Censorship and the Bookstore on the Corner

The little bookstore used to be one of the gathering places in the small village. The front of the bookstore had the current bestsellers and also some books that were worthy but that had not caught the eye of the public. As you walked toward the back of the bookstore, the books got older and more were in paperback. All were carefully vetted by the owner, Pete Turner. All he wanted was high quality literature in his store.

This was before the federal government stepped in and started banning books. There were always sectors of society that banned books. Public schools. Libraries. They usually banned them because they contained sex, violence, profanity. Pete bought books for literary value. That was in the past. Before the federal government, beginning in 2017, sent out squads of soldiers to pull books off the shelf that were on their banned book lists.

It was hypocrisy. The Holy Bible was always on the banned book list. That was the only banned book the soldiers left intact on the shelves.

What the squads of soldiers didn’t know is that Pete kept shelves of banned books hidden in the basement of his bookstore. He had put book jackets on the banned books that were fake. The jackets from other books that were on the government’s approved list.

In 2017, the federal government decided to try to control the American people’s reading material. They were relentless. They went into libraries and schools and stripped the shelves of any book on the list and even some that weren’t. Bookstores were hit especially hard. They even pulled the Harry Potter series off the shelves. It had been on the banned book list off and on and so many children had enjoyed it. Harry Potter was the number one banned book between 2000-2009 according to the information Pete had. After they pulled the books off shelves, they piled them in the street and burned them.

People were afraid to gather in Pete’s bookstore now. His business had dropped by half. He owned his store fair and square. There was no mortgage on it. That was the only way he was staying in business at all. Many bookstores were going out of business.

The people who were in favor of the actions of the federal government with regard to banning books didn’t see the problem. Some thought it was a good thing that these books that talked about issues that made them uneasy and afraid were being burned in  the streets. The others, the ones who thought the federal government was overstepping, brought up the First Amendment and freedom of speech. They said that banning books and burning them in the streets was a violation of the First Amendment. Banning books and burning them in the street was the ultimate in censorship.

Just recently, Pete had learned through his distributors of books, that the federal government had ordered that production be stopped of the books on the banned book list by the book publishers. These publishers were high-profile. Pete had also learned through his contacts that smaller publishers had started producing these banned books under the radar. They were booklegging. Producing banned books illicitly. Otherwise, these wonderful books would be lost forever. Books like “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck; “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain; “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee; “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley; and many, many more. If these small publishers were discovered, there would be terrible consequences compliments of the federal government.

Pete’s bookstore had a supply of many of the banned books camouflaged in his basement. He was essentially running a library out of his basement and loaned them to people who wanted to read them. Pete, himself, would suffer consequences if he was discovered. Even though many people now avoided his bookstore, there was a core group of readers that still came in, had coffee and tea, and browsed. They were defiant of the federal government. Pete was so glad to see them. These people recognized censorship for what it was.

Pete had been able to obtain and keep some history books that detailed what had happened in the Fascist regime in Germany. If the soldiers found these books, they would take them and burn them, but Pete tried to keep them available for all his patrons to read. In 1933, Hitler’s regime burned 25,000 books supposedly to remove the Jewish influence from Nazi Germany. Books from scholars such as Freud and Einstein were among these books and some were irreplaceable. Censorship through book burning was a hallmark of the German Fascist regime. Pete wanted history books available for his patrons so they could read about this movement. He was afraid he would be found out. In Germany, booklegging became popular but was shut down.

Pete spent his days as proprietor of his bookstore trying to keep a low profile while encouraging the people of the village to frequent his bookstore. It was a fine line to walk. The squads of soldiers appeared at his door on a regular basis but they found fewer and fewer books to burn. All his banned books were camouflaged and hidden. Pete is noticing that more people in the village, people who are surprising to him, are coming in to have coffee and talk with him. They carefully ask to see his history books and occasionally, the banned books. This gives Pete hope, for his business and for his country.

Pete’s little bookstore in the village remains. The story has no ending yet. Pete and at least some of the people in the village have hope that the First Amendment of their Constitution will be respected in the future and censorship and the issue of banned books will become a thing of the past.

amwriting with The Writing Reader

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Posted in Fiction

Snowball Fight

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“Daniel, this the first snow in five years. It’s beautiful, but I wonder what it means?”

