Fear Factors

Once upon a time, an irate mother was up in arms over an elementary school teacher asking her child to read, “A Wrinkle in Time.”

She wanted the teacher fired. How dare she ask her child to read such blasphemy? The book promotes witchcraft and replaces God with a central brain called IT. She was joining an effort to have the book banned from their small, rural Ohio, public school system.

I listened to Four (sisters are labeled in birth order) rant and rave in my kitchen over the evil intent of the author. She bitterly quoted sentence fragments out of context to support why it should be banned, clearly echoing someone else’s opinion.

I asked a simple question: Have you read the book?

Oh no, of course not!

Ye gads… A Wrinkle in Time was one of my favorite childhood reads! The synchronized ball bouncing struck a rebel cord in my young mind, which lead to a tendency to question – even when I complied – all expectations for conformity.

Ironically, Four still believes the great liar will make her America great again and the little boy who was not allowed to read the book grew up to post racist bull about the Obamas on Facebook.

I have decided to explore how seemingly minor, inconsequential  fear factors play into controlling human behavior for my contribution to the Brooklyn Art Library’s writing project.

Tidbits of drafts may end up here as thoughts twirl down memory lane, gathering topics to write about. Who knows? This little project may be therapeutic.

Thanks for reading!


Shun Control

I broke silence, wrote about why I need to join the resistance on my YBWorks blog.

I expect negative feedback from family and friends who voted for Trump. Some will quietly unfriend me on Facebook, others will blow up my phone. I might get shunned again.

Oh well, shunning only works the first time… then you find yourself not willing to let yourself get too close again. Trust is gone… if they can shun you once, they can do it again.

It was my fault… I did the unthinkable… I survived and thrived without a husband and that, dear friends, set a very bad example for my married sisters.

It took awhile to connect the dots. 

I never really understood why I got shunned… the explanation given when my youngest sister broke silence was a vague excuse carefully worded so I wouldn’t ask any questions. She had to deal with some “personal” things.   

Okay, like that explains two long years of absolutely no contact, the bullshit story used to ensure that our paths would never cross, and the disconnect from other relatives who also shunned me as they took her side in our imaginary war.

Yes, word was that me and baby sis were fighting so much that we couldn’t be in the same room, so I was not invited to any family function that she planned to attend… even our family Christmas party was split into two events, held on separate days.

Two long years passed with absolutely no contact before our paths crossed at a family cookout hosted by other sisters to celebrate two birthdays: my 50th and mom’s 69th.

When I arrived, a big “uh-oh, aunt Nancy is here” flashed over faces on in the next generation down. Baby sis was in the house so I walked in… that’s when she hugged me and apologized with the weak excuse.  After talking, we were okay… but the young ones who had taken her side continued to shun me. I found that rather amusing, like who goes to a birthday party and doesn’t say one word to the birthday girl? One niece actually lifted her nose and turned her head as she walked passed me.

The weird thing about shunning is it intends to punish people by withdrawing highly desired contact and affection, as if the person being shunned will be thrilled to once again be welcomed back into the family fold. If too much time passes, the opposite effect is achieved. The shunned person is not so willing to fully embrace those who are capable of shunning people they supposedly love. The closeness once shared can never be restored as the trust is gone.

I know, supposed to let bygones be bygones, life goes on… but, seven years have passed since she broke the silence and we are not as close as we used to be. I still feel a distance between us. As for the young ones, time has made us strangers. We say hello on the rare occasions when our paths cross, but we don’t know each other anymore. Some have birthed babies who are now school aged children that I have never met.

It always bothered me that I never really knew why I got shunned. If there was a plausible why, I could understand. For nine years, I did not know why. Then a light bulb of illumination clicked on just a couple months ago, when I heard an older relative say, “Married women who want to stay married do not associate with divorced women.”

She went on to elaborate, explain the perils of such associations.

I had heard those words before, in regards to another sister with whom contact was limited after my divorce. I had blamed her husband… thought that odd idea came from his church.

Now it all makes sense… baby sis must have taken the old lady’s advice, abruptly cut off all contact with me while she was desperately trying to salvage her marriage.

So, why did I go off on this tangent?

Oh yes… the possibility of being shunned again, which raises a question: Is the possibility of being shunned for your opinion an effective deterrent used to silence voices?



I am scared of cars. There.  I’ve done said it.
Rip up my old UAW and IUE-CWA union cards, I am afraid of automobiles.

To be precise, I don’t like to ride in cars.   I will do anything to get out of it… piss off my family, come up with all sorts of excuses of why I can’t go somewhere, when the truth to be told is that the mere idea of riding inside an automobile to get to Point A from Point B raises up a dread so fierce inside of me that I am fighting down panic until I figure out a way to get out of going.

There really is no good reason to have this phobia. Driving was always much better than riding, but I still did not like it. What kid drops out of Driver’s Ed? Waits two years before taking it again? I didn’t get my license until I was 18. Hey, at least I never buried a car in the back yard.  My great grandfather did that; dug a big hole and buried his Model T Ford out on the old farm.  He had auto-phobia, too.  Or, maybe it was a train phobia?  Word has it that he refused to drive over railroad tracks. I don’t know why he buried it.  Maybe he couldn’t keep it running?

CORRECTION: I got my great-grandfather’s confused. My dad’s paternal grandfather refused to drive over railroad tracks. His maternal grandfather buried a “Star Car” – not a Model T Ford.

I never trusted cars to keep running.  I was always afraid they would break down and leave me stranded.  Some did.  Even the convertible I bought thinking what I needed was a “fun” car to make driving more pleasurable broke down on me when I took it out of town.  Twice it left me stuck out on the highway, waiting on tow trucks to haul it in for repairs.  Around town, I was fine… drop the top and crank the tunes, oh yeah… as long I didn’t go more than five miles out of town, I could drive just fine.  People teased me about that convertible, told me that I only like to drive on sunny days when it was nice enough to drop the top.  They were right.  They just did not know the extent of my auto-phobia.

Should I tell the worst of it?

Now this will make me sound plum crazy.   Spirits roam the highways.  They are not all good.  I have seen the shadow of death. There is no other way to describe a black shapeless cloud that floats with a total disregard to air patterns.  When you see it, you know what it is.

In town, I did not have those problems.  The only spirit that talked to me while I was driving in town was the priest who shot himself in the rectory. He said, “pray for me, I’ve been shot” just after I parked on the side street by the post office in Warren.

1.5 x 6.5 inches... yes, a bookmark.

1.5 x 6.5 inches… yes, a bookmark.

My last car was an almost new Chrysler PT Cruiser.  Maybe I should have bought another convertible, but I bought a hard top in Cool Vanilla thinking it would be a “fun” car, too.  It had ye about 14,000 miles on it when I got it.  Three years later, when I had to give up driving due to disability, it still had less than 20,000 but then that last year really doesn’t count as I only put gas in the tank maybe two or three times.  It sat in the garage so long that mice chewed through the wiring.

Funny thing is, I miss driving. I didn’t want to give up driving because I always felt safer driving myself than I did riding with anyone else. I have absolutely no problem with buses, trains, and even airplanes.
I just HATE riding in cars.

Do you have any weird phobias?