The following poetic expression is an exercise I was asked to do in a writer's retreat on Whidbey Island. I will post a few more over the next few days.
1. A slobber-slick slap to the cheek. Tears spilling out of fearful eyes, afraid of the monsters she can't see. Throw an arm of comfort over skinny sibling body, fall back into dreams with a boney knee to the back.
2. Passion Fruit lotion announcing best friend before she plops, unceremoniously, into your bed. Warm weight, spring-bouncing morning person nonsense jostling you from dreams.
3. An urgent, hushed nudge. A scared shake-awake. Brokenly whispered words of tragedy. Soul-shattering. Wish I was asleep.
4. Overhead stomp of neighbor's iron boots. Voices like glass grinding blenders. How long until drinking again is not over-drinking? Head pounds behind dry eyes. What did I do last night?
5. Barely slipped into dreams when the rustle of new-born baby limbs jolt you awake. Go back to sleep...Go back to sleep, please! Howls of hunger. Painful, hot burning breasts too overfull. Tiny cold fingers like groping icicles on a chest. She drinks, eyes plastered to yours. Sleepless dairy queen.
6. Alarm bells chime. Time to start the grind! Cruel sun shining on eyes weary of seeing. Listless, fumbling legs. Why even wake? Why even wake?
7. A kiss brushed on drip lips from weekend sleep in. Warm leg tossed carelessly over tangled sheets. Smell of you and me, familiar and deep.
8. Inspiration! THE. BEST. WORDS. YOU. WILL. EVER. PUT. TO. PAGE. Wake! Wake! Before it's too late.
9. A demon sits inside my chest. Limbs numb. Full of dread. Eyes open wide, unspeakable fear. Not a heart attack. Breathe. Breathe. Nothing to fear. Pins and needles as it passes. Anxiety leaks from stiff fingertips, still gripping the sheets. Until slowly, too slowly, release...
10. A million, possibly more, doves live in my rafters. They wake me from a distant memory of hands like warm shower water, running down my back. Lips tickling the nape of my neck. I thought doves were the messengers of peace. Oh well, nature calls...
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I woke reluctantly, the hour’s extra rest falling back gave me felt meager. But a promise to a friend is a promise to a friend.
You have to do the things that are good for you whether you feel like them or not. I repeated my morning depression-fighting mantra several times before groaning and dressing in layers, throwing my hair up into a more-than-messy bun.
It’s so hard during spells of depression, mild or extreme, to do the simplest of things—brush my hair or teeth, shave, smile, wake up. But, ultimately, it is part of my ability to self-heal and self-push that sees me here despite the debilitating fog of depression. And I’m thankful for my ability to talk myself out of wallowing. I know it’s a gift that some don’t possess, so I count it the blessing it is.
I pulled into one of my favorite walking/hiking trails in Port Gamble and weak-smiled at one of my favorite people. She pulled in next to my car. Her smile was as frail as mine, which helped me see another blessing—a friend who will also wake herself up, move with me, even in her own sicknesses.
At first our steps were heavy with the things we shared, as heavy as the problems that weighed on our shoulders—work stress, time we wish we could spend doing things like that we made time for today, worries that the decisions we have to make or made will poorly affect the people we love most, mourning, sickness…
The onslaught is always the same. We have a tradition of spilling our grief, big and small, on the rock-strewn, muddy paths. Not on each other. We just nod and understand and lift up support as the darkness unfurls like Madrona bark from our bodies, leaving us a bit raw and exposed. Together, that is not a bad place to be. Safe, we will not chaff each other.
After a while, the talk always gets broken by the finding, stopping and marveling. She brought her bag and knife for mushrooms, just in case. I brought my polypore eyes just in case. We looked, we cut new paths, we pushed ourselves uphill, shoved the sickness out with our heavy, working breath. Pausing, we saw. Ruffled edges, gills, spores, spots and mottled tops of fungi we could not name, but that rekindled a fascination with nature we lost in our pursuit of all the manmade things that press upon us.
“I often find answers to problems I have when I walk in nature,” she shares, and I smile for real, understanding shining in the irises once too exhausted to be bright. Because I know just what she means. I can start a hike crying, only to end it, breathless, at peace.
