Sunday Morning Musings: Because She’s a Woman

2015-02-06 22.14.14 (4)I have heard numerous women say they are voting for Hillary Clinton because she’s a woman. They somehow seem to think that if Hillary makes it to the White House that furthers the cause of all American women. Possibly this is true, but just as possibly it isn’t. If she’s a lousy president who got elected simply because she’s female, it will set women in this country back further than they thought possible. Because it will be a long time before American voters elect a woman again.

Championing anyone simply on the basis of gender is discrimination. In this case, those who vote for a woman simply because she’s a woman are making the same mistake made eight years ago by those who voted for a black candidate simply because he was black.  They did not analyze whether the individual was the best candidate. Nor did they care. They used their vote to make a biased statement about race in this country.

I suppose that many black voters thought having a black president would somehow improve their own status, but it doesn’t seem like that much has changed for them in the past eight years. But I’m not black, so I can’t really speak to that. It appears, however, that this black president missed his opportunity to narrow the racial divide in the U.S. In fact, he achieved the opposite. Am I the only one who finds that of interest?

So do women believe that a female president is somehow going to improve their lot in life once she’s elected? Are they teaching their daughters that competence doesn’t matter in life, only gender does?

In the business world, generally the best person for the job is the one who gets it, because most businesses value competence. Although sometimes that isn’t the case and some business are required to meet staffing quotas. Which may explain a general decline in efficiency.

Years ago I got a job with a major corporation. I wasn’t immediately hired for an open position, but got a call back months later. I was told the reason for the delay was, “We had to hire Pam.”  Pam was black. All else being equal, Pam was hired simply because of the color of her skin.

I see a snippet on TV of a famous reporter asking the question (about Clinton), “But can she govern?” While both candidates may be “unfit” to be president, Clinton has never to my knowledge “run” anything efficiently or successfully. Not a business, not a state, not the State Department, possibly not even a household. So what is it that makes her so uniquely qualified to be president other than her gender?

Hiring or electing anyone for discriminatory reasons is simply unfair. Hire or elect the person you believe will do the best job in that position. It truly is that simple.

#election #voting #women

Sunday Morning Musings: My Political Week in Review

2015-02-06 22.14.14 (4)Sunday:  I am trying to watch the 2nd presidential debate in town hall format. I did not watch the first one except for about the first 20 minutes. Cringe-worthy television I call it. I felt the same about the primary debates. I just couldn’t watch them.

I am not a fan of either candidate. I am still marveling over the fact that these are the two primary candidates for the highest office in the land. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. How did that happen?

Remember when the best and brightest used to be the people who ran for our president? Yeah, I don’t remember that either. But this is what we’ve come to?

This debate is just more mud-slinging. Ancient history.

I continually lower the volume. Then I hit the Mute button. I’m reading a novel but every time I glance at the TV, Trump is talking. Finally, I turn it off.

Monday: Consensus is Trump saved himself with his debate performance. His campaign goes on, but it won’t be enough.

I find it ironic that the very system Trump has railed against since the beginning of his campaign (Washington DC elitist culture/career politicians, etc.) are proving his point by abandoning him when the going gets rough (even though the PEOPLE of their own party, i.e., PEOPLE THEY REPRESENT voted Trump as their candidate) in order to save themselves and their own political careers. CYA.

As a sidenote: More emails between Clinton’s staffers are Wikileaked and it seems no one can figure out why she’s running for president or how to market her run for the office. Send in the focus groups. My opinion is she’s doing it for her own glorification and potential history-making ability. She has no new ideas of her own or changes she wants to make, but will simply continue on Obama’s path.  Not much of a trailblazer when she’s following a man’s path.

Tuesday:  I think about how much I used to enjoy Facebook until so many of my “friends” decided it was a good place to share their political leanings and ahem, brilliant opinions. Psst. That’s why there’s a “Hide” button.

They say it’s the journey not the destination. I wonder, if he loses, if Donald Trump will see it that way. What has running for president taught him and others? Has it changed him? What will he take away from the experience?

Meanwhile, Ken Bone, the debate darling audience member who wore a red sweater (because he split his suit pants) caused an online ordering furor for duplicates of that sweater and retailers are now sold out of them. Who are these people who order sweaters for such a reason?

Wednesday:  More emails surface from Hillary’s camp, one denigrating Catholics. Mainstream media doesn’t care/won’t report. No one will know about this unless they tune into conservative news channels. (Obama campaign all over again.)

My thought: Without men leading the way Hillary Clinton would be nowhere politically. She’s done nothing but follow the path her husband and Obama set. Very admirable.  Has she had any of her own or original ideas or innovations? (Realize I already said this but think it bears repeating.)

It’s like on Survivor. Sometimes it isn’t the best-liked or most honest player who wins. It’s the one who played the game the best.

Thursday:  I can’t quite understand all of these accusers whom Trump allegedly assaulted coming forward (now). I’m trying to think back, ten, twenty, thirty years ago. If I, at age 30, had been sitting in an airplane seat and a stranger sitting next to me starting putting his hands on me what would I have done? What would I do now? Yell, “Stop it!” comes to mind. Push him away. Hit the attendant call button. Scream “Help!” to alert my fellow passengers I need help. Let’s say I was so frozen in shock I did nothing. Would I simply sit next to the guy for the rest of the flight in silence? Would I not say anything to a flight attendant once the plane landed? Contact the airline officials afterward? If I recognized the guy why wouldn’t I go public? Would I just go home and maybe tell my mother? It seems highly unlikely that’s all I would have done. But this has never happened to me.

If Trump was walking in on un- or half-dressed beauty contestants, especially if they were teenagers at the time, how is this kept a secret amongst the many people in a dressing room? Were there no parents around? No makeup artists or hair stylists or pageant coordinators? Were there no reporters lurking outside waiting for interviews or to get an inside scoop or photo? It’s hard to believe. I write fiction, but this stretches believability.

What seems a more logical scenario based on events of the past week is that Trump’s numbers were a little too close for comfort for Clinton and her camp decided to release the dogs.

But who knows when there’s lie upon lie upon lie?

Friday:  I have given up. I’m worn down and beaten up by political news and commentary and I just don’t care anymore. I want Trump to SHUT UP because everything he says buries him further. I Tweet something my dad used to quote:  “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.”

Clinton’s campaign is an eerie reminder of Obama’s. Negative stuff is out there but the media ignores it. Ours has become a sad excuse for a great nation.

Has Ellen Degeneres invited Trump to be a guest on her show? Inquiring minds want to know.

Saturday: Zero TV and newspaper and virtually no social media viewing. Remind myself I’m much happier writing fiction than trying to make sense of reality.

#politics #elections #media #lies

 

Politics: A Look in the Mirror

WIN_20160623_09_59_17_ProToday I am embarrassed to be an American. I can’t be on social media for more than a few seconds because it’s filled with such hatred and judgment it turns my stomach. I’m appalled to realize that this who we are as Americans. This is who we’ve become.  

Is the reason we have such unlikeable candidates running for president  because they reflect our society and how we each see ourselves? We don’t like ourselves very much do we? We’ve put forward people to run our country who are like we are. Untrustworthy. Dishonest, perhaps. We expect to be lied to because we ourselves have trouble with the truth. We lie to ourselves about ourselves so we expect others, especially our leaders to do the same. 

Take every negative trait that’s been used to describe our current candidates and ask yourself if you also possess that trait. It will be hard, but try, just this once, to give an honest answer. 

When we point a finger at someone, there are three pointing back at us. And there’s been a whole lot of finger pointing going on. And a lot of name calling. Denial is the name of the current political game. But the whole country is in denial. 

As our educational system has declined and our illiteracy rate has increased, we appreciate someone who has a small mind and uses small words. Also, someone who can repeat things many times. We don’t care if they’re actually imparting accurate information; in fact, we’d rather they didn’t. We’d prefer that they simply repeat their messages in language we understand so we’ll know who to vote for. And we are much too lazy to ferret out the truth behind their statements. 

We don’t want anyone honorable to run our country because that individual might expect us to behave honorably. Likewise we don’t want anyone who’s been particularly successful outside of public office to be elected because we might be expected to also work hard and make something of ourselves. They might impart some unpleasant facts we don’t want to hear such as the fact that the government is not obligated to support us with one “entitlement” after another. Or that it’s okay to skate by doing the bare minimum. 

