Choose love

I am not sure where to begin this post. I know that after a tragedy, especially such a horrific tragedy like Orlando, everyone wants to spout out their opinion.

The news is going nuts with information about the shooter and potential ties to ISIS. Political leaders are giving statements. And Facebook….it is much like the rest of the country, I imagine. Those that feel automatic weapons have no place in a civilized society and those that feel everyone should be locked and loaded.

There are those that offer up the opinion that these crimes are committed because our mental health system has been dismantled and we no longer institutionalize the insane. Opinions that perhaps we should blow up ISIS. That we should stop all the terrorists from coming into our country…#Merica.

That maybe Trump is right. That maybe we should vote for him.

I’m crying out of sadness and frustration and fear.

Last week we buried Muhammad Ali. An American hero. An African-American. A Muslim. I very much doubt that any person worried that he was carrying an automatic weapon when he walked into the room. His fists were mighty–but his words more so.

Islam is not a religion of hate. Christianity is not a religion of hate. Judaism, Hindu–name it–none are–unless chosen to be twisted and used by a few to suit their own purposes.

Yes, we as a nation, are deficient in our care of the mentally ill. Institutions are not necessarily the answer. Understanding mental illness, proper treatment and treatment centers, and having this PAID FOR, as well as support systems in place, would be a start.

Tolerance for our LGBT community is a must. Our country is in shock right now…and yet we have laws that prevent transgendered from using public restrooms, and gay couples from adopting children. Separate but equal DOES NOT WORK (assholes). It helps to perpetuate the idea that somehow gay people or transgenders are different, not normal. Stop it. If you want to stop hate crimes–stop encouraging hate.

Moving on to guns…background checks? How is this a bad thing? I had to fill out a form to join a gym…I had to have my AUTISTIC SON get a CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECK to go to SUMMER CAMP–so tell me again the problem with a background check for a weapon that could be used to kill? And why the rush? Is there a reason the person buying this weapon can’t wait a couple of days to pull the trigger???? Furthermore (this is how you know I’m on a roll…) I have no problem with you owning a gun to go hunt. I don’t hunt–but go ahead if that’s your thing–I just take issue with trophy hunting. However. Automatic weapons have no place in civilized society. Nobody is hunting with them–unless they are hunting humans. I personally, do not wish to be hunted.

And now Trump. This man who mocks the disabled, that encourages violence, that has no background or training in politics, that has a short temper–he thinks he is capable of running a nation. This man that is a racist, a misogynist, an opportunist–this man thinks he is a leader.

It frightens me that people listen to him. I’ve read enough to understand why–authoritarianism looks appealing to some–but it’s also how some very bad people have been elected throughout history. It is very easy to scapegoat and blame a group of people when the country is having some difficulties. It’s been done many times before, in many other countries, and in ours. Trump uses mob anger and frustration and builds it to a frenzy. He states “I’m going to make them” do whatever it is he wants “them” to do without ever saying how.

It’s the how that frightens me. I don’t think that he has any self-restraint.

So today…please, be kind to someone. Hug a person. Try and spread peace and tolerance, kindness and love. Don’t allow hate and intolerance, violence and fear to become our norm.

Please.

Peace people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On a more serious note…

I’ve been a bit busy lately. I am taking this online writing course to help me jump start writing my novel(s). So, for today’s blog I am going to put in a bit I wrote for the class. I hope you enjoy it. Maybe enjoy isn’t the right word…

Mom was on the playroom floor again. It was going to be one of those kind of days. I sucked my thumbed hard, looking at her through my fingers curled up around my nose and eyes. The window shades were pulled down, as always, blocking out the sun. A few beams tried to penetrate the pink room but were stopped, partly by the thickness of the shade itself, partly by the gloom in the room. Mom was weeping; a few sobs escaping before she could stop them.

She noticed me standing there. “GO!!!” she screamed at me. She was instantly enraged. I ran like hell, down the stairs of the tri-level home, through the kitchen and out the back door. I didn’t want to take a chance of her moving from her fetal position on the floor. I stooped down and began turning over the gravel stones that formed our driveway. Fossils were always a treasure and I was hoping to find an old shell imprint on a stone. I studied the stones with the intensity of a raptor, looking for prey.

The sun was blocked out and I grew annoyed. I looked up to see my sister standing a few feet in front of me. She crouched down to join me in the hunt. “Mom’s crying again,” she said flatly. I nodded my reply. We both knew that the crying had an unknown time limit. It could last a few hours, stopping just before dad got home from work, or for a week. Our silent house would become even more silent, as we had learned early on how to tip toe and hide.

