Short Book Blurb: Stephen King’s Revival

Standard

Stephen King’s Revival is nothing if not a treat for readers both new and his long-time dedicated fans. The story takes readers on a journey of one man’s life from childhood to retirement. The protagonist, James, morphs from child to teen to adult to elderly man, musician to drug addict, admirer of a man of the cloth to unwilling accomplice to the macabre.

The characters, in true King fashion, seem like people readers might remember from their own lives, each of them dynamic and lifelike. With a plot that’s easy to follow, yet far from boring, the story draws readers in, captivating them in true “What will happen next” style.

Although the novel sports 403 pages (in the hardbound addition), it truly is a quick read, easy enough to complete in a weekend. The format of the novel also lends itself to be easily “paused,” if you will, allowing one to restart without losing track of place and time.

Revival approaches what might be controversial territory for some readers—religion, the afterlife, and paganism, but it is a great read nonetheless. I would recommend this book to all my friends, King fans or not.

(Image Source:http://www.amazon.com/Revival-A-Novel-Stephen-King-ebook/dp/B00ILHW6AG)

For Those Who Oppose #TakeItDown

Standard

Anyone who believes the Confederate flag should remain intact flying proudly on government owned property needs a lesson.

Yes. This is part of our American history, albeit a disgusting part. Flags flying are meant to represent something we are proud of—something that serves as a true representation of who we are as a collective people.

I’m sorry to those who squabble about “to each his own,” no. Not to each his own. You are dead wrong. What that flag represents is not a proud representation of who we are 155 years after the Civil War. It’s a sad depiction of who those in the South once were, but there is nothing to be proud of. Letting it remain is no different than saying a Nazi flag should be outside the gates of Auschwitz because it’s part of that history. Would you “proud southerners” agree to that? Of course not.

Flags were invented to create a sense of nationalism. They are meant to bind one people, yet distinguish them from others. Our American flag does that job quite well. We do not need something else to divide us amongst ourselves.

We are a diverse country, built of every nationality imaginable. Some of them immigrated here by choice. Others were brought here in chains. It is not right to continue to celebrate that part of our history that saw men, women, and children enslaved, abused, and murdered. It is not right to continue to celebrate a portion of our country so hell-bent on building a superior economic system that they did so by pillage and plunder. I’d rather hoped by 2015, we could leave our past to only reflect upon so we would not be doomed to make the same mistakes.

What Alabama did today was right. #TakeItDown. Remove that horrible symbol from serving as a representation of American culture. We are no longer those people.

One last thing—for anyone who purports to support LGBTQ rights, but can somehow say this flag is a good thing, there is a level of mass confusion going on in your brain you should probably sort out sooner than later. Because I’m here to tell you, that “southern pride” good ol’boy system you show support for by raising your confederate rag is the same system that, by and large, would harm the very people you say you support.

(image source:http://article.wn.com/view/2015/06/20/Take_down_Confederate_flag_o/)

White Pride, or, The Idiocy of Privilege

Standard

I’m white. I’m not proud of that fact, nor am I ashamed by it. Why? Because I’m only proud of things I’ve achieved or fought to keep ahold of, and I’m only ashamed of things I caused. Having said that, let’s talk about the difference between having ethnic pride (e.g. Black, Latino, Asian) and white pride.

Conceptually, this is pretty straightforward and easy to grasp, so I’m not sure why more white people don’t understand, but here goes.

  • People of color have had to fight for their right to retain cultural practices. Therefore, they are proud those traditions white people tried so hard to erase are intact.
  • Genocide is a real thing, be it actual murder or the cultural genocide mentioned in #1. Given that fact, many groups, like Amerindians and African Americans, are proud they have overcome, to borrow a phrase from the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Ethnic pride isn’t about superiority. It’s about survival, and the passing on of cultural identity to the youth.

Finally, and this is the important part, so white folks, take heed.

  • White people have never been the subjects of enslavement or ethnic cleansing. We have never been subject to losing our ethnic identities because, and let’s make this clear, we were the colonizers and slave owners, not the colonized or enslaved. Therefore, saying you are “proud to be white” is akin to being proud your lungs take in oxygen. It’s something you were born with, but not something you had to fight for.

