Sunday, December 28, 2014

Looking Back

feel free to roll your eyes at a typical end of the year post. i even rolled them at myself. 

The end of the year is oftentimes a period of reflection for many of us. What did we accomplish this year? How has life changed? How have we changed? And many of us it seems end up thinking that next year will be our year…that things will suddenly be better next year, that the world will finally bestow upon us the year we think we’re entitled to have…

Every annual turn of the Earth around the Sun is really what we make of it. The world doesn’t bestow anything upon us; luck is bullshit. I’m not going to feed you those same tired lines that if we just work hard enough, we’ll be successful and get all the material possessions that corporate America wants us to have… I don’t buy that insanity for a single minute. This system isn’t designed to reward hard work. It’s designed to reward being born into money and making the right connections which isn’t exactly based on luck, per say, either. Regardless, material wealth is only one definition of success, and it’s not synonymous with my own definition.

Individual growth, resolving inner conflict, working on our flaws, becoming better people, altruistic acts, compassion, empathy, a solid sense of humor, continuous learning for the sake of learning…these are true qualities for measuring success. Money and material possessions might buy fleeting happiness that could seem like success if examined in a certain light, but at the end of the day (or at least once the newness of whatever earnings or possession wears off), you’re not left with much. The real measure of success should be in how far you come as a human being not what you own or are capable of owning. After all, we get one shot at this and if your only legacy is being a rich asshole, I don’t think you’re accomplishing all that much. That’s not to say that personal growth and material wealth are mutually exclusive, but if you have the wealth without the growth, you have nothing at all.

With that in mind, my reflection for the year is all about personal growth considering I never really have personal monetary or material wealth. (ha).

I learned a lot about friendship this year. I lost over several months one of my longest running current friendships. This friendship in particular helped me learn a lot about myself over the 7 years that it existed, and this year was no different. In the past, I learned a lot about who I was and what I wanted to be, but it was the opposite this year—I learned how much a person can change, how much I could deny what was in front of my face in the name of friendship, and what I was and wasn’t willing to put up with in my life. In the end, I learned that a friendship where one person is continuously not willing to give (all social relationships should be give and take), it’s no longer worth it no matter the circumstances of that relationship, no matter how positive it had been in the past. Everything changes, sometimes not for the best. This was one of those times. I’ve made my peace with it and actually think I’m better off for letting go of the negativity that I held onto out of some misguided loyalty to a person who no longer appreciated it. A weight has been lifted.

In return, I’ve gained more than enough friendships to make up for it. Some of those friendships have formed solely through online interaction and others through letters. Regardless, I’ve learned more about the kind of people I want to surround myself with and how important certain qualities are in the friendships that I keep. I’ve found people that I can’t imagine living without and wonder how I ever existed without them in the first place which is one of the most rewarding experiences—to meet someone who constantly pushes you and challenges you but who is also just there to be goofy with and laugh with.

I learned a lot about self-examination and acceptance this year. I’ve never had a lot of self confidence when it comes to the way I look (despite the myriad of selfies you’ll find on my various social media accounts…). I struggle with it all the time left over from a lot of criticism as a child from a parent and grandparents who were overly judgmental about my physical appearance coupled with the crippling self doubts that women often face when comparing themselves to media ideals. I have this nagging Negative Nancy voice that constantly plagues every interaction I have and every day of my life. But, I’ve learned to shut that voice up. Sometimes it takes a swift kick to her box which I admit may be a cheap shot, but whatever works, right? Instead of constantly doubting compliments and blaming myself for things I have no control over and that really have nothing to do with me, I’ve learned to be more rational and to stop the worrying and the self-flagellation when things aren’t easy. Sometimes shit happens. I’m learning that better than ever. This year has made major improvements on that.

I’ve also learned that yoga pants are awesome, and my ass looks great in them. And that it’s okay for me to admit when I have a nice attribute or do something well. The world won’t shatter into a million pieces if I attribute something good to myself.

I still haven’t learned, however, how to best manage my introversion and my child’s extroversion without becoming completely overstimulated and stressed and overwhelmed. One day maybe? It’s a work in progress especially with him being homeschooled and me getting no breaks, but in the end, we’ll figure out a system that works. For now, it’s trial and error, and I have to be okay with that. I love him. He loves me. We laugh together and hang out. It doesn’t make me a bad Mom even though I have that thought every now and then when I try to sleep at night. We’re okay. And that’s okay. Eventually we’ll get to a harmonious place where things are a little easier. Or maybe we won’t. As long as we continue to show each other love and smooth and both work on it, we can’t go wrong.

I’ve learned better time management. I’ve stopped procrastinating and work on things before they even need to be done. This is a first for me, and I have to say I’m so fucking proud of this one. I’m terrible about leaving things until just before they’re due, but I’m getting better with it, and it’s an improvement that really helps with stress levels except for the fact that I don’t apply that to paying bills. I either wait until the day of or a few days into the grace period. It’s stupid of me and usually means late fees which is something I plan on working on this coming year. Baby steps, right?

All in all, this year had some negatives and some losses, but it was a big year for personal growth and for making a difference in the lives of others. If you’re not learning, growing, and changing, then what’s the point of life, anyway? No matter what your religious belief, surely there must be some sort of lesson in living beyond an afterlife…. Being nonreligious myself, life is the lesson, and it’s years like this one that truly prove to me what living is all about. Here’s to another year of lessons in 2015…

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Like Father, Like Daughter

I've blogged more than once about my dad, our tumultuous father-daughter relationship, and forgiveness. You can read those here and here if you so choose. I don't want to go back into it again, though, especially since one of these was fairly recent. Instead, I'm just going to share some of my favorite music and honor the memory of the man. I hope you'll find something on the list that inspires in some form or fashion because all of these inspire me in one way or another.

(all Red Fang vids are fucking hilarious)

(the entire album is one long it counts as one entry)

I think this barely scratches the surface but it's a good representation of the different styles sounds I love. Hope you find something you enjoy... As for me, I'll be fistpumping it over here just like my dad and jacking up the volume whenever the feeling strikes. 

Thanks for letting me play dj this afternoon. It's what I love best (even more than writing). 


As with every Sunday's post, this is another installment of Sunday Confessions with More Than Cheese and Beer. Hope you'll tune into all the other link ups on the blog which is being hosted by Sparkly Poetic Weirdo this Sunday. And check out the Facebook page for anonymous confessions. Today's prompt was "Father."

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Interview

“I knew something was wrong for a long time, but I couldn’t admit it. Not out loud anyway.” She sighed, picked up another cigarette out of the pack sitting on the table in front of her, lit it, and took a deep drag sighing again as she exhaled a thick plume of smoke. She’d been chain-smoking since she got into the fluorescently-lit, cold interview room, but those were the first words she’d spoken. She stared at the two-way mirror on the wall across from where she sat. She wanted her observers to know she realized they were there.

She pushed her honey blonde hair behind her ear and leaned back in her chair. She was too thin and haggard, dark quarter moons punctuating her sunken eyes. It was obvious that something had been weighing on her for quite some time, but it wasn’t impossible to see that she was beautiful—high cheek bones, oceanic eyes, a creamy complexion with a button nose and a smattering of freckles across it that kept her looking young even though she was pushing 40 despite how worn she looked in those harsh lights wrapped in a thick cloud of her own smoke.

The bulbous detective seated across from her gave her a long, silent, sterile stare. It was intended to make her talk, but she was tough. She returned the stare with an unrivaled iciness that told everyone behind the mirror that she wasn’t putting up with any shit. Not today. Not here. Not from them.

He was the one to break the silence first. “What do you mean you knew something was wrong?”

She shook her head seeming both absolutely exhausted with all of this and amused at the question all at once and barked a short laugh.

“I know why I’m here and why you’re the one that’s ‘interviewing’ me instead of some young, fresh-faced guy with half as many wrinkles that hasn’t seen as many tragedies and still has some warmth left to his eyes. If it were that guy, I’d be getting the sympathetic ear of someone who understands I had no involvement in what my husband has done. But, it’s you in here with your stony glares, all attitude and demands and a face hardened by too many long nights dealing with dead kids beaten lifeless by their own parents and rape victims thrown out of cars and left for dead in ditch somewhere like their mothers’ worst nightmares come true. You sitting right there with your arms crossed and that grimace slashed across your face tell me that you already suspect I might have known all along and helped that piece of shit with his handiwork. Am I right?”


“I’m right. You don’t even have to say it.” She blew the smoke from the last drag of her cigarette out the corner of her mouth, stubbed it out into the too full ashtray sitting in front of her, and immediately lit another one. She tapped the lighter over and over again on the surface of the table staring straight ahead, gaze never wavering.

He huffed and shifted his considerable weight on the chair, but he didn’t say anything. He stared her down yet again attempting to wait out her explanation.

More or less, it was a Mexican Standoff.

A half hour later, the rest of her cigarettes gone, she asked for another pack.

He huffed again but this time he leaned forward tapping his finger onto the table gruffly and stated matter-of-factly, “You can fucking forget it until you talk.”

“Listen, Porky, you can get me those cigarettes or we can sit here all fucking night. The choice is yours. And, I’d recommend, if I were you, sending them in with someone who isn’t such a dickwad because as long as you have the attitude you came in here with, you’re not getting shit from me.”

He sat back, red-faced. She figured if she spit in his face right then, it would sizzle, steam rising into the air above him. He grumbled unintelligibly under his breath but pushed his considerable weight out of the chair. His knees nearly gave out on him but he straightened up and made the short walk to the door slamming it behind him.

She looked around the room bouncing one knee needing another cigarette. She rarely smoked anymore, but she could not take this pressure right now without a nicotine rush. It would take forever to get the smell out of her hair. There was nothing remarkable about the four walls. A few paint chips. A spider web in one corner. The tile needed buffing. But all in all it was pretty depressingly whitewashed and bland. She supposed it was intentional to keep people from getting distracted or from distracting themselves anyway. The feeling of being watched wouldn’t change though even if there were a mural of fluffy bunnies and rainbows painted on the walls.

The door opened and a female detective with auburn hair pulled back in a tight bun waltzed in and sat the pack of cigarettes on the table between them before taking a seat. The detective pulled the chair in close to the table and gave her a long look. There was nothing assuming or pretentious in that look though which put her at ease a little.

“Listen, Mrs. Parker, we’ve got to make progress here. We’ve been here for hours. You’re tired. We’re tired. Can you please explain what you meant by your earlier statement that you knew what was going on but couldn’t admit it?”

“First of all, get it right, okay? Let’s set the record straight right now. I said I knew something was wrong. I did not ever say that I knew what was going on. Get it down. Record it. Make sure all those motherfuckers back behind the glass have it written down because this goes nowhere. No. Where. Until that’s straight. Got it?”

“Does that mean I can record this and you’ll give your written permission for that?”

“Sure, if that ensures you’ll get the story straight instead of screwing the shit up the way you assholes always do. Bring it out. Tape recorder. Video recorder. I don’t care. Do what you need to do.”

The detective turned abruptly to the mirror told them to set it up and made a hand motion. A young uniformed cop brought in a sheet of paper and sat it on the table. She took it and looked it over. “Give me a pen…”

The female detective obliged pulling a plain black bic ballpoint pen out of a pocket inside her blazer.

She took the pen, signed the paper with a huge superfluous signature.

“Thanks, Mrs. Parker. Now, why don’t we start from the beginning? What exactly is it that you couldn’t admit?”

Of course, this has been another edition of Sunday Confessions with More Than Cheese and Beer. The prompt this week was admit and since I'm so fucking obscenely candid on this blog at times, I have no real admissions to make so here's some fiction. Hope you enjoy and as always let me know what you think! 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Beat It. Or Her. Or Those Guys.

This year has been filled with news stories to read about celebrities that have made mistakes, grievous ones.

War Machine’s domestic assault/attempted murder of his ex-girlfriend

Resurfaced accusations against Woody Allen for molesting of Dylan Farrow

Alleged sexual assaults, so many assaults, by Bill Cosby dating back decades

Adrian Peterson’s child abuse charges

Ray Rice knocking his then fiancé out cold

AC/DC’s drummer arrested for some kind of murder plot

The former drummer of Cake sentenced for child molestation

You can hardly go through a week without reading a story about a celebrity or politician who has or has potentially hurt others in some unimaginable way. But what do we do with this information once the heat has died and the sensationalism has passed on to the next story?

Not much, it seems.

Mark Wahlberg is one perfect example of our lack of concern for what celebrities have done in their pasts (and often in their presents). In his early life, he was in legal trouble at least 20-25 times. At 15 he was committing hate crimes against minority children including throwing rocks at kids on a field trip and calling them racial epithets. By 16 he graduated to attempted murder. In one day he beat a Vietnamese man with a wooden stick while yelling slurs at him then blinded another later that afternoon. For those two crimes, he served all of 45 days in prison despite the attempted murder charge. And that wasn’t the end of it. He got in trouble again years later for another unprovoked attack only this one wasn’t racially motivated like the others. In 2006 when these issues came to light, he stated publicly that he has done his time and has no guilt for his crimes. Even though he never even so much as apologized to the man he blinded for life, he recently applied for a full pardon for his crimes… A full pardon. Just let that sink in. In this country there are men serving life in prison for possession of marijuana in 3 strikes states, but Marky Mark wants his record to be wiped clean after serving basically no time in prison for a hate-driven, attempted murder, and let’s face it, it’ll happen because he has money and this country is addicted to celebrity-worship. He has acted in 44 roles and has been a producer 22 times since he nearly killed two men for being different. Currently, Wahlberg is worth approximately $200 million.

Perhaps the most ironic example comes from an expected place but not for the reason you’d guess. Audiophiles like myself can hardly conduct an internet search without seeing an ad for Beats
headphones by Dr. Dre. Did he pick this name because he beats women? I suppose Dee Barnes would agree with that statement. Barnes was a rapper in the hip-hop group Body & Soul going by the stage name D Zire. She also hosted a hip-hop themed show on Fox called Pump It Up! It was this hosting role that got her into hot water with the good Dr. She interviewed Ice Cube during the pinnacle of the financial issues between him and the other members of N.W.A. drawing Dre’s ire for making the group “look bad.” I suppose he didn’t understand they’d already made themselves look bad enough with no one’s help and decided the thing that would fix it all is to beat the ever-loving-fuck out of the woman while his bodyguard threatened anyone who tried to help her with his gun. I don’t mean that he simply punched her and was done not that it would make it any more excusable in if that were the case. He did, though, slam her head and body into a brick wall, attempt to throw her down a flight of stairs, kick her repeatedly in the ribs, then chase her down when she managed to run from him and proceed to punch her in the back of the head. His response and those of other N.W.A members was “bitch had it coming.” The court wasn’t too concerned either considering Dre spent no time in jail and had a petty fine and some probation time. Barnes sued but the case was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. I can’t look at a pair of Beats headphones the same. $169 a pair at the cheapest to line a man’s pockets who “beats” women when he doesn’t like what they say. Since selling Beats to Apple, Dre will be pretty close to billionaire territory with many pegging his net worth at nearly 800 million. He’s the richest man in the hip hop industry which is already rife with misogyny and violence much the way the film industry is and any other music genre and television and apparently the NFL as well.

I get that people aren’t their pasts. If that were true, I’d still be an angsty weirdo with a penchant for black lipstick and mainstream metal. Instead I’m just a weirdo. But the thing is…neither of these men feel any remorse for what they did. Dre nor Wahlberg ever really apologized to the people they hurt and instead feel like the world fucking owes them just because they had tough lives as kids. And we continue to fall for that shit. It’s not like Jay-Z stabbing a record executive for bootlegging his albums. Because apologized and wrote candidly in his memoirs about never wanting to get back to that place, to be the kind of person who would do such a thing. That, I can get. But why do we still continue to laud people like Marky Mark and Dr. Dre? Why do people continue to defend Cosby no matter how many women come forward? Why is that when someone we’ve watched in movies that we don’t know personally, that we’ve never met outside watching the characters they play does or has done something heinous, we’re far more forgiving that we are for people in real fucking life? Where’s the logic?

I’m sick of seeing Ray Rice apologists claiming that everything is fine now that he told his wife he’s sorry. All abusers say they’re sorry. It’s part of the cycle. Would you say that if it was a stranger who punched your sister, your mom, your daughter, your niece? Would you accept that apology as the truth every time right up until he kills her in a murder-suicide like many of these relationships end? I’m sick of people thinking that just because a woman didn’t step forward when she was raped, that she is no longer credible. I’ve been there. It’s hard to admit, to talk about… It’s even harder when every single person who hears your story picks it apart and finds a way to put the blame on you instead of where it belongs. I don’t want to hear that leaving lashes on a child’s leg is just punishment for being a child. If your son or daughter came home with those marks on their legs given by a parent that no longer lives with you, I doubt it’d be so fucking kosher as it is when a coveted football player has done it. I don’t want to hear reasons why Mark Wahlberg is different. I want to see him apologize. I want to see Dre fucking crawl on his hands and knees and beg forgiveness from that woman for being such a cowardly piece of shit. Where’s the fucking accountability with these people? Why the hell are we so worried about violence on tv and film and in songs when real violence is being perpetrated by the players themselves while we continue to worship them like patron saints of misogyny, entitlement, greed, and criminality?

If we’re going to read these stories about celebrities and get caught up in the drama of it all and get angry over their bad behaviors, we need to stop sweeping them under the rug when it’s no longer an interest piece on Huffpo or in Rolling Stone or on Slate. When the story isn’t top news on CNN, it’s quickly forgotten while these assholes are left to make millions, to become beloved icons, to be memorialized and idolized…while we’re left wondering why our culture is so often depraved, greedy,and violent. At least part of the answer is right there in the "news" stories we read.

As always, thanks for reading another edition of Sunday Confessions with More Than Cheese and Beer. Be sure to check out the other contributions. And a special thinks to a very talented friend of mine who recommended I tackle the Dr. Dre issue in writing. When I really started thinking about this week's prompt, I knew this was the right time to put my thoughts about that situation in print.

And since that talented friend is an artist, please check out some of his work here:  He's amazing at what he does and one of the coolest dudes I know. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

And There Will Be Peace...Or Maybe Not

Welcome to another installment of secret subject swap. This week, 12 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. Links to all the blogs will be listed below. 

My “Secret Subject” is:

You have one opportunity to secure world peace. The only condition is it's based solely on what you're willing to sacrifice. If you make a big enough sacrifice, the world will have unending/eternal peace. Don't make a large enough sacrifice, things will continue as is. What sacrifice do you make? What sacrifice is just too big?

It was submitted by:


My fellow Bloggers, I feel that if every single person on this planet just had better understanding of what it’s like to walk in each other’s shoes, if we all were capable of a little more empathy, we could resolve every conflict that plagues our global community. If we could just spend some time gaining perspective on what each of our lives is worth, we could finally begin to see those conflicts resolve. With just a little more effort in understanding each other’s plights, we could finally attain something that is forever sought but always manages to elude us—world peace.

Sound like bullshit? It kind of is.

"World Peace" is an abstract term that really has no true meaning. I’m not saying that the idea of wanting world peace is a negative, hokey thing. It’s not. But when you think about it on a deeper level, the entire idea of it creates more questions than anything. What would world peace actually entail? Settlements to all human arguments? Squashing all religious strife? Resolving all social inequality making every human no matter what race, belief, gender, or sexuality completely equal in every society across the globe? Tackling all social issues that lead to any sort of strife? Closing the gap on income inequality? Ending world hunger? Giving everyone fresh drinking water and access to education? Establishing democracy and free market capitalism across the globe leading to the bigger question of whether or not democracy and capitalism encourage war? What does peace look like and entail for other cultures? Would it be the same? Would it be morally reprehensible to force one idea of peace on every culture worldwide?

See, here’s the thing… You can’t simply end all wars to establish world peace. There’s a reason that so many conflicts pop up continuously across the world. It takes more than resolving the disputes already in progress in order to have any modicum of peace. Those clashes have longstanding histories that have created out of control social issues that a wave of a magic wand would never touch unless humanity itself were changed. What part of the human condition across the board would have to be altered or subtracted or added to in order to make eternal world peace possible? Would we have to become mindless zombies that are no longer able to stand up to our governments or even each other? Would the collective progress of the world be stopped because people can no longer take risks that would lead to change? Could change exist in a world that is blanketed by peace or does change inherently come with strife and disagreements which threaten to unravel the docility of the world?

As great as world peace is in thought, I don’t think I can live in a world where change can’t happen. Some of the biggest changes that have played out in humanity were revolutionary, rebellious. Bloodshed was an unfortunate by-product of those revolutionary actions, but where would we be without them? Where would be without riots and coups? Where would peaceful protests have gotten the American Revolutionaries when it came time for this country’s independence? As much as it sucks to think of casualties as a necessity to progress, sometimes that’s the bitter truth of it. And, I don’t want to live in a world where that can’t happen. I don’t want to lose the part of my humanity that pushes me to right a wrong no matter the consequences.

So, to answer the question, I wouldn’t sacrifice anything for world peace. I do want a more peaceful world. To be clear. I want a more socially conscientious world with equality, where people aren’t dying of starvation every 4 seconds, where people have access to water—clean drinking water, where people have access to education and aren’t stoned to death for being raped. I want a culture here in America where black men aren’t 21 times more likely to be killed by police and where rioting is an option but maybe the unheard voices are fewer and fewer. I would and will devote my life to being a catalyst of social change…for fighting the good fight and being an ally, but there’s no sacrifice that I, a sole person, could ever make that would be enough to establish a world peace that I couldn’t fully believe in to begin with…


Thanks for reading. I enjoyed the way this prompt made me think so I hope no one gets the feeling that I'm poking fun at it with my overanalyzed, non-answer to the question. This is simply the only answer I have for something I feel is such a highly complex discussion. Anyway, here are the links to the other blogs! Grab a cuppa and enjoy :)                          Baking In A Tornado                                       The Momisodes                          Spatulas on Parade                            Dinosaur Superhero Mommy                        Stacy Sews and Schools             The Bergham’s Life Chronicles               Evil Joy Speaks                    Juicebox Confession                       Confessions of a part-time working mom           Silence of the Mom                         Sparkly Poetic Weirdo                         Climaxed