It’s Your BABY, Not Your Body

IMG_0053The Dumpster

As told to Jill Cueni-Cohen

She was warm and cozy before her world was ripped out beneath her. Her tiny, developing Earth-suit dismembered and dissolved into bloody remains. Her life was seen as an inconvenience, a mistake, a reason to commit murder. So small, so young, yet she was a miniature, perfect specimen of a human being; she could have been so great, and she was so capable of bringing joy into the lives of anyone fortunate enough to raise her, but she was so easy to kill.

Not much larger than a peanut, she nevertheless gave them a good fight. Settled in the midst of a healthy pregnancy, she was hard to dislodge. She would have had her mother’s blonde hair and gray-blue eyes. The siblings to come after her would all be beautiful, talented girls, but she would have been the best one. If only her mother hadn’t been so afraid — afraid of how this precious little creature would have changed her own young life.

Barren once again, her mother waited back in the alley by the dumpster for her ride to come, so no one would see her. She stared blankly at a dumpster nearly overflowing with bags the color of candied apples, the words BIOHAZARD MEDICAL WASTE stamped in black.

It was a sunny September day, but the shadows from the buildings made it dark in that alley. The young woman suddenly imagined that she heard crying — baby-crying – it was a sound of mournful misery that seemed to waft upwards from within the bags in the dumpster. And then her thoughts turned to what was in those bags, and she heaved a horrific sigh, felt the blood gush out of her womb in a burst of sudden loss.

Her child’s life flashed before her eyes, a life that would never happen so she could go back to being a 19-year-old and finish college and find a husband and start a family. But her first baby would have to wait… in the dumpster until the big garbage truck came. The garbage man would pull out shiny, red garbage bags containing others, just like her. Their Earth-suits smashed into bits of blood and minuscule, flexible bones. Legs and arms that would never learn to jump and hug, left to rot in a red plastic bag, BIOHAZARD MEDICAL WASTE stamped in black on its side, bound for the city dump, soon to be stashed away in a landfill.

Tiny eyes that would never see; the remains of one who would never be. The lifeless fetus would become a bad memory for the few who knew about her brief existence. But, most of all, she would haunt her mother into holding her future sisters tight. It was the worst decision the young woman ever made, but it was her decision to make. Just as it was her decision to have sex without a condom. She thought that abortion would be for the best — women did it all the time –and she considered herself lucky to be able to make this choice by herself.

And then she saw the bags in the dumpster. Rationalizations stripped away, she cried for hours on her baby’s due date, knowing that two wrongs never make a right — even if the government says it’s okay to kill your baby, as long as you do it quickly. But the pain will last forever….. and no one will ever know what might have been.

My first memory of Prince

We didn't always know what to call him, but we knew he loved the color purple.
We didn’t always know what to call him, but we knew he loved the color purple.
Rest In Peace, Prince
Rest In Peace, Prince

I first became aware of Prince in 1981 when he pushed me into a Ms. Pacman machine in a motel lobby in Hampton, Virginia.
True story! It was right after my cousin’s bar mitzvah, and I and my teenaged siblings were playing video games near the hotel’s rear entrance when Prince arrived with his entourage. We knew he was someone famous, but I had never heard of him. His tour bus was purple and had the most beautiful mural of horses emblazoned on it.
We couldn’t get into the hotel without proving we were guests, but when Prince walked into the place, it was mass chaos with many adoring fans clamoring to touch the diminutive, purple-clad character; who despite having a very capable bodyguard behind him, was doing a top-notch job of body-guarding himself.
I was just playing Pacman when I felt his hand roughly push me into the game console. I didn’t even know it was Prince, but the women who saw what happened went bonkers! “Oooohhhh! Prince just touched you! He touched you HARD!” They squealed as they reached over to pat my back. I was just confused and maybe kind of angry at the little dude with the extravagant hair and make-up. He seemed pretty arrogant!
When we got back home to Pittsburgh, I told my friends about it, and no one else had heard of Prince…except Lori O’Barto. She was always so trendy. I miss driving to the Jersey Shore with her in my dad’s convertible right after we graduated from high school singing about 1999 in 1983!
But I won’t miss Prince, because I never even knew him. I’ll always have his music, though. His music runs loudly on the soundtrack of my life. God rest his soul.

