My History with Dr. King and 7 Other Facts

I remember, in the sixth grade, and it was a tradition of many teachers at the time, being shown the film “Our Friend, Martin,” a cartoonized telling of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life. I preferred books actually. The first time I saw it, I — barely — managed to stay awake throughout the whole film, but even now, I ask myself: was this the education of Dr. King that he deserved, or just another kick-in for those interested in cartoons?

You decide for yourself how you feel about it.

By now, even if you’re not an American, you must’ve heard Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” at least once. If you haven’t heard the historic speech, it’s always on YouTube, courtesy of History channel:

In college, Dr. King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail was one of the first reads in my Intro to Philosophy class. It was selected for the power of his message and the form of his argument. The questions he raised in his lifetime, are — sadly — still contested today.

He died too soon, at the age of 39, when he was murdered for his beliefs.

While reparations is still something to be discussed, as Ta-Nehisi Coates does here,

Dr. King, is recorded as only touching upon the subject of reparations,

but more deeply advocating for justice, in total, for economic inequality.

An article like this, I would rarely do, unless more directly important to me, for anyone else. Growing up and hearing his words, reading his words, and reflecting on life as it was, even for a white-passing trans girl, meant more to me than almost anyone else. Dr. King deserves this article from me and this piece of my heart like no one else, because he gave me hope and gave me guidance, and inspiration too, he gave me inspiration.

When I won that award, I had wanted so badly to speak with the power that he had. To be able to speak for others, in place of others, in defense of others, and be on the frontlines of necessary change, with words as my only weapon. With ideas as my only shield. With nonviolence as the goal.

Dr. King really changed my life with his words. Yet, without a figure like him in my life to guide me, with only words to follow, without a hand to hold, not even a God to hold faith in, I was lost. Finding myself through this writing, not poetry as much, but in the longer form of an essay, I began searching where I wanted to go and what I wanted to make, and what the world needed of me, and humorously, I was just a young girl.

When he was running against Clinton in 2012, I had voted for Barack Obama, my first Presidential vote ever. Not for the shallow reason of a black President, but because when he spoke, his form of speech was beautiful. Spoken word poetry would make me feel the same. Dr. King had first made me feel that way.

 

Conclusion: my favorite little-known King facts, courtesy of History

  1. Martin’s birth-name was Michael. So, like me, he also preferred a chosen name.
  2. “King entered college at the age of 15.” Wow!
  3. There was another speech at the Lincoln Memorial. Before “I Have a Dream,” King had given the speech: “Give Us the Ballot!”
  4. According to the King Center, he went to jail 29 times. Nearly 30 times!
  5. In 1958, Dr. King survived an assassination attempt. The weapon just barely missed his aorta, and he narrowly survived.
  6. “King’s mother was also slain by a bullet.” It was 1974 and feet from where her son had previously preached nonviolence in Ebenezer Baptist Church.
  7. “George Washington is the only other American to have had his birthday observed as a national holiday. In 1983 President Ronald Reagan signed a bill that created a federal holiday to honor King. The holiday, first commemorated in 1986, is celebrated on the third Monday in January, close to the civil rights leader’s January 15 birthday.”

Happy Birthday Dr. King.

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Port: 2018’s First Common Council Meeting

 PORT JERVIS, N.Y.— Monday evening at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers of City Hall at 20 Hammond St, regular Common Council meeting hours began again for the new year.

A familiar face returned: Dominick Santini IV. The Port Jervis Republican who ran in 2017 for the First Ward replaced the city’s resigned predecessor, Sarah Hendry whose comments on leaving can be found here.


“I too would like to welcome my new partner in crime.” 

Regis Foster

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Save-a-Lot and nail salon are both coming
to the strip mall by Burger King and Rite Aid,
by Mar. 31 of this year.

Kelly Decker

After the youth report, a short discussion about dog parks in the city, the “Great American” building’s progress report and the Christkindlmarket discourse between Mayor Kelly Decker and a resident, public comment concluded with a reading of a seven-minute open letter to the city, elected officials, and most of all, the Fourth Ward.

2017 Fourth Ward candidate for Common Council and local activist Jill Lindner read the letter during her time at the podium for public comment. In her piece, she outlined the benefits and importance of a community-owned garden that not only revitalizes the aesthetic of a neighborhood but would educate and feed neighbors, making an area taken off the tax rolls worthwhile in doing so. You can read the full letter here, courtesy of Ms. Lindner and BriennaParsons.com.

What can’t be read in Lindner’s letter, yet she spoke of at the meeting, was that residents of the Fourth Ward who she had spoken to about the idea, were in support of not allowing the Salvation Army to simply purchase the plot and remove it from the tax rolls. Lindner also said that the North Street community garden in the Fourth Ward, that Siegel had suggested later in the meeting was slated for clearing, to make room for the Waterpark Project, and that the garden idea had been receiving a negative spin from the representative since her meeting with Decker and Lisa Randazzo, urging her to consider the Front and Seward cross street corner property which is planned to be demolished.


“Not sure that site would be in the best interest of anybody.”

Stanley Siegel

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Following the outset of the meeting with public comment, minutes were approved and the council jumped right into committee reports. Beginning with Siegel and following to pay the bills ($296,913.29) with the Third Ward’s very own Finance and Insurance Liaison, Kristin Trovei concluding with numerous. resolutions of gov housekeeping.

  1. Designating Officers
  2. Newspapers, Radio & Television — The Times Herald-Record is where official documents will be publicly published.
  3. Banking and Depositories
  4. Standard Workday and Reporting for Retirement Benefits
  5. Dual Signature Requirement for Disbursements
  6. Community Development Agency Shared Service

Full resolution documents or details
should be made available through the city website.

Of notable news, Christmas tree pickup is continuing, parking is still blocked from streets until Apr. 1, as well as the Department of Public Works pickup calendar — should similarly be made available through the city website. Additionally approved during the report by George Belcher, councilman for the Second Ward, were the project resolutions for the bridge over the Neversink River and roadway to the city line. A multi-million-dollar cross-funded project to re-engineer the highly trafficked street.

Regis Foster, a councilman for the First Ward, reported for the Police Committee and rattled off several impressive policing statistics.

Mayor Decker moreover updated the council on an upcoming Deerpark-Port Jervis Annexation meeting. “The old Dick’s Concrete” location is to be annexed by the city. This meeting will certainly be covered by this journalist. 

The State of the City Address
is set to be held
in the Council Chambers,
January 24

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Afterword a section called old business was held, in it, many condolences were expressed to Councilman-at-Large, David Bavoso. His family is in a period of bereavement. Many “well wishes” came from roughly everyone.


Port Jervis is “a community
and there’s always something to rally around.”

David Bavoso

Besides in old business, Fourth Ward Common Council representative Stanley Siegel, regarding the award ceremony for the Patriot Pen, Voice of Democracy contest at the VFW Naval Ship said that it was “really great,” with youth speaking about democracy, “to listen to their vision of America.” Port Jervis not only has been hosting the event since 1970 but the venue is the only one like it in the country confirmed by Decker and Siegel.

Siegel ended his OB segment with a note on local activism. On Saturday, “two dozen” people met to protest for an accessible train station, with Siegel calling on Senator Chuck Schumer directly to no avail. He also had a note an upcoming taxpayer’s group with details coming in the following days, and an update on the warming station which needs volunteers and supplies.


This journalist is also a recognized Voice of Democracy, receiving commemoration for her Patriot Pen January 17, 2010.

Fun Fact About the Author

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About Me, #3: Transgender, 4 Pros, Cons

“For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others — and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” — Matthew 19:12, New International Version

A young girl watches America’s Next Top Model Season Eleven (the one with Isis King no less!) on TV after school. A forlorn expression watches, enviously, bodies on a screen, as hers mimicks them on the runway. Putting one foot directly in front of the other and moving her barely teenage hips, she catches a slight snag, a pinch, and a pain — she adjusts her scrotum.

Growing up trans is the most confusing thing in the world. Don’t argue with me about this, because there’s no way that there could be anything more confusing than feeling like someone else, trying to be a second someone else, and ending up being a completely third someone else, while in the end, not at all being oneself. Just trying to explain this leaves me feeling dizzy.

It’s amazing having grown up and gone through all of that confusion, all of that subsequent anger, and holding so much resentment for so much, for so many people, and for so many years, and then finally, to turn on the TV one day and behold! There’s not only a famous Olympian on television openly transgender, but apparently kids too. Some of these children had the access to speak about how they felt and were supported in beginning their transitions at a young age — how absolutely marvelous!

I’m sure not many people experience having relationships with their family like these lucky kiddos. Personally, there’s a lot of people that I’ve lost contact with immediately following coming out to them as transgender. I often wonder what my life would have been like if my family had asked me about my gender at a young age and helped me in this way. Would I still be a journalist? Would I still have the same interests? Would I still be as strong as I think that I am?

The Elephant asks a lot of questions like this. Are you sure? What if? What if? What if?

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It’s so strange. It’s so shamed. It’s incredibly scary.

Coming out, being authentic and being brave, in this unique way is a winsome, losesome (link has before-after pics!). Here, I would like to get out everything that I can on the topic of being transgender, the good and the bad. Once this introduction series is complete, I want to dive into trans topics and issues, and preferably be done with the intro portion of this blog.

The following section is a pro and con, reversed. It’s based solely on my own experience as a white-passing trans woman. Don’t worry though there’s plenty of outspoken trans and nonbinary people out in the blogosphere, so find them (Laverne Cox is my fave!), and read their stories because their narratives will be much different than mine, believe me.

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Saving the Best for Last: the Cons

  • Pronouns being disrespected.

    • There’s always those a******* that don’t care how pretty you look, or how you prefer to be referred to. You’ll step out of the house, the voice on fleek, and the look right off the runway (heels and all), and they’ll still say: “Sir.” or “He/Him.
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  • Medically transitioning is tricky

    • It’s completely up to each individual what their transition requires, but a lot of places require some sort of medical transition in order to legally transition. So whether you’re going on hormones to make up for what your body needs or you’re doing top or bottom surgery is completely up to you. There’s a lot of information out there, but not a whole lot of help in making sense of it all, nor is there an easy way to know if any of it is right for you, and even then the cost-versus-insurance-coverage-reality isn’t too pretty either.
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  • Legally transitioning is trickier

    • I guess I can understand why changing one’s birth certificate, social security card, and identifications have to be made ridiculously difficult. I mean, all these shady people stealing money or hiding from debt collectors, and Austin Powers, James Bond, and Archer are running around causing mischief as international spies… Honey, I only want to be called Brienna by the police when they pull me over because they think I don’t have a seatbelt on, and not get a side-eye from the more-than-occasional bartender or librarian.
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  • Dating seems impossible

    • At least dating like any “normal” (aka cisgender) girl seems impossible. Not only does it feel incredibly unsafe to broadcast being trans to strangers (oh hello!) on a dating app, but even coming clean about being trans on the first date or within the first ten messages, doesn’t always bear the most beautiful fruit. I know that I for one am ruling out straight men.
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The Best: the Pros

  • Sometimes you’ll feel like a goddess

    • It happened after I had read Leslie Feinberg’s  work, diving into third genders in other cultures. In the past trans women have been the guardians of culture, of gods, of kings, and of secrets and teachings. That history in addition to my own and the knowledge of all that I’ve overcome makes for a lot to be proud of. Sometimes, just knowing that you’re strong enough to carry on against all odds, makes you feel superhumanly powerful.
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  • It’s a huge weight off of your shoulders

    • What was once an insuperable secret is now your personal achievement. You once gasped and groaned at the thought of telling anyone at all. Now, you might be a little proud, or at least, accustomed to coming out now, so it’s no biggie!
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  • All the a******* make themselves known

    • They’ll be easier to avoid! Even before you’re out of the closet young trans-awan, you’ve surely come across these bigots. They don’t even need to open their mouths sometimes! Sometimes their face says it all.
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  • Nothing feels better than the truth

    • Unless you’re on the receiving end of some bad news truth, the truth is always good. Hearing it and sharing it feels amazing! Being authentic, being true to yourself, living and standing in your truth, feels amazing, and you have to remember that in the end; that’s all that matters. You were honest. They were jerks. You were real. All those friends that stopped talking to you were fake.
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As of this moment, no one has stopped and harassed me in a bathroom or locker room yet. However, once that happens, because I feel, statistically speaking, it will, I will post that into the “Cons” section in a follow-up piece. Until then:

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There may be more to this in the future as topics arise and memories are spurred to the forefront of my mind. For the time being though, this is it. So thanks for reading; comments are off, message me!

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About Me, #2, On Depression

Please read my cover page, About Me #1.

This is a follow-up piece to Winsome, Losesome, as well as a response to this week’s  Weekly Photo Challenge, Growth.

2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin Edge Lettering

Depression and I have a sordid history together. In my view, it’s the other side of the coin, whose counter-face is grandiosity. This post, I hope is the nail in the coffin for my posts about depression, because all coins have a third side, and here that side is: mindfulness.

Be mindful please that while my struggle with depression over the years has defined my like a chisel defined David, it doesn’t define my life, and I certainly would hate for it to define my blog. I created this to further express and realize the world as I see it. These eyes have been mindful of much, pain, pleasure, and a part of everything, and now I wish to make these eyes useful, putting input to words and words to fingers to keyboard to screen, for mindfulness’s sake.

When It Started, Can’t Say How

No different than my first inklings regarding my gender — another topic I would like to cover; elsewhere, more broadly — depression has been a learning experience. Mindfulness early on in life, I’m sure most children under ten would agree, is not something, even in description, that is recognizable. Or perhaps there is something to say about that in terms of how one is raised, either way, I was not one of those prodigal trans children, nor was I able to identify my depression as a child.

This is very much a story of Growth in regards to my depression. Mitigating its sway over me, to what seems, now, to be its complete disempowerment over me. I was not always able to simply sleep it off, walk it off, and relievingly, seemingly shrug it off.

The Outsiders

Perhaps now it may be the Runaways — another show that I’d love to discuss in another article — that gets at the doubtful struggle, but when I was in elementary school we read and watched the film version of The Outsiders. The 50s greaser gang of kids, in which gang violence, drugs, and staying strong, were all themes. Perhaps, not my first choice for kids, seeing as one of the Outsiders is killed, suicide-by-cop.

There were books like these, and others that I started reading, that helped me start to understand that part of me. That monster that hid beneath my bed, waiting for me to attempt to sleep before making my eyes water, heart pound, and mind race. We would go on like this in bed for many more years to come, and currently, I can say, it’s down to merely a dance between the two of us, more than only a fling such as seasonal depression.

In order to get an idea of what I’ve come out of, grown passed, consider this: walking didn’t help when I was younger, while now it does a great deal. There were numerous sleepless nights, I would stay up all night, write, watch Adult Swim, and inevitably go for a walk, all to keep this monster at bay. This Babadook.

babashook_Kayla Wasil

Mindfulness, in fledgling stages, only made it agony to consider my depression, like there was something wrong with me. Later, I would find that I certainly wasn’t alone, as I had felt, but in fact in great company. To that latter point, RIP Robin Williams.

Enter Gem

It was either early middle school, junior high or immediately preceding, I can’t remember… I hadn’t met anyone like me yet — I still felt terribly alone. There was one person that I was almost ready to talk to about it, to bounce my feelings off of. We were more than close, at the time we would have considered the term “lovers.” We talked every night, we’ll call this person Gem, and Gem and I were very intimate in a way that was new, exciting, and in its complex way, strange.

We had a mildly sexual relationship for tweens, and we took —or at least I took — a great seriousness in our relationship, speaking every night on the phone, going on dates, and talking about every aspect of our lives. Almost every aspect of our lives. It was as if the Babadook also rode an Elephant and both could maintain invisibility while they took up all of the standing room and followed every car ride.

That Babadook was the only character here that Gem and I were able to take shots at. They, Gem, had also been familiar with the Babadook. It would appear that he wasn’t invisible at all, but had scared silence into the both of us. Gem too was visited by the Babadook most nights, even at their Catholic school, he would show up, riding a very different mount for their personal struggle. It was something we had finally begun to discuss, both in person and at length in our nightly phone calls. A length that grew upon my mother, who had a growing phone bill and a tenant that she couldn’t charge.

This length became the wedge that distance couldn’t be. We could manage the distance, but my mother couldn’t manage the length. The Babadook had me all to himself. In a fit of rage, despair, and a bit of confusion tween me stormed out, worried and wondering woman following close behind.

There’s a bridge that connects New York and Pennsylvania over the Delaware River. I marched myself right up to the edge, standing on the railings in the summertime, I had thought of myself in finality. Tightly around my elbow, my mother’s claws sunk in, clinging to me by her nails, gripping tightly to a life that she wouldn’t understand for nearly a decade, and perhaps still not. Tears and fierce discussion about the Babadook ensued while canoe-goers floating down river shouted: “JUMP!” 

I take a photo of the same spot, constantly. A reminder of the life I have, and a time when I was most fragile, and chose life. Every time I cross that bridge, I still hear the voices yelling: “Jump!”

 

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That was only the beginning of suicidal ideation. Later there would be moments of self-harm too, but never more than a small slice. I didn’t like the attention of “crying for help,” I had only wanted to end it and make it snappy.

Second Bout

The following time was in my freshman year of high school. At this point, I had already met someone more like me, and now I had a name for that Elephant: Tranny. Why the name? We’ll discuss that somewhere else in time and space, but Babadook rode that Elephant, and that’s why it’s important to note here.

Here’s where the photo of the week comes in. Since I came to realize for myself where my feelings were guiding me, ever lonely, I felt more out-of-place than ever. Perhaps like a tropical fruit in a snowy tundra.

Snowvacado

There was a girl, who looked very similar to me, and being an intelligent and creative girl, inspired me. Being a nasty thing, intrigued me. As a friend, a sister, maybe even more, fulfilled in me for that first sisterhood.

Until I transgressed her, S (we’ll call her here) was more than a confidant and good friend that I’ve known since the third grade. She was my mirror in more ways than how she kept me in check. After I knew who the Elephant was, there was no one else that I wanted to be.

Jay was the person I was seeing at the time. A friend of S, we were all close in a way that may have been uncomfortable. We truly enjoy each other’s company though, Jay and I, and we liked to push boundaries together. That’s when we made a mistake that cost our relationship, our dignities, and possibly both of our friendships with S as they once were.

S called me that evening. We were no longer going to be friends because what I had done. It had hurt her more than I would have ever anticipated. So with compunction and shame, I lost myself. Hours later I would be in my room, blasting everything from Coheed & Cambria, Hawthorne Heights, Evanescence, and System of a Down, I take a Cookies & Cream Hershey’s bar and with every piece I broke off, with every tear that fell, I took a handful of medication. When the bar had finished and the bottle had not I killed what remained. I remember laying down and making a last request, final words that I expected only God and myself to hear, in addition to the Babadook and Elephant, both looking on in surprising horror, and I went to sleep.

To my dismay, I awoke in terrific pain. My insides were wrenching. I could feel what must have been my liver failing. It wasn’t the death I expected and certainly wasn’t the one that my mother would accept. When she saw me writhing in pain, on the floor near a toilet where I was upheaving blood, water, and what little was in addition to the chocolate bar, she took me to the hospital.

Screaming in pain and placed on a gurney, most of the initial memories are blocked by my own agonized cries. The hospital brought the truth out in the end, while not all of it. I had attempted suicide and was almost successful by murdering my liver, causing many other issues in my body. The Babadook and I, with a mysterious and concerning family history, had to be placed in a facility where I would stay for at least a week for diagnosis and the start of treatment which within the year would be terminated.

Rye  Treatment Center was the institution where I found that my pain could really turn into something real. Pushing it out in studies. In art. In writing. In chess and beating people in games. Being an introspective depressed and hormonal teen, I found that there were insights there that could be rendered outwards, and appreciated by others once in a while. Also, support from the most surprising of places — I still have that letter from my English teacher, Ms. May, somewhere. Self-harm ended and suicidal ideation while ever-present was controlled, and the Babadook was weakened only slightly, I carried on strong for a few years, losing control over my emotions in self-defense and lashing out at friends, family, and loved ones every so often, tormented by this fear, but living and subsisting.

“’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”  — Alfred Lord Tennyson

Over the years, many nights went the same: Write it out. Draw it out. Escape into a show. A film. Go for a walk. A bike ride. A swim.

I was funneling all of the Babadook into other things, for the most part, successfully. As the sun falls behind me this will also have to be my daily post for today’s “Funnel.” However, maybe at the time, it was less like a funnel, and more like a pipe dream.

Letting someone in is always the hardest. Even though asking for help induces its own seemingly insurmountable anxiety, love too has this quality and is far more insidious. Once someone’s in, inside your heart, they have a lot of pull, right at your heartstrings.

When my greatest relationship began to fall apart, from the inside, due to my own doing, it hurt almost as much as liver failure. I became outwardly suicidal again, and self-harm came back with a vengeance. The Babadook in his own way was looking out for me, for my fear of being alone again, but in the end, the actions that took place only pushed our partnership’s culmination closer.

I found myself spending another week in an institution. This time I was in Poughkeepsie. There I made no real headway in overcoming the Babadook, but instead, I found a resolution to never be placed in such a place again, and to never put myself there.

Through all of my struggles, I’ve grown. I’ve learned more about myself, my triggers, my unhealthy responses, my desires, and other fun facts. Now the Babadook is a friend, in my basement, whom I feed, and hear when I need to take care of myself most or when something else is arousing him. He’s still riding that Elephant, but now I’m more mindful of his arrival. It only took three battles… 

So you know, if you’re a high school student barely surviving right now, keep moving forward. I don’t want to say that “It Gets Better,” but it does, you just have to try to see how. Never stop looking. 


The next part of this short series will cover more about depression’s opposite: grandiose ideation. There I will discuss my dreams because they are quite grand. I believe any grand plan worth carrying to conclusion cannot be accomplished alone, so there I hope to make it possible to get involved in the grandiosity.

About Me #1

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Freelance Writer, Journalist, and Social Media Manager, Brienna Parsons, creates content for patrons across the country, including past work for such patronage as, 2016 New York State Senatorial Green Party candidate, Robin Laverne Wilson, New York Students Rising, and YourPortJervisIsShowing.com.

She is a proud Voice of Democracy, with experience as an advocate in Albany with the New York Public Interest Research Group, transgender and student rights groups, as well as having served as a Student Senator at the State University of New York at New Paltz.

Brienna once wanted to continue her representative path in her hometown of Port Jervis, N.Y., but has instead found a liking for the work of an independent monitor of power.

She enjoys long walks while reading, analyzing shows like American Horror Story and films such as anything Marvel or DC, and strumming her bass guitar with a cat on her feet.

She accepts commissions for writing assignments and can be found on Fiverr and Upwork.

Subscribe to TheBreez, the Daily Newsletter that curates United States and Port Jervis, N.Y.  News, and delivers it, with a flair, to your inbox every weekday before you’ve even had your morning coffee.