Archive for January 2016

Hearts Joined Together

I pray the world could know peace

Learn how to love, not wage war

When hearts come joined together

Can work side by side.

_____________

Joyce E. Johnson © 2016

I have used the above poem to illustrate a verse of Japanese poetry known as Dodoitsu where there are four lines to the verse and the first three lines each have seven syllables, and the last line, the fourth has five. This kind of poetry usually has a love or work related theme to it. I chose to use it here as an expression of hope and unity for our world, where faith and love begins with each heart.


Posted January 27, 2016 by Joyce in Faith, My Writings, Poems, poetry

Tagged with , , ,

Self-reflection – Chapter 25 of The Informant’s Agenda

The below story is fiction. It is chapter 25 in the ongoing story, The Informant’s Agenda. You can find chapters 1-25 posted under the heading,  The Informant’s Agenda

~~~~~~~~~~~

The minutes, hours and days tick on, but one loses track of all under heavy sedation and can seem an eternity has passed making one feel like a part of their life has gone missing. There was a sterile smell, the sound of the soft padding of feet near my bed, and hands adjusting tubes, IVs and monitors. When the bandages were removed from my eyes shapes and shadows moved in and out of my blurred vision like apparitions. My skin was red and blistered. My throat felt as if scraped with glass.

My family, and my supervisor in the U.S. were notified of what had happened. My mumbled pleas to speak to them went unnoticed until I would be, “physically able to talk coherently and process emotionally what happened.” I was told by the ‘doctor in charge’.

“You need rest right now. We’re taking care of everything. You’re getting the best care and attention. Then we’ll be able to assess what you need, and approve visitors and calls.”

Before I was released from the hospital I was put in touch with the American liaison at the U.S. Embassy in Odessa. They arranged for my things at the Ayvazovsky Hotel to be packed up and moved to my new room at an American agent’s home while in recovery. A nurse came in on scheduled visits to check on my recovery process and see to any additional care I needed.

Irina came to visit me twice to give me news and updates on the investigation of the explosion, and to tell me that it was reported that Vasyli’s and the superintendent’s bodies had not been found if they were indeed dead as reports speculated. It was then that I just lost it. I felt as if the train in my dreams had run over me, crushing me. What stared back at me in the mirror was not the ‘Monica Mengelder, archivist from Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.’, but a scarred, frightened woman, broken and alone in a country trying to make sense of what had happened, and why.

My heart ached to be home with my family. In my thoughts I was still sitting with grandmother Lisle at the kitchen table. We’d go through a whole pot of coffee and plate of cookies while looking at old family pictures scattered across the dining room table, some with grandfather Jacob’s sisters siting erect in front of the men on straight back chairs, their dour faces looking like they were constipated or something. Grandmother said whenever she tried to lighten things up with a funny joke or story the two unmarried spinsters hardly smiled.

“It was as if they just sat there with a pained expression on their face, so it was nearly impossible to get them to relax, or even open up, share anything about family secrets.”

“Did it ever work?” I asked.

“Rarely. At times I thought I saw a faint crack in their plaster face, until maybe they thought it was an indiscretion of some kind to loosen their corset strings a little.”

I laughed so hard I had to run to the bathroom to keep from wetting my pants. Too much caffeine that morning.

My tears now met with the energy bar when I thought about the fun we had in the kitchen stirring up a batch of Oatmeal Raisin cookies.

Such a long time ago. I will never have those moments again with her.

My head ached. The dizziness and fatigue returned. There remained just a few pain pills from the prescription provided for me after my release from the hospital.

Newsprint swirled around on the paper before me. Reports of the accident filled space in local, regional, national, even some international issues. It was presumed an “accident,” an “irreversible mistake in judgement…to allow anyone other than construction personnel down in the unpredictable subterranean underground structure before the completed restoration, when there had not been a full inspection…” authorities were quoted to have said. The stories went on, “although the investigation continues, it has not been determined an intentional incident in nature,” but the blame and speculation seemed clearly directed at the superintendent and Vasyli, consulate of Ukraine, Odessa, both, “presumed dead.”

Maybe, if I had not ‘requested’ a tour of the Catacombs Vasyli and the superintendent…. If only I had not…

There is no time for self-reflection. I cannot do anything to bring back Vasyli or the superintendent, if they are… But, what I keep only to myself is not fair to those who deserve to know the truth. And, I know I cannot leave this country knowing what I know if first I did not try to report my findings, or inform the authorities of what I have learned.

______________

Joyce E. Johnson (2016)

           

 

Dusting off my ‘old projects’

There is still only 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week. It is a new year and we’ve barely started 2016. But, as I have said before, for me each moment counts in itself, and there are those times when I have to reorganize, juggle those priorities, projects and promise (only to myself) that I would finish what I started so very long ago. Admitting to how long I’ve put off my book ‘project’ is too embarrassing to share. 🙂

I lack only a few chapters to complete,  The Informant’s Agenda, re-edit again and do a final draft. But, it is only a third of the way done on another book project, When Dark Closes In, that is also a long-awaited goal shelved for way too long.

Procrastination is what I do best.  🙂  Organizing my time is what I want/hope to do better, and working on those book projects is what suffers as the result of too much time spent on other things. As the minutes of each day tick away into history, those uncompleted projects become more a part of my writing ‘history’ than a possibility or probability of its future. The characters and I in each book have sadly become strangers because of too little contact, and they are not on social media networks.  Now I must resurrect them so I can feel as if they are once again a part of my life in the sense that we can be ‘friends’, and I can begin again to mold them into the characters I see and know.

In the meantime I am absorbing all the instruction and mentoring I can get from a well-known, well published writer friend to help me along the way towards seeing my goal, or goals accomplished. But, sometimes what takes center stage and pushes my book projects to the back is the posting and creating new posts for the blog. So, at times I will need to post less frequently in order to put that required time into my book projects. From time to time I might add a new chapter here to all others posted before, but if not it is not an indication I have not completed it, but because I have improved it, revised or rewritten parts of it, and want it to be the best. We’ll see.

As life goes on, and the minutes and days tick by, so do the years, and we ‘baby boomers’ don’t want to waste any.  This one doesn’t. 🙂

____________

Joyce E. Johnson (2016)

 

Posted January 11, 2016 by Joyce in My Novel, My Writings, The Informant's Agenda, WHEN DARK CLOSES IN

Tagged with

A glance at the former with a hopeful look to the coming

An old ketch of mine from many years ago of Theodore Roosevelt (upper left), Woodrow Wilson (center) and George Washington (right)

An old ketch of mine from many years ago of Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and George Washington

 

The above sketch I did so many years ago that I cannot remember when it was. At the time I had been watching the campaigns of candidates running for president and read up on some of our former presidents, and found an old photo of these three from which I could practice my sketching. I was not an American history buff, but have always followed the presidential candidates, their platform, ideologies and campaigns so I could make an informed decision on who I wanted to vote for on election day.

But, this year will be what I think one of the most decisive election years I have ever seen as the American people watch with feverish anticipation, their attention riveted to the debates, repetitive news media coverage, interviews and promises made by the White House hopefuls.

What should we expect? Who can deliver what they claim they will do for the American people? Will they even be able to when we witness continued civil unrest and conflict on our streets?  Opposing sides differ and argue on issues that range on everything from immigration reforms and securing our country’s borders, to the justice, or lack of concerning the guilty of crimes against one group, race or another. The refugees and illegals that push across our borders and the terrorists that merge undetected inside them with no forthcoming answer or solution raises our alert status to unprecedented levels. The list of issues goes on with no end to those that exist as new ones arise. For a newly elected president he, or she has the insurmountable task to lead our country into a safer, more secure place where people can live in peace and harmony with prosperity and equal rights for all. Will we ever see a time when everyone believes their voice matters, that they can live their life without intrusion, obstruction, compromise or fear?

But, whomever that one is the people choose next November it is ultimately God who remains in control, regardless what they can or hope to do, and that is where I place my greater faith and trust. I pray that God will grant us grace and wisdom, that it is His plan put into effect, and that He is invited to reside in the White House, and in our Congress, because His presence has all but been eliminated, and we see what happens when He is pushed away.

_____________

Joyce E. Johnson (2016)

Posted January 4, 2016 by Joyce in blogging, Essays, My Photos, My Writings

Tagged with , ,

%d bloggers like this: