All posts by Marilyn Botta

Janet – A Tribute

 

Monday morning my best friend, Janet, passed away in her home.  I had the great privilege of calling Janet my friend since we were 6 years old.  She was my best friend, my confidante, and I guess you would call her “My Person.” She was always there for me and always willing to lend an ear. We could spend two hours on the phone talking about everything and later the next day, do it again. There was never any judgement on her part and no matter what I told her she would put a positive spin on it.  She was simply a joyful person and an optimist.

Janet was also the most genuine human being with the best sense of humor you could ever know. I think that’s what drew me to her when we were kids. She used to say she had a “warped sense of humor” but then I guess I did too because we just “got each other.”  It was more like a dry sense of humor that not everyone understood.  I could just get on the phone and, in the midst of bad news, we’d end up laughing about on old inside joke. We had many of them from when we were children to the more recent situations which we would find hilarious.  Even in her waning moments, her humor came out when a nurse asked her name for the umpteenth time, she got annoyed and said her name was “Joe Schmo.” But that was her to a tee. That was just so Janet.

Janet also was amazingly crafty as evidenced by all the needle points in my house as well as an actual desk that she built. She was an amazing seamstress that even made all the bridesmaid dresses for her daughter’s wedding.  The picture on top of this post show just a few of the Boyds Bears she gave me for my birthdays. I will treasure “Janet’s Bears” as I call them.

Before Janet moved to Georgia, she lived in Orangeburg (upstate NY) not far from where I lived in NJ, and we spent many fun times with her family and my kids. When I moved here 18 years ago, I was basically adopted by her family so some of my best memories are Thanksgiving and Christmas when she would stay up to dawn sometimes getting ready baking last minute cakes and cookies. She was most famous for her cheesecakes. I guess you could call her the cheesecake queen.

Growing up in Stuyvesant Town we both had many of the same friends, but I must say I never kept in touch. But Janet kept in touch with many of them. She was such a sweet and caring person that she even went up twice to Manhattan to support her friend Peggy in her cancer battle—that last time when she herself was not even well.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this last thing: Janet was not known for her promptness, but we all accepted it. I remember once when she was at least 30 minutes late picking me up for the airport, I frantically told her I would miss my flight, and she said, in her calm and optimistic way said, “Don’t worry, we’ll make it.” And we did. Every time she was late, she just knew we would make it on time.

But no matter what I write here, there are just not enough words to express how much I loved and respected Janet. There will never be another person like her and no matter how many friends I may have now or in the future she is irreplaceable. I love you Jet.  Come to me in my dreams soon—I’ll be waiting. Godspeed.

Love your best friend M

Inauguration Day 2021

I watched the Inauguration of Joe Biden yesterday and was emotional. For the first time in 4 years, I actually had a feeling of hopefulness rather than hopelessness. I was literally breathless during the swearing in ceremonies of Biden and Harris. I had hope again in our country, in this administration, in our leaders at the top. This does not mean that we are out of the woods by any means—we will still have the white supremacists committing violent acts or at least trying to. The one who shall not be named will still be an inciter but at least he won’t be the inciter in chief. We won’t have to listen to his incessant lies and rhetoric each day and know that many brain-washed people in our country believe it. It was such a pleasure to turn on the TV this morning and not see his face, spewing forth falsehoods, insisting—like a petulant 5-year-old–that he “won the election, big!” Yesterday, they happened to play a clip for Trump’s final farewell speech and I literally had to mute it.

After 4 years of this horror show, I have PTSD. I think the reason I cried during the Inauguration was that I realized that I don’t have to hold my breath anymore. I never really realized that I had been holding my breath for 4 years until I was able to let it out. I watched The View this morning and Whoopie actually said exactly what I am saying here. Each morning I would turn on the TV with trepidation and think, “What has he done today to undermine the United States. What has he tweeted about today to enflame his so called “base”? Then I would see almost every day there was a crisis of his making or that he somehow sided with Putin on almost everything. His Russian buddy, Putin, could do anything and Trump would never say a word or just outright deny that he was to blame. Whatever it was, I was angry every day and couldn’t get past it. I could never fathom why this guy and his grifter family got away with everything.

It is such a relief to see competence being restored to the White House. Biden’s cabinet picks are not just white men, they are a cross section of what this country actually looks like—white, black, Asian, Latino, American Indian, Indian, etc. And these are competent people and not just the sycophants Trump installed because of their loyalty to him. It is amazing how we will have an Attorney General (Merrick Garland) who is America’s lawyer not just the personal lawyer to the president. It will be amazing to see that our new President will not interfere with the DOJ. It will be amazing to have a President who does not lead by Tweet.

There are too many atrocities that have been committed by the worst and most corrupt President and administration in history to name–I would be writing forever. In spite of that, he could’ve gotten out with at least a little bit of dignity. But instead, he had to invent “The Big Lie” and spread it far and wide, gaining political traction within the Republican party. They knew better that Biden won fair and square, but their political aspirations came before country and shame on them for that. This guy’s refusal to accept defeat, instead trying to disenfranchise millions of voters in mostly black communities, was so egregious and shows what a racist and small, petty man he is. Not once did he ever express empathy for the 400 thousand people who have died thus far from this Covid-19 pandemic. Instead, he pretended that it was a hoax, and told people not to wear masks, resulting in more deaths than there should have been. His response to the pandemic was enough to get him impeached or at least “impeached” in the eyes of God. Rest assured he will never see Heaven when he dies, he will shoot straight down to Hell where he will be sharing a cell with his evil counterpart, Hitler.

However, the worst thing he did was to incite an insurrection at the Capitol, trying to overthrow the government and prevent the Electoral College votes from being counted and certified on January 6th.  Now he will go down in history as the only President to be impeached twice—this last one with seven days to go. How sad—and even if he somehow gets away with it in the Senate, it is still on his record forever. All our allies are over the moon about this wannabe dictator finally being out of office. Biden will rejoin the Paris climate accords, rejoin the WHO, roll back the Muslim ban, and stop that ridiculous “Wall” which was promised but never really delivered. He will hopefully make the vaccine rollout move faster and mourn with us during our time of sorrow.

Oh yes, yesterday was a wonderful day. Just to see him board a plane and slither off to Florida, was uplifting beyond belief. I pray that he never regains any sort of political control again and that he never receives intelligence briefings, as some other former Presidents do. I pray that our new President and VP will be safe. I pray that this red blot in our Country’s history will never be repeated and that we learn from this. But alas, it must be one day at a time. I am not so much a Poly Anna that I believe that it will be smooth sailing because it took four years to almost ruin democracy and so it will take a while to fix it. Our country will never be the same again, but hopefully, we will rise up and become the great nation that we still can be.

Last Stand

I peer out a crack in the wall and see the grisly, salivating maw of the German Shepard on the leash of his handler searching for us, waiting to tear us to pieces.

I have been in hiding in this bunker for 60 days now with a number of others. We are starting to run low on food and supplies. We are being hunted relentlessly on the orders of the Supreme Commander in Chief, who has decreed that all subversives be rounded up and imprisoned and if they resist, killed on the spot. This includes political opponents as well as all Democrats in Congress. Having gone through the voting records of citizens, the TAF (Trump Allied Forces) are conducting door-to-door searches for people who voted for the other side.

Some people saw the signs that this Democratic government would fall, but others could not face reality. They insisted that “this was their country too” and would stand and fight. But, for many it was too late and they could no longer escape.

The lucky or smart ones escaped to other countries, but the unlucky ones or those in denial had no choice but to either be rounded up and jailed or go into hiding. I am one of those unlucky ones who watched as the Democratic nation I loved became increasingly unstable but stood by in disbelief as one institution after another fell until we faced an autocracy ruled by a strong man.

