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No longer a fan

30 May

Yesterday morning when I heard the news that Roseanne Barr was in trouble for a controversial tweet, my initial thought was, “Again?” Then I heard the tweet and I wanted to vomit. “That’s hideous,” instantly came out of my mouth. That is beyond disgusting. That’s not even funny. It is racist and I hope she doesn’t get away with it.”

Within hours, I felt the relief of ABC’s decency. They fired her, they canceled her show. Thank you!

There was and is no question in my mind that the now infamous comment is racist. Nobody convinced me of that. Nobody has to tell me when a comment is racist, it is obvious. When you comment about a black woman’s appearance and compare her to apes, no matter how much you are in denial, you are a racist. No decent person who is conscious of the suffering of African Americans since their ancestors were ripped from their homes, sold like property, examined like horses, tortured into submission, denigrated as sub-human…no decent, intelligent person who has an ounce of empathy and is mindful of the suffering of people of color, to this day, their unique struggle…it is truly impossible to imagine for a split second that it’s funny to say such a hideous thing.

I was a fan of Roseanne. No more. She is in jail for verbally lynching a decent person and terrifying millions of children who already have to contend with more than their fair share of fear.

No forgiveness. No free pass. I won’t watch anything with her in it because black lives do matter to me more than white humor.

It was a pleasure to burn.

19 May

shilohyouthrevivalcenters3-1I was a high school sophomore enamored with the ideals of the Jesus People Movement when Fahrenheit 451 first appeared on a reading list in my literature class. I did not even take a peek at it. Instead, I made a special request and was granted permission to read the Bible. Between the age of 15 and 18, I read only the Bible. Based on personal experience I dare say that most people who say they believe it is the word of God have never read it cover to cover. (That is not a judgment, it is a challenge.) I studied every chapter and verse from Genesis to Revelations, individually and within a study group, three times.

From January 1974 to March 1976, I lived in a truly Christ-like commune as a member of the Shiloh Youth Revival Center house in Salt Lake City. We worked regular jobs, pooled our money, ministered to the poor, fed the homeless and gave as many as we could a place to sleep and bathe; some of us were still attending high school while we worked part-time and served the local community. Every evening after supper we gathered in the living room, sang contemporary gospel songs, read the Bible together, and our pastor would lead a discussion about its application to our modern lives as disciples of Jesus. We had no television or radio and we never went to a movie during the years I lived there. For fun, we went camping in the Wasatch Range.

I left Shiloh because they would not let me marry when and whom I chose. A particular pastor, who had a particular opinion about the man who asked me to marry him, issued an ultimatum: break off the engagement or leave. I chose to leave. Shiloh had not been cult-like until that ultimatum. No one else had been prohibited from marrying and continuing to fellowship as a member of Shiloh. It was utterly unfair and unreasonable.

The marriage was a disaster, as we had no support system and my husband suffered PTSD (he was a Vietnam combat veteran). At the time, the world was ignorant of PTSD, our veterans and other survivors of long periods of traumatic events were stigmatized and ostracized. We did not stand a chance. Marijuana was illegal, he was using it to self medicate, he was arrested, and it all spiraled down from there.

mv5bzmm1zgjkzdgtnzblns00yjkyltk3ngetztixmgvkmtk2yjg1xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymtmxodk2otu-_v1_sy1000_sx675_al_Fast forward, this is all about Fahrenheit 451, how luminous the plot, how succinctly told (I love minimalism), and why today I eagerly count the hours to watch a new movie based on Ray Bradbury’s stunning novel.

First of all, I was recognized as a writer by multiple teachers in middle school and high school, including the teacher who granted permission to me to read only the Bible instead of his reading list–the government’s reading list–the list from the School Board. To this day, I appreciate his respect for my personal faith and choice, knowing that he personally disagreed with the value of my choice.you-must-stay-drunk-on-writing That very same teacher, Mr. Forrest at Murray High School, told me, based on my written reports about what I was reading and creative writing exercises, “you have a gift…never stop writing.” It was not the first time a teacher used these words to encourage me to exercise a natural talent that otherwise would have fallen by the wayside. In reality, it is a gift and a curse. But Ray Bradbury discovered that we must “stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” This is absolutely true for me. When I stop writing, anxiety slowly causes my mind to stagnate and slip into darkness.

Decades after my refusal to read that book, I decided of my own volition that it was high time I find out what all the fuss was about–why is that particular novel on reading lists in schools across the nation? What’s the big deal? And so I opened my mind and heart, and then I opened the book to the first chapter. As my eyes fell upon the first sentence, it quite stole my breath.

It was a pleasure to burn.

Think about that. The first sentence of the first chapter sets the tone and reveals instantly the storyteller’s style. The first sentence is the bait, it must urge the reader on to the next sentence. If this is not the best first sentence ever written, I beg you to tell me a better one.

It was a pleasure to burn.

A curiosity bomb explodes with six little words. Five one-syllable words and one common yet delicious two-syllable word. I bow to Mr. Bradbury! Wow.

Of course I had to read more! I finished the novel voraciously and then I felt stupid and ashamed of myself for refusing to even look at it as a child. And yet, that one adult who had the power to force me to read it declined that approach. Instead, he allowed my own natural curiosity to guide me on what to feed my head. I was not ready for it at age 15. I was myself a recent survivor of trauma–sexual assault, which I kept secret. I was in survival mode, protecting myself from outside influences, turning to faith for healing and serenity.

In 2012 after Ray Bradbury’s death, I finally read the book. Soon after, I watched a movie adaptation. The book was far better than the 1966 movie. I hope the 2018 movie is a much better adaptation, and I hope it will shake people to the core. Too many of us are half-conscious.

“But you can’t make people listen. They have to come round in their own time, wondering what happened and why the world blew up around them. It can’t last.”
― Ray BradburyFahrenheit 451

Here’s the thing: It is not about books.

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Why I Advocate for Medical Marijuana

22 Mar

medicalmarijuanaI write this here today for my teenage granddaughters.  Advocating for medical marijuana to be legal in the world is important to me because:

1) My best friend Patty successfully avoided opioid addiction by using marijuana for pain management.

2) My daughter–your mother–was referred to a CBD clinic by her oncologist and it helped.

3) I watched a documentary series called Weediquette, in particular the “Stoned Vets” episode about relieving PTSD symptoms so our wounded warriors can function better at home–something I personally care about because your momma’s daddy, my first husband, M. Arndt, suffered tremendously from PTSD.  He was arrested for possession of marijuana, which triggered the crisis that tore us apart.

4) In 2016, I stopped using Zoloft and started using medical marijuana to calm my nerves.  I have struggled in ignorance with depression most of my life.  In 1993, I was diagnosed with PTSD, and started using Zoloft to treat the constant anxiety I felt because of many traumatic experiences that happened to me, starting in childhood, in my teen years, and into my life as a young adult.  Finally, when your Uncle Keath nearly died in the womb but was born three months early, and for 73 days I visited him in the NICU and witnessed horrors happen to other families too, it changed me forever.

5) Research and reports of cases about babies and seizure control–cases where placebo effect cannot explain away results–have further convinced me.

These are the core reasons I follow and read news such as this Forbes article about the U.S. Congress proposing a bill to protect medical marijuana from Jeff Sessions.

First, I want to talk about why Jeff Sessions’ name appears in the title.  Sessions hates marijuana and refuses to see any medicinal value, even though it has been scientifically proven effective in treating seizures and many other problems.  Marijuana is currently listed as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance.  That means, according to federal law, nobody has the right to use marijuana for any reason at all.  Even if their doctor prescribes it–it is illegal to prescribe it, it is illegal to research it, it is illegal to grow it, distribute, or use it.  “But Gramma Carmels,” you might say, “it has been legalized in many states!”  True.  Voters in many states have moved to legalize it for medical use, but it is still breaking a federal law and can be prosecuted in a federal court by a federal law enforcement agent, such as a U.S. Attorney–the public servants whose focus and priorities are directed by Sessions.

Sessions, as the U.S. Attorney General, could have decided to let it be, to let the states’ laws rule in their land, but instead, he has declared war on medical marijuana.  He is actively trying to enforce the federal law banning all marijuana use, disregarding the U.S. Constitution’s provision for States Rights.  What makes that especially wrong is that Sessions, in other matters of law and order, has been an advocate for States Rights–when it comes to matters he personally favors, but when it comes to medical marijuana, he tramples on States Rights.  That is a classic example of hypocrisy–saying you are for something and your actions say the opposite.  He is either for States Rights or he is not.

The reason this matters is that, as long as marijuana remains on the Schedule 1 list, universities and scientists in America cannot study it.  That may be too simple or too broad a statement, but basically that is the fundamental problem.  In order to really get the research needed to discover and prove all of the potential medical uses, marijuana must be removed from the Schedule 1 list.  Until that happens, we are relying on the research of the international community, and fortunately, countries like Israel and Germany are leading the way.

I hope this helps to provide some light as you make up your own mind about how to vote for your future.

Gramma Carmels

Carma is an American poet and author, publishing a variety of ebooks under her maiden name, C.Y. Dillon, and under Carma Chan to honor her Chinese stepdad. Her grandkids call her Gramma Carmels.

Putin’s Odd Bluff

3 Mar

I woke up this morning wondering why our president has said nothing in response to Putin’s wild claim to have super-duper nukes against which no one on Earth can defend themselves.  Why–and how–could Trump remain silent?  Absolute silence.  Mum.  Nada.  Not one word.  Not a tweet.  Why?

