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Donald, the cock of the walk: inside a twisted mind

Bashing Donald Trump is a popular pastime among the writers I know, especially the poets. Wondering what I could add to the flurry of fiery condemnations, I decided to try writing from the point of view of The Donald himself. As the author of mysteries and suspense novels, I love getting into the heads of my villains, including vampires and serial killers. But who knows what lurks deep in Donald’s twisted mind? What in his gene pool or his family history has made him the scary monster he is today? I have absolutely no idea, but here’s one possible take on the subject.

Donald the Bantam Rooster speaks his mind

It’s the Year of the Rooster—chinese-year-of-the-rooster

Melania just told me.

The Chinese New Year fell on January 28,

Just eight days after my coronation.

What’s that you say? Inauguration?

Big deal—what’s the difference?

Either way, I’m finally Emperor.

I’m cock of the walk—

I’ve got a lot to crow about.

This can’t be mere coincidence.

New Year, New America—

See, even the Chinese are bowing down to worship me.

They named the New Year after my sign.

Me, the Sun God. I like the sound of that.louis_xiv_of_france-by-rigaud

What’s that you say? Louis XIV used it first?

Wasn’t he the guy who built all those palaces

And filled them with gilded furniture?

I learned about him from Ivana

When we were furnishing Trump Tower

And Mar a Lago. Hey, that’s a good comparison,

Me and Louis, but my buildings are much bigger.

Besides, wasn’t he a scrawny little wimp?

I watched the Netflix series. Sad.

What’s that you say, Jared?

The Rooster’s not my sign? What is it then?

The Dog? You’re kidding, right?chinese-zodiac-dog-year-of-the-dog

Intelligent, honest, obedient, loyal?

No way! How dare the Chinese Zodiac slander me?

Maybe we should nuke them, whaddaya think?

Go ahead, make my day. Bomb them to oblivion.

No more “Made in China” clothes.

A trade bonanza!

What’s that you say? The Fire Dog,

Because of my Birth Year, 1946?

Same as Bill Clinton? Even worse.

That filthy horn dog, screwing all those

Tasty bitches while lying Hillary looks the other way.

Compared to mine, those bitches were skanky.

Remember Monica, that pathetic porker?

A five, and the others were eights or nines at most,

While mine are always tens.

Just look at my daughter Ivanka—donald-ivanka-trump

No, don’t, on second thought.

If Jared could read my mind, he’d kill me.

What’s that you say, Jared?

I’m only kidding. Can’t you take a joke?

What’s that you say?

The Year of the Rooster is especially bad luck

For those born in the Year of the Dog?  

What utter crap! I don’t believe a word you say.

The truth is always lies.

Matter of fact, you’re fired!

I wrote this poem three hours before last Monday’s Poets Speak Loud, the monthly open mic at McGeary’s Tavern in Albany. Thanks to Mary Panza, Dan Wilcox, and Thom Job of Albany Poets, who have kept this event going over the past ten years. The deadline is always a powerful incentive, especially since I know my work will be met with applause and (when appropriate) laughter.

The poem went over well, so I read it again last night at a private party for poets and their significant others. Once again it met with hilarity. Afterwards, people told me it was refreshing to hear something about Trump that was actually more funny than terrifying. One woman told me I’d be great on television. Hmmm…is YouTube in my future? Maybe, if it will help me sell more books.

RED ALERT–a poem for the gloom-and-doom folks who think America’s never had it worse

I vowed that after the election, I’d stop writing about politics, but I’m afraid that’s a promise I’ll inevitably break. Last week I wrote this poem to read at the open mic at New World Home Cooking in Saugerties. The reading featured Therese Broderick and Alifair Skebe, both reading from their excellent new books, which I bought, since I believe authors should support other authors whenever possible. I recommend them both.

This monthly poetry event, held on third Thursdays, is organized by Leslie Gerber. He’s taking a winter’s break, but I hope the event will return soon. Meanwhile, there’s still Dan Wilcox’s Third Thursday open mic at the Social Justice Center in Albany.

Julie at Up the River launch April 2013

Reading at Poets Speak Loud at McGeary’s

If you’d like to hear me read this in person, come to Poets Speak Loud at McGeary’s next Monday night. My husband, Robb Smith, will be the feature.

The many open mics in our region provide a wonderful incentive to write new work, then come out and read it for a live audience and the instant gratification that comes from applause.

RED ALERT     

We’re on the verge of Armaggedon.

America’s on the edge ever since

Wisconsin tripped the scales to Trump in the electoral college

And plunged the country into red high-stakes alert.

Eggheads in the blue states are aghast.

Despite their computer-driven polls, their smug predictions,

They didn’t foresee this tsunami exploding

Out of the fly-over states and rustbelt cities

Of America’s heartland.

Me, I’m not surprised. I’m a Wisconsin cheesehead, after all,

McCarthy Laughing by Yale Joel

Senator Joe McCarthy (photo by Yael Joel)

Born in the state that spawned Joe McCarthy

And Jeffrey Dahmer. I remember scary grade school drills,

Sheltering beneath wooden desks with inkwells

And hinged fliptop lids, shielding our eyes

Against imagined radioactive glare

From mushroom clouds we watched in public service movies.

Fast forward to October, 1962, the Cuban missile crisis.

Fifteen days of panic. Sure we’d be blown to smithereens,

I begged my boyfriend to marry me, STAT. Day by day

We huddled by the tiny black and white TV,

Waiting for news of our annihilation. Already lovers,

We didn’t need to put a ring on it to make it real,

But marriage was the be all and end all in those cloistered years

Before the Beatles ushered in the Swinging Sixties.

Meanwhile in Flushing Meadows out in Queens,worlds-fair-1964

Robert Moses and his millionaire buddies

Were throwing up the 1964 World’s Fair atop the Corona Ash Dump

Immortalized in Fitzgerald’s Gatsby.

Crazy to plan ahead, I thought. The human race would be exterminated

Before the fair could open. And if by some miracle we survived,

I knew I’d never live past thirty.

Yet here I am at seventy-five. The human race has muddled through.

With any luck I’ll die of natural causes in a decade, two at most.

I won’t be here to witness the mass extinction

Brought on by human greed and folly.

Plagues, drought, floods, famines, and the battles that they’ll bring—

So many ways to trigger our destruction,

It boggles the mind, outstrips the imagination,

Puts the four horsemen of the Apocalypse to shame.

.

And so we meander on, blinded by our denial,four-horsemen-of-the-apocalypse

Until the media vomits up a demon.

Skin and hair of flaming orange,

Sprung from the towers of Mammon in Manhattan

To spew his venom and seduce

The denizens of the red-state heartlands into thinking

He actually gives a shit for their survival.

Everywhere I turn, everything I hear or read,

Proclaims America’s panic.

Look out! The sky is falling!

Disaster lurks at every turn inside the Beltway

Where all those monstrous politicians

Wallow in the swamp, gnashing their alligator teeth

And chomping down on liberals.

The true blue states on both our coasts

Will fall into the oceans

While the right’s red tide rolls forward,

Drowning those who dare to fight it.

But me, I’m much too old to panic.

Somehow we made it through the age of nuclear terror

And lived to tell the tale to those who care to listen.

I hope and pray our country will survive

The bloody red onslaught of the coming years,

And come out even stronger in the end.

I may wield my words in the coming struggle,

But our children and their children will have to bear

The burden of the battle.

As for me, as Phil Ochs sang before he killed himself,

I ain’t marching anymore.

phil-ochs-i-aint-marching-anymore

Onward and Upward with NaNoWriMo

Imagination Rain.epsIt’s Tuesday, November 15, 2016. November is half over, and so is NaNoWriMo. Once again it’s National Novel Writing Month, and I’ve vowed to write 50,000 words by November 30. So far, I’ve written just over 10,000, and the jazzy graph of my statistics on the NaNo website predicts that at the rate I’m going, I’ll finish on January 11, 2017. So should I give up? No way—there’s still time to salvage what’s left of this ghastly month.

“The time for hesitation’s through, no time to wallow in the mire.” So sang Jim Morrison, and though his “Light My Fire” lyrics were about lust, they apply equally well to creativity. And why not? Like the late lamented Leonard Cohen, the Lizard King was a poet before he morphed into a pop star.

jim-morrison

Jim Morrison

Like practically everyone I know, online and off, I’ve been wallowing in the mire of depression ever since last week’s election, and tiptoeing around the dismal swamp that our government and political system have become for months before that. I’ve frittered away countless hours online, tracking the latest polls, reading the left-leaning articles and opinion pieces in the Huffington Post, clicking the links that lead to still more articles that clutter up my brain with gloom and doom scenarios.

dwayne-the-rock-johnson-net-worth

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

This morning, amidst all the horrifying stories about Trump’s transition and the scary people he’s recruiting to ruin our country as we know it, I came upon some breaking news that’s actually cheerful: People magazine has named “Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as its Sexiest Man Alive. I’ve always liked “The Rock,” though huge muscle-bound men have never been my type. But probably the People editors thought we could use a little levity in these dark days, and despite his huge hulkiness, The Rock is reportedly a nice guy who doesn’t take himself too seriously, unlike certain politicians I could name. (FYI, my favorite Sexiest Man choice in recent years has been Mathew McConnaghey. I even referenced his looks in describing one of the characters in my novel Eldercide.

matthew-mcconaughey

Matthew McConaughey

In hopes of breaking free of the shackles of gloom and doom, I’m resolving to cut down radically on my news consumption, whether online, on TV or in good old-fashioned newspapers. I’m cutting back on Facebook too, since most of my FB friends are still preoccupied with the political scene. Instead, I’ll do my best to play ostrich for a while, focus on the people and pets I love, and zero in on my writing.

For this year’s NaNoWriMo, I won’t be working on a novel. Instead, I’m focusing on a new nonfiction project, a book on creativity and blasting through the blocks that inhibit it. In recent months, I’ve given some workshops on the topic. I’ve enjoyed them immensely, and so have the participants. It’s a lot more fun than reading passages from my novels in hopes people will buy them, and paradoxically, I’ve sold more books when I’m not overtly flogging them.

nanowrimo-camp-2015-poster-get-lost-writeBack in a former lifetime, when I was a creative arts therapist, I gave workshops on creativity, dream work and women’s issues at colleges and growth centers, but it’s a skill set I haven’t used in many years. Facilitating the creativity of others, I realized I’ve got a lot to say about it—hence the book project I’m plunging into now. It will be part memoir, part self-help, part exploration into past and present findings about how the brain works, and much more. I’ll probably include stories from other writers about their own adventures with the creative process. I’ll tell you more about it in my next post. Please subscribe so you won’t miss anything. I’ll talk with you soon!

I’ve got the Stupid America blues

Once again this November, I signed up for NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, with the goal of writing 50,000 words, though this year I’m working not on a novel, but on a nonfiction book about creativity and the shadow side. I got off to a good start, but in the past three days, as Paul McCartney sang in “Yesterday,” there’s a shadow hanging over me, and I’m finding it hard to focus on anything but my post-election blues and anger.

bailey-mountain-fish-game-clubOn election day, after voting at the Bailey Mountain Fish & Game Club on a gorgeously sunny fall morning, I decided to stock up for a long night of election viewing, so I headed for the Hannaford supermarket, where I bought a wedge of Brie (my favorite cheap brand, President), a big bag of Ruffles chips and a tub of Helluva Good bacon and horseradish dip (my favorite pig-out indulgence). Then I stopped by the liquor store for a bottle of Kahlua. I already had Polish potato vodka, and I thought Black Russians would be an appropriate drink for celebrating, not because of any possible Trump-Putin connection, but because I find them yummy.

Hillary & Kate McKinnon SNL

Hillary Clinton as bartender to Kate McKinnon’s “Hillary” on Saturday Night Live

david-muir

David Muir

At precisely 6:30pm Eastern Standard Time, I tuned in to ABC news to watch David Muir (my favorite news anchor—I think he’s sexy, and besides, he’s from upstate New York.) I was feeling buoyantly optimistic, sure that Hillary had the election in the bag and would lock in a win well before midnight. We all know how that went, so I won’t rehash it here. To my credit, I didn’t get drunk. I didn’t even pig out on the chips and dip—I was feeling too nauseated as I watched the states turn inexorably from white to red—but I finished them off for yesterday’s lunch, because in the bleakness of the morning after, healthy eating was the least of my concerns.

I’ve been preoccupied with the election for months, as you can see by scrolling down to my older posts, but I’d looked forward to putting all that happily in the past. No such luck—I’m still feeling down in the dumps. More than that, I’m angry, terrified, and above all, disgusted with all the Americans who enabled Trump to win, either by voting for him or, quite possibly, by sitting it out because of indifference or hatred for Hillary.

In the op ed piece the Times Union ran in June, I suggested that Hillary Clinton might be too smart for her own good. I posted it here on June 29, and rereading it just now, I’m struck by how right I was. Scroll down and read it for yourself. After this election, I’m more convinced than ever that much of this country is consumed by genuine hatred and suspicion of intelligence, and especially intelligence in women. Throughout the campaign, the media made much of Trump’s misogyny, his contempt and lack of respect for women. But the focus was on women’s physical attributes—how high they’d score on his fuckability scale. The deeper issue is the fear of women’s intelligence, the terror that they might actually crash through the glass ceiling, as symbolized by that glass roof at the Javits Center they booked for the Clinton victory celebration that never happened.

Zephyr Teachout with megaphone.jpgThe hatred of smart women came through vividly in the TV attack ads against Zephyr Teachout, a liberal Democrat who ran for congress in upstate New York. She’s a law professor at Fordham, and many of the Republican-sponsored ads trumpeted the word “Professor” as though it were the most disgusting of dirty words. Needless to say, she lost.

So yes, I’m bitter. The media attacked Hillary for her off-the-cuff “basket of deplorables” comment about Trump supporters, a comment she made when she’d been diagnosed with pneumonia but was soldiering on regardless of sickness and exhaustion. But she’s right—there are millions of deplorables in this country, and their ignorant support of Trump may well plunge the nation into years of conflict and misery.

This afternoon ABC preempted General Hospital for a live broadcast of Trump mending fences with Paul Ryan, which ratcheted up my anger even more. With Trump and the Republicans controlling the presidency and the congress, and the control they’ll be hold over Supreme Court appointments, this country is on the brink of plunging into an enormous sink hole. The Affordable Care Act will be the first to go, and millions of Americans will lose their health insurance. Next they’ll probably try to overturn Roe v. Wade, and women will lose their reproductive rights. The rich will get richer, while the poor have their safety net ripped away a bit at a time.

Ironically, it will be the very people who voted for Trump—the less educated, the unemployed, the millions who feel cut off from the American Dream—who will suffer the most. With time, I may come to feel sorry for them, but I will never, ever forgive them.

baily-mountain-deer-danger-sign

Bailey Mountain Fish & Game Club

Has my prediction come true? Is Trump truly flipping out?

Is Trump on the verge of a bipolar meltdown?

Tonight I’m feeling smug and self-satisfied because my recent prediction may be coming to pass even sooner and more spectacularly than I thought it would: Trump may be spiraling straight into mania right before our eyes. The Albany Times Union printed the following Op Ed on Monday, though I actually wrote it ten days ago. I’m using my original Word document since it will be easier to format for my blog. Just now, for the first time, I compared my version word-by-word to theirs, confirming what I already thought: they didn’t edit or change a single word. (They did change one punctuation mark; see below.)

So much has happened since I wrote this Viewpoint article that I can’t begin to recap it here. But I do want to credit the TU for the caption they ran under Trump’s photo: “Does a suitable diagnosis for Trump exist?” Offhand, I can come up with several. Stay tuned by subscribing to my blog so you won’t miss anything.

trump-rump-lukevich

I’ll never forget the full-blown episode of mania that earned me the official diagnosis of bipolar disorder. I’d been sleepless for days, and it culminated in a call to the New York Times at three in the morning. Reading about Donald Trump’s recent flurry of ill-considered tweets about the former Miss Universe brought back vivid memories, and I can’t help wondering if he’ll soon earn the same label.

My own diagnosis came when I was in my fifties. The average age of onset for bipolar disorder is around age 25, so I was a late bloomer. But research reveals that the first episode can strike at any age, and it’s more common in middle and even old age than is generally realized. According to Dr. Robert C. Young, a professor of psychiatry at Weill Medical College of Cornell University and attending physician in psychiatry at New York Presbyterian Hospital, psychiatrists even have a name for it: “Geri-BD.”

I’ve been watching Trump’s performance with growing disbelief. Like many media pundits, I labelled him with narcissistic personality disorder. My well-worn copy of the DSM-IV, the ultimate authority on mental disorders, shows that he’s literally a textbook example. But he could be bipolar as well—the two aren’t mutually exclusive.*

During manic episodes, people typically experience high energy levels. They talk more, interrupt people, make decisions in a flash and feel less need for sleep. Along with confidence and the feeling that they can do anything, there is often irritable, angry and impatient behavior. They may say and do outrageous things and take ever increasing risks.

A first manic episode can be precipitated by an unusually high level of stress. That was certainly true for me. As founder and president of a licensed home care agency in Ulster County, I was on call 24/7, constantly worried about whether we’d meet the payroll, frequently filling in for no-show aides. A shrink prescribed an antidepressant, and soon I was feeling better—miraculously better, in fact.

I grew more and more manic. The climax came when I locked myself in my office, threatening to call the police if anyone tried to get in. At about three, I called the New York Times and managed to reach a reporter working the night shift. I told him I had an urgent story about my father, who had been Managing Editor of the Milwaukee Journal during the McCarthy era and who had died 20 years before. I demanded that the Times run a front page story about him immediately. The reporter diplomatically suggested that the story didn’t sound quite right for the Times, but that I might want to call the Journal because of the local interest angle.

Eventually my husband coaxed me out of the office and got me to my shrink, who prescribed some heavy-duty sedatives to bring me down. I spent the next few days on the living room couch, watching video movies in a semi-stupor, and since then I’ve been more or less stable with carefully calibrated medication.

No one but my husband and my shrink knew how thoroughly off the wall I was, how close to a devastating crash. As my mania built, I churned out endless pages of prose on my computer, but this was before the advent of the Internet and social media. Had I been able to email and Tweet my crazy thoughts and theories to the world, I know I would have done so with uninhibited glee.

So as much as I detest Trump, I can empathize with his increasingly unhinged behavior. Time—and I’m talking days, weeks at most—will tell if I’m right. Remember, you read it here first.

trump-cartoon-danziger

*The last sentence in the fifth paragraph contains the only edit the TU made to my article—they changed the em dash to a semicolon. They kept my other dashes, though. As a writer of fiction and poetry, I rarely use semicolons; however, I suppose I could make an occasional exception.

COMING SOON: my memories of sexual assault back in my single days.

Trump: Headed for bipolar meltdown?

trump-new-yorker-cover-10_10_16-400I’m thrilled that the Times Union in Albany ran my opinion piece on Donald Trump in today’s paper. When I wrote last week that I thought he might be heading for a bipolar diagnosis, I knew I was going out on a limb, but the events of the past few days have made me more certain than ever that I may very well be right.

If you haven’t read it yet, here’s the link to the article:

http://www.timesunion.com/tuplus-opinion/article/Trump-on-the-verge-of-bipolar-9958577.php

Trump’s obsessive tweeting in the wee hours of the morning about the former Miss Universe and her weight issues was what first got me pondering a possible diagnosis of bipolar disorder, because the behavior reminded me so much of my own escalation into a first full-blown episode of mania a couple of decades ago. I won’t rehash the article here, though I’ll post it in full a couple of days from now.

I missed last graham-nash-2015night’s Trump vs. Clinton debate, because I was busy ushering for a marvelous concert by Graham Nash—of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young fame—at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. It was a far more inspiring and uplifting way to spend a couple of hours, to be sure, but once I came home and heard my husband’s descriptions of the debate, then went to the Internet and watched some clips, I learned all about the thuggish stalking behavior Trump exhibited while Hillary was speaking, behavior many have described as frighteningly offensive.

Before becoming founder and President of ElderSource, Inc., the Licensed Home Care Services Agency I described in my article, I worked for 13 years as a creative arts therapist at Hudson River Psychiatric Center in Poughkeepsie, a state mental hospital of the old-school variety that have long since been closed by supposedly well-meaning bureaucrats. There I worked on locked admissions wards as well as wards for the most seriously disturbed and often violent patients—the kinds of patients who are now more likely to be housed in prisons.

Among them were many who were diagnosed bipolar. They weren’t locked up because of their often fascinating delusions and grandiosity, but because psychiatrists had determined that they were a danger to themselves or others. In other words, they were either suicidal or violent. I’ll force myself to watch the debate in its entirety later tonight, but Trump’s body language, and especially his pacing around the confined space like a caged predator in a zoo, looming threateningly close to Clinton, suggests a psychological and physical state dangerously close to the edge. I can only hope he has his total meltdown before election day, and before his verbal  threats escalate to physical violence.

trump-cartoonThere’s much more I could say on this topic, but for now I’ll take a break to address my readers, both new and old. The Times Union published the link for this blog, so I’m hoping that will lure people who may not have visited before. If you’re a newbie, please click on the link in the column to the right and subscribe to my blog so that you’ll be notified of new posts. I promise you won’t be deluged with emails, because I post a maximum of two or three times a week.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00071]In that same column, you’ll find a list of categories. Click on Bipolar Mood Swings, and you’ll find lots of posts that touch on bipolar disorder, in both its manic and depressive aspects. And check out my novel Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders, which is inspired by my own experiences with bipolar disorder, as a professional, an advocate and a consumer.

Lastly, please leave comments and spread the news about this blog to your friends. Thanks!