I am now ensconced in a secret underground bunker, making do with whatever medieval supplies we could pilfer from old warehouses. We watched as the political storm became increasingly volatile knowing that we would reach a point of no return, where it was either sit by or take action. We have been preparing for a “doomsday” for a year now, stockpiling supplies and weapons, hoping we would never need these. A network of secret communication was created so if and when the day came, we would be ready, and when it came we said, “Now.”

So we fled with our lives, and some of our meager possessions, hoping we would not be betrayed by any TAF spies who might’ve infiltrated our group.

We each had our assigned role, and mine was to keep watch on the outside world through that crack in the wall. So today I have climbed up to the top of the bunker where I can peer out at the horror of what has become of the United States of America.

Each day our small TV shows the good and dissenting citizens being rounded up and shot, or jailed in deplorable conditions. We watch as the U.S. rule of law and Constitution is being destroyed.

How did this happen? How did we come to this? Looking back I remember being told over and over that the American People are smart and would not elect a charlatan and con man, but it happened. How could people continue to support him even after a damning report came out detailing all the lies and criminal activities he was engaged in and still is?  But the report was ignored and the majority of the people fell under his spell. They were already anchored, and just as human nature is, refused to admit they were wrong. They gradually let it happen, with the help of his minions and sycophants in Congress, the Russian bots, and Trump News. They were mesmerized and no matter all the warnings, believed all the lies. The American people were duped and now here we are, just a few pockets of dissenters left in this country to carry on some day.

But we have a new leader who has been gaining ground and each night we sneak out and flood the streets with flyers. So, I have hope in the goodness of humankind and that people will rise up against this evil regime. I must pray that we are not too late and believe with my soul that we will prevail in the end.

The Traveling Umbrella

My name is FiFi and I am a traveling umbrella.

I was born in a Totes factory 10 years ago. During that time I have traveled all over and have had many different owners, each with a different story.

When I came off the assembly line I was shipped to Macy’s with all the concomitant hopes of acquiring an upscale owner, preferably a liberal, since it was Manhattan. I figured this human would realize my quality and take good care of me. But since I was not the only umbrella on the shelf, it took many months for someone to notice me and to fall in love. It was such a sad and nerve wracking time for me and I thought it would never happen. Each time I saw someone perusing the isle I wanted to jump up and say, “Pick Me, Pick Me”, but I guess that was impossible. I probably would’ve caused a heart attack or stroke if I had done that.

But one day, when I had given up hope of ever getting a home, a fine young man named David recognized my intrinsic value and glow on my face and said, “That’s the one!” I was literally (at least in my mind) jumping for joy. But the joy was short lived because he didn’t really love me, no—he was gong to give me away. Not even one hour after rescuing me, I found myself practically smothered in giftwrap. With a heavy heart, I knew I would have a new owner. I could only hope and pray that she was responsible and would properly care for me. A few days later, I had a new owner named Camille, David’s girlfriend. She seemed very pleased at the time and in the beginning took me with her anytime there was rain or even a threat.  But one day, while riding the subway, she left me on the seat. I tried to call out to her, “Wait, wait, you forgot me,” but she couldn’t hear my silent scream. Suddenly, and without warning, I was alone again—on the subway, no less, with all kinds of undesirables and that dirt.

I sat there silently crying when another miracle happened—just the right person sat down and, seeing nobody claiming me, came to my aide. His name was Mark and he was an investment banker. Wow, I thought, I hit the jackpot. Yes I was broken up about losing Camille, but this guy was wealthy and I definitely could live with that. I had visions of a penthouse on Central Park West, with a doorman and a nicely furnished, well organized closet for my home. But, unfortunately this guy was a total slob, and I was carelessly thrown into a plastic tub at the bottom of the closet.  I felt hopeless, not knowing how I would get out of this predicament. Was there a foundation that dealt with abused umbrellas—I didn’t think so—and how would I even let anyone know. But luck shined on me again, when my captor decided to clean out his closet and donate junk to Goodwill. Now, although I was glad he was doing this, I was insulted that I was being categorized as junk. Nevertheless, it was a blessing because within a few days, Sara, who was planning on moving to Augusta, GA, paid $4.00 for me. Granted, that was ridiculous for a fine Totes umbrella like me to be sold for so little, I was happy that I seemed to have acquired a new home. In addition, I would be leaving Manhattan where I could easily be left on the Subway. No subway in Augusta.