Furthermore, I wondered if anyone had said anything–did any world leader react?  I have been watching and reading the news since the Winter Olympics ended and there is nothing much else (unless you like soaps) to watch…and I couldn’t recall a single reaction.

Vladimir PutinPutin stood up and said to the world that he has an invincible nuclear missile system, and his little animated video game showed what looked like Florida as its target.  Why Florida?  It left me wondering.  But before I get to these musings, I want to pause and thank @haltman for his article in the Tampa Bay Times, Why did Putin target Tampa Bay?

After a cup of coffee, I opened my Google News feed and searched ‘Putin’.  One of the headlines found was Fox News featuring the opinions of Condoleezza Rice.  Now, I am not a fan of Fox News, but I do tune in from time to time to see what they’ve got to say about certain things–I do not want to live in a bubble, so I do look into what they’re highlighting.  Usually, I do not fall for their click-bait, but today I clicked, on Condoleezza Rice mocks Putin over ‘absurd’ missile threatsScreen Shot 2018-03-03 at 7.30.08 AMNot only am I genuinely interested in Ms. Rice’s viewpoints, I found it curious that this was the only headline I saw where any leader, or former world-stage leader, had anything to say in response.  Isn’t that odd?

The North Korean leader announced he has an ICBM with a nuclear warhead that can reach Chicago, and there is a reaction, not only from our president, but from other world leaders.  Putin stands up and claims Russia can take out anyone anywhere and there is nothing they can do to stop it, and … crickets.  Oh, except Ms. Rice, a former U.S. Secretary of State, calls him out.  That’s hilarious!

Still, it gnaws on my imagination … why and how could Trump be silent?  He seems incapable of restraint unless there are dire consequences hurting himself.  What has Putin got on him?  In 2013 Trump hosted the Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow (and was paid $12M for it).  Following that he gushed like a starstruck kid gazing at a teen magazine.  Then when confronted with questions about Russians helping him to win the election, he back-peddled and said he didn’t know Putin, never talked to him, had no business with Russia.  Now, Putin threatens the U.S. and Trump is mum.  It’s odd.

Putin’s bluff itself is odd.  But here is what is more odd:  Putin seems comfortable gambling that Trump would not call him out.  Isn’t that peculiar?  What makes Putin so comfortable making public threats against the U.S.?

The whole thing is peculiar.  The leader of Russia stood up and basically said, ‘We have the power to obliterate the U.S. and there is nothing anyone can do to stop it.’  And the leader of the U.S. said…not one word.

 

Donald Trump

 

Ninety Days

7 Jan

After The Fire

A quiet, peaceful Sunday morning adorned by fog…
which she loves so much the more than fire.
Now the calming colors of coolness surround her new home
and the serenity of poetic thought instills the aimless hour
with its lackadaisical aptitude for lack of a daisy in winter.

She’s back.  To normal.

“We have normality.  I repeat, we have
normality.  Anything you still can’t cope with…”
and so on as Douglas Adams would have us laughing
if only we would let him into our hearts and minds.

She’s back to whiling away the hours writing
whatever she wants to write about. Now it’s about Him,
Daddy Jon, the man behind the name, Chan.

Dad died in 2001 before the towers and the family is so
relieved that he did not have to experience that heartbreak
as a mortal on american soil. She thinks of him often in his
dimension bath robe and slippers smiling at her through 
the Buddha he brought into her western world.

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His story is fascinating.  How he got here, how he met her mother, what made him adore the idea of suddenly inheriting and caring for her six children.  What makes a man like that?

Something worth writing about.  Something to strengthen the happiness, the gratitude muscle.  How well her mother taught by example this ancient proverb:

A thankful heart is a merry heart.

Thankful To Be Safe And Well

23 Nov

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It has been 45 days since we fled for our lives and watched in horror from a hotel room as television news crews witnessed entire communities, including ours, burn to the ground.  I can never forget those feelings.  Now, on Thanksgiving Day, I am overcome with amazement and gratitude that we are safe and well.  If my husband had not awoken as early as he did, if he had not investigated why it smelled like a campfire, we might have been among those who were trapped by flames on all sides.

Today we do not care about turkey or feasting or bargain hunting.  Today we paint.  We powered through the emotions, pushed and pulled through financial hurdles, and found a place to call home, and yesterday at 5:30pm we received the keys to our next adventure.  Together.  Safe and well.

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Tomorrow we get WiFi and lots of little touches that make it Home.  Saturday we check out of the hotel that has been our temporary shelter, and introduce our three kitties–who are also noticeably thankful to have survived that wretched night!–to their new safe haven.  Sunday we wake up at home.  Home.  It has a whole new depth of emotion associated with that word, that sound in my head.  Home.  Home Sweet Home.

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