My (Brief) Opinion On: American Prisons

Click this link to watch the video related to this mini-rant. I highly recommend watching it in full prior to reading any further.

Disclaimer: I do have a finance background and a legal education. I am very aware that there’s more to the issue of prisons, federal budgeting, and politics. This is a mini-rant about what I feel would be a positive change for our nation and the communities in which we live.


 

Unfortunately, having known a great deal of people who have been to prison, I do find great issue with the way criminals are living in America. Many of the crimes committed by individuals are due to nurtured behaviors, or behavioral issues such as addiction and untreated mental health. Even violent crimes can be attested to the way an individual was raised – especially in slums all over America.

Where most people find fault with the luxuries some inmates receive – I find the foundation for greatness. Unless someone is truly a sociopath with no chance to recovery – something a variety of unbiased mental health professionals should have to swear to in court prior to this judgment – then these imprisoned individuals should be rehabilitated.

“Oi, but my taxes pay for their sitting ’round on their arses! I don’t want to pay for that!” Your taxes also pay for repeat offenders to keep going back to jail instead of making a living outside of a prison cell. Unfortunately, this partially because it is sometimes easier than working in the free community. It would be cheaper for our government in invest in the necessary resources to prepare individuals imprisoned to re-enter the work force and free community prepared for the tasks ahead – rather than just HOPING they don’t relapse.

It’s one of those situations, you know? Do it right or don’t do it all. Don’t put these people in prison and then fail to help them make their lives better wholly without guidance. Do parents leave their children to fend for themselves after they can walk and talk? No, partially because that’s illegal – but primarily because children need guidance. We are all children to someone – and we all need guidance until the day we die. Prisoners, while seemingly less human because of the crimes they committed, are no less deserving of that courtesy. (Side note, I do not find these people to be less human, this is just the common belief I have run into socially. As a parent, it is hard not to feel that way about child related crimes, but I do my best to remember that criminals are not born. Criminals are products of their environments).

Now, I will say that (personally) there are crimes that I feel should more thoroughly be examined than others. It is my belief that these offenses should be punished with life sentences and no parole opportunities. For me those crimes are: murder, rape, and child molestation – perhaps even treason, though highly circumstantial. Those are the most serious crimes that can be committed. The majority of individuals are in jail for significantly less than that … possessing marijuana (for example) – a LEGAL drug in various states!

America needs to seriously reconsider the quality of life associated with imprisonment of criminals. The money we save on repeat offenders spending their lives behind bars can be funneled elsewhere. Perhaps free college education? Perhaps a more helpful universal healthcare system?

People will whine that they don’t want their money to go to helping prisoners get their lives together – saying they don’t deserve the help – but they’d just as quickly turn down free college education too. Who is worthy of your tax money then?

Is anyone worthy?
Before you answer – consider this…

These criminals you don’t wish to rehabilitate – they live in the same communities you live in…

These impoverished people you call lazy and don’t feel deserve universal healthcare – they go to school with your children, they work with you, they live with your coworkers, and they share the same air you breathe…

And these students you feel have done nothing to deserve free college education – they are the doctors, nurses, lawyers, scientists, politicians, and teachers of the generation that will care for you and the future generations of your family.

Consider that and let me ask you again…

IS ANYONE WORTHY OF YOUR TAX DOLLARS?

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A Risk Worth Taking

Dear Madam Governor,

I would like to open my letter today by thanking you for taking the time to review my correspondence. You are a busy woman with many events and formalities to oversee. As a fellow politician, allow me to extend my understanding at how demanding the job can be at times. Your work is done well and for that your constituents are thankful.

Alas, there is a matter that I must bring to your attention with the utmost urgency. Enclosed for your review are discipline records, proposals, and transcripts regarding an incident occurring within my school district. I have assured that the board members have taken action appropriately to fit the circumstances, though the concerned parents who demanded no punishment be distributed limited that action.

Thankfully, no media outlets have obtained this story yet. I cannot say confidently whether it will be brought to light publically. Our board members try very hard to resolve matters quickly and efficiently with as little attention from the masses as possible, but this is an issue that I do not foresee dissipating in a flattering manner.

It is my request that you address this matter forwardly. Reading the information available to me there is but one conclusion I can make: this principal must be terminated. The reputation of our schools will plummet both within my district and all those surrounding. Emphasis is heavily placed on the anti-bulling programs in effect and yet this has been allowed to escalate without any true reprimand exercised.

Dramatic action is required to remedy these events and it is one that will bring an unfavorable outcry if I make the announcement myself. My decision would be contested and dragged publically through the court system. Eventually this matter will command your attention.

Today I notify you for the benefit of all parties. This route will allow you more time to prepare statements, delicately call for termination, and start laying the groundwork for your inevitable re-election with your proactive stance. Thank you again for your time. I hope to hear back from you on this matter very soon.

Cordially,

 

Mayor Carlotta Santana

CS/rb 


 

Robert Barns was fully aware that tricking the mayor into signing this letter was fraudulent entirely by itself, and that actually sending it was even worse. For years he’d been Carlotta’s assistant. On some level they were friends; though not exactly best friends and not friendly without the comfort of friendship. Carlotta and Robert were as comfortable around one another as siblings, but as formal with one another as colleagues. Bringing someone from a political campaign advisor all the way to the governor’s office was a long road that didn’t exactly put distance between people. In some strange way, Robert knew Carlotta better than her own family.

 

That’s why he knew that she would not deny the claims he’s made in this letter. She is familiar enough with the information to feign the intrigue that Robert falsely detailed on her behalf. In all the years he’s worked with Carlotta there’s never been a time when she ignored a situation that desperately needed attention. Hot-button issues were as sweet as candy to her, and yet she shied away from this one almost deliberately. Robert knew that if he did not push her then she would not do what needed to be done.

 

The Governor, Elisa Ferguson, was someone who occasionally made positive comments about Carotta’s so called “antics.” They had many aligning points within their various campaigns and political track records. Carlotta aspired to someday take Elisa’s place as governor – convinced that nobody would ever take office until she retired, or opted for a higher position within the government.

 

Robert hoped that the few encounters justified the arguably casual tone of the serious letter. Worst-case scenario, nothing happens and the Governor overlooks the request. Best-case scenario, the Governor takes favorable and the right people are finally rewarded for their positive choices. However, in all scenarios Robert will likely be asked to resign.

 

Carlotta would never fire him, though his leaving would still be scandalous enough to get some attention. If nothing else, he would likely have a career awaiting him in journalism. Perhaps someone would invite him to be a political correspondent for a newscast, paper, or blog. Robert already conceded that he would be happy doing any of these potential jobs.

 

Work droned on as it usually does in the office. Several phone messages were received, and only about half of them were actually forwarded to the Mayor herself. The rest of them were divvied out to the respective department leads and program managers. Categorizing the daily calls was so second nature to Robert that he used this time to review more thoroughly his plan to get Carlotta’s signature.

 

Honestly, he had no idea if she truly looked at the letters. Sometimes she would just pick up the bottom corners of each page and throw a signature onto the pages. It is this truth that prompted Robert to put the letter in between some other letters to ensure minimal chances of her reviewing it in depth. He also made sure to put it into a stack of form letters to give him more peace of mind that she would not feel compelled to read the letters individually. Nothing he was doing here was moral but, like the board member who sent the original call for action, Robert could not simply let this incident go without further investigation.

 

Maybe it had something to do with the fact that his best friend in high school practiced Islam in private at home, for fear of these same repercussions. Perhaps it was the fact that being Jewish is a predominantly Catholic community left him feeling outcast. Perhaps it was simply due to the stupid remarks politicians were making these days about how some religions didn’t have a place in the country highly regarded for the number of freedoms extended to citizens. Robert couldn’t decide on just one motivator, so he silently cited them all as the cause of his insubordination.

 

Nervousness plagued Robert by the time Carlotta returned the signed letters. She asked him to brief her on what she’d just signed, to which Robert said, “The usual. Nothing you wouldn’t approve of I can assure you.” Together they chuckled briefly and then off she went for her scheduled outing with old college friends. Rarely did she take time to herself, which meant her watchful eye was trained on the press during her night on the town. Small-time politician or not, there was always reason to worry that one’s personal life would be used to tear apart a political career. For that, Robert was sure he deserved a pat on the back for the level of planning he put into this righteous scheme.

 

Once her car was officially out of the parking lot, Robert decided it would make the most sense to put his resignation letter into her mailbox tonight. Robert put together his letter quickly. Promptly afterwards he gathered all outgoing mail and took the box with him to his car. Nobody would question his kindness the following day when he arrived in the morning with the box. This was something that Robert did occasionally. Everything was working in Robert’s favor, partially due to his intimate knowledge and manipulation of that knowledge.