“Yes, Kate. Since that very warm winter we had in 2017, the weather during the last five years has been unheard of across the U.S. as well as right here in Kentucky.”

“Daniel, when were growing up, and even as young adults, we had big snows and brutal cold here. Now that type of weather is only in northern Canada.”

“Kate, let’s just go take a walk in the snow and enjoy it. We still have coats, don’t we?”

“Snowball fight!”

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Posted in Flash Fiction

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is divine.

Most of what I’ve written recently has been fiction. I may write a story or a scene from a story about this topic – forgiveness – as well. This post is more like a journal entry, a nonfiction post, about forgiveness.

Have you ever felt that someone has wronged you? Really wronged you in a hurtful way? Being wronged in an intimate relationship may be one of the worst ways to be wronged, but it is certainly not the only bad way. Parents wrong children. Children wrong parents. The list goes on. This post veers more toward two people hurting each other in a love relationship and how to achieve foregiveness. I do not profess to be an expert but a neophyte. I’m only jotting down my thoughts.

Some of us may find ourselves in a relationship that perhaps we shouldn’t be in. To make it more complex, maybe we should be in it but it isn’t ours to be in at that moment in time. We may love someone, but circumstances make the relationship complex, complicated, difficult, even impossible. No matter how much we want that relationship to work. Other people may be involved and in the line of fire to be hurt or damaged in some way because of this relationship. Relationships, as we all know, can be complex, convoluted, and involve more than just the two people involved.

Because of the stress on relationships that are difficult and complex, those relationships will splinter and shatter at some point. Both people may agree to go their separate ways. One person in the relationship may decide, on their own, that they must end the relationship. The optimal thing to do, of course, is for the two people to sit down, talk, and bring an end to the relationship together. I am not saying that would be easy, but it’s the best way.

But, people are complex creatures with highly charged emotions, particularly in love relationship. They have their own individual problems and idiosyncracies, complications in their lives, and individual ways of handling things. Not everyone is going to handle breakups of love relationships in the same way. Some people are non-confrontational by nature. Because of all these factors and others, someone is bound to get hurt when a love relationship ends. Maybe even both people, even though one is doing the ending.

So what happens next? Usually anger, hurt, grief, sadness, even the desire for revenge in some cases, though not necessarily in that order. How do you make your way toward forgiveness? Can that even happen?

As I said earlier in this treatise, I am a neophyte in this area, but I think it can. It depends on the people involved, of course. One thing I do know is that it takes time and thought. If you are the person who has been told that the love relationship is over, then you have to get past your anger in order to see things clearly. You have to try to put your hurt and sadness aside long enough to think logically about what happened and why it may have happened. You have to be honest with yourself. It may take some time.

Remember back to the time when your relationship was good. If you trusted your partner then, you need to trust that former partner now. Quite probably, there was a good reason that they ended the relationship that may have little to do with you. It may have more to do with the circumstances of the relationship and their life. Your former partner may not have done a perfect job of ending the relationship. In fact, that is almost certainly true. But, they did what they had to do and hoped you would trust them and understand.

If you can see this, you are at the beginning of forgiveness. Only the beginning, but you have taken the first step. If you can draw on the trust you had for your partner when you were together, it will help you take this first step. It doesn’t mean your hurt or sadness or grief will just go away. Of course, they won’t. The bad feelings you have about the relationships may start to lessen, however. You may start to see things from your former partner’s point of view.

If you are a vengeful person, you need to let go of any feelings of revenge. I, personally, am not a person who seeks revenge so I have a hard time relating to it. I tend to beat myself up instead. Revenge will hurt you far more than the person upon who you are seeking revenge.

If you need to remove the person who hurt you from your thoughts, forgiveness will help you do this. As for me, I want to forgive but keep the person in my thoughts. I’ve taken the first step. We had thousands of wonderful times together during our lives. I want to remember all those times without scarring them with the hurt of the end of the relationship. Yes, this part is a challenge.

I’ll be writing more on this topic. It’s cathartic for me and I hope a help to some of you.

Prompt #953

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Posted in Non-fiction

Fear of Flying

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Violet had never been afraid of flying. She was flying to her new home in South Florida late this afternoon. She was terrified. She had scheduled an appointment with her sleep doctor for something to take the edge off so she could even board the damn plane. He would also have the results of her sleep tests.

She was shell-shocked when she walked out of his office. He had given her a prescription for her fear of flying along with her diagnosis. PTSD. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He wanted to know what had happened since he saw her last.

She knew now what was wrong. The last time she had been at an airport. The airport in St. Louis. A traumatic experience. The man she loved had flown away – forever.

Violet put the prescription in the trash. That was not going to destroy her life.

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Posted in Flash Fiction

I’m Sorry, Coal Miners, Trump’s Promises to you are Empty

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Donald Trump is right to want to put our nation’s coal miners back to work. He is not right to promise to put them back to work in a declining industry and make promises to them he cannot keep.

Trump recently signed an Executive Order relating to coal mining that did one thing and one thing only. It rolled back a regulation that stopped mining companies from dumping water from mining operations into streams, a regulation put into place during the Obama era. Rolling back this regulation will not give the majority of coal miner’s their jobs back because regulations are not what has taken away the coal jobs.

So what did take away the coal miner’s jobs? Automation in the mines, for one thing. Competition from low-cost, plentiful natural gas. Mergers and acquisitions within the coal industry that were unwise and didn’t work. This one mining regulation had almost nothing to do with destroying the jobs within the mining sector. Trump’s latest executive order is not going to help you very much for very long. If at all.

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Posted in Non-fiction

Song Lyric Sunday – Romantic Love Songs

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For Song Lyric Sunday, we were asked to find the love song that spoke to us. For me, it is Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” written, in 1972, by Dolly Parton. My friends, my best friends, will know why this song speaks to me. Here are the lyrics to the song. You can hear the song from the video at the bottom of the page:

“I Will Always Love You”

If I should stay
I would only be in your way
So I’ll go but I know
I’ll think of you every step of the way

And I… will always love you, ooh
Will always love you
You
My darling, you…
Mmm-mm

Bittersweet memories –
That is all I’m taking with me.
So good-bye.
Please don’t cry:
We both know I’m not what you, you need

And I… will always love you
I… will always love you
You, ooh

[Instrumental / Sax solo]

I hope life treats you kind
And I hope you have all you’ve dreamed of
And I wish you joy and happiness
But above all this I wish you love

And I… will always love you
I will always love you
I will always love you
I will always love you

I will always love you
I, I will always love you.

You.
Darling, I love you.
I’ll always…
I’ll always love you.
Ooh
Ooh

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Posted in Challenges

#SoCS – 2/18/2017

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Is it Winter?, Basketball, Reading, Writing

After being in South Florida for a month, I am confused about the seasons. When I was in Florida, I forgot it was winter. Now, I’m home in Kentucky and the temperatures are very warm for this time of year – in the 60s and even 70s. From what my friends here tell me, Kentucky really hasn’t had much of a winter this year. My psyche is confused about the seasons. I guess it will be from now on since we will be living six months in Florida (winter) and six months in Kentucky (summer) so we will sort of be in perpetual summer. Suits me just fine.

Yes, we are home from Florida and the amount of just “stuff” I have to put away, launder, and arrange is mind blowing. What I would rather be doing is writing. I didn’t get to write nearly as much as I wanted while in “The Sunshine State.” I will rectify that while in Kentucky. Now that we actually have a place to live in Florida, I will now be able to write there as well. No longer will be living like gypsies while in Florida!

I love college basketball! I’m watching a game between my beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and the Georgia Bulldogs. I don’t like professional sports, however.  We’ll be able to pick up the basketball games while in Florida as we will use a satellite dish.

Have you read anything good lately? The novel I’m writing is a psychological thriller so I’m trying to read other psychological thrillers to get a sense of their style. I’m currently reading “The Couple Next Door” by Shari Lapena. I think the author could have done a better job in building up suspense. Besides that, it is a very good book and I would recommend it. Do you have any suggestions?

I always like to exchange writing tips. My tip for today is to try to write something, anything every day to keep your hand in. Any tips? Put them in the comments section.

That’s it for now!

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Posted in #SoCS

#weekendcoffeeshare – 02/18/2017

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Florida, Climate Change, and Extreme Life

Good morning! Welcome to #weekendcoffeeshare! I want to invite everyone in for coffee, tea, hot chocolate or the beverage of your choice. I am liking the Indian Spice Chai Tea because I don’t drink coffee. We have many different types of coffee and tea here for your drinking pleasure!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my #weekendcoffeeshares have been odd the past few weeks because I’ve been traveling but I am back home and back to normal now. Traveling has really done a number on my writing. I’ve gotten a bit of writing done but have done absolutely nothing on my novel. I have to get back to work on it as soon as possible. Traveling does, I think, enrich your writing.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I hope all of you are doing well and that your writing muse is with you. I hope you’ll share your writing experiences with me in the comments and I look forward to reading your #weekendcoffeeshares.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that it is indeed interesting to now anticipate  living in the tropics six months each year. We are going to be living far enough south in Florida that it is certainly in a tropical zone. That is quite different from the temperate zone in which I live now. I do so love it there, however. But, I’m concerned. I don’t know about each of you, but I do believe in climate change and that the actions we take effect our climate. It seems that one of the key cabinet positions in the Trump Administration is now being run by an individual who does not believe in climate change and that does not bode well for keeping the regulations we have concerning the climate in place.

Florida is one of the states in the U.S. that will be first affected by rising sea levels. My new little home there is only one mile from the coast so I am concerned. Tides are getting higher. Real estate values, tourism, and Florida’s fresh water supply are already being affected. Florida is also getting hotter. When I was there this winter, it was above 80 almost every day in the Ft. Myers area. In late January and early February. I believe climate change is real and, living in Florida, you experience it first hand.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have a lot of different interests. One of them is science and I read something this week I want to tell you about. Scientists have discovered a Mexican cave system that is incredibly beautiful but so hot that they call it both Fairyland and Hell. In that cave system are microbes that they think are at least 50,000 years old and have survived by living on minerals such as manganese and iron. They are called “extreme life” but they are not the oldest extreme life. To illustrate how extreme they are, they are very far from their nearest relative — as far as humans are from mushrooms. Just a science tidbit I thought you’d find interesting!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I hope to have some new writing to tell you next week, such as the fact that I’m making progress on my novel!

I have to go now and finish our unpacking from a month-long RV trip. A huge job. I’ve enjoyed being back with you!

 

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Posted in #weekendcoffeeshare, weekendcoffeeshare

Gretta’s Dream

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My name is Gretta. I don’t like to sleep. I dread going to sleep every night. You see, I have this dream. The same dream every night with minor variations. I remember my dream because it happens right before I wake up in the mornings. Each morning. Every morning. The dream isn’t bad. I should say it wasn’t bad in the past, but it was  a little disconcerting. Now, it’s bad. I still have the same dream even though, now, there is no reason I should have it. It makes me feel like I’ve been hypnotized.

Yes, I know this sounds confusing. I guess I should try to explain except I’m not sure I can. I think I probably was hypnotized, although that isn’t the right word. Brainwashed. That’s the right word. So I have this dream and it seems real. Sometimes for as much as ten or fifteen minutes after I wake up. I have dreams, just like everyone else, that I never remember afterwards. This dream is different.

I’m trying to delay telling you about the dream. I don’t like to talk about it. I’ve never told anyone about it except the other person who is in the dream, but he’s gone now. I think if I talk about it, maybe it will go away. Here goes.

Some background. There was a man in my life for awhile. That ended and it ended badly. Very badly for me compliments of him. But that’s another story. That man is in my dream. I had this dream while we were seeing each other and it has continued since. Probably because I was brainwashed.

It’s a simple dream. I dream that this man is lying beside me. We’re holding hands. His hand feels so real to me that I’m convinced he’s really there. It’s like living in an alternate reality. Then, I wake up. I still feel his hand grasping mine. I continue to lie there, sometimes for ten or fifteen minutes, actually wondering why I feel his hand in mine. I know it isn’t real, but why does it feel so real even when I am wide awake.

I get out of bed. For a time afterward, it haunts me. Not so much the dream, but the feeling. Why do I keep having the dream and more importantly, why do I keep having the feeling of his hand grasping mine?

Do you see why I don’t like to sleep?

Any feelings associated with the dream have long since gone. They are dead, buried by the ashes of my relationship with the man in the dream. I don’t even like the feeling of his hand grasping mine any more. He showed himself to be a mentally ill psychopath. Even at that, it took some time for me to get over my own feelings for this man. Once I found out what he had done, it was a relatively quick process. Within a few months, I was over the relationship or as over a relationship as you can ever get when someone sets out to systematically gain your love and trust and then, on purpose, figures out and acts on a plan to crush you.

Why did he do this rather than just tell me the relationship wasn’t working for him? You’d have to ask him. I suspose because he is, indeed, a psychopath.

I’m left with this dream that wants to pass for reality. Every day, I tell myself it is not reality and will never be reality again because I will never allow that to happen. The dream does not go away. Can a situation, a relationship, damage your subconscious to the point where you can’t shake it from your subconscious?

I guess I need help with this. You don’t get over brainwashing easily. I would do just about anything if I could wake up just one morning without having had this damn dream. I would love to like to sleep again. Peacefully.

 

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Posted in Fiction

#23: Adventures in RV Travel – February 16, 2017

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The End of the Road

Hello everyone! Tonight, I’m writing you from our home in Kentucky. It’s exciting that now we have two homes, one in Kentucky and one in South Florida! I do love both places. The pictures above are of each place — Kentucky on the left, then South Florida. Both beautiful places to live for very different reasons.

Our RV trip to South Florida, then to the Florida panhandle, couldn’t have been more wonderful! In South Florida, we got to have a wonderful, month’s long, vacation. But, even more important than that, we got to buy a small place of our own on an island that we’ve loved for almost ten years. We love the island, the people, the environment  there. It’s a true “Jimmy Buffett” lifestyle. I feel like I’m living in Margaritaville when I’m there!

Then we got to visit the Florida panhandle for the first time. The panhandle may have the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen this side of the Caribbean. Nothing can top the beaches of the Bahamas and the Virgin Islands, but the Florida Panhandle comes close. Of course, our viist to the Panhandle was largely to see our friends, Marty and Phil, and we enjoyed that so much.

We did have one mechanical problem with the RV. For me, RV’s are like boats! It’s always something. Some small problem and there was one trip, one time (to New England in the RV) when there were several BIG mechanical problems. This time, for those of you who are RVer’s, it was the donut gaskets and my traveling companion replaced them within a couple of hours.

One WARNING to all of you RVer’s. Before you schedule a stay at a RV park, ask them if they allow you to make small on-site repairs if need be. The RV park at Carrabelle Beach on the Florida panhandle did not allow such small repairs. The RV park at Pine Island on the Florida peninsula did. It makes a world of difference if you have a problem. We had to find a parking lot as we left the panhandle and an owner who would let us stay for a while in order to make our repairs.

It was sort of a long, hard trip home. We spent a lot of time on two-lane roads, leaving the Panhandle and getting back to the Interstate where we needed to be. A good bit of that time was at night. There are very few services, these days, on two-lane roads since most services are found around the interstate highway system. We had to drive long distances to find places to stay. We were grateful when we had made our way to the interstate. Since we started our trip home late one night, we spent that night on the road and then another night, fairly close to home. We got home in the middle of the day today.

All of you RVer’s know what it’s like to unload an RV after a month long trip! It is not for the faint of heart! We have not nearly finished but we have stopped for the night. I’m going to have to get accustomed to the cold again before I can be out at night in what passes for a Kentucky winter this year. It’s 38 degrees here tonight.

I will look back on this RV trip as a huge highlight in my life! Part of the fun has been writing these blog posts almost every night for all of you. I’ve enjoyed knowing you experienced it with me. We will be traveling more and I will always include you in my travels!

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Posted in Blog Series
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