Pre-Set Buttons

Original Pre-Set Buttons (the first ones I ever remember seeing)

Yesterday as I was out and about driving I began to think about my blog here. My first thought was that I didn’t want it to be hard to write here. As I begin writing my non-fiction triumvirate trilogy (Breaking Radio Silence, Stand or Fall, The Road), I have accepted those books will be hard to write. Therefore I realized I needed a place where writing wasn’t going to be so hard. So I told myself to live up to this blog’s title, ‘Not Necessarily My Blog’ and try to keep it light and stand-alone here So here goes:

When I look at the pre-set buttons on my car’s radio all I can think is that I’m stuck in the past and a total dork, too. My car’s pre-set radio buttons are for Sirius XM stations because that’s all I listen to in the car now (I’m hooked on commercial-free radio). So here are my top pre-set buttons:

1) Yacht Rock Radio: Yes, I listen to this station and yes, this makes me a dork of epic proportions. Why, might you ask? The music is from the 1970’s and 1980’s and was called ‘soft rock’. No screaming guitars and vocals, no headbanging beats, no doot-doot-doot keyboards. Just lush music and vocals about things like sailing, driving, going through the desert on a horse with no name, lamentations about how people messed up relationships, and love will always find a way. For me, it’s the music of my very early childhood on the radio in the car with my parents. It brings back a simpler time and as an adult I can appreciate the chill-out vibe. It’s what I listen to when I just need to chill and wind-down after a long day on the road.

2) 80’s on 8: The home of three of the original MTV V-Jays, Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, and Alan Hunter. They also do the Top Forty countdown on the weekends and also, Rick Springfield has a new show on there called ‘Working Class DJ’ where he plays music and tells stories (he’s really cool and funny). It’s 80’s pop and Top 40 though they do dig out songs that weren’t big hits, too. This is what I put on if they’re doing a decent countdown year or if I want something a tad bit generic for my passengers. I find it funny that I think of 80’s Top Forty as a bit generic music for the masses now because back in my day it was seen as nothing but ‘teenybopper’ music.

3) 1st Wave: Bills itself as 80’s Alternative and New Wave though they play stuff from the 70’s and also a bit of punk, too. I found the term ‘alternative’ a little bit odd at first because I don’t remember it being used all that much until about 1990 when Grunge rose up from the wet and rainy streets of Seattle. Before 1990 I would have used the term ‘college rock’ for bands that weren’t being played on regular FM stations like REM and U2 (they got their start on college radio stations, hence the terms ‘college radio’ or ‘college rock’). But this is a really cool station and I try to catch my favorite DJ Richard Blade when he’s on the air because he’s just freaking cool and knows his music from that era (check out his autobiography, ‘World In My Eyes’ to read his stories from back in the day and find out how awesome some of those 80’s artists were in person).

4) Classic Rewind: Billed as ‘classic rock’s second era’ this is rock from the mid 70’s till about 1990 (no Grunge on there yet that I’ve heard). This is what I call the ‘classic rock’ that I grew up with along with the 80’s pop/Top Forty and New Wave/Alternative. Or as I can also say, this is what a lot of white kids in the suburbs listened though there is a clear lack of real heavy-metal on the station other than AC/DC and the occasional Judas Priest song. But Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony now have a show on there that I hope is a regular thing called ‘Happy Hour’ as both of them are funny and of course like all good rock ‘n’ rollers they tell great stories.

5) Prime Country: This is country music from the 80’s and 90’s. My mother was a big country music fan back in the 80’s and I loved 90’s country like Garth Brooks, Clint Black, and Reba McEntire. The great thing about this station is the huge amount of female country music singers they play because from what I’ve heard, women don’t get played on country radio a lot today. Heck, this station even plays The Chicks (the group formerly known as The Dixie Chicks), which I feel is a slightly-subtle ‘fuck you’ to the jack-asses that ran them out of country music back in 2003.

Now I do occasionally listen to other stations but these are my primary choices. I’m not saying there hasn’t been anything good since 2000 because there has been. But as my dad said to me when my music from the 80’s became ‘retro’ (the Generation X term for ‘oldies’), he told me we learned all about that from his generation (the Baby Boomers). Richard Blade in his book describes how his flashback show back in the 90’s became the top-rated show on KROQ radio in Los Angeles, something which flummoxed the powers-that-be that owned the station. But Mr. Blade also said he’d been told by the guy that originally hired him that this music would always be played and that it was timeless.

Will today’s music be that way? Only time will tell. But at some point, I think people put the brakes on their musical evolution and stay in the past, especially with how fucked up and crazy the world is. I don’t believe things will ever stop being crazy from time to time, but at least there will always be the music.

Waking Up From History

Yesterday was the inauguration of Joseph Biden as the forty-sixth President of the United States along with Kamala Harris as Vice-President. It was a beautiful, hopeful, and moving ceremony. It was a true, peaceful transition of power in front of a place that just two weeks before was the site of the first, and hopefully last, attempted coup in the United States.

My first thought yesterday was that hope had come back to that city on the Potomac River, and to a nation. Yet I know there are people who don’t feel this way. They say we’re in for Hell, that cities will burn, and everything will be destroyed. In the past, I wouldn’t have responded to that at all. Now… I’m beginning my journey to respond to that in my own way.

For so long, I’ve felt like I’ve been on the verge of tears, of just breaking down and letting myself shatter into a million pieces. This was a thought I had yesterday as an emotional wave swept through me. I told myself it might be too much for me to watch the Inauguration. But once that wave receded, I sat down and watched the Inauguration. Yes, I shed a few tears but I also sang along to the songs I’d thought I’d forgotten as the words came back to me loud and clear. For a brief moment, I even felt like I was back in elementary school singing ‘This Land Is Your Land’ feeling like I could walk from one of America to the other and see all the wonders of our great country and meet people from all walks of life.

I’ve had people tell me you can’t live on hope and joy forever. Trust me, I know that all too well as do millions of other people. But the last four years felt like an all-out assault on hope and joy, not to mention truth and justice. In the last four years, I seriously wondered if I was wrong to believe in the good in this world, to believe that change could happen for the better. I seriously wondered if I had to give in to the cynicism and bitterness I have felt more often than I ever should have. And worst of all, I wonder if I should just shatter into a million pieces once and for all.

Thankfully, hope and joy never left me. And I have no need to let myself shatter into a million pieces and give in to cynicism and bitterness, or pain and despair. It’s hard as hell sometimes to hold myself together but it can be done. And I know it can be done without ripping my beating heart out of my chest, and I know it can be done while feeling emotions both good and bad.

Sometimes waking up is hard for me. I wake up with the sheets and blankets tangled all around me, or kicked off altogether. Sometimes I can feel the dampness on my pillow from sweat or drool. Worst of all, I can wake up feeling like I haven’t slept at all. My head may be stopped up, muscles cramped up, and sometimes my heart racing pretty hard. Sometimes my body just shuts down for six hours or so and I feel rested and calm. More often than not, I wake up the other way. And not just in the last four years, but for most of my adult life.

But we all have to wake up and face the day, and decide how we’re going to do that. For me, it means dealing with fact that I am truly ready to begin writing the story I set out to find four years ago. My story, the story of how and why I think and feel the way I do in relation to myself and the world around me. This realization makes me feel scared and anxious, yet also hopeful. It’s a culmination of four years of digging through the deepest and sometimes incredibly painful emotions and memories to find my truth. And it’s also been my way of learning how to deal with all that once and for all.

So as I felt like I was waking up to history, to quote the line from the song ‘Right Here, Right Now’ by Jesus Jones, I feel like I am waking up to my own life. Not in a peaceful and restful way, but in a tangled and restless way. It’s not an easy thing to deal with, but then I was always told by my parents that nothing was really easy. I’m forever grateful to my parents for that honesty, and for their love and acceptance of me.

Honesty, love and acceptance: three things I really need, and have had before, and can have again. That’s what I’m beginning to wake up to now.

What’s Important

What’s important to you?

This question came to my mind right after I felt a sharp prick of anxiety nip into my mind early this morning. I thought about the question instead of letting anxiety invade my mind and turn on the power to maximum.

I’d rather ask myself this question than let my mind run at a hundred miles an hour and not be able to focus on anything like writing. So if you want to know what my answers are to that question, here they are:

1) Not burning up my energy on just letting my mind run wild and not be able to focus on anything. I know things are tight with me like they are with everyone else. But despite the bullshit-lies anxiety loves to tell me, no one is out there waiting for me to stop this hamster-wheel run so they can stomp on me. If there is someone in this world who thinks I should just run on a hamster-wheel like I’m on an endless supply of speed, to hell with them.

2) Writing every single day or close to it is important to me, extremely important in fact because that’s how I’m going to rise up like Alexander Hamilton did (I’ve got the song ‘My Shot’ now going through my head- which is a good thing).

3) Taking at least one hour a day to read. In the last few years, I’ve gotten away from reading and I’m hell-bent and determined to get back to it. It’s a learned behavior now that I have to establish this as a daily habit.

I will say letting my mind run itself out on the hamster-wheel inside my head did bring me a moment of clarity yesterday. A moment of clarity is a precious gift to me and one I hadn’t gotten in a while. It’s not a huge burst of light but just something coming into perfect focus. It can be a thought, an idea, or a direction to go in.

For me, asking the question of what’s important feels like I’m standing up for myself. I don’t feel like I’m being nailed to the floor with it like I have in the past, nailed hard enough to where I could only look down at the floor and mumble. No, when I hear that question I take a deep breath and look up straight ahead. And I tell myself fretting over tight finances, weather, and the health of my sinuses isn’t going to accomplish anything.

A little over four years ago, I set out on a quest to use writing to try and figure out why I thought and felt the way I did. It’s been a much-more complex quest than I could have ever imagined but I’m glad I set out on that path. And I think where some of my anxiety is coming from is that I’m at the point where I’m truly ready to write down what I’ve learned over the last four years, especially on today’s date, January 20, 2021.

Today is the inauguration of Joseph Biden as the forty-six President of the United States and Kamala Harris as Vice-President. These are two people who have asked themselves and the rest of us what’s important to each of us. It’s because of their own answers to that question that they will be sworn in today to begin rebuilding this country and beginning the healing process. Both know grief and loss very well, and both are determined and focused on what needs to be done.

If you answer the question of what’s important to you with a lot of hyperbole and blame, those aren’t answers. True answers to the question of what’s important to you might not be so easy to find, and they may go against what other people think and feel. But true answers to this question are about the real truth, not loud and hateful words, not a disregard for facts and experiences. And most of all, true answers to the question of what’s important aren’t devoid of compassion and empathy or scorn for those things. Excuses and denials of acts and expressions of compassion and empathy are not valid answers to what’s important in this world.

The question of what’s important is not an easy one to ask, or answer because it involves peeling back layers of silence in order to answer it. That’s how it has worked for me, and it is hard to do that, hard to face the grief and pain under the silence. But in the end, the real truthful answers will come along with clarity.

Changing Anxiety

If I had to describe my anxiety I would say it’s like my brain is in a near-constant fight-or-flight mode and working at a hundred miles an hour to deal with that threat response. The problem is, most things don’t warrant that high-level threat response in the first place.

How do you deal with that?

That is a question I’ve been asking myself over the last four years and for me I began to find answers to that question by identifying what flips that switch in my mind and how to find ways to keep that switch from flipping on when it shouldn’t.

I will be completely honest here and tell you this is not an easy task for yourself. It’s hard to work through layers of crap and memories to figure out how you developed your messed-up responses that can result in anxiety. And I think the worst obstacle is people who don’t have this switch flipped on so easily in their minds and think people with anxiety can just not flip the switch in the first place or just flipped it off at-will.

As the lady in the Geico commercial says, that’s not how it works. That’s not how anything related to anxiety works. It’s not a simple flick of the switch or just tossing shit aside. For me, it’s finding out what triggers it and then figuring out ways to control it. And it’s just control, not eradication or a miracle cure.

For the longest time, a lot of my anxiety was driven by a fear of being hurt by other people, by people actively trying to ruin my life and destroy any relationship I tried to build with someone. The story behind this is a long and complicated one, and one for another time. But yesterday I realized this fear is gone from within me because when I think about someone trying to do that, I would have to fight like hell not to rage at them and want to bury their asses. I just have this image in my mind of confronting someone who tries to do that with one seriously-loaded question: “Really?”

This is a good thing as you can see because it frees up my energy to focus on managing the other driver of my anxiety, which is losing what little I have in life and being out on the streets with nothing but the clothes on my back. This one is harder to manage because I’ve lived on next-to-nothing for so long and have recently realized I fear that I have a self-sabotaging streak in me. I have begun to realize that self-sabotaging idea is related to the above paragraph in regards to the fear that if I say or do something that pisses someone off for no damn good reason that they’ll try and bury my ass. I’ve known for a long time that I don’t need to beat the shit out of myself in order to keep someone else from doing it. I don’t have to beat myself up at all if I did nothing wrong, and I sure as hell don’t have to let someone beat me up for doing nothing wrong either. I have to tell myself now and every single day going forward if I have to that I can do what I need to do to survive, and someday thrive. And if I make mistakes or if shit happens, that’s for me to deal with and no one else’s fucking problem.

