Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Should You Trademark Your Indie Publishing Company Name?

One of the things I've been doing here and there is talking with people about whether big New York publishing, small press publishing, or indie publishing is best for their book and audience. And for those who do decide to start their own companies, the question of trademarks comes up. Should they trademark it?

Here's my experience.

When I first looked into it back in 2003 and saw how expensive a federal trademark was, I thought, “The name of my publishing company is a Hebrew word, and would never be associated with books. So why pay the hundreds of dollars it would cost?” My company name was at the top of the first page on Google. (I know—I checked page rankings frequently.) Why worry?

Fast forward two years. A young Jewish teen in another state decided to start a magazine. She played around with names and designs. If she Googled (or used any other search engine) the name she wanted, she would have seen that there was already a publishing company with that name. Her magazine name was the same name as my company, except I had “publishing” at the end.

As soon as I found out about this magazine, I emailed her. I told her who I was and that I had a book publishing company by the same name. I thought she would react with an “Oops, the name I chose is taken!” But she didn’t. And she had far deeper pockets that could defend her than I did.

When I investigated further, I was told that book publishing and magazine publishing were considered different businesses and not easily confused in the marketplace. I could hire an attorney (with money I didn’t have) and try to intimidate her into changing her name, or I could coexist.

I chose the latter, and we coexisted for a while. But imagine my horror when I found out (through Google Alerts) that her magazine company had created an umbrella “media corporation” by the same name and was now going to publish books.

This time, I sucked it up and called an attorney. Even though I hadn’t registered my company name as a trademark, I had clearly used it first in commerce, which gave me some legal protection. My attorney talked to their attorney and they changed the name of their book publishing arm. But in all their marketing materials, and on the copyright page, they added “an imprint of ——— Media, Inc.” Legally, they were allowed, because the media corporation was not, itself, a publishing company.

Publishing Jewish books is a niche, and it didn’t take long before there was mass confusion about which company was which, and who did what book. With the advice of a couple of attorneys, who thankfully talked to me at some length without charge, I learned that at this point, I had three choices: change my company name, take the other company to court, or agree to coexist.

The first choice would require new everything: website, business cards, logo, print runs with the new name and logo, tax ID number, bank account, and so on. The second choice could easily run me $75,000 and I had a 50% chance of winning, in part because we had coexisted initially (appearing that I was okay with their use of the name). The third choice was not an option. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

So I did a ton of research. I sought input from others on the new name. I spent countless hours on the Internet, searching trademarks and each state’s and international business records to make sure I didn’t take someone else’s name. When I discovered that the domain name was available, I registered all the extensions. I built a new website, created a new logo, and set about building a new identity.

And one of my first steps was to register the new name as a trademark. It was expensive because I registered first as an “intent to use,” then had to wait for approval, an opportunity for opposition, and then had to file a “statement of use.” I registered in three different classes, which includes not only book publishing, but magazines, gift books, cook books, audio books, ebooks, and some weird stuff like printing presses, typewriters, paint brushes, and vending machines.


As of the end of April 2012, the trademark was approved and registration was final. Total fees to the United States Patent and Trademark Office: $1,550. Total cost for domain registration, business cards, corporation creation, custom website, and other new identity aspects: $766.60. Knowing my business identity is safe: priceless.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

On Getting Pregnant for the Tenth Time

I promised to participate in #gishwhes and apparently Misha promised someone else a SFW 2000-word essay on getting pregnant for the tenth time, and seeing as I’ve had a lot of practice (minds out of the gutter now), I figured I’d give it a whirl. A shot in the dark, if you will.

I’m assuming that you’re familiar with the basics, since this essay is about getting pregnant for the tenth time, not the first time, so the previous nine times ought to have given you some life lessons. Also, you’re going to need to make sure you have all the right equipment. Like any science project—and any science teacher will tell you that human physiology is in fact science—it’s good to start with proper preparation. To that end, you will need a uterus. Preferably inside a living human. It doesn’t need to be you, but it does need to be someone willing, who has completely consented with full mental capacity and education up through and including high school, maybe even college, and at least two units of sex ed taught awkwardly by instructors who blush when they say body part names.

Along with the uterus, which will function as a mobile baby home for the next ten months, give or take, you will need an egg. A human egg, not a chicken egg, because first, eww, and second, I’m unaware of any successful human sperm-chicken egg pairings although the idea of 3D-printing machines in everyone’s home is not in the too-far-off future and we can scan our feet with some nifty new app and 3D-print shoes to exactly and precisely fit our own feet, which would be, to coin a phrase, both a load off and an amazing feet (feat?), but I digress.

The egg must be viable, meaning that it is capable of being fertilized, and sadly, one cannot test this the way one can test whether chicken eggs have gone bad or not. So we will have to assume it is until proven otherwise, though if the attempted pregnancy is unsuccessful, there is no way of knowing which of the many steps and processes were to blame. If I did know how to do this, I’d be writing a book, which I could sell for $29.99 plus tax and make enough money to retire early and set up a quaint B&B in Vermont, but I don’t, so I can’t, and I’m here instead, trying with all of my tact and diplomacy to help you through this on Twitter.

It's okay to have more than one egg, because if one turns out not to be viable, then another might be. Although, if you have two and both are viable then you could wind up with fraternal twins, which is cool in itself, but doesn’t lend itself to easy shopping for matching outfits. If you have three eggs, and they’re all viable, well then, my friend, you have an organization and you’d better name them all Alice.

The whole viable egg thing is really kind of like one of those carnival balloon-and-dart games, where you throw the darts and try to pop the balloons and it’s really hard when you aim, but if you just throw a whole handful of darts in the general vicinity of the wall of balloons, one just might hit and you’ve got yourself a prize. Except the carnival prize doesn’t have to be fed and changed and educated for the next eighteen-to-twenty-two years. Unless the carnival prize is a goldfish, but even then, you’re looking at a few years, not two decades. Are you sure about this baby thing? Sure you don’t just want to get a goldfish? Okay, well… On we go then.

You will also need sperm. Lots of sperm, because they are like cats in a way, and never go exactly where you want them to go, and sometimes don’t go anywhere, but instead hang out, lazily flicking their tails like a Maine Coon sunning itself in that warm patch of light on the window seat in a cozy north-facing bungalow in an older neighborhood east of the Mississippi.

Really, you want active, excited sperm, who are all ready to go, pumped up after that pep talk by that one charismatic coach who would give both King Henry V and William Wallace a run for their money, and who loves the kids too much to leave for a better paying job even though he’s barely making ends meet and he’s going to be six days late with his rent next month.

You’re also going to need some way to get the egg into the uterus, as eggs don’t grow in uteri any more than money grows on trees, and do not give me that argument about money being a combination of cotton and linen, both of which grow on plants, which are similar in some ways to trees, but not enough for this argument, which is really about the availability of money and the frequency in which it is needed, which brings to mind the fact that the US one-dollar bill only lasts 22 months on average, making it necessary to print new dollar bills fairly frequently.

But back to the egg. You need to get it in the uterus, and with the egg being microscopic and all, it’s both easy and not. If you have (or are) a cis-woman who has consented willingly (with education, etc.) then she (or you) comes with the necessary parts to make this transfer happen without you needing to do anything other than ply her (and yourself) with plenty of chocolate at prescribed times of the month. If not, then there are other options, but they involve scary-looking scientists with gloved hands and masks over their faces, and if you need to go this route, you should really talk to your obstetrician rather than reading satirical essays on Twitter.

I neglected to mention earlier, this egg you need must be at full maturity, as immature eggs do not respond well to sperm knocking on their doors at two in the morning, and are more likely to egg the sperm’s cars and TP their yards and send them anonymous cyber-bullying messages via Sarahah. Mature eggs are welcoming and will invite sperm in for tea and cookies with a reasonable expectation that neither are poisoned and the egg isn’t a psychotic serial killer in an egg disguise.

So, now you have a mature egg, finding its way to the uterus through either some mystical Chutes & Ladders framework built into the female physiology (presuming, of course, that said physiology is all in good working order) or via the scary-scientists-with-masks-over-their-faces. And you have active, pumped-up, ready-to-rumble sperm, some of whom may or may not be cat-impersonators.

Thus comes the hard part, which is also difficult. You must introduce the sperm to the egg, and it’s important to do this with delicacy and grace. Mature eggs do not care for speed dating, and are finicky, also much like cats, but less like the lazy Maine Coon and more like the very loud and vocal Siamese who turns its nose up at every affordable type of cat food you can buy and will only eat British Banquet brand cat food, containing caviar, line-caught salmon, lobster, and crab at $16.27 per serving, based on the conversion rates of British pounds to American dollars at the time of this writing.

