Saturday, December 20, 2008

Free expression

I've been engaged in a discussion about journals and revealing your truest and deepest self. It relates to free expression and the exercise thereof.

As anyone who has read my journal posts for any length of time can tell, I don't do PC. It's phony. You use a lot of words to skirt an issue and end up with the result that people believe they can pick up a turd by the clean end. It's not possible. To paraphrase Shakespeare, a turd by any other name would still smell -- even tens of thousands and millions of years later. Think I'm kidding? Archaeologists get all excited when they find a cave where prehistoric man lived and shat and they will tell you that if you add a bit of water the smell comes back.

Some people believe their turds don't stink. They do. I've been in the bathroom with some of those people (in public restrooms) or just after them (in more private venues) and I can attest to the fact. That's not to say it's bad or good, just a fact. Turds are the smelly ash left over after the body has extracted all the nourishment from food. It's human compost and anyone who has been near a compost heap will tell you just how much it smells on hot sunny days, especially when you're turning it so that all the compost can rot evenly. Eventually, the compost rots enough and bacteria and insects work on the pile to reduce it to earthy fertilizer that can be spread on gardens to help plants grow, so even compost and turds have uses, even if it's just a dung fire to stay warm on cold nights, keep away predators and cook food. Everything has a use, even free expression in this politically correct morass of a world when people don't say what they mean or mean what they say. Instead, they hide their truest selves behind an endless stream of watered down words or keep them bottled up. Don't you know what happens to anything volatile when it's bottled up for too long? It explodes.

asked me if I'd be afraid to let people see what's in my paper journals. Once upon a time the answer would have been yes. Now it's no. I've already faced that demon when my mother got hold of years of paper journals and read every word. She thought they were all about her and ended up finding the real me, a me she never knew -- and still doesn't. She didn't know I was so unhappy or that my interests range from quantum physics to philosophy and everything in between. She didn't know my dreams or my fears or what I had kept inside me for fear someone would find me out and decide I was a lunatic, and she understood some of what she read and urged me to have the journals published. That brought me to blogging where I decided that I wouldn't censor myself or hide it away for only certain people (or no one) to see. That is not an indictment of people who need or choose to keep their journals locked to only friends.

The problem as I see it is that we treat the people around us as foes ready to pounce on us and destroy our lives, and there are people out there like that, but they are for the most part faux foes. They are more interested in their own pain and creating drama. Those who wish to create drama will find a way with or without your help, but by putting your truest self out here you can defuse their nefarious schemes by just being who and what you are, warts and all.

For instance, Mom and I had a talk not too long ago about why she resented Dad's brother, Don, so much. I posted some of that here previously. She doesn't understand why a man who drank and raised hell and chased women (successfully) was still alive with all of his physical ailments and a good man like Dad was gone. She resented Uncle Don the way most of the family resents her. Mom has had several different types of cancer and many of her organs surgically removed, partially and completely. She has had so many surgeries that her body is a jigsaw puzzle of silvery scars and puckered skin. Her skin is like paper and she is usually covered in bruises and has to be sustained with monthly blood transfusions and B12 shots, in short, a vampire (in more ways than one). She has been a selfish, self centered, egotistical woman who believes the world revolves around her and she has made sure the world revolved around her, and yet she is still here while a good man like Dad is dead.

Mom keeps whining about being alone, although my sisters and brother dance to her tune every single day, and how she wants to die and be with Dad. She's been close to death a few times and she's still here. Neither heaven nor hell want her, and I'm sure Dad isn't too anxious to see her again so soon after getting his reprieve, so she is still here. There are times when I hope her wish will be granted SOON and she'll die, but then I think about her wish. She wants her ashes to be put in Dad's urn so her ashes will spend eternity with his ashes. Even in death Dad can't get away from her. I think I'll honor Dad's wishes, get hold of his ashes and spread them to the winds. I can replace his ashes with plain old fireplace ash and Mom won't know the difference. Yes, it's her dying wish, but she won't die, and Dad's dying wish to be scattered to the winds was not honored. Even though Dad broke his promise to me and didn't take Mom with him when he died, I understand why and I empathize.

Maybe this revelation doesn't come as a surprise to people who know me and my history with Mom and maybe it does, but it's the way I feel. It's my truest self and I'm not ashamed to put it out here. Mom is manipulative and egocentric and she really doesn't care for anyone but herself. She made so many lives miserable, even her mother's. Gram was a wonderful woman who loved Mom unconditionally and Mom often treated Gram like a mangy cur. When the prostate cancer metastasized into Dad's bones and he was in so much pain, Mom screamed and railed at him because he didn't know the meaning of pain. She had lived with pain all her life and she didn't act like a pantywaist about it. She demeaned and punished him for more than fifty years and Dad stuck by her. Dad's dead and she's still here. Is it any wonder I wish she weren't?

I love Mom, but I don't like most of what she's done -- to Dad, to Gram, to the people around her, to my children or to me. She has destroyed lives and did her best to try destroy the people who loved her the most. And she's still here.

That, gentle readers, is free expression. I am not afraid to reveal my shadow self. I'm not perfect and I never claimed to be. I have faults and flaws and can be incredibly insensitive on occasion, but one thing I am not is phony. What you read here is my truest self, warts and all, and I apologize for none of it because it needs no apology. There is more to me than these few posts and they fill many paper journals, and will fill many more, but I am no different here than in real life. This is what Mark Twain meant.

This is how you get to know a person -- by the freest and most honest expression of their deepest self. I think we'd all be better off if we got rid of anything politically correct and let the shadows out of their closets, along with the skeletons. There is nothing new in heaven or earth and never will be. What you have thought in moments of anguish or pain or fear are the same as the thoughts shared by any number of people in every civilization throughout time. The technology is different, but man and woman remain the same. Let it out and you will find many kindred spirits. Let it out and maybe we can finally put the demons to rest. Let it out and be who you really are -- warts and all.

That is all. Disperse.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Just the facts

Well, I got a surprise today when I read the group email from the publisher. They have revamped the website and there are now two pages all about me and mine. A third page lists upcoming titles for 2009 and Past Imperfect is on the list. Since I won't get the contracts for the other two novels until January, they aren't included in the list, but my book is on the list and now has it's own page. How cool is that?

There was more Cup of Comfort news and there will be more book signings, appearances, readings and interviews, but I'm going to see if I can't combine them with the upcoming novel. Nothing like getting more bang for your literary buck. I also have to begin promoting the new novel before it hits the bookshelves, or at least that's what I'm finding out works best with marketing. So much to do and so many miles before the end of the road.

That is all. Disperse.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Baby drama

I heard the phone in the middle of the night, waking me from sleep, but since I was so close to the dream edge I plunged back in and ignored the phone -- until this morning. The call was from a close friend who is pregnant and decided not to abort this one. She is upset (to put it mildly) because the father of her child has a girlfriend and seems to be settling down. She's in an uproar because she feels he has no right to get involved with someone while she's pregnant with his child. She considers his actions inappropriate because he has not bonded with his child (due in March/April) and doesn't know if he will eventually want to be with her. She refuses to allow him to see his child or be at the birth if he's going to be with someone other than her. I call it emotional blackmail. She calls it only right since she's pregnant with his child.

A little history: My friend decided not to use a condom with this guy, someone she's considered a sex buddy for about four years, and she got pregnant. At first, he introduced her to his family and the family included her in baby showers and family get-togethers, none of which she attended since she didn't feel it was appropriate because she and the father-to-be weren't in a relationship. She went on MySpace and contacted all the women the father-to-be was cozying up to and told them she was carrying his child. Most of the women backed off. One or two didn't, but they told my friend they'd give her some space. She has known from the beginning that the father-to-be did not want to be with her and she didn't want to be with him -- until she got pregnant. She has a history of getting involved with emotionally unavailable men -- and having sex with them. To her, it's just empty sex. And she wonders why they all leave her when she finally gets emotionally involved. Now she wonders why the father-to-be and all the men she's been involved with treat her like a bitch. Duh!

I talked to her and tried to get her to see that she is emotionally blackmailing the father-to-be and that she has no right to decide who he dates or marries or becomes involved with. She doesn't see things that way and she has told the father-to-be (he's 21 and she's 31) that she will never allow him to see his child or spend time with her if he's with someone else and that he has no right to get involved with someone else until he has bonded with his child. The only problem is that it's not bonding with his child that she wants but bonding with her and being a family, supporting her emotionally and financially and physically, that she really wants. He isn't even someone she wanted a relationship with until she got pregnant again (she's aborted 6 or 7 babies so far) and decided that it was time for her to have a child. She keeps blaming it on karma and on being dark-skinned. I blame it on her attitude about sex and how she relates to people and on not having a job or being able to hold down a job for more than a few months, and I blame it on not having a stable life for the past 10+ years.

She's gone to college and keeps flunking out or losing interest. She has camped in friends' homes as a live-in babysitter (when she could) and a squatter when she couldn't. She moves in with her mother when she falls out with her friends. She has used men to pay her way and to have a place to live. Every time she gets emotionally involved the guys flip the script on her and end up tossing her out on her behind and she doesn't understand why. Maybe it is karma, but I think it's more about not having any respect for herself and not being willing to make a stable and productive life for herself. I could be wrong.

She was very upset when I decided to end the phone call. She is a good worker when she works and she has had some bad breaks, but she has no respect for herself and she's still looking for someone else to fulfill her life. Since she won't listen to me (and I am her friend so she doesn't want to listen to me) I suggested she get some counseling from someone she doesn't know very well. It isn't that she doesn't respect me or think I'm not being honest that keeps her from hearing me, but that she expects me to be on her side instead of being neutral. I told her she was too upset to listen and that it wasn't good for her or the baby to continue discussing the situation. I've had to tell her some hard truths before and she gets upset, but eventually she calms down and she sees that I'm just being her friend. I hope she gets some counseling. She needs it. In the meantime, I'm going to get back to work and give her time to cool down. She can't see what she doesn't want to see. She didn't see it when she was involved with someone who had gotten someone else pregnant and refused to allow him to see his daughter when she was born as long as he was with my friend. He still saw my friend and invited her to spend time with her and his daughter, but didn't tell the baby's mother about it, and that was all right. My friend did not like the baby's mother emotionally blackmailing her boyfriend, who eventually caved and kicked her out of his life so he could spend time with his daughter, and here she is doing the same thing. It's different now. She sees the other woman's point of view and thinks she was right to do what she did. I see it as a rationalization. It's always different when it's your life and someone getting in the way of what you want, but I don't see things that way.

She has no right to try to control the baby's father's life or who he sees, now or ever, unless the person intends to hurt her child, and I'm sure the father wouldn't allow that -- one would hope. Still, no one has the right to control another person's life, as if you could. I'm sure other people feel differently.

That is all. Disperse.