**PLEASE NOTE** - I use no other social media and my comments are closed due to persistent harassment and impersonation by one individual - sorry :(

Saturday, February 29, 2020

What We're Watching: Locke & Key, Longmire ...

... otherwise, as I've said, I've been pretty busy lately, and when I have time, Mark and I are always on the lookout for a new good story.  Unfortunately, both Netflix and Amazon have been a little dry, the past month or so, and what they have come out with have been duds.  

(I guess they wanted you to focus on their warranted critically acclaimed stuff, like, The Irishman, Dolemite, and others rather than anything new? Okay, they are good - but they've been out for months already, and for a while, Netflix and Amazon we're hitting it out of the park with a new show at least once a week that was worth a watch.)

There's Hunters with Al Pacino on Amazon, which we'll watch at some point, but we're not really in an intense-watch kind of place lately. 

Thus, two different friends, who are also Yellowstone fans, recommended Longmire to us?

Well, I personally wouldn't put it in league with Yellowstone, but like Yellowstone, it has gotten more interesting/better as it goes along.  

However, remember, as I've said, the only 2 things I'm snobby about are film and architecture (people with money, wasting it), and I'm sort of a snob about these things -  and if I can predict the plot or who figure out "whodunnit" in the first 10 minutes, I lose interest. 

And having said that, though there are some interesting twists and I do like the characters - I did manage to correctly figure out who really had Longmire's wife killed several episodes ago lol.  

My husband, turned to me and said, "I don't know why I doubt you, you nail it, every single time, how do you do that?"

I just winked :)

Because is it that I'm psychic? 

Lol, no - it's just being a once aspiring screenwriter, I can usually see where these stories are going.

Yet I'm still watching because I want to see what happens to a couple of characters :)

Otherwise, we watched a couple of documentaries on Amazon, and the only upcoming show on either Amazon or Netflix I was looking forward to was "Locke & Key"on Netflix - and it didn't disappoint :)

It's not Stranger Things Caliber, but a sort of twist on "Harry Potter Meets Goosebumps Meets Stranger Things, the B version" (based on a comic book series) - but I do like the novel ideas :)

In fact, Mark got into it as much as I did, and couldn't wait until 10 p.m., when all our work, animal care, and housework was done to sit down to watch. 

And that's my "What We're Watching" report for the week. 

Ready for Another Possible Paranormal Mystery? ;)

The above photo is Paul David Savanuck - an army journalist in Vietnam, who put his camera down to help a wounded soldier and was killed by enemy gunfire in April 1969. 

Not not an exact match for the story below (wrong month, no mustache, etc.) but it gives you frame of reference, as Vietnam was the first war in which photojournalists from the actual press were allowed to accompany men to the front lines and report from there/send back pictures and footage - and military journalists did the same, and their pictures/stories better match (and when they didn't, we the people took issue ;)

Anyway, so it's freaking cold outside today, because we got a cold/snow blast despite an otherwise mild winter, and I find myself going down the rabbit hole on YouTube, this morning, like you do. 

You know what I mean -  see one thing, see another on the side bar out of morbid curiosity or needing a good laugh, click on it, etc.

Let me just say that as anyone reading, or who knows me in RL, already knows - though I'm open to the paranormal because of a couple of my own unexplained experiences, I'm also very logical - so the first thing I do is look for logical explanations - and 99% of the time, there is one.  

In fact, for a very long time, having both strong instinct/emotion and strong sense of logic was problematic for me - I kept trying to choose one or other other.

Then I finally realized there's a reason we have both, and there's a reason we need both - and I began to accept both emotion and logic and integrate them :)

Also, there's that pesky third law of thermodynamics/law of conservation states  that energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only transfer - thus, people's energy can't just disappear, it has to go somewhere - where does it go, right?  

This isn't a theory, it's a law of science - meaning every test of energy, every time, produces the same result (at least on this planet and for the reasons we think it does, though there's much we don't yet understand.)
However, there are theories about our energy "goes" - some say it's dispersed, some say it stays, some say it moves to other planes, some say heaven/hell.  

I say there is no law on where our energy goes, when we die, only theories - and perhaps the answer to the "where does our energy go" isn't the same answer, every time?

Now, let me just tell you that everything I watched today, at least, was clearly total bullshit lol.

Well, 99% of the stuff you find on YouTube these days is total BS, and that's not my point lol. 

My point is, somehow I got to a video on Reddit threads about the paranormal.  Again, mostly bullshit, good for a laugh (especially when people come on clearly not being serious and just saying something random for a laugh).

However, there were some comment about past lives, which I'm not a big believer in, but I'm open tp, because I can't rule it out, because if the law of conservation/third law of thermodynamics is correct, energy can't be created or destroyed and can only be transferred, then who's to say it isn't "recycled" into a new life?  

(I actually don't find that contrary to my Christian beliefs, actually, who's to say God doesn't 'recycle' too? lol)

Anyway, I personally have never had anything "past lifey" happen to me or anyone I know personally.  Well, except deja vu, which we all get, but that's a neurosensory  glitch, not a "glitch in the matrix" lol. 

Except it did remind me that for a few nights in the late 90s, I had the same weird, recurring dream. In fact, it's the most vivid dream I've ever had.  

Now, let me just preempt this by saying, I have never been a fan of Vietnam movies -  I can't watch them, though I can stomach just about everything else, even other war movies - to this day I've never seen Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, Apocolypse Now, etc. all the way through.

And yet I had this recurring dream that was one of the most vivid I've ever had in my life.

So, in the dream, I'm a male soldier in Vietnam, except I don't fight, I'm a journalist.  I can still see my typewriter at my desk in a sort of half tent/half makeshift bunker, my CO, etc.  

I see myself (as I later looked in a mirror to see my injuries) - tall, thin, dark hair, sort of Lennon-ish glasses - and I know my name is "John." 

(For a long time after the dream, I remembered my last name, too, but have since forgotten it.  I even looked the name up on the internet once but found nothing.)

So I'm talking to my CO and we're laughing, cutting up about something to ease tension, and all of the sudden, we hear a loud whistling sound and boom - I was flying through the air.

When I come to, I hear people speaking in Vietnamese.  I look to my left and right, my fellow soldiers everywhere - dead.  I see them poking around the bodies, kicking them, etc., to ensure they're dead, bayonetting and shooting anyone that groaned or was breathing. 

They hadn't reached where I was yet, so out of instinct, and with no weapon, I cover myself in the blood of those next to me and lay very still.  

When they reached me, they poke around, kick me, but I hold my breath, determined not to breath or make a sound, pretending I was dead - and they left.

I remember, it was a sort of grey, misty day, lying in a field, must like in the photo below ...

Just sort of lying there, listening, drifting in and out of consciousness (in the dream) and when I next woke, I'm on some sort of cart with a Vietnamese person pulling it, dressed like a farmer - and I'm lying on a pile full of bodies.  

I can hear the wheels creak, see the back of the clearly non-soldier head, straw hat on from the sun, the surrounding landscape - flat, hills in the distance, palm trees - just thinking, thinking, thinking. 

Once we get to a denser patch of trees, I make a break for it - and I just ran.  Judging by where the sun was, I just ran and ran the direction where I knew the med camp to be.  Finding it, I just collapse on the nurses.  Drift out of consciousness again (in the dream).