One In a Million

image(I wrote this column many years ago, but it’s still relevant.)
As summer draws to its inevitable conclusion, many of us will bring home tokens of the season from our vacations. And those of you who make a yearly pilgrimage to the beach with young children in tow just might find yourselves taking care of little hermit crabs over the winter.
Because even though they were bought for your children, these pets are so simple to care for that they’re also easy for their young masters to forget about. In the past two years, I’ve flushed the lifeless remains of two hermit crabs down the toilet and searched the yard in vain for the rascal that ran away when my son lost interest in watching it.
However, my daughter’s hermit crab, dubbed “Cricket” because of her green-hued shell, is still alive — one year later — and likes to climb up my shirt sleeve while I’m cleaning the multi-colored stones of her plastic abode.
In general, I am against the zoo mentality of keeping wild creatures in a cheesy artificial environment, but as Cricket was plucked from the wire mesh side of a huge cage full of kaleidoscopic shells in the shop where she cost under $5, (not including cage and accessories) her kind seemed expendable.
However, that spindly-legged crustacean has taught me that every one of God’s creations, no matter how small, is worthy of love and respect — claws and all.
We all take on a nameless, faceless existence when we’re in a crowd of strangers — and the same holds true for hermit crabs as it does for people. But when one of us is set apart to be possessed and cared for, our own unique qualities just naturally shine through.
Looking at the world through its details is much more interesting than seeing only a blur of people, places and things, but we often forget to take the time to relax and really live as we rush through our lives, intent on reaching a destination we can’t even comprehend.
Living amongst plastic palm trees in a coconut shell hut, Cricket kept memories of summer alive, because even when the snow was falling thick and frosty, Cricket’s world stayed locked in a perpetual beach scene. And our home became a nicer place because of one little hermit crab.
Try keeping your eyes trained on the minutes instead of the months; the individuals in the crowds; and the grains of sand that make up the beach. The multitude of memories you accrue will last a lifetime.
© Jill Cueni-Cohen

American Patriotism Reflected in the Works of Young Artists

Art students show their American patriotism through thought-provoking paintings.
Art students show their American patriotism through thought-provoking paintings.

The winners of the Young American Creative Patriotic Art Awards Contest were honored with an awards luncheon today at the Miami Beach VFW Post 3559.
34 high school students from the New World School of the Arts located in downtown Miami, ages 13 to 18, created patriotic works of art on different two-dimensional mediums. Located in downtown Miami, The New World School of the Arts is a tuition-free magnet arts school which pulls talented students from the Miami Dade County public schools.
According to art teacher Jenny Gifford, the students all came up with their own ideas and received no credit at all for entering the contest, which was sponsored by the VFW and judged by five local artists. “They really wanted to do it,” she said.
City of Miami Beach Commissioner John Elizabeth Aleman spoke to the students and veterans about her thoughts on patriotism. “Love of country should and must mean something,” she said. “As Americans, we enjoy freedom in a democracy that is unrivaled by any other the world over.”
Diago Leon, 16, of Miami won 3rd place. “I took a more artistic approach,” said Diago whose artwork represents his coming to this country as a Cuban immigrant in 2004. “The country I was born in was really strict. This country represents freedom. These rights felt natural until this contest forced me to show my gratitude to the USA.”

This painting won first prize in the
This painting won first prize in the Young American Creative Patriotic Art Awards Contest, which was sponsored by the Miami Beach VFW Post 3559.

The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness….

This is not a tumor!
This is not a tumor!

Disclaimer: If you’re completely against American-made fetuses (a.k.a. pre-born babies) having a right to life, then you probably shouldn’t read this post, because you won’t like it. But if you’re interested in my point-of-view as an unwanted pregnancy-turned-adopted-child, then please read on. The life you save might be your own child’s.

Thank you, America, for not letting my father kill me before I was born in 1965.