We fear anyone who is not like us. Anyone who is intelligent, fearless, who says what he or she thinks regardless of the consequences. We don’t want anyone who puts themselves on the line, who can withstand public ridicule, who stands up for what they believe in. Because most of us don’t believe in anything. We don’t believe in ourselves or each other. We don’t believe in a higher power. We think there is no real meaning or purpose to our lives. So it’s better to elect someone who’s just spinning the wheels and grabbing for the momentary glory and using the power of office for his or her own gain. 

Certainly we would never want to elect anyone who would admit to mistakes or who has the guts to apologize or attempt to rectify past wrongs. If we did, we might, at some point be expected to admit that we’ve also made mistakes. Or said things we wish we hadn’t. 

We don’t want to elect the best candidate for the job because we’ve forgotten what our best is. We’ve buried it so deeply beneath discouragement and hopelessness and pure meanness that we’ve taught ourselves to expect more of the same.  

If we’re unhappy with the choices before us in the upcoming election, it might be time to look in the mirror and admit we know the reasons why.

IMG_1182

 

Hillary Clinton Hurts Barista’s Feelings

Here’s part of what Hillary Clinton said in a recording, taken from a private fundraiser held in February, which shows Clinton laying out her assessment of Sanders voters:

“They are living in their parents’ basement,” Clinton said. “They feel they got their education and the jobs that are available to them are not at all what they envisioned for themselves. And they don’t see much of a future.”

“If you’re feeling like you’re consigned to, you know, being a barista, or you know, some other job that doesn’t pay a lot, and doesn’t have some other ladder of opportunity attached to it, then the idea that maybe, just maybe, you could be part of a political revolution is pretty appealing.”

2015-02-06 22.14.14 (4)Here’s what I say:

I’m 60 years old and I’ve been a barista for going on fourteen years. I stay at this job that doesn’t pay a lot because, frankly Mrs. Clinton, thanks to you and President Obama, I wouldn’t be able to afford your “Affordable Health Care” for my husband and myself if I didn’t.

I take offense at the snide tone you used in your comments especially the way you said the word “barista” like it’s comparable to slinging manure. It’s good, honest work and frankly, Mrs. Clinton, if you knew anything about business, you’d know that it is indeed possible to start at the bottom of that ‘ladder of opportunity’ and move up, especially in a company, for example, like Starbucks. I personally have known several individuals who began their careers as baristas and are now store managers and district managers. Many, I am sure, have moved even higher within the company or have gone on to hold high-paying jobs elsewhere.

Your suggestion that being a barista  is a dead-end job is ridiculous and short-sighted.  What my barista job may lack in pay it makes up for in other benefits, such as the aforementioned AFFORDABLE health care insurance, a 401K, flexible schedule, and tips as well as free coffee.20161004_193852

For you to imply that because I’m a barista I must be living in my parents’ basement is hurtful and inaccurate.

I must now go find a safe space where I can recover from the pain your micro-aggression has caused me.

#barista #HillaryClinton #healthcare #tobeapartner

Sunday Morning Musings: Why Is God The Last Resort?

2015-02-06 22.14.14 (4)I’m sitting here writing in my journal asking God for help building my new web site and starting my newsletter.  Can I do it? Yes. Do I want to do it? No. But, like with a lot of other things, I know with God’s help I can. I don’t know why I haven’t specifically asked him before for help with this. My best answer is I didn’t think of it. But why didn’t I think of it?

Why don’t I turn to God for guidance for every single thing in my life? Why do I believe I can do even the smallest things on my own? Because I can. But am I doing the right thing? The thing God wants me to do? Or am I making up my own mind and taking action without consulting Him? Of course I am. Then I wonder why my ideas don’t always work out very well.

God has helped me with tiny things, like finding lost files and with big things like how to handle tragedy. Why can’t I remember that God is always there for me? That he doesn’t change? That he cares and wants what is best for me? Why do I put so much faith in people when years of experience on earth have shown me that people will let me down whether they mean to or not?

I don’t know why I can’t get into the habit of asking for God’s help first instead of screwing it up on my own and then asking Him to help me fix it.