We point to various fungi, brightly colored, greasy and drooping, groping like fingers, scalloped to a tree. We stoop to see them more clearly and wonder at their purpose unknown to us. They all have a purpose, of that I’m sure. I think every leaf in creation has a purpose. Some of that purpose has nothing to do with me, but maybe it has a little bit to do with humanity—to feed human and animal bodies, to bring color to their lives, to simply be beautiful to behold. But, probably, that is a selfish way to see it. Maybe their purpose is so much more important than what I can comprehend in relation to me, me, me…
Either way, their beauty does bring us peace and sometimes we stop talking and just walk. Our vents are clearing with every step we take, and we see more, wake more to what’s around us, when suddenly something swoops over that path in front of us.
I reach for my phone, which automatically dies. This creature does not want to be known through the lens of my phone. A bold, big and awe-inspiring Spotted Owl soars from one close perch to another, then waits. He turns his head around, the way the all-seeing do, and fixes his gaze on me as I stared back. Why him? I ask myself. Why do I think you are him?
My cousin once told me that people in her tribe take owls very seriously. Some are frightened, others are just awestruck by them. Because they are the purveyors of departed souls. I did not feel afraid seeing this owl, though I do not tend to be fearful of death. We all must make our final journey. Maybe it was because today was the one-year anniversary of Uncle’s death, but I was sensitive to the fact that the owl was out at a strange hour and was oddly close to us. And the way he looked at me...
Uncle? Is that you? I didn’t want to break the spell by speaking, so I just willed him to hear my silent plea. He didn’t move, just stared, unblinking as we stopped to watch and wait with him.
In that moment, I knew he was asking for me to let him go.
When he was living, he told me that I had to be very careful in my grief not to hold onto the people I lose, after we both lost grandpa. Even in his grief he was teaching me. He told me not to walk at night in my grief or the person might stay with me forever because they would feel my need and want to bind with me. His soul has been waiting, tied here, for those who grieve to let him go.
I didn’t realize that I was part of the reason he could not leave, those tying him to a place he no longer belongs. But my grief over losing him has been great. I walked into a tribe I was not a part of, a tight-knit community that was skeptical of people who looked like me. Rightly so, but that did not make the transition easier. I never realized how important it was to have him and grandpa teaching me, patiently, firmly and steadily how to become part of the family I married into. I never realized what their immediate love and acceptance of me meant. Until they both left me, and I felt untethered to the place they loved and unwanted because they left me alone to navigate it. Not that they didn’t give me the knowledge I needed, but that they weren’t there to help me use it.
I’m sorry. I miss you. All the time. But I don’t want you to stay for me or anyone else. You can go. We’ll be okay. And we’ll see you soon.
The owl didn’t immediately leave. He sat and watched us depart. I wondered was I being silly…
“Do you believe in totems?” My friend seemed to read the meaning of the moment in her question.
It turned out that her totem, her interpretation of the moment was different, but no less meaningful. Her experience is hers to tell, but I think we both needed answers and comfort and understanding. God gave it to us, through the creations we would have never experienced if we hadn’t deliberately made the choice to be with it.
So often our priorities are disengaged from our world, counter to our world. We need, need, need, so we build, tear down and live at odds. No matter how big or how impressive a view we have, we are not living in nature if we are not in the right frame of mind. I pray, always, for the frame of mind that finds comfort in the beauty around me, rather than the desire to cut down the trees to better see the water I could have just walked to, stood in, let wash over my bare feet in the chilled rush of a Pacific tide.
STILL WRITING FOR THE LOVE OF IT!
As many of you know, I love writing. I would do it whether you paid me any mind or not. That said, it's nice to have people actually read your work once in a while. That way, I'm not just amusing myself (which I do, very much).
Why I Co-Author
I'm not great at getting stuff out quickly. If you were one of the handful of people who were waiting forever for Fade to Blue, Monochrome's sequel, you know this. I work full-time, so my writing schedule is often "whenever I feel like it and am not too tired from working or being mom."
That said, writing with Alesha makes writing easy. She is a dynamo plotter who sets deadlines that are easy to meet and fun to make. She's encouraging, engaging and wonderful. And she works her butt off to make sure the turn-around isn't a snail's pace. She is, actually, a pacing champion.
What you'll find about my work is that it's sometimes slower plotted, what I like to call "artistically drawn out." If you dislike that about my writing, you'll probably like my partnership with Alesha, since she is a master page-turner plotter.
