I applaud your courage in telling your story.  I know it will resonate with others who may be similarly situated and hopefully, encourage them to get the kind of help they need.  You are a beacon.  I wish you all the best with your book launch and eagerly anticipate the prequel.

pam lazos 12.13.20

 
Posted in book promotion, book release, book review, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

Happy ECO Holidays!

Happy ECO Holidays!

If there’s anything the pandemic has taught me it’s that I have too much stuff.    Not a day goes by that I don’t look around my house and notice how many spaces are in need a decluttering session.    The drive to simplify started when I listened to the Marie Kondo book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

That, followed by nine months of at home confinement, looking — every, every day, looking —  at all the things we have accumulated over the years, and I decided it was time to get serious.  But just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, a house will not be decluttered in one either, especially after the decades it took to get that way.  Kondo gives you great tips for this task, and while I found it a little on the fanatical side, she is the clean up master.

So what do do with Christmas approaching and the possibility of more stuff being stuffed into my house?  We decided to only buy things we were going to use, consume or wear with frequency, i.e, no more saving the decorative holiday candles from year to year until they melt from the summer heat; we’re using all that stuff now or never!

Switching to sustainable living shouldn’t be tough since it’s really only about changing habits.  There are many ways you can improve upon your carbon footprint from renting a Christmas tree (I know, right?! Way to turn Christmas on its head!), to using recycled packaging, reducing food waste, shopping locally, making handmade gifts, drinking organic wine, and reusing everything that comes into your home at least once.

There are a million more ways, I’m sure, and with just a little forethought to reduce, reuse, and recycle, you can minimize the footprint your holiday celebrations have on the depleting ozone, the rising carbon threat, and the felling of another pine tree.  (True confession — we went to a tree farm yesterday and bought a lovely little Christmas tree, but I’m feeling okay about it because I planted six baby pines in our yard in the last week to make up for it.)

My sister and her husband started a business this summer — yes, 202 in the middle of a pandemic was a tough time to start a business — focusing on Upcycling and reuse by taking wood and other materials that no longer serve a purpose and giving them new life and meaning.

These propagation stations were originally created to support the plants that were going to be incorporated into their living wall, an aquaponics and artsy marvel that mimics the lifecycle.  The system uses a unique hydration system to pump the water and fish poop in the aquarium up to the top of the wall where it gently and slowly cascades down behind the backer, watering the roots of the plant.  It adds so much life and joy to their living room that they can no longer imagine a living room without it.

All of their designs are a delightful mix of whimsy and practicality and best of all, they are made from recycled materials.

If you need a Christmas gift that is beautiful, sustainable, and useful, check out their Etsy site.  And as with everything, shop responsibly and sustainably.

pam lazos 12.6.20

Posted in Sustainability | Tagged , , , , , , , | 44 Comments

Same Same But Different

Same Same But Different

Times change, but people not so much.  There are always reasons.  Things move so fast in our internet-driven, 24/7, high-speed society that it’s hard to assimilate everything all the time, so instead people lapse into familiar ways and patterns, a form of stasis perhaps, but keeping up often requires way more energy and free time than most of us have.  As a result, we are all guilty of a certain rigidity of thinking.  

Now before you say, “not me” let me just say I know who you are because I am you.  One time, long ago when Catholicism was all I knew, I thought that everyone who wasn’t Catholic was wrong and only I and those who thought like me were right.  Thank the heavens I got over that.  All it took was a comparative religion class for starters, where I heard, quite clearly, people of different faiths saying THE EXACT SAME THINGS about God that I was saying.

Coincidence?

I think not.

Today, it’s happening again for me, but this time it’s politics and the people who think the exact opposite of me politically are saying the exact same thing about my guys (used in the generic sense of the word) as I’m saying about their guys, sometimes at the same time, which is when we laugh and look at each other knowingly.  Hallelujah for a break in the stalemate at the court of public opinion!  It happened to me the other week with my neighbor who’s great, just not his political choices. 

Coincidentally, he thinks the same about me.

I believe you’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own set of facts.  My mother used to admonish us kids to keep our opinions to ourselves.  In a society of over-sharers, there’s something to that.  Maybe if people kept a few opinions to themselves once in awhile our nation wouldn’t be in this pickle.

Anyway, over the course of conversation with my neighbor, we both said we couldn’t believe what Candidate [fill in the blank] was doing, and when we both used the same words about our respective candidates AT THE EXACT SAME MOMENT, it dawned on me:  we are entrenched and we are never going to get anywhere, never going to get out of it or remedy it, never going to do the “full speed ahead” kind of maneuvering we need to save a planet that is very clearly trying to shake off the human component of its existence, unless — we honor our differences.

That’s right — Honor Our Differences.

It’s hard.  I’m not going to lie.  To think that our newest Supreme Court Justice could undo decades of advancements for women with a few strokes of the pen makes me apoplectic.  But I know from whence she came in all her conservative thinking because I was once her.  But people can change, yes, sometimes they can even surprise us as Pope Francis has done on more than a few occasions since he took over as the head of the Catholic Church with his message of inclusivity for all.

To move forward we often need a push to find fulfillment and balance and an understanding of the process of transformation.  Perhaps the world needs a life coach, or as my friend Kelly says, couples therapy.  Generally, the only way to have trust in the process is to make it a collaborative one, something that’s been missing in the U.S., especially in religion and politics, for many years.

Access and consensus are imperative. 

Siloing is destructive. 

People who believe in God telling me I’m wrong because I don’t believe in God the way they believe in God seems illogical to me, maybe even unethical.  To them I say, has it ever occurred to you that you might be wrong?

Very few things that have worried me have come to fruition.  I’ll take that as a win, not because my worrying solved anything, but because it all worked out despite my interference.  And things I’ve thought about people have not been true, or maybe things I’ve never thought about them have been true.  Either way, my preconceived notions about people should not be the litmus test; everyone needs an opportunity to prove themselves and to be that which they came to this planet to be.  Everyone.  Even people with whom we  disagree vehemently as in God Bless the Whole World, No Exceptions.

So what is the next version of US?  What does U.S. 2.0 look like?  What needs to change?  What should stay the same? 

Try to recall a picture of yourself from childhood.  Do you recognize who you are today?  Maybe.  Can you go back to that person?  Not without a time machine.  Shouldn’t we as a nation do the same?  Take the best parts of our lives and incorporate them into the next version of ourselves and try, really try, to work on the worst?

My friend and life coach —yes, I got a life coach this year to help me figure out the next version of myself:  Pam 2.0! — Mike told me a story about how when he was little — maybe 8 or so — he used to walk a blind man to the bar on the corner where the man could get a beer.  There was never any spoken agreement between the two.  Mike just saw him one day and knew where he was going so he’d grabbed the man’s arm and walked him to the bar and waited until he was done and then walked the man home.  While there, the blind man drank a beer and he always bought Mike a coke.  That’s not why Mike did it.  He didn’t need that man to buy him a soft drink.  He did it because even as a young child Mike was driven to service and he knew the man would appreciate his help.  Plus, he got to hear the blind man’s stories and in that, Mike got his first taste of listening, a skill that completely supports his current side gig and maybe someday full-time job as a life coach.

Coincidence?

I think not.

Who you were as a kid is who you really are underneath all the learned behaviors that society forces upon us.  Your true soul energy had a powerful current running through you when you were a born and it continued into childhood and lives within you today although it may be a bit more tamped down or even ravaged than the original.  That doesn’t mean you should give up trying to connect.

Tap into your soul now and try to remember what it was that drove you.  Reconnect with the essence of your younger self and get some answers for the you of today.  While you’re at it, have a little tolerance for yourself and the rest of the world.  Give thanks for small incremental changes rooted in love. They are the very best and most lasting kind.

Take the saboteur test and let me know how it goes:  https://www.positiveintelligence.com/assessments/

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.  I am grateful for the power of a free-thinking society that is tolerant of diversity and always evolving, always rising to the challenge and striving to live life in harmony with nature and one another.  God bless us — Every One.

pam lazos 11.29.20

Posted in teach tolerance, Thanksgiving | Tagged , , , , , , | 44 Comments

A Message from the Future

 

Thanks to Rosaliene Bacchus for her wonderful post at Three Worlds One Vision showcasing this beautiful and hopeful video.  If we all hold the vision, the years of repair can become a reality.

“No one is sacrificed.  Everyone is essential.”

Today is 11.20.20, and if you live in the Central Pennsylvania, it’s the day of the ExtraGive, a day to donate to your favorite charities, to give back to the community that in so many ways gives to you.

A few of my favorites are the Lancaster County Conservancy for all their work saving woods and water; Off the Streets run by the enthusiastic and indefatigable Deacon Oles and a small, but committed staff of volunteers who work tirelessly to get the homeless off the streets and into affordable housing one family at a time; and my beloved Jr. League of Lancaster with their myriad projects, especially those undertaken by their Girls in STEM committee.

Thanks for reading.

pam lazos 11.20.20

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World Toilet Day – Nov 19th

The Throne

Bathroom

Loo

Water closet, or WC

Outhouse

El baño

Stall

Porta-potty

Latrine or pit latrine

The Throne

Whatever you want to call it, access to improved sanitation is a right due to all people.

If you live in a place where having a toilet in your home is a common occurrence, where water is pumped right to your sink and available at the twist of a faucet, where steaming hot water flows from a shower in intervals as long as you want or can stand it, give thanks, not once, not twice, but every day.

If you live in a place where you must leave the house to use a common toilet that offers privacy, if not luxury, give thanks that you do not have to go off to a field somewhere to defecate.

communal toilet

And if you live in a place where water, sanitation and hygiene, or WASH, are difficult to come by, know that there are people and organizations such as Water.orgWorld Toilet Organization, and of course, Global Water Alliance, working to ensure access to WASH for all.

The U.N. estimates that 4.2 billion people worldwide live without safe, sustainable sanitation. The U.N. has made it one of their Sustainable Development Goals — SDG#6 — to ensure access to clean water and sanitation for all people. This is not just about charity work or even simple human caring. The economic and health benefits of improved sanitation for all are indisputable.

So take note of this day — World Toilet Day. Together we can make WASH a reality for all people. Don’t let this moment in time go down the drain.

Posted in access to sanitation, Uncategorized, world toilet day | Tagged , , , | 20 Comments

The Future is Flush

And don’t forget to wash your hands!

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World Toilet Day and the East Kolkata Wetlands

                                                                                             [inundated wetlands]

And why working with nature is always best…

Before we talk about the East Kolkata Wetlands, let’s establish what wetlands are and why we should care about them.

While the regulatory definition of a wetland is complicated, the average person recognizes wetlands as marshes, swamps, bogs, fens, bayous, and the like, basically, swamp-like places that are wet and mucky and hold standing water.  Wetlands are important for a variety of reasons:  they control flooding, acting as a safe harbor for flood waters to recede slowly rather than rushing off downstream via stormwater drain conduits; they filter out toxins — such as heavy metals, oily contaminants and excess fertilizers and pesticides — that would otherwise reach the rivers, streams and groundwater by capturing them in their soils; and they provide a home to a variety of flora and fauna that thrive in watery places, among other things.  Coastal wetlands act as a barrier between the mainland and the ocean, giving that vast body of water the space to expand and contract as storms and winds dictate, providing a much needed buffer in times of severe weather.

While we appreciate the value of wetlands here in the states, in at least one part of India, their lives and livelihoods depend upon it.  The City of Calcutta has a population of five million people with an additional two million “floaters” — those without a permanent home — and no wastewater treatment system, but what it does have is a gem of a natural treatment system in the form of the East Kolkata Wetlands (EKW).  The EKW are considered the City’s biggest asset. In 2002, these amazing wetlands were recognized as a Ramsar Site for the benefits they provided to society.

In comparison, imagine the City of Philadelphia with its population of 1.5 million without sewage treatment as it was at the end of the 19th century. Everything ended up in the streets and, ultimately, the Delaware and the Schuylkill Rivers.  Even with a population somewhere shy of 55,000, that was an incredible amount of sewage for Philly’s rivers to manage.  Beginning in 1901, the City of Philadelphia began building sand filtration plants; by 1914 in response to an outbreak of typhoid, chlorine treatment had been added, resulting in a  dramatic decrease of water-borne diseases.

By contrast, Calcutta doesn’t use chlorine, but works directly with nature to bring about the same result. To quote Dr. Arun Deb, a founder and Board member of the Global Water Alliance in his recent editorial entitled, “Engineering History and Heritage,” by ICE Publishing:

“The EKW is an example of wonderful large wetlands, demonstrating that a city can have a large symbiotic ecosystem that provides sewage treatment, aquaculture and agricultural lands for the city, generating livelihood for thousands of people.”

To read Dr. Deb’s full editorial, click here.

World Toilet Day is November 19.  To learn more about it and what you can do to assure everyone has the right to take a seat, click here.

pam lazos 11.11.20

Posted in access to sanitation, access to water, clean water | Tagged , , , , , | 31 Comments

Blue Moon

[photo courtesy NASA]

 

Blue Moon

Maybe the Man in the Moon has never been thirsty, but if he were, things are about to get better for him.  According to NASA, there is water, not only on the dark side of the moon, but on the sunny side, too.  Not much, still about a hundred times less than what’s in the Sahara, but perhaps enough for one man.  Now that we are planning to send the first woman and the next man to the lunar surface in 2024, it is best they get some training in diplomacy in order to establish “a sustainable human presence there by the end of the decade.” 

However, if go the old fashioned route, colonizing the moon as has been done on other continents, fighting and tripping over each other to get at the resources — because the thought of such economic opportunities is indeed grand — then the life of the Man in the Moon will be in great danger indeed.

Do we dare recall a few things from our history?  Let’s give it a shot.

[Blue Moon over Central PA — All Hallows Eve — 10.31.20]

Colonizers have never played fair, not anywhere, not in Australianot in Asia, neither in Africa, nor the Americas.  Just ask the Native Americans, or the Aztecs, or the Aborigines, or any people so overcome.

We hope to have fixed it all with Indigenous People’s Day, — finally reaching a moment in our history where we say no to serfdom and yes to common effort, working together to treat each and every human being with dignity and rights —but we still have a ways to go on that and so we keep working. 

Why am I writing about all this when I promised you a Blue Moon?

Well, my fear is that the news about water on moon will be met by corporations across the earth wanting in on the pirate’s booty, looking to get their hands on whatever the moon has to offer — minerals, water, even just moon dust probably has a value here on earth — and in so doing they will exploit the moon as they exploit the earth, without regard to the effects on humanity, on the environment, or on the interactional activities between the moon and earth since something that can cause the oceans to rush in and out each day is obviously packing some serious mojo.

Before we muck up the balance on yet another planet in an effort to cash in on its resources, there should be a few ground rules, or maybe moon rules, that will result in fair access to lunar resources that benefit The Commons and support all of humanity, not just a few corporate interests.

For example, we should not think of the moon as a possible landfill for earth’s waste  Instead, let’s adopt policies of sustainability, policies that do not deplete the moon’s resources in a few decades or even a century, basically the opposite of how we’ve done things here on Earth.  We’ll need much more than a Youtube tutorial to adopt such a system.  Since we’re starting from scratch, why not adopt the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals at the beginning of this ride and not after the fact which always leaves us destined to play catch up.

[Blue Moon over Central PA — All Hallows Eve — 10.31.20]

I suggest universal legislation as a way to make exploration of the moon fair and equitable for all.   (I can hear businesses groaning already — not more legislation!)  International treaties can help avoid the worst scenarios such as in the Amazon, Colorado, and California, which happen to all be burning right now. 

Most importantly, just because you can do something — smart or stupid — doesn’t mean you should.  Foresight makes infinitely more sense than hindsight where overuse of a resource that belongs to all of us — think mining, extraction, excavation, digging, dredging, and/or despoiling — is an abuse of power and ultimately an unsustainable use of that resource.

In these situations, rather than the tragedy of the commons, let’s apply the rule of the commons.

 

What if we approach the Moon as a common resource shared by all, serenaded in all cultures, the light on all lovers’ paths, the aspiration for dreamers, the home of one man that entertains the dreams of all men?  

And when we finally find Mr. Moon, let’s be diplomatic and democratic — because he was there first, and it is his house.

pam lazos 11.8.20

Posted in corporate pilfering, moon, NASA, pirate's booty | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Actually Vote!!


ACTUALLY VOTE!!

There’s a wave coming, and it’s been building in size and intensity for quite some time here in the U.S.  No, I’m not talking about Hurricane Zeta that hit the Gulf Coast and left over two million people without power.  My heart goes out to the people in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas who have been  hit with storm after storm this year — an atmospheric instability brought on by climate change that only a very few still don’t recognize as a legitimate threat to humanity.

But this is #WATWB Friday and I’m supposed to be posting feel good stories, so I’m going to do one better with this “hella catchy” video, as my oldest said, about getting out the vote.  Our world suffers greatly from overuse, over consumption, and an overworked planet, wreaking havoc on all species, including humans.  Isn’t it time we gave Momma a hand and did our part?  Remember, people, there is no Planet B.

My oldest also said something the other day that made me tear up. I can’t recall the exact words because I got all verklempt when she uttered them, so struck was I by their essence, but the gist was:  how exciting it is to be part of something so big – a cultural evolution in the making that, hopefully, is gonna turn this world around, making it better for everyone.

To that end — and man, I hope you’re eligible — get out and Actually Vote. If you need some motivation, listen to this hella catchy tune!  Go ahead, make it trendy!

 

It’s the last Friday of the month.  Time to share the good news on We Are the World Blogfest — #WATWB — a monthly good news trip around the world.  May we all be energized and rejuvenated by the good news.

If you’re interested in joining our Blog Hop, the guidelines are as follows:

1. Keep your post to below 500 words;

2. Link to a human news story on the last Friday of each month that demonstrates love, kindness, humanity, support, open-mindedness, you know, that kind of stuff, but no proselytizing, preaching or inconsiderateness toward others;

3. Post on the last Friday of the month in sharing the good news.  No story is too big or small;

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar and help spread the word on social media using the #WATWB hashtag;

5. Read and comment on others’ posts, play nice, and make friends;

6. To sign up, add your link to the WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List below.

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list.  This month’s cohosts are:

Sylvia McGrath,  Mary J. Giese,  Shilpa Garg, Sylvia Stein, and  Belinda McGrath Witzenhausen

The idea is to spread #positivity and #light to counterbalance the #negativity and #darkness in #socialmedia these days.

Now quit reading and GO VOTE!!

pam lazos 10.30.20

 

Posted in trendy, Uncategorized, vote | Tagged , , , , , | 34 Comments

Fallen Princeborn: Chosen

 

Happy Sunday, blogger family!  This week we’re going to hear from my fabulous friend and First-Rate Fantasy Writer, Jean Lee whose book, Fallen Princeborn: Chosen — currently available for pre-order — will be live in TWO DAYS!

If you are like me, after reading just a few pages of Jean’s work, you will quickly realize: she’s a writer’s writer!   And it doesn’t stop there.  Weekly, Jean distributes great writing advice like some give out Halloween candy.  I’m going to let her tell you all about it.

Take it away, Jean!

Hellooooo, you wonderful creatives and lovers of the Earth! Fantasy author Jean Lee here. Pam invited me to stop by and say hello, and so here I am to talk about turning nature’s blessings into villains. I hope you’re ready to consider and chat—I’m excited to see what you have to say!

We’re all familiar with “traditional” forms of Nature as a villain: typhoons and twisters, floods and famines.

A season such as Winter can be the antagonist of a story, or a vicious storm driving characters out of safety. Even the environment simply being itself is enough to be a force that works against a protagonist’s goals. A reading experience that has always stuck with me as a child was Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet. For all my love of magic and mayhem at that age, I was riveted by the plight of Brian alone in the wilderness. There were no werewolves there, or sorcerers, or even a jewel robber in hiding, yet the story is more than one child surviving the elements. It is a story of overcoming one’s inner darkness while learning without aid how to acquire basic needs in an environment that does not readily provide them. It’s about understanding what truly matters. It’s about believing in oneself. It’s about coming to terms with where you are as well as where you hope your life can go.

Not bad for a story about a boy marooned in the woods.

When magic is thrown into the storytelling mix, all bets are off. Wizards throw buzzards at one another, ghosts kill people in their fog, tornadoes transport people to fantastical realms, and so on. When we see Nature, a force unto Itself, controlled by someone or something else, we are SCARED because this is something we are incapable of doing. (Unless you’re Gerard Butler in Geostorm, I suppose, but that’s not exactly reality.)

Now let’s shift, just a smidge, away from weather. Let’s consider an element of Nature we don’t often consider villainous.

Trees.

I love love LOVE this time of year because of the trees. The gorgeous reds, yellows, and oranges (or crimsons, ambers, and vermillions, if you’re listening to my son Biff’s lecture on tertiary colors) warm my soul like a campfire on a crisp autumn evening. I can’t help but wonder how TreeBeard from Lord of the Rings would have looked in Autumn. He is such a kindly soul in The Two Towers…that is, until he discovers Sauron’s devastation of the forest.

When TreeBeard summons the remaining Ents to war against the Orcs, we witness the strength of bark and branch against Orc forges and weapons. We root for them (ba dum CH!), Nature’s taking back of the land from Magical Industrialization.

But trees are not always allies.

One park my children enjoy visiting is populated by a dozen oaks. They are easily three to four stories high. Their shade is a blessing in the summer months, and their falling leaves are a joy for my daughter to catch. In winter, though, their skeletal form towers and intimidates me. They became an inspiration for a line of henchmen-like characters in my new novel Fallen Princeborn: Chosen, which comes out later this month. In the first novel, the evil Orna, Lady of the Pits, refused to give up control of River Vine, a cursed land whose shapeshifters survive by feeding on human desires. The Princeborn Liam defeated her and sent her back to the Pits, but she has returned to fight Liam and Charlotte, and she’s created new abominations from her Incomplete followers.

One side of the thicket tears up like dandelions picked by a greedy child. In the Pits, Orna had melded the Incomplete with scraps from the cursed white tree.

Not this time.

Charlotte’s dwarfed by this Incomplete melded with a giant oak bleeding veli and oil. Its branches thrash with thorns, shredding green leaves into confetti that fall into Arlen’s eyes as he closes the distance, into Dorjan’s hair as his blue eye shines cold steel. But Charlotte can still smell the animal inside the trunk. Up near the top of the trunk she sees a humanish jaw, a rabbit’s nose. One hairless rabbit ear. Buck teeth past the chin. Fleshy paws bleeding black sinews, rooting it to the tree. A furry chest too small for its ribs—two bones ooze oil outside its skin. Its screech is neither animal nor human. It’s worse.

Intrigued? If you dig magic and mayhem with a little romance in a setting of dark fantasy, then I hope you’ll check out my Fallen Princeborn series. The first book, Stolen, is available in paperback and e-book format and free on Kindle Unlimited.

In rural Wisconsin, an old stone wall is all that separates the world of magic from the world of man—a wall that keeps the shapeshifters inside. When something gets out, people disappear. Completely.

Escaping from an abusive uncle, eighteen-year-old Charlotte runs away. She takes her bratty younger sister Anna with her, swearing to protect her. However, when their bus breaks down by a creepy old farm, the inconceivable happens—Anna is wiped from human memory.

But something inside Charlotte remembers. So she goes over the Wall in a frantic rescue attempt, accidentally awakening a once cruel but still dangerous prince, and gaining control of a powerful weapon, his magic dagger.

Charlotte’s only chance to save Anna hinges on her courage and an uneasy alliance with some of the very monsters that feed on humanity.

Welcome to River Vine, a shrouded hinterland where dark magic devours and ancient shifters feed, and where the seed of love sets root among the ashes of the dying.

Stolen is on sale before the second instalment, Chosen, hits the virtual bookshelves on October 27th!

CHARLOTTE’S FAMILY MAY NO LONGER REMEMBER HER NAME,
BUT HER ENEMIES WILL NEVER FORGET.

Charlotte just wanted to start a new life with her sister Anna out of the reaches of their abusive uncle. When their journey led to Anna’s disappearance from human memory, Charlotte hunted for her sister and the mysterious creatures that took her behind an ancient Wall that hid a land of magic the world had long forgotten. Charlotte woke the Princeborn Liam Artair, and with his return the conflict between factions of the magical Velidevour turned cursed and deadly.

Now Charlotte must end this conflict before the land of River Vine and the inhabitants she’s befriended are consumed by Orna, Lady of the Pits, who is still very, very eager to see her beloved return. And Orna is not the only one who wants hold of the Princeborn Liam’s heart. These Velidevour come armed with firey wings, crimson claws, and pale fire, and like dead magic, they know no kindness.

The Bloody Days are soon returning, and they will not end until a choice is made, a choice that could tear the heart of River Vine apart.

Fallen Princeborn: Chosen is a direct continuation of Fallen Princeborn: Stolen. Recommended for fans of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust, Brigid Kemmerer’s A Curse So Dark and Lonely, and Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Mist and Fury.


My deepest thanks to Pam for letting me share a little magic and Nature with you all. I’d love to see what you think about Nature and magic—whether you find something else in Nature to be villainous/heroic, or you consider Nature to be magical enough without the help of wizards and witches. 😊 If you dig what you see, you can check me out in various nooks and crannies of social media.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jeanleesworld

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jeanleesworld/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100012373211758

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18139027.Jean_Lee

Website: https://jeanleesworld.com/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Fallen-Princeborn-Stolen-Platinum-Parts-ebook/dp/B07JYLFQP4/

Read on, share on, and write on, my friends!

Posted in book release, books, Uncategorized, writers, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 36 Comments