“I’m going to walk down the street and look at the neighbor’s dog,” said Suzy. I shot to anger like a rocket going to space. “NO. You can’t. What if mom comes looking for us? We’re not allowed to leave the yard. She’ll get mad. She’ll get mad at ME for letting you go. You know what happens when she gets mad. Don’t you dare leave the yard.” Suzy looked at me defiantly. She turned to walk down the driveway, and through the fence that surrounded our house like a moat. I launched myself at her, causing both of us to fall hard onto the gravel. I punched her hard on her arm. She started crying. We were both bleeding from skinning our knees on the stones. I didn’t care. I was angry at her, at mom, at life.

I walked away and sat down under the lilac bush and began sucking my thumb. I hated my life and I was only nine years old.

 

 

 

 

 

Birds of Pray (or,Why tofurky is starting to look a little better..but only a little.)

I had a flashback memory today. I feel the need to share with you.

I’m going to start in advance by apologizing to any of you that keep kosher. My hat is off to you as I know how much work is involved.

I am married to a Jewish man and while we don’t eat pork or shellfish, (author’s note-my husband never does–I can’t claim the same–don’t judge me..)I don’t keep a kosher kitchen. I was raised without any formal religious training, so marrying a conservative Jew was, well interesting at first.

We worked it out and that’s a story for another day.

Anyway, today I was prepping chicken for tonight’s dinner. I had purchased a cut up kosher chicken as I hadn’t gotten to the market I normally go to for the all natural stuff I usually buy. As I cleaned the chicken I was irritated by the amount of feathers I had to pull off.

And then I remembered.

Many years ago, I bought a kosher turkey for Thanksgiving. Why, I’m not exactly sure…I can’t remember if I had forgotten to order the all natural I usually do, or if the market had run out of the normal…it’s a bit foggy. Anyway, I brought it home and Thanksgiving morning pulled off the wrapper, ready to clean it and throw it in the oven.

WTF.

It was literally covered in feathers. I mean, covered. I had never seen anything like it. You could have plucked one out, stuck it in a hat and called it macaroni. The thing looked ready to take flight, even in its headless state.

I started to panic. I had never dealt with anything like this before. Because I was in a rush and having an anxiety attack, it didn’t occur to me to actually Google how to deal with this. So, I grabbed pliers and began to pluck. And pluck. And pluck.

Turkeys have a lot of damn feathers.

A lot of cursing was heard that Thanksgiving.

I was thankful it finally made it to the oven. I was thankful we didn’t keep a kosher kitchen. I was thankful I didn’t have to kill and pluck my own birds and again pondered becoming a vegetarian. I was thankful for the large quantity of wine I drank when I finally sat down that day.

I have decided that kosher birds are assholes.

Peace people.

 

 

Waiting for (African) Superman (or, How To Blow Your Child’s Mind In One Easy Step…)

I don’t think anything gives a parent more pleasure than driving their children crazy. At least for me anyway.

This weekend I drove my youngest son to the brink of madness. And it was AWESOME.

It started with a conversation about Superman. Earlier I had read an online article about how Superman’s skin should actually be dark as he derives his energy from the sun. The argument then went on to state that Superman should actually have brown or black skin. Now, one would think that my son, the AFRICAN, would embrace this idea.

Not so much.

Quite frankly, the thought of that blew his mind.

We argued back and forth for quite some time. He yelled that changing Superman would alter all the comics for the last seventy years. I yelled that they had changed Green Lantern to a darker toned person… my son grew angrier and said that Green Lantern was NOT a major superhero… I said to tell that to Green Lantern… I accused HIM of being a superhero racist…He told me I was IMPOSSIBLE…and that if I wanted to change superheroes so much, what about BATMAN?? COULD BATMAN BE BLACK???

I replied probably not because Batman was rich and had a butler (and then I cracked up…waiting for his wrath…)

This drove him blind with fury and he accused ME of being a racist…

For the record, neither one of us is racist. Just to be clear.

And shortly after this heated exchange my husband drove my son to the comic book store to buy the new Black Panther comic (which I looked through quickly just to make sure it wasn’t pornographic, only to have my son inform me that it wasn’t and tell me the name of the graphic novel that was. Good to know that he knows these things. Sigh…)

If you have children, go have a debate with them. Make them stand their ground. Drive them a little bit crazy. It will make them critical thinkers and maybe develop a sense of humor. It will also be a bit fun for you…

Later that night we all watched the “Captain America”movie, blanket pulled up, arms all over each other.

Family.

Peace people.

 

 

 

Driving For Direction (or, Pandas Gone Bad..)

I took my two sons and a visiting friend on a short vacation down to North Carolina to visit my oldest daughter last week. I wanted to see her, I wanted to see some sunshine, and I needed to clear my head.

A ten-hour drive, each direction, will give you some time to think.

I needed to figure out where I am going with my life, my career…was it worth putting the effort into comedy or should I quit now before I get too invested… I was feeling stressed from trying to do it all, from trying to break into formed social groups, from watching the hatred being spewed out on political television… I needed a break.

I drove from Michigan, through the farm lands of Ohio, then through the gentle mountains of West Virginia. We stopped for lunch somewhere there… at some small roadside “town.” We flipped a coin over the two restaurant choices and walked into the winner.

As we pushed open the doors and entered, we found ourselves facing the largest display of the Ten Commandments I had ever seen. Ever. I mean, I have seen smaller billboards on the highway. They were displayed on a table, filled with all sorts of religious artifacts… I wasn’t sure if I had stumbled into a makeshift altar and a sacrifice was about to take place, or a spontaneous Baptism–all I knew was that it freaked me the hell out and before I could stop myself I burst out loudly “HOLY SHIT!!!”

In my defense, at least I said holy. Just saying.

My youngest son’s eyes were as big as saucers… he started to dart them back and forth…clearly out of his comfort zone as well… he whispered to me that he was concerned for his safety… I assured him that we were fine…although I wasn’t entirely convinced myself..

We ate our crappy lunches and beat it. Lesson learned.

Later I was nearly pushed off the road by a semi truck that failed to see me…I drove onto the shoulder and somehow managed to speed up and zip in front of him without rear ending the semi in front of me…this still in the mountains…all very exciting…as my Mighty Explorer is well-known as being a performance automobile (insert sarcasm here..).

The best part of the trip (besides spending time with my children) was going to the science center in Charlotte. There we innocently bought tickets to the IMAX panda movie–a documentary about preserving the pandas in China.

HOLY SHIT.

It began innocently enough. Panda preserve, female panda, needs to get pregnant to keep the panda population going. Ok, so far so good… They put her in a pen and brought out this young male panda, who is a bit rough, so she rejects him, so they brought out (and I quote) “an older, more experienced male.” At this point I’m giggling. No shit. The panda lady was like “Get that asshole young kid away from me with his cheap ass beer– I want the older guy with the stable job and the fine wine and a fully stocked liquor cabinet–with the GOOD STUFF–and a good retirement plan. AND that knows what the hell to do in bed.”

Jesus, even PANDAS know this shit.

So the female panda gets pregnant and has twins but she normally only takes care of one. This means that every two weeks some poor worker has to go in and take the panda baby from her and switch it with the other baby that they are caring for in the panda nursery. Except she can get a little testy about this and apparently pandas can kill you with one swipe. I wish you could have seen how fast this guy ran. I mean, Olympic fast. No kidding.

Fast forward–now one of the panda babies is grown up enough to make it and they want to get him ready to go out into the real world. To do this (wait-I have to laugh here…) to do this (laughing again…) a couple of guys put on these really shitty panda costumes, so the panda WON’T KNOW that they are humans coming in to hang out with him. Ummm..

At first I was like WHOA!!! Did this movie just take a wrong turn??? Is this some kind of sick furry sexual film?? WHAT THE HELL???

The costumes were so very bad. I mean, this is CHINA for godssakes. One would think they could find a better costume there for their beloved pandas!!! And, the panda dudes were walking upright! Like Yogi Bear! Or the Country Bear Jamboree! I mean, WTF people!! Even pandas aren’t that stupid!

The best part was that one of the panda guy’s had to smear panda feces and urine all over himself to help convince the real panda that he was legit. I kept thinking that the other guy probably had a double-headed coin for that coin toss…gee guy, sorry, you lost again, bummer but you have to smear that crap all over you again…wow…

The final test was getting the baby panda ready to handle predators. The two panda dudes, walking upright, carried a stuffed cat. This was to be the terrifying jaguar to teach the panda to fear for its life. They smeared the urine and feces all over it and hid behind some bushes…waiting…ummm….

The panda walked by (walking on all four legs, just to be clear…) looked at the stuffed cat (and probably thought “who the hell put a stuffed cat in the middle of this forest? Assholes…”) Just then the panda dudes hit this tape recorder circa 1979 and this loud YOWL was heard. The real panda was like, “HOLY SHIT what the HELL was THAT!!!” and promptly ran up a tree (because he thought “JUDAS PRIEST when did stuffed cats learn to make noises??!!”)

Apparently this was a big success and it was decided that the real panda could now be pushed out of the nest and into the real forest to deal with real predators.

The End.

I have to say that thru the entire movie, my asshole family was snorting and giggling and laughing. Nobody else in the theater was. Sigh. We just could not take this seriously. (Ok, my autistic son was not laughing. So one of us was well-behaved.)

Which brings me back to the beginning of this blog. I was thinking of walking away from comedy. I really was.

But after this trip all I could think about was how I could make this into a new bit. Or how I need to write a television series. Or how I need to write some new sketches for the sketch comedy group I joined.

And to clone myself so I can be a mom and do it all.  That would help too.

Peace people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marching On…

I survived February. It wasn’t easy. It was gray here in Michigan…cold…and it has been a year since I stop working as a nurse. It hit me hard. All of it.

To combat all that I performed in comedy shows and started a fundraising effort. Fight darkness with light.

Some of you may be aware of the situation in Flint, Michigan. The toxins in the water there, especially lead, are dangerously high. I was born in Flint and lived in the area for the first eleven years of my life. As the mother of a special needs child, I can tell you I would have done anything to have prevented the pain it was clear he was in early in his life. The parents in Flint fought to be heard for at least a year and were ignored. The lead exposure to their children has most certainly done damage. The effects are already showing and will continue to be seen for years.

I contacted a local well known comedian about the idea for a comedy fundraiser. We started Comics For Flint. Through this comedians and venues can raise donations to be used for the various charities in the city of Flint to help those affected. We are having a large comedy show in two weeks–we are not personally performing–we have well known comedians in the area donating time and a comedy club has donated their room.

I am very proud of this effort. It has helped to get me through the depression of February.

Now it is March. The sun is beginning to return. I have the shoots of tulips poking up. I am turning my face to the future. I am fighting back with kindness.

And humor. Laughter helps.

So go laugh. Today.

Peace people.

A Reminder of What Could Have Been (or, Go out and watch this movie. NOW.)

Saturday started out with a bang. Or, with a lecture. My youngest son asked me to put the security code in the IPad… I complied, and noticed he was on a music site. Curious as to what he was listening to, I pressed play. HOLY SHIT. It was a hip hop song…I immediately looked it up the lyrics on my computer…HOLY SHIT… it was filled with all sorts of profanity, very misogynistic (something about I’m going to “blank” on that “blank” and then the “blank” can take Uber home..) Ummmmm…..

No.

I questioned my son about this…I asked him if he knew what this song was about…if he knew what all these words meant…he said yes…(OK WRONG THING TO SAY–although I appreciate the honesty…). I asked why he was listening to this.. he said that this is the kind of music they listened to back in Africa….

I began my lecture at this point. I explained that the women referred to in this song were in fact, somebody’s mother, sister, or daughter. I said that when he listens to songs like this, it embeds in his mind… and that eventually he could possibly think this is ok. I said that just because he listened to rap music back in Africa, doesn’t mean that is good for him.

I want him to remember his African heritage. I do. But not all of his African memories are good.

Later that evening, my husband and I watched the movie “Beasts of No Nation.” If you have not seen this, I urge you to do so. It is the story of an unnamed West African country during its civil war. It is the story of how one boy becomes a child soldier. It doesn’t say it, but I believe it to imply the country of Sierra Leone.

The country two of my children are from.

The young boy, Agu, reminded me so much of my son. SO MUCH. There is a scene at the beginning of the movie where Agu is unable to escape with his mother–I began to sob. I knew his fate. I knew that had my own son been born ten or fifteen years earlier… this would have been his as well.

The movie was graphic. It could have been even more so…it did not include some of the more gruesome atrocities committed during the war. The point was made without the inclusion of these. The young actor, Abraham Attah, portrays his role so well…I bled inside my soul for all those lost children during the war.

Those children that were forced to fight and survived, are now grown. They are still in a third world country, with a weak economy, ravaged by ebola and other diseases, lack of education and sanitation, poor access to water or health care…how long before this type of war happens again?

These are memories I am so very grateful my children do not have.

But for those children still left there, with no hope of being adopted out…every single one of them could be a spark of life like my son or daughter. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.

My heart hurts for them.

Watch this movie and see if yours doesn’t as well.

Peace people.