Monday, January 16, 2023

All Gas & No Brakes!


That's the way I typically start out a Facebook post or anything where I want to make sure everybody knows what I just discovered.  LOL!  I think it cracks me up more than anybody else, but I'll keep using it until otherwise notified.  :-)

I found a blog that I'd started a couple of years ago that I've done absolutely NOTHING with!  It's called 'Say What?!' and was evidently going to be used to dole out witty repartee and other information on the subject of commercial copywriting - my other gig separate from the bank where I work.  I'd completely forgotten about it until today when I was rummaging through some stuff online - that I can't remember - when I stumbled across it.  Lord.  I think I start too many things with the intention of adding them into my routine - like working on my core - and it never goes anywhere.  

I think I might be borderline OCD, I swear.  

Started looking up something on Norton because I wanted to see if there was an alternative to the antivirus I'm using and found myself down a rabbit hole that had zero to do with malware, finally landing on a website where I ordered a piece I need to add the ride on/ride off center stand to my motorcycle.  I went back and updated the Norton information (added another year to my subscription) and then I remembered I was hungry so I ordered Panera.  I had a fraternity meeting at 3:30 today, so before I got on that call, I looked at more ish on the Internet (updated my expiration dates on a couple of debit cards, got some clean up done on my Twitter and LinkedIN profiles, changed some stuff on my password database, added myself to the fraternity Internet page, and a couple more things).  Got off the call and moved right into texting an old friend to see how his back surgery recovery was going, and then decided to look into this mystery blog I've let languish.  THAT made me think about turning the Magnolia Rambling blogs into a Tik Tok post.  And THAT made me Google 'teleprompter app for iPhone'.  Brought me back to Blogger when I decided to put this together, and now I am thinking about how I can record content on my Tik Tok channel under a different name.  Jesus.  This brain is absolutely all gas & no brakes.

I have a million things I need to be doing, and writing this isn't one of them.  Finishing the return of my Christmas decorations to their rightful resting place, however, IS one of them.  It's January 15th, I know.  Don't judge me.

It's the start of the New Year, and I'm jazzed about all the stuff I'm telling myself I want to focus on this year.  I'm going to remain committed to not writing any of them down because I have zero intention of being called on the carpet for not completing them.  But who cares?  They're just for me.  I don't do resolutions.  I mean I do, but I don't call them that so I can be aloof and pretentious and so I can avoid failure.  :-)  2023 is the year of self care for me, and I'm going to take it to heart.  Gotta find a therapist.  Gotta get a pedi quarterly (I'm too cheap to do it more often).  Gotta think about considering to attempt to write another book.  [Probably a good subject to discuss with my to-be-found therapist: getting back to writing for me and not for an's harder than you might think after three books - subtle flex.]

If it happens, it happens.  I've got more to do than I will accomplish, but I figure that's better than not having any goals at all, right?  I don't know.  SMH.  I could be full of shit or just lazy.  

Right now, though, the only thing on my mind is popping open a beer.  So I'm gonna go do that.  Fingers crossed I drink the entire bottle before something else grabs my attention.

Thursday, September 1, 2022



Sometimes I know where I want to start.  And sometimes I just don’t.  Sometimes I know exactly what I want to say to you all – or no one.  And again…sometimes I just don’t.  I guess that’s the beauty and the beast when it comes to blogging.  Whatever comes to mind is what I can put down.  You can read it or not.  You can like it or not.  You can agree with it or not.  It’s subjective to a high degree.  Whatever.

I don’t know if I’ll post the link to this entry.  It’s funny when you think about all of the shit you see and read on Facebook.  I’m not the smartest person in the world, but I pay attention.  I don’t have any illusion that what I say/write will sway someone’s ideological positioning.  People are so amazingly and deeply entrenched in their own worlds and points of view that seldom, if ever, are you going to pull somebody over the fence by giving them facts or real-world experiences illustrating your position.  They’re going to believe what they want, they’ll understand the world around them in the manner they’ve been exposed to it, and they’re going to keep it moving.

