Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

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In this age of Donald J. Trump and the Mueller investigation, you can expect updates on what is happening to our country and its Constitution.

Primary Election is June 28, Tuesday, in Illinois

Alexi Giannoulias

Tomorrow, June 28, Tuesday, is the Primary Election in Illinois. Poll hours are 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Here in East Moline, the polling place for us (South Moline Township #1) is 637 17th Avenue, the Senior Citizens’ Center.

Running tomorrow are a couple of candidates about whom I’ve done some preliminary research. Alexi Giannoulias is running for the position of SECRETARY OF STATE as a Democrat.

Alexander Giannoulias, (born March 16, 1976) is a 46-year-old American financier and politician who served as the 72nd Illinois Treasurer from 2007 to 2011. A Democrat, Giannoulias defeated Republican candidate State Senator Christine Radogno in November 2006 with 54 percent of the vote, becoming the first Democrat to hold the office in 12 years, at the age of 30 (youngest ever).

It was 2 years later that I would attend a party that Alexi Giannoulias threw, but more about that in a moment.

Giannoulias was a candidate in the 2010 elections for the seat in the United States Senate held by Roland Burris. Burris, who was appointed by Governor Rod Blagojevich to fill the seat vacated by Barack Obama following Obama’s election as President of the United States, chose not to seek election. Giannoulias won the Democratic primary in February 2010; he narrowly lost the general election in November 2010 to Republican Mark Kirk.[4] Obama’s Open Senate seat has certainly had more written about it than any of us cares to remember.

Subsequently, Giannoulias  stepped back from public life, currently serving as Senior Director of BNY Mellon Wealth Management. On June 26, 2018, he was confirmed to the Chicago Public Library Board, marking his first return to public service since leaving the Treasurer’s office.[5]

Giannoulias is currently a candidate for Illinois Secretary of State in the 2022 election. (Woot!)

HE’S BACK, BABY! THE PRIMARY IS TUESDAY, JUNE 28th.

Taken during a McCain rally at the Cedar Rapids Municipal Airport during the 2008 presidential campaign. Cover of Volume II of “Obama’s Odyssey: The 2008 Race for the White House.” (Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book).

If elected, Alexi promises to·
fight against Republican led voter suppression measures

  • Increase voter registration opportunities – also wants to do pre-registration for voting when 16 and 17 year-olds go to get their license.
  • Make government more efficient by reducing lines and waits at driver’s license facilities
  • Crack down on corruption with tighter rules and more transparency governing public officials and lobbyists.

[*I would appreciate Alexi making it less difficult for me, personally, to renew my driver’s license. The last time I drove for the examiner (in Aledo, Illinois) the examiner complimented me on being “a very good driver.” This was well deserved, as I AM a very good driver. But, because I am an older driver, I am now going to have to show up and drive quite frequently, which does not sound fun. This last renewal was a real trial. It was during the pandemic and my license expires on July 23rd. I showed up at the East Moline driver’s license renewal office and a huge line was outside in 100 degree heat. They couldn’t be inside because of the pandemic and the line was at least 30 people long. We drove to the small town of Aledo, but there was also a line outside there (because of the pandemic.) My husband and I took turns standing in line in the rain, because we only had one umbrella. When I completed  my compliment-winning drive and we went inside,—although I had asked my spouse if he had the insurance papers in the glove box before we left home— I learned that he had forgotten to bring any copy of our insurance papers. We were  there until closing waiting for our insurance agent to fax us copies of our insurance. I spent at least an hour playing euchre on my phone. The entire process took all day.  I include this story only to see if you’re still reading this.]

Alexi Giannoulias: More Information

With Vice President Joseph Biden (then Senator Biden) at the Jefferson Jackson dinner in Davenport, Iowa, caucus season, 2008.

Giannoulias was born in Chicago, to Greek immigrants. His mother, Anna, is from Chania, and his late father, Alexis (previously President of the Broadway Bank), was from Kalavryta.] He has two older brothers, Demetris and George. Giannoulias attended The Latin School of Chicago and then the University of Chicago before transferring to Boston University. Giannoulias graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in economics. He then moved to Greece to play basketball with Panionios B.C. for a year (1998–99).

Giannoulias  played basketball at The Latin School of Chicago, and played Division III basketball at the University of Chicago. He then played Division I basketball at Boston University.

After returning from Greece, Giannoulias attended Tulane University Law School. Upon earning his J.D. degree, Alexi returned to Chicago to help manage Broadway Bank, a community bank in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood that was founded by his father in 1979.

Giannoulias served on the board of directors of the Community Bankers’ Association of Illinois Legislative Committee, the South Side/Wabash YMCA, and the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce. Giannoulias also founded and chaired the AG Foundation, a not-for-profit charity that donated money to treat child-related illnesses, curb poverty and assist disaster relief organizations.

2006 Campaign for Illinois State Treasurer

Barack Obama in Davenport, Iowa (River Center) during the 2008 caucus season.

Although the state Democratic Party led by House Speaker Mike Madigan backed his opponent, Paul Mangieri, in the primary, Giannoulias was endorsed by U.S. Representatives Jan Schakowsky and Jesse Jackson, Jr. and by then-Senator Barack Obama.

The Chicago Sun-Times news group also endorsed Giannoulias in the general election, arguing that he would “bring valuable private enterprise experience from banking to the job” and praising his “creative” policy proposals like a securities lending program, improving Bright Start, and promoting green energy. Running on a campaign platform that emphasized comprehensive ethics reform for the Treasurer’s office, Giannoulias won the March 2006 primary and went on to defeat Republican candidate Christine Radogno in the general election.

The Wikipedia.org entry from which much of the above is taken has 2 bits of information on the collapse of the Broadway Bank and on the Core Plus/Bright Start college savings program, information that is not as positive in nature as most of the other information above. [Once you mention Tony Rezko’s name, you know what happens.] But explanations were given. Moving right along….

Alexi’s father was president of Broadway Bank. My father was founder and president of Security State Bank in Independence, Iowa, established in 1941. It is still going strong and has expanded into several other Midwestern communities while remaining independent and turning down offers from several other big chains. I think the Broadway Bank collapsed under the weight of the crisis that greeted Obama and Biden when they were sworn into office.

My dad was also (Democratic) Country Treasurer of Buchanan County, Iowa, and laid the cornerstone for the county courthouse. He actually lost the election, but his Republican opponent died before he could be sworn in and they offered it to my father, John Corcoran, Jr. He served four terms before founding the Security State Bank.

Green Rewards

Giannoulias launched the “Green Rewards” program, which gave a $1,000 rebate to Illinois residents who purchase a new hybrid or other fuel-efficient vehicle. I became very excited about the possibility of getting a $1,000 rebate for purchasing (to date) SIX different Toyota Priuses. I started in 2002 with one of the first hybrid vehicles (cost: $20,050, 0% interest, plus rebates from the government). I clicked on the link to this “green reward” but found it went back to 2007, which is about when I went to a party that Alexi Giannoulias hosted in Denver at the DNC in 2008, when Alexi Giannoulias was Secretary of State.

