Friday, September 16, 2016

Wizardry and Passion

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are: labor, mercy, why, Harry Potter, captain, and crunch. They were submitted by: http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

This might be a bit rambly, but I did a loose format letting the words take me wherever. 

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For my entire existence, I’ve been into books. My mom has told me stories about being able to read
me books from memory because I would request certain ones over and over. Even now, when I see the cover of Wings on Things by Marc Brown (my favorite back then), I smile and feel a few warm fuzzies and can’t help wanting to slowly turn the pages even though I’m probably 30 years above the suggested reading level. Books, for me, were life. There was nothing better than being the captain of my own adventure through someone else’s vessel (me being the reader and the author being the owner of the vessel). It was the only way I made it through my childhood. That escape—the ability to live a life that wasn’t mine even for a short time while I devoured a novel—quite literally kept me sane.

I still read with the same fervor now as an almost 35 year old, but it isn’t exactly the same need as I had when I was young. As an adult, my life isn’t quite so tragic or so hectic. I mean adulting is an exercise of frustration and futility for the most point, and the escape into someone else’s world helps, but it’s not as necessary now as it used to be. I can go a whole week without reading anything much at all besides the occasional blog or article and not think about it, but that would have been torture for little-me.

Reading hasn’t been the same for my son which, admittedly, was a bit of a disappointment for me for awhile. I wanted him to love reading as much as I did when I was his age, and I really kind of pushed it on him from the time he started being able to read. It took some reflecting to realize he didn’t need it like I did, and when he does need an escape he is just as likely to pick up a video game as he is a book. And that’s okay. Along the way, though, when I backed off, he started finding things he really loved to read (which tickled me to no end), and once I started homeschooling him, we picked out books we could read simultaneously to discuss and reflect on.

That’s how we ended up reading the Harry Potter series last summer. I hadn’t ever gotten into it when I was younger. By the time the books came out, I was already 16 and too old for that sort of thing because of my snobbish teenage apathetic angst (yes I realize the oxymoron there). The books were a brand new world for both of us to explore while crunching through chapters and laboring on through the tears. I wasn’t at all prepared for the amount of tears I would shed nor for the profound effect that series would have on me. I read all 7 books in less than 3 weeks, but I’m still sitting here over a year later near tears and screaming “WHYYYYY????” whenever I think about Sirius. I fell a little in love with that character partially because I like troubled, dark, and handsome dudes but also because he reminded me a little of someone I used to love so profoundly that HIS death still haunts me after 14 years. Every death in that series, honestly, hit me no holds barred. No mercy was spared. I seriously cried through half the last book sitting in the floor of my bedroom being careful not to wake anyone in the house even the dogs knowing I would never be the same.

And I’m not.

I don’t know that it would have affected me so deeply in my youth without the same sort of understanding of the world that I have now (however limited it is). It certainly didn’t affect Evan the same way. He cried. On some level, I know he related to a few of the characters, but I also hope that he reads the series again in his teens and with his own children again in the future after he’s had time to experience the ups and downs that life continuously offers. And maybe just maybe, he’ll have to pick himself up off the floor at 8 a.m. and dry his face and know that part of him would always be a little different for having gone back to it. I also hope he calls me regardless of knowing that 8 a.m. is a time I wish didn’t exist so we can talk about all the things he missed when he was younger.

I love when art, in whatever form, leaves you changed the way Harry Potter did for me even as a 30-something who had previously baulked at the idea of a YA novel about wizards. But I’ve also grown to appreciate the fact that I don’t have to be reading to experience that. I used to be one of those people who didn’t watch television—a snob. And judged people for not reading. I shared memes about it, made statuses about it on social media, and proudly discussed what book I had just finished. After shows like Transparent, One Mississippi, Parks and Rec, Stranger Things, Grace and Frankie, and Love made me laugh and cry and get so incredibly immersed in a digital world, I started to see the art for what it was and not as automatically tainted based on what format it was in. The same is true for video games. The Witcher 3, Tell Tale’s Walking Dead, The Last of Us…those games are masters of human experience in a vivid world that may be fictional but still utterly relatable. Writing might be my preferred art—both for consumption and crafting—but it surely isn’t the be all, end all I’ve always made it out to be simply because it was the only anchor I ever knew. 

Whatever you love, find something that makes you feel, that makes you see a new perspective, that leaves you shaken to your core and trying to put back the pieces of everything you thought you knew. Watch it, play it, read it, write it, act in it, who the fuck cares…just do it. Life’s too short to live without passion, too fleeting to live without the sucker punch of a quote that robs all the air from your lungs because someone, somewhere gets you exactly the way you are.

