Why Senators Graham and McConnell Should Care if Their Actions Are Fair

 Is it fair for all concerned? This particular sentence kept replaying itself in my mind. I kept thinking about the meaning of those six words as I heard Senator Lindsay Graham’s twisted reasoning for why he would rush through the confirmation hearings of a new Supreme Court justice prior to the 2020 elections. Chair of the Judiciary Committee, he blatantly broke his previous promise not to confirm a replacement Supreme Court Justice in an election year. In 2016, nine months before the election, he blocked the process of conducting a hearing for Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court Justice nomination, insisting it was too close to an election.

Now, just a few weeks before the Presidential election on November 3rd he is willing to expedite a hearing and vote for Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court Justice nomination in 2020. Instead of letting the American people decide, he and his cohorts have decided it is more important they seize the opportunity to confirm an ultra conservative judge aligned with their views. According to recent poll conducted by ABC News and The Washington Post on September 25th, 57% of the American public think otherwise. They would like the new Justice selected after the election.

Instead of the Senate addressing the important issues of a pandemic that has already taken the lives of 200,000 Americans and an unstable economy that leaves many homeless, hungry and without health insurance, majority leader Mitch McConnell would like to distract the public with a “quickie” Supreme Court Nomination.

“Is it fair for all concerned” is one of four components of the Rotary Club code of ethics. I know all four questions well, not because I’m a Rotarian, but because in 1999 my seven -year-old daughter Alex decorated a poster for an Annapolis Rotary Club contest. Interested in her project, I committed the Rotary four-way test to memory. The other three questions: Is it True? Will it build goodwill and friendships? Will it benefit all concerned? resonated as being sound moral guideposts to live by.  Alex’s colorful poster was selected as one of the winners and she was invited to lunch with the Rotary Club.  The four simple questions, stayed in my memory bank.

 Over the past 20 years I have attended many Rotary events with my husband Peter, who became a member of the Parole Rotary Club in Maryland around the same time Alex participated in that poster contest. Always the meeting ends with a recitation of the four-way test. The four basic precepts: to always tell the truth, play fair, act in ways that will bring people together and benefit everyone have been part of the Rotary Club philosophy for close to 90 years. The code was created in 1932 by Herbert Taylor (a former Rotary president), originally to apply to professional ethics and practices during the Great Depression when businesses were struggling to survive, but it easily applies to community behavior as well.  Adherence to these ethics define someone to me as a decent human being.  However, politicians often conduct themselves by different standards. Many, such as Senators Graham, McConnell, Rubio, Cruz, Grassley, and Tillis don’t believe it is important to keep your word and consider the fairness of their actions.

Lindsay Graham, Mitch McConnell, Marc Rubio, Ted Cruz, Chuck Grassley, and Tom Tillis are popular guests at Rotary Clubs throughout their respective states. I’m not sure if they are Rotarians but I wonder if they’ve ever paid attention to the four-way test?  Certainly their actions during the past few months have clearly shown their main preoccupation is with getting their own way.  Is it fair for all concerned doesn’t seem to have entered into their thinking process. They’ve followed the cues of the orange haired man in the Oval office who believes that playing fair is only for suckers.

The current attitude is tell as many lies as you can get away with. So my question is, should civic groups who want to do good and serve the community, even invite politicians  who lie, cheat, and clearly only want to promote their own interests to be speakers?  Our country has become extremely polarized. I challenge the International Rotary Club with the motto of Service Above Self to consider vetting guests and speakers who clearly violate the four-way test.  I also challenge all of us to reflect on our own actions in life. Are we capable of living by the four-way test?

The Rotary Four-Way Test Provides a strong moral compass.
Rotary International’s Four-Way Test.

The Benefits of Ink and Paper in our Current World

A hand-written letter can be a beautiful thing. The choice of paper, the shape and placement of the words, the color of the ink, are all qualities that cannot be reproduced by a text or email. Just as we wouldn’t want to replace the sound of a person’s voice with a generated computer message, it would be sad to lose the ability to send someone a letter or card through the mail.

ink and paper provide a tangible record
Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on Pexels.com

I have vivid memories of my father’s strong and elegant writing on white paper and the way he’d carefully fold each letter before sliding it into an envelope. In my desk is a group of cards and stationary to use for thank you notes and letters. I’ve got a roll of forever stamps and a couple of nice pens, hopeful that those stamps will still be useful five years from now.

Now it is week 27 since the Pandemic arrived on the east coast of the United States and I am concerned about the future of our postal system

It took two weeks for a piece of business correspondence, sent first class from Pennsylvania to Maryland to arrive in my mailbox. Two weeks. First class mail used to take three days, four or five at the most to travel from one neighboring state to another. Now in September 2020 be happy if your mail is delivered. Don’t question how long it takes. The United States Postal Service is doing their best. We hope.

These are troubling times. It doesn’t matter whether you lean to the left or the right, reliable mail delivery is important. Medicine, benefit checks, and legal notices are still being sent through the U.S. Postal Service.  Long ago the United States Congress put all kinds of protections into place to protect the integrity of the nation’s delivery service.

 A major concern has always been Mail Fraud. The first federal law statute protecting consumers from anyone using the mail service to perpetrate a fraud was enacted in 1872 and over the years the laws have been expanded to include Fedex, UPS and any other mail delivery service. Any fraud that includes “theft of honest services” can be prosecuted.  So why is anyone questioning the soundness and safety of our mail system? It sounds very un-American to me.

Even before our worries that the postal system has been intentionally slowed—handicapped by poor leadership and management—there’s been a cultural divide about paper communication. For the past twenty years we have shifted to using computers and smart phones for emails and messaging. We have been told to stop using paper. Stop printing. Save a tree by using less paper. Store documents on the cloud, thus preserving valuable space and resources.  Corporations have saved millions of dollars by training employees and clients to communicate digitally and to stop using paper. This has eliminated the need to mail out hard copies of bills, documents and reports.

The crusade against paper and ink spread to the world of publishing. For several years I heard dire reports that it was only a matter of time before people stopped purchasing traditional books. It was predicted consumers would read only on digital devices or they’d listen to books on tape. Books would soon become extinct.

 It’s entertaining to listen to a book read to me while I fold laundry or drive. Convenient to read stories on an electronic tablet. But nothing can replace the heft and weight of paper and the thrill of physically turning pages. Printed books still have their fans. Six hundred and seventy-five million new books were sold in 2019, according to Statista.com.

