Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Just in Time For Halloween, New Poems and Stories at the TTB e-zine!

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OK, sometimes I just have to rhyme…

Folks, do you want some new and absolutely free reading material? Especially from me? (As you’re here at my blog, I’m going to assume the answer is an enthusiastic “yes.”)

Well, look no further. I have a story, “To Exist within Memory,” and a poem, “Break the Dark Lens,” up at the Halloween 2017 edition of the Twilight Times e-zine. (I abbreviated it above as TTB e-zine because it’s part of Twilight Times Books.) In addition, there’s also a chapter reveal for my most recent novel, the LGBT-friendly CHANGING FACES, and there’s an author interview by Mayra Calvani as well — so if you have ever wanted to know more about me or my writing, here you go.

portrait in garden

Mind, if you like what you have read with regards to CHANGING FACES, you can go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble and pick up an e-book copy for just ninety-nine cents…and I do hope you’ll consider doing just that.

So go check out the TTB e-zine. Read some free stuff. Then go pick up your copy of CHANGING FACES today, and get to getting…who said every treat on Halloween has to be full of calories, hey?

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 31, 2017 at 8:33 pm

Now Available in E-Book: A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE

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Folks, I’m very happy to be able to finally report that my second novel — and the second novel in the Elfy duology — A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE has been released. It’s available right now at Amazon and OmniLit…the latter will be most useful if you need an e-pub version of the file.

Edited to add: Barnes and Noble link is now live as well. Now returning you to your regularly scheduled post…

ALittleElfyinBigTrouble_medIf you have never seen anything at all about the Elfyverse — or read book one in the Elfy duology, AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE — this little blurb may help you with what’s going on:

Young Bruno the Elfy and Sarah, his mostly-human teenage girlfriend, are in deep trouble. Bruno’s Elfy mentor Roberto the Wise is about to be sacrificed by a Dark Elf, and Sarah’s parents have decided to help the Elf rather than the Elfy. Things look bleak and are getting worse by the minute, but Bruno and Sarah have a number of allies — human, Elfy, and ghosts — that the Dark Elf can’t possibly expect. Can young love, desperation, and great unexpected power win out despite it all?

And here’s a short excerpt — note, it first appeared here, as part of the Marketing for Romance Writers Book Hooks blog hop:

Bruno took Sarah’s hand and led her back outside. He looked with his mage senses, and felt nothing; no Elfy magic, no Human magic, and as far as he could tell, no Elf magic, Dark or Bright.

He put up a light shield that should help conceal their voices, and decided it was safe enough to talk for a bit.

“Tomorrow is Baaltinne, Sarah.” Bruno rubbed his fingers through his hair and tried not to look too hard at Sarah. Goddess, she was beautiful. But he had to stay on topic. “That’s your May Day. Tomorrow.” He shook his head and tried not to frown. “How can we get everything together in time to stop Dennis the Dark Elf?”

“I have faith in you,” she said. Her eyes darkened. Bruno felt as if he were falling, before she gently brushed her lips against his.

————————— End Excerpt ————————————-

If this has intrigued you (and of course I hope it has), but you aren’t sure you will like my book yet, I also have three sample chapters available at Twilight Times Books’ website — here’s the link for that: http://www.twilighttimesbooks.com/ElfyinBigTrouble_ch1.html

A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE continues to make me laugh. I’ve enjoyed writing about Bruno, Sarah, Reverend Samuel and his family, Lady Keisha, even Dennis the Dark Elf…and I hope to write more about them, ’cause I have a hunch their stories are not over.

At any rate, most of you know the labor of love that kept me working on Elfy for years. I’m ecstatic that both halves of my novel have now been published, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them.

Anyway, both novels are available now as e-books. So what are you waiting for? Go grab a copy — or copies — today! (And be sure to tell your friends. ‘Cause, really…how can you go wrong?)

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 21, 2015 at 7:22 pm

Welcome to the Elfyverse…

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Thank you for stopping by my blog, which is called either “Barb Caffrey’s Blog,” or “the Elfyverse.”

Why two names? Well, I figured it would be easier for people to find me if they used my name. But I’ve been writing about Elfys, Elfs, Dwarves, and more for over ten years — thus “the Elfyverse.”

As for what I do here, it’s simple: I talk about anything I like.

