Archives for posts with tag: writer

Last week, the city informed us that a construction crew would be working on the street outside our home to install a new sewer device to the existing pipes. (It’s an old street.) The crew would start banging and jack-hammering early in the morning.
That night, before I went to bed, I inserted my ear plugs. I have these soft foam ear plugs. You kind of squish them in your fingers, shove the narrowed point into your ear canal, and allow the foam to expand. Tom uses hard plastic ear plugs (very effective), which I can’t bring myself to insert in my ear.
I hate anything inserted in my ear, especially something hard like a hard plastic ear plug or, maybe some day, a hearing aid.
I’m of the age (over forty) when vendors of products that are supposed to appeal to, or be required by people who are getting on in years send all kinds of advertisements by snail mail or email. One of those products is hearing aids. I also see ads in Via, the magazine published by the AAA Auto Club, which I belong to, and Popular Science, which Tom gets at our library, and even Scientific American, which our neighbor gives us when he’s done reading. Do print magazines assume that their readership is comprised mostly of people who are getting on in years and might consider hearing aids? It would seem so.
Before Christmas of last year, I received one snail mail, a large fancy embossed envelope, which offered me a free Christmas ham if I would come into the conference room of a local hotel, get a free hearing test, and listen to a pitch for their hearing aids.
Aside from the fact that I don’t eat ham, I was not enticed by the prospect of a free hearing test. A test is an ordeal designed to prove you’re inadequate. When I was a child, I always hated hearing tests. You listened to a soft tone and told the tester whether you could hear it. Or not.
Today, my hearing isn’t worse than two or three decades ago. My hearing is just as bad as it always was.
When I was a child, I suffered recurring severe earaches. I have a vivid memory of lying in bed and reaching my forefinger in my ear, finding the canal crusty with the medicinal drops my mother was administering to me. The memory makes me shudder.
When I was a child, I also hated—HATED—milk, butter, cheese, anything dairy. The conventional wisdom was—and it still probably is—that children need to drink milk to build strong bones and teeth. That was the health gospel.
My mother strived mightily to get me to drink milk, flavoring the loathsome greasy liquid with chocolate powder or strawberry powder, pouring it in my cereal, cooking with it. As soon as I was old enough to sneak downstairs to the kitchen before my parents woke up, I rinsed my cereal bowl in milk, deposited a few flakes of cereal in there, and placed the bowl in the sink. Same for my milk glass. My mother was annoyed that I didn’t wash my breakfast dishes, but it was a ploy on my part. A fake-out.
Decades later, I discovered from a book called Mad Cowboy about the cattle-raising industry, that earaches (among other ailments) in young children are a symptom of dairy intolerance.
Today we know that various vegetables, beans, fish, whole grains, and calcium-fortified juices provide more than enough calcium to build strong bones in children and adults without dairy.
When I became a vegetarian in college, I developed a taste for cheese and yogurt. That was before there were the wonderful vegetarian meat- substitutes, like Morningstar Farms products, that we have today. Before I learned to cook vegetables and vegetarian dishes. Cheese, yogurt, and soybeans were all we vegetarians had for protein and calcium. But I never drank milk, not even fat-free milk.
And my hearing? From my twenties on, I’ve always found it difficult to sit across the table from a companion in a café or restaurant and hear what he or she is saying, especially when there’s background noise. In rooms with high ceilings, like cafés and restaurants, grocery stores, and offices, I have to ask, “Say that again?” I have trouble understanding people with heavy accents, any kind of accent. It’s embarrassing. I know I get a blank look on my face and the speaker thinks I’m dense.
Sometimes I have to listen carefully to the dialog in movies, especially when the movie has too-loud background music or noise. But in the quiet of our living room, I have no trouble hearing my husband when we have a conversation. And I have no trouble hearing Athena when she meows, asking me for something to eat.
So if you meet me in a restaurant, café, convention, or party, don’t be shy. Lean close and shout in my ear.
The noise in the street last week from the city construction crew wasn’t bad at all. Or maybe my foam ear plugs worked better than I’d hoped. The crew did a great job of installing a high-tech grate that they can remove for maintenance. Hooray for the city.
So how about you? Do you have a hearing impediment? Do you wear hearing aids? How do you like (or dislike) them?
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Pain and Pain Pills: My Story
I’ve been putting off posting this story for eighteen months. Why? I haven’t felt ready to tell it. I feel ready now. Sort of. I’ve been putting off posting this story for the last week. I’ve got good excuses: wrapping up end of the year business, initiating start of the year business.
So here goes.
From the moment I woke up in the Recovery Room of a Big Urban Hospital in July 2018, I was all fired up on writing a memoir tentatively titled, “Sticks & Stones Will Break My Bones.” Lying on a gurney, my head swirling with the powerful aftermath of the general anesthetic, I got the title, a book outline, chapter titles, topics I needed to research (and have since researched for the most part), and a statement I wanted to make about the facts of the Attack, facts from the official police report and, later, the preliminary hearing. I wanted to make a statement about where we, as an American society founded on the principles of free debate and free speech, stand today.
The project sprang whole into my head. I was so fired up, I wanted to write complete a draft in a month. Typical me—always asking impossible things of myself. When I got home from the Big Urban Hospital in three days (that’s another story in the memoir), I asked my husband to set up my laptop on my bed. Which he did. In the few waking hours I had at that time, I sketched out the memoir as I’d envisioned it. When I was able to get up out of bed and sit on my Internet chair, I downloaded much of the research, plus bought books relevant to the topics I wanted to cover.
Now it’s eighteen months later and various factors have cooled my ardor to write the memoir, including people’s attitudes and interactions on Facebook. I’ve copied those interactions off the Internet for future illustrative use (with the names changed, the exact words edited). These attitudes and interactions constitute proof positive of the statement I wanted to make.
The facts are the facts.
But the virulence of these attitudes and interactions, the times we’re living in, have considerably slowed my pace. It may be that writing the memoir has depressed me. It may be that not being able to walk, to move the way I used to, has depressed me. What me, depressed? In any case, I’ve got several new stories to write and publish, and several new novels to finish up several of my series which are presently incomplete. I can’t afford to be depressed.
So now is the time to go back to the beginning and tell the story of my pain and the pain killers while those memories are still kicking around in my brain. My story is relevant today because, of the many crises in this country, my story has to do with the opioid crisis. National Geographic Magazine ran an article in January 2020 issue, “A World of Pain” by Yudhijit Bhattachartee with the subtitle, “Scientists are unraveling the mysteries of pain and exploring new ways to treat it.”
So here goes: To catch you up, if you haven’t been following my story.
On July 11, 2018, a sunny afternoon with the dog walkers, moms with strollers, bicyclists, and joggers everywhere, a man burst out of the flowering bushes at East 12th Street and Lake Merritt Boulevard and confronted me as I was power-walking on the sidewalk.
He tried to beat me up, I fended him off, then he shoved me into the street in front of two lanes of oncoming traffic. I shuffled my feet to avoid crashing into the cars, but the impact of his shove made me lose my balance, and I fell hard on street curb, fracturing my right hip in three places and breaking my thigh.
The police apprehended the Attacker, I identified him, then I was taken by an ambulance to a Big Urban Hospital, where I underwent three hours’ of surgery under general anesthetic. (There’s much more to it, but that’s another story.)
I was anxious to get out of the Big Urban Hospital as soon as possible. I was aware of the deadly hospital infection which plagues all hospitals regardless of their best efforts. Three months before, a former editor of mine and a renowned writer in Philadelphia had gone into a hospital for a minor procedure and died, shockingly, unexpectedly, in two days’ time of a massive infection.
On the third day after the surgery, I was running a fever of 102 degrees. I refused more fluids by IV, demanded to be released. The surgeon discharged me, and I was sent home with a walker and a big brown paper bag of pills.
Before I left, a nurse sat me down on the side of the bed and went over the single-spaced one-page printout with me, detailing instructions about taking the pills and what they were for. Most of the pills seemed ridiculous to me and not on point with what was ailing me. When I got home, I threw them all away except one.
This was the bottle of sixty hydrocodone pills, to be taken every four hours for pain. The printout had the same instructions as the label on the bottle, and as the nurse had lectured me.
For the rest of the story about my experience with pain pills, join me on my Patreon page at https://www.patreon.com/bePatron?u=23011206 and help me after the Attack. I’ve posted delightful new stories and previously published stories, writing tips, book excerpts, movie reviews, original healthy recipes and health tips, and more!
Visit me at www.lisamason.com for all my books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, reviews, interviews, blogs, roundtables, adorable cat pictures, forthcoming works, fine art and bespoke jewelry by my husband Tom Robinson, worldwide links, and more!

Three years ago, when I was crossing the large parking lot of my market with a full cart of groceries, I noticed a diminutive, white-haired woman struggling with her cart.
I pushed my cart next to my car, then rushed across the lot to her. I asked her if she needed some help, she said yes, and I took the cart from her, pushing it to her car, which she pointed out to me. She opened the trunk, I lifted her groceries in, she thanked me, then I pushed her cart to a cart stall.
As I walked back to my car, several people smiled at me and said, “Good for you.”
It wasn’t a big deal. She clearly needed help, I provided help. Of all my family members (and there are not many of them), I most loved my maternal Grandma Mary. I appreciate and respect Little Old Ladies.
Five years ago, I went to New York City to attend the Author-Editors Reception of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (which has since been discontinued by SFWA). I booked the Super Shuttle to and from JFK Airport to my mid-Manhattan hotel.
The Super Shuttle promised no more than ten passengers, but our driver packed in at least twenty. The Shuttle stopped at every airline terminal—there are dozens. Plus JFK was a mess, with construction and detours everywhere. A passenger said, “Hey man, we’ve been here over an hour and we’re still not fucking out of the airport!”
The return trip was no better with passengers threatening to sue if they didn’t catch their flight in time. When I came home, I told husband Tom, “I’ll never take Super Shuttle again. All the private cabs have a standard fee from the airport. It’s worth every penny.”
I’m not surprised that Super Shuttle has shuttered recently.
On the incoming trip, I got on the Shuttle with a man who had been on the same jet from San Francisco. We sat side by side with our carryon bags behind the driver, exchanged business cards, and struck up a conversation which lasted all of the miserable six hours the Shuttle took to get from JFK to my hotel. He turned out to be a computer security specialist en route to a lecture he was going to give to a board of a big bank. He was very curious about my writing career. He regaled me with stories about the computer hacks he helped resolve, I regaled him with stories about where I get my fiction ideas, research, and publishing.
The driver, while he wasn’t furiously beeping his horn, hopping sidewalks (literally) to get around trucks and traffic jams, and making U-turns, was fascinated, listening to us. And told us so when we got out at last at our respective hotels.
I was quite stiff, after sitting for six hours on a Shuttle seat. I had a large traveling handbag and my carryon bag on straps over my shoulders. The computer specialist (he was a large man) disembarked first, and then I stood with my bags at the precipice disembarking from the Shuttle. The drop from the Shuttle doorstep to the street was at least two feet, maybe three. I’m not tiny at five foot six, neither am I huge. And the drop loomed before me. The computer specialist stood chatting with the driver. I suppose if I’d asked him, he would have helped me down from the Shuttle. But I didn’t. And he didn’t.
As I sort of fell down to the street, I felt keenly disappointed that, after six hours of conversation, he didn’t think to help me off the damn Shuttle.
Husband Tom is always gracious. He always holds open doors for people, men or women, and has been rewarded with his share of women snapping, “I can open the door myself.” To which he says nothing or “You’re welcome.” He helps neighbors who are moving in, carried a large television set into our elderly neighbor’s living room. He always walks on the street side when he and I are strolling on the sidewalk, opens doors for me (which I appreciate), and helped me in and out of my car a year ago when I was unable after the Attack. Tom is courteous to me, to everyone. He is a gentleman.
Many more years ago, I went to New York City, this time to meet my book editor at Bantam-Doubleday-Dell. Tom (another Tom) took me to lunch at a restaurant, all scarlet Art Deco décor, the entrance of which was accessible only by a heavy revolving glass door. We had a discussion about how a gentleman should handle a revolving door. If memory serves, Tom Dupree, the editor, was of the opinion that a gentleman should enter the revolving door first to set the door in motion, and the lady should follow. That way she didn’t have to push the heavy glass, but only enter the door and walk through. I thought that was an excellent suggestion.
We’re living in rude, mean times, during which total strangers assault one with profanity. Everyday courtesy is not just a gesture of gentility, a sign of respect of men toward women, of the younger toward the older, but of everyday kindness. If and when I’m eighty years old and need help pushing my shopping cart across the parking lot, I hope someone will be there. In meantime, as long as I’m able, I’m here to help. I don’t think twice.
Join me on my Patreon page at https://www.patreon.com/bePatron?u=23011206 and help me after the Attack. I’ve posted delightful new stories and previously published stories, writing tips, book excerpts, movie reviews, original healthy recipes and health tips, and more!
Visit me at www.lisamason.com for all my books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, reviews, interviews, blogs, roundtables, adorable cat pictures, forthcoming works, fine art and bespoke jewelry by my husband Tom Robinson, worldwide links, and more!

First of all, I wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving. Be safe, be warm. We’re going to be indulging in the traditional Feast: mashed potatoes, corn, whole wheat bread dressing with onions, celery, and garlic, mushroom gravy with fresh mushrooms, turkey for me, vegetarian sausage patties for Tom (who is a strict vegetarian, and the sausage patties are delicious and pair well with the meal), and whole berry cranberry sauce. Some people add yams and dinner rolls—that’s a little too much carbohydrate for me. Some people add various appetizers. My mother always served shrimp cocktail, and I might add that, too.
It’s the time of year when I bake a pumpkin pie, with a whole wheat crust, from scratch. When the pie is baking, our home is filled with scents of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves.
I’m aware that some people decry Thanksgiving as an evil holiday, a celebration of white European colonialists—Dutch, British, French, German, and Irish—invading the tribes of indigenous people’s land and genociding those people.
If you’re one of those people, please get yourself a copy of GOTHAM, by Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace (Oxford University Press), a 1,500 page hardcover (with ten-point type) that I’m slowly working my way through. The book is rife with anecdotes about the friendly relations between the first European settlers and the indigenous people, often inter-marrying (or inter-mating), and sharing their respective technologies.
The first Thanksgiving Feast owed much to the wild turkeys in the new land and East Coast cranberries and stale bread. Potatoes are from South America, and corn is too, and both plants took decades of cultivation to become fit for human consumption. So I doubt mashed potatoes and corn were a part of the original Thanksgiving Feast. I don’t when those dishes were added, but for me they’re an enduring part.
History shows that deadly, violent hatred between the European colonialists and indigenous people arose when (like in Jamestown) the indigenous people became aware that there were a lot more Europeans who wanted to settle in the their land to escape religious persecution and economic hardship in Europe and they would be competing for resources, defending their lives.
If you’re one of those people who decry Thanksgiving and your family goes back four hundred years in this country, or two hundred years to slavery, and your ancestors took part in genociding the indigenous people or owning slaves, go ahead, fast in shame, wear black on Thanksgiving.
But don’t lecture me that it’s wrong to enjoy a wonderful family celebration.
My grandparents immigrated to the U.S.A. in the early 1900s, my maternal grandparents from Lithuania, my paternal grandparents from Croatia. They fled the bloody Bolshevik revolution. I’m thankful they had the courage and strength to leave their homes, their remaining families, and their friends behind to come to America.
My family had nothing to do with genociding the indigenous people or, for that matter, with slavery. I strenuously disagree that you decriers should stick my family with those dark pages in America’s history.
My parents were first-generation Americans. I’m thankful that my father and my mother were good parents. My father fought in World War II to free the world of Nazis, and my husband was drafted in the Vietnam War.
Every Thanksgiving, for as long as I can remember, our tiny family congregated in my Granma Mary’s house and she cooked the traditional Thanksgiving Feast, sometimes adding a ham and her specialty, lemon meringue pie. She baked the stuffing inside the turkey cavity, which I never do—stovetop for me. But her stuffing was memorably delicious.
I’m thankful for those memories.
I’m thankful that I’m a woman, a second-generation American, alive in the U.S.A., 2019. Next year, 2020—a term for perfect vision—will be the 100th anniversary of the national law granting American women the political vote. A hundred years is not the long, historically. Should I blame you men living now for denying women the vote for one hundred and forty-four years since the founding of this country? Do you men think that would be fair?
I’m thankful that I’m woman who was given an education—primary school, college, and professional school. It was not that long ago when women were denied entrance to colleges and especially to professional schools. I’m thankful that my education enabled me to secure good jobs that helped support my family.
I’m thankful that as a woman I can drive my car. In some countries today, women are not allowed to drive.
I’m thankful that as a woman I can sign contracts on my own behalf. I remember in my Contracts 101 class in law school, the professor said that in certain states women were not allowed to sign contracts without their fathers’ or husbands’ co-signature. He was met with a loud chorus of BOOs from us woman students. He threw up his hands and said, “I’m not making this up. That’s the law.” In my lifetime.
I’m thankful as a woman that I can open my own bank accounts, get my own credit cards and loans, buy my own investments, own real estate, and inherit equally with male family members. In my lifetime, those things were not always possible.
It’s still difficult to this day competing in the various Boys’ Clubs—law, business, technology, politics, publishing, science fiction publishing. But I’m thankful as a woman I can at least compete.
So Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you have much to be thankful for. I know I do. Please pass the pie.
I’ve got a new book! CHROME is in U.S. print as a beautiful trade paperback. Also in U.K. print, in German print, in French print, in Spanish print, in Italian print, and in Japanese print.
The ebook is on US Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and on UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, India Kindle, Germany Kindle, France Kindle, Spain Kindle, Italy Kindle, Netherlands Kindle, Japan Kindle, Brazil Kindle, and Mexico Kindle.

Join my Patreon page at https://www.patreon.com/bePatron?u=23011206 and help  me while I recover from the Attack. I’ve got lots of goodies for you—delightful stories, writing tips, movie reviews, recipes, book excerpts, and more.
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Visit me at www.lisamason.com for all my books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, reviews, interviews, blogs, roundtables, adorable cat pictures, forthcoming works, fine art and bespoke jewelry by my husband Tom Robinson, worldwide links, and more!

9.14.19.VIT.C

On Monday Tom went to our local UPS store to drop off a package and came back with that tell-tale feeling—he was getting sick. He was well when he went; his sinuses were already to seize up when he got back. He’s scrupulous about touching things in the public that could harbor germs and even more scrupulous about touching his eyes, nose, or mouth after being out in the public and before thoroughly washing his hands when he gets home.
My theory is that he walked through an aerosol cloud of germs. The UPS store is a closed space; someone probably sneezed or coughed in there. I had that same experience maybe ten years ago, walking through the market. Without touching anything, I came back with a ferocious vicious flu.
As he descended on Monday into a bad cold or a mild flu—sneezing, coughing, sore throat, severe headache—we immediately went into prevention mode for me. Tom put on a surgical mask. When he had to cough or sneeze, he went into his bathroom. He didn’t touch any of my drinking glasses or dinner plates or water bottles.
As we proceeded into Tuesday and Wednesday, he got better, stabilized, then got a little better. So far, so good.
He would have taken colloidal silver early on Monday. We’ve had good success with silver before—as soon as we started feeling sick, we took four drops of silver in a glass of water. And the cold or illness went away. Silver is not preventative (in our experience), but it knocks an incipient disease right out if you take it early enough.
But we were all out of silver. I went up to the market on Tuesday to buy some. The market had a silver that was unfamiliar to me; also it was a spray bottle, not drops. I wasn’t sure this silver would work.
Tom started on that, spraying his throat; he was still sick.
Despite all our precautions, when I woke up Thursday, I had that clenching feeling in my eyes, copiously dripping sinuses, violent sneezing, violent coughing, a sore throat, a little bit of an earache, and a serious headache. By the end of the day, I was burning up with a fever. Damn.
First thing, I started spraying the silver in my throat.
But I had another therapy that Tom doesn’t use.
Linus Pauling long researched and advocated supplemental Vitamin C. (Pauling lived to be 92.) He especially advocated mega-doses of Vit C. He published at least one book on the subject.
Vit C is water-soluble, so the vitamin is not dangerous to your liver like some other non-water-soluble are, such as Vitamin A. Your body simply excretes excess amounts it can’t absorb.
So why ingest mega-doses of Vit C that your body will excrete? That’s some mighty expensive piss.
Because your body absorbs more Vit C than the minimum daily requirement. Some experts say Vit C—in the form I use—alkalinizes the whole body and can even penetrate the blood-brain barrier to good effect.
What form of Vit C do I use? Pills are notoriously difficult to digest. I remember an anecdote—some Congressman was driving to work when he got some pains in his abdomen. He immediately went to an emergency room, thinking he was having a heart attack. The ER doctor examined him, pronounced him sound, and asked, “What did you have for breakfast?” The Congressman answered, “A cup of black coffee and a Vitamin C pill.” The doctor said, “Eat something for breakfast.”
I too have had problems digesting Vit C pills, so it was a revelation many years ago when a friend told me about Vitamin C powder. A quarter teaspoon has 2000% of your minimum daily requirement.
I started taking a quarter teaspoon of the powder in a glass of spring water instead of orange juice, which has way too much sugar for me. But I was careful to drink the vitamin water through a straw. Vit C is acidic; you don’t want to rinse your teeth with it lest your tooth enamel erode. Same if you sip on water with a lemon slice. Be careful of your teeth.
Now. Above I mentioned alkalinizing your body. This is vitally important to fending off all diseases of all kinds. You don’t want your body to be acidic, which promotes disease.
But how can consuming a substance that’s acidic—like Vit C powder, oranges, tomatoes, bell peppers, and other fruits and vegetables—promote your system to be alkaline?
It’s one of the confusing things about what we know about nutrition. Because acidic fruits and vegetables convert in your metabolism as alkaline. Which is great.
Whereas meat, especially red meat, potatoes, refined grains, oils, and dairy convert in your metabolism as acidic. Which is, frankly, bad.
So. On Thursday when I woke up really sick with a bad cold or a mild flu (colds usually don’t come with a fever), I increased my dosage of Vit C powder to four quarter teaspoons spaced throughout the day. And I sprayed the silver in my throat, also throughout the day.
I drank lots of water, but didn’t have any appetite. I ate a tiny dish of chilled fruit—half a nectarine, some red grapes, blueberries. I did some writing work but went to bed early.
But I couldn’t sleep at all. The headache kept me in a semi-slumber, not fully sleeping. I didn’t take aspirin. I don’t like aspirin. The OTC drug causes stomach bleeding and sometimes stroke.
At some time in the dawn, I literally felt the fever break. When I woke up after several hours of good sound sleep, my sinuses had completely dried up, the cough had quieted, the sore throat, the earache, the headache—all were gone.
On Friday, I felt a bit weak, having been sick. But all those vile symptoms were GONE.
Tom, who used the silver (a bit too late in the cycle) and eats a very healthy vegetarian diet (thanks to me, thank you) recovered in four days, with some sinus symptoms still lingering.
But I—after a regimen of Vit C powder and colloidal silver—recovered completely in twenty-four hours.
So there you have it. I’m not a doctor—take what you will from this account.
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Visit me at www.lisamason.com for all my books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, worldwide links, covers, reviews, interviews, blogs, roundtables, adorable cat pictures, forthcoming works, fine art and bespoke jewelry by my husband Tom Robinson, and more!