Get over yourselves, white folks. There’s room for all of us. Someone being proud they stood tall against adversity is not a bad thing. Being proud of your superiority is. What you are living when you spout forth your “White Pride” is nothing more than the white lie of a privileged white supremacist hate monger. And dare I say, your “southern pride” is its evil cousin.

(image source:http://feministing.com/2013/11/11/quote-of-the-day-is-this-okay-to-say-to-a-person/)

An Excerpt from “The Daughter”-Part 2 of the “American Family” Series

Standard

“Lloyd had been gone nearly 10 years now. The judge granted her mom a divorce after he’d been gone 2 years, but not without a fight. A husband who vanished into the night never to resurface, even for part of the bank account, raised more than a few eyebrows for quite some time. There was a relentless investigation led by none other than Langston’s very own Sheriff Markel, but to no avail. Nary a shred of evidence led them to Mr. Dimesdale. Eventually, the good judge signed the court order relieving Elenore of her marital status, and awarding her sole custody of the home, bank account, and both children. That no one ever heard from him again, not even his own family, was the demon in Evey’s attic she couldn’t quite exorcise.”

Joyeux Fête Des Pères!

Standard

It’s Father’s Day—

There are men I could bash for doing it wrong—some fathers who never see or speak to their children, aren’t there to support them emotionally or financially, and are seemingly so caught up in their own lives they barely recognize the lives of the people they chose to create. However, I will not concentrate on them.

Instead, I want to take this time to recognize the ones who do it right. There are so many men who are terrific parents and mentors to their children, and even the children of others. Some of them father with the help of a spouse, and others are going it alone. Either way it’s no easy task. In order to parent, one must sacrifice, give, and work more than they’ve ever thought possible.

I’ve seen men being amazing parents for a long time, but they rarely get credit. The most common word associated with “Dad” is “deadbeat”. Anything else gets swept under the rug. But I’ve seen it firsthand. Men everywhere making sure their sons and daughters are cared for in every sense of the phrase. Men setting the example of being a good human being. Men treating their significant others well so their children can follow suit in their own relationships. Men giving up the single life to raise a child on their own. Even though we don’t see it in the media too often, they really do exist.

Being a father is as difficult as being a mother, only with a little added tinge of difficulty. Socially constructed man code tells men they’re not nurturers. It tells them to be despondent and disconnected. It tells them to never show emotion. Increasingly though, men are defying and rewriting that code.

Men are stay-at-home parents. Men want to take paternity leave. Men want to be active in their children’s lives just like moms, and more and more they’re making that happen.

So, to all you dads out there, especially my son, I applaud you. You are helping to make the world a better place. You are helping to raise responsible, compassionate human beings who know there is no reason for lack of love because of gender. You are raising a future generation who will one day look back and say “My dad was always there for me,” and that, fellas, makes all the difference in the life of a child.

And to all the moms out there who are acting fathers for the men who won’t step up, Happy Moms Doing It All Day to you!

(Imagae source:http://www.jardinierdedieu.com/article-priere-pour-la-fete-des-peres-118496788.html)

My noncelebrity/nonexpert ranty rants:

Standard
  • On Rachel Dolezal:

It is not my place, nor is it my expertise, to micro analyze the inner workings of why this woman identifies as a different ethnicity. “Passing” is not new concept, but to be honest, I haven’t hashed this one around long enough with enough people to decide if Ms. Dolezal’s decision to tell the world she believes herself to be a woman of color is horribly offensive, or just something we all need to calm our collective tits about.

What I do know is that I’m white—chalky, pasty W.A.S.P white. 75% of my lineage comes from across the pond. The other 25% is Native American. (The percentages are off. I’m talking long lines of ancestry, not immediate. So, no, I’m not ¼ Native American.) Thing is, I don’t have an issue with my ethnicity. I’m not proud. I’m not ashamed. The way I figure it, it’s all just happenstance. Some genetic dice were rolled, and here I am. I identify with what my eyes see in the mirror. No blue/black-gold/white dress debate going on for me. I’m lucky in that respect because I don’t have to struggle with my identity.

My white skin has also afforded me many privileges. I’m not routinely detained by police. I don’t have to worry about my sons being brutalized by police. No one questions my choices to have children, or how I was accepted to university. One of the other privileges is my being able to observe and listen to ethnic voices who tell me what life is like for them, so I can see outside the W.A.S.P nest in which I was born.

Having said that, I never felt the need to appropriate a culture, serve as president of one of their largest institutions, and even sue for racial discrimination. If I want to know what it feels like to be a woman of color, I ask one. I have that conversation because I can also accept that anecdotal data is just as valuable to me as if I’d lived it myself. Why? Because I know that I can trust those voices. I don’t question their credibility simply because their skin tone is different from mine.

I’m not calling Ms. Dolezal to task for that, but I will say, if this is what she’s doing, appropriating a culture for her own benefit and 15 minutes of fame, then shame on her. She deserves all the repercussions she will suffer, because you don’t need to fraudulently claim an ethnicity to help others understand that ethnicity. All you have to do is stand beside them, and let their voices be heard.

  • Police Brutality:

Don’t get me wrong. This is a real issue worth much discussion. Our discourse isn’t very deep about this subject, most because we’ve been taught to respect police, and the suspect is always wrong. We are finding these old standards to be false increasingly with time. However, what I’ve also seen an explosion of are lots of false claims of police mistreatment. With increasing frequency, I’ve seen some schmuck decrying being brutalized by the police, when this person was the one antagonizing and escalating the situation.

As a citizen, it is your duty to abide the law. If you find that law to be insufficient, there are ways to change that. Breaking that law, and then causing problems for law enforcement when you’re arrested is not the way to do that. And mind you, I’m not talking some civil disobedience, here. That’s a different story. Instead, I’m talking about people breaking commonly accepted laws, only to be indignant when they are arrested.

Many times these vigilantes will poke the bunny, so to speak, by refusing to show an ID, disclose their identity, or even inciting officers by becoming belligerent and physically aggressive. They, then, expect officers to show them courtesy. Nope. Sorry. Not the way it works. You’ll later see their video, which only shows an edited portion, on some social media outlet.

Look, I know there are bad cops. Cops are human. Of course there will be bad ones. Honestly though, there are more good than bad, and these jokers, who just want a little face time from the media, make their lives difficult.

You want media coverage? Do something good. Help an old lady, or save a cat. Do something positive, for gawd’s sake, and leave the cops alone to take care of real issues.

  • Being Altruistic

I want the world to be full of rainbows and fluffy clouds. I want every human being to experience the goodness of life instead of the shit paved roads so many have to walk. I also want people to learn the definition of this word: Accountability.

Ask anyone who knows me personally, and they will tell you I am a giving person. I help where I can. Don’t be mistaken, though. My kindness and understanding have limits.

It’s not hard for me to understand that substance abuse and addiction are terrible, but the people caught up in that life are still human. I get this. I know these are the children, siblings, parents, and loved ones of someone. I would help anyone who really wanted to turn their lives around. What is also clear to me is while addiction is a disease, at some point it was chosen. It is not cancer. At some point, someone picked up a substance, and for whatever reason, consumed it. I’m not here to place blame or state the obvious, but I think it needs to be said that addiction is 100% preventable.

I say this because while I will help someone who wants to be clean, I will not…NOT…let anyone drag me or my family along with them on the fucking dirty spiral that is addiction. So, if this person is not accountable and making very distinct steps towards being clean, I’m done. Stab-me-with-a-fork, Put-me-on-a-platter DONE!  There is no way I will sacrifice myself, my life, my family to help someone who doesn’t care enough to be accountable for their own actions and help themselves a little.

Some might call that selfishness. I call it self-preservation.

(Image Source: http://theaviso.org/2012/03/13/blog-controversial-opinion-piece-shows-editorial-process-at-work/)

You Don’t Have to Choose: Clean House & Happy Kids

Standard

Writing is work, and since the old proverb is true that money doesn’t grow on trees, I’ve been dedicating most of my time to my fiction writing of late. Once in a while, though, something comes along that crawls up under your skin, forcing you to write about it so you can rid your mind of the toxins. Such an article made its way into my pores tonight.

I’m not a fan of either/or stories, usually. Life proves with increasing frequency that rarely is “either/or” the way things actually are. There are generally many explanations or solutions. Thus, most of these stories are just some false dichotomy built around (or sometimes for) drama.

When I clicked on this little piece written in a man’s point of view, I thought I’d be happier by the end. The letdown was not dissimilar from a bad date.

Writing for The Washington Post, author Clint Edwards’s article “I Blamed My Wife for a Messy House. I Was Wrong For Many Reasons” seemed to have the potential of being rather insightful.

I wanted to read about a man who not only shared in the work of raising children, but also in keeping the home. To be fair, he does hit on that aspect, at least a little. He says he started washing some of the dishes after realizing the heavy workload carried by his wife, a stay-at-home mother. He even says he began to be more aware of his children’s development.

Kudos, I guess. Call me crazy, but I thought most dads did that sort of thing nowadays.

Sure, most of the time women carry the greatest part of the burden in the household as far as raising children, cooking, and keeping house. Maybe in decades past men weren’t helpful in the home, but I think that climate has changed significantly, even from just a decade ago.

I’m not honestly here to argue the finer points of gender roles in anyone’s home, though. What really bothered me was the point Edwards laments that having a messy, disorganized home is quite acceptable.

I refute that idea completely. Why? Let me tell you.

I raised three sons. Part of that time I worked a full-time job. My home was still never disorganized or dirty. I didn’t have the time of day for disorganization. “Messy” made me late. “Dirty” made me edgy. Our home was clean, neat, and organized so we knew without question where everything was, and there wasn’t a need for last minute cleaning if guests were coming. We were ready.

I say “we,” because we were a family, but I happened to have a husband who wouldn’t have lifted a finger to wash a dish or pay attention to our children any more than he would’ve volunteered for a superfluous rectal exam. Not that he shouldn’t have—don’t get me wrong, I deserved more help that I received. However, I did it. My kids learned to clean up after themselves, and no one suffered.

I had time to attend sporting events, band concerts, and school functions. Believe it or not, even though I took time to wash dishes, I was still able to potty train my 3 sons—a feat the author’s wife, apparently, is unable to perform.

This whole concept of one not being a good parent if they have to take time to clean their home makes no sense at all to me, and this woman didn’t work outside the home, either.

When I was a stay-at-home mom, I had time for all my children, cooking, cleaning, yard work, and even time to myself.

It isn’t about life being one or the other. It’s about being organized enough to make things work. Granted, sometimes that means enlisting help—and listen up men, if you’re not already helping, you should be. However, while being a stay-at-home mom is more than being Peggy Bundy circa Married with Children, eating bonbons and watching Oprah Winfrey, it is also not impossible.

Edwards says his wife would rather not be the type of mother who pays no attention to her children or herself, making it sound as if those stay-at-home parents who do find time to keep the household in the kind of order that prevents our neighbors from thinking we should be on an episode of Hoarders, are neglectful parents who also make no time for ourselves.

I call it hogwash.

Sometimes the kids have to come before scouring the tub, but generally speaking, what parents learn to do best is multi-task. Yes, that may mean you will sometimes be tired. That may mean your kids will not have your undivided attention throughout the day. It will probably also mean the kids need to pitch in to clean up their own little messes, but what’s the harm in that?

Keeping house has been part of human life since the advent of homes. Humans build a space to accommodate their family, and someone has to keep it clean. What humans are also champions at doing is complicating very simplistic situations.

Are we to believe that homemakers, no matter their gender, have life harder now than say in the 19th and 20th centuries? With all the new automated machines we have it harder? Now that we put dishes in a dishwasher or clothing in the washing machine and walk away until they’re ready to be removed instead of washing laundry on a washboard or dishes by hand in a sink—both which used to require also carrying water, I am to believe a person who stays home with their children is overburdened? Doubtful.

Here’s the real truth: Our lives have become so much easier we fail to organize properly, and we complain at even small efforts.

Rather than letting work pile up, women (and I say “women” because in the past it was traditionally women who were doing the work in the home) used to keep on top of things because they knew that pile of dishes or laundry would be impossible to tackle if they didn’t. Now, it seems so easy. “I’ll get that later,” but later never comes. By the time someone decides to jump in, the house is a disaster.

It isn’t either the house or the kids. Both can be attended to nicely, but it will take a slight bit of effort. Not the effort our foremothers were forced to put forth, mind you, but a little organization and time dedicated each day to housework can save so much trouble and embarrassment. While you’re at it, enlist the kids. One day they’ll be adults, and unless you want to clean their homes for them, it might be a good idea for them to know what cleaning looks like. Life isn’t all trips to the park, even though we wish it could be. The little ones won’t hate you for spending the time to clean the house. In fact, they’ll probably appreciate it in the long run.

(image source: http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/p/keep-calm-and-clean-the-house-7/)