I was thinking about just that when I came up with ‘systemicism’.  It’s not even a real word.  I know because I Googled it.  LOL!  I had posted something super snarky in response to all of the posting about the student debt loan forgiveness not being fair – or the equivalent of that asinine position.  There were many comments about the program that ran counter to what a lot of them cling to with respect to their Christian faith – the spirit of helping others doesn’t seem to be Christ-like enough for them to capitulate and recognize when someone needs a hand.  What would Jesus Do?  #Laughable

We’ve got so many ‘isms’ these days that another one added to the fire won’t matter. You’ve all seen a word cloud.  You know those images of words which represent most-used words, with the winner being printed in the largest font size and probably either bolded or in another color to show how far and away it wins?  To me, that’s a tie with racism and whataboutism neck and neck.  Racism fucking sucks.  And whataboutism is just as bad, in its own way, and it’s the worst comeback anybody can have when they’re trying to win an argument.  It’s like answering a question with a question.  And then there’s systemicism.

Let me explain.

From the comments on my post about the student loan debt forgiveness situation, I was unsurprisingly reading a lot of bootstrap comments, and ‘that’s not the way I was raised’ and ‘why do my taxes have to pay for someone else’s laziness’ and ‘the system is screwed up and benefits people who don’t want to work’, ‘what about how I paid my own loan’, ‘what about how I saved and so-and-so is getting free money’, on and on, ad nauseum.  It’s gross, really, to hear these comments.  So many Americans think with their full chest that this is the greatest country in the world.  Period.  Periodt, as Madea would say.  But it isn’t.  It.  Isn’t.  Are there a lot of things about America that ARE the greatest in the world?  Absolutely.  Try writing this blog in China.  Or Hungary – the new darling of CPAC and the GOP.  Or pick a fucking country.  Good luck not getting tossed in prison while you await trial.  Nope, freedom of speech is fantastic, and I relish its protection every time I sit down to opine.  But if you stop and seriously examine the way Americans treat other Americans, let alone immigrants, you should find yourself nauseated and ashamed.

No one, no population, no subset of a population, a populace, a citizenry…whatever…is going to treat all participants equally.  I should level set that right there.  There will always be a caste or hierarchy that separates and segregates people, whether it’s socially, economically, or the combination of the two (or more).  But if the first rule of Fight Club is that you don’t talk about fight club, the first rule of systemicism is that don’t talk about systemicism.  Those ideologies which underpin the systemic segregation, disenfranchisement, genocide, and oppression of ethnic and economic minorities are glaringly evident – if you open your eyes – but they’re never talked about in ‘polite society’.  The historical record is chock full of examples where the haves have shit on the have nots for various purposes.  And they’ve done so with legal and socially-acceptable morality defenses at their back.  You cannot maintain dominance over others by using piety and equivalence.  You need only look at the way America committed spirited and long-lasting genocide on the Indigenous people of this continent.  There is always a heavy hand in the manipulation of those perceived to be underneath the powerful, both proverbial and situationally, and it manifests in different ways all over the board.  South Africa, I'm looking at you.

But you have to be willing to see it.

America has a huge problem with racism.  And it’s systemic.  America has a huge problem with financial inequality.  And it’s systemic.  America has a huge problem with the treatment of women.  And it’s systemic.  America has a huge problem with the LGBTQ community.  And it’s systemic.  America has a huge problem with gun violence.  And it’s systemic.  America has a huge problem with the approach to social entitlement programs.  And it’s systemic.

But you won’t recognize that reason in any of the responses from people who are arguing their side of a cause.  For example, I love it when people twist themselves into knots trying to explain why they don’t want CRT taught to their first-grade child.  Just hearing that, you should automatically realize this person is uninformed and they’re getting their talking points from an unreliable source.  What they’re trying to say is they don’t want their children learning about the horrific treatment of BIPOC over the centuries at the hands of white people.  A system of inequality and oppression was set in motion hundreds of years ago, which no one alive today is responsible for kick-starting; it was and remains  unflinchingly egregious.  However, it’s one which white people perpetuate and from which they are benefitting today, while BIPOC continue to be negatively impacted.  

