Since You Left

February 1, 2003 was the worst day of my life, but I think you know that. I’d like to think, if the situation was reversed, it would have been equally as devastating to you.

You left.

I don’t kick myself because I had turned off my phone and didn’t get the call when Ellen made it. This wasn’t Dad or Gram with some warning that they were about to leave. You and I had a great conversation the day before. Truth? I was surprised as hell that you picked up the phone. That almost never happened. You know how, after someone has suddenly left, the stories come out? “Just out of the blue, Jeremiah called/dropped by/sent an email/text/Facebook comment and the next day, he was gone.” That phone call the day before was one of those stories. I don’t remember what the hell we talked about, except I was light-headed after giving blood, and you ragged on me for being an airhead blonde because of it. And I said, “Fuck you.” You said, “Fuck you.” . And a bunch of other shit. Our usual shit. I think I forgot to say, “Talk to you later.” That was odd. I always sign off a phone call that way. Maybe that was another sign that, no, I wouldn’t talk to you later. Or ever again.

It’s been almost fifteen years. I lost you, I lost Toulouse, I lost my housing (through my own folly). That was the last time I had a home of my own. 2003 was a real festering turd of a year. And I am not recovered from it. Your departure is still a raw, oozing wound. It doesn’t heal. It won’t heal. I don’t want it to heal. I don’t want to get over losing my soul sister.

Yeah, sister. You have one of your own. I have two. I think it’s fair to say, we were closer to each other than to them. I couldn’t and cannot talk to Kathy and Laura like I could talk to you. I was like the alien in the midst of the Thatcher family. We kept each other’s confidences. We talked about stuff that would get me puzzled and dismissive “You’re weird” looks from K&L. You and me, though, we got each other.

I don’t think it’s a secret that I needed you more than you needed me. You had my back. Maybe I took it for granted. Yeah, I did. I have no idea what it was I did for you. Made you laugh? Got you into some Lucy & Ethel type capers? I think maybe part of my ongoing, decade-and-a-half-long grief is guilt. Guilt for taking, for not giving back enough, for being selfish. I took your presence in my life for granted, and I also took it for granted that we would be on the Earth together for decades. 1979-2003, not even a quarter-century. it’s not fair.

You’ve missed a lot. You missed me coming in third on Jeopardy. You missed me on “Reba.” (and Ms. McIntyre was kind and gracious when I almost burst out crying all over her because you would have loved that I was on her show).  I needed to talk to you about what I saw of Dad with dementia and how scary that shit was. You weren’t here to consult over the issues that drove the final breaking wedge between the rest of the Thatchers and me. If ever I needed a soul sister, that was then.

You should have been here to torment me on my fiftieth birthday. I should have been able to mock you on YOUR fiftieth birthday. Coward. You skipped Earth before that milestone. Forty years was enough, I guess.

By the way, I’m the one who put the yellow rose in the bouquet that was the center of your memorial service. Ellen went along with it. And I’m sure you dumped the picture into that bouquet. Our final “Fuck you” to each other?

You’re the one who kept my feet to the fire writing. I should have been able to consult you about publishing. By all rights, the first copy should have gone to you, not just the dedication.

I still have trouble referring to those closest to me as “best friend.” That’s your job, and fuck you, Bitch, you quit on me. What happens if I call someone else “Best Friend”? Is she going to quit on me, too?

I’m angry, still. How dare you leave? And should I feel guilty over being angry? Doesn’t change the fact that I’m angry, bereft, abandoned. Yeah, you were over a year younger than me, but you had more big sister energy. I feel like I’ve been  cut loose since then, tumbling from a plane without a parachute in a high wind. It’s not your fault, but I wonder if I’d have been blown around so much or made so many bad decisions if you were still here. Or maybe you would have ended the friendship because I’m too much of a pain in the ass.

I don’t know. You had a lot of nerve to be able to get tanked, barf,  and not have a hangover the next day. Such a bitch for being smarter, better self-disciplined,  and more responsible than me. How dare you have your shit together.


I miss you. Every day. I just thought you should know.





In “Slaughterhouse Five,” Kurt Vonnegut describes the hell of surviving the firebombing of Dresden (In Slaughterhouse Number 5. Sorry if that’s a spoiler), then emerging the next morning. Billy Pilgrim is surrounded by manmade destruction on a nearly incomprehensible scale. In the middle of this hellscape…

…a bird starts singing.

In the middle of death and devastation, life reasserts itself.

I live in South Florida and Hurricane Irma came through last weekend. The winds picked up on Saturday, getting stronger through the day and the main event lasted most of Sunday. I could hear hollow booms from time to time. I knew my home was well-positioned for winds coming from ESE (home is in a condo building on the WNW side) and the household had taken steps to prepare.