MY ATTENDANCE AT the 2008 ALEXI GIANNOULIAS PARTY IN DENVER*

I was covering the DNC Convention in Denver for Associated Content/Yahoo. This led to me being named the Yahoo Content Producer of the Year for Politics and to two books, “Obama’s Odyssey: The 2008 Race for the White House,” Vols, I & II.

Entering the party without knowing anyone, I drifted over to a table that had several cute young girls present. I asked if I could sit with their group; they couldn’t have been nicer. They were aides for Alexi Giannoulias and had been in charge of putting on the party. One girl at the table was the daughter of the Fire Chief in Denver. Her father couldn’t wait for the DNC to leave town, as he was kept busy with things like soldering down manhole covers over security concerns.

My own state representative, who shall remain nameless for purposes of this story, had barely given me the time of day when I greeted him and told him I was from his district. He was underwhelmed at meeting one of his middle-aged constituents. The picture to the left is of Carol and Victory Bell of Rockford, guests at the Giannoulias party, who had OBAMA written on one side of their top hats and CLINTON on the other. No matter who carried the day, they were ready!

I talked one of the cutest and youngest of the girls, wearing a low-cut short black dress, into going over with me to his table and watching the difference we would encounter if I had her with me. The rest of the table was told to watch how quickly My Representative (later seen dancing, solo, to the theme from “Thriller,”— I’m not making that up) got to his feet.

So, this extremely cute young Giannoulias aide and I made our way across the dance floor to where my representative was seated.  He could not have gotten to his feet any faster if he had been sitting on a spring. I glanced over at the table. The other girls, watching to see what happened,  were convulsed in laughter.

I never actually met Alexi Giannoulias, but it was a good party and I want to thank him, belatedly, for throwing it for the Illinois delegation.

 

 

 

 

Father’s Day and a New Development in Breast Cancer Treatment

Today is Monday, June 20th.

This will not be my last Monday of radiation, but it may be the last full week of same.

There was a very interesting article that I ran across about Clinical trials for a new method of dealing with breast cancers, which involves freezing the tumors, which then implode. It sounds ideal, as there is no incision, no radiation, and all the prospective patient has to do thereafter is take one of the aromatase inhibitors. They have found that the “implosion” of the tumors actually seems to stimulate the patient’s own immune system to deal with whatever residue is left after the deep freezing. Wish I could have been in that M.D. Anderson study, but that would have required me to live near Dallas, Texas. I did want to mention this for the benefit of the 1 in 8 women who might be diagnosed with breast cancer and fall into the category I fell into, which means late-in-life presentation and small and no metastasis.

It sounds like this method could revolutionize the treatment of breast cancer (and, possibly, other cancers. The idea of having NO scar and NO operation is tempting, and the fact that one does not have to undergo radiation afterwards is equally tempting.

Yesterday was Father’s Day. The pictures I will post here are of the restaurant I took my husband to for dinner. I have to admit that I was planning on cooking a pork loin roast with a new recipe for the seasoning but I apparently had a senior moment and froze the sucker. It was as hard as a rock when I realized my faux pas.

The Captain’s Table

We dined, instead at the Captain’s Table just below the hill that we live on and roughly 2 miles away. It was beastly hot, but the outdoor veranda was lovely and my husband enjoyed a shrimp tempura dinner while I had the salmon with a brown sugar/mustard sauce.

He also received a Super Box from the children, which will allow us to get viewing on our Texas set, as we have one here. We are currently watching “The Offer” with Miles Teller, a 10-part mini series, that tells about the drama behind the making of “The Godfather” half a century ago. I will be reviewing it here after we watch episodes 9 and 10, which remain.

After that, we’ll move on to Dark Winds, which is recommended, about an investigator on an Indian reservation.

The father in house also got 3 lovely cards, a gigantic bottle of Seagram’s 7, andan Amazon gift card.

How/How Much Is the War in Ukraine Going/Costing?

In December of this past year (2021) the “New York Times” offered a digital subscription for $1 a week, and I subscribed.

Therefore, I’ve been reading the “updates” on the situation in Ukraine. I also subscribe to (and read) the “Quad City Times,” the “Chicago Tribune,” and the “Austin American Statesman,” but the reporting from the NYC on Ukraine seems to be head and shoulders above that of any other paper, which, no doubt, owes a large debt to their commitment to aggressively reporting on matters in Russia and Ukraine.

Here are a few things that came to light in today’s paper (6/15/2022) or on CNN, courtesy of Anderson Cooper.

Volodymyr Zelensky has been impatiently waiting for:

1,000 howitzers

300 missile launch rocket systems

300 tanks

2,000 armored vehicles

1,000 drones

Museum of Science & Industry

Anna Malya, Deputy Defense Minister for Ukraine, recently released this statement about the need for weapons and assistance from other NATO nations:  “No matter how hard Ukraine tries, no matter how professional our army is, without the help of Western partners, we will not be able to win this war.”

So far, we have given Ukraine 108 howitzers, 4 HIMARS truck-mounted multiple-launch rocket systems (with a range of 40 miles) and Ukrainian soldiers are being trained on the use of the HIMARS now, so that they will appear in the battle this or next week.

To date, the U.S. has allocated $5.6 billion to Ukraine to help them defeat Russia.  Canada, Poland and the Netherlands have chipped in something like $4.3 billion. The Ukrainians said thy have received “only 10% of what is needed” to win against Russia.

Now that the war is continuing to drag on, Putin seems to have decided that he can use his energy position in Europe to “outlast” NATO. He is also weaponizing food. Frederick Plertgen, in St. Petersburg, Russia, an international correspondent described how Putin is holding up the delivery of 30 million tons of grain that would normally be shipped to Africa, the Middle East, and other European countries, to the tune of at least $1 billion.

For those questioning whether spending this much to help Ukraine defeat Russia is worth it, I would recommend the book “Winter Is Coming” by chess champion Gary Kasparov, which was written years before Russia made clear its intentions to retake independent democracies that neighbor them (including posing a threat to neighbors Finland and Sweden). Russia is truly a threat to the European nations in Russia’s path, world order.  NATO must persevere in its attempts to stand firm against the threat that Putin and Russia pose to the free world.

The GOP Plan to Nullify Fair Election Results in 2024

The GOP’s strategy for 2024 is now clear, and this is laid out in the June 17th issue of “The Week” magazine.

 Challenge all election losses and “cause chaos” in heavily Democratic districts. A top Michigan Republican operative was recently recorded discussing plans to recruit “an army” of party-trained poll workers, who, unlike poll watchers, have direct influence over vote-counting procedures.

Thousands of MAGA followers have volunteered for this task, most of whom believe Donald Trump’s Big Lie of rampant voter fraud in 2020. (Trump had 50,000 poll watchers in the 2020 election).

If installed as poll workers (not watchers, but workers), they would be connected with GOP lawyers and “party friendly district attorneys who could intervene to block vote counts” in Democratic-leaning districts across the country.