 

Regardless, in two weeks he would be packing his desk away and leaving this part of his life behind – hopefully with his lasting reputation as quiet defiance.

Loathing Simplified

Sketching on my danger days is very charming,

and it covers up that fact that I’m self-harming.

It personifies that Pain I feel in a way they can see.

Of course, the black and white doodles don’t help me.

Especially when there are secrets beneath my sleeves,

especially when there are lies between each heave –

of sorrow, of cheer, of exhaustion, and of fear –

hidden in those lost breaths are scars unhealed.

I do all I can to keep your stories straight,

so that you only see the self-love costuming my self-hate.

My Opinion On: George Takei & New Interpretations of Old Characters

Something that made big news this weekend was George Tekei’s comments regarding Star Trek’s character, Helsman Hiraku Sulu, being homosexual in the next film. As a fangirl, I am very quick to rally behind same-sex couples. I wish they occupied more leading roles and held an appropriate amount of existence in these fictional universes to which we so tightly cling. I was intrigued when I saw a slew of headlines on Facebook demonizing George Tekei’s lackluster support of the decision to take a character whose sexuality was not clearly stated in no uncertain terms at any point in time.

The article from that appears to have originally published these statements made by Tekei can be found here. The episode referenced in this article, Mirror Mirror (1967), supposedly portrays the exact opposite of the characters seen in the Star Trek series. A synopsis of the episode can be found on Wikipedia here. This doesn’t reference Sulu directly as far as the “aggressively heterosexual pass” he makes at Uhura during the episode but does establish that this is an alternative reality.

Here comes my first comment – which is that an alternate reality doesn’t necessary mean every tiny detail is in exact opposition of the reality from which is differs. “Aggressively Heterosexual” is one of a few interpretations. His aggressive pass at Uhura could be an opposite simply in his demeanor. After all, he is intensely passive. It could have nothing to do with his personality, per se, because “intense” can also mean “aggressive.” Perhaps it was only a statement on his sexuality. After all, many people proclaim that Star Trek is the most inclusive fandom from it’s era. George Takei, and even Simon Pegg (here), both agree that Star Trek has always been kind and welcoming towards the LGBT+ community. Regardless, this presentation is fairly ambiguous. It suggests a couple of strong things but doesn’t clearly state beyond that what Sulu’s sexuality is … perhaps suggestion that this “aggressive heterosexual” statement in Mirror Mirror was a statement of Sulu’s absence of aggressive sexuality? I think this is potentially a strong contender in the possibilities in this debate. However, there’s more to consider too.

I like to look at Wikias for different fandoms as a way to quickly reference key points about a character. I decided to look up Hiraku Sulu’s ‘profile’ to learn more about him in depth. In the panel mid-right of the screen it usually lists relationships and family members. Here is where I found out that Hiraku Sulu has a daughter, Demora Sulu. Since there was so much text I just did a quick search, but after reading the entire section about Demora – much is not truly known about her – it would seem that in the very least that Hiraku Sulu did have a relationship with a woman at some point in time. To my knowledge there is no “test tube baby” process in Star Trek – though I’m not nearly as well-versed in this particular fandom as the thousands of fans that would actual fight Star Wars fans. Regardless, it appears that sexual and asexual reproduction are the primary birthing processes in this universe – cloning also being utilized (though this is not exactly a birth).

Only interview excepts are used as reference, each of which reference George Takei and his knowledge about the character he portrayed. It would seem that there’s a confirmed wife with an unknown past and fate beyond the birth of Demora Sulu. At some point it was clear that Hiraku Sulu was at least sexually involved with women meaning that three sexualities existed for him: heterosexual, bisexual, and pansexual. People argue whether or not video games qualify as cannon, and sometimes the information is considered “fanfiction” in essence. That being said, there is a published book (The Captain’s Daughter) states that Demora was the result of a brief sexual encounter with a woman Hiraku barely knew – and hadn’t even known he was a father initially. Either way, regardless of the question of canonical relevance, it would seem that Sulu was sexually attracted to women.