 Social distancing prevents us from doing much hand holding, hugging, and touching in our current world. A phone call, a video chat, messaging and email help keep us connected but a letter is something physical to hold and touch. If you haven’t sent a card or a letter in a while to someone you miss, maybe it’s time to give it a try.

It’s not so easy to alter something written in black and white on piece of paper; a piece of paper that contains your vote, a record of your political choice.  Mail-in ballots are an important component of the voting process this year. In the state of Maryland where I reside, voters are given a choice: request a mail-in ballot, vote early, vote on election day. I feel comfortable using a mail-in ballot.

Electronic communication, as we know, can easily be accessed and hacked. Who is doing the meddling? Foreign powers, the largest ones in particular, have an interest in creating divisiveness within our nation. So far they are doing a great job. One part of the United States gets their information from Fox News. Another part of the country gets their information from the New York Times, The Washington Post and the so-called liberal media.

A third of our nation doesn’t bother to listen to the news at all. They’d rather just think about something else. Two hundred thousand people have died from the Novel Coronavirus—so far. We don’t know what the final death toll will be. Many people have no insurance and no money to pay for health care.

On the West Coast we have extensive forest fires and in other parts of our nation people have suffered from devastating floods as a result of the tornadoes and hurricanes that keep arriving. In my reality, global warming affecting our weather patterns and the world’s food supply is real. I want a President who believes in science and who cares about people not his ego.

We have an important election coming up in the United States. Vote. Choose your method. The United States Postal Service is an American institution. Support your freedom to choose how you vote. If you are voting by mail, mail your ballot in as early as you are able, just in case the mail delivery takes two weeks. Or better yet, drop it off at a polling station.

Nicknames, My Name and the 2020 Presidential Race

In first grade, I was given a nickname. It made me miserable.

The name on my birth certificate reads “Suzanne.” When I was a very young child, my parents called me Suzie. The first time they introduced me to one of their friends as Suzanne, I didn’t even know who they were talking about. 

I made a big decision when I started first grade: I decided to enroll as Suzanne. I expected I’d be called by my given name, but teachers immediately asked if they could call me Susan or Sue. I kept on insisting on Suzanne. Why did they want to shorten my name when I liked it the way it was?

One of my classmates began calling me Susannah. “Old Susannah, don’t you cry,” they said. I’d liked the song “I came from Alabama with a banjo on my knee” when I’d sung it in nursery school, but now it sounded mean and ugly. My face turned pink. I was angry. 

“Ole Susannah,” another bully started repeating, and laughter followed. My obvious discomfort delighted several of my classmates.  

“Stop it,” I said. “That’s not my name. It’s Suzanne, not Susannah.” They laughed again. The nickname stuck. 

The insistence by a number of teachers, all the way through high school, to try and shorten my name to something else—rather than accept what was written in front of them—was infuriating. The problem was only solved when I adopted my middle name—Nadja—and left “Suzanne” behind midway through my freshman year in college.  

• • •

Names are personal. If you’ve ever worked in sales, you know how important it is to call someone by their correct name. You are demonstrating respect. 

Joe Biden and  his running mate Kamala Harris challenging Mr. Trump in the general election don’t have that luxury  They’ve been labeled with names that include Sleepy Joe Biden, China Joe and Nasty Pamela Kamala and Phony Kamala.  Other democratic challengers were given the nicknames: Pocahontas Elizabeth Warren,  Amy Klobuchar Snowman (woman) and Crazy Bernie Sanders.  In the 2016, Republican primary, candidates were subjected to names, too:  Lyin’ Ted, Low Energy Jeb, and Little Marco. The Democratic nominee? Crooked Hillary.

This list gets me back to the memory of those classroom bullies. It’s easy to make fun of other people at their expense. We do it to children all the time: give them nicknames and think it’s cute. Children do it all the time: they get an immediate reaction. Maybe the person they target challenges their behavior. “What did you just call me?” they demand. Drama ensues; school just got a little more exciting; but does that behavior belong in politics?

In the classroom, I was stubborn. I didn’t answer to the name “Susannah,” “Susan,” “Sue,” or even “Suzie.” I learned not to react to the classmates that sang me their versions of Steven Foster’s “Ole Susannah.” Teachers eventually figured it out; the singing eventually stopped.

So far, I haven’t been plagued with another nickname. Politicians, however, don’t always have the luxury of ignoring their bullies.  

This essay (a slightly different version) previously was published July 4, 2019 on the website www.Storynews.net.

Postscript: It is week # 26 since the onslaught of the Coronavirus Pandemic and I began the current thread of entries on March 18th lamenting the cancellation of my Daughter’s Wedding Celebration with family and friends at our house here in Annapolis, Maryland

 Yesterday, my husband and I posted the video of Alex’s elopement on Facebook. A gorgeous tribute to their love and resilience. They are living in the midst of burning fires in California. These are times that truly test the human spirit. Each day is a gift and I remind myself on those early morning walks observing the world around me, not to waste a moment. There’s still time to become a better version of ourselves.

Old Susannah was my nickname.

A Prayer for America and Why We Should Care

 It’s Week # 25, since the coronavirus pandemic arrived in Maryland and phase 3 is about to begin, meaning a lowering of  some of the restrictions put into place to slow the spread of the virus.  I should be pleased, but instead I feel unsettled and nervous.  The fear that began with worries over getting sick has expanded to worries over the behavior I’ve witnessed in the United States as tribalism continues to expand. 

I think back to a simpler time. Childhood. The inherent belief that everyone was good. My day began in elementary school with a prayer followed by the pledge of allegiance. The prayer was non-denominational. 

Our Father, we thy children come before Thee this day with humble hearts.

We thank Thee for Thy mercies and pray that Thou wilt so help us, that those

Around us today may be a little happier and a little better for our influence.

We ask Thy guidance in all the duties and the pleasures of the day, and Thy blessing

when the day is done. Amen

Head bowed. Eyes closed. I heard the voices around me say the words in unison. The words  I took  the most seriously were the ones about trying to make those around us a little happier and a little better.  I wasn’t sure who I supposed God to be. My family was Jewish but we were not religious. Was God an old man with a long beard sitting on a high throne or was he the young handsome man named Jesus with hair down to his shoulders. Maybe God was really a woman, Mother Earth who brought us the seasons. 

It didn’t really matter. I reveled in our momentary unity. We were all in the classroom together, saying that prayer. Long after starting the school day with a prayer ceased, I kept that directive with me. We all have our flaws and weakness, but if we help one another we can be a better version of ourselves. 

