There is Hope in the Flame of Notre Dame

Is history really that important?

In answering this query for an online assignment back in college, I decided to play Devil’s Advocate. The teacher clearly wanted everyone to affirm that history was vital; it was a history course, after all. And, like little ducks in a line, all the students did.

If there is one thing I cannot consistently stand, it is following after all the little ducks.

No, I argued, history is not important. We don’t actually need it.

  1. No one learns from the past. The proof is in the repeated mistakes.
  2. Conditioned to luxury and entitlement, we behave as Huxley predicted and always seek for what is new.
  3. History is written by the victors or their fans, and is redacted and altered by current social climates. 1984 (George Orwell) proves that.

Though I did not make the following points, I could reasonably add two more for our modern times:

  1. We have a glut of information and lack time for the general public to ingest it. So, instead, most people only follow useless, instantaneous fluff.
  2. Technology has the capacity to 3-D print what we need, thus eliminating paltry ideas like stonemason or architect skills.

The online repartée with my professor ended unfavorably, by the way. He acknowledged all comments in a general, summarizing paragraph at the end of the week. He specifically mentioned “one student” who had argued this and that against his statement, said I’d referenced 1984 erroneously because it undermined my main point (it didn’t), and suggested I ought not to argue too far out lest I “find the branch cut off behind (me).”

I’m still sore that I had no way to post a counterargument.

That aside, I do not believe that history is not important nor that we ought not to learn it. Instead, I lament that most people do not respect history. Most do not seem to know its significance or beauty or work …until it is removed. Stolen. Ripped away. Burned.

This morning I had intended to write a different post. I thought to list my hectic schedule, thereby garnering a few commiserating comments and explaining my abysmal online presence. Instead, in catching up (somewhat) on blogs I follow, I read a very-well written piece about the recent Notre Dame catastrophe. The Feathered Rose, in “To human ingenuity,” described “both the stillness and the motion in (her) thinking” as she contemplated her feelings about history.

A friend of hers suggested that Our Lady will be rebuilt and will continue on as she has. Other buildings of historical significance have undergone changes and rebuilds, right?

“My friend, speaking through the words of Douglas Adams, is correct that, once rebuilt, the Cathedral will continue to serve its purpose. Architects, historians, engineers, builders – these people will no doubt admirably restore the ideaintentiondesign, and essence of the building. Tourists will continue to flock there. The faithful will continue to pray…”

So, really, what’s the big deal? Why was the horror of destruction not sated by the consolation of repair? Fortunately, she finds and gives us an answer:

“Human ingenuity isn’t only about intangible progress. It’s also about the evidence of our past.”

That is one sentence stolen -ripped, burned- from paragraphs she wrote of beautiful reminisces of history. Reminders of what the past means and why we need it. Pasting any more of her post would require at least half a page, but I highly encourage everyone to read it.

I love the voice she gave to my own unrest. I love the poetry of her memories.

If given a chance to state my enduring and authentic hope for history today, I would counter-argue my previously-stated points:

  1. We all learn from the past, though we may take a few revisits to retain what it taught.
  2. The flashy and new appeal to the young and inexperienced. Once they run out of money or solid chairs to sit upon, they will change to old and reliable.
  3. History may be written less-accurately, but all information must be taken with a pinch of salt. Assume bias, watch for author’s flavor and preference, and remember your own colored glasses.
  4. The general population will always grab at fluff; the important and durable information will endure.
  5. A handmade work is impressive and appreciated, and even a computer needs to be ‘taught’ the skills.

Why do we walk the halls of the past? Sometimes it is merely to feel the echoing footsteps of the people who came before. Wouldn’t you wish for the same, of those who will come after?

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How has the destruction of Notre Dame touched you? Is the past important enough to retain what we may for the future?

—————-

Here is what I wrote last week. I intend to take the remainder of the week in stride, as I really am quite busy:
Wednesday, April 10: Spent a happy reminiscence discussing children’s picture books with “Picture Books Are Always in Season.

Thursday, April 11: “The Cure for Depression: Get Some Sleep!,” another suggestion in a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.

Friday, April 12: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Everyone who entered!

Saturday, April 13: Announced the 22nd Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is an acrostic of the person you detest. PLEASE ENTER!

Sunday, April 14: “In The Beginning, There Was Distraction,” in response to Carrot Ranch‘s prompt.

Slipped in a tongue-in-cheek poem titled, “(Real) Life Advice.

Monday, April 15: A book quote from Something Wicked This Way Comes. I am slowly, very slowly getting through this one.

Tuesday, April 16: “Wilhelmina Winters, Ninety.”

Also, posted, “Mental Illness Really Sucks” over at JES’ site.

Wednesday, April 17: Today.

I also posted all this week at my motherhood site. I wrote “Religion in the Home” and a fantastic poem titled, “A House(work) at War.”

I’ve a part-time job writing stuff for Kids Are the Worst‘s blog now; and publish scintillating works like “10 Actually Easy Easter Crafts for Kids.” I intend to keep things real and funny over there.
Speaking of writing jobs, I see that one of my vacuum reviews is online and it’s not even the re-write DumbFace demanded. Funny world.

 

Photo Credit:
Maxime Naillon

Picture Books Are Always in Season

“So …have you read King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub?”

“No.”

“Hmm. What about The Stinky Cheese Man?”

A sound of polite, incredulous aversion comes from the backseat. “No….”

I’m driving my male horde home from elementary school, plus the three children of a family friend. Their children and mine share a few interests, the main one being a love of reading.

The older girl pipes up, “We don’t read picture books.”

Her sister: “Yeah; I’m reading chapter books now.”

Which is fine, of course, seeing as how she is in second grade. She is the baby of their four children and they are all precocious. The only boy has already moved up a grade and is 2-3 grades ahead in mathematics.

Still….

Our Books

“I love picture books,” I say. “There are a lot of really good ones out there, so I like to go back and read them again.”

“Yes, that’s true,” the older girl acquiesces. I often feel I’m sitting at a British tea party with her, although she’s midway through fourth grade.

My boys, meanwhile, are each immersed in reading something educational like Captain Underpants or Magic Pickle. I’m not a fan of the graphic novels, but am fine with their perusal if mixed with a range of literature. That, and graphic novels include everything from less-than-desirable illustrations and potty humor to really well-done works like The Cardboard Kingdom.

I drop the friends off. Their mother comes out for a quick chat. “Your girls say you don’t have any picture books around anymore,” I say, in a friendly way.

“Oh. Yeah.” She laughs. She’s extremely intelligent, an excellent quilter, and one who does not seem to mind being a stay-at-home mother. I’m always in awe of her. “I unintentionally donated ours to the classroom and haven’t replaced them.” She sighs a bit, which is usually her way of segue. “They don’t really seem interested, so I probably won’t.”

To each her own, of course, but a little bit of me cries inside to hear it. Like my music preferences, my reading tastes cover many genres. -Except romance. Ugh.

Besides that, my collection of books is …sizeable. When I read Fahrenheit 451 in school, I wanted to be the old lady with the enormous library. I would feel torn between saving myself or my books. I …have a bit of a problem with control whenever I shop the book department in thrift stores.

D.I. Books

After a recent thrift store trip.

Which leads me back to picture books. I love picture books. I cannot imagine not having any in my house. I read to my children from them, and then from novels as they age (time permitting).

I also enjoy reading to other children. Last year I offered to read to my son’s fourth grade class once a week, to give the teacher a few minutes of preparation time at the end of the day. What did I read? The Jolly PostmanThe Sweetest FigBark, George; and Oh, Were They Ever Happy!

I remember visiting with the teacher once after we finished up. “Thank you for coming in every week,” she said. “It gives me time to get ready and I really appreciate it.”

I smiled. “Oh, you’re welcome.” Then, I hesitated, knowing most of these kids were beyond the target age for the books I shared. “Are you okay with me reading picture books? I know they might be a little young for them.”

“Of course!” she said. “They love them! I don’t think they’re too young for them at all.”

Our Picture Books

Most of our picture book library.

You may think I will ask whether you agree or disagree, but I know you are all smarter than that. Instead, what are a few of your favorite children’s stories? They can be picture books, graphic novels, beginning chapter books, or Harry Potter-sized novels. Which do you love, and why?

—————-

After fondly reminiscing, read what I posted this past week:
Wednesday, April 3: Encouraged cathartic ranting over bad bosses in “Just Another Perk of Working.

Thursday, April 4: “The Cure for Depression: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy,” another suggestion in a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.

Friday, April 5: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Molly Stevens!

Saturday, April 6: Announced the 21st Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is parodies of famous poems. PLEASE ENTER!

And, answered Peregrine Arc’s writing prompt with “Smells Like Reanimated Spirits.

Sunday, April 7: “Olympic Achievement,” a poem response to Carrot Ranch‘s prompt.

Monday, April 8: “Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty-Nine.”

Tuesday, April 9:  An inspirational quote by Jodi Foster.

Wednesday, April 10: Today.

I also posted all this week at my motherhood site. Highlights were “Just Don’t Buy It?,” “Moderate Momming,” and “Bedtime, a poem.”

 

Photo Credit:
Me

Just Another Perk of Working

Waaaaay back when I worked a full-time job, I had a bit of a power struggle with one of our building’s renters. Our company leased the entire second floor of a two floor building and a few businesses leased the spaces beneath. One of those was an insurance agent.

As far as we could tell, the insurance agent did nothing. He was part of a huge umbrella company, like Allstate. He had no clients and took long lunches.

Yes, most of my team were people-watchers.

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The conflict was over parking spaces. He raised a stink with the building manager, saying that he needed x number of spaces for his clients (who were nonexistent). Our rather large body of employees quickly exceeded the bounds of the lot. A few passive-aggressive maneuvers transpired until our manager asked us to respect the whiner’s parking spaces.

One day that was also the first day of my monthly cycle, I came to work feeling terrible. I parked in a no-no spot because, frankly, I did not care. I also parked there because I was certain I’d be asking my boss for the rest of the day off based on how I felt.

