Feeling the Feelings

Sometimes when I speak or write, a truth comes out that I didn’t know I knew, but I’ve come to trust those words as if they were . . . well, true.

A few days ago, I was talking to a friend about emotions that are considered negative, such as sorrow and anger and loneliness. She said she didn’t have anyone but me to talk about such things with because other people want her to feel more positive.

I heard myself saying, “There are no positive or negative feelings. There are simply feelings.” And I realized that’s true. What we do with those feelings — such as take out our anger on our families — could be construed as negative, but the feelings themselves have no positive or negative connotations. Like in physics. Protons have what is called positive charge while electrons have what is called a negative charge, but there is no good/bad connotation for those names. As far as I can understand, they are more about push/pull than what we think of as positive and negative. Batteries have a positive and negative side, but again, but sides work together as a whole rather than one side being good and the bad, or one being right and the other wrong.

It’s the yin/yang of life — the cosmic duality, the two opposing and complementing principles that guide the universe and all things in it.

And so it is with feelings. We feel happiness and sadness, anger and fear, pride and shame — sometimes both sides of the feeling at the same time. Other humans are always trying to categorize us in some way, not just by our vocation or avocation (writer, scientist, teacher, parent) but also what sort of personality we have (optimistic, pessimistic, melancholic) as well as our political and religious beliefs, but we are not any one thing.

The truth is, we are not one-dimensional creatures; we are each a universe unto ourselves and have an infinite number of sides. We aren’t limited to the so-called “positive” feelings; we have a wide-range of feelings that we can — and should — feel.

It’s not important what we feel at any given moment. It’s only important that we feel. (Even if we’re not actively feeling anything, we’re feeling something — serenity, perhaps.)

Even the less compelling emotions, the less admirable ones such as envy or loathing are important to feel if we’re feeling them, if for no other reason than to figure out why we feel such things. Do we want to be more like those people we envy or loathe? Do we see ourselves in them? It’s only after identifying the reason for the feeling that we can take action to neutralize the effect of the feeling. But the feeling itself is merely a feeling. It is not a judgement call.

On a more personal level, grief for a life mate/soul mate might be uncomfortable for others to witness, but that grief belongs to us. We need to feel it; it’s how we become what we need to become to continue living in this world without our mates. We don’t need to figure out why we are feeling the chaotic mix of emotions that comprise grief. We know what caused it — the death of a person dear to us. We just need to feel what it is we are feeling.

Feeling a whole range of emotions teaches us to be compassionate and understanding of others. It allows us to accept compassion and understanding from others. It helps us understand (and perhaps even create) ourselves. It help us take action when necessary. It helps us survive in the wilderness of human interactions.

So, whatever I am feeling, I let myself feel it. Whatever you are feeling, just feel it. Don’t let anyone try to squelch your feelings.

Feeling the feelings is better for all of us in the long run.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Happy End of the Creeping Darkness!

The creeping darkness ended this morning at 3:02 am MT. “Creeping darkness” is a phrase I created, which is probably why you haven’t heard of it before (unless, of course, you are a reader of this blog).  I have a hard time with this time of year and the way the darkness comes earlier and earlier, stealing light from my days, and so “end of the creeping darkness” seems a perfect name for this particular event. The correct term, of course, is “winter solstice.”

“Solstice” comes from two Latin words, sol meaning “sun” and sistere meaning “stationary” because on this day, in the northern hemisphere, the sun seems to stand still, as if garnering it’s strength to fight back the darkness.

Technically, the winter solstice marks the moment when there is a 23.5-degree tilt in Earth’s axis and the North Pole is at its furthest point from the sun — from here on, the days will get longer, gaining us an additional 6 and 1/2 hours of sunlight per day by June 21st when the days begin to get shorter again. (This is reversed in the southern hemisphere, so today those down under will be celebrating their summer solstice.)

Though neo-pagans have claimed the solstice for their own, this is one of those natural holidays (holy days) that we all should be celebrating. The end of the lengthening nights. The triumph of light over darkness. We don’t even need the metaphors of light=good and dark=bad to find reason to celebrate this day. It’s simply a day of stillness, of hope. A day to give thanks for the promise that even in our darkest hour, light will return.

My celebration was simple. I turned on my bowls of light and went outside to toast the winter sun with a splash of Bailey’s Irish Cream in my coffee. The sun shone brilliantly in the pale blue sky, and spoke of hope and good will to all of us.

Wishing you a bright and hopeful end of the creeping darkness.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Too Many Days

The past couple of years, I couldn’t find a calendar, not even one for sale in the stores I frequented, so I downloaded a calendar template and printed out my own calendar. It was a nice simple calendar with large enough blocks for writing notes. Since it was just plain paper, not glossy, I was able to use a pencil, which I prefer because of its erasability. (My spell check does not like that work and keeps changing it to eras ability, whatever that means.)

I went ahead and printed out a calendar this year, and then I got a couple of calendars in the mail. And then another. And yet another. I’ve lost track of how many calendars I have, but I feel the weight of all those days.

With a single calendar, each year has but 365 days. With a surfeit of calendars, it feels as all those days (365 per calendar) are stacked one on top the other. That’s way too many days for me to deal with!

I’m being a bit facetious here. I know that no matter how many calendars I have for 2021, there will still be only 365 days for the year, but I feel all those calendars reaching out to me, wanting to be filled.

But truly, one day per day is more than enough! Though that thought does lead to a story idea — some poor benighted character burdened with more than one day every day.

Luckily, I am not a character (except in my novel Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare — I was a character in that book), and once I get rid of all those extra calendars, I’ll do fine living but one day each twenty-four-hour period.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Fifty Shades of Greed

I recently read Fifty Shades of Black & WhiteThe Anatomy of the Lawsuit behind a Publishing Phenomenon, written by Mike Farris and Jennifer Pedroza, and published by Stairway Press. As I’m sure you can guess from the title, the publishing phenomenon in question is the Fifty Shades trilogy. As I mentioned in a previous post, Fifty Shades of Grey and its sequels were originally published by a small independent publishing company that seemed to specialize in fan fiction, and when The Shades went big, this small publishing company sold the rights to a major publisher. They ended up getting around $35,000,000 just for the rights. The major publisher, of course, earned way more than that, as did the author.

It truly mystifies me why 125,000,000 people bought the book. All I can think is that the world is vastly different — baser and less literate — than I ever imagined it to be. But that’s not what I want to talk about.

This book, Fifty Shades of Black & White, has all the elements of a blockbuster novel because of all those millions of dollars as well as the greed of one of the publishing partners who managed to snag all that cash for herself. The major conflict, too, is a catchy one — the naïve and trusting vs the scheming and manipulative. But what really sticks in my mind and tickles me is the irony.

(What follows in no way gives away the story if you don’t already know it from the news. It’s all in the first chapters.)

Apparently, one of the clauses the greedy partner stuck in the contract she had her trusting friends sign was a non-compete clause. Any time the defrauded woman tried to do anything in the publishing world, she got a cease-and-desist letter from the greedy woman’s greedy lawyer. So she and a fellow refugee from the original business decided to do something different — make soap. They did well, but when some authors they knew wanted to buy soap and put the images of their covers on the soap wrapper for giveaways, the greedy woman got even greedier and threatened to sue if they didn’t stop.

Realizing the greedy woman would never leave them alone, the two refugees finally got a lawyer, not to sue but to try to keep from being sued. Things escalated from there, and the only redress they had was to be proactive and start a suit themselves.

And it’s this irony — more than the millions and the catchy conflict — that makes the story so compelling. If the greedy woman had been satisfied with what she had already absconded with, if she had left the others alone, she would never have been sued.

It just goes to show that one shouldn’t get so greedy that one’s greed gets in the way of one’s own best interests. Or maybe it shows karma at work. Or maybe it shows the necessity of leaving well enough alone. Or something.

It makes me wonder if the greedy woman and her husband are still married. To hide the millions she grabbed, she turned them over to her husband to put into his name and his businesses. Depending on the law of where they lived, if he divorced her, he’d end up with it all. Instant retribution!

Still, I’m satisfied with and amused by ironic twist to the story.

***

If you haven’t already, please check out my new book.

“I am Bob, the Right Hand of God. As part of the galactic renewal program, God has accepted an offer from a development company on the planet Xerxes to turn Earth into a theme park. Not even God can stop progress, but to tell the truth, He’s glad of the change. He’s never been satisfied with Earth. For one thing, there are too many humans on it. He’s decided to eliminate anyone who isn’t nice, and because He’s God, He knows who you are; you can’t talk your way out of it as you humans normally do.”

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God

Breaking Bread

I’m feeling proud of myself lately, and for a rather trivial reason. I try to eat right, or at least not to eat too many things I know are bad for me (not necessarily bad for you, but definitely for me), but it’s always hard for me to say no to gifts of food, to invitations to meals, to social occasions that involve food (and they almost always do).

Some people can sit with a group and not eat anything if they are on a voluntarily restrictive diet, but I’ve never been able to do that. It always seemed . . . I don’t know . . . unsociable or even self-righteous, as if I were subconsciously condemning them for eating less than healthy foods. At the very least, it makes people uncomfortable to eat if they are the only one eating, and I am always cognizant of trying to make people around me feel comfortable. Beyond that, though, so much of being with friends is “breaking bread together,” a simple phrase that used to literally mean sharing a loaf of bread, but is now mostly used as the name of religious rite. Even when the phrase is used in a secular manner, to mean sharing a meaningful connection over a meal, it’s still a spiritual rite. I’ve always intuitively understood the need of sharing a meal (one friend and I literally used to share a meal — every time we went out, we’d get one order of whatever and split it) and all that went along with the meal. Because of course, you don’t just share a meal, you share a space, an exchange of energy, a sense of camaraderie — a connection, in other words.

A shared meal feeds the soul, so this ritual of breaking bread has always been more important to me than the need to stick to my self-imposed food restrictions (sugar-filled desserts, baked goods, fried foods to name a few), so it was always a struggle to maintain any sort of food routine. I’m one of those who does well as long as I don’t ingest any of my verboten foods, but one reason I try to stay away from them is that they set up cravings for more of the same. My only hope of not gaining weight (I seldom lose, but I gain easily) is to remain true to my diet.

The first year I was here, I gained a lot of weight because of all the sociability. Every time I got together with people, it was over food. And there always seemed to be such occasions. And the food was always on my proscribed list. Still, I broke bread with my new friends.

Even before The Bob, I’d started backing away from social occasions. Although I enjoyed being with people, I didn’t particularly enjoy the meals, and didn’t like the way I felt after eating them. The isolation because of The Bob has helped me get into my “groove,” so now I don’t even want any of the foods I shouldn’t eat. And because of it, I can finally say “no” when it comes to eating with people.

For example, I always fix a snack for the woman I sit with a few hours a week, and she wants me to eat with her. So I scrounge, and if there is something in her refrigerator I can eat, I will. If not, I just smile at her, then turn aside to give her privacy so she doesn’t feel like a prize exhibit in a one-person eating contest.

When it comes time to socialize again — if it ever comes time — I hope I remember this and remain firm to my own self-interest. I know I will be giving up something by not being able to break bread with people, but I gain, too. The last time I decided it was okay to eat anything put in front of me (actually, I didn’t decide, I just did it), it took years to get back on my regime. Suffice to say that at the moment, I am feel good about being able to stick to doing what is right for my body.

And that is what I am proud about. See? A trivial thing, but important to me.

***

If you haven’t yet read A Spark of Heavenly Fire, my novel of a quarantine that inspired me to call this current disease The Bob, you can read the first chapter online here:  http://patbertram.com/A_Spark_of_Heavenly_Fire.html

Buy it on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0024FB5H6/

Download the first 30% free on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1842

Waste Paper

I was ripping my name off a slew of catalogs I got in the mail when I remembered a talk some man gave my class when I was in the eighth grade. This was decades before the internet, decades even before computers were commonplace. In fact, back then, a computer occupied almost two thousand square feet and weighed fifty tons. Any cell phone today has 1,300 times more power than those computers did, but those computers fueled the imagination. And what that man talked about was simply his imaginative extrapolation of what the world would be like in the future.

He talked of personal phones we could carry with us, though I don’t think he mentioned the multiple functions those phones now have. He talked about computers running the world, about how menial jobs would be a thing of the past since computers would do all the work, and how we’d all have more free time, though the truth is, working folks today have less free time than people did back then.

What he did say, what many people have said over the years, and what stuck with me and inspired this blog, is that we would be a paperless society in the not-too-distant future. Well, that talk was in my distant past, and as far as I know, there has been no reduction in paper. Some statistics say we use more per capita, some say we use less, so I don’t know what the truth is. But considering the number of catalogs I receive and the amount of junk mail, my personal consumption of paper is way up.

I do get a couple of bills via email and pay online, but the elimination of those few pieces of paper is offset a hundred times by the avalanche of catalogs. If I request no catalogs, they sell my name to someone who will send me catalogs.

Yep, here we are, way beyond that not-too-distant future, and paper use is astronomical.

Don’t get me wrong — I love paper. Plain white paper. Colored paper. Wrapping paper. Note paper. Lined paper. Notebook paper. Origami paper. All kinds and thicknesses of paper. It’s an amazing and versatile product that brightens my day, especially when I get a greeting card or read a book or jot down possible topics for this blog. I am especially grateful that the tarot cards I’m trying to learn are just that — cards — and not some electronic device that will shuffle and deal the non-existent cards for me. (There are such programs, and I do check one out occasionally, but that’s different than my getting a feel for the cards.)

Although I’m now in the habit of writing using a keyboard, my first books were all written longhand because I have much better brain/hand coordination than I do brain/keyboard. And although I do read ebooks, I am still old-fashioned enough to like physical printed books.

As you can see, it’s not paper as a valuable commodity I would like to see less of, just a lot less waste paper.

***

“I am Bob, the Right Hand of God. As part of the galactic renewal program, God has accepted an offer from a development company on the planet Xerxes to turn Earth into a theme park. Not even God can stop progress, but to tell the truth, He’s glad of the change. He’s never been satisfied with Earth. For one thing, there are too many humans on it. He’s decided to eliminate anyone who isn’t nice, and because He’s God, He knows who you are; you can’t talk your way out of it as you humans normally do.”

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God

A Perfect Small-Town Day

Today was one of those perfect small-town days you see in romantic movies, old television shows, or sentimental paintings. To start off, the weather was perfect — sunny, deep blue skies, the air cool enough to require a light jacket, and best of all, no wind.

Although I’ve been lazy lately, apparently I decided this was the day to package up a couple of gifts to mail. To that end, I took a walk to the post office to pick up a couple of flat-rate boxes, then came home and started wrapping and packing.

This took the better part of the day’s middle because I had to drag out all the paraphernalia — tape, scissors, wrapping paper, package fill, etc. Oddly, for a person who doesn’t really celebrate Christmas except for sending a couple of gifts when finances allow, I have a LOT of Christmas stuff.

To start off, I have two small trees and two tiny trees —- one small tree was a gift when I was laid up with my almost-destroyed arm, another was a gift to my father that I ended up keeping. One tiny tree was supposed to be a gift that somehow didn’t work out, and one was a recent gift from a local craftsy friend. (Craftsy because to use “crafty” connotes something other than I wanted to say.) Then I have wreaths — one that started off as a hat decoration, and another I made at an Art Guild meeting last year. (Yes, I do have a red wall! Not my choice since it was here when I came, but I’ve come to appreciate it.)

I also somehow ended up with a small snowman collection, as well as boxes of ornaments and bowls of lights. So, lots of Christmas stuff strewn around!

I kind of digressed for a minute, but now back to my story. I did get the packages ready in plenty of time to get to the post office in case it was keeping shorter hours. (Because of The Bob, we’re on “red” alert, whatever that means.)

As I was getting the packages out of the car, the husband of a friend I used to play dominoes with came down the post office stairs. I said hello and asked after his wife. A fellow of few words, he simply opened the passenger door of his vehicle. And there his wife was. It’s a shame this isn’t a hugging time (and it would have been awkward because of her being in the car), but it was truly good to see her.

After they left, I gathered up my packages and climbed the stairs into the post office. (Yes! I was actually able to climb the stairs!) There was only one woman waiting, the person I most wanted to see. One of my first and dearest new friends. Her being there helped keep me from gagging when the clerk added up the postage. (It seems only last year the flat rate price for priority mail was $2.50, but apparently, that “last year” was a few decades ago.)

We chatted until both of us completed our business. (She’s been waiting for a package for a couple of weeks now that seems to be stalled in Denver, and I told her the last package I got from the eastern part of the country was stalled in Denver for three weeks, so not to worry. Then the postmaster came out with her tracking information, and told her the same thing. Denver seems to hate us out here.)

While continuing to talk outside, we happened to notice a mutual friend — another of those dearest friends. So we chatted with her, met her new great-grandbaby (at a suitable distance of course) and then we all went our separate ways.

My way took me to the grocery store where I encountered a neighbor, and even better, I got one of the friendly checkout clerks.

Truly a perfect small-town day.

Even coming home to a mess (the first time I actually left a mess behind when I headed out to run errands) didn’t present a problem. In fact, it helped solidify the perfection as I puttered around putting things away. I still have a mess because all those Christmas decorations are piled up in the living room, but that will be sorted out in the next couple of days.

***

If you haven’t yet read A Spark of Heavenly Fire, my novel of a quarantine that predated this pandemic by more than ten years, you can read the first chapter online here: http://patbertram.com/A_Spark_of_Heavenly_Fire.html

Buy it on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0024FB5H6/

Download the first 30% free on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1842

Thirty Days Hath . . .

Thirty days hath September, April, June and . . . you guessed it. November!

Since this is the thirtieth, tomorrow starts a new month, and that means a new tarot deck for me. I had a hard time deciding which to use of the dozens I own.

Some of the traditional decks passed down from medieval times are too odd and the images too angular and misshapen for my tastes (deriving as they do from traditional woodcuts), and so are many of the decks based on those old cards.

Some of the newer versions, though intending to seem old, using as they do, images from the Renaissance, are often too . . . natural . . . for my tastes. I don’t need to see anatomically correct pictures (or at least anatomically correct enough to know which cards depict males). It seems jarring, though I’m sure there is symbolism in the nudity, perhaps showing the necessity to put off the falsehood of clothes, and be who we are, but I can get that symbolism with clothed images, too, since the raiment people don is also symbolic. (Even in today’s culture, clothes are symbolic, though I doubt people stop to think what it is they are trying to broadcast with their apparel.)

Some of the decks are simply too symbolic, with more icons and Jewish letters and astrologic signs and qabalistic codes than I wish to study right now. I’m still trying to get comfortable with the cards themselves, as well as trying to find the deck that speaks most clearly to me.

So far, the deck I like the most is The Cosmic Tarot, created by Norbert Losche and printed in Germany in 1988. The cards have a hint of the 1920’s about them, and most seem evocative of something, even if not what was intended. The following is the Queen of Wands from that deck:

The deck I decided to use this month is the Egorov Tarot, a Russian-inspired deck that is so very elegant with shiny gold borders and highlights. (Unfortunately, the gold photographed as brown, but you can still see the vast difference between this deck and The Cosmic Tarot.)

Someday, if I get bored or ambitious, it would be interesting to photograph all the queen of wands from all the decks and see how they compare. Meantime, I’m just glad I made the decision which deck to use during the coming month.

***

Please check out my new book!

“I am Bob, the Right Hand of God. As part of the galactic renewal program, God has accepted an offer from a development company on the planet Xerxes to turn Earth into a theme park. Not even God can stop progress, but to tell the truth, He’s glad of the change. He’s never been satisfied with Earth. For one thing, there are too many humans on it. He’s decided to eliminate anyone who isn’t nice, and because He’s God, He knows who you are; you can’t talk your way out of it as you humans normally do.”

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God

Conundrums

I’m reading a thriller where several people are hunting for some sort of Jewish treasure that Columbus apparently took with him on his final voyage in an effort to protect the articles from the inquisition. The premise of the story is based on the theory that Columbus was a Jew who converted to Christianity as a way of avoiding being tortured and killed, and that his name was not Columbus. Columbus was his adopted Christian name, not his real name. Supposedly, he did not set out on his journey to prove that the earth was round or even to hunt for an easier route to the Spice Islands. He was actually looking for a place where Jews could live in peace, so his backers were predominately Jewish.

I was already aware of these theories, so that is nothing new. What the book did was make me think of what is going on in the world today with all the fights over statues and renaming of holidays.

Columbus Day was originally a New York holiday to honor Italian-American heritage. Franklin Delano Roosevelt made the day into a national holiday, and therein lies the problem, including that of a nearby city. A statue of Columbus resides in the middle of that city, a century-old memorial to its large Italian-American population, but a vocal element wants to tear down the statue, as if Columbus were personally responsible for all the ills of this country, which is silly. Columbus never even set foot in North America, and in fact, was only one of the many seafaring people who managed to cross the ocean, some even thousands of years previously.

The truth is, there are no Native Americans. All of us, even the American Aborigines, are immigrants from elsewhere. There are signs that people from all over the world, for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, were enveloped into and contributed to the development of “native culture.”

The problem is not with Columbus but with an overpopulated world — at the time, the arable land in Europe was divided up and owned by the nobility. People with no other options needed a place to go to start a new life, and here was a whole continent (two continents, actually) where few people lived and harsh laws (except for the harsh laws of nature) had yet to take hold.

The wave of Europeans came decades after Columbus’s voyages, so none of that is to his credit or discredit. The times and a dying way of life were the real culprit.

Still, even if you believe the myth that Columbus discovered America, destroying statues of him (which aren’t really of him since no one knows what he looks like) is utterly hypocritical. If people think we are wrong for being here, they can always go back where they came from. Tearing down a statue, renaming a holiday, apologizing for things someone’s ancestors did (not mine — mine were still living in feudal countries and didn’t even come here until the twentieth century) in no way changes the past. No one is seriously considering making reparations and giving the country back to the Indians, and why should they? If the various tribes had been less obsessed with their traditional enemies and had banded together against the new one, they could have halted the population growth at the Mississippi River. At least for a while. But a time that has come, has come. There is no stopping it.

Which brings me to the whole idea of reparations. If the BLM has their way and they are granted reparations, who is to pay them? Those of us whose ancestors were not even here? That’s absurd. So who? England? After all, the slaves were first brought here when the area was still under control of England. And later, the slave area was under the control of the Confederacy. They could be paid with Confederate dollars; I’m sure there are plenty of such dollars in collections. And yet — signs of the Confederacy, such as statues, are being destroyed. If we’re writing history to erase the whole slave era, then who’s to pay? There’s no one left.

Sheesh. Here I’ve been doing so well staying away from the news and local issues and all the conundrums of our times, and an awful book brings me back. (Awful because there are too many separate stories and too much redundancy since each of the stories is basically a repetition — hunting treasure and killing people. Worst of all, huge portions of the book are in Italics, and Italics always tell me that particular portion is not part of the book and so I skip it.)

For my own peace of mind, I might have to give up reading, too.

***

If you haven’t yet read A Spark of Heavenly Fire, my novel of a quarantine that predated this pandemic by more than ten years, you can read the first chapter online here: http://patbertram.com/A_Spark_of_Heavenly_Fire.html

Buy it on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0024FB5H6/

Download the first 30% free on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1842

Fusion

A special benefit of holidays, particularly in times such as these, is that people make an effort to reach out, even if only by phone or text. Because of this, even if I hadn’t made plans to go to friends for dinner, I would have been far from lonely. Not that I would have been lonely either way — I’m used to being by myself and besides, holidays have lost much of their appeal. I don’t know whether it’s because I’m alone or getting old or becoming jaded, but that’s the truth of it.

Still, it was nice to spend the day with friends — more than friends, actually: a makeshift family of sorts. None of us have biological family nearby, and we mesh well. It seems miraculous, this “family.” None of us were born in this town, two of us weren’t even born in this country. And yet somehow, here we all are, blown together by the fates.

The feast reflected this cultural fusion with the traditional turkey and cranberry sauce, but also Korean potatoes, Thai spring rolls, and a Mexican cheesecake for dessert.

Because the table was heaped with food, we each ate at our own little table. Though it was unplanned, we did what we were supposed to and kept a “social” distance.

I hope your day (whether it was a holiday you celebrate or not) was as nice as mine.

***

If you haven’t yet read A Spark of Heavenly Fire, my novel of a quarantine that predated this pandemic by more than ten years, you can read the first chapter online here: http://patbertram.com/A_Spark_of_Heavenly_Fire.html

Buy it on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0024FB5H6/

Download the first 30% free on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1842