Now I feel as if I have woken up into an alternate reality of the United States, a reality where humanity aspires to be the worse version of ourselves. I call it the “It’s All-About-Me” society.  It’s a place where it’s okay to put yourself first and foremost before everyone else. It’s okay to only care about money and how much you can keep of it.  It’s okay to care more about tax breaks than that 25% of the children in the United States this year are going to not get enough food to eat. As long as you are treated well, have a job, have health insurance, there is no reason to worry. It’s America, land of opportunity, and everyone can fend for themselves in this alternate reality.

One of the worst parts of living in this world is reading the obituaries. Eight hundred and fifty people are dying in my country each day from Covid-19. Over 188,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the U.S. to date.  It is, however, inspiring to learn of all the heroes working on the front lines over the past six months. 

What makes someone a hero? Going back to that little prayer I used to say in elementary school, putting someone’s welfare ahead of your own is one indicator. Many of our veterans sacrificed their health, their limbs, and their lives in defense of our country.  Unfortunately that type of selflessness is not prized in the “ It’s All-about-me Society.” It’s the pretty people with the most money who are the “Winners.”

When Senator John McCain died, the orange haired man sitting behind the desk in the oval office didn’t think there should be a state funeral. He didn’t consider John McCain to be a war hero because he was a POW. This past week, an article by Jeffrey Goldberg published in The Atlantic cites several instances of the current President’s lack of respect, tolerance and empathy for war veterans.  The President calls it “fake news” but the information has been corroborated by several other news sources and individuals. All I have to do is listen to the taped comments of his remarks regarding John McCain, and the carefully researched article resonates as authentic.

I want a leader who inspires all of us to be the best person we can be, someone who has empathy and kindness in their heart. Currently we have someone who intentionally sows doubt and division. A person who encourages hatred, rioting, and violence and has no respect for our heroes. A person who calls people mean names.  A man who has an angry look on his face showing me how he truly feels within. Like a selfish spoiled child, the more confused and inadequate he can make us feel, he thinks he’ll get his way. Don’t let him. 

American Values include Service above Self.
America Values Everyone’s Welfare

Call it “Fake News” and Cancel Culture Succeeds in Suppressing the News Media

If there is one expression that makes me bristle it is “fake news.” Those two words have been bandied about during the past four years dismissively to address anything published that the speaker doesn’t want to acknowledge as being actual news reporting. If you label it as fake, then it doesn’t count, so don’t bother to read it. If that isn’t a blatant example of Cancel Culture, a new term I learned while watching the Republican Convention last week, I don’t know what is.  

In order to encourage the general public to tune out and not pay attention to the news media, just say all journalists are concocting fake stories. Believe news reporting is fake and you can ignore it. Don’t bother to keep up with what the press is reporting because, “Hey it’s all fake.” Journalists you are canceled.

 I’ve worked on and off for newspapers and magazines my entire life and I’ll be the first one to tell you that no one is perfect and the published articles and stories you read and hear all have their flaws, if only because they are written by human beings. Ever since the advent of the printing press, writers have shared with readers what they have witnessed . Each writer brings their own set of assumptions and prejudices. As impartial as they may try to be, just in their decision to write about a certain topic, they have elevated its importance.  I don’t always agree with every news story I read or hear, which is why I get my news from multiple sources. You should too.

During the  first one hundred years of our nation, every state and every city had dozens of newspapers. Broadsides, magazines and newspapers were published monthly, weekly, daily, and in some cases twice a day. Many of these publications were intentionally slanted to portray a certain viewpoint or represent a particular interest. But it didn’t matter because you could read several papers easily. By reading a number of different publications, each citizen could develop their own knowledge of current events.

By the middle of the twentieth century, the number of publications started winnowing down. Many of those that remained became part of chains, dozens of media outlets all owned by one family or corporation. These chains combined staff and resources reducing the number of different points of view.  

Advertising revenue and profits  for print media starting decreasing as we entered the 2lst century  as more information became available over the internet. Large corporations seeking to diversify, started buying up newspapers. To make money for their investors they employed additional cost cutting measures  such as: reducing publication size, page count, staff, and eliminating publications that served overlapping markets.

Journalists are amongst the lowest paid in our workforce. If I average my findings when consulting Salary.com, ZipRecruiter, and Payscale , a starting reporter will be paid approximately $25,000 a year. As a freelance contributor to various magazines I once sat down and calculated my hours and  figured out I was doing well if I made minimum wage.  Many journalists write for websites and contribute to small publications for no pay at all. So why do we do it? Certainly not to intentionally promulgate “fake news”. We do it because we love words and sentences and we are committed to communicating to others what we have witnessed. 

So a  reporter goes out and covers an event, conducts interviews and writes a story. How that raw material is handled, depends on the publication. If it is a publication that has funded staff positions for editors and researchers to confirm and check information it will be vetted. Unfortunately, to cut costs, many of these staff position that doublecheck for accuracy have been eliminated. This is not an intentional act, to publish shoddy journalism. It’s a survival tactic. Unfortunately, most of the  mid-size  and smaller newspapers left have been reduced to skeleton crews.  Many copyeditors, researchers, and editors have joined the ranks of the unemployed. So yes, things are published with grammatical errors and inaccurate quotes. When mistakes are pointed out, they correct them.  

Is there an intent to slant the news? Politicians and special interest groups all have motives to promote certain beliefs and certain causes. In a democracy there are many voices and many points of view.  That’s why I’ll reiterate again how important it is to get your news from several sources.  These days we have numerous platforms: blogs, news websites, podcasts, radio news, television news, magazine news, twitter, Facebook, reddit, Youtube –the list goes on and on. A variety of sources, particularly responsible sources that that will double check accuracy is important. Internet trolls seek to intentionally sow divisiveness. Make certain the quotes you read are not taken out of context.

No one, no matter whether they consider themselves a conservative or a liberal, should dismiss the importance of a free press. Journalists literally give their lives to bring you the news. My eyes tear up every time I think of my friends in the newsroom of the Capital Gazette Newspaper in Annapolis Maryland who were murdered by a man who barged into their offices with a shotgun and killed five people because he didn’t want their voices to be heard.  So say their names: Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Wendi Winters, Rebecca Smith.  They died to bring you the news.

Cancel your subscription? Cancel time in your day to listen, watch, observe and learn? Tune out and let others decide for your future? A democracy without a vibrant press would make for a bleak world.  When I hear talk of “fake news” I hear censorship. A free and open democracy means no one point of view controls the presses. 

In an attempt to silence the press, one man murdered five employees of the Capital Gazette Newspaper in 2018.

Bearing Witness to the Two Americas. The Democratic and Republican Conventions.

Today is week number 23 since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in Maryland and to date, over 175,000 people have died in the United States. Each time I leave the house I worry that I’ll be somehow exposed to the invisible virus.  In less than 71 days we’re having our Presidential and Congressional elections. We’ll be choosing who we want to lead us out of this crisis.  That’s a big deal because our economy is failing, children are unable to attend school,  and many citizens have no reliable source of food or shelter.

This past week we had the virtual Democratic Convention and next week it will be the Republican’s virtual convention.  

Political conventions used to be a big deal when I was growing up. It didn’t matter whether you were a Republican or a Democrat. You watched because even if you thought you knew who was going to get the presidential nomination, you wanted to witness history being made. 

This year because the conventions are virtual, everything was planned in advance. We knew who were giving speeches and who were the candidates, but we didn’t know what would happen in between.  So I got in front of my computer with my husband Peter and we watched for four nights.

I  tried talking about the Democratic convention with a few of my friends but they hadn’t bothered to watch it. Too busy. Maybe later. I’m pretty sure they’re Biden supporters, but that’s not the point. What did the Democratic Party organizers decide were the important points they wanted to emphasize about the candidates, about the direction of the party? Four years is a long time. Think how much has changed in the United States since 2016.

I look forward to watching the Republican convention which starts Monday evening.  Some of the delegates are going to be meeting in person and how is that going to look different from a completely virtual event.  What themes are going to be emphasized?  The Democratic Convention is still available to watch, as are many things online, on YouTube.

For me some of the highlights of the Democratic Convention were the individuals from every state in the nation who  were filmed in a scenic location announcing their delegate vote and their support for Joseph R. Biden Jr. They used their brief moment on camera to give viewers a glimpse of their history and culture. And while their remarks were scripted, the result was warm and authentic. I wouldn’t be surprised if Republicans do a similar roll call. 

Speeches by Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris, Presidential nominee Biden, past presidents and stateswomen made for a star studded cast already announced in advance. So it was the unexpected appearances such as the young boy learning to overcome stuttering with Joe Biden’s encouragement that brought tears to my eyes. 

Other highlights included short documentary interviews with young and old activists who have been working in different ways to combat climate change and Ady Barkan  a young man and father stricken with ALS  who has lost his voice, making the case that all Americans deserve access to quality healthcare. Zoom chats between the primary candidates interjected a little humor. 

If you don’t witness things firsthand, and you wait for journalists to summarize what transpired and for the pundits to tell you whether the production was successful, how much do you really know about what went on?  I’ll be interested to see how the Republican Convention is handled and presented. Wouldn’t you rather observe directly for yourself? I would. 

Two American Flags symbolize two American Points of View.
Two American Flags Symbolize Two American Points of View.

Refusal to Wear Masks Forces Some Libraries to Close Their Doors

WEEK # 22 since the start of the Pandemic  in Maryland, USA

My grandsons, ages two and five, were coming to visit last month and I was excited. One of their favorite activities is going to the library. They love  books and they love being read to, particularly before naps and bedtime. Their family has been living a sequestered existence in Virginia, staying close to home and maintaining social distancing.   During their short visit, I wanted them to have a good time, but excursion options were limited. I thought of getting a large selection of books we could look at together and I could read to them. Where was I going to go to get the books? To my delight, the Anne Arundel Library had just opened to the public. Previously it was curbside pick-up only, but instead of trying to figure out which picture books to check out via computer, I could walk in and personally select books off the shelf if I observed social distancing and wore a mask.

No problem for me, I thought to myself. It was the least I could do to protect the library employees and other patrons. I chose a dozen books as quickly as I could, being careful to stand behind the line while checking out. And the boys were pleased with my selections. I kept the books an extra week after they left so I could read a few to them when we visited virtually by video conference on Zoom. Then I returned them, via drop box as directed. The library has been very careful to sequester returned books and wait before re-shelving them until the virus is no longer active.

One month later, August 13th, the Board of Directors of the  Anne Arundel library in Maryland has voted to limit walk-in access  into the libraries because too many people refuse to wear masks and social distance. Hundreds of times librarians had to remind patrons of following the correct protocol. Angry insults were hurled at library employees and several times the police had to be called.

Surely at a library, a place that attracts people that value books, reading, education, and communication, people would be paying attention to what is going on around them and would be considerate of others. Sadly, I am wrong!

The result— they’ve had to close the doors to our libraries.  In order to keep providing services to the community,  they will be extending curbside pick-up hours, and are adding virtual meetings with librarians, laptop check-outs and other services. Commencing  on the September 8th,  they will be reopening by appointment only. If you want to  browse the shelves in person, you’ll be able to do so by scheduling your visit in advance.

This is  one of many  sad  examples of what is happening to our society on many fronts. The selfish actions of a few people  tell me they are not paying attention at all to what is going on around them. As a result of not wearing masks and not observing social distancing, Americans are not only endangering the health of others but they are also hurting our economy. Indirectly they are causing more people to stay unemployed. This translates into people not being able to pay mortgages and rent, unable to buy food to feed their family.

Recently through social media I’ve been hearing about patrons at some of our local food markets and stores, refusing to wear masks. While store managers,  health department, and police can be called—it’s too late to undue the immediate damage they’ve done, possibly exposing others to the coronavirus.

Why should I want to go to a store, restaurant or any public place for the at matter—where safety precautions for spreading the virus are not being observed.

Fortunately we can still check books out of our libraries, and we can exchange and share books with neighbors and friends. Showing solidarity and support to all those people who are trying so hard to do the right thing is one way to help.

In the long term we need to patronize businesses that follow health department and CDC recommendations and avoid businesses and situations that put us at risk. We are the consumers. It’s our wallet and it’s our health.

Stay safe. We’re all in this together.

Coronavirus Fear is Making Me Thirsty. Is the Glass Half Empty or Half Full?

Before the onset of the coronavirus, I was one of those people who always tried to look at life from a positive viewpoint. Anyone out there remember the self-help books that talk about creating your own reality? Believe it and it will happen. Or as they said in the movie Field of Dreams, “Build it and they will come.”

Now I am looking at the glass, half-filled and I am seeing the contents evaporate as my hopes for humanity become shaken. Why are so many of us so selfish? How hard is it to wear a mask? Is it really that challenging to listen to the advice and guidance of doctors and scientists?

