The Flu Pandemic of 1918-1919 hit hard and it hit fast, infecting an estimated “500 million, and killing approximately 50 million people worldwide, claiming 675,000 lives in the United States alone.” (www.cdc.gov )

At the peak of the illness’s third and final wave over 1,800 cases and 101 deaths were reported in San Francisco, in the first five days of January 1919. The virus targeted the most vulnerable segments of the population, as usual; those under 5 and over 65. Alarmingly however this virus took just was many individuals between the ages of 20-40. This lent the disease a particularly insidious and sinister air. People of the time waged a mostly impotent war against an illness that struck vehemently and successfully against, both the weak and vulnerable and the strong and healthy.

This inescapable helplessness created an aura of macabre celebrity around the disease and those areas stuck hardest by it. The palpable presence of indiscriminate death is an impossible situation for the human psyche to contend with, we search for reasons, ways to protect ourselves and our loved ones, and construct coping mechanisms designed to dilute our fear. People began to anthropomorphize the Spanish Flu, much as they did the Black Plague centuries before, immortalizing the phenomenon with the macabre nursery rhyme “Ring Around the Rosy”.

In the case of the Spanish Flu this sort of mechanism took the form of the following poem.

“I knew little bird,

His name was Enza,

I opened the window

And In-Flew-Enza”

 

This image has always intrigued me. A waif-like presence, seemingly harmless, wandering the cold world, seeking someone who will let it in. Only instead of a bird I always pictured Enza as a disembodied spirit, on a quest to find his lady love. Visiting home after home, person after person, unable to rest until he finds her. The following poem is inspired by that image.

 

For more information about the Flu Pandemic of 1918-1919 please visit; https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1918-commemoration/pandemic-timeline-1918.htm

 

In-Flew Enza

 

 

With rosy cheeks and eyes so bright,

She opened the window,

 On a balmy night.

Turning to take her husband’s hand,

To dance,

One last stanza,

 

 

She did not see,

When through the casement,

In flew Enza

 

 

From bridal gown to widow’s weeds,

From merry meet to anguish;

It took just shy of a week,

For the bridegroom to be vanquished.

 

 

A slight malaise, a soreness of the throat,

Put down to an excess of hilarity,

Progressed so quickly,

To shortness of breath,

Fever, chills,

And finally;

To his mortality.

 

 

Though I knew her heart to me,

Could never cleave,

I could not bring myself to leave,

Rather I watched from the shadows as she grieved.

 

 

In the parlor, where his body was laid,

On the carriage ride to his grave,

At the funeral reception,

My hand upon her shoulder stayed,

Her constant,

Invisible,

Companion.

 

 

When the mourners left,

Telling her to rest,

“You are too young to look so sallow,”

She suppressed a cough,

Graciously waved them off,

And surrendered to sentimentality. 

 

 

Alone at last,

She indulged in a repast,

Of bitter tears and deep regret,

Not fit for company.

 

 

Having sated her sorrow,

She resoled to do better tomorrow,

And putting her weakness down to exhaustion,

She ascended the stair,

First one set,

Then its pair,

Leaning heavily upon me.

 

 

With burning cheeks and eyes too bright,

She opened the window,

On a cool starry night,

 

 

And through the casement,

 Her soul took flight,

 In the arms,

Of Influenza

Like many of you, (I’m sure) I was traumatized, and conflicted after watching Infinity War last week. Conflicted because, let’s be real here, Thanos’ argument makes sense. I mean controlled culling of the herd is an environmentally sound and accepted practice. This is what makes him a great villain, right, that from a purely logical standpoint, he’s not wrong, and we all get that. Morally, ethically, we know, that’s genocide, that’s murder, that’s wrong. The thing that really gets us invested in the conflict however is the knowledge that, should Thanos’ plan be put into action, we could lose people that we love.

It’s the emotional element that, (unsurprisingly) makes us care. The writers and directors know this of course and waste no time drawing us in emotionally by killing off the best character in the series in the first 5 minutes. The trauma is real. From a “how to emotionally manipulate an audience” view Loki was the perfect death to start with. Why? Because, just as Thanos is the ultimate super villain; Loki is the quintessential anti- hero. Where Thanos is motivated by cold calculating logic; Loki is motivated by jealousy, feelings of inadequacy, fear, a desire to live up to his older brother, coupled with a complete ignorance of how to do that, and most of all a keening need to be loved for who he is. In short, Loki appeals to the damaged child hiding within us all.

