Don’t Fear Broken Glass

Back at the tag-end of May, I was driving in downtown San Antonio when there were counter-protests going on. I drove right by a group of armed white men being escorted down the damn sidewalk by police. Then I saw a phalanx of San Antonio Police officers in full riot gear.

I freaked out as I got my passengers then got the hell out of there.

That night, some windows were broken in downtown and again, I freaked out.

I had no need to do that. I had no need to feed the fear that broken glass creates because it’s not fear that breaks that glass, but misplaced anger and rage. And in the case of the broken glass in downtown San Antonio, most of the people doing it weren’t from here (see group of ‘armed white men’).

Broken glass can be swept up. Windows can be boarded up. Windows can be replaced. And most of all, truth can be had over fear.

So many people equate speaking out against injustice, hate, murder, and poverty as it leading to broken glass. It doesn’t. What leads to broken glass is peaceful protest being met with violence, and outside agitators as they’re called doing the damage.

People said this past summer the cities were burning, just like it was said they were in the 1960’s and 1970’s. They aren’t. Yes, cities are scarred, tired, and worn down. But that doesn’t mean they’re for the taking just because some motherfucker decides they want this city and this property for themselves and to hell with anyone who is already living there, and has been living there for decades.

In my three-and-a-half years as an Uber driver, I’ve been in every part of San Antonio. I have been in some of its’ wealthiest enclaves full of houses that are beautiful masterpieces of architectural design with lush green lawns and gardens that are massive explosions of color. And I’ve been in some of the poorest parts of the city, where the houses are old and not built for beauty, where there isn’t a lot green, or color. But those poor old houses have just as many stories as those mansions, and those stories are worth fighting for.

I’ve driven by old buildings that have been empty for years and yes, some of them have broken windows. But I don’t fear those broken windows. I see an old building with history, and with enough love and money that could be brought back to life.

Whenever I hear bullshit arguments against affordable housing in wealthier areas, whenever I hear the ‘not in my backyard’ shit, I just think one thing: you’ve never seen, nor heard the sound of breaking glass. And in all likelihood, you never will. I’ve only heard glass breaking when hail shattered the windows in my apartment a few years back and yes, it scared the shit out of me. The sound of breaking glass isn’t like the movies, nor does glass shatter like it does in the movies either (in real life, glass breaks into razor-sharp pieces both big and small that can cut you all to hell).

But when you see nothing but broken glass and not the truth behind it, and embrace the fear-mongering behind that, I think that makes you a part of the problem and not the solution. If you walk away from broken glass without fixing it, if you walk away from a tired, old place, you’re walking away from a problem that you and I need to start fixing once and for all.

What will fix broken glass?

Hope put into action by hard work to improve the lives of those in need. To not run from poverty and injustice but face those things head-on and work for solutions. To undo fear-mongering and gaslighting. To believe in kindness, compassion, and empathy for all people.

I tell myself not to fear the broken glass, but to learn the truth behind it. Then work my ass off to help repair it, and replace it with something better.

For I will say this here: if someone wants you to fear more than hope, ask yourself why.

Why I Want To Live in Mr. Biden’s Neighborhood

Image by Prawny on Pixababy

Senior Trump Campaign advisor Mercedes Schlapp tweeted this after Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden’s ABC TownHall:

“Well @JoeBiden @ABCPolitics townhall feels like I am watching an episode of Mister Rodgers Neighborhood” (she spelled ‘Rodgers’ wrong- it’s Rogers)

First, Ms. Schlapp has gotten dragged pretty hard over the internet and social media for thinking this would be seen as an insult. Second, so many people have come forward and said they’d like to live in Mr. Biden’s neighborhood.

So would I. And here’s why:

It’s a place where values like kindness, compassion, and empathy are the norm, and are seen as great strengths and not weaknesses.

It’s a place where everyone is welcome: white, black, brown, straight, gay, transgender, Catholic, Jew, Muslim, Atheist. It’s where the immigrant family is welcomed with open arms. It’s where hate and division don’t live.

It’s where people don’t work a ton of hours and come home when it’s dark and their kids are asleep. It’s a place where people can work from home if they choose so they can take the family for a walk after dinner when the sun is still up.