I see safety hazards every time I venture out: non-related people congregating without masks or distancing, people wearing masks on their chins, patrons sitting inside restaurants without adequate distancing or circulation.  Others  tell me I’m just being a worrier. I’ve had people attempt to assure me that my perceptions regarding the spread of the coronavirus is flawed, “Because we’ve just been getting more tests” and “if the government has things open, it must be safe.”

I’ve heard people say, “Our President is doing a good job. The best he can do under the circumstances.” Really?

So why is it that the United States, one of the richest countries on the globe, have one of the highest rates of infection? A look on a map shows the U.S. in the same category, colored a bright red, as Brazil, Columbia, Bolivia, and Argentina. Meanwhile Italy, Great Britain,  Canada, South Korea and Japan are doing a superior job of keeping the numbers down by providing faster test results and contact tracing.

More than 160,000 Americans  have died and they’re still dying. The shuttering of businesses has resulted in job losses which translates into housing and food insecurity. In other words, there are people without enough to eat who are worrying about whether they will have a place to live next week. In one of the richest nations in the world our citizens are going hungry.

One way of dealing with the current situation is to see the glass as half full.  Many of our politicians are seeing the world this way. Assure yourself that the likelihood of actually contracting the coronavirus is very small. Relax. Don’t worry yourself with precautions. Try to wash your hands, wear a mask when it’s required; but don’t stress about it.

Following that line of thinking you can have that family reunion you’ve been planning and meet your friends for lunch—no reason to suffer. Life is short and you might get hit by a bus crossing the street so have a good time. If we all conduct business as usual, we’ll all have jobs and the economy will be fine.

This way of seeing reality only works if you never step inside a hospital, never watch or listen to news reports, and know absolutely no one who is a health care worker.

You do create your own reality. How serious is this current moment in history? For me, in the reality I’ve chosen,  I live in a world where people’s lives matter.  I’m scared. I’m heartbroken by the injustices I’ve witnessed. Which is why I’m looking forward to the General Election in November. I’m visualizing a positive outcome when once again my glass will be half full.

 

Christmas in August: Ways to Distract Yourself from Thinking about the Coronavirus

I looked out my front window and saw festoons of red, white and green draped across my neighbor’s doorway. “Merry Christmas” the sign said. White crepe paper was draped over the grass and large wrapped packages sat on the porch. Christmas in July, I thought. Yes, we used to do that years ago at the summer gift shop I ran. It was a great seasonal promotion.

Now it’s August, so why not Christmas in August? Now is just as good a time as any, and it would give everyone something to do. Stimulate the economy to encourage us to buy things for people other than ourselves. And if we can’t celebrate with family, we can give those gifts to the local shelters or food bank. Personally, I don’t need anything except a good diversion. Which is why I think my neighbor, who recently greeted her daughter home for a visit, decided to decorate her house for a few days.  Too bad her decorations are gone. But I’m thinking of putting some up myself—something festive. Perhaps a large board for passersby to share ideas, sketches, and thoughts.

Trying to come up with other ideas of safe diversions to do during this global pandemic, I compiled a list.  A lot of the things on my list are related to food and to balance it out and to burn off those extra calories I’m consuming, there is the all important component— exercise. Both of these can be enjoyed outside, where the virus is less likely to spread and a good social distance can be maintained.

In addition to walking, running, and hiking—pull out that old bike out of the garage or go for a rollerblade jaunt. Yesterday we  pulled the tandem bike out and went for a ride at dusk around the neighborhood. Activities out on the water—fishing, sailing, paddle boarding, kayaking—can provide a safe getaway, particularly early in the morning.

Gardening has gotten everyone’s attention this year, and for the first time my husband’s gardening efforts yielded quite a crop of string beans. We’ve got cucumbers, tomatoes, and blossoms for future pumpkins. To supplement our crop, we stopped by a farm stand to pick up some local corn and peppers. In our county there’s a Farmer’s Market selling fresh produce, just about every day of the week.  Shopping at a Farmer’s Market supports local business and there’s nothing better than “just picked’ vegetables naturally ripened by the sun.

Combine the physical and the fresh food, by planning a picnic. Whether you pack your own meal or purchase one from a food truck or take-out restaurant, you’ll be able to choose your location.  Early morning ( before 7:30 a.m.) is a good time to enjoy City Dock in Annapolis before the crowds arrive. Coffee and a breakfast sandwich can be enjoyed looking out over the harbor. While you’re downtown, take note of the old and the new. While some businesses have been forced to close, others are opening like Rockin Roll Cajun Seafood Bar.  Wear your mask in downtown Annapolis on the street to stay safe, although Maryland rules only require a mask inside an establishment.

For more solitude, there are a number of county and state parks that have picnic tables in scattered locations or decide to have your picnic on the porch or in your backyard. Bring the sunblock and the bug repellent—depending on the time of day.

It is possible to socialize with friends outside, if you keep your distance. Games like Frisbee don’t require direct hand contact. Good conversation can lift your spirits. Open that bottle of wine you’ve been saving. Buy a package of Dove bars to share.  Everyone can bring their own meal.  Or order exotic take-out. Just don’t have a buffet because when you share food off platters, people forget to socially distance.

So back to that initial idea of Christmas in August. I’m thinking of changing up the colors. Maybe I won’t just limit my decorating colors to red, green, and white.  Instead I’ll celebrate it as Festivus, created in 1966 by Daniel O’Keefe and popularized in a December 1997 episode of the television show Seinfeld in 1997. Festivus is an alternative holiday that can be anything you want it to be. The well-known slogan for the day is “Festivus is for the Rest of Us”. Any excuse for a holiday during these troubled times is a good excuse. And when I do make those decorations, maybe I’ll add an entire rainbow to send a little love out into the world.

 

 

Positive or Negative? The Wait for Coronavirus Test Results. What If?

The dreaded phone call arrived last Wednesday, July 15th. “Someone I have been in contact with has tested positive for Covid-19,” a colleague told my husband Peter. “I have been told to quarantine, watch for symptoms, possibly get tested…  So I’ve been calling everyone that I’ve come into contact with this past week.”

 

Peter immediately called me and used a profanity to describe our situation. Suddenly all the other problems in our life—finances, the launch and branding of my husband’s newly independent Insurance agency, postponed family celebrations, the social inequities of the country where we live (USA , home of democracy)—became small. Survival. Staying healthy took center stage. What if? What if he’d been infected? What if he’d passed the virus to me? What if we had exposed our son and two small grandchildren who had visited the previous weekend to the virus? What if my son had brought the virus home to his wife?

“Think logically,” I said. “When were you last in contact?”

Already five days had elapsed, since my husband had supposedly been exposed to someone who “might” have contracted the virus. “Okay so that means that worst case scenario we quarantine for nine more days. In the meantime, get a test,” I said.

In Anne Arundel County Maryland, the Department of Health offers free drive-in testing . He called them for an appointment, and got on their schedule for Friday morning July 17th.

“It will take about five days for results,” the technician told my husband.

“Five days!” I said. “How can we contain this thing without 24-hour testing results. No wonder our country has so many cases.”

I tried to keep my distance while living in the same household. I stopped drinking from the same bottle of seltzer water, holding hands, picking up his phone. After two days, too many “Oh I forgot” and no symptoms, I got a little more relaxed while we kept waiting for his results.  We both petted the dog.  ‘You know, pets can be carriers of the disease,” Peter reminded me, “and if one us was infected we’d give the other coronavirus.”  We both love to pet our big white fluffy Labradoodle. Stroking her is a big stress reducer. We let her sit between us on the couch.

If we were not vigilant and we were carriers, we could infect more people.  This meant staying home and always wearing a mask when going out to walk the dog, even at 7:00 a.m. in the morning.

The tickle in the throat. Could it be? Yes, but I’ve had that tickle and scratch for four months now—allergies. The heavy pollen count.

Restlessness and fatigue? Could it be? Yes, but since I usually wake up several times during the night, laying beneath my sheets trying to tell myself not to worry about the future of just about everything—the famines, the overcrowded hospitals, the homeless, selfishness, unkindness and the dying planet— of course I’m exhausted. Isn’t everyone else exhausted too?

Wednesday morning July 22, my husband got a call from the Anne Arundel County Department of Health. “Your test came back negative.”  The previous evening he’d heard from the first phone caller, his colleague, that her test was also negative.

The good news is that here in Maryland, it is relatively easy to get a test. The Governor’s goal was to test ten percent of the population and that goal has been exceeded. The bad news is that if we don’t have a rapid result test. Trying to contain the virus without rapid testing results is like trying to fight someone with one hand tied behind your back.  Yes, we know if you are running a fever to stay home and quarantine, but what about all those people that have the virus and are asymptomatic?

I continue to see people who refuse to wear masks as well as people who wear masks improperly ( not fully covering their nose and mouth).  According to the latest posting on the CDC website, the current best scenario estimate is that 40% of coronavirus infections are asymptomatic. They are estimating in their best case scenario there is a 50% chance of transmission by someone who has not yet exhibited the symptoms of Covid-19, but has the virus, when they interact with others.

Maybe there are just a lot of people out there who think if everything looks okay, the world is fine. I’m not one of those people. And watching the change in public policy, as more and more of the population falls ill, shows me I have reason to worry.

 

This weekend, the county where I live is rolling back some previously granted freedoms. Restaurants, Bars and Food service establishments must close at  10:00 p.m.  No indoor social gatherings of more than 25 and outdoor social gathering of 50 people are allowed. Businesses that violate the order will be fined $500 upon the first violation. In my opinion I’d like to see the general citizenry take more responsibility for following the rules than just businesses. Reports of patrons punching and abusing workers who simply state, “You’ll need to put on a mask,” has shown that some individuals are resistive of following directions and thinking of others.

Fear and anger means sometimes people behave badly. I’d like to think we all have the potential for compassion. If you think you’re having a hard time, start imagining what everyone else feels like.

 

 

 

Food, Exercise, and a Dose of Distraction to Sustain My Spirits During The Pandemic

Food. During this Pandemic it has taken center stage in our minds.  Those of us with money stand in line to gain entry into the grocery store. Wearing masks, we try to navigate through the aisles maintaining social distance, looking for our favorite snacks and treats. Those of us without money stand in line at churches and food banks for groceries—enough to stave off hunger for another week.  Food pantries ask for donations. Shelters pack meals for those who are living on the street.

We can’t easily share dinner with friends, too worried we might infect them with our touch or breath. So we eat alone or we eat with our inner circle of family day after day, week after week.  It is week number eighteen. In the United States of America we are currently losing the war against the coronavirus.  Over 137,000 have died in the United States from Covid-19. The Pandemic continues.

Like the little bunny rabbit that nibbles at the tall grass and garden in my yard, I nervously look around every time I go out for a walk or on an errand, trying to avoid oncoming strangers. And like that little rabbit,  I can run fast,  sprinting across the street when a crowd of people not wearing masks unexpectedly rounds the corner.

Back in the safety of my home, which I am fortunate to have, I can write out another check to send to the food bank and the homeless shelter, but it doesn’t sooth my anger at the state of our current world. What can distract me?

Pulling weeds helps. I channel some of my frustrations into yanking and digging. My husband Peter was kind enough to plant me a vegetable garden this year. In this garden we have future carrots, peas, pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, and radishes. Well I don’t know about the radishes, whether they’ll survive because the leaves are a favorite snack for the little brown bunny and his friend who visit our yard at sunrise and dusk.  I’ve also planted some herbs: basil, mint, rosemary, and oregano- to further enhance my marinades for food we grill.

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Back to the subject of food, I think of pleasurable things to cook.  Peter does his part by doing the majority of the grocery shopping. Proudly this week he bought several bags of avocados. “Five large avocadoes,” he said, “For only three dollars and change.”  All ripe avocados, I might add, which means there has been a mad rush to think of ways to eat avocadoes. For breakfast we had avocado omelets, more avocado than egg. I did cook onions, tomatoes, and mushroom in butter first for some added flavor, but otherwise it was all avocado. For lunch Peter made guacamole. Just mash up the ripe avocado with salsa and chopped onion and you have a tasty dip.  Then for dinner I put avocado in our garden salad.  One of my favorite sandwiches consists of avocado, sharp cheddar, tomato, cucumber and lettuce on toast and that’s been a main staple this week.  Maybe next I’ll make an avocado smoothie.

As to how much weight everyone stuck at home is gaining, I’ve heard figures ranging from 15 to 30 pounds. Although I’m not going to a gym or studio for classes, I continue to work-out by taking the virtual classes offered by my friends at Chesapeake Pilates. At least twice a week I move the coffee table, roll out the mat and unpack the equipment. I’ve got weights, blocks, stretch bands and what is called a “magic circle” that help provide “feedback” as I do a series of floor and standing exercises. This is virtual instruction and the instructor is watching me, via camera. I’ve also heard from friends who are doing yoga and other work-outs via U-tube or something  pre-recorded on a website. Any and all work-outs are great, but it really helps to know that you are being watched, and that if the instructor sees you are doing something incorrectly, they’ll let you know.