So as a fairly damaged person myself I have been whole heartedly team Loki from day one. Therefore you can image how soul crushing it was for me to witness what appeared to be his true end. My devastation was so complete in fact it took me 9 whole days to figure out what had really happened. Here’s what went down;

Loki, having already had dealings with Thanos would know exactly what they were up against when Thanos attacked the ship, therefore he never would have tried something as lame or obvious as the old, “falter him until you can get close enough to stab him” ploy. Also Loki had the Tesseract, by all accounts a source of great power. I postulate that Loki used the Tesseract to amplify his own abilities. We know from countless examples that Loki can project images of himself, we also know from the scene where Thor came to talk to him after their mother died, that he can create a glamour over his surroundings. It only stands to reason therefore that Loki used the power of the Tessract to help him show Thanos, and the Avengers exactly what Thanos wanted and expected to see, in other words the whole rest of the movie. This would have served two purposes first, showing the Avengers exactly what they were up against and second getting Thanos to remove the gauntlet. I believe Tony even foreshadowed this in his first scene, where he is talking about dreams that convince you they are real. This, of course, would prove diffidently that Loki is The most badass hero in history.  : )

purpose

(Image Via, Judy Black Cloud)

And this is the reality I will choose to believe in until and unless the next movie proves me wrong.

Blessed be everyone

 

KIRKUS

REVIEWS

THE BOX

BOOK REVIEW

Misanthropic, hapless do-gooder Pan Blair works through various family and personal problems in her journey of self-discovery, along the way seeing herself not as the everyday stay-at-home mom she expects but Pandora of Greek mythology, with Zeus hot on her trail.

Pan is trapped in the last place she wants to be: a surprise party in her honor. The bash was her husband Sedryck’s idea—in reality, it’s a business schmoozing session. The story proceeds through a series of domestic issues. Her husband’s “sure thing” business deal, in which he has invested all their savings, turns out to be a scam, just as Pan suspected. She’s even scammed by a woman named Phobia and her son Damon, a duo that later returns as hostile deities. When her husband’s scheme fails, Pan gets a job managing a bookstore owned by a family of kindred souls who are actually gods and goddesses. Through them, Pan discovers both the frailty of her marriage and her once-and-future soul mate. During this self-discovery, author Fedelia makes use of Pan as an ignorant narrator: Though she tells the story, everyone knows what’s coming but her, which can be a bit frustrating. Regardless, from Pan’s unusual curses (“Crud muffins,” “Boogers”) to her innate distrust of nearly everyone but her three girls, Pan’s character is painted with charming strokes. Her transition from mom to semideity presents a difficult challenge, but Fedelia wisely avoids presenting the gods as intimidatingly godlike or turning the narrative into a mock-heroic farce. The author chooses instead to keep the deities’ language contemporary—a wise decision until Pan learns her true identity by watching memory discs, presumably recorded when the incidents occurred in mythical times. Here, the modern speech rings jarringly false: The centaur Chieron uses the word “wonky,” and the Titan god Chronos, lord of time, says, “you must be tripping.”

A captivating, largely successful attempt to meld everyday life, romance and fantasy.

When people ask me, “So what is that book you’re writing all about any way?” I like to tell them, in a nut shell it’s about witchcraft, karma and what was really in Pandora’s Box. At this point one of two things happens, either the person will smile painfully and change the subject, or they eagerly ask for more details. If you fall into the second group of people, then I graciously invite you to read on.  If you were in the first group, thank you for stopping by.

Most of you reading are no doubt familiar with the classical Greek version of Pandora’s myth, depicting her as a thoughtless troublemaker who’s careless and willful behavior cause plague pestilence and misery to be unleashed on an unsuspecting world. Sort of the Greek version of eve. Right? Nothing to controversial so far.

And I am sure there are a fare few of you out there who have the Pre-Olympian rendition in which Pandora is the giver of all gifts, literally the emissary of the Gods and Goddesses delivering their gifts to humanity. This older fable, from a more matriarchal time has been gaining positive recognition since I first heard it (we won’t go into how many years ago) but still in some circles will bring if not cries of dissent at the least raises a few disdainful brows.

In The Box I attempt to reconcile and explain how such extreme and disparate portrayals of First Woman could exists and how her true story like most truths probably lies somewhere in-between.

The Box picks up Pandora’s story in the modern day with our protagonist completely ignorant of her own infamy. Like all mythic tales heroic trials The Box is at its core a tale of self discovery. Pandora’s journey encompasses every aspect of the human experience from motherhood to love from defining oneself spiritually to examining the morality of doing the right thing.

I consider the telling of this story Pandora’s greatest gift to me and I am honored to be able to share it with you all. I have included here some of my favorite excerpts from the book to help you get to know our cast of charters and plan on adding some of Pandora’s adventures while on the run from Zeus, as well as some random short stories that have nothing to do with anything  in particular.

That you enjoy your visit here is my sincerest

HOPE