Dear Karen: We Gotta Talk. Sincerely, Another White Woman

“Karen” is the derisive moniker bestowed upon a white woman who’s taken it upon herself to be a loud, aggressive, sometimes frenzied, always uninvited purveyor of “culture policing.” Or, as a less PC friend of mine put it, “Making a public ass of herself.”

Sorry, I snapped a little there.

And that’s embarrassing, Karen, embarrassing for you. Several of your coven have even lost jobs, lost clients, been publicly shamed, had to give up pets, been hounded out of a neighborhood. Some have been mortified to the point of posting social media apologies… which seldom work because, really, isn’t that just about having been caught, not that you’re really sorry about your behavior?

That’s not quaint. That’s not, “Oh, isn’t she a character!” That’s not, “I think I was just scared.” Sorry, sister; no go. Imagine how scared the black guy feels when you, a white woman, calls the cops claiming he threatened you.

Amy Cooper issued an apology today for her actions in Central Park, which doesn’t seem to be assuaging public outrage much. While people can parse the “he say she say” element of what’s not on tape, her decision to lie to the police is the part that, as she’s stated, is now turning her life upside down.

I’d like to think all that… but I know the world we live in. Karens abound. As do Chads and BBQ Beckies. So until some cosmic shift alters the inanities of humanity, please remember this, Karen, Chad, and Becky: if you can’t learn to control your damn self for the sake of mankind and all that’s holy, at least learn to control your damn self for the sake of yourself… and your mortified family and friends. That may not be the most noble of motivators, but we gotta start somewhere.


Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

An Old Book Reemerges For a New Sale

It’s been a while since it came out (2014…hard to believe!), and with people reading more these pandemic days, some even writing to ask me for titles to “try next,” it seemed a good time to throw a little light on my first novel, AFTER THE SUCKER PUNCH… s0 I’ve discounted its ebook price to $1.99 for the next few days.

After the Sucker Punch tells the story of Tessa Curzio, who, on the night of her father’s funeral, finds his journals and discovers he thought she was a failure, posthumous indictment that proves an existential knockout. She tries to transcend the blow but his damning words skew everything in her view, from her current relationship, to the truth of her family, to ever her overall sense of self. In the tumultuous year that follows, it’s her little-known aunt, a nun and counselor, who lovingly strong-arms Tessa onto a journey of discovery and reinvention in a trip that’s not always pretty – or particularly wise – but one that leads her to some sharp and unexpected truths.

If you haven’t yet read it, or know someone who might enjoy it, I hope you’ll take advantage of the sale… as I hope you enjoy the read!

Click HERE to purchase.

“Wilke writes with razor-sharp wit and radiant flair, and the prose’s high quality is the novel’s principal strength. She also sensitively portrays how real love and affection can survive and even flourish in an otherwise dysfunctional family.” ~ Kirkus Reviews
“A realistic and profound journey of realization and forgiveness… a solid novel that admirably explores the fragile, fraught relationship between parent and child.” ~ Publishers Weekly

The book trailer follows, beautifully produced by my talented brother (who also edits my books), Tom Amandes.

Photo art by Brenda Perlin


Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

Unmasked America: How Showing Concern for Others Became a Political Statement

“Who’s that masked man, mama?”
“Someone who cares about other people, sweetheart.”

Americans in 2020 remind me of teenagers:

No matter the issue, how it’s framed, where logic comes in, or what consequences are attached, there’s always an argument. A debate. The foisting of opinions, drawing of lines, asserting of protests and presumptions. Of course, Americans have always been like this (think Salem witch trials or the movie Lincoln). Certainly since the Internet allowed us to be privy to and partake of everyone’s every thought this reality has been made evermore clear. But in the terrifying age of COVID, when matters are squarely focused on very real possibilities of sickness and death, the caustic noise of debate feels deflective and ill-advised. Especially with over 80,000 dead and numbers continuing to rise; despite disinformation, presidential fairy tales, and hopeful thinking.

Are we “all in this together,” as TV ads and inspirational messages insist?

Given the hyperbolically-armed lockdown protesters, privileged hysteria from beach-lovers denied their “fun in the sun,” overflowing NYC parks even in that COVID hotspot, and the hoots of restaurant diners defying distancing measures to make a point and grab a sandwich, I’d say we are not.

Though, were we ever?

We seemed to be at first, when fear and deep knowledge deficit had us vulnerable, eager for information and instruction. We stayed glued to TV news, social media, the endless articles and videos explaining the circumstances, scaring us straight with previously unfathomable death predictions and admonishments to stay home for our very survival. It felt like a mashup of World War ZInvasion of the Body Snatchers, and The Birds, and we were terrified, confused, and compliant… until the inevitable happened.

Politics creeped in.

As it always does. As it so vociferously does during this unfortunate time of Trump.

The predictable polarization and agenda-pushing of deeply divided partisans then took over what should have been a unified response (think post-9/11 solidarity or Brits during the blitzkrieg), and turned it into a counter-productive melee that, most destructively, dismissed true experts in lieu of political chest-pounding. In the midst of expertise and science-driven guidance and direction, and at the behest and lead of the current president, sensible, cohesive “pandemic management” got sideswiped, ambushed, co-opted and bushwhacked by conspiracy-theorists, right-wing propagandists, Republican enablers and naysayers, and an exceedingly narcissistic and desperate president most concerned about his polling, his pocketbook, and his chances of re-election (as has been the case since 1.20.17).

Which meant that every fact, every truth, every wise recommendation or life-saving precaution was contradicted or dismissed by Fox News and their braying bevy of sneering, glinty-eyed disinformers hellbent on driving the message that all this caretaking, distancing, and quarantining was just the pussified prescription of idiots who bought into hoax and hyperbole. “If you believe in freedom and the American way, people, you’ll strap on your bazooka, get out there in your red hat and unmasked face, and lockstep into any building or American street you wish, COVID be damned!”

And that message was embraced: science and medicine, compassion and empathy, protection of and concern for fellow humans, particularly medical personnel risking their lives to save those of others’, all became LESS IMPORTANT than politics and partisan arrogance. Taking their cues from an increasingly erratic, dishonest, and inept president, the great divide between red/blue factions became strangely emblemized by those who cared enough to wear a mask and those who didn’t, right on up to the Oval Office.

Which is insane.

Because COVID-19 isn’t discriminatory. It doesn’t care if you’re a #MAGA supporter or a “Bernie bro,” Adam Schiff or Rand Paul, Barack Obama or Donald Trump. It makes no distinction between the viewers of Laura Ingraham, Tucker Carlson, and Sean Hannity, or those devoted to Rachel, Chris, and Lawrence. It’s prepared to infect in a restaurant, at the beach, around your dining table, or in the White House. Its viral mandate is to give not one hoot about the tanking economy, your failing business, the stock market, or cancellation of an entire season on Broadway. It’s hearty, indefatigable, and determined to follow its evolutionary imperative like a terminator with spikes, and no amount of partisan-driven bluster and braggadocio will diminish its ability to infect you and/or use you as a carrier capable of infecting others.

We’re certainly all in that together, political affiliation notwithstanding.

So why wouldn’t you wear a mask? Why wouldn’t you hedge your bets of infection, tip the scale towards protection, do what you could to help mitigate transmission of this deadly virus in every way available? What possible rationale defends the act of gathering in large groups with no masks and little space in-between when science tells you how foolhardy that is? Even if you’re convinced of your own imperviousness, how can you justify even the possibility of contributing to another person’s illness or even death?

How does being Republican, a right-wing conservative, or a follower of Donald Trump protect you from all the vulnerabilities endemic to every human being? It doesn’t. It simply deludes you into thinking it does, and that is very dangerous, for you, and for those you come near.

Even if predictions turn out to be exaggerated, even if cases drop faster than expected, even if the virus “disappears without a vaccine” (as Trump so blithely disinforms), it’s here now, it’s infecting now, it’s killing now, and if 80,000+ deaths in three months isn’t sobering to you, enough to compel you to take the simplest of mitigating actions, I’d check both your pulse and soul.

A guy who disagrees with me tweeted today that, “It is 100% about fear. We are all capable of assessing our own level of personal risk and acting accordingly. If you are afraid then you stay home where, ironically, most COVID patients are getting sick.”

He was referencing an article about, specifically, new hospitalizations in NYC, while conveniently leaving out the fact that catching COVID at home means you or someone in the family pod brought the virus in from the outside. I also countered that it’s not “fear” driving smart people to stick to precautions; it’s a healthy dose of self-preservation and an abiding sense of compassion and concern for others you might asymptomatically infect, which is why, particularly, masking is important:

“A cloth face covering is not intended to protect the wearer, but may prevent the spread of virus from the wearer to others. This would be especially important in the event that someone is infected but does not have symptoms. A cloth face covering should be worn whenever people must go into public settings (grocery stores, for example).” CDC FAQs

Sometimes it’s hard to protect people from themselves.

I can only hope that smarter, more caring people refuse to be bullied, insulted, or made to feel small for being smart. We do have to figure out how to bring the economy back to life, but both business owners and other patrons have to look past frustrations, financial concerns, and political posturing to realize that the majority of Americans remain worried that restrictions lifted too early will have a deleterious effect moving forward, and that has to be recognized.

It means the flouters are outnumbered. It means good business owners must explore how to open safely enough to actually bring the majority back. It means the noise and protests and tantrumming of right-wing foot-stompers are drowned out by the silence of those who prioritize safety and health, theirs and others.

It means, people, please wear a damn mask.

Photo by Tobias Rehbein on Unsplash


Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

I Don’t Believe All Women. I Do Support #MeToo. These Are Not Contradictions

I don’t believe Kellyanne Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Kayleigh McEnany, or Ivanka Trump. I don’t believe Judge Jeanine, Marsha Blackburn, Laura Ingraham, Susan Sarandon, the woman on Fox & Friends, or Jill Stein. Ann Coulter’s veracity is always suspect, as is Michele Bachman’s, and Ronna McDaniel is just plain ridiculous. Remember Sarah Palin? She saw Russia from her kitchen. And that’s just women in media and politics. I also don’t believe the PTA mom who told me vaccines made her son autistic, the nun who said I’d go to hell for having impure thoughts, or the cultist who insisted I had body thetans that threatened her life.

I didn’t believe the actress who exaggerated and sexualized every foible of every man in our theater production to the detriment of the entire company. I didn’t believe my former co-worker who claimed black men broke into the bar to assault her and steal the till before she admitted making it up. I was stunned to learn that a friend who’d claimed she’d been a victim of long-term paternal incest had created the story out of whole cloth.

I don’t believe all women.

I do, however, believe most women. On most things, certainly issues of sexual impropriety and body autonomy. That includes Lucy Flores, Anita Hill, Gretchen Carlson, Monica Lewinsky, E. Jean Carroll, all Weinstein’s victims, and every woman who’s alleged sexual assault by Donald Trump. I certainly believe women I know personally who’ve experienced rape, assault, harassment, inappropriate touching, or sexual abuse. My own ordeals in the arena inform me that most women don’t lie, don’t use the most painful, hideous experiences that can be inflicted on a woman for personal or political currency.

Contradictory? No.

My believing or not believing women (or men, for that matter) is determined by my ability to discern. To listen, assess facts, and make judgments based on behaviors, demeanor, expressed agendas, and prior actions. Much like juries in a trial, particularly in “he say/she say” cases, I note how the persons involved present themselves, their stories, their truthfulness and consistency. I pay attention and come to conclusions based on perceptions, gut reactions, and common sense. If we’re smart, we put aside our biases, politics and prejudices, to judge as objectively and fairly as possible in each individual case. I well remember the agony of having to accept that Bill Clinton, a man I’d voted for twice, behaved very badly in office.

But to base belief solely on gender without application of discernment would be to deny intelligence and rightness, which would insult the gravity and importance of an important movement. Despite lazy thinking from select journalists, political partisans, and those who want to weaponize #MeToo to suit their agendas, anyone with a working set of brain cells, an awareness of human nature, and an appetite for fairness knows this is true.

And #MeToo is an important movement. An essential movement. It’s also a new enough movement that it’s subject to evolution, to some clarification of terms, intent, and rationality. We’re watching that unfold right now, as some with very active agendas and opinions assert that anyone questioning Tara Reade’s claims against Joe Biden is not only politically motivated, but betraying the #MeToo movement. Some even insist that the very act of seeking discernment in this case “could potentially signal the end of MeToo,” (hyperbole from Stanford University law professor, Michele Dauber), or “damage #MeToo,” as journalist Arwa Mahdawi of The Guardian posits.

Yet questioning and investigating allegations is not only not a dismissal of #MeToo, it should be its standard operating procedure. Truth matters. As does the earned credibility of determining truth with clarity and an absence of knee-jerk acquiescence.The only way to damage #MeToo is to either blindly sanction allegations without proper vetting, or allow it to become a weapon for those with political, personal, or professional agendas. Given the fierce push of Reade’s allegations by many in the Trump and Sanders’ camps, as well as some in the media who exhibit clear bias, one suspects “agenda” is firmly in play. Recently, Cedar Rapids Gazette columnist, Lyz Lenz, took to The Washington Post to suggest that Biden, who she criticizes in her piece, step down, basically nullifying the outcome of the Democratic primary based on one unproven allegation that he’s adamantly denied. Is that really what #MeToo should be about?

As for its mandate — “Believe women” — let’s pull that apart a bit:

The intent of “Believe Women” was always clear to me: In a patriarchal society where women have historically been considered and treated like second class citizens, diminished and demeaned over centuries of limitation, bias, and discrimination, the notion of granting them belief as a default spoke volumes. It didn’t mean, “Believe everything every woman says without discernment or facts.” It meant “don’t blindly dismiss.” It meant listen without prejudice, investigate with respectful objectivity, determine based on evidence and truthfulness, not presuppositions or discriminatory opinions.

Alyssa Milano, who’s been pilloried for daring to question Reade while continuing to support Biden, echoed my own opinion in her response to those castigating her for “#MeToo hypocrisy”:

“Believing women was never about ‘Believe all women no matter what they say,’ it was about changing the culture of NOT believing women by default. It was about ending the patriarchy’s dangerous drive for self-preservation at all costs, victims be damned.”

Exactly right.

Consider it, too, in this light: When #BlackLivesMatter first hit the zeitgeist with its assertive message, many people got confused and responded with, “But don’t all lives matter?” To which my dear friend and #BLM activist, Regina, responded, “Of course they do, but in our case we actually have to make the point!”

Believing women enough to take their words seriously should also be a given, but we, too, have to actually make the point. Perhaps a more accurate phrase would have been, “Listen and respond to women without preconception and bias,” but that wouldn’t have fit as well on a banner.

And the demand to “believe women” was needed to shake off the noxious defaults of those who might ask, “What were you wearing?” or “Were you drinking?” or “Did you flirt with him?” Or offer blithe dismissals like, “Boys will be boys” or “It’s just locker room talk.” Or tip the scales so football captains stayed on the field while raped cheerleaders left school in shame, or CEOs got wrist slaps while harassed secretaries were demoted to lower floors, or serial predators became president while over twenty-five assaulted women languished in legal purgatory.

But while “believe women” sets a standard, it does not mean that ALL women, ALL allegations, ALL circumstances are equal and interchangeable, requiring no unique, specific investigative judgment based on the particulars of that unique case, that unique woman, that unique circumstance. To believe that would be unintelligent. To presume so would be discriminatory. To proceed as if that’s true would be a generification of each and every woman’s unique experience.

Christine Blasey Ford is not interchangeable with Tara Reade. Nor is Anita Hill. Nor is any other woman. Each case comes with its own set of facts, each woman with her own experiences, states of being, background, agenda, and veracity. As does each situation and each involved man. Neither Joe Biden, Clarence Thomas, or Brett Kavanaugh came to the table with equal or even comparable degrees of public exposure, prior vetting, or personal baggage. Each scenario was (and is) unique in all aspects, and to conflate them, as many are at this freighted moment, is not only folly, but deflective and inappropriate.

I’m not going to parse Tara Reade’s allegations here, her believability, or her potential political or personal motives. All have been, and continue to be, investigated, analyzed, and prodigiously covered by countless people on all sides. I have done much reading on it, from many different angles, and have come to my own gut sense of what resonates as true. I‘m sure you’ll do the same without any push from me.

But what I will conclude with is this statement with which I agree, offered by former prosecutor, Michael J. Stern in USA Today:

“We can support the #MeToo movement and not support allegations of sexual assault that do not ring true. If these two positions cannot coexist, the movement is no more than a hit squad. That’s not how I see the #MeToo movement. It’s too important, for too many victims of sexual assault and their allies, to be no more than that.”

I will always be on the side of what “rings true,” the side of both courageous truth-tellers and courageous truth-seekers… no matter what gender.

That’s not “betraying” #MeToo. That’s not hypocrisy. That’s not “destroying the movement” or “shaming victims.” That’s being a discerning, responsible adult. If you believe otherwise, please check your own agenda.

Photo by Alexa Mazzarello


Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

COVID Confessions: No, I’m NOT Writing Up a Storm

“You’ll never find a better sparring partner than adversity.”
~ Golda Meir

I’m in the ring, sister. ~ LDW

After almost two months, I think it’s safe to say that people are dealing with the COVID pandemic in as wide a range of unique and individual ways as can be imagined, from charming Tik Toks and Zoom musicals, to cynical beach hooligans, and gun-toting right-wingers co-opting Rosa Parks to defend their hissy-fitting. Humans, being both resilient and ridiculous, don’t disappoint in their extremes. Add to that a phenomenally lunatic president, wildly diverse social media, and daily onslaughts of unprecedentedly hideous news, and you can understand why we’ve all gotten twitchy.

Not known to be a curmudgeon, generally optimistic despite existential conundrums, and a lifelong self-generator of creative projects and worthwhile activities, I have nonetheless found myself deeply unimpressive during this unprecedented moment. I’ve done essentially nothing. Not a thing. I haven’t deep-cleaned the house, leapt into any heretofore ignored projects, updated my photography website, or converted those C-videos to digital. There’s been no participation in clever sing-alongs, uplifting kitchen choreography, or sweet conversations with babies via FaceTime. I’ve managed a few conference calls and Zoom gatherings, but my latest novel is being ignored, I’ve barely written a journalistic word; frankly, I’m not even sure I’ll get through this article.

Maybe it’s the fact that as, predominantly, a writer, I was already grooved into the routine of endless days at home working alone on my computer bereft of outside chatter and collegial interaction, and had, at the beginning of 2020, looked forward to branching out for the sake of my sanity.

Maybe it’s because earlier, before the new year, we’d had a medical event in our family circle that demanded time and attention over a period of several months, which, once largely concluded, left me relishing the thought of focusing outward, to hopefully rustle up some new collaborative adventures of the creative and social kind.

Maybe it’s the reality that everything seen, heard, or felt through the lens of a deadly global pandemic and its looming, limiting message of detachment and danger does not, in spite of Ms. Meir’s robust suggestion, leave me feeling ready to rumble, “sparringly” or otherwise. It actually leaves me less and less willing to leave the house. It leaves me concerned about everyone. It leaves me… meh.

Now, I know this is not exactly uplifting, me chronicling my meh-ness, and I know people need and want encouragement, positive messages, and delightful reminders of hearty humanity during this cataclysmic moment. And there are certainly gazillions of those kinds of stories, articles, and videos out there, good stuff, some great stuff, all very informative, helpful, and inspiring.

But let’s face it: on the flip side of all that fierce can-do spirit there’s the other reality: the one that acknowledges that this situation basically sucks, all of it, and once past the deepest, darkest agonies of sickness, pain, and death, once beyond the essential people working in the medical, health, food, and welfare industries, there’s… the rest of us. The regular, less essential, folk, huddled at home trying to figure it out, trying to find where the lines are drawn, where we lean in or lean out. Where we set boundaries, where we relax and breathe, where it’s safe to breathe, with or without a mask. The markers move every day, sometimes several times a day, and we have no real idea when it will end or where we go from here.

That’s honestly daunting. We get to feel daunted by that. I feel daunted by that. I have my cheerful moments, but, to be honest, I don’t particularly want to dance or do video concerts. I want to hug my son, perform live with my band, audition for a play, have a dinner party. I want to walk on the beach, organize a political fundraiser, visit my mother, and join a mentor group. I want to feel like myself again, a strong, resilient person who doesn’t slam into dread because I forgot and impulsively hugged my neighbor, or got too close to a store clerk, or heard my husband cough. Frankly, I’m slightly confused about my state of being at the moment, it being somewhat distant from the one  that existed before this event, the one that was creatively indomitable and relentlessly dogged. She’s on a break.

In fact, when I Facebook-posted about an award my last novel won recently, a dear friend responded with congratulations, adding, “I bet you’re writing up a storm right now!”, and though I hated to burst her jolly perception of me by telling her the truth, no… I wasn’t. No storms here. Not even a puddle. In fact, my lack of artistic expression leaves me befuddled. But here’s some pandemic rationale for it all:

As an author of contemporary fiction with a manuscript-in-progress that takes place in the here and now, I am suddenly left to either include the earth-shattering reality of COVID (where it has no place), or decide to… what? Put the story in an earlier year? Not mention COVID at all (strange, given its pervasive impact on everyone, everywhere)? Touch on it but don’t make it a part of the main plot (again, odd, since it literally is the main plot of everything at the moment)? I have no idea, yet, where to go with this, no idea what the publishing industry will look like or want once we come out of hiding; no idea what I’ll feel compelled to say, tell, write, or share once there’s more to think about than relentlessly washing my hands or figuring out how to speed-walk with a mask.

Hard to “write up a storm” under those circumstances, and those are my circumstances.

But even as I confess to all this atypical cantankery, I must follow with the various conclusions I’ve drawn, at least as of now, six+ weeks in and no end in sight:

I won’t pretend. I won’t force myself into good cheer by virtue of virtual peer pressure. I’ll embrace happiness when it comes organically, encourage it as a matter of practice, but allow myself the sadness, disappointment, anger, restlessness, and fear that trickles in between. I’ll grant myself permission to mourn the opportunities, income, and career advances I have personally lost, despite the fact that none are on a par with dying or losing someone beloved. I’ll sleep later than usual, walk my five miles a day because I must, and continue our socially-distant family gatherings on the front lawn because without them my heart will break. I’ll try not to gain weight, I’ll do my best to cheer others, and promise I’ll refrain from hugging you. even on your birthday.

I don’t think I’m alone in this negotiation. I’ve heard from many of you, those of you left facing that next layer, the one beyond the novelty of Zoom holidays, video diaries, and the relaxation of “business sweats.” The layer that realizes it’s been over six weeks, and a quarrel is blooming between isolation exhaustion and fear of going out. The layer that merges various harmonics of depression, anxiety, sadness, and fear about what we’ve lost, what lies ahead, what life will look like in the days, weeks, months, and years to come.

We each get to process this communal, devastating, universal experience however we can, however we do, however we must. We get to mourn, grieve, dance, write, veg, create, clean, work, sleep, inspire, save lives, do nothing, laugh, cry, scream, or stare at a wall. It’s all valid. It all works. We’re all writing this unknown story together, and until we can envision the ending, until we know where the various and ever-changing plot points will take us, we are free to experiment and experience in real time, in real life, with real emotions… though responsibly, of course, and with no harm to others.

I cut my own hair the other day. My husband says it looks good. That’s something. And I got to the end of this article. Progress.

Stay well.

Photo by niklas_hamann on Unsplash


Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

Pandemic Protocol: Walking When the Only Distance That Matters is Six Feet

You’d think it was a given, walking. We’ve all been doing it for decades, most can manage it while chewing gum, and certainly at this time of “permission to be lazy” (aka: “shelter at home”), anyone getting out and walking should be applauded, not critiqued.

But it seems, like so many other things these days, that lives — and frayed nerves — depend on how we do things, even the most basic things, so maybe a little “pandemic protocol” when it comes to our last allowed outdoor activity might be helpful.

So… I’ve been out; walking, getting sun, breathing air, all necessary for my mental and physical health, and always with utmost adherence to social distancing mandates. For weeks I was accessing various walking paths in my neighborhood, a favorite being one that winds down to and through my local beach with a wide, meandering bike/walk path that allows for miles of hearty, scenic outdoor activity. Every time I’ve availed myself of it, I made note that people were vigilant about observing sufficient spacing, cyclists flew by without incident, and those on the beach were set with well over six feet in between. The largest “groups” I saw were small family units of three or four on a blanket, or a couple walking together on the path. No “Florida at Spring Break” mayhem here, so I felt confident we were doing it right.

Not so much.

It turns out my neighborhood was, perhaps, an anomaly; photographs popped up on various media depicting other Los Angeles beaches and trails where excessive crowds were defying social distancing orders, congregating shoulder-to-shoulder, on both beaches and mountain trails, with impunity. Either they hadn’t gotten the memo or they were feeling defiant, but Mayor Eric Garcetti was having none of it. In short order, all LA county beaches, bike paths, multi-use trails and natural areas were closed to the public, with parking lots chained and official personnel on hand to suggest we move along.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

What this has meant to my outdoor exercise regimen, and that of many others, is the relegation, en masse, of all walkers to local neighborhood streets and smaller paths accessible by foot. Which means LOTS more people are now traversing where few had been prior, exhibiting a panoply of walking behaviors that swing from dutiful and friendly to aggressively uncooperative, leading me to realize, particularly after hearing from others who’ve had similar experiences in the wilds of city streets and sidewalks, that a “Pandemic Protocol for Public Walking” may be necessary.

Main rule? MOVE OVER! That’s pretty much it… every rude, thoughtless, health-endangering behavior on a public walkway comes down to that. But let’s throw out some specifics for the sake of discussion:

1. GET IN YOUR LANE — I’m by myself, tucked over on the right-hand side of the sidewalk; you’re coming toward me, but, for some reason, you’re more in the middle. As we approach, I look at you, you look at me, but you don’t move to your right. RULE? GET IN YOUR LANE! All the way to your right; ALL THE WAY. Even that, depending on sidewalk width, may not give us the prescribed six feet, but if it’s the best we got, take it. Don’t make me have to tromp into the brush along the sidewalk to give us space. Don’t make me have to ask you to move. It’s obvious. Get in your lane. Thank you.

2. STAY IN YOUR LANE — This may seem redundant, but it has specificity to it. I’m behind you, tucked on the right once again; you’re walking slower than me, so as I approach I’m going to use a passing maneuver. But just as I position my trajectory to do that, you start wandering to your left, blocking me. I slow down, assess whether I can now pass you on the right; just as I’m about to make that move, you ever-so-slowly wander back to your original position, causing me to screech to a halt until you’re back in place. RULE? STAY IN YOUR LANE. Realize others may walk at a different, faster pace and, given the need to not bump shoulders or brush hips, you’ll do everyone a favor by keeping to the right.

3. THE SINGLE FILE RULE — You’re with your Mom, your friend, your significant other; someone you’re close enough to, or live with, that you’re unconcerned about prescribed distances. It’s a lovely day, you’re walking abreast of each other, deep in conversation, when here I come, to your left, on my right, in my lane… but you two (or three) are taking up all the lanes in your approach. What to do? (Does it really need to be said?) MOVE INTO A SINGLE FILE. Don’t wait to be asked. Don’t make me stop. You see me, you know I’m headed your way; you know there’s no room (or not enough) for me to get by, so be a walking mensch and preemptively move behind each other in a single file. I promise it’ll only be a few seconds before I’m past, and then you can go happily arm-in-arm again.

4. DOG-WALKERS: LEASH & CLEAR THE PATH — I’ve love dogs, I’ve owned dogs, I know basic dog-walking drills, the slow, sniffing, stop-every-three-feet rhythm of a curious dog thrilled to be outside and moving. On those wider, wilder nature paths we used to be able to traverse in pre-pandemic days, dogs were often off-leash, gamboling freely and without incident. Now? We’re all stuck on the same neighborhood streets and short local paths, so dogs, like humans, have to step it up. Of course, it’s on the humans to make that happen. RULE: Leashes without question. And if your dog is slowly sniffing in my lane while you stand in yours, CLEAR THE PATH. Move Fido out of my way so I don’t have to stop or walk around you, particularly if, together, you’re taking up the whole sidewalk. Thank you. Your dog is really cute.

5. WORKING ON SIDEWALKS & PATHS? CLEAR! — I had this happen the other day: I was coming up a path from town, up to my neighborhood, and there were two men taking pictures of erosion repairs being done on the adjacent hillside. I could see them from a distance, it’s a narrow path, but no problem; they’ll move. They didn’t move. These two large men with cameras continued taking photographs, both standing so that I could not possibly get by without either climbing up the hillside or down into the scrub on my left. They looked at me without reaction and kept shooting as I walked closer. Despite proximity, and in a game of “social distancing chicken,” I continued on, wondering if I was ultimately going to have to holler “MOVE” or actually shove past them, when finally the one in my lane slowly moved over. Slowly. As if I were inconveniencing him. I wasn’t. It took me all of a second to move past. I had an impulse to say something nasty. I didn’t. But don’t do that. We’re all in this together, as we’re so constantly reminded. Be courteous, be rational; don’t make whatever rare interactions we have with our fellow humans these days any more curmudgeonly than need to be. We are the world.

6. GROUPS — This one’s easy: NO GROUPS. “Groups” shouldn’t be walking on any paths, playing any basketball; kicking around soccer balls, clotting in farmers’ markets, traversing any trails or sidewalks. There should be NO “groups” out and about anywhere. None. At all. ANYWHERE. Not until this plague is over. So please, groups, be wise; breaking up is not hard to do. It’s lifesaving. Make it happen. And if you’re too self-focused to do that, at least have the courtesy to steer clear of all other humans who are observing social distancing. This isn’t A Clockwork Orange. Get off the sidewalks and maraud elsewhere please.

There are probably others suggestions that apply, but these six are the most obvious. You have some to add, leave them in comments… I’d like to hear them. I promise I will abide and hope you will too.

Now that beaches and trails have been shuttered, I’d hate to see sidewalks and neighborhood paths fall to that same fate for lack of social distancing. This pandemic will be with us for months (sigh), and our sustained ability to get out and walk in the exceptionally clean air is essential. Let’s please honor all the protocols that will keep us healthy and keep the outdoors up and running. Or walking, as it were.

Besides, even without a pandemic, don’t you think every one of these makes good common sense?

Photograph: Wind Walking by LDW


Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

A Year Later, A Sale, A Book To Celebrate

Time is so very strange. On one hand it feels like the last year flew by in a blink; on the other—and when I think of all that’s happened, everywhere I’ve been, and how much life has unfolded—that year might have taken forever.

For instance, we are quickly approaching the year anniversary of my latest novel’s publication. After an incredible ramp-up, a tremendous amount of preparation, and the excitement of launching, The Alchemy of Noise came out on April 9, 2019… and here we are, already nearing mid-March, 2020, in that blink of an eye. Amazing.

To celebrate the eventmy publishers are throwing a big “Spring ebook Sale“:

From  Mar. 12-23, you can snag any eBook in their Spring 2019 for just $0.99. There will be a whole slate of She Writes Press books included in the celebration, so it’s a great time to sign up for the @NewInBooks newsletter to get early access to all the titles on sale.

Of course, you can also click directly to The Alchemy of Noise purchase links below, where my ebook will be listed for $0.99 for the duration of the sale:

Kindle, Nook (B&N) and Google Play (U.S. only).

In other interesting news:. I was recently in New York City to participate in a panel discussion on the popular NPR interview show, 1A, debating the controversy over the novel, American Dirt, as well as detailing my experience in getting my own book published. It was a fascinating conversation, which continues today, as many of you may be aware, some of which I extrapolate on in a piece at my Medium column: The OTHER American Dirt Issue: Is Fear of Appropriation Fomenting a Culture of Censorship? To access the full NPR interview, click the image below; my segment runs from 23:25-29:45. For more information on the topic, as well as the other speakers involved, click HERE.

That’s it for now… thank you for reading. Enjoy these. And mostly, please stay well, happy, and hopeful during this strange and maddening time!


Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

The Folly of Ageism and Who It Hurts: YOU

Like most people paying attention, I’ve noticed a lot of discussion these days about age vs. youth, particularly as it relates to people in positions of power, what “generation” one is born to, or, here in the States, our particular field of Democratic candidates. The debate on both (all) sides has become an interesting litmus test, a revealing glimpse into the worldview of the debaters; a statement about how humans gauge and judge each other from their various placements on the lifespan timeline. And it’s a mess.

As I’ve lived longer, making my way into and through various decades deemed as “older,” it’s becomes evermore clear to me how strange, misguided, and uninformed the folly of ageism really is. Much like other aspects of life—where judgment about something one hasn’t experienced changes dramatically when one does—growing past what is considered “youthful” is not only enlightening, but surprising.

First of all, it informs you that youth has no franchise on vibrance, relevance, or innovation. No particular in into wisdom, ability, and value. Despite society’s aggrandizement of it, youth is not a meritorious state in and of itself. It’s just a point on the lifespan trajectory that’s usually thinner, prettier, with more hair, and an uncanny ability to embrace new technology. But, as with those who are older, it’s just a demographic moment that’s either spent doing good and contributing things of value, or wasting time denigrating and diminishing others outside the age group.

And, yes, it’s done on both sides. How many sneering articles have I read about Millennials and their love of avocados and lack of real estate? How many older folks insist “there’s been no good music since the 70s”? And lots of dialogue is happening right now, in fact, about the lack of “youth vote” so hoped for in the Sanders campaign.

But beyond any urge toward “bothsidesim,” let’s be clear: ageism is most definitely, and most often, directed at the more aged… which, depending on how young you are, could be anyone from forty to ninety-five.

It’s triggered by many factors—fear of one’s own aging with its closer proximity to death, an unwillingness to accept the physical changes of getting older, a sense of entitlement based on society’s aggrandizement of youth. But one thing it most certainly is is prejudice. Pre-judgment. Perception based on lack of knowledge.

While older people can well remember youth and their particular experience of it, younger people have no personal knowledge of what the process of being older entails. They watch the society they live in denigrate and dismiss based on age, they see opportunities denied, respect withheld, and insults applied to older people, and so the state of actually being older must seem horrifying to them. I mean, who wants to be in a group that is constantly pilloried for being dense, incapable, inept, undesirable, and utterly irrelevant?

We are currently in the midst of a presidential primary that is immersed in this debate, and the constant chatter about how old the Democratic primary candidates are would leave anyone to believe that simply being older is disqualifying. Yet, look at the amount of travel these people do; the speeches, the driving, the day-to-day demands of a campaign, and you can’t tell me they “don’t have energy” or “couldn’t handle being president.” I know plenty of younger people who couldn’t hold a candle to the energy of these guys (the women candidates being on the younger end), some who can barely get out of bed before noon, others who deal with health problems that limit their own abilities (just like older people). Yet somehow having white hair, needing a stent, or occasionally flubbing a sentence sends the ageists into caterwauls of “THEY’RE TOO OLD!”

Meanwhile, the youthful gaffes, preening arrogance, or lack of true wisdom, foresight, or experiential knowledge of younger people is allowed, accepted; even excused with,”they’re young, they’ll learn,” perpetuating the notion that only younger people learn, only younger people evolve, grow, have brilliant ideas or are worthy of our applause and appreciation.

If we still lived at a time when being sixty-something was the end of life, I’d perhaps be more willing to accept the “planned obsolescence theory of ageism.” But when vibrant, meaningful lives are often lived well into a person’s nineties, sometimes even beyond; when people like Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda, Warren Buffet, Ralph Lauren, Martin Scorsese, Nancy Pelosi, and so many others continue to live vigorous lives of contribution, innovation, progress, and creativity, how dare we deem them “too old” to continue being relevant?

Every single person who trafficks in ageism will, one day—assuming they live long enough—become the very ages they now deem as “too old.” And I guarantee, barring any life-altering health problems, they will get there, look around, and suddenly think, “Damn, I don’t feel any different than I did at thirty, forty, fifty!” They’ll realize that they—just like the people they’re currently dismissing—still feel attached to their ambitions, their drive, their urge to create and contribute, and they will shake their heads at the stupidity and arrogance they wielded as younger people.

They’ll acknowledge their white hair, their lined faces, their perhaps paunchier waistlines and higher blood pressure, while still recognizing their spirited humor and wit, their depth of knowledge and experience, and their thriving energy to still BE WHO THEY ARE.

In the case of, say, Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders, who they are is who they’re being: two men running for office. If they drop dead while being who they are, so be it. Younger people die too, sometimes most unexpectedly and tragically, yet we still grant them the right to fully exercise their right to be. Why would we deny that to anyone, of any age?

We shouldn’t. We can’t. Because if we get to live long lives, as we all hope we do, we’re all going to want to BE WHO WE ARE at every age on the spectrum of that journey. And we’ll deserve that right. Just as Bernie, Joe, Mike, Nancy, and Betty White do. As you do. As I do.

I mean, don’t even think of telling me I’m too old to have long hair or sing rock & roll. I swear, I’ll “Jill Biden” you without a second thought.

Photo by John Moeses Bauan on Unsplash
Banner Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash


Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

Wanna Help Flip the Senate Blue? I’ve Got a List For You…

One thing is politically clear: If you’re a Democrat, an Independent with liberal tendencies, even a Republican who can no longer tolerate the Trumpification of your formerly “Grand Old Party,” these are urgent times.

We cannot just reclaim the White House; we cannot just hold onto the House, we’ve got to FLIP THE SENATE. If you’re interested in helping get that done, I’ve got a list linked within this quick piece that will help you participate in that endeavor, so I invite you to this Call-to-Action:


Click link below to access & download the list:

Republicans & Democrats facing reelection in 2020

The debacle of the “pretend Impeachment trial,” which only vaguely resembled a trial and more accurately mimicked a cover-up of authoritarian, dictatorial proportions, drove the point home with painful clarity. Without a majority in the Senate, and particularly if Trump unfathomably holds on to the presidency (it hurt my heart just typing that), we are doomed. Truly and tangibly. So we’ve got some work to do in the coming months.

I can’t share this list directly on Twitter or Facebook because I want to keep it as a pdf file—so you can handily access the hyperlinks—and neither platform accepts pdfs. So I’m leaving it here as a link (see above & below) for you to open, download, and, hopefully use vigilantly to do whatever you can to campaign for Democratic candidates running against Republican senators up for re-election, as well Democratic senators fighting to hold on to senate seats they currently occupy. Both angles are equally important.

You’ll see hyperlinks within the document attached to each Democrat’s name; they link either to their own website, their Ballotpedia page, or their ActBlue donation page. Any and all will help you gain information about them, and easily make donations. PLEASE SHARE AND SHARE WIDELY.

If I got any of the information wrong—ANYTHING—don’t hesitate to drop me an email (info@lorrainedevonwilke.com) and I’ll quickly correct it. I put this together carefully but pretty quickly, feeling a certain urgency to get it out there and in the hands of dedicated citizens as soon as possible, so I might have missed something.

Let’s every one of us do every single thing we can in the months to come to make the reclamation of our country a fulfilled goal. We cannot afford or endure the alternative.

Thank you for your help… let’s make this happen, people!

Click link below to access & download the list:

Republicans & Democrats facing reelection in 2020


Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

Maturity vs. Purity: Which Will Drive Democrats in Election 2020?

When I was a kid growing up in Catholic schools there was much discussion on the topic of “purity.” We were awash in demands to maintain it, honor it; fight any urge to sully it. “Impure thoughts” were sins, “impure actions” were damnable, but being a sentient little girl with an open mind I was beset by both (albeit of strictly PG nature) even before puberty hit. As you can imagine, I spent significant time in confessionals penancing for those biological curiosities.

“Purity” itself is a curious word. Signifying “immaculateness,” “cleanness” and “untaintedness,” it’s also aligned with “whiteness” (hmmm…) and a slew of other definitions suggesting it’s the condition of being free of guilt, evil, pollution, debasement, and other contaminates that make a thing, or person, one presumes, undesirable.

As applied to political candidates, how does “purity” play? Are those who fail to meet standards of hard-left progressives (as opposed to, say, regular, moderate, or center progressives) deigned sullied and contaminated, unworthy of political consideration? Who decides how pure one needs to be to pass the test; can someone be pure on one issue, “tainted” on another, and are candidates ever graded on a curve?

I ask because, as occurred in 2016, the wholesale slamming of good, decent people running in the Democratic primary is again happening in the name of “purity testing.” Spend any time on Twitter or other social media and you’ll find biblical threads of caustic debate dedicated to the parsing of and pouncing on of anyone who dares tilt from the hardest of hard left progressive platforms, often concluding with familiar foot-stomping assertions like, “if they steal it from us again I’m not voting for anyone!” (insert whichever us applies).

This, at a time when a certified lunatic looms in the White House and exorcising him from our national stage is paramount to the literal survival of many… of the world, at this point.

Perhaps those waving purity flags most vociferously are so dogged in their enthusiasm they’ve missed the unique urgency of this moment, determined, instead, to fight to the death for purist ideals without considering the impact a potential loss to Trump would impose not only on them, but those outside their bubble. Perhaps they’re framing this election as a pivotal moment when activists and socially conscious citizens are supposed to fight for essential, necessary change.

But here’s the rub: this isn’t like any other election. Not even close. This is a fight between good and evil, survival and destruction, democracy and authoritarianism. Rule of law and flagrant corruption. Life and death. Sanity and insanity. Peace and war.

Hyperbolic? Just look around, people… and we’re barely into the new year.

Younger voters can, perhaps, be excused for any confusion or myopia on the topic. They’re newer at this, idealistic as hell, and driven by passions unbowed by historical perspective. They’re activated, plugged in, and convinced about what they want, what they believe the country needs, and won’t accept otherwise. In a normal election, their indefatigability would be applauded. It is applauded, even now.

What isn’t? Tunnel-visioned political petulance. Assailing candidates under the shared tent who are deemed “not pure enough.” The “take my ball and go home” intransigence that is too often bundled with passion. We, as a nation, cannot afford that sense of entitlement, not ever, certainly not now.

But I get the enthusiasm. At the dawn of 2019, I was very vocal in my demand that we finally—and well behind 70+ other democracies—elect a female president. I wasn’t alone: the evolution of culture demanded it, the gender balance of our country demanded it; the logic of who, per countless studies, provides exemplary leadership and management skills demanded it. And though occasionally accused of “voting with my vagina” (thanks to the weary, sexist trope immortalized by purity cultist, Susan Sarandon), I made clear it wasn’t just about gender. It was about who I believed would best serve as president and who I believed could beat Trump.

I believed Kamala Harris was that person. So I attended rallies, wrote articles, spread the word, would have done more but then… she was out. After months of strangely vapid media coverage, pushback from purity testers snarling about her law enforcement background (amongst other things); unhelpful campaign blunders, predictable disdain from racist/sexist small-minds, and the burgeoning demand for mega-dollars as billionaires joined the fray, she dropped out and I lost my candidate.

Yep, ball in hand, facing the direction of home, I moped, snarled, and vented. Then I turned back around and reassessed. Nothing had changed in the #1 priority: beating Trump. Nor was there any less urgency to choose the candidate I believed was best positioned to do that. And not just in liberal, progressive enclaves, but out in the wide world of middle, southern, northern, eastern, western, blue collar, lower income, less liberal, more conservative, moderate, centrist Democratic America. The one with voices, experiences, and circumstances as diverse as our population; the one that doesn’t necessarily like Trump but tends to find “socialism” suspect and women presidents discomforting.

Party extremists may choose to ignore that huge, disparate demographic, but it’s at their peril. Mature voters know we need them all to get the job done.

Maturity vs. purity. That’s the stark choice for Democrats this go-around.

Circumstances in 2020 demand that citizens of compassion, empathy, and civic responsibility prioritize “the greater good,” a concept that transcends every other metric on the table. Anyone with a grasp of both history and the power of selective compromise knows our most urgent task at this moment is saving America—the world—from four more years of Trump, front-burning choices and decisions to best ensure his removal, thereby securing the survival of policies and platforms that aid all citizens, not just those who are rich, white, evangelical, or conservative.

It means understanding that purity, like perfection, is unattainable, and certain passions may have to be put on hold until we no longer have a deranged person in the White House. It means understanding that the noble principles many are fighting for—Medicare-for-All, student loan forgiveness, immigration reform, breaking the glass ceiling—can only be prioritized after the basic demand of beating Trump has been accomplished, when the possibility of losing an election comes without tangible risk to the health and welfare of an entire nation…the world.

Joe Walsh, an occasionally teeth-gnashing Republican who notoriously helped elect Trump in 2016 and has often espoused opinions likely to offend any liberal, is currently primarying him. And though who knows where he’ll lean post-Trump, at the moment he’s a Never Trumper earnestly apologizing for his part in Debacle 2016, speaking openly (a rare feat amongst Republicans) against the man and his corrupt administration. And Joe Walsh recently articulated my entire thesis in a 230-character tweet, making it a perfect summation of what’s at stake:

Agreed. Exactly. Bingo. Exclamation point. Read, repeat, retweet.

As I learned in grade school, purity may be touted as an admirable trait, but outside of diamonds, dog breeds, and organic soup, it doesn’t much allow room for life’s vagaries and the demand of circumstances. Maturity does. And being a mature voter in 2020 means prioritizing the “greater good” (urgency made even “greater” by Trump’s warmongering move of 1.3.20). It means supporting the Democratic ticket, whoever it is, and fighting like hell to get them elected.

Because purity means nothing if you have no power, and though protest votes, write-in votes, and third-party votes may feel righteous and rebellious, they will not get you what you want: power or progress.

They will only get you Trump… and nothing could be less pure or progressive than that.


Flag photo by Jonathan Simcoe on Unsplash
B&W voting photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash


Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.