As inclusive and welcoming as everyone says the Star Trek fandom is – I can’t help but ask why there was such evasiveness about such a cherished character. Simon Pegg – in the article I referenced earlier – states that Sulu was chosen because there would be less judgment towards an existing and beloved character (versus creating a brand new character to be judged solely on his sexuality). It is with this in mind that we must carry on with this conversation…

It is known that even still today there are hate crimes committed against homosexual people. This is evidenced in the Pulse Nightclub Shooting. If it is this bad in 2016, an era that is supposed to represent another age of progression. Unfortunately, that is not totally true. For me, it is ridiculous for introducing homosexual to “progressive,” “dramatic,” or “scandalous.” The number of non-heterosexual individuals in the world is unimaginably vast compared to the representation that they receive in the entertainment business. Generally speaking, we don’t see many lead characters that are homosexual and that is a huge problem for me. So, I think that Hiraku Sulu being homosexual is kind of a small win. He’s certainly more at the forefront than most homosexual characters but still is not a main character. JJ Abrahms is leading a new era of Star Wars material and has very actively and promoted the inclusivity of homosexual characters to be revealed/introduced in the next installment of the new Star Wars trilogy. You can read more about it here. While many consider there fandoms to be enemies of one another, I see so much in common between them – and I adore each of them for the differences they hold in opposite of the other. Between these two though, I feel that Star Wars is upping their game. Let me explain that, though.

Firstly, the most common theory is that Star Wars‘ main male leads, Poe and Finn, will be the homosexual couple that Abrahms has been discussing with the media. Even the actors have toyed and added fuel to the fire. You can read about the confirmation here and the teasing here (Oscar Isaac) and here (John Boyega). Of course, there are other articles that shoot down this possibility of the Finn-Poe relationship entirely – like this one (which is not nearly as reliable as other sources, and also dated prior to John Boyega’s most recent unofficial affirms that it is still a possibility). Regardless, this is a much bigger statement that Star Trek is making with Sulu’s newfound status a homosexual character.

You might be wondering why I even brought up Star Wars. Of all the comparisons to make, why this one? Why even compare them – I am basically asking for an all out war in the comment section! See, the thing is that it’s totally relevant.

I have a lot of strong opinions about this new era of Star Wars, mostly boiling down to that this new era made the publications under George Lucas essentially fanfiction. To me, having been immersed in those extended universe stories with and through my husband, Abrahms version of the Star Wars is fanfiction. All of the characters taking the forefront are original characters, productions of his own mind (with his team, of course). As such, making any of his characters – lead or not – means that there’s no canon dictating the sexuality of these characters. Something that was referenced by Takei – this article elaborates more on what he was hoping for instead of changing Sulu’s sexuality from what he understood was pretty clear as heterosexual.

Now, here’s my second comment on the matter…

I understand what Takei was suggesting, what he was asking of them, because for me this is important. My husband and I both found it a wee bit insulting to homosexual characters to just pick characters that exist – characters that were oftentimes portrayed as heterosexual in many instances – and suddenly tell the world that they are homosexual. A) Any heterosexual encounter automatically denunciates any status as a homosexual, thereby making the character BISEXUAL instead; B) It is essentially saying that the inclusion of homosexual individuals is an afterthought not important enough to justify the creation and incorporation of an original homosexual character; and C) Negates the existence of any other sexualities beyond hetero and homo. With that being said, I have decided that an even half of me totally agrees with Takei. It is disappointing that a brand new character wasn’t introduced – especially with Zachary Quinto saying that this is a brand new universe that differs from Raddenybury’s original creation. To me, that just affirms what Takei was asking of the products and writers. They intended to honor Takei but then completely ignored his wishes for such a character’s existence within the universe.

HOWEVER – HOWEVER – HOWEVER!!!

I do not disagree with the decision to make a character that already exists within the fandom homosexual. Now, as I just said, Sulu would technically be bisexual since the original cannon has more heterosexual evidence than homosexual evidence. That could be a sign of the times during which it was created, though. Still, the cannon is the word – and really not arguable. I am a writer of fanfiction, though, and I see the value in reading subtext. In fact, I live for reading subtext and making brand new stories about the details that mean so much to me – the ones that stand out and define how I read the subtext from every second that exists after it.

I rally behind the idea of characters who are presumed heterosexual, even portrayed as extremely heterosexual, and revealing that their sexuality is more complex or entirely different. Allow me to list just a few of them for your: Sherlock Holmes (BBC Sherlock), John Watson (BBC Sherlock), Arthur Pendragon (BBC Merlin), Merlin (BBC Merlin), Dean Winchester (CW Supernatural), Castiel (CW Supernatural), Riley Matthews (Disney Girl Meets World), Maya Hart (Disney  Girl Meets World), Marceline (Cartoon Network Adventure Time), Princess Bubblegum (Cartoon Network Adventure Time), The Doctor (BBC Doctor Who), and Clara Oswald (BBC Doctor Who). These are just to name a few. There are plenty of other characters that I feel would be greater with the depth of a complex sexuality, but these are the ones that I most frequently speak about within the respective fandoms. By no means am I wholly opposed to “changing” the sexuality of a character because sexuality is genuinely fluid. That is why the other half of me – as Simon Pegg put it – “respectfully disagree” – with George Takei on this matter.

George Takei is a huge influence in the LGBT+ community, something of which he is very aware. I do not believe he meant to speak ill about LGBT+ characters – and most certainly had no intentions of insulting anyone. As someone who works in the business and knows the intricate process of creating a piece of work from scratch, of course he’s going to see things from a different angle than some people. There are writers out there whom would never want to read the fanfiction written about there work because it isn’t the way they envisioned it – some that have actually deemed it illegal to even write fanfiction! George Takei knows Raddenbury on a personal level, more so than the majority of the cast and crew presently working on the new Star Trek movies. As such, I am at least glad to see everyone respecting him rather than belittling and attacking him for his opinion. It is a fair opinion to have, after all, and reflective of his experience with the creation and lifelong involvement with the existence of Star Trek.

What I want everyone to take from this is that the representation of homosexual characters is no laughing matter – nor a matter of choice. Homosexual people deserve to be on the screen. For as ignored as bisexuals are in the world today – often being lumped into the sexuality most fitting of their present relationship – there are so many characters that are technically being made canonically bisexual, even if they are not titled as such. I would like to see a mix of old characters given layers to their sexualities as well as new characters for us to love.

To me – it’s as simple as that – and one day (soon I hope) I won’t have to wrap my mind around the fact that to many others it is not.

My Opinion On: An Opinion of OITNB

In case you didn’t know, OITNB stands for “Orange Is The New Black.”

To be perfectly honest, I don’t even watch this show. Many of the people I am connected with online watch it. Everyone says I’ll love it and that I should invest my time in watching it as well, yet I don’t feel compelled in the slightest to invest my time. I guess it’s that “mom” part of me that wants to share T.V. with my kid. That being said, I did still click on the article – as I generally do when OITNB makes headlines in any way – and I was moved to speak on the matter. I just couldn’t not say something after reading it.

The article can be found here so that you can read it too.

Now, as an American I guess I feel entitled to have an opinion on someone else’s opinion. I hear a good many people say that it’s a disease we have from the liberties we are so given by residing here. (That’s not true, there’s an imbalance of power and privilege that exists, but that’s a different opinion blurb for another day). As I said previously, I generally click on articles pertaining to OITNB simply because so many people I know watch it. This helps me listen with some basis of understanding when they’re gushing about their favorite parts.

The title of the article is what truly grabbed my attention: “Pennsatucky’s Sympathy For Her Rapist in ‘Orange is the New Black’ Was an Uncomfortable Reminder of my own Rape.’ The thing is – I think all women are sexually assaulted and/or raped in their lives. The sad truth is that many women don’t realize it. For me personally, I was sexually assaulted in one way or another starting at seven years old until I was twenty-one years old by friends, boyfriends, and strangers. As so many young ladies do not see “boys being boys” (an excuse created by misogynists that should promptly be removed from our culture entirely) as the assault it truly was unto them. I never realized what was happening to me qualified as rape. Until a few years ago the idea that “the absence of ‘no’ is still rape” was a foreign concept. I was never taught that and consequently never categorized the unwanted interactions as assault or rape.

Even though there has been question lately about whether or not is legitimately racially conscious comes into question – but it appears to me the show is doing brilliantly to show that rape isn’t what you see in the movies all the time. It can be subtle, and they can trick you into thinking it’s not rape. They may not even actively be trying, but it is rape. Believe it or not, the crime may come as shock to both you and your assailant.