Taking our dog Chloe for walks twice a day also helps. Unable to do the swimming he would like to do, Peter has been going for afternoon bicycle rides. To stretch my legs I choose a room to sweep and vacuum.  The knowledge that we have many more months to go before this invisible killer is brought under control depresses me.  The world we are living in is frightening. Uncertain. Election day can’t come soon enough for me. Time to begin planning a delicious dinner and to start yanking out more of those weeds.

 

 

 

 

Seeking Comfort and Solace Outdoors in the Midst of a Pandemic

Annapolis, Maryland USA Week # 17

The July air is heavy and I’m stuck in the same routine. I try to balance writing, housekeeping, work, and exercise.  The pandemic continues, and as people get sloppy about taking precautions, the number of infections have been rising.

We walked our dog Chloe downtown Friday morning, after avoiding the City Dock area of Annapolis for over a month. Light rain was falling and we wore masks.  In just a few weeks, the landscape had changed with the addition of bright orange and white  barricades to establish outdoor eating areas. Along Main Street, the wood board extension of temporary bicycle lanes has been reinstalled.  Signs are posted throughout the area that say, “Welcome to the Recovery Zone.”

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The idea is a positive one. But not everyone is happy with the changes. The retail merchants decry the loss of any parking spaces. They emphasize the importance of customers being able to stop, park and pick up merchandise. As someone who does a lot of walking, I like to see public spaces that are receptive to pedestrians and bicyclists. The invisible virus is less resilient in the open air.  Satellite parking and bus service is not a practical solution for those who need door-to-door transportation, because during a pandemic the buses require frequent cleanings and properly spaced seats.  Somewhere in the middle there is a compromise, as the City keeps working to find a balance.

The town looks festive. Umbrellas and canvas roofs have been set up to provide shade. And even at 7:45  in the morning, customers were lining up to grab a seat for breakfast at the Iron Rooster located across the street from The Market House which opens at 8:00.  Down at Susan Campbell Park , near the area where sometimes live musicians perform, a wall structure built by Douglas Day provides the location for a striking mural in memory of George Floyd, painted by Jeff Huntington, Deonte Ward, and Comacall Brown.

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Unfortunately too many people continue to walk about in crowded areas without bothering to cover their faces with a mask. It can get tedious jumping the sidewalk to walk in the street, in order to maintain an appropriate distance. Drivers on their way to work are not on the lookout for stray pedestrians.  Is it more dangerous to risk getting hit by a passing car or becoming infected with the novel coronavirus? Many of the people we try to avoid show no recognition that they are doing anything wrong.  Back in the residential neighborhood, away from the visitors and tourists, strolling is much easier. On these walks we look at all the home improvements being done: new decks, new patios, expanded gardens, rebuilt houses.  The attitude seems to be, since we’re stuck at home, might as well improve the homestead.

Back sitting on our own back stoop, we can safely wave to passersby. I guess it’s the battle fatigue, but the vibe of “we’re all in this together” is starting to fade. True, behind a mask, you can’t see a smile, but I’m not seeing  as many messages of encouragement scrawled across hearts or written in sidewalk chalk. A little voice in my head says, “We can’t give up now.” If anything, it’s time to be more vigilant with maintaining our distance and respecting other’s safety by wearing a mask in congested areas and enclosed spaces.

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A Quiet July 4th in Annapolis, Maryland USA During the Pandemic

The July 4th of my childhood featured fireworks. We watched them on the beach standing in damp sand. If the night was chilly we brought sweaters. In hot humid Maryland it is hard to imagine a cold July 4th night, but my family summered in New England, on Cape Cod.  And this was long ago, before global warming.

The firework display that flashed high above the harbor was spectacular and loud. Up past my bedtime I enviously watched the older children run around the beach setting off sparklers and rockets. Maybe I’d get some ice cream or hot cocoa when we returned to the cottage, if  I was good.

I was so enamored by fireworks, at age eight I requested one of my father’s oil paintings of fireworks be hung in my bedroom. During the school year in Baltimore,  I’d study the dark blue sky of that painting with the fragments of light and remember July fourth.

This year, 2020, the year of the Coronavirus, local municipalities are refraining from firework displays. Wisely they are discouraging large gatherings. I still hear loud noises, have heard them all week long. Individuals have been setting off fireworks, insistent on having some fourth of July fun. Their fun continued into the night on July 4th with fireworks being shot into the sky by private citizens all over the city.

July 3rd, a few residents of the neighborhood gathered at the park for a Happy Hour. Dutifully they stood six feet apart. Early in the morning, folks have been going out on their paddle boards or kayaks, to feel a slight breeze before the day grows too hot for exercise.

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No parades.  The antique fire truck parked a few blocks away is all dressed up but has not place to go.  Signs are posted throughout my neighborhood. The yearly Murray Hill bicycle parade has been canceled.  Previous summers, children would decorate their bicycles and wagons. They’d proudly show off their handiwork and parents would stand on the sidewalk to cheer and clap.  But this year in Annapolis, capital of Maryland, there was no July 4th parade featuring local politicians, floats with hula dancers,  fire engines, candy tossed to waiting children, soldiers marching, bugles and drums.

There was mural painting. The nonprofit organization Future History Now, founded by artists Jeff Huntington and Julia Gibb promotes public art, often for social change. Joining together with the Maryland Commission on African-American History and Culture and the Banneker-Douglas Museum, a mural was painted on the basketball courts at Chambers Park in Annapolis to remember Breonna Taylor, killed by police in Louisville Kentucky in March.  The  words “Black Lives Matter” is part of the murals’ design. The powerful 7000 square foot statement was created by a team of volunteers.

The morning of July 4th, my husband and I focused on gardening. We pulled out a lot of weeds. He went for a bicycle ride. I made sweet potato salad to eat with our grilled piece of salmon.  It was possible to watch fireworks on TV, the firework display over The Washington D.C.  Capital. Even imagining that event, I worried for those who would be foolish enough to risk their health to stand or sit amidst a large crowd.  Am I being overly cautious? Perhaps I read too much about how little we know about the long lasting effects of this mysterious virus. Its spread in the United States makes me think of an out-of-control forest fire, ravaging and scorching the earth as it travels. But you can smell a fire’s approach and feel the sting of smoke in your eyes.

July 4th is a day for remembering. We remember those who have fought for freedom and for social justice.  We remember what democracy is supposed to mean. “All Men Are Created Equal.”

In Search of Unity, What New Statues and Memorials Shall We Build?