There are lots of ways to do this correctly, and several wrong ways as well. Since this is the tenth pregnancy, one assumes that you have found at least one way to do this correctly, and possibly nine different ways, not counting all the ways in which one may have tried but was unsuccessful in getting pregnant, which can be fun too. I will not spend too long on this step, as instinct helps here as well, and even when the brain isn’t sure what to do, the body usually does. Except when it doesn’t, which does happen from time to time, but they make pills for that now, and then one’s good to go for up to four hours.

It's kind of magical—or can be, at any rate—at this point in the process. The sperm get to party, the egg gets to check out all the merchandise and make a selection (or pass altogether), and some humans, though not all, say they enjoy this part. Everybody sings a round or two of “put the lime in the coconut” and maybe does a conga line, and while nobody gets to watch this selection process with the naked eye, it will ideally result in a tiny human that will make you question all your life choices up until that moment when it makes googly eyes at you and then you will be back here on Twitter looking for advice for an eleventh because they are just too cute and cuddly even when one has to feed and water and change them and educate them in the ways of humanity.

I know I said I would not spend too long on this step, and I must not too soon make it overly simple to say that humans, and really all reproducing species, have been doing this for a great many years, even long before Twitter was invented, or instructional data stored on floppy disks, or even mass-produced, printed and bound books with pictures and diagrams and all manner of useful information, shelved in the Parenting & Family section at Barnes & Noble.

Because this is an eighteen-to-life sentence…er…commitment, on the one hand it behooves one, even though we’re still talking about human pregnancies, and none that I know of involve hooves, to have other things ready too, such as appropriate prenatal care and a trustworthy doctor and a safe place to put the baby when it finally, at four in the morning, decides that it wants to sleep, and diapers and soothers and toys… Well, let’s just say that you may find that such a tiny human often requires more supplies and accessories than it will move into a dorm room just eighteen years hence.

Many say that they want to wait until a good time or until they have saved enough money, and this is wise and appropriate forethought, except that it is also impossible. There is no such thing as a good time or enough money, especially where tiny humans are concerned, as they require more hours than there are in a day and further require that you spend money as if it grew on trees, which we’ve already covered, and thus you remember it does not.

But we are not there yet, as this is only the preparation and creation stage, not yet to the what-the-heck-did-I-sign-up-for stage. So, once the lime and the coconut have done their conga dance, it can take a little while for the egg to go through the various choices that the sperm have offered, similar to a college admissions officer or corporate hiring manager going through applications for one coveted spot, except that both the admissions officer and hiring manager ought to have pretty good ideas of what the job will require of the applicant, and the egg has — we suspect, based on interviews with eggs who did not immediately tell us to shove off — no real idea what will happen once it joins forces with the sperm. In this way, it’s very much a science experiment, mixing solutions and not knowing if one will wind up with the very useful and necessary H2O or the less friendly H2SO4. It’s exciting, I know, but all for the best to give the egg time to make a careful and measured decision, as if the life of the yet unborn human depends on it.

Lean back and relax. The hard part is over, and the difficult part has just begun. Stay tuned for the next essay: Olympic Hurling — Morning Sickness as a Professional Sport.


Saturday, July 29, 2017

PTSD: a poem

⁣​you hide
in shadows and behind 
darkened memories
looking for a weakness
a way in
a break in my flawed façade
just a crack
a whisper
the chance to turn
dream into nightmare
laughter to tears
hope into ruin 
love to loss 
you wait patiently
for me to fail
to forget to be
protective of this new life
the one I built
created with my own hands
a metamorphosis of self
reinvented 
a family to call my own
a home
a place to belong 
to be
you hide and wait
to destroy me
with nearly-forgotten pain
but I will not
will not let you
because this time
I have something
to live for



Copyright ©2017 
by Sheyna Galyan
sheynagalyan.com

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Touchstones

I recently returned from my first trip to Israel as part of a tour group from my synagogue. I'm still processing it, but was able to capture some of what it meant to me in the following poem.



Touchstones

From the concrete and glass of the airport
To the plastic and fiberglass of the plane
Crowds and hushed whispers and sleep that would not come
It was night and then it was morning—twice over
The first days

Venturing out into the heat
I am awestruck by this city of stone
Modern yet historic
Creating new technologies
While honoring those who fought for this space
From start-up to start again
Failure is but a step
Along the path to tikkun olam
Inspired by an idea
Brought to life with a speech
As we rise and sing.

Tunes familiar and different
Yet the same genuine smiles
We welcome Shabbat
Though we speak different languages
To say the same words
We want to learn and understand and know
What do you make from your life?
Are you ever separate
from the bedrock of this place?
And it was evening and it was morning. The third day.

Words of Torah
Written in sand, in stone
Who are we if we act based on what we fear
Instead of who we know ourselves to be?
On the shores of the Mediterranean
We look into the past
And see ourselves.

Driven by a vision
A thirst for both water and freedom
Hiding in plain sight
Fighting to make an idea manifest
A homeland
A makom kavua for am Yisrael
One volunteer at a time
One bullet at a time
While the giraffes look on

I stood in this place
Where they sang about peace
Only to be silenced by a gun
I touched the stone
And was moved
Then it was evening and morning
The fourth day.

A morning talk about happiness
About haves and have-nots
One thing is clear: when we have ice kafé
We are happy

From the serenity of biblical gardens
We share our gratitude by planting trees
Hope for the next generation
While honoring the walls
That keep us safe
As we travel deeper into the mystery
The visions of the merkavah
As we place ourselves in the sefirot
And ourselves become the Tree
Planted long before
And it was evening and it was morning
The fifth day.

An oasis of beauty
Leads to more stone
Solid walls of justice
Through the gate that bears
The language of our ancestors
And our new friends
A stone that proves we were here
In ages past.

I want to touch it
To connect here to there
Now to then
But there is no need
I am here
In this place
It is enough.

Loud booms shatter the stillness
Smoke etches the sky
As hate wreaks more destruction
We watch, safe on our mountaintop
As the air shudders around us
And we remember
Peace is a choice
In every moment.

Then with wine and chocolate and water
We celebrate with our Muslim cousins
There can be laughter
As we navigate the rapids
Of our lives.

And a shared meal
With friends we hadn’t yet met
Brings us back to our center
The why of it all
It is the connections we make
That bind us together
And it was evening and then morning
The sixth day.

From the youth of today
To the leaders of tomorrow
From the graves of those who came before
Who left us to be the caretakers
Of their children, their legacies
To the stages that once teemed with Jewish blood
And now resonate with music
We travel the last leg home
Ready to embrace the stone at the center
The heart and soul
Yerushalayim
And it was an evening of lights and a morning of light
The seventh day.

We slip into a tunnel
Beneath the heart
Surrounded by stone
Silent with the weight of history
Layers upon layers
It serves as a reminder
That connection with the holy
Requires we go deep.

As we approach the Kotel
The energy is thick
With prayer and emotion
All of life’s struggles
That are too heavy to bear
Are brought here to this wall
Seeping into the cracks
Our hopes and dreams and longing
Becoming the mortar
Touching stones worn smooth
With tears and caresses
And words uttered in pain and joy
Never meant for human ears.

There are claims upon these stones
Sacred places, sacred lands
And the lines are neither simple nor clear
Truth can be a mirage
Not found on any map
As the sun sets and rises again
The eighth day.

A song of descents.
Even as we rise
In the blistering heat
From the top of a camel
To the top of a mountain
Our tether to this place
Tenuous as a cord
We ponder martyrdom
And the price of freedom
And what it means
To truly fall.

Mountain to sea
Dry stone to sticky mud
We descend until there is no more to go
And for this moment
As we rest and lean back
Peace floats around us
And it was evening and then morning
The ninth day.

Every gain has required loss
Every hope comes on the heels of despair
And this Hope
This place
These stones
Mark both ending and beginning
Their memory haunts us still
We honor them
With a place and a name
And will never forget.

As Shabbat comes to us again
It sinks into every sense
Everything we have experienced
Every food tasted
Every song sung
Every stone touched
We will carry with us always
And it was evening and morning
The tenth day.

It is art that speaks of who we are
Who we were
The lives we led
So it is fitting that we end our journey
With art that gives purpose and brings joy
The art of architecture and the art of love
Knowing that the shreds of who we were
Can be molded into new strength
And become the touchstones of our lives.

As we begin the long flight to the west
Home now has two meanings
And I can live in both
No matter where I reside
And it was evening and it was morning.


Copyright ©2017 by Sheyna Galyan

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Reflections

Today turned out to be a time of reflection on life and death and change and permanency. My own personal losses—parents, child—and losses affecting many more people.

I've always thought of myself as more of a skeptic. I like proof, two or more reputable sources, things I can touch or see or hear. But the losses I've experienced have taught me an unshakable knowledge that death is...not. I've had too many experiences—things I've felt or seen or heard—that can only be explained if there is far more to our existence, our reality, than what can be interpreted by our very human senses.

I am changed by every person who has come into my life, from the people I've met out in the world to the characters that come to life on book pages and screens. And even if they leave my presence, leave their bodies behind for me to bury, leave when the book ends or the screen goes dark, I am better for it.

And even if they are not in my sight or hearing or touch, there is a part of them, a permanence, an energy, that will never, ever cease. It will transform and return in some way. In the very physical sense I had of my mother holding my hand, or of my father squeezing my shoulders, or of my daughter watching while I painted my home office sunflower yellow. In the stories that seem to write themselves, the words that come unbidden in conversation, the urge to speak to a friend.

I am left tonight ever more certain that no one has actually, really departed, and that while I may sometimes feel alone, it is, in reality, quite impossible.

The story continues. It will always continue in some way. Energy can be neither created nor destroyed. Only transformed. And us with it.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Fear Not

My greatest fear
Is that I’ll leave no trace
That I was ever here.

And I know that fear is irrational.

I have children
Who are growing into
Amazing young adults.

My partner would argue
That I matter to him.
My friends tell me
I make a difference.

They make a difference
To me as well
So I suppose I can understand that.

I was always the kid
Who worked behind the scenes
So that someone else
Could have the spotlight.

A lifetime of being told I wasn’t
Attractive enough
Thin enough
Tall enough
Smart enough
Popular enough
Talented enough.

A lifetime of being told
I wasn’t enough.
I didn’t matter
Except to help others achieve greatness.

The one thing that 
Brought me joy
Was writing.
Creating worlds and characters
Playing out my fears
And dreams
And challenges
On paper, under different names
Gave me an escape
From all the not-enoughness.

But I didn’t share my writing.
That would be taking the spotlight
Meant for someone else.

I wrote a book
And it got published
But it didn’t change anything.

I started writing
Anonymously
Safely
About things I was going through
About abuse
And depression
And anxiety
And trauma.

People started to take notice
And asked to share what I’d written.
I said yes but I didn’t understand
Why they liked it.

It wasn’t happy
Or inspiring
Or hopeful.

It was pain
And darkness
And tears
Shed alone.

I wrote another book
And had fun sharing it
But still nothing really changed
And the not-enoughness
Followed me.

Finally I stepped
Out of the shadows
Out from behind the scenes
And began to speak
My truth
My experiences
My pain
My longing
My fears
My hopes
My self.

And people responded
By saying lovely things
That I didn’t understand.

They said they wanted
To be here for me
To fight for me
To celebrate
Each step I took
In my own healing.

They said I was strong
And courageous
And beautiful
And talented
And inspiring
And even things like
Funny and charismatic

And quirky 
Though I think that
Might not be
A compliment.

I hear and see their words
And I still don’t understand.

If you knew me
Really knew me
My failures
And mistakes
If you saw
My apathy
My ignorance
The times I didn’t care enough
Didn’t try hard enough
Didn’t love enough

You would not say these things.

I don’t think I’m
Particularly inspiring
Or funny
Or beautiful
Or strong
Or brave
Or talented.

I see so many others
Who do so much more
Than I could ever do.

My lifetime of experience
Tells me that these people
Are the ones who 
Deserve the spotlight
The admiration
The praise
The love.

And yet that leaves me
Hiding again
Crying myself to sleep
In the hopes
That tomorrow
I will feel worthy
Of living another day.

I don’t like that option.

And what of all those
Who feel as I do
Yet are unable
Or unwilling
To speak
To share?

Perhaps the truth
Is hidden in paradox
That I cannot see
How others see me
The impact I have
The difference I make.

Perhaps the truth
Is that I can only be
Who I was born to be
Even if
A lifetime of experience
Tried to defeat it.

I can only shine
My own light.

All I can do
Is follow the joy
And do those things
That make me come alive
And shine.

And if my light
Shines on others
And they perceive it
As strong
Or courageous
Or beautiful
Or inspiring
Or loving

Then it is no less true
Because I know my own imperfections.

And if I practice
Following the joy
Speaking my truth
Sharing myself
Then perhaps
I can catch a glimpse
Of that light
And know
There was nothing
To be afraid of
After all.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

On Family

Seven years ago today, I wrote about family, about finding it and losing it and recreating it. 
Seven years later, these words are still true.