Within a week I was in a nice warm climate, with my new owner. Her house was lovely and, for the first time in a while, I felt content. She usually kept me in her car for those sudden downpours. I was beginning to feel settled and, dare I say, relaxed, when she visited her favorite coffee spot, Starbucks. It happened to be raining that day and for some reason I felt uneasy. I knew it was predicted as intermittent showers so there was the risk of forgetting me if it became sunny. My fear came to fruition when one day, she left me on the seat. I was bereft and felt my life was over. Someone put me in the newspaper rack where I sat, feeling abandoned and alone, for weeks. I began to see a woman every day and I telepathically pleaded with her to please adopt me. So one day, Marilyn who had gotten my message, realized that nobody was going to claim me, and being the brash New Yorker that she is, took me home. That was three years ago, and we have been through so much. She is not perfect, but she loves me. She keeps me in her car and takes me into the gym periodically. The problem with her is that she has “lost” me so many times I cannot count, but somehow always finds me. It seems that we are meant for each other and maybe, just maybe, I have finally found my forever home.

Moon Tales

We were a real family that night—just like any other.

It was four days before my birthday, July 20, 1969, and my most wonderful memory of that famous day was that my crazy, dysfunctional family, came together as one.

We were a family in name and proximity only—four people who just happened to be living in the same apartment, never spinning in the same orbit.  It is something I never really noticed before until my first husband brought it to my attention once.  As an outside observer, he said, “You just live in the same space—like you were just thrown together—and you all don’t even seem related.” That was us—each one going our own separate way.  It seemed perfectly normal for everyone to eat at different times. Nobody waited for anyone else because we were on totally different schedules. My dad worked two jobs and had to eat early to go to his nighttime job at the post office. I would always try to avoid him when he came home about 5 pm. If it were the summer, I would deliberately stay outside until he left. On school days when I was home, a distinct feeling of dread would engulf me when I heard the key in the door and I would think, “Oh, he’s home” and would have to endure an hour of criticism about everything under the sun—nothing was off limits. When he left, I breathed a sigh of relief.  My mom, who worked full time as a legal secretary, would always come home later than anyone so she would leave little notes on the small kitchen counter telling us what was in the frig that we were supposed to heat up for dinner. It was always something different for each of us but we would know who the instructions were addressed to by the title: M (for Marilyn), S (for Sam—my dad), and G (for Gordon—my brother). Those monikers stuck because I still call my brother G and he still calls me M.

I guess I didn’t know any better because my best friend, Janet, had a very strange, dysfunctional family too. In fact there were many parallels. I think living in a large apartment complex in Manhattan did not foster closeness in families. So, I simply thought it was normal to have everyone doing their own thing.

But when I look back on that magical late afternoon on Sunday, I can still feel the excitement. The anticipation was palpable and all our petty differences, and our apartness, were forgotten. I remember not even believing that a man was actually going to walk on the moon and that we would be seeing this on TV—it seemed more like a dream than reality. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that this bright mythical sphere in the sky would become real and tangible. That afternoon we gathered together in our living room in front of our black and white TV—a family, an honest to goodness family—sharing a moment in history—awestruck. It brings a smile to my face when I look back at that day and I am still in awe. After many visits to the moon, it became almost commonplace, but in 1969, for that one moment in time, we, and the entire world were united and I had a real family.

Ambiguous Loss and Grief

Ambiguous Loss: I totally understand that concept. I have an adult son who has been battling mental illness for almost 20 years. He has been hospitalized numerous times, seems to recover and lead a productive, relatively “normal” life for a while, only to “relapse”, which actually implies he was ever free of his mental illness, which he has never really been. He is schizophrenic and is now on medication, but does not comply with the things he needs to do to function in the world. It is especially difficult because he lives in NJ and I live in Georgia. However, I have tried to get him into program after program, with therapists, and case managers only to have him reject the help that is freely offered him. He has been homeless for years, yet keeps turning down offers of housing from his treatment programs. I actually wrote about ambiguous loss in my blog, A Woman Speaks Out, back in 2014. When a loved one physically dies, there is a period of mourning that eventually gives way to some sort of acceptance and healing. But when your child becomes, “someone you used to know”, it is particularly difficult because how can you mourn somebody that has not died? It is easy and anybody who deals with a loved one with dementia or especially mental illness can understand this concept. I mourn the adorable boy he was, the young man with promise, the son who was always on the same wavelength with me, the boy with the great sense of humor. I am always waiting for  “the other shoe to drop” and wonder when the next crisis will be.  I grieve my boy, who I speak to periodically and actually sounds fairly “normal” on the phone. But, there simply is no reasoning with him about anything he does not want to do. It is a constant battle for me to disassociate myself on some days, just so I can have some sort of happiness. I am in mourning every single day and sometimes I wonder how things would be if he passed away. God forbid, but I could grieve and then begin to heal. But then I hate myself for even thinking the unthinkable. When there is ambiguous loss, you grieve the loss of the essence of your loved one; you mourn every single day, some days less then others. You live in a roller coaster world where one day you may get some good news from his therapists and then suddenly there is no movement or he goes backward. One step forward, two steps back and then you often have to start from scratch. This happens over and over with no relief in sight. You cannot talk to most people about your “loss” because they do not understand. You cannot constantly bombard people with the latest horror story because they do not want to hear it. You have to put on a happy face, when underneath there is about 20% of my brain that cannot ever, ever, be happy. There is that part of me with a broken heart that I have to hide lest I be considered a “negative” person. And then there is the loss of hope—the feeling that nothing will ever get better. That hopelessness is deadly because it leads to depression on my part. I know that acceptance is the key to everything, but this is often a bitter pill to swallow and it is hard to accept that your child is gradually disappearing before your very eyes.

Five Minutes to Live

The alarms are blaring outside and the TV has the shrill piercing beep and a warning to take cover immediately—that North Korea has launched missiles that will reach the U.S. in less than 5 minutes.

I’m so scared that I am almost in a catatonic state, finding it hard to believe that this is the end for us all. For weeks we have been getting dire predictions that war is imminent but like everyone else I did not really believe it. How could that be? How could any rational person let the rhetoric get so out of hand that here we are. But when you have so many lickspittles in Washington not willing to stand up to this administration, it was inevitable. When you have an unbalanced President who stokes the fires and provokes, and thinks it is macho to use the nuclear weapons at his disposal, it is bound to happen. I go through the motions of grabbing my birds and jumping into my bedroom closet—the safest place. But, as I am doing this I know there is no safety anywhere and I am doomed. Well at least I will die fast.