And I don’t know why, probably because God is at work, but I’m going to leave you with this:

YOU ARE CHRIST’S HANDS

God has no body now on earth but yours,

No hands but yours,

No feet but yours,

Yours are the eyes through which he is to look out

God’s compassion to the world;

Yours are the feet with which he is to go about

Doing good;

Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now.

                                        –Teresa of Avila

intercessory_prayer

#God #prayer #faith #guidance

I Sold My Baby

2015-02-06 22.14.14 (4)My father always told me, “Be nice to the people you meet on your way up the ladder because you’ll probably be meeting them again on the way back down.”

I don’t think of myself as having very many enemies, but there are certainly people in this world I haven’t gotten along with all that well. But one of them appeared out of my past and offered me a job. A writing job for which I could potentially get paid a nice chunk of actual money. So whatever our past relationship she’d either decided to ignore it or had forgotten it. And I decided I couldn’t look a writing income gift horse in the mouth.

The job was something I’ve never done. Ghostwriting a Christmas novella for a well-known author. Make that two things I’ve never done. No wait. Three. Not only have I never done any ghostwriting, I’ve never written a novella or a Christmas-themed story either.ghost-1124534_640

There’s a tight deadline but there’s money dangling at the end of it. If I’m a writer I should be able to write an assigned piece. Worst case scenario? I don’t finish the project or it’s rejected by the publisher. And I don’t get any money for my efforts.

I have nothing to lose except the time I spend writing. I start the story before I sign the contract after  lifting an idea from a book I’d been working on and tweaking it. And then tweaking it some more.

I keep my eye on the word count and tell my husband when he asks how it’s coming, “I just keep making shit up.”

adorable-71031_640Meanwhile I grapple with the idea that I’m selling a little piece of my soul by selling my baby. Giving it up for adoption as it were and no would ever know I created it. If I told, I’d be violating the confidentiality clause in the contract. Then I remembered that everyone I ever came into contact with in the writing world said, “Publishing is a business.” I created a product and sold it to a buyer. Nothing more than that.

I’d been told the hardest thing would be copying the author’s voice. I read a few of the author’s (I assume also ghostwritten) previously published novellas. I couldn’t detect any specific voice and (of course) I thought my story was so much better.

I told myself not to get attached to my story no matter how cute it was. Or to the characters no matter how adorable they were together. Because I was going to sell my little baby and no one was ever going to know this baby was mine.hang-tags-234566_1280I’m told I picked up on the style and simplicity but nothing was said about voice. If my baby is rejected, I’ll happily take it back, put my name on it and let you read it.

But that didn’t happen. My baby was a keeper and the check’s in the bank. You might read the Christmas novella I wrote. But some other author adopted it and gave it her name.

#ghostwriting #baby #sale

Romantic…Comedy?

2015-02-06 22.14.14 (4)How many times have you read a book or seen a movie billed as romantic comedy that simply wasn’t funny? I feel like I’ve read lots of those kinds of books and seen lots of those kinds of movies where the humor fell flat. It should have been funny but it wasn’t.

Do we even know what romantic comedy is? What it’s supposed to encompass?

Too often, I think romantic comedy is built around a situation instead of the characters. And if the humor doesn’t come from the characters, there’s no way it can be funny. You can force them into a comical situation, (think Sandra Bullock and  Ryan Reynolds in The Proposal) but if THEY aren’t funny, you won’t laugh. You probably won’t even be entertained. Sometimes it all seems just kind of dumb. Even a little bit sad. Sometimes writers try to force comedy to get laughs and when they try too hard no one is amused. And maybe, when they aren’t trying to force laughs, but a movie leaves you smiling and with that warm fuzzy feeling, they’ve succeeded (why did While You Were Sleeping work so well?).

My first book from Samhain Publishing (A Month From Miami) image001_editedwas billed as romantic comedy by my editor. I’d never considered it would fall into that genre. But when I read it now, I smile. It’s cute. Light-hearted. Warm. And the characters work well in the babysitting-for-car-repair trade scenario. Nobody’s Fool, a ten-year high school reunion story also got tagged as romantic comedy. It’s cute, but is it funny?

