From Camelot to Disney (Revisited)

Born in Camelot
I was born in 1957, towards the end of the Baby-boom. When John F. Kennedy came into the White House, they called it Camelot. The early sixties was an upbeat time, full of hope and growth and movement to suburbia. When I say growth, I mean it. I was the fourth of four kids, in an upper middle class family outside of Philadelphia. Camelot, or it was at least, until November of 1963.

Raised in Mayberry
It was a simpler, safer time. Neighbors not only knew each other but were friends, and looked after each other’s kids. Doors and cars were left unlocked; nobody had to x-ray Halloween candy; the neighborhood grocer would deliver your regular order to your back door, and the milkman and bread man would deliver to your front door. Doctors made house calls, and then called to check on you later in the day. We played outside until long after dark. There was no digital world.

People had reverence for institutions. School was not optional, respect was required. Nobody talked back to teachers. Nobody carried weapons to school. Schools were relatively free from drugs at least until high school.

Divorce was not prevalent. There was no such thing as aa”modern family.”  There was no sex and violence on television. (At least not during prime time). Have you ever actually listened to some of the dialogue on today’s situation comedies? Try raising kids and having to answer the questions that come out of an episode of “Two and a Half Men” or “Two Broke Girls.”

Several generations of families remained within a city area, and cousins grew up together, sometimes ending up closer than siblings or friends. But with my generation, that changed. We became more transient… staying in or near the city or town where we went to college; meeting and marrying someone from out of town; moving across the country to take advantage of a brilliant employment opportunity. It doesn’t matter. Today, families just don’t stay together.

Living in Havana
I came home to Miami after college. There was already a large Cuban population in South Florida as a result of the Castro regime, who came here in the late fifties and early sixties. Most of them “Americanized” fairly quickly, attempting to learn the language of their new home, gain citizenship, and become productive members of society. Did they ever. They brought with them a wealth of culture, art, music, foods and more.

But a short twenty years later, another wave of Cubans made it to shore that did not have the same ambition. Since that time, Hispanic countries and cultures have poured into the United States looking for freedom from poverty, from political oppression, religious obstruction and many other reasons. Proud to be free and American, they have made Miami among other cities, their home, however because of the language barrier, I no longer feel at home. I cannot get a job unless I am bi-lingual. There are parts of town where nobody speaks English, and all of the literature is printed in three languages: Spanish, Haitian Creole and English. Even my Temple has a Spanish speaking Rabbi who conducts services in Spanish for part of the congregation. No Hablo.

Looking for Utopia
I had been in the workforce for over 38 year. I’ve maintained a 36 year marriage, raised a family, kept a home, and have been available to be a caretaker. I’ve done everything that has been expected of me.

Someone once told me that I have successfully lived my life by “default.” Actually, I don’t think I ever really knew what I wanted to do with my life, so living my life by default worked, for a while. Other than raise a family, I never really dreamed of doing anything in particular. I had all the “movie-star” hopes that little girls have. I wasn’t encouraged to follow any dreams. Camelot and Mayberry didn’t lend themselves to girls having ambitions other than pillbox hats and cakes that didn’t fall.

I didn’t know I was good at anything. I didn’t know I had talent. I didn’t know I had dreams. It’s a little late, but now, I do. You see, that same person who told me to stop living my life by default also explained to me a highly technical psychological term. (That, by the way, is sarcasm, in case you didn’t recognize it). She said I have finally begun to “self-actualize.” I’m a late bloomer. But there are things I still want to accomplish.

The one thing I did realize is that I only have one life to live (sounds like soap opera). I want to enjoy what’s left of it, doing what makes me happy, what tickles my heart, what strokes my soul. I know, now, that it can’t be here, and it can’t be now.

Retreating to Disney World
Notice I didn’t call this section retiring to Disney World. I don’t intend to release my inner child, either, although that would be kind of interesting. All I intend to do are three things.

1) Simplify – that means return to Mayberry a little bit. Slow down the pace of my life by moving to a smaller town, to a smaller house and with that, a smaller overhead.
2) Recapture – the days when families weren’t quite as transient. While I don’t intend to become a helicopter mom, I do want to be closer to at least one of my kids, so I can see them more than once or twice a year, with the promise (to them), that I will be there if they need me, but they won’t notice anything different otherwise.
3) Enjoy – the rest of my life, whether its 30 years or 30 days, I want to grow old with the man I married, and do all the things we always talked about but still haven’t had the chance to do. I want him to slow down too, and join me on my journey. He had his own Camelot and Mayberry. We’ve been together since Havana… we both could use a little mouse.

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Ah…. America

VOTE!!! Tell your friends to vote. Drive them to the polls. Make this election be the one that puts us back on track to be the nation our forefathers intended us to be…

We are the UNITED States of America. We are not the nation we have become under the current administration. We have a Constitution. We live under the Rule of Law. We are a Democracy, that thrives under a system of Checks and Balances. E Pluribus Unum means “Out of Many, One.”

We can no longer allow this administration to continue to drive us apart. We may have different views about policies on taxes, immigration, health care, etc., but we will, none of us, accept corruption and treason, nor should we accept any degree of complicity.

If you really want to “drain the swamp” and “Make America Great,” (IT WAS GREAT BEFORE 2016 – now we are the laughing stock of the world and in danger as we no longer have any clear allies.), then Get out and VOTE FOR SOME NEW BLOOD. GET ALL THOSE OLD GOP CRONIES OUT OF THERE… EVERYONE OF THEM WHO HAS COVERED UP FOR DONALD TRUMP OR BRETT KAVANAUGH HAS TO GO.

What If…?

What if you discover at a late time in your life that you’ve lived inauthentically almost your entire life?  What if, through external circumstances, you find truths that exist inside you that turn you upside down, and leave you floundering in the world around you? Nothing seems right. Nothing seems comfortable or even familiar, even though it has been there all along.

I have been waking up next to the same man for the past thirty-six years. Today he is a stranger. He doesn’t have any idea who I am at my very core.  He couldn’t tell me what my dream vacation would be after all this time.  He knows my favorite food, but then, everyone knows its chocolate. That’s a lay-up. He can‘t communicate with me civilly. Of course, we always had trouble expressing ourselves verbally with each other. That was always the genesis of any fight we might have, and there were plenty.

My mother, who lives with me now, again, having had a 34-year sabbatical from me, has some sensitivity to my plight, but doesn’t grasp the depth to which it goes. She has the empathy for the reason I am questioning, but not the patience.

I was blessed eighteen months ago, to gain a step-grandchild. I lost the prefix step, because I love this child as if she came from my own bloodline. I marvel at her wisdom at all of age four.  What I really enjoy is reliving the days when I was so free inside my own body. I watch her play freely… at home, on a playground… anywhere.  She is not self-conscious at all. When do girls lose that? When do they become worried about how they look, or more importantly, worried about what other people think of how they look? When do they begin to feel that desperate need to fit in? When do they lose their self-identity and trade it for the desire to be popular or have a best friend or a boyfriend? My granddaughter is such a joy to watch, because that hasn’t happened to her yet.

My memories of my own freedom are vague and few.  I know for a fact when things changed drastically. I don’t like to talk about it, because it involved something physical and someone close. Thereafter, I was quite self-conscious. I knew my body was different than a boy’s body. That was in first grade. It was sad.  I didn’t know what happened was wrong until much later. That was even sadder.

All through my “formative” years, things happened that I neither invited nor understood. But they happened anyway.  These events changed the way I viewed men and people in general and led me down some interesting pathways.  From being raised in a house full of men, to a male-dominated world, (I hesitate to use the word misogynist), to a father who had difficulty showing emotion, to several episodes of sexual battery/assault, I developed not an irrational fear of men.

After an attempted rape in college, it took me several years to even consider dating men again. I even had a relationship with a woman for a year or so in between. I never identified myself as lesbian, or even bi-sexual. I believe labels make for resentments and hate. I just happened to be in love with another person who happened to be a woman.  Soon thereafter, I met the man who would be my husband of 36 years.  The only reason I let him through my shell is because he was kind, and he didn’t, at the time, place a price on my head, like other men had… I had dated one man whose father said directly to me that if a girl didn’t “put out” by the third date, you’re wasting your time and money.

I often wonder if the “sexual revolution” of the 60’sand 70’s is the reason some men felt they had the right to have their way with women whether the women wanted it or not. Spiking punch in the 80’s all the way through to dropping roofies (the date rape) drug in the new millennium, seem to me to be the generation methodologies… an outgrowth of hormone enraged young men.

Since I was so self-conscious and fearful, I guess I never was invited to those kinds of parties. I was neither rebellious nor adventurous. My Aunt even called me a Goody-Goody when she wanted me to sneak into the seated section at Tanglewood when we had only paid for lawn seats. I guess I should be grateful for being that way, lest I be one of those punch-drunk girls who got taken advantage of.

So today, at age 61, as I look back, I wonder who I might have been or how I might have felt about things or how far I could have gone with my God-given talents had I not been stifled by the men in my life.  And by the way, I remember every single one of those episodes like it was yesterday: every one of their names, approximate dates, exactly what the rooms look like, what they were wearing… but most of all, how they left me feeling about myself. Collectively, they ruined my life.

I Never Claimed to be a Biographer

Author, J T Fisher

Judy Fisher was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and became a south Florida transplant in the early seventies. The youngest of four and the only female, she learned early to be tough, and to speak out. She also gained a love for sports and was always the fifth guy on the basketball team or the ninth on the baseball team.  Her true love is music and theater, and of course, the written word.

With a degree in journalism and a minor in theater and having spent an adult career in the not-for-profit world in public relations and development, where she did a lot of speech writing and created a lot of marketing materials, Judy has finally been able to pursue her passion for writing with a purpose other than one for which she was assigned.

She started out writing poetry and an empty nester blog to fill time that was previously spent tending to her husband and two children. As she wrote and gained followers, she decided to try writing pure fiction.

Judy feels that a lot of women, especially of her generation, have struggled with many fears, questions, and issues growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, and many still carry those fears coupled with the shame, embarrassment, and skeletons that affect the way they live their lives even today. She was one of them. She has found through her own life experiences that people often live vicariously through characters in fiction or in movies and television who face and conquer the same challenges they face in their own lives. She has chosen to write lighter fiction that deals with some of issues that people, mostly women, find it difficult to face or even talk about.

Her first book, “A Life, Well . . . Lived!,” which she describes as a thinly veiled auto-biography, is intended to share the life Dana Gordon, a young lady who experienced and hid a lot of things that had happened to her but, through unusual circumstance, was able to see the error of her own ways and get the chance to live her entire life, all with the wisdom we only gain from age.

A subsequent title deals with male repression, in “Okay, So I Lied!” when Jill Kelly musters the strength to defy her father’s wishes without his knowledge to follow her own dreams. Unfortunately for Jill, she learns the hard way that lying her way through life is not a good solution to her problems. Honesty, she finds out in the end, would have been the best policy.

In “Voices from the Ledge,” to be released in the fall of 2018, Judy explores the sensitive yet very timely topic of suicide as her main character deals with empty nest syndrome coupled with depression, leading her to falsely believe she has no more worth or value. Meeting other women in what seems to be her journey to the end, she discovers that her life isn’t so bad after all, and her new-found friends have an eerie way of imparting that to her.

 

Look for Judy on the speakers’ circuit in this new age of empowered women.

 

www.jtfisherauthor.com

 

On Motivation

Writer’s block, I’ve come to discover, is all a state of mind. I can write whenever I sit down to write. It may be the most mundane thing, like a grocery list, but I can write. Whether I can write the most profound thoughts in a journal or the most sensational ending to a phenomenal novel depends strictly on my state of mind.

My latest inspiration has been, unfortunately for me, a deep sadness. A sadness for something lost. Out of the sadness came one of my most creative motivations during which I was able to complete work on the manuscript of my third novel.  I have so much confidence in this work that I have submitted it to an agent to shop it around to publishers rather than self-publishing. An epiphany for me, as I discovered through this process that I should see myself the way others see me, not the way I look at myself, which for most of my life has been less than.

The other recent motivation came from a dear friend who I will refer to as ‘the letter’, who had the patience to kick me in the rear hard enough to get me off my f-l-a (that’s a local term for fat lazy ass).  ‘The letter’ gave me great advice, tough love and tender compassion.

The end of the story is… look for “Voices from the Ledge” soon. Because I didn’t jump.

Had Enough Hate?

I, like many Americans, and sick of the vitriol and hate being espoused every where you look lately. In the news, on social media, and even in public places, whether it is a result of differences in political opinion, religion, race, sexual preference, country of origin, there has been a profound loss of humane interaction between people in general.

Personally, and I’m not ashamed to say this, I believe it is a direct result of the acceptance of the behavior of our President as normal. His campaign was fraught with foul language and accusations, name calling and rising contempt for the institution of government. Making fun of disabled people, reducing the office of the President of the United States to a child’s game of ‘can you top this ’with world leaders who actually are still children.

The rise in racism and anti-Semitism, the disdain for Muslims, and immigrants was making news every day. Videos on social media are going viral every day of people mistreating people. Beating up two men simply because they are gay; Destroying a house of worship because it is a mosque or a temple, and not a church; Screaming at a woman to go back to Asia because her facial features aren’t ‘white enough’; Police shooting an unarmed young black man because he ‘looked’ like the suspect in a nearby robbery.

We are living in very treacherous times, when our morals and values have already been challenged by a basic breakdown in the institutions of marriage, family and education. Our social norms are not what they were fifty years ago. Some of it is because of the expediency of information in the tech age.  Some if it is because our lives have become so fast and so complicated that our home lives are strained and we either don’t have time to or we’ve forgotten to teach our children manners and respect.

There is no censorship of what we say or see, due to our freedom of speech and expression, so white nationalists can protest. So can LBGTQ, Black Lives Matters, March for Our Lives, or anyone else that wants to make a statement. However, nobody has a right to stop someone from a peaceful protest.

For anyone who has a question as to American immigration policy, who belongs here or who doesn’t, our Constitutional Rights or any other question that has been contentious and has given rise the palpable hate and disdain for each other we seem to have as fellow Americans, let’s stop for a moment and take a brief look at our history.

The Declaration of Independence, when our country began, ended with these words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (implied ALL PEOPLE) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” the key points being:

  • All men are created equal.
  • All men have basic human rights given to them by God.
  • The only reason to have a government is to protect these basic human rights, which Jefferson lists as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
  • Government must be by the consent of the governed.

The Constitution begins this way: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

While the first 10 amendments constituted the Bill of Rights, I’ll only mention the first amendment, so I don’t start a gunfight. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”

Please indulge me for one more historical reference to make my ultimate point. The 16th President of our country made a speech on a Civil War Battlefield which some may have had to learn about in school. Not sure the curriculum even bothers anymore because they must teach to testing or run mass shooter drills.

The Gettysburg address opened this way: “Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

And closed this way “…increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion-that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain-that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom-and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

I suggest here that we start to remember the values of our forefathers and start treating each other with some love and respect. STOP acting on fear and hate. Besides, the only people who have the absolute right to this land is the American Indian, and if you ask me, we need to pay them back a hell of a lot.

I was always taught that we were put on this earth to make it a better place, not a hateful one. If you don’t agree with me, then I suggest you spit in a cup and send it away to get a report on your own ancestry.  When you get the report. Pick a country. You can all go back to where you came from… including the white nationalists who want to make America white again.

J T Fisher, Author

Miami, FL

 

 

Writers’ Block and Middle Age

I’m not altogether sure there is such a thing as writer’s block. In my limited experience, I have found that the only thing that blocks me from writing is the lack of motivation, inspiration, time, technology or sleep.  Oh, and the presence of procrastination.  While I was updating my website with some photos and information, I noticed what a lousy job I was doing with this blog.

There are no excuses for a writer not to write, except, of course, the reasons I listed above. There are many acceptable reasons for not publishing, not selling, not marketing and not finishing a manuscript, a poem or an article.  Writing for me must be treated like medicine for a terminal disease. If I don’t take the minimum dosage, the disease overtakes me… I get lazy. I lose my creativity. I forget some of the ideas I have (I’ve since learned to write them down).

My current dilemma has been this: I started my latest novel six months ago. Easily wrote the character descriptions, an outline and the first 5,000 words. Then, I stopped cold.  The reason I stopped was because I somehow became the subject matter. The story is total fiction; however, it is based on the concept of dealing with suicidal ideation. I became the main character and fell into her same trap. I had to stop writing.  In the last few months, I’ve developed several other stories that I’ve wanted to write, but I kept telling myself that I had to finish the other one first.

Guess what? There are no rules. And there are no excuses.  I started two other books. One in my customary genre, and one in a new venture (murder mystery), and by so doing, I was able to extract myself from the main character in the current book.  Now, I’m juggling three.

Keep your eyes open for:

Voices from the Ledge

Backfired

(A Book to be Names Later)

Happy Reading.