Thursday, August 3, 2017

Review of Broken Monsters- A Laura Beukes Novel

<a href="" style="float: left; padding-right: 20px"><img border="0" alt="Broken Monsters" src="" /></a><a href="">Broken Monsters</a> by <a href="">Lauren Beukes</a><br/>
My rating: <a href="">5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
I recommend this book if you like crime fiction. But you can also just like slipstream fiction. Even if you hate one of these genres but like the other read the book! <br />I almost don't want to reveal the secret. Not about the plot, but the fact that this book will broaden your mind and not just deliver suspense and violence (though it does.) But this is the kind of book that will keep you riveted as you also learn what it's like to be other people and/or what's it's like to live in real city with a huge wealth divide, what it's like be a cop for all the right reasons, or to be an artist for all the wrong ones. <br />Beukes is a sorceress that can appeal to "serious literary" aka male readers. She does it by getting labeled as "crime fiction." There's a relatable tortured dude. Then there is the dude's "shadow self," the psycho serial killer. There is realistic trauma and violence. There's also crazy AF literal blood & guts all the boys like. Yet it is never cheesy. You never feel like you're watching yet another Tarantino film. It's not just real because you feel like you are in the room with the violence, even though you very much feel that. It's real because of the complex characters. You are in the room of the characters' minds. You almost feel like you are spying in a person's head. <br />When I began reading it I thought this book would be similar to her novel Shinning Girls. Like The Shinning Girls there is a serial killer and a mysterious element. But, I was wrong. This book is so different and worth reading. (Relatable tortured guy character may even almost learn something about himself, or maybe you will!)
<a href="">View all my reviews</a>

Sunday, July 30, 2017

What does it mean to have "Grit?" Challenge Vs. Abuse Definition Needed

What does it mean to have "Grit?" We really need to know!

Drawing a line in the sand with abuse while having "grit"  is what is really going to change the world.

So, I  Dr. Lee Duckworth's work and I know I am also not an expert in it. I'm not attacking the research nor am I attacking "grit" or "perseverance." But, I see this a huge problem in our country, culture war, the world. What I do want is for people to know the difference between harming themselves and "quitting." Yes, I want all kids to finish school. Yes, it would be great if every person stuck out "hard times" to reach their larger goal. I DO THINK THE KEY TO HAPPINESS is seeing "life as a marathon and not a sprint."
However, I can't tell you how many times I've seen people in an abusive situation that stay people "I'm just not a quitter. I don't want to fail." I am not only talking about relationships but about abusive job situations and degree programs. Dr. Lee talks about how it didn't matter "how safe they felt in school" [If a student had grit. They still finished.} While this sounds like a very inspiring inner-city school movie, it doesn't ask: What if I'm so full of grit that I go to school and get killed?
For people with more privilege it doesn't ask: What if I finish this degree program and then I can't get a job because the degree is worthless?
What if I refuse to leave a marriage/relationship/friendship when I am being abused or even if I'm in danger?
What if I have so much grit I refuse to leave a job where I am: underpaid, bullied, sexually harassed, over worked, screamed at, must keep quiet about abuse?
I think it's a good question to ask currently as we see the current administrative claim they are "the best" and "strong" because they refuse to give up on a bill that the vast majority of citizens do not want. They certainly "refuse to quit" as they threaten and bully senators, insurance companies, and the American people over their rights to have medicine and health care that is a matter of life and death. I don't think quitting this enterprise could be seen as "lack of grit." 
It also leads to me to the reality that for many of us somethings can't happen no matter how much grit with have. 
On the disability perspective: She says physical health didn't impact this "grit factor" but how many people did she study who had disabilities who were working at jobs because of their "grit." If she did have them what was their "grit" doing to their bodies and happiness? 
Now I hear all the voices of people saying my generation and the generations ahead of me are quitters. Please know I am a huge fan of grit. It took me 3 years to walk. It took me five times to pass my road test. It took me 2 tried to pass math classes for three years of high school. It took me 9 years to get a degree post-graduate degree. It will have taken me five years for my novel to be done. (I"m so hoping to write faster) It took me over twenty years to become a published author. 
I don't regret my graduate degree but I regret going to a school that was bad for me. I regret that I only loved one place I worked that I ever really loved. I do sometimes think what my life could have been like if I had spent more time and effort writing in my 20s. (It IS a HUGE privilege that this is something I think about!)
I did have the option of leaving bad jobs. My only pain about leaving was knowing people would think I was a "quitter." I think my "grit" and my perseverance is one of my best qualities. However, I think one that is even better is my ability to know that I'm not willing to take abuse when there are other options. 
However, I know that I was only able to do this when I had options. I really want this "grit" work to continue. But I think the MOST important thing we can do if we can't "instill grit" in our kids is to give them the ability to stand up for themselves and keep safe and well and know the difference between this and "quitting."
 What I want is for "grit" to be defined as "It was too dangerous/abusive for me to graduate from that high school, so I found another way." I want grit to be: I didn't give up until I found a safe place." "I kept trying when things were challenging and knew exactly when to leave when things were abusive."
If someone knows more about this research and wants to contact me please do.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Grown Up Gen X Demons that won't go Away & How we can Do better: 

On Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington's suicide: 

Having angry feelings because a person you care about committed suicide is okay. Even having angry feelings towards them. Publicly saying that the person was "weak" or "crazy" is not. 
I will say as a person that has chronic pain and faced more than my share of fails it is hard when a person that I see with all the privileges I think I could ever want choses to end their life. I *do* get mad:
"If you can't do it on your worst day, how can I?" my ID/teen brain says. But, we don't really know what was happening. It's just proof that mental/spiritual health goes far beyond the surface and our culture has far to go before everyone sees that. 

john pavlovitz has said it all here

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

EVEN Characters with Disabilities? Get out! Asking Diverse Movement for Help!

Just one minute of your time to maybe get thoughts on the "diversity" publishing trend. You owe me nothing, but I would <3 some thoughts, dialogue, comfort. I see quotes like this from truly nice people everyday:

"Another trend I’m hoping pans out is a long-awaited rise in diverse fantasies. I’ve seen blurbs mentioning sexual diversity, cultural diversity, and ***even characters with physical disabilities!**""
Notice I didn't name this person or share a link because the last thing I want is to give this person crap. But, do you see the problem? Imagine saying: "Books are EVEN coming out about people of color/LGBT people/people who don't like Hamilton: An American Musical." The last one may be ok, because it's an actual freaky thing to not like Hamilton. But, people with disabilities aren't an "Even." The thing is there are many people with disabilities but they refuse to identify because of these attitudes The Mary Sue often does this too and I love them and write for them.

Extreme honesty: It is coming from my own narcissistic anxiety as I am finishing up my book. I am seeing the same thing I see in my past field: A lot of truly well intentioned people mostly white upper middle class ladies and some NOT white that don't get it and don't mean to be in my way but are. How do I start a productive dialogue about why this is worrisome without looking like I am part of the "outrage" PC culture that attacks its friends and eats itself? The other half of the dilemma is if people are really thinking "EVEN those disabled kids," I actually want to know that and fix THAT and NOT correct their language only to have them still think it with no dialogue.

Friday, May 19, 2017

10 Things to Keep in Mind When You Apologize For Being a Bully (or anything)
Here is my advice as a therapist and a person who was bullied. My bully apologized twice. With my experience I say PLEASE TAKE CARE OF HOW (and WHY) you apologize.
  1. Why are you doing it? Are you doing a Mark Wahlberg? Do you just want to be “absolved.” He wanted the pope to “pardon” him, because apparently that’s a thing. You can’t ever “erase” what you did. Part of truly making amends is understanding that.
I don’t just say that as a survivor of bullying but as someone who has made mistakes too. If you are doing it to be completely forgiven to stop feeling bad know that probably isn’t going to happen. Wait on reaching out to the person and do more exploring. CLEARLY YOU (AND MARK WAHLBERG) NEED TO FORGIVE YOURSELF FIRST!
2) NOTE POWER DIFFERENCES BETWEEN YOU! I’m SURE power differences were there, and they most likely still are. Was the person smaller than you? Not as smart? Smarter but less popular? Were you prettier? Hotter? Did you want to be? Did they have less money or more? Are they a minority? Are you? Are you both male? Both female? Are you male and she female? How were you different?
If you look at this you’d be surprised at how you most likely had privilege they didn’t. (Mark Wahlberg bullied an Asian girl.) These factors can make huge differences in what actually happened and how you apologize. In my case my bully was male and I am female. He was able bodied and I had a physical disability. As we got older the bullying took on a sexual assaultive tone. So, it was so much scarier than some kid just bullying another.
3) You can’t expect a specific reaction. Again explore yourself. Imagine different reactions from the person. Imagine if they didn’t forgive you. How would you feel? Would you be angry with them because you are expecting forgiveness. If you do feel that way know: IT IS OK BUT… you aren’t ready to actually reach out to them yet. Do it if, and when, you are ready for them NOT to forgive you.
4) Do NOT make it about you when talking to the person, unless they ask. I know people who receive these long-ass email apologies. They say things like: “I’m in recovery now.” “I’m working on myself.” “These are all the amazing kind things I’m doing now.”
As a therapist I have no criticism on you working on yourself. This is great! But, the person you bullied probably doesn’t want to hear it. They may hear: “This erases what I did to you right? RIGHT? Please, tell me it is all okay now. ”
You’ve worked hard to be a better person and that makes the world better too. But, it isn’t a true apology if you only want the person to see you and you don’t want to know about them. All the work you did on yourself is best kept to yourself unless they show interest.
5) As with #4, the same could be said for sharing why you did what you did. Even if it is the best excuse in the world. My bully was abused. (In fact, most bullies are abused.) For me, knowing some factors about my bully (abused, financial trouble) helped me understand some things. Note that the person that you bullied may not feel this way. They may not care to know. Of course, the world should be sympathetic to that. You should be sympathetic to yourself, but don’t expect the person you bullied to forgive you due to whatever reason you have.
6) When you apologize keep the setting in mind. Maybe no one does anything in “public” anymore. But now all of online is public. My bully approached me in public two times. He used to attack me physically so imagine how I felt with this person coming up to me. The settings were both horrible- (a funeral and a bar.)
Ask yourself when approaching this person (even in email): How would I feel if someone I was scared of approached me in this way. Would I feel safe? Would I be scared? Would I feel like I had to respond, “Yes I forgive you.” just so they would leave?
7) I have to repeat this one. DO NOT do this in any kind of public setting. This includes online, in tagged Facebook stuff or whatever where the person is pressured to respond. Again, in my story my bully approached me with his group of friends, both times. This is exactly how he would bully me. It took me years (and years) to realize why I felt so horrible.
Why I was afraid and angry. I don’t think he meant harm, but he surely meant to do it with an entourage. I imagine this is how he did everything with a lot of crowd support. He also could get that crowd to turn on me, even though he wasn’t doing that anymore it still felt the same.
8) If you want to truly apologize keep the focus on the other person as much as you can. Make the initial apology short and sweet. “I have thought about how I treated you and I know I made things hard at that time. I think about that and you and I’m so sorry.” No excuses or big speeches. If you want more from them, keep in mind they don’t owe you anything. You can say, “If you want to talk more I would like that.” If they show interest you can talk about what was going on with you, or what is going on with you. If they seem to want to talk you can ask them what is going on in their life and be interested.
9) In the event that it goes really bad … You should respect their feelings. They can say something to the affect of “You ruined my life and it’s not okay.” Just restate how sorry you are. Hear them out if that’s what they want. Don’t argue with them. However this doesn’t mean you have to take verbal abuse. Don’t verbally abuse back. Again just restate the apology and then say that you need to end the conversation. You can say: “I hope one day you forgive me.” But, never say “You should forgive me.” or “You have to.”
10) Know all you can really do is work on yourself, but you can work to stop bullying! Be aware of bullying and teach your kids better. Don’t tolerate it when you see people doing it to others. Yes, bullying can happen to adults among friends and in the workplace.

Friday, March 24, 2017

To all the frustrated nice guys and the people who think we should get them:

*Note: This one was just called to my attention. It is 3 years old, but I'm sure another is right around the corner and this guy is on his way to a divorce. I want to thank most millennials I've seen for not taking this crap. Fight on. Just a generation ago girls were apologizing for liking "mean guys," and giving "nice guys" a chance. NO MORE.  

So you actually are saying  you  don't want girls who are "ready" for nice guys anymore. That's so sad. You say you could have been a dream man to the girls you took out on dates if only they realized it. Now it's too late. I'm sure they are feeling bad now.

I confess, nice guy. I'm going to disappoint you on so many levels. I haven't actually read your whole letter to girls ready to date nice guys. I just know it's not a joke and...I got bored because it's actually not that original.  

But, don't worry. I'm going to solve your problem. Bare with me for a moment as I talk about something other than you. 

When a woman says: "I'm so ready to date a nice guy." 

What she really means is: "You have been really pushy and you seem to want to take me out on a date. I'm going to give it a shot because EVERYONE is telling me to date a guy who seems nice. You keep saying you're nice and you want to take me to a nice place so..."

But who cares what the girl is really thinking, right? You seemed to have it all figured out. But, let me just tell you I would bet anything that when a woman goes out with you she says this to herself:

"He SEEMED ok, but something is off. He won't shut-up about himself. So, I really don't want to be here right now, but I want to be nice. While he talks I'll just text my friend so he'll get that there is going to be no second date or sex. He keeps swearing he's nice so I will tell him he is nice and women do want to date nice guys as I slowly back out of the room. "

Here's what is off is: You aren't nice. Nice people don't talk about how nice they are. Nice people don't need to have their ego stroked for being nice.

It doesn't matter how much money you spend or how many "hours" you put in. A women is going to be able to tell if you are just taking her out and listening to her go on about her stupid problems because you want sex.

Maybe you'll say: "No! I DON'T want JUST sex. If you read my well thought out essay you'd know. I want a girlfriend. I want a pretty girlfriend that I can take out like a doll. Then she'll have sex with me with me whenever I want. And I'll tell her she's pretty and she'll tell me how AWESOME and AMAZING and NICE I am..."

Okay, I apologize. I was wrong you aren't a guy who isn't nice. You are the fucking devil. YOU ARE A WOMAN'S WORST NIGHTMARE. YOU ARE THE HETRO-DATING-ANTI-CHRIST that makes women want "mean guys" because what you aren't saying is this:

"I'm so nice I'll keep her forever, or for years until I decide she isn't the one...Or she WILL BE THE ONE. But, I'll get bored or she won't look so hot anymore or she'll stop constantly telling me how awesome I am. Then I'll get sick of her. So, either we'll divorce or if we don't I always have my porn and my strippers 'cause I'm so nice. She'll be so grateful because there are so many assholes out there."

And I as a woman say: "No thank you. I've figured out who you are. I've been dealing with dudes like you all my life. Every woman has whether they want to deal with heterosexual men or not. I wasn't sure at first, but I can see 20 minutes into
the date this is you. Please, give me a 'mean guy.' That at least won't ruin my life because that will end in a month and be fun. Check please."

Now you'll say: "It's not fair. I try so hard. The mean guys get what they want. The hot guys get what they want. Why, oh, why can't I?" 

As David Wong has explained, every hard working suburban white boy has been told if he plays the game he deserves to have his achievements unlocked. He also sees the unfairness of the "mean" "alpha" guy getting it all so of course he's mad. You can't blame him. As much as I get it Wong, I CAN blame this guy and I will blame him and I'll blame anyone who fosters this attitude. 

As Wong says, we all need to grow up from Kindergarten and learn that life isn't fair. Acting entitled because you grew up that way is not an excuse, and yet he gives men an excuse to act entitled to women. Why ARE WOMEN, no PEOPLE different?? They are they last thing one should feel entitled to:
This is not how you adult. 
This is not how humans treat other humans.
This is how you want a woman to be a prostitute.

But, how can I preach all this when I know deep in my heart us women love mean bad boys? Here's how:

We Don't like the Mean Guys because We hate ourselves or because we are Stupid:

I don't know if this has ever occurred to "nice guys," but us women also have a right to be attracted to beautiful people that may reject us. Once (or maybe more than once) I liked a guy that was so pretty. We both liked the same deep comics. He dated bimbos while I was so deep and surely hot enough, right?

I could have had something with him on the down-low. I didn't. I often regret it. Part of why I didn't do it was because I didn't want to feel like a "stupid girl" that liked "mean guys." Why couldn't I date a nice guy? Answer: Because I just had, all through high school. 

My high school boyfriend was sometimes actually nice. But there were other times he expected sex, time, and attention when I didn't want to give it. He also didn't listen to me very much and thought my interest in certain things were stupid. Everyone said I was mean for breaking up with him. I guess I'd have to give up everything I wanted to be considered "nice" to him.

Meanwhile, as a woman/girl it never even occurred to me to become furious with the pretty guy who didn't want a real relationship with me. I would never think to write him and every guy like him a fuck-you letter. Maybe it's because that would seem a little, I don't know, clingy yet hostile coming from a woman or...

I grew up. I realized people weren't achievements to be unlocked and sometimes people wouldn't like me back. MEN CAN REALIZE THIS TOO. ACTUAL NICE ONES DO.

I also realized maybe I wasn't that deep or awesome because would I really have been so in love with him if he didn't look so pretty? Maybe, but probably not as much. Does that make me a shallow bitch?

I would bet you thousands of dollars that these girls you are writing this fuck-you letter to are under 25 and under a size 12. Maybe they are even a little bit more attractive than you, self-proclaimed dream guy. But if they don't like him for his insides like he likes them for their outsides they are shallow bitches, right?

Do you want to know why I sometimes regret not having sex with "mean" pretty guy? Why I DID have sex with "mean guys" who often had no money by the way??

They didn't act like I OWED them sex. With pretty guy when we didn't have sex he didn't push it or get the slightest bit mad. He didn't tell me how nice he was. In fact he kept saying: "I'm not a good guy." After all the nice guy bullshit for years of my life it was SO sexy.... AND he kept talking to me about comic books and philosophy... In other words he saw me as an actual person, despite also seeing if we could have sex. He wasn't saying: "I'm nice" and expecting a parade. He also would never expect a doting girlfriend to give him certain responses. No pressure. 

And believe me "nice guy" you are full of pressure and you are more dangerous than any "mean guy." "Nice Guys" like you steal our whole youth and souls.

Not that guys like you care but...
When a woman choses to have sex with someone who doesn't feel OWED sex she feels free. 

She actually gets to explore her OWN sexual desire for once and not what other people want from her as a sex object. 

Self proclaimed "dream-man" might say: "I'd love this problem. Please, if some girl would just use me as a sex object."

I'm sure you would. Because you have never been treated like one.  It's how you are treating every woman who didn't like you on a date with this fuck-you letter.

You, my friend, have had full permission to have all your feels and feelings as a heterosexual guy. You wanted women. You wanted HOT YOUNG WOMEN and everyone told you it was okay. Everyone said you were entitled to that.

Imagine not having that. Imagine people telling you all your choices had to consider how the other person was actually feeling and that YOU WERE OWED NOTHING, but you are stupid or shallow if you don't respond in a certain way. 

Guess what? YOU ARE OWED NOTHING. YOU ARE SHALLOW AND NOT THAT BRIGHT. You can respond to us women however you want. You have rights. It doesn't seem like any of your privileges are going away either. But, while you have a right to your response for not getting what you want WOMEN ALSO HAVE RIGHTS. I would say that all human beings have a right to call you out on this bullshit.

So, Congrats on deciding you don't want these awful girls who want "nice guys." You aren't one and you never were. I don't care if your friends, your mom, your town, or every movie before 2009 tells you that you are. You are not nice.

Quick info on actual How to be an actual Nice Guy

I may be baised but my husband is a nice guy. He did take me out to fancy meals. He also would bring over all his movies when I was tired. He didn't get mad when I fell asleep on a date. I told him I wasn't sure if I wanted to have a relationship or sex. He still wanted to be friends.

When I told him this it wasn't a test or a mind-fuck. I wasn't really sure what kind of relationship I wanted to have with him or anyone. I was 30 and I was so tired of people pressuring me to date people in some manic panicked state. I told him we didn't have to go to expensive places. We would take my dog to the park.

 He remained a friend. I knew he was interested in me. I was also interested in him. It was because he was a person that actually listened and talked to me that I knew he was an actual nice person that could be "the man of my dreams."

Or my reality: Today he does a lot of house work. He is more than a 50% parent to our daughter. I gained weight from having our daughter. I've also  have  done what all "hot girls" eventually do as wives. I turned 41.

When these things happened it never occurred to me that he would leave or think he was a wonderful person that deserved a parade for being with me because he's not nice. A person who is nice wants 1,000 Thank You cards. Best friends don't. 

Oh, he also never said he was "nice." He never made me feel bad for not being sure and taking my time. When I told him my past of liking "mean guys" and girls he never made me feel stupid or unwanted. He never made me feel like I should be grateful for him. This is why I am. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Artist I was given:  Ani DiFranco

My friend gave me a challenge about writing about one of my oldest best "friends," Ani Difranco. Like many late 90s baby feminists I was alone in the teething days of the internet. Ani was my sister-in-arms because like me she "wanted to be commander and chief of her one woman army." We were alone together. Here's my Facebook Challenge answer/ history lesson/ love letter: 
"Do you prefer the easy way? No. Well, Ok. Then don't cry." - Ani Difranco 1996

Favorite Song: Gravel or Joyful Things or IQ 

Favorite Album: Not a Pretty Girl

Do I like them?

 Very much so. She shows how complex my relationship to music/art/artist is. If you want that story read ahead. And/Or: Like my status for an Artist
I admit I've only been keeping up with Ani minimally for the past decade. That is because I didn't need her as much as a full adult, and just wanted music to be in the background of my life rather than my identity.
 In my college days I pretty much lived for her. I went to shows by myself if no one would go. She was pretty much the only artist saying the things I was trying to say but in better ways.
She also made me feel like less of a freak. I was a feminist who loved girls, but also would be very in love with boys and hung up on them. In the 90s (at least where I was) if you were a "feminist" people thought you hated men and wanted to live in a shaved headed cult with no "values." I wanted "normal" things in a very "abnormal" way. By that, I mean I wanted friends, a relationship and a family (one day maybe) but I wanted them on my own terms where people weren't forcing me to sacrifice myself for them. 

I knew some "militant feminists" at the time of Ani's blowing up. In her album "Dilate" she departed from writing about feminism and politics as a whole. She instead wrote about a guy who was ambivalent about his future with her. Many of her fans were furious. How could she do this? How could she fall in love and just care about that? She was in love with a guy no less! They "needed" her to be a super hero and not fall pray to such girlie weakness! She was selling out! Meanwhile, how many of these girls were feeling broken hearted over a guy? When you were a feminist back then, not only did you have the same feelings as any other girl, but you had the added bonus of hating yourself for it. I know that was me. 

Looking back, and forward, it has taught me so much about the double bind women are in. My favorite lyrics are from the very album after Dilate, Plastic Little Castles, where people thought she really sold out, because she continued to write about said guy. It's from the song Gravel:
"Maybe you can keep me from ever being happy, but you're not going to stop me from having fun."
I was in sort of a similar situation at the time, but for me the lyrics were about far more than any guy. For me they weren't about the guy at all. For me it spoke to all the challenges I faced and will always face (disability, past trauma, more disability ADHD...) Those things will always be there, and I was so tired of saying (for the sake of others) that they didn't affect me, that it was all okay. Those things were/are always going to be there. They were/are always going to be difficult. But, that didn't mean I wasn't going to live as much as I could and have a good time! 
     Ani showed me I could want those things and make my own choices. It also helps that her music is brilliant and can stand on its own. If she just decided to sing about nothing more than a vague broken heart her lyrics as well as music could stand on its own. 

So, "Every tool is a weapon if you hold it right."