Life before Roe v Wade

Before I was born, it was illegal to end my life.
Before I was born, I was as valuable to society as everybody else, even though I was just a fetus.
Before I was born, it was a crime to kill me.
Before I was born, I had an absolute right to life.
Before I was born, my parents were unhappy with the thought of me in their lives.
Before I was born, my father was so upset over my existence that he wanted to kill me, and he tried to find an abortionist to do it.
Before I was born, there were no legal abortion clinics, so I was safe.
Before I was born, the abortionist was not allowed to touch me. And now I live.
I still enjoy the right to life, but since 1973, unborn children don’t. After Roe v Wade, their lives now depend on their mothers’ choice, and we can choose to have them killed. It’s legal to kill your own child, as long as that child’s life is very new.
My unborn grandchildren now have no right to life. It’s all up to my daughter and every other woman of childbearing age in America whether or not our ancestors have a future.

Women have rights, gays have rights, blacks have rights…why is it that in 21st Century America, pre-born babies have no rights? When I was born in 1965, I had a right to life, so I was given up for adoption. Sadly, those rights were taken away from people like me when Roe vs. Wade was passed in 1973. Now our moms are allowed to kill us…because it’s their right! 😢

Many people in this country today do believe that abortion is a woman’s right, and it has nothing to do with murder because a real person isn’t being killed. It’s just a cluster of cells; devoid of feelings… like a tumor. However, our medical knowledge has evolved to the point where we really do know better. We can see what happens in the womb from the first few hours of conception and throughout the next nine months. It’s a process every single one of us has gone through, yet some people look at the creation of life as meaningless… or in my case, as a mistake.

I know a child born of rape, and he’s a wonderful person. His father committed a heinous crime against the child’s young mother, and he was allowed to live. Why should rape be a death sentence for the baby? Why is it preferable to kill an unwanted baby than find a better home for the child? However, most abortions have nothing to do with rape and everything to do with inconvenience… as well as making women available for sex at all times with no consequences. It’s a sick society that glorifies the killing of innocents–be they babies or animals–for purely selfish reasons.

I look at the murder of vulnerable pre-born humans as more than tragic because in committing abortion, a woman is actually depriving her own child of their right to be a part of their own family… or to grow up in another family. People know that sex leads to pregnancy, and that’s when decisions should be made. We all balk at the torture and killing of animals, but when doctors discuss with clinical detachment the dismembering of human fetuses as a way to harvest body organs, some people turn a blind eye and claim its all for the good of our society. Then they charge the whistle-blowers with the crime of telling the truth. Cute little puppies feel pain, and so do pre-born babies. That’s a truth that most people don’t want to talk about.

Babies are the most precious people in our country because of their potential as individuals. Each child that takes its first breath in this world is a miracle of life, yet some people talk about killing them as a right and a wonderful thing to do, and they vilify people like me, though I’m not sure why.

Here are some disturbing facts to chew on from a recent article in Time Magazine: “According to the Census, there were 2,541,000 deaths between July 2012 and July 2013, the most on record in one year. In nearly 1,000 counties, more Americans died than were born. Meanwhile, just 3,953,000 people were born during that time — the fewest since 1998. The fertility rate for 20- to 24-year-olds is now 83.1 births per 1,000 women, a record low, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That combination created a gap in births over deaths that is the lowest it has been in 35 years.”

People are now an endangered species. SAVE THE BABY HUMANS!!!

(The subjects of abortion and adoption are looked at from a variety of angles in my upcoming book, Do you think about me on my Birthday? Soon to be released in November, 2016.)

Tripping Through Time


I just found this New York City watch, which was given to me by my beloved grandparents, exactly 26 years ago. Talk about time travel!
Back then, I was living in Staten Island with my brother in an apartment that overlooked New York Bay. Our magnificent view featured the Statue of Liberty in the foreground and the NYC skyline behind her… Twin Towers and all. This watch depicts the view from the vantage of the Brooklyn Bridge, I believe.
It was bought in Delray Beach, FL when my grandparents were on vacation, and the guarantee is dated Feb. 11, 1990. That was a pivotal year that changed everything in my life. It boggles my mind to think about how I started out in Staten Island and ended up planning to move to Switzerland, which I did in 1991.
It’s ironic that I should find this watch and realize that it memorialized more than just a skyline… The notion of time embedded upon that which no longer exists made me think about they way the world has changed since I was that carefree girl having the time of my life traipsing about the streets of New York City; working in TV studios and plotting my future as a Swiss hausfrau. I’ve truly led a bizarre existence.
I continue to remind myself that it’s all by design. When I was ten years old, I became obsessed with the Little House on the Prairie series, which was written by the iconic Laura Ingalls Wilder–truly my first mentor. Nestled in the stories of a little girl like me who lived in 100 years in the past, I vowed to “live a life worth writing about.”
Little did I know, my entire existence was a story in and of itself that began before I was even born.
My own history aside, I went into journalism with the intent to write other peoples’ stories. And since graduating from the Scripps School of Journalism in 1987, that’s exactly what I’ve done.
Now I’m writing a blog. It’s very strange for me to be writing a blog, because I’m so used to writing for publications. I normally expect my raw material to go through the expert sieve of editors, but in my blog, I’m writing without that net. And it’s weird. I get to say whatever I want? REALLY??? (I hope I don’t hurt myself!)
So, one of my my first blog posts was a newsy feature story about Trump supporters. It was relevant and in-my-face, so I put it out there. Then the backlash began as my friends questioned the wisdom of “outing myself” as a conservative woman who thinks that Donald Trump is the best answer to the political problems we face today.
My opinions come from 50 years of living all over this country and in Switzerland as well. Always the consummate journalist, I’ve been careful not to inject my own opinions in my newspaper and magazine articles. As a result, no one suspected that I was an anomaly; a Jewish woman writer who isn’t a liberal Democrat.
I don’t necessarily agree with everything Mr. Trump says and does, but I understand that he is facing down a demonic media and establishment government that desperately wants to stop his efforts to revive a country that’s dying under the weight of socialist ideals and illogical notions about war and terrorism that could get us all killed.
Trump isn’t the enemy. Trump is fighting the enemy, and unfortunately for the regular people of this country it’s a dirty fight that most of us can’t even stomach. But If anyone knows how to battle in the media arena, it’s Trump.
This is my educated opinion as a world citizen (I am a dual-national) and working journalist who gets most of her news from actual sources. In my heart, I’m an American who loves her country and truly appreciates the freedom that was fought for by our grandparents. I quickly realized the excellence of this country when I lived overseas.
I watched the decade of the nineties from the relative calm and amazingly pristine beauty of Switzerland… as I helped to shelter refugee families from war-torn Yugoslavia and answer embarrassing questions about murderer O.J. Simpson and adulterer President Clinton.
The other day I got blocked by some woman on Twitter because she noticed that I said positive things about Trump. She went off on me as though I am hell-bent on destroying this wonderful country. REALLY? This country is already being destroyed by people in power who seem to actually be rooting for the terrorists. On 9/11 I believed that we were all witnessing the start of World War III. I still believe that. But President Obama and John Kerry and Hilary Clinton say that we have nothing to fear from the terrorists. In fact, they admonish Americans for being suspicious of those who wreak havoc in the world through the murder of innocents while screaming about the greatness of their “God”.
Trump and the other Republican candidates do acknowledge the need to check out mosques and neighborhoods where Sharia law rules and infidels like us are marked for death…and taxes. If common sense equals bigotry, then sign me up.
Maybe my comments will stop some people from buying my book, and that’s okay. I can’t please everyone, but if I get to be myself in my own blog and say what I want, then I am going to be honest about what I think. You might not like what I say, but at least you’ll know it’s coming from my heart. God Bless America. Never Forget 9/11.

How did 9/11 change your life?

Beach reading...
Beach reading…

Where were YOU on 9/11?
“Like It Was Yesterday” is a compilation of unpublished and re-edited published material about the effects of 9/11 since the attack took place. It’s a reminder for those of us who were adults in 2001; and for everyone else, it’s a real-life account of how America’s freedom has been eroded since then.
I’m a journalist by trade: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, (Human Resource Executive Magazine), and North Hills Monthly Magazine to name a few.
I have written several books, but this is the first one I’ve published. Embarking on my 50th year of life, I find that I am now ready to share my many works with the rest of the world.
As the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11 approaches, I suddenly grasp the importance of teaching those who don’t or can’t remember to REMEMBER. People born right before, during and after 9-11-2001 were robbed of the freedom we used to take for granted. It was hard-fought for by our fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers, but by the time we reached the 21st Century, we believed we had evolved above brutal war and senseless killing. On 9/11, we found out that we were indeed still vulnerable, and it changed us.
Air travel has changed the most. Now we are ALL under suspicion of a seemingly tyrannical TSA. Gone are the days when you could meet people at the gate and bring a bottle of water through security. Those liberties have been eroded bit by bit, and we largely accept it in the name of safety. But the terrorists strike regardless. (Shoe bomber, underwear bomber, Boston bombers) It’s a greater power that limits their destruction, and our government pretends they were powerless despite warnings that these people were planning to strike.

Trump supporters take on Florida

imageimageI hit the polls early on this Super Tuesday and cast my vote for the first time in the great state of Florida. It was strange to write on a paper ballot after all these years of electronic voting in PA, but I dealt with it. On the way out of the mall, I encountered some Trump supporters.
Real estate professional David Small was never involved with politics before today, but there he was, standing in front of Coral Ridge Mall on Super Tuesday surrounded by Trump banners and yard signs, “Trying to make a difference rather than complain by inserting myself into the process.”
Small said he used to be in the mortgage business and marveled at how difficult it is to own a business nowadays. “There are so many regulations and taxes, it’s burdensome to run a company,” he said, recalling the way builders raised their prices in congruence with FHA loans and started the housing bubble, which burst and caused the Great Recession in 2007. Many people lost their homes and their jobs.
“We’re becoming a dependent nation,” he observed, adding that educational institutions have also adjusted their prices to reflect federal grants. “Federal handouts make everything too expensive and corrupt. We need to get back to rejoicing America and being productive again because the American Dream is slowly disappearing.”
Small believes that businessman Donald Trump will help Americans reclaim their dreams and restore pride in this great nation.
While I was speaking with him and his friend, Nick, a Hispanic woman walked by and called us all “Hitler”. As a Jew, this was certainly a first for me! I informed her that I am Jewish, but she just doubled down and kept screaming HITLER at me. It was as if she didn’t really know who Hitler was.
A little way up the road, two women were waving Trump signs at people… and some called them RACISTS. Lisa Milam of Ft. Lauderdale showed me a photo of her son with his best friends (all had different skin tones) and declared that she was not at all racist. Why would anyone say that about her?
“Our society is so corrupted anymore that they don’t even know who we are,” commented her friend, Jane. “We’re not bigots or racists… we just love our country.”
“In our hearts we need to do whatever we can to make sure Trump wins,” said Lisa, proudly holding her VOTE FOR TRUMP sign even as a man driving by shot her his middle finger. “I feel like this is the most important election in my lifetime. I’m standing here today, because you have to hedge the guilt factor by knowing you did the best you could.”
Lisa said that Donald Trump is not racist or a fascist or a bigot or even “a ten-year-old,” as one lady claimed.
It’s because he’s a successful, media-savvy businessman that Smalls wants Donald Trump to become the next POTUS. “The Establisment is scared that Trump will take away power from corrupt politicians,” he said, adding that no other candidate is capable of beating the rigged system, which consists of a leftist media and politicians who fear the loss of their government-sponsored gravy train. “Love him or hate him, he’s the only candidate who has any chance of beating Hillary Clinton.”

Where were you on 9/11?

Eddie from Ft. Lauderdale was 21 and was chasing his American Dream of becoming a DJ when 9/11 grounded his flight from Orlando to Cleveland. He was in the air when it happened. “The captain told us we had to make an emergency landing,” he recalls. “He wouldn’t tell us anything else, but my seat mate got a text from his mother that the World Trade Center was attacked.”
His plane put down somewhere in Indiana, and he and his friend were picked up and driven to their destination in Ohio.
“Upon entering the airport in Indiana, it was chaos!” says Eddie. He and his seat mate bellied up to the bar at Chili’s and watched the World Trade Center collapse into itself again and again and again on the tv.
“People were frantic—crying and scared,” he says. “I was just taking it in. But later when the president said we were going to war, I realized it was serious. Troops and deployment and war…I wondered if I would be drafted.
“I didn’t realize what any of it meant. I just knew nothing was the same and now we had to be careful. I had an idyllic childhood and suddenly there was all this fear instilled in us,” says Eddie.
“My poor mother was sorry she let me out of her sight.”