I close my eyes, think of my children and feel so sad that I will not be able to say goodbye. I harken back to when I was a child and I used to play the game of what if: what if the Russians launched a bomb and we were told it would hit us in 5 minutes? I remember saying that I would hide in the closet with no other thought of what would become of us. I remember hiding underneath the desk at school for our bomb drills and cannot believe that this is it and all that practice was for naught. However, I take solace in the fact that at least I won’t get any older, and that maybe I will see my boy in heaven, all healed and beaming. A feeling of peace and calm comes over me as I pray. Those sweet parrots of mine know something is wrong and instead of squirming and squawking they are quiet and strangely attentive, just sitting with me. I think of all the things I wanted to do and never did. I oddly worry about my computer and laptop, and my beautiful camera equipment. I think that nobody will ever know I existed because all traces of my life will be obliterated with everything else. I wonder if by some chance I do survive the initial impact, how long will it take for the radiation to travel and how us survivors will die a slow and agonizing death. I think back on the movie, “On the Beach” where survivors who lived in Australia waited for the inevitable. I remember the ominously preternatural TV movie, “The Day After” and try to remember how long it took for Jason Robards to die of radiation poisoning. I think of my friend whose entire family moved to Australia during the cold war, only to move back to New York a few years later. I wonder who will succumb first—me or the birds? I think that if only I had taken my phone into the closet I could at least say farewell to my son, but in my haste I left it outside on the counter. I wonder if anybody will be posting on Facebook or the Kardashians will post doomsday selfies, maybe burying them in a time capsule to let the future inhabitants of the world know who the beautiful people were. Will my pictures or paintings survive? How about my IRA—will I have money to live in the new apocalyptic world. Will I lose my hair and where will I get my hair done in the new world if I don’t die, knowing full well all these thoughts are totally ridiculous?

Then during my foray into the dire future or lack thereof, I suddenly become aware that the sirens have stopped and there seems to be some announcement on the TV. I wonder if I am just dead already. I listen carefully and decide to venture out of the closet only to hear the amazing announcement that a miracle of sorts has happened—the U.S. has intercepted the missiles and the strike has been averted. We will live—I will live—my children will live. The announcer is saying that the threat is over and during my rejoicing and relief, a cold and dark shadow appears to pass over me making me shiver and I sigh and say, “For now.”

Changing Your Life

Update-DISCLAIMER: This is a story based on a composite of many people-it is NOT MY STORY. It is based on someone I knew but this is NOT ME!!

All you need to do is change everything. But that is easier said than done and it takes so much hard work and I am not sure I want to put in the effort.

What does changing everything mean anyway? I have been grappling with this damn drug addiction for how many years and I cannot, for the life of me so far get a handle on it because maybe I am weak. The draw to obliterate consciousness—to wipe out all negative emotions and painful thoughts is too tempting. But, I will try—yes I will try yet again. I will try to get clean for my child, my family, but most importantly for me. If I don’t get clean for myself, there is nothing.

Well, what is the first step to take? How about changing people, places and things. OK, people—all the people in my sphere are druggies—but they are my friends. How am I supposed to just eliminate them from my life? Well, I tell myself I must do this if I want to get any amount of clean time. How am I supposed to tell my friends that I can’t see them anymore—I just cannot do that, no way. I love these people and they love me, at least I think, or thought they did. Well, what happened when I OD’d last year—who took me to the hospital and dumped me there to die and just by chance was found before the end. If I think that’s true love I am delusional when I look too closely at it. Addicts are just out for themselves when getting a fix, just to ameliorate the dope sickness. The merry-go-round keeps going over and over until that change is made or you die. Do I want to change? Am I strong enough to recognize that the futility of life without any hope or future is all I have to look forward to if I do not take the necessary steps to change? The question is whether or not I want to get busy living or get busy dying—it is my choice.

How the hell did a nice upper middle class kid ever get mixed up in the seedy underground of the drug culture? How did I go from a good girl, with hopes and ambitions, and good grades to a drugged out shell of a person with absolutely no conscience, doing anything to get what I want. How did I become a person with no moral code who would sell my soul to the devil or leave my child just to get my high? I did not have a terrible family; I didn’t have any horrible tragedy befall me, so what is my excuse? But, just like so many other kids in that nice Atlanta neighborhood, I got bored. I needed something to occupy my mind and having so much privilege I became a follower, just looking for the next high. Nobody thinks when they are young, “I want to be a drug addict when I grow up.” It was so gradual that I almost never even saw it coming, a pill here, a pain pill there—trips to the pill-pushing doctor to say how I was sad and couldn’t sleep or cope. The doctor was all too ready to prescribe the latest pain med. But pain pills are so damn expensive and even buying it from the other kids was becoming a drain on my budget. It was just so much easier to graduate to the big H—so easy to get—the greatest high known to man. There is nothing like it—the euphoria is totally unimaginable and I will do pretty much anything to get it—to chase that high to the ends of the earth, only to come down and start the chase again. Logically I know there is no good ending that will come from the life I have chosen, and I did originally choose it, but I am now a prisoner with no choice.

So, what is the way out of this maze I am in—just existing until the next fix? What do I have to live for—the reason for changing must be for me and not anybody else or it won’t work. I know just detoxing in jail or a detox unit is not a solution because it is more than a physical addiction, it is a deep soul sickness and unless I commit to changing my thought process, I will never be free and will remain a slave to this disease. I hate my life the way it is—I have seen my friend OD, my boyfriend die, done morally reprehensible things, and I wonder why them and not me. I can only surmise that they were collateral damage put into my life to guide me in a divine way—to save me. I must pay attention to these spiritual experiences and learn from them because these are gifts from God. If I don’t I am a fool and will be one of those expenditures used as an example for someone else because I just wasn’t willing to take a chance and change.

I Apologize

I apologize to all the men and women who have sacrificed their lives during wartime for this great country fighting what is just and right. I apologize to the brave soldiers who were traumatized and bore witness to the worst of mankind during the liberation of the concentration camps—grown men who cried during interviews, even 50 years later. Those are images they could never erase from their minds and haunted them the rest of their lives. I apologize to all the Jews who lost their lives in concentration camps during the Holocaust as well as being gunned down and buried in mass graves by the Nazis. I apologize to all the innocent African Americans who have been lynched at the hands of the KKK in the name of “White Nationalism.” I apologize to all of us who have been the victims of racism and anti-Semitism in the name of White Nationalists, the KKK, and other Alt-right fringe groups. I apologize on behalf of this great country of the United States for the insensitive, hurtful, unprecedented, and frankly dangerous stance taken by the President by not calling out these hate groups for what they are—hate filled anti-Semites and racists. I apologize to the brave people in Charlottesville who came out to protest the blatant Nazi, White Supremacy agenda who have been lumped together along with the “good people” “peacefully protesting the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee” when we can see Nazi flags, swastikas, and Confederate flags waving proudly. I apologize for statements such as, “Don’t let Jews take our jobs” and calling out the President for allowing his daughter to be “taken” by Jared Kushner, who is Jewish. I apologize to the young woman who was mowed down and killed by a Neo-Nazi follower, who probably believes that she was just collateral damage. I am saddened that this sort of language does not seem to bother the President whose own daughter is now Jewish, as well as his grandchildren. I am frightened by the vehemence of these insane beliefs held by these previously fringe groups, that are now proliferating throughout the United States because of the lack of condemnation and frankly defense of these White Nationalist groups and the KKK. I am shocked, but not surprised at the belief that these sick cowardly groups feel they have a friend in the President. I am horrified that the formerly grand wizard of the KKK, David Duke, praised and thanked the President. I am disgusted at the spineless lack of strong response and condemnation, and any real action from the Congress. Words are meaningless unless followed by action. The good citizens of this country need to unite against hate groups and not let them become part of the mainstream fabric of this Country. Join me in the condemnation of hate groups before our beautiful, free, country becomes a fascist state. Open your eyes and see history for what it is; see what took hold in Nazi Germany, and how it started out in small ways. See how during the 1930s anti-Semitism began to take a foothold, with many people burying their heads in the sand and refusing to believe what was happening, all the while people were quietly losing their businesses, being denied basic rights, condemned without cause, culminating in the death of millions. Open your eyes everyone, no matter what your religion or race, and take a stand for what is right and just in this world because this affects us all.

The People Downhill

I am thinking evil thoughts—thoughts that a sane human being should not even be considering. I am trying to ignore the incessant howling, barking, and whining downhill from my bedroom but it is becoming increasingly difficult to do so and I am getting blindingly angry by the minute.

I am so disturbed because no matter how many times we ask nicely, threaten, put notes on their door, that animal is still out there at all hours. I am most upset because by them ignoring our complaints they are essentially saying, “screw you!” Who are these people anyway and who the hell do they think they are to disturb a whole community? The next day, I go outside my back door and look down hill, beyond the pine trees on my property to where I think the barking might be originating. Suddenly the dog lets lose with the barking as if he is saying, “Here I am.” I take a picture with my phone and send it out to the board members and lo and behold, they say that these people live right next door to them and give me an address. I’ve been out there at all hours, screaming at them into the night to, “Shut that damn dog up or I’ll call the police” and in it goes only to return the next night to haunt and harass me—personally it seems. I wonder if others are as bothered by this as I am or is it just me.

I do research and find out that the owner of this property is deceased so I have no idea who actually lives there—are they renters or squatters?—nobody seems to know. I interview people living next door and find out that they leave the house at night, dump the demon dog on the patio for hours, and slink back just before dawn, following in the leader’s umbra. One by one, they enter the house, take the dog in, and do not reappear until the next night. That sounds suspicious to me. At this point I just want to eliminate that dog—maybe they are vampires but who cares as long as they don’t mess with my sleep.

My head is spinning with many unanswered questions and ideas. Maybe I can get rid of two menaces—I begin to fantasize about murder—but is it murder if the object of your hatred is the undead? What if the dog is not among the living either? Do I need a silver bullet to kill it and where can I even get a silver bullet anyway and would I need a special gun? Can you kill someone who is already dead and remembering True Blood, I know that you can by staking it in the heart or using a silver bullet to achieve the Final Death. On this night I have homicide in my heart and start planning how to rid myself of these tormentors—I cannot take it anymore.

The next day I decide to consult the Internet since everyone knows that is the most reliable source and everything is true. I Google “how to kill vampires”—then, “how to kill a vampire dog”—then, “how to get a gun”—then, “how to get silver bullets”. I start thinking of how the whole community will hail me as a hero when the deed is done—“Marilyn the Vampire Slayer” has a nice ring to it. I could even start a business or star in a new reality TV show. Who would’ve thought that this terrible situation would open the door to boundless opportunities?

I find many websites giving detailed instructions on how to deliver the Final Death to a vampire. I decide I will use a combination of wooden stakes and silver bullets to make sure these monsters will no longer walk the Earth. I look through my garage and find one long sharp wooden stake, but what about the others? I’ll have to go to Lowes and ask if they have any vampire killing kits. I have another problem because I’m not sure who exactly inhabits that townhouse, since it appears to be musical tenants (or whatever they are) that change every other week. I don’t want to be outnumbered and risk being turned too (although that might not be a bad idea either, because I will be immortal). But what would I do with my two parrots—can I turn then into vampire birds? I decide I do not want to become an undead unless I can take my birds into that world too. I may have to enlist the help of others but whom do I ask—who would believe me? How about putting an ad on Craig’s List that would read, “Vampire slayers wanted. Call Marilyn.”

The more I think I have a solution, the more questions arise which lead to even more until I am overwhelmed with fear and I am getting cold feet. The What Ifs are starting to outweigh the benefits of riding the world of these bloodsuckers. Then a thought comes to my mind—why not call Animal Control in Richmond County and file a formal complaint? I had been told that they really take these complaints seriously and achieve results. I put my murderous plans on hold in favor of a more sane, less dangerous solution. I go on their website and record my complaint, including all the recent evenings that creature has been out. I also include the strange comings and goings of the occupants of this dwelling, leaving out my suspicions that they and the dog are indeed vampires.

It has been two weeks and all is quiet on the Whitney Place front, although I am still waiting for the “other shoe to drop” because it seems too good to be true. Although I still think they are vampires I realize I should not share that with other people. I’m still watching them and if this remedy proves untenable I’m ready with my gun, silver bullet, and special vampire killing kit. I have received numerous inquiries to my ad on Craig’s list so I am prepared to strike at a moment’s notice. I will wait and see how it goes.