Then, Republican state legislatures would have an excuse to ignore election results and choose a slate of Republican electors.  This sophisticated “precinct strategy” is being led by Steve Bannon, the Machiavellian former Trump strategist, said Eric Lutz in “Vanity Fair.” Bannon took part in the failed effort overturn 2020’s results, but, this time, he plans to “hijack the infrastructure of the election system.” (Let us not forget that Bannon was convicted of scamming contributors and sought and received a presidential pardon, so he has been proven to be crooked in more ways than one.)

Trump/Cheney/McCarthy: Three on a Match

The GOP’s anti-democratic efforts are based on a simple premise, said Greg Argent in “The Washington Post.”  “Much of the voting in Democratic areas should be presumed to be illegitimate.”

Most Republicans now insist that “voting is pure and unsullied” in rural areas dominated by the GOP, but “marred by widespread fraud” in cities with lots of non-white Democrats, even though most of the fraud that WAS found during the various investigations in 2020 was by Republicans, but in very small numbers not sufficient to change the election outcome.

To insure a GOP victory in 2024, Trumpists have even created an “America First” slate of 2020 election deniers running for various state offices, according to Alexandra Berzon in “The New York Times.” America First candidates have a good shot at winning powerful offices in Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Michigan—four swing states “where a relatively small number of ballots have decided presidential victories.”

The 2020 insurrection has become an “institutionalized” movement, said Jonathan Chait in “New York” magazine.  Tellingly, the Bannon operation “has met virtually no intraparty resistance,” with GOP officials widely agreeing that all “Democratic election victories are inherently illegitimate.” This is the antithesis of what should be happening in our democracy.

The Capitol, Washington, D.C.

In 2020, Trump’s efforts to overturn the election “Spectacularly failed,” and culminated in the January 6th violent assault on Congress. The next time, in 2024, the goal will be to “successfully and legally contest and overturn an unfavorable election outcome”—even though that is overturning the will of the voters.

Pay attention. This is the blue print and it is being proven every day the January 6th Commission meets.

 

January 6th Commission Hearings Open with a Bang on June 9th, Thursday

Thursday Night, June 9th, Commission Hearings About the January 6th Coup D’Etat:

Liz Cheney and backlash over her anti-Trump stance. She will pay the ultimate price for being loyal to the U.S. Constitution and calling out Trump’s treason.

Liz Cheney opened the impressive Opening of the January 6th Commission with these words: “There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.”

• Trump believed the rioters were “doing what they should be doing,” Cheney said, and yelled at advisers who said that he should call them off. He said that rioters who chanted about hanging Pence “maybe” had “the right idea.”

• The committee played video of Bill Barr, the former attorney general, saying that he had called Trump’s fraud claims “bullshit” and “crazy stuff.” Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, testified that she “accepted” what Barr said.

• Footage shot by a documentary filmmaker embedded with the Proud Boys showed members of the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, two far-right groups who stormed the Capitol, meeting on the evening before the attack. This footage had not been aired previously and included the violent assault on a female Capitol officer, who testified in person and suffered a brain injury during the assault on the Capitol.

Trump/Cheney/McCarthy

• In video testimonies, several rioters said that they had stormed the Capitol in response to Trump’s summons. “He asked me for my vote and he asked me to come on Jan. 6,” one said. It seems logical that the individual who planned it all (i.e., Donald J. Trump) should also be charged and should suffer the consequences of selling out his country to attempt to hang onto power, no matter what.

• Cheney said that Pence, not Trump, ordered the National Guard to the Capitol during the attack, and that “multiple” House Republicans sought pardons over their efforts to overturn the election.

• My thoughts on the request by several Trump loyalists for pardons for their actions during January 6th, before he left office, begs this question: “If there was nothing illegal going on, why would any of these Trump loyalists need to be pardoned?” The obvious conclusion is that they knew damn well that they were playing with fire, and when the effort to overthrow the duly elected president did not succeed, some of them began scrambling for cover.

The second day/date of the hearings will be at 10 a.m. on Monday, June 13th.

Other Countries Weigh in on USA Gun Violence

The newest issue of the June 10th “The Week” magazine had some really interesting things to say about the spate of violence in America.

On page 4, Charlie Sykes of “The Bulwark” said: “Face it: Our democratic system is broken.  Faced with endless mass shootings and daily gun carnage, a nation that once put men on the moon is mired in paralysis and ‘hoplessness.’ An America that won’t act to stop the periodic slaughter of schoolchildren is ‘in crisis, perhaps in terminal decline.’”

As a Baby Boomer who grew up during the turbulence of the 60s, I agree and wonder. I thought America was on the edge of the abyss in the sixties, but shootings in churches, schools, malls, supermarkets, at outdoor concerts and simply in the streets of American cities like Philadelphia and Chicago is extreme, even for me. I am similarly appalled that the young girls of today are facing the same struggle for the right to determine what happens to their own bodies that my generation faced in my youth, which led to the passage of Roe v. Wade in 1973.

First, I am reprinting the words of newspapers in Sydney (Australia), Paris (“Le Monde”) and Japan, to show you what the rest of the world thinks about the United States of America. The headline was “America Allows the Massacre of Children.”

Visual search query image

“The indiscriminate slaughter of young children should bring a country together in mourning,” said “The Times” (U.K.) in an editorial.  That’s why mass shootings in Canada, New Zealand, the U.K. and elsewhere inspired prompt reform of those countries’ gun laws, with Canada banning ownership of handguns in the past few days. Take the 1987 Hungerford massacre in Britain, when an armed man cut down 16 people before killing himself.  After that senseless horror, the U.K. banned nearly all semiautomatic and pump-action rifles and shotguns, as well as exploding ammunition.  Plenty of Brits still own guns, half a million in England and Wales alone.  Yet because they require licensing and background checks, which include examining applicants’ social media, only 4% of British homicides involve guns, and the overall homicide rate is 1/5 that of America’s.  The U.S., though, claims there is nothing it can do—even as mass shootings proliferate, even as, last week, a young man shot to death 19 children and 2 teachers in an Uvalde, Texas, elementary school; even as last month a white supremacist killed 10 people at a Buffalo grocery store.  In the U.S., such shootings don’t bring national soul-searching, but bickering and hand-wringing.

It’s the guns: More guns mean more homicides, said Meret Baumann in Switzerland.  Most rich countries, including Japan, Australia and almost all of Europe—have gun control and boast homicide rates of less than 1.5 per 100,000 some even less than 1.  America’s rate is approaching 8, worse than Niger, Pakistan, and Myanmar.  The U.S., in fact, has a frightening 120 firearms for every 100 people “more than any other country” and the Texas gunman was able to legally buy an AR-style rifle and almost 400 rounds of ammunition with no training the very day after his 18th birthday.  That single fact “should set off alarm bells, but such behavior is not questioned in the U.S.”

Why can’t America be more like Australia? asked the “Sydney Morning Herald” in an editorial.  We, too, are a rugged settler nation, and many Aussies in the Outback were devoted to their weapons.  But after a gunman killed 35 people in Port Arthur in 1996, they “cracked down on gun ownership,” outlawing some weapons and mandating licensing and background checks.  Aussies eagerly turned in thousands of guns in our buyback program, and our risk of dying by gunfire quickly fell by more than half.

Yet the U.S. remains “trapped in its madness,” said “Le Monde” (France) in an editorial.  “America is killing itself” and he Republican Party is “ideologically complicit.”  Because the GOP is in thrall to the gun lobby, and because the antiquated U.S. system of representation gives disproportionate weight to Senators from less-populated, Republican-led states, the American people can’t vote their way out of their nightmare.

After the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, most Americans wanted at least background checks for gun buyers.  But “elected officials representing 118 million of their fellow citizens were able to defeat those chosen by 194 million.”  U.S. schools will surely continue to be “transformed into bloody shooting ranges, sticky with blood.” 

That is the true “American exceptionalism.”

The January 6th Committee Hearings Hit the Air Waves Thursday, 6/9, at 7 p.m. (CDT)

Trump/Cheney/McCarthy

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot released new details Thursday about its first hearing, scheduled to kick off in prime time on  Thursday, June 9.

June 9th, television-watchers, is this coming Thursday (as I write this on Sunday, 6/5) and the timing for those of us in the Midwest on MSNBC, Channel 356, will be 7 p.m. CDT.

“The committee will present previously unseen material documenting January 6th, receive witness testimony, preview additional hearings, and provide the American people a summary of its findings about the coordinated, multi-step effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and prevent the transfer of power,” the panel said.

Additional information about witnesses will be released this coming week, the committee said.

The hearing, scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET, is expected to focus on former President Donald Trump’s role in the violence that unfolded at the Capitol during the official counting of the Electoral College votes before a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021. In a civil court filing in March, the House committee argued it has “a good-faith basis for concluding that [Trump] and members of his Campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States.”

The panel’s chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., has said the hearings will include testimony from witnesses “we’ve not heard from before.”

One of those witnesses, who was hauled off a plane in leg irons as a flight risk, may be Peter Navarro, one of Trump’s inner circle who was among the most obnoxious spokespeople ever to grace the air waves. Navarro emerged as a legend in his own mind, moving away from the trade issues he was supposed to be expert in, to talk about matters as diverse as Covid-19 and the economy. Where he was supposedly going when apprehended at the airport has been variously reported as Nashville, but apparently those in a position of power had misgivings about his attitude towards telling the truth about his involvement in the January 6th coup d’etat.

There is a rumor that Jared and Ivanka Trump may take center stage via video-taped testimony during the televised hearings, although we will all have to wait and see if they say anything of note. Rachael Maddow and others will be handling the broadcast duties Thursday night.

Meanwhile, a lot of buzz has been created by a comedy duo who took the microphone during the NRA’s ill-advised Texas convention and more-or-less chastised the NRA for getting a lot of us killed by opposing sensible gun control laws. (The look on Wayne LaPierre’s face as they sound off on ” how Wayne LaPierre has offered thoughts AND prayers” is priceless. Check it out on YouTube or wherever you seek out memorable news moments.)

 

“The Man Who Fell to Earth” Is Spectacular Showtime Series

It is Saturday, June 4th, and I am pondering what late-night viewing I will watch as my spouse slumbers beside me.

Usually, I scroll through the movies, but recently I have been watching “The Man Who Fell to Earth” on Showtime.

They premiered “The Man Who Fell to Earth” at SXSW in Austin and I signed up to go, but they were showing it within the Convention Center. I have learned (the hard way) that getting to and from the Convention Center during SXSW is no day at the beach. They barricade off the area, so a cab is not an option and the last few times I journeyed down there when SXSW was actually underway I had to hire a pedicab guy to make it from the panel I wanted to hear (horror movies from Bloomhouse Pictures) to the Paramount for the afternoon showing.

So, sadly, I missed the SXSW premiere of this new series, led by Jenny Lumet (daughter of Sidney) but I was impressed by her former series that originated with the “Silence of the Lambs” film and agent Clarice Starling. Here is what IMDB tells us about Jenny Lumet: Jenny Lumet was born on February 2, 1967 in New York City, New York, USA. She is a producer and writer, known for Rachel Getting Married (2008), The Mummy (2017) and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (2022). She has been married to Alexander Weinstein since May 2, 2007. They have one child. She was previously married to Bobby Cannavale.

IMDB also gives us this Jenny Lumet quote about writing, in general: “I suppose that there are writers that say, ‘I write what I write and if people get it, great, if they don’t, whatever.’ “But I don’t feel that way. I feel very passionate about making connections with people. I want very much to be heard.”

With “The Man Who Fell to Earth” the writers (Jenny Lumet and Alex Kurtzman) have revamped a movie from 1976 that originally starred David Bowie. I still remember sitting in the darkened theater marveling at how well David Bowie fit the role of an alien.

Here are the actors involved in the series:

As you look over the pictures above, you may know that Chiwetel Ejiofor is better-known to U.S. audiences for his role in “Twelve Years A Slave” where he portrayed Solomon Northrup. He was Oscar-nominated for that role and he is astounding in this role. One of the chief aspects of this visitor from another planet is that he consumes voluminous amounts of water and has encased himself in what he calls “a skin suit” to better blend in and resemble humans.
Naomie Harris was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 2017’s “Moonlight,” but has appeared in both “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” in 2021 and as Moneypenny in 2021’s “No Time to Die.”
Clarke Peters portrays Jusin Falls’ (Naomie Harris’) father and her daughter is portrayed by Annelle Olalaye. Both are good, but kudos to the leads: Ejiofor and Harris.
Another recognizable face was that of Jimmi Simpson as Spencer Clay. At first, I could not place where I knew him from, until I thought back to his many appearances on “West World” as William from 2016 to 2020.
Bill Nighy as Thomas Newton, the scientist who left behind plans that could save not only a foreign planet but our own planet was also a recognizable actor from his appearance in “Love, Actually.”
This is a thinking man’s series and it helps if you pay close attention to the discussions of theoretical physics and our own world’s chance of being destroyed by the year 2030 by the same sorts of crises that afflict that of our hero, who has journeyed to Earth to try to save his own planet and his own countrymen.
The special effects are, well, special—one could justifiably say “spectacular”—and the acting is great. I look forward to each new episode each night and recommend that you sample it, if you want to find a good new series.

R.I.P., Jennifer

My best friend in Austin, Jennifer Berliner, died today (May 23, 2022). She was a heart transplant survivor and 44 years old.  She and Adam, her husband, had just celebrated their twentieth wedding anniversary.We met playing euchre and hand-and-foot canasta and I encouraged her to start her blog, www.anewheartrocks.com. The post below is from Jenny’s blog and written some time ago. At one point, Jennifer wrote:  “Honestly even if the end game is death, at some point that is okay too. Death is not a personal failure, it’s a biological ending. If I die, I won’t take it personally.”

Rest in peace, Jennifer. You fought the good fight. I will miss you, and so will the rest of your tribe.

**********

Jennifer Berliner

“Maybe if I can shed light on how I endured a heart transplant, cancer and the death of my mother all at the same time, then maybe it could bring comfort to others facing their own adversity.

I’ve danced with death for so damn long that sometimes it’s work to remain optimistic, but I try. So many things are out of my control, and this infuriates me. In the face of these challenges, how do I instill hope in myself and others?

God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference. ~The Serenity Prayer

I wish I could share some recipe with how I overcame my adversities, unfortunately my recipe is complicated and unique to only me, the chef. No one wants to hear that it takes time and persistence. People want a quick fix, a panacea, and I don’t blame them. When you’re in pain, you need it to end quickly. Maybe from my list you will walk away with one or two strategies that I know helped me to go from surviving to thriving.

How I Avoided Death in 10 steps:

My top 10 survival guide is listed in random order, except number 1, because it’s the most important and that is: Do not attempt this on your own. Humans need other humans. If we are left alone we will die. When you are faced with insurmountable adversity, you need one person who will walk with you on this bumpy road.

Admittedly that one person can get exhausted, so ideally you need several people to

support you and walk at different times. A support system or what I call “my Tribe” includes my family, friends, fellow congregants at my synagogue, and friends from my card clubs. (I love playing cards. I’m 43 years old, but I’m really an old lady on the inside).

  1. My Tribe:

There was a time I begged for death. For months on end, during my Chemo to treat bone cancer, I contemplated dying. I only survived that experience because of the love of my family and friends. Then when I was faced with a heart transplant, my family was still at my side, and now I also had a husband who became an amazing caregiver. Adam spent months in the hospital with me. He was exhausted and yet his commitment never wavered. My sister also helped me out significantly during this time when I lived in her home for two years. And my friends, were incredible.

After my first battle with chemo, I made a pledge to myself that I was going to have good friends by being a good friend. Twenty five years later, these same friends were at my side. Taking time away from their jobs and children to put on gloves and stay days and nights with me in the transplant hospital. Incredible.

I have many people I love, so I will endure any pain to remain on this planet to be with them; likewise, their love keeps me afloat. A good support system is vital to my existence and well being. If you don’t have a support system, a good place to start is to get yourself to a place of worship. The community will surround you and it will lift you up in ways you can’t imagine.

  1. Therapy:

I’ve been in counseling on/off for most of my life. I need guided relaxation and hypnotherapy to get me through painful procedures. Then I need the talk therapy to get past the trauma.

I’ve also had to learn (and still relearn) coping skills to get me through the traumas I’ve experienced. We are not born with inherent knowledge of coping skills, they are all learned, so I go to counseling at different times in my life. I’ll keep this one short and sweet, you get the idea.

  1. Drugs:

Ok, medication is really how I should title this section, but you get my point.

I don’t take anything that isn’t prescribed because I am a transplant recipient and even a herbal mouthwash can prevent my anti-rejection medication from working. With that said if I’m in pain or facing an uncomfortable procedure, I will not let a doctor or nurse shame me into thinking I’m not brave (I’ve already proven I’m crazy brave).

I am no longer willing to soberly submit myself to a drill in my back (bone marrow aspiration) or a 2 hour MRI (in a casket). My mind and body have their limits and if medication can help, then I’m taking it.

  1. Grit:

I don’t know how or where I mustered the ability to endure Chemotherapy at age 15. This was my first big test with adversity. I fought everyone and everything the entire time to avoid my chemo treatments. I mean, I literally would run away and have panic attacks to avoid my Chemo, but somehow I just kept going. I think got my resilience from my Mum.

My Mum was always at my side cheerleading me on while she received more than her share of mistreatment and suffering. My Dad also spent countless nights at the hospital. The scales were terribly unfair towards both of them, but particularly towards my Mum because I lashed out at her the most. I was rotten and had terrible coping skills, but somehow she persisted too. I think like a cub I just followed my mama bear. The biggest gift my Mum gave me during this time was being with me, so that I wasn’t alone. This empowered me, fueled my grit and gave me the ability to keep the course. Misery loves company.

I also focused on the idea that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, that someday this Chemo will be over or that I will heal from my heart transplant. Honestly even if the end game is death, at some point that is okay too. Death is not a personal failure, it’s a biological ending. If I die, I won’t take it personally.

5, Goal Setting & Rewarding Myself:

My idea of setting goals happened organically. I was refusing Chemotherapy at age 15 and I bribed my parents for money over the course of many months to help me buy a car. I’m not proud of this manipulation, but we both got something we wanted out of the deal. They got a more compliant, less hostile patient who did her Chemo and I got to dream about my car and freedom. (My car was an old beater and I loved it).

Since then I’ve kept my eye on the apple. I have set many goals in my life and achieved every single one of them. It takes time, patience and mindfulness to set and achieve your goals. These steps can be slow with setbacks at times. However, the reward is sweet.

I’m still setting goals, most of which include traveling somewhere. On my bucket list after my heart transplant is going to Paris. This is a big one and I’m hoping to go next year. I’m planning now for it.

6, “It Could Be Worse” & “Not Sweating the Small Stuff”:

I’ll use bumper sticker mantras any day if will help.

Not sweating the small stuff is easier said than done. The more I’m faced with challenges, the more I have to let some things or even relationships go, so that I have the energy to battle with the life and death issues in my life. Some might say, that I have developed a fuck-it attitude or that I don’t care. This is actually not true, I care so much that I have to walk away sometimes or I will make myself physically sick from worry. I have to set boundaries sometimes, and these lines can be tough to draw.

“It Could Be Worse” is a mantra I’ve used many times to get me through painful procedures. Like an athlete before the big game, I have to use self-talk to get ready to do a procedure, like when I talked myself into staying strong right before going in the OR for my heart transplant. I was tearful at the idea that my unknown donor died leaving me such a profound gift. I was so grateful that I had a heart. I spent months exploring this issue in therapy. And when it came down to it, I thought it could be worse: my donor could’ve died with viable organs and not be an organ donor and I wouldn’t have a heart. It really could’ve been worse.

In the meantime, I encourage you to consider what mantra helps you and is uniquely you?

  1. Luck:

I was born at the right time, in the right country with the right resources.

I was born in time when Chemotherapy was available and had been honed over 25 years to become more effective at curing childhood cancer. Then when I needed a heart transplant many years later, Cyclosporine (an anti-rejection drug) revolutionized the body’s ability to keep the transplanted organ, increasing my chances of survival.

Finally, not many want to hear this but this, but it’s the brutal truth–I was born with access to the right financial resources. I could afford health insurance and I was born in the United States, which performs 66% of the all the transplants in the world.

In many ways, I won a lottery. The odds that I slipped through the time-space continuum to make all these things happen, which have contributed to my ability to cheat death, not once or twice but three or four times is incredible.

I can’t not explain my luck other than the circumstances of my birth. I have deep gratitude for my position and realize that many others at home and around the world do not have my opportunities.

I know that time also makes a difference and I’m mindful to honor those they went before me. My paternal grandfather died at age 36 in the 1960s with his “body riddled with cancer,” per his autopsy. I suspect he had the same heredity cancer than I had (something I only discovered in the early 2000s, thanks to the Genome project and the advent of the internet). My grandfather and others like him, endured great suffering to help our medical advances.