No one wants to speak to the systemic racism which has contributed to the wealth gap, the education gap, the employment gap, the mental health gap, etc., which has brought us to where we are today.  Black people didn’t have the same rights per the founders of this country.  After fighting for those rights, black people were continually harassed, harangued, tortured, and mistreated.  The system of that treatment was used to indoctrinate children at a very young age, perpetuated throughout their lifetimes, and celebrated in certain communities.  And for anyone saying, I wasn’t raised like that, what you have, in fact, received is the benefit of that systemic oppression of blacks because of the opportunities your families had access to where black families did not.  White families weren’t redlined and declined the ability to begin building generational wealth.  White families weren’t yoked to low-paying jobs which inhibited the ability for their kids to get college educations.  White families weren’t subjected to domestic terrorism which inhibited – or eliminated – any interest in voting to improve their lot, or even running for office to represent their communities without fear of reprisal or violence.  The benefits derived from the system meant to hold black people down come in many forms – from life, itself, to a more prosperous and wealthy existence.  And it is systemic in that the treatment and disadvantage continues.  But that’s never acknowledged in debate or Facebook responses or comments.

White people are not bad.  Trust me.  Hear me.  Believe me.  I’m not saying they are, and never ever would I cast a shadow or make a blanket statement that insane.  There are plenty of BIPOC who vote against their own interests.  Or even worse, they’re single-issue voters hell bent on protecting their wallets and bank accounts and position.  Read a book titled, "Our Kind of People," by Lawrence Otis Graham for more information.  Or you can read my novel, "Chief of Staff" for similar insight into the insular world of the small but affluent class of blacks in America.  If you still don’t believe me, look at this abjection of a senate candidate, Hershel Walker.  He panders to voters who wouldn’t have him over for dinner.  He is being used by a voting block who needs his body in the senate chamber to cast votes he will not understand at a cost to BIPOC he cannot fathomably calculate.  I have said it before that neither black people or white people exist as a monolith.  In the same breath, rich people are not bad, either.  I never understand when people get on their left-leaning high horse and proudly exclaim that billionaires shouldn’t exist.  What?!  Are you out of your goddam mind?  It’s the innovation for me.  It’s the creating jobs for me.  It’s powering a global economy for me.  It’s looking at all of their fancy, shiny, expensive, out of reach stuff for me.  If I could be a billionaire tomorrow, I’d do it in a heartbeat.  Kuh-Ching!

But what’s gutting to me about billionaires – at least in America – is that the system that allowed them to get so damn rich comes at the expense of the lower and middle class.  And I’m actually talking about everything from capitalism, itself, to wages and work-life balance to the holy grail of everyone’s pocket, taxes.  Billionaires don’t pay enough taxes juxtaposed against their income/wealth, and that burden falls to everyone underneath them.  It’s systemic because of the hierarchy previously established which does absolutely everything it can to protect that class (the super- and ultra-wealthy) because they have the power and position to do so.  It wasn’t the common man, the blue-collar worker, the manual laborer, the kindergarten teacher, or the freshly minted naturalized citizen banging for the Supreme Court to side with Citizens United.  Corporate America, led by rich white people and profited from by rich white people clamored for that ruling because they wanted a financial voice in American politics.  And that additional voice, beyond their own, is used to contribute ungodly amounts of money – in the form of free speech, most ironically – to political candidates who push the causes that that money funds.  Federalist Society, your table is ready.  That access writes the laws, confirms federal judges and ‘right’-sizes the SCOTUS, it lobbies the senators and congressmen/women, and impacts your daily lives on a local, state, and federal level.  It is systemic.

Look back at the document comments of America's founders with respect to religion in America.  ZERO percent of them say or imply or suggest or hint that this is a Christian nation.  In any way.  Yet today we’re run by group of individuals who amount to a theocracy based on THEIR RELIGION alone.  They set policy, influence laws, dictate morality-based intent, etc., in direct violation of not only what the founders intended, or the concept of separation of church and state, but what they wrote in that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.  Hindu?  Jewish?  Buddhist?  Atheist?  Everybody can fuck off unless you’re some form of Christian.  Don’t believe me?  Christianity is on our money.  It’s in your bedroom.  It's in your schools.  It’s lording (pun intended) over women’s reproductive rights.  It’s even allowing someone to say whether or not they’re going to bake a goddam cake.  It is systemic.