Cue a message from the insurance guy, who literally had nothing better to do than spy on his spaces.

Cue my boss sending me a message about how Allstate Junior wanted me to move my car.

Cue my response: Screw the insurance guy.

I got up, moved my car, took pain medications, and worked the rest of the day. Incident forgotten -or so I thought.

Months -YES, MONTHS!- later, our boss quit. A woman named Jadis* took over, since she’d been in no position that should have been promoted but we later learned the whole team was being phased out so the head people at our company really didn’t care.

Jadis decided that she should meet with each of us. She said it was a way to get to know everyone; she probably added some tripe about team unity or whatnot. I didn’t know her very well and entered the meeting in good faith.

How little I knew.

That meeting was the worst I’ve ever had -and I’ve been fired whilst pregnant (another story, another time). Jadis proceeded to tell me that I had a terrible attitude as an employee and that I wasted time. She showed me the message I had sent to our team lead all those months ago. She explained that I would be logging every half hour each day to show I wasn’t wasting company time. She made it clear that I was on thin ice and had better shape up.

I was shocked. Yes, what I had typed about the insurance guy was immature and inappropriate. No one said anything at the time, so I thought it done and over with. Just to be sure, I tracked down our former boss and asked him. I apologized to him. No, he told me, he hadn’t been offended. Yes, he’d completely forgotten it.

Jadis, meanwhile, made my work life hell. No one had any work to do, yet I (alone) had to log my productivity. I made up things like, “verified accuracy of past files,” or “organized workspace.” I even wrote when I used the bathroom or ate lunch.

It was a double slap to the face, considering that one of the other employees had not been clocking out for lunch, had been reported by everyone, and had yet to be reprimanded or fired.

If you’re wondering where I’m going with today’s post, it is here: I think everyone has had a horrible boss or supervisor. I think you all have stories. You may have to give us the truncated version, here, but who was it? What did he or she do? Does the story have a happy ending?

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My story does, in a way, but I’ll leave that for another lengthy post. In the meantime, share your dirt. Go on: I promise I won’t make you tell me when you used the bathroom.

 

*Name changed

—————-

After the catharsis of ratting on your terrible employer, read what I did last week:
Wednesday, March 27: A bit of a mind trip in disassociation with “Where IS My Mind?

Thursday, March 28: “The Cure for Depression: Help Someone Else,” another suggestion in a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.

Friday, March 29: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Joanne the Geek!

Saturday, March 30: Announced the 20th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is Springtime Haiku. PLEASE ENTER!

Also posted my answers and nominations for The Mystery Blogger Award.

Sunday, March 31: “Glad Tidings of Nymble” for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt.

Monday, April 1: My answers and nominations for The Liebster Award.

Tuesday, April 2:  An inspirational quote from a piece by Violet Lentz.

Finally posted “Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty-Eight.”

Wednesday, April 3: Today.

I also posted all this week at my motherhood site. I wrote “Don’t Give In, and Stay Sane Doing So,” “The Good Old Days,” and “The Polls are In (a poem).”

 

Photo Credit:
Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash
Image by 942987 from Pixabay

Where IS My Mind?

“With your feet in the air and your head on the ground…”

Most of my day is spent in trying to avoid reality. Through the combined efforts of little sleep and little to stimulate my brain, I’ve successfully dodged true feelings and their accompanying pains for years. Through the added repressive means of modern technology and instant entertainment, I’ve created a virtual mindspace that is more alive than my physical one.

“Your head will collapse / But there’s nothing in it…”

Since entering the world of blogging; and, especially, the community of mental illness support, I’ve learned some terms for what I do: numbing, depersonalization, and (above all) disassociation.

“And you’ll ask yourself: Where is my mind?”

In the beginning, I entered the mind fog willingly. -So I thought. Depressed, repressed, lonely, and mind-numbingly bored at my day-to-day activities; I sought constant distraction.

“Try this trick and spin it…”

I thought numbing was better. In some ways, it was; it is. Because I felt nothing, I did not lash out in anger from the frustrations. Because I felt nothing, I could not feel disappointment. Because I felt nothing, I could not feel the crippling sadness.

“Where is my mind?”

Except that I still could.

“Where is my mind?”

As such, I have made various attempts to kind-of, sort-of climb out of my muddy hole. I read Brené Brown’s recommendations, followed her advice …and really offended a neighbor by being myself. I started counseling and some hormone therapy …then reverted back to old habits and dropped the hormones so that I wouldn’t accidentally birth a hermaphrodite.

Most of my days are spent in trying to avoid reality. On the rare occasions that I surface, life feels like the restaurant scene in “Sherlock Holmes” (2009). Unlike the genius that is Holmes, however; I do not note and absorb everyone’s mistresses, limps, or chalk spots. Instead, I feel overstimulated by emotions; in particular, everyone’s emotional reactions to me.

I also feel overwhelmed at the repetitive cycle of life, and the prospect of more of the same for the foreseeable future.

Do I want my mind awake? I’m not so sure. There doesn’t seem much to wake to. Hence, the continued withdrawal and disassociation.

“Where is my mind?” Somewhere inside. Probably.

Do you experience similar non-feelings? Have you, in the past, and now you do not? Is reality worth the cost?

—————-

On a happier note, here’s what I threw together this week:
Wednesday, March 20: Me and me debated who has it harder in “THE Battle of the Sexes.”

Thursday, March 21: “The Cure for Depression: Simply, Joy,” a suggestion in a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.

Friday, March 22: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Doug!

Saturday, March 23: Announced the 19th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is Unrequited Love. PLEASE ENTER!
I also finally wrote up an entry for The Annual Bloggers Bash Competition, “Silent but Tardy.”

Sunday, March 24: “Farmer Henry,” a flash fiction piece for Carrot Ranch’s writing prompt.

Monday, March 25: An inspirational quote by Dieter F. Uchtdorf.

Tuesday, March 26: “Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty-Seven.”

Wednesday, March 27: Today.

I also wrote stuff at my motherhood site; like “Pinterest Mom or Sane Parent?,” “A Very Unmerry Birthday to You,” and a funny quote about mothers.

 

*Credit to the Pixies’ amazing song, “Where Is My Mind?”

THE Battle of the Sexes

That’s it. I’m throwing the gauntlet DOWN.

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I want to determine, once and for all, who has it harder: men or women.

Let’s take men first. For this purpose, I have brought in my masculine side. It’s just survived a long weekend with all four boys home from school for a holiday, worked outside in the yard, and done some manly exercises like …girl push-ups.

I say that men have the short end of the stick. Why?

  1. Men are expected to work for their entire lives. Even in a ‘woke’ society of both sexes working, or just the woman heading out in a business suit, a man is not considered a whole man unless he pulls his own weight.
  2. The male species cannot feel anything like sadness, vulnerability, or silly joy. Those are weak emotions, symptoms of an insecure or incompetent man.
  3. They have to deal with, date, and understand women (assuming, for this argument, they bend that way). And not offend any of them. And still be manly.
  4. Men must initiate relationships. They must often pay for a date. They must read what a woman (for sake of this argument) wants without asking blunt questions (see #3) and without getting accused of harassment and rape later.
  5. When a man gets sick, he gets mocked. Who cares if he literally feels at death’s door? Let’s kick his pride while it’s convalescing.
  6. Males are often stinkier. Practically everything sweats, and in large amounts. Thank goodness for deodorant, aftershave and cologne. And windows.
  7. Men are expected to be good at most things, especially where fixing stuff or sports are concerned. They are also supposed to only be interested in those topics. As before, lack in these areas is a sign of weakness.
  8. Similarly, a man must be strong. He needs to look fit and be ready to move a couch or a car with his bare hands.
  9. If a woman feels like it, she may pick on a man. She may slap him, belittle him, and accuse him. He may be strong, but man is not allowed to hit back.
  10. Even though men spend hardly any time at home (see #1) and are not supposed to get involved in decorating the house (see #7), they must figure out where their tools have been moved to and why a couch (complete with an obscene number of throw pillows) is now where their favorite recliner was.

Women think their life is difficult, but it’s a bed of roses (that match in color, and were complimented on by their hordes of friends) compared to a man’s.

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Now, in order to prepare an adequate female defense, I must think more girly. Allow me a few hours on Pinterest ….or not. I’m not the most feminine representative of the female sex, but I’ll try my best.

Women have a harder life, hands-down.

  1. Periods. Since many men do not understand this sensation: picture a sharp knife inside your lower abdomen that scrapes at your organs. Once a month-ish. Not only that, but you must endure odd hormonal effects like loss of mental capacity and car keys just before the fun starts; plus, blood.
    If all of that weren’t enough, people snidely tell you that you’re grumpy because of PMS or that you ought to just “deal with it” when crumpled over a toilet.
  2. Childbirth. It’s not much of a break from the alternative; especially since menstruation and pregnancy share symptoms like pain, forgetfulness, and grumpiness. Being pregnant is just weird, and delivery is the worst pain many have ever been in. Ever.
  3. Menopause. Imagine a relief from the #1 issue, that was designed by a drunk engineer who didn’t care how (or if) the machine functioned after it ran the full program.
  4. If the first three points didn’t win this debate for women, the judges have obviously been bribed. The women recommend that each judge pass a kidney stone before being allowed to vote. -Which leads to a real #4: more health issues because of female organs. One doctor visit for one symptom leads to an overall diagnosis of “because of womanhood.”
  5. Shopping for women’s clothing is enough headache and cost that they just might need a government-sponsored representative. Seriously. Men get measurements for everything and one name for each color. Women get inaccurate numbers by 2’s and colors like “blue with gray in it” or “gold that may be black.”
  6. In a traditional home; a woman needs to stay home, take care of the home, raise her children to not be psychopaths, and feel fulfilled doing so.
    In non-traditional homes; women need to do all of the above, plus work a job and arrange for childcare …and keep themselves sexy but not too sexy that they’re attracting coworkers.
  7. Females need to look good. If they buy into the ‘inner beauty’ and ‘be yourself’ crap, they have few dates and few friends. If they, instead; nip, tuck, makeup, inject, smile, style, and flaunt; they get a lot of positive attention.
  8. A woman is a b*tch if she’s pushy. She’s unfeminine if she (necessarily) picks up any ‘masculine’ slack. Her opinions are emotional ones, and therefore not as valid or as sound as a man’s.
  9. When a woman takes a younger man, she’s a cougar. If she sleeps around she is a slut. If she dresses attractively and flirts then she is “asking for it.”
  10. Women are expected to arrange everything around the house to buy some social cred, make friends (to admire the house), and plan fun family or couples outings. They are also expected to not overspend their budget doing this.

Men get ‘that look’ when they come home to a house full of pillows, but say they don’t want to go furniture shopping. They say they have simple needs, then demand that women look good and feel sexy after doing all the laundry. Face it: men hold the power and prestige, and women hold the garbage bag.

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In developed countries, the battlefield of the sexes is nearly even. In terms of permanent penalties, however, I feel that women will always have it worse. I’m not looking for compensation (though, some sort of temporary transferal of woman parts might be nice); I’m looking for agreement.

Do you agree? Do you not? Let’s hear your reasons. Don’t be shy; I’m a fair moderator.

—————-

While you gather your thoughts and rebuttals, look at what I posted this past week:
Wednesday, March 13: Talked about Dr. Pickell and our ignorant influences in “Do You Know Your Influences?

Thursday, March 14: “The Cure for Depression: Eat Healthy,” another suggestion in a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.

Friday, March 15: Versed “Prometheus,” in response to Frank Prem‘s poem.

Saturday, March 16: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Bruce Almighty Goodman!
Announced the Xth Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is verbosity. I haven’t had a lot of entrants, so PLEASE ENTER!

Sunday, March 17: “Crescent Illusions,” a sci-fi response to D. Wallace Peach’s popular prompt.

Monday, March 18: “Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty-Six.”

Tuesday, March 19:  An inspirational quote by Trent Shelton.

Wednesday, March 20: Today.

I also posted all this week at my motherhood site. I wrote “Why Oh Why Must We Have The Teenage Years?,” “The Magic Clothes Washing Machine,” and “Five More Minutes” (a poem).

 

Photo Credit:
Image by VIVIANE MONCONDUIT from Pixabay
Image by Josethestoryteller from Pixabay
Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay

Do You Know Your Influences?

One of my favorite stories is a chapter in Louis Sachar’s Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger. A dubious character named Dr. Pickell hypnotizes a woman to help with her smoking addiction. He tells her the cigarette will turn into a worm in her mouth; then, as is his wont, adds a twisted behavior at the end of their hypnosis session.

“[Dr. Pickell] rubbed his beard and smiled. ‘Whenever your husband says the word “potato,” you will slap him across the face.’

‘When – Fred – says – ‘potato’ – I – will – slap – his – face.'”

A few paragraphs later, we learn the effects of Dr. Pickell’s meddling.

“It was an interesting thing about the word ‘potato.’ Whenever Fred said it, she slapped him. And he’d ask her why she slapped him, but she never remembered slapping him, so they’d get in a big fight, each calling the other crazy. Then they’d kiss and make up, which was nice because her breath didn’t stink.

“They never figured out it had anything to do with saying ‘potato.’…

“But deep down they both must have realized it somehow, because while they used to eat lots of potatoes, they gradually ate fewer and fewer, until they finally stopped eating them altogether.”

You would be surprised how often I think about this story in real life. Sachar is a master children’s author, crafting a deep story in a few, easily understood sentences.

Although I could go on for a bit longer about children’s authors, Louis Sachar, and pickles vs. potatoes; I bring this story up to discuss influences in our lives and whether we notice them or not.

Just think: when you walk into a store, what do you see? Someone has planned what you will see. Someone has looked at studies that say how much space a shopper needs upon entering before he may encounter something on sale. That someone knows that angled aisles are better but not as space-efficient (so they hang tags off the shelves), that we shoppers look for sales, and that we need enough space in an aisle to avoid the ‘butt-brushing effect.’

Advertising is a sneaky business, and one we often think of when considering this subject. As prevalent as purchasing bits of our mind is, however, that is not the influence that I am interested in discussing.

Instead, I want to think about less-evil, subtle influences we are ignorant of; things like choosing to act like our hero, striving to never wear red because you think it’s evil, and picking a genre of music after a coworker won’t stop listening to it.

In my life, I’ve seen examples of all of these behaviors. My brother is in medical school because one of his scout leaders was/is a successful doctor. One of my relatives will not wear red. And our family all got hooked on dubstep because my husband’s coworker played it nonstop.

For me, personally; I do not sew because my mother did not, I read and write because she did, and I abhor shopping and matching and new trends because she always tried to get me to wear (what I thought were) ugly combinations at the store. On sunny days I feel more capable and happy. If a friend makes a nice comment, I feel more confident. A jarring chord or fighting at home raises everyone’s anxiety levels.

