Inauguration Day as a red-carpet awards show

meryl-streep-speech-golden-globes

Meryl Streep giving anti-Trump speech at Golden Globes

I’m a sucker for awards shows. I watch the Oscars, the Grammys, the Emmys, the Country Music Awards—even the Tonys, although I’m usually unfamiliar with the shows because I can’t afford the price of a Broadway ticket. The Golden Globes are my favorite, because the movie stars are seated around circular tables and have access to an open bar, which leads to some occasionally bizarre unscripted moments—along with some scripted ones, like Meryl Streep’s eloquent speech this year.

Donald J. Trump’s inauguration kept me glued to the television screen for over seven

inauguration-fashion-michelle-in-jason-wu

Michelle Obama in Jason Wu

hours yesterday—eight if you count ABC’s coverage of the inaugural balls. In many ways, the day reminded me of those awards shows, especially in the morning coverage of the political celebrities alighting at the Capitol and making their way through the marble corridors and eventually to their assigned seats for the inauguration. It was the Washington equivalent of the Hollywood red carpet, except that the famous folk didn’t stop for reporters’ questions or photo ops. There were some memorable fashion statements, though, as in the photos I’m including here.

Donald Trump, Melaina Trump

Melania Trump in Ralph Lauren

I blocked out the entire day on my calendar, even opted to skip my Friday morning Nia class at the YMCA, because I didn’t want to miss this historic transfer of power. I’ve watched memorable inaugurations in the past. In 1993, I was running a home care agency, ElderSource Inc., in New Paltz, New York. We specialized in round-the-clock live-in care, and though I was founder and president of my little business, I frequently ferried our aides to and from their assignments.

On the day of Bill Clinton’s inauguration, I had come to pick up one of our wonderful Jamaican aides from her assignment in Kingston and drive her to the Metro North station in Poughkeepsie so she could catch the train back to New York City. We had some time to spare, so along with our client, we watched part of Clinton’s inauguration. Avis and I were so moved that we embraced and cried happy tears as we watched the swearing in.

Years later, during Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, I was babysitting my younger granddaughter in Woodstock. She was far too young to understand what was happening on TV, but I remember sitting on the floor, cradling her in my arms as I watched the historic swearing-in of our first African American president.

inauguration-fashion-hillary-in-ralph-lauren

Hillary in Ralph Lauren, with Bill. She put on her public smile, but the cameras caught her earlier looking devastated and depressed.

This inauguration was different. I was a fervent Hillary supporter. I heard both her and Trump when they held rallies in Albany during the New York primaries. When she was First Lady, I’d glimpsed her through the smoked glass of a limo as she and Bill sped through New Paltz, then heard her speak at a political breakfast in Kingston. When she published her first memoir, I stood in line to get her autograph at the Book House in Albany.

Like most of my friends, I was dismayed when Trump won. Unlike most of them, I refuse to catastrophize about it, and I’m willing to cut him some slack and hope for the best. Nevertheless, I planned to spend the day watching the inauguration while drowning my sorrows in cheap Chablis from a box. Strangely enough, that never happened. I found myself caught up in the spectacle of the peaceful transition of power from one administration to the next, the gracious way the Obamas passed the trapping of power to the Trumps, the way presidents from opposing parties sat peaceably together to witness the swearing-in ceremony.

trump-tower-atrium-interior

Trump Tower atrium in early days

Until he ran for President, I confess I rather liked Donald Trump. I occasionally watched The Apprentice, then The Celebrity Apprentice. When I visited Manhattan to visit the museums and the midtown galleries in the 80’s and 90’s, I often stopped in at Trump Tower to ride the escalators up and down, ogle the waterfall and the gorgeous orangey marble walls, and browse the luxury boutiques. Then I’d sit at a table in the lobby for coffee or a cocktail, enjoying the sensation of partaking in the over-the-top opulence and luxury. Politically incorrect, perhaps, but in those days, I never associated Trump with politics. Probably, neither did he.

In a couple of hours, I plan to march in Albany in solidarity with millions of women—and men too, including my husband—throughout the country. Now, more than ever, we need to stand strong for women’s rights, along with many other human rights and environmental issues that will come under attack with the new administration. But I refuse to succumb to fear, anger or despair. Life’s too short. To paraphrase John Lennon and Yoko Ono, All I am saying, is give Trump a chance. And pray to the Higher Power of your choice.

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Trump Tower in January, 2017

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!

Donald Trump or Joe McCarthy–Who’s worse?

McCarthy Laughing by Yale Joel

Senator Joe McCarthy (photo by Yael Joel)

Growing up in Milwaukee in the 1950’s, I was acutely aware of Senator Joe McCarthy and his pernicious witch hunt for alleged communists. He wreaked enormous damage and ruined numerous lives before he was brought down, but it’s nothing compared to what Donald Trump could do—indeed, what he’s already done—to damage our country.

I was especially tuned in to McCarthy’s doings because my father, Wallace “Chink” Lomoe, was Managing Editor of the Milwaukee Journal, then a nationally respected liberal newspaper, which offered up-close investigative journalism throughout the McCarthy era.

Back then, at the height of the cold war, Communism, and Russia in particular, struck terror into the heart of Americans, and rightly so. Less than ten years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, worldwide nuclear annihilation was a genuine threat, and I never expected to live long enough to turn 21.

Trump smiling

Donald Trump

Fast forward sixty-odd years to today’s surrealistic political scene, where Donald Trump openly kisses Vladimir Putin’s ass and encourages Russia to hack into American computers to uncover classified information. He’s far crazier, far more dangerous than McCarthy ever was, and as the Republican nominee for President, he’ll soon have access to classified information.

I could ramble on and on, but plenty of media pundits are already doing that, so instead, I’ll offer up the following poem, which I wrote in 2010. At the very least, it should offer you a few minutes of diversion.

My Mother and Senator Joe

My mother stands in the kitchen,

hands busy at the red Formica countertop

with cratered moon design, assembling a tuna casserole,

one of her six recycled recipes unchanged since World War II.

Eager for tales from the trenches of the Journal newsroom,

we await my father’s coming. Once a promising reporter,

now the Managing Editor’s stay-home wife, my mother

plays out the Fifties dream of suburban bliss.

 

Daddy’s finally here. He mixes double dry martinis,

regales us with stories of his day. Senator Joe stopped by,

forgot his briefcase in my father’s corner office,

returned in panic to reclaim it. Daddy had been too ethical

to sneak a peek at those fabled lists of Communists,

or maybe he just ran out of time.

 

Later that spring, my mother and I ride the open tramway

deep in a subterranean tunnel beneath our nation’s capital,

sightseeing in sooty claustrophobic blackness

while far above us, cherry blossoms blaze in April sun

and Daddy hobnobs with his fellow editors in smoky hotel suites.

The roofless tram cars ferry politicians to and fro

shielded from public scrutiny on their appointed rounds,

like miners seeking coal.

 

The tram’s deserted now, except for Mom and me

and a smarmy thickset man with blackish bristles on his sagging jaw.

“What a pretty little girl,” he says, and smirks. My mother, ever gracious,

public smile fixed in place, exchanges pleasantries as the tram chugs onward

through the filthy darkness of the tunnel. At last we disembark

and go our separate ways. “Who was that nice man?” I ask. Her features morph

to a Medusa mask of  frightening fury.

“Don’t you ever call him a nice man again,” she snarls.

“That was Joe McCarthy.”

 

Later that night, back in our hotel room, I watch in helpless disbelief.  

She’s huddled on the carpet, head against the bed,

wracked by wrenching sobs. As in the blackened tunnel, once again

I’ve glimpsed a woman whose moods I scarcely know.

My childhood sense of safety teeters and cracks. “What’s wrong?” I ask.

She forces a teary smile. “Oh, nothing,” she says. “Don’t worry. I can’t imagine

what came over me.”

Subway Capitol system vintage

The Capitol subway in an undated vintage photo*

When I began this blog, I never intended to veer into politics, but this year I can’t seem to help it. Along with my ambitions as a writer, I seem to have inherited my parents’ political genes. As always, I’d love to hear your comments. Subscribe and stay tuned.

*I’m borrowing the McCarthy photo from the LIFE magazine collection, and the Getty credit seems appropriate. My father hired Edward K. Thompson, who later became LIFE’s Managing and then Executive Editor for many years and remained a close family friend.