But another thing with the fight-or-flight response is that it can give you a heightened sense of awareness and energy. But you can’t maintain that forever and it will drain you pretty badly. This is something else I have to tell myself a lot still. That’s okay because if you can see this and feel it, then you can do something about it.

I was talking with a passenger yesterday and he was telling me his girlfriend has had a lot of anxiety over the last year about the pandemic and everything. He was telling me he had a hard time understanding her anxiety. I didn’t really say anything to that because what I really wanted to say wouldn’t have gone very well. I would have liked to have said to him, ‘It must be real nice to have a mind that runs on anxiety and nerves all the damn time. It must be nice to be able to shut things down easily and not have to worry about shit happening all the time. And most of all, it must be nice to think that other people should just be able to shut down so damn easily.’

My problem is shutting down, at least on the outside, is that I got shit for it. I got told I was a cold and unemotional bitch when inside myself I was a raging basket-case racing around the inferno of Hell. I still fight like hell to contain my anxiety in terms of outward appearances because I don’t want to deal with people’s bullshit about this. But trust me, anxious people are anything but cold and unemotional. That used to make me even more anxious but now it just pisses me off, and that’s a good thing because being pissed off about shit is better than being scared of it.

So for me, my anxiety has changed over time. It’s changed from being afraid of others to being afraid of myself. But I can deal with myself because I know I’m willing and able to dig deep and hard and to figure out how I think and feel. And I can tell with absolute certainty when you do that, you’ll come out on the other side for the better.

Breaking Down the Roadblocks to Self-Care

Warning: My streak of posts without any profanity has ended at one (yesterday’s).

In the last four years, I’ve read about the term ‘self-care’. It’s about taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. Like eat right, drink plenty of water, get some sleep, and try not to let shit get to you too much. Yet a question comes up in response to this: why is something so good so hard for people to put into daily practice? Why would it be seen as wrong to take care of yourself?

Well, as I’m fond of saying, it’s a long story. So I’ll summarize it in a short sound-bite: for me, it’s learning how to stop beating the shit out of myself sometimes because other people have done it to me in the past for no damn good reason other than the fact they were being assholes. It’s me feeling like I have no right to be happy or even to relax and take care of myself because if so, then I’m an egotistical failure.

But I’ll tell you a bit of my story here in order to show what roadblocks are thrown up in the path of my self-care, and how to get around them.

In my twenties, I was a caregiver to my mother who was dying of cancer. Her treatments were as bad as the cancer cells rampaging through her. Her energy levels were destroyed and it was a constant battle for her just to get up and do what she could. I took on as much responsibility as I could and yes, I will freely admit I turned into a bitch at times about it. But in my defense I will say this: things had to get done. And I learned I had to take care of myself just enough to stay on my feet. Luckily I had a considerable store of fat reserves to draw on (as I still do now) so I could survive on barely eating and drinking, and function on four to six hours of sleep. I knew if I went down I would prove to the world that I was a useless piece of shit and I wouldn’t be able to help anyone, especially the person who needed my help the most, my mother. It’s not pride that kept me on feet, but need, not my needs, but the needs of others. I have no regrets with how I lived back then and what I did, and I don’t see as a sacrifice.

But the cost of that was horrible and enormous, and I’m still dealing with a few lingering effects of it. The worst thing wasn’t the physical demands made of me, but the mental and emotional isolation I endured back then. Back then, I felt like my thoughts and feelings didn’t matter to anyone, and that I had no right to express them or talk about them. I felt like I was told, ‘fuck your feelings’. I will freely admit I became a closed-off bitch who seemed cold and unemotional as hell. I got that way because I thought that was what people wanted of me, to be seen but not heard. Also, it kept people off my ass more often than not.

This is the biggest roadblock to self-care I’ve had to work through: taking care of myself mentally and emotionally. Telling myself I have a right not only to my thoughts and feelings, but the right to deal with them. If no one wants to sit down with me in person and listen to my bullshit, I can deal with that. I write about it to help others, not myself.

You have the right not just to take care of yourself physically, but to take time to sit and breathe, to ease tension from your body. You have the right to find something that makes you smile, and laugh, and feel happy. And you have the right to look at your life and see what you can do to make it better. You have the right to find your place in this world, and to find your own path.

So if someone throws a roadblock to taking care of yourself, remove it. And if they piss and moan about it, walk away without a word. I’m sure you’ll have the urge to say ‘fuck your feelings’ but that won’t accomplish anything. Instead, take care of your own feelings along with your physical needs. You may have to go it alone but that’s okay because I’m living proof that can be done.

Here’s my self-care guide in three simple sentences:

You don’t have to engage in an endless hustle of tension and bullshit.

You have the right to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally.

You have the right to make your life better in any way you can.

But I will also tell you:

Remember to eat before you get light-headed, stay hydrated, try to get some form of exercise if you have a job that requires you to sit on your ass all day, and try to get at least six to eight hours of sleep. And most of all, take care of your feelings and keep your mind from getting jammed up all to hell.

And if anyone says shit to you about doing anything in the above paragraph, just tell them to go to hell and fuck their feelings in the process.

What Unites Us?

In today’s blog title, the question mark is all mine.

Right now, there are calls for unity and for people to put aside their differences to work together for a greater good. The problem is, these calls are ringing out in a very hollow way. They ring out in a hollow way because this call for unity is disregarding accountability and justice for those that broke the law and committed murder, and continue to call for violence and killing.

Even if people renounce violence and hate, even if they express and show genuine remorse and take full responsibility for their guilt, it still won’t be enough. At least not in the present. The only thing that eases pain is time, a lot of time. And even after a lot of time, the pain is always there. Worst of all, the pain comes back up no matter how time has passed, and sometimes it comes back up like the wound was just inflicted yesterday.

Can there be unity without trust?

My answer to that question is this: for me, I can’t be truly close to someone who has hurt me before when I did nothing to deserve that. Because as I think that thought, I hear what my mother said to me: if they’ve done it once, what makes you think they won’t do it again?

For me, the only bridge of unity I can think of is this: to ask those who are truly repentant and remorseful not to hurt anyone else like they did. The damage is done to me and nothing will take it away. But if my pain can save someone else from going through what I have, then I will find peace and healing.

Another thing I think can build a bridge to unity is people letting go of revenge though this would mean people would have to take full responsibility for their wrongdoing, and for causing pain to others by embracing lies and cruelty. It means they would have to accept their loss of power was caused by their own wrongdoing and the pain they caused to others. This would mean taking responsibility for wrongdoing and committing to a life of not doing that again. They would have to realize this commitment is not a loss of pride, but of going onto the right path in life. There is no pride and dignity in causing pain and suffering.

Now I look to history for answers to my question on unity:

After World War Two, the first war crimes trials were convened in Nuremberg, Germany and Tokyo, Japan to bring the perpetrators of the war and mass murder to justice. It was the first time in human history perpetrators of war and genocide were brought to justice and the full extent of their crimes against humanity were shown to the world. This in turn showed the world was done, and that it couldn’t be done again. In the decades since, the people of Germany and Japan have confronted their past and sought to educate the world in order for it not to happen again and so that others wouldn’t to suffer and die like so many did before.

In 1987, US President Ronald Regan stood at the Berlin Wall and said to the Soviet Russian Leader, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” In 1989, the Berlin Wall came down. I honestly thought I wouldn’t see that happen until I was the age I’m at now (46) and not the age I was in 1989 (15). I didn’t expect it because I thought the wall was so much higher than it really was even though I knew there were people behind that wall who didn’t want to be there and were just imprisoned by fear and lies.

For there to be true unity, walls built on hatred, fear, pain, and suffering must be torn down. Perpetrators of crimes against others must be held accountable and brought to justice. History must be taught in truth, and the stories have to be passed down from generation to generation. Most of all, we have to let go of the desire for revenge, and learn to trust enough to move forward to make life better for future generations. People will have to learn that every single person on this planet has to find their own place in this world, and that if that journey is not causing harm to others, that they can’t be held back from following their own path and living their own lives truly, freely, and without fear.

Most of all, I believe unity comes from accepting that each person has a right to their thoughts and feelings no matter what they are, good, bad, ugly, or anything in between. And that they have the right to deal with them in whatever they choose.

What Divides Us, Part 2: Never Good Enough

A few days ago, I wrote about what I feel divides us as a nation right now. Not just a difference in ideology and politics, but of facts and truth. But there’s more to that as I’ve come to realize.

All my life I struggled greatly with feeling like that no matter how much good I did, how hard I worked, how much I tried to learn and be a good person, that it was never good enough. Worst of all, I felt like that whenever I made a mistake, even a mistake that I took ownership of and fixed as much I possibly could, I felt like that mistake proved that people were right about me: that no matter what I said or did, or how I lived my life, I would never be good enough.

Luckily, five years ago this April, I stopped thinking that way. That’s a story for another time but on that fateful day in April when I was told I should have known better, which is just another way of saying I would never be good enough to succeed at anything, a thought came to my mind:

Everyone else is just as full of shit as I am sometimes, but that doesn’t mean I’m a bad person.

What this means is I’m wrong sometimes and I make mistakes. But so does everyone else and no one has all the answers, nor has the ability to be perfect every second of their lives. And to expect anything like from someone else is wrong, and incredibly mean and cruel. I know. I’ve spent the last four years working through that and unloading huge amounts of shame and guilt I should never have taken on because of that.

But to narrow my discussion here, I will say this: if presented with verifiable facts and unaltered visual proof and someone says that’s not good enough, then I think you have to walk away from people who say that. Because if someone says that facts and truth are not good enough, you can’t get through to them. And until that person lets go of their belief in lies and cruelty, there will be no unity with them.

Right now there are calls not to impeach the President of the United States for what he said last Wednesday. There are calls not to prosecute those who broke the law simply because it might further inflame tensions. To say that I say: no way in Hell. Justice must be served because without it, the actions of the guilty will continue. Even those who renounce their beliefs and apologize for the word and actions must be held accountable for them.

Being held accountable for your words and actions is not the same as being told you’ll never be good enough no matter what you do in life. If your words and actions were wrong and caused pain and suffering, then you must answer for that. And if someone chooses not to forgive you, or trust you, that doesn’t mean you’ll never be good enough for that. It means that you were never good enough to be trusted to begin with. When someone knowingly and willingly chooses to do wrong, they will suffer the consequences of their actions sooner or later, in this life or the next. Those of us who have been hurt have to work through the pain and find ways to heal, learn that is good enough even we’re told to forget, or deny, or minimize the wrong that was done to us.

I believe in our system of justice in the United States, that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. That they are afforded legal representation even if they can’t afford it. They have the right to remain silent, and not to incriminate themselves if they choose not to. I believe the burden of proof is on the State. But in the face of facts and hard evidence, I don’t believe you have the right to say that’s not good enough and never will be. That’s not justice. Justice is truth beyond a reasonable doubt, and punishment that fits the crime.

So until we live by the idea that truth and evidence must be accepted, and reject the belief that will never be good enough, we will be divided.

I’m going to close out with something I saw today from Bernice King on Twitter:

We cannot unify around injustice and lies in an authentic quest for healing and peace. Healing requires honesty. Peace requires justice. May God, who is Love, be with us.

Fiction and Truth

“Truth is stranger than fiction.”

“You can’t make shit like this up.”

First, fiction writers get shit when they write stuff some asshole says is too outrageous and could never happen in real-life. The mystery writer Carl Hiaasen said this happened to him and he replied that nothing he’d written even came close to what he reported on as a newspaper reporter in Florida. Because of that, I think fiction writers may be discouraged from writing about truly outrageous and crazy-ass shit that can happen. But after this week, hell after this past year, I think all bets are off in the fiction-writing world.

Second, books about racists taking over the world through violent insurrection is in  books have been put as propaganda by governments, such as ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’, or books written by known racists such as ‘The Turner Diaries’. I will not provide links to either book, especially ‘The Turner Diaries’ as money from that book is still being funneled to white supremacist groups. ‘The Turner Diaries’ was also what was found in possession of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, who is now burning hell for the mass murder he committed.

I think most fiction writers though are on the side of good, especially those who write for mass-market success. This is why I believe superhero movies have become so popular, not because they’re awesome and well-made, but because we need heroes more than ever. We need to see good triumphing over evil more than ever, especially after the events of January 6, 2021.

I write fiction about people winning against the odds, kicking the shit out of the bad guys, and finding love and hope. I make no apologies for that and instead if anyone does come at me I’ll tell them to fuck off. And because I chose to write in the romance genre, I’ve gotten shit for what I write as have all of my fellow romance writers. But since 2016, we’ve taken a stand for what we write and what we believe in and now, you don’t come for us unless we send for you.

My father once said to me the world needs happy endings. Because we all know too well that we don’t get to live forever. We will watch loved ones die. We will watch innocent people die. We will watch bad people rise to power. We will lose connections to those we care about when their choices become clear, and are turned against us as weapons of pain and cruelty.

Fiction does tell the truth, even in genres such as science-fiction and fantasy. Many science-fiction and fantasy authors have denied the allegorical nature of their work but I don’t see a need to do that anymore. Fiction writers create fictional worlds to work through things in a theoretical or experimental environment like a scientist does in a lab. We publish our results as scientists do for peer-review so I believe this is where the camaraderie between scientists and fiction-writers comes from. We come up with a premise, or hypothesis in the case of a scientist, then we observe, experiment, and write up our conclusions.

Truth is only stranger than fiction when a fiction writer doesn’t restrain their imagination. We’ve known about the rise of white supremacy over the last four years yet we’ve been told to deny it or minimize it, or worst of all, rationalize it to a harmless state. I believe as fiction writers we need to use our imaginations and the truth we are living through to hypothesize, observe, and through the writing process, experiment and find conclusions and answers. Most of all, we need to be brave and courageous in sharing our words in the face of those who will deny our truths and observations.

In some ways, I believe we have begun to talk about the infiltration of radical hatred as in the show ‘Star Trek: Picard’ which was about the infiltration of the Romulan cult that believed artificial life would destroy the Universe. Their belief was so intense they led the attack on the efforts to rescue their own people from their home-world that was about to be destroyed by their sun going super-nova. Luckily, since this is ‘Star Trek’, heroes rose up and saved the day.

I know there are many heroes in this world today: doctors and nurses on the frontlines of this pandemic we’re still living through, poll workers and voter registration organizers, frontline workers, law enforcement and military who uphold the law and serve and protect. Good, kind people of all walks of life.

I’m proud to write about heroes and heroines, good over evil, happily ever after, love and hope. And maybe I won’t write anything stranger than what happens in real life, and maybe I never will be able to. That’s okay because I don’t need to justify what I write, apologize for it, or defend it.

There is truth in fiction, just as there is truth in reality.

Never Again, Never Forget

In 1945 survivors of the Holocaust emerged from concentration camps and said one thing to the world:

“Never again.”

These words became the foundation for the modern Jewish state of Israel. The Jews who founded the state of Israel vowed never to be rounded up and exterminated again. They vowed to fight and die like their ancestors did on Masada two-thousand years ago. I have issues with things the Israeli government has done over the years and continues to do now in regards to the Palestinians, but I fully support the right of the state of Israel to exist. The dwindling number of Holocaust survivors can tell us their stories of evil are real and that anyone who talks of doing evil has to be stopped.

What we saw with the domestic terrorists who stormed the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021 was not a surprise to anyone who has watched right-wing racists in action. I’ve believe every word that comes out of their mouths, their views, their goals, and their intentions. This isn’t just shit-talk no matter how many times they try to walk it back like some are trying to do now.

Words matter. Words matter because words can become actions. In 1933 the words of the Nazi Party became action that culminated in a World War and genocide.

On April 19, 1995, the words of right-wing extremists culminated in the Oklahoma City bombing in which one-hundred and sixty-eight men, women, and children died. I was watching tv when it happened and one image was burned into my mind forever: a group of nurses were running towards the building but then were told to turn back and go get body bags. There were the horrible images of children dead and dying being brought out by first responders. Today a memorial of chairs, including child-size ones is there to show the world the loss of life.

After that terrible day, we saw exactly how the threat of right-wing extremist violence was real. And I’ve been afraid ever since, and more so in the last four years. Yesterday was a dress-rehearsal for what these bastards have been telling the whole damn world, and because of modern technology, we have a record of their words in sight and sound. What more proof does anyone need these bastards are for real and have to be stopped?

President-Elect Biden announced Merrick Garland as his nominee for Attorney General. Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court was thwarted by now Senate Minority Leader McConnell in 2016. Merrick Garland was also part of the team that prosecuted the Oklahoma City bombers. I said this nomination was poetic justice for the Supreme Court nomination denied to him. I want to see him lead a team at the Justice Department to do to the bastards who stormed the Capitol yesterday, and others like them, what was done to the Oklahoma City bombers: investigated, tried, and convicted in a court of law.

Using the system against these racist bastards is the best thing we can do to live by the words ‘Never Again’. Record voter turnout in November and just this past Tuesday brought in candidates of worth (Joseph Biden/Kamala Harris, Rev. Raphael Warnock/Joel Ossoff). And we have to keep doing that no matter what happens, no matter what violence happens. We can’t give up. Ever.

Most of all, we can’t minimize it, argue it away with ‘both sides’ bullshit, or ‘what about…’ bullshit arguments, or just not talk about it at all. We stop talking about it, we stop speaking out against it, it rises like steam from a warm pile of shit. This is why I have vowed never to stop talking about it. Hopefully when I’m very old it will be just mostly stories of decades before, like my father told me. But even if it’s just stories, stories always need to be told so we don’t forget. We have technology to keep the stories on record long after their storytellers are gone from this Earth. And we have our oral tradition, and memory.

Oh, and choose your damn side once and for all. Don’t talk about solidarity with Holocaust survivors and then try to lie about white supremacists who storm the Capitol wearing shirts that say ‘Camp Auschwitz’. There is no middle ground with racist evil. There never was, and there never will be. I chose my side as a child, and have affirmed it as an adult, and will stay on my side until the day I die.

I’ll tell the stories, say the words, and vote like my life depends on it.

Never Again

Never Forget

The ‘Both Sides’ Argument Is Invalid

I’ve been wanting to write this for a very long time and now I’ve got the guts, the raging fury, and the words to do my dead-level best to try and blow some ‘both sides’ arguments to Hell and back.

First, comparing liberal and conservative ideologies is like comparing apples to oranges. They are so different now there is very little common ground to meet on so trying to make them equal or alike in any way is an invalid argument. The basic tenet of liberal ideology is that every person has the right to live freely, without fear, and to have every opportunity available to them regardless of their race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, or ethnic origin. The basic tenet of conservative ideology is that everyone has their place and has to stay in that place even if causes them pain and suffering.

Before I continue on with my comparisons and contrasts, I want to say this: I condemn violence in any form. Violence is never the answer to any problem. Yes, there was violence from left-wing protestors last summer. But that violence was quickly condemned and a non-violent approach to protests was implemented, in addition to adherence to public health advice with masks and social distancing.

In the last week, liberal or ANTIFA (which stands for anti-fascist) protestors were told to stay away from Washington D.C. because right-wing protestors were threatening violence. And after last summer, we saw how right-wing protestors, now domestic terrorists, were more than willing to commit acts of violence. They did yesterday in the United States Capitol. And in response to the argument that those domestic terrorists in the Capitol were ANTIFA protestors in disguise, I ask this in return: then what about all the social media calls to violence from the right-wing side of the house here? Are you saying these right-wing domestic terrorists don’t really exist and are nothing but ANITFA protestors in disguise? Because I’m sure if you said that to the Proud Boys, a known hate group, they wouldn’t take that too well because they don’t lie at all about their racist and violent shit.

Now, about the argument that these domestic terrorists are angry at the results of the election and have the right to express their anger in public. Okay, they have the right to voice their opinions and shit. They don’t have the right to trespass, threaten, or harm another human being. Do you agree with that or do they get a pass on that because they’re racist white motherfuckers?

Okay, now I’m sure some of my readers might be a bit ticked off at me using the term ‘domestic terrorist’ for right-wing racists. I’m not backing down on that term because these bastards have been calling for another civil war, arming themselves to the teeth, carrying their guns in public, and talking about murder. They haven’t been sitting around in a circle singing ‘Kumbaya’ so the argument that their harmless is invalid. See the pictures from the Capitol yesterday if you want to see what they’re capable of.

Another argument I’m going to blow to hell here is this: a person of color has more rights than a white person. Like that person of color got the job instead of me (the white person) simply because that employer wanted to meet a quota. Did that employer come right out and tell you that? No, and not just because they don’t have to or choose not to at all, but because it’s their freaking choice as to who to hire, not yours. You’re not special because you’re white, and you’re certainly not special if your black, brown, female, gay, transgender, or anything other than a lily-white ass. White privilege is real and a white man especially doesn’t live in fear even if says he does.

Yet another dumb-ass argument I’ve heard over the years is that both political parties are corrupt as hell. Okay, smart-ass, why do the number of prosecutions add up higher in the Republican column than they do in the Democratic column? I’m sure the response is that Democratic administrations prosecute more than Republicans. Then if that’s the case they must have more to work with, right? Both sides have had people in their parties caught with their pants down and yes, Slick Willie (aka Bill Clinton) managed to not get convicted of lying about it. But in the last four years it hasn’t been about pants down. It’s been about treason and now as of today, sedition.

But none of this means shit to a conspiracy-theory Q-Anon, anti-vaxxer, flat-Earth believing dumb-ass. The cognitive dissonance is too strong with these people. But to anyone who is offered their Kool-Aid I’ll say this: if someone wants you to drink something but won’t tell you exactly what’s in the cup, you might not want to drink it at all.

I only wrote this because I wanted to shoot my mouth off and drop a few truth-bombs. It won’t change minds because I can’t do that. But if I plant a seed in someone’s mind with these words… well, that’s not the same as changing a mind, right? 😊