Stories from the heart. Tempered by the mind. By an award-winning writer. With a background in talk radio, newspapers & TV news. Novel in progress.

Life | Pandemic | Travel

How a Dying Woman Became a Lasting Reminder of the Importance of Human Connection

Photo by Jackson Eaves on Unsplash

It is one of those nights when the commute between Seattle and my so-called home in the San Juan Islands feels more like punishment than reward. Long day, long drive, long boat ride. I’m working harder than I want at a job I dislike to maintain a bourgeois veneer I don’t even believe in. It is already dark when I reach the ferry landing feeling not so much dead inside as…neutral, on hold.

To get here this evening, I drove north on Interstate 5 from the University of Washington, left the freeway in Mount Vernon, and headed west on Highway 20 till I reached the ferry terminal. …


Even If the Answer is No, Chekhov’s Checklist Just Might Help Your Love Life

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Photo by Voltamax via Pixabay

Everybody wants to get into the act.

That was the famous catchphrase of longtime showman Jimmy Durante. But if he were alive today, Durante might instead say, “Everybody needs to get into the act.”

With 11 million people still unemployed because of the pandemic, lots of folks have been searching for a payday on social-media platforms lately. Desperate to replace the steady income of the nine-to-five or the dodgy earnings of the gig economy, more than a few have become ‘writers.’

They hear that Kim Kardashian makes more money from a single Instagram post than she does during an entire season of Keeping up with the Kardashians. They read stories about influencers who rake in enough bitcoin to buy sprawling mansions. Even failed influencers can get into the act. One even picked up a six-figure publishing contract for ratting out a popular influencer she helped promote. …

Right down to the message on those red baseball caps

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Photo Triptych by @Jazprose “Foyles War DVD” by Mark Morgan Trinidad B is licensed under CC BY 2.0

It was almost six years ago to the day that a fictional series on British television warned of the January 6th mob attack on the U.S. Capitol.

When the episode was broadcast in the United States on January 11, 2015, few regarded the man who would become 45th president of the United States as anything other than tabloid fodder. He was a real-estate playboy, bankrupt casino owner, a blowhard who spent $85,000 on newspaper ads calling for the death of five innocent Black and Latino teenagers accused of raping a white jogger, and more recently, the host of a reality TV show. Hardly the stuff of a successful run for the White House. …


In the time before Stacey Abrams, having them had nothing to do with the accident of maleness.

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Atlanta Realtor Lottie Watkins with Jimmy Carter via Atlanta Journal Constitution

When we talk about cojones, what we’re really talking about is courage. Not giving in to fear. We’re all afraid sometimes, but people with courage feel the fear and do the scary thing anyway. This is not an abstract point to be debated. Sooner or later, a dragon of one kind or another will appear in everyone’s life. Most will run away and hide. A few others will grow a pair. Here’s a story about one of them.

Once upon a time, two boys rounded the corner of an Atlanta neighborhood looking just like other Black kids in this part of town — except for one thing. They wore suit jackets and neckties. A dead giveaway for Catholic school. Standing up when the teacher enters. Remaining quiet until called upon. Prayers to begin the day. Prayers at the noonday Angelus bell. …


Minstrelsy is gone. But its legacy is not. Here’s one way around an inherited predisposition that harms us all.

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Detail of West’s Big Minstrel Jubilee via Picryl, Public Domain & Megyn Kelly via on Wikimedia

Exiled TV host Megyn Kelly no longer has the power to ignite controversies over blackface and white Santa. But the racial lightning rod she embodied at Fox News and NBC is still there, waiting for a new high-voltage mouthpiece to agitate America’s ongoing struggle with racial unrest.

It was Megyn Kelly who shot off her mouth about the race of Jesus and Santa Claus in 2013. It was Megyn who argued for blackface in 2018. As viewers took sides for or against her, the schism amplified America’s propensity for divide — be it over race or masks.

This is especially true of the face-cover intended to keep us safe. The Fauci mask, the CDC mask, the Biden hundred-day mask. The mask that has America queued up on either side of yet another tribal chasm. …


Sometimes old stories and a single memory can help you keep your head when everyone else seems to be losing theirs.

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Photo via Pikist

Love is but a song we sing.

Fear’s the way we die — Those are the opening lyrics of a song I used to sing in college. It’s the fear part that’s always concerned me. A primary emotion, I’m told. The opposite of love. When you’re angry, you’re really afraid, according to some but not all psychologists.

But I had to find that out in the School of Life. The one you enter after you leave behind the classics. I’m in the middle of that second education now. The one that counts. Lessons are everywhere.

In a second-floor restaurant overlooking Elliott Bay, I sit too close to a red-faced mass of manhood breathlessly lecturing his wife. He points to an inky tabloid held inches above his plate. Something brown that comes with a side of French fries slips in and out of view. His puffy index finger pokes a column I cannot see and do not care about. …


To some, Billboard’s 2020 Woman of the Year is a symbol of decline. To others a champion of pussy power. But the real obscenity is in hypocrisy.

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Photo: Outtakes from Cardi’s Billboard Photo Shoot via Pinterest/Instagram

The unlikely icon

It is one thing to say, “God is great,” as Cardi B does in the profile blurb on her Instagram account. But anyone can say that. Only those who have faced some dark hour of need and found themselves gazing upward understand why God is great. Those three words come nowhere close to describing what they point to. But words are all we have. And as T.S. Eliot tells us, words strain, crack, and sometimes break.

That’s why the photograph on this page may be my favorite of all the Cardi B images I have ever seen. Those upturned eyes say more than words. …


With 30,000 adverse events reported for vaccines each year, a healthy dose of caution may be just what the doctor ordered.

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Photo by CDC on Unsplash

First, I’m thrilled there’s a new coronavirus vaccine on the horizon. And no — I am not an anti-vaxxer or a conspiracy theorist.

Like you, I’m in awe of the gene-splicing technology that made the vaccine possible and also of the scientists who produced it. But I wonder if the desire to get our lives back may be tempting us to ignore the risks regarding the remaining unknowns.

Think for a minute. Why should choosing to get a coronavirus vaccine be different from managing risk in any other area of life? …


At the Sexual Harassment Snitch Line, Some Callers Only Want to Talk to Women

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Photo via Pixabay

If a man answers, they hang up.

Hi, this is Donna.”

That’s what they’re looking for. Or Heather, Tracy, Nancy, Janelle.

Thank you for calling. This is Maggie. How may I help you?”

Any of these female voices will do. All trained from day one to smile as they speak. Be cheerful, submissive. Accommodating. Never argumentative. Never disagreeable. Only with a woman can the caller’s personal movie begin. Here comes the canine panting into the mouthpiece, the kind that can only mean one thing.

This is what you put up with in the underbelly of call-center life, where nearly seventy-five percent of the phone agents are women. If a man answers, heavy breathers need not press redial too often before they get what they’re listening for. …

Fiction Friday — The daughter of a Black Trump supporter tells all.

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Photo by Mika Matin on Unsplash

My father is too old to be standing on a ladder. Blood makes it to his heart only because of stents that keep his veins open. He says he has prediabetes, but I think he’s lying. Sometimes his feet hurt so bad he walks on the sides of his shoes. His soles look like lovers in a tête-à-tête. Sure seems like full-on diabetes to me. He should not be on that ladder. But you can’t tell my Dad anything. And there’s no stopping him from putting up that sign.

This Store Destroyed by the China Virus and the KKK.

It says a lot about my father that he doesn’t see the irony in “China Virus and the KKK,” aligning himself with a hate group while at the same time claiming to be victimized by it. The sign is printed in white letters on a black canvas background. A small rope at the bottom cinches it around the end of the store’s marquee. It reminds me of a noose. …

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