I’ve been blogging now for over five years. (Here’s a link to my first blog post, if you don’t believe me.) Over that time, I’ve talked writing, publishing, music, sports, current events, politics . . . anything that I feel like talking about.

So while you’re here, expect the unexpected . . . because you never quite know what I’m about to say.

Please feel free to stop by any time you like. And tell your friends about all my work, including AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE (Barnes and Noble link is here) and the first two stories of my late husband Michael’s, “A Dark and Stormy Night” and “On Westmount Station,” all available at Amazon.

And remember . . . support a real writer.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 9, 2014 at 5:21 am

My novel, “An Elfy on the Loose,” Is Now Available

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It’s been a long time in coming, but my first novel, AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE (now with a subtitle of “Book One of the ELFY duology”) is now available at Amazon.com and will be available soon at all major e-book retailers.

**Edited to add: AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE has also “gone live” at BN.com (Barnes and Noble’s website), as Paul Howard told me in the comments. If you have a Nook and want to read AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, now’s your chance!

Now back to our regularly scheduled post.**

I’m very pleased that AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE is now out, even though I hadn’t expected it to “go live” on Amazon tonight, of all nights — but as it has, I figured I’d best skedaddle and get a blog post up, pronto.

For those of you who want a sample, please go here and read the first five chapters of AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE . . . then, I hope you’ll go to Amazon and get the e-book, as it’s on sale for a limited time at the low price of $3.99.

Because I’m a new author, and because I’m decidedly not well known, it is anyone’s guess as to whether or not AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE will do well enough to warrant an actual “dead tree” edition (that is, a paper edition).

For all I know, this e-book copy is all that we’re likely to get. So I hope you’ll enjoy it in the spirit intended.

In other words, if you want to read my novel because you’ve been intrigued about Bruno the Elfy and Sarah his human companion and want to know all about Sarah’s house (which is an Elfy trap of major proportions), or if you want to figure out why a Dark Elf would go to Northern California, or if you even want to know why Bruno’s mentor Roberto is worth saving despite being more than a bit of an butthead sometimes, now’s your chance.

I also hope that if you read and enjoy AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, you won’t be averse to letting people know my book exists. Because I need all the help I can get . . . and I’m not shy about saying so.

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 12, 2014 at 12:34 am

Sunday Musings: You Can Only Fix Yourself

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Over the past several weeks, I’ve been grappling with something that has completely vexed me. To wit: Why do I allow myself to get so frustrated over what other people do?

See, we can’t fix other people. It’s impossible for us, as human beings, to wave a magic wand or think a magic thought or do something otherwise that changes the outcome of someone else’s behavior.

It just doesn’t work that way.

Because I’ve chosen to be friends — and, in some cases, family — with some rather iconoclastic people, this means sometimes I just don’t see eye-to-eye with them. I understand this, but I still get upset when I realize we can’t meet in the middle…and sometimes, we can’t even agree to disagree. (That last bothers me greatly, but unfortunately I can’t do much about it.)

See, people are who they are. They only change when they’re good and ready. They only make it easy for you to stay in their lives and talk with you and be communicative when that’s what they want, too.

Again, as a communicator — and, perhaps, as a peacemaker — at heart, this is something I have a hard time wrapping my head around. The whole idea of a casual long-term friendship where people dip in and out of my life on a whim isn’t something I do, as a general rule.

Now, what do I do instead? I try to be as steady as a rock with my friends and family. I don’t always succeed at this, but that is my intention. I do my best to live up to my obligations; I do my best to live up to my own, personal belief systems; I do my best to be ethical, aboveboard, and honest; I do my best not to throw vitriol for the same of throwing vitriol.

But if you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you probably know all these things. So what’s got my goat to the point I felt I needed to come blog about it?

I think what got to me most, lately, is the idea that came up in a friend’s telephone chat. He mentioned that everyone lies in public. Everyone puffs themselves up. Everyone puts up a front.

I think many people do. But I try hard not to.

What’s the difference in what I do versus what my friend said everyone supposedly does? Well, I’ve decided that I am not going to waste my time or energy pretending to be something I’m not. I see no point to that whatsoever. And because I see no point to that, I don’t expect other people who know me well to still want to put up fronts.

Why we can’t all meet in the middle, sometimes, is just beyond me.

Still, this all relates to my overarching theme somehow. (It must, or I’d not be typing this out. Picture me smiling ruefully here.) And that theme is that we can’t fix other people.

And just as they can’t make us be what they want us to be (how horrid would that be, huh?), we can’t make them what we want them to be either. We can only choose to accept them as they are, or not. And get to know them on their terms, just as they get to know us on ours. Or not.

So, for all of the above reasons, I urge you to remember this: The next time someone vexes you, because they aren’t who you want them to be, remember that they don’t have to be anything but themselves. Just as you don’t have to be anything but yourself, either.

If the two of you can’t figure out how to be friends under those circumstances, well, then maybe the friendship is doomed. (But I’d like to think it’s not.)

And either way, you can’t fix them. Just as they can’t fix you. So you can delight in being different…or you can walk away, knowing you tried your level best. (The choice is yours.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 5, 2020 at 6:34 am

Continuing On, Independence Day Weekend Edition…

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Folks, we’re about to hit July 4th — Independence Day — in the United States. That’s a major holiday, where we normally have fireworks, music, and parades.

Not this year, though.

This year, due to Covid-19, Independence Day is going to look a whole lot different. There will be no local concerts (and very few, if any, live concerts in the United States). There will be no parades. And in most of Wisconsin, there will be no fireworks.

In fact, we’re going to have a repeat of last year’s fireworks on local TV. And, perhaps, some repeats of concerts as well. (No word on if anyone’s going to show a repeat of the various parades, though it wouldn’t surprise me.)

It doesn’t feel much like a holiday, to my mind, because we are lacking all of those things. Plus, there have been so many deaths due to Covid-19 in the United States that it’s hard to be festive anyway.

But we must continue on, and do whatever we can. Live our lives, help others, read books, listen to music, continue to do whatever we can to further our pursuits (in my case, music and writing), and refuse to surrender to the despair and anxiety that seems to pervade the United States right now.

We’re also dealing with a heat wave in Wisconsin that isn’t helping. (It’s humid, hot, and nasty, with poor air quality. Definitely not my cup of tea, and I don’t think it’s something most people would want to deal with if there were any other options.)

Because of all of that, I wanted to make sure I reminded everyone to do the following five things:

  1. Be kind
  2. Stay hydrated
  3. Eat when it’s a bit cooler, so it has more likelihood of staying down
  4. Work smarter, not harder
  5. Give yourself a break now and again, the way you (hopefully) do for others in similar situations.

If you can do those five things, you’re going to be better off in the long run as well as the short run. And it may remind you that this, too, can be overcome. (But it will take time, and most of us — myself included — are not patient.)

What’s your plan for Independence Day? Tell me about it in the comments!

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 2, 2020 at 2:35 pm

Peace and Remembrance

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Yesterday was my eighteenth wedding anniversary, AKA the sixteenth wedding anniversary I’ve spent alone since my husband Michael died suddenly and without warning in 2004. Usually, observing this day and remembering how wonderful Michael was in all his allness crushes me. (I’m not going to lie.)

But this year was different.

(Why? I don’t know.)

I decided that I was going to do my best to remember Michael as he was. How he loved to make me laugh. How he enjoyed doing just about anything with me. How he wanted to hear whatever I had to say on whatever subject, and about how interested he was to hear about my day even when I had been sick for three days running and hadn’t even been able to go to the computer.

In short, Michael was an outstandingly good husband as well as an outstandingly good man. And I felt better for remembering him that way.

Many anniversaries, I’ve thought more about what I’ve lost than what I’ve gained. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, either. It’s how I felt at the time, it was authentic, and it was the best I could do to process my catastrophic level of grief.

But this time, I was able to think more about what Michael and I did together. How we wrote, together and separately, and talked our stories out together. How we watched current events, sometimes bemusedly, sometimes with great insight, and could talk them through in a historical context. How we were able to talk about spiritual matters, him being a Zen Buddhist and me being a spiritual seeker who probably best aligns with NeoPaganism (but isn’t NeoPagan enough for some because I still appreciate the life and works of Jesus Christ and try to make common cause with what makes sense to me, especially “love one another”). How we were able to forge a life together despite previous divorces…

Anyway, concentrating on what we were good at together, and how good we were together, helped me a lot. I was able to get through the day with more peace than usual.

I will always wish Michael were still alive, beside me, on this plane of existence. I wish he were still here, writing his stories, writing with me, helping me with my stories, and editing for other people. I wish he were able to tell me what he thinks of the state of the world — most particularly the coronavirus concerns and the #BlackLivesMatter protests, though I’d be interested to hear his (likely trenchant) takes on the current crop of DC politicians (most especially President Trump, someone I don’t think Michael would’ve cared for at all due to that gentleman’s previous experiences as a reality TV star). I wish he were still here so I could see his smile, hear his laugh, enjoy his touch, and get to watch and listen and observe how he got through the world with such serenity and optimism.

But as he’s not alive on this plane — though I do believe the spirit is eternal, and that love never dies either, so in those senses he’ll always be with me — I can only do what I can to remember. And yesterday, I chose to remember the good.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 25, 2020 at 5:15 am

Sunday Meditations on a John Wesley Quote

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I have been taken with this John Wesley quote for a while now. As it’s Sunday, let’s dive in!

https://quotefancy.com/media/wallpaper/3840x2160/38351-John-Wesley-Quote-Do-all-the-good-you-can-by-all-the-means-you-can.jpg

The above quote resonated with me the first time I heard it, which was sometime in junior high school. So I’d like to dissect this quote, starting with “do all the good you can.”

Too many of us think we can’t do any good at all, so we don’t do anything. And that’s not wise, nor is it smart. We can all do something to help our fellow man, woman, and/or child…it may be something small, like carrying in some groceries if you’re able-bodied and the person you’re helping isn’t. Or it could be something big, like helping someone fix a car when they can’t do it themselves but desperately need it.

(Note I’m talking about individual big things rather than societal big things. But I will get there.)

The key words there are “good” and “can.” Do your best, always; do what you can, always. And if you are in distress, and all you can do is offer good thoughts one day, do that. If you can offer a shoulder to cry on (even a virtual one, these days), that’s even better.

“But Barb,” you say. (Yes, I can hear you.) “What if I truly can’t do anything? I’m in a nursing home. Or I’m in the hospital. Or I’m just…tired, I guess.”

If you’re in a nursing home or in a hospital, the best thing you can do is to heal up. But while you do that, speak kindly to the nurses, doctors, and the staff. Encourage other patients, if you see them. Continue to learn whatever you can learn, via the TV or books or magazines or computer. And again, heal up.

If you’re just tired — and I know the feeling, because I often feel this way myself — you have to look at it a different way.

If you have had an abysmal day, just one from the Hells, and there’s nothing at all you can think of to do that’s any good for anyone, the best thing you can do is to calm down. Talk to a friend. Read a good book. Watch a movie that makes you laugh. Listen to some music that moves you. Whatever works, but do something to get your mind off these problems that are plaguing you.

Anyway, on to the next part of the quote, which is “by all the means you can.” Here, I think John Wesley was talking about the various ways you can help someone. Yes, you can help financially, but you can help emotionally, you can help physically sometimes, you can help spiritually (often we need that the most no matter what it looks like from the outside), and you can do it in whatever fashion you want.

The main thing is to not give in to despair. (Or if you need to, use my late husband’s Zen Buddhist trick and give in to it for five minutes. Then say to yourself, “Self, I’ve heard you. Now let’s get on.” I have used this trick frequently in recent days, and I know it works.)

Wesley here is saying again that you can make a difference by whatever means necessary. And that’s important.

The next part of the quote is “in all the ways you can.” I have already covered this, to an extent, in my previous paragraphs, but I will reiterate for the record: do whatever you need to do to help others in whatever possible ways you have available. Even if they seem small, they can do wonders.

For example, if you are at the grocery store in these days of Covid-19, you can be extra-nice to the cashiers. (Or just polite if you’re normally rude, I guess. Though I would hope none of my readers are rude on a regular basis. Yes, that’s a small joke. Probably very small. Moving on…) You can also help others get their groceries to the car if the clerks are too busy to do it or are unable to do it. You can be polite in the parking lot and make sure you give extra space and time to people walking to and from the store, and pay extra-close attention to the various cars in the lot because not everyone else is.

These are all small things. But they add up. And the clerks will appreciate someone who is not rude or abrupt. The people you deal with, in or out of the car, will appreciate that you are paying attention whether they realize it or not. And if you are helping someone get their stuff to the car, that is vitally important and will probably have made someone’s day.

Small things do add up, you know.

Wesley goes on to say “in all the places you can.” I think what he meant by this is for people not to stop thinking about ways to help others when they walk out the door of the church. If you can help someone in the store, do it. If you can help someone on the road, do that. If you can help a friend by listening even if it’s the tenth time you’ve gone over the same subject and you’re just tired of it — but you can rein in your frustration, and listen and empathize anyway — these things matter.

The next part of Wesley’s quote is “at all the times you can.” I think Wesley put it this way because of what I said before about “days from the Hells.” But it could also be that he dealt with too many people who thought the only time to be charitable was when they were actually in church. And once they walked out the door, that was it for charity for the week, almost as if they had “banked” the charity by going to church and enduring the hour-long sermon. (Or whatever.)

The message here is simple. We are all children of God/dess. (Or Deity. Or “Hey, you, big guy in the sky.” Call Deity what you wish; I don’t think it matters much to Deity.) We are all fallible, imperfect, mortal, all that — just as I’ve said in many other blogs — but along with that fallible, imperfect, mortal stuff comes some pretty good basic instincts. We, most of us, want to help others; we want to do good, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it makes us feel better to do it. (Maybe that was a biological thing Deity built into us, for all I know.)

And when we deal with those who just don’t seem to care, or don’t seem to want to do the right thing to help their fellow man (or woman or child), it can be frustrating to know that you’re doing your best but someone else is slacking off.

(I don’t know if that’s something Wesley considered during the writing of this, but it makes sense to me.)

The next part of the quote is, “to all the people you can.” I think here Wesley was saying that you should not stop caring about those you dislike. That you should try to find ways to help everyone, not just your own family, your own church, your own clique. That you should make a point to reach out, even when it’s hard (some days it’s very hard; I know!), to help someone who needs it. (Especially as some days, that person is going to be you. But I digress.)

And finally, Wesley closes his quote with, “as long as ever you can.” (I know that reads oddly to modern readers, but Wesley died in 1791. Word choices were different then.)

What does that mean, exactly? Well, I think Wesley believed you needed to keep doing whatever you possibly could to help others for the entirety of your lives. Period. Full stop.

Now, I did some digging into this quote. Wesley is attributed with it because of several sermons he gave during his career as a minister. This was seen to be his overarching philosophy, but Wesley probably never put it exactly the way this quote is put now during his lifetime.

(Which does make me wonder about that “ever you can” stuff, but again, Wesley died in 1791.)

What is important is that Wesley believed we all could and indeed should make a difference. That we indeed should do these things outside the church as well as inside; that we should do these things in the stores as well as our homes; that we should help those we knew and those we didn’t; that we should continue to pray for those we don’t understand and even those we dislike, along with those we know and do understand and deal with on a regular basis.

On this Sunday, take a minute and ask yourself, “What can I do to help someone else today that I normally don’t do?” And then, if you can, do that thing; if you can’t do it today but can do it tomorrow instead, do it then.

But do it. Because it matters. Even when it seems like it doesn’t.

Deifying the Flawed Man

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Jason makes some interesting points here. I think you should read his blog, think hard about it, and then wonder if you’re doing any of this unnecessary deification of flawed people in your own lives.

Jason Córdova, Author

Cancel culture is rampant throughout the world right now as we know it. If a person isn’t 100% in line with the “flavor of the week” cause they are ruthlessly culled from the ranks of the “good” and instantly cast as wicked, evil, and on the “wrong side of history”. That last phrase is one I particularly dislike because unless our descendants place us upon pedestals to be worshiped, history should remember us for both the good and the bad we do in our lives.

But how does this work? Any historian can tell you that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King, Jr., et al, were flawed men. They meant well and set in motion events which would change human history as we know it. Human history which is wealthier, healthier, and safer than it ever has been. They brought about true change to society and should rightly be…

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Written by Barb Caffrey

June 19, 2020 at 10:13 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Thoughts on Stereotypes

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Years ago, here at my blog, I wrote a piece about discrimination. At the time, my mother had urged me to write it because I was frustrated at the amount of ridiculousness in this world when it comes to discriminating against people different from yourself.

Right now, we have additional problems with discrimination and stereotyping, which kind of go hand-in-hand. There’s way too much stereotyping going on, and way too many people over-reliant on stereotypical behavior.

We are all human beings, regardless of creed, color, ethnicity, gender, sexual preference, or any other thing that could possibly be used to divide us. We were all created equal. We were all created by love (at least, at the highest level possible, the Deity Him/Her/Itself).

But we forget this when we rely upon stereotypes.

I was talking to a good friend the other day about how he gets stereotyped often. He is not white. And while I guess he could pass, on some days, if he truly wanted to (and you didn’t know what his last name was), why should he have to worry about this?

I mean, isn’t he the same no matter what?

It’s about the content of your character. Not anything else. (I’m still with Martin Luther King., Jr., on that one, and always will be.) Your actions flow from your character. Your mind and spirit and heart are informed by that same character. And you, as a person, should never be judged by externals — never.

That said, it happens far too often.

With the recent murder of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis, I was reminded again that stereotypes can kill someone. He was stopped for apparently passing a counterfeit $20 bill (this is the best information I heard/read anywhere). And I know, from past experience as a cashier, that police do not have to kill you to get you to go to court to defend yourself. It’s a misdemeanor ticket if you’ve passed one, and if you can prove that you didn’t know, you will not be charged or blamed.

But Mr. Floyd was black. He was tall. It was a hot day, and he wasn’t wearing very much. And perhaps he looked offensive in some way — I don’t know how, mind — either that, or the white police officer just didn’t like the man on sight. Mr. Floyd was stereotyped as a dangerous individual solely because of his race.

It’s hard for me to type that. Because I want to believe we’re all better than that.

I referenced a good friend of mine from high school in my first blog about discrimination. I would like to talk more about her now, because I think it’s relevant to the discussion.

My friend was a viola player, and one of the best viola players in the city of Racine. She was easy to talk to, and we talked music, some sports, current events…you name it, we probably talked about it. She was cultured. She was opinionated, in the best of ways. She was intelligent. And yes, she was black.

I gravitated toward her because of her abilities, her interests, her intelligence and quick wit, and because I found her an interesting and admirable person. I didn’t care one whit about her color then, and I don’t now either.

But I do wonder what her life has been like since. Did she have the money to go to college? (I never asked.) Did she keep playing? (I wasn’t here in Racine for many years, and by the time I got back, I couldn’t find her in the music scene.) What happened to her?

I feel terrible that I lost track of her, as we all seem to do with many of our high school friendships. But I wish I knew all these things, because I’d like to ask her what she wants people to know right now regarding the murder of George Floyd. What she thinks about stereotyping, and how to get past it…what she believes will work to get people to see the content of people’s character, rather than only seeing the externals as we seem to be doing now.

Mind, I have other friends, as I’ve said, who also aren’t white or straight. They’re Latino, or Asian-American, or black, or mixed-race; they’re gay, lesbian, transgender, and gender-fluid/queer. I have friends of all shapes and sizes, and I’m glad of this. Because it means I can see past the stereotypes to the human beings underneath.

While there’s no way to turn the clock back so Mr. Floyd doesn’t die (or, on a happier note, that I didn’t somehow lose track of my old friend), we can have a better and brighter future. One based on the content of our character, rather than the outmoded and outdated stereotyping and discrimination that we’ve seen thus far.

May that day come soon for us all.

Sunday Thoughts: On Forgiveness

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We all go through moments in this life where we wonder, “What is the point?” Especially when we’re on the outs with people we feel close to and care about, as not getting along with loved ones makes everything seem pointless and unfulfilling.

“But Barb,” you protest. “Your post is supposed to be about forgiveness. How on Earth does this relate?”

I’m getting there, I promise. But this may take a while. (Settle in with a cup of coffee, or tea, or some sort of beverage of your choice.)

Recently, I’ve reconnected with an old friend I’d been estranged from for quite some time. Life took us in different directions. It was hard to talk with this friend for a while, though I did keep trying; on my friend’s part, I think it was difficult to keep trying, and eventually, communication just stopped.

I often wondered what the point was, after this happened. Because this friend was quite close to me, and was one of the few folks I felt understood me. It was difficult for me to do without this friendship. And it was frustrating not to know what was going on with this friend, as I truly did care — and, obviously, considering the recent reconciliation, still do.

It turned out that there were miscommunications between us that drove a wedge into the friendship. And those had to be talked out so we could move forward. Which led to inertia, which led to…pointlessness, I guess, at least on my part.

But over the time of the estrangement, I learned how to forgive myself for this. I can’t be everything to everyone, as much as I’d like to some days; I can only be myself.

And I forgave my friend, too, because I understood — as best I could, anyway — what led my friend to make their decisions. (Yes, I’m using singular “they” today. My editorial side doesn’t like that much, but I’m getting used to it.) I understood what was going on with them and I knew what had happened to get them to this point. So forgiveness was a must, a moral imperative…or, at least, the best way to live with myself and the end of this estrangement.

But saying that is easy. It took two solid years for me to process all this, and to get through it; it also took two solid years for my friend to process all this, and to get through it, before we could attempt to repair our friendship and move forward again.

And those two years were not easy. Not for me. And, I suspect, not for them either.

I know I am fallible, mortal, have my biases and quirks and habits; I do try to get past these things, but I still have them, and some days I am much more limited by them than on others.

I also know that my friend is just as fallible and mortal as I; they have their biases and quirks and habits, too. And I suspect they try hard to get past these things, but still have them, and some days are better than others in dealing with it all, too.

All of that led to what I like to call “the road to reconciliation.”

It’s not an easy road. It sometimes can be a damned hard road, in fact; your feelings get shoved in your face, by yourself, and you have to figure out what you’re going to do about it. You’ve been hurt before, and you don’t want to get hurt again…all of these things are natural and normal thoughts, but they are also self-limiting, not to mention frustrating.

But forgiveness makes the most sense, to me. I still care about my friend. I want to know what happens to them. I want to try to help in whatever ways I can, without damaging myself, to help them enjoy life a little better and to know that they are valued and understood no matter how imperfect or flawed.

Personally, I think we gain value from our imperfections, not to mention our flaws. But they are not always easy to deal with. (Oh, no. That would be far too easy.)

Anyway, I also continue to work on the idea of forgiveness of the self for getting to this point. I’m not a perfect person; far from it. (Then again, no one is.) There are things in the past — and not just in the context of this friendship — that I wish I’d done better, or differently.

That said, I have learned from my mistakes. I’ve drawn value from my imperfections, as best I can. And I’ve tried to husband wisdom from all of it, and be a better friend because of it, while realizing that life is a process and a choice as much as it is about your circumstances beyond your control and what you do about them.

So, those are my thoughts on forgiveness, both of the self and others, for today. What’s on your mind, and what did you think of this blog? Let me know in the comments!

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 14, 2020 at 2:38 pm

Compartmentalization Vs. Alienation

with 8 comments

I’m worried about the state of the world. I truly am.

As I write tonight, there are many cities in the United States that have protests — some peaceful, but most not — over the senseless killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. That now-former officer knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck for six minutes, and the other three police officers around him did nothing. Mr. Floyd was black; the now-ex officer was white. It was a non-violent crime that Mr. Floyd was alleged to have committed — he may have passed a counterfeit $20 bill — and he was not resisting arrest in any way.

We have every right to be angry over this. It was reprehensible behavior by the now-ex officer. (I will not name him, as per my long-held beliefs that bad actors should not be named.) Mr. Floyd should not be dead.

But watching the protests is deeply disconcerting. People are rioting, and often burning their own neighborhood businesses; that only hurts themselves down the line, along with the innocent business owners. People are letting their anger, their justifiable rage, spill over to the point it almost seems as if the world is on fire.

And that doesn’t even go into half of what’s going on in the world, as Covid-19 is still rampant. In the U.S., we have had over 100,000 deaths, as I’ve said before. In three months! And many people who’ve been changed for the worse for life, who will live with lifelong health ailments…the hospitals in this area continue to be overloaded, the medical professionals are stressed to the max, and everyone’s on edge.

I think these two things are part of why cities are burning tonight. People are alienated, and people are scared. They don’t know what to do. They don’t think anyone cares. They don’t think anyone is listening. And they wonder what in the Hell the point is.

I get it. And I am worried.

“But Barb,” you ask. “You said something about compartmentalization in your blog title. What the Hell is that about?”

Well, I don’t know about you, but I still have to get my day-to-day stuff done despite the background of chaos that seems to be everywhere. That I can’t shut out. That I wish I could help, but for the most part can’t do anything about other than be as upset as everyone else (but hopefully in a more constructive way than burning everything to the ground).