NobodysFool72smMaybe romantic comedy doesn’t have to make you laugh until you cry. Maybe you won’t laugh out loud at all. Maybe humor is so subjective no two people will find the same thing tickling their funny bone. But a successful romantic comedy? I think we all know it when we see it or read it.

With the soon to be released Cleo’s Web, I’m categorizing it as romantic comedy that’s actually funny. Not only is the situation comical (a 30-something disguising herself as a senior citizen) the characters play well off that (when the hero tries to keep her rule breaking secret in return for a favor. Or two.)

I’m still working on the cover. And the blurb. And the formatting. And all the other fun stuff that goes with publishing. But here’s a sneak peek excerpt from Cleo’s Web just for you:

“What do you want?” she asked so softly she wasn’t sure he could even hear her. She’d directed the question at the window instead of him.

“A home-cooked meal is what I was thinking.”

She turned to stare at him. “You want me to cook for you?”

She must have sounded horrified because he said, “Now who would have thought you’d find that more abhorrent than sleeping with me?”

“I didn’t. I don’t. I can’t.”

“Why don’t you pick one of those and go with it?”

“I, uh. I’m not much of a cook.”

“Oh, come on. You must have learned something from Gertie.”

“No. I’m a lousy cook.”

“Oh. Did you want to reconsider the sleeping with me option? I promise not to hog the covers.”

She stared at him not entirely sure he wasn’t serious. “I’ll cook,” she finally managed.

“See? That wasn’t so hard. One other thing. Don’t ever answer the door wearing what you did this morning. That disguise you had on? Wear something like that whenever you go out. I’m willing to look the other way, but the residents won’t, I can guarantee it. If they figure out you’re breaking the rules and I’m allowing it, I’ll lose my job and you’ll lose a place to stay. Got it?”

“Yes.”

“And try to look less, er, that is, try not to be so, um…”

“So?” Cleo raised an eyebrow.

“Hot.”

Cleo couldn’t help it. She started to laugh. And once she got going, she couldn’t stop. The tops of Daniel’s ears turned pink. But he grinned at her. Again.

And here’s my latest attempt at a label after the blurb:

Warning: Contains 30-somethings behaving like senior citizens, failed attempts to impersonate elderly individuals and numerous retirement community violations.

#Cleo’s Web #romantic #comedy

 

 

Loss of Enthusiasm

Why haven’t I posted anything here since August 31st? Because I haven’t felt like it. Luckily, that last post was all prepped and ready to go because I was in no mood to write anything new. Why, you may ask?

img_5369First of all, after my lovely birthday trip to New Hampshire, I arrived home and promptly got sick. I spent one entire Sunday afternoon doing nothing but sneezing and blowing my nose. Seriously. My husband gave up with the “Bless yous” after about the first hundred sneezes. How much snot can your sinuses hold anyway? Or does it just keep regenerating?

I showed up for work and slogged through my shifts and did little else except sleep and be miserable. I literally never–ok, very rarely–get sick and I am a terrible patient.

mattbirthdayMaybe I was a little down after my trip, too, where I got the lovely surprise of my son and daughter-in-law being there to surprise me. I needed a vacation and having my family around for days was the best present I could have. But then it’s over and it’s back to my regular life. Sigh.

Writing? What can I say? I’ve sort of lost my enthusiasm. That began when earlier this year Samhain Publishing announced it was winding down its business. Just as (I thought) I was starting to build some momentum. Bangs head against wall. Months later Samhain announced it was staying in business. Bangs head even harder against wall. Then the person who’d been helping me with my web site and marketing simply disappeared. Doesn’t return calls. Ignores emails and texts. I have no idea why. Meanwhile I have a complete, edited manuscript with no cover and no blurb and no marketing plan and no interest in creating any of it.

Sometimes it’s just a lot of things happening in sequence that can throw you off your game. Envision me sitting here pouting, arms across my chest, lower lip thrust out with the caption, “I don’t want to play any more” above my head.

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” — Winston Churchill.

