New Website!

I’ve been hesitating about publishing my new website. Yesterday I said I didn’t know why, but I do — it’s that so often things go wrong and I simply did not feel up to dealing with any crisis. For example, books that I get from other sources than Barnes and Noble will sometimes show up on my nook and sometimes not. So frustrating!

But putting off the inevitable doesn’t guarantee that the frustration level of publishing a new website will be any less than if I did it immediately, so today, I pushed the button.

Nothing happened. The computer didn’t blow up. The sun kept shining. The wind kept blowing. And the old website remained.

Luckily, all it took was time. Eventually, the new website showed up. It seems okay to me, though the real thing looks a lot different from the preview. The difference comes mostly in the size of the font and the photos, though there isn’t anything I can do about that — the template comes pre-sized.

Still, I am pleased, with both the way the site and that it is finished.

The best thing about the site is that it is now secured. My old site, since was an http address rather than an https address, came with a google warning that it was unsecured. It’s also mobile ready so that it fits well in a cell phone’s screen.

If you care to take a look, you can find the site at Home (patbertram.com). Feel free to let me know if you see any typos or anything that doesn’t look quite right.

***

“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

Hesitating

The demise of Adobe Flash Player made my old web builder defunct, so I’ve had to create a new website using a more current web builder. Although intimidating at first, the new web builder was actually easy and fun and intuitive. (I prefer intuitive programs because I don’t have to watch boring videos or read long articles of instruction. I can simply . . . do.)

Now, to the best of my knowledge, the new website is finished. I just have to click “publish” for it to go live, but I hesitate to take that final step. I don’t know why. It’s not as if the world as I know it will end. The old site will end, of course, with no way to get it back, but most of what was on there is posted in other places, so I can recover any information I inadvertently leave off the new site. And I can always redo the new site if I need to make changes.

But still, I hesitate.

Partly, I don’t want to have to go through the site once it’s published to make sure I did everything right. I’ve read through everything so many times that I’ve developed a blind spot for those words. Partly (even though this justification of my procrastination is something I just now thought of rather than a real reason for delaying), the longer I wait, the fresher those words will seem and so I’ll be able to read them as they are rather than as I wish them to be. And partly . . . who knows. Stubbornness, maybe, or contrariness. Although I like the new site better than the old one — it’s much more professional and easier for people to use — I’m still being forced to change, and I don’t like the feeling of being herded.

So I hesitate some more.

I’d considered pausing here and hitting the “publish” button so I could brag that I did it, but . . . well, I didn’t.

Maybe this weekend I’ll gather the courage to publish my new site. Or not. We’ll see.

***

“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

You Are Not as Alone as You Thought

John Steinbeck wrote, “We are lonesome animals. We spend all our lives trying to be less lonesome. One of our ancient methods is to tell a story begging the listener to say — and to feel — ‘yes, that’s the way it is, or at least that’s the way I feel it. You’re not as alone as you thought.’”

In no other life experience is this need to share stories as vital as with grief. In other life transitions, such as graduating from school, falling in love, having a baby, there are other people around to share the experience, to tell their stories. In the case of graduation, there are your classmates, and hopefully, at least one of them is your confidant. When falling in love, there is the lover with whom to share the experience. When becoming a parent, there is the other parent, and if not that, maybe a mother, grandmother, midwife, sister, friend, someone who knows the same trials and terrors and awe and sheer love you are experiencing.

But when it comes to grief over the death of a spouse, life mate, soul mate, we are alone. Often, we are the only person in our circle of acquaintances who have had to deal with such a loss, so the loneliness is exacerbated beyond our ability to cope. Our friends and family don’t understand, can’t understand. Everyone has grief in their lives, but the all-consuming grief after the death of the one person who meant life and meaning and connection is simply not understood or even understandable by the uninitiated. We grievers don’t even understand. It doesn’t seem possible that one heart/soul/mind can be in such turmoil, and survive.

Yet we do survive, often by seeking out the stories of those who have been where we are.

The responses to a recent grief post, Note to My Grieving Blog Visitors, illustrates the need to share our experiences. I went to a grief support group until I got kicked out because they didn’t think I was grieving enough. Despite the ignominious end, it was an important time for me. I heard other people’s stories, both from the newly bereaved and those who have lived for months without their mates. I have often written about grief over the years, and people have shared their stories with me. They found comfort and inspiration in my words, I have found comfort in their telling me, “Yes, that’s the way it is. That’s the way I feel it. You’re not as alone as you thought.”

I often think of the blog reader who told me at the beginning that she’d lost her husband ten years previously, and though she was happily remarried, she still grieved for him. It helps knowing that we don’t forget, because yes, that is a fear. We hold tightly to our grief because it is the only thing we have still connecting us to our deceased beloved. If we loosen the hold, will we forget? The truth is, there are days I forget, but there is in me a void remaining where he once resided in my heart and soul, and even if I forget that I once loved, once was so connected to another human being that he almost pulled into the abyss with him when he died the void holds the memory.

I’m glad there is a growing trend toward blogging about grief. Grief is one of those things that no one wants to acknowledge. They have to believe we did something wrong, that we purposely lost or misplaced our loved one, otherwise the thought that the same thing could happen to them would be more than they could bear. They urge us to move on, not just for our comfort, but for theirs. They don’t like the reminder of death and mortality that hangs on our shoulders like a mantle, so they want us to shrug off the mantle of grief and get on with the business of living, without ever realizing that grief is how we are going about the business of grieving.

The metaphor of the cloak of grief does not originate with me. After about three months of writing about grief, a fellow writer, a widower, told me it was time for me to drop the mantle of grief. I didn’t, of course. It might have been important for him to pretend his life was the same, but I couldn’t. I felt the need to tell the truth. My intense grief shocked me to my core. It seemed astonishing that even though I’d read tens of thousands of books, seen thousands of movies, read copious article, that never once did I come across talk of such intensity. Oh, there is always that one old woman in widow’s weeds in mafia movies falling on the coffin of her son and screaming her anguish. This scene always seems so over the top and is played up for the almost comic melodrama, but comes closest to how grief for a spouse or child feels. (In fact, the death of my younger brother killed my mother; she died exactly a year later.) But mostly, there was silence when it came to grief such as I’d experienced.

So yes, it’s important to tell our stories. We need to know that whatever we feel, others have felt the way we do. We need to know that despite the belief we can’t survive either the death of our loved one or our grief, we will. We need to know that we will never forget. We need to know that life goes on. We need to know that we are not as alone as we think we are.

***

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

Small Joys

A couple of days ago, I pulled out all the boxes and such to pack away my Christmas decorations. I’d gradually been putting things away, but suddenly today, I could not stand the disarray any longer and set to with a vengeance. Now my living room is clean and put back the way it was.

And it makes me feel good.

This need for no clutter is a new one for me. I never minded a mess, mostly because I lived in my head. I’d get involved in doing things and simply not notice my surroundings. But I have become something of a neatnik. The first thing every morning, I have to make my bed. The last thing before bed, I have to make sure the kitchen is clean and the counters empty. Except for the past couple of days with the Christmas clutter, the living room was always neat and company ready. It’s unnecessary from the company aspect, of course, because with The Bob, people seldom stop by, but still, it’s necessary for me.

The only room with a bit of clutter is my office. Papers tend to pile up on my desk, and because I am always doing something in that room, I tend not to let it bother me.

It does make me wonder, though, where this tendency toward non-clutter, neatness, and cleanliness comes from. Maybe being a house-proud home-owner (and proud of it!). Maybe having plenty of room — I’ve never had so many rooms, plus enough storage to keep temporarily unneeded items out of sight. Or maybe it’s habit from so many years of living in other people’s houses. Or maybe it’s the nearing of that “elderly” birthday. It’s easier to keep track of my errant thoughts when everything around me is in place.

Whatever the reason, I do find it amusing that I’ve turned into someone I never thought to be. This tendency toward neatness is convenient, that’s for sure! I don’t need to panic if/when the doorbell rings. When I was young, I’d have to peak out to see who was there, and then depending on the visitor, scurry around and scoop up my stray belongings. I think I was neat enough when Jeff and I were together, but since we were in business for ourselves, the storage tended to creep beyond the designated room.

But what once was is no longer important. Today, I put away the Christmas stuff and cleaned the living room.

Such a small thing, but a true joy!

***

“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

Note to My Grieving Blog Visitors

During the past ten years and ten months, ever since the death of my life mate/soul mate, I have been writing about my grief. My grief. Not yours, not anyone else’s. Mine. Many people find comfort in reading about my struggles to live with my grievous loss. Others find resonance with what they are feeling. But whether my grief posts strike a chord with you or not, they are ultimately my thoughts, my feelings, my attempts to make sense of my life both before he died and afterward.

I am not a therapist. I am not an expert. I have no degrees. I have only my own experience of grief to guide me through the chaos, and I don’t pretend to anything more.

I don’t object to your reading what I write; after all, that’s why I post my thoughts on a blog rather than in a private journal. I don’t object to your printing out a blog or two to take to your therapist (as many have) so that the therapist can understand more about the grief experience.

I do object to your chastising me. If you don’t like something I write, if it doesn’t make sense to you at your grief age (how long it’s been since your spouse died), it might in later years. Or not at all.

My experience strikes a chord with many people who have lost “the one,” which made me realize how un-unique my grief is. But although grief is universal, how we express it isn’t. Some people get sick. Some get angry. Some scream. Some cry for months on end. Some do all of those and more.

If you’ve lost someone dear to you to death, chances are I know how you feel. And you know how I felt and still sometimes do feel. Empathy works both ways. I don’t castigate you when you disagree. And you shouldn’t castigate me. I am not the voice of your grief. What I say changes nothing about what you are experiencing.

Often over the years when people were less than kind, I wondered if it were time to pack it in, but enough people find my words and my story inspiring that I keep going. But I don’t have to continue to write updates about grief and what I’ve learned. I don’t get paid for this. It’s not a job or even an obligation. I do it because I feel, I think, I empathize, and I write. It’s who I am.

I’ve written close to a million words about grief. I’m sure I’ve shed a pint of tears if not more while doing so. I certainly don’t need anyone to add to my grief. I always apologize for inadvertently wounding people because I am sensitive to people’s feelings, but there really is no need for my apology. I don’t set out to hurt anyone or even to help anyone. I simply feel it’s important to tell what grief is like — my grief, anyway — rather than what the so-called experts think it should be. If you don’t like any of my words, so be it. It’s not a personal affront. I don’t even know you, though if you’ve read many of my posts, you know me.

So think about that before you rail against me. If I had stopped writing about grief the first time someone told me how wrong I was, either by what I wrote or that I continued to write about grief long past the first few months, thousands of people would not have found the comfort they need, the understanding they sought, the courage to continue living another day.

Neither would I. And probably, neither would you, otherwise you wouldn’t have come here to read about my grief.

***

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

Ghost Roommate

My sister visited shortly after I moved to this house, and she couldn’t sleep in her assigned bedroom because of the ghost who lives there. I don’t know if she actually saw the spirit of a woman or if it was a waking dream, but my sister swore it was true and spent her nights on the couch in the living room.

When I was dealing with a bum knee and couldn’t walk, I slept in that bedroom. It was just so much easier getting in and out of the high daybed. There were chairs and such to hang on to as I hobbled to the bathroom. And I didn’t have to deal with making the bed every morning. I spent a hundred hours at night in that room, as well as the thousand of waking hours (since the room is set up as an office with a daybed), and I never got a glimpse or even a feel of a restless spirit. Except my own, of course, and to be honest, it’s not that restless. Being a quasi-hermit seems to agree with me.

The ghostly roommate referred to in the title of this post is even more nebulous than a revenant. He uses this address, either by accident or design, though he doesn’t get the mail that is sent here. Nor has he ever lived here.

I sometimes get mail for the previous resident, though that mail is the throwaway kind — advertisements that he in no way is interested in since he is deceased. I also sometimes get an occasional Christmas card or flyer for the people who lived here before that. But no one knows who this ghost roommate is.

The mail I get for this phantom is current, such as a debit card for food stamps or a People magazine. Since I get the mail as soon as it comes, there is no way he can be fraudulently using my address to get his mail, taking it from my mailbox when I’m not around. I’ve told the postal workers about it, and they tell me they’ll take care of it, but I still get the People magazine occasionally when a substitute deliverer is on duty.

The odd thing is, although not everyone in town knows everyone, everyone will know someone who knows those they don’t know. But no one knows who this fellow is.

Apparently, he really is a ghost.

Since he is a nonentity, I figure he wouldn’t mind if I read the magazine he isn’t getting. And that adds a whole other layer to the mystery. Who are the people who appear in that magazine? I’ve seldom heard any of them, and if a name is familiar, I certainly don’t care what they are wearing, if they are happily living an unroyal life, or if they are back together with some ex-wife.

Still, it’s reading material, and I read anything that crosses my threshold. I wonder if I should just toss the magazine instead of returning it to the post office. If the magazine isn’t forwarded to the fellow, maybe he’ll get the message that he sends his mail to the wrong address.

Or not. Maybe he prefers to befuddle me with his ghostly presence.

***

“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

The Forgotten Americans

Because of the almost universal experience of grief, I’ve met people from all over the world. Well, “met” might not be the proper word since we’ve never met in person, but over the years, you get to know people as well as if you had met in person. In fact, the people I have had occasion to visit, are exactly the same, and our relationship exactly the same as it was online. We simply continued the conversation we’d started via the internet.

