The Soucouyant – Folklore From Trinidad & Tobago

The next horror story I’m going to write is called “From A Blessing To A Curse.” It’s actually an idea I had for a script many moons ago but I think that, as a short story, it should work. (I did the same thing for “Little Hammer,” a short story whose life began as a film treatment). “Blessing” will be the 2nd story in my upcoming book that is based on Trinidad & Tobago folklore. The first was “Red Sand” and the legend in that one is the “La Diablesse,” a mythical woman in an ankle-length white dress, wide-brimmed hat and one cloven hoof for a foot who seduces and lures men to their dooms in the forest. “Blessing” will have two other T&T legends – the obeah woman and the soucouyant. Obeah is witchery. A soucouyant is an old woman who sheds her skin to reveal the flying fireball within. She can enter your house by sliding through the thinnest of niches to suck your blood. If she doesn’t suck your blood for whatever reason she’ll just cuff (punch) you and leave a bruise. There’s also a malevolent spirit that exists in T&T folklore called a “jumbie.” Maybe I’ll introduce him in a 3rd story. We’ll see.

Gov’t’s Response To The Opiod Epidemic Is A Failure.

The number of people abusing and overdosing on opiods is alarmingly high. Back in the 70’s, when black people were OD’ing left and right, the press wasn’t too concerned. Now that the epidemic has infiltrated white America, the press is very interested. Race aside, there seems to be very little being done to help the addict on the street.

I was reading about the gov’t’s money-wasting response and their idea for combatting this epidemic is to educate people about the dangers of opiods. Educate? Duh! EVERYBODY already knows that drugs are bad. Sheesh! What the country needs is more treatment centers in every state. Right now, if I was struggling with an addiction and decided I want to get help, I’d have to jump through some ridiculously insurmountable hoops for a bed. This could take three weeks or more. By then I probably wouldn’t want a cure – if I was still alive, that is. When people want a cure, they don’t want it tomorrow.

Gov’t, here’s the plan: Build. More. Treatment. Centers. Period.

Back in 1992, in the throes of my own addiction, I was suicidal. When I called the hospitals for help they said, “We’ll put your name on the wait list. You should have a bed in three weeks or so.” After I hanged up the phone I said “fuck it” and attempted suicide anyway. That was 25 years ago, and guess what? Nothing. Has. Changed. The U.S. simply continues to fail addicts in this regard. Amazing. They may as well legalize hard drugs.  Can’t be no worse.

Sigh. Add Diabetes To My List Of Illnesses.

Yes. I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes mellitus with complication, without long-term use of insulin (E11.8) two weeks ago. The MD knew this because my A1C was 7.2%. Now that I’m diabetic, I’ve made some changes. For one, I stopped drinking alcohol. That was two weeks ago. So far I’ve lost 3 lbs. I’ve also started walking more. I consider this diagnosis life changing because my grandfather and my father both died from complications of diabetes. Given I also have gout like they did, and was also an alcoholic/drug addict like them, I am basically in line to go just like they did, therefore, it behooves me to change my life around for the better if I want to continue living.

I turned 55 on 7/10. This makes me eligible for senior housing. Typically, for senior housing, you have to be 62, but in some buildings, just being 55 with a disability qualifies you as long as you have the money and no eviction history. I’m still holding out for Forks, though. I’m hoping to be there this fall or winter.

My new book, a collection of short stories I plan to call Obey the Darkness: Horror Short Stories is coming along nicely. The story I’m writing now, based in fairy tale format, is called Lamp Black. It’s about a childless couple who find a blacker than black child in a stream and decide to raise her as their own. She grows up to be quite beautiful and precocious and gets along with everyone…or so it seems. Eventually, Snow White and Rose Red conspire to exile her because of jealousy. They convince six young men from the village to drop her off in a forest very far from the village, claiming that she didn’t belong with the others because of her black skin. Lamp Black makes friends with three woodland animals, then the water witch, who teaches her how to change her skin color as well as manipulate water. Eventually, Lamp Black returns to the village to see her parents, but when she finds out they were burned alive in a fire by the same people who exiled her, she uses her newfound powers to exact her revenge on them. Not bad, huh? It’s supposed to be a horror story but I don’t know how graphic to make it because, well, it’s still a fairy tale. I guess it might turn out to be like those extremely graphic expurgated tales the Brothers’ Grimm recorded. We’ll see.

RIP, Charleena Lyles. Mental Health Treatment Is A Joke.

For a long time, I’ve always thought that psychiatry is a joke, a clownish affair, a profession for buffoons who couldn’t guess their way out of a paper bag. I’ve even blogged about it in the past few months, especially in relation to me. Psychiatry and psychology has failed me; pills don’t help. All they do is infuriate me and perhaps even make me crazier. I’ve also stated that, if I had a serious psychotic break in public, the only way society would know how to deal with it is put me down like a dog.

And then that’s exactly what happened this past week.

I live in the same apartment complex as Charleena Lyles, Charleena was 30 years old with four kids and the fifth on the way. Like me, Charleena was black, homeless, and suffering from mental health. In essence, she was the female version of me. She called the police Sunday morning about a burglary in her house. Words were exchanged, bullets flew, and Charleena died in the presence of three of her kids. The police had the audacity to say the kids were unharmed. Of course they were harmed. They’re psychologically fucked for life, that’s how they were harmed.

Once again, the most vulnerable of this society has been failed. Societies like NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, will come along, speak to the press, and say, “This tragedy could’ve been prevent.” Yeah, no shit. Can NAMI prevent it? Or any organizations that claims to assist the mentally ill? Nope. As far as I’m concerned, all they’re doing is picking up a paycheck because, guess what, their advocacy don’t mean squat in the real world. There will be another Charleena tomorrow, only this time she’ll be called Robin.

Sensory Friendly Movie Theater? Should Be Sensory Unfriendly!

It’s been a while since I’ve been to the movies so I thought I’d peruse what’s playing in the cineplexes and megaplexes these days. I noticed that, in a few theaters, Cars 3 was being screened in “sensory friendly” theaters. According to Deer Park Cinemas in Port Angeles, sensory friendly means that the lights will be on, the sound will be turned down, and kids can be as noisy as they wish. That’s sensory friendly? To an autistic kid that’s a sensory nightmare! How is somebody supposed to concentrate on the screen when all those sensory triggers are firing off in all directions? There’s no way I’d be able to sit through a sensory friendly screening. Five minutes past the opening credits and I’ll haul ass, never to return again. All “Sensory Friendly” says to me is “Brat Friendly.” Nope. Sorry. Nice try at political correctness, though. However, epic fail!

I’m On The Forks Apts Waitlist

Oh, happy day. The Peninsula Housing Authority just notified me this week that my name was added to their waitlist. The wait, they claim, is between 6 months to 3 years, with preference given to the elderly, disabled, employment or schooling. Since I’m of the disabled flavor, my wait shouldn’t be too long.

In other news, I can’t wait to begin the 3rd and final act of my life. Hopefully, it’ll be trauma-free and bereft of all that crap I went through over the past 30/40 years. I don’t have any specific plan in place, though. The idea would be to just live as safely and quietly as possible, make no waves, visit a therapist every two weeks or so, stay on my HTN medication, and just…live. As far as making music again, I think that’s history. Every so often I feel like plucking the strings of an axe, but I know how I am. I can’t just pluck those strings in my bedroom; I have to do it on stage, so why bother? There is a place for live music in Forks. Hopefully, I don’t catch that bug again.

Barring a stroke or some other cataclysmic illness, I will be writing. I’ve gotta do something with the time I have left, right? Part of me would like to dip my toes into film making again. That’d be a hoot. I’m really stretching here, but I can see me making a small indie, most likely horror, up in Forks where I handle the duties of writing, editing and directing. That would necessitate me buying a new super computer and video cam which, from my research, would set me back about $6,000 for the whole shebang. We’ll see.

One last note. Small towns, villages, hamlets, etc are known for their safety. I’m hoping that Forks, being a small town even though it’s designated as a city, is pretty safe. I have been reading a lot lately about the proliferation of meth and heroin in America’s small towns, and I believe it. I spent just one night in Lodge Grass, a town of 950 people in eastern Montana, and learned the next day that meth had overpowered the town. I also just recently read that the Quileute Reservation near Forks, as well as other reservation in Washington, are where people go to get their drugs. Out of the necessity of survival, I can understand why natives sell drugs. Too bad there’s always a certain amount of violence that accompanies the drug trade. Who knows? Maybe some day they’ll all be legal, like in Portugal, and crime would decrease. Only Time Will Tell.

Journaling Exercise

In my SUDS class this morning, the teacher gave us this exercise consisting of four questions. I’ve written both the questions and my answers here. I’m supposed to do this journaling exercise every day. I will, but not here on Writings of an American Author. I’ll just keep future exercises in my head.

  1. What did I do for myself today that made me feel good about myself? I allowed cars exiting from gas stations, department stores and other places of business to cut in front of me in my lane in traffic. I also went to DSHS and asked them if SSA reported my disability award to them. They said no and I can deal with that tomorrow because they were going to close early for the day. I then went to the landlord here and asked them the same thing. They said there’s no rush and I can deal with it next week.
  2. What did I do for someone else? I gave someone a ride to the SUDS group this morning and gave someone else a lift to their home after the group. Later today, I gave my first passenger another ride, this time to a soup kitchen. I also stood with him while he was smoking his cigarettes outside, as well as sit and watch a movie with him. I also listened to his stories of the disturbing behaviors and delusional beliefs he had when he was high on meth.
  3. Where did I have difficulty? The cigarette smoking bits. Personally, I’d rather not hang out with someone who is smoking because it smells and the smoke makes my eyes water. I really wish he’d take the hint that I’d rather not be around it, but part of me says I’m simply earning karma points by giving him much needed support.
  4. What happened today that made me glad to be alive? I haven’t lost my writing skills. I completed the rough outline for my latest short story, a story which I hope to finish in about two weeks. I also autographed three of my books that an employee from this transitional house had bought from Amazon. Another employee here also told me she bought one of my books. Tres cool!