Oh, by the way, Gwendoline Christie as Hannah.

As described in A Coward’s Guide to Living, Jacob Will’s love interest Hannah Bishop is described as “intimidating…tall, striking, very fit, almost muscular…and extremely attractive in a Brienne of Tarth (Game of Thrones) sort of way.” So who better to assume the role than the actual Brienne herself, but Gwendoline Christie.

She’ll need no sword in this role, her strengths will always carry the day.

There are many other roles to fill, but I’ll wait until the director(s) call and ask for my thoughts. Wait, is that my phone ringing?

And while I’m thinking about it, Jessica Chastain. And Lasse Hallstrom for director.

Continuing the casting fantasy of my book A Coward’s Guide to Living, the pivotal role of the red-headed Reverend Rose Beecham should go to Jessica Chastain. As Beecham is described as an unusually good looking minister, Chastain is the natural choice.

Her previous roles as a gambling entrepreneur (Molly’s Game), political operative (Miss Sloane), and author (The Help), position her as perfectly suited for the demands of a minister.

And as her last role as Tammy Faye Baker was that of a minister’s wife, she can take the pulpit for real in this one.

Lasse Hallstrom would be a great director for this. His story telling in The Cider House Rules; The Shipping News; Haachi, A Dog’s Tale; and The Hundred Foot Journey, among others, points to his understanding of the human condition in all its forms.

A Day-Glo, Chromium Yellow Panda Bear? Well, of course. And now you can find out why.

That Panda Bear is only one of the characters in my new book, A Coward’s Guide to Living. In this coming-of-middle-age story, Jacob Will is charged with getting his life together via a most unusual method. He must commit a number of little deaths, “killing” those things preventing him from living a genuine life. Be assured, no animals or people were harmed during his quest.

His adventures will take him across the United States in an an attempt to fulfill that charge. Why did he destroy an expensive bottle of Champagne? What’s the meaning of that tattoo? And will he sue the manufacturer of a metal detector? Will he discover what love is?

These and more questions are answered in A Coward’s Guide to Living. Available now through Amazon on Kindle and paperback.

Violence was never far away: D- Part 2. A Thistle and Bee story.

The content in this story is true, portraying violence against women, drug use, and prostitution. The woman’s identity is protected.

Previously: She wasn’t there for the babies she’d had back-to-back. D was too busy selling things and stealing. D describes it as “illegal things.” No one was spared, she even stole from her drug man.

Part 2 of D’s story from Thistle and Bee.

While she had no pimp, she was “ho-ing around.” Her drug man would come around with a guy he expected D to service. When that would happen, she “would jump up and take a shower.” Somewhere deep in side of her, there was a spark of pride.

Looking back, it was who patronized her that stands out. They were police, probation officers, cab drivers, and pushers; they were young, old, retired, bus drivers even. She alludes that some of them were people one could read about in the news.

The streets were not safe. She usually carried a knife for protection, even a gun once, but found that to be too much trouble. It was only recently she put the knife down, six of them to be exact.

There was no safe place anywhere for D. Violence was common in her life. One time, she shot one of her kids’ daddy and stabbed the other. Another time, when she was high, she stabbed a man who’d pushed her down stairs. Yet another man dragged her kicking and screaming through her yard. D recognized that the violence came from either being under the influence or attempting to get something in order to get high again.

Sidebar: Each year, it is estimated that more than ten million people experience domestic violence with women more likely to be the victim. In 2010, Tennessee ranked as one of ten states with the highest rates of female murder. 93% of these women were killed by a male they knew; 63% of them in the context of an intimate relationship.

#bmeisterman.com

“We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.” ― Oscar Wilde

Has any quote been more appropriate for now than this one by Oscar Wilde? Say what you may about him, Wilde sought to transpose the beauty he saw in art into daily life.

Wilde believed that the artist should hold forth higher ideals, and that pleasure and beauty would replace utilitarian ethics. His pursuit of such led him into situations that would see him incarcerated for “gross indecency” and “homosexual” behavior. Thankfully, laws such as those that imprisoned him have been overturned in most places. But prisons don’t need to have walls to remove people from society. There are other ways of separating those “undesirables” from the larger group. And unfortunately, we’ve become quite adept at doing so.

It is the quote at the top of this post that resonates the most with me today. We find ourselves in a terrible place – one where we’re isolating ourselves from a world that has become dangerously contagious; one that has become horribly divided; one that is economically insecure; and finally, one that ignores or worse, pits brother against brother.

This is a world we have created, perhaps not intentionally, but through neglect and inconsideration of others. We have looked out for ourselves to the detriment of others in an Ayn Rand wet dream, focusing on the individual over each other. Indeed, “We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.”

Wilde had it right. This is our world and we have made it a hell, but we can also change that. Do we have the fortitude and the intention to do that? It would mean some seismic shifts from the top to the bottom of this country. No one will be left unaffected by it; some will be pleased and others will be furious. Change isn’t easy.

Again, “We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.” What are we going to do about it?

#bmeisterman.com

The devil you know vs…

At what point in a person’s life does self-awareness seep in? Or perhaps the question should be, does everyone achieve self-awareness? The fates aren’t that egalitarian. Arguably, they appear to be sheltering-at-home lately, wherever that may be, and not doling out that quality broadly. I would posit that at no time in our recent history has there been a greater lack of self-awareness than now. Yes, the fates are either staying at home or are enjoying no small amount of Schadenfreude over the current state of affairs.

Nowhere is that lack of self-awareness more apparent than in government. Not just at the national level, but state and local as well. There are those carelessly handing down edicts whose ramifications will be felt for generations. There has been too much division in this country for too long, the latest line of demarcation being old vs. young. Who gets to live and, well, you know the argument.

In the ’60’s, one of the rallying cries was “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” Has that come to pass? Were I still in that demographic, I could very well be carrying that placard. It seems that too many of those in power shouldn’t be trusted with those decisions affecting our lives and not surprisingly, they are over 30. Maybe we should have paid more attention to that slogan.

Some are just simply over their heads, flailing about (see Peter principle below) with maybe some cognizance of their limitations. Others believe their own PR and are enamored with their self-importance (see Dunning-Kruger below) and believe in an unrivaled omnipotence. Both are dangerous, one more than the other.

So you decide, the devil you know or… Who wants to make that decision?

Info dump: To keep all things equal, the source for the information below is Wikipedia (for better or worse).

The Peter principle is a concept in management developed by Laurence J. Peter, which observes that people in a hierarchy tend to rise to their “level of incompetence”: an employee is promoted based on their success in previous jobs until they reach a level at which they are no longer competent, as skills in one job do not necessarily translate to another. (Wikipedia)

In the field of psychology, the Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which people with low ability at a task overestimate their ability. It is related to the cognitive bias of illusory superiority and comes from the inability of people to recognize their lack of ability. Without the self-awareness of metacognition, people cannot objectively evaluate their competence or incompetence. (Wikipedia)   #bmeisterman.com

“The future’s uncertain, and the end is always near…”

So sang Jim Morrison in the Doors’ song, Roadhouse Blues.

Prescient? Perhaps, but in the same song, he also sang “Save our city, save our city
Right now”. While some of the sturm and drang of the Doors’ music could be over the top, (disclaimer: I’m a fan), it reflected the zeitgeist of the time. It’s also pertinent today with so much uncertainty about our future.

Each day brings a new revelation or speculation about the future, short and long term. Truth is no one really knows. And in A Coward’s Guide to Living, neither does the middle-aged protagonist Jacob Will. His future is uncertain, and the end? Well… that’s to be discovered.

But, as with Jacob, we’ll all have to plow on through this to find out what happens.

In the meantime, in the closing words of Roadhouse Blues, Morrison wails “Well, I woke up this morning, I got myself a beer.”

Why not?

Getting our s— together.

Here we are, five weeks or so into the WFH hostage situation. This is the spring we’re all missing. As I look out the window of my home office, I notice that it’s become very green outside. Usually, this would lighten my spirits, but as we’re confined to our homes, we must look for spirit-lifting actions elsewhere.

I find I’m “unfriending” on social media a large number of people who, generally, I respect. But to turn this situation into an opportunity to spew negativity is counter-productive. Can fingers be pointed? Yes, of course. Does it make things better? No, not really.

Instead, I’m quietly celebrating those whose concern for their friends, neighbors, and family make life worth living and as I said, celebrating. This certainly includes those healthcare and essential workers. But I’m also thinking about those people who, on any given morning, nod a hello to you and go off to their daily endeavors. Today, they’re inquiring about their neighbors, whether there is something they can do for others. Asking whether or not they can pick up something at the market for them or leaving small, unexpected gifts of food or treats.

In John Carpenter’s film, Starman, the alien (Jeff Bridges), in talking about humans, states, “Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst.”

Down here at the granular level, he was right. Something good is happening. We need to take notice of these acts of kindness and thoughtfulness and remember when this finally runs its terrible course, that perhaps we have gained something we lost sometime ago. Let’s not forget what these small lessons are teaching us. We can and maybe are getting our s— together. Instead of playing politics, let’s play together.

“I thought the secret of life was obvious: be here now, love as if your whole life depended on it, find your life’s work, and try to get hold of a giant panda.”

If A Coward’s Guide to Living’s protagonist Jacob Will was much of a reader, he might have come across this quote from Anne Lamott. And if he did, he might have recognized its significance as he drove across the country with a giant, chromium yellow panda bear as his silent companion. But as fate would have it, he’d learn it the hard way.