People elsewhere sometimes don’t really know what life is like here in the United States. The news media is only interested in sensationalism, and the quiet lives most people lead have no interest to anyone beyond their communities. For example, the governing body of Colorado has no interest in my corner of the state, and in fact, often enacts legislation to our detriment. Admittedly, we are scant in numbers compared to the nearby big cities, so what happens here makes no difference to the rest of the state, and our voice is seldom heard. We are the forgotten.

It’s the big cities that people are familiar with worldwide, but even in big cities, there are large neighborhoods where people quietly go about their business. They don’t start fights, don’t shoot each other, don’t do much of anything except work so they can afford to live in those peaceful neighborhoods.

I might be exaggerating here because I am as ignorant as the rest of the world when it comes to current big cities. I grew up in Denver and spend my early adulthood there, but back then, the once-upon-a-time governor (who came from Texas, not Colorado) had yet to “imagine a great city.” The president’s son had not yet helped destroy the savings and loans business. The Denver International Airport fiasco had yet to be perpetrated on the taxpayers. And the Californication of Colorado had not yet begun. And so Denver was a great city. A great city to grow up in, that is. It was more of a cow town than the major player on the world stage that it has become.

Although the USA has a reputation for being a war-loving country, generally only Washington DC and the military-industrial complex are gung-ho for war. (Even people who join the military are often shocked when they find out they actually have to fight. The recruiting officers tend to focus on career and education opportunities.) Traditionally, going way back to the Civil War, Americans have to be coerced to fight. We are peace-lovers. Most of us have no objection to helping others in need, but mostly, we want to stay home and take care of our own. Most of us don’t understand why Washington sends money to countries that hate us.

We are often vilified for spreading American culture, but those so-called American businesses that are supposedly spreading American consumerism around the world are no-longer American businesses and haven’t been for a very long time. They are global corporations. Many of us here have no money invested in those businesses (many of us have no money invested anywhere; it’s all we can do to survive from paycheck to paycheck). Some of us don’t even patronize those businesses.

Most of us are not racist, which is why the media and academics need to keep changing the definition of racism to include more and more of us.

The international policies Washington puts in force are their policies, not necessarily the policies of we the people. And the most annoying thing of all is that these same politicians apologize to the world for us citizens, as if we personally chose to start wars or changed the immigration laws, or whatever, when in fact, they should be apologizing to us not for us.

This ended up being much more of a rant than I intended. Mostly I wanted to show that there is life in the United States beyond the horrors the news media project, that even though we are forgotten, we are still here. But then, if you’ve been reading my blog for anything length of time, you already know that some of us, me especially, lead peaceful, considerate, thinking lives.

***

“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

Death and the Death Penalty

I’m reading a book about an innocent guy who was executed by the state after spending nine years on death row. The story was supposed to show the horrors of death row as well as the immorality of the death penalty, but it made me think beyond moral issues to the whole death thing.

When Jeff died, people told me that he was in a better place, that God needed him more than I did, that he at been taken home.

So, according to all these comments, death is a good thing, right? Then how can death be a punishment? Of course, people justify the dichotomy by talk of heaven vs. hell, but when someone dies, no one brings up the possibility that the deceased might not be in a better place.

Although, to my way of thinking, if God created an evil person (ie: if the person was born evil rather than being created through torment and abuse) then it’s not exactly fair for that person to be consigned to hell. (I’m only being a trifle facetious here because it is a real conundrum.)

Sometimes death is a good thing, especially when the person has suffered longer than is humane, for no other reason than death puts them out of their misery. My take on that has always been that the poor benighted folks shouldn’t have suffered in the first place. And there are other ways of relieving suffering besides death if we but knew them, such as . . .  oh, I don’t know . . . finding a cure, perhaps.

Also, if there is life after death, then killing a killer doesn’t actually remove that person. It just puts them in a different place. (That better place so many people assured me exists?) It seems to me if people are really bent on vengeance, it would be better to keep the evildoer alive as long as possible.

I truly don’t know what the answer is, and it’s not one I have to decide. Other people decide such things as retribution and punishment.

Luckily, I am in the last phase of the book where all those who conspired to put the innocent guy on death row get their comeuppance. And then I’ll be done and will be able to stop thinking about all this.

***

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

Celebrating My New Year

We are five days into the new year, and it feels a lot like the old year. Nothing has changed except the calendar. There is a lot to be said for a nice, clean, new calendar — it speaks of hope that only good things will fill all those coming days. But as for a new year itself, it seems so arbitrary. It’s not even a universal new beginning. The Chinese New Year this year is February 12, the Jewish New Year is September 6, the Persian New Year is March 21, the Korean New Year is January 12, the Tibetan New Year begins on February 12, and various communities in the Hindu religion have different dates for their celebration.

January 1 is not even the beginning of a new season or of a solar cycle such as a solstice or an equinox. Nor is there any personal demarcation — no black line separates the old from the new. The world is no different today from yesterday, nor are we. We carry the old year with us because we have the same problems, sadnesses, hopes, fears. We don’t simply leave all that behind, along with our old selves, at the chime of the clock on midnight, December 31. We drag the past into the future.

The sun doesn’t count the years. It doesn’t even count the days; from its point of view, there is no sunrise and sunset. It’s always there, always risen.

And so, in a way, if we ignore the calendar aspect of the new year as well as the number we have assigned to it, every day begins a new year. For example, the year beginning today will end on January 5, 2022 rather than on the first. This way of looking at years makes as much sense as the other. Come to think of it, our personal new years begin on our birthday, and that makes even more sense than calendar years. We have an established beginning for our first year We even have an established hour for the beginning of that year.

In my case, at 7:27am one day in the months to come, my personal new year will begin. Of course, the effects will be the same as our western calendar year — there will be no dumping of the previous year’s baggage at 7:26, to begin anew at 7:27. One year flows into the other, with only an occasional event that truly does create us anew at a moment’s notice, such as falling in love, the birth of a child, the death of a spouse. In each of these cases, we are instantly different.

I suppose it’s just as well we drag our baggage along with us from year to year. To leave it behind would also mean leaving the memories behind. I certainly wouldn’t want to wake up every January 1 completely washed clean of the past!

As for the problems we carry with us, ours and the world’s, the only way to stop carrying them is to solve them or to make friends with them.

Unlike most people, last year was not at all a bad year for me. I might not thrive on being a total hermit since I do need some contact with people (which I have been getting), but normally, I don’t go out to eat, don’t do social gatherings, tend to stay away from sick people no matter what their illness might be.

So, come to think of it, this new year being like the old one is rather nice, so whether it started on the first, or starts today, it’s worth celebrating.

***

“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

Good Girls

I’m reading a book about a dying rapist/killer who is remorseful for what he did and wants to atone before the end. Is this plausible? Or are such folk unable to see that they did anything wrong? Could they change so much at the end? I suppose anything is possible, but mostly I’m looking at this from my life and so the truth of the character doesn’t really matter.

I am very glad I didn’t do anything terrible in my life, at least, not that I know. We all do things that affect others, and somewhere down the line, our innocent actions might have dire consequences, but since we don’t know what those consequences might be, we have no reason to feel remorse.

I was always the “good girl,” though I didn’t want to wear a halo. I just didn’t want to be punished. I remember as a teenager and how some of the kids got into trouble with drinks or drugs or sex, but I never did. Even then, I understood the long-term effects of alcoholism, drug addiction, and teenage pregnancy, and could see no viable reason for flirting with disaster.

When you’re young, being considered a goody-two-shoes or whatever the current phrase might be, is a terrible fate, and although I railed against such names, I never gave in. My logical mind always stood in the way of peer pressure. Of course, as time went on, people just crossed me off without hassling me, but the name stuck.

Now that I am far beyond those younger years, I can be glad for that lack of “bad girl” behavior. I have a hard enough time with remorse for my small unkindnesses, petty transgressions, and lapses in generosity of spirit. I can’t imagine trying to deal with the crushing remorse of actually having done something that got someone killed or maimed or sent to prison.

I don’t even have to worry about my lungs, or at least not much. Like me, my mother never smoked, yet she died of lung cancer, and her death certificate erroneously called her a life-long smoker. So, I might not have smoke-damaged lungs, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have damaged lungs from other causes, like breathing, perhaps.

I do find it interesting that people who started smoking after the sixties can still blame their habit on ignorance. The information was available when I was a kid, which is why I stayed away from such things. Well, that, and a distaste for the activity as well as an allergy to smoke.

I don’t mean to sound smug and judgmental, especially since some of you might have succumbed to some habit or other. I’m just glad I never got talked into being a getaway driver, or heard voices telling me to kill someone, or became so angry, I fatally lashed out. It makes these last years so much more peaceful than they could have been if I had been other than that scorned “good girl.”

***

“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