Before the storm hit, as we were clearing the porch, I was watching the Muscovy ducks and white ibis that hang out in the canal behind the house. The water level had been lowered in anticipation of heavy rain and the birds were probing for worms and bugs. I wondered where they’d go for shelter, whether they’d be able to survive a Category 4 hurricane.

Once the wind started, I put up a pretty good show of being cool and brave for those around me. And for myself. In the wisdom of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Whistle a Happy Tune, putting on the performance convinced me, too. It seemed like the winds wouldn’t stop increasing, that the water level in the canal behind the house wouldn’t stop rising, one more good gust hitting a palm tree would bring it down.

Let me tell you, it was a long damn weekend. And the nights were worse. No quietly whirring fans to block the noise of the wind. The dark seemed even darker. But I could see the silhouettes of trees under assault from 80 mile an hour gusts. I could hear thunder. Lightning flashed. With no power, I was keeping my phone off to save battery. We had been getting tornado warnings, flash flood warnings, lightning strike warnings, but with the phone off, I wouldn’t hear or see them. Sleep was fitful.

I had had a chorus of people on social media telling me to evacuate, and when it became clear that I wouldn’t,  telling me to check in and be safe. Every few hours, I’d turn on the phone and post, starting with “I’m still okay,” describing the conditions, and finishing with “I still have gummy bears.” (I’d started a running joke about gummy bears being among necessary hurricane supplies. More than a few people agreed). One of the last posts, when the winds really did start to ease, I reported that the gummy bears were gone. There were expressions of sympathy.

The winds died down. The rains stopped. We still didn’t have power, and it was cooler outside than in. My roommate and I ventured out to see the damage. Huge trees had fallen into some of the other buildings in the neighborhood, crashing through porches, landing on roofs. Here was the source of those booms I’d heard.  These buildings faced directly into the storm and many units had tattered or missing screens. No golfers were out on the course; too much debris.

We were lucky. Our electricity was out for 36 hours. The internet was fully functional a day later. I wouldn’t call it PTSD, but as I’ve been working, I’ve heard a deep “thrum” and checked the trees to see if the winds have returned. They haven’t; it’s the fan. I know they haven’t, but I still check the trees to be sure.

Tonight, 3 days later, I went to the store to pick up a few things and I stood in the parking lot for a moment. It was a normal September night, warm, humid, pink and orange sunset. The frantic energy was gone. It was quiet. But for the leaf litter and branches on the ground, you wouldn’t know what had gone on.

The morning after the storm, I looked at the canal. And had my own Slaughterhouse Five moment. Amid the downed branches on the other side of the canal, there were the Muscovy ducks and white ibis.

Life reasserts itself.



Over eighty fabulous authors, panels and workshops for both authors and readers . . . two
amazing parties and a huge signing . . . where in the world can you find all of this awesomeness
in one event?

Indie BookFest, of course!

This premier author-reader event, in its fifth year in central Florida, takes place September 28 th
through October 1 st at the Westin Lake Mary.


Indie BookFest is the only non-organization- affiliated author event to offer a dedicated Industry
Day, with representatives from a variety of service companies presenting workshops,
participating in panels and meeting with authors. This year, industry reps include those from
Written Word Media, Draft2Digital, Robin Reads, Bublish and more.

But IBF isn’t simply an author education conference. We also offer an entire evening and day of
Reader Appreciation panels and presentations—PLUS FanFare, an evening where the authors
entertain the readers.

And if that wasn’t enough, there’s also a three-hour signing that is free and open to the public, on
Saturday from three to six.

Tickets to Indie BookFest 2017 are available now. There are several options for readers and for
attending authors:

–INDUSTRY DAY Ticket: This option provides admittance to and participation in all the
panels and workshops offered on Friday, September 29 th . Topics will apply to both new and
established authors, as well as to others in the publishing field. This ticket allows attending
authors and those interested in exploring the possibility of authorhood to participate in the entire
weekend; it also includes FanFare, Reader Appreciation Day participation, the signing and
Saturday night party. Thursday night’s Dinner with the Authors is not included.

–VIP TICKET: This option provides admittance to and participation in all aspects of Indie
BookFest, including access to the entire weekend EXCEPT the Thursday night dinner (available
at an additional charge), including the Green Room, all panels, workshops, parties and signings.
VIP ticket holders also receive a special VIP swag bag.

–GENERAL ADMISSION TICKET: This option includes access to FanFare on Friday night,
reader workshops and panels on Saturday, the three-hour signing on Saturday, and the Saturday
night party, as well as access to the Swag Tables.

–YOUNG AUTHOR EVENT: The Young Author session will take place Saturday, September
30, from 9:30-11 AM. Attendees must be under 18 to attend. A panel of authors will lead the
workshop, which will explore all nuances of writing and publishing a book. Very Important:
This is an add-on ticket to the main event. You must purchase either a general admission/VIP
or Industry Day ticket to add this event.

— THURSDAY NIGHT DINNER WITH THE AUTHORS: Join authors from Indie BookFest
2017 as we kick off the event with a lovely buffet meal in a beautiful setting.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit our website and Eventbrite page.

I Fear For My Nation

I really do.

This post is gong to be an inarticulate mess. You are warned.

Someone said, and I agree, that what we’re seeing with the Nazis in Charlottesville (Boys, you had swastikas. Own it) is the death throes of a poisonous snake. It’s dying, but it still has the potential to kill.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen protections in the Voting Rights act expire and states not even waiting an hour to file legislation to make voting more difficult. Planned Parenthood has come under attack. Access to birth control and women’s health through the Affordable Care Act has been litigated because employers (certain employers) don’t want to pay for it. “Mad Men,” a TV show set in an era when white men were the undisputed kings of the US (Yes, I know they still are, but a lot of us are arguing the point) being a cultural touchstone. I saw that show’s success as a nostalgia for that power structure. And I took it as a warning sign.

And then came Trump. (Sorry, I understand that I should show respect for the Office of the Presidency if not for the holder of that office. Right now, that’s like asking me to generate spit after running a marathon with no water breaks) Even before he ran, he was hounding President Obama via that vile Twitter account. He was the most notorious “birther,” questioning whether Barack Obama had been born in the US (Not a peep about John McCain, who was born in the Panama Canal Zone. He did criticize Ted Cruz, born in Canada, but Cruz is Hispanic. McCain is white, in case you’ve forgotten). We’ve known for years he has no respect for women; a string of divorces and comments like “hot piece of ass” were our first clues. His candidacy announcement referred to Mexicans as rapists (“Although some, I assume, are good people”), mocked a disabled reported, dismissed the aforementioned John McCain’s time as a POW in the “Hanoi Hilton” (North Vietnamese prison camp): “I like guys who don’t get captured, okay?” (Sure thing, Mr. Five Deferements. How are those bone spurs?)

I could see the writing on the wall: once he got in, he was going to find ways to stay there.

Yet, he was elected. Any news critical of him has been denounced by him as “fake news.” (Despite documented evidence). There is now “Trump TV,” hosted by his daughter-in-law. (BTW, look at the wives of Don, Jr. and Eric. They have a “type.” It’s their sister). The Sinclair Broadcast group owns (currently) 173 TV stations in 80 markets. They cover 28% of the US. They now have “must run” spots that could be considered Trump propaganda (the talking head is Boris Ephsteyn, a Trump advisor). Also, the “Terrorism Alert Desk,” which continues to stoke the anti-Muslim sentiment.

Here’s John Oliver discussing Sinclair:

North Korea has one TV channel and that’s Kim family propaganda. We’re getting there.

People were alarmed by the new staff in the White House: Steve Bannon, formerly of Breitbart News (and got a waiver to keep doing business with them), the aforementioned Boris Ephsteyn, who is fervently anti-Muslim, Stephen Miller, who used to work for Jeff Sessions, who was rejected to be a Federal judge for displaying racist tendencies, but that’s okay for enforcing civil rights as Attorney General. Sebastian Gorka. another fervent anti-Muslim warrior (and his wife, who, significantly in light of recent news: “Along with President Donald Trump aides, she worked to eliminate a CEV grant to Life After Hate, a group that opposes white supremacy. When the list of new CEV grant recipients was released June 23, 2017, Life After Hate was not included. This decision drew significant attention when a 20 year-old white supremacist attacked a group protesting the Unite the Right rally less than two months later, killing one.[  (Wikipedia ). ”

I was given a statistic today: 6% of American household own 40% of the guns.

We have over 300,000,000 guns in circulation in this country.

Those statistics worried me, but I was comforted by the knowledge that the US military has Predator drones, Blackhawk helicopters, and trained soldiers. Then I remembered who the current Commander in Chief is.

The Confederacy died 152 years ago. It was defeated. Nazi Germany died 72 years ago. It was defeated.

And yet,

Here in the United States, the country that defeated both of those powers (although I do not imply it was single-handed in the case of World War II. Not by a long shot), Friday night we were treated to the spectacle of respectably-dressed (Polo shirts and khakis. Aryan casual) young men (mostly. There were women) carrying swastika flags, Confederate battle flags (the Stars and Bars), and tiki torches, parading through Charlottesville, VA to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. They were chanting Nazi slogans. They showed their faces (much to the chagrin of some who have since been identified and lost their jobs. Or families).

For those about to scream “First Amendment,” let me counter: You absolutely may say what you want. The First Amendment says the GOVERNMENT can’t stop you. However, YOU ARE NOT IMMUNE FROM THE CONSEQUENCES OF YOUR ACTIONS. If your employer decides to fire you, if a contract is cancelled, if a job offer is withdrawn, it’s all legal. In the age of social media and privately held (for now) cameras everywhere, you are never not representing your company. There is no “I’m on my own” time, even if you’re not getting paid.

The First Amendment ended with the first swing of a tiki torch at a counter-protester. The first blast of pepper spray (and one of the Unite the Right organizing sites told the marchers to bring pepper spray). That becomes assault and battery. The next day, it became vehicular homicide (and those Nazi fuckers want to find out where and when Heather Heyer’s funeral is so they can send people. Even Westboro Baptist Church wouldn’t go that far. And they’re assholes of the highest order).

What does our President do? First, there was a feeble comment that assigned blame to both sides. It took another day and a half to call out the white supremacists, but he back-pedaled. Today, the 45th President of the United States referred to the Nazis as “fine people.”

His racism has been litigated through the NY court system for 40 years. Thanks to his Twitter account, Howard Stern, Morning Joe, and other TV/radio shows, we’ve known exactly who he is for years. Four CEOs quit the President’s council on American manufacturing. Which one does he attack on Twitter?

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Kenneth Frazier of Merck

Trump’s idea of a black friend:

Photo by VictoriaPeckham source

May not have been a murderer yet, but a known wife-beater. The term for our President is “starfucker.”


The Charlottesville Nazis claim to be afraid of the loss of “White European culture” due to progress in women’s rights, civil rights, immigration rights, gay rights. They complain about missing out on jobs due to immigration and affirmative action (the Sessions Department of Justice is more interested in suing colleges and universities over affirmative action than investigating and stopping American Nazis. Telling. Very telling).

Boys (you are not men. You are pasty-faced whiny little boys raised on participation trophies. No wonder you’re defending Confederate statues. Another pack of glorified also-rans): Trust me, white male European/American culture is still dominant.Note the lack of diversity in blockbuster movies, in rock music, at the top of Fortune 500 companies. Read the stories of harassment and hostile work environments. It’s damned difficult to get justice, let me tell you. As for the lack of jobs, look at automation, not immigration. Between better robots and software, automation will put 71% of Americans out of a job by 2025 (8 years from now). I got that from the Huffington Post, link below:

Learn to build or repair them. By the way, your hero Trump hires foreign workers for his resorts (very restrictive HB-2 which do not permit the workers to seek other employment when they’re here) and NONE of his merch is Made in USA. None. You could have taken pride in making ties, MAGA hats, whatever. Profits have no loyalty.

As for “erasing” white history: no. We’re just ending the glorification of treason and white supremacy. Those generals may have been military geniuses and they deserve to be studied for that, but they chose to take up arms against the United States. Statues on their battlefields, yes. It links to the history, there is a context to its placement. Nathan Bedford Forrest may have been one of the greatest, most daring cavalrymen of all time, but he was also the first Grand Wizard of the KKK (although, he did eventually leave when they got too crazy even for him) and putting his statue in a historically black area is an insult and implied threat. We’ve been hearing charges of “revisionist history,” but my counter is that the  revisionist history is the one we’ve been taught all along. The one where white men are the heroes and saviors of the world. The one that makes Columbus a hero worthy of a holiday even though he was responsible for genocide, kidnapping, and murder. (Replace Columbus Day with Juneteenth, the day slavery ended in the US).  History books (and American pop culture) paint indigenous Americans as murderous savages who deserved to be killed and driven from the land. The ones I was raised on did not teach a history of slavery in the US except for its end.

An offensive comment on my Facebook page today referred to people who want to remove the monuments as “pussies who want to rewrite history.”  The term “Political correctness” has been weaponized to deride people who show respect for other races, faiths (or lack thereof), sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc. This usually comes from people who want to use slurs without consequence. Who believe in superiority/inferiority based on race, faith, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc.

And those are the assholes who were marching in Charlottesville. They dressed like the IT guy at your place of work (and some of them, apparently were, but are no longer), but should have had Nazi khaki uniforms (too hot a night in Virginia, perhaps) if they’re going to hold these beliefs.

It sickens me that this betrayal of “all men are created equal” exists in the US. We fought wars for this ideal. We shed blood defeating the enemies who wanted to impose the opposite view and oh, by the way, were enslaving and murdering those people unlike them.

I’m sure I’m going to hear from readers saying, “You know, we don’t want to read your politics. We want your stories, not your opinion.” I know I’m going to lose readers. Consequence of exercising First Amendment rights and I accept that (I also accept the lack of editing here). However, to be true to myself, I cannot, and will not, allow this homegrown anti-American bullshit go unchallenged.

Nazis, get lost.