American values teach us that if you work hard enough, your merit will be rewarded. However, I believe that luck also plays a part in making someone’s dreams come true. Well how do I get Lucky? I don’t know, and for that reason I apologize that Luck is even on my list of how I cheated death, because you can’t recreate luck. It’s unfair.

  1. Violence Fast

For years, I avoided internet searches and I didn’t watch any videos about Heart Transplant prior to having the surgery. That’s pretty unbelievable when you consider I read reviews just to buy new bed linens. When it came to transplant, I was too scared. This surgery is not optional and I just had to plow through it, so why get bogged down in the gory details. Ignorance is bliss.

Instead I met face-to-face with a few heart transplants recipients that I met through friends (we’re a small community). Interestingly they all approached me the same way. They told me briefly about the what’s, why’s and where’s but when it came time to really get down to the details, they said “ask me questions. Every person’s experience is different, so rather than me just go on and on, ask me your questions and I’ll tell you my experience.” Wow, this blew my mind. Especially, now that I’m on other side, I understand why they approached our talks with opened ended questions and avoided advice giving.

Everyone has their own journey. When I mentor a pre-transplant recipient, I don’t offer advice, instead I listen, I validate, I empathize and I share my feelings. Ok I will offer this advice, when in the hospital always pack an extension cord, so that your cell phone can be in the bed with you and you can reach it. Jokes asides, no one can predict how well they will do during the transplant, so all I can do is sit beside them on their journey, and perhaps my presence encourages hope that they will survive and thrive too.

 

  1. Humor

Laughter really is the best medicine. During my darkest days, I find that I watch the most vapid, silliest TV shows or read trash novels. I don’t have the heart for violent movies (pun intended). But give me back-to-back episodes of “Schitt’s Creek” or “The Derry Girls” and I’m a happy woman. I need light hearted humor and laughter to offset my tears.

Prior to my transplant, I was crying a lot. I was depressed and grieving my Mum’s terminal cancer diagnosis. My brother-in-law, a funny guy, set his ring tone to a woman sobbing, so that when I called he heard tears. He said he wanted to be prepared to take my calls. I quickly stopped sobbing myself and laughed until I was out of breath. The Greeks taught us that Humor is a powerful antidote to Tragedy.

The secret to Humor in the face of adversity is that you have to actively seek it out. Be mindful to block media that takes you down and instead focus on the stuff that lifts you up. Yes, I am telling you to binge watch your favorite TV shows.

  1. Asking for Help & Self-Care

The first time, I reached out to ask if friends could make meals felt awkward and embarrassing. I couldn’t eat restaurant food because it was too salty, so food had to be prepared at home during my quarantine. I was physically incapable of cooking, my sister & her husband both had full time jobs and a baby, my Mum had cancer and my Dad was her Caregiver. My husband worked in Austin three hours away and when he was in town over the weekend, he would make low sodium casseroles to last for the week. But if he couldn’t cook them, we had a challenging week.

When a friend said to me, “let me know how I can help you,” I wasn’t prepared. Don’t let the moment just flitter away in fear and awkwardness like me. Be prepared for a real conversation the next time this question is asked. Consider replying with, “Well, how or what do you think you’re up for?” Then be ready with a small list they can choose from: meals, babysitting, yard work, driving or attending doctor’s appointments.

Most of your loved ones may be unsure of how to help you. Each person has a desire to help, combined with some sort of skill that can be brought to the table, so take a moment to consider their best role. My neighbor adores dogs and she was invaluable to us with last minute pet sitting that turned into weeks at a time.

Asking for help is a form of self-care, but more specifically the act of “self-care” is doing things that make you feel better. Maybe it’s taking a walk in the park. Ok, well with Congestive Heart Failure it might not be a walk, so take a beautiful Sunday drive.

Me, I love to go to the movies. For those two hours, I get to escape and enter another world. My dad and I would go to the Dollar Theater once a week when I was in chemo. We snuck in candy from the nearby Walgreens. The whole ritual was fun and a diversion from my grim reality. Caregivers, just as much as the patients, must engage in self-care to combat Caregiver Fatigue or Exhaustion. The point of self-care is to actively pursue JOY. So it is my hope for you, especially during times of adversity, that you are mindful of experiencing JOY every day.

Bonus 11) Try to be “OK” with not knowing….

I’ve talked to many people facing a heart transplant and the answer they really want, that they need to hear is: Am I going to live? Am I going to be ok?

No one, not even the doctors can give a straightforward answer on your mortality. Sitting with the anxiety that your dying (that’s the only way to qualify for an organ transplant), compounded by the lack of knowledge of when you’ll get The Call for the transplant surgery, only to then consider if you’ll live through the surgery…well, this will make you lose a lot of sleep. You may experience restlessness, anxiety, bouts of crying and maybe even agitation at times. This is normal considering the extraordinary circumstances you are under as you wait for an organ transplant.

Connect with someone who’s had a transplant or is in the chemo chair next to you. If you’re on the other side then consider mentoring someone on the wait list. Your hospital social worker or nurse coordinator can make introductions. Or join a Facebook group in your area for your specific issue. When you’re facing a medical crisis, you realize that the community attending your hospital is relatively small.

You do not have to do this alone. And there will be moments when you will be in the dark and it’s feels vulnerable, annoying like info is being purposely withheld (it isn’t) and ultimately, thoughts wander to those of death and dying, another thing out of your control. Take deep breaths, cry when you need to cry, and consider what coping strategies you can use to get you through moments of anxiety. Me, I would call or text a loved one or a friend.

In closing, find comfort in both prayer and the science behind the medicine. Transplant recipients are chosen for the likeliness that will do well in the surgery. Check your transplant program’s surgical outcome rates, they should be posted everywhere. Finally, remember you are surrounded by your medical team, family, friends and supporters from all over the world rooting for you.

If you need to chat or you have questions, send me a message or email. I read every comment and reply.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. I hope that in some small way it helped lessen your burden for whatever troubles you are facing.”

 

Facebook Can Be As Horrific As Twitter

Social media is not all it’s cracked up to be.

I clicked on a “Daily Mail” article on my Facebook page, which took me to a page where a picture of Dick Van Dyke appeared. This was a picture of the 96-year-old actor and his 50-year-old wife. The ones I have seen of Dick and his wife all dressed up for things like the Kennedy Center Honors have been quite flattering, but this photo was a candid shot of the former song-and-dance man dressed casually and apparently about to enter a car with his young wife. He was bent over, his concave chest exposed, and he had a gigantic full beard that resembled David Letterman’s. In other words, it was not a flattering picture, when compared to many others.

Someone had posted this unflattering photo and said, “Dick Van Dyke is 96. Doesn’t he look great?”

My entire remark/comment was, “Define ‘great.’” And so it begins.

I was being entirely serious about wanting to hear why the poster would find this photo so “great.”

Soon, a woman who claimed to be a nurse at the National Health Service in the United Kingdom wrote, “Be kind.”

I was legitimately confused as to how asking the simple question “Define ‘great’” was not being “kind.” The kind thing to have done would have been to select a more flattering photo of the duo—probably one where they were dressed up for an evening event and knew their photo was going to be taken. Of course, the full beard was a bad look for Dick, just as it is for David Letterman. [Some other comments below my own noted this.]

