Friday, February 28, 2014

Game the Game

Forget that saying about not hating the player and hating the game. Life is not a game. Don't envy the rich and famous. Understand them.

  • They sit on toilets. Just like you do.
  • They probably feel a little more self-conscious than you do when they do sit on toilets.
  • They have picked their noses. Just like you have.
  • Imagine their horror vs yours if they ever get caught picking their noses.
  • They have morning breath. Just like you do.
  • Their morning breath might even be worse, if they actually do all the things they've been accused of.
  • They have bad breath sometimes. Just like you do.
  • Their bad breath might get reported on in a gossip rag. Horror!
  • They lie awake some nights, feeling lonely, worried, scared, unloved and unappreciated. Just like you do.
  • Most of them do what they do so that they don't feel that way. 
  • That very deep middle of the crack of their butt smells. Just like yours does.
  • You'd look better too, if you had the resources they had.
  • Some of them don't look much better than you do, even with all those resources.
  • You might look better.
  • In person, you probably do look better. You can't Photoshop 'in-person'.
  • They spend their days working on their image.
  • You spend your days working on your life.
  • They might have a bigger funeral, but you're both going to be dead.
  • They live under a lot of pressure. They choose to live under that pressure.

There are days I'd like to swap lives with some of these people. Then there are days when I think of all the ways I'm not like a "Real Housewife", porn star, celebrity socialite or anyone with more than 50,000 Twitter followers. I think about things like...
  • I don't wear false eyelashes and contoured eye makeup.
  • If I did, I wouldn't have it on by eight in the morning.
  • After I got it on, I'd need touch-ups about every three minutes.
  • To be honest, I can't wear more than a little eye shadow ever since I damn near put my eye out with a sharp eye-lining pencil.
  • I definitely can't wear a full-on face of foundation, the stroke my face thoughtfully without leaving a complete set of my fingerprints on every piece of white clothing I own.
  • My foundation doesn't come in shades like 'Peach" or "Barely Nude'. Mine come with names like 'Chocolate Kiss' and 'Color Me Cocoa'. 
  • Cameras following me around my house would catch at least one shot of a junk drawer, messy closet or magazines and books that don't look like I bought them that very day and never opened them.
  • My outfits are never so runway glam, photo-ready casual or carelessly chic.
  • I don't photograph well at just any moment.
  • I don't photograph well at all without the proper lighting, angle and a sponge to erase the shine on my face.
  • I look like I've worked out after I go to the gym.
  • Sometimes, I looked like I've died and been medically resuscitated after I've gone to the gym.
  • My hair would never be so well-maintained after tennis, jogging or romping around in bed.
  • My hair barely looks so well-maintained after I've spent twenty minutes maintaining it.
  • I don't like men trying to "run their fingers through my hair."
  • To be real about it, it would take something more than a man to run his fingers anything but over this natural hair.
  • He has to be special to me before I let him even touch my hair.
  • I'm a black woman. I don't let water near my hair unless I've got my entire styling kit and a good half hour to deal with the situation.
  • I am not ready to smile for the camera two minutes after eating spinach fritata, blackened ribs, or whatever food has any kind of coloring in it whatsoever.
  • Who takes those "intimate" selfies of celebrity couples snuggling in bed?
  • Who wants someone hanging around to take those selfies?
  • Why the hell is it so hard to do cat-eye makeup on over-20 eyes?
  • Am I the only one that likes to take a quick shower before having sex?
  • Why are there more unattractive actors than unattractive actresses?
  • Why don't I look as good chewing food, blowing my nose or waking up in the morning as characters on TV?
  • Why are so many real life things edited out of even those movies that are supposed to be about "real" people?
  • I don't have wild sex with strange men who just happened to come to my door in a fake workman's outfit offering to take care of my plumbing.
  • Okay, I lied, but it only happened once and I found out that my then husband is not very good at role-playing.
Yeah. So. My life may not be perfect, but that's what makes it a life.


Kita Reloaded

The fam has new kitties. We said we weren't going to, but we got a brother and sister. I wasn't thrilled about falling in love with another cat after Kita died...

My beautiful Kita

Kita as a kitten

black cat is a boy, the other is a girl

Extreme cuteness

JP's hand looks GIANT next to them

7 weeks old. They love each other

"Let go of me!"

We are still trying to come up with names. I've thought of Kid and Play, Storm and Snow. One of my nieces wanted to call them Tom and Jerry. Dummy didn't know that only Tom is a cat! My Aussie friend got silly and thought of Kanga and Roo, which is actually kind of cute. We are too sad about our past cats to use their names, but I did think of Go (for Goku) and Ki(ta)...

For now, I think of this one as "Bonsai Kita".

Little honey
My toddler nephew is learning to leave them alone. He's discovered they have claws and they've discovered that, around DJ, claws might come in handy. The dogs, Wally and Shadow, think they are rats. I think they are just adorable.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

My Writer's Wishlist

  • Fingers that type as fast as thoughts come into my head.
  • To have my thoughts print right out onto the page.
  • To think my story right into the heads of readers.
  • Not wasting time thinking thoughts like those last three.
  • The ability to read through my work without adding, deleting and re-writing parts.
  • To not have to stop and laugh, cry or meditate on something I've written.
  • For writers to get the same kind of attention that someone does for doing something idiotic or pointless that went "viral" online.
  • Someone to clean my house when I get into a writing mania and just cannot be bothered with  doing earthly things like chores.
  • Money enough to write without worrying about work or whether the bills in my mailbox are white, blue or pink this month.
  • A sponsor.
  • A sponsor with a big bank account and a bigger heart for artists.
  • A sponsor who doesn't think that sleeping with him is part of the deal.
  • A drink.
  • A drink and a cigarette, if I could still smoke.
  • Being able to smoke only when I am in writing mode and being able to not smoke when I'm out of writing mode.
  • A magic mug that refills itself with hot coffee, cream and sugar as I need it.
  • A safe, non-addictive drug like cocaine that would let me write for hours on end without becoming fatigued but that wouldn't cause wars or any other type of crime.
  • God to let me live long enough to finish writing out all the stories I have in stored in my heart and soul.
  • Some way to make all these wishes come true.
  • And, if I can't have these wishes, then I'd settle for all the stuff on my Amazon list.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Real Friends