So, why do I co-author? Because sometimes we need to change up what we do, what we venture into and take a chance on having fun with others. Writing is very solitary, often. But it doesn't always have to be. It had to be with Monochrome and Fade. They dealt in subject matter that I knew, only too well. They were personal.
The Immortals? Well, these are just pure fun! Paranormal, Fantasy, even a bit Sci-Fi. These books are just super experimental, quick and engaging to write.
Lastly, we all have things we do well as writers and things we do poorly. For instance, I love writing dialogue and create fairly memorable characters. I hate plotting. Alesha loves me to write believable dialogue and is great at plotting. Win, win. It makes the process of writing more fun because we are free to do the things we do best.
About the Immortals
The Immortal Brotherhood, Book 1, centered around Raina Black and her reluctant entry into the secret society of The Immortal Brotherhood. You are introduced to Noah Mason, the handsome, youngest member of the society who has inherited his job as demon slayer from his recently passed father. Raina and Noah are thrust together when a magical pendant attaches itself to Raina and Noah Mason steps in to save her from losing her head, quite literally, over the pendant. Raina joins the Brotherhood in hopes of removing a strange pendant from around her neck and in hopes that the founding member of the Brotherhood, Lady Arabella Larkin, will save her sister, Trixie, from an illness that plagues her.
You'll have to read the book if you want to know what happens, and I encourage you to do so. Like I said, Alesha and I had a lot of fun writing them, and we think you'll have fun reading them.
We are in editing stages of Book 2, A Discovery of Faeries, and I have to say, I like it even better than the first! I think we found our stride writing together and this book is set in a very fun, somewhat scary landscape, which really kicks it over the edge. If you've read the first and want to get first dibs at the second book, please pre-order: HERE.
If you want to become an advanced reader, please follow this link: ARC Readers
Are you a blog writer wanting to be apart of our blog-hop? Follow this link: The Immortals Blog Hop
As a big fan of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Newt is, by far, my favorite Hufflepuff), I was very much looking forward to The Crimes of Grindelwald. I wasn't disappointed, by any means, but what I found in Crimes was not what I expected. I am, like many watchers, left a little confused...
Great filming. Loved the action-packed beginning, the dynamic shots, the ways in which this movie is filmed in much darker colors (it's a darker movie), and the phenomenal acting.
The story-line was intriguing enough to keep me wondering how Credence could be related to LeStrange and other characters, and why that would be important. The acting that complimented it--Depp's dynamic role as a charismatic though truly evil villain, Newt's growth with his human counterparts, LeStrange's riveting love and sacrifice, Queenie's struggle with her inner demons and society, and Dumbledore's heartbreak--was wonderful to watch.
Nagini! Need I say more? Nagini gets to be a real character! Kinda rockin'.
The portkey scene...so darn funny. I love Jacob. More Jacob, please!
So much that is happening has almost no basis in previous work. For instance, Nagini's very existence. While it's cool that we get to experience an interesting take on a character we thought we knew in HP, it doesn't seem to have a basis in the story familiar to me. In HP, I'd not heard of a person with her "condition." It seemed to me that that was something that might have come up at one point. Maybe it's rare thing, but I'm not sure how I feel about that popping up.
The other "pop up" is the ending. Spoiler alert! Do not keep reading, if you haven't watched it yet. There's no basis in the HP books for another Dumbledore brother. There's a sister who dies young, Dumbledore's brother who runs the Hog's Head, and his parents who were physically separated after Percival was jailed for attacking the muggles who assaulted his daughter. His mom probably didn't have a baby with another person in between her death, after her husband's imprisonment, right? We'd have heard that mentioned, right? Because Dumbledore's mother dies due to a magic-related accident involving his sister's lack of control (a possible early reference to Obscurial). So...where does this brother come from? Is it made up by Grindelwald to lure Credence into his clutches? Why the phoenix, then? It reminds me of the Obscurial from the first movie. It's never obviously referenced in HP, but then is the entire basis for Fantastic Beasts. Another brother is never referenced in HP, but is now the basis for Crimes. I don't know about that.
I'm also not sure that I like that Queenie goes so off in this one. Rather than making her more complex, the ways in which she is manipulated make her appear ignorant, which I don't like. In Fantastic Beasts, she is forward-thinking and clever, so why would she fall prey to Grindewald, no matter how cunning he is? Especially when it separates her from her love? That was stretch to me. One that made a really great character act in a way that goes to counter to her original persona.
Overall, the movie kept me going, kept me hanging on, but it left me wanting more of the humor of the first, more friendship shots between Jacob and Newt (who are a great pairing), and a little more clarity. It seemed a bit convoluted. Not a bad movie at all. I enjoyed it. But it was not, in my opinion, as enjoyable as Fantastic Beasts, which so well balanced light and dark, funny and serious, good and evil. This one felt less balanced.
Recently, my uncle on my husband's side of the family, Oliver Jones (OJ) passed away. It's been so hard for my husband's side of the family. It seems all of the strong figures, the people who understood what to do when something went wrong, the people who were the face of the family, are falling so quickly away from us. It feels so unfair, and so fast. So incredibly fast. So fast it takes the air from our lungs, so that it becomes hard to speak our grief properly. I helped with the obituary, being writerly, as did my husband, being a jack of all awesomeness. I wanted to put it here. I want more people to know exactly the kind of man the world is losing, the best kind of man. That way, years from now, when all other sites have forgotten my uncle, I can go back to this post and say, "No, I won't forget."
So, again, I display loss on my blog. I feel like it has been a constant theme lately. There is no one more sorry than myself that that is the case. Indeed, it is a theme seemingly plaguing my family. So, for those who pray, we will accept those prayers eagerly. Thank you for remembering my loved ones with me.
Oliver Ralph Jones (Uncle OJ)
Oliver Ralph “OJ” “George” Jones was born on December 17, 1946 to Bob and Lillian Jones, and left us too soon on November 3, 2018. A proud Port Gamble S’Klallam tribal member, OJ lived much of his life on the tribe’s reservation.
Oliver was a proud Army vet and Vietnam War hero, who served as a combat medic, including with the 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry 25th Infantry Division at the battle for Tan Son Nhut Air Base in 1968 during the Tet Offensive. He traveled far and wide to meet and honor his fellow veterans, and proudly spoke of his service at local reservations and schools, including at Wolfle Elementary. His words and his actions touched many.
Oliver worked for 25 years as a rigger at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, retiring in 1997. OJ was an important keeper of cultural teachings. He was a fixture of the annual tribal canoe journeys, pulling, helping the ground crew, and sharing songs and teachings with all. He carried the name Ta-tooch-win-is and practiced his culture and spirituality for many years through powwow dancing and through the Skokomish longhouse. When not attending cultural or spiritual functions, he could be found carving for them, painting drums, rattles, and paddles, or drying horse clams, and freely teaching others to do the same.
In the potlatching tradition, OJ was the host of his own lifelong giveaway, as well as the speaker for family giveaways. There was not a treasure he made or a gift he was given that he wouldn’t freely give to another. His spirit was one of generosity. OJ’s charisma and humor were well loved by all. He was best known for a goofy sense of humor, often greeting family and friends with a “What’s up, Dawg?” and ending a conversation with “I heart you, Dude.” His most treasured motto was Love, Honor and Respect. And he lived it, every day.
Oliver was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Karen Harris, his brothers Alan Jones and Mike Jones Sr., his nieces Rhonda Smith and NellieKim Sorenson, his granddaughter Raven McGill, and his great-nephew James Smith. He is survived by his children Duncan (Kelsey) Whyte, Cory (Andrea) Whyte, and Chaz Jones; his grandchildren Ian, Bradly, Cory, Collin, Charli, Brooklyn, Alena, Ryan and Oliver; his companion and best friend Nancy Meyer; his siblings Donna and Kevin Jones; numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins; and innumerable family and friends from near and far.
"Our Strength is Gone" a poem by H.M. Jones for Uncle OJ
No better word for a man who, it seemed, could not be beaten.
Not by the dredge war, internal battle of coming home,
dread memories of atrocities unknown, losses of friends then family.
Sickness attempted to bend your back, break you.
You stood, tall as you could, smiled, joked, spoke words that built others up,
sang songs that healed.
Even when your body sometimes failed you, your spirit strength never did.
A man who held my hand when his pain was so terrible he couldn’t stand,
and smiled and called me sweet niece,
you comforted others, never seeking your own peace.
No better word for a man who guided wherever he stirred;
sometimes firm, sometimes curt, sometimes soft, sometimes in tremulous grief.
You were our trusted source, the one who walked and lived history, ancestry, culture, paths few were strong enough to travel.
You knew, you always seemed to know where we were supposed to go.
Where, now, do we go?
No one more generous with those beloved,
his girls, his children, his family, his bountiful friends.
He bedecked us in high class gifts,
so often crafted with his paint-splashed hands,
sawdust blanketed him, a cedar coat of honor.
He gave, gave, gave, leaving so little for himself.
How do we manage when the strong are gone?
Is it enough to know you’re with your best friend?
With those who’ve made eternal peace their home?
Our grief would say no.
We are searching for your answers in hearts muddled by loss.
Our eyes drift over the crowd of uncertainty, searching for a form we will no longer see. We are left only with the wealth of the words you gave, the great example you left us.
And we must make it enough.
I've been thinking about quote shares lately, and how much they annoy me. It's hard to pinpoint why something like my friends sharing various snippets of thought could so annoy me. Being political season, politically based memes smashing the "other side" have been particularly annoying, as well. And I find myself more frustrated over silly shares than I probably need to be. It's wasted energy to be mad about it, but I'm starting to understand why it annoys me.
Small think meets group think. I have so many friends sharing snippets of quotes that don't encompass the whole idea of the original intention of the essay/book/poem as a whole. I have people pushing snippets of pan religiousity on the hordes who push like and share and feel they are known.
But they are not. You are not a meme, a quote or a consumer-made facebook/instagram/twitter personality, two parts political left or right leaning meme, two parts Budda/Dali Lama/Christ quotes taken out of context. You are a person with a story that is being pushed into pixels and puked onto the screen.
I'm a person who loves stories. I love the entirety of life. I think that's why I find myself annoyed when people I know portray themselves though pixels instead of through thought. Your stories matter, your experience matters, your life matters.
We are allowing ourselves to be canned into something more easily consumed. If we are sick, we can filter it. If we are over-worked we can share an inspirational quote about how success requires overwork, if we are feeling ugly we can paste a better version of ourselves in squares on the screen, and be free...
Only we aren't. We are part of the under-thinking, undeveloped mind puke of self-consciousness. And it is frustrating for me to see. Conservative, liberal, you AND me. We buy into creating ourselves in a socially consumable way, every day. I tire of it. It drives my already crazy me over that tipsy edge. I want to fight back, but feel unable to do so. Perhaps if I share the exact, right saying...the perfect meme...
As some of you may know, my kiddos and husband are Port Gamble S'Klallam enrolled tribal members. My kids love to read and listen to old S'Klallam stories. Their favorite storytellers are Roger Fernandes and Elaine Grinell, both of whom are also S'Klallam from different bands (areas). It just so happens that I also work at the local botanical garden, Heronswood Garden, which is owned by the Port Gamble Tribe. This year, Heronswood wanted to honor their S'Klallam connection by housing figures made mostly from garden material. My coworkers and I were responsible for this task, which was a lot of hard work but also a lot of fun.
The other part of my task was to represent the stories we were re-telling. Below is a link to the S'Klallam Foundation website and the stories I re-wrote for the guests who came to the garden, along with information about where those stories come from. So, for this week, my free short stories are these, which are not mine. They belong to the S'Klallam people, but I think they are important and should be known.
If you are a Washington local or will be in the Kingston Area, please stop by our garden during October to experience the figures we worked so hard to construct. They really turned out well.
Chances to See These Garden Structures:
Pumpkin Carving Contest/ Tea & Tarot Event on Sat. October 20th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Haunted Heronswood: Friday October 26th and Saturday October 27th, 5-9 p.m.
More Details about these events will follow on the: Heronswood Events Page
Follow Heronswood on Twitter for updates about other events: Twitter
Enjoy my re-telling of these wonderful stories here:
Three Modern Retellings of S'Klallam Stories by H.M. Jones
I have been silent about something that has turned me on my head. Silent about something I would normally be very vocal about. Silent because the words would not come through the fog of shock, and, yes, silent because I hoped I'd heard wrong, hoped there'd been a mistake. But I feel wrong being silent any longer. And I do not want my silence to be misconstrued as victim blaming or disbelief. I hear you, victims. Your voices are important. You are heard and believed. It was brave of you to speak.
For a long time proponent of lifting the victims of sexual assault up, helping them in their voices and supporting them when they do not feel heard... as an author whose stories and poems against sexual abuse and discrimination are at least somewhat known...as a survivor of harassment and abuse myself, I feel it is no longer acceptable to not talk about what happens when a friend is identified as an abuser.
Not long ago, I felt a sense of betrayal when a person I long revered for his writing ended up being an abuser. Sherman Alexie disappointed and disgusted me with his actions. His works were the bedrock of much of my teaching and I was shocked and appalled by his abuse. I felt somewhat lied to, but mostly disappointed.
But what happens when the abuser is a friend? I've had to deal with this occurrence in the past, sadly. Just last week I had to deal with it again. I've had the unlucky shock and immediate revulsion of a friend turned abuser three times in my life. It's such a difficult set of emotions that hit when something like this happens, that it's hard to explain.
However, as a proponent for lifting victims up, I think it's necessary to try to wade through what it's like to know an abuser, or to feel you knew someone who was, in your estimation, a "good person" only to be understand that he was not safe, not, in fact, the person you thought he was. An acquaintance of mine, who knew the abuser in much the same way I did, who counted the abuser as a friend said, "It's like I'm mourning the person I thought he was."
What a perfect way of describing what is happening in my mind, right now. I feel like I'm in deep mourning. That friend I loved is no longer alive. He was replaced with a man I do not know, and that man is a child abuser. The friend I thought I had is dead to me, then, because the two pictures cannot coincide. They just can't exist together. So, I'm left feeling so much that my stomach is in pains:
Shock: There must be some mistake, but, no, that's not right. I know what it's like to not be believed or heard in my abuse, and it was wrong then. If the child said he did it, he did. He did. He did. He did. He did it. He touched a child.
Anger: How in the fuck does someone touch a child? How did he trick me into caring for him? How dare he steal my confidence, the confidence of so many, and use it to hurt others! What kind of sick person does that shit? How did I trust someone so sick? Enough to bring my children to his house! I would have ended his existence if the victim were my daughter. I would have tried to kill him. My anger is so volatile, when I think about what I would have done in the mother's place, that it scares me. I know I am capable of murder when it comes people harming my children, and that is terrifying.
Guilt: I encouraged my students to take his classes. I talked him up and told people they could not go wrong with him in their corner. I trusted him and asked others to do the same. I did not protect my students like I should have. I know it's not my fault. The actions of others are never my fault, but...should I have known? It's stupid. Futile, to blame oneself for not knowing other people's demons, but it's inevitable, that guilt.
Nauseating Confusion: Why? Was there any part of the person I thought was my friend that actually existed? Were all of his actions a preparation for the pain he would inflict on others? Was he really selfless or did he just want to make his way into the homes of the vulnerable? Was there any part of him who was not the sick man who preyed on little girls? Was the man who cried after losing his wife, shaking with grief, eating the food I prepared for him in his time of need, sitting across from me and regaling me with the beauty of the wife who left too soon the same man who harmed a child, maybe many children? Was the man who seemed to care so much for others that he'd give his last dollar ever real? Was it a veneer?
Mourning: The man I considered a friend is dead to me. The man I thought I knew never was. He couldn't be. It doesn't match up. Tears stream down my face. I don't make friends easily. The loss of them shatters me.
Anxiety: Why does this always happen? Will women ever be safe? Are my children doomed to be the victims of sick people and their whims? How do I protect them? How can I possibly protect my kids when I cannot trust even my friends? I can never leave them alone. Never. How will I let them experience life without the anxiety that now eats at me? How will I let go enough to let them live, but to also see that they're safe? I pray. I pray. I pray.
Dear God, I pray that you'll help the spinning in my head slow, the pain in my gut to abate, the anger to dissipate. How can I love a world full of people who will knowingly hurt the most vulnerable? It tears at me. Please give me peace. More importantly, comfort those who need it like I needed it. Those who will need to find strength when their innocence is stolen, when their stay is ripped from their lips.
My chest aches. My eyes hurt from trying to keep tears in. It's not fair to mourn the man who is a disgrace, so I tell myself I mourn the picture in my head, of a man I loved as a friend. Not the man who, given the right circumstances and excuses, would abuse a child. I cannot and will not explain away, excuse or tolerate any suggestion that his doing so was anything other than a sick crime of a sick mind, even when doing so brings tears to my eyes.
If you're feeling even a little of this right now, those who have been let down, I'm sorry you're hurting. To those who have had the unwanted touch of a hand they thought they could trust, that's what hurts the most. Your pain is valid. Your pain is what matters. I'm sorry for you. Your trust in others is forever shaken. It was not your fault.
No matter what I feel it is nothing, insignificant, compared to the tidal wave of confusion and pain that poor child had to go through. Because she lost a friend and gained an abuser, too. I don't have to keep the abuser. He did not scar me like he did her. He is just somebody that I used to know. A person I can't call a friend, even when it's the friend I mourn.
Eminem, Nike and Mike Pence all walk into the bar and immediately steal your support, empathy, vote, time, money. Fill in the blank. Not a very funny joke, is it? I don’t think so either. The point is, no matter the side these entities (because I’m loathe to call them people) are on, they are selling you something. And you’re buying it.
My facebook feed is awash this week with sympathy or hate for Nike. They chose a politically charged athlete for two reasons, and not one of them was “freedom of choice.” One: they knew it would get people talking, up in arms. Two: they knew that it would get people who already supported and could afford their brand to buy more, and those who support them but don’t wear Nike stuff in a show of democratic support.
Eminem’s feud? Same. Maybe you like his music and know it’s ploy, but are okay will a friendly “marketing-based” competition, but from my newsfeed, my guess is most of my friends didn’t know. And that bothered me. I don’t like to see people I respect treated like pawns. I don’t listen to much Eminem, but it wasn’t hard for me to guess that Eminem was probably going to release an album soon, and a trip to Google told me I was correct. So, this fakey feud sat ill to me. It was a meatloaf pretending to be a steak.
So how does Pence fit into this? An anonymous piece written by a disgruntled, anonymous Trump staff member who just so happens to use a phrase Mike Pence often uses (and almost no one else with a better vocabulary and/or shame will use) assures the public that some good samaritans in the White House are just trying to make less of a mess for America to clean up later by reigning Trump in.. Oh, really? So, Trump is the sort of person who allows himself to be reigned in by his inferiors or partners? Who benefits from the idea that jumping onto that train wreck of a human being’s team was simply in America’s benefit, so that he didn’t trash the country? Possibly someone who is positioned for a future Republican nomination for Presidency? Give me a break. If you’ve jumped onto this sideshow, you didn’t do so for selfless reasons. Stop selling it. I won’t buy it.
Look, I teach rhetoric to my basic college classes. That doesn’t make me an expert, but it does help me to distinguish when I’m being “sold” on something. Sometimes that doesn’t matter to me. I often can tell when I’m being sold Harry Potter stuff, for instance, but overlook it, as it’s a book that brought be enjoyment in a more than temporal way. It helped me understand myself as a kid and as a growing young adult. So, once in a while, I will allow myself to be sold to in that manner. But I know when it’s happening, so it’s less likely to inspire me allow myself to be marketed to when I don’t want to be.
Buying stuff is big in the U.S. We are a capitalist country. I know that. I know a lot of the reason we do well in this country is because we can sell our goods (or rather, poorer country’s goods), our image, and our rhetoric to others. I just get really tired of being inundated by it on all sides. It’s frustrating for me to see my kids so trained in “wanting” the latest thing, persuaded into liking athletes our country treats like gods, and tricked into caring about things that aren’t important.
I don’t have a funny joke in this blog. I don’t have a lighter anecdote. The reality is that what happens to us everyday, mostly online, but pretty much everywhere, is an inundation of marketing. I guess that’s why I’m not great at it with my own endeavors. Do or don’t buy my writing has always been the way I’ve marketed, and I’m smart enough to know that’s not the right way to do it. But I am too uncomfortable with selling even the things I truly care about because I just feel like we are all too swamped with it. And I also know that most people won’t ever care if they read my books, whereas they will be pissed if Eminem is dissed. I don’t know what to think about that. I just know it’s not funny.
H.M Jones is the author of B.R.A.G Medallion Honor and NIEA finalist book Monochrome, its prequel Fade to Blue, the Adela Darken Graphic Novellas, Al Ravien's Night, The Immortals series, and several short stories.