I sent the woman who had done the “Be Kind” posting this remark:
“Wow! Such snark! I would have liked the person originally making the comment to specifically say what they felt was ‘great’ about the Dick Van Dyke photo. He looks much more bent over than in the photos I have seen of him in the recent past, and the beard is not a good look. He does not look ‘great,’ nor do most people at age 96, which I think was your snarky message to me, a person you don’t even know in the midst of cancer treatments. YOU ‘be kind.’ Geez.

I added, “I’d unfriend you but you’re not my friend in the first place.”’

The “Kind” lady responded: “Don’t pull the I’m going through cancer treatment as a reason to be a cow, Sweetie. Get a grip and get on with your life.”

WendyMe: “I asked a legitimate question. YOU are the one being ‘unkind.” I think the photo was a poor one for Dick Van Dyke.”
I added, “Why don’t you go have a stiff drink instead of behaving like a name-calling low life.”

Ms. Poole reacted with 4 smiley face emojis and the words, “You need help, Love.”

I responded, “Yes, trolls like you are out there trying to pick fights with others whom they do not even know.”

Our “kind” nurse then said: “Don’t make comments if you can’t take the criticism. Brave over a message, aren’t you?”

Me: “It was a simple inquiry into why that particular photo, which is very bad of Dick Van Dyke, was termed ‘great’ by the poster.”

Our kind nurse responded: “Go away, you ridiculous woman.” (UPDATE: On a different blog, tonight, 5/20/2022), the “Be kind” woman denies being a nurse or saying that she worked for the National Health Service. I do realize that the NHS probably has office workers, as well, so take your pick, but I quoted her back to her from my own copy of the exchange, which was mostly her being horrific to me. I purposely avoided using any profanity and—aside from the remark about her foot in the blocking door—chose to ignore commenting on some truly comment-worthy photos that make my pose on the steps of the AMC in Chicago at the Film Festival look like Cannes this week.)

Me: “YOU are the ‘unkind’ one who inferred otherwise. I asked for clarification. That photo was NOT a good pic of Dick Van Dyke. If you think it was, I would hate to see your wedding photos.” (Actually, only engagement photos and only from 2021, but verry comment worthy, had I chosen to go there.)

The “kind” nurse then called me “an absolute tool,” but typed it as “toof.”
I responded, “ Toof. Define ‘toof.’ (lol)”
Kind Nurse: “TOOL. Learn to read.”
Me: “Yeah. Right. I’ve written 50 books, Sweetheart. And I taught reading. So, wrong insult.”
Kind Nurse: “And yet you are unable to read.” (*Owned and operated a Sylvan Learning Center for Reading and other improvement for  close to 20 years and taught reading at the junior high school level for 18 years before that. In other words, like Trumpists, an insult with no basis in fact whatsoever.)
Me: “You are a strange person who goes around telling complete strangers to be a ‘kind’ person because they ask for clarification. I am very able to read and to block, both of which I have done. Not sure how long it takes to kick in but hopefully sooner rather than later. My remark was very benign. Look it up. Yours was very snotty and snarky. And, yes, you are attacking a person with stress from recent cancer diagnosis, so give yourself a medal for what a huge bitch one would have to be to do that.”
Kind Nurse: “Clearly I’m living rent-free in your head as you keep trying to justify yourself. For someone who teaches reading and writes books your punctuation is shocking. Guess you have to have someone proofread for you.” (*Everyone who writes has proofreaders. I am often that proofreader for others. After stints at 5 colleges, my proofreading is not in question, but my typing in a white heat probably was.)
Me: “Glad to see you’re engaged, at least. Close in age to Dick Van Dyke, are you? That last remark was so amusing I almost laughed. You and Dick would make a handsome pair.”
Kind Nurse: “You need to get back on your medication, dear. Clearly off your trolley.” (*As a cancer survivor, I take 8 pills a night, none of them having to do with mental health,all of them having to do with staying alive and getting well.)
Me: “All I asked for was clarification about what the person meant by the term ‘great.’ That was a horrible picture of Dick Van Dyke. Your calling me a “cow” simply seems to mean “takes one to know one” judging from your photo.” (*OK…I couldn’t stop myself after seeing this person’s photos, which were underwhelming. My bad. Apologies all around, but I definitely was the restrained one.)
Kind Nurse: “There are horrible photos of you in your leopard print, but we didn’t comment on that, did we?” She added that my outfit was “monstrous.” [Outfit is brown fabric with gold overlay and not a leopard in sight. It’s one of my favorite jackets, very expensive, and never fails to elicit compliments when I wear it in person—one of them from Vanessa Redgrave.]
Me: “Leopard print? Lol. That was Cher. Well, at least I wasn’t hung up on somebody 96, as you seem to be. That is not a leopard print. Get some glasses.”
Kind Nurse: “It’s a bit blurry, which is probably best, considering.” (Definitely agree that it is blurry; that’s what happens when you count on your spouse for photos. Maybe, if you ever get one, you will also experience this.)
Me: “Don’t forget your advice; Be kind. You are SO kind, aren’t you?”
At this point, typing rapid-fire, I typoed some spelling errors, causing the kind nurse to say, “For fuck’s sake, woman, learn to spell.” (punctuation mine; nurse had none.When your Big Comeback is because a person typing at the speed of sound misses a letter, you are desperate.)
Me: “I think you meant “chuck” but then, spelling is not your forte. Ooooo. Here comes the profanity. Good for you. The last refuge of the brain damaged. You do this after telling others to ‘be kind?’”

The kind UK nurse then typed, in all caps: CAN YOU ACTUALLY READ (Question mark missing).

Me: “You set such a great example of kindness. I can read, but the vote is out on you.”

She then typed YOU in all caps, as I had typed so quickly that the “y” did not make it to the page. Again, a simple typo, which is quite obvious—unless you are blind or really reaching.)

