We’re dying to hear from you

If you are one of those good Muslims among the faithful who is angry, hurt, resentful, disgusted, or otherwise offended by the anti-Muslim rhetoric you are hearing, why don’t you speak up?

Most of the stupidity that has left Donald Trump’s pouty potty mouth in the months since he’s decided to run for king of the world president has truthfully gone in one ear and out the other.  I’ve never regarded him as a serious candidate; in fact, I once opined that his candidacy was a ruse—once he’s gained enough momentum, he’ll drop out just so he can sit back and laugh hysterically while he watches the next guy in line get his balls busted by Ursula the She-Monster.  So I guess I haven’t been too worried about ol’ Donald.

Until yesterday.

Yes, he went there.  Donald Trump made a statement to the effect that the U.S. should immediately close its borders to all Muslims, regardless of their status.  He not only went there, he doubled down when asked again if he wanted to retract anything about his most provocative statement to date.  Trump has no finesse; his sledgehammer bull-in-a-china-shop rhetoric makes me question his sanity.  Here’s a tip:  Simple solutions to complex problems make people very nervous.  Just ask the average Jew living in Germany in 1933.  Ahem.

It’s not that I completely disagree with Trump.  I think it’s only prudent to be ever-so-vigilant about who’s coming and going through the revolving door of our ports of entry, but to say that all Muslims should be locked out is going a bit too far.  Because there are good Muslims out there, right?

Before I join the millions of Donald-shamers, I think an important question needs to be asked:  If our citizenry, made up of a veritable kaleidoscope of cultures, races, religions, and ethnicities, is so concerned about those who label all Muslims as a collection of like-minded individuals out to commit jihad against the West, then help us out, good Muslims.  Tell us about your religion.  Share with us who you are, what you believe, and why your faith is being maligned all over the world.

Most importantly, state, in no uncertain terms, just us how angry it makes you that radical Islamists are ruining it for the rest of you.

I follow news; that is, I read, listen, and react, hopefully with an open mind.  But just as everybody’s baby is the prettiest, every news outlet and every talking and typing head has an agenda.  Every blogger, every columnist, every pundit is out to market their brand—themselves.  Using provocative rhetoric is how you get folks to pay attention, I get that.  But isn’t there someone out there who is in this for the greater good and can tell us the truth?

Likewise, isn’t there someone in the Muslim community who can share with us the virtues of their religion?

Allow me to put this in terms that may help you understand where I’m going with this:  I am first a Christian by faith, Catholic by denomination.  Michelle Duggar, mother extraordinaire, is first a Christian by faith, and an Independent Baptist by denomination.  We have very little in common lifestyle-wise (probably to her everlasting relief).  What we do have in common is that we have both accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior and Redeemer.

It is ridiculously naïve to lump all people of a set religion into the same group.  I’m sure Michelle would agree.  If such benign differences exist among Christians like Michelle and me, isn’t it reasonable, then, to assume that the of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, there are some good people among the faithful who may practice their religion in different ways and in varying degrees?

In contrast, whereas the Ku Klux Klan and the Westboro Baptist Church would like to call themselves Christians, their principles and actions, their rhetoric and practices are anything but Christ-like; ergo, they are not Christians, no matter what they’d like you to believe.  They pull scripture out of context from the Bible and twist it into evil sound bites in order to justify their sins.  In many ways, they are just as bad as radical Islamists, and their actions are reprehensible, especially when committed in the name of their warped brand of pseudo-Christianity.  True Christians would never stand up for them.  Ever.

And like the pseudo-Christians out there, isn’t it also reasonable to assume that among that 1.6 billion Muslims in the world there exist Islamic jihadists whose sole purpose in life is to destroy western civilization—radical Islamists committing terror in the name of Allah?

If you are one of those good Muslims among the faithful who is angry, hurt, resentful, disgusted, or otherwise offended by the anti-Muslim rhetoric you are hearing, why don’t you speak up?  Why don’t you tell us why you and people of your kind do not want to bring terror, death, and destruction upon the United States of America.

To stay silent will guarantee that all we’ll ever hear, see, or—worst of all—experience are the voices of the jihadists who want us all dead.

 

 

 

 

 

Open Arms

Governors of several states Monday announced that until the federal government can explicitly outline their procedures for vetting Syrian refugees, such individuals would not be welcomed to settle in their respective states.

To many (especially those on the left) this sounds rather draconian, or maybe it’s just because the governors who are pausing to take a step back to monitor the situation have that pesky ‘R’ after their names.