  • I talk with them using my 'real' voice and not that one I use for answering the phone and talking to strangers.
  • They talk to me the same way.
  • We laugh about our other voices.
  • Laughed with them and didn't worry what I looked like while I was laughing.
  • Let the them see see me looking like hell, when I had a good reason for looking like hell.
  • Let them see me looking like hell, even when I didn't have a good reason.
  • They encouraged me, without hurting my feelings or esteem, not to look like hell unless it was for a good reason.
  • If it was for a good reason, they didn't care what I looked like, they only cared what I was feeling.
  • Exposed my body, my mind and my soul, without thinking about being exposed.
  • Spent time with them - with no music, TV, or noise needed to mask the silence.
  • Cried my eyes out when I was sad.
  • Cursed a rainbow-ed streak when I was mad.
  • They know my family and have met the skeletons.
  • They and my family (and the skeletons) are now family too.
  • I might not hear from them for weeks but, when I do, we are the same friends we've always been and will always be.
  • When we are out together and look at someone, then look at each other, we read each other's minds.
  • Doing that sometimes gets us in trouble.
  • We are used to getting into a little trouble together.
  • Walked away in the middle of their visit when the urge to write hit me.
  • Let them make my home their home.
  • Fell asleep next to them (male or female) in bed after we spent hours talking, or because it was way too late/dark/cold for them to go home, or because they were too tired/drunk/cried out/silly to drive home.
  • If one of us is sick, the other one is going to be there or call or do what we have to do to show we care.
  • I let them use my computer and not worry about them seeing my browser history.
  • I've seen their browser history and we're still friends.
  • Pulled down my pants, lifted my bra or took off my shoe to ask if they knew what the hell that was about.
  • Did a Google Search with them when they had no idea what the hell that was.
  • Laughed like a maniac with them when we finally did figure out what the hell that was.
  • Didn't drop them as a friend for life when they told me why I should never, ever, wear that one pink shade of lipstick again.
  • Didn't even get too mad at them when they told another good friend why they suggested I never wear that damn pink lipstick again.
  • Let them have a copy of that one really embarrassing photo from my childhood - not the embarrassing-but-cute-in-retrospect photo, but the photo that one hundred and ten years from now will still be embarrassing.
  • Being able to act like I am a silly, giggly, ten-year old girl again with them one minute, then being as grown as needed the next.
  • I can call them at anytime - the middle of a busy day, in the dead of night - and they are going to answer my call.
  • They might end up cussing me out if my call wasn't urgent, exciting, raunchy or entertaining, and I interrupted something that was, but they won't hate me. Much. It depends.
  • I'm okay with them cussing me out because of those calls. At some point, I'm going to cuss them out for the same reason.
  • They are still going to answer my future calls. I'm still going to answer theirs.
  • We know that not all family is blood-related.
  • Told them about my fantasies, dreams and goals - even the ones I won't tell anyone else. Ever.
  • They've seen me nappy, happy, crappy, cute, bitchy, petty, feral, contemplating naughtiness, regretting wrongs, and being wholly, totally, truthfully, no-holds-barred me.
  • They know me and still love me.
"Friends come in every shape and color and, most importantly, in every kind of crazy." (me)


From Pinterest...

This is my kind of friend!

Friendship for real

The Writer's Kitchen

(It's early, I'm unsettled. I have to write something, anything. Good morning, life.)
As a writer, I feel like something of a chef. And I like that idea.
My stories come from recipes of thoughts.
My thoughts come from my past, present and future ingredients of my experiences.
I test them, taste them, add a little seasoning, and taste them again.
I've thrown out entire meals that took months to prepare.
I will not serve up what did not become precisely what I meant it to be.
There are pieces of recipes jotted on the backs of receipts and books, even in eyeliner on the gum wrappers.
Aperitifs to set the mood and stir the appetite. They are either the easiest or most difficult to create.
Perhaps and appetizer to prepare the palate for what's to come.
And then, the main dish. Spicy or smooth; forbidden, maybe even wild and gamey.
Everything else has mattered, but here is where I've put in what had to be ripped out of me.
Then dessert. Like the best cigarette you've ever had after the best release of the most intense passion.
And some digestif. A reward for joining me at my table. Something to let the guest sigh with contentment.
The readers - my guests, they will be back for more. If I have earned it, there will be a clamor for seats at my future tables.
When one story is finished, its stains and scraps still with the reader, I go and prepare to write again.
I will browse the aisles of my memories to search out new seasonings to pair with the staples stashed at the ready: desire, perseverance, suffering and madness.
Writing feeds hungry souls and satisfies the cravings of the mind.
What I do matters.
What I do is real.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Being the Writer I Am

  • Knowing that a great blog post today means a reader might be disappointed tomorrow.
  • Being okay with that because I know they might still come back to see what else I have to say.
  • Writing about a character's problems and hoping that people don't think I'm that character.
  • Sometimes wishing people could know I am some of my characters.
  • Not being able to read anything but what I'm working on because I don't want to mimic another writer's voice.
  • Feeling like no one else understands what I'm going through while working on a story.
  • Realizing that I sort of like that no one else understands what I'm going through while working on a story.
  • Picking up pieces of characters from people I meet and using them in a story.
  • Thinking of all the stories that will die with me if I don't get them written down.
  • Letting that last thought motivate me to write those stories down.
  • Worrying that, since I am so broke, I should be doing something other than writing.
  • Knowing that, no matter what, writing means so much to me that I'd rather die of being broke than I would to die of not writing.
  • Knowing that there are a some people who will understand that.
  • Knowing that not many people will ever understand that.
  • Usually not really giving a damn whether or not people will ever understand that.
  • Wanting to smoke when I am writing, even though I no longer smoke.
  • Falling so in love with my own characters that it's hard to let them be who they need to be.
  • Knowing that, since I never had kids, my stories will be what tells the future I was here, and mattered.
  • Writing about people I want to fall in love with, be friends with, go out for drinks with, and tell my secrets to in the dark.
  • Wishing my mother could be here when I finally have my name printed on a hardback book.
  • Knowing that my mother *is* here, in some way, whenever I am writing all these stories.
  • Getting into such a writing mania that nothing else matters: not typos or grammar or language. 
  • Knowing that there will be time enough for all of that to matter once I've freed the story from my heart.
  • Having known people that become inspiration for my stories.
  • Knowing that I might one day meet someone I thought only existed in my stories.
  • Being able to say "my stories".
  • Having worlds I've created to escape to when the world around me isn't everything I want it to be.
  • Knowing that I might not be accepted and celebrated as writer until I've been dead and gone for hundreds of years.
  • Being mostly okay with that because being known and celebrated doesn't matter as much as the writing does.
  • Not wanting to be like any of my favorite authors, but wanting to be someone they'd want to be.
  • Dreaming dreams that I can put down in words for other people to read about.
  • Knowing that, for all my weaknesses, I have something so good in me that writing is the only way to express it.
  • Sometimes, editing out of my stories things that I think reveal too much of who I am.
  • Putting those things back in the story because I realize it's okay to reveal who I am because it's okay to be who I am.
  • Being so lonely when I am writing that I have to enter the company of my characters.
  • Turning depression, frustration, fear and anxiety to my advantage by writing.
  • Knowing that, because I write, I am part of a group of very special people.
  • Knowing that, just as I have fallen in love with creative people I've only met through their work, someone is going to fall in love with me.
  • Knowing that that's a perfecty good thing.
  • Feeling like I've been unplugged from the Heavens when I come out of the dream state that is writing.
  • Being thankful to God that he gave me this urge to express myself and a way to do it.
  • Knowing that there are people reading all this who understand everything I am saying.
And that's what it means to me to be the #writer I am. That's what it means to be me.


Friday, February 21, 2014

Don't Like and Do Love. A List.

The Don't Likes:
  • Automatic doors that hesitate so long that I almost run into them.
  • When I'm too stupid to realize the automatic door is 'slower' than I am.
  • Well-dressed people who ruin the look with a bad attitude. 
  • The mean thoughts I have about those people, like hoping they trip and fall while I'm watching. 
  • Parents who let their bad-assed kids loose on the public, and then act as if you were the one who advised them not to teach the little monsters how to behave.
  • Other shoppers who hog the aisles with their carts, then get pissed if you bump into it while trying to pass.
  • Shoppers who pretend to be deaf and blind when you are trying to pass them in an aisle.
  • Adults who never use the words/phrases "Thank you", "Excuse me", "Please", "Hello', "Sir" and "Ma'am".
  • Children who aren't being taught the above words/phrases.
  • Men who don't hold doors for women. 
  • People who find the above statement sexist or anti-feminist.
  • Drive-through coffee service when I can't just request cream to add for myself.
  • Weak coffee.
  • Coffee so strong that an entire bottle of creamer won't mellow it out.
  • Men who wait for a woman to make the first move.
  • Women who scared men out of making the first move.
  • People who think a man holding a door for a woman is a 'statement' of some kind.
  • Sloppy kisses. Unless it's from a dog.
  • Kissing a dog. Of any kind.
  • Not being able to cancel obligations at the last minute without appearing rude.
  • Cancelling obligations at the last minute.
  • Fake apologies.
  • Making fake apologies.
  • Morning breath so bad that hazard lights ought to start flashing with your first words.
  • Mistaking someone's long, thoughtful stare for flirting.
  • Flirting with someone you only thought was flirting with you.
  • Getting halfway through a manuscript before you decide to change a character's name.
  • Seeing descriptions on social media that could mean anything.
  • Not understanding exactly what it means to be a "brand specialist" or "life optimizer".
  • Having someone who lives in the shadows and stalks your online profile.
  • Wondering if that person is masturbating to your profile pic.
  • Trying to take a cute-but-not-whorish-looking profile pic.
  • Trying to look attractive, serious, intelligent, fun and un-posed in a profile pic.
  • Trying not to capture glass-cleaner streaks or runs when you take that bathroom mirror selfie.
  • Getting stuck in a check-out line behind a person who bought everything that needs a price-check or that they have a coupon for.
  • Not having one of the coupons for the same thing you have in your own basket.
  • Having hair that only behaves the way you want when you aren't going to be seen by one damn person you care about.
  • Not feeling well and not being able to explain why.
  • Drinking coffee on the patio and swallowing something that could have been a lump of powder cream or the baby spider you saw earlier.
  • Not being able to find that baby spider anywhere near where he was before.
  • Not being able to make yourself throw up the coffee.
  • Thinking about that nasty, unidentified lump every time you drink something for the next week.
  • When I visit my toddler nephew and he's so busy playing that he pays me no attention at all.
  • Having nothing to write with or on when you have an idea for a story.
  • Damn near hurting yourself to get to pen and paper and forgetting the idea you had.
  • When the idea you had really sucks snot once you get it written down.
  • Writing what is possibly the most eloquent thing ever to leak from your brain only to read it over and think, "Meh."
  • When you're so broke you can't pay attention.
  • Finding a great sale on a product you've been wanting at the time you're brokest.
  • Being broke. Period.
  • When you've re-arranged all your bills so that you have lights, food and gas, and then reading news about someone who bought diamond-encrusted nail polish.
  • Knowing that, if you could, you might also splurge on diamond-encrusted nail polish.
  • Spending forty bucks on something frivolous to cheer yourself out of the blues, then realizing you forgot a bill that's due.
  • Returning that frivolous thing so you can pay your bill.
  • Realizing that you don't really miss the frivolous thing you returned.
  • Buying a lipstick that looks so good  in the store only to realize, once you get home, that it makes you look a little scary.
  • Doing the same thing with an outfit, only the outfit makes you look scarier. Or desperate, or cheap, or, maybe, just sad.
  • Realizing you can't wear the same cute clothes at fifty-something that you did at twenty-something - or even at forty-something.
  • Realizing that maybe you should never have worn some of the clothes you did.
  • Wishing you had a "significant other" only because you want someone to have sex with, and you're too good for one-night stands.
  • Wanting to have sex and having no one to have it with.
  • Wondering if that last item was grammatically... what?
  • The term "significant other". 
  • Wondering if that term makes you the insignificant one.
  • Kissing with no sex.
The Loves:
  • Kissing with no sex.
  • Having really pleasant conversations with someone you'll probably never ever see again.
  • A whole day to do whatever you want.
  • Knowing what it is I want to do for a whole day.
  • Watching a comedian that makes me laugh so hard my stomach hurts.
  • When I visit family and my toddler nephew runs screaming for the door the minute he hears my voice.
  • That big, nasty chocolate-and-slobber kiss I get on my ear from my nephew.
  • Having a really cute stranger flirt with me, even if I'm never going to see him again and there was no chance that, if I did, anything would come of the flirting.
  • Waking up too fast because I think it's a Monday when, really, it's Sunday and I can go right back to sleep.
  • Making a CD of that one really good song so I can play it on loop and dance like a maniac if I want to.
  • Dancing like a maniac to that one really good song.
  • That first perfect cup of coffee first thing in the morning.
  • Any cup of coffee first thing in the morning.
  • When I wake up with breath so fresh that I wish I had someone to roll over and kiss without throwing their body into shock.
  • That one special guy friend I can talk to about any and every thing.
  • That one special guy friend who makes me feel beautiful and isn't going to ever (say he wants to) sleep with me.
  • Reading a book so good that I adopt the characters as imaginary friends for the rest of my life.
  • Writers who write so well that I swear I can hear them telling the story inside my own head.
  • Falling in love with the characters I write about.
  • Remembering something about a loved one that makes me break into a big smile.
  • Knowing that there is a person out there who is going to meet me and make me fall as in love with them as they will be with me.
  • Hope.
  • Dreams.
  • Goals.
  • Beating the odds.
  • Being here.
  • Being me.
  • Having so many more "Loves" that I will have to continue this at another time.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

On Writing and Writer's Block

For the past few weeks, I've been neglecting everything else while I work on my latest story. I love writing - or, at least, I love creating characters and plots. The writing part is pure slavery.

At this very moment, I am having writer's block. Every one who write's fiction knows that writer's block is usually due not to having nothing to say but having too much to say with no clue how to say it all. I think I just proved my point.

So what do I do when I have these moments? Waste time on line, of course.

My relatives just might have it right

Ha. I feel better already.

I also sit on my personal pity pot and think too much about things that have nothing to do with what I'm working on. For instance, has it occurred to the other writers with social media networks how insanely cruel people can be? If you're not spending at least three hours a day interacting online with people, they stop  visiting your blog or throwing any encouraging words your way. I swear, I've heard from just one person this week (out of the 4000 or so contacts I have). Really, people? I am over here trying to create worlds out of mere words. The least you could do is stop in every now and then to say hello...

That frustrates me. So I waste a little more time on line.

Doing what I really do instead of what I want to do.

There are tons of this crap out there.

Another thing I like to do when 'blocked' is take vacations to a fantasy world where this damn book is finished, published and on every best-seller list out there.Which is exactly what's never going to happen if I keep Googling for stuff like this:

Because it matters


If I get too caught up in my feelings of misery, I look for encouragement:
"A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit." (Richard Bach)
Or for company:
"The music lets me see the story but the story doesn't let me write the words." (Elizabeth J. Kolodziej)
Speak on it, sister!

#truth is a bitch

I smiled when I found this quote:
"Writing about a writer's block is better than not writing at all." (Charles Bukowski)
Mission accomplished.

I feel a little better now than I did when I started this post. I'm still 'blocked' but I can get on with the business of breaking through.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Success and Happiness, Morality and Choices

I was just now reading an article about some wealthy folks showing their asses at a private event. When I say "wealthy" I'm talking billionaire-wealthy. Apparently these are folks who have chosen money as their Master.

At first, I was angry, then I realized that my anger won't change the way people choose to live their lives. As a matter of fact, my anger and disappointment means nothing to these people. So I gave up on the wasted emotions and started to wonder about what drives certain people. What drives some people to be selfless and others to be unashamedly greedy? What makes some of us lose little pieces of our humanity?

Think about people who started out with good intentions before they got caught up in pursuing money or fame. I can think of a lot of so-called pastors and Christians who didn't just backslide but bobsledded down into greed. I can look back ten or twelve years to some celebrities who started out in the church and have ended up making themselves into gods. And I'm talking here about people who literally have tried to re-name themselves after God or Jesus. Calling that mess the Illuminati is like portraying the Devil as a little fork-tongued man in red tights. You name something and people forget about everything but the label.

If anyone needs proof that good and evil exist, all they need to do is look at the world around them. I have a belief that we become taken over, in essence, by whatever we exalt higher than all else. Fame or looks or money. As far as money, there's really no stopping anyone from becoming rich other than the limits they set for themselves. I think that, if a person could put everything else in life second to the goal of becoming rich (or beautiful or famous), then they will be rich (or beautiful or famous).

A lot of us are gated in by our personal convictions. Financially, my own life is in shambles right now, but I've had chances to change that fact. There are just a lot of things I refuse to do to have more money or "security". I don't care what your religious beliefs (or non-beliefs) are, most of us have a gatekeeper in our hearts. This sentry is what keeps us from acting on certain impulses and desires. I have a strict 'gatekeeper' while I know people with more lenient ones.

On the other hand, I see people of my class (I really do hate that word) who will do some things for happiness that they wouldn't do for money. For instance, I know women who'd never trick for money, but they will let one man turn them out - all in the name of 'love'.

When I think of the few wealthy folks mentioned in the article I read, I equate them to poorer people I know. These folks I personally know of might not kill you for a dollar but they'd kill you over a pair of shoes, a piece of jewelry, or a lover.

Some people have managed to reach financial security without selling their souls, but there are some people (in my opinion) who will always think that 'more' is never enough. They are like the anorexics who will diet themselves to death.

What drives us - rich and poor - to even consider some desires? Is it some sort of fear? Or is a desperate emptiness we are trying to fill? Soul hunger? Needing to feel- what?

Because I am of Christian beliefs, I think of what Christ said about one not being able to serve two Masters. In some ways, most of us are guilty of at least struggling with trying not to serve another Master. (I struggle with being prideful and holding grudges.) Are we any better than a billionaire who jokes about the poor when we joke among ourselves about someone not as attractive or smart or popular?

Still, I pity rich people just as they might pity me. Maybe they pity me for my faith. I'm sure they believe that I, in some way, deserve my poverty. I pity that they have chosen money over compassion and charity. I pity that everything they have lived for will die with them. They will die beautiful, maybe, and rich, maybe, but they will be a dead empty body just like I will one day be. What's the difference? Well, we will find out.


P.S.: Hope this post is fairly coherent. It's been a loooong day for me.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

***REVIEW*** (Part 2) "Never Tear Us Apart"

I saw the last part of the movie last night. Wow. That was a real tear-jerker. I cried so much that I had to put cold compresses on my eyes to get rid of the swelling. To be honest, I've lost so many loved ones in the past 15 months that I think watching any sad movie was going to break me down. This one just kicked me in the guts. I don't want to give away anything to ruin the movie for folks still waiting to watch, so I'm just going to talk in general terms about the movie.

While I still don't think that Luke Arnold looks as much like Hutchence as a lot of people are claiming, I have to admit that he nailed the look during one scene. This is video of the real deal

                       (The part re-enacted comes in at 04:02)

In the movie, that Arnold guy could have been Hutchence's twin when he pulled off the stage look. For a minute, I thought this was a part where the director was using real footage.

Now that I am over my emotions (mostly) about the film, I have some criticism.

First, it was a little bit disturbing how some things presented previously in the INXS book were done so differently in the movie. Here is where you're going to be able to tell that I am a super-fan:

  • The scene where Hutchence was injured by the cab driver. (The book has him drunk and outside while Helena Christensen was still in the club.)
  • Garry Garry Beers infidelity with a back-up singer. (Book: was hazier but the story seemed slightly different.)
  • The drug use. (I'm Team-Tina Hutchence on this one. The book detailed lots of drug use by other band members - not just Michael. I really thought it was tacky that they portrayed him acting way higher at Rockpalast than videos of the actual concert.)
  • The infidelity. (The book included accounts of some of the other guys chasing their share of ass. The movie portrayed them as almost saintly in their marriages. I'm just saying.)
  • Some things were just touched on and then left to fade without explanation: Mrs. Farriss's illness and death. Whatever happened to Mr. Farriss.
  • Not enough attention was given to the other band member's lives and accomplishments. (One of the greatest things about them as a band was that they worked hard to treat each other as equals, even when the world didn't.)
  • I wish they had included more of Hutchence's history with Michele Bennett. (She's obviously a lovely woman. I always hoped that it was her that Michael had ended up living out life with - I mean, since it wasn't going to be me...)
  • There was too much focus on sex. Fans have already heard how "sexual" Hutchence was. I think it would have been nice to show more of his intellectual interests and heart.
There are a couple other things that fans will find depicted in a more "for dramatization purposes" than the way it seemed to have happened in real life.

Now. I am going to have a little bit of a rant about a few things:

First - about the heat Tina Hutchence is taking from Chris Murphy - excuse me, C.M. Murphy. The guy is obviously genius when it comes to promoting artists, but I was put off by reports of how he responded to Ms. Hutchence's criticism of the film. One report talked about how he and the surviving members of the band have Michael's daughter's best interests at heart. They made this movie to show her another side of her father, blah, blah, blah. I'm not sure that Hutchence would be any more pleased than his sister with the way their mother was portrayed in the film. (The comment about Tina being a "side half-sister" was particularly nasty, in my opinion.) No matter what your feelings are within a family, No one outside should dis your mom or sibling. Second of all, Murphy hit low by implying that if Tina cared so much, she would have "been there" for Michael. Wow. Really? Well, the guys in the band were like his brothers and they weren't able to be any more "there" when it counted. Who could be? Michael was troubled, just as lots of people who take their lives are. I thought that was a low blow to loved ones of any suicidal person. If one claims to care so much about Hutchence's daughter, you'd think they'd be more careful in what they say about that child's aunt. (I didn't include links to these articles because I was too lazy, but you can find them easily.)

All in all, I am glad the movie was made. It's nice that the band's hard work is recognized by their country. I do think that it would take a full-length, cinematic-grade film to capture the whole story. I've heard that the movie to see is one being worked up by Richard Lowenstein. That's the one I'll be waiting for.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Here I Go Again

Almost 3 months into the new year. As a woman who's given up on making resolutions, I am backsliding. I've now resolved to change my dietary habits. Again.

Several years ago, I went on a juicing kick. I drove everyone within 50 feet crazy with the jackhammer sounds of my juicer. I juiced carrots and apples and spinach at 5 in the morning so I'd have my breakfast and lunch ready for work. After work, I dropped keys and jacket and headed for the kitchen to juice carrots and beets and oranges for dinner. Sometime in the evening, I'd juice whatever veggies I could so I'd have something for middle-of-the-night cravings.

I felt better and looked better. I was already about a buck-ten in the weight department, so losing pounds wasn't a goal. Juicing was the best thing that happened to my hair, skin and nails. Even my eyes were brighter. The biggest benefit was that my brain seemed to be on steroids. Good thing because I was working like a field hand at that point in my life.

Juicing lost appeal for me when I got sick of drinking all my nutrition. I'd go out with friends and eat the same things I juiced at home. I justified my love of vodka and O.J. by categorizing the drinks as "electrified  nutrition." Hah. The thing is, when you're already fairly healthy (and young and pretty and thin), you don't appreciate all the benefits of good dietary habits.

Now that I am older and just getting back into shape, I pay lots of attention to all my habits. Walking cutely in high heels used to be the only exercise I needed to stay in shape. These days, if I smell a doughnut, I have to do three miles on a Planet Fitness treadmill. I used to joke about ingesting calories via smell, then I saw this documentary on Netflix the other night.The whole smell-to-calories crap is a thing. Well, damnit.

Thanks to that same documentary, I started thinking again about juicing. And I'm not talking about sucking the soul from someone during a deep kiss. I'm talking about spending money for a decent machine and then stocking up on produce for suck the liquid from.

Of course, when I went on my juicing kick before, I should've eased into and made the process more bearable. I went all out and ate practically no solid food for about two weeks. Let me tell you something about doing that: my insides were so clean, I think my colon squeaked when I went to the bathroom. Maybe that's too much information, but I put it out there as a warning to others. Chewing some fruit and veggies every now and then might've made my life easier. Also, I could have limited my intake. I just went juice-crazy.

This time, I'm going to be held in check by the state of my budget. It's pretty tough to eat healthy, especially here in Alaska where produce can rank right up there with diamonds if you're buying in the winter months. In the summertime, you still have to shop around because shipping costs from out of state is ridiculous and local farmers can get greedy when it comes to their Alaska harvests.

I've learned some lessons from poverty, let me tell you. When I start my juicing this time, I'm going to be buying on-sale produce in bulk and then freezing and storing up what I juice. My goal is not to have the freshest juice. I just want to have more good stuff (fresh or not-so-fresh) going into my body in place of the fresh junk I've been getting. And it's not that I have bad eating habits. I eat fairly healthily, but I know that I'm getting too many additives and second-hand vitamins. I eat salads (with lots of store-bought dressings), I bake-not-fry too many things that come out of the freezer sections of the grocery store, and I cheat too often by drinking coffee in place of having a meal. I've said it before and I'll repeat it from Beyond: I'm never giving up my coffee.

courtesy Etsy
courtesy Tumblr
Yes, indeed.

I remember that when I juiced, I could almost immediately feel a difference in my energy level. What I don't remember (you know, because I was in my early thirties and took everything for granted) is when I noticed a change in my appearance. When I start this time, I will do updates here on the blog. In the meantime, I am on the hunt for a blender that I can afford. I am having severe longings for this one from Amazon. It's affordable. Too bad the shipping rates to Alaska are so ridiculous on Amazon. (Not the first time I've bitched about that.)

If any of you have been thinking about (or already are) juicing, I'll try to share recipes and info as I find them.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

They Call It 'Motherwit'

This post is for my mother. She had a million bits of simple advice for me, no matter what problem I was having. I miss her and I love sharing the things she taught me.

When you feel sad:
'Sad' passes if you let it; if it doesn't, get help. Remember a time when you were not sad. Realize you won't always be sad. Watch something that makes you laugh so hard your stomach aches. Call up that friend who, you know when come running when you say you are sad. Take a long drive to nowhere in particular while playing great music.

When you feel happy:
Remember when you weren't happy. Think about someone who might not feel happy and do something for them. Say "Thank you" to good people in your life, even if you only say it in your heart. Do some of the things you don't have energy to do when you aren't happy. Stop for a moment and just feel the joy. You won't always feel this way, so cherish it.

When you feel lonely:
Know you aren't alone in feeling lonely. Make 'lonely' work for you. Remember when you didn't feel lonely. Find someone else who feels lonely. Get help, get comfort, get advice. Make changes.

When you feel on top of the world:
Know that feeling won't last. Remember when you didn't feel on top of the world. Think of how you can help someone who has never felt that way. Be good to people. Be humble. Don't be an ass about it.

When you feel beautiful on the outside:
Try to be as beautiful on the inside. Know that you won't always be beautiful on the outside. Know that 'beautiful' means different things to different people. Love everyone as much as you would if you weren't so beautiful. Love yourself as much as you would if you weren't so beautiful. Understand that beauty only matters as much as it matters.

When you feel beautiful on the inside:
Be thankful and hope that all people learn to feel that way.

When you feel ugly on the outside:
Know that being ugly outside doesn't mean you need to be an ugly person. Someone is going to find you beautiful if you find yourself beautiful. Accept yourself. Don't worry about 'ugly' beautiful people. Realize that there's a difference between 'ugly' and 'miserable' - then decide which you want to be.

When you feel ugly inside:
Get help. Make changes. Examine your heart.

When you feel overwhelmed:
First ask yourself why you feel overwhelmed. Start somewhere - anywhere - but don't linger on how you feel. Do one thing, then one more thing, and another. Ask someone for help. Stop and take a moment to just breathe. Back away from it all and come back when you are calmer.

When you feel unloved:
Love someone else. Comfort someone. Know that you just haven't met the person who can love you.Know that God loves you.

When you feel like you can't go on:
Ask yourself if anyone else has ever felt this way (and, in case you didn't know, everyone sometimes feels this way). Know that you must go on.  Know that you are needed by someone in this world - whether you know it or not. Want to wait for that person who needs you. Remember that, like everything - good or bad - this too will pass.

If you lose someone you thought was a friend:
Some friends are friends, some friends are not. Real friends will grow with you as life changes. Life changes, people change. Remember: you only thought they were a friend; now, at least, you know the truth.

When you get your heart broken:
Get his/her heart before you give him/her your body. A broken heart will teach your soul lessons. A real 'lover' is not defined in the bedroom. If you learned anything, it was worth the pain.

When you have life regrets:
A regret is only a regret if it didn't make you a better person. Don't miss doing today by thinking about yesterday. Don't forget, just don't linger.


Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Single Awareness Day - Seriously

Some single folks might be sad today. They are feeling like they are missing out on being coupled up, in love and sure of getting loved up tonight. So, I do get it. This can be a day of torture. You have to go to work and watch all those gift deliveries that are coming NOT YOUR WAY. Or you'll have to plant that I'm-so-happy-for-you smile on your face and say things like, "Aww... sweetness," when your friends tell you all about their plans. Valentine's Day feels like it's 72 hours long for some folks.

Not me.

I've had great V-Days and bad ones - both while coupled up. Since the bad ones are more recent in my memory, I'm taking this day as a time to be thankful. Thankful that I have the good since sense (wow) to wait for a decent man. Thankful that I'm not staying in a relationship that doesn't make me a better person. Thankful that, for the first time in a few years, I'm kind of in love with myself.

You know how I know that I'm in the best place for me right now? Because I can truthfully say that I really am happy for the lovers out there. I didn't wake up practicing my fake-ass "Aww's" and "How cute are you guys?" to repeat every time I see a happy sweetheart.

Take it from me: if you are single today, that must be the best thing for you. Either you aren't in a relationship because you don't need to be, you don't deserve to be or - and this is the biggie - you haven't found the person you're supposed to be with. Matter of fact, if you are in a relationship and aren't happy, it might be for the same three reasons. I've been there.

This is just one day on the calendar. If Valentine's Day is really a time to show love, then every calendar day should be this special. When you find (or if you have found) the person right to share your life, then I hope you'll love them so much that Valentine's Day will just be a day like every other.

Now. Let's have some S.A.D. days chuckles:

Pick the right one, folks!

At least you'll save $$$ today! 

Just added this cos it's funny

I thank him for BEING an Ex

Happy Valentine's Day to all of you from me.

It's not just about lovers, but LOVE


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

What We Won't Do for Love (or Attention)

***Before I start my actual post, let me go ahead and get something out of the way: Valentine's Day is almost here. As always, I'll get my box of chocolates from my nephew DJ, which he will eat for me. My platonic guy friend will probably get me a Google Play card, same as he did for Christmas. (Don't laugh. A piece of my heart can be had for a Play card.) If anyone really loves me, they won't get me anything to send me running out to Planet Fitness.

As Valentine's Days go, mine won't be so bad. I have a date with DJ, who will whine (when he gets sleepy) and dine me with fish-sticks and Ranch dressing. 

If you are one of those people who will be crying your way through a flower-less Friday at work because you don't have a sweetheart, think about this: you may not have a Mister or Miss Right, but you also don't have Mister or Miss Wrong.***

Now. On to the post, which could be a related topic...

This morning, I saw an article online about a woman who had some type of cosmetic surgery called "dimpleplasty". I'm so serious. This lady had a surgery to give her dimples.

The other day, I posted about "tongue patches" for folks who want to lose weight. Now, here is a woman having a surgery because she wants what her favorite celebrity has: dimples. I'm afraid to question her common sense in case I get sued since she is apparently book-smart enough to be a "trainee lawyer". ~sigh~

When I read about this, I wanted to wave a lighter in the air and sing "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"

I mean, really?

I get it that everyone wants to be attractive, but what happened to individuality and originality? I'd like to be a few inches taller - like, say, a fashion model - but I'm not going to go and have surgery for that.

The crazy thing about this is, whatever you do already have, someone else probably wants. Are we going to start swapping out one person's best features for another's? Such silliness!

The thing I really don't get about some of the plastic surgery stories I see is that there was nothing wrong with the patient in the first place. This story about the already adorable lady who wanted a heart-shaped face really threw me. In my opinion, the "Before" look is the one that wins. I don't even want to talk about that "After" shot other than to say, "Yikes!"

What I wonder is why people have all these crazy surgeries. Is it to be more attractive or to feel more attractive? I'm asking because, I don't see a whole lot wrong with the originals. Frankly, if I was a guy, I don't think I'd be turned on by someone who paid to have holes punched into their face. Not sexy.

Anyway, you know me. Once I get on a roll, I just keep spinning. I clicked on a story about this person who paid big bucks to look like the Devil. I almost passed out from pain just reading that his surgeries were done without anesthetics. He's had his eyes tattooed and his tongue spliced - sorry, I mean forked. Ick. And he's not done because we all know the Devil needs a tail... Wow. (As a woman with a two-year old as her date for Valentine's Day, I'm a little bitter right now because I just know there's someone Googling this guy to hook up as I type this.)

I don't know about you guys, but I don't even like wearing uncomfortable shoes to look good. I mean, I will, but when I do, I pop a couple of ibuprofen tablets beforehand. For surgery to punch holes in my face or have my eyeballs tattooed, I'd need to be put into a coma first.

When are we going to stop with the craziness and just be as we are? What really makes a person beautiful is when they work with what they have. Looks really aren't everything. We've all met the attractive person who couldn't hold our interest for more than two seconds, right? Or we meet a person who just knocks us right out of our socks with a goofy smile or an amazing personality.

If we are honest about it, none of us are really looking to be 'beautiful' or 'handsome'. We are looking to be attractive and charming - which is, basically, the definition of charisma. Since being charismatic takes confidence (at least outwardly), the folks relying on surgery are betraying their weakness from the start. I'm not sure I would be attracted to someone who needs more than a little makeup, fitness and grooming to feel good about themselves.

When I think of men I find incredibly sexy, it would be hard to sell them by just describing their looks:

  • Denzel has buckteeth. 
  • Michael Hutchence had acne scars. 
  • Sean Connery, bushy eyebrows. 
  • Kevin Hart is short
  • Prince. Shorter.
  • Lenny Kravitz. Um... Okay, nothing wrong there.
  • Laz Alonzo... Well, okay. Not a damn thing wrong there either.
  • D.B. Woodside is only on this list so I can do this:
Damn you, D.B. Woodside! I think I just sprained my libido

But you get what I mean though, right? You either have 'it' or you don't. You can't get 'it' with surgery, but you can with a smile, intelligence, humor and - most of all - being interested and interesting. I fell in love with my first husband when I saw him standing over a sink of dishes with his sleeves rolled up. Most women have a thing for seeing a man show kindness to children (which is why some slick guys 'borrow' nieces and nephews for trips to the mall).

What we all need to do, instead of whining about the lack of available partners, is give someone five minutes of our time to see if it's worth spending more time with them. Making friends and finding partners would be easier for all of us if we could get over this obsession with caring only about looks or status. Until we do, there are going to be a lot of people celebrating Stag-entine's or Gal-etine's instead of Valentine's Day. 


Monday, February 10, 2014

***REVIEW*** of "Never Tear Us Apart"

I love INXS. The original lineup is the only one I've ever known - other than hearing "Don't Change" done by five of the original men. In my opinion, they are one of the greatest bands ever - musically, lyrically and live. In my youth, I had crushes on every one of the guys (especially Michael Hutchence) and I'm so glad that the five are still around.

Okay. Now that you know what a fan I am, let's talk about the movie, "Never Tear Us Apart". I'm going to be careful not to spoil it for those who haven't seen the show yet.

I have seen the first part and, yes, it's good. Is it perfect? Nope. Nothing could be, other than a documentary of the guys using footage of every high and low of their careers. The first part of the film doesn't have a lot of surprises for any die-hard fan. I mean, come on, we hardcore fans devoured everything about those guys as it was happening. Still, I like what the movie does with the music.

Here is where I might get in trouble with some fans, but I'm going to say it: I don't think that Luke Arnold looks all that much like Hutchence. He's attractive, yes, but what Hutchence had made him rare. Arnold does a great job of capturing the mannerisms and singing voice. At least, it's my understanding that he does some of the singing. He doesn't have Hutchence's speaking voice down. That was another rare,sexy thing about the man. The actor who looks most like the character he represents is Andrew Ryan (playing Andrew Farriss). Both guys are sweetly cute. (Yeah, Andrew Farris was actually my first crush in the band. He's still a cutie. ~sigh~ Kirk Pengilly was second, then Michael.)

I digress.

It was nice to see the flashbacks in the movie. The Farris's seem to have had a great family. Watching the boys interact with their folks, I thought of my own Southern upbringing. Nice. The young hotness playing a young Hutchence looks a lot like, well, a young Hutchence. That kid is going to have the girls chasing him, trust that.

No matter what you think of the casting, this is a movie that any INXS fan is going to like. For me, it brought back a lot of good memories - of the band and of my own life then. Things were just so good.

Finally, I have to say that I love Aussie TV. They aren't all hung up on nudity or language issues. As an American, I'm not used to such openess on 'regular' television. When the first boob flashed, I almost spit orange juice. When the black dildo was shown, I closed my blinds because I was afraid the neighbors would think I was watching porn. That kind of honesty really let the story be told. I wonder now if that's why the few Aussies I know are so happy. They don't have our standard hangups about such things.

I can't wait to see the next part of the movie. Actually, I'm a little apprehensive. Of course, I know how the story ends, but that's just it. I remember how I felt when I heard about Hutchence dying. I was affected more than seemed normal. After all, I had never met the man. Talk about the power f music! While the first half of the movie made me smile because of the memories (and the fan-affection I still have for those guys), the second half just might make me sad all over again.


Sunday, February 09, 2014

*Tongue* Patch Diet? Seriously?

As a woman who once weighed less than a gym bag full of wet tennis shoes, my self-esteem was bruised when I gained 30 pounds. Still, I could get away with wearing cute clothes right off the rack. I didn't have to look for anything in certain colors or patterns or the right kind of 'hang' to feel cute. Plus, I knew I was healthy and could easily take off the pounds the minute my busy life let me get from behind my work desk.

Fast forward to when I got sick. The only gym bag to compare my weight to was one Gulliver could have used in his travels. I shot right up 59 pounds faster than I could blink.

Thankfully, I'm better now and I'm able to exercise regularly. I keep music on at home so I can dance around to do chores. Recently, I started back with my 3 days a week at Planet Fitness, and summer is coming. I'm down 34 pounds and have 25 to go before I'm free of wearing long tops and those pants with 'slimming panels' at the belly. Hallelujah and thank Jesus.

Once I get those 25 pounds off my butt, I plan to shoot for another 25 or 30. I might not stay at my best weight, but I plan to visit it for a while. I'll most likely take rooms at the place next door to a loss of 25 or 30 - like maybe 20. I'd be happy to retire there, truth be told.

I've worked hard to drop this weight. All those foods and beverages I inhaled in my twenties and thirties (because it seemed I could just pee the calories away) are gone. Changing my eating habits wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. I eat more for my skin and hair than I do for my nerves. I seem to have lost my cravings for all but an occasional taste of chips and dip or burger and fries. Thank you, menopause. (Coffee is never going out of my life. NEVER. Coffee with lots of cream and brown or raw sugar is my crack. I hope somebody invents vanilla-caramel creamer with lots of calorie-free fat. Yes, indeedy.)

The one thing I won't do to lose weight is participate in any kind of extreme dieting. I'm vain, not stupid. Fad diets mess with your skin, hair and general well-being. What's the use of having your ideal body size if that body is all effed up?

So, I come (finally, right?)  to this "Tongue Patch Diet" I've been hearing about.

Who in the happy hell would want the pain of having that thing sewn onto their tongue? Why not just superglue your lips around a block of wood and leave a straw-hole in the middle?

Maybe it's me. I admit that we all have different weaknesses, but I think that, at some point, self-motivation has to win over pain. If not, then how about the fact that this guy - you know, the guy who came up with this - doesn't even want to say the word 'healthy' in connection to the procedure?

Asked if sewing a foreign object into somebody's mouth was healthy, Chugay said, "Well, it's not unhealthy."

Thank you, sir, but no. Even if I could afford the two grand for the procedure, I have this thing where I only go to a doctor to have pain taken away. Wow.

I admit that losing weight is hard. I've been a single digit size and I've shopped in the curvy girls section. Fighting your cravings and desire for comfort is rough. I still have days where I have to talk myself into driving right past the Burger King half a mile up the road. I get a block away and start singing "Dixie": Look away, look away... Boy, there are times when I am glad to have some idiot tailgating my ass so I don't have time to hit the brakes and make that turn into the drive-through.

On the other hand, I have to wonder why, if someone is willing to go so far to lose weight - why not just change grocery-shopping habits? I could just think about the pain of a patch being sewn onto my tongue and steer myself away from the Twinkies. I mean, damn.

I'm not going to criticize too hard. For me, though, I will stick with self-motivation. The only pain there is from the occasional fall off the wagon.


Saturday, February 08, 2014

Black History Month

Let's talk about this: Black history, people, race and why we do talk about it so much.

I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about Black History Month. On the one hand, I am happy that  the history of black people is officially acknowledged. On the other hand, I am sad that there has to be a separate history for one race of people in a country made up of many races.

I feel the same way about racial designations. Why are there hyphenated Americans? And, since we do hyphenate, why not hyphenate everyone?

This is not the first time (nor will it be the last, God willing) that I post about racial issues. The issues exist, but we are all just people. Black, brown, white, red, light, dark, tanned; attractive, plain, unattractive; silly, sweet, ignorant, kind, caring, dumb-ass; smart, dumb, nice, hateful, petty, selfless, rude, sensitive, cruel; famous, infamous, unknown; rich, poor, frugal, spendthrift, struggling; admirable, embarrassing; sinful, saintly and... human.

I've not remained strictly constant on how I look at racial issues. Opinions and emotions and reactions never are constant. On issues of race, sometimes, I've been angry. I've sometimes been just irritated. There have been times when I've felt race matters very much, and times when I've wished it didn't. Sometimes, it's mattered more to other people than to me. It's mattered in subtle ways and in ways that were uncomfortable.

(Let me go ahead and get the whole "first black President" thing out of the way: Yes, I was elated by the election of Obama. I'm not always thrilled with what he's done in office, but I am still happy that voters were able to put him there. I'm more happy with what I think of as the "wall of color" being battered down than I am with the man who stepped over the threshold.)

Don't get me started again on my rant about being so hyphenated. I've said it before: I am a Black-American (if it has to matter) and Charlize Theron is an African-American (if she has citizenship ~shrug~). My point is, I came from Texas, not Africa. If we want to get ancestral, there are some people who believe we may all be hyphenated Africans. Or maybe we should be hyphenated Asians.

For myself, I believe we all have roots in Eden. And does it matter where we 'originated' if we create a hell here on earth by battling over the differences?

Tell you the truth, every February I forget that it is Black History Month until about the second week in. I'm going to get heat for this but... after the first celebration, it stopped being that big of a deal for me. What would impress me is if all people remembered every month of the year that we are equal and American. No greater than someone from Japan or Ireland or Jupiter. Just equal and human.

Am I disregarding the hardships of being black? No. I just think that one of the hardships is that we still are dealing with the effects of racism. Long after the end of slavery (for American blacks), there is still racism and plenty of other ignorance - by all races.

It's ignorant for people who are not black to say that race never matters.I'd like to ask the most ignorant of that group: If it never matters, would you trade your race for being black for a year? It's ignorant when people who are black act like history doesn't matter. I'd like to ask the most ignorant of that group: If someone died for equal education, why aren't you taking advantage of that right?

Black History Month will soon end for the year. Being black - being whatever race - is forever. We have to work at making life the best it can be every day that we live.


Sunday, February 02, 2014

"Welfare" is NOT a Dirty Word

When I posted about hope for the disabled, I was thinking of how being disabled is stigmatized enough without other problems.

Being out of work is a trigger for depression. You aren't bringing in a paycheck - you are receiving welfare.
Definition of Welfare: financial support given to people in need. (my emphasis)
Welfare isn't a dirty word, but the way many people say it makes one think of a recipient as being lower than a rapist. I think one of the reasons I've always disliked an otherwise likable man is because he popularized the term Welfare Queen. He did for recipients of assistance what many trashy newspapers do for the image of any American person with brown skin.

I've responded before to people who have a negative perception of welfare recipients. (Okay, it was more like I ranted, but I felt provoked.) I probably didn't touch the conscience of the stupid, but I might have made a difference to the ignorant.

On the subject of depression among the disabled (even those who aren't diagnosed as depressed), much of the problem is caused by ignorance. Most of us are guilty of being ignorant of situations we haven't been in. Ignorance is only bliss for the people it doesn't affect. When I run into people who are ignorant about my personal situation as a welfare recipient, I am affected. Sometimes, I come away mad, but I often just feel depressed and frustrated.

An example:

A while back, I was in the grocery store and another shopper started chatting with me. She commented on the ridiculous prices of the fruit we were looking over. She told me how she had lived all over the world and still didn't understand why shipping costs to Alaska seemed worse than anywhere else. That led us into a conversation about other things: places we'd lived, jobs we'd held, our hobbies... We even had a good laugh over being single after forty. She was one of those people you meet and just instantly like. She seemed smart, educated and friendly. We talked for probably a good fifteen minutes before separating to finish our shopping. A couple of times while I was cruising the aisles, I saw her and another woman sharing a cart.

When I went to the self-checkout section, there was the lady and her friend at the register next to mine. She had a bunch of groceries she was almost finished checking out and she gave me a look of "Thank God" when she was just about done. I scanned my three or four items and pulled out my EBT card to pay.

The EBT cards issued here in Alaska look pretty much like any debit card, but most residents know at a glance exactly what they are.

The woman who had been so friendly before saw that EBT card and she developed an instant nose-up attitude. I don't know if she said anything to her friend or not, but I caught them watching me and giving each other looks. I thought about waving when I left, but they were ignoring me pretty good. I'm not blaming this woman for her reaction. I blame media and anyone who promotes negative stereotypes. Still, I felt a few seconds of hatred for that lady's attitude. When I got over that, I spent the drive home wishing something would happen to send her running to stand in line at the local Public Assistance office. I got over that, but the hurt feelings I had lingered for days. Also, I started using my EBT card at the least busiest time in a store - like at midnight.

Maybe I am just being sensitive. Probably. Knowing how welfare is so stigmatized in our society will do that.

I told my sister once that no matter how I'm dressed or how I speak and present myself, that the minute I have to pull out that EBT card at a store (or the Medicare/Medicaid card at a clinic), my soul shrinks ten inches. My sister knows me. She knows that I tend to feel everything too deeply. She has held my hand while I've cried from feeling embarrassed and worthless because of that fucking EBT card.

Being on welfare feels like wearing signs that say things like "I am lazy", "I am milking the system", "I am the reason you pay so much in taxes".

What I want to express here is that not everyone receiving assistance owns those signs. We've paid taxes and we will be happy enough to pay them again. Not all of us wear our situations wear you can see them. We are smart, educated and worthwhile people. We have, at some point, worked just as hard as you. We dream and hope and care and feel. Just like you.

The past couple of years have been tough, but I've learned things about myself that I might never have discovered. A good thing about being at your lowest point is, you can be sure of the sincerity of the people who love you.

If you are someone lucky enough to never need help, be good to the people who do.


Saturday, February 01, 2014

Employment Hope for the Disabled

I'm a very happy chick this weekend. Even though the temps have dropped and it looks like winter is going to be here for the full stay (no early spring for us!), the sun in my world is starting to peek out.

A lot of my blog posts in the past couple years (maybe most of them) have referenced my disability. I like to think of it as "this damn sarc". Other than the physical damage the sarc has caused, it's also beat hell out of my esteem. I probably had the disease lurking for years before it put me in the hospital. For two and a half years, I haven't been able to function at my normal abilities. For a while, I couldn't walk without running into walls and there were times I couldn't remember my name. The time I spent not able to drive was bad but the worst thing was not being able to work.

Most people who are temporarily out of work find other ways to use their time. I couldn't do much of anything that required being able to concentrate for more than five minutes at a time. Even writing a simple blog post took hours.

A few months back, I told my doctors that I really wanted to try getting back into the workforce. If I could find work I could actually perform. If my sarc remained stable under treatment. If I wasn't terrified of relapsing or losing the ability to continue treatments. A lot of ifs, a lot of fear and anxiety.

I can't be the only person in this situation, so I want to share news that there is some hope for us. I don't want to get specific because I only know about my personal situation. Let me give some general suggestions for other disabled people to start finding hope:

  • Check with a local Vocational Rehabilitation office. See if they offer the services you need to get back to work.
  • If you are receiving the government disability benefits that you earned, check on having those benefits analyzed. A Benefits Analyst can outline your options for returning to work and maintaining insurance until you are fully recovered. 
  • If you don't know where to begin in finding a voc rehab agency or Benefits Analyst, contact your hospital for help finding a social worker or anyone else who can assist you.
  • Ask, ask, ask. If you are receiving any kind of benefits or assistance from any agency, trust me, those folks want to help get you back on your feet.
  • Be polite, be sincere when reaching out for help. People really do seem to want to help folks who truly do want help. (I have some angels in my social networks who were encouraging to me from the very beginning. You all know exactly who you are. By the way, I love you!)
  • You might get discouraged, but don't stay discouraged. If you run into a wall (not literally!) when trying to find information, just go another route.
  • Contact hospitals, clinics, local and federal assistance agencies. Even try asking your doctors. (I lucked out in getting caring physicians.)
  • Local assistance and programs vary by state, but you can easily check out help via federal programs.)
  • People out there don't always share what they know. You may have to ask around.
Like I said, I don't want to go into specifics about my situation, but I will say that I have had a lot of my fears addressed. Not only are people helping me determine what kind of employment I'm currently suitable for, they are going to help me gain employment. 

For all the griping folks do sometimes about our government, I've learned that, as a disabled person, I'm very lucky to live in America. 

So. Hopefully, before this year is over, I will be able to gripe about driving to work in crappy weather. I look forward to it.