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Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado http://www.bakinginatornado.com/2016/09/use-your-words-because-hope-rules.html

Southern Belle Charm http://www.southernbellecharm.com

Not That Sarah Michelle http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

Spatulas on Parade http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/

The Bergham Chronicles http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog.html

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy http://dinoheromommy.com/

On the Border http://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/2016/09/baby-painting.html
Confessions of a part time working mom http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2016/09/use-your-words-day-in-ancient-rome.html

Never Ever Give Up Hope http://batteredhope.blogspot.com

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Dopest Lesson

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 11 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is:

Fall is upon us! With the start of a new school year, do you think back on any particular grade you enjoyed? Or hated?

It was submitted by: http://thelieberfamily.com

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"All I’m saying is that if I ever start referring to these as the best years of my life, remind me to kill myself." –Randall “Pink” Floyd, Dazed and Confused

That pretty much sums up high school in a nutshell for me. I mean, it surely wasn’t the peak of my existence. In those 4 years, the couple before it, and the couple after it, I dealt with more than someone my age should have to go through, and the high school “experience” did nothing to help those problems.

I was raped at the age of 13 in my own home by a friend. I grew up in a home where my alcoholic, drug-using father was, on his best days, emotionally/mentally abusive, and I really don’t want to talk about his worst. After my parents divorced, I lived with him for awhile and got into drugs and alcohol to numb the world. I dressed weird. I acted weird. I submerged myself in 90s grunge and metal because reality had too much hurt. I was discovering my own queerness and completely out of my element in rural South Georgia where football and hunting reign supreme as pasttimes and people ask about where you go to church before they ask you your name.

It was impossible to traverse the social hierarchy even without my inept attempts at conquering my own demons. I wasn’t from a football sort of family. My dad didn’t hunt or do much of anything really but work and get fucked up, and we certainly didn’t spend Sunday mornings in church. So even if you could flip a switch and magically take away the violence of my youth and all the lasting effects, I would still have been an outcast. Of that, I have no doubt especially when you add in what a nerd I was. Straight As. Honor graduate. I lived in books, and my grades effortless. In every conceivable way, I was an outsider.

I’ll be honest—I’m kind of bitter about it despite how often I’ve tried to let it completely go.

I’m not bitter in a way that comes up every day or even often, but if tasked, like I am currently, with the thought of picking out a best or even a worst year, all I can do is let out one of those slightly disturbing, ironic laughs that doesn’t quite reach my eyes and lets you know you might’ve well have asked me if I think the Harry Potter movies are better than the books. It’s just not going to end well for you, man. Those years left an imprint and ultimately helped shape the me I am now.

I’m not alone in this. I mean, there are dozens of movies, iconic ones even, that detail the high school experience, and for many of the individuals on screen those years are some of the roughest possible. That sentiment came from somewhere, no? If Randall “Pink” Floyd, a jock with a horde of friends, too many girlfriends, and the run of the school had issues with that period of his life then it’s safe to say there’s a problem. He was, in fact, pretty fucking dreamy, wasn’t he?

Coincidentally, I watched one of those movies the other night called Dope about a 90s nerd growing up in one of the toughest neighborhoods possible—Inglewood, California in an area called The Bottoms. It’s crime-ridden with most of his peers either belonging to gangs or slinging drugs. He is constantly accused of being an Oreo (black on the outside but white on the inside) to the point he makes his own punk band named Awreeoh. He’s extremely intelligent and is on a mission to get into Harvard. Even his own teachers call him arrogant for ever thinking he could do more than be the norm for his hood. I related so hard to his story and especially this quote:

“For most of my life, I’ve been caught up in between who I really am and how I’m perceived, in between categories and definition. I don’t fit in. And I used to think that was a curse, but now I’m slowly starting to see maybe it’s a blessing. See, when you don’t fit in, you’re forced to see the world from many different angles and points of view. You gain knowledge, life lessons from disparate people and places. And those lessons, for better or worse, have shaped me.”

It’s a mixed bag really. Even while I’m bitter, I see the blessing for what it is. There may not have been a best year (or even a worst considering they were all equally unbearable), but understanding the blessing was certainly the best lesson.

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Here are the other contributions to the challenge. Hope you will check them out!

Baking In A Tornado http://www.BakingInATornado.com

Not That Sarah Michelle http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

The Bergham Chronicles http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

Spatulas on Parade http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy http://dinoheromommy.com/

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog.html

The Lieber Family Blog http://thelieberfamily.com

Confessions of a part time working mom http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/

Southern Belle Charm http://www.southernbellecharm.com

Never Ever Give Up Hope http://batteredhope.blogspot.com

Climaxed http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com           

Friday, August 12, 2016

Retail Fairytale

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are: clumsy, sticky, soft, water, retreat, stump. And they were submitted by the lovely Karen at www.bakinginatornado.com

It's been a hell of a week at my part time job, and I suppose this story is an accurate description of my current feelings. haha. I'm kidding. Sort of. 

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Once upon a time in a land quite like the one we live in now, there lived a not-so-young-anymore maiden who had a penchant for sass and wearing all black. She had soft, pink lips that punctuated her near-perfect RBF (resting bitch face for those who don’t know), brownish hair that longed to be vibrant, and super pale skin that she tried 98% of the time to keep out of all sunlight. She was a loner, ya’ll, a rebel, and she was pretty determined to live life on her own terms.

More than anything she wanted to save up money for solar panels and new tattoos and baby goats, so even though she didn’t really NEED to get a part time job since she and her hetero-life-mate could live comfortably on one salary and odds and ends, she did it anyway hoping that the extra income would make her life a little more comfortable. I mean, someone had to play for Pokemon Go purchases, right?

She found herself working at a small market near her thatched roof shanty of a house. The market itself was situated between two very small villages of mostly peasants like herself who made their livings by working hard and living cheaply. Those were the people she saw that she often got along with best because she understood and had felt the quiet modesty of knowing you worked hard to pay your bills. Sometimes lords and ladies or even royalty came in to pick up a much needed item or two, but for the most part, they were nightmarish brutes who expected a level of perfection in service that was absolutely unobtainable especially with everything she had to get done and with the management of the market completely out of her hands anyway. She worked for wages, poor ones, and that was all. Most decisions on the day to day stuff were at the hands of the owners and managers.

One day after a particularly long shift filled to bursting with the clumsy attempts at flirtations from would-be suitors, she was confronted by a sticky troll of a man who compared her to a popular weightloss guru with a similar name and insisted that she come to dinner at his house one night so he could give her some tips and then play just the tip. At the time, she took the high road in order to keep her job and laughed it off, but she just couldn’t get over it. Every day at work was something new with some other asshole, but that one thing kept eating away at her.

No woman, she had thought, deserves to have her body graded by men everyday while she was simply trying to earn a paycheck.

Women’s bodies are not on this planet for men’s piggish entertainment!
No one should have to be told their body doesn’t meet some random man’s standards as if by existing she has invited his gaze, opinions, and advances.

So she decided to take matters in her own hands. At first, figuring out her next course of action stumped her a bit. She wasn’t sure if she should simply walk out of the market with two birds held high or perhaps she could set the building on fire as one of her favorite theatrical characters, Milton Waddums, had done in one of her all time favorite comedies. Or maybe she should play an extremely mean-spirited but ultimately harmless prank on the man in question.

It was too hard of a choice, so she settled on all three—she would prank the troll, flip the whole place off, set it ablaze, then retreat her very round ass right back home to enjoy her new-found freedom with a box of teal hair dye and a bottle of whiskey.

And she had thought of the most perfectly devious plan to do so without really getting caught.

First, she waited on the troll to return to the market. Every time he came in, he bought soap to wash his ratty, tattered garments with, so as soon as she saw him walking towards the market from his village (not the one she lived in luckily), she went back to the area with the soap, found the clearest stuff on the shelf, and dripped it here and there over the entire aisle. She didn’t want too big of a puddle. Nothing obvious or noticeable, of course, but she definitely wanted it to be a bit slippery. With that part finished, she waited until he was almost to the mess she had made, rounded the corner feigning surprise at seeing him there, and called out to him, “hey, I’ve been hoping you would come by!”

“Why is that?” he asked.

“I’ve been thinking that I rejected your dinner invitation and fitness tips a little too hastily and wanted to know if your offer still stands?”

“I knew you would see things my way,” he smirked. As soon as that sickening half grin plastered across his face, he started sliding across the floor. It was in no way elegant or graceful. His arms flapped at his sides like he was a bird desperately attempting to take off. His feet moved like he was just learning to walk, and he reconstructed everything she ever thought she knew about swear words in just a couple seconds.

When he fell, he fell hard. In fact, he dropped to the ground with such a crash that she almost didn’t laugh out of genuine concern for his well-being. For just a split second, she thought maaaayyybe she took things too far. But then she saw the look on his face—the way that one slip had wiped the entitlement and ego right off him—and she laughed so hard, so loud, and so long that she felt faint by the time her giggles subsided.

She was alone with him in the back of the store so no one actually heard their conversation or knew what happened, but she could see him getting angrier by the second, and she planned this part betting on him being a shouter.

She was right. Of course.

As soon as her laugher died down and his embarrassment really started to settle into every pore on his body, his gaze darkened, his brows furrowed, and he started huffing. Before he could even get himself off the ground, he was screaming at her.

“You think this is funny, you fat bitch! I will make you pay for this. I know you had something to do with it, you oversensitive psycho. I will burn this whole shit heap to the ground!”

That was all it took. She had a patsy. She couldn’t have planned a reply that good if her life had depended on it.

Once he stormed away, she went to find the managers and relayed what had happened (omitting the part about deliberately making the mess) and what the man had said afterwards. They seemed unconcerned and didn’t even plan on calling the sheriff hoping that ignoring the threat would prevent them from having to get anyone else involved in the matter. Their main worry was not being liable for the fall as she knew it would be as it is in every retail hell hole that exists in all the world. Things are designed to create this line of thinking in management much to the scorn of the employees who bare the weight of it. Now, had he been stealing, that would have been a completely different story.

She didn’t actually think his threat put her or anyone else in imminent danger, but for her 3 part plan to work, she needed the managers to think she was A) scared for her life and B) pretty fucking pissed that they refused to stand behind her on this. Once they finished telling her that they really didn’t want to have to get the authorities involved in case it made the man want to take them to court over the fall and have them pay for any potential injuries and damages, she summoned her best Liv Tyler from Empire Records impression and flipped right the fuck out. “FINE?!?! I’LL SHOW YOU FINE!” then she gave her two weeks notice and said, quite clearly, “Fuck this place.” She knew it was risky to lose it knowing full well the managers could make her leave the place right then, but that also meant they would have to do her job and theirs, and she made a calculated yet risky bet that they would at least want her to finish out her shift before finding a replacement. That gamble paid off well, and she was pretty much left alone to do what she needed to do for the rest of her shift.

That night when she was doing her nightly clean up routine before closing, she made sure that the near-rusted-out water pipes out back were completely broken effectively cutting off all water to the store. She also turned on the furnace in back to full blast and sat a box full of flammable torch fluid nearby. Once that was done, she locked the doors, set the alarm like always, and skipped all the way back home.

And she lived in peace away from retail work happily ever after.

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Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:



Baking In A Tornado http://www.bakinginatornado.com/2016/08/use-your-words-from-shark-to-manatee.html

Southern Belle Charm http://www.southernbellecharm.com

Spatulas on Parade http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/2016/08/life-is-but-vapor-uyw.html

The Bergham Chronicles http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com/2016/08/stable-layne-pt-2-useyourwords-aug-2016.html

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog.html

On the Border http://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/2016/08/skate-rotate-and-celebrate.html

Confessions of a part time working mom http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2016/08/use-your-words-too-many-cooks-spoil.html

Sparkly Poetic Weirdo http://sparklyjenn.blogspot.com/

Never Ever Give Up Hope http://batteredhope.blogspot.com

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy http://dinoheromommy.com/

Friday, August 5, 2016

That One Track




Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 13 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My subject is: How would you rewrite one chapter of your childhood? Not your whole childhood - just one chapter.

It was submitted by: http://batteredhope.blogspot.com


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I’ve never really thought of my life in divided chapters. I’m more the kind of person who has a chronological life soundtrack—a list of songs meant to be played back to back preferably on vinyl or cassette tape that tell, at least to me, my life story. Said soundtrack would mostly certainly be the score to a film about my life and definitely has a few songs I am completely embarrassed to admit ever listening to. What life would be complete without a few *ahem* or maybe a multitude of embarrassments, guilty pleasures, bad choices, and lessons learned?

After so long thinking about life in the songs that accompany the times, it’s really rather difficult to consider my childhood or my life at all as chapters in a larger story, and it becomes more difficult still to divide my childhood up at all. It’s a blur of mostly negative flashbacks, fuzzy images that really fail to tell the entire story because, for complex reasons, my brain felt it best to forget most of it. Can that sort of memory-blur be divided into distinctive patches that combine to make the whole quilt? It seems impossible.

But can I pick out a moment, a song perhaps, to cut away, to delete, or rewrite without disrupting the flow of the soundtrack itself? Can I remove a moment, an event, or make a change without altering who I am? For the longest time, I would have said it’s impossible to take away anything I’ve gone through and still end up with the me that I know today as the final product, and as someone who is pretty fucking ecstatic about who I am, the idea that I wouldn’t be me at all anymore has always given me pause about making a change. I realize we aren’t defined by what has happened to us, but those events alter how we see the world, how we cope, our reactions and politics. So much of who we are depends on how we perceive and deal with what we have gone through and how we eventually cope or don’t with those things.

But…

In the last few years, I have really started to wonder when posed this sort of question how I might fare without ever having been raped at 13. I have written about my thoughts on rape and rape culture extensively, and I know that, for the most part, I have dealt with the whole of it really well, but who would I be if I could just take that one thing back? My virginity was literally stolen from me by someone I called a friend. I lost my innocence on the dingy carpet in my own house. My own fucking house. The person I would have been without that betrayal died that night, and I can’t help wondering who that girl would have been. Could she have been better at relationships? Could she trust people? Let the walls down? Could she be anxiety free? Would she be able to answer the door when she’s home alone without having a panic attack? Would she be more social and able to leave home without feeling overwhelmed, clammy, and on edge?

I have never been able to know what it’s like to love innocently, to be able to be with another human being without the shadow of knowing what it’s like to have your own body stolen from me. For all of my teens and entire adulthood, I’ve lived with the weight of guilt and shame, with the anger and anxiety that comes from being a rape victim. So much of my time and energy has been spent on battling those demons, on coping and dealing and overcoming. Such a huge part of who I am has been molded by that one night, by just a few unforgettable, life-changing moments.

So, yeah, I love the person I am now even with the baggage, the scars, and the anxiety, but if I could reach into the past and just rip that night right out like so much garbage, like a bonus track that never really fit into the soundtrack anyway, I think I might like to know the woman who would have lived without it, the version of me that wasn’t killed that night. I’m sure she’d be pretty damn rad.  

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Here are the links to the other contributions this month:

Baking In A Tornado http://www.bakinginatornado.com/2016/08/secret-subject-swap-no-glinda-here.html

The Bergham Chronicles http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com/2016/08/location-location-location.html
Spatulas on Parade http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy http://dinoheromommy.com/

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog.html

Southern Belle Charm http://www.southernbellecharm.com

Confessions of a part time working mom http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2016/08/august-secret-subject-swap-pets.html
Sparkly Poetic Weirdo http://sparklyjenn.blogspot.com/

The Lieber Family Blog http://thelieberfamily.com

Never Ever Give Up Hope http://batteredhope.blogspot.com

When I Grow Up http://kimberlyyavorski.com/whenigrowup/working-on-the-bucket-list/

Evil Joy Speaks http://www.eviljoyspeaks.wordpress.com

Friday, July 15, 2016

Dear White Friends

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are: hot, humid, desert sun, cactus, polar cap, Marmaduke

They were submitted by: http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/

This post is going to be controversial for some people. All I ask is that you keep an open mind while you read, try not to get defensive, and do some research. Perhaps this applies to you or maybe it doesn't. And for the time being, I will be turning comment moderation on just in case. I consider myself an ally and I want this to be a safe place for people of color as well as the people this was written for... For my POC friends, if I have something wrong and you would like to see a change in what I have written, please feel free to contact me. 

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Dear White Friends,

Some of us, maybe all of us, have charged into the issue of racism, systemic racism, and police brutality like Marmaduke in perhaps every single comic strip ever written about the often lovable and well-meaning but clumsy mess of a Great Dane. Sometimes our good intentions keep us from really taking a look at how our actions, words, or lack of both affect others. I mean, you can be “liberal” or “progressive” or claim “I’m not a racist, but…” all day long, but none of those labels and sentence starters mean anything if you aren’t willing to take a look in the mirror and evaluate yourself and your own biases every now and then.

So, look, I know that it’s probably hot where you are. It’s certainly a humid version of literal hell here in South Georgia, weather-wise. Maybe the desert sun where you live has you feeling as prickly as a cactus and in desperate need of time on a polar cap in order to make you give two shits about any issue that doesn’t affect you directly, and who can blame you really? Life is hard enough when you have to worry about yourself and your own family much less the lives of people who have, quite possibly, a different culture, religion, sociopolitical stance, and socioeconomic stance than you do. Life is fucking hard without getting involved in social media debates about whether a black man that you have never met in a state you don’t live in was to blame for police killing him or not…

But here’s the thing, and it’s a really huge thing: People who aren’t white can’t shut it off. People who aren’t white can’t do what I did this past weekend and decide to turn the news off, to escape from the harsh reality that is American violence, and be absorbed by the comedy shows I love. That doesn’t ever or in any way imply that White people can’t have tough lives. I just said it for all of us, for every human—life is fucking tough no matter what. It’s pretty much tough by design from the simplest of creatures up to the most complex. But, it’s always going to be at least a little tougher when you are pre-judged for jobs, loans, housing applications, on social media, by friends, by people in the neighborhood you live in, by the police, by the court system, by the entirety of our capitalist society just because of the color of your skin, something you are born with and about which you have no choice.

I like to use a work room cafeteria analogy. If you go into a cafeteria where everyone pays the same amount for a tray of food and notice that, for example, all of your coworkers who belong to a union are given 2/3 of the amount of food as those who don’t, would you speak up? Would you notice? Would you say, wait a minute…this isn’t fucking fair? That’s what oppression is (in a nutshell), and that oppression/systemic racism exists in a myriad of ways in this country. Women see it in terms of social treatment, rape culture, and the wage gap, among other ways, but it is not just enough to demand equal pay for women without acknowledging the fact that racist policies and procedures exist that devalue the work and jobs of people of color. It's not enough, then, to see the strides that have been made since the beginnings of civil rights activism and think the fight is over just because you have a few black friends on your Facebook feed...

I get that you want to scream ALL LIVES MATTER. It’s a defensive reaction. But, the idea that it’s necessary is absurd. Police brutality is an issue for all races. We see the numbers. Police officers have killed over 500 people this year alone which pales in comparison to other nations with similar social structures and policies—even countries with as prevalent or more racist populations than we have. White people are dying at the hands of our overly militarized police far too often. No one would deny that. Across the board, police brutality is an issue. And we know it’s a police issue and not just a population issue because in places that use body cameras consistently and places where police have undergone more extensive de-escalation training, incidents of police shootings have declined. BUT, when you statistically break down the numbers of shootings by race and population percentages, people of color are far more likely to be killed by police than their white counterparts while a large part of our society fails to see that a problem exists. There is an implicit “too” at the end of Black Lives Matter and not an implicit “only” at the beginning, and that’s where the issues of both accidental and intentional misunderstanding come in. When Jesus said “blessed be the poor” no one in the background shouted “blessed be all” because everyone already understood that Jesus was speaking for a fucking population that the majority failed to recognize as worthy of blessings… What is being asked for…no, what is being demanded rightfully and understandably right now is that folks acknowledge the problem and stop dismissing it as an isolated incident or derailing the conversation with bullshit like All Lives Matter or “well, why don’t you care about black on black crime?!?!” The hashtag, phrase, idea, organization, and sentiment is Black Lives Matter because for far too large a portion of the population, when a black person is killed at the hands of police, it is always, always assumed that he or she asked for it (sound sickeningly familiar?) and nothing is done about it.

Since I mentioned it, let me just go ahead and say that if you’re one of those people who think it’s okay to shout “black on black crime” as some sort of battle cry on social media, you’re an ass. I’m in no way sorry for saying so; feel free to take issue with it as you will. There are three things here that catch phrase, when hurtled like a dagger, fails to realize. One, there isn’t a dichotomy here. People can care about both police brutality against people of color and also care about intraracial crime. In fact, if more people cared to actually research, Black Lives Matter organizations across the nation do more in the community than protest when a police shooting occurs. Those are just the ratings-grabbing stories the media chooses to focus on. In Chicago, the key city for most people who argue against BLM, people in the movement and community created an organization of volunteers who disrupted violent altercations in the community before they could actually happen. Two, when a black person murders another black person in a community, the person who unjustly killed the other goes to prison. There's no grand jury that fails to bring an indictment because of the token phrase "I feared for my life." But here is the main thing—almost all crime is intraracial. Most crimes committed against white people are by, you guessed it, white people. And most crimes are crimes of proximity which also explains why they’re intraracial. Human beings commit crimes against people to whom they have easy access. The vast majority of rapists rape friends or family members. The same is true of child molesters. People rob in their own communities or take from family members. Murders often happen with people living in the same house and same community. Hell, even some serial killers remain close to home taking victims within a very close radius to their central home point. That’s just the way people work. It’s not a matter of something wrong with a very specific race as is suggested by black on black crime. I mean that whole phrase is pretty much a bullshit term.

I think, for the most part, there is a failing of understanding at play when people get defensive and shout over the other voices--the voices that are rarely really seriously heard. When people say Eric Garner shouldn’t have had his side hustle selling cigarettes or when people say that all lives matter or even when men shout “not all men” in spaces that women use to discuss feminist issues, it’s a complete lack of understanding of what happens outside your own every day existence. When a person doesn’t have to live it, it’s easy to pretend like a problem doesn’t exist. When men walk down the street in NYC and never get cat called once, it’s pretty damn easy for them to decide cat calling isn’t really an issue of importance. People who deny this problem of race and police brutality exists and who deny, as well, that systemic racism exists, aren’t living it. They aren’t having to talk to their children about how to avoid being shot by police when they’re pulled over for driving while black or thrown to the ground for wearing a hoodie while black. We have to pay attention to the voices of others. People of color need to be heard, validated, and understood. It’s not enough to say “well don’t put the blame on police” when you fail to realize that from the very start police forces have been used to oppress people of color. Police forces were the ones smashing skulls in Selma and all over the nation during civil rights protests and acts of civil disobedience. Police forces that continue to use Broken Window policing to harass the poorest and often minority neighborhoods that only exist because of discriminatory housing practices to begin with… It’s easier, ultimately, to pretend the problem lies with a group of people that have never really been respected as equals in this country than to understand the reality is that the policies and procedures and, perhaps, the very foundation of that country are broken.

We have to be better than this. I see exceptional people every day lending their voices to the cause. Lend yours. As with Horton Hears a Who, it’s going to take every voice possible to create change, from those with the most power in addition to those with less.

With Love,

j

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Baking In A Tornado http://www.bakinginatornado.com/2016/07/use-your-words-cocktails-hawks-and.html

Southern Belle Charm http://www.southernbellecharm.com

Not That Sarah Michelle http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

Spatulas on Parade http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/2016/07/spiced-banana-honey-roasted-pecan-cake.html

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy http://dinoheromommy.com/

My Brain on Kids http://mybrainonkids.net

The Bergham Chronicles http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

Never Ever Give Up Hope http://batteredhope.blogspot.com

Confessions of a part time working mom http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2016/07/use-your-words-blonde-moments-and.html

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog.html

Molly Ritterbeck http://mollyritterbeck.com/

Juicebox Confession http://juiceboxconfession.com/

When I Grow Up http://kimberlyyavorski.com/whenigrowup/?p=620&preview=true

Sparkly Poetic Weirdo http://sparklyjenn.blogspot.com/

On the Border http://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/2016/07/mowed.html

Friday, July 8, 2016

Let's Hear the Beginning

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 15 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts. 

My secret subject is: You have been hired to write a movie based on either Iron Man or Thor. Which one do you choose? What is your move about?

It was submitted by: http://www.southernbellecharm.com

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First, I have to go on record as saying that I’m not really a super comic book nerd. As in, I don’t read comics much at all, and I don’t watch every comic book movie that comes out. In fact, I rarely enjoy the ones I do see. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have any interest at all in them. Tim Burton’s Batman is still pretty high on my list of movies I love, and I have a solid fascination with some of the DC villains—especially Joker and Harley Quinn. I absolutely can’t wait to see Suicide Squad and compare Jared Leto’s conceptualization of Joker with Heath Ledger’s and Jack Nicholson’s. Those actors played very different Jokers in ways that really leave the two incomparable (which is often a huge point of contention with actual DC fans…).

My Marvel fandom consists only of Deadpool and Guardians of the Galaxy. That’s it. And honestly, my fandom has everything to do with the quality of the films that got me into those characters and absolutely nothing to do with the comic books themselves.

For reference, I’ll give a rundown of the kinds of movies I actually like or at least name some of my favorites along with my favorite directors…

The Big Lebowski

Office Space

Dazed and Confused

Weird Science

No Country for Old Men

Pan’s Labyrinth

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas/Where the Buffalo Roam

Beetlejuice

Pee-wee’s Big Adventure

Rocky Horry Picture Show

And for directors, the Coen Brothers, early Tim Burton, John Hughes ( I mean, duh…), Quentin Tarantino, Stanley Kubrick (even though he kinda butchers books...), and David Fincher.

If you know those movies and directors then you can see there’s not a lot of action-oriented films with fights and destruction and robot battles or mutants (though I do still love TMNT sans Michael Bay bastardizing them). I mean, the height of action in any of those films is in No Country for Old Men involving a monster of a man hunting down and killing folks, but the thing is, that’s not even the premise of the film or the book it’s based on. It’s about a man, the sheriff, coming trying to be a good ol’ boy in a world that is slowly killing those kinds of guys off because the struggle to join modernity is too much. It’s that struggle that captivated me especially in the novel. Everything in the story, the entire plot and every detail, catered to the sheriff’s internal struggle furthering him down the road to giving up his life’s passion.

So yeah…comic book movies just usually aren’t my thing.

For the sake of this discussion, though, I have to make a choice that takes me a bit beyond my comfort zone and into territory that I’m not the least bit familiar with. I mean, I saw the first Iron Man film because Robert Downey Jr. is snarky and lovely, and I know Thor has been in some comic based movies, but that’s kinda the extent of my knowledge of either.

With a little Google education, I’m prepared to say I would choose a Thor move, hands down. For one, there have been more Iron Man movies, so the market is a little saturated already. Also, Norse mythology is fairly interesting. Freyja, a goddess, presides over sex, love, death, sorcery and war and who rides into battle wearing a feathered cloak of badassness. Her brother Freyr, the god of virility and agriculture, falls in love and marries a badass female giant. Norse mythology is rich with complex characters and stories that could provide the basis for a great movie about the history of Asgard as well as the other 8 world inhabited by living creatures and all the characters within them. This movie plot could wind together parts of classic mythological stories and could take place prior to Thor’s birth or leading up to it or even when he is a young child.

The larger than life characters of comic books, the headliners, are all interesting, but they sort of hog all the glory. I mean, I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, but I am always down to read some fan fiction about George and Fred because those characters meant so much to me during the novels, and I cannot tell you how much I would love, LOVE, to read some backstory on Sirius. His death affected me in ways that a book character’s demise never has, and I often cry when a beloved character meets his or her end. 

So, my suggestion, is a deeper look at the secondary characters in Thor’s world. Let’s make him a little less prominent and explore all of Norse mythology.

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Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado http://www.bakinginatornado.com/2016/07/secret-subject-swap-speak-your-truth.html

Not That Sarah Michelle http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

The Bergham Chronicles http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com/

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy http://dinoheromommy.com/

My Brain on Kids http://mybrainonkids.net

Spatulas on Parade http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/2016/07/gourmet-burgers-by-w-and-sss.html

The Lieber Family Blog http://www.thelieberfamily.com/2016/07/independence.html

Never Ever Give Up Hope http://batteredhope.blogspot.com

Confessions of a part time working mom http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2016/07/july-secret-subject-swap-summer.html

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog.html

Molly Ritterbeck http://mollyritterbeck.com/

Juicebox Confession http://juiceboxconfession.com/

Southern Belle Charm http://www.southernbellecharm.com

Climaxed http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

When I Grow Up http://kimberlyyavorski.com/whenigrowup/confessions-chronic-volunteer/

Friday, June 10, 2016

Catfishes not Cat Calls

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are: minnows, subvert, sultry, seeding, graffiti. They were submitted by: http://www.angrivatedmom.wordpress.com/

I wasn't too sure how to make all these work, but eventually a little fiction worked its magic in my mind. If you read between the lines, it's more or less a commentary and how easy it can be to respect a woman's right to space in the world without being hit on no matter where she is or what she's doing while simultaneously being internally complicated. The world is rarely as simple as we would like it to be. Thanks for reading! Links to the other contributors' works at the end. 


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He stares across the water at her. She’s sitting on the edge of a dock, toes swirling in the water, and he’s parked in his boat a little ways off fishing for, knock on wood, some catfish for dinner. He had been in the zone once he had found his spot. Pulling out his rod and reel, baiting the hook, checking everything…then he happened to catch her walking down the dock in his peripheral.

Mesmerized doesn’t really cover it.

He watches her a moment more imagining the minnows scattering every time one of her feet dips further into the water. He doesn’t want to make her uncomfortable or feel unsafe. He wishes he could respectfully subvert the system in place—the one that has made too many men feel the need to conquer and that has made women into victims all too often. A big part of him wants to catch her attention, to call out to her, troll over, and start a conversation. In those brief moments, he feels a longing so intense that he almost does it, his mouth opens just a little threatening to break the silence of the day, but he reigns it in knowing that beyond all else that woman is sitting on her own dock wanting to enjoy the peace and quiet in her own little world. Her sultry looks are not an invitation for him to invade her space and infringe on her alone time.

She looks up just before he turns to check his cork and catches him staring. He feels his face turning 10 million shades of red wondering if this moment, pregnant with tension, is seeding her mind with worries, with fear, with irritation, frustration, with rightfully placed indignation. The air is painted with imagined words, graffiti on the space-time continuum. In a flash he sees red daggered words, interactions he imagines she has experienced a thousand times from cat callers and dates and exes and everyone in-between.

Her face shows her surprise at his presence. She stands quickly tucking a lock of her long brown hair behind her ear. He starts to speak searching for the right words to convey that he just got caught up for a second and he didn’t mean for her to feel uncomfortable, that he can leave this spot and go on further inward on the lake, that he’s sorry for it all…

But she interrupts him.

“Hi,” she says.

“I’m sorry, ma’am. I didn’t mean to interrupt you. I can go to another spot if you want. Either way, I promise to quit staring.”

“Whatcha fishing for?” she asks.

“Catfish. I think. Hope, anyway,” he laughs nervously.

“That’s a good spot for it. You don’t have to move on my account.”

And with that she sits back down, toes in the water intriguing and terrifying both the minnows and him.

________________________________________

Baking In A Tornado http://www.bakinginatornado.com/2016/06/use-your-words-beer-and-martinis.html

Southern Belle Charm http://www.southernbellecharm.com

Not That Sarah Michelle http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

Spatulas on Parade http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog.html

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy http://dinoheromommy.com/2016/06/10/always-shake-out-your-clothes/

My Brain on Kids http://mybrainonkids.net

The Bergham Chronicles http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

The Angrivated Mom http://www.angrivatedmom.wordpress.com

Confessions of a part time working mom http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch