I want to wear blue wings and soar

above the screaming

tantrums of today

I will take you with me

(hold you)

as we gaze down

upon whispery earth

at tiny beings

scuffling about

checking their clocks

and bank accounts


the life of a bird

who does not love so much

that it hurts






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I wish I was fine

It’s like my brain

is doing a freakin’ crime....


From a rap by a child, age 11


If Life Were a Story

Warning: Not suitable for all audiences. This story could happen to anyone, but includes implied violence.

Once upon a time, two people fell in love, traveled together to colorful countries, bicycled together over hills and bridges, and ultimately married. The dream.... Sigh. Smile. No Nicholas Sparks turmoil here, just pure hearts and honeybees, unicorns and rainbows.

They bought a house with a fence in the backyard and painted it white. They got a puppy who would grow up to be an 80-pound German Shepherd. And in the next couple of years, they gave birth to two beautiful children. Sigh. Smile. Butterflies and flutterbies.

Now, good reader, if the story ended here, it wouldn't be much of a story, would it? No plot. No conflict. How utterly bo----ring.

Introducing: conflict. The dog suddenly dies from cancer. The spouse's company closes and finances grow tight. No more nights out. No more traveling. And now--the worst of it: their oldest child grows ill.

Even worse, it's an invisible illness. The child screams and cries, "This is a nightmare! I just want to wake up!" He is barely 9 years old and tries to kill himself. They hide knives. They hold him down. The younger sibling is terrified.

For a good story, you have to make your protagonists suffer. Take it all a step further.

How can we make this even more challenging? Doctors misdiagnose, blame the parents, think the child has learning issues, suspect behavioral problems. 

Hey, from a writer's standpoint, now, we're talking! Conflicts abound. The story becomes intriguing.

But let's not forget our protagonists. They need to take action. And they do. One spouse begins his own company, tapping into his creativity. He works from home so he can care for the kids as well, working on the computer while the kids run around outside, preparing crockpot dinners and driving the kids to football practice, soccer practice and the hundreds of doctor appointments. 

The other spouse teaches elementary school children all day long before coming come home to her own two, also drives them around to Girls Scouts, and doctor appointments, reads them Raold Dahl and Christopher Paul Curtis books until they fall asleep, and then spends nights investigating. She's a detective, reading and researching, talking to people in person and on the internet, to figure out what is going on with her child.

Cool. Now this is a full-fledged mystery, complete with red herrings.

Other parents who have walked the same path help the parents on their quest to save their son. Eventually, the parents visit the Gurus...wonderful doctors who believe their tales, from PANDAS specialists to homeopathic NDs to Lyme Literate MDs. Doctors prescribe antibiotics or homeopathic remedies, vitamins and probiotics, low-carb diets and gluten-free diets.

Still, the child rages and sobs. Will this nightmare ever end?

We have the plot, the conflict, the setting, the characters.

We have the mood: sad, frustrated, angry, defiant, determined.

We have the themes: bravery, perserverence, family, love, friendship.

SPOILER ALERT! Don't read on if you haven't yet seen the movie!

Well, just kidding about the spoiler alert. Because the resolution has yet to be written. Must we have a final conflict, a damaging one, an all-out car chase, complete with gunfire, before the story can be resolved? Or can the magic "cure" suddenly begin to work, with one day melting into the next, better day, and so on?

There are no magic spells, no prince or princess to ride in and save the day. As a writer, that's the biggest cop-out ever. But wouldn't it be nice for this family!

The parents must write the final chapter themselves. They will try different remedies, different treatments until they locate the right combination for their child. In the meantime, they must deal with the rage and sadness of one child and the fear and sadness of the other. 

So the parents, ever the protagonists, plod on, until the final chapter of this mystery/horror story is written. 

Someday, there will be an epilogue, letting the good reader know that the child grows up to be a happy person who travels to colorful countries, perhaps crisscrossing continents on his bicycle. His sister becomes a happy, healthy person who lives with meaning in life. And the parents...well, the story must have wonderful times ahead for two people who fought and won this brave battle. May they be inscribed into the Book of Life.

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