*This vintage photo of the Capitol subway is much as I remember it from the early 1950’s. It still exists today in a much updated version, with three branches connecting the Capitol, house and senate buildings. Security is tight, and visitors are allowed only with close supervision.

Is Hillary too smart for her own good? Here are my thoughts, hot off the press from yesterday’s Times Union.

I wrote this piece for the Albany Times Union, and they published it yesterday!

Poor Hillary. Despite her outstanding qualifications, multiple polls show that a majority of Americans just plain don’t like her. But what’s not to like? I’ve seen and heard her multiple times, in person and on TV. In debates, she’s far more articulate and better informed than her rivals, and on the late night talk shows, she’s warm and funny. On Saturday Night Live, she was hilarious as a bartender bantering with Kate McKinnon’s “Hillary” character. Her close friends reportedly find her delightful.

Hillary & Kate McKinnon SNL

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

So why don’t people like her? They come up with lots of reasons, but I believe the answer is simple: she’s just too damn smart. We don’t hear that explanation much, because most Americans don’t like to admit someone else is more intelligent than they are, especially if that someone is a woman. And the media pundits, especially those charged with filling the gaping maw of the 24/7 news cycle on TV and online don’t dare focus on this possibility, because it would mean acknowledging that some of us simply aren’t that bright. Highlighting the issue of intelligence might alienate the millions of viewers who prefer their news parceled out in easily digestible, endlessly repeated sound bites, and ratings might go down.

KISS cat

The KISS principle—keep it simple, stupid—applies to this campaign in spades. Coined in 1960 by an engineer at Lockheed, which manufactured spy planes for the Navy, the phrase originally applied to design but was broadened to the fields of marketing and sales, where it is also phrased as “Keep it simple and straightforward.” It doesn’t necessarily mean the target audience is stupid; rather, it suggests, that as Steve Jobs said when explaining the success of Apple products, “It all comes down to this: Let’s make it simple. Really simple.”

This is the crux of Hillary’s problem: she explains too much, delves into issues with such depth that she sometimes goes over the heads of people who aren’t policy wonks, thereby coming across as cold and intimidating, like that high school teacher or college professor who never cut you any slack and never gave you an A.

In contrast, consider the macho blowhards on the right and left wings of their parties. “Build the wall!” shouts Donald. “Down with Wall Street! Break up the banks!” rants Bernie. They hammer home the same talking points over and over again, painting themselves as anti-establishment outsiders, striking a strident but rousing chord with millions of disenchanted voters.

Trump hails from Queens and holds a B.A. from Wharton; Sanders grew up in Brooklyn and has a B.A. from the University of Chicago, where he’s said he was a mediocre student. They’re tough guys from the outer boroughs of New York City, and their political styles show it. Clinton, in contrast, is a high-achieving Ivy Leaguer, who got her B.A. from Wellesley and her law degree from Yale. Those exalted Ivies confer a status that can give you entrée into the corridors of power, but that very status can work against you, as I can attest. (I attended Radcliffe, Barnard and Columbia.)

Library University Club

When I was a child, being called a “brain” was an insult. That changed when I got to college.  But out in the wide world, I learned once again to play down my intelligence. Despite the supposed advances of feminism, women who come across as too smart are often resented, even hated, especially if they’re bold and assertive. That’s a societal prejudice Hillary will have to fight hard to overcome.

Julie Lomoe is a novelist who lives in Wynantskill. 

I’m pleased to say the Times Union didn’t change a word, other than adding the candidates’ last names. I took care to stay within their 600-word limit and did a careful editing job before sending it off, so this lends support to my claim that I’m my own best editor. I’ve already received lots of positive feedback.

I’m hoping the article will inspire new readers to discover my blog. If you’re one of them, welcome! Please subscribe so you’ll receive notification of new blog posts, and please explore this site for other topics of interest—especially my three published novels, which you can purchase from Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.

I’d love to read your comments! Let’s start a dialogue about this all-important election.

Wanted: Guest Bloggers!

Calling all writers—how would you like to be a guest blogger on this site? And how would you like to host me on yours? Beginning Friday, April lst, I plan to start featuring fellow authors on a weekly basis.

woman writing sunny room Bonnard style

 

This spring I’ve vowed to ramp up my online presence so as to spread the word about my three published novels. When it comes to social media, I’ve been AWOL for far too long, and that has to change. Effective immediately, I’m reconnecting with the wonderful online authors’ networks I drifted away from, and I hope to discover some new ones as well.

What can you blog about? I’m especially interested in explorations of the creative process—what works for you, what doesn’t. As I wrote in my last post, I’m developing workshops on creative blocks and how to blast through them, so I welcome helpful hints and musings that focus on this area. Self-publishing and marketing are also of interest. You’ll be able to promote your own books, of course, but the emphasis will be on creativity and the ups and downs of the writing life.

brain creativity starry sky

Since I first published Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders a decade ago, there have been enormous advances in scientific research on how the brain works and how we can tap into that knowledge to enhance our own creativity and productivity. And the sophistication of online communication and networking has grown tremendously as well. I’ll delve into those topics in upcoming blogs, and I’d welcome your contributions on those subjects as well.

In my next two posts I’ll explore the role of habit in creativity, focusing on books by two authors whom I heard recently at the Writers Institute of the State University of New York at Albany: Charles Duhigg and Twyla Tharp. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to my blog by clicking on the link in the menu on the right. I plan to publish new posts at least three times a week, and I wouldn’t want you to miss anything!

Note to authors: If you’re interested in being a guest blogger, please get in touch by writing me at julielomoe@gmail.com. I’m also looking for someone creative and not too expensive to help with a new website, and I’d be grateful for any suggestions you may have. Please include a link to your own site as well as theirs so I can check them out!

brain-exchange profiles.jpg

 

 

Twas the Night before New Year’s

New Year's clock midnight

Wishing all my friends and readers a joyous New Year! I wrote this poem two years ago, in the nick of time to read it at the Albany Poets’ POETS SPEAK LOUD open mic at McGeary’s Irish Pub. Nothing like a deadline and the prospect of a friendly, enthusiastic audience to get the creative juices flowing. The same open mic inspired the poem about the Christmas Goat and the Taint that I featured in my previous post.

My reflections and resolutions haven’t changed much since then, so I’ve decided not to change a word. But amazingly enough, I can actually see some progress, so I’m celebrating the positive changes in footnotes.

TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE NEW YEAR’S

Twas the night before New Year’s and all through my mind

Skittered thoughts of tasks undone and goals left behind.

New Year's apple and tape measure

Those fifteen new pounds I acquired this year*

Mean a new resolution to diet, I fear.

Those favorite noshes I thought wouldn’t matter

Have gone to my hips and I’m looking much fatter.

But giving them up? No, that’s out of the question,

So don’t give me all those nutritious suggestions.

No fasting, no juicing, no broccoli or tofu,

No counting of calories – to that I say screw you!

So bring on the pizza, the cheddar and brie,

The yummy dark chocolates to build more of me!

And bring on the box wines, the reds and the whites,

To lessen the chill of these cold winter nights.

 

Still, I can lose weight if I work out a lot,

Hit the Y every morning, get rid of my pot.**

But it’s so much more pleasant to languish in bed

With my cat on my lap and my tummy well fed.

Lunesta with mouses 6-13

And my house is still messy, it only gets worse,

And probably will till they come with the hearse.

With cobwebs and closets with clothes overflowing,

And huge piles of books that I can’t resist stowing.

And everywhere paper is stacked up in hills,

Unread magazines, catalogs, unopened bills.

I solemnly vow that I’ll throw stuff away,

But what if I need it some bleak rainy day?***

clutter books and papers

Not my clutter!

I could banish the clutter if I hired a maid,

But sadly I guess she’d expect to get paid.

Still, I could afford it if I sold more books,

But marketing’s harder by far than it looks.

And I still haven’t finished my brilliant new story,

The first of a trilogy destined for glory.****

 

So many distractions, they tempt me away

From the tasks I’m determined to tackle each day,

From the far better person I know I could be

If I didn’t procrastinate, weren’t so damn lazy.

So this New Year’s, once more I resolve to do better,

Rise early each morning and be a go-getter.

Lose more weight, sell more books, become famous and rich,

So by this time next year there’ll be no need to bitch.*****

*Fortunately I didn’t gain any weight this year, but I’m still carrying those 15 extra pounds I wrote about two years ago.

**I’ve actually got an hour’s appointment with a trainer at the Y this Monday morning to work out a routine on their jazzy new machines, but that’s because the session is free. I’m not making any promises.

***I’m making some progress in clutter busting but taking it slow and steady. My major Christmas present was a beautiful new rug for the area beside the bed, and it’ll be a wonderful place to do yoga and exercise once I get the space decluttered enough to roll out the rug.

****I finally finished and published HOPE DAWNS ETERNAL, and I’m reissuing my previous two novels, but marketing is still a major stumbling block.

*****Two years later, and I’m still bitching. I’m my own harshest critic, but I’m becoming kinder and gentler on myself. 

How about you? Do you make New Year’s resolutions, or do you feel you’re better off without them? I’d love to hear from you. Wishing you and yours a new year full of health, happiness and creativity.

New Year's Eve Times Square overview

 

             

The Most Over-Hyped Time of the Year

Christmas book tree.

Only five days till Christmas, and I’m immersed in the holiday spirit. But there have been past Christmases when I was mired in depression or feeling very “bah humbug” about the holidays. I’m well aware that this season conjures up a wide range of emotions in shades from joy to despair, and that December can be a problematic time for many people, especially those living alone or with emotional, physical or financial problems. Just this morning a woman in my Nia class told me, “I hate Christmas,” and another told me she dreaded spending the holiday alone.

On my car radio, even the country station has been playing Andy Williams’s inescapable “Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”* I wrote and posted this parody two years ago, but I think it stands the test of time, so I’m sharing it once again. It went over well when I sang it acapella at Dan Wilcox’s poetry reading at the Social Justice Center last night. Feel free to print out and borrow them for your local sing-along.

Christmas shopping-frenzy checkout

IT’S THE MOST OVER-HYPED TIME OF THE YEAR

It’s the most over-hyped time of the year.

So you’d better be happy, and best make it snappy

Or people will jeer.

It’s the most over-hyped time of the year.

 

All your family will want lots of gifts.

So you’d better go shopping, and don’t dream of stopping

Or you’ll cause a rift

If you don’t spring for pricy new gifts.

 

There’ll be parties each night and if you’re not invited,

Then you can just stay home and mope.

Drink your brandy-spiked eggnog till you’re in a deep fog.

You’ll wake up a hung-over dope!

 

It’s the season they sing about snow.

But you can’t shovel white stuff ‘less you’ve got the right stuff.

Head south now, just go –

Oops, you can’t, ‘cause you don’t have the dough.

 

Hang those lights, deck those halls. If being cheery seems false,

Just keep wearing that shit-eating grin.**

This will pass soon enough, just hang in and stay tough

Till the January bills trickle in!

 

But for now, eat and drink, have no fear.

Though this season’s depressing, more turkey and dressing

Will fill you with cheer,

And you’ll gain ten more pounds for New Year!

*The song was written by Edward Pola and George Wyle for the Andy Williams TV show and premiered in 1963. It wasn’t an overnight smash, but he sang it every year and it slowly gained popularity. Now, love it or hate it, it ranks among the top ten Christmas songs. Andy Williams died in September, 2012.

**Substitute “big phony grin” if you prefer to avoid profanity. 

Soon I’ll be headed over to a holiday sing-along party at a little community church on Snyders Lake. I’ll bring these lyrics along, but I have a hunch I won’t sing them for fear of dumping a wet blanket over the festivities. I may bring a few of my books along, though, in hopes folks might be in the mood for some last-minute shopping.

 

Speaking of shopping, Amazon tells me there’s still time to get the paperback editions of Hope Dawns Eternal and Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders before Christmas, and you can get them on Kindle instantly. If you do, you’ll contribute mightily to my holiday cheer.

Here’s wishing you and yours a joyous holiday season. Amidst all the last-minute hustle and bustle, don’t forget to be good to yourself! Sipping eggnog while enjoying a long hot bubble bath is one suggestion, but I’m sure you can come up with lots of others. Enjoy!

Julie paintings FUUSA music 12-20-15

Christmas music after today’s service at the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany. Four of my paintings are visible upper left to lower right in the background.

 

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