And there is sympathy to be felt as a victim – strange as it may sound. People you love and trust can do these things to you. It is natural that you want to love them, forgive them, and move on. Spouses raped by spouses don’t want to end a marriage over what they truly believe is a confusion of consent. Advances are made daily in science but so much more slowly in social awareness. Archaic beliefs that marriages must have sex almost daily to successfully prevail are still very much alive. In addition to those unacceptable expectations, sex-drive media exposure makes us too often forget that we owe our bodies to no one.

Feelings aside, sexual assault and rape are crimes. I don’t want anyone growing up feeling as though they are less because of what has happened to them the way that I always felt less for not being able to prevent what happened to me. There are no tiers defining the levels sexual assault and rape. It is all bad and your status as victim is not a badge to be worn with ranks of severity. Psychological trauma shapes you and will continue to define you are for the rest of your life. Please always seek assistance when you’ve been sexually assaulted or raped.

 

My Opinion On: Chicken Factories?

As I was scrolling through Facebook I saw this headline…

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Then I read through it and went to the article referenced…

And the first section looked like this…

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I shared this on Facebook initially but pulled it before anyone could read it because it felt more like a mini-rant-reminder-opinion blurb that I could utilize on my blog instead. There were four big companies listed:

TYSON
PERDUE
PILGRIM’S
SANDERSON FARMS

Reading this made me glad that I research the meat I buy from the store before I bring it home. We aren’t a super “all organic” family – but we avoid foods (whenever possible) that have preservatives and go for foods that are as fresh and natural as possible.

There aren’t many regulations in the food market regarding the use of the words ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ – so you still have to do the reading. That’s not to say that ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ labels are false, but the restrictions in using those words aren’t as strong as you might except – especially with nonfood items. Last time I had researched the chicken we do buy – it was one of the safest brands you can purchase on the market.

My husband was prompted to do this research after taking a class in college which forced him to immerse himself into a culture or lifestyle he never would adopt. He chose vegetarian/vegan because I did not actively eat meat or most animal byproducts. (This was not necessary an active lifestyle choice so much as I prefer raw fruits and vegetable to meats). After watching a couple of documentaries about the ways in which chickens are slaughtered, he immediately sought out organic and animal-friendly (or as friendly as they can be considering the chicken ultimately dies for consumption) brands. That is how we found the brand of chicken we purchase now. Most of our other meats come from small local farmers.

People on welfare, though, do not have these same luxuries. People using public assistance are generally forced to purchase from these four corporations. Tyson in particular, as they make a ton of microwaveable chicken foods marketed specifically towards kids. Aside from this, I would wager that a good many schools who cannot import fresh meats from delis, farmers, and butchers turn to brands like Perdue and Tyson. It saddens me greatly to even think that people must purchase items from a brand that cannot be trusted to allow workers to engage in a normal and necessary bodily function.

We need to force these corporations to see people as people – otherwise we are insulting the entire working class and the entire impoverished community. Both of which are funding their ridiculous food industry empire! The imbalance in power is unjustified, and certainly being abused by those who have it.

Some people may argue that this piece is slanted (generally documentary works generally as slanted but that is the nature of persuasion) – but the idea alone that this could be happening at only some locations is appalling. It should not happen anywhere for any reason. It is absolutely disgusting and the more attention it receives, the less profit these companies generate; and the more the general population forces these food industry giants to change.

#RESPECTYOURWORKERS #GIVETHEMABREAK

My Opinion On: Tumblr’s Yahoo Advertisements

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Excuse the fuck out of me but…
FUCK THIS ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

I want to see none more of these ads because this teaches people to define themselves by others. As an adult who changed for others growing up so many times – I took me actual years to find out who I was when I finished high school. Did a I really like these bands? Did I really like these shows, books, and games? I was a collage-like shadow of the people around me at any given time until I was eighteen years old wading the waters of uncertainty until college.

I was starting over with no friends and no personality outside my pressing depression and anxiety, and my frantic hot-mess-mom status. Still, I wasn’t defining myself – I was defined by my status as a mother and my affliction of mental illness. It would be a whole year, when I was turning nineteen, that I realized I could exist as an individual uniquely. That is when I saw myself make a mark on someone else that belonged to me. My love of something that I could share with another person who became genuinely vested in it as equally as myself. It was not a forced behavior or a shadowed one – but one that I actually shared. It was a joint interest. Our love of the thing was not manufactured by either party.

That friend – I lost her when we graduated. We were just different people, it seemed, and we went our separate ways. But she still loves those things I shared with her, maybe quietly, but it’s still present and strong. Since then I have spent the last five years figuring out who I am while dealing with depression and anxiety as “curveballs” instead of “traits” of who I am. I have made being a parent a factor in who I am in a way that is unique to me and my personality. No more do I say “I’m a young mom” as though it’s just another piece of my identity puzzle. Instead I say it distinctly because there is no other mom exactly like me in the entire world.

I don’t want people to see ads like this an be shaped by the lies, the indecision, and the dependency that it creates. I want commercials that move me – ads that understand me – and media that shows the world what it’s capable of rather than what this fodder encourages us to become in life: forever impressionable.

I want you to like that band because you fucking like it and don’t give a fuck what anyone else says or thinks. People will like you for you, even if they don’t like the same things, because people like personalities. People fall in love with who you are as a whole. Not the pieces of personality that you can collect from everyone else.

So in closing, I kindly reiterate.

FUCK THIS!

Excalibur Returns (An Original Short)

Contest Host: WOW! Women on Writing

Contest Title: 2016 Flash Fiction Contest (With Critique)

Placement: None


 

The ethereal world around me shames even my most whimsical dreams. I feel perfectly at home here even if I have no idea how it is I’ve even arrived. This place is so hauntingly beautiful that I can only presume that it is luck that I’ve stumbled upon this paradise.

 

“But why is it that I feel so lucky?” Not even the tiniest piece of me felt afraid to be somewhere with which I was unfamiliar. There were no questions as to whether I was in danger. My admiration for the scenery left me dumbfounded but put my simultaneously at ease. Why is it I would consider myself lucky instead of concerned?

 

“Because you are,” A divine harmony echoes throughout my mind. Surely it was the single most brilliant voice in all of time and space. Hearing it speak is distracting in the moment that I hear it but also in the seconds that tick by with slow deliberation afterwards. I nearly forget to look around for a person to whom the voice belongs but in my heart I know will not find one. Regardless, I twirl halfheartedly knowing in advance that no human could so sound divine.

 

When I stop my eye catches the slightest glimmer of sunshine bouncing off of a dewy patch of moss. Clouds pass overhead breaking what little light shone through the vast canopy. The moss that was just radiant green is now as dark as night, barely recognizable as any form of plant life. Something in my heart propels me forward to explore this patch of moss very specifically. The closer I get to it the harder my heart pounds behind my sternum.

 

Once I am hovering directly above the chameleon moss I notice that there’s a strange sort of light around it. The way it moves reminds me of a small stress on the countryside. Alas, it is not actually bright light, like what you would see from the sun, but rather palpable nothingness that casts a demanding aura. I cannot resist the urge to stare into the abyss.

 

Unsure what it is I am experiencing makes me curious rather than frightened. I slowly poke each hand into the void in hopes of discovering something with which I can make a deduction about this strange patch of plant life in this oasis. Why does is radiate power in such a way that is distinctly different from the rest of the forest?

 

At first I feel nothing more than a soft breeze. For a second I shiver due to a chill that is best described as a wind tiptoeing up my spine. Since I have no reason to believe that there is any danger I lean in further to take a deep breath. Does it smell as harmless as it looks?

 

“On the ground,” the voice returns only to alert me to the mistake that I’ve made. Agony washes over me as violently as the Thames. The pain is tangiblly audible to the point that I cannot even tell if I am screaming. My eyes remain clamped shut as I suffer through whatever has overcome me.

 

Time seems to stop so that my punishment may hold the attention of the entire universe. My palms are hitting the ground with flagrant protest. I found this paradise to be alluring and perfect but now I damn it for what it has done to me. Through the aching I force my fingers to inspect each frill, blade, and bulge in hopes of identifying an escape. The only thing that exists in me is the will to survive. It is only several cuts, bruises, and rashes later that I finally identify something that is foreign…

 

Something that does not belong…

 

And it is so very, very cold.

 

It is lean.

It is sleek.

And it is cold.

 

Without justification I bring the item to my chest, eyes still closed as the pain continues resonate through my bones. In a way, the echoes of suffering are worse than the initial inflictions. In my heart I know that this punishment is somehow instrumental to my escape. Perfect as it seems, I have no desire to continue my adventure here.

 

Silence begins to fall around me. Clamped eyes begin cracking open so that I can examine the trinket that I have discovered. The cool temperature that had stood out in contrast to my hot pain is wholly refreshing. I find myself absently attached to this object in a way that I find myself describing as ‘victorious.’