When I wake up, the doctor is there, a nurse, and a buddy of mine, telling me I was missing the right side of my scalp, which was now infected.  I hadn't noticed or felt it - adrenaline, I guess - until then, horrible headache (strangely enough, exactly where I get my migraines now).  I guess that's why the Viet Cong didn't shoot or bayonet me, they thought I was already dead?

I ask for a mirror, but they tell me I won't be able to see anything, my head wrapped in gauze, but I probably have one hell of a headache.  I can see myself in the mirror - dark hair, pale skin, tall, thin, John Lennon-ish glasses (not exactly, but similar style).

I look to the left, out the breaks in the tent flaps and can see it's afternoon, people talking, and ask to be left alone to rest, I don't feel well - then drift out of consciousness, into absolute darkness, and then light - and I knew I was dead in the dream - and that's when I woke up.

Now, I was born in December 1968 - the height of the Vietnam War. 

Though not a huge fan of war movies anyway, to this day, I've never fully been able to bring myself to watch Vietnam war movies in particular, so it's not likely I was influenced by them.

I've read history books and articles, of course, but nothing akin to the dream - in fact, the above photo of the journalist, I found just today.

And later online (late 90s), when researching the full name (which I now can't recall) and any events happening the month I was born, I chatted with someone in a chat room who was a Vietnam vet.  Of course, I didn't tell him about my dream, but just told him I was doing a bit of research. I told him that I knew in WWI and even II, both sides gave time to collect the bodies, but as guerrilla warfare increased, even in WWII, it made you fair game.  

So what was done to collect bodies in heavy guerrilla warfare like Vietnam?

I'll never forget, he said, "They paid local villagers to pick them up for them."

Yikes - the cart, the farmer.  

I asked where did they take them?

He said, "Sometimes they took them back to the US Med camps, other times they took the bodies the Viet Cong out of fear or distrust of Americans - sometimes they just took the upfront half of the money or cigarettes or food, what have you, and and ran -  dumped the bodies off or burned them -  that's one of the many reasons why there were so many MIA."

Yikes x2 - something in me wasn't sure whether or not to trust the cart driver. 

Weird, right? 

Born during the height of Vietnam, can't watch Vietnam movies to this day, and 30 years later, I have this recurring dream, the most vivid dream of my life, for several nights in a row (which finally went away).  

Hmmm ...

So just coincidence, my active imagination, unremembered influence on my psyche causing dreams,  or something more?  :)

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Then Finally, On The Day That Powerful Harvey Weinstein Was Convicted, The Powerless Began To Smile Again ...

... because it proved there were some in the justice system who still believed in consequences for your actions, despite wealth and power. and it set a precedent of consequence for actions; one that even if it only prevented one more of the Harvey Weinsteins of the world from ever doing to women again what he did, was worth it.

Hopefully, that's what we'll be saying in the future, as we look back at history.  Just a little bit of hope is a powerful thing :) 

I don't have much time for blogging, as of late, and not much inclination to do so - but the moment I heard Harvey Weinstein was convicted, I smiled, and thought I'd weigh in.  

Because to me, it meant that despite seemingly returning to the Dark Ages, where the Trumps, Kavanaughs and Kobes of the world are presumed innocent despite clearly aggressive demeanors and/or evidence  - a world where the wealthy, famous, and powerful are presumed innocent and less powerful people (predominantly women)  are being silenced with money or smeared/discredited for speaking up and speaking truth - there are still some people in the justice system, and society at large, still interested in listening to their voices, listening to facts, and listening to truth. 

An excerpt from this excellent opinion piece from Rebecca Solnit of the New York Times, the only part I disagree with being that Rebecca could've gone further because though we have returned to an age of victim-blaming, silencing, and discrediting women, this behavior is not exclusive only to women - it's just more obvious with women. 

"To be powerless means that your facts and truths can be overwhelmed by the powerful, who prefer these facts or voices or stories not be heard. And what it means in the end is that truth and fact and evidence only prevail, whether it’s science or personal stories, in a democracy — not just a democracy in the electoral sense but a world in which power differentials don’t corrupt what stories get told. Where what facts prevail depends on the strength of those facts, not the status of the speaker. 
Imagine if Mr. Weinstein had committed his first sexual assault in a world in which his victim had the audibility, credibility, value and resources he did. There would likely not have been a second, or six women testifying in a trial, or 90 women with stories no one made space for before something changed in 2017. More likely there would not have been a first in a world where he knew he could not overpower her facts and voice, even if he could overpower her physically. When I hear these stories, I think of my own youth as a person who was voiceless, not because I could not speak, but because they would not listen. I, like so many others, then and now. 
For myself, I wanted Mr. Weinstein found guilty and imprisoned not as revenge — though he richly deserves it — but as a warning to men like him that the age of impunity is over, that there are people willing to listen to women, and sometimes what we say has consequences. The most important change will be found in what we cannot measure — all the crimes that don’t happen because would-be perpetrators fear the consequences, now that there are consequences. All the potential victims who know that if they speak up, someone might hear them and heed them. I want more than that, though: I want a society where the desire and entitlement to commit sexual violence wither away, not out of fear but out of respect for the rights and humanity of victims.
But even the idea that Mr. Weinstein’s conviction is a watershed is optimistic: from offices to agricultural fields to college campuses, sexual violence is still harming millions directly and making survival extra work that too many women must do daily. We have democratized storytelling and truth to the extent that we now sometimes hear about the consequences of inequality, but not enough to end those stories. We — well, some of us — have begun a process that matters more than anything. What just happened to Weinstein was, maybe, a step forward, but we have miles to go."

There was also one excerpt regarding women that I do think is pertinent mostly for women - something I don't think men and women that have never been sexually assaulted or harassed understand - something that was brought up time and time again during Weinstein's trial. 

And that is that to some men (and some women actually, but in terms of sexual assault or harassment, this is typically powerful men on less powerful women), saying "No" is like a trigger for them - they become more enraged. 

"I was mute in those moments. I knew that speaking was more likely to make things worse than better for me, though women in the situations I found myself in were often rebuked for not speaking up. The pleasant story behind that rebuke was that we were all equal rational beings, and we all had the power of language at our command, and anyone who didn’t use it chose not to, and it was all on her.
That was a lie. We did not have equal power. Sometimes saying no or stop achieved nothing. Sometimes speaking up further enraged the man we were trying to escape. Some of us, many of us, millions of us were sexually assaulted and then told we were liars when we spoke of what happened, and so our society was able to pretend it cared about sexual harassment and assault while refusing to acknowledge their omnipresence.
We do things with words, when they have power — set boundaries, swear oaths, bear witness. But if your words have no power, it is almost worse to speak them than not, to see them fail than not. 
Facts circulate freely in a democracy of information that results from a democracy of voices. We have something else instead, from personal life to national politics: a hierarchy of audibility and credibility, a brutal hierarchy, in which people with facts often cannot prevail, because those who have more power push those facts out of the room and into silence or make the cost of stating those facts dangerously high. That’s how the oil industry turned the science of climate change into a fake debate full of fake uncertainties. It’s how the impeachment trial turned into a showcase for how to override facts and laws. 
And it’s how Harvey Weinstein raised an army to protect his power to grab and grope and rape with impunity, until now. Sexual assault is perhaps the grimmest and clearest example of how unequal power generates crimes and then protects those who create them, but it’s not the only one. 
The story of Mr. Weinstein and his army of aggressive protectors has, since it first began to be told two and a half years ago, been exemplary of this. More than 90 women have reported he harassed or assaulted them, but Mr. Weinstein had what money can buy: an international army of lawyers, spies, influencers and others toiling to control the story and keep his secrets. That is, to silence and discredit the women he assaulted. Which means that so many of them were subjected to a double silencing."

