100 Days of Badass Women

I interrupt this blog to bring you a note from Doug Imbrogno, founder and editor of Westvirginiaville – a digital magazine.

The short version is that “100 Days of Badass Women” is a semi-finalist in a new online film event called the Paris Women Festival. You’ll have to read more to find out why I am so proud of this accomplishment!

NOTE: View the film here: https://westvirginiaville.com/2021/02/100badasswomenvideo/


THERE ARE A BUNCH OF world-class artists at work in West Virginia. The habitual ‘hillbilly chauvinism’ against the state often obscures their work to the wider global audience it deserves. Yet, at least in the case of Cabell County-based artist Sassa Wilkes (they/them), artful judges are noticing. I’m pleased to report the 19-minute AmpMediaProject 2021 documentary, “100 Days of Badass Women,” about Sassa’s remarkable artistry and “badass women” portrait series, has earned semi-finalist status in a new online film event called the Paris Women Festival (yes, THAT Paris, not Paris, Texas).

This continues an impressive run whenever I submit to filmfests this showcase of Sassa and their art and philosophy, in a video crafted by Bobby Lee Messer and myself from a Connie Kinsey interview. The doc has earned spots in: the 2021 versions of the SiciliAmbiente Festival; the Montreal Independent Film Festival; the Chicago Indie Film Awards; Venice Shorts in Venice, California; and was an award winner in the 2021 Accolade Global Film Competition and Best Shorts Competition.

Lest you think I dressed in drag to enter this new online fest, here’s how the festival self-describes: “Paris International Women Festival is a competitive online event that valorizes the work of women filmmakers or films about women. In this festival, we are looking for a unique and innovative perspective from female filmmakers to introduce them and promote them. We also accept projects directed by non-female directors who have something important to say about womanhood. We are an online event based in Paris and we are dedicated to female cinema.”

Sassa (and Connie) indeed have something important to say, show and reveal. Bravo to a West Virginia artist and work deserving of all the success in a world that is actually taking notice of this showcase of it. -Doug Imbrogno

The Path

Artist Unknown — please let me know if you know

The stone path to the door in the tree is made up of stones too big to be called cobblestones.  They are worn and broken in spots – the path was either once well used or has been abandoned for years.  I can’t tell which.

The doorway calls to me.  Has always called to me.  I’m quite certain happiness and contentment lie behind it.  I think it is the Tree of Life.

I’ve been trying to get there for years.

Sometimes the heels of my shoes are too high and I can’t negotiate the stone path. Other times, the atmosphere on the way to the door is too foreboding.  To inaccessible.  Too dark.  Too far out of my way.  Too something.

I am determined now to go through. I have kicked off my heels and stride barefoot through the forest. Vulnerable and a little bit afraid.

Most likely, the door will be hard to open. I think the hinges might groan.  Might be rusted shut.  I don’t think many people actually make it through that doorway. Not these days.  The times are too — something.  I’m supposed to be a wordsmith.  I should be able to summon the right word. I can’t find it.  Maybe unsettled.  Complicated.  Perilous.  Insane.

If I get through….no…when I get through, I will paint the door red.  In opposition to the Rolling Stones. 

There is too much black already.

I am so weary. 

Once on the other side, I think if I stand in the doorway and look out, the forest will be sun-dappled and green.  The path is welcoming and not perilous.  The tree may bear apples.  Bright red and juicy.  Plenty for me. Plenty for others.

I think once the journey is over, I may forget how arduous it was. 

That might be a blessing.  Reality, which has been far too much with me, tells me that is not likely. 

It wasn’t easier with sturdy shoes.  But approaching the door naked and with reverence seems the right thing to do now.

I have stripped myself of that which might hold me back.  That may keep me from feeling all the feels.  I am vulnerable, but I am strong.

I will stride as much as possible across those worn, broken rocks through the dark, dreary forest.

I am tired of the dark.  Tired of dreary.

I am tired.

It’s now or never.  This crosses my mind a lot.  I don’t have a lot of years left.  I have spent my life, it seems, in a perpetual state of stress.  I can’t remember not being stressed. Not since I was 10.  Fifty-three years of stress can kill you.  Sap your will to live.

I haven’t lost that.  I am not defeated.  I am determined.

A second wind has energized me.  Or maybe a third wind.  Hundredth wind? 

I’ve been at this for a long time.

What’s on the other side of the door?

I try to imagine it.

A cozy room with a narrow quilted bed, reading chair, and books?

Another doorway to a sunlit meadow brimming with flora and fauna. Ripe apples?  Mine for the picking?

Nothing?  Everything. Mindfulness instead of mindless existence.

I am weary of trying to reach that door and failing.

I don’t think I’ve been trying in the right ways.  Tried tackling the path with someone or more than one someone by my side. 


Tried it alone but was fortified for battle and obstacle.  Provisions, hiking books, walking stick, pith helmet. Camera to document the journey.


Tried it tearful.  Tried it prayerful.  Tried it angry.

Now, no try, just do. 

Yoda is perhaps the greatest philosopher of all time.  Do or do not.  There is no try.

Maybe all of life is just a journey.  But that seems too despairing.  There has to be a point.  A destination.  A place of fulfillment and ease. 

Mustn’t there?

I intend to find out.

That door beckons.  Has always beckoned.  I will push it open.

Spam (and scalloped potatoes)

Comfort Food

It’s really stupid, but I particularly like Spam.  Yes, Spam –the luncheon meat – spiced ham. I was raised on it.  And then when we moved to Hawaii, we discovered it was like the state food.  I think their Spam consumption rivals their pineapple consumption.   Hawaiians eat Spam by the truckload.  You can get a Spam breakfast sandwich at the McDonald’s.  There is Spam sushi.  I am not making this up.

I like it fried with eggs.  I like it right out of the can at room temperature.  An old friend of my mother’s used to grind it up and make a ham salad sort of thing with it.  That was good too.

But I particularly like my Spam with scalloped potatoes.  That’s how my mom served it.  But she used Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup to make the potatoes.  Later, she started buying the boxed kind.

When I was 15 or so, I went on a tear to learn how to cook things from scratch.  I was given the Betty Crocker Cookbook.  I still have it.  I still use it.  Their scalloped potato recipe is to die for.  Really.  Well, it is with some modifications.  As I learned to cook, I also learned that most recipes geared toward the general populace are lacking in spice and pizazz.  I am very fond of savory foods. And pizazz.

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The Origin of the Tooth Fairy (A fairy tale for Julien)

Photo by Mimipic Photography on Unsplash

“No!  Not like that.  Gently, gently.  The children will be sleeping and you mustn’t wake them.”

“Why?” Frannie asked her forehead all wrinkled with concentration.

“All I know is what they told me when I was training.  Both you and the children will be cursed from that day forward if the child sees you.”

“Because of teeth?”

“Because they saw the magic. The children are led to believe that we exchange the teeth for money.  Very few of them ever ask what we want the teeth for.  They mustn’t know that we turn the teeth into money. 


No!  Stop. I don’t know why. It just is.  Think of it as a rule.”

“I’m never going to be able to do this.  It’s too hard.”

“It is not. It just takes finesse.  Let me show you again.’

Florence used her wand ever so gently to brush the tooth out from underneath the pillow.  She circled the tooth clockwise three times with her wand, and then lightly tapped the tooth. In a moment, the tooth was transformed into a pile of gleaming quarters.

“That’s more than the last one. What’s up with that?” Frannie asked.

“Don’t know. The wand decides how much money.  It’s always different.” Flossie then used the wand to sweep the gleaming quarters under the pillow one by one. ‘Sometimes it’s paper money.  That’s a little trickier to get under the pillow. Most of the time I just use my hand.  Slow and careful like. “

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