*    *    *
I've been resting and talking and reading and trying to work through the fallout that inevitably happens when you try to go home again. In one sense, what I did was so easy. I flew on a plane to my mom's house several months after she died, cleaned it up, packed much, donated more, and drove home.

In another sense, it couldn't have been harder. I flew to the house where my mom suffered and died, slept in the same room where nurses and aids and family and friends cared for her in her last weeks, sat in the same chair I'd sat in months earlier while stroking her still-warm body, only seconds after she'd left it behind on her journey. I relived every moment of our trip in December '08 and again in April/May '09, discovering priceless information about this very complex and very convoluted family that would throw me into a deep and sudden awe and compassion upon finding one treasure, anger and betrayal at the next discovery.

But that's what family is for, is it not? To leave future generations with enough burning questions and obsessions that neither genealogy researchers nor therapists will ever have to worry about job security.

In my family, in that house, with those memories, I'm still confused. Information I discovered that had never been shared with me before, information that made me see my parents with part-awe and part betrayal, not knowing in that moment if I loved them or hated them, but only knowing I couldn't walk away.

My brother and I, who could barely be trusted to be left alone when we were kids, lest one of us injure the other seriously enough to require medical attention, went through 65 years of collected possessions, including possessions my mom had inherited from her mom and dad and from her mother-in-law. We opened every box, unwrapped every piece cushioned by well-worn newspaper or paper towel. It was a life autopsy of possessions and we, the examiners, separated and examined and weighed and tested every piece.

Numerous times, most notably when I was eyeing the growing stack of boxes for me to take back home and then visualizing the interior of a minivan and trying to figure out how it would all fit, I would wonder why I had come to do this in the first place.

Why?

It seems instantly an easy enough answer. I wanted some remnants of my childhood, as did my brother. I wanted some mementos of my parents, ones that focused on the happy times. I didn't want my brother to have to do this all by himself. And I wanted to get the place cleaned out so it could be rented. Another family, new life, new dreams. I think Mom would have liked that.

But was that really it? Digging through boxes and papers and clothing and endless amounts of plastic utensils and wet wipes and matches, the detritus of a life lived and loved and suffered and lost, what did I really find?

I found that family is a need, not a noun. Family could have been brutal and unforgiving, it could have meant growing up battered in mind, body, and spirit, and it also could have been children's laughter on the swingset, a surprise trip to the zoo to put the blue elephant key in the box and hear the narrator tell you about what animal you're viewing. Family is the need to always display some photographs and never others, never quite explaining if the hidden ones are being sequestered away to be forgotten or in need of more precious protection than hanging openly on a wall.

Photo copyright ©2001 by Sheyna Galyan All rights reserved
Family is a beginning and often, an end. Family is where we came from, that lifeline to who we were and how we came to be this way. Family is our excuse, our answered prayer, our legacy, our mark on the world. We love it and hate it, run to it and rebel from it.

Spending one week immersed in this family, in these memories, in this house, I was nearly ready to walk away. But I didn't, and now I'm home in the midst of these memory-filled items, not sure whether to mourn or rejoice, whether to use these objects as jumping-off points for discussions about the great-great-grands and how their lives were similar or different, or whether to pack them away until I can look at them without feeling such a hollow sense of loss.

I sorted and cleaned my way through a person's life, learning as I went, and found a woman I hadn't completely gotten to know, and now never will. Then I spent a week trying to return to my family, my mind ever on the challenges of the road I was taking. And then when I got home, I buried myself in a collection of political thrillers, looking, as the characters are, for order within chaos, duty within impossible moral choices, fleeing a past that may never be gone, and in fact parts of which are sitting in my living room.

I went for family, I stayed for family. And yet I feel like I'm leaving with a different sense of family. Gone is the omnipotence; what remains behind is the shattered life that found comfort in collections. And after picking up the pieces, I moved toward a family that I want simply to be honest and decent and caring.

You can't go home again, but you can define home and family for yourself and build it, out of the tools you inherited from your family, or the creative adaptations you learned because the only tools left to you were so morally broken they weren't worth using.

I did it for family. Which one—then or now?  Neither, actually. I did it for what family means to my heart and soul, where family means the most.

Originally posted on Interstate Insanity
Reprinted with permission
Copyright ©2010 by Sheyna Galyan