When I think about it, the influences seem obvious. When I don’t, they don’t. Either way, I behave impulsively.

When the day is grey and ordinary, do you huddle up and wonder why everything’s dark and depressing? After hearing a favorite song from your youth, do you find yourself fondly (and ignorantly) reminiscing? Or, are you self-aware enough to buck the trends and have a happy-ever-after without any pickles princes?

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—————-

Check out what I wrote this week. These posts may affect your day:
Wednesday, March 6: Wrote “It Takes Pains to Be Beautiful but I’m No Masochist,” a discussion of whether beauty is skin-deep and how much some people need to help that.
Also, “A Ghost of a Pinned Chance,” in response to Peregrine Arc‘s writing prompt.

Thursday, March 7: “The Cure for Depression: Get Outside,” another suggestion in a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.
And, typed up a free-verse poem, “Seasonal Perspectives.”

Friday, March 8: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Michael Fishman!
I was prolific this week! Wrote “The Seedy Underbelly of Writing.” Be careful out there, people.

Saturday, March 9: Announced the 17th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is Under-the-Table Deals. PLEASE ENTER!

Sunday, March 10: “I’d Like to Mouse Wheel a Motion,” my entry for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt this week.

Monday, March 11: “Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty-Five.” Pants Hands-down, one of the funniest in the series so far
Tuesday, March 12:  An inspirational quote by @Girlbebrave.

Wednesday, March 13: Today.

I also posted all this week at my motherhood site. I wrote “Selfish Selflessness,” “The @#*&% Diet,” and quoted Erma Bombeck.

 

Photo Credit:
Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay

It Takes Pains to Be Beautiful but I’m No Masochist

My neighbor is a hair stylist. Last year or the one before, I set an appointment with her and got ready for it. I put in contact lenses, dressed in actual clothes, and applied my usual round of makeup.

After she worked her magic and I admired the results in the mirror, she said, “This is the time you go home, put on your makeup, and take a selfie.”

I didn’t tell her that was about as made-up as I got.

I also didn’t tell her that I don’t take selfies.

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Granted, I have negative thoughts and poor self-esteem and little support or encouragement from people I know in real life. Those things may contribute to the anti-selfie-thing. Mostly, I tell myself, I avoid preening and self-photography because it’s selfish, shallow, and silly.

Whether anyone agrees with me or no, we’ve probably all noticed that one cannot go through life without any pictures being taken. If the old superstitions regarding photography are correct; my local gym, Costco, and the DMV all stole a piece of my soul. But when I consider voluntarily sharing my face all over the place like a peacock, I instead turn into a turtle.

The same is true of beauty tips and tricks, makeup, spa treatments, Botox, tummy tucks, hair removals, and other alterations women make to screw up enhance their natural beauty.

To me: it’s weird, verging on wrong.

Recently on TwoFacebook, one of my neighbors invited everyone to a Botox Party. We-e-e-ell -it was a cheaper version of the same thing. As I read people’s comments I came to realize the event was like Tupperware Parties of old, except women showed up to inject themselves and not to preserve leftovers. (In a way, they are still preserving leftovers.)

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I realize I may have a less-desperate perspective because I am younger. I haven’t started coloring my hair yet, though my boys seem determined to hasten that greying process.

Yet as I do age, I notice signs of the process that are less attractive. My body weight has shifted. I have eye lines at the corners. My lips, never much darker than my pale skin to begin with, have disappeared and require coloring if I want someone to find them.

I’d postulate that I may embrace more of these treatments as I age, yet also know I will always feel a slight shudder at the prospect. I really and truly wish we could all stop with so much makeup and injections. I wish we could all age gracefully and all be okay with that.

Instead I find much older women with blonde hair, fake eyelashes, and skin that resembles a folded potato. How many times did that woman go tanning? Nip a fat layer? Inject her face? Kill her roots with that color?

Ugh.

Where do you stand? Do you like women who are wearing so much makeup they used a trowel to apply it? Are you in favor of all this ‘mainstream’ plastic surgery these days? Is beauty only skin deep and is this how we unearth it?

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They may not be selfie-worth, but here’s what I wrote this week:
Wednesday, February 27: Wrote “The Power of the Word,” a short dive into wordcrafting and wordplay.
Thursday, February 28: “The Cure for Depression: Get Up and MOVE,” another suggestion in a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.
Friday, March 1: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Furious Pockets!
Saturday, March 2: Announced the 16th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. Something about stories with a moral. PLEASE ENTER!
Plus, I posted a picture of my totally-not-dated St. Patrick’s Day t-shirt. For those hecklers, that is my perhaps my fourth selfie ever taken.
Sunday
, March 3: “Right Quite Not Something’s,” my poem entry for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt this week. Da Vinci shook hands with Yoda while readers eyes’ crossed.
Monday, March 4: “Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty-Four.”
Tuesday, March 5:  An inspirational quote by Brian Tracy.
Wednesday, March 6: Today.

