Tuesday, October 31, 2017

NaNoWriMo 2017 Kickoff at Midnight

NaNoWriMo 2017
Participant
For the last three presidential election years my NaNo novel has been set in a mobile homes park named Hope Estates featuring residents whose lives are impacted by current events.  . First Mobile Hopes 2008 then Occupy Hope 2012 and then Living Hope 2016.

Since my head has remained enveloped in last year's election cycle and storytelling is my way making sense of things, I'm walking my Hope Estates characters through the last year with Trumping Hope. (That's a triple entendre BTW)


Economic, racial and gender issues will continue to be showcased but also (for obvious reasons} abuse of power, including the subject of the viral Twitter #MeToo and bullying in its many manifestations will have equal place.  And as always of course--hope!

I'm hoping that I can channel all the angst overwhelming me since mid-summer 2016 into this storyworld and maybe make some kind of sense out of it that will help me make sense out of my own life, giving me back the hope necessary for coping with my own daily challenges.

Read more...

Saturday, October 21, 2017

My Brain on Books XIX

I am reading for The Office of Letters and Lights the folks who bring us NaNoWriMo today as I love what they are doing for literacy with their Young Writer's Programs and because I've participated in NaNo every year since 2004.  I have been blessed to have it in my life and would like to give something back if only kudos and link love.  I'm putting this plug at the top in hopes some who stop by will check out their site and see all the great things they do to foster love of reading and writing and story in kids. 


This post will be organized like a blog inside a blog with recent updates stacked atop previous ones. I may be posting some updates on Twitter @Joystory and the Joystory fb fanpage. But this is where I do anything more than a line or two.  Including mini-challenges that don't require a separate post..   





j
Ode to Dewey
by Joy Renee
We Miss You Dewey




4:44AM - Wrapping up. Amazingly I going to make it. 40 hrs awake and counting.

In spite of that I read three books start to finish in one day.  It has been years since I've done that.  Two were audio's from the BARD digital library.. The last was via the text to speech function on  my Zen 7in tablet. In all three I increased speed by 25-50% which shaved  30-40 minutes off every three hours.I began with Night Errands as mentioned below then:

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrick Backman

Aristotle and an Aardvark Go to Washington: Understanding Political Doublespeak Through Philosophy and Jokes by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein

First time in decades that I've read three whole books in one day.  Audio is quite a different experience tho and I wouldn't reccomend speed listening to fiction or poetry.  Non Fic works fine sped up tho.  In fact I seem to listen better--comprehend and stay focused.  Wonder if that is another Autism trait...It's like maybe there is too much time for my mind to wander between words when speech is at normal speed.

yikes!  it took me an hour to prep this update. It's now quarter to six. 42 hrs awake.

10:00PM - Finally finished Night Errands. Now I'm itching to pick up a pencil and write a poem.

Thot it would be done by early afternoon but stuff happened.  People stuff.  Then when I got back into the thon I started visiting the Dewey page and social media #readathon.and lurked. Made a few posts which I thot would take me three minutes but took me thirty at least.  Each.  After such a long hiatus (basically nothing but the thons and NaNo for over a year) Im clumsy and clueless.  Lost. Because someone's been moving the furniture around, changing the rules. Facebook is the worst of the bunch. On my fb Joystory page there is so much clutter. Bad enough for someone with good or half good vision. Which isn't me.  Some of it seems to be links to instructions on the new features but today is not the day to deal with that.  But the really irritating stuff is all the soliciting for money to boost posts, buy visits, link love, ads etc.

I can not afford it;  Just a fact.  But every time I see one my mind plays the mini-movie of me saying no to some eager entrepreneur who won't take no for an answer until he perceives the shame his persistence engenders in me and his eager welcome turns to disdain.  And I feel like a loser.

That's the way my story-making mind works.  It takes anticipated and remembered social encounters, makes a mish-mash of them gives them the soundtrack of anxiety (think Jaws) and plays them in endless loops. It's like I've been trapped in middle-school for fifty years!  I stand before every adult--even those forty years younger as a sixth grader with empty hands before the teacher gathering up the test papers at the end of class

Awake or asleep I can't get away from it. Except by imposing another story--a movie, novel, poem made by another or my own elaborate storyworld

Why does fb have to be so in your face?  Other platforms inform about their monetizing options without crawling all over the real-estate of your screen and popping up on top of what you are working on.

Well, that was a bit of a detour.

9:00 AM - It's that time again. Dewey's 24hr read-a-thon.  My 19th.  It snuck up on me.  It's a miracle I remembered at all seeing as how I've not been posting anywhere since the last one in April..

I prepped my Thon post and set it to publish without me so that I could actually read for the first hour instead of fiddling with writing and editing and sharing.

All fun things to do but it's not reading!

One hour became 4.  Entirely audio book via  BARD: Braille and Audio Reading Download, a service of the National Library Service for the blind and physically handicapped, providing downloadable books and magazines.

I was 'reading'  Night Errands: How Poets Use Dreams, a collection of essays by poets relating how their dream life influences their poems.

I started with audio because my eyes were fried from nearly six hours of reading on screen between ten last night and four this morning.  I had been prepping my devices with ebooks and lost track of time.  One of my talents.

So, since I woke around noon yesterday---I'll hit 24hrs awake in 2.5 hours.  Sigh.  Even my chances of making it to the finish line at 5am Sunday are not a good bet.

I'm going to be posting briefer and hopefully more frequent updates via my fb Joystory page and Twitter.  And possibly Google Plus.

4:44 AM - l am prepping this ahead and scheduling it to post at 4:44 AM which is also when my alarm is set.  That gives me time to get up and take care of biological business including fixing coffee and water bottle.

Am including the intro meme here so I don't have to spend the first hour preparing it as so often has happened before.  In fact much of it is copy/pasted from the April Thon.

I'm going to spend the first hour actually reading!

Intro Meme:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

Longview, Washington USA.  On the north side of the majestic Columbia River approximately 25 miles from the coast and 50 miles from Portland, Oregon as the crow flies.

From my Mom's house.  The house I lived in from age 18 to 21 and again since January 2013.  See earliest posts under the label Lifequake for explanation.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

For fiction: And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer 
by Fredrik Backman

For Nonfiction: Advancing bookmark in Jane Smiley's 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel.
The Day I Became an Autodidact by Kendall Hailey

But mostly I'm looking forward to free range reading.  The most important part of my plan for this thon is to not have a plan.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Imitation crab salad.
And Chocolate. Anything chocolate.  Even if it has to be chocolate powder out of the can.
Not at the same time!

Truth is I'm not sure what my options are as I let this sneak up on me so Ed is bringing my no prep meals and snacks when he visits this afternoon.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I'm legally blind from RP aka Tunnel Vision with less than 2 degrees of vision left.  I can no longer read even large print with my left eye.  I now prefer ebooks for the ability to enlarge fonts and control line width so I don't loose my way between end and beginning of lines.  I used to read nearly 1K words per minute but now read slower than I talk.  Very discouraging.

I've had a mood disorder since childhood featuring depression, anxiety, panic and insomnia.  Several times professionals have considered the possibility of bi-polar but finally ruled it out definitively in late 2015 when they diagnosed me with High Functioning Autism aka Asperger's.  Over fifty years of feeling 'wrong' and not knowing why.  I've spent the months since reading nf about the autism spectrum and novels and memoirs featuring autistic individuals which has gone a long way toward helping me understand much that once confused and shamed me.  Since I have several of those books in progress I'll probably dip into them today.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

The most important difference after actually sleeping the night before is to go with the flow--less plan more fun.

Read more...

Saturday, April 29, 2017

My Brain on Books XVIII

I am reading for The Office of Letters and Lights the folks who bring us NaNoWriMo today as I love what they are doing for literacy with their Young Writer's Programs and because I've participated in NaNo every year since 2004.  I have been blessed to have it in my life and would like to give something back if only kudos and link love.  I'm putting this plug at the top in hopes some who stop by will check out their site and see all the great things they do to foster love of reading and writing and story in kids. 


This post will be organized like a blog inside a blog with recent updates stacked atop previous ones. I may be posting some updates on Twitter @Joystory and the Joystory fb fanpage. But this is where I do anything more than a line or two.  Including mini-challenges that don'e require a separate post..   






Ode to Dewey
by Joy Renee
We Miss You Dewey




4:00AM (Sunday) - last hour.  After posting the 10PM update I spent the next several hours browsing among my ebook libraries on my various devises, flitting from book to book like a butterfly with ADD.  Then sometime after midnight I settled down with Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy on my Switch tabet which has just informed me its battery is at 5%.  The charger is in by the bed and its much easier take it in there to plug it in then to get to the powerstrip to unplug the cord and bring it back to the office.  So I'm wrapping up here with a final update before taking my Switch, Kindle and LOC Talking Book machine to bed for the final hour.  I've got Joyce Carol Oates story collection, High Lonesome, on Talking Books and with the way my eyes are burning and itching that is appealing to me the most right now.  Tho the hilarity of Hitchhiker is more appealing as a bedtime story than the heart harrowing of an Oates short story.  I'll decide once I'm settled.

Anybody out there a Hitchhiker of the Galaxy fan?  I was hooked after four chapters.  Now in chapter 12.  That Zaphod B.  What a hoot!  Am I the only one who visualizes him as a certain American 'billionaire' with flyaway hair and a penchant for towers?

10:00PM - I just finished Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.  I had started it a couple months ago, read over half of it over two days and somehow let it drop off my radar.  I decided to return to it and finish it before I settled in with The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy which I'd started last month.  I thought it would take me a couple more hours, but when I tried to start in where I'd left off I was lost .  I tried backing up--from the 67% mark to the 50% mark to the 45% mark.  It was starting to come back to me but it was't the same experience I remembered from the day it had kept me mesmerized for hours in February.

So I started over.  And for the first time in a very long time I read a whole book in a single day.  I never get to enter my books in the database for the thon because I never both start and finish them on thon day.  Today I will.

5:00AM -  Possibly for the first time I gave sleep the night before the priority and did not prep this post to publish on the dot of 5AM. I set my alarm for 4AM to give me time to get my eyes open, coffee made and this post prepped.  But I kept hitting snooze.  So now I'll be spending the first hour doing all of that and the opening meme.

Intro Meme:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

Longview, Washington USA.  On the north side of the majestic Columbia River approximately 25 miles from the coast and 50 miles from Portland, Oregon as the crow flies.

From my Mom's house.  The house I lived in from age 18 to 21 and again since January 2013.  See earliest posts under the label Lifequake for explanation.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

For fiction: The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy -- All of Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker stories and novels in one ebook.  My husband has been after me to read this for decades.

For Nonfiction: Advancing bookmark in Jane Smiley's 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel.

But mostly I'm looking forward to free range reading.  The most important part of my plan for this thon is to not have a plan.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

It's a toss up between candied ginger and ice cream.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I'm legally blind from RP aka Tunnel Vision with less than 2 degrees of vision left.  I can no longer read even large print with my left eye.  I now prefer ebooks for the ability to enlarge fonts and control line width so I don't loose my way between end and beginning of lines.  I used to read nearly 1K words per minute but now read slower than I talk.  Very discouraging.

I've had a mood disorder since childhood featuring depression, anxiety, panic and insomnia.  Several times professionals have considered the possibility of bi-polar but finally ruled it out definitively in late 2015 when they diagnosed me with High Functioning Autism aka Asperger's.  Over fifty years of feeling 'wrong' and not knowing why.  I've spent the months since reading nf about the autism spectrum and novels and memoirs featuring autistic individuals which has gone a long way toward helping me understand much that once confused and shamed me.  Since I have several of those books in progress I'll probably dip into them today.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

The most important difference after actually sleeping the night before is to go with the flow--less plan more fun.

Read more...

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

ROW80 2016 Round 4 Goals

The writing challenge that
 knows you have a life
Back from an 11 month writing hiatus.  Got Life Hacked.  Outer chaos ginned up inner chaos and created a feedback loop.

The start of NaNo was the impetus I needed to jump back in.  I kinda knew if I ditched NaNo the fact of a first miss since 2004 would ditch my morale so that it might be months or years before I found the motivation again.

Because I jumped into NaNo Monday night, I decided I should also join ROW80 even tho its a month late for Round 4.  I need the motivation and accountability only a group can provide.  It also provides the incentive to keep going after November 30.

For my goals I'm going with what I set up for Round 1 in January (which I dropped out of before the end of the month) with a few tweaks for NaNo.


My Round 4 intentions: seek to regain my joy/Joy in writing and to prepare the soil for its blooming with these time investment goals:
  • Storydreaming 15min Daily 
  • Read/Study Craft 15min Daily 
  • Move/Breathe/Meditate 15min Daily 
  • Personal Journaling 15min Daily 
  • Read Fiction 30min Daily 
  • Blog post Writing/Editing. 15-60min Daily. (this is also a boundary.  60min max even if that means the post isn't ready to publish.  No more pressuring myself to post daily even if it means spending 2, 4, 6 hours and upwards getting it prepped.
  • Social network activities 30min Daily (writing Joystory posts doesn't count only social reaching out like reading/commenting on other blogs, guest posts and posting to fb, twitter, pinterest etc)
  • Fiddling in my Fiction Files.  30min Daily (includes editing WIP, outlining, character sketches, editing, adding/subtracting, and organizing info in WIP note files. 30min Daily
  •  Scene Writing. 500 words or 30min Daily whichever comes first.  (for November that means my NaNo Novel, Living Hope.  And I will have to step it up if I hope to keep my NaNo winning streak.  But I know I can't come back from an 11mo writing hiatus and require myself to maintain a 1666 word pace.
Current Joy Meter: under 50% 


Read more...

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

NaNoWriMo 2016

NaNoWriMo 2016
Participant
I waited until the last minute to commit.  I've been on an unintentional writing hiatus since last January.  Well not zero writing but so little and so infrequent as to rank as negligible.  So the thought of a 50,000 words of fiction in 30 days challenge was nearly too intimidating to think about.  But the thought of missing my first NaNo since 2004 was too demoralizing.

Apparently morale trumped fear.  Or rather fear of a tanking morale trumped performance fear.

Two hours before the midnight kickoff I still had not settled on the story.  But then a fresh memory from earlier today when I entered the county courthouse to register to vote on the last possible day to do so here in Washington state, reminded me that this was a presidential election year and for the 2008 and 2012 election years my NaNo Novel was set in a mobile homes park named Hope Estates featuring residents whose lives were impacted by the 2008 economic bust with the election cycle running as a backdrop.

First Mobile Hopes then Occupy Hope and now Living Hope

Because the premise, setting and most of the characters are already established and the story's current events are dictated by our current events most of the prep work is already done.  That makes hope of actually winning again this year less laughable than it was yesterday at this time.

So off to the flying finger races.

Read more...

Saturday, October 22, 2016

My Brain on Books XVII

I am reading for The Office of Letters and Lights the folks who bring us NaNoWriMo today as I love what they are doing for literacy with their Young Writer's Programs and because I've participated in NaNo every year since 2004 and will again next month.  I have been blessed to have it in my life and would like to give something back if only kudos and link love.  I'm putting this plug at the top in hopes some who stop by will check out their site and see all the great things they do to foster love of reading and writing and story in kids. 

This post will be organized like a blog inside a blog with recent updates stacked atop previous ones. I may be posting some updates on Twitter @Joystory and the Joystory fb fanpage. But this is where I do anything more than a line or two.  Including mini-challenges unless required to have a separate post..   





Ode to Dewey
by Joy Renee
We Miss You Dewey




1:44 AM - Just finished Against All Things Ending, the penultimate book in Stephen Donaldson's Thomas Covenant Unbeliever series of series.  Two trilogies published in the late 70s and early 80s followed by a four book series in the early 2000s.  I read the first book Lord Foul's Bane in 1979 and by 85 had read all six of the two trilogies.

When the first book of the Final Chronicles came out in 2002 (or at least when I became aware of it) I decided to wait until the whole series was complete to start it but not until I'd reread the first two.  The last book came out in 2013 I believe so in late 2013 I started reading Lord Foul's Bane.  Did not get far before life interrupted me and by the time I got back to it in late 2014 I had to start over.

By then I'd conceived the idea of making the Covenant series an integral aspect of one of my character's character with the themes in this epic fantasy reflected in his life and him making sense of his life by viewing it through the lens of the story's events, symbols and metaphors.

So the rereading of the first six books and the reading of the last four became a project requiring me to read slow while trying to embody Greg from Blow Me a Candy Kiss, while musing and meditating, highlighting and note taking and looking for ways to weave relevant elements of Donaldson's story throughout my own.

I was working on the final book of the second trilogy for April's Thon and am still hoping to at least begin the fourth and final book before this Thon ends.  I must confess that this afternoon out of frustration with the epub ap on my Kindle balking every time I tried to highlight, I finally gave up and read the last hundred pages without highlighting or note taking.  The relief made me regret having ignored my first inclination to set aside project mode for the first read-thru of the series.

I may just do that for the final book as chance are I will have to start over from the beginning anyway as all my notes and highlights for the first 7.5 books are trapped on my Nexus 7 which stopped taking a charge in August and I have yet to get it to a technician to see if it can be repaired or the data rescued.

11:55 - The last couple of hours have been a rough patch for me and it is hardly surprising since I hit my 24 hour awake mark at 2pm this afternoon.  It will be a miracle if I make it to 5AM PCT.

Around 10 it became increasingly difficult to keep my eyes open and I kept finding myself reading the same screen over and over.  Sometime due to not realizing that the screen tap had not advanced the text but most times because I was not processing the text.  I briefly considered packing it in early but decided instead to take a break and get active.

It was then that I truly regretted not getting my mini-tramp unburied befor the thon.  The mini-tramp has been an integral part of my thons since I got it in 2008.  But this year there was a pile of bagged crochet projects and empty bags rising to hip level on me has I stood with my feet on the floor beside the tramp.  There was also a small bench perched upside down atop the pile which brought it to shoulder level.

This was the result of my having to quickly rearrange things in my office/craft room here at Mom's to make room for Ed to have his computer station in here when he moved up from the Rogue Valley in March.

I realized that clearing the tramp would be just the kind of activity I needed and it beat walking up and down the hall. It wasn't necessary to find new homes for everything tonight I only needed to schlep the stuff across the hall to Mom's room and set it on or beside her bed.  Then I would have the tramp for the final hours of the thon even if I had to return the pile to the tramp before Mom returns from my brother's tomorrow evening.

So now it's done and the tramp is available but I'm too beat to get on it.  LOL. But I'm now wide awake again and ready to read.

3:33 PM - It's been awhile since I checked in.  I have been reading for most of that time.  For the last three hours I've been laying down resting my eyes while listening to Joyce Carol Oates short stories on my Library of Congress Talking Book machine.  The collection High Lonesome.  JCO is me favorite writer and probably my strongest influence.  I root for her to win the Nobel Prize every year.  But I was extremely pleased when Bob Dylan won it this year.  The first lyricist!  He and Emily Dickinson are my two favorite poets.

I think I'm going to return to The End of All Things, the Donaldson book I mentioned above which I'm close to finishing after spending two hours with it this morning.

5:00 AM - this is set to auto publish at 4:44.  I'll be back to do the intro meme eventually.  I may read in bed on my Kindle for awhile before getting active on here.

7:00 AM - I read in bed until the house heat had been on long enough to prevent feeling chilled while walking about or the need to wear a coat while sitting at my desk.

Intro Meme:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Longview, Washington USA.  On the north side of the majestic Columbia River approximately 25 miles from the coast and 50 miles from Portland, Oregon as the crow flies.

From my Mom's house.  The house I lived in from age 18 to 21 and again since January 2013.  See earliest posts under the label Lifequake for explanation.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
For fiction: The Last Dark by Stephen R. Donaldson.  The final book of the final Chronicles of Thomas Covenant Unbeliever.  I'm about 100 150 pages out from finishing the third book in this, the third series set in The Land.  Two trilogies preceded it.  I was re-reading the first trilogy for the thon a year ago and the second trilogy last April.  This is my first time through the Final Chronicles.

This has been a project related to one of my own stories as Greg in my story Blow Me a Candy Kiss is passionate about the Covenant Chronicles, thinks in the metaphors, symbols, and images of the story.  I'm trying to get inside his head to prepare for another story featuring Greg and Iris from his POV. Four or five more stories after that alternating between POV would make a novel I'm thinking. I'm hoping to make that my NaNoWriMo project next month but I'm not sure I'm ready to write it yet.

For Nonfiction: I'm eager to advance in Jane Smiley's 13 Ways of Looking at a Novel.  I like to have at least one book in the mix that is about books or reading.  And in October when prepping for NaNo I like to have one about fiction writing.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
Stuffed Crust Garlic Chicken Pizza

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
I'm legally blind from RP aka Tunnel Vision with less than 2 degrees of vision left.  I can no longer read even large print with my left eye.  I now prefer ebooks for the ability to enlarge fonts and control line width so I don't loose my way between end and beginning of lines.  I used to read nearly 1K words per minute but now read slower than I talk.  Very discouraging.

I've had a mood disorder since childhood featuring depression, anxiety, panic and insomnia.  Several times professionals have considered the possibility of bi-polar but finally ruled it out definitively just over a year ago when they diagnosed me with High Functioning Autism aka Asperger's.  Over fifty years of feeling 'wrong' and not knowing why.  I've spent the last year reading nf about the autism spectrum and novels and memoirs featuring autistic individuals which has gone a long way toward helping me understand much that once confused and shamed me.  Since I have several of those books in progress I'll probably dip into them today.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
Last April I elected to spend the 24 hours in the tent down in the back yard where my husband has slept since March.  I imagined it would be a cosy, quiet private place where I could focus on reading.  ROFLOL.  It rained.  I spent several hours over the course of the day cleaning up water and wet things, moving stuff from damp to dry spots and trying to block the leaks.  And then there were the necessary excursions upstairs for the inflow and outflow of nutrients, the adding and subtracting of layers of clothing as temps fluctuated between 40 and 60 degrees over the 24 hours--tasks that tripled or quadrupled in time investment because every time I had to do something I couldn't do from my nest I had to extricate myself from blankets and pillows, device cords and lap boards, and sacks of books and snacks and then on my return climb back in and get it all rearranged to my liking again.  Even if I was only in the house five minutes I was away from reading for at least 35. It was during one of those treks upstairs that the worst downpour started and I had forgotten (or been in too big of a hurry) to zip up the tent door and the window flaps were down because the sun had been out long enough to make the tent feel like a sauna.

So yeah.  The tent is still there but I'm not in it.


Read more...

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Sunday Serenity -- Celebrating a Life

Bernie Altman with Marcia
his wife of 69 years
Longview lost one of its heroes last month--one of my heroes--and yesterday I attended the Celebration of a Life service held at the Kelso High gymnasium in Kelso WA. A forum necessary to accommodate the size of the crowd turning out to honor this man whose heart was bigger than any I've ever encountered before or since.

Bernie Altman, advocate and teacher, dies at 92 | Local | tdn.com:

'via Blog this'

Bernard Altman (May 9, 1924-September 8, 2016) was born and raised in New York City and met and married his wife Marcia while they were both teaching at a four teacher school in a small Montana town.  They moved to Kelso where he taught history and government at Huntington Jr. High until his retirement in 1976.  Close to a third of the attendees yesterday stood up to identify as former students when asked.  A remarkable indicator of the positive influence on lives in our community which he wielded.

But that was just the tip of the iceberg because he didn't conduct himself as a typical retiree--sun and surf and RV vacations, TV game show marathons and recliner snoozing?  No!  He would have none of that.  He set out to make his retirement years as significant and as time and energy intensive as his three decades of teaching.  He became a political activist and an advocate for social justice and those in dire straights.  Especially those unable to advocate for themselves--the mentally ill and their families, senior citizens, the disabled and the homeless.

I'll refer you to the obituary for the details of his advocacy work--the organizations, committees, support groups, newsletters, conferences etc.

It was in his capacity as organizer and moderator of a support group for depression and anxiety sufferers that I met him in the late 90s and learned to admire him and care for him and Marcia as deeply as any of my grandparents.  For nearly a year of the several that I attended that weekly group he and Marcia picked me up and delivered me back home.  Both to take that burden off my parents and to encourage me to participate more openly with the group as it was his insight that their presence was inhibiting me.

It was Bernie's words early in my attendance of the group that lifted the burden of shame I'd carried for decades over this dark nemesis that had plagued me since my pre-teens.  He called it a disease that, like diabetes, was a chemical imbalance that left untreated was likely to be fatal.  Those words probably saved my life.

He also said that, in spite of popular opinion, depression was no more of a character flaw than diabetes or a broken leg.  Because of this I was eventually able to seek professional help.  One of my regrets now is that I never got around to contacting Bernie last year to let him know that I'd finally gotten the definitive diagnosis that had so eluded the many professionals I'd encountered over five decades--high functioning autism aka Aspberger's Syndrome.

At the time I bid farewell to the group when my husband got the Silicon Valley job in 1999, Bernie expressed his pleasure and pride in me for how far I'd come since the beginning.  A few weeks before that he'd demonstrated his belief and confidence in me by turning the duties of moderator over to me for one of the rare occasions he could not attend.  That contributed significantly to a sense of personal competence that carried me through the month that I had to live alone to pack up and close down our house while Ed was in California starting his new job and preparing for my arrival.  Something I could not have come close to accomplishing three years earlier.

Bernie was also the first--and still only--editor to accept and publish one of my poems.  He was for some years the editor of a special senior citizen newsletter insert for the Longview Daily News and the poem he published was one I'd written to honor my parents fortieth wedding anniversary.  Talk about a morale boost!

Bernie's motive for his vigorous advocacy was the impact of mental illness in his own family so it is a sad irony that his death was the result of injuries sustained at the hands of his own son, who has since been deemed not competent to stand trial due to mental illness. I know that Bernie's love for his children was steadfast and that for his son would not have been diminished one iota over this but I also know that he believed that in cases where someone was an imminent danger to self or others they needed to be committed to treatment and if necessary confined and medicated even against their will. He advocated for a better responsiveness from the system to information provided by family and others who know the ill individuals and who are in a position to know when there is a dire need to intervene.  In this case the sluggishness of the system failed the community as well as the Altman family--the son as much as his parents and sister.

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