It’s where everyone looks in on their elderly or homebound neighbors and makes sure they’re looked after and taken care of. It’s a place where they don’t set off fireworks for the veterans whose wars will never fully leave them.

It’s not a bygone era of 1950’s era suburban utopia. That was built just for white people being told to flee the cities and leave them to rot. This is a new way of living that is for both the cities and small towns of America. It’s where no neighborhood is left to rot, or gentrify over and over.

It’s a place where the air and water are clean and clear, and where power comes from the sun. Where there is green, and food grown from the soil of the land.

It’s not a utopia where nothing bad happens. It’s a world where some families earn over half a million dollars a year in income, and some earn less than fifty-thousand dollars a year in income. It’s where some battle addictions to drugs and alcohol, and memories of past abuse and neglect.

But most of all, in addition to kindness, compassion, and empathy, it’s a place of hope. It’s where people feel like their children will have a better future, that they’ll do better in life. Where every child gets an education that won’t bankrupt them.

It’s a world where people can vote easily and in every election, where people get involved in their government and how it’s run.

It’s a world where people think for themselves, think critically of the world around them, and see through fear-mongering and hate-speech. Where they see through slick corruption, and know what law and order truly means. It’s a world where there is equal justice for all.

For me, one of the worst things over the last four years is how values like kindness, compassion, and empathy have been scorned or turned into values only for a few and in a very limited way.

The current president we have here in the United States may be the worst we’ve ever had. He’s a raging, fear-monger with no compassion or empathy. Even previous Republican presidents like Bush or Regan were able to show compassion and empathy even as their policies and leadership skills didn’t. This election is a reckoning for the type of leadership we truly want, and the leadership I want is one that not only shows compassion and empathy, but pursues it in policy, too.

So in the end here, I do want to live in Mr. Biden’s neighborhood. It’s not being burned to the ground. It’s not where the KKK and Nazis openly parade around. It’s not where people believe in conspiracy theories and deny public health protocols in order to save lives. It’s a world where people care about each other, and want a better life for everyone.

I want to live in a world of button-down cardigans and sneakers, not red hats and AR-15’s.

I want to live in a world where you don’t have to become the oppressor in order not to be oppressed. That’s not how it works, especially in Mr. Biden’s neighborhood.

#VoteBlue #VoteBiden

My Top-Ten Bits of Writing Advice

I still see lists of writing advice and the ensuing arguments over it. So I want to put in my two-cents worth here with mine:

1) Writing advice is not the law of the land. Someone can yell at you for breaking said writing advice but they can’t throw you in jail for it.

2) Writing advice is just what has worked for someone and is shared in the hope that it will help others. This is why I do it. If it’s done for an ego-stroke, be sure to wash your hands after reading it.

3) Basic rules of spelling, punctuation, and grammar are not bad. They are fluid and change over time. Don’t be afraid to change and if someone doesn’t like that, just walk away from them.

4) Don’t try to write like anyone else. Find your own your voice and write in your own way. The best writers are the ones with the most unique voices.

5) Criticism can be a valuable tool, but only if it’s not an axe that’s being ground on your back.  

6) You don’t have to write every single day. There will be days where life gets in the way, or you just can’t get any words out. Remember, there’s always tomorrow.

7) Don’t be afraid to scrap something and start over. Nothing ever comes out perfect and sometimes it’s best to start over on a blank page.

8) Being a writer doesn’t give you the right to be a jerk about it. The world doesn’t owe you a damn thing, especially writing time or anything writing-related.

9) Writing is a ton of editing most of the time. Complain about it if you will, but don’t stop until you get it right.

10) Writing can be taught, but only if you’re willing to learn and do the work on your own.

Breaking the Silence of Creative Oppression

Shortly after I joined my local romance-writers group in the mid 1990’s, I was told very early on not to speak out publicly about any political or social issues. I was told not to do this in order not to alienate readers and publishers. And for close to twenty-five years, I went along with it like so many writers and other creative professionals did.

But now I this: It was never about alienating readers. It was about silencing dissent. It was the language of the Oppressor.

Being told not so speak out or ask questions is not about keeping people from disagreeing with you. It’s about keeping hard questions from being answered, about staying silent about hatred, violence, and injustice. It’s about keeping people from uncovering corruption and bringing the perpetrators to justice. It’s about staying silent and letting people suffer because other people believe suffering is meant to be and that people deserve to suffer.

After the 2016 Presidential Election, there was a severe reckoning in the romance writing community and other creative communities. The reckoning was painful because we had to examine our silence and how much it played into what we have now, the death-and-suffering cult that is trying to kill us all. We had to face the fact that our silence didn’t do anything to stop the tide of hatred and injustice that has swept over our world. We had to face the fact that our joy in our creativity couldn’t hide the pain and suffering in our world. And that our silence gave power to the Oppressors of this world because we had to realize and accept that silence is the language of the Oppressor.

That reckoning from 2016 onward was personal for me, too. It’s been a long and painful road to travel on, especially the time I’ve spent in the cold storage unit of my mind and memories. But it’s a road I’m glad I found the courage to travel on because I’ve found my voice. And I say this to those who wanted to silence me:

I do know what I’m talking about. And I do have a right to speak my mind, share my thoughts and feelings, and to speak out against pain and suffering.

Before Jesus Christ walked the Earth, pain and suffering were seen as the will of God. The world was made up of masters and slaves, rich and poor, and that sin could never be overcome. Then Christ came to Earth and talked of unconditional love even for the most broken of people. He talked of alleviating suffering above all else, healing the sick, comforting the sad, being with the incarcerated, and speaking out against greed and injustice. He was not silent, and I honestly don’t believe he wanted anyone else to be silent either, even his enemies as he offered them his other cheek.

And I know what I just wrote about Jesus Christ will set some hair on fire. But this is what I was told to keep silent about: the truth. Not just the truth of facts and events, but of my own personal thoughts and feelings. Because as I’ve said before, the worst thing I have ever dealt with is feeling like I had NO right to my own thoughts and feelings, and the ability to deal with them and express them.

As a creative person, I will say when you have a need to create and speak like I do, silence is extremely painful. I grew up with silence, silence about not speaking out against the bullying I was subjected to, about the pain and prejudice I witnessed and did nothing about. Most of all, I kept silent even in the most painful of times because I thought that’s what the world wanted of me. Now I see that silence for what it is: the tool of the Oppressor.

One thing I’ve learned over the last four years is that as I break my silence, my world hasn’t come crashing down around me like I used to think it would. I chose that silence and alienation thinking it would protect me from being hurt. It didn’t. What keeps me from being hurt by hateful and oppressive words is knowing that my silence won’t stop that and it never will.

I have made a commitment to myself now every single day: to find my voice and make it strong, and to not let fear and doubt ever silence it again.

Deflating the Detractors and Gaslighters

In yesterday’s blog post I wrote this:

Now I’m sure some lovely detractor will say I shouldn’t be ranting and raving here and burning my bra and all that crap.

Detractors are people who will try and get you off track whenever you start talking about something they don’t want to hear or deal with. They’ll start with deflection by changing the track of the conversation and if that doesn’t work, they’ll try and tear you down. And if that doesn’t work, they’ll gaslight your ass.

Gaslighting is an old term from a play called ‘Gaslight’ which was later made into a movie back in the 1940’s starring Ingrid Bergman as a wife of a rich guy in Victorian England who thought she was going nuts. In reality, her husband was trying to drive her crazy so he could chuck her into an insane asylum and divorce her so he could marry his younger side-piece. In the end, she realizes what he’s doing and she beats him at his own game.

But deflection and detraction are the start of the gaslighting process and it’s hard to fight against it, especially if you’ve dealt with it from your earliest days. You could say it’s a form of bullying and you’d be right on the mark. So what do you do about it?

First, you see for what it is: cruel and nasty behavior. Some people might say it’s an unconscious and that someone just learned that behavior and doesn’t know anything else. I call bullshit on that because if someone is told they’re being a conversational shit-head and refuse to stop being that way, it’s not unconscious.

No one is born with perfect communication skills. We learn how to communicate by doing it and taking in ways other people do it. Problem with that is sometimes people learn the wrong way of doing something then jam their head up their ass instead of taking their head out of their ass and learning how to communicate better and taking responsibility for their words and behavior.

For me, being a good listener means shutting my pie-hole and paying attention to what someone is saying. It means not just listening, but thinking, too. And yes, it’s a battle sometimes to work past biases and emotional responses that act like walls being thrown up in your mind. But you can work to prevent those walls from coming up by seeing them for what they are and keeping them down.

One of the most hurtful things I have ever been told is that I have a shit-ton of pride stuck up my ass. It’s hurtful because I always thought I had to do as much for myself as possible before asking for help. Yes, I tried too hard to be self-sufficient but when people see that as pride and not determination, they’re the ones who are wrong, not me. Now I will freely admit here sometimes I just toughed out and did my own thing because I didn’t want to deal with the bullshit of being made to feel like a moron for asking for help.

Deflection, detraction, and gaslighting are ways people use to either get people to do exactly what they want them to do without giving one tiny shit about what that person might want to do instead, or it’s a way of not wanting to confront personal shortcomings and shitty behavior. Either way, it’s wrong because deflection, detraction, and gaslighting tear at a person’s self-confidence, self-esteem, and beat the absolute shit out of them mentally and emotionally.

One of the hardest things I have had to work through is dealing with those deflecting, detracting, and gaslighting voices in my head. I’ve had to tell myself a million times they’re echoes from the past, past experiences, and my own past thoughts and feelings. Over time, I know echoes fade and the more they fade, the less power they have over you.

Finally, as a writer one of the key things I use in editing my work is making sure I’m not doing that deflecting, detracting, or gaslighting shit in my own work. I try to edit in order to keep myself on track and on topic.

In the end, my advice here is to trust your feelings and your instincts. And if someone is telling you something that you know is not true, or worse trying to get you away from that truth, question and challenge their motives for doing that. Don’t take excuses such as unconscious behavior or good intentions. There’s nothing wrong with thinking for yourself and defining your own values and beliefs.

You can find your own voice amid the deflectors, detractors, and gaslighters. You don’t have to put up a wall of silence to keep them out of your mind. You can walk away if you can, or stand strong and know you can survive the wounds and overcome them.

Yes, I Said This

Yesterday I went searching for a book I was planning to read as research for my ‘Intersections’ writing project. The book I was looking for was ‘Lean In’ by Sheryl Sandberg, the sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The book caused a stir a few years back when it was published because it was made out to be a guide for women in the corporate world. Well, I found a copy yesterday in a used bookstore but as I leafed through it and read a few pages here and there… I said to hell with this shit and put it down and didn’t buy it.

Women don’t have the time or the half-assed luxury of ‘leaning in’ anymore. Our democracy, our rights, and our lives are under heavy assault from right-wing religious nutcases and corporate-American assholes like never before. And besides, we tried that ‘lean in’ shit and did it work for us? Hell no.

Now I’m sure some lovely detractor will say I shouldn’t be ranting and raving here and burning my bra and all that crap. To those detractors I say this: Phyliss Schafly is dead and buried and you’re not bringing her back to life to kill the ERA because we’re past that shit now.

Yesterday I snapped inside as I realized why I’ve been avoiding my writing is that I don’t want to be like everyone else. I don’t want to write books that are more sad-and-sorry for myself than anything. I’m through with being sad-and-sorry for myself. I wrote something yesterday I haven’t posted yet because it’s still in rough-draft form but I danced around it for a few days until I figured out why. I danced around it because it could have turned into a sob-fest woe-is-me piece of limp bullshit, but instead it turned into a potential ass-kicker. It turned into an ass-kicker because I realized although I may not have done a lot of things most people have, it doesn’t mean I can’t do them going forward once we have a pandemic response team in the White House that actually knows what the fuck they’re doing.

What brought me into sad-and-sorry for myself territory was the death of Eddie Van Halen, one of the most talented and innovative guitarists of all time. Eddie’s music with his group Van Halen was the soundtrack to a lot of lives, and to a lot of hanging out and partying. That put me into sad-and-sorry territory because I don’t have those memories of hanging out and partying. There are a lot of reasons for that I’ll elaborate on in my book ‘Breaking Radio Silence’ (and the piece I started yesterday was the beginning of that). But what took me out of sad-and-sorry was telling myself that going forward, I can make new memories. I can’t go back and relive the past but by the Goddess I can move forward and live my life and kick the living shit out of the over-protective voices that kept me from hanging out and partying like I should have.

Speaking about this, or in my case, writing about it was a challenge because it’s pretty revealing. But I figure with what I’m working on with my ‘Breaking Radio Silence’ project why not go all the way? I mean, there isn’t some bullshit criticism that will be new to me when this goes public and since I’ve dealt with that all my life and am still standing, walking, and breathing, I’ll deal with it. Mostly I won’t acknowledge or engage with it, but if I have to I will stand up and quote Kamala Harris: “I’m speaking.” And I’ll say that especially if I get interrupted, or talked down to, or have someone come at me with well-intentioned bullshit intended to shut me up.

I’ve read a few self-help/memoire type books over the last few years but I’m glad I didn’t indulge in a steady diet of them. Because now when I pick one up and leaf through it, I’m putting it back down again. And that’s because I’m beginning to truly realize I know not only what I want to write, but how I want to write it. Best of all, I’m beginning to learn how to take my own advice.

I am telling myself now I am not going to get into sad-and-sorry for myself. I’m not going to tell myself I’m an unlovable and unworthy slob because I’ve been silent for so long and have a past without a lot of memories that most people have. If someone doesn’t like me for the way I’ve lived and the lack of experiences, they can go straight to Hell. And I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me, or come at me with pity, guilt, or remorse either. I keep telling myself now I’m not responsible for someone else’s feelings and how to deal with them. I’m responsible for how I feel and deal with my emotions, and how I interact with the world. But if I’m not doing something wrong, and someone just doesn’t like that and tries to tell me I’m wrong and an unworthy fuck up, they can go to Hell.

I did manage to buy a few books yesterday instead of the one I set out to. One of them was ‘Molly Ivins Can’t Say That, Can She?’ by the late great Molly Ivins. I grew up reading her newspaper columns and cried hard when she died (#FuckCancer). I want to be like her and write and say instead: I not only can say that, I just did.

So say it, and live it. And don’t lean in, but bring your own folding chair to the table and take your place as the late great Shirly Chisolm once said.

Some Thoughts on One Cup of Coffee

When I worked 411 Directory Assistance from 2003-2005, there was no such thing as Uber. If people wanted to get their drunk asses home from a bar they had to call a taxi, or 411 to connect them to a taxi company.

When I worked 411 Directory Assistance, people didn’t have smart phones so if they had a question that we would now just Google on our phones, they called us so we could Google it because some of our computers had internet access. When I told my dad this, he called them ‘bar bets’ as in most of these calls probably came from people in bars drunkenly betting on something and depending on a random stranger to have the right answer. But with my propensity for random trivia and quick recall, many of my minions merely called out the question to me and nine times out of ten I could answer it off the top of my head.

That I now refer to myself as part of the ‘original MTV generation’. I bought an MTV t-shirt a couple of days ago and as I was checking out I told the young lady behind the register about how yes, MTV really did play videos all the time. I also told her how my dad hooked up the stereo to our tv so we could blast it if we wanted to.

The first laptop I ever bought cost me $1200 dollars, weighed as much a brick, and lasted for eight years. The laptop I had before this one I’m working on now cost me $300 and lasted for about three years. What was the better value?

I don’t think anyone figured out what would bring back drive-in movie theaters in the year 2020. But then I don’t think anyone had ‘severely-mishandled pandemic’ as a possible event of 2020 either.

As I’ve said to a few Uber passengers when talking about this crazy year of 2020 so far, I’m glad we’ve got a few more years to figure out an explanation for future generations about the Great Toilet Paper Run of 2020.

I’ve read that scientists have figured out that dogs poop on a north-south axis. As someone who knows what direction I’m going in, I’ve seen my dog poop on an east-west axis sometimes. She’s either a rebel-pooper, or these scientists might need to observe more dogs.

That vinyl records would make such a comeback in 2020. But as my late father used to say, everything old is new again and everything comes around again sooner or later.

When I was a kid, you were considered conservative or liberal if you defined the following acronyms in these ways:

IRA

  • Irish Republican Army: Liberal
  • Independent Retirement Account: Conservative

CD

  • Compact Disk: Liberal
  • Certificate of Deposit: Conservative

How could you rewrite the song, ‘Walking on Sunshine’ by Katrina and the Waves for the 2020’s? I mean, it starts off with Katrina singing about going to out to the mailbox to see if she’s got letter from her honey-bun telling her when he’s going to come around (though in the song, she doesn’t specify the gender of her letter-writer).

Unlike what the Buggles sang about, video didn’t kill the radio star. But cheap-ass television executives killed the video-star by giving us cheap-ass reality tv.

We’re one year past when the first ‘Blade Runner’ movie took place and all we have is the massive pollution in that film. No flying cars but no killer androids escaping from off-world colonies.

And I took a survey this morning (it’s part of an ongoing study I’m participating in online about my social media habits during an election cycle), and there was one section where they said most people don’t get this part right. It was five statements about COVID-19 and it asked which ones were true or not. I got all five right so I guess I’m not most people and I can actually tell a fact from conspiracy-theory bullshit.

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.

Find Your Moments of Joy

All my life, I’ve been told to keep my mouth shut. Worse, I’ve been told not only to do that, but go away and stay away. And worst of all, I’ve been told I have no right to talk at all because I’m full of shit and I don’t know what I’m talking about.

It’s just taken me a lot of years to realize that silence is the tool of the oppressor. And that oppressor isn’t just the court of public opinion and random assholes in this world, but of people in your life. The people in your life are the well-meaning ones who think because they’re in your life they have the right to dump on you and that you just have to sit in silence and take their shit.

This is why I keep myself to myself, so to speak. But this isn’t about me, though. This is about good, kind, loving, and generous people I know who feel like they can’t be as open about their lives as they would like to be. They feel like they can’t share their joys and successes without getting shit all over.

First, I celebrate and feel an enormous surge of happiness at seeing other people happy and successful in their lives. Especially people I know who are good people, people are successful and happy because they not only work hard, but they have faith, hope, and love in their lives.

But I will say this now to anyone reading this: if you have ever shit all over someone for their joy or success… ask yourself why. And keeping asking yourself that question until you find all the answers you can. Then have a very serious talk with your conscience and whatever God you believe in. Then in the end, don’t ask for forgiveness because that won’t take away the pain you’ve caused. Instead, make a conscious decision to be a better person going forward. And maybe then, you’ll earn a tiny bit of the trust and good faith that you tried to destroy with your thoughtless and cruel words and behavior.

During the worst times of my life when I was watching my parents die slowly and painfully, I still managed to find tiny bits of joy and happiness in each day. I worked my fucking ass off to hide all expression of emotion during those times, to try and keep my thoughts and feelings to myself. And not just because I felt like no one wanted to hear me or be with me at all, but because when my guard did slip, it didn’t go well. And I will not excuse shitty behavior, or minimize it in any way by saying people are just thoughtless and have their heads up their asses and spew diarrhea of the mouth. And I won’t take all the blame by saying I turned into a cold-faced bitch just to get through those times. Because I shouldn’t have had to be like that in the first place.

This isn’t easy for me to write because I’m not shuddering in fear inside myself now. I’m shuddering in barely-restrained anger and rage at people who hurt other people because they choose to. And I’m shuddering inside with an aching pain for good people who have been hurt by this cruelty. So to those who I rage and ache for I say this:


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 any way you choose to, and you have every right to express them in any way you choose to (or not to).

Also, as my father used to say to me: you have every right to be happy. You don’t have to walk around feeling sad and sorry for yourself. And if someone doesn’t like and gets butt-hurt if you tell them off for their shit, remember you are NOT someone’s hemorrhoid cream. You have the right to tell them off and walk away from them. You don’t have suffer assholes if you don’t have to.

I was reminded of this last night after I read a devastating New York Times article on the child separation policy and how it was rammed through so damn hard because the cruelty was the intent all along. I shuddered and cried inside thinking I didn’t have that in me to do so. But I know it meant that I am still human, and that I can still feel enormous grief and pain over this suffering. And that I can feel enormous rage and anger at the monsters who are doing this. But as my father also used to say, you can’t run on anger forever.

So eventually my emotional storm subsided and I got up to wash dishes and get ready for bed. When I do that I put my headphones on and listen to some music. I found the Rolling Stones new release from their ‘Steel Wheels’ tour and was surprised to see some tracks on that album of songs I didn’t know they had done live before (‘Undercover of the Night’ and ‘Harlem Shuffle’). So I cranked it up and pretended I was backing the boys as I did my stuff before bedtime. Yes, that made me feel better and I refuse to apologize or take shit for that.

Don’t ever lose those moments of joy because life is both good and bad. The world is out of balance right now but we can get that balance back if we’re strong and true to ourselves and are good to each other.

Celebrate Life

I do not celebrate or wish death, pain, or suffering on anyone, including anyone who has caused that to happen to others. I say this because I believe that celebrating or wishing will not change the person who delivers death, pain, and suffering onto others. I think we have to live our lives with kindness and compassion, and not to become like the people who their lives with cruelty and  malice to others.

Why do I say this?

I say this because someone who has acted with cruelty and malice towards others won’t change just because they’re suffering now. There are people who have suffered painfully with the very things they have denied and fought against and who haven’t changed one damn bit for the better. People only change if they choose to. If someone feels shame, guilt, regret, and remorse for their cruelty and malice they have one of two options: accept those feelings and try to live without being cruel to others, or deny those feelings altogether and go on being the cruel and malicious monsters they are. People who need to feel shame, guilt, regret, and remorse and use it to make amends and learn how to live without cruelty and malice very rarely, if ever, change. Why? That’s a question for them to answer, not you or me.

Over the last couple of days I’ve been going through a lot of my thoughts and feelings about things like empathy and forgiveness because of a major event that’s happened (the super-spreader COVID-19 event at the White House Rose Garden last week that has the President in the hospital). The reason for the waterfall of thoughts and feelings is there are calls to show empathy to those diagnosed and being treated despite the fact they denied, minimized, and demonized those who have had it, died from it, and are trying to prevent the spread of it. For many people who have lost loved ones to this awful pandemic or have survived it, or have had loved ones who survived it, these last few days have been a huge battle for them. The talons of pain and grief are sharper and deeper than ever. So in my definitely not-so-humble opinion here, they don’t owe anyone who dug those talons into them things like empathy and compassion, or most of all, forgiveness.

I’ve said forgiveness is when you remove talons that someone else sunk into you. You do that by facing that pain and learning how to live with the memory of it for the rest of your life, and knowing there are no words or actions that will ever take it all away. And if someone feels shame, guilt, regret, and remorse over what they did to you, that’s for them to deal with, not you. For those of us who have been hurt because of something we didn’t do wrong, we have to learn how to let go of our shame, guilt, regret, and remorse that we shouldn’t have felt at all.

I believe in free will and that each person can choose how to live their lives. I’ve thought a lot over the last few years about how to live my life and what I believe in. I work hard not to sink into the pit of despair and anxiety. I work hard to tell myself I’m not a worthless piece of shit-human who will never fully be a part of anything or anyone’s life. Being such a quiet loner is something I have to deal with on my own. But it doesn’t mean I can’t believe in the ideals that I do have and try to integrate them into my daily life as much as possible. Feeling things can be total fucking hell sometimes. But I wouldn’t stop doing that for anyone or anything, even if it makes people want to lash out and hurt me. My relative isolation is a shield against most of that now.

If someone is in pain but is still living without compassion or empathy for others, I believe you can be kind to them without denying their cruelty and malice. You can be the better person in not hurting them in return, in caring for them. You can do this because this is what it means to live without cruelty or malice in your life. But if you can, I also believe you have the choice of walking away, too. And I believe you have the choice of not fully engaging emotionally, either. I don’t believe you have to open yourself up to more pain if you can’t walk away, or if you choose not to do that.

But I will say this: it’s not easy to walk away, or live in relative isolation, or not fully open yourself up. This is something I deal with even after I have removed those sharp talons of pain from my heart and soul. And why it takes me so long sometimes to find peace, happiness, and joy sometimes.

So I say celebrate life, celebrate the good in this world even though you will never, ever forget pain and suffering. Don’t let go of the good in this world, and in yourself most of all.