Posts Tagged ‘Janet Mason Tea Leaves’

Yesterday, my partner and I visited a nearby agricultural high school where for the past four years we’ve struck up a friendship with the cows — one in particular. The cow in the photograph (the black and white one with her back to us) is done being milked and is now being fattened up for slaughter, since dairy cows are paid for by the pound.

All dairy cows are eventually sent to slaughter when they are done being milked (for usually three to five years). With this particular cow, we could tell that her personality changed. She was no longer happy to see us. She did not rise from the ground — she was so large and sluggish that we couldn’t tell if it was possible for her to stand.

The only acknowledgement we had of our visit was a slight shift of her ears when my partner sang a very sweet song for her. We have been negotiating for the release of this particular cow (to have her sent to a cow sanctuary) but our plan may not work.

My partner and I left the farm with very heavy hearts.

From a Buddhist perspective the fact that the consumption of sluggish animal leads to so many health problems for humans makes sense.

Remember, we are all one.

Read Full Post »

About four years or so, before I became a vegan, my partner and I were thinking of becoming vegans out of compassion for the animals. We were visiting the cows at a local agricultural high school and learned the cows are sent to slaughter after they are done being milked.

Shortly after that I was hospitalized for emergency surgery and subsequently acquired an infection that nearly killed me. I was not in the hospital long but quickly became disillusioned with the entire medical system.

The medical system does have its place (broken bones come to mind) but that is how I felt at the time. That fall (a few months later) on the advice of a local acupuncturist I started going to, I went to a healthy plant based diet.

A year and a half after being totally vegan, I went to the doctor for a routine checkup. (My partner insisted that I go.) Because I don’t weigh myself at home, I found out that I had lost sixty pounds. The doctor told me that a lot of her patients lose weight by going to a plant-based diet. In my case, it was necessary to lose weight to be healthy. But many people who are already thin go to a healthy plant-based diet for health reasons. There are also ways to gain weight on a plant based diet for those who may need to bulk up — as is the case for some weightlifters.

I know from exercising and being a writer that engaging in a daily practice is how things get done and how change happens. It is the same thing when going to a healthy plant-based diet. It took a few months of transition but I got there. I was shocked at the transformation and how I could actually feel the absence of animal suffering in my body.

One of the ways that I stay on course is by watching episodes of the Exam Room Podcast (which is associated with the Physicians Committee for Social Responsibility). I feel lucky to have stumbled across it — just like I feel fortunate to have embarked on a path of being plant-based. The YouTube video below is from the Exam Room Podcast.

Since going plant-based, I have a lot of energy. One way that I use that energy is, of course, in my writing!

To learn more about my recently published novel — The Unicorn, The Mystery, click here:

The Unicorn, The Mystery now available from Adelaide Books — #amreading #FaithfullyLGBT

Read Full Post »

Today, like most Sunday mornings, I attended the now digital services of the Unitarian Universalists of Mt. Airy (until recently it was the Unitarian Universalist Church of Mt. Airy). Today the service was given by two long-term members on the subject of convenent. It was a good service, and I learned a lot about being in community. I have been a card-carrying member of the Unitarians for more than five years, but I do feel like I am still in the learning phase. This is possibly because this is how I approach life. It is also probably related to the fact that I was raised secular. I have a hard time summing up my complex relationship to religion in a few words, but I do know that the religion that I found – combined with my other spiritual practices of doing qigong and Buddhist meditation — makes me a better person. It also makes me more inquisitive.

I am heavily influenced by the gnostic gospels The Gnostic Gospels can help people think in new ways, critical for this time. Consider that “gnosis” is the common Greek noun for “knowledge.” Perhaps, the reason the Gnostic Gospels are scorned is in the name: Gnostic (“knowing”). Apparently, it is heretical to know your own truth.

The Gnostic Gospels were discovered in Nag Hammadi, Egypt in 1945. There are some conflicting theories about when they were first written, but some historians say that they were written before the New Testament was written. The Gnostic Gospels were known throughout history – particularly in the Middle Ages – but were always banned by the Church.

Lately, I’ve been thinking of the Gospel of Mary written by Mary of Magdala and found in fragments.

I’ve decided to post a short excerpt from my novel THEY, a biblical tale of secret genders(Adelaide Books)that were inspired by the The Gospel of Mary.

Mary looked dejected. Thomas wanted to cheer her up.

“It does not matter,” Thomas said. “You and I are Yeshua’s favorites. We’re the only one he trusts, really. He told me himself that there is no way to know that the apostles won’t abandon him in a crisis.”

“That’s true,” replied Mary. “Besides, we’ll be travelling with Yeshua when he performs his miracles. There’s nothing that Peter can say that will change that.” Mary nodded and then spoke: “Peter treats me like an adversary. But I am trying not to respond with anger. For one thing it would tarnish the feeling that I hold for Yeshua. I do feel that he can truly save us. Also, I know that the angry person’s wisdom is the seventh power of wrath.”

“What are the first six powers?” asked Thomas.

“The first form is darkness; the second, desire; the third, ignorance; the fourth, death wish; the fifth, fleshly kingdom, the sixth, foolish fleshly wisdom; and the seventh, as I told you, the angry person’s wisdom.”

Mary picked up her basket and glanced back toward the Temple. “I should go before the meeting is over and the men come out.”

Thomas looked at Mary with respect bordering on awe. Mary was wise, to be sure. She had much to offer.

To learn more about my novel THEY, a biblical tale of secret genders (published by Adelaide Books New York/Lisbon), click here.

Read Full Post »

Thanks to Author’s Lounge/ ReadersMagnet for requesting and posting this article.

It seems like I’ve been writing all of my life – since I was writing stories and poems since I was a child. But I’ve been writing seriously – several hours a day – since I was twenty-nine. Gertrude Stein also started writing seriously when she was twenty-nine. Gertrude Stein is the American expatriate writer who moved to France with her partner Alice B. Toklas in 1903, the country where they lived for the rest of their lives.

Gertrude Stein is especially known for her literary and artistic salon that she had in Paris in the 1920s.

She is also known as “The Mother of Us All” – the name of an opera that she wrote with Virgil Thomson in 1945.

I mention Gertrude Stein because writing is a continuum. A writing teacher that I once had described writers as standing on the shoulders of the authors who came before them.

As a writing teacher, I always have my students mention their favorite authors when introducing themselves to the class. This tells us something about each student and we learn about new writers. To be a writer, you must be a reader. Books must mean something to you. Often, they mean a great deal to you.

I often say that if you are looking for a book to read and you can’t find it, then you must write it.  Write the books that are nonexistent. Write about what is nonexistent in literature. This is a good marketing strategy too. Chances are that you aren’t the only person looking to read the book that you are going to write.

Aside from being a reader, the other quality that it helps to have is perseverance. Don’t let anyone tell you that there’s no point in writing your story. This is as futile as it is defeatist. If you decide that it’s over before you get started, then it is over. Don’t give away your power.

To me, writing is as necessary as breathing. Awards (I’ve won a few) and being published are nice. But when you take yourself seriously, you’re going to spend far more time with the writing (in solitude – creating your own worlds) than you spend with the elation of being honored. In other words, you must love the work more than you love being loved.

In 2012, my book Tea Leaves, a memoir of mothers and daughters was published by Bella Books. It was chosen by the American Library Association for its 2013 Over the Rainbow List.

 My novel THEY, a biblical tale of secret genders was published by Adelaide Books in 2018. Adelaide Books also published my most recent novel The Unicorn, The Mystery in 2020. I was inspired to write The Unicorn, The Mystery from what is commonly called “the unicorn room” which is a room with seven tapestries hanging on the walls that depict what is still called “an unsolved mystery.” “The unicorn room” is part of The Cloisters – a building and a collection that is reconstructed from a monastery from the Middle Ages in The South of France. The Cloisters, located in the northernmost tip of Manhattan, is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Unicorn, The Mystery is a fictional telling of what happened to the unicorn. Following is more information on my novel which is available where books are available online including Amazon. It is also available through your local independent bookstore and through the local branches of your public library.

Taking inspiration from the 16th-century European tapestries known as “The Hunt of the Unicorn,” on display at the Met Cloisters, lesbian writer Janet Mason has crafted the novel The Unicorn, The Mystery (Adelaide Books), told from the viewpoints of a monk and, of course, a unicorn. –- The Bay Area Reporter, Gregg Shapiro

Like a beautiful tapestry, the novel weaves together theological debate and unforgettable characters, including queer nuns and their secret cat companion. Mason blends myth and history to conjure up a spellbinding vision.  –Kittredge Cherry, Publisher, Qspirit.net  

In The Unicorn, The Mystery, a novel for adults, we meet a unicorn who tells us the story of the seven tapestries, called “The Hunt of the Unicorn” from the 1500s on display in “the unicorn room” in the Cloisters, now part of Manhattan’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. The tapestries tell the story of what is still called an “unsolved mystery.”  

The story is set in an abbey in France not far from the barn in the countryside where the tapestries were discovered. Pursued by a band of hunters, the unicorn is led along by observing birds, smelling and eating the abbey flowers and fruits (including imbibing in fermented pomegranates), pursuing chaste maidens (there is one in the tapestry) and at times speaks to other animals such as the majestic stag. 

Janet Mason is a teacher of creative writing at such places as Temple University Center City (in Philadelphia) and a Unitarian Universalist lay minister as well as being an author.

To read the piece in its entirety, click here:

The Unicorn, The Mystery by Janet Mason (readersmagnet.club)

Read Full Post »

For about the last five years, my partner and I have been going to visit the cows at a nearby agricultural high school that runs a dairy farm. In particular, we have gotten attached to a cow who my partner has named Sacred.

Here is very short video of her:

Because of our connection to the cows and Sacred in particular we know what happens to dairy cows (they are slaughtered when the farmers are done taking their milk). So Sacred and the other cows are a big part of why we became and remain vegan. We also went to a healthy plant-based diet and for health reasons and are part of that global movement. And since becoming vegans, we have educated ourselves about what the eating of meat (think about the rain forests that have been cut down for the raising of cattle and think about methane gas created by cows and bulls and its connection to climate change).

This morning at my Unitarian Church (UU of Mt. Airy in Philadelphia), I listened to a service on the rise of nationalism. Later, during my yoga practice, I came to the awareness that there is a connection between nationalism and climate change. Country over planet? How is it possible? We are all connected and we all need each other to survive.

I had been thinking that the fourth of July holiday is a very hard time to be a vegan and a Buddhist. And it is. It’s easy to rush to anger and judgment — but it’s not healthy or useful.

This morning I found myself being very sad about Sacred and about all the animals that are raised to be “food.”

So I prayed for all the animals. In particular, I prayed for Sacred and put protection around her.

Then I prayed for the meat eaters. It’s hard to see them ingest the suffering of animals and then suffer themselves. I prayed for them to wake up.

Then I prayed for the earth and all of her inhabitants including trees and flowers.

I pray for you and I pray for me.

To learn more about my recently published novel — The Unicorn, The Mystery, click here:

The Unicorn, The Mystery now available from Adelaide Books — #amreading #FaithfullyLGBT

Read Full Post »

This year, there are more Pride flags than American flags on our bock. (I counted.). I was amazed. When we first moved in — about 25 years ago — it was mostly American flags. And we were met by children telling us to go away.  A few years later, rocks were hurled at our front window by an angry young man who eventually moved away. 

This year, when I turned to my partner with amazement and reported my findings, she replied in a rather loud voice that they (the American flag wavers) could SUCK ON THAT!

Well, I thought, she did retire from the postal system. Then I thought we can’t all be Buddhists. Then I had a good laugh.

How wonderful that things have changed and how wonderful to see the change.  I credit our healthy plant-based diet!

Happy Pride!

To learn more about my recently published novel — The Unicorn, The Mystery, click here:

The Unicorn, The Mystery now available from Adelaide Books — #amreading #FaithfullyLGBT

Read Full Post »

This morning, I participated in a service on difference during a month of storytelling at  Unitarian Universalists of Mt. Airy in Philadelphia. I reflected on story and led the following writing exercise. You can watch the reflection on You Tube (below) or read the text below. I hope it inspires you.

A story about difference

All my life, I have struggled with being different. Finally, in my sixth decade, I’ve made peace with the fact that I am different – that I am uniquely myself with the corresponding thought that it is good not to “fit in” anywhere.

For a long time, the only places I’ve felt comfortable are those that embrace diversity. Perhaps the reason why is that places where everyone is the same take me back to my childhood when I was bullied for being different or “other.” This was an intense experience, but the end result was that it did make me identify with others who are seen as different.

Decades ago, I found myself mistakenly in a gathering of lesbians who all worked for large corporations. They were talking about having to be closeted which at that time was the only way they could survive in a corporate environment. Rightly or wrongly, I felt that the entire thing – working for corporate America and being in the closet – was, in a word, “weird.”

So, my feelings of being different haven’t always related to being Queer, but that has usually factored into it. When I came out and found my tribe, I found myself among a group of lesbians in a woman’s book-store – many of whom all dressed the same in various types of jeans and tailored shirts usually with the collars turned up. Well, it was the eighties, and we had a uniform. So, I distinguished myself with a pair of trademark red high-top sneakers and dangly earrings.

I’ve been different in different ways over the years. I’ve been a lesbian-feminist (before the word Queer came along – even though I was always queer with a lower-case “q”). About six years ago, I found my way to this Unitarian Universalist congregation which is diverse enough to make me feel comfortable. Being a Unitarian Universalist for me means embracing more than one faith tradition and since this is different than most religions, I’ve often had to explain how this works.

More recently, for the past year and a half, I’ve belonged to the worldwide movement of going to a healthy plant-based diet. Of course, there is some overlap between my identities, such as the existence of the UU Animal Ministry. And I admit that I am happy when I find another LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) vegan!

You might say that I’ve worn lots of hats over the years. And the members of my tribe now? Well, I’d have to say that the people I’m most comfortable with are those who are most comfortable with difference – including their own!

We are all, in our own way, different.


To learn more about my recently published novel — The Unicorn, The Mystery, click here:

The Unicorn, The Mystery now available from Adelaide Books — #amreading #FaithfullyLGBT

Read Full Post »

I was delighted to learn that aaduna, an online adventure with words and images just published “Surveillance” an excerpt from my memoir The Lens of Eternity: Love from Two Pandemics that I wrote last year. Here is the piece and below that is a link to aaduna.


(-non-fiction excerpt from The Lens of Eternity: Love from Two Pandemics )

It is hard to find the strength to put one foot in front of the other and keep on marching through life. A good friend of mine calls it “soldiering on”— as in “we have to keep soldiering on” when someone dies. Life inevitably involves suffering and suffering is hard. It is to be endured.

            I imagined that keeping an open secret (such as the photographer Berenice and her partner, the writer, Elizabeth did by pretending they were not living together) must have been hard. It involved suffering and endurance. I imagined it also involved amusement in thinking that some (perhaps, many) people were so naive that they believed that two women who were linked together in their creative and personal lives, who hung out with other lesbians, progressive people, and bohemians, who looked and behaved like lesbians (in that they were their own people and did their best not to defer to men) just happened to live in adjacent studios and were not lovers.

            The photographer, Berenice Abbott was perhaps best known for her poignant photographs of New York City in the 1930s. Her long-time partner, Elizabeth McCausland was an art critic, the author of many books and someone who did not receive the credit she deserved during or after her lifetime.

            I imagined the open secret also involved some amusement in thinking that some, (perhaps, many) people were so naive that they believed that two women who were linked together in their creative and personal lives, who hung out with other lesbians, progressive people, and bohemians, who looked and behaved like lesbians (in that they were their own people and did their best not to defer to men) just happened to live in adjacent studios and were not lovers.

            When I came out as a lesbian in the 1980s, I was twenty-three. After a period of inner tumultuousness caused by no small part in knowing that by coming out, I would be stepping over a line in a society that, at that time, would deem me an outcast, I came out to myself, my parents (who resisted at first but ultimately accepted me), and an often-hostile world in which I had to find my rebellious tribe.  As coming out experiences go, mine was a fortunate story.  Many people, at that time, lost everything – including their families (often their children as well as their parents).

            I worked then in an office in a small town outside of Philadelphia.  The town was called Hatboro and seemed many more miles away (culturally) from the City than it was. It was known as a conservative place even up until several years ago when a trans woman I met at a gathering told me that she and her spouse had made an LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer) community center on the main drag in town. It just happened that she had my novel THEY, a biblical tale of secret genders (Adelaide Books – 2018) in the library. In the early 1980s when I worked in the area and had recently come out as a lesbian, I remember being astonished that more than a few people in the office assumed I was heterosexual. It was, in fact, laughable.

            In the mid-1940s when Berenice and Elizabeth were together when they were in their forties, things were radically different. This was especially true for LGBT movement or “homosexuals” in the parlance of the day. LGBT people were expected to be secretive and closeted or worse, to kill themselves and simply go away. Women were expected to marry men or to want to marry them. Sexism was rampant and lesbians, after all, were women. The mid-1940s was before the civil rights movement and things were drastically different for black people and other people of color, too.

            In 2020, human rights – at least legislatively and with U.S. Supreme Court appointees becoming more conservative — had started to move backwards. As Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the Bolshevik Party that was formed in Russia in 1903, said, “It is necessary sometimes to take one step backward to take two steps forward.”  I hoped human rights were not going to go back to what they were in the mid-1940s. They probably weren’t. But if it came to pass that things returned to what they were, then there was another thing I could learn from the life of Berenice Abbott. Most things — including surveillance and the threat of prosecution — are temporary.

            In the 1940s, Berenice did many things. She was taking on freelance assignments, teaching, and she had become an inventor with her ill-fated economically but interesting company which she called the “House of Photography” that she operated out of her studio apartment. 

            She made inventions that were intended to help the serious photographer such as an extremely large camera called Abbott’s Projection-Supersite camera that produced sixteen by twenty-inch contact prints, resulting in deeper tonality and overall crispness. Her detailed notebooks also revealed ideas and sketches for non-photographic purposes, such as a metal detector (unusual at the time) for protection against assassins.

            Berenice also published a few books including one of the first “how-to” books about photography that was published in 1941. It was titled A Guide to Better Photography. It was written by Berenice and contained photographs by other photographers including Lewis Hine. For a time, Berenice had championed his important documentary photography, some of which was used to change child labor laws in the United States. Also included in Berenice’s book was her long-time friend the Austrian American photographer Lisette Model, known for capturing humanity in her street photography. Berenice also included the work of her colleague Margaret Bourke-White who was known for her documentary and industrial photographs. As Hank O’Neal noted in Berenice Abbott American Photographer (published in 1982 by McGraw Hill) these photographers were not widely known at that time although they proved to be historically significant later.

            In 1944, Berenice published her second how-to photography book, The View Camera Made Simple, which covers large-format cameras. In 1948, her photographs were published in a book titled Greenwich Village Today and Yesterday. The book chronicled the neighborhood she called home for more than three decades. It also featured many of the other artists who lived there. The book with her photographs of Greenwich Village was never that well known, but toward the end of her life, in text that she read and approved in Berenice Abbott American Photographer, (published when Abbott was eighty-four) Hank O’Neal wrote, “The seventy-two illustrations include obviously commercial work and some of the finest photographs that Abbott had ever done.”

            In the mid-1940s, Berenice worked full-time for the magazine, Science Illustrated. The position seemed promising at the beginning. But after it was sold to a major publishing house and revamped, her job became part-time and subsequently uninteresting to Berenice. She resigned.

            Of her many activities – freelancing, teaching, inventing, publishing – that she pursued in the 1940s, Hank O’Neal wrote that, “It was in books, however, that she made her greatest contribution in the 1940s.”

            Around this same time when President Harry Truman announced the start of the Cold War in 1947, Berenice was uncharacteristically nervous all day. She may have been justifiably concerned about what might happen to her and Elizabeth.

            For years, they concealed their personal lives because they feared that someone may be watching. As it turned out someone was watching — the U.S. government.

            Of course, there were other reasons than them being lesbians that caught the FBI’s attention. Both Berenice and Elizabeth had long championed progressive causes, such as civil rights for African Americans.

Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan (before “renovation”) Photograph by Berenice Abbott

            In the early 1930s, Berenice had taken portraits of A’Leila Walker, well known for her Harlem literary salon The Dark Tower held in the 1920s. (The salon hosted emerging Harlem Renaissance writers, musicians, and artists.  A’Leila, the daughter of Madam C.J. Walker who is considered the first self-made female millionaire and one of the first African American millionaires, established her home as a meeting mecca and performance venue for creative artists.). Berenice had also photographed the jazz drummer Buddy Gilmore who gave lessons to the prince of Wales, and singer Taylor Gordon, an African American Harlem Renaissance singer who wrote about his upbringing in Sulphur Springs, Montana in his book Born to Be

            The portraits were used, with courtesy of Berenice, in the 1934 anthology titled Negro edited by Nancy Cunard who went on to become a communist. Cunard, born into a British family, lived in Paris in the 1920s (where she and Berenice most likely met), had a background in literature and ran Hours Press in the late 1920s, publishing such literary giants as Samuel Beckett and Ezra Pound. Cunard spent her life fighting racism and fascism.

            The Negro anthology — which published such important Black writers as Alain Locke (known for his role in starting the Harlem Renaissance), W.E. Burghardt DuBois, and Zora Neale Hurston (a widely-known author associated with the Harlem Renaissance) — was published by what looks like Nancy Cunard’s own publishing house in London.

            Because it was an election year, I was intrigued by the article in the anthology that James W. Ford wrote in 1932 about Frederick Douglass. Douglass, who was born in 1818, was a former slave who went on to become a social reformer, writer, orator, and abolitionist.

            In 1872, Douglass was chosen to run as a Vice President on the ticket of the Equal Rights party. The Presidential nominee of the party was Victoria Woodhall, a leader in the suffrage movement. Ford wrote that “The convention took place at a time when the Republican Party was already beginning its betrayal of the Negro masses.”

            In his article in the Negro anthology, Ford wrote that “capitalist historians” silenced the fact that Douglass was the nation’s first African American vice presidential or presidential candidate nominated by any party. He also wrote that the Equal Rights party was a collaboration of women for women’s suffrage, workers, and Black people — and that “historians” of the “capitalist class” feared such coalitions.

            Elizabeth McCausland, too, had a background supporting radical causes. Since the 1920s, she had defended Sacco and Vanzetti, two Italian immigrants and self-identified anarchists who were wrongly accused of murder and executed in 1927 by the state of Massachusetts. It didn’t matter that it was widely held that anti-Italian immigrant and anti-anarchist attitudes were at play. It didn’t matter that intellectuals around the world had come to the men’s defense or that investigations into their defense lasted well into the 1940s. In the 1950s, Elizabeth’s support of the two men was all that the FBI needed.

            In 2020, I thought of racial equality and pro-immigrant sentiment almost as mainstream values. But were they? They were mainstream — in my world. I happened to be a blue person in a red state that I hoped would become blue again. In late summer of 2020, I watched the Democratic National Convention with Joe Biden, as the presidential nominee, and Kamala Harris (the first African American female vice-presidential nominee of a major party).

            The convention, which was done remotely for the first time because of the pandemic, restored hope in me. Because it was done remotely, the viewers got to see areas of the country that the delegates lived in. People were all races, all ethnicities, all genders, and sexual orientations. To me, the DNC represented the diverse America that I felt comfortable in.

            I had a liberal bent all my life. Things were bad before the pandemic, but afterwards they seem to have gotten worse. Even the wearing of masks had become politicized. Bleached blond women who were supporters of forty-five were frequently on the news for spitting on someone in a supermarket or another store because the person who they spit on had the audacity to ask them to wear a mask. 

            Wearing the mask did not protect the mask wearer. It protected the people around you. Wearing the mask stopped the novel Corona Virus from spreading — in the case that you were sick and had symptoms or if you were infected and had no symptoms. The virus could still be spread by people with no symptoms. So, wearing the mask was an act of empathy. It meant that you cared about the health and well-being of others. It also showed that you believed that the germ existed — that you believed in science. Apparently, empathy had a political party. It was sad that it had come to this.

            Hate crimes were on the rise. I knew there were good cops, who did their jobs and protected people, but it seemed like more police were allied with the right wing. The Klan had come back in the form of younger people who called themselves members of the “alt-right.” But there wasn’t anything alternative about it — attitudes were the same.

            For this reason, I decided that I wouldn’t watch the Republican National Convention. I used to watch it, but it wasn’t the same anymore. It used to seem like it represented a part of America that I respected — even if it didn’t represent my values.  

            With the election of forty-five, it seemed to me that the RNC began to represent the worst of America — meaning people’s fears of what would happen if the country didn’t return to straight white male rule. It was the kind of fear that could lead to violence and fascism.

            The RNC probably would have made me ill. I decided that I wasn’t going to risk my health by watching it. 

            In my way of thinking, hatred of others always involves hatred of the self. So, it was hard not to judge but I tried not to. I also tried not to return their hate. I wished everyone true happiness. I wished them so much love for themselves that they would find themselves unable to hate others.

So, there were other reasons for the FBI to put Berenice and Elizabeth on their list of potential communists but once it found out they were lesbians and carrying on a “homosexual affair” with each other, it seemed to have sealed the deal. The FBI report noted that Berenice “wears slacks constantly.”

            When Berenice was away on assignment, an FBI agent came to Berenice’s and Elizabeth’s home on Commerce Street in the Village and interrogated Elizabeth. She told the (white male) agent that she was just a woman with no knowledge of communism. I imagined Elizabeth sitting at the kitchen table or maybe on the couch in her living room and telling the agent this. She was short and squat with cropped hair. She was described as “mannish” but was what I would have described as “butch” — right down to the fact that she was a good cook.

            Elizabeth must have been terrified and she must have felt very alone, but she knew how to play to this guy’s sympathy and sexism. He was obviously oblivious, and I could imagine that she found that sad but also slightly amusing.


To read the entire piece in aaduna, click here:


To read another excerpt fromThe Lens of Eternity: Love From Two Pandemics click on the following:

To learn more about my recently published novel — The Unicorn, The Mystery, click here:

The Unicorn, The Mystery now available from Adelaide Books — #amreading #FaithfullyLGBT

Read Full Post »

aaduna, the literary and arts magazine, (an online adventure with words and images) has been having technical difficulties so the Spring Issue (which includes my creative nonfiction piece “Surveillance” — excerpted from the memoir I wrote last year) will be posted on aadunanotes May 20th. Check this space for more information.

Meanwhile, I was interested to learn through aadunanotes about the artist Ellen M. Blalock who is especially interested in the use of different artistic mediums in story telling, particularly in the African American community in the United States.

I’m looking forward to attending her talk through the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, New York. The talk, “Conversation Through Creation,” May 13th, 6 p.m., is on Zoom and free and open to the public.

You can read more about her and register for the event by going to aadunanotes:

The Blalock…past. The Blalock…present. (aadunanotes.blogspot.com)

From aadunanotes:

“From January 15 to March 15, 1993, bill berry during his tenure as executive assistant to the college president, served as chair of the Rockland Community College (SUNY) African American History Month Committee. In that role, he developed and brought to life, “There is A World Through Our Eyes: Perceptions and Visions of the African American Photographer.” Curated by photographer, Collette V. Fournier, the exhibition was mounted throughout Rockland County using exhibition space at the Rotunda of the college, Rockland Center for the Arts, Arts Alliance of Haverstraw, Arts Council of Rockland, and the Blue Hill Cultural Center.  Featuring 23 African American photographers, 5 Black lithographers and one sculptor, a native of Hungary, this show helped transform the overall cultural landscape of that county is terms of the diversity of creatives who were eventually given exhibition space. One of those “There is A World” photographers was Ellen M. Blalock.”

To learn more about my recently published novel — The Unicorn, The Mystery, click here:

The Unicorn, The Mystery now available from Adelaide Books — #amreading #FaithfullyLGBT

Read Full Post »

Spring is here! I heard somewhere that the flowers are happy when we look at them.
Yesterday I took a walk, and was admiring this flower.

To learn more about my recently published novel — The Unicorn, The Mystery, click here:

The Unicorn, The Mystery now available from Adelaide Books — #amreading #FaithfullyLGBT

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »