“Desperately Poor and Uncivilized” Proud To Be Irish Anyway

George Henry Hall, A Dead Rabbit, or Study of an Irishman, 1858.

George Henry Hall, A Dead Rabbit, or Study of an Irishman, 1858.

The Irish in my family were rogues and dreamers, back stabbers and the kindest people I’ve ever met. They knew how to throw a good funeral, but their parties were awkward with new wealth and old wounds. They were treated as the scum of the earth but knew how to fight. My blood’s been mixed with more civilized tribes, but I still like watching a good scrap and getting together at the funeral parlor with my clan.

Do Irish people really like potatoes? Damn straight. My father ate them every day of his life. He also told police stories so amusing that people came from all over to hear him when he visited his home town in New Jersey. Yeah, and the Irish in my family drank (not my father) and died doing it. Others lived on to make sure their kids would have plenty of hilarity, dysfunction and a sense that no one but another member of the clan could ever fully understand them.

That’s why the NYC parade is so great. You march along with other freckled faces thinking– “What a bunch of misfits we are but we’ve taken over the town.”

Codependency Rocks

Too Near the Warpath

Too Near the Warpath

Okay, it doesn’t really rock, but it’s good for fiction. It’s not even considered a real condition by some mental health professionals. It used to be called “passive dependent personality.” But I thought that was the ideal of womanhood? Men, this is why we too are confused by constantly changing definitions of mental health! Sitting in a diner a few years back I overheard (because I was eavesdropping) a man telling his friend that what he really wanted was a good old-fashioned codependent relationship. My son and I laughed about it knowing how he felt. Throwing ourselves under buses for others and then resenting it were long family traditions we were proud of–until I went to an Alanon meeting and listened to the people who had been attending for years and recycling all of the abuse and heartache they’d experienced. It was kind of sickening.

My parents both came from alcoholic homes but managed to escape full-blown martyrdom but it’s a slippery slope when the addicts and alcoholics march back into the circle and you watch in your passive way as your kids fall for the charm of the druggie. And there is a charm. My father could sniff a heroin addict a mile away. I’d still be insisting he was cute and misunderstood.

Thank God Katherine McCullough came along as a character before I read Codependency No More which basically assigns every caring emotion, every angry emotion and every weird emotion to codependency status. Yes, Katherine is maddeningly passive as a young wife and mother, but give her a break, will you? Her parents are pleasant and abusive and controlling. Her husband is secretive, aloof and loving. Any girl would be confused.

He could be Katherine's father.

He could be Katherine’s father.

And she could quite easily be Katherine's mother.

And she could quite easily be Katherine’s mother.

Someone asked me why Katherine is so blind to her husband’s addiction. When writing Katherine my ideal man was an addict who finally sees the light and reforms–not a man who never was an addict. We codependents or passive dreamer types are an odd lot of screw-ups, but I’d rather write novels than sit in a church basement crying into my coffee. Sure, I cringe at some of Katherine’s familiar antics, but it’s with the knowledge of 4 more books for her to grow through. She was on the right track going  for the military guy though. I did that the second time around and discovered a sane, self-sufficient man can be oddly less boring than I thought.  We’ll just have to see if Katherine gets that lucky with John.

This week is their week–a week about screwed up love. If doing it right was easy we’d have short novels and no war. In honor of imperfect relationships I’m having a $.99 Kindle eBook sale on The House on Tenafly Road this upcoming weekend Feb 15-16 (the day after Valentine’s Day makes you begin to wish you had a morphine-addicted spouse–or maybe  realize, damn, you have it good).

So gather up your pennies (c’mon it won’t break the bank) and buy the book. Tell your friends, too–you know, the ones who like really falling in love with screwed up characters who redeem themselves. Or the ones who like page-turners with military heroes. Or the ones who like big books with maps. Love, death, maps and redemption–who could ask for anything more?

book cover createspace

Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time.

Fashionable Drug Use

Fashionable Drug Use

All things are wearisome,
    more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
    nor the ear its fill of hearing.
 What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.

drug fiend

I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
    I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
    and this was the reward for all my toil.
 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
    and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
    nothing was gained under the sun.

Morphinomaniac by Eugene Grasset (1897)

Morphinomaniac by Eugene Grasset (1897)

Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?”
    For it is not wise to ask such questions.

drug care

Interesting article on drug use in history.

Not so glamorous.

Not so glamorous.

As fish are caught in a cruel net,
    or birds are taken in a snare,
so people are trapped by evil times
    that fall unexpectedly upon them.

Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.

 Now all has been heard;
    here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
    for this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
    including every hidden thing,
    whether it is good or evil.

Words: Ecclesiastes

Newspaper clippings from The Democratic Banner, Ohio, January 30, 1914

Bringing Sexy Back To Sobriety


Frances Willard, the second president of the Women’s Christian Temperance Movement, led the more progressive wing of the organization that sought to purify society by using women’s special gift of moral superiority to enact laws, protest against unfair working conditions and uplift the Irish and German immigrants who we all know are big drinkers.

I’m a libertarian at heart (at the moment, I think I am). I chafe at the idea of a government compelling me to do things. The 20th century is filled with progressive people’s movements that seem to ignore human nature and in the end morality for an easier killing the masses you disagree with. Banning liquor didn’t work. Women didn’t soften politics. Stalin . . .enough said.

On the bright side, children don’t work in sweatshops . . . oh, wait they do just in different countries. Well, at least there’s no kids on the streets, just in foster care waiting to be set free at 18 with no family. (note to self: maybe I should think more seriously about adopting)

Hey! This post was supposed to be about moral uplift, progress and women reformers. Why must my brain hijack good feeling? The problem with human laws replacing godly laws is the strong tendency of humans to compel first through lecturing, then through politicizing and finally through violence. Then we start all over again. Hmm. Sometimes God looks human–you know that Book Of Revelations is a scary thing. But if it’s all true (and if it’s not, life is a pretty unsexy thing) then there’s hope beyond the grim-faced reformer and the drunken loser. Some may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.