Stand or Fall – Twenty-Eight and Silent

Yesterday I wrote about my twenty-eighth trip around the sun and how totally shitty that year was for me. Another shitty aspect of that year was how silent I was about what was going on in the world at the time. I wasn’t silent just because I was shell-shocked with grief, but because I was scared shitless to say anything that challenged the narrative being shoved down the throats of everyone in America courtesy of the Bush administration and their insane determination to invade Iraq under false pretenses. Every day they pushed for that invasion evidence came forth to show they were peddling lies. But those bastards had one big billy club in their weapons arsenal- the power of conservative media to rise up and cancel the shit out of anyone who spoke against their lies and bullshit. Yes, conservatives invented the ’cancel culture’ they scream so loudly about now.

The first public victims of cancel culture were the group now known as The Chicks (back then they were still called The Dixie Chicks). In April 2003, on tour in England lead singer Natalie Maines said she was ashamed to be from Texas, the same state President George Bush was from. Well, you would have thought she was calling for the White House to be nuked or something by the way the media firestorm exploded. Within weeks, The Chicks canceled the rest of their tour, they were banned from country-music radio, and vilified as demon witches from Hell. And all because they challenged the lies peddled by the Bush administration trying to start a war they had no business even thinking about in the first place. Back then, if you questioned anything the Bush administration did you were labeled ‘unpatriotic’ and ‘against America’ because after 9/11, the Bush administration and conservative media used 9/11 to silence criticism of their drive to go to war only to benefit government contractors and oil companies.

But voicing any criticism of the Bush administration and the drive to war in Iraq outside of a group of like-minded people would have people screaming for your head. For me back then, I was terrified if I spoke out like that it would be used against me to drive me away from my father. I was afraid people would try to turn him against me because although he wasn’t a true conservative, he did believe that the United States had the right to be the world’s policeman, something he later said to me was dead-nut wrong (and yes, I was shocked as hell by that statement because all my life I’d heard him go, ‘My country right or wrong.’). Whether or not anyone would have used my political beliefs to turn him against me and drive me out of his life didn’t matter because it was a risk I wasn’t willing to take.

Fifteen years later, things began to change for women in the spotlight as a clip of singer Taylor Swift has surfaced of her in 2018 sending out a tweet criticizing Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) for her homophobic bullshit. In the clip, Taylor is damn near terrified by what she’s about to do because she’s old enough to remember what happened to The Chicks. But Taylor sent that tweet, and she wasn’t ‘canceled’ like The Chicks were (probably because the lead monster against The Chicks, radio broadcaster from Hell Rush Limbaugh, is dead and hopefully burning in Hell for all the hate he spewed). And The Chicks recovered their career and are on a sold-out world tour as is Taylor Swift.

Yes, a part of me looks back at myself and thinks how I would’ve love to have burned it all down and told a lot of people to fuck off in the process. But I don’t completely regret my silence back then because it was because of a decision I made, a promise I made to my mother as she was dying. I promised her I would take care of my father after she died and a promise to a dying person is a huge one, but one I made with all my heart and soul and with no regrets. But my mother has been dead for twenty years and my dad has been dead for eleven years. And if they do have a problem with what I’m saying or doing with my life, they know how to bridge the divide so to speak (and they’ve done it before, but that’s a story for another time and place).

I’m not a scared, grief-stricken, shell-shocked twenty-eight-year-old kid like I was back then. As I finish my forty-eighth trip around the sun, I know I’m a tired, hurting, pissed off, middle-aged bitch who is not afraid of saying ‘fuck off’ or even burning what’s left of my life to the ground. To be honest, I don’t have much left other than my voice here. I live very simply and very contently on my own, but I know I live with the courage of my convictions. To me, conservative ideology and those who believe in it don’t have that conviction because conservative ideology runs on fear: weaponized fear that is turned into anger and hatred against others, and fear to keep those who do see through the lies and bullshit in line.

The real villains in this world aren’t feminists, minorities, gays and lesbians, transgendered people, drag queens, or radical activists. The real villains are neo-Nazis, greedy bastards who will bleed this world dry just to line their pockets, and anyone who lives their life without conscience or empathy. Those are the people I will speak out against without any fear now.

Because like The Chicks sing, I’m not ready to make nice.

Dirty Thoughts and Stories – Romance Is NOT Porn

Two days ago, a news story surfaced from the murky dreck that is the state of Florida head-lining the continued banning of books there. This past week eight novels by BEST-SELLING Romance novelist Nora Roberts were removed from a high school library from a complaint made by ONE member of the Republican Bitch Squad, also known as the hate group Moms for Liberty.

First, here’s a couple of key definitions:

Pornography is strictly about sexual titillation and sexual arousal, no plot or character development at all.

Romance novels are about people (people of all genders and races) falling in love and navigating relationships to a healthy and hopeful conclusion (the happily ever after or happy for now)

For thirty-plus years I’ve been reading and writing romance and yes, I’ve heard all the shit slung at it including the ‘it’s all porn’ label. Yes, there are romance novels that do depict sex in graphic terms, though what’s graphic or not is a matter of opinion. Nora Roberts is not considered graphic or pornographic except to this stupid-ass bitch in Florida who has definitely made a huge mistake in going after the Mother of Dragons because Nora is what I call the Warrior Queen of Romance.

Since 2016, Romancelandia has broken its’ silence and we won’t take shit like this anymore. Before 2016, romance authors and readers would let shit like this slide because we believed we didn’t have the right to speak out against this shit and put these Republican Bitch Squads in their place. After 2016, when the Republican Bitch Squad and their billionaire donors put their puppet in the White House then spent the next four years fucking things up, Romancelandia saw the truth and decided to join the ass-kickers of this world and stand up to these twenty-first century Nazis.

Now if you’re thinking I’m making too much out of this and no, this Republican Bitch Squad isn’t going to get away with this: what the fuck makes you think you’re so damn special these bitches won’t come after you if you step out line with them? Because if you think they have the right to dictate everyone else’s life and you want to do the same, find your tits or balls and come right out and say it. And when people like me push back as hard we can against you, don’t act all shocked and shit and clutch your fucking pearls. Instead, how about trying to pull your head out of your ass once and for all and leave people alone?

And yes, this is personal for me as I know there is a possibility that if my writing ever really takes off I’ll have these Bitch Squads coming for me. But I’m not going to back down in the face of their bullshit. I will stand up to them and I will not give one single fuck as to their fake-ass hurt feelings when I tell them to take their shit and shove it up their ass. I know they won’t stop until myself and others put them back in their fucked-up little shithole where they belong. There is NO need for anyone to dictate terms of existence for the rest of us who are just minding our own business and doing our own thing and yes, trying to make the world a better place for all people.

No, I don’t enjoy engaging in ass-kicking sessions like I’m doing here. Frankly, I’ve got better things to do with my time, but I won’t be silent in the face of Republican Bitch Squad shit. I won’t be silent because if anyone reading this is leaning towards the Bitch Squad’s slick-ass sales tactics I’m here to tell you not to fall for their conformist, hate-driven, over-inflated sense of entitlement and ego, unless you’re already like them and if so, I’m not backing down in opposition to that shit. Because in the end, they’ve taken the fear they were raised on and turned it into hatred for others not exactly like them.

The worst thing about conservative ideology is that it has an extremely rigid definition of what it means to be happy and if you’re just a tad too happy, the shit comes down sending you to Hell. That’s the thing I’ve always hated about conservatives- they really can’t stand to see people happy because deep-down, they don’t feel like they have the right to be happy and for others to be happy, too. They worry way too damn much about what other people think of them. That is NOT a way to live at all and that is the most personal reason I will stand and fight these bastards in every non-violent way I can.

Because in the end, I believe in Love, not hate. And I’ve learned so much about love from my beloved romance novels. From my beloved romance novels, I’ve learned about how love can bring joy and happiness, and healing. That is the real defiant message of romance novels: love, joy, happiness, and healing.

Love will win. Always.

Stand or Fall – How I Kept My Father From Being Taken Hostage By Fox News

In 2006, my father moved into the last apartment he would live in and since I was starting to make decent money from my job at that time, I paid for cable tv for him. But I told him right away that if I caught him spouting Fox News bullshit I’d take his tv away and super-glue his radio to one radio station. Because I was NOT going to lose my Nixon-hating father to Fox News and right-wing Republican Nazis without one hell of a fight. It was one of the few times I put my foot down with him and he knew I was dead-nut serious in what I said.

He reassured me he would not watch Fox News because he liked the women on CNN better because they were much smarter and prettier than the Fox News bimbos. (and yes, he really did say this.) I said a silent ‘thank you’ to the women of CNN but also I knew my dad was firmly against Fox News and their bullshit-hosts because he would rage anytime he heard some Republican asshole-politician talk about abolishing Social Security and Medicare, his only source of income and health insurance. Every time he heard that shit he’d go, “What the fuck am I supposed to do? Die? I’m already doing that.”

My dad was my first teacher in history and politics. He was a huge consumer of news and history, and he shared it with me from a very early age. He told me stories of meeting people with numbers tattooed on their arms- Holocaust survivors. He told me stories about Abilene, Texas 1958 where he saw water fountains side-by-side with signs over each one saying, ‘Whites Only’ and ‘Colored Only’, an ugly picture of segregated America. He told me the story of the Berlin Wall going up and how Russian snipers shot people trying to escape from East Berlin to West Berlin, and about President Kennedy’s speech there in 1962.

My dad taught me about the 1960’s and Vietnam, then the 70’s and his deeply-avowed hatred of Richard Nixon (which he was totally right about). Then he told me how he fucked up in 1980 and voted for Regan and came to regret it pretty fast when Regan busted the unions, allowed massive off-shoring of manufacturing and all the other shit he did. He said he’d never make that mistake again and he never went Republican again. He was on the Clinton-Gore bandwagon in 1992 and loved it when James Carville, the Clinton-Gore campaign manager said, “It’s about the economy, stupid.”, and when Bill and Al would go, “It’s time for them to go.” And in 2008, he told me about watching a young senator from Illinois named Barack Obama and how he liked him, and said Mr. Obama was a good man, a family man.

In 2006, there was a potential skirmish between us when he said to me one day that maybe the data about climate change wasn’t that solid. I bit my tongue and the next time I saw him I gave him a DVD of the documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ and told him to watch it. Then I told him when I saw him the following weekend we’d talk about it. The following weekend came and I asked him if he’d watched it and he said yes and apologized for ever doubting the real facts of climate change. I was loaded up and ready to go after him about denying climate change because he’s the one who taught me about DDT poisoning in the 60’s, how the Cuyahoga River burned in 1969 because it was so damned polluted, and how we both watched footage of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1986. Instead, he told me we needed to work our asses off to try and save this little planet of ours, and how we may need to terraform our own planet first before we do it to other places like Mars (my dad was a hardcore sci-fi junkie, too).

My dad had the ability to surprise me sometimes like when he said the United States needed to stop trying to be the world’s policeman. This was after a few years in Afghanistan and Iraq and how bad things were being fucked up there. It surprised me because he always pretty gung-ho about our soldiers going in and doing the right thing but in those two places, it wasn’t about doing the right thing but about making a small number of people a shit-ton of money despite the body counts and wounded and dead soldiers (fuck Dick Cheney and Haliburton and all those contractor-bastards).

My dad died in 2011 and I miss him terribly after all this time. Yet a part of me is sort of glad he didn’t live to see what’s happened since 2011. I think I would have spent a lot of time talking him down out of a tree and I might have had to wage more battles to keep him away from the fascism of Fox News and all the right-wing bullshit artists out there. But I miss talking with him. I miss being able to ask him about things he’d lived through and his thoughts on then and now. As I work on this ‘Stand or Fall’ project, I have to work from memory when it comes to wanting his knowledge and experience.

At a very early age, my dad taught me the old Hebrew proverb, “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.” He used to wonder how many times we could fuck things up before we blew ourselves to Kingdom Come once and for all, or how many times could we pull it back from the edge. And every time he said that he would say he hoped we didn’t find out. He believed we could do better, but he also knew the human capacity for destruction.

From my father I learned that fascism, Nazism, or any other bullshit-right-wing conservative -ism just consumes everything in its’ path. It’s just consumes until there is nothing left. It is devoid of conscience, empathy, and compassion. It is about extreme conformity without any dissent or question at all.

To anyone reading this who has lost loved ones to the right-wing Fox News hatred-and-outrage machine, I’m so sorry you lost the battle I won in the past. But as my father would tell you, don’t ever lose hope and don’t give up on anyone. Because despite a deeply cynical and pessimistic nature at times, deep down my father believed in the good and the potential of humanity. He believed in a ‘Star Trek’ future and not a post-apocalyptic or dystopian-Orwellian one (a la ‘1984’).

In the end, my dad knew when I did put my foot down, I meant business. I didn’t do it at the nuclear-level like my mother did when she snapped and slammed her foot down, but my dad knew I had that potential. And I would have gone nuclear-level if I had to save him from becoming something he raised me not to be. Because despite being a class-A hard-ass at times, he truly cared, and that was most important thing he taught me.

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