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.

Holiday wishes! or: How to write an “autobiography” (if you’re me, which you’re not, but I’m going to tell you anyway)

Even though I may be thought of as a “loner” because I was an innately shy only-child, my history involves other people and their stories. Therefore, bits of the “auto” (self) parts of my biography are actually my interpretation of other people’s stories that intersected and influenced mine. Some of the stories are wonderful, even magical. And a few are dark, dire and painful. I’m proud of my part in some, and have regrets about others.

Growing up in a time and household where unsettling things weren’t spoken of (certainly not in front of children), many things were never discussed or explained —the screams that came from the neighbor’s open windows, the girls that dropped out of school to have babies… Situations were glossed over by folks who’d never learned to talk about subjects they found uncomfortable. Adults might whisper painful stories to another adult they trusted, but publicly they never admitted shame. Other folk’s issues were “not their business.”

Dark secrets were stored away in root cellars, buried in back yards, swallowed with folk medicine.

“Life, Death, and Beyond Smiggle’s Bottom” may be fiction, but it’s real to me. The people that inspired the characters are real. I may not have fully understood every incident but I recognized tension and it had an impact. The folks portrayed play a part in who I am, and perhaps I played some part in who they became. In the end it’s my story. Others are exaggerated, combined, and transformed before being revealed in my tale.

Some of my readers have recognized parts of their stories, some never will. I hope that people I don’t know, or barely know, will recognize bits of their stories embedded in mine and that they, and the folks I do know, will appreciate our connection. I hope they’re consoled by the compassion I feel for their situations and losses. I hope they’re cheered by the irreverence I have for gloom.

Artists often have great hopes for their work. I say If you’re going to hope for something, make it mighty. So my wish is that some of the shadows that have shrouded these stories will dispel in the light, and rain down like sparkling fairy dust bestowing blessings, fulfilling wishes, and obliterating some of the darkness of the world.