Me: “No need for ALL CAPITALS OR profanity. Not from the “be kind” lady. Wow. I love to see your “kindness” in action. What a gal.”
The “kind nurse” then said: “So far the only person who can’t spell or read is you.” (No comma after “so far.”)
Me: “I disagree, and so do others.
Kind nurse: “Thought you had me blocked.” (Definitely.)
Me: “I have. Not sure how long it takes to work. You probably stuck your ugly foot in the block door before it closed.” (Been so long since I’ve blocked someone that I’ve forgotten the basics.)
Kind Nurse: “It’s instant if you do it right.” (I probably did not do it “right.”)
Me: “And I do mean ugly.” (I had just gotten a gander at the engagement photo of the middle-aged couple.)
Kind Nurse: (with emojis) “Says you?”
Me: “Go harass someone else, OK? Go demonstrate how “kind” you are to them. I just think it is quite ironic that a person tells ME to “be kind” and then insults me for 20 minutes. Don’t you find that a bit ironic? Or don’t you know what the word means? And all I said was that I wanted a better definition of “great” for a bad photo. Next time, consider whether YOU are “being kind.”
Kind nurse: “YOU messaged me first, you (sic) strand woman.” [Please note: the word ‘strand’ was obviously a typo, which I did not point out, as Ms. NHS had been doing repeatedly, because it is not difficult to figure out that the person, if not typing “live,” would probably have done fine with the word. Take note, Tracey.]
Me: “Yes, I messaged you because of your stupid remark and then I wrote it up on MY page, which may cause some discussion. We have voted that YOU are the “unkind” one. I was simply asking for some clarification of the term ‘great.” How is that “unkind?” I recently saw a cool photo of Dick Van Dyke in a traffic accident situation, and it was “great.” He was driving a sports car and there had been a minor accident. The photo you thought was so great was unflattering. Perhaps that photo of me is, as well, but that is NOT—repeat NOT—a leopard print. Geez. You really do need to have your glasses checked if you think that is a leopard print. You can check out the post I’m going to put up on my blog. It will, no doubt, get a big laugh from readers. (At least it’s some new material.)”
Kind Nurse: “Yeah. I have seen the self-centered woe-is me blog.” (Kindness personified! I had only a couple short articles re health; neither was “woe is me.” I’m well on my way to 100% survival and grateful for it, but the lack of sensitivity of this NHS employee–now claiming to NOT be a nurse—is astonishing. And, in my case, there is proof, while we are simply going to have to take Tracey’s word for her own statements. I hope the kidney donation thing is true, but she’s already back-tracked on the nurse/NHS and next contention will be that the NHS was just something convenient to say, as she insulted me about my lack of a “carer” (misspelling hers) last night. After 40 years of working—18 as a teacher and the rest as CEO of 2 businesses and teaching writing at 6 colleges, I have had a “career” and am now self-employed as a writer, blogger, and film critic. All of which is supported by plenty of proof.)
Me: “Actually, my last post was all about famous women I have photographed. You must be behind, as usual. Catch up.”
Kind Nurse: “You are psycho.” (Ah, the good old insults, again. I’m the least “psycho” person you know, but, like all people just minding their own business and trying to be a good person, I did not appreciate being insulted for half an hour by some wacko in England who seems to think that mistyping in the wee hours of the morning indicates an inability to write or spell. Guess again; once again, you picked the WRONG insult and aimed it at the WRONG person. At this point, Ms. NHS made some remark about me “thinking I was the only person in the world with cancer,” (also nice, like the rest of her remarks). My response:
Me: “Did I say I was ‘the only person in the world’ with cancer? You must live a sheltered life if you think that. One in every 8 women in America will get what I have, they say, and the advice to “be kind” might be followed by someone with a conscience who is a nurse (or an NHS employee). Instead, you enjoy insulting me, making fun of my outfit, calling me names, and being a truly unpleasant person. I think you are in the wrong line of work.” (*This person either lied about working for the NHS, denying her nurse status, or is now nervous about how insensitive and truly crass her remarks were. Good. I hope that the many fans of my “The Color of Evil” series in England report her to their NHS. Nobody working with sick people should be this mean-spirited and vicious without cause. I shall continue to refer to this person as “the kind nurse” as an ironic appellation that is just as good as “the kind NHS employee.” Of course, it is entirely possible that she lied, since none of the accusations leveled at me held the slightest water. Again, its like revisiting the Trump years.)

At this point, I typoed (again) causing the kind nurse to retype the word “names” ( left out the “m”). My response? “Yeah. I’m typing 250 wpm, so deal with it.” (another typo on “with” as “with”)

Me: “I did exactly 2 blog posts on my treatment, to let my readers know. Next, I will tell how “kind” Tracy Poole has been to a stranger. I believe it will start with the “cow” remark and go on to the “leopard” print incorrect observation.”

At this point, the “kind nurse” comes out with: “Maybe tell them how I donated a kidney to a stranger, as well.” (*True or not true? Just tonight, there was a denial of her own contention about the NHS, unless she is splitting hairs and does something other than nursing, which I sincerely hope is the case! If it’s true, then perhaps search your conscience and fire off an apology for your “unkind” behavior and we’ll call it even, although it is not. I need people like you in my life right now like I need another surgery.)

Me: “Did they take part of your frontal lobe, as well? Maybe the cortex? You don’t seem to “get” the “be kind” advice you dish out. If you’re going to dish that out, then follow it yourself. I think you can get along without one kidney, but you are really in need of some additional brain cells. Most of us would NOT say “be kind” to a total stranger and then do their best to be shitty to them for a good long time. By the way, the little laughing emojis aren’t working. The emoji for you is MIA. So, remember: BE KIND. And if someone wants clarification of why the worst picture in the world of old Dick is called “great,” don’t start insulting them, okay? Dick definitely ought to lose the full beard was the point. He looks terrible in that photo, while I agree that he has aged well, otherwise (until that photo was taken, anyway). You, on the other hand, are a whole different kettle of fish and you are NOT ‘kind.’ I also don’t believe that you ever donated a kidney to a stranger. You do not seem to have the right mental make-up to BE KIND.”

There was more, but that is enough to raise my blood pressure a few points. It was mostly just insults aimed at me, anyway, which gets repetitious fast.

UPDATE of 5/20/2022: So, now the NHS employee (possibly NOT a nurse, but NHS employee) is sending me messages on my seldom-used phone at what is 1 a.m. CDT (more insults). She is maintaining her “kidney donation” story is true, but denying she is an NHS nurse. I have no personal knowledge of either, so take your pick. If she donated a kidney, I hope she can get back some of that compassion for others, because she has shown me none, and I’m not going gently into that good night.

But—and here’s the thing—last night, amongst her gloating, vicious, often profane and always insulting remarks—Tracy said: I’m living rent-free in your head.”  Ha! It seems that she blocked but then UNblocked me and on and on. Just to be clear, this is NOT Facebook, Tracey. It’s my blog, in existence since 2007, and my most active fan base is probably in the U.K. (I once did a book signing in Australia, but England, where I was an exchange student in my college days, has quite a few fans of my books, so good on me.)

I already blocked “the kind nurse”, as much as I remember the procedure, so I have no idea why she is continuing to insult and bug me late at night, our U.S. time.  My phone will be off soon, so have fun with that, then.

If she really DOES work for a health organization, she might (if she were really compassionate enough to donate a kidney) think about things anyone in my shoes is going through and realize just how crappy her remarks were and continue to be.

I’m not attempting to contact her in any way, so I have no idea why she keeps blowing up my phone with HER remarks, which should, if the world were just, be an apology. Her mean comments were really low.  I hope she feels a certain degree of shame/regret. I don’t think it is likely, but that is one good reason to update.

However, as for me, I have “blocked” her but she, herself, says she UNblocked to send me more insults.

“Great,” she said grimly. I, too, have a copy of her remarks to me and–aside from the foot-in-the-block door remark (with apologies all around for a fleeting lapse in judgment)–I was pretty chill. So, Tracey, what I would say back at you (one of your “taunts” last night) is: “Gee. I seem to be living rent-free in your head.” There will be no photos of this woman. It’s late, but it’s not THAT late.

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