Systemicism is permanently entangled in our society, and it’ll never go away, it won't be voted out, and it can't be shouted down.  Just like racism, you have to come to grips with that fact.  There will always, always, always be people who hate me simply because I’m black, or think I’m less than because I’m black.  Those are the same people whom I cruise past on a jaunty spring motorcycle ride and wonder how they can have a Trump flag on their shitty little trailer homes and laude his every move, to include not returning Top Secret documents which could put American and allied spies, alike, in mortal danger.  He doesn’t give a damn about any of those people.  None of them.  All he wants, and has gotten plenty of, is their sucker money.  Lyndon Johnson said, "If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket.  Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you."  It's the systemicism that links them to Trump (and his ilk) in their minds that is enough to continue to embrace a disgraceful opinion and view on BIPOC, and continue the miseducation of their children (which leads to banning of books, harshing the mellow of the LGBTQ community, supporting candidates who seek to whitewash American history or make it harder to fucking vote, or give the ability of a state legislature to decide an election, and contributes to the deepening divide between races).  Do you see where I’m going?

So somebody is getting relief from their student loan debt.  Big whoop.  That doesn’t impact you.  It isn’t being unfair to you.  (How about paying taxes in the 60s for city and community amenities you couldn't rightfully enjoy, like parks and pools and water fountains?)  And your life isn’t going to change.  Instead of bitching and moaning about having 'paid their fair share' while somebody sits on their ass, why aren’t those people pissed that Trump’s tax plan is raising their taxes by removing a host of deductions for the middle class and repealing things like the alternative minimum tax for wealthy individuals or eliminating the estate tax?  Why aren’t they complaining about the inequity in education in urban and rural communities?  Why bemoan the infrastructure repair and increasing access to affordable healthcare and housing?  Surely leveling up in those areas would make for a more competitive and productive workforce, contribute to catching up on the salary and wealth gap, right?  How about recognizing the politically-expedient dominance of any certain religion and its stranglehold over whether a pregnant teenager carries an unwanted child to term?  Bet they’d be screaming their heads off if Muslims crafted laws that prohibited their free exercise of bodily autonomy.  Want to prevent second graders from being shot in the face at school?  Or is the greater concern the ability for some nut job to exercise his 2A rights to buy an assault rifle?  Ten grand to a teacher buried under student loans while going into her own pocket to provide school supplies for kids in a low-income neighborhood school sickens you.  But you’ll gladly scream Let’s Go Brandon and display FJB on your car and clothes.  And you’ll listen to a pastor or a boss or your neighbor talk about how they’d like to get back to when America was great.  All the while  you don’t understand how the world is moving on without you toward inclusion and diversity of all kinds.  And you fight and claw and scream and complain to support the divisiveness in a country where you continue to benefit from whatever form and function of the pervasive systemicism that checks your personal boxes.

But $10,000.  Because it doesn’t seem fair.


Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Hands up!

I don't get it. I'm pretty sure I'm depressed in some form or fashion, and it's all because of the world I live in. Most days, people fucking suck. They do. Why are we so evil to one another? Why can't we just leave everybody else the fuck alone? I hate bigots and racists and homophobes and the exclusionary and evangelical dicks and misogynists and anybody else who feels the need to propel their needs and interests and morality and superiority above anyone else. I just want to throw my goddam hands up and quit! 

I stopped writing this blog a while ago. And I don't know today that I'm going to pick back up where I left off. Ironically, or not, that was the exact subject matter of my last entry: write or stop. I clearly haven't answered that question. But I have decided one thing: you're going to have to find this blog if you want to read it. No longer am I going to post entries on social media. Makes me mad on another level when I put something out there that nobody comments on or pays attention to. I have to laugh at that. So completely narcissistic. Ha! Like I said before, if you don't love what you write, and have that expectation of others, what's the point? This isn't journalism. It is digital ranting, yelling into a cyberspace-shaped megaphone, the yeeting of your most introspective thoughts into a chasm of deep space dark matter. It is pointless other than to give me an outlet for my rage and hopefully medication enough to move through to the next day. 

NOTE: Don't take the above as some kind of fucked up secret way to say that writing keeps me from killing myself. Holy shit, no. Nobody is worth me killing myself. Nobody. Besides, have you ever SEEN a Ferrari? Or touched a lion? Or had a dog? Or loved someone? Or ridden a motorcycle? Or felt the sea roll up your foot while you stand on the beach? I don't get suicide. But that's another blog, completely. I hate that some people are pushed that direction, and I have some strong feelings about suicide that don't matter to anyone who's been through it. I'm just saying I'll never do that to myself. I'm just moody. :-) 

I forgot where I was going before that suicide rant. Lovely. 

Oh yeah: (most) people suck. 

I cannot tell you how much joy I've squeezed from Tik Tok in the last couple of years. It is a magnificent escape from the rigors of life and dealing with people you'd like to see disappear. So many funny people, so many great singers, so many people with crazy talent that never would have been exposed were it not for something as horrific as the pandemic, pushing everyone to the app for some respite and joy in a shitty day. I shudder to think where I'd be mentally without those 1- and 3-minute videos. 

There was a school shooting in Texas not too long ago, and I got so fed up with the absolute bullshit of thoughts & prayers that I stopped watching the coverage for days. I'm still not fully back on board, and that's fine by me. Politicians coveting their NRA funds or the votes of dicks with 2A tattooed on their foreheads make me sick. I wish they would just say they're in it for the money and the notoriety. They're certainly not genuine on any level. That goes for the GOP and the Democrats, but the greasy GOP assholes are just more blatant with their greed and refusal to help their constituents in the face of corporations floating their endless campaigns and glad-handing. I stopped watching the coverage because everyone is lying WHILE THEY'RE AVOIDING THE QUESTIONS people need to have answered. If everyone responded to a question in their every day lives with some kind of nonsense 'spin', we'd never get anywhere. People used to be more honest. At the very least, maybe the rest of us were more terrible at figuring out we were being lied to. One way or another, a lot of us are fucked, and it's only going to get worse. 

Nobody is able to tell a grieving parent that their OTHER kids aren't in danger of getting shot up at school because nobody is willing to do anything substantial about guns in this country. Nobody is able to tell their daughter that she doesn't have to carry a rape baby to term if Uncle Dirtbag gets handsy and takes her to bed. Nobody is able to tell their mother or sister or aunt or cousin that she has the right to make her own decisions about her body because the autonomy we should mandate for her isn't represented in the Constitution. Give me a fucking break. And as privacy rights get chucked...just wait...there goes the right for a man to marry another man, or a Chinese woman to marry a white guy, or adopt a baby of your choosing. It's not a leap to go from knocking down Roe to eliminating Loving and erasing Obergefell. 

One of my fraternity brothers (from whom I'm actively distancing myself), told me I should calm down. I wanted to tell him to fuck off, but I was more polite about it. He's been a dick to me on Facebook a couple of times, and I've always come back and told him he was a shit for saying what he said. I'm not fucking with him anymore because I have insight into his real demeanor and outlook. I don't have time for that. And I won't calm down on this issue or others. We're standing at the edge of a precipice in so many ways. And so many people aren't paying attention. Or worse, they're complicit in the various ways society is being destroyed; hey, democracy, the call is coming from inside the house. I have lifelong friends who will vote for Trump if he runs again. After EVERYTHING FUCKING THING we know about him and what he's done to the country, he'll still get their vote. They'll never tell me that to my face, but I know it to be true. And that's sad. And, quite frankly, it's gross and irresponsible. But they're never going to change, and I'm not going to waste my breath or time engaging in conversation to try and sway them. I used to spit into the wind until I realized it wasn't worth it with some people. 

So, I'll keep my hands up. I'll continue to be irritated by the outside world and its refusal to do what's right. At the same time, I have to do what I can to get out of this depression, to stimulate my brain, to lessen the hatred I have for asshole members of our society. I don't know. Maybe I'll keep writing. I've got this blog and at least two novels I could work on. We'll see. If it happens, it happens. And unless there is some setting I'm not aware of which automatically notifies my 7 followers (haha, I'm number 8), nobody will know, anyway. 

Ramble On...


I've been curious of late to understand how my seven followers know that I have posted something new. As such, this is a test of whatever notification sustem there might be.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Nobody Cares

Hey, y'all. I'm back. Yes, it's been a very long time. And I'm sorry. Not sorry. Well, I'm mostly sorry. Not for those people who don't read this blog, but for the dwindling number of those who do. God bless you for having nothing better to do than read my sanctimonious drivel. It isn't all drivel, but enough of it probably counts as such that I am being nicer to myself than needed.

I was going through my Gmail today, deleting old shit, wondering how I get off of certain auto emails (hello, Pinterest and Facebook...stop emailing me with every single notification. Damn. I get it.) I saw an email about this domain being renewed and told myself I was wasting money. I should either write or shut this down.

