Corporate Philosophy Has To Go

A little over four years ago, I left my last nine-to-five job in corporate Hell. I worked telephone customer service, which is one of the great shit-jobs in corporate Hell because you are at the absolute bottom of the corporate hierarchy, yet you are the person customers interact with the most. I have no regrets about leaving this world but I have come to realize in the last four years we have all been living through a corporate shit-show on a scale like never before. We have a government full of corporate asshole-types who lie, cheat, and steal while trying to spin and gaslight the rest of us, or put fear into us that they’ll fuck us up big-time.

As James Carville told Bill Clinton and Al Gore to say in 1992, “It’s time for them to go.” It’s time for corporate bullshit-philosophy to go to Hell and stay there. Here’s why:

First, incompetent people need to be taken out of positions of authority and never allowed back in. We have to stop rewarding incompetent behavior and not give in to them because they can walk and talk and spin bullshit to get whatever the fuck they want and not give a shit about anyone else. It’s one thing to say ‘I don’t know but I’ll find out’. It’s a shitty thing for a leader to make someone under them feel like shit for knowing something they don’t. As I’m so fond of saying, everyone is just as full of shit as I am sometimes, but I’m not a bad person. A bad person is someone who tries to make incompetence work when it never does.

Second, loud-mouth bullies need to put in their place once and for all. They need to have their ability to hurt people taken from them and never, ever given back. Bullies need to be told to shut the fuck up until they do. And most of all, they need to be told to shut the fuck up when they try to spin and gaslight their potential victims. Bullies are not victims and I refuse to treat them as such.

Third, no one should have to ask the same question a hundred times. No one should have to ask, ‘What part of ___  don’t you understand?’ Asking the same question over and over will not change the answer. Trust me, I spent seventeen years dealing with that shit over the phones and it never worked.

Corporate philosophy is like conservative ideology to me: because something has been done a certain way for a long time it has to stay that way. It doesn’t matter if doesn’t work that well or worse, hurts people. Any attempt to make things work better or help people is wrong unless the asshole in charge decides who can be helped. To that I say this: fuck tradition, fuck the past, and fuck anyone who can’t see past the end of their nose because of all the shit on it. Because as my mother used to say, the good old days sucked.

Honesty is hard, especially when it comes to talking about hard and painful truths in our world. But it sure as hell beats incompetent and cruel bullshit that fucks things up so badly over two-hundred thousand people are dead because of it. Problems are not to be profited from, or spun into bullshit that says things aren’t what they are even though the truth is right in front of you. Most of all, sooner or later you will have to answer not only the questions, but for your own actions.

This coming election in twenty-six days is a reckoning. It’s a reckoning for the dead, for the living, and the wounded. The cities aren’t burning down and mobs aren’t running rampant on the streets, or coming to take over the suburbs. People are suffering in silence, lining up at food banks to feed their kids, and praying to a God they’re probably losing faith in. Corporate philosophy doesn’t believe in the previous sentence at all because it doesn’t believe in hope, courage, and compassion. Corporate philosophy believes in fear, ignorance, and rewards greed and incompetence. That shit brought out the dead, and that’s why it has to stop once and for all.

Corporate philosophy doesn’t just suck, it’s deadly now. So if you believe in a shit-show that kills… this isn’t for you.

But if you believe in a better world, and want the courage to stand up for what’s right and true, make it so.

Vote.

Believe.

Hope.

Choose or Lose – 2020 Edition

In 1992, MTV ran a campaign thing called ‘Choose or Lose’. It had townhalls with the candidates (most famously with Bill Clinton being asked, “Boxers or briefs?” – his answer was briefs and long before Monica Lewinsky found that out, too). It also pushed for motor-voter laws which were to enable people to register to vote when they got their drivers licenses, and it also pushed for the assault weapons ban. I remember that summer and fall thinking I could be a part of the democratic process and that voting was awesome.

