The sub-moronic ramblings of a semi-functioning illiterate

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The MLK Challenge

I am blessed to share my birthday with the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, who would have been 89 years-old today. I’ve always felt a kinship with Dr. King because of our shared birthdays, and have strived to emulate him in word and deed my whole life. This isn’t always easy to do, because unlike my best friend who shares a birthday with Hitler, my birthday has some pretty big shoes to fill.

Sometime ago, after the shiny of turning another year older wore off, (right around age 21), I began to evaluate my life, and thought hard about what I was giving back to the world. I looked to my birthday-mate and wondered how he might have spent the past year I was gifted to have. That’s when I came up with the MLK Challenge.

Every year, beginning on my birthday, I promise myself that I will spend the new year performing an act of kindness, patience, tolerance or forgiveness for every year I’ve spent on earth. Some acts carry more weight than others, (kindness is especially easier than forgiveness), but I still strive for one act per one year of life.

I am 46 years-old today.

The challenge sounds easy enough in January. I have a whole year to help people with their groceries or reassure new mothers when their babies wail in restaurants. But by the time October comes, I begin looking everywhere for little old ladies to help cross the street. Mindfulness is a lot of work, so by the end of 2017 I had some very big challenges that remained undone. Here are the last three of the year:

OCTOBER: I challenged myself to be the bigger person when I decided to leave my job. The woman I worked for has very few redeemable qualities and is wholly unfit to run a company, so instead of the constant head-butting and blow-ups, I decided to simply part ways. My challenge wasn’t in leaving, but in not dragging this person’s name through the mud when asked by co-workers what happened, co-workers who I knew felt the same way toward her as I did. I was challenged not to disparage her to the companies she still had to work with who I knew favored me. I bit my tongue, gave professional reasons for leaving that did not call out her epic stupidity, and politely moved on. This woman did not do me the same service, and has since blasted me to anyone who will listen. It’s during those moments when I call on two of my favorite quotes for strength:

“Live your life so that when others speak badly of you, no one will believe it.”

“Have patience. In time, all truths will be revealed.”

I am not sure if my effort to be the bigger person falls under kindness, patience, tolerance or forgiveness. Maybe it’s all four. But when I think about Dr. King, and how he endured with dignity and grace so much more than an ignorant woman making him mad, I am both humbled and amazed.

NOVEMBER: This challenge of forgiveness was one I had never expected to attempt. My former step-mother was guilty of a lot of emotional abuse toward me growing up, and to say I despised her would be an understatement. She had attempted to friend me on Facebook over the years, and I dismissed her each time. I decided to step up to the challenge and forced myself to look at my childhood from her point of view. I examined her marriage to my father and her relationship to her own abusive mother. I began to have sympathy for all she had been forced to endure during her own childhood, and decided that forgiveness would be a gift I could give her. I do not anticipate an active friendship, but the hateful way I viewed her has now been replaced with understanding. I did not expect to find peace in this act, but I have.

DECEMBER: I hadn’t had any contact with my father for almost eight years. There was no abrupt fight, no particular action or statement that precipitated our estrangement, it just sort of happened. I had a lot of hurt feelings over my childhood, and put the blame almost entirely on him.

An amazing thing happens when you raise a teenage daughter who is eerily like yourself; you begin to feel bad for all you put your parents through growing up. I cannot count how many times I’ve called my mother to apologize for being belligerent as a teenager. I cringe when I think about it. I decided that this year would be the year I would offer that same apology to my father. I am so very glad I did.

It turns out he has not been well physically, and I very nearly lost him for good last year. He expressed regret and remorse for my childhood, and accepted blame for the past eight years apart. He never contacted me because he thought I hated him and didn’t blame me for the disconnect. That one hurt.

It frightens me to think that he might have died, not knowing that I had forgiven him some time ago, and that my inability or unwillingness to break the silence all these years could have been avoided with a single email; an email I am so very glad I challenged myself to send.

Now that 2018 is here, my first act is to challenge all of you to do the same. Not every challenge will bring you satisfaction, but you may just find a peace you hadn’t expected or a chance at a renewed relationship. And just like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, you will have left the world a better place than you found it.

 

 

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A Character Says What?

I started writing in earnest in the spring of 2009. Back then, my friend and I would email little snippets of our writing to each other for critique. Because we were just getting a feel for character development, we decided to visit a few writing sites for ideas. One of the ideas we liked was to ask our characters twenty questions. That concept was a great place to start, but the questions were fairly basic. Me being me, I decided to create my own list of questions to really put ourselves in the hearts and minds of our characters. I found them to be helpful even today with my new characters. I hope you do too.

1. What is each character’s zodiac sign?
2. Each character wakes up one Sunday morning to find they’ve unexpectedly got the house to themselves. What does each one do?
3. What was each character’s favorite Halloween costume?
4. What is each character’s most annoying habit?
5. Why is each character’s drink of choice?
6. Each wins a million dollars. What’s the first thing they buy?
7. First band/singer each saw in concert.
8. What is each character’s favorite ice cream?
9. What did each character want to be when they grew up?
10. Which one is left handed? (please make someone left-handed)
11. Who are they named after, and why?
12. What sports team(s) do they root for?
13. What does each character drive? (Pick-up, sedan, minivan, convertible)
14. What does each character suck at most?
15. Which one is the morning person? Who’s the night owl?
16. Who is each character’s secret celebrity crush?
17. Who was their first love?
18. What is each character’s favorite movie?
19. What is each character like when they are sick?
20. What is the one thing each of them would never let on about themselves?

I Got Merch!

The merch in question is an infinity scarf, covered in my novella, REAPERS WITH ISSUES. This amazing Christmas gift is from a longtime friend, worn by my short-time Kiddo.

I have heard of companies that make this particular type of product but have never seen it in real life. For someone who has been struggling to write lately, this gift came just in time. Reading my words has re-energized me, and hopefully my writing as well.

I was lucky to have a friend in my corner when I really needed it. Our friend The Hook could use some kind words today as well. Stop in to visit and offer some of your own.

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I am a cockroach

You may not know this about me, but I can be kind of a dick.

Keep that in mind if you decide to email me promises of wealth beyond my imagination, supplied by the overthrown Prince of a war-ravaged country or by Nigerian/Sudanese/Ugandan dissidents. You may not like how the conversation goes.

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If anyone what “foufoff” means, please let me know.

Firestop

Photo by Jen Kolb

Two years. Seven months. Fifteen days.

That’s how long it’s been since I’ve posted anything on what used to be my favorite place in the world. Life has a funny way of pulling your attention elsewhere, whether you like it or not.

What I didn’t know before I began writing was that life has always had its own plan for me. That plan is to be what I call “Keeper of the Pain.” Everyone’s pain. I have been destined to hold everyone together while they fall apart, my own wants and needs be damned. I tempted fate when I stepped away from that role to indulge in something for myself- my writing. I looked away for what felt like a moment and when I looked back, my life was in flames.

It has taken me two years, seven months and fifteen days to gain control of that fire, but it is far from extinguished. My role as Keeper of the Pain burns on.

The struggle I face is incorporating my own wants, needs and pain into the firestorm of problems that I deal with daily. This blog, I hope, will become a firestop-  a small, controlled burn to keep the larger fires from raging out of control, consuming me once more.

I hope to light a fire of my own.

I hope.

Tom Cotton and Being a Good American

cicero_capitoline_museum_rome-e1359123649594By now everyone in the free world has heard of Republican Senator Tom Cotton’s open letter to Iran’s Leaders. If you haven’t, you can view it here. I am also certain that Americans everywhere have already divided into their personal political camps over the matter.

The point of this blog is not to discuss my political views or to pontificate as to whether I am anti or pro anything. Today’s blog is about what it means to be a good American, and how with the crafting of one letter, Senator Tom Cotton and forty-six of his Republican cronies fell woefully short of that ideal.  Read the rest of this page »