But two sides of my brain started battling before I could make an informed decision. I don't even know how much this damn thing costs me each year. I'll assume it isn't much. You might know I'm not one to waste money on something other than my motorcycle.

Anyway. Keep it or shut it down.

Nobody cares what happens to this blog if I'm being honest. I don't make money from it. I don't use it as a platform to do anything other than tell you what I think and hope you find what I say important enough to read to the end or refrain from rolling your eyes. LOL. Jesus, I'm self-absorbed. But that is the way I'd think ANY writer would or should be when it comes to their own creations, no matter the genre or if they're being paid to espouse them. I used to get irritated when people read my writing and dared to give me critiques or 'helpful suggestions'. Pretty sure I was an asshole about it. What the hell do you know what I was thinking when I created this masterpiece? Uh, well, it's shit. Hahaha. I was such a dick then. I'm still a dick, but at least I come at critique from a different, more adult, angle these days. Hell, I have five pre-readers of my novels whom I ask to pointedly give me what they like and don't like about the book. It makes me a better writer is what I tell myself. Hopefully, I'm not doing it for nothing - maybe their advice and critique and suggestion help make my books easier for other people to read and enjoy, as well.

But nobody cares what I write.

Or so I thought. The blog is a different animal. It's nichey and small and something you have to seek out. I don't think I get much word of mouth advertising. And that's fine. This platform, if you go all the way back to the original Magnolia Rambling posts are all about what I wanted to write as it hit my brain. That still happens. And it's still good. But just as I moved on from judging readers and reviewers, I seem to have shifted a little bit from the original intent; I'm not focused on not being focused. It started to feel as though if I WASN'T pontificating, it wasn't worth putting down for you to read. That's a lot to deal with. I stopped writing for a while on this because it became something of a chore. Hell, that's why I haven't written a novel in four years. Writing has turned, or had turned, or is turning into a chore. And that's no fun. I want it to be fun. It might not always be funny, but at least writing should be fun. Fuck if you agree with me or if you don't think I'm crazy. On some level, I'm super crazy. And I love it. Will you ever know the real me? Probably not. That's a little too dangerous still. Society isn't ready. But because nobody reads this blog I could admit to being a 2 on the Kinsey scale, or a serial killer, or addicted to painkillers (pour one out for Prince), or anything. It's whatevs.

I've written three novels, and the other day I was tagged in a Facebook post by an old friend of mine from high school. He was hoisting a copy of my latest, 'The Rest Is Still Unwritten' and said he was excited to read it and that he would give a full report. Before I knew it, people in his network (some shared with me, some complete strangers) were saying they wanted to read it, too. I am always humbled when someone spends their hard-earned money on a gamble - I am always nervous they'll hate I've created. But several of our shared friends co-signed and said that he would love it just as much as they did. Wow. Heart full. I hope that sentiment is contagious and he really does love it.

So nobody cares until you find out they do. That's probably how I'll approach this blog in its next and maybe last phase. Just write what I want (hello, intent) and fuck anybody who doesn't like it. Or read it. Until they do. And hope like hell they love what I've put in front of them.

I might need to see a mental health professional. Chris Stapleton is in my ear scream-singing his Traveler record. Very appropriate.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Something Borrowed, Something Blue

Hi. That just seemed like the right way to begin this. It's been a very long time. I mean a very, very long time since I've written anything for this blog. At times I can say I don't know why I haven't written anything. And at other times it is my blatant desire to do just about anything other than write which has kept me away. I discovered YouTube videos and my world changed forever - I still can't decide if it is for the better or for the worse. Maybe I don't care.

I was sitting here at my desk researching a topic for a blog post that I'm writing for a client. I have my classical piano playing in the background, and I was somewhere else. I was reading, but I wasn't invested. Ingroups and Outgroups in marketing rarely suck audiences in, let alone keep them reading for the purposes of entertainment. There are so many thoughts going through my head right now, and reading about a topic I'm not super enthused about - and trying to find a way to make it sexy enough to compose 500-700 words for my client's readers to absorb was beginning to fade in its importance.

That's when I thought about my poor, abandoned, neglected Magnolia Rambling. I thought about how much I missed sitting down and writing whatever I want; nobody reads this, and I'm not going to advertise my posts. So unless there is some eagle-eyed follower out there, or if somebody was unfortunate enough to not edit my name or my blog from their Google Alerts, Magnolia Rambling is going to revert to what I'd considered in the first place, but never went through with it due to my outsized ego: a place where I can emote, bullshit, lie, praise, joke, and otherwise word vomit to my heart's content. It feels like I'm back to the freedom that I found when I picked up writing in the first place. I'm not worried about my critics or fans or grammar (lie) or anything else which can be used to measure the success or failure of the words I pour out. It reminds me of when I wrote Five Minutes in my Psyche - that's probably the title, but I'm not sure.

Here's a funny - I looked up and realized I'd been writing under the wrong blog. #FirstWorldProblems

I fixed that. I'm in the right place now.

It might have been subconscious of me to title this, 'Something Borrowed, Something Blue'. That's kind of the beauty about the way my brain works. As I looked back at the title, and realized this was in some way tilted toward starting over, or starting anew, I saw what I did. When I write, often the title comes to me first. It always has. I can't explain it, and I've never really considered fighting it. It works for me. So, it's whatever.

So many people don't start over. They don't take fresh looks at something, no matter what it might be, and they languish in something that can make them unhappy and miserable and sick. And for what? I wasn't writing because I was being lazy. I wasn't writing because I didn't know what people wanted to hear from me, to read from me. I was thinking more about my audience - how ridiculously grandiose is that? My 'audience'? Wow. It was cool in the beginning when I was writing stuff because it hit me, or because I wanted to see what I could do. But then it got to a point, probably after my third novel, when I got scared. People were asking me for sequels to things I'd written. I'd become invested in my characters, but not in creating. I started to think about storylines and potential plots and alienated the reason I loved to write in the first place - the creativity of it all is what makes me come back, to try and reinvent myself. I started writing for my audience and not for me. And that sucked. And because of that, I didn't write anything creative. I HAVEN'T written anything creative since 'The Rest Is Still Unwritten'. And that doesn't make me feel good. Because it doesn't feel good. It sucks. Because I'm a very fucking good writer. I'm not apologizing for that. If you don't believe in yourself, you should immediately stop what you think is your passion and go do something else.

I am fucking awesome. And I love writing. And that's part of the reason why I didn't want to force myself to write for my audience. I've reached a point where I don't care what they think. Jesus, there are so many people in my own family who haven't read what I write. That pisses me off, but it's not worth debating. They will or they won't. And I've stopped asking. It'll be interesting to see if I even tell anybody about the next novel I publish.

Months ago, I told a friend of mine I went to school with that we'd form a writing group. He's super talented, and I loved reading this piece he sent me. He has stories to tell. And he needs to get them out on paper or the computer or whatever medium works best for him. We called ourselves the Jedi Council. Pretty fantastic name. It's time I actually do what I said I would and write. But not for an audience. Not for my family or my supposed fans or for 5-star reviews on Amazon. Not even to please the Jedi Council. I need to write because I'm awesome, because I love it, and because by not writing - by languishing and soaking up the lazy - I'm doing a disservice to myself. No, thank you.

Time to pull on that wedding dress (as it were), stand up at the altar of awesomeness, grip my something borrowed and something blue, and knock my own socks off.

Fuck yes.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Inequities of Equality

How fantastic it would be were this blog post to find its way into the hands of President Trump. It is a message he needs to absorb. And Now. Written originally for Charlatan Magazine, I am posting it here for your enjoyment and contemplation. Are you the bullied? Or the bully?

Imagine for a moment that you lived somewhere else. Not in a different house or town, but somewhere other than the United States of America. Choose somewhere you aren’t free to make your own choices in life. North Korea springs to mind.

Bullying is age-old, it is everywhere, and is present in many forms. It is an epidemic, and it’s also one of the latest buzz words on Capitol Hill. They have even created a website dedicated to the education and eradication of bullying. So very apropos.

Bullying is personified by the big kid pushing around those devoid of self-confidence, kicking sand in your face, grabbing lunch money and pushing you into mud puddles. You’ve seen it in movies and on TV, read about it in countless books and magazine articles, and more than likely experienced it first-hand at some point in real life. You may have been that kid trying to escape a monster in your middle school who tortured you for fun. Or maybe you’re the college student who, instead of enjoying the newfound freedom and reveling in new experiences, is hiding your Middle Eastern customs and heritage for fear of blind retribution. Or are you living in fear that the next time your spouse beats the hell out of you, it will be your last day on Earth?

Maybe you’re still the victim. Maybe you’re still the bully.

Perhaps you find it as comical as do I when bombastic celebrities have threatened to acquire a new address when their politician of choice (typically the President) doesn’t win election. All of them are still here, and more than likely will very much always claim to be permanent residents of this country. Their man didn’t win, and just as instantly as it began, their bellowing has subsided. Deft social media campaigns and shiny fundraisers and well-placed television appearances didn’t sway enough of the population into voting for their man. So they slink back behind their cameras, and in between screenplay lines, waiting for their turn again to sprout suddenly – and unapologetically – onto TV and into print in order to exert an unduly and unqualified influence on your opinion once more. Celebrity endorsement of politicians hasn’t exactly been a resounding success – especially if you have a mind of your own and are capable of deciding for yourself that which you find important and necessary. Innocent and harmless as it may appear, that is just one kind of bullying present in our culture.

Those are the kinds of things that were swirling around in my mind as I prepared to write my column. In the middle of the process, I was diverted to Washington, DC to serve as chaperone for my son’s 7th grade class trip. We made the rounds of all the usual monuments to leaders past, paid tribute to our fallen soldiers and watched the Changing of the Guard at Arlington National Cemetery. As we toured the grounds of the Capitol, I was more concerned with wrangling my subset of 12 year olds, than I was at being awestruck by the physically imposing omnipresence of the building, itself. Days later, as I recovered mentally and physically, I looked back on the group of us, children and chaperones together, sitting in the gallery of the House of Representatives. We were taking a brief respite from the endless walking. It is now, in hindsight, that I am able to make an ironic connection. There I sat, stage left, in front of the biggest bully pulpit in the nation.

For millennia, men have dictated to other men everything that encompasses life as we know it. Cavemen, then and now, rely on a strict behavioral code that has dominated concepts as simple as where you’ll live, what you’ll eat, and the people with whom you’re allowed to socialize. The definition of Social Stratification, as provided by tells us that, “Stratification is a hierarchy of positions with regard to economic production which influences the social rewards to those in the positions.” That is clearly evident when you consider the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots.

But what isn’t always clearly evident is the extent to which we live, every day, at the mercy of what others intend for us. We wander each day into and out of a space between compliance and fear, the far side of that spectrum is where you’ll find bullying and worse. No matter your gender or your age or your perceived social position, it is within you to put others in a position where they have no choice but to comply with your wishes. The American Psychological Association says that, “Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort. The bullied individual typically has trouble defending him[self] or herself and does nothing to ‘cause’ the bullying.” That definition notwithstanding, I challenge you to answer this question: Can not the definition of a bully be extended beyond the context of the individual?

Seated in the gallery, the sense of history was enormous. The mind of a 7th grader is possibly too innocent to fully appreciate that there was a time when a black classmate wouldn’t have been allowed in the building unless they were working. They wouldn’t comprehend it was from that very bully pulpit that free men governing other free men decided I should have the right to vote. From that bully pulpit, the Women’s Suffrage movement strode confidently into history and where still today, women continue to fight to have their demands for equality heard over the baritone din of XY chromosomes. With each passing day, more and more senators and congress people are sweeping their voting history and fire-brand rhetoric under the rug and coming out in support for same-sex marriage (no doubt themselves having been bullied into that position by their constituency and the fear of losing their next re-election campaign). And all but one of those children will never know that my grandfather, Joseph Vernon Sears, fought Santa Fe Railway (645 F. 2d 1365 – Sears v. L Bennett) from 1966 until 1981 because they refused him the basic civil rights afforded to him and every other person under the symbolic drapery of the Stars and Stripes slightly more than a year after the second Civil Rights Act was passed.

We teach our children to keep their hands to themselves, and to treat friends and strangers the way they, themselves, would want to be treated. We rarely teach them how to move within that space between compliance and fear – and when we do, it’s often too late.

With DC’s bully pulpit in my rear view mirror, and the aggression of North Korea looming in the distance, I understand fully that bullying may never go away. Whether we continue to close our eyes and wish we were somewhere else, or stand up to fight for ourselves and others, the way in which we choose to deal with bullying is what will change our lives.