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Manx convention

This picture was taken in the 50’s at a Manx convention. My grandmother is the tallest woman in the first standing row. She talked us into going to several of these when I was a child. My dad, who was a magician, did shows for them. My grandfather was long dead of black lung, but grandma met another Manxman at one of these conventions and married him when she was 69 years old. He was the only grandfather I knew since both my real grandfathers were dead before I was born. I loved him madly! Grandparents are the best!

Questions & comments from “…Smiggles Bottom” readers–1

On p3 you say that “gram” had neither the time nor patience, to deal with dental issues so she had all her teeth removed at a young age, refusing anesthesia. Tooth extraction is very painful. Is it possible to endure this?

Apparently, it is. I have a reader that uses self-hypnosis when he gets dental work done, even when he had a broken arm set. I’ve never used this technique myself, but from what I understand it’s much like a (self) guided meditation in order to put yourself into an altered mental state that will allow you to follow auto-suggestions. This trance-like state causes changes in brain activity that alters your perception and experience, enhances your capacity to respond to suggestion. You can learn it from books, teachers, or from the internet. You can buy tapes or download audio that targets all kinds of things—bad habits, phobias, weight loss, relaxation, etc.
You can also have this done by a hypnotist. The formula is prevalent. Music can be hypnotic as can Nature, tranquil movement, or design. Advertising campaigns endeavor to mesmerize you into taking their suggestions. Technology…
As a magician’s daughter, I try to be vigilant toward these tactics because there’s a dark side to mind manipulation. It can become brain washing, thought “reform,” techniques that impair autonomy and independent thinking. It can be practiced on an individual or a group. Crowd control is reinforced by propaganda. (does this sound familiar?) Beware a spectacle composed of smoke and mirrors, all pretense. The man behind the curtain never turns out to be a legitimate wizard.

Harm’s Way

When I was a kid there was little crime in my small hometown. Houses and cars were left unlocked, bikes unchained. Children as young as five (even younger) roamed neighborhoods unchaperoned. Older kids built hideouts in the woods, hiked along railroad tracks, swam in the river. Beer was accessible to teenagers, but drugs were for sick people. We had a sheriff but he had no police force. If anything serious happened, the state police had to be called. They were rarely called upon as everyday misdeeds weren’t reported or even spoken of: men who assaulted wives and children, teens that raped girlfriends or sisters, petty thieves (dealt with by family or victim), and brawlers. Drunk drivers, when caught, were driven home by the sheriff.
Mining accidents and disasters occurred. Occasionally an abandoned mine collapsed and swallowed a house. These were considered acts of nature even though nefarious men and corporations created the illegal conditions for these events. Residents wouldn’t dare provoke these companies and risk job loss or, worse, the company’s departure. But they left anyway—when it was no longer profitable for them to remain operational. Workers went “on relief” and awaited the not-so-distant future when frackers would cause even more lethal damage, and meth-amphedimine would plague the hills.
Every once in a while, a hunter would find a human leg or head in the woody mountains. These were presumably strangers as any missing resident would be noted, missed, and discussed. Perpetrators were never found.
Still, we weren’t afraid. The bucolic setting, starry night skies, and day-to-day reliability of experience established the conviction of safety in those days.
I was uneasy with the ersatz tranquility of my childhood, unable to accept the pace. I was bad at interpreting societal cues, and fighting a longing I didn’t understand. Despite deep connections to small towns, country life, and especially those starry nights (which you only get in the Planetarium here), I somehow feel more secure in the city. I’m not comforted by stillness and nature. I accept city rules; relish the embrace of tumult, the swirl of ideas, the Possibility that inhabits risk.