Essays: Boom


Looking Forward to Publishing a Novel and Its Sequel in 2024

Let's agree I've set my sights on an ambitious goal. That's true. But I launched into this orbit seven years ago when I sat on a plane about to take off from a major European city for New York’s JKF International Airport, and I imagined the character who is now featured in both books.

What if, I said, an absent-minded women writer, desperate to submit an outline of a promised murder mystery to her publisher, sat on the same plane and fashioned a story out of her impression of other passengers? The passengers did look suspicious. I decided when she landed, the woman ran with her concoction.

As I wrote, I found her creativity to be the stuff of legend far beyond murder, a topic that itself had begun to bore her. She surprises herself. Oh, the places she goes! The luck she stumbles upon with nearly magical regularity. My 71,000-word manuscript about this creative soul took a few years to gel, and it passed muster by beta readers, one of whom asked if I planned a sequel. 

A sequel? In fact, I seemed to have one tucked away in a corner of my mind. My 67,000-word sequel is a draft nearly ready for review by the same beta readers. We're all hoping the two books make sense. Which brings me to today. Making sense across nearly 140,000 words. How I love the process! Reminds of gigantic information technology projects that once consumed my mind. One requires a slavish devotion to considering dependencies, relationships, priorities and the unintended impact of change. 

On Twitter @ReggieFiction I've enjoy posts by fellow writers, reading about success described as how many words they poured into a manuscript in a day. As you see, I tend to count words, too. Still, making sense strikes me as a greater goal. I may experience a roll and end a day pleased with the numbers, yet I am sure to notice flaws the next day. The process is akin to painting a house. Get paint. Mix well. Prepare surface. Apply. Step back. Roll. Step back. Apply. Step back. Clean up before it gets dark. Locate more paint. Same color. Same brand. Store in a cool, dark place. Repeat.

I notice questions asking if one is writing by the seat of the pants or planning scenes. One can do both. I sat on a plane and made up a story. On the same trip, I listed the likely suspects, their looks, backgrounds and motives. I kept adding details until I saw who is in the story. Characters dictate plans. I find them occasionally balking at my plot. Compromise is key. Imagination is key. Congruity is a favorite. Time is everything. Taking my time.

So here I am, rubbing my hands together, asking the characters what's up, refining my character tables, relationships and timelines, noticing what is missing whenever I can. Wish me the luck of my character in seeing the forest and the trees.

(Reggie Morrisey 2023)

A Cat's Tale and Infamous January 2021 

The clock flashed 3:33 a.m. as we rushed from the house with our 15-year-old cat Siena and drove to BluePearl, a 24-hour veterinary hospital. Minutes earlier, the distressed tortoise-tabby awakened me: At least, my eyes flew open, and in the darkness, I sensed her panic. Siena lay on my night table, not snug in bed between my husband Vince Mancuso and me. She panted. Descending to the floor, she dragged her hind legs.

As I drove along an empty Florida highway, Vince, Siena’s faithful chef, sat in the back seat beside her carrier, hand on paw. We talked to her about the panting and paralysis not being good and she being very good with “the best qualities of our other cats.” I suspect cats just hear, “Blah, blah, blah.” But we talked for 10 miles.

Golden Days

A house cat, Siena held court in our third-floor Florida condo for 13 years. Feline pundits might say her fate equates to, "5,475 days of captivity." As seventh of the cats who called us their humans, she never went outdoors. In the last millennium, four macho cats had roamed pastures of a 90-acre New York horse farm where we lived, only to decline in health late in life. One hunter kitten-in-training there met death with the pounce of a car. Another cat died young from feline leukemia. I had tried to keep him alive too long and he howled in pain during an ice storm when we could not drive to a vet. With such an indelible memory, we were determined Siena must not suffer.

Siena was two when we adopted her after she spent eight months in a shelter cage. So sprung, she settled in nonchalance. Remarkably, she never scratched our furniture. Never. She approached her scratch post with Pavlovian regularity to be rewarded with treats. She wiled away hours observing the fish in a living room tank. She sat sphinx-like by the front window, eyes narrowing on the occasional passing neighbor. As friends arrived, she dashed up to them like a Walmart greeter.

