Thursday, June 17, 2021

Goose Sympathy



I don't hate animals, but I'm not quite sure, as an adult, if I really like them. I admit this freely, even though I realize it's considered more socially acceptable to say "I don't like children" or "I don't like old people" than to say you don't like animals. 

I used to like them much more when I was a child, but that was when I had parents who did all the actual feeding, cleaning, and vet visits and my only job was to play with our pets. Outdoor wildlife was something mostly to observe from a distance or depicted in Walt Disney movies.

As an adult, I seem to be more of a person who likes animals in theory: I think they should live and be safe and hope they don't inconvenience me during my day.

In any case, because I realize I'm sort of iffy on the topic, I felt somewhat unqualified to judge something I witnessed last week involving some local geese.

I live in the Pacific Northwest where they go heavy on wildlife protections, keeping the people areas so wild animal friendly that residents must alter their activities from time to time to avoid ending up a scary story.

Case in point: three years ago there was a news story about a local suburban elementary school where A BLACK BEAR had climbed a tree next to the school. The children were delighted, the teachers took them outside for this wonderful learning experience, and professionals were consulted to advise about how to redirect the bear in the most nontraumatic manner possible. Every local news station framed the story to focus on the needs of the bear as if he was a confused visitor from out of town instead of a wild animal capable of disembowling a grown man with one swipe of his meaty claws. I kid you not, if I had been there and the bear had swiped at me and whacked off my leg, people would have said "Well Amie shouldn't have been bothering that bear."

Anyway, in Washington state people like animals and seem to want them as close as possible. We have city parks that may have coyotes, forests that may have bears, deer, and cougars, parking lots that may have raccoons waddling around and even areas with bat-filled caves, complete with guano and potential rabies.

Last week I was taking an Uber home and the driver was a tough looking lady who spent most of the trip voicing one long continuous rant about various people and things that were bugging her. I didn't need to participate much, just a regular "Ah" or "mm" seemed to be all that was required. Then, when we were only a few blocks from my home, we saw the geese.

We were on a fairly busy city street, bordered on each side by forest area. At some point the city had posted a "geese crossing" sign on each side of this street. There were no geese crosswalks, only the suggestion to drivers: just so you know, there could be geese. 

The driver and I both saw the geese at about the same time, when they were about ten feet in front of the car. There were three of them, lying dead in the road, one off to the left side, two off to the right, all three appearing to have been hit and thrown by a vehicle.

This is one of the downsides to living close to wildlife: sometimes you see them smooshed on the road. It's never pleasant, it's always sad, but it's inevitable. 

My driver and I had very different reactions and I found hers to be confusing.

First, she yelled JE. SUS. CHRIST. The specific way a person would do if they were mad and using Jesus' name as a curse word: JE. SUS. CHRIST. And then she took her right hand and made the sign of the cross: head, heart, left, right, as if now she meant Jesus as the person to pray to and not as a curse word. I wondered if she was trying to really quickly cover her curse, hoping God wouldn't notice. 

"What is WRONG with people?!" she said, and her voice contained tears. "How could someone DO this?!"

This confused me. It sounded like a trick question. In my mind, I had dozens of answers: because a car was traveling on the street, because geese don't understand cars, because maybe the driver didn't see the geese until they were rolling over them, because maybe the driver DID see them but had a car behind them and couldn't risk causing an accident by braking suddenly: because it was not a child, it was an animal.

Instead, I said: "I'm sure they didn't do it on purpose."

"But he TOOK OUT a whole FAMILY!" wailed my tough looking lady driver. 

That confused me three ways: now we had mafia slang being tossed around (as if these geese had turned state's witness and Tony Soprano had ordered them to be whacked to prevent them from testifying), the goose smoosher was automatically a guy, and she was assuming three adult geese together must be related and in family form.

(Even at that moment of her dead goose outrage, I was already thinking: I need to remember these details. This will be good for my blog.)

I said no more. She calmed herself gradually and a few minutes later I was home.

I wondered though, if my lack of goose sympathy (at least in comparison to hers) was because I'm iffy on animals or because I just value people more. It seemed like real animal lovers would do something more to prevent goose smooshing than just posting a sign the geese cannot read, but who was I to say? And was she cursing or just speaking to Jesus in a time of sadness? Maybe she thought if you say Jesus' name that way, He really pays attention. Maybe none of us can read the signs and we're just trying to avoid being smooshed in the road.


Amie Ryan is the author of 4 essay collections and the Marilyn Monroe biography, Marilyn: Loved By You. To learn more, please visit www.amieryan.com




Sunday, May 23, 2021

Secret Heroes

 


When I was 20 I spent a summer working as a preschool teacher. One of my coworkers was a guy a year or two older than me. His name was Larry, and when he had been a young child, he was one of the more than 3,000 babies and children airlifted out of Vietnam between April 4 and April 19, 1975. He was a very outgoing, good looking guy, and he spent a lot of time working out; his torso was as chiseled as you could want, but he walked with a cane and had a very heavy, uneven limp. The polio vaccine that had been routine for kids in the USA like me had not been available for him, and polio had left his legs crooked and spindly; one of his legs worked overtime to bear all his weight and the other was of almost no use to him at all. He was used to his handicap. For his senior prom he switched out his regular cane for a fancy one and wore a top hat. He seemed to want people to not make a big deal about his legs, but sometimes when I'd see him looking tired (and trying to not look tired), I'd think: one sugar cube with the polio vaccine and his whole life would have been different.

I know some people have been uncertain about getting the Covid vaccine. I got it as soon as I was eligible. Where I live people take whichever one is available. I happened to get the 2-dose Moderna, and I can report it really wasn't bad at all. The shot doesn't feel GOOD, it's a shot. For me, it hurt the same amount as a tetanus shot. The first one made my arm sore for a day or two. I could still use it, but it was sore. No other side effects at all. Then, 28 days later, I got the second shot and it hurt less. Before each of the two shots I was asked a series of questions about my history of vaccines and if I'd ever had allergies to any of them or to any medications or foods. After each of the two shots, I had to sit in a waiting area to be sure I had no bad reaction to the vaccine. I was advised that after I got home, if I moved that arm around every couple of hours, it would help prevent soreness, and this worked really well. The first day I had a mild headache that went away with Tylenol, and I felt pretty tired out. The second day I had the same mind headache plus about 15 minutes of chills and my temperature went to 100.02 F. Two tylenol and 30 min later and my temperature was back to normal and the headache gone. I was still tired out. The third day I woke up feeling great, with a ton of energy, and I cleaned my whole apartment while belting out Diana Ross songs. So there you go. 

I know some people are immunocompromised and can't get the Covid vaccine. But for the rest, I have to say I was motivated to get the vaccine for two reasons: one, I don't want to die of Covid or even get hospital level Covid, and two, the idea that I could accidentally give someone Covid and cause them death was unthinkable to me. 

Some people are counting on the herd immunity theory. Here's the thing: you can't GET to herd immunity unless 70% of the people get the vaccine. Once you factor in the immunocompromised people who absolutely cannot get it, that means there are very few chairs left for anyone to sit this out. And if you're in the US, you know we're fortunate to have the vaccine available when so many people don't. 

Anyway, that's my PSA. One more thing: one very cool thing about getting the vaccine is you get to secretly feel like a hero, and how often do you get to feel like that?


Sunday, May 9, 2021

Help me decide!

A few months ago, TaleFlick began accepting short stories and articles into their catalogue and last month an article was optioned for use as a feature film. They've already assigned a screenwriter and secured an actor for one of the leading roles. This made me think about submitting one of my stories, and I've narrowed it down to two: The Good School or Michael And The Monster. Which one do you think I should choose?






Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Kindle Vella


I wanted to tell you about a brand new thing Amazon will be trying out in the next couple of months. It's called Kindle Vella and it will be a way readers can enjoy stories published in installments, just like Samuel Clemens used to do it. 

The way it will work for you, the reader, is this: to try it out, you'll go to either Kindle or amazon.com and then you'll decide which one of 15 different story types you'd like to try: thriller, scifi, etc. Then you'll be given a bunch of options of stories to try out. The cover page will include a description of the plot and then you'll be able to read several installments of that story for free. Each installment will be between 600-5000 words. After you've read the free installments, you'll have the option of continuing to read more installments of the story by purchasing tokens. The pricing of the tokens will end up being about one dollar for each installment after the freebies.

Amazon is trying this out with America based KDP authors first, and later will expand this to include other Amazon channels worldwide.

Do you think you would like reading a book this way? Each of us KDP authors received an invitation to participate and I'm thinking I might do it. Here's a link to tell you more about the Kindle Vella program: https://kindlepreneur.com/kindle-vella/ I'm curious to hear your thoughts about this. It sounds like authors still have a lot of questions about it but no one wants to miss out, just in case it might turn out to be a big thing.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021


To order my 50 story collection STORYTELLER please visit http://mybook.to/Storyteller. This title is available in paperback or kindle and is free on Kindle Unlimited.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

On TV Everyone Dies



I've been spending a lot of time watching reruns of old TV shows, which some claim is a good activity during stressful times. The theory is if you've already watched the TV episode or movie, you know what's going to happen next, and this is calming.

Except...

Except I was watching Eight Is Enough and thinking how the mother dies on that series and it occurred to me there were a LOT of shows where at least one parent had died. I could name 4 or 5 off the top of my head and then I kept remembering more. The length of the list may surprise you. It may make you say, what was the deal with all of these parents dying left and right? Why was this such a popular storyline? 

The word 'popular' may seem wrong, but what other word can be used if the writers kept coming up with it to create prime time TV shows? Were they all working through deaths in their own families or did they wish their parents had died? 

Difficult to say. 

Some of the shows I recalled were old ones, from the 60s: The Andy Griffith Show, The Courtship of Eddie's Father, My Three Sons (which was a triple: Steve's wife plus both parents of Ernie), and Family Affair (a double: both parents of the three kids die, which is why they're being raised by Uncle Bill). 

Then by the 70s the trend continued: The Brady Bunch (that one, as you recall, was a double --Carol's husband and Mike's wife), The Partridge Family, Good Times (with the most memorable TV grief moment going to the mom, played by Esther Rolle, as she smashed the punchbowl and said "DAMN! DAMN! DAMN!")

I hesitate to include Little House On The Prairie because, as you know if you watched the show, it takes place back when life was godawful and people really DID die left and right, so it made more sense. If we include this show, it was a quintuple (Albert's mother, Jonathan Garvey's wife, Sylvia's mother, and both parents of the Cooper twins).

Interesting side note: in real life, Laura Ingalls' daughter, Rose, burned down their house, by accident. Twice. 

Laverne and Shirley makes the list because Laverne's mom had died when she was young. Diff'rent Strokes was a triple (Mr Drummond's wife plus both parents of Arnold and Willis). Webster was a double (football player's kid is orphaned and adopted by a teammate), Gimme A Break, My Two Dads, Eight Is Enough, The Facts Of Life (Natalie's dad) and Who's The Boss were all singles. 

More: The Nanny, Silver Spoons, and Party Of Five, which was a double. I'm probably forgetting a few, but you see my point: this is a LOT of dying. And based on the fact you probably recognize many of these shows, we kind of have to say this was a popular theme. Why? We may never know.