My Kingdom for a Porsche

Reflection by Mary E. Latela 4.9.17

The king and queen came into view while black tie dignitaries and escorts stood in line during the sunset hour. She wore Buchman; her husband was attired in Handmade by Lucio, Manhattan.

The girl children were dressed in pastel satin, matching slippers, and glitter embellished tiaras. The boys wore CK and leather dress boots. They walked around the head table to say goodnight, then noiselessly disappeared up the stairs to bed.

The king knew he was setting a precedent, so he had examined all the family, then the decor and appointments in the vast hall. They chatted quietly, sipped iced peach soup, and ate with 250 year old silver. The men were getting serious, and laughter seemed deliberately muted.

The entree was being served when Ron Daley rushed into the hall, went directly to the right of the king, and leaning over, said, in a loud whisper, “Sir, they need you upstairs.” The king felt his face grow red as he tried to swallow his anger. He started to play out the scene. Heads would roll. He couldn’t risk speaking to Ron until they reached the soundproof conference booth.

They all remembered WWII,and the Blitz, and rations. And one lie after another. Within 30 minutes, the hall was empty, limos in tunnels efficiently driving fast with the very last housekeepers.

Lights out.

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My Kingdom for a Porsche

Reflection by Mary E. Latela 4.9.17

The king and queen came into view while black tie dignitaries with their partners stood in line during the after sunset hour. She wore American- her husband was attired in hand made by Lucio, Manhattan.

The girl children were dressed in pastel satin, matching slippers, and glitter embellished tiaras. The boys wore CK and leather dress boots. They walked around the head table to say goodnight, then noiselessly disappeared up the stairs to bed.

The king knew he was setting a precedent, so he had examined all the family, then the appointments in the vast hall.

Well into the meal, Ron Wilson rushed through the crowd, went to the right of the king, and leaning over, said, in a loud whisper, “They need you upstairs.” The king felt his face grow red as he tried to swallow his anger. He started to play out the scene. Heads would roll. He couldn’t risk speaking to Ron until they reached the soundproof conference booth.

They all remembered WWII,and the Blitz, and rations. And one lie after another. Within 30 minutes, the hall was empty, limos in tunnels were efficiently merging into fast lanes until the last housekeepers were dispatched.

Lights out.

 

 

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A Writer? Who, Me?

7 Steps I Took Through the Mine Fields Above my Heart Chakrah Before I Decided to could call Myself an Author! Mary Ellen Latela

Seven Steps on the Writing Ladder

  1. Having the Tools

Mom was very busy with the four of us, but she had a brilliant idea which made it possible for any of us to explore. There was a card table in the corner of the kitchen, and piled upon it were crayons, pencils, construction paper, and the marble pattern notebooks which I still buy to use for journals and for ideas, drafts, etc.

(She also played music much of the day – from classic to contemporary and though she was not a scientist, she couldn’t help but notice the calming effect of that.So, I wrote little stories, made greeting cards, and all. The diagram below is the result of many hours of doodling before I made my career choices.

My first success in writing was winning the annual Clean Up Week song contest in Grade Two. Another student and I were rewarded with a book. I felt good for at least a day!

  1. Getting my very own library card, my most precious ID, was my key to the universe.

Getting my library card was like Christmas.  Visiting that brick schoolhouse became a regular trip. A bunch of friends would walk the mile to the public library to return and take out books. The librarian made suggestions.

We used pencil and newspaper print to write the registration numbers of books we wanted. There were no computers, so if we were looking up information for a report, we had to copy by hand, remembering to write the title, author, date published. Pluto was still a planet back then.

Reference books did not leave the library, so we did a lot of hand-copying. The pre-teen books, then teen classics were full of adventures we didn’t even dream about.

We all walked home. We did know that causing any trouble was a recipe for disaster, so we only acted up at home. I love reading and I still read many books, expanding my list to areas which I never dreamed of.

3. Making writing a priority

Periodically our teachers would send our best work into scholastic writing center contests and we’d proudly bring home a certificate.Writing was a major chunk of our school days, and as we plowed through “the classics, there was in-class reading out loud, questions to answer in writing, and a few tests. I thought it would be cool to write for a living. I knew from a couple of artists and musicians in the family to keep my day until I was sure.