Are there more compassionate ways to come to the aid of Syrian refugees other than opening our country to the possibility that the very jihadists who are forcing these innocent refugees to flee their homeland are cutting in line?  There has to be.  Humanitarianism does not have to be an either / or proposition.  Especially when we already live in a country where there exists an all or nothing ideological approach to immigration.

I will concede that 99% of the refugees fleeing ISIS-controlled Syria are not terrorists, but it sure wouldn’t be hard for Mr. One Percent to weasel himself in among the crowd.  Does anyone know if the Syrian government has made available their intelligence data so that the Department of Homeland Security can properly and comprehensively vet each individual seeking asylum in the U.S.?  No, they haven’t because they can’t—Syria’s a mess.  So where is the data that Homeland Security will use to screen refugees?  Or is Homeland Security making this up as they go along?

Creating a safe haven for Syrian refugees is paramount, but creating that safe haven does not have to include laying the groundwork for another 9/11. The last time I looked at a map of the Middle East, Saudi Arabia was pretty big, and Qatar’s GDP ranks number one in the world.  To date, neither country has accepted even one Syrian refugee.  Zero.  The doors are locked to Russia, Japan, and South Korea as well.

Western civilizations are compassionate, so compassionate that they’re willing to invite the conflict into their own countries.  Does it have to be that way?  Is there an approach whereby every sovereign nation can to do its part, whether by offering asylum or offering aid?  Does proximity and culture weigh into the question of where best to place these individuals?

Imagine the jihadist—that Mr. One Percent—who enters Indiana under the guise of fleeing his hostile homeland. He checks his Twitter feed Friday, prepares his going away present Saturday, and when you and your precious family are at the Colts game Sunday afternoon, this son of a bitch blows himself up outside the gates of Lucas Oil Stadium at the end of the game, taking countless innocent lives along with him.

Imagine the card carrying members of ISIS who evaded the strict protocol of Homeland Security (because they did not have ‘NAJ’—Not a Jihadist—stamped on their passports), came to settle in the Circle City, and in an effort to eradicate the infidels one venue at a time, storm the entrance of the Carmel Palladium while you and your family are enjoying a performance and stage a murderous rampage at the beginning of the second act.

I am compassionate, but I refuse to fall prey to the ideology that if you don’t blithely roll out the welcome mat to those who seek to harm us that you’re some kind of heartless monster.  There are other ways to be compassionate.

And finally, I find it disturbing that any sane person would be angrier at America’s governors for wanting to pause the influx of refugees—and who are seeking only to protect American citizens from death and destruction—than at the jihadists who want to destroy all of western civilization.

The Magnificent Aschenbachs

Lately, many people have been asking me if I’m writing a sequel to The Gym Show.  While I think a sequel would be an excellent complement to what will always be (maybe) my favorite novel, I had already begun my second novel before The Gym Show became so popular.  So will I write a sequel?  Yes.  But first, my compulsive personality insists that I finish my second novel, The Magnificent Aschenbachs.

Would you like a peek?  Thought so.  Here is an excerpt from The Magnificent Aschenbachs.

   After that rather strange greeting, January’s initial reaction to Richard’s home was one of awe, but she fought the urge to appear wide-eyed and naïve, and tried desperately to appear as if it were an everyday thing to walk into a spectacularly furnished and appointed mansion like the main character in Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca.  And, like the nameless protagonist, January felt childishly out-of-place and wished she had worn something a little less showy (Gold lame, January, really?) and a little more conservative.

    Sadly, she didn’t have clothes in her wardrobe to match the splendor of the home, and she certainly was not dressed in the same manner as Richard’s mother, the formidable looking Angelika.  What did Angelika say to Richard when he had introduced her?  She knew it was German by the accent, but she had no idea what she said.  Richard had seemed rather taken aback, and even now, he was still somewhat quiet as if Angelika’s words had generated in him some meaningful response that he was still trying to piece together in his perplexed state.  January felt as if he was going through the motions of shepherding her through the house without really considering her at all.  This was turning out to be one of the most awkward and uncomfortable experiences she had ever remembered and wondered if all first dates were this excruciating.

The story is set in the mid-80’s in Indianapolis, and if you’re a Booth Tarkington fan, you might recognize that the title is a play off his Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Magnificent Ambersons.  Think of my interpretation, though, as another slice of life in Indianapolis, told mainly through the eyes of a young inner-city teacher who faces daunting challenges both in her professional and her personal life.

It’s going to be spectacular, I promise!  Estimated time of completion?  I’ll keep you posted.

Kitten Knittin’

Fem-art or fem-offensive?  Depends on your definition of ‘art’.

Years ago when I was teaching and my eighth grade students were reading the play The Diary of Anne Frank, I offered them a choice of three projects that they were to complete following our study of the play and its wider implications.  Two projects were research and writing-based—the third?  Build a scaled replica of the Anne Frank house using mostly found objects—nothing purchased, just stuff found lying around the house to make this replica as close to the real thing as possible.  I even introduced the word ‘verisimilitude’ as a way to stress that the house should be neither whimsical nor resemble a standard dollhouse. The goal of this project was for students to have a comprehensive understanding of the limitations that the families in hiding had experienced.

Some students created amazing replicas; others had their parents do it (we can always tell, Mom), and still others half-assed the whole thing.  Like Brian.  Brian handed in a cardboard box.  Inside the box was a stick and a rolled-up piece of clay.  Brian was completely mystified when I refused to accept it.

“But it’s art.”

No, it wasn’t art.  It was a box with a stick and a piece of rolled up clay inside.  Just like this is not art:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/04/vaginal-knitting_n_4386419.html

No, your eyes did not deceive you.  That pants-less woman with the really bad haircut is self-proclaimed “craftivist” Casey Jenkins from Melbourne, Australia, and she was indeed pulling yarn out of her body from a place where yarn really doesn’t belong, then knitting it into … I don’t even know what.

Nothing I want throw around my neck, that’s for damn sure.

2015-10-01 18_27_06-'Vaginal Knitting' Is Here To Make Everyone Afraid Of Performance Art Once AgainBefore I join the millions worldwide that Casey Jenkins has categorized as “Haters” and provide a cursory commentary on her particular brand of performance art —because what can I say that hasn’t already been said—I have some questions for her.

  • Are you in a committed relationship with any of the balls of yarn you’ve introduce into your portal of happiness?
  • You’re putting different balls of yarn all up in that thing every day. Are they wearing protection?
  • Where are you finding these balls of yarn? In a box? (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
  • What exactly are you knitting? Doesn’t look like a sweater to me.
  • What are you going to do with that seemingly endless streamer of knitted v-yarn?
  • What do you actually do to earn a living when you’re not knittin’ from your kitten?
  • Does it hurt?

Look, I consider myself rather creative.  I’ve written a few things.  I appreciate allegory, allusion, alliteration, and extended metaphor as much as anybody does.

But come on.

The only metaphorical thing I can conjure from this—and this is a stretch, I assure you— is that the yarn is being stored in an entryway, of sorts, that leads into a room (of sorts) where babies grow. She’s pulling yarn out of this entryway and fashioning it into … what?  A baby blanket?  For the love of all that is holy, I certainly hope not.  So, maybe this extended metaphor is a little too … well … extended.

So, what is her point?  And, please dispense with any statement that has the word “awareness” in it. Even if I’m not hip enough to get this, I can tell you that this is not art. This is a cry for attention.  This is a case of throw-enough-shizz-up-against-the-wall-and-some-of-it’s-bound-to-stick-edness. Except that instead of sticking to the wall it’s stuck all up in there.

Ew.

Does she have a right to express herself thusly?  Yes.  Do the rest of the normal people on the planet have to pretend to think that what she is doing constitutes art?  No. As a woman, does this offend me?  No, because that would make me a victim, and victims, especially feminist victims, get all excited and empowered over crap like this. Not me. I say, do your thing, Casey, just don’t expect the rest of us to whisper in hushed NPRish tones about how courageous and daring you are.

That Casey Jenkins has opened up the floodgates (ah, here come the metaphors) of criticism about her art is really not surprising. Anyone with a scintilla of common sense or intelligence will realize that her unique style of craftiness is nothing but this:  Look at me! I can pull yarn out of my girlfriend, knit a really long scarf, and call it art!

Like Brian and his box, it’s not art.  It’s just stupid.

Well played

A couple of years ago I wrote a tribute to my brother Jamie, so it’s only fair that I proffer this post about my indomitable sister Becky.  To her friends—because I don’t know anyone who knows her who doesn’t find her fascinatingly fearless, funny, generous, loyal, and charming—my words will serve to reinforce their attachment to her.  Those who have never met her will be clamoring to become a member of the former group.

Be forewarned: She’s quite a bit of humanity to take in.

Middle Child?  Laughable.

Becky is the middle child among the three of us who grew up together, but you’d never know it.  Born sixteen months after my brother (the result of a fit of passion, my Aunt Joyce remarked), Becky and Jamie operated as a formidable team of two, but it was Becky who played the role of the alpha.  Featured imageI came along two and a half years later (the shake of the bag, my dad remarked), and as I grew to know these two bigger people, I realized in short order that I had my work cut out for me.  Both of them definitely had my number, but Becky, as the principal player of the two, used my arrival to hone her particular set of skills.  In me, she had a ready-made sacrificial lamb to serve as a tool to refine her machinations.

This aptitude for dominance would serve her well in her formative years.

On being a tomboy.

Becky was considered a tomboy, which in today’s world would cause parents to assume that their little girl wanted to transition into a little boy, reality TV show and all, but in our 1960s world it just meant that she liked to play with boys and was better at them in sports.  One Christmas, she sat on Santa’s lap and announced, “My name’s Joe and I want a machine gun.”  So she got one.  It wasn’t from Santa but from my parents who understood that being a girl was no reason to deny their daughter a weapon equal to the one my brother already had, and that playing with machine guns, footballs, baseballs, or GI Joes was a natural part of a little girl’s development. Becky was not singularly minded, though.  Once I grew up enough to be of interest to her, she started to exhibit a curiosity in playtime pursuits that were more traditionally girl-like.

On playing with dolls.

Because I liked to play with dolls—especially Barbies—Becky began to show an interest in dolls.  Nothing like co-opting your little sister’s passion.  We each had a set of Barbies; Becky’s were mostly blonde like her and mine were the less-popular brunette versions.  Her dolls remained neatly displayed on a shelf in our room, the plastic hair protectors still swaddling each Barbie’s blonde ‘do while my Barbies were the utility players—legs bent in the wrong direction and stretched akimbo as they sat astride our Johnny West horses, naked, with hair that had been inexpertly chopped with sewing scissors when Becky decided we were going to play beauty shop, and toes often chewed off because Becky dared me to.  My dolls’ clothes—such as they were—were usually torn, snaps missing, threads unraveling as a result of all the wardrobe changes we made when we played beauty pageant; her dolls were left dressed their original factory-chosen outfits and for their entire lives remained unscathed by unnatural manipulation, scissors, teeth, or blue ballpoint pens used as eye shadow.

Sports and competition—no longer a man’s world.

Becky played everything well, and played to win.  Basketball, volleyball, softball—her skills were unmatched; her natural talents were a coach’s dream.  Fortunately, Becky began high school right about the same time that Title IX kicked in, so while the rest of the female population of our high school was just beginning to get used to the idea of wearing the boys’ old uniforms and not using two hands to dribble, Becky had perfected the art of not only taking it to the hole, but executing the pick and roll, throwing elbows, and drawing charges.  She was a better athlete than most of the boys in her class.  She also had more trips to the emergency room, but that’s the price you pay for being an alpha.

The relentless pursuit of glee at my expense.

Becky never missed an opportunity to make me question my self-worth or to diminish my faith in familial relationships; however, I am not bitter, nor do I hold her responsible for any adult angst that I may harbor.  Instead, her endless tormenting made me the woman I am today—unwilling or otherwise immune to putting up with anyone’s shizz.  I’ve suffered the indignity of being in the only grocery store in town on a Saturday with Becky while she hollered at the top of her lungs, “KELLY, DIDN’T YOU SAY YOU NEEDED TAMPONS BECAUSE YOU ARE HAVING YOUR PERIOD RIGHT NOW?  PLAYTEX OR TAMPAX, KELLY?  REGULAR OR SUPER, KELLY?”  I’ve suffered the torment of being duped into thinking I was eating whipped cream when really it was congealed bacon grease and sugar.  I’ve been locked in a room with a dog who had rolled in the carcass of a weeks’ old dead woodchuck and who smelled like a weeks’ old dead woodchuck all while I was suffering from a double ear infection and an undiagnosed case of strep throat.  I’ve eaten cheese that she chewed up and spit back out.  I let her talk me into piercing my own ears.  I even let her cut my hair.  You can’t do anything to me that she hasn’t already done.  You can’t scare me.  You can’t break me.

Toughened up.

In spite of all this, and in a strange twist of irony, I truly believe that I’m a better person because I have Becky as a sister.  Not only has the adult Becky grown out of her mirthful adolescent need for a whipping girl, she has surpassed all my expectations by becoming an amazing wife, mother, and grandmother.  She has also become the best sister, friend, and confidant I could have ever hoped for.  If being her goat was the price I had to pay for having Becky as my sister, I gladly accept that mantle, and I’d suffer through it again if I had to.

moh--becky and me

Maybe she just played me the way all older sisters do, I don’t know.  I’ve nothing against which to gauge her performance.  I’m fairly certain, though, that most girls of that era lacked Becky’s impressive talents and awe-inspiring imagination.

Well played, Sis.  Oh, and happy birthday.

Ben Carson should never be president

Ben Carson should never be president

Is it because he’s a political infant? Never held a public office?  Ignorant of the delicate chess game of foreign policy?  No skill at interpreting the geo-political landscape?  Lack of business experience?

Not necessarily.

Ben Carson should never be president because he is too good.  He is elegant and eloquent.  He is stunningly articulate in the sense that he doesn’t point at you with just his thumb like every other politician since Bill Clinton (when he was lying to us about Monica Lewinsky) and tell the American people—in carefully scripted sound bites designed to be repeated, replayed, and rehashed—just why his …um …ideas are bigger and better than the next guy’s.

In short, he does not engage in a political pissing contest.

Instead, he tells you of his love for this country, his hopes for its healing, and the promises of its future just as if he were sitting across from you at the dinner table.  During his brief but powerful turn at Thursday night’s debate, I half expected him to ask someone to pass the butter. His rhetoric was poetic, not political.  Common sense never sounded so lyrical yet so, well … common.

He is a gentleman.  A gentle man.

Ben Carson should never be president because of what the media would do to him.  In case you haven’t been paying attention, the media have this curious knack for taking something that is good and pure and honest and turning it into a twisted circus of lies and suppositions, ignoring the good stuff about a person and instead finding any small rent in the fabric and ripping it to shreds.  No longer is the media about presenting opposing viewpoints; there’s no bank for them in that.  Instead, they only look for the ugly, calling it “good journalism”.  I call it muckraking.

No, Ben Carson should never be president.

Even though Ben Carson is what our country needs to bridge the massive divide between right and left, between those who want to perpetuate this country’s dependence upon our bulging and bloated behemoth of a government and those who would like nothing more than to line up the Washington elite in front of a firing squad, he should never be president.  Even though Ben Carson could heal the wounds of those who live on the fringes of society by drawing out of them the goodness that runs through their souls and the potential that lies within them, he should never be president.  Ben Carson would not bloviate like a lunatic, nor wring his hands in desperation about border security; neither would he look the other way nor look at who to blame or blame a YouTube video for the fact that Isis has come to town.  Instead, he would attack, with surgical precision, the crisis at our borders and eviscerate like a cancer the terrorism at our doorsteps, dealing with it like a man.  In matters of life and death, Ben Carson doesn’t concern himself with who he might offend by calling a spade a spade.

Even though Ben Carson is what we need he would never last long enough to make our country work again before the media would destroy him.

Maybe now is not his time.  If that’s the case, I’ll try to be patient and just pray that while we wait that we don’t end up like a fallen tree on the bank of a great river, its roots fighting to remain tethered to the earth—still living, still bearing fruit, and still able to reach its potential, but instead becoming unmoored from its tenuous anchor and floating out to sea only to become a mere shadow of its former majesty.

The Fairy Tale of Working from Home

After nearly 25 years teaching in the public school arena (and if you think that’s a strange choice of a word to replace ‘school’, think again), I am privileged and happy to be among the ranks of folks who work from home.  It makes me happy.

Maybe it makes my co-workers in the actual office even happier.  Winning.

When I tell people that I work from home, their first question is, “What do you do?”  I tell them I work as a technical writer for a software company. Relieved (or not) upon learning that my job does not involve more nefarious work-at-home schemes, they subsequently conjure images of me sitting in front of my computer in a quiet, well-organized corner of my expansive kitchen, my sleepy face softly lit by the gentle glow of the computer’s monitor, glasses still on, hair in a messy ponytail atop my pretty little head, in my jammies and fuzzy slippers.  Let me take it a step further and paint for you the picture of what others undoubtedly think makes up the collage of my day:  I’m blithely sipping steaming coffee from a larger than normal-sized mug, in the background you can just about hear the tinkling laughter of Samantha Guthrie and Matt Lauer, and if these people hadn’t yet noticed that my sell-by date has come and gone, you’d see a couple of cute-as-a-bug’s-ear frolicking toddlers playing joyfully but oh so quietly on the spotless, wide-planked kitchen floor.

Well hells bells, who wouldn’t want to work from home?

The reality, though, is quite different.  Allow me to shed some softly glowing light on the typical day of the stay-at-home-work-from-home worker.

  1. It must be nice to work in your jammies!

Well, now, that depends.  I’m one of those people who usually fall into bed wearing the exact same thing I wore all day—leggings or yoga pants, a t-shirt or a sweatshirt, and socks if my toes are cold.  Kinda like what most gals my age sleep in anyway, so if you feel better calling my ’round the clock ensemble ‘jammies’, knock yourself out.

  1. You can work whenever you want!

Yes and no.  Yes, if I want to get up early and get a start on the day’s tasks; no if I’m expected to be present at a meeting via the various means of technological magic available for getting people from different zip codes together for a meeting.

As an aside, these technological tools that allow meetings to take place remotely are not all they’re cracked up to be.  For one, it’s often hard to hear the other people speaking, so to move things along, you have to either pay attention really, really well, or pretend you can hear everyone.  For another (and this can be most troublesome for someone like me who is always thinking that people are making fun of me behind my back), people can make fun of you behind your back!  They can roll their eyes, give you the finger, give you the finger with both hands, make crude gestures like a wild pack of eighth grade boys, or even write notes to each other about you while you’re in sitting at your kitchen table in another state, unaware of the mirthfulness at your expense.  When they laugh, you think they’re not laughing at what you or someone else said, they’re laughing at you—at your stupid question, at your stupid idea, or at the stupid but stunning likeness that someone drew of you in your jammies and fuzzy slippers.  While it is true that none of my coworkers would deign to commit such sophomoric antics, I’m just saying that it could happen, especially if one has failed to establish an easy-going, fun-loving rapport with his or her teammates, like I have.  Right, guys?  Right?

     3.   You don’t have to put up with the office politics!

This is only true if you never spend any time in your office. But I do—I travel once a month to my office in another state and I’m there for a whole week.  Now, for me, it’s a nice change from the usual kitchen-chair-kitchen-table office I have at home.  Furthermore, I really like my co-workers, I love the company I work for, and my week in the office is made even more pleasant by the company’s generosity with regard to my lodging and meals.  I really don’t know if my company has its share of office politics; however, if they do, I’m not privy to any inside information.  I don’t know what I don’t know.  You see, at first, I felt like a visitor in the office, like, “What’s she doing here?  What does she do?”  Once I had been there a while, it was like, “What’s she doing here again?  And what is it that she does?”  I solved that problem by starting the practice of treating the entire office to doughnuts on the final day of my monthly sojourn.  That shut ‘em up.  Now it’s, “Oh, Kelly’s here!  Doughnuts on Friday!”

  1. Isn’t it nice that you can stay home with your kids?working at home

Now, I haven’t personally experienced this one, because my kids are almost grown, but if anyone ever says this to you—all you young mothers and fathers out there with young children—the correct response is, “Are you flippin’ kidding me?”  Look, I have two Labrador retrievers, and I still find it difficult sometimes to juggle the demands of my job and the demands of two poorly trained and rabbit-motivated canines.  I cannot fathom doing what I do here at my kitchen-table-desk cum workspace with even one child at home who requires my attention.  Young mothers:  If you are considering a career that allows you to work from home and take care of your children at the same time, you are a victim of incorrect thinking and modern-day “I can have it all!” -ishness.  Unless you can put them in a dog crate, throw them a bone now and then, and walk them up and down the street during your lunch break, it truly is not a good idea to work at home with a child, or even worse, children afoot.  Hire a nanny, a mother’s helper, or just resign yourself to working at night while they’re sleeping because ain’t nothing gonna get done that’s worth anything if you’re trying to earn a living and take care of a child at the same time.

  1. Isn’t it hard to stay on task?

No.  It’s a job, and I take it very seriously.  I operate as if there are hidden cameras all over my house that follow my every move between the hours of 8 AM and 5 PM.  If I need to go out or run an errand, I let someone in the office know or I make sure I that respond to every email via phone during any unexpected absences.  Additionally, I’m given certain tasks that require completion by a deadline.  That makes the whole work-at-home experience very real.

Okay, so that’s my experience.  And because it would be mean of me to leave you empty-handed, here’s a slice of advice for those of you embarking on a stay-at-home career:

  1. Get up every morning and get ready for work, just as you would if you were going into the office. Okay, you can skip the pantyhose and hurty heels, but shower, dress, put on makeup, shave, do both (I’m not judging), do your hair, and arrive at your workstation at the same time that your colleagues are entering the office.
  2. Eliminate distractions. As much as you’ve been dying to see that rerun of Dr. Phil where the aged cougar can’t understand why her boyfriend is still texting from Nigeria asking her for another $20K, turn off the TV.  Do the people in your office watch Dr. Phil during work hours?  And stay off Facebook.  Reposting that cat video at 10:33 AM on a Tuesday morning doesn’t reflect well on your work ethic.
  3. When someone calls to chat, tell them politely that you are working and that you will call them back after 5 PM, but at least answer the phone so they won’t think you’re dead. If you’re too spineless to tell it like it is, lie and say that you’re getting ready for a meeting, in a meeting, or meeting a deadline.  They’ll get the message.
  4. Form familial bonds with other work-from-home employees from your company. Often, pesky, problematic technological issues arise and you can’t access your VPN.  Chatting with another remote worker can confirm or refute whether the problem is with you or the company’s network.  I speak from experience (so I can tell you that most of the time the problem is with me).  Wouldn’t you rather have your sister-in-remoteness making fun of you for not knowing how to work around the VPN than your manager?
  5. Be available. Answer every email immediately, even if you have to postpone the actual task the sender is asking of you and simply reply, “Got it.”  Sync your phone with your work email so you can travel to another room in your house and not miss a beat.  (I would advise, however, from making or answering any phone calls while on the potty.)  Yes, I realize that not even your coworkers in the office do this (respond to emails in a timely manner, not take or make phone calls while sitting on the john), but it is important to instill confidence in your management that you are always available even though you might be 306.5 miles from the office.  And pooping.

Planned Parenthood, how in the hell do you sleep at night?

There are myriad topics I could write about today—the bird’s nest full of robin eggs I found within my potted geraniums this morning, the group text my daughters sent me that made me laugh so hard I choked on my coffee in a crowded restaurant, the hilarious conversation I had with my son last night on the topic of dog poop, or the pictures on my refrigerator of my niece’s little girl on her first birthday smearing pink frosting all over her Kewpie doll face.

But I can’t.

Because what has been eating away at my insides this entire week are the horrifying images of unborn babies being ripped from their mothers’ wombs and sold to the highest bidder all in the name of scientific research.  That Planned Parenthood—that poor excuse for a women’s health network—was caught on video discussing, in the most detached and cavalier manner possible, the sale of human body parts is not surprising, but the fact that any human being could still support their perfectly legal and taxpayer funded genocide certainly is.

Right after the videos surfaced, presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton still defended Planned Parenthood because, to her, it represents womanly empowerment—the right of every woman to own her own body and do with it what she wants.

Oh, is that the same womanly empowerment that “cleans up the mess” when women choose to have unprotected sex?  The same womanly empowerment that dupes teenage girls into engaging in bizarre and dangerous sexual practices?  The same womanly empowerment that prescribes contraceptives to young teens without their parents’ consent?  The same womanly empowerment that sells aborted fetuses—okay, maybe not the entire fetus, because thanks to the videos released this week we now know that livers are in high demand.

Yeah, so maybe not the whole baby, just the important little baby body parts.

Are you disgusted?  Think I’m making this up?  I’m pretty creative, but even I can’t make this shit up.  Even Dystopian fiction writers shy away from storylines that involve dead babies and their tiny body parts.

No woman has the right to decide to end a pregnancy simply because that pregnancy doesn’t fit into her lifestyle.  Why?  Because she lost that right when she decided to have unprotected sex.  You can argue with me from now until the cows come home that there are instances of rape, incest, and imminent danger to the mother’s life that might be cause for some mothers to have an abortion.  Those instances are the exception, not the rule.  The exception.  And while I will always argue for the sanctity of life, however it is conceived and in whatever stage it may be, or for prayer and consideration during a life-threatening pregnancy, statistically, these instances do not make up even a fraction of the roughly one million abortions performed each year.

Why not state an actual number?  Because it depends on who you ask.

Planned Parenthood will say that the number of abortions performed per year is less than half that number; right-to-life groups put the number of abortions performed per year at well over one million.  So even if we went with Planned Parenthood’s proudly proclaimed but rather suspect statistics, 327,166 abortions for fiscal year 2012-2013 is still 327,166 abortions too many.

And have fun trying to find that number—it’s buried deep in the back of their annual report as part of a small slice of a pie graph that is cleverly designed to celebrate Planned Parenthood’s other services, which, frankly, can be found at any general practitioner’s office.  Don’t be fooled by the report’s clever marketing ploy of featuring the happy, smiling faces of women who, without the health care services of Planned Parenthood, would not be able to have any access to health care at all.

Which is puzzling because I thought the Affordable Care Act was supposed to take care of the uninsured.

Here’s what they don’t highlight in their slick marketing brochure disguised as an annual report:  Planned Parenthood performs abortions.  Planned Parenthood is responsible for the deaths of between 327,166 and 1.21 million human lives in the US each year.  There is no ‘Parenthood’ in Planned Parenthood.  They have an agenda built upon the ideology of a woman who advocated the practice of eugenics, but have since then taken that ideology and run with it—taken it one grisly step further— in order to justify their practice of genocide.

Your body, your right to choose?  Wrong.  That baby who is right now tucked safely inside of you has rights, too.  You and your partner made that baby when you decided to have sex without thinking of the consequences.

For God’s sake, grow up, be a real woman, walk into a damn drugstore, and buy yourself a package of condoms.

Don’t believe me? Just read.

 

2014-03-23 09_08_22-Amazon.com_ The Gym Show eBook_ Kelly Springer_ Kindle Store - Internet Explorer

People I meet or even folks I haven’t seen or talked to in a while often respond skeptically when I tell them I’ve written a novel.  Their response is usually along the lines of, “Oh, well, isn’t that nice,” especially if I tell them that my novel is self-published.  Before writing and publishing The Gym Show, that would most likely have been my reaction, too.  There’s some real–how shall I put it–ill-crafted prose out there in the world of self-publishing.  When you can purchase a self-published tome about dinosaur porn, is it any wonder self-published books get a bad rap?

But that isn’t the case here.  Just because a novel is self-published does not mean that it’s not of the same caliber as a novel that is published by a traditional publishing outfit located somewhere behind the impressive but elusive edifice of a Manhattan skyscraper (a method of publishing, by the way, that is fast becoming obsolete).

The bottom line is this:  If I didn’t think that The Gym Show was a compelling read, I wouldn’t expect anyone to purchase or download it.  But I do believe it’s a compelling read.  And so do the following readers, who posted their reviews of The Gym Show on Amazon and on Goodreads.  Don’t believe me?  Just read.

Reader Reviews of The Gym Show
(click on each image to enlarge the review)

 

Giovanna Mandel Laura Baer Laura Flowers Renaye Parsey Dr. Pritchett Andrea via Goodreads Charlotte via Goodreads William Nist via Goodreads

And if you have read The Gym Show and want to comment, please do!

One Man’s Trash: Doing My Part to Save the Planet

This week, in addition to trolling The Drudge Report to make sure that the anti-Christ still hasn’t made an appearance, I scored some amazing household items–thanks to one family’s need to purge and move.  Or move and purge.  Kinda like a chicken-egg thing.

Now, some may say that scavenging through another family’s discard pile is tantamount to picking through your neighbor’s garbage, but I disagree.  To me, it’s my way of keeping this planet safe from the rising mounds of trash in our nation’s landfills, albeit in a small way.  It’s also my way of filling my home with things that someone else had taken the time to research, order, purchase, unwrap, read the complicated user manual (in seven distinct languages) in order to assemble, successfully assemble, and install.  Culling through someone else’s leftovers saves me all that heartache.  You see, in this house (unless copious amounts of alcohol are involved), assembling a complicated purchase usually results in those attempting to assemble said purchase to angrily stomp away from the wreckage and to their respective computers to Google ‘divorce attorneys’.

See?  I’m also doing my part to keep the divorce rate down.  I call that a win.

It helps if you know the people from whom you are scavenging.  In my case, I did, so I trusted their combined wisdom to have made thoughtful decisions when purchasing the items they once couldn’t live without that now adorn my own home. The fact that their now empty house was once tastefully appointed is a bonus.

When I go through my house and count the number of items within that have once been owned by other people, I am pleased to note that the number is higher than the number representing items I purchased directly from a vendor, like a furniture store, or Macy’s.  That I may know the original owner makes the counting even more fun, as in, “Those wicker chairs once belonged to Marla,” or “See that end table?  It’s Duncan Phyfe, and it once graced the governors’ mansion.”

Okay, I made up that last one, but you get my point.

However, I maintain that there are some items that I refuse to buy secondhand.  Like shoes.  Ew.  Shoes, over time, conform to the wearer’s feet, and often you can look at a pair of shoes and identify to whom they belong just by the worn out shape of the shoe.  And they’re stinky.  So there’s that.

Have you ever seen underwear at a garage sale?  As in someone else’s underwear for sale?  Are you kidding me?   I don’t know about you, but when I decide to retire an undergarment, it goes in the trash.  I don’t care if that bra and knickers are from Agent Provocateur, uh-huh.

Well, unless the tags are still on them.

My point is this:  None of us should be so proud that we turn up our noses at the thought of procuring household items from a garage sale, an estate sale, a moving sale, or any other kind of sale that isn’t located in a mall or on Amazon.  If you are, but you still like nice things, then don’t tick off the names of the previous owners of your precious plunder when you have guests over.  But be smart about it.

“See my dining room table and chairs?  That’s Duncan Phyfe.  It’s been in my family for generations.”  Fine.  Now you sound like a snob, and it still belonged to someone else.  Or, “Of course, that Aubusson carpet was dreadfully expensive, but we just had to have it,” and you drive a Dodge Neon.

Get my point?