The only way I can get stuff done — whether it’s writing, editing, or anything else — is to compartmentalize my brain. To say, “OK, I’m going to do whatever I can do right now on this one, small thing. I am going to keep trying, and keep my head up, and do positive things, even if they don’t matter to anyone but me.”

I think this is all I, or anyone else, can do right now.

But yes. I remain deeply concerned. And I wish I knew what else to do, as the world — or at least the United States — continues to burn.

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 30, 2020 at 8:32 pm

Getting On With Getting

with 3 comments

I figured I’d check in with y’all to let you know I’m still alive. (Thus the “getting on with getting” title, above.)**

Now, what have I been doing? Mostly, other than avoiding Covid-19 and staying as cool as possible (as we’ve been dealing with a heat wave, and I have no air conditioning at all), I’ve been able to write a little fiction and I’ve of course been editing (as per usual). I’ve also been taking care of family responsibilities, and petting Mom’s surviving dog Ms. Brat as needed. (Hey, a dog named Ms. Brat needs as much care as possible, if to avoid getting any brattier. Not that she’s all that bratty. But it’s her name ’cause she answers to it; we did try several others, but that was the one she liked. Go figure.)

I’ve also tried to help a few friends here and there, too. Because I got help when I needed it the worst, and I want to pay it forward if at all possible.

At any rate, I hope you’re a) staying safe, b) staying cool (if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere) and c) enjoying life as much as possible.

After all, Covid-19 can’t last forever. (Can it?)

Let me know how you’re doing in the comments. OK?

————

Edited to add: I realized I had left out half of what I’d wanted to talk about, and I’m sorry.

The United States hit 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus yesterday. 100,000. And that’s a terrible milestone.

Worse yet, I didn’t see anything from our President regarding it. Just nothing at all. Crickets, radio silence…call it whatever you want, but ignoring such a thing is unPresidential (to put it mildly). The President is supposed to be the consoler-in-chief along with everything else, and that isn’t happening at all.

When we’re having to take our cues from Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden, a former Vice President, because Biden’s the only one willing to talk about these poor people who’ve died, well…the mind reels.

My attention is split between the coronavirus and trying to get anything done. And because I was happy I actually have been able to get stuff done despite it all, I wanted to write this post.

But I didn’t want to forget about the 100,000 people who’ve died. And I didn’t want anyone to think that I ever would forget about them, either…because these were real people with real lives, and Covid-19 has ended it all for them.

Somehow, some way, we must eradicate Covid-19 from this Earth.
And remember the fallen, as long as we possibly can. (This is a war we must win.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 28, 2020 at 12:57 am

Posted in Writing

Tagged with

Sunday Meditation: Learning to Let Go

with 3 comments

It’s no secret that over the years I’ve had a hard time letting go of things, good and bad. The best I can do with certain things is agree that I’m going to go on with my memories intact, and do the best I can with them. With my late husband’s death, that’s the level best I can do — letting go is not an option, because that would also let go of all my hopes, dreams, aspirations, and anything else positive that I still wish to obtain.

But maybe I can let go of how angry I am that he died too early. (I’m not angry at him. I’ll never be angry there.) And maybe I can let go of some of the nonsense I saw immediately after my husband died, including some of the rudest comments any widow could ever get. (Including one idiot who said that I would be just fine because I was young, and could still remarry. Um, what?)

So I’m not great with letting go, but I’m working on it.

This becomes more imperative with other things in my life, though. Things I regret doing, that I cannot change now. People I wish who had been different, or better, or less toxic; again, I can’t change that now either. And things that frustrate the Hell out of me…again, if it’s not an ongoing occurrence, why waste any more time on it?

So just for today, I’m going to do my best to let go of all the negative emotions I feel and focus instead on whatever good I can find in the midst of this pandemic, including the love of friends and family who’ve stayed in my life (not to mention good books and good music).

While I know it’s going to be a work-in-progress, I have to do what I can to keep going and give myself a chance to find happiness. Or at least fulfillment. Or peace. Or all of the above.

If you are like me, and you need to let go, try to tell yourself, “Just for today…” and see what happens. (Then do let me know about how it went for you in the comments, OK? I care.)