Shakespeare in grade nine? It’s true, but I don’t think it makes sense. I said yes.

4 Learning to Write – I used to have to write in secret, After I was married, my EX-Hubby said it was a waste of time and how much could you make on writing anyway? Even though I was afraid of my shadow, I was not afraid to write.I knew there was something in   my Mind or in my heart that hurt a little, something that wanted to come out and become literature. I don’t feel guilty about having a perfect cup of coffee on my table. I wish I had a maid just to keep the coffee coming. Sometimes I feel guilty just because it is a beautiful day outside and I am inside.. Ten minutes on the back porch heals that discomfort, especially on snow days.

I don’t feel guilty about having a perfect cup of coffee on my table. I wish I had a maid just to keep the coffee coming. Sometimes I feel guilty just because it is a beautiful day outside and I am inside.. Ten minutes on the back porch heals that discomfort, especially on snow days.

For me, the turning point was a moment in which I found myself deeply wounded because my family and some of the least favorite friends didn’t care about my writing, This afternoon, it hit me: why should they take it seriously even though I DO? For quite some time, writing has been my number one priority – not counting the days I gave birth to the children, moving across the country again, and periodic major “sorting days” to keep organized. I write in the morning to midafternoon, every day. With few meaningful exceptions, writing is first—come rain, shine, holidays, or illness.

Make this commitment and from that moment on, you are a writer.

  1. Maybe Writing Really Isn’t Worth It and I Should Quit

Hey, just because you’re now a writer doesn’t mean this gig is suddenly easy! Some of us will face this conundrum many times in our writing journeys. I have to admit that several times, I did not have the stamina to write. There were two causes – first, I have a chronic illness which is rather painful sucking away energy for a while each day, and second, I didn’t have a source of positive reinforcement. I had no batteries. Well, I am also legally blind and cannot drive. But oh well, everybody has something!

Several times I considered quitting, and this is an important question for every artist. I sit calmly, enter into my deep soulful self, and sort through the stuff in me, bringing the really good stuff into the light of day and onto the keyboard.  I agree that If I’m going to continue this, then I really should renew my commitment every so often, thinking about and embracing the nature of who I am and who I have become over the years.

Like KM, I spend part of my time in the dark night of my soul. And it is not scary. I am able to feel real feelings, to intuit unusual sadness, to read what others are thinking, to look at a person I know very well, and practically finish her sentences.

  1. Will Reading Other Writers Make me a Copycat? No way! I don’t live with the Bronte sisters or in the back room at Edgar Allan Poe’s place. I don’t use strong spirits to blot out my bad memories; I have a mental condition for that. I have read books that take me into new places, into old, nearly dead places, where I can sprinkle a little stardust which I keep in my right shirt pocket.
  1. I am obsessive about spelling, grammar, usage. AND I have a god time crafting cool sentences and paragraphs. Should I worry about becoming an old woman with glasses who likes to chat with the postal delivery guy?? My dear daughter could attest to this is who I am NOW. Kids!

As K.M. says: The art of writing is uniquely suited to make us feel unworthy. Not only are we baring our souls on the page for everyone to gawk at, we are also working in a field in which monetary compensation is decidedly the primary yardstick for “success.” Perfect copy is required.

This is Flat Stanley, who is silent, and easily fits into a pocket

My motto is a set of reminders: Keep walking! Keep writing! Keep breathing! Call my brother once a week! Don’t lose my crochet hook! And try not to talk ALL the time!

About Mary E. Latela: She has published 15 creative non-fiction books, is working on a memoir, was a teacher for a hundred fifty years, is an ordained minister, and now lives in the Midwest (again!) @LatelaMary mlatela@outlook.com

Many thanks to my writing friend. She is young: I am not. Otherwise we are very alike. Enjoy!

 

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Who’s Minding the Schools?

Who is Minding the Schools?  By Mary E. Latela, response to NYTimes op-ed, 2/23/2017

According to a compelling Op-Ed by Kevin Karey in the FEB. 23, 2017 New York Times: “The confirmation of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education was a signal moment for the school choice movement. For the first time, the nation’s highest education official is someone fully committed to making school vouchers and other market-oriented policies the centerpiece of education reform.”

I offer a tried and true alternative. The nation’s highest educational official should be an experienced classroom teacher whose goal is to provide educational experiences which uit the learning style and need of each student, with the goal of learning via phonetics the elements of words, sentence, story, so that they will be able to be equipped for middle school writing and reading. The teacher will provide, supervise, encourage, and evaluate – one- to one on the number facts.  By the beginning of grade four all students will be able to correctly identify and work with numbers, simple number problems.

 

Besides a long personal history as a classroom teacher, I have survived the various programs designed to make learning easier. These programs are expensive, require training of teachers and parents, and if they do not work, will be replaced, eventually, with another director of education with yet another set of methods to guarantee success. I have written syllabi for early education in pre-reading and arithmetic, and have used flashcards heavily.  Selecting programs to support teaching of primary reading, writing and needs to integrate the role of teacher, student, parent(s), and a reliable paper service.

 

 

 

 

 

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@AnneLParrish Shines

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Daytime TV

Daytime TV: History Repeats. Observations by Mary E. Latela, February 18, 2017

In this period of 24/7 news coverage, we may have forgotten that we used to have 15 to 30 minutes of “nightly news.” Exceptions were rare, such as the coronation of Elizabeth, queen on England in 1952, or the landing on the moon in 1969.

The Watergate scandal and the TV coverage in the summer of 1973 satiated my desire to know what happened in D.C. that weekend in June of 1972. I watched the transmission first hand, and specifically, one moment which seemed to halt history. Watergate has entered the political lexicon as a term synonymous with corruption and scandal, but that was not the only event like this.

The Senate Committee to investigate the Watergate scandal went on during the summer of 1973. For me, the most stunning information came on a sultry day in July. During prep on Friday, July 13, 1973, one of the lawyers asked WH assistant Alexander Butterfield whether there was any type of recording system in the WH. Butterfield was reluctant to respond.

“On Monday, July 16, 1973, in front of a live, televised audience, chief minority counsel Fred Thompson asked Butterfield whether he was ‘aware of the installation of any listening devices in the Oval Office of the President.’ Butterfield said it was so. This is the gasp heard around the world/country/town/family. The saga moves on as the President tried to use executive privilege to refuse to hand over the tapes, eventually resigning from Office. (wiki)

As a footnote, some of the perpetrators attempted to blame the crimes on Cubans (scapegoating/immigrants,etc.)

I am not trying to make light of political activity. I am disappointed at the contemporary tendency toward ugliness, narrowness, unwillingness to “play the tapes,” to learn the truth and try to work at making life better for every person. I am not comparing today’s political storms with Watergate except to notice that there are similarities when democracy is invaded by egotism, and other evil tendencies.

btw, “The Hill” reports that Carl Bernstein, who with Bob Woodward, scrutinized the Watergate activities, tweeted today: the “true enemy of the people is presidential lying…”

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Marching in the Streets of America

Marching in the Streets of America by Mary E Latela

January 21, 2017

We saw men, women, kids, babies on the streets of the USA today, marching in protest against the prospect of a historical downturn of human rights, women’s rights, rights of persons of certain ethnic groups, right to care for disabled persons, for elderly men and women, for the chronically ill.

Less than one hundred years ago, women in the States were granted the franchise, the right to vote – not as part of a family unit, but as a fully aware adult responsible for the birthing, rearing, teaching of children, and a list that goes on and on.  When women stepped over the line of their lot in life, they  were arrested, imprisoned, and tortured in this country. (Similar struggles took place in Great Britain as well). During this election period, I was amazed to hear women say they were not sure whether they would actually vote!

In the recent past we have finally passed legislation to support the women and children who are victims of violence. The woman whose partner turns out to be physically, emotionally, sexually abusive – is in danger. Leaving may be the only way out of this hellish existence, but it takes courage. It takes support. It takes a community able and willing to protect her and the children as this process works through.

For the past 25/30 years I’ve been advocating for a Violence Against Women Act. In Connecticut, there is strong legislation which came after a period of horrible deaths and injuries, emotional breakdowns, children at risk, caused by violence in the family setting. In addition, if a woman decides to leave, she is in more danger than ever for a time.

Budgets will be cut, but I hope to God that keeping families alive and free from criminal acts is too important to slice. Will you speak up now?

picture: openculture.com

 

 

 

 

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