I also posted all this week at my motherhood site. I wrote about supporting mothers, how boys smell, and why quiet time is suspicious time.

That’s not all! I wrote a piece for Kids are the Worst titled “Screaming Kids? I’ve Got a Music Playlist for That.” It’s very helpful. Trust me.

 

Photo Credit:
Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash
Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash
Photo by yunona uritsky on Unsplash
Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

The Power of the Word

I love words, and I always have.

Whilst pregnant; my mother swallowed Agatha Christie and James Herriot and Ogden Nash, sending their formatted prose intra-umbilically to my formatting body. After I was out and able to lay still; the fare included A Child’s Garden of Verses, Shel Silverstein, Ramona Quimby, and Twig. Once literate by my own merits (and from my mother’s example); I devoured Laura Ingalls Wilder, Arabian Nights, Bruce Coville, and Anthem.

I vowed to read every book ever written. I thought my goal an attainable one.

In the meantime, my literary diet supplemented my grammatical learning. Unlike many writers, I do not have a degree in the craft. My teachers were Charlotte Brontë, Mary Shelley, and Douglas Adams. They taught me by example and expanded my lexicon to precocious measures.

In this way, I blame them for my problem.

I love words and am not afraid of them. I play with adjectives, verbs, and nouns like a small child with a treasure chest of his favorite playthings. Yes, I sometimes smash them together and finger paint a Jackson Pollock-worthy story. Yes, I sometimes roll terms into shapes like Play-Doh and end up with noun-verbs and adjective-nouns.

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Every now and then I step back from my mishmash meter, sigh with contentment, and behold a magnificent mural.

Between times, however, my words have a tendency to cause mischief. I’ve used strong words to accurately describe my feelings, and inaccurate words in feeling ways. I’ve intentionally poked and stabbed to incite a reaction. A handful of times, I have drawn on The Power of Words to move a people to action.

I am, naturally, a novice at wordweaving. I worry at trying a spell when I haven’t passed all the levels. I tell myself not to dabble until I become a master.

I have also ticked some people off.

And yet, I cannot stay away. The bubbling brew of prosaic verse simmers warmly, invitingly, lovingly. Come hither, it tempts, I will not harm thee

What say ye, wordspellers? How do words speak to you, how do you listen, and how (in turn) do you release the power that builds as you chant your incantations?

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We’ve crafted for another week. Here’s what I created:
Wednesday, February 20: Is Harry Potter a good book? Read what I thought and what many insightful comments determined in “To Potter or Not to Potter?
Thursday, February 21: “The Cure for Depression: Don’t Be Hatin’ on Medicatin’,” another suggestion in a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.
Friday, February 22: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Peregrine Arc!
Saturday, February 23: Announced the 14th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. We’re doing parodies of pop songs. PLEASE ENTER!
Sunday
, February 24: “Dot on the Brown,” my poem response to the famous Frank Prem’s “speck on the blue.”
Monday, February 25: “Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty-Three.”
Tuesday, February 26:  An inspirational quote by Maya Angelou. Smile at home, everyone.
Also, noted that I now have 500 Followers! Thanks again, everyone!!
Wednesday, February 27: Today‘s post.

I also posted all this week at my motherhood site. My favorite (and the internet’s) was my poem, “A Poem About Socks.”

And, I wrote a piece for Kids are the Worst titled “12 Fun and Easy Cabin Fever Fixes.” Don’t worry; there’s plenty of my good, old-fashioned sarcasm to keep things interesting.

 

Photo Credit:
Amaury Salas

To Potter or Not to Potter?

It’s time to really let the fur fly around here, because I am going to ask the question no one ever should: Is Harry Potter a good book?

If you have been living in a bubble or under the age of twenty for the past 21.5 years, you might not know what I am referring to. In that case, I speak of a book series published by an unknown woman (at the time) that EXPLODED into ultimately selling more than 450 million copies worldwide.

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I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone at the recommendation of my former sixth-grade teacher. I really liked the book. It had interesting characters, magic, an unseen parallel world, and enough British elements to tickle my anglophiliac bones.

I purchased and devoured each subsequent book as it came out, and cried on opening night of the first film.

A few years after that point, however, my English professor in (my return to) college ran us through an interesting exercise. “What makes a good book?” he asked, and wrote our responses on the white board. After looking over the items listed, he announced, “Harry Potter is not a good book.”

Since I do not live in a bubble and am not under the age of twenty, I was also not completely ignorant to the idea that others didn’t love Harry Potter as much as a large pocket of Potterheads. As a consequence, I was not floored at my teacher’s conclusions.

I instead experienced a wider perspective. His announcement released me from the godlike worship I had for authors everywhere and allowed me to acknowledge the series as one written by a human, with flaws. It was written by the first and only billionaire author human, granted, but still had flaws.

In turn, I was able to grasp the hope that someone like me could write. Someone like me could even write something that another person might read, or purchase.

Which is all very interesting, but doesn’t answer the main question of this post.

Is Harry Potter a good book? Why or why not?