Siena was a savvy traveler on our road trips along the eastern seaboard between Florida and New York, to our amazement mostly sleeping. We stayed at pet friendly hotels after day-long hauls, and, belly slung low, she stalked a room. When we packed to check out, despite our best diversionary maneuvers, she dove under our queen or king-sized bed. We tried cajoling her to move along, then called Housekeeping to rout her by upending the mattress. When we summered in a Hudson Valley cottage in the woods, she basked in a patch of sun on a screened porch, ears flicking, even as she napped, alert to hummingbirds, grazing deer and a flock of free-range chickens.

With all of us housebound in the global pandemic since March 2020, Siena rose from naps to attend our Zoom tai chi and yoga classes. We joked about the Cat Pose as she circled our legs. At the first notes of our daily keyboard practice, she appeared, scratching a post and, ahem, waiting for treats. Until this day, Siena could be roused to chase a laser beam, though soon tuckered. Once aware of the source of the beam, she drifted off.

And Now This

As dictated in the Age of COVID, when we arrived at the hospital, we handed off carrier and cat to a veterinary assistant in the parking lot. Within minutes, the vet called to say a blood clot rendered Siena's legs paralyzed and pained and her breathing labored. The most we could do was spare her more anguish in the hour she had left on earth. 

State law allowed us to be present for Siena’s drug-induced passing. Her distress made this a swift adieu. Our hands could touch her, our voices sooth her with, “Blah, blah, blah.”  The vet put her to sleep, then to death. He said Siena's ashes would be scattered in a butterfly garden. Beyond the screen door. Outside.

We’re not ready to contemplate all that changed in the blink of an eye. Sensing or imagining Siena’s presence. Agreeing in halting conversation that we're grateful to have had this last sweet kitty in our lives. Also aware people are dying in the United States at the rate of one every 33 seconds, their loved ones helpless and watching from afar. That is 374,000 dead and counting. So much unimaginable sorrow in our collective 300+ days of captivity.

Siena passed in the wee hours of January 8, after confirmation Georgia voted to send two Democrats to the U.S. Senate, sweeping control from obstructionists, and hours after the storming of the nation’s Capital threatening the electoral vote certifiers. The mob appeared to overrun Capital police and re-enforcements appeared delayed in what The Washington Post called a "monumental’ security failure." Connecting the dots leads to traitors heading a Department of Defense, brazen enough to label the infamy a "First Amendment" demonstration.

Rioters dressed like wacko contestants on The Price is Right, incited by Republican lawmakers. A mob filmed the Rotunda and lawmakers' chambers with cell phones. Uploaded selfies to social media. Historian Jon Meacham, reflecting on the bizarre crowd, said, "This isn't paintball."

January feels like the hours after the 9/11 fall of the Twin Towers. At least back then, a wise man swiftly ordered all planes down and out of the sky. Today, insurrectionists must be stripped of their powers. As to nationwide violent demonstrations? We can no longer check Facebook, Twitter or Parler for agitator posts

This is our life so far in 2021.

(Reggie Morrisey, 2021)


Reggie Morrisey

Seeing the forest and the trees









Siena: Days well spent in captivity

Siena:This close to freedom

Siena, Savvy Traveler (Photo by Michael Maday)


Sometimes I think people equate being a Boomer with a youth that embraced a muddy Woodstock meltdown and communal flings and ended with photos of one's self as a flower child, poised between Nirvana and the munchies. So handy to put all Boomers in one basket.

Not so fast
Most Boomers I know grew up under the watchful eye of the stern and Silent Majority. No Woodstock. No commune. No flower child frocks. No Nirvana, narcotic or otherwise. And no out loud, blatant anti-war protests. No, sirree. So, who are we!

Life: A numbers game for Boomers
Just too many babies born at once. Too few desks for us in schools. Too few after-school, part-time jobs. Too few decent jobs after graduation. Too few slots at college. Too few affordable houses when we wed. Always competition for these prizes. Today, there aren't even enough cemetery plots to go around.

Life: Of questionable duration
As children of the 1950s during the Cold War, we became practiced at diving under school desks during air raid drills. Our faith in the desk prevailed, or we feared annihilation before the age of 18. Fear didn't stop there. Early on, we faced sweltering summers when the prospect of catching polio kept public pools closed. Some did get polio and lived altered lives. At the shore, we got sunburned too often and spent nights under a coating of Noxzema or Calamine lotion, only to learn we may have sealed a potentially terrible fate for years to come.

Life : Filtered by the blue light of the Silent Majority
Brooding fathers who never acknowledged the wounds of post-traumatic stress after World War II and the Korean War simply had nothing to say to us as they watched prize fights in front of the blue tube, took out the garbage, and dutifully footed our bills. Mothers bustled about to make up for the silence, folded the TV tables and polished their perfect homes.

Life: A question of uniformity
In our youth, many Boomer girls I knew wore school dress uniforms (that we hiked above our knees once the dismissal bell rang). As certified preppies. we wore preppy outfits (with bras and shaved legs mandatory). Madras plaid skirts ruled. So did loafers and varsity sweaters. Today, Liz Claiborne and Ralph Lauren labels sell them still.

Yes, Virginia, there really was discrimination against women
Young Boomer women endured the exasperation of having to justify the pursuit of a college education and of then settling for jobs where typing was mandatory and a week's pay was no way equal. Meanwhile, we skirted routine overt sexual advances in the workplace and hoped predators would simply grow old or move on. It was not funny.

Life: Defined by Music
Most of us born after 1946 knew The Beatles were a once-in-a-lifetime music phenomena, no matter how much we danced to The Four Tops, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, and The Supremes. A transistor radio was a ticket to paradise, a stereo and headset the best way to hear the piano's final reverberating note in "A Day in the Life."

Steep Stairway to Heaven
For the Pepsi Generation, the push to conform as ordered by the Silent Majority vied with the pull to self-actualize. Many Boomers married too young. We garden-hosed the kingdom of suburbia. In marriage #1, half of us stumbled badly and moved on. And life after divorce proved to be an economic disaster for ourselves and our children. For decades. Every economic downtown was a blow to a single parent. The division of property crushing, at best. And personal freedom was short-lived, given the demands of single parenthood and a sexual revolution over-shadowed by fear of AIDS and STD.

Your Mother Should Know
Caught between the rearing standards of pre-war motherhood and our postwar career aspirations, we were never in the right place. If at home raising children, we chafed at the uneven division of labor in the home and longed for our financial independence. If in the work force, we fretted over the whereabouts of our latch key kids.

Reason to be grateful and not dead
On the plus side, most of us escaped the terrible experiences of war and Great Depression that preceded 1946. It cannot be overstated that most of our lives have been lived in a peaceful society - booming with promise, heady technology, labor-saving devices, historic space exploration, and medical advances that may keep many of us alive into our 90s.

Goodnight Saigon - Good morning, Bagdad
Those who were swept up in the Vietnam War represented a fraction of this Boomer wave. Far more found their way to deferments from service. And returning veterans faced more than zealous war protesters. As reported, at Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) posts, some faced scoffing vets from prior wars who trivialized the average year spent in Nam compared to their years in Korea or a WWII theater, especially if there was no Purple Heart to quiet them down. That ungracious greeting scorched already wounded hearts and minds.

Today. the gulf between those who went to Vietnam and those who escaped the draft remains haunting. As vets age and need the care they were promised by the nation they served, they face a burdened system hardly able to care for the young men and women wounded in recent conflicts.

See You on the Dark Side of the Moon
We've felt the Big Chill for a long time. It would be nifty if our society didn't continue to gripe about our existence — all those Boomers — and now, all the Social Security money we will need.

Please note: Over the years, we put the money in the treasure chest. I officially started working at the age of 16. We've made contributions and watched the chest being raided by callous administrations. It would be fitting if we did not end our lives as we began them — being deemed too much by our own society.

Lest I forget: It's a trip
Boomers have covered more leisured miles on the planet than any prior generation. Our minds are full of the world's wonders. We've been handed more cause for joy than sorrow, faced greater opportunities than obstacles and may well profit from the medical advances and technology promising long and healthy lives. Our iPods brim with books, music, and blog commentary. It's even Boomers and their grandchildren who drive up web cams stocks. Imagine: a 60-year old and three-year old conspiring to meet on screen. You've just got to love it.

Reggie Morrisey (2009)

Daughter Jennifer

Daughter Lee


Writerly, 1988

Paris 2011

Cruise Ship Pop Singers, 2018














On the Way to Colonize a Novel World

It is a bit of a dockside Bon Voyage here on spaceship Earth. I've assembled my crew of character defects, each employed at one point or another on this journey, and I am coaxing them to walk the gang plank onto a novel ship. They demure.

Cabin #1 - Top Deck

First, of course, here is that standout - Ms. Pride. Next, regal and statuesque, head high above the crowd, is her sidekick Superior Attitude.  And there's Vanity, opening a pocket mirror to apply lipstick.

Cabin #4 - Mid-ship

Sit up, Sloth! We both know when we're not pitching in. Look at this messy cabin already! Laziness, by now you know I will not quit. I've been writing since 1975. Considering how ineffectual you were in stopping me from getting a B.S., M.S. , work, homes, etc., I guess I have Pride and Vanity to thank for neutralizing you. (I didn't say you were all bad.) 

Cabin #7 - Lower Deck

Expecting someone will take away everything at any moment is Suspicion. Listen up! I am offered many good things in life, even those seemingly too good to be true - if viewed by what I expected. How can I enjoy it all with you drumming up disasters? And Insecurity, ever wringing your hands as I pound the keyboard. I can hardly think straight when you are around so, Bye. Go find deck chairs for yourselves, far from the crowd.


The crowd's reaction is swift and predictable. 

My Superior Attitude allows I am about to do something which will work very well, and she, like Pride, wanted to be there when it happened. These two old biddies have been bastions of my existence from conception, existing as they do in my Irish - English DNA and loath to lower their standards.

We've all been through hell and back. Name a year and I can see us, one or the other, even the lot of them, leaping from frying pans into fires.


"You'll regret getting rid of me," warns Pride. "People out there will mock you and try to walk all over you." Worry and Anxiety nod like twins, being in the business of reminding me of how scary life is, how I blew this sweet deal or that sure thing. Still, I must go on without so much baggage. I explain my reasoning and "escort" them to their staterooms.


Cabin #2 - Top Deck

My Bad Boys lean back on the balcony, watching the stream of "beggars" pass. Highly-charged, lifting a cocktail glass more than is prudent and historically footnoted for slinking into compromising settings, they are trailed by gloomy Guilt.

Cabin #5 - Mid-ship

Savage Wit and Sarcasm, you are tough nuts. I like you so much. My perpetual sophomores. We sure had some good laughs. But it is draining, this disdain. So, kids, enjoy the journey, or go drive around in cosmic traffic. Just watch your back. 

Cabin #8 - Lower Deck

Resentment stands, hands on hips, surveying "the candy sucking losers." He is my Bruce Springsteen in Badlands, And, Disobedience, jittery in black leather jacket, tight jeans and boots, snickers at the namby pamby bunch, shrugging over tedious goodbyes, and ready to zoom out. Looking respectable - if a bore - is my Anger over everyday unfairness.


Still, this leave-taking is no cruel blow off. I would kiss each character defect goodbye, give each a comforting hug and squeeze - except the ones who don't like such displays of emotion. And, not one defect is wasted. With such a keen knowledge of these traits, I am shipping them into a piece of fiction. They can populate a novel world. I tell them, "Think of it: the potential fame and fortune!"






Cabin #3 - Top Deck

Unsurprisingly, Self Indulgence is popping dark chocolates into the mouth. It figures. I go to a banquet, and you set yourself up at the buffet like a sentry; so good the shrimp, the brie, the salmon and Beef Wellington. You  want everything. So, rollie pollie, high-cholesterol countess, counting on having it all, there is not enough room for the two of us.

Cabin #6 - Mid-ship

Impatience, I noticed you, tapping your foot, waiting for me to get around to you. That's the point, isn't it? Your demands above other considerations. This is Earth. People do get overlooked in crowded families, schools, streets, stores and offices. Hell, even on Facebook. Get over it. Other people are temples, too.

Cabin #9 - Lower Deck

Poised to put up my dukes are the Over-Twins: Overreaction and Over-zealous, like pugilists in an old New York fight ring. They tap out letters to callous and treasonous (as opposed to well-reasoned) Republicans. Like my Irish - English tribes, my Over Twins don't especially get along; Been itching for a fight. With them, my world is full of bad vibrations and clanging symbols. They are history.


Ben Franklin set about perfecting himself and then decided he did not want to make his friends feel inferior, so he scrapped the project. My friends having nothing to fear. Perfection is nowhere in sight. Happy is. Peaceful is. And look, here comes Creative! I wave as the ship sails away, pretty satisfied with myself at this turn of events. As I leave the dock, a thought occurs to me: "Satisfied with myself? Wait! Pride? Is that you? If not, who jumped ship? Hmm.

Reggie Morrisey (2015)


My Surreality: Exhibit “A”

As my husband, Vincent Mancuso, and I walked out the Dali Museum in our hometown of St. Petersburg, Florida, one afternoon, the newly opened 2019 Magritte/Dali exhibit left us swapping thoughts about their surrealist paintings.

The sky over us was as blue and dotted with puffy clouds as Rene Magritte painted until his death in 1967, challenging the viewer to question the bounds of spatial reality. Was reality an illusion as he suggested? A layer upon layer of existence to see into, through or beyond? Salvador Dali suggested the same in his works, making us wonder what it is we know to be real.

As part of the museum’s exhibit experience, walls, ceiling and floor of a large space showed projected images of gently moving clouds in a blue sky. Walking on the clouds and looking in every direction at sky had made me speculate if this vision is what people who believed in an afterlife experienced upon dying. It was quite pleasant.

We went to a restaurant called the Hangar at the nearby Albert Whited Airport, where small planes come and go, and made our way to an outside table on a balcony. As we ordered sandwiches for a late lunch, propeller-driven aircraft queued on the runway and one by one took to the sky. In between takeoffs, the pilots of other small planes made for a landing, battling crosswinds, steadying wings and slowing their speed to safety.

I watched, silently rooting for each plane that landed or rose, engine roaring as it flew toward Tampa Bay. I savored the thrill of flight as I had at every airport since I first boarded a plane more than 50 years ago.

Out of Nowhere

And, as always at airports, I thought of my oldest brother Jim, who had been a Navy aircraft-carrier pilot and a commercial pilot for 35 years, routinely guiding massive 747’s across the United States and the Atlantic. I adored Captain Morrisey of TWA and missed him mightily since he died at 64 in 1996.

Sitting on the restaurant balcony, I experienced a sadness so intense, it overwhelmed me. Our meal arrived, and I tried to shake off a heavy hand of grief and took up my sandwich, instructing myself to get a grip. After all, I had resigned myself to Jim’s death long agp. Still, I burst into tears. I began to wonder if I was channeling my brother’s anguish over being dead and not flying planes.

It did seem to be Jim’s grief. Try as I might to stop sobbing, I cried harder. So, I thought, you are with me, Jim, looking out over the airport, drawn here by the roar of engines? Are you in this experience I’m having with my own eyes and ears, watching and hearing planes?

Not believing in channeling anything more exotic than a TV remote, I dismissed the notion as quickly as it came. And, since my brother had lived in Suffolk County, NY, my husband tried to lighten the mood, saying maybe the Long Island Medium of cable fame had arrived. I laughed.

All in the Mind

Of course, it’s all in the mind. I had literally just had my head — my whole self — in the clouds, not real clouds but projected ones silently rolling by in data bytes. This projector advanced minus the click of the mid-century black and white movies shown at the exhibit that captured Magritte and friends in light-hearted moments. Come to think of it, the elder Magritte looked a bit like my brother. That must have stirred something in me. See, it’s all in the mind.

I have plenty of lighthearted home movies on mental spools. As a teenager making a splash in Jim’s backyard pool and playing with his children. As an adult, posing with the Morrisey gang for a photo, Jim’s arm thrown casually around his kid-sister's shoulder.

So many spools clicking through my working brain. Impressions coming and going with flickers of light between the darkness. The one filed this day is different. I’ll label it “My Surreality” and will have to wait to find out if Jim was here while I cried. To discover, “What is here?”



I really don't know clouds at all.


Ten years after writing the essay Boom, it still holds true. All the best and worst of times. But now I look at how Millennials have been given the short end of the stick and crippling bills for daring to want to be educated and advance to the American Dream, and I am troubled.  It just isn't fair. Those who would start a generational war between Boomers and Millennials also want to start wars between the sexes, races, states and other nations. They present so many causes for resentment, we can just take our pick and commence fighting. Or, we can insist that human life deserves respect and nurturing, a civil society is worth preserving and governments are meant to represent all their citizens.   


Simply Grateful, May 2019

Haunting Food for Thought

I’ve been studying the impact of sensory memories in my life. My findings are strictly anecdotal.

Ever since we took a transatlantic cruise on the Regal Princess and discovered homemade granola at the ship’s cereal bar, my husband/chef has come up with his version of homemade granola.

He folds oats, coconut flakes, flaxseed, cashews, slivered almonds, chopped walnuts or pecans, a little molasses, maple syrup and brown sugar into a bowl, then spreads this mix onto a baking sheets to toast, turning the mix over every 15 minutes — four times in all.

As the granola bakes, the smell wafting into our adjacent home studio/office is heavenly. The taste is even better as we add a bit of soy milk. With each spoonful, we are transported to a Regal cruise across the North Atlantic.

The act of adding the soy milk to the granola brings me further back — to my childhood and watching my mother, having cut a banana into paper thin slices and divided the slices over an array of bowls of Corn Flakes or Rice Crispy, pour whole milk into my bowl until it rose over the cereal.

No matter how I marveled at how thinly she could slice one banana or howled about “all that milk,” the ritual never changed as she reminded me how many people in the family had to eat breakfast and how little milk I drank from the glass placed in front of me three times a day.

Fast forward to the present as I prepare a cup of Harney & Sons Earl Grey Supreme Tea with cream. The aroma of the tea and fragrant bergamot brewing in its silky sachet is calming. But adding the cream is my mission. Done right, the tea has a rich caramel color and the taste is as delightful as afternoon tea on a cruise, even if  the home version does not include the tempting cakes served on the ship.

The Scent of a Life

The curious thing is, when I peer into the cup of Earl Grey, I often recall my freshmen and sophomore years of high school and a New York City nursing home where I volunteered, and each afternoon stirred vats of tea for its hundreds of residents.

The home was run by semi-cloistered French-Canadian nuns who could be heard chanting like angels in the chapel when they were not observing silence, scurrying around tending to the sick, out begging for day-old produce from local merchants or swooping into the kitchen with their bounty to cook up a storm. I admired them and their sacrifice.

My memory expands from the institution’s kitchen to the resident dining room where I pushed the tea cart up and down aisles between long tables and attempted to pour cups of tea without making a mess of things. In my galloping bouts of teen anxiety, I had to work at not making a mess of tea time.

The image I find in my tea cup expands as I finished serving in the dining room and rolled the cart down a hall to the rooms of the bedridden. Some residents who were demented mistook me for a spouse or child, cooing or grumbling as their moods swung. Some invalids appeared to be racked with pain at the slightest movement and caused me the most angst.

I still picture one tortured 90-year-old Italian woman, her bony legs entwined and locked in a contorted pose. She spoke only Italian. When I arrived each day, she lifted her head eagerly from a pillow to sip tea from a spoon I held to her mouth. She smiled at the taste even as I spilled away. The two of us would gamely  carry on, a terry towel across her chest, her patience with me rivaling her acceptance of a long, pained life with few moments of pleasure.

Each evening as I rode home from the institution on the city bus, she and other residents on my mind, I allowed myself a smile over minor triumphs (i.e., few spills) and blushed over embarassing mishaps.

Fast Forward

It is when I make my cup of tea these days that such memories return, and I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had become one of the good sisters. Well, I would have sliced day-old donated bananas paper thin. I would have sung in a chapel, observed silence and served tea.

I would not have spoon fed two darling infant daughters or two grandchildren, nor experienced a thousand delights that constitute my family life. I would not have taken a transatlantic cruise or ever tasted my dear husband/chef’s homemade granola. I would not have written these words. But, if as some theorists suggest, existence is multi-dimensional — like an old eight-track player. I may be out there on track in a nursing-home dining hall or patient's room, pouring tea.

Reggie Morrisey  (2019)

One Kind of Afternoon Tea