“Failure consists of going to failure to failure with loss of enthusiasm.” –Barbara Meyers

I may have temporarily lost my enthusiasm but as I write this I’m waiting to see what my cover artist comes up with, finalizing my blurb, and finishing some minor editing on– heres’ the ironic twist–my romantic comedy, CLEO’S WEB. I’m sure my enthusiasm is lurking around here somewhere. Eventually I’ll find it.

#enthusiasm #success #failure

Could You Be A Homeschooling Parent?

My friend Cathy homeschooled her five daughters until they were of high school age. I remember being surprised when she told me of her plans but I’ve never really asked her about her experience until now. So Cathy, why homeschooling? 

I had always wanted to be a teacher.  We even played “school” in the summertime.   I had not heard of homeschooling, though, until the mid-80’s.

What was the hardest part/biggest challenge?

The hardest part is that the buck stopped with me.  I HAD to do school, or it didn’t get done, and there was too much riding on it not to do it.     Another challenge was that I never was home alone.  Never.

What was the biggest reward for you?

The biggest reward for me was watching the light bulb turn on when one of the kids got a concept.   Also, even though I was never alone, that was one of the rewards, too.  I got to know my kids and do fun things with them that would not have happened with a traditional school calendar.

What advice would you give others who are considering homeschooling? 

Stick to the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic.  Everything else will fall in to place.  Don’t feel like you have to replicate a school day.

How do your children feel about their homeschool experience?

They have told me that they enjoyed it very much.  They loved the field trips and car trips that we took.   They entered traditional school in the ninth grade and constantly talked about how much time was wasted.

The girls raised over $1000 for the Salvation Army by making flag pins right after 9-11
The girls raised over $1000 for the Salvation Army by making flag pins right after 9-11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What did you do so your children could socialize while being homeschooled?

Of course, they were always with me, so when I had to run errands, they were by my side. This enabled them to engage with adults and not just those in their peer groups.  They learned how to grocery shop, go to the bank, and go to Home Depot.  They were involved in Girl Scouts, Tae Kwon Do, church activities, music lessons, as well as a local homeschool support group that had regular activities and field trips.   They took some lessons, such as science, from other teachers as they got older. 

Overnight stay at a museum with the Girl Scout Troop
Overnight stay at a museum with the Girl Scout Troop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a matter of fact, when one of our daughters was considering going into school in the ninth grade, one of the reasons AGAINST it was “Because I won’t have time to do everything I do now.”

One other thing we did was homeschool PE.   A group (rather large……over 200 kids) got together every Tuesday morning at a county park to participate in the Presidential Fitness Program.

Our Homeschool Group. We had Park Days every month as well as other field trips with this group.
Our Homeschool Group. We had Park Days every month as well as other field trips with this group.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is the biggest drawback to homeschooling? 

There are things that a local school can offer that a private home cannot.  Chemistry labs, TV stations, etc.  However, I found that if there was an area of interest, I could usually find a way to expose them to it.  And, homeschool students are allowed to play sports at their local schools, so we took advantage of that.

What is the biggest advantage?

The time spent with my kids.   As much as I enjoyed a day off now and then, that much time doesn’t have a price on it.  Also, they were allowed to learn at their own pace.  If they ‘got’ a concept, we could move on.  If they didn’t, we could spend some more time on it.  A teacher in a traditional classroom doesn’t have that luxury.

The first day of school.
The first day of school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you have any negative experiences related to homeschooling?

The only ones that I can think of are  (and this was not often) when people would make rude comments to me or the kids when we were out and about.

Do you think your children missed out on anything important by not attending school?

I think because they all attended traditional school in high school, that they had the best of both worlds.   We still bought school supplies, which was always fun for me as a child, and they still bought new clothes, although they were shorts and not school uniforms.2016-07-05 19.10.21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is there anything you’d have done differently knowing what you know now?  

I am sure that there must be something, but I can’t think of anything right now.

Where would you send parents interested in homeschooling for more information?

As far as resources, in the county where I live the School Board will send you a packet of information about the legal requirements as well as a list of local support groups to contact.   These days, one of the easiest ways to find out info in other areas would be to ask on a FB post.

Thank you, Cathy, for sharing your experience as a homeschooling parent. I feel I should mention an ironic twist: Two of Cathy’s daughters are now teaching in public schools.

%d bloggers like this: