Trumpe-L’oeil

Trump’s campaign is the ruse of the century

It’s always risky to make assumptions only to find out later that you were completely off base in your assessment, but the prospect of a Trump presidency is so bizarre, I’m just going to go ahead and say this:

Trump is not in it to win it.

Pundits will argue that he sure as hell is in it to win it and it looks like he will, dammit.  Others will say that his unorthodoxy is part of what makes him the brilliant tactician that he is; that by making outrageous and seemingly offensive statements he is breaking the mold of the consummate politician thereby owning this election.  Another segment of the population is so offended by him and his Hitler-esque ideology (their words, not mine) that they’re predicting we’ll soon be goose stepping our way through a totalitarian dictatorship.  Still some, like me, just think he’s crazy.

Like a fox.

Do you really think Trump wants to make America great again?  Or is it something else?  When a guy’s got his name on more buildings than Sam Walton, it can’t be the fame.  Power hungry?  I get that, but there are other ways to be powerful without having to hoodwink the electorate all the way into the White House.  I know, Ronald Reagan was an outlier, too but who are we kidding:   Trump is no Ronald Reagan.

This isn’t my first assessment of the ruse of the century. In early August, and after Trump had announced his candidacy, I posted this vignette on Facebook.

august trump prediction

At this point, I’m not sure that this is exactly his motive, but I do think he has some O’Henry trick up his sleeve, you know, the surprise ending.  Because come on, you threaten to boycott a debate because you don’t like Megyn Kelly?  Really, Donald, if you can’t get along with the host of a cable news show, how are you going to navigate Putin?  Whining that you’re not coming to the party if Megyn is there rather emasculates you, don’t you think?  At the very least you sound like a petulant child who is picking up his toys and going home.

Most unbecoming, Sir.

His behavior is not logical, which is why some in the political sphere, like Rush Limbaugh, believe this is all part of his strategy.  To me, though, it appears as if he is setting himself up to be so reviled that he’ll either step aside and let someone else occupy his spot, or he really is a DNC plant.

Regardless, I both cringe and shake my head every time the guy opens his mouth, wondering what manner of cartoon character rhetoric is going to come out.  Would I keel and wail and render my flesh if he manages to get elected?  No.  Furthermore, I don’t think that’s going to happen.  This guy is too smart to resort to acting like an asshat, and he’s wily enough to fool people into thinking that he is.

If that circular logic baffles you, then guess what?  You’ve been Trumped.

Mother of the Year

I couldn’t get out of my mind the picture of her son crying out for help without thinking, why wasn’t she there?

Wife and mother Helena Richards Colby resides in a tony suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio.   Helena lives a life that most of us dream of—she’s wealthy and reasonably attractive, with a well-appointed home that includes plenty of space for entertaining, a large back yard with a pool, and a gorgeous lake view.  But what Helena wants most is the envy and adulation of her peers, and to a greater degree (though she would never admit it) she wishes to climb the proverbial social ladder to become a select member of Cincinnati’s privileged elite.

Helena stepped on the first rung of that ladder in January 2012, when she talked her husband Will into nominating her for the title of Greater Cincinnati’s Mother of the Year, the promotional brainchild of Cincinnati City magazine.  Nominees (who pay a ridiculous fee just for the faux honor of being nominated) are fêted for an entire year at various magazine-sponsored functions throughout the city in an effort to promote themselves as the quintessential mother, giving Cincinnati’s well-heeled a chance to vote for their ultimate Madonna.  Helena never missed an event.

In September, 2012, Helena and Will were scheduled to attend an event at Cincinnati’s Contemporary Art Center (once home to the infamous Robert Maplethorpe exhibit, but I digress).  It was a Tuesday night, and Helena’s regular sitter, her 16-year-old daughter Hailey, was unfortunately unable to watch the couple’s seven-year-old son, Christopher.  Hailey had a party to attend.  On a Tuesday night.

Never one to say no to her daughter, Helena figured that Christopher would be fine by himself at home.  Hailey would have her cell turned on, of course, and Helena and Will would each have their respective cells on vibrate but within “feeling” proximity.  Hailey assured her parents that she would be no fewer than five minutes from their house, and though Helena and Will would be downtown, Helena was certain that Christopher would be fine for the few short hours that he would be alone.  After all, isn’t teaching children the virtue of self-reliance a hallmark of a Mother of the Year?

Christopher wasn’t so sure.  He didn’t like it when Mommy and Daddy were gone at night, even when Hailey was there with him in the house (she never really was in the same room with him, but at least she was there).  He still slept with his light on in his room most nights, and he didn’t like this time of year when the leaves were starting to fall off the trees outside his bedroom window because they made scrape-y noises that were scary to him.  Christopher didn’t say much at dinner; Mommy and Daddy didn’t notice, and Hailey was busy playing on her phone.

Always in a nervous flurry before these types of events, Helena rushed through dinner and began barking orders to Will in an attempt to get him to hurry.  She didn’t notice that Hailey had already left the house and that Christopher was sulking on the sofa watching a rerun of South Park.  The couple left the house after Helena hastily scrawled hers, Will’s, and Hailey’s phone numbers in big Sesame Street-sized numbers on a piece of loose leaf paper she found in Hailey’s backpack because, well, that’s what good mothers do.  She trusted that Christopher would call one of them if there was an emergency.

Once Helena and Will arrived at the venue, all thoughts of her children were blissfully erased from her consciousness because it was here that she would be introduced to Cincinnati’s preeminent citizens.  Not for her were the hoi polloi that she ordinarily ran into at Kroger or while waiting in the carpool lane at her son’s school.  No, it was among these majestic faces she was meant to rub elbows, to mingle and chat, to exchange dinner invitations.  Helena was in her element.  So transfixed was she that she never felt the phone vibrate in her small reticule clutched in her left hand.  Will’s phone buzzed, too, but after several trips to the bar, so did he.

It wasn’t until she had excused herself to go into the restroom to check on her lipstick that she felt the phone in her purse vibrate.  It was Hailey.  She told her mother that she had had several calls from Christopher who said that he was scared and that he was hearing noises.  Although Hailey offered to go home and check on him, Helena reminded her that Christopher often made up stories about hearing strange noises, and that a good mother would teach him a lesson about crying wolf.  Besides, Helena had it on good authority that the party Hailey was attending was at the home of a board member of one of the city’s most sought after charitable foundations, and she couldn’t wait to hear from Hailey about what the inside of the house looked like.  After all, isn’t encouraging your daughter to develop relationships with influential people part of being a good mother?

Though it doesn’t really matter at this point who arrived home at the Colby residence first, it happened to be Hailey, who would, for the rest of her life, have seared into her brain the image of her little brother’s body as it lay broken, bloodied, and beaten on the cold, bare floor of the empty garage.  At this point in the story, I lack the vocabulary to describe what actually happened at the Colby home that September night—Google it for yourselves if you like.  Suffice it to say that after four armed intruders broke into the home, burgled it, and murdered seven-year-old Christopher Richards Colby in one of the most brutal attacks ever investigated by the first responders and homicide detectives on the scene, Greater Cincinnati’s candidate for Mother of the Year was down one child.

Oh, there was quite an investigation.  The family was questioned repeatedly about the events surrounding the break in and Christopher’s murder.  The day after the murder, the local television affiliate interviewed a tearful Helena who blamed the tragedy on a violent video game she had read about online and suggested that it was this that was the impetus for the killers’ vicious actions and the eventual death of her son. Days, weeks went by with the entire community both mourning alongside the Colby family and expressing outrage at the killers’ murderous rampage.  Ultimately, the killers were caught, and the community and the family could rest a little easier.  But there was nothing that would bring Christopher back.

Even in her grief, though, Helena found a way to turn this heartbreak into a triumph.  After all, she was still in the running for Greater Cincinnati’s Mother of the Year, and with a senseless tragedy to add to her repertoire of virtuous deeds, influential friendships earned, and exposure among the city’s most celebrated citizens, there was no reason to abandon her quest for social acceptance and virtual aristocracy.

The tragedy was too much for her husband, though—he put a gun to his head a month after his son’s murder.  Well, that’s how it was reported anyway.

After a socially acceptable period of quiet mourning, Helena began making the circuit of local and national talk shows, sharing her grief over the murder of her son and the loss of her husband, and used her platform to promote her new raison d’être as the new voice for all mothers out there who have lost a child.  Not surprisingly, after her well-crafted and heavily articulated year-long campaign, in January 2013, Helena Richards Colby was named Greater Cincinnati’s Mother of the Year.  She had endeared herself to nearly everyone.

But not to me.  I couldn’t get out of my mind the picture of her son crying out for help without thinking, why wasn’t she there?  Why did she leave him home alone, helpless and frightened?  Even when her daughter had expressed concern over her brother’s pleas for help, this mother was more concerned with her own social position and that of her daughter’s than she was about the safety of her son.

I am outraged that anyone lacking the fundamental judgement of a parent would deign to promote herself as the arbiter of parenthood.  After she all but fed her son to the killers who ended his life, how can she even consider herself worthy of any praise or accolades, let alone the title of Mother of the Year?  I am outraged that more people, not only in the Cincinnati area but throughout the country, are not as sickened by this situation as I am.  Some are even going so far as to defend her actions and feel that those of us who dare question her motives are engaging in a 17th century witch hunt.   But I don’t care about that.  I’m more concerned about the starry-eyed boot-licking sycophants who are looking at Helena Richards Colby as the gold standard of motherhood.

Any cold-hearted excuse for a human being who can demonstrate this much arrogance, negligence, and lack of judgment and still manage to become the Democratic nominee for President of the United States Greater Cincinnati’s Mother of the Year will stoop to the lowest level imaginable in order to further her self-serving agenda.

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.

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?