But on the day Harvey Weinstein was convicted, just a small ray of light entered this world that had returned to the Dark Ages - because it meant that perhaps the wealthy and powerful were, in  fact, not immune from consequences, after all.  

And the idea of those consequences to Harvey Weinstein preventing even 1 person from doing what Harvey Weinstein did, is something to smile about :)

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

PS Speaking of Godless Government Pardons, Trump's Pardons and Ponzi Schemes

I swear, I wrote the below post about Bevin's pardons (including 2 child rapists, whose families had contributed to Bevin's campaign), before I heard the news ...

 Trump just pardoned Michael Milken.

For those who don't know, Michael Milken is the undisputed king of white-collar crime and the king of "junk bonds" (semi-legal, glorified Ponzi schemes) -- defrauding and embezzling millions from everyday Americans' retirement and savings funds.

Don't you people remember the S&L crisis?

It was largely sparked by Milken and others emulating his tricks - our market and economy partially destabilized in the late 80s and early 90s because of Milken's actions (and copycats).

Milken pleaded guilty -- and was found guilty -- on 98 counts of racketeering, securities fraud, insider trading, and other securities offenses.

In factas then-mayor of NYC -- it was Rudolph Giuliani's legal team that helped convict Milken, but Rudolph Guiliani and team have curiously been pressuring Trump to pardon him since 2018 -- and you Trumpers aren't even going ask why or even raise an eyebrow at that?

Okay, well you do realize that the evil-genius character of Gordon Gekko (played by Michael Douglas) from 1988's "Wall Street" - who uttered the words, "Greed is good" - was largely based on Michael Milken, right?

Until Trump, Michael Milken was known by both parties as a sociopath in a suit. No, wait, worse -  Satan/Mammon incarnate in a suit lol.

What's that, you say, my supposedly Christian brothers and sisters who are Republicans?



Okay, well how about these then?

Also pardoned was  Judith Negron - whose Miami "mental-health company defrauded Medicare of $205 million in Medicare dollars. 

How about this - this should stir you Republicans at least a little?

Also pardoned was Rod Blagojevich, the shamed and imprisoned former Illinois governor who got caught ON TAPE of trying to sell Obama's former Illinois senate seat.

Blagojevich was a Democrat - but like many baby-boomer Democrats, he became an avid Trump supporter.

Still nothing?

So whose next - Pol Pot, Moamar Quaddafi, Idi Amin, Charles Manson and Adolph Hitler, posthumously? 

Satan himself? 

What's that you say? 

I can hear it now -- based on actual excuses former Governor Bevin gave for his pardons, as well as excuses Trump supporters  make regarding Trump  ... 

"Well, that was centuries ago. Satan's a changed man, now. Trump, in his infinite wisdom, has determined Satan has been rehabilitated during his cushy, minimum-security, federal-prison-like earthbound stay, until Christ's return."

"Poor Satan, his case was biased and botched by corrupt, liberal FBI and fake news - they lied about the Father of Lies, you see, because of politics."
"Satan's a fallen angel, imperfect and flawed, like we all are. But he's a Christian, he believes Jesus is the son of God. He just fell, like we all do, but he's still our Christian brother. Therefore, we should just forgive Satan, let him go - pray for Satan as our Christian brother. Plus he contributed to Trump's campaign, cleaning the swamp!"

What. The. BLEEP. Are. You. Talking. About? 

I mean - did you just hear yourselves? 


Yeah, no - fairly certain Christ meant forgive in your heart, not enable them/escape consequences for actions, particularly criminal ones - especially not for selfish political and financial gain.

Clock is ticking on time to change your mind, Trumpers, time is running out. But you still have time.  Less than a year, though.   

Regardless,  do realize that political pendulum is going to swing back to the left someday, with at least equal force as it swung your way (if some don't give it an extra push, with a vengeance). 

You're going to have to answer for your support of Trump someday, you know - how you sat and watched him and his corporate cronies' corruption dismantle our economic infrastructure to benefit themselves corporations, screw the middle and working class -  with no more labor or consumer protection laws, either.

Remember, with Milken, the economy initially did well, and there were initial returns on investments - that's how Ponzi schemes work, to keep you "hooked" and invested.

However, American markets and the economy eventually temporarily and partially destabilized as a result of Milken and others like him sparking the the S&L crisis of the late 80s and 90s.

And of course, other than initial gains, in the long run, it never "trickled-down" on the investors or the lower classes - because it was being financed by the lower classes, mostly pensioners.
Pray tell, how exactly does that differ from communism?  

Do you justify that by saying it's corporations instead of government? 


Because the end result of both extreme capitalism and extreme communism is exactly the same - the 1% of the population is at the top and in control, the rest of us our labor for them - period. 

What's it going to take for you Trumpers to realize you've fallen for the biggest Ponzi scheme in American history? 

Or do you not care, as long as your politics are in power?

So, here's a couple of questions to help you decide. 

1)  Do you understand the actual definition of political corruption? 

2) Do you not care about political corruption as long the person supports your politics?

Okay - but you do realize that not only are supporting corruption  (and therefore need to quit b*tching about it), but you are corrupt yourselves, by definition?

Last call, Republicans, still time to change your answer and help restore a healthy balance between extreme capitalism and extreme communism - as well as redeem yourselves as self-proposed Christian brothers and sisters - before you become partially responsible for the economic mess that is coming our way, courtesy of Trump and his cronies corruption.

Tick tock, tick tock, though - time is running out. 

Update on Leftover Bevin BS and Kentucky Public School Employee Dental Plan Confusion

I wrote a post earlier this morning, that I said that I'd either take down or update, once the problem was resolved to my satisfaction.  

Well, it isn't yet -  but I am to a point that I trust that it will be.  

However, I did want to restate that it is true that under former Governor Bevin, our State of Kentucky changed public-school-employee dental plans 3 times within the last year, without giving us a warning or a choice, and most of us got stuck with paying for 2 dental plans for the entire year of 2020 as a result (one of which the state terminated its contract with, and we can't use).

However, we have just discovered that in addition to the state-level mess Bevin left us with on regarding benefits, there may have also been local-level error as well, not catching the dual enrollment in time. 

All I know is the following:  

1)  We are NOT going to pay for 2 dental plans for 2020 -  one we didn't even ask for in the first place and can't use - and this had better be corrected within the next 2 weeks.  

2) The person responsible for the switches to begin with was our former Governor (and Trump lackey), who was one super-corrupt, super-shady A-hole.

If you're not from Kentucky, you may not be aware of the multitude of ways he screwed state employees (especially teachers), but you may recall how 
Governor Bevin made international news twice?  
The first time was when he lost his bid for re-election, this past November, despite Trump rallying for him, here in Lexington, the night before the election.

The second time he made international news was during his last days in office, Bevin pardoned over 600 criminals, to include convicted murderers, and even 2 convicted child rapists - most of whom, not surprisingly, had either donated to Bevin's campaign or had family members who had donated to his campaign ;)

Don't you love how the smellers are always the fellers, when it comes to Trumper corruption - trying to deflect and project their own crimes onto everyone else? ;)

Monday, February 17, 2020

Just Because ...

... this clip of 5-year-old drummer-boy child prodigy, Justin Harris II, playing drums on Ellen is the cutest thing I've seen in a while  (with Lenny Kravitz being a close second ;)   


Lenny surprised his biggest fan on Ellen that day (but later was tossed aside when Ellen presented him with Spiderman gifts lol) 

For those who don't know, Lenny Kravitz (once married to Lisa Bonet) is the son of actress Roxie Roker (The Jeffersons) and TV news producer, Sy Kravitz, and was somewhat of a child prodigy himself.

He taught himself to play virtually any instrument put in front of him - particularly rocking lead guitar and drums (his lead guitar is particularly reminiscent of Jimmy Hendrix). 

Though he has a female drummer in this video, he not only wrote the song, but plays both the guitar rifts and drums on the actual recording of  "Are You Gonna Go My Way" (i.e., what Justin is playing above) ...



Justin also likes to play Lenny's "Fly Away" - so this is last year's clip on Ellen, when he was just 4 years old ...

And here's Lenny with the same ...

And just because we love Lenny like we do, here's Lenny doing "American Woman" ...

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Nine Lives in a Post-Katrina New Orleans ...

This post - like myself - is a work in progress and will likely be edited several times before I'm through - thanks for bearing with me lol :)

As mentioned, I've been on a New Orleans kick recently.  I've read one book, which was meh, okay - but now I'm nearly finished with a fairly good read called "Nine Lives: Mystery, Magic, Life and Death in New Orleans,"  by Dan Baum.

It's essentially the story of 9 real people, whose lives at least briefly intertwined and interconnected in New Orleans, from just after Hurricane Betsy to Hurricane Katrina - from those in the lowest run of society in the 9th Ward, all the way up to a transplanted Texan-turned-NOLA cop who changed his racist ways, to a one-time King of the Rex Mardi Gras Krewe to Dr. Frank Minyard, NOLA's long-time, jazz-trumpet-playing coroner. 

All the way through the book, I kept saying, "So ... where's the 'mystery and magic' part?" 

Wait for it ... because it finally just today hit me lol.  And it's not the kind of 'magic' you think  :)

So, I'm now near the end - just after Katrina, when the levees broke (for those who don't know, the levees broke just after the storm had passed). 

I started to put the book down, because Katrina was the beginning of  a difficult time in my life personally.   I was living near the area, in Pensacola. 

Katrina was our third hurricane that year.  Katrina was only a category 2 for us, but we were digging out of 2 that year already, Hurricane Ivan knocking half the city down. 

(I actually claim there were 4 hurricanes for me personally, due to the hurricane-like antics of my exhusband).  The first hurricane, Hurricane Ivan, wiped many homes to matchsticks. 

It was the beginning of a snowballing, a long struggle from which I thought I'd never recover - but I did :)

Regardless, our already overburdened/price-gouged city was  barely standing itself after two hurricanes, began taking in people just as fast as we could, more pissed off for New Orleans than we were for ourselves, at all the price-gouging, lack of city, state, and federal efforts, the aid pouring in for utilities and businesses and yet businesses still jacking their prices up.  

I remember paying a $300 electric bill by December of 2005, for a 2-bedroom apartment, despite going 6 weeks without power with Ivan, 2 weeks with Dennis, and 2 with Katrina - the utility company stating they had to "recoup" their losses, despite being the first one to receives millions in state and federal aid - as if it was our civic duty to pay their bills - bills we didn't even create.

And if we took aid as citizens?  Fuhgetabout it, you had to pay it back on our taxes the next year - which is why I didn't take any ;)  

Other scams ensued and were rampant - like roofing contractors, taking advantage of the already economically deprived area, people unable to work due to power being out for 5 weeks or their businesses destroyed - they just took your cash and ran.  

Or insurance companies refusing to pay (two major ones, which wound up being sued in class action).

I received calls from my doctor's offices, the schools, etc., asking if it was okay to bunker people there, to take reschedule my appointment on behalf of "refugees"  - which I of course said "yes" too immediately.

However, I always thought "refugee" was a strange term to use.  I mean, we didn't call displaced 9/11 victims "refugees" - so why these people?  Because some were poor?  Because they were people of color?

These people weren't escaping some war-torn country - they were my fellow countrymen, women, and children - who went through a natural disaster - one that could've been avoided, if corrupt, city, county, state, and federal officials had done their jobs properly - and was later whitewashed as if it didn't happen, despite the fact that Katrina killed nearly as many people as were killed in 9/11. 

Regardless, it was a war zone of sorts, just the same, I suppose.

I kept reading - not only because it told the personal stories of things we already saw and knew - but things I didn't know. 

For example, Frank Minyard, NOLA coroner for 40 years, claims that the local police, state police, 89th airborne, national guard, DMORT, FEMA, and DMORT all stepped up to offer to retrieve the bodies, but were all told to "stand down" until word came "from the top" about what to do with the bodies.

Finally, 10 days later, SCI (Service Corporation International) came in to retrieve the bodies, and it became clear why the wait - the federal government had contracted a private, multinational funeral home service corporation to do it.

In other words, not only did local, state, and federal government hesitate to evacuate, rescue, and send aid, but Frank claims they knowingly ordered first-responders and the military to "stand down" from retrieving the bodies  -  letting hundreds of bodies rot where they lay on the streets of New Orleans for 10 days - simply because local, state, and federal government officials were taking private contract bids for cleanup, to include body collection - companies that politicians either likely had shares in  themselves, or their political campaign donors did. 

As DMORT began to identify the bodies, then came the pressure - at all government levels - for Frank to write down that they all drowned on their death certificates as cause of death.

Of course, Frank refused - and demanded that each body be autopsied for actual cause of death, because he knew many died from lack of medical assistance, food, water, heat exhaustion - some were homicides, nursing home neglect/abandonment, even euthanasia at some healthcare facilities  - on local, state, and federal government's dime :)  

However, they did cut off his funding for this, after a time ... keep reading.

Though admittedly no saint himself (like everybody else in this book), he nevertheless grew up just this side of poor himself, on the edge of the ninth ward - and recognized he had opportunities and trust handed to him, that others in his community - just as highly intelligent he was, didn't - because of the color of his skin; thus, e never forgot where he came from or the people he swore he'd grow up and serve. 

And he was a terrible politician to boot, meaning in the best of ways (he often would speak without thinking, as humans do - often exactly what he thought or suspected, before all the medical evidence was back - but he was usually correct).   Remarkable for a coroner to be a terrible politician, because it's an elected position, but that was apparently Frank - too forthcoming and direct - but in the best of ways :)

He mostly derived the position by simply being the top OB-GYN in New Orleans, treated the wealthiest in his snazzier uptown and St. Charles/Garden District offices, as well as the poorest, via sliding-fee-scale offices in the poorest neighborhoods twice a week.

In other words, for the first 20 years of his career, Dr. Frank Minyard brought the wealthiest babies and poorest babies into this world in New Orleans - black, creole, and white - into this world in New Orleans, he'd be damned if they went out without proper identification, cause of death, and burial :)

He  retained the position of medical coroner, for 40 years until stepping down in 2014, in part due to the increasingly polarized political environment, part because he admittedly was exhausted, after working tirelessly and for years to identify Katrina victims, investigate causes of death, etc.

However, despite all of his quirks, he is much beloved by most of New Orleans because of his fight to identify, investigate, and memorialize Katrina victims.

Such as pushing for the proper burial of 99 unidentified at Charity Cemetery (which reduced to 30 by 2015) and demanding some of the funding pouring in for the "new Charity Hospital" (which never arrived, see below) go to a Katrina Memorial. At the point where there were 99 he couldn't identify or determine cause of death, his funding was cut off and at first could not get government approval or funding for a proper burial for them.

However, he finally did manage it, as well as pushing for an official Hurricane Katrina Memorial site; however, unlike 9/11's memorial - though nearly as many people were killed (partly due to our own own negligence) - it allegedly received no state and federal funding - it was build primarily through city aid funding, private donations making up the rest ...

... though it looks big in the picture, if you note the size of the surrounding houses, it's actually very small - tucked away in a behind-the-way area of town, built in the shape of a hurricane -   and the remains of the 99 unidentified bodies (nor reduced to 30 unidentified) are interred in the mausoleum there. 

Frank knew they were all skimming off the top and making money off the disaster, either through privatized clean-up contracts, kickbacks, or straight up embezzlement of government money, from Bush and Cheney to the governor's office on down to Mayor Nagin (but of course, only Nagin was tried and convicted) - and he was pissed at all the funding pouring in for Charity Hospital that went where, we don't know. 

Though the number would eventually drop from 99 to 30, that "99" number stuck with me, reminding me of Matthew 18:12 in the bible ...

Dr. Frank Minyard, imperfect disciple of Christ, refusing to play politics - was doing exactly what Jesus would do, in determining how each one of those victims died, identifying them. and making sure they received proper burial  :)

Of course, he, like we, have heard the same horrifying "excuses " not to help people then as we hear not to help the people today; and worse, treat them without mercy - from refugees from other countries or even within our own, like in in Flint, Michigan, in their water crisis:  "They're all lazy welfare rats and thieves anyway, trash" - as if even if that were true, rather than reality, they deserve to die over it? 

You think they wanted to be?

You think they could afford to be better educated to do anything else?

You imagine it's that easy to break out of that life they grew up in or that you could do so yourself in that world?

You think God sees them in the merciless way you do?

Do you think you could survive even one day in their world without crumbling and crying in the corner?

I doubt it. 

In fact, I dare those of you living in your suburban ivory towers, crying for days because you have the sniffles or because you stubbed your toe - whining about Greta Thunberg or LGBTQ or whatever minor political slight you saw on Fox News from your safe armchair, or because you can't afford to go on your yoga retreat or your wine vacation in Europe again this year - to try to live, or even survive, for even 1 day in the world these people had no choice but to grow up in.

You imagine that you're where you are in life due to your own hard work compared to the poor, and that you did it without help from anyone - instead of realizing you're just lucky, and that you were born in the lap of luxury in comparison, with parents and grandparents that sacrificed much for you to succeed, but who also could afford to make sure you succeeded.

And I guarantee you, from personal experience in both waged and professional fields myself -- people in minimum wage jobs are working physically harder than you do, with less breaks.

I never worked as hard as I did when doing a minimum-wage job or waiting tables - for a lot less pay, less benefits, and no breaks due to ignored labor laws (because they know minimum wagers are too poor to get lawyers and sue and no one would listen to minimum-wage employees versus companies anyway). 

However, surprisingly, the most affecting story was the Texan-cop transplant, born and bred true Republican racist, seemingly compassion-less Nazi (but at least non-dirty) cop, who admittedly enjoyed authority a little too much before Katrina, and previously sometimes resorted to police brutality to subdue suspects - over little crimes - by the name of Tim Bruneau.

Before Katrina, he was shot, fracturing his skull with the fall, after chasing down a young kid for vandalism in effort to "clean up New Orleans" - that's trauma #1.  Then came Katrina, trauma #2. 

Those stories that came out about "thugs" shooting at cops "trying to help them" in New Orleans? 


Tim says he doesn't know about every incident, but in his personal experience, he readily he admits, he shot someone during the chaos and panic, himself - it was pure chaos, people on both sides just shooting, sometimes out of fear of threat or just shooting off their gun, like screaming in vain at the sky during the storm.  

And Bruneau says cops were looting at Walmart right along with everyone else - not because they were bad people, but because in the end, this is human survival instinct in it's rawest, purest form.

But what changed this hardened, racist's cop's tune was picking up a body out of the street after the storm had passed, but before the levees broke and the water came in. 

It was a 24-year-old girl who had wandered out into the storm to buy crack to cope, being unable to afford to leave, who'd been hit in the back of the head and killed instantly by a lamp post. 

He picked her lifeless body up off the ground, joked about her being a "dumb B" and tried to take her to Charity Hospital.  

For those who don't know, Charity Hospital was the hospital for the poor and uninsured for nearly 300 years. 

It was the hospital for indigent critically ill and trauma victims, as well as the morgue for the impoverished dead, right in the heart of New Orleans - and it shut down as Katrina hit and has since been abandoned. 

Though there were many heroic doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff that scrambled with critically-ill patients to the top of the hospital when the flooding came, holding bag-mask intubation in with their bare hands for hours, even days, for rescue that came too late ...

... Charity Hospital's administration itself unfortunately implemented a policy to otherwise evacuate the sickest and most injured patients last, resulting in deaths of people who ordinarily would've been saved (and some staff report doctors even euthanized some on the spot).

Despite a reported $2 billion dollars both private and local, state, and federal aid pouring in beginning several months after Katrina, political arguments ensued for years about where the money for Charity Hospital was going, went, and "should" go instead, with many people believing the funds should go to "better use."

The hospital finally reopened in 2015, but a "better" part of town, and under a new name - without the "indigent" or "charity" associations  - now called the "University Hospital of New Orleans," owned by LSU.

There have been several plans for what to do with the old hospital site, but none of have come to fruition.

Thus, Charity Hospital sits empty and abandoned, in the same spot it sat for nearly 300 years - right in the heart of downtown New Orleans as an unintended memorial for what occurred during Hurricane Katrina - a silent but formidable reminder to never forget and never to repeat history. 

Some people now claim it is haunted - not helping, were these eerie pics, photographed by by Tulane University employees, working across the street from the abandoned Charity Hospital, on December 29, 2015 (exactly 10 years and 4 months to the day after Katrina) - this photo is provided by ABC News the day several employees captured the light on their cell phones ... 

The Tulane employees weren't sure of what to make of it, but assumed it was a Christmas inspiration somebody had set up, to bring hope - either that or as an eerie Christmas reminder not to forget what happened there, the callous lack of regard for human life. 

I'm sure it was a Christmas hoax, despite nobody coming forward - and yet it is a bit odd because the building has no electricity (other than exterior lights at the bottom for security), and it would take a lot of battery power to power a light that bright all night - plus it's fenced and extremely difficult to get into, with security still hired to patrol the building at night - no ghost-hunters, vandals, or explorers allowed, at any time.

Spookkkkyy, huh? :)

Back to our story ...

Charity Hospital told Officer Bruneau they were shutting down and rerouted him to University Hospital - who proceeded to tell him ..

"We're not going to set a precedent, here, of collecting the city's trash."

Something about the way the hospital administrator said that started to wake him up to reality, from his racist, compassion-less, dream.

As the body of the girl lay in the back of his cop car and he drove around, he began "losing it," and began having a conversation, an argument with the dead girl, in his head (really arguing with his own conscience).

Bruneau:  "That true? You were trash? You gonna let him call you trash? You're not trash. Are you?" 

Girl: "What else could I be? You know I had no chance from the start, man, we don't all start on the same starting line for this race. Plus you know that busted drug ring of cops before you got here are the ones who sold it to us in the 6th and 9th wards." ...
Bruneau:  "More excuses to live off welfare, life's too hard" ... 

Girl (paraphrasing): "Yep - like the excuses you all make for NOT helping us, assuming we're all guilty,  and arresting us, beating us, shooting us, and sending us all to already overcrowded prisons over bullshit?  And for the NOLA cops not taking responsibility for that cocaine/crack ring you busted that sold it to us, before you got here?"

The he "sees" in his mind all the people he'd beaten/arrested - often  for bogus crimes like prostitution, small personal weed possession, vagrancy, loitering -  in his back seat along with her.

When he arrives to the Superdome, his fellow officers, who had themselves gotten drunk to cope, began razzing him about having "trash" in his backseat, but he stops laughing now - because he's realized this is a human life, he's been carrying around all day - one he promised to protect and serve, regardless of their skin color or social status -  and made the enemy simply as an excuse not to help them.

Then the call comes in with an order about the girl's body, "Undo. What. You. Did," 

Essentially, it was an order for him to just throw the body out in the street, in the water, with the rest of them - which he complied with :(

However, not without a cost to his conscience - she "haunted" him for years after the event. 

He later is on a free luxury boat cruise given by a cruise line to all cops involved in Katrina, and his guilt consumes him - least of all for being on a cruise ship, while people were still sleeping in moldy, unhealthy conditions in NOLA.

So PTSD-strung out, he was now pulling a gun on anyone that walked near his cabin, completely in full-blown PTSD mode - and decides to quit the force (however, he comes back with a changed attitude and approach, from what I understand?). 

As I said, I haven't reached the end, but I think I see where this was going (and may update it if I'm wrong) - Officer Bruneau, for the first time in his life,  became "woke." :)

Gone was his racism, his lack of compassion, his rigid idea of social classes, the snap judgment - holding his gun like a baby, sleeping most nights in the Walmart parking lot, cowering, he began to see for himself first hand how we are all just one tragedy shy of becoming a crackhead mess on the corner. 

Having PTSD myself, for other reasons than just the hurricanes, I can tell you firsthand, it often feels like a curse - but perhaps it is actually a blessing in disguise, as the Native Americans view it?

And therein lies "the mystery and magic" of the book ... and perhaps my own life :)

You see, at first, you get into a necessary survival mode as a result of trauma - but  it's very, very difficult to get out, because you never feel safe - or at least it takes a long, long time to feel safe again and heal - if you're lucky enough to have the right support.  

People who haven't been through trauma like that aren't going to understand or care - you've seen a darker side of life they don't even want to think about, much less hear about.

So you feel permanently damaged because of it, that other people can't relate.  All you see is darkness for a while and nothing but how damaged you are as a result, for months, even years afterwards, never thinking there's an upside to it besides quicker reflexes, noticing danger in an environment other people can't/don't see yet, etc. 

In fact, I can honestly say, it wasn't until the last 2 weeks -  for some reason I can't explain - that I'm finally starting to see and feel the old me again - and that I started seeing the "up side" to surviving trauma. 

Some Native Americans believe that after trauma,  for women, especially through domestic violence, sexual assault, and/or death of a child - your spirit is now floating on the outside of your body, waiting to be reconnected to it again - but that it can be reconnected again, you can heal - but it's self-limiting and you need spiritual guidance and support. 

Psychologists might call this "dissociating" (the brain's way of surviving trauma) or more accurately, it's when the brain goes on autopilot into survival mode, to protect itself from further threat.  

You think and react, but you don't feel much - because you know you can't afford to - you have to survive and function, take care of things. You don't even realize how injured you really are, or if you're injured at all, at first, because you're surviving on pure adrenaline.  

You still feel love and empathy, just not to the depth you once did - because you realize how quickly things and people can get ripped away from your life in the blink of an eye and there's nothing you can do about it. 

Now - I don't believe God does these things or that there's a reason for everything, I don't believe God intervenes in free will that much.

And yet there are certain things that are so overly coincidental, that you wonder if it's God winking at you like, "I saw that, it sucks. I promised not to step in and intervene with free will, but you're not alone - I'm here if you want to vent."  lol

Thus, I think there are reasons a few things happen in our lives, but most things are random or poor choices - a combination, much like Forrest Gump so aptly puts when he says he thinks life is both a combination of choices and floating around, like a feather on the breeze of fate and faith. 

For whatever reason, I have always said I believed there was a reason I was supposed to be in Pensacola, at that time, I could feel it - but  I never knew what that reason was.  I tried to come up with my own rationalizations, but none of them ever fit. 

In fact, I gave up that theory for a few years - laughing at myself, perhaps I just needed to believe there was a reason for all that pain and trauma I went through, rather than just my poor choices and randomness.  

Then again, I didn't choose everything that happened, I'm not that powerful - sometimes, things and people chose me, or situations were as random and non-personal as bad weather.  

Like I've said before, when you're poor and vulnerable - no money and little social support besides other poor people, it leaves you wide open - it's a dinner bell to predators, who know you you're powerless. 

There's probably at least 50 criminal things that happen to poor, powerless people within 1 year that rich white men could press criminal charges and get legal over and win - and that's why these things don't happen to rich white men - but it doesn't mean they don't happen/aren't going on. 

Everything from theft and assault, to exploitative bosses and slum landlords, to check-cashing scams and supposed "legitimate" corporate-level banks and credit card companies who actually take predatory actions (especially during the recession, suddenly charging extra late fees - once I got hit three times in one month, and only a handful of them got caught).

Obama did help push through legislation against some of the banks and credit card companies and their extra fees tricks, but not all - and then Trump rolled this legislation back when he rolled back Dodd-Frank via executive order - so look out, American, it'll come around again a few years from now, worse than before, make no mistake - supposedly"legitimate" banks and creditors and mortgage companies make the most money off the fees they collect from the poor.

(That's why I refuse to bank with the big banking corporations and go with local, now - they at least have to look you in the eye in the grocery store just before or after they screw you lol ;)

And they do these things to poor, powerless people simply because they they can - taking full advantage of the fact that you are poor and powerless and have no other choice and money for a lawyer. 

We know better than to even try to seek justice - so we learn to just cut our losses, and sometimes even stay in the toxic mess of a family, workplace, or community, simply because it's our only choice and means of some semblance of survival.   

Regardless, like I said, I'm reading this book - after feeling like I can finally let go of survival mode just within the last 2 weeks and fully feel the depth of love and attachment to things and people I once felt, like it was okay, it was safe.

As I'm nearing the end, I'm reading all the tragedy and injustice and corruption - but I began to notice there were little miracles, too, little winks - local people who got in their boats and fished people out, defying government order/martial law to do it. 

Or things like Tootie Montana - the "godfather" of creating beads-and-feathers "Indian" suit contests for Mardi Gras.

In lieu of street gangs/tribes fighting each other, he proposed a beads-and-feathers contest, celebrating their Creole and Native American heritage - and it worked.  

Through the 60s, 70s, and 80s, gangs no longer fought, they worked for a full year on suits in anticipation for a word fight and "cock of the walk" display competition, come Mardi Gras  ... 

Oddly enough, Tootie had never left New Orleans, never went to college, did not attend museums, and though had traceable Choctaw and Cherokee ancestry, and claims he had never in his life seen a Mayan ceremonial costume, and that all of his suits - which were different from typical Native American costumes -  came from his own imagination (getting on his son for creating his costumes from a book instead).

And yet look how similar it is to Mayan dress ...

... a thing which anthropologists at Museums around the world took note of.

Allison "Tootie" Montana died the spring before the storm ever happened, his Catholic wife swearing God spared him the extra suffering, he had become too old and infirm and never got a driver's license, he couldn't have gotten out and likely would've drowned with the rest.

And though all the houses around his were flooded - Tootie's house, containing 52 suits for 52 years of Mardi Gras Indian contests?

Not even touched by the storm - it remained perfectly intact, as were those 52 suits :)

Like I said, though God doesn't usually intervene - he does wink sometimes, I think, to give you hope, to keep you going  - because hope is a powerful reason to keep going. 

Christ said himself that the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike - and don't think you're "special" or "blessed" if you haven't felt the rain yet  - all that means is, you have felt the rain yet - oh, but you will lol.  

Because everyone goes through a time of suffering - everyone - suffering is what Buddha said he wanted to try to eradicate from the earth - but realized he couldn't (but we should try).

And despite the oldest form of Christianity, Catholicism, making saints of people who had to endure extra amounts of suffering, we still like to victim-blame and blame a person's "sin" for their suffering, both real or imagined, and also use it as an excuse not to have compassion and help other human beings who are suffering :(

So  I'm reading this book, forgetting for a half-second there's supposed to be mystery and magic in it, too, but not finding it - and then the above hits me like a ton of bricks.

The unusual survival stories, those "winks" from God, the changed lives from those left alive  -  the process of waking up out of our own insulated little world and problems more than ever before to what's really going on, because of the trauma  - you're "woke" like never before - that IS the mystery and magic. 

Not because you're special or God cares about your more than anyone else or better than anyone else, but because everyone must suffer to some extent, at some point - everyone - and this is just your time and way of suffering - and what will you do with it? 

Now, I have always had empathy; heck, I went to school to become a social worker, after someone in my youth had a tremendous affect on me by saying, "As much as you're going through, there's always somebody worse - tend to them." 

This person's words had a profound effect on me, and I made a commitment to God and Christ, right then and there, that I would commit my life to helping and serving others as a steward to God.

However, I'm not sure I realized, at the time, at what cost to my life would happen, when I did make that commitment. 

So after the hurricanes and my hurricane ex, I left Florida and returned back to family in Kentucky, with absolutely nothing but half of my clothes, two pieces of furniture my grandmother had loaned me, half-non-communicative from trauma.  I started my first blog just to have a flare to the outside world, just to speak, have a voice, try to remember I could speak, even - which ended badly. 

I remember when I arrived, I thanked God, out loud, "I have nothing else, God, but thank you for leaving me with my daughter, my dog, my cat, and my long-time job."

The next day, my dog was hit by a car and killed. 

A couple of years later, my daughter went to live with her father. 

My 17-year-old cat died that same year.

My job of 7 years began outsourcing to India two weeks after I said that prayer of gratitude. 

And yet, I know this sounds strange, and though painful like nothing else prior in my  life, even angry  - in the end, looking back - it was precisely those things actually convinced me more than ever there was a God?

Not that he did them, of course - but  the sheer improbability of these things happening, of all of my worst nightmares coming true in rapid succession - the things I had just thanked God aloud for - left the possibility of something spiritually going on was at least suspect. 

Was it a test?  Was there really negative spiritual energy out there, and if so, did it have a will and a conscience and it hears your prayers?  And if there's that on the side of evil, then there would naturally be the same on the side of light?

I don't know - but what I do know is once you make up your mind 
to change your life for the better, there is evil right alongside to tempt you away from hope and faith - can you hold out and hold on anyway? 

I got a job as a secretary for a temp service, and watched the recruiters laugh over New Orleans "refugees" as being lazy and stupid, not realizing they were checked out, you could see it in their eyes. 

And when I pointed this out, there was no compassion, "Well, it's not like it was 9/11.  They could've left.  They were too stupid and too lazy.  Mostly welfare rats, good riddens."

"Um, am I a welfare rat?  That WAS our 9/11.  Did you not realize literally thousands lost their lives, almost as many as 9/11, and how all three levels of government failed those people before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina?"

"How could they afford to get out, I could barely afford to get out from Pensacola and we weren't hit as hard and I wasn't as broke (at first."

" Even if you had a car, hotel rooms were $400 a night at the Econo Lodge and gas was $5 a gallon, water was $5 a gallon -  and nobody ever did anything about the price-gouging, though it's a state and federal crime, punishable by $100,000 a pop, which if enforced, could've more than paid for the clean up!"

"Why can't we have compassion for both 9/11 AND Katrina victims, because politics says we can't?"

"You have no idea what these people have been through and I doubt that Christ you claim to serve would've said the same. All they need is a bit of encouragement, kindness, and support - at least give them a chance?" 

A valiant effort, but yet it did not sink in. They just looked at me like I was a liberal weirdo instead of realizing this wasn't about politics - it's about what Jesus would actually do.

Then my family did what they did over my grandmother's will when she died - because they could.  I had nothing left anyway, it was easy to blame me and project their own motivations onto me - so I signed off any right to any of it to prove it, and yet it made no difference. 

My medical transcription job was repeatedly outsourced overseas - a total of 4 times, right before the recession (and 2 went belly up).

So here I was, by 2009, working 3 part-me jobs/7 days a week/80 hours a week at $7 an hour during a recession just to try to make ends meet (amongst other predatory people that approached me I won't go into detail on), only to live in a homeless shelter (still working) by December of 2010. 

People all the while saying it's your fault, if you worked harder, if you were stronger; you made your bed lie in it, you brought this on yourself.

It never once occurring to them that perhaps they hadn't always made the best choices in life, and even if they had, hurricanes are often the great equalizers - hurricanes, like cancer, are no respectors of your wealth, your education, your race, your gender, your sexual orientation, your politics or your social connections - as Christ said, sometimes the rain really does fall on the just and the unjust both. 

Or instead of realizing that both extreme capitalism AND extreme socialism/communism are both broken systems that no one should strive for (at least to either extreme) because despite theory, in realty, neither political system benefits anyone but the top 1% and thus cannot be beaten. 

And though you never asked them for help, the moment people pick up on your situation, they take one look at you and your situation, and say out loud -  more to themselves more than you - all the reasons why they shouldn't to help you, "Well, you must be on drugs/a thief/a whore/crazy/lazy/too picky on jobs for your life to be this way"  ...

...  though you've never done drugs in your life, had a half a glass of wine once a year at most, never stole a thing, never slept with anyone for money (or that you weren't in a long-term relationship with), and you're not crazy, just traumatized/injured ...

...  and  most importantly, you know you work twice as many hours as they do, on your feet the entire time with no breaks allowed or you'll be fire (despite labor laws, because they can and know you need a job), for one-fifth of the pay as you, on 2 hours sleep a night, despite bosses that sexually harass or assault, bully, disallows breaks, and finds ways to skim off meager paychecks off their desperate employees  - simply because they know they can and get away with it - because you're poor and desperate for work and have no money for a lawyer.  Because they know they have power and you don't. 

So you put up with it all because beggars can't be choosers - including keeping your mouth shut during other people's arrogant assumptions that you aren't working hard enough, that you brought all of it on yourself, knowing that you're living  a world they wouldn't last a day in without crumbling.

There was no kindness and no mercy - most kindnesses that came my way during that time had a string attached or an angle - and everything was my fault (as if I wasn't already wasn't blaming myself enough and trained to do so from family) ...

... EXCEPT - other poor people, especially people of color, did not do this and were the genuinely kind ones, no strings attached.

They didn't ask questions, they knew struggle, they knew survival, and they knew powerlessness - and most importantly, they knew how to survive and have faith despite craziness going on all around them. 

There are no kinder people than those who have nothing themselves, I can personally guarantee you that - including women who had been to prison, were drug addicts, were thieves, and and were crazy, living alongside me in the homeless shelter.  

They actually were very protective of me, they knew I wasn't accustomed to this world.  One girl specifically walked around town with me so I would be seen with her so people would know not to F with me if they saw her with me - simply because we "traded" what we had and when I got paid (I was working for a local restaurant), I'd treat my "sisters" in my "dorm room" to "breakfast" of local processed muffins from the convenience store :)   

In fact, she gave me a switchblade to hide in my bra, along with my money, teasing me about being a sheltered, educated little white girl getting the biggest education of her life lol.

Though I've never had an easy life - I come from an abusive family (Trauma #1), Kentucky misfits in the affluent white Cincinnati suburban community I grew up in - I have always had empathy and fought for the underdog and underprivileged, against racism, etc. 

However, I didn't realize it, but I was still fairly sheltered on how cruel the world truly was -  and how once you get that far down, how many years it takes to climb out of it. 

I used to lie in that shelter bed and said, "When I get out of here and climb out of this, I've now survived everything - so  I'm going to climb mountains and travel the globe and set up foundations for this and that."

I also made myself and God a promise - that no matter how bad it got, I would not alter who I was and stick to my integrity and character.  I would not: 

1)  Steal.

2)  Prostitute myself.

3.  Throw a coworker under the bus to get ahead myself.

And don't you know, after I made that promise to God, all three of those things were presented to me, on a platter, as temptations - temptation tests that I passed with flying colors, by the way :)

And yet, once I did climb out (I'm still climbing out, actually) - I didn't feel like climbing mountains, now.  I didn't feel like taking on the world.  

Instead, I felt like the world had kicked my ass and it terrified me, I felt like hiding in my house.  I was more fragile than I had ever felt and had zero confidence left - plus I felt all the things I couldn't afford to let myself feel while it was actually going on - grief, anger, powerlessness - I suddenly felt it all.

Then when it began to clear, I thought, "Okay, God - I passed your tests?  What more do you want from me? I'm not doing anything, I'm afraid to move.  A good, stiff wind could knock me over, now, what good am I to you or anyone? I'm too damaged. Isn't it time for reparation and recompensation now? Or am I not important enough to you?"

Silence.  Nothing.  

Not even the occasional "winks" I previously thought I received from God or passed on relatives or whatever I possibly imagined they were - I gave myself hope by making up reasons, I guess.

Then I got on FB a few years ago and a bunch of people from high school friended me and I found I just couldn't relate to them and them to me anymore.  

After everything I'd experienced since, I admittedly just didn't have patience for people whining about the most trivial, privileged things, still playing high school petty games with each other and saying horrible things and scapegoating people of color and  Democrats, all the hate and blame from my mostly Trump-supporting former classmates, I couldn't take it - plus I made the mistake of friending family, which always comes with its own share of toxic drama. 

These people weren't bad people, by any means - we just didn't relate to each other anymore - I had seen to much of a side of life they didn't know or care to know existed and preferred to blame whomever Trump told them to blame, instead of realizing the biggest smeller is the feller, when it comes to this broken, over-capitalist society, actually using communist tactics himself because they're effective. 

And then  - as I said, two weeks ago, I started to snap out of it, for no particular reason. I just suddenly started to exhale, feeling something had turned a corner and changed, I started to feel like myself again for the first time in 15 years - and yet changed, like I couldn't go backwards to even the semi-white privilege bubble I lived in or forward into the unknown; a bit like Eliza Doolittle, I guess.

Then I read this book - and it hit me like a ton of bricks. 

There was a reason - and that reason was to shed the last remaining remnants of the white privilege bubble I lived I knew - apparently, it wasn't enough for God for me to just have empathy for others, but to now have sympathy, too - I had to literally experience just a slice of that life for myself. 

Because that is the only way to become truly "woke" - is to experience some of these things first hand yourself or witness them yourself, with your own eyes. 

Now,  those of us who survive trauma and drama like that feel we are damaged - but in fact, if we are left alive, it may actually be a blessing in disguise if we allow it to be - because are now "woke" more than ever to what's really going on.  People who don't have trauma or who haven't had struggle won't understand that or you - and that's okay - they don't have to.  Make new friends and family who do.

So I finally realized the reason why I was in Pensacola, why this series of unfortunate events happened - it was a test of sorts, but more than that - it was the process of being fully "woke" to the world through personal-experience rather than second-hand stories or witnessing from afar.

I'm not ready to go climb mountains yet, still, and still half-terrified of the world and fragile - and yet I finally get the "magic" in this book and my own life. 

I'm not special, there's not a special reason for my life - there are thousands like me - we were left alive/survived for what reason we don't know and have been given a second chance to do more with our lives than we did before. 

I'm still in no financial position to do much for anybody, and perhaps not ready - but the thought of embracing trauma as the impetus for spiritual "wokeness" is a good one and helps. 

And again, I just need to state here that the hardest thing for me to accept was that sometimes bad things happen to good people randomly, there is no reason - and sometimes it is your poor choices - or there is another reason.

It's up to you/use to decide with each occurrence - but keep on noticing those winks, when you can get them - but don't look for them, lest you believe everything is a wink that isn't, just because you want to see one so badly.  If you get a real one, you'll know - there'll be no other explanation for it and they're quite rare - but they exist - they may be few and far between, but they're there. 

Wink ;)

PS - I visited New Orleans twice before Katrina, while living on Pensacola and fell in love with it.  It gets under your skin. 

And for some reason, I feel it calling me back again, for some reason I can't explain ...?