Okay, in hindsight maybe we hitched our cart to the wrong horse in Bill Clinton, though he could have stopped his impeachment by doing one press conference and answering all the questions about the ‘sexual relations’ he had with Monica Lewinsky. But Bill Clinton was no Alexander Hamilton (Hamilton published a pamphlet outlining his extramarital affair to clear himself of allegations of embezzlement – which he was innocent of).

So the idealism and can-do spirit of the summer of 1992 died a slow death in the Senate chamber of an impeachment hearing that shouldn’t have happened. And for me, it was really nailed shut in my mind in 2003 when The Chicks (formerly known as The Dixie Chicks) went through what they did being some of the first victims of ‘cancel culture’ (watch the documentary ‘Shut Up and Sing’ just to see how devastating that was and how fucked-up, too).

Moving forward twenty-eight years….

I was in the car yesterday listening to 80’s New Wave/Alternative music and I had a thought:

I want my idealism back.

That thought was followed by this one:

You never lost it.

And I never have. It just shrank down to a tiny little flickering flame deep inside me but it was always there. I just wished all to hell I hadn’t let it get down that far in 2003 to where it wouldn’t come back to life like it’s starting to now. But I can tell you it wasn’t just watching three women getting virtually strung up as twenty-first century witches in 2003, but thinking that people had taken my idealism from me by being awful to me, or by alienating me from everyone else.

No one can take away what you feel inside. No one can reach inside your heart and mind and take your thoughts and feelings away from you. You may think they can, and they may tell you they can. But in reality, that’s not true. You have the freedom to think and feel any way you want to and to live your life accordingly. Yes, there will be motherfucking assholes who do their dead-level best to shit all over you or just try to pick away at your idealism and good feelings because they’re shit-heads. Don’t let them do that, if they say they can, tell them no and walk away (because assault-and-battery is still against the law).

I had another thought on the road yesterday I hadn’t had in a long time: there are people who don’t want me to be happy or to be fired-up about something. My response: fuck that shit. And remember that you’re not someone’s hemorrhoid cream or responsible for their thoughts and feelings. If someone can’t handle me in a good mood or fired about something… that’s their problem and not mine.

You do have the ability to choose or lose. And yes, your choices may not be agreeable to some people. But if your choices are about freedom, justice, and hope, and against oppression, fear, hatred, and death, they’re good ones.

Life is hard, yes. But it doesn’t have to have to grind you down and you don’t have to walk around feeling sad and sorry for yourself all the time, as my father used to say. I will also say you don’t have to be an angry blob of gaslighting-conspiracy theory spewing blind obedient idiot either. But either one is a choice and I would just say try not to fuck it up.

I’ve begun to truly learn my lessons from 1992 onward in terms of hope, idealism, and happiness being lost and found. For if something is lost, it can always be found. You can lose your way but find your way back home.

What Side Are You On?

September 29, 2020 – Presidential Debate

The above is a link to a news report on last night’s Presidential Debate. This is one quote that should chill the blood of everyone who reads it:

“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” Trump said. “But I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem.”

The Proud Boys are a white supremacist group who are armed and dangerous. And the President of the United States last night told them this.

What side are you on now?

If I had seen this live it would have taken every ounce of energy in me not to scream and rage at this. This is what our country has come down to. This is what we have now: not just a raging buffoon but a raging racist in power.

And as I write this I hear voices in my head who will try to spin this off in some way.

Throughout human history and especially now more than ever, there is an ideology among some people that in order not to be oppressed, they have to be the oppressor. These adherents of this ideology are not victims, but abusers themselves. They have willingly embraced a life without kindness, compassion, and empathy for anyone, not even themselves. If they show any of those things it’s only for a short time and only for their own personal gains.

I know what I’m writing may seem brutal. And I can hear voices in my head telling me to tone it down, that I’m blowing things out of proportion.

If you say that to me I will call you a gaslighter. That is saying I can’t think for myself and that I didn’t hear what I and millions of other people heard. It’s saying my thoughts and feelings don’t matter at all. This is called abuse, plain and simple. It’s called bullying because this is how bullies wear down their victims to get them to bend to their will or break all together.

Last night, Joe Biden at the Presidential debate didn’t bend or break. He knew this was coming and he came prepared. He didn’t have to come prepared with facts and figures, but with strength and courage to stand up to a racist, heartless bully. And if you support the current occupant of the White House… ask yourself why. Ask yourself why you are so willing to try and minimize his behavior, his words, his call to action to white supremacists.

Don’t come to me with your answers. Go over your answers in your own mind, go over them with your conscience. Go over them with the God you believe in.

And as for me, I know exactly why I have never supported the current occupant of the White House. I have my answers and I’ve gone over them with my conscience, and with my God.

I will not become an oppressor. I will not turn to abuse in order to survive. I will not destroy my own emotions, my compassion, my empathy, my kindness for others in order to survive. Twice in my life, I felt myself starting to shut down those emotions and it scared me like it was supposed to. Even now as I write this I feel those shudders of fear inside me due to the intensity of those emotions. I feel myself constantly on the verge of tears, of just wanting to curl up in a ball and cry my eyes out. I’m grateful for those feelings of fear and sadness even as badly they hurt me because it means I’m human. It means I will not be the oppressor. I will not be an abuser.

I am on the side of Love.

I am on the side of Hope.

I will not be silent in the face of evil, of oppression, of abuse.

For not only will I be thinking hard now, I will talk hard.

So after reading all my words here, if you have to ask what side you are on… I’ll say a prayer for you in the hope that you choose the right side.

Reclaiming Happiness for Healing

When the movie ‘Flashdance’ came out in 1983, I along with millions of young girls wanted to be a dancer and have it all. We all had the soundtrack album, the leg warmers, and the ripped sweatshirt. In 1983, I was nine years old and definitely not dancer-material, or physically coordinated at all. And in that year, that was painfully driven home every single day in P.E. (physical education) class when we did our exercises to the song ‘Flashdance (What a Feeling)’ by Irene Cara. By the end of that year of P.E. hell, I learned how to hate that song and for close to thirty-five years, I couldn’t listen to it without those awful memories of being picked last for any team, laughed at when I fell on my ass, and glared at daily by the P.E. teachers I had.

But in 2018, I reclaimed my love for that song.

It started on a Uber ride one morning when I was in very heavy traffic and unable to take my hands off the steering wheel to change the radio station. So I had to listen to the song, and when I did as a forty-four year-old woman, I heard these lines:

All alone I have cried

Silent tears full of pride

In a world made of steel

Made of stone

(Lyrics by Irene Cara and Keith Forsey, Music by Giorgio Mororder)

When I heard those lyrics, I shocked and amazed that I had forgotten them. Then I got back to my place and put the song on my phone and put my headphones on to listen to it again while I made breakfast. But when I heard those lines again, I bawled my brains out over a plate of breakfast tacos. Luckily no one was around to see that and my pets kept their distance from me.

I’m glad I bawled my brains out over those lyrics because after that, I began listening to the song and not thinking about being bullied and teased as a little girl. I began thinking of myself as a woman who had survived all that shit and was on the road to becoming the person I have always wanted to be. And that person is one who can smile and sing along (quite badly, I will admit) to this song and yes, even move around to it. It was like I was telling myself it was okay to cry those tears in silence alone in a shitty world because if you listen to the rest of the song, you’ll understand why this is so liberating.

For many years, I glossed over a lot of those memories of my childhood and adolescence, unwilling and unable to talk about the shittier aspects of it. But because I had stayed silent about those shit-times, I had buried the good times, too. Because despite being bullied and hated as a young child, I had an imagination and through that imagination I had hope. Hope that I could live in a world where maybe I wouldn’t sing and dance, but where I would find my dreams and make them happen. I’m working towards that now and realizing I’m so much stronger than the lies all the shit-bag assholes of this world ever told me.

And being stronger than you think is also a message of the movie ‘Flashdance’ as Alex (played by the awesome Jennifer Beales) learns in the movie, too. That year in that P.E. class took that away from me, too but I’ve gotten that message back. So I want to say here to anyone reading this: you can reclaim the good and learn how to put the bad away in boxes and store them. You’ll never forget those bad memories but when you box them up, you take away their power and you remove their sharp talons from your heart and soul.

I recently found the word for this reclaiming process: healing. Healing is when you find joy and happiness that you’d lost, or had taken from you. Healing is when you find the good behind the bad. Healing is taking a deep breath, wiping away your tears, then smiling and singing along with the old songs that made you want to dance.

I don’t think I can stress the importance of healing now. For me, when this word came to my mind it was like a punch to my stomach. It knocked the wind out of me and pissed me off like pain does. But know this: healing is not rebellious and radical. And if someone sees healing as rebellious and radical, they can take that and stick it where the sun doesn’t shine. We all have wounds we need to heal from. It’s not an easy process but one that’s well worth it.

Healing is what gives me the ability to write now and bring three very important projects together. It’s slow-going at times but that’s alright. The shit-heads of this world are wanting to burn it down and not nuke us like they wanted to back in the 80’s so there’s time to write.

Most of all, there is time to heal.

Define Yourself

The day before yesterday, news came that the actor Chadwick Boseman had died at the age of forty-three after a four-year battle with colon cancer. No one other than his family knew of his cancer diagnosis and in the last four years of his life, he made eight films, including the highest-grossing superhero film, ‘Black Panther’. Knowing he was battling cancer while making movies makes me think of him as a real-life superhero, and not just because of his strength and determination to perform so well, but not to let his illness define him. Because if he had gone public with his diagnosis, he probably wouldn’t have worked at all.

Now of course there are idiots in this world who are saying he should have been able to work and be public with his illness. We don’t live in a perfect world where people with illnesses are allowed to live a life while battling their illness. We have a seriously-misguided and totally fucked-up idea that someone who is ill is supposed to be defined by that and devote all their attention to it. This is why people keep their illnesses quiet and continue to live until the end. Chadwick Boseman was one of these people, and there have been others – David Bowie and Raul Julia are two people who come to mind as both worked through their illnesses until they passed away.

Twenty-plus years ago I was with my mother throughout her seven-year battle with cancer. I saw the horror of the surgeries, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, and it was why I tried to not let her live by that alone. One time I was outside on the back patio with her as she fussed with her plants and she asked me why I was outside with her instead of off doing something on my own. I in turn asked her, “Do I have to tell you why I’m out here with you?” She said no and we went back to our conversation and her plants. There was no need to for me to say I was spending time with her because I knew I wouldn’t have the time I wanted to with her, but also I wanted to treat her as she was, not defined by her damned illness.

This morning I’m thinking of how it feels to be defined by one thing when each and every one of us is so much more. I feel like we’re put into a box and told to stay there and that if we leave that box we’re either too fragile to be outside or that we’re breaking some rule that’s not a law.

To that I say: fuck that shit.

If you define people in this world by one thing and try to box them up, I don’t give a flying-fuck how good your intentions are. Take those good intentions and go to Hell and get roasted by Satan for an eternity.

We all have our good and bad days, some more than others. But that’s called life and we don’t have to be all or one way all the damn time. I don’t have to define myself as one thing, or to act a certain way all the time. And most of all, I’m allowed to fuck up, slip up, and even crack up once in a while. This feeling that you have to be one thing all the damn time is fucking hell, and totally fucking wrong. Yet this is what drives people into silence, and trust me, keeping shit to yourself isn’t easy. Because when you do, you take a lot of shit from people who are either just thoughtless assholes or casually cruel. Yet in order not to capsize your boat and go under, you stay silent and take their shit.

Most people don’t want to talk about the hard shit in life such as mortality and realizing to the core of your soul that your time on Earth is limited. You have to deal with huge waves of regret and guilt, most of which are total bullshit.

Chadwick Boseman knew he was on borrowed time, and he also knew the huge risks he was taking in working like he did because his illness could have taken a sudden turn for the worse. Yet he made the most of the time he was given, shared his gifts with the world, and will be remembered for those performances and for the life he led. He didn’t let one thing define him, and he sure as hell didn’t let anyone put him in a box. He shined, and always will even as he is with the Ancestors now.

Don’t define yourself by one thing, and don’t let anyone put you in a box and keep you there. Stay silent if you choose to, but know this: we are all so much stronger than some motherfucking assholes may say. Don’t listen to anyone who says you are weak and fragile, and don’t let that define you.

Don’t let anyone define your or your life. Live your life to the fullest no matter how much time you have on this Earth. Be strong.

#WakandaForever

Writing Through Grief

Many years ago, before my mother died, I heard I was too comfortable talking about death.

I wasn’t comfortable at all. I just learned to talk about it because I knew it was going to happen. There was no comfort in talking about it or what would have to be done when it came. In fact, the first time my mother and father sat down with me to talk about their deaths and what would need to be done… I got up and walked out of the room. They never held that against me but for many years, I felt enormous shame and guilt that I had done that. I was maybe twenty-one or twenty-two years old (I’m a bit hazy on the exact time frame), just a scared kid really and they knew that. But I knew I was being asked to put my fears aside and prepare for what was coming and I had to learn how to control my emotions and focus on the tasks at hand.

But there was no comfort in that and hearing that hurt me deeply. I tried to write it off as thoughtless bullshit or casual cruelty. But there is no justification for either one. Whether you’re thrust into the grieving process by sudden death or slowly pulled into it by a long, slow march to death, there is never any comfort in death. Yes, death takes away suffering from the person who died, but it leaves those behind with pain that only eases over time.

In the coming weeks and months, I will be writing about my grief. In October of this year it will be eighteen years since my mother died, and it’s been nine years since my father died. Both died after long and protracted illnesses I was there for every step of the way. Yet I was not given the opportunity to talk about my feelings while they were alive as I felt like people couldn’t handle what I was going through, or didn’t want to deal with me and my feelings. So I boxed those feelings up and put them away. Over the last couple of years, I opened those boxes and went through everything I put into them.

Writing about my grief is my grief-into-purpose moment. So many of us are grieving right now: for our loved ones who’ve gone before us, for those we’re watching on that final journey, for those we know who share our pain, and for a world that is changing, and for the fear and violence in our world now.

I have heard accusations in the past that I was trying to be a martyr for talking about my feelings, or that I was being a martyr for not talking about them at all. It was like if I tried to say something, I was only doing it for martyrdom. But if I said nothing I was also doing that for martyrdom.

I have never, ever, been comfortable with attention on myself. I experienced a lot of humiliation and pain whenever I did seek attention when I was young, so much so that I tried to run and hide and only step onto a stage in my imagination. Again, maybe it was just thoughtless bullshit and casual cruelty but there is no justification for either one. I want to say this to anyone who thinks a quiet person breaks their silence for attention or worse, some sort of martyrdom: no, that’s not what’s it about at all.

I think it’s good to see and hear people talking about grief and loss. It’s good to see it move past funerals and graveside services. It’s good that people are saying I understand your pain because I have felt pain, too. And most of all, I’m glad there is a man who is inspiring people to work for a better world by saying we have to turn grief into purpose (Joe Biden, 2020).

Cruelty to me is an absence of emotion, and not acceptable in any way, shape, or form. I will not absolve it, and my way of forgiveness for it is to describe it like this: forgiveness is when I remove razor-sharp talons from my heart and soul, wash the blood off, clean and stitch my wound close, then put a bandage over it. In time, I will learn to let go of the pain, and to know that I don’t have to let myself be hurt like that again.

Grief is not a razor-sharp talon in my flesh. It’s a shock to the heart, a body-blow that knocks the wind out of you. But you can recover from that, stand up straight, and breathe through the pain. And you learn to breathe again by feeling your emotions, and putting them into words. You don’t really breathe, or live in silence. Grief does not need to be silent, not in your mind, your heart, or your soul. Words and memories will always be there, even if you box them up and put them away.

When you’re ready, you’ll open those boxes and go through everything. And you’ll find the words for your feelings. And you’ll have a shield against cruelty, against those who would harm you for speaking your truth, and your feelings. I choose to write about my grief, and to break my silence over it.

Writing For Therapy, Knowledge, and Healing

Four years ago, I set out to use writing to try and figure out why I thought and felt the way I did. This is what I call writing as therapy because I was working through mental and emotional shit to gain knowledge. I thought therapy and knowledge would be enough until this thought came into my mind: I need to heal.

Following that thought was this one:

Since when did the thought of healing become a radical and rebellious idea?

Right after I typed that out yesterday, I got up and stalked around my room with a serious urge to rant and rage. Why? Because healing meant I would be letting myself feel happy and letting go of pain and misery once and for all. That’s a radical and rebellious idea for me because all my life I have felt like I had no right to be happy, and especially no right to express my feelings of happiness.

Writing on the non-fiction triumvirate as I call it now is not easy at times. But I do gain satisfaction with myself for my writing even though it’s a lot of hard work. And that satisfaction does make me feel happy. It’s not shout-in-the-streets joy but a deep-seated feeling of happiness from doing what I want to do. Yet why does writing the word ‘happy’ itself and thinking about feeling it hurt so much?

The answer to that last question is a long and complicated story with a lot of chapters. But now that I know the end of that story, I can write it. Because to heal is to let go of what’s hurt you and held you back. My fear behind this is that someone won’t like that I’m moving on, feeling the way I do, and most of all, expressing those feelings. My first instinct used to be to retreat, and my newer instinct is to rant and rage on the page here. Now I know I don’t have to retreat, or rant and rage. I just need to write, to heal, and be happy.

But yesterday I also wrote this: I’m not responsible for someone else’s feelings, especially if I’m not doing anything wrong. I will tell myself this now: just because someone has come at me in the past with either raging bullshit or passive-aggressive good-intentions doesn’t mean I have to take that shit any more. Or be scared that I can’t deal with it.

Healing is telling myself I can do something, and that I’m a lot stronger than I have ever realized before in my life. And that writing, Uber driving, sleeping, watching stuff on my laptop, listening to music, or maybe someday having some sort of social life is not out of the realm of possibility for me. That old fears are not my present anymore. I know I can work through the times where I want to rant and rage, or run and hide. Working through those rant-and-rage or run-and-hide moments is what led to this piece now, which I am forever grateful for.

Four years ago, I had no idea what my journey would lead to. But then no one else would have known either. I’m glad I have reached the point I’m at now where I can begin to embrace healing. Healing is not a radical and rebellious idea to me now. It’s not just a need, but something I want to do.

I know we live in some seriously fucked-up times right now. But I also know this: the future isn’t written. We write it in the present. As a writer myself, I write it every time I sit down and put words onto a page. That’s a hard realization because looking at a blank slate and thinking what could go wrong is scary as hell. And it’s not easy to think of what can go right either because of the unknown. Hope to me is accepting that things can work out not just by thinking about it, but by doing something about it.

My ‘doing something about it’ is writing. And publishing here to start with.

And most of all, I want every reader here to know the most important thing I’ve learned over the last four years:

You have every right to your thoughts and feelings no matter what they are, good, bad, ugly, or anything in between. And you have every right to deal with them in whatever way you choose to.

And in my case, that includes writing about them.