All I have to do is think of the Kunte Kinte-Alex Haley Memorialat City Dock in Annapolis, Maryland to remind myself that statues can serve a positive purpose. In recent weeks, many people have gathered by the Memorial to peacefully join together. Their cause—  to stand in solidarity and to affirm Black Lives Matter.

The group of bronze statues depict author Alex Haley(1921-1992) reading from his Pulitzer Prize winning book, Roots- The Saga of an American Family, to three school children of different races.  According to the Kunte Kinte-Alex Haley Foundation, “it is the only monument of its kind in the United States commemorating the actual name and arrival place of an enslaved African.” In addition to the statues there is a story wall consisting of 10 bronze plaques that share messages designed to foster reconciliation and healing from a legacy of slavery, ethnic hatred and oppression. A bronze inlaid map of the world, The Compass Rose, is located across the street at the Market House. Fourteen feet across, it orients the location of Annapolis in a global and directional context.

Meanwhile, in other cities, statues of Confederate Generals still stand in public places of honor. Their presence continues to divide the country. The glorification of Confederate Generals is a painful reminder that racism still exists in the United States and their “retirement” is long overdue.

But what will we do with the new spaces that have been created? In 2017  the Annapolis State House Trust  agreed to remove the statue of  Justice Roger Brooke Taney, author of the 1857 Dred Scott Decision from the grounds of the Maryland State House. Taney wrote in his Supreme Court decision that black citizens had no rights.  In nearby Baltimore  and  in New Orleans every confederate statue was removed in 2017 and the work continues. Since the 2013  Black Lives Matter movement began, founded in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer and further fueled in 2015 by the horrendous church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, more than 114 statues have been removed nationwide ( and the number is growing).

Some of these new spaces are located in prominent city squares and parks, They provide a public opportunity for re-examination of our past and creative expression. Wisely, many art historians and social scientists are advising that the citizenry should not move with haste to destroy some of these monuments, because there may be an opportunity to put together exhibits that take components from the past and present them in a new context.

So many museums and galleries are currently closed, due to the need for social distancing during the global Pandemic, these additional public spaces provide exhibit opportunity. Maybe artists want to create new work that tells the stories of all the American people, work that is shared on a rotating basis.

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It took more than twenty years for the Kunte Kinte- Alex Haley Memorial to become a reality. The idea started with a request for a simple plaque to commemorate Haley and his ancestor in 1978. Initially unveiled in 1981 it was stolen two days later.  Left behind was a card saying, “You have been patronized by the KKK.”  The plaque was replaced, but the vandalism spurred memorial supporters headed by the late Leonard Blackshear( founder of the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Foundation)  to move forward with a plan for a larger memorial that evolved into the bronze statues that stand today, unveiled in 2002.

The wheels of change for positive action move at different rates. It took time, money, and the energy of many people working together to create something that would serve to remind people of the importance of learning from our history and our past mistakes. Now with so many people unemployed —many of them artists and historians—we have the opportunity to create and fund works of art that will unite the country. Just an idea, but we all have to think it first. Removing the Confederate statues is just the first step. What new things are we going to build?

 

Literary Magazines Feature Emerging Talent and Independent Perspective

Looking for something to read? Something short you can enjoy in one sitting, that won’t be the same rehashed news story or social media post? While platforms such as Medium host and curate scores of blog posts and articles that provide a quick read, also  for your reading pleasure are hundreds of online literary magazines. Many also publish weekly newsletters. Most are advertisement free! There are of course the famous names: The Paris Review and Ploughshares and then there are all those smaller ones—some associated with the Masters of Fine Arts Programs in writing at colleges and universities and others that were independently founded by writers and editors. While sadly Glimmer Train and Tin House have shuttered their doors, new literary journals emerge each year.

As a writer, who received her MFA from the Stonecoast Writing program at the University of Southern Maine in January, I started sending my work out to various magazines –both short stories and essays—a few years ago and like many writers I’ve received dozens of rejections. I’m also proud to say, I’ve been published. Just out,  you can read my nonfiction piece, “The Story of the Family Samovar”, in the Spring/Fall issue of Lunch Ticket, the literary Magazine associated with the Los Angeles campus of Antioch University. Also available to be read online is my short story “Pain Management”,  published in the Spring 2020 issue of the independent literary magazine Change Seven.

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I like part of the inspiration for Change Seven’s name. On their “About Page” they’ve posted a photo of one of my favorite short story writers Dorothy Parker and a quote she gave in 1956 to The Paris Review, “It takes me six months to do a story. I think it out and write it sentence by sentence—no first draft. I can’t write five words but that I can change seven.” Yes, I can definitely identify with that need to keep revising, reviewing, and rewriting over and over again, until I get it right, something I never had the opportunity to do when I was quickly dashing off newspaper columns or writing reference books.

When selecting which journals you’d like to read or submit your work to, start by reading their mission statement. Lunch Ticket has a very specific mission statement: “The name Lunch Ticket pays homage to Antioch University’s historic focus on issues that affect the working class and underserved communities. We publish writers and artists who have been marginalized and underrepresented, or historically misrepresented, and welcome work that engages with issues of social, economic, and environmental justice. We are here to foster community and build a future with equity in publishing.”

A sampling of content, means start reading, in order to gain a sense of what the editors like. One way to learn about Literary Magazines or journals  that might have similar tastes to yours is to look at the places where other writers you admire have been published. So when you read an essay or a story and at the end in the “About the author” take note of the magazines they list and then check them out. Staff rosters change and a magazine may no longer be publishing or accepting submissions, but it is a place to start.

I’ve garnered my list of favorites: River Teeth, Ruminate, Prairie Schooner, Ninth Letter, Southwest Review, Baltimore Review, Anomaly, New England Review among others. They come in all sizes, most with a mission to publish the underrepresented voices and to foster experimentation. Some of the MFA programs, such as Stonecoast focus on producing a printed journal The Stonecoast Review, and a fine literary journal it is. They do publish “Spotlight” online of student work and you can still read one of my short stories “Timepiece” on the site. All literary magazines, associated with a teaching institution or independent, struggle for financial support. IF you afford to purchase a subscription, printed copies, or just make a donation—the money will go to good use. Staff is usually volunteer is severely underpaid.

The magazine Poets & Writers has a fairly comprehensive list of literary magazines, just remember that new ones are popping up all the time.  If readers would like to add additional names of journals they’d like mentioned, please do so in “feedback and comments”–thank you. Be daring, be bold and look for new voices and different ways of seeing the world—available in Literary Magazines— as we confront today’s challenges of a raging pandemic and global warming. And keep reading.

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