 

It is almost as though I had achieved the task for which I was brought to this place. As I suspect this presently, it is also confirmed; “What you hold now is a necklace fashioned from the shattered remains of a scabbard once known as Excalibur. For far too long I have waited for another to carry its burden once more.”

 

Enthralling as the voice is, as the setting is too, I cannot resist laughing at this premise. Tendrils tug in the back of my mind insisting that this is reality but in the forefront of my mind I have the slightest suspicions this is little more than a dream. The feelings, sensations, and pains that I experienced are remnants of regret and accomplishment that I feel in a real world somewhere beyond this place. I would be mad to believe that this luxurious getaway is real.

 

When my laughter fades, though, I find that there is a soft denial. The rhythm in my heart changes and my lungs breathe air differently. I am not independent. The voice seems to instruct me how to feel and what to think. Within seconds my mockery of the possibility twists away from that rooted doubt. As it lifts it is quickly replaced with acceptance; “And yet as much as you lack belief you are equally as easily swayed. Does your necklace not feel as icy as a winter’s night? Those are Excalibur’s remains in your very hands. Your presence in Avalon is not some innocuous hallucination. Of this I can promise you.”

 

I command myself to wake, or so I believe that I have done as much. The brilliant world around me is replaced with dull gray walls. Stained cream curtains billowing in the polluted wind cover a cracked window. I am instantly reminded that I live in a city plagued by crime and anarchy. Displeasure flows steadily in my veins. The largest part of me regrets leaving Avalon. Real or not, I already prefer to be there in spite of the dangers it may contain.

 

“You are meant for great things,” The voice asserts finally as my gaze settles on the blankets that cover me. A heavy object seems to be weighing them down. My fingers feel a breeze rolling off of a necklace that is immediately familiar to me. Excalibur is real and it is here in my lap. The peace that I felt in Avalon returns and I find myself trusting in the words of my invisible guardian.

 

I easily clasp Excalibur around my neck. It was much heavier in my hands. A second passes in which I consider removing the jewelry but the thought feels insidious. A soft whispering in the deepest crevices of my mind is insisting that I was meant to carry this burden. To exist without Excalibur would defy the universe.

 

A gunshot yanks me back into the world beneath my window. I rip the curtains back with assurance. This world must change. I must change this world.

An Update on How Being Grown Up Really Sucks

Dear Readers:

When will I stop apologizing for being so irregular in my posting?

Or maybe the better question is when will I stop being irregular in my posting in the first place?

Being a grown up sucks. It means being smart, cautious, and – ugh – responsible! Writing is something I want to make a career out of someday but as a parent and a wife I also have to make sure that life is stable right now, and that everyone is happy right now. As such, that sort of means that things that make me happy fall to the wayside.

Between soccer, bowling, cub scouts, work, and that various volunteer projects I take on – it’s a surprise I have time to do anything self-fulfilling! If I’m really lucky I might get to watch some cartoons with the family during dinner time but every other minute of my day is pretty much taken up. In just the last week alone I’ve gone from just a wife, mother, and writer to a team manager, an assistant coach, a volunteer cub scout leader, a sort of counselor for nearly everyone I know, and personal assistant. It’s amazing how many different roles we can occupy for what is generally a fairly small group of people.

I’ve been reduced to living my life out of a planner just to know what I’m doing each day. I never used to need one – not even in high school! I was always Miss-have-it-together. I went from organized to “booked.”

Actual “booked” too.

A family member called me at work to discuss an important family issue… to which I replied – “I only have a half hour window between work and soccer.” That’s the kind of person I’ve become these days. I feel like a major douche wad without a matching six-digit salary to justify my lifestyle.

Long, whining story short – I feel like a joke. I prioritize contests slightly ahead of my blogging to help build a publication portfolio, but both have somehow fallen back to the bottom of the totem. As always – I’m trying to find the time to put true effort into the work I want to publish on here. I have a “Writing the World” Wednesday entry that I’ve been sitting on for weeks but haven’t been able to structure enough for posting – and a contest entry that received positive feedback but I’ve been wondering if I didn’t want to make it into a series for the blog. I haven’t forgot how to blog and I haven’t forgot the dozens of you that follow me because you like my work. I’m trying.

Forgive me?

Yours,

ab