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My own husband dislikes that J.K. Rowling neglects a basic rules structure for her magic system, that Dobby exists, and that most of the stories are just not interesting.

For myself; I notice some literary no-no’s in her writing like adverbs, POV changes, and …say, a rule she introduces about non-verbal magic spells that she seems to abandon in later novels. I also think (and thought) that it’s really not feasible for a young wizard who can shout two spells to consistently beat someone who literally murdered older, gifted wizards.

But maybe I’m being nit-picky with that last one.

Ever the devil’s devil’s advocate, though, I say that J.K. Rowling’s series could be considered perfection. She hit the sweet spot across age, race, gender, nationality, and class. She wrote characters REALLY well. I’m just a medium-level admirer and would gladly jump on a train, attend Hogwarts, marry one of the Weasley twins, and go out to lunch with Tonks.

As a final thought to any still in the haters camp: last year, my son’s doctor complimented my son because he was sitting in the waiting room reading a novel. I believe it was Magician: Apprentice. “When Harry Potter first came out,” the doctor noted, “I used to come out and find kids’ noses stuck in books. I haven’t seen that since.”

Say what you will, but I’d love to bring that sort of book love back. Wouldn’t you? Perhaps there’s a spell for that.

Until then, do you say it is a good book? Do you only say so because you love it?

Do you only disagree because you hate it?

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I solemnly swear that you may read below to see what I wrote for the last two weeks:
Wednesday, February 6: We discussed the deep subject of baths vs. showers in “A Serious Question Concerning Hygiene.”
Thursday, February 7: “The Cure for Depression: Get a Paid MEDICAL Friend,” the slightly-third suggestion in a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.
Friday, February 8: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest involving Nursery Rhymes. Congratulations to Violet Lentz!
Saturday, February 9: Announced the twelfth Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest, with a prompt of love poems.
Sunday
, February 10- Thursday, February 14, plus Sunday, February 17: Various terrible poetry contributions of my own on the subjects of my backup camera, my absent appendix, black clothes, a first date, Costco, and Half-Price Chocolate Day.
Thursday, February 14: Wrote “Freddy and Teddy’s Valentines” for Susanna Leonard Hill‘s Valentiny contest.
Friday, February 15: Posted the WINNER of the love poem Terrible Poetry Contest: Geoff LePard.
Saturday, February 16: Announced this week’s Terrible Poetry Contest prompt. PLEASE ENTER IT!!
Also re-blogged Peregrine Arc‘s creativity contest.
Monday, February 18: Shared a quote from Joseph B. Wirthlin about finding a direction in life.
Tuesday, February 19: “Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty-Two.”
Wednesday, February 20: Today

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A Serious Question Concerning Hygiene

In my usual tradition for a Wednesday, I wish to delve into a rather serious topic: showers or baths?

You may think this topic isn’t very deep. You may think you will get clean away after reading. You may even think, a quick scrub and a rinse, and Chelsea’ll be on her way…

Well, I’m sorry to burst your bubble bath; we’re going all in.

For one thing, I think one’s choice of one or the other is not as innocent as it seems. Preferring a sprinkle over a soak may point to deeper psychological issues or interesting character traits. Admitting to the long dip over the quick splash may mean more than an interest in ecology.

Think I’m trying to look too far past the surface?

Well! Let’s see. I mean, which do you prefer? Ask my neighbor round the block, and she will tell you she absolutely adores bathing. Ask my husband or I which we would pick and we’ll say, “Shower.”

If questioned further, however, I’d say I could do either. I pick the shorter method because of time constraints. Besides pressing matters at stake as a stay-at-home mother, I also have pressing fingers beneath the bathroom door if I’ve been away for longer than two minutes.

Actually, my husband may be in the same porcelain boat as me, since he showers as if it’s a bath. And turns the water hot enough to boil a lobster. He takes forever and comes out red. Someday I will write the futuristic sci-fi novel The Crustacean Man from Dimension S, and dedicate it to him.

I suppose this isn’t getting too psychological. I’ll just have to take more of each and let you know what other deep thoughts surface.

Until then, which do you prefer? Do you have a solid reason why? As an added query, how do you like your temperature?

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Consider pondering the questions above as you do some field research. If you’re careful in the tub, you may also read up on my weekly update:
Wednesday, January 30: Does money buy happiness? Read “How Expensive is This Happiness Thing?” to find out.
Thursday, January 31: “The Cure for Depression: Get a Paid Friend,” the second suggestion in a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.
Friday, February 1: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Michael Fishman!
I also shared Peregrine Arc‘s writing prompt: a heist with a twist.
Saturday, February 2: Announced the eleventh Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. We’re doing nursery rhymes this week. Write one!
Sunday
, February 3: “The Case of the Kitchen Cacophony” for Peregrine Arc‘s writing prompt. I told you it would be fun.
Monday, February 4: An inspirational quote from Deepak Chopra.
Tuesday, February 5 (ish): Shared Susanna Leonard Hill‘s announcement that her Valentiny contest is coming up! It’s next week, so watch for it.
Wednesday, February 6: Today!

 

Photo Credit:
Holger Link