The Best Dating App Questions

I’m currently not a dating app user and last posted on a dating app over ten years ago. I quickly realized they weren’t for me but I know many people use them and this morning I came up with what I think might be the best question to put on a dating app:

How do you handle your date and or significant other talking to other people in a social setting like at an event or a party, especially when they’re talking with someone of the opposite gender?

This question came to me because last night I picked up a couple from the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo (I’m an Uber driver here in San Antonio) and yes, they were drunk (which they admitted to me) but as the old saying goes, alcohol brings out the truth. With these two, it made me want to message the young lady (she had just turned twenty-one and the guy said he was a millennial so I’m thinking there was a bit of an age difference here) and tell her to dump this sorry loser’s ass. Why? Because of the way he practically interrogated her because she talked to this guy and girl they were seated next to. The loser-jerk kept telling her the guy was hitting on her and so on. The young lady said something very telling in reply to this loser jerk in that she was conflict-adverse and just trying to be nice.

There’s a quote from the author Margaret Attwood (she wrote ‘The Handmaid’s Tale): “Men are afraid women will reject them. Women are afraid men will kill them.”

And before I go any further here I want to say this:

I’m not saying all men are insensitive assholes, and I’m not going to address women who are insecure and jealous because that’s not the topic of conversation here so if you want to come at me with these bullshit arguments, I’m not going to tolerate that bullshit at all.

Now, back to the situation last night:

Another thing that really bothered me about this couple was how he kept telling her not to do things, like laugh too much or just talk about anything he didn’t want to talk about. Very controlling and domineering, acting like he knew better and that she was just being drunk and stupid. I will say most drunk people these days are borderline jerks because a lot of shitty behavior is exposed like this. And I know controlling and domineering behavior is rooted in deeply-buried insecurity and emotional issues, so I think a second question for any potential dating app or relationships in general is this:

Have you worked on your emotional issues and shit?

Because another thing I want to say when people are being irrational and insecure is work on your own shit!

A good number of people in this world have what I would call borderline-shit social skills and can’t read a room very well. Most people can’t really interpret social cues nearly as well as they think they can and because of that, people feel like they’re walking on eggshells, especially women. Because I was wondering how many women who are called ‘flirty’ are that way in order to not be accused of being a bitch if they don’t want to talk to someone, especially a man? Quite a few, I bet. I bet a lot of women subconsciously are hyper-vigilant around men because of bad experiences. It’s a damned if you, damned if you don’t kind of thing and that is complete and total fucking bullshit. No one should feel like they have to be a certain way or be hyper-vigilant around people just because they’ve had to deal with so many insecure assholes in their past (and present).

Now some naysayers have said social media has eroded people’s in-person social skills to the crap we’re dealing with now and I’m calling bullshit on that. People’s social skills were just as fucked up before the advent of social media and the internet because I remember life before the internet quite well. Online you can create a persona and craft your responses very carefully if you choose to or let your guard down completely and be good or bad.

As the great author Maya Angelou once said: “When people show you what they’re like, believe them.”

So, for me, if someone shows me they’re an insecure douche-canoe, I’m not going to write that off to alcohol or anything else. It’s going to be a neon-sign warning that I’m going to heed. And if some moron wants to come at me and say my standards are too high and I’ll end up all alone then good for me.

If dating apps allowed profanity in questions (which I’m not sure if they do or not) I’d put this piece into one question:

Have you worked on your emotional shit and if so, do you know how not to act like an insecure douche-canoe asshole in public or private?

Breaking Radio Silence – From You’re Not Too Bad to You Are Good Enough

In May 2014, I turned forty and like a lot of women I began to think about where I was at in and where I’d been. And at that time a thought came to me:

You’re not so bad.

That thought came from the surface of my life at that time: a decent-paying job I hadn’t learned how to hate yet, a nice little apartment, a car I think was paid off (or close to being paid off), great pets, time to piddle around with my writing, and books to read. The reason that simple statement, ‘you’re not so bad’ resonated with me so well back then was for so many years I felt like a terrible person. I felt like that no matter how much good I did, any time I made a mistake that single mistake no matter how unintentional it was wiped out all that good. That feeling came from dealing with people treating me like shit or flat-out ignoring me in my twenties when I was busting my ass trying to care of everyone else and have a tiny bit of time for myself. By the end of my twenties, I internalized so much awful shit it was amazing I was able to establish some semblance of life for myself in my thirties so that by forty I didn’t look so bad.

In the fall of 2016, I sat down and started the process of asking questions of myself to try and figure out why I thought and felt the way I did in order to make better decisions. As I’ve said before, healing was not on my mind back then because I didn’t think that was possible. But now I’ve begun to see the healing process truly began for me in May 2014 when I told myself for the first time I wasn’t such a bad person. Since then I’ve told myself I’m as flawed and fucked up as anyone else, but deep down, I know I’m not a bad person.

Why would someone feel like they’re a bad person, like they’re broken or damaged beyond repair? My answer is that I internalized all the wrong things about myself and not enough of the good things as those good things seemed few and far between. I’d been told in the past I came off like a self-sacrificing attention-seeking martyr though I think that was just a bullshit-excuse people used to project their shit onto me instead of dealing with it on their own. But those awful words and lies were razor-sharp talons that were sunk into the depths of my mind, my heart, and my soul and where the wounds and breaks came from.

In the last seven years I’ve been removing those talons one by one, a process that is very slow and painful at times. Once a talon is removed I burn it to ash and sweep that ash away, then I clean and stitch the wound closed and put a bandage over it. But I still pull splinters out and I’ll be doing that for the rest of my life.

For so long, I’ve always felt like a failure, like I didn’t have it in me to fully live my life. But I’m not a failure for internalizing shit in order to survive the hell I’ve been through in the past. The human mind internalizes things it hears enough and the experiences that accompany those shitty thoughts. But like I said yesterday, you can change that narrative, you can change the what your mind has internalized. It’s not an easy process but one that is definitely worth going through.

Saying ‘you are good enough’ is not false-positivity either. It’s not saying everything will be hunky-dory and fixed with a single snap. Anyone who buys into that bullshit is an idiot and an asshole for pushing it onto others. Telling yourself ‘you are good enough’ is just the beginning because if you just cover up the hard stuff with a façade made of lies in an attempt to appease someone, trust me that façade will come down very hard and in a lot of pieces. Since 2018, I’ve been picking up those pieces and working to build something better and stronger.

As the great singer Lizzo sings so beautifully, ‘truth hurts’, I also know the truth can set you free. Accepting the truth and refusing to back down from it means you can remove the talons that need to be removed from your mind, your heart, and your soul. And yes, that won’t be popular but life isn’t a popularity contest. You can’t, and you sure as hell don’t need to live your life to suit someone else’s narrative of you when that narrative isn’t good for you.

Looking back at May 2014, I didn’t realize how much a single thought could change me but I’m glad it came to me. And I’m glad it’s with me now and for the rest of my life as this: you are good enough.

Behind the Story – Changing the Narrative to Full-Throttle

For quite some time now, I’ve been trying to fully understand why I have never gone full-throttle on my writing. I’ve done a lot of question-and-answer sessions with myself over this and found a lot of answers as to why I think and feel the way I do. But even after finding those answers, every time I stepped up to the throttle to write, I always backed down. I backed down whenever some small problem came up, or when my anxiety kicked up inside my head and made me go into crisis-mode. I always felt like whenever a problem came up, no matter how big or small, or when my anxiety kicked in and gave me something to think about, I had to divert all my energy to deal with that crisis, real or imagined.

What this constant crisis-mode way of thinking did to me was internalize a message that I would never be good enough to pursue anything. That no matter what I did or didn’t do, someone wasn’t going to like it and they were going to let me know that. And in the past, there were people who created shit-storms for me to deal with because they thought I was going to cut and run and leave them to handle the enormous responsibilities I had taken on in my twenties and thirties. That in turn led me to construct a façade of a life in my late thirties-early forties of a quaint little life I thought would keep people off my ass. But facades that are built on fear and lies will crumble as mine did. In the years since that crumbling down, I’ve been working on picking up the pieces and trying to move on.

A short while back I read a piece about how people construct narratives in their minds, how they tell stories about thoughts and feelings and events in order to cope and try and deal with them. They create a narrative that might not be the best one, one that’s based on fear and trying not to draw any negative attention. But in that same piece it also said that people could change their narrative for the better. That phrase, ‘change the narrative’, has been in my head ever since as I realize that’s I’ve been trying to do without having a way to describe it until now. That phrase was followed by this one, “I am good enough.”

I say I’m good enough because that’s my way of saying I’m just as flawed and fucked up as anyone else but I know I’m a good person. I know I have tried to live my life without hatred, cruelty, or malice towards others. But for many years, I felt like I was the bad guy for wanting to pursue my writing and other goals for myself. And that was because there were people who pushed shame and guilt onto me whenever I stood up to their hateful, insensitive bullshit and fought back against their attempts to gaslight me into changing my story to suit their selfish needs. It’s been a very long time since I’ve dealt with that kind of shit and frankly, I don’t miss it at all. The possibility always exists but I have a new response to it, a response that is as rude and crude as I can make it: “Fuck all the way off.”

Fuck all the way off means I’m not going to deal with any shame or guilt that’s not necessary, nor will I allow anyone who tries to gaslight into changing my narrative to serve their selfish entitled bullshit life. And I honestly don’t give a fucking shit as to why people are selfish and entitled and justify hatred and cruelty towards others. Insensitivity is not an excuse either and that’s all I will say at this point about people who might be getting their back up reading this, along with keep reading. 😊  

For anyone who has ever held themselves back, you can change your narrative and move forward. You don’t have to go into full-on crisis-mode every time something happens or your anxiety kicks in and tries to divert your focus. And if someone gets wind of that and tries to pull some shit to keep you diverted, tell them to fuck all the way off.

The only responsibility I have right now first and foremost is to myself. I have to put in forty to sixty hours a week on the road to generate income. But the rest of my time is mine to do with as I see fit. And it’s not to be spent in constant crisis-mode or worrying about someone crawling out of the sewer to spew their shit at me. I’m changing that narrative because I know I’m good enough to make it possible.

I recently updated my homepage here on my website to showcase everything I’m putting up here. It’s a work-in-progress like life itself and where I’ll showcase my writing and other creative projects. Yes, the goal is to generate income off them and if you’ve got anything that can help me and want to share it with me, please let  me know and thank you.  

Today is where I say this:

Change your narrative because you’re good enough to succeed at it.

And if someone reading this doesn’t like that, they can fuck all the way off.

Now I will add here there is a lot more to this than I’m saying but that’s what you’ll read about in the book, ‘Behind the Story’ because my relationship with writing is complicated.

Stand or Fall – It Starts With the Books


When the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, one of the first things they did was start banning and burning books.

Ninety years later, the state of Florida is banning and removing books from classrooms and school libraries until they can be vetted by state-sponsored censors.

In other parts of the United States, there are laws being proposed in state legislatures like Florida’s and movements by right-wing Nazis here in this country all of whom vote Republican and all the legislation is sponsored by the Republican party. Therefore to me, the Republican Party is the American Nazi Party.

When I was a kid going to school in the 70’s/80’s/90’s the biggest things books were targeted for:

Bad language: I think this was the ultimate irony that reading curse words would corrupt us when we knew all the bad words by the time we started kindergarten thanks to parents who swore like crazy and the R-rated movies we watched.

Sex: Holy shit! If there was any hint of sexual relations and we read it we were all going to die!!!

Homosexuality: Any hint of that and we would all turn gay. Yes, this was the argument back then and there was no discussion of transgender issues (the word ‘transgender’ wasn’t in the lexicon back then).

Back then, if you were a white kid (like me) and you read books on Black history or the history and culture of other races and ethnicities, you were told that you were trying to be black (or insert other race/ethnicity here).

I look back at those days and think, how quaint. Because back then we just cranked up our headphones and listened to heavy metal, gangster rap, and read whatever the hell we wanted to. We knew the adults in power really didn’t give a shit about us past a certain point and courtesy of Rage Against the Machine, we knew the police were the bulls on parade and would do nothing to protect us.

Today books are banned for the following reasons:

Homosexuality and Transgender experiences: the bullshit-argument is that kids reading books with these topics are being ‘groomed’ by pedophiles. No, the pedophiles are the Christian ministers and police officers being arrested daily for being the pedophiles and groomers they rail against.

Black History and Other History and Stories that Aren’t White-Nazism: The bullshit-argument is that white kids will feel enormous shame and guilt reading about slavery and other oppression. I’ve actually had this told to my face and to that I say this: BULLSHIT! If you are a white person and reading about oppression and the true history of races and ethnicities other than yours makes you feel shame and guilt, you need to sit down, shut the fuck up, and ask yourself why.

I’ve read that many young people today (those being under 25) feel like the powers-that-be don’t really give a shit about them. They feel like these motherfuckers will ban their ban their books but flood the streets with guns and ammunition through mass production and permit-less gun ownership. They know law enforcement will stand outside their schools and let them be shot to death like they did in Uvalde and Parkland, Florida (Florida just passed a permit-less gun law this week). And they’re right about the American Nazi Party, aka the Republican Party. So yes, they vote Democrat and organize against the American Nazi Party and that’s really freaking these Nazis out which is why they’re banning books and putting more guns on the street.

At this point, if you’re reading this and have voted Republican and are probably really pissed off at me for calling Republicans Nazis, ask yourself why you can justify guns over books. Ask yourself you have to live in a state of perpetual anger and fear while these motherfuckers get richer every day and you get poorer every day? Because in the end, it’s all about the grift as lefties like me say. And these grifters will use any ideological-bullshit argument to maintain their power and wealth and they will destroy everyone and everything if they have to before they let that go.

At this point, if you think I’m being way too over-the-top here, let’s go back ninety years to Nazi Germany. Their book banning-burning led to mass murder that created a new word for the world: genocide. And if the Nazis had developed the nuclear bomb, they would have bombed the world into oblivion as they had the means to deliver those deadly payloads courtesy of the V1-V2 rockets and long-range bomber they have developed. Today, the threat of nuclear war is still around courtesy of Russian President Vladimir Putin (a really big donor to the Republican Party) but the real threat is the embrace of Nazi ideals of racial purity and hatred for anything other than white, heterosexual, and Christian beliefs here in this country.

I’m going to close out with an excerpt from an article that is definitely worth a read as it contains this quote which sums up the American Nazi Party intentions without the profanity I’m fond of:

But there’s an even deeper reason that book bans are such a mainstay of authoritarian politics, even as the ideas being suppressed shift from regime to regime. Authoritarians hate reading for the same reason they hate sex, or any private behavior that allows people to experience thoughts and feelings outside of the authoritarian’s control. Learning to sit quietly and read by yourself is, for most people, the first step towards being able to sit with your own thoughts. It’s crucial for learning to think for yourself. There’s a reason most teachers like to have a wide array of books on hand, giving kids the freedom to read on their own. It’s how kids develop other skills, like critical thinking and creativity. (link here for the complete article)

Breaking Radio Silence – My Different Experience

Recently, I said out loud that I had a different experience at the same time as someone else. In the past, I would have immediately tried to walk that back, or downplay it, or worse, spin it until I turned it into a lie instead of told the truth of I’d really done. Now there was no discussion as to why this was and I didn’t push for it but the fact that I said it out loud and didn’t walk it back meant a lot to me. It made me feel like I’m ready yet again to write my book, ‘Breaking Radio Silence’.

Ever since I started this project, I’ve known I have had different experiences from most people, vastly different experiences at times. It’s taken me a long time to accept that and not hate myself for it, or be resentful and hateful towards other people for their experiences that were different than mine. But I want to say this right here and now:

I’m not sharing my experiences as some sort of act of revenge or any bullshit like that. I’m not doing it to shame or guilt-trip anyone who has different experiences from mine. And I’m not doing it to be an attention-seeking martyr. If someone ever tells me that I’m just an attention-seeking martyr, I’ll tell them to fuck off before the ‘ask yourself why’ bit I’m fond of and that’s because the attention-seeking martyr bit is a complete and total lie that is designed just to hurt and silence people. If you have difficulty accepting someone’s experiences are different than your own and you lash out, shut your mouth and ask yourself why you feel that way. Because lashing out or trying to shame or guilt-trip someone or turn the conversation to you and kick the other person’s side to the curb is not right. This happened to me a lot and therefore I was silent more often than not. Not anymore…

All my life I’ve been told I’m different, and the message behind that wasn’t always the best. In fact, I’d say it was pretty shitty at times. I will freely admit here there have been times in my life when I’ve been angry at people and resentful of their experiences that I wanted to experience, too, and yes, I have felt hatred at people who were judgmental and critical of me when I wasn’t doing anything wrong. But I know anger, resentment, and hatred are poisons of the mind, heart, and soul, and if you let those poisons seep in deep enough they could kill the things that truly matter: compassion, empathy, and conscience. I have spent a lot of time in the past few years learning to work through dark feelings like anger, hatred, and resentment and instead, embrace compassion, empathy, and conscience. Anger is something I’ll always feel but I know that it has to be controlled and managed.

For a long time, I thought my experiences, no matter if they were different or not, didn’t matter. I had no confidence in my knowledge and because of that, I had no confidence in myself and my abilities. This was horribly taken advantage of eleven years ago this month when I returned to a company I worked for previously and had only been away from for just a little over one year. I knew there had been changes in the year I’d been away, but the basic systems and protocols hadn’t. In training class, I tried to help my classmates who were all totally new to this. One day, my instructor took me aside for a one-on-one meeting and basically raked my ass over the coals and told me to keep my mouth shut. I was shocked, hurt, and I said nothing other than I would do what she told me to, which was just keep my mouth shut. A little while later, one of my classmates asked me why I was so silent in class and not sharing my knowledge to help and I told him I’d been told by our instructor not to do that. I asked him to stay silent about that and I apologized for not being helpful to him.

At that time, like I’d always done before and after that, I felt enormous shame and guilt because I felt like I had done the wrong thing in sharing my knowledge and experience. Even though my intentions were always good ones, to just help people, I’d say eight of ten times it inevitably didn’t go well. Now I realize that people like my instructor, were just very insecure and lacked confidence in themselves and their abilities and had turned into well-meaning (not a good thing) egocentric asshole. s

Now there is a silver-lining to the story I just shared because in 2013 I left that job and my first instructor at the new job was someone I had a good feeling about. But I stayed quiet and kept to myself until she took me aside one day and asked me why I was silent. I told her of my previous experience of being raked over and ripped up by my previous instructor at my previous job and she was floored. The first thing she told me was that she didn’t feel that way at all about me. She did admit that she was a bit worried about me when she saw my resume and experience, that I’d be egocentric but when she saw I wasn’t, she asked me to help her. Later on, she become one of the best managers I ever worked with and though I’ve lost contact with her, if she ever reached out to me for a favor, she’s got one coming. Because of her, a seed was planted inside my mind (though I didn’t realize at the time), that my knowledge and experience mattered, something I’m forever grateful for.

So the takeaway here is this: your experience and knowledge matter even if they’re different from someone else’s, which will always be the case 99.9% of the time. Also, don’t feel anger and resentment towards other people whose experiences were different than yours, like if they were having the time of their lives and you weren’t. Most of all, don’t project your shame or guilt over your experiences to someone else. Deal with that shame and guilt on your own.

Ask Yourself Why

If you’re a regular reader of mine, or if you’re here for the first time, I want to explain why I say this quite often:

Ask yourself why you think and feel the way you do and keep asking until you find all the answers you can, though I will warn you, you might not like the answers you find. And sooner or later you will have to deal with them.

I usually say this when I’m talking about bad human behavior, like people who are cruel, hateful, or insensitive, people who rationalize alienation and ostracization when that’s not needed but simply because they can. I came up with this saying ‘Ask yourself why…’ to stop myself from ranting and raving and saying things I would regret. Because nothing is accomplished from ranting at someone and calling them names and such, even in the heat of anger. I know it sure as hell didn’t work on me other than making me feel like shit about myself when I didn’t do anything wrong.

But I also tell myself ‘ask yourself why…’ a lot, too. In fact, it started with me asking myself why I thought and felt the way I did. I started doing that in order to learn why I thought and felt the way I did in order to learn how to make better decisions in the future. Yes, it’s turned me upside-down and inside-out, but it was worth it. It helps me rein in anger and rage and also control pain and responses that don’t work well.

Most of all, it reminds me and anyone else reading my words that I can’t change anyone’s mind or way of thinking and feeling. Or as I also say, I can’t pull someone’s head out of their ass for them. Yet this also brings me to a thought I’ve been dancing around for some time, one that’s still a bit hard to deal with: I’m not responsible for someone’s reaction to me telling them my experience of a certain time was different from theirs and not a good one at that. That’s not harsh or mean because I am working my ass off not to engage in blaming other people for making me feel bad when I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I’m working my ass off to understand why I reacted and still react the way I do to things that have been said, or are said now. This is why I tell myself the ‘ask yourself why…’ bit almost on a daily basis.

Another thought that comes into my mind every so often is this: maybe it would have been easier to stay silent, to stay the way I was: agreeable, appeasing, willing to try and ease and just bury my own feelings. But I can’t go back to that, and I don’t want to because being silent and appeasing did not stop people from projecting their own negative feelings onto me or lashing out at me. And this is because I have come to realize and accept I’m not responsible for someone else’s feelings past a certain point. I’m responsible for my words and actions, and I’m responsible for taking responsibility for my mistakes and doing everything I can to repair the damage and learn from them. Most of all, I have learned that when I put words onto emotions and give voice to my thoughts then I can work through those thoughts and feelings and heal.

At this point, I’m sure there may be a reader here who wants to ask me: what if someone told me they had a different experience of a time we both lived through and their experience wasn’t a good one? I would say to that person I understand and accept their experience was different from mine and would offer a space for them to talk about it. This is in turn leads to another question I have been wrestling with for quite some time: would I be willing to listen to someone tell me why they lashed out at me and said cruel and hurtful things to me, or tried to alienate me from others and ostracize me for things that weren’t wrong?

When I first heard that question in my mind my answer was no because I didn’t feel like any explanation would change what I went through and have worked through since. But now I understand it would give me insight into why I reacted the way I did and also show me where I made mistakes back then. But I would only listen if someone didn’t speak in the way they did back then, with malice and hatred, or if they tried to gaslight me into questioning or denying the truth of my experience and feelings. Or as I like to put it, if someone has done the work and wants to talk about that then I would listen if given the opportunity. Because I do believe I do believe I have a right to say that something is hurtful or cruel and without truth and to stand on that.

I felt like simply saying out loud my experience was different and not good was a huge break in my silence. Even though I didn’t elaborate on it any further, I didn’t walk it back either. And now I realize I’m ready to talk about it and listen to others talk about their experiences.

In the time of the twelfth Doctor on the television show, ‘Doctor Who’, there was a line that was said many times: “Silence will fall when the question is answered.” (written by Stephen Moffat).

For me, I would say silence is broken when many questions are answered.  

MLK Day 2023 – The Time Is Now

I remember when the holiday commemorating the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was created in the 1980’s and I will tell you right here and now, there was considerable opposition to it. The state of Arizona was the last holdout on the holiday and there were boycotts by artists and protests. Why? Because Dr. King was not popular in his lifetime. And not so much because of his advocacy for civil rights and fighting racism, but because he wouldn’t back down.

In his letter from the Birmingham jail, Dr. King wrote of being told to wait for the right time and Dr. King said, in essence, the time is now. Anyone who says to wait when there is a need for change needs to ask themselves why. And to anyone who says that to me directly I will ask: when will the time be right?

There is no ‘right’ time, or ‘perfect’ time for change. If things were right and just, then there wouldn’t be a need for change. The Civil Rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s was born from decades of segregation, and of pain and blood. It was born from a people denied their basic fundamental human rights and Dr. King led a movement based on non-violent resistance as advocated by Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, and many others. And despite what watered-down textbooks and other sources will say, it was not a popular movement. People were beaten and murdered, including women and children.

In this year of our Lord 2023, there is a movement by right-wing Republicans to bury this history and not teach simply because they say it will make white people uncomfortable.

To that I will say: your discomfort in response to pain and oppression means NOTHING.

No one is blaming white people, or individuals for past hatred and oppression. But each and every person in this country has been exposed to and taught attitudes of hatred and racism. In the last few years, I’ve begun to examine what I was taught and exposed to and yes, it’s painful as hell to know I was silent in the face of most of that. But I’m breaking my silence over that like so many others are now and like Dr. King and all the other Civil Rights activists did back in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Another reason Dr. King was not popular in his lifetime was his opposition to the Vietnam War. In 1964, Dr. King began a friendship with the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn. Thich Nhat Hahn had been exiled from his home country of Vietnam for speaking out and advocating non-violent resistance against the South Vietnamese government’s brutal oppression and violence. I believe this friendship showed the world that the cause of non-violence isn’t limited to just your home country. That if we are to truly live in peace and harmony with each other we must speak out whenever we can. Thich Nhan Hahn told Dr. King Buddhists considered him a ‘bodhisattva’, an enlightened one. To be enlightened means you see how everything is connected and you nurture those connections in peace and love.

In recent years, I’ve learned a lot about Dr. King’s teachings and advocacy not just for Civil Rights and against the Vietnam War, but also his advocacy against poverty and economic injustice. He talked about creating the ‘Beloved Community’, a community in which all people were welcomed to the same table with the same opportunities given to others already at the table while being accepted as they were. But this is not a popular idea even today and why is that?

Because like in the past, there are people who are opposed to this who say that by welcoming all to the table that those people will take from those already seated. That’s not true in any way, shape, or form. There is no need to take more than you need or to take from someone simply because they are not like you. Suffering is NOT noble or right in any way, shape, or form. Suffering does not build character or resiliency. Instead, it creates trauma that echoes through the generations and takes time to heal. And that trauma can’t be healed if a person is suffering from oppression, poverty, or violence.

Non-violent resistance means you will not take up arms against your oppressors, but you will not remain silent in the face of that oppression either. This is why I say to those who push back in fear or ignorance against change for the better: ask yourself why you think and feel the way you do and keep asking until you find all the answers you can, though I will give warning that you might not like the answers you find, and sooner or later you will have to deal with them. No one can change another person, or as I like to say, no one can pull someone’s head out of their ass for them. I do believe people can change for the better and I will welcome those who do sincerely change and accept responsibility for their words and actions in the past.

The time for change is always now, and forever.

For more on the friendship between Dr. King and Thich Nhat Hahn, you can read this wonderful and moving piece by Jay Kuo HERE

Writing as an Act of Defiance

WARNING: My writing can be sarcastic, profane, irreverent, wise-cracking, and somewhat serious, sometimes all in the same paragraph.

This blog entry is prompted by a question I have asked myself a lot over the years:

Why can’t I write when my stress and anxiety levels go up and come up hard?

The answer to this question comes from something I learned very early on about women writers: we’re really good at keeping our writing out of sight and sound from people in our lives.

From Jane Austen hiding her manuscripts under a desk blotter in the sitting room anyone someone came over, to Margaret Mitchell and Danielle Steele writing in their laundry rooms with their typewriters on top of the washing machine, to Nora Roberts and Jackie Collins writing on spiral notebooks in the carpool line waiting to pick up their kids, and to countless romance writers I knew and read about who would get up early or write after everyone had gone to bed… I learned that my writing was something I had to keep out of sight and sound.


Because women, whether they’re married or single (like me and Jane Austen), take on a lot of responsibilities and the busybody-assholes as I will now refer to them make sure that if it looks like we might be thinking about slacking off on those responsibilities (which we would never have done), they made sure to let us know we were the bad guys for wanting to have some sliver of a life for ourselves. In my twenties when I was a caregiver living at home, I felt like I was under constant scrutiny and that if I stepped out of line enough the shit would have hit the fan.

I’ve written here about how my parents asked me to stay silent in the face of busybody-assholes trying their dead-level best to butt into my life and shit all over me. I understood why they asked me to do that but thinking about that now I feel like they denied me something I should have been able to do, and that was to stand up for myself. I should have been able to tell people who wanted to butt their noses into my life and try and run it for me this:

Back off and deal with your own fucking shit.

Because I feel like people who butt their noses into other people’s lives and try to dictate how other people should live are trying to avoid dealing with their own lives and yes, their own shit. And no, I’m not being a bitch here for saying that even if someone reading this may be feeling more than a little butt-hurt. I say this because I was doing my dead-level best back then like I do now to stay out of everyone’s life and not tell anyone how to live their life. And most of all, I’ve been working my ass off to deal with my own shit as I’m fond of calling it.

No, this is not an attention-grab or any bullshit like that. This is for anyone who has ever felt like they’ve had to hide a part of their lives from everyone around them.

I look back now and feel like if I had kept writing through the worst of the shit-storms I went through in my twenties and thirties, I wouldn’t have had near the amount of shit to work through, and I wouldn’t have had to box up so much crap from back then to deal with now. I look back and think I should have been able to keep writing through all that and if anyone had found out and said something to me I should have had the freedom to tell them to back off. But I was not defiant back then like I am now. Back then I was terrified I’d set off a shit-storm if I pushed back or gave anyone anything they could use against me, and yes that would have included any writing like a journal or diary that I could have used as a therapy source back then.

Prince Harry recently said his family’s motto was always, “Never complain, never explain.” I think that motto is for tons of people and families around the world and yes, I will apply it to my own. Because I’ve been told to my face in the past not to complain, that I had NOTHING to complain about even though in reality I wasn’t complaining so much as trying to explain myself. And that’s what I’m doing now: explaining and not complaining. To me, complaining is running your mouth and expecting people to go along with your high-handed bullshit and if they push back then they’re the bad guys. Explaining is talking things out and trying to find understanding in how you think and feel.

Writing is my way of explaining and trying to find answers to questions about why I think and feel the way I do. I think writing is about finding truth and that’s not a popular thing with some people in this world. Because if your truth doesn’t align perfectly with theirs then that’s when the shit could hit the fan.

To any writer reading this who feels like you can’t write, or shouldn’t write when your stress and anxiety levels skyrocket and things come at you fast and hard: I understand your feelings and it’s okay to have them. But you don’t have to give in to them either. And if there are people in your life who feel like they can dictate when you write or should write or any bullshit like that, feel free to use my rude-and-crude response: back off and go deal with your own fucking shit.

For me, luckily I’m working in a vacuum and that means as of right now I’m not getting any direct communication telling me I’m an asshole, bitch, or that I should just shut the fuck up. And every time I think of this, I hear my father’s voice in my head telling me that’s one less piece of bullshit I have to deal with and to keep doing what I want to do with my life. The old man is right as always and I would do well to listen to him as I think other writers should, too.

The (slightly) Defiant Reason I Drive an Uber

Image created by Deborah Ratliff

Whenever I’m asked why I started driving an Uber I always say it’s because I needed a job and I wasn’t able to get anything else going at the time. And that is true as it was a financial need that drove me to sign up for Uber.

When I first signed up for Uber, there were no tutorials or instructions on how to use the app or any instruction on what to do if there was a problem other than solve it on your own (no live support back then). But I’m a problem solver and I’m pretty good at figuring out stuff so these weren’t problems for me. What I quickly discovered was how I liked not dealing with asshole-human managers and being able to set my own hours. Now the money does fluctuate, and sometimes it really fluctuates hard. Not long after I first started driving, Uber got kicked out of Austin (they got into it with the city of Austin over the issue of background checks though after a couple of months the state legislature stepped in and got the city of Austin and Uber to kiss and make up). But that influx of drivers drove demand pretty low and I seriously questioned my choice of gig-company yet I stayed with it. That was my first lesson in how to ride out a downturn (which happens quite often as this business is highly-subject to supply and demand).

Where the act of defiance comes into play is this: if my father was alive he would have told me ‘no, no, and no’ in taking on this job. My late father was terribly over-protective of me and thought I should work a nice office job or hopefully make it as a writer so I could live and work in a nice little house somewhere. He would have told me it was too dangerous unless I carried a gun (which is prohibited under Uber driver rules) or if I did defy him he would tell me to only work during daylight hours or something like that.

Yes, I’ve driven in parts of town that a lot of people wouldn’t consider ‘nice’ or ‘safe’ though I’ve never, ever had any trouble. I’ve just dropped people off then went into ‘unavailable’ status and headed out, or as I like to say, I don’t stick around for autographs. Also, I don’t work past midnight unless I’ve picked up someone from the airport and nine times out of ten these people nap in the backseat on their way home because they’ve been traveling all day. I have done late-night 2am bar pickups but drunks haven’t been fun since covid so I’ve taken myself out of at the risk-factor of mean-ass behavior and the potential for puke (luckily, no one has ever puked in my car).

All my life, or at least until the last few years since my dad died, I did think I was fragile and not able to go anywhere near a potentially ‘rough’ place. But I’m going to talk about something here I’ve never really talked about before because there are potential ‘risky’ places and situations everywhere.

I worked in call-centers for the better part of seventeen years and those places could be soul-sucking pressure cookers. In one of them, rumors began to go around that security was going to start searching cars and bags at the entrance and desks for weapons. We began to talk about what to do if someone walked in the place and started shooting, always making a note of exits and where to hide. Another place I worked we used to talk about how security was a useless joke and how easy it would be for someone to walk in and start shooting and how the escape routes and hiding places sucked. So, there were times when I feared for my safety in these places.

The closest I ever came to getting really nervous about my safety in my Uber was in the summer of 2020 one weekend when these right-wing gun-toting bozos paraded around Alamo Plaza with guns and got a fucking police escort instead of being hauled off. I was boxed in by traffic and I just prayed these assholes wouldn’t lock and load and start shooting. I saw a phalanx of riot police that day and yes, I was scared fucking shitless something terrible was going to happen. The left-wing counter protestors were unarmed and peaceful and I’m glad I got to pick them up instead of the right-wing nuts.

But other than that day, I’ve never truly feared for my safety. And I can deflect and defuse people who start to act like assholes muttering shit to me or hitting on me though I can count the number of assholes who have done that and still have fingers and toes left over. The incredibly-vast majority of my passengers are awesome, and I think they make the Uber gig truly worthwhile. But even after close to six years on the road, sometimes I still feel like I’m defying my late father’s over-protectiveness and other people who have tried to follow his lead.

When I’m on the road, I lock in and drive and though my mind can wander sometimes, I’ve got the thousands of hours and miles of driving experience where I can successfully do that. And I do maintain what I call ‘situational awareness’ on the road and where I’m at all times, but then I do that no matter where I’m at.

So, my take on this: be defiant in doing what you want to do but be smart about it and don’t take risks you don’t have to while you keep your shit together at all times.

Royally Breaking Your Silence

WARNING: My writing can be sarcastic, profane, irreverent, wise-cracking, and somewhat serious, sometimes all in the same paragraph.

This morning I watched the interview Prince Harry did with Anderson Cooper on ‘60 Minutes’ this past Sunday (you can watch here You Tube) and my take on what Harry is doing by giving interviews and publishing his memoire is this: he’s breaking his silence. And I am totally with him on this as there were several things he said in the interview that really showed the healing journey he’s been on, a journey I’ve been on along with a lot of other people around the world.

Prince Harry said the Royal Family’s motto has always been, “Never complain, never explain.” I think that’s a motto for a lot of families, and I feel it was something I grew up with. I felt like there was an expectation of me to be very independent and self-sufficient from a very early age and that also meant that I had to pick myself up and keep going. I internalized that people were horrified to see me cry so I tried not to. I tried not to show I was sad and hurt whenever I was because I had not been comforted when I should have been. And that lack of comfort continued on in my life and that does a shit-ton of damage to a person. For Prince Harry it meant he didn’t cry or really talk about his feelings at all and that at times he turned to adrenalin as he said in the interview when he joined the Army and served in Afghanistan in combat. He also talked about how used to drink heavily and that he did use drugs to numb out his feelings. Luckily I never drank or used drugs, but I numbed myself out with silence instead.

Harry was always called ‘the spare’ as in ‘the heir and the spare’, the heir being his older brother Prince William. And a ‘spare’ is like me being a middle female child, which means you’re the outcast in the family simply because you fill a position with a role that others define and you don’t. Growing up like that means you feel like you never really fit in and nothing you do will ever be good enough. It’s a role where you’re expected to just do what you’re told, take responsibility for others, and not step out of line. For the longest time, I felt like the world just didn’t know what to do with me and never would. But now I call bullshit on that because there is NO need at all to treat someone like an outcast simply because of some bullshit things like birth order and expectations that are supposed to go with that.

In the interview Prince Harry talks about his wife Meghan and the horrible treatment she received and that she was accused of ‘changing’ him. Harry then said without a second’s hesitation, “Well of course I changed.” In another interview with Harry, I remember how he told a story about how shortly after he and Meghan began to see each other how he tried to pick an argument with her. She stopped him by going, “Harry, what’s wrong?” He was shocked and surprised by this question and she told him, “This isn’t about me.” She realized he had misdirected anger and unresolved grief from his mother’s death. And I think what was happening also was that he was in a good place with her and therefore his mind went, okay, now you’re ready to deal with the things you locked away all those years ago when your mother died. Harry’s wife Meghan has an extraordinary gift of perception in helping him see that, and it was because of her that he began to deal with his grief and other emotions he’d silenced for so long.

Yet that wasn’t a popular decision. Between that and Megan being an outsider to the Royal Family like Harry despite him being born into the family, things weren’t going to go well for them. I give them a lot of credit for sticking with it as long as they did and for how hard they tried to communicate and make things work. Sadly, in the ’60 Minutes’ interview Harry revealed he is not on speaking terms with his father, King Charles, and his brother Prince William. Harry said how he hoped to mend those relationships but at the same he also said this, “The ball is in their court.”

I will freely admit here I have pulled back from people but in explanation I will say it’s because I took tiny steps long ago to try and make myself available to others and it didn’t go well. In the ’60 Minutes’ interview Harry said he’s told his family that if he and wife did things wrong to just be told what those things were so apologies and amends could be made if possible. But Harry says his family refuses to tell him and I think it’s because maybe he and his wife really didn’t do anything wrong, or they didn’t do things that warranted any of the horrible experiences and words they’ve been subjected to. If I’ve done something wrong, I want to know so I can take full responsibility for it and do whatever I can to make amends. But until those answers on the table, the silence will remain at least on the side of his family, and I will remain in the vacuum I’m in.

Harry has been getting a fair amount of shit in the press, especially in the British press for doing these interviews and for publishing his book. He has said he’s doing this to set the record straight and so that his family can hear his side of the story and in his own words and not shit-filtered through the Press like they choose to communicate. I’m sure he’s been told like I’ve been told in the past to just shut up and keep going, and also to just get over your shit and let it go. But that comes off like being told that your feelings and your experiences don’t mean shit. Wounds don’t disappear and the past isn’t changed or erased just because someone doesn’t want to talk about it or be with someone who’s been hurt. That’s why I think my father used to say, “Sorry doesn’t get it done.” I think an apology is meaningless without an acknowledgement and acceptance of what happened along with the damage it did and what it takes to heal from that damage and pain.

I’m breaking my silence in order to help other people do the same. Because for me, putting words onto feelings and giving voice to unspoken thoughts is what has brought me healing as it has to so many other people. Because when you find the words for your thoughts and feelings, then you learn how to deal with them and heal the wounds. And no, that’s not a popular decision with some people because it changes you and it makes you find your own way in the world. Most of all, you find happiness and peace that other people refuse to work towards in their own lives and that in turn makes them lash out in anger and insensitivity.

Writing like this hasn’t been easy for me since I renewed my commitment to writing here daily about what’s on my mind and going on in my life. But like anything else, the more you do something the better you get at it. Because like Admiral Kirk said in ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan’: “We learn by doing.”

And I believe we can start learning about ourselves and how to heal by doing the work, and breaking the silence.

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