Self Worth.

I recently got a new laptop. One of the first things I was sure to do was transfer over all of the writing from my old laptop to my new laptop. While I don’t do much actual writing anymore, I do still go through a lot of my older stories. I do this to keep my fingers frosty for future edits if I ever decide to make time for the novel I had been working on. But, I also do this because it’s almost like a learning experience. I get to re-learn what I thought, what I felt, and how I wrote so many years ago. And with each passing story that I go through and make changes to, I see the same things over and over again when I write out the part of the lead character: poor self-esteem, poor body image, negative feelings regarding the self. And each one of those characters is based off of who I am or a specific aspect of my personality I wish to bring into focus. However, the basics remain the same: looks are based on what I would like to look like or what I actually do look like. And no matter how the story is written or what it is about, I always end up with the same very bad, negative self-esteem and body issues.

While noticing this prevailing oddity in everything I write, in the background, a horde of people on Tumblr have begun posting selfies in the tags I follow. It started off, I think, as a way to pass a day. And now, it seems to have taken on deeper and more meaningful connotations. We are all – yes, I am included here – posting pictures because we are uncertain of ourselves and we want to share our bad body images and poor self-esteem with others. Not because we want to hear those compliments, though that is a nice bonus, but because we want others to see that we all have our problems. For example, I will not post a picture of anything below my breasts. From the boobs on up, everyone can see what I look like. But, nothing else will get posted because, as far as I am concerned, I am fat (and the BMI does not lie). As I re-read the stories I wrote all those years ago and as I post those pictures in those tags, I’m starting to see how much self-worth I think I have, which is precisely none.

As an exercise the other day, I stared at a selfie I took the other day. It was blurry and not the best lighting, but it wasn’t horrific. However, as my eyes traveled up from the outfit I was wearing to my face, I couldn’t see my face. I couldn’t see this rounded face that people always discuss about being pretty and nice-looking. I don’t really know what all of these people see, honestly, because I don’t see that at all. I see every blemish I have currently and every single one I had as a teenager. I see every imperfection highlighted with the purple bags beneath my eyes, the thinner lower lip, the slight upturn to my nose, the rounded jowls from my pregnancy, the limp hair, the buck teeth, the rotting teeth, and any other aspect of my face that makes me want to cry with how ugly I am. Every day, I look at myself in the mirror with this intense desire to give myself a pep talk: “You’re pretty. You can do anything you set your sights on. You’re awesome. You’re beautiful.” And every day, I just shake my head, refuse to meet my own eyes, and skulk away from the hideousness that greets my face.

My self-worth shouldn’t be contained in what the mirror shows me every day, but it appears that as logical as that is it is not the case here. And that this has been an ongoing issue for many years. How do you fix yourself when you don’t even know what caused you to become broken in the first place?

The Early Life of a Writer.

I’ve mentioned that I always wanted to be a writer. I literally cannot remember a time when being an author wasn’t my super secret, most wanted career path. I answered the “what do you want to be when you grow up” with various responses, but being a writer was always something I craved. And I was sure to keep it secret because it was my desire and I didn’t want others encroaching on that territory. I don’t think it was the fame so much as the ability to create entire worlds just by imagination alone and then being able to bring others into that world be virtue of utilizing words. This is, by far, the most accurate reason for my excessive articulation. I know so many words, and utilize them, because of my writing capability and my reading comprehension. I mean, before writers were telling wannabe writers to read like crazy, I was already well on that train, hanging out and taking names.

But, I’ll let you in on a little secret, the real reason why I started writing was to escape.

I didn’t actively start writing down my worlds until nine, but I had been creating stories in my head for a good deal longer than that. I say, definitively, that I began when I was seven, but I know it was earlier than that. I would read a book and my eyes would grow too tired to continue, so I would shut off my light to fall asleep and let my imagination carry me away on the backs of unicorns, flying through the trees, or rescuing hapless damsels in distress and on the flip of that, being rescued as a hapless damsel in distress. I was writing and writing and writing all of these things in my head, as a kind of precursor until I started doing the real deal. The reason, though, that I began to write was a form of escapism. Y’see, as a small child, watching your dad die, it really evokes a lot of unknown emotions inside of you that you can’t handle. So, I escaped into worlds of my own creation.

My mom tried the escapism bit by getting me into dancing. I know that’s the reason I started ballet classes. It was a way to get me out of the house for an hour each week. I got exercise and I got to make friends (though not really because I was never the friendly type, more the wallflower type). But, while I enjoyed the weekly out-of-the-house adventures at my dance class, I was already well into doing that by writing stories in my head.

The places I created and the worlds I lived in, they were real to me. I could distinguish easily between reality and fantasy, of course, but they were very real. They were a place as real to me as the dance studio to get away from the constant negative energy fluctuating throughout our apartment. It wasn’t my parents’ fault for being angry and mad at each other and then, you know, continuing that with sadness and horror as we watched my father slowly die in front of us. So, I created a place where things like AIDS didn’t exist. I created entire homes and friends and strangers and creatures and places that didn’t have things like that to encroach and destroy so visibly. Sure. There was drama and there were problems to be overcome and there were arguments in those worlds and between those people, but they were always easily fixed. I just had to do a quick edit, a little addition and a little deletion, and ta-da! The problems were overcome and everyone would live happily ever after.

And yes, by the way, the “happily ever after” part stopped after the death of my father. I tended to leave the endings of my stories then rather ambiguous. And they got instantly darker.

But, besides creating entire worlds where I could escape from the world and my reality, I also created friends. I created people who would rescue me and take care of me. If I was walking through a wood, there would always be a little cottage on the other side with someone willing to listen to me cry or listen to me laugh. The characters I created were people who I loved and cherished in my own, childish way. There was evil afoot and we would have to defend the honor of a maiden or evil would be afoot and we had to slay that evil. It didn’t matter what it was. There were always characters around to hold my hand and tell me it would be okay. I never believed them because, you know, in a story-world of a child who is trying to contend with the very real problem of watching her father die, I knew nothing would ever be perfect. But, for a short while, perfection could be achieved.

And with the best friends in the whole world: the ones who understood me because they were my creations.

To this day, I remember all of the characters I have created. They’ve changed and morphed. They’ve made appearances in various short stories under real-people names. I created archetypal characters who could be easily morphed into a real person, if necessary, and usually, it was. I took the things I had learned as a child – the creation of worlds, situations, and people – and utilized it often in high school to better understand things or to help me get over some things. I would use them to help me emote the things I was feeling from the death of my father and onward without really knowing what it was I was feeling at the time. (Suffice it to say that a lot of my shorts in high school were, uh, pretty dark. And the fantasy world I still visited regularly, just as dark or more so.)

Someone said today that you can’t be a real writer if you remember all of your characters.

I remember all of mine. They were my friends, as I said. They were people who helped me through some of the darkest, most heinous moments of my life. They were people who hurt me and abused me, but ultimately, were shown the light so to speak. They’ve morphed and changed from evil to good and back again. They have held my hands. They have watched me shed tears. They have been the cause of my tears, sometimes. I remember all of them because they were more real to me than anyone I knew in reality some days. They were more real to me than the reality of watching a father die and watching a family fall apart at the seams because of it. They were more real to me than the reality of being a wallflower, misunderstood and bullied.

So, to anyone who thinks that you should write about people that you can ultimately throwaway, I say fuck you. To anyone who ever thought that you shouldn’t be able to remember plot lines and twists, you shouldn’t be able to remember when you started or why, for all the people who think that you shouldn’t be able to remember your first story, I say fuck you. I’m as real of a writer as anyone else and maybe even more so because I loved, hated, and bled along with my characters.

Did you?

Words, Appropriation, Foolishness.

Recently, I started hanging out on Tumblr. I had tried it once or twice, decided it wasn’t my cup of tea, and deleted my original blogs. I don’t remember what preempted me into going back there, but I did. Initially, I was aiming for a Tumblr-companion to my religious blog. Then, when I realized Kemetic info is sorely lacking over there, I decided that I would go with the info-giving and Tumblr-companion to my religious blog. I started following a bunch of people and then, suddenly, realized why I had given the place up initially. It’s a hot-bed for bullshit.

Now, let me level here, a lot of the people I follow are young. I mean, Internet presence for people over the age of 25 is pretty rare. It’s mostly a teenage hangout. I legitimately try not to let that phase means, though. The kids want to learn; they want to read and experience. Some of my dearest followers over there are in the kid mentality that I’m talking about. They’re sweet and kind and can make me feel better on a bad day. They post pretty pictures, interesting content, and commiserate when a day goes bad. Some of them, as young as I tend to think of them, can even see what I’m talking about or are in similar situations. That’s a boon, there. Still others are curious and not afraid to ask me for help about X, Y, and Z. That’s another boon, right there. But what gets me are the little, little kids who just don’t get it.

There are lots of “ready-made” activists over there. However, all they care to do is “educate” others and leave it at that. And almost in its entirety, they’re little activism moments regards “proper word usage.”

Now, anyone who has known me long enough knows how I feel about “proper word usage.” I’ll sum it up for anyone who isn’t sure. Anyone who is gonna go preach to me about how I use a word and its proper context can just go eat a big, fat bowl of dicks. And I’ll be gracious and classy enough to not mention that bowl full o’ dicks being disease-ridden… maybe. But I sure as hell ain’t a fan of kiddies trying to be politically correct about shit, whether they think they can be or not. If I don’t allow it from my peers, I sure as hell am not going to allow it when kids have ten years to go before they’ll be in my age range. No, sir. But let’s talk specifics instead of generalizations. I sure do hate them broad generalizations.

Now, before I get going, I’m going to mention a thing or two. In an effort to grab attention, I began following a bunch of people with a pagan slant to their stuff. One person in particular alerted me to the “misuse of words” almost from the first day I was on Tumblr. I started following her because I was intrigued by the native American-Irish-Romani chit. I’ve come to regret that intrigue. As cute as she is, she’s got the youngest perspective out of many of the children over there. She’s like a puppy that’s been kicked too much, able to go rabid at a second’s notice. I keep her ’cause she’s cute, but I’m mighty tired of her preacher persona. So, from MizzEe, as I’ll call her, I have learned that I can’t use the words “totem” or gypsy” and that I shouldn’t use aspects of other cultures in my spiritual practice because I’m stealin’.

Hoo, boy; chitlin’s young.

Now, prior to following MizzEe, I didn’t know much about the word “gypsy.” I never used it and aside from that garish television show on TLC about weddings, I had never come into [knowing] contact with any Roma/Romani people before. So, I was a little shocked and startled when I was informed (a lot of times) that it was a racial slur. I decided to look this one up myself, just in case. My first step was looking up the etymology of the word itself. Taken from Etymonline, “c.1600, alteration of gypcian, a worn-down M.E. dialectal form of egypcien “Egyptian,” from the supposed origin of these people. As an adjective, from 1620s.” All said and done, the word hasn’t been around long enough to carry too much of a negative impact, but the etymology doesn’t tell me if its derogatory or not. I had to keep looking. Now, according to this Google search, it appears that is the case.

Color me schooled, but you know, I just can’t help but think that an American kid wouldn’t be able to interview every Roma/Romani person in the world. So, I did a little bit more digging. And I honestly couldn’t find anything but opinionated essays stating that the word has a negative association. Now, I know some history. And I know that the Nazis added the Romani to their genocide during WWII. I also know that gypsy tends to be viewed in a negative light, very similar to how Jews are often portrayed: stingy, is what comes to mind. The word “gypped” stems from the word “gypsy,” which we can assume is where a lot of its negative associations come from, just like how you “get jewed” when someone rips you off or holds out on you. Interesting how monetary practicality instantly gets a negative association with the ethnic group it’s referring to, but neither here nor there. Where the fuck did this racial slur start up?

Now, while digging around, I couldn’t find anything concrete about organizations referring to themselves as gypsies, aside from this piece from the Smithsonian. I’m going to have to assume they have some form of concrete information here, but they say, “Several groups, all known to outsiders as ‘Gypsies,’ live today in the United States. In their native languages, each of the groups refers to itself by a specific name, but all translate their self-designations as ‘Gypsy’ when speaking English.” And that’s kind of the general feel I get about this. I’ve heard here and there (and I’m not lookin’ because I don’t want to) that there are organizations in various countries that utilize the term “gypsy” in a positive light. And the Smithsonian as all but said that quite a few of these groups refer to themselves in that way, as well. I think that the negative association here is more from an outsiders’ perspective and the general tonality of outsiders employing this term…

…but that doesn’t mean that the people themselves object to it. It could be like black men and women using the n-word to refer to one another. They’re taking it back kind of like Justin Timberlake and sexy. Oh wait. He was bringing it back not taking it back. But whatever. The correlation works here. While on a personal basis I can see that someone may become upset by this term, but as a generalization, we have to tread carefully. Until MizzEe or her compatriots have interviewed every person who self-identifies with the various ethnic and cultural backgrounds that would be deemed as “gypsy” and their personal thoughts and feelings regarding the term “gypsy” we cannot just assume that it is only a racial slur and that is should never be used, ever. (And I saw MizzEe schooled in this by someone who self-identified with one of these groups of people who referred to themselves as a “gypsy” and telling her, in effect, to fuck herself because it was none of her business. But this ready-made soap box instructional was “correct” and the person who was claiming gypsy decent was wrong.)

Now, let’s talk the word “totem.”

I started off with the Merriam-Webster definition of this word, which is, “1a : an object (as an animal or plant) serving as the emblem of a family or clan and often as a reminder of its ancestry; also : a usually carved or painted representation of such an object; b : a family or clan identified by a common totemic object; 2: one that serves as an emblem or revered symbol.” Then I went and did a search on the etymology of the word, “animal or natural object considered as the emblem of a family or clan, 1760, from Algonquian (probably Ojibwa) odoodeman “his sibling kin, his group or family,” hence, “his family mark;” also attested in French c.1600 in form aoutem among the Micmacs or other Indians of Nova Scotia. Totem pole is 1808, in reference to west coast Canadian Indians.” INTERESTING STUFF HERE.

So, the word itself is a direct take from a native language. All right, but the belief behind the work is not native American in origin. While Wiki is a shitty source a lot of the time, just looking at the page for “totem” gives you a bunch of different areas of the world that have similar belief systems. As taken from Wiki, “Similar totem-like beliefs have been historically present in societies throughout much of the world, including Africa, Arabia, Asia, Australia, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, and the Arctic polar region.” So the word, itself, has become part and parcel to the English language when conveying a particular spiritual concept. There’s your appropriation: some anthropologists went around naming things in a frame of reference that other anthropologists could understand. But, the use of it in regular culture now is… well, in a pagan context, it’s pretty damn extensive. One would think that the use of a word of a tribe would be exciting because every time it’s used, in a way, we are paying homage to the Ojibwe tribe.

But, apparently, no, this is wrong.

I’ll be honest, I don’t use the word. I prefer to refer to whatever the hell animals may be in my life as a sort of “animal spirit,” which is in similar context although not the same as the word totem. But getting all bent out of shape because we’re using a word that was originally made manifest by a specific tribe, to me, seems like an awful waste of energy. The soap box educator is burning out all of her circuits before she hits 25! Why not get angry over something else?

But, okay, I’m white. So, what do I know?

What I do know is that wasting your time in trying to school the Internet on something is about as useful as holding your breath for ten minutes. You’ll pass out long before anything is achieved.

As for the use of other cultures’ religious beliefs in my practice, I’ve done talked about that where it belongs. But, I’ll reiterate something I said on my religious blog about it: You tell the lwa I work with that I’m appropriating their fucking culture and tell me how that works out for you. And in case I’m not clear on where I stand with this whole appropriation thing, it’s a bunch of fooey. It’s a bunch of childish rhetoric trying to maintain a personal identity in a world where we’re rapidly becoming more and more conscious of ourselves on a land or nation level than on a personal level. So often I see these children going on about how we shouldn’t look to ourselves on an individual basis via countries, but that we all share the same thing: we’re all human. But when it comes to making this a reality, they get all bent out of shape about losing their culture.

Well, which one is it? Do we all get together, hold hand, sing a few happy songs, and revel in the fact that we are all human or do we retain our cultural and ethnic identities to the point where no one is allowed to learn anything about anyone else?

I’ll mention this. I don’t think that deep mysteries should be taught to anyone who asks. I know that there are numerous mysteries in native practices that we should never, ever be able to convey or should be able to learn. Case in point is voodoo: how the big stuff is done is specific to each individual society (in a native American context, in each individual tribe, I guess) so how I may learn it in a society is not how someone else will learn it in another society. And that’s their prerogative. Just as that’s those tribes’ prerogative to keep that to themselves and I commend them for it. You shouldn’t give such high knowledge to anybody who wants to learn. But, when it comes to more general and face-value like terms and dream catchers, well on that score, I think we should stop gettin’ up on those soap boxes and just let what has come and gone be.

And as I said before… damn those kids are so very young.

But, I’ll be honest here. The thing that bothers me the most about all of this soap boxin’ is more to do with the fact that all they ever do is bitch about it on the Internet. All they ever do is sit around and bitch about how shit is just wrong and people should be educated. So, my thoughts on that is that maybe you should go off and educate. Start a class. Make a petition. Rosa Parks sat at the front of the bus; MLK, Jr, well, he had a dream; and W.E.B. Du Bois wrote prolific works, started the Niagara Movement, and founded NAACP. None of those people sat around (with the notable exception of Rosa, that being the point and all) and hoped changes would be made while they sat around watching shit just turn bad. They got up. They took a stand. And they made shit happen.

If it’s that important to you, then maybe, you should make shit happen instead of preaching to a bunch of twits on the Internet.

Yet Another Reason to Support Abortion.

Alternate Title: Or, Why You Should Register to Vote With Your Uterus This Election!

So, today, I saw a HuffPost article that I knew was going to anger me. More often than not, I stay away from the news as elections get closer because I’m tired of the conservative GOP ruining everything our foremothers fought so hard for. Also, I’m tired of the constant rhetoric, preaching quality of news articles but, mostly, I know I’m just going to get pissed the fuck off and want to strangle some conservative whore-son with my bare hands. And I wasn’t wrong about the reaction to the article.

For those too lazy to click that link, I’ll summarize the article.

A fourteen-year-old in Florida became pregnant. She told no one about the pregnancy, hiding the pregnancy throughout the entire nine months. After the baby was born in the bathroom of her family home, she killed the baby by strangling it and promptly hid the body in a shoe box. The mother of the fourteen-year-old reported the dead body to the police when she discovered an odd smell coming from her daughter’s room. The police have not decided whether they will charge her as an adult or a child. They are also speculating that they may charge (as accessories, I suppose) any adults who may have been aware of the child’s pregnancy.

I can’t possibly begin to convey how fucked up this whole situation is, but I’m going to try.

In the article that I have linked, Sheriff Grady Judd is quoted as saying, “Let’s remember she is a child… Where was her support system?” In that, I am wholly and completely in agreement, however I think we may figure that the actual support system we are both thinking of are entirely different. He may be thinking about her friends and her family members – her immediate support system. It is a sad testament to the inability for parents of teenagers to be open and honest about sex that this girl did not feel comfortable in telling her mother that she was pregnant and in fact lied about being pregnant on two separate occasions (in which she produced, an obviously false, negative pregnancy test in both occasions). However, when I’m thinking support system, I’m not just lamenting the fact that the girl felt she had no one to turn to (as the article implicitly implies that she told no one about this tragedy) but the politicians who are being voted into place to enact laws that would save her life and prevent such futures tragedies from occurring again.

While Florida may be considered a swing state, as shown by recent research that I conducted, they tend to be overwhelmingly “southern” in their laws and thought processes. While other southern states are restricting access to birth control, emergency contraception, and birth control, they are also overwhelmingly in favor of abstinence-only (or abstinence mostly – I point to Tennessee’s new law about this) sexual education techniques. Just based on what I’ve been gathering this morning about Florida, I can pretty much assure you that it is the state’s fault (and it’s lack of clear fore-planning while enacting these types of laws) that is at fault for this calamity.

Starting in the presidency of Reagan, we began to see a recurring trend in government funding for abstinence only sexual education. “Beginning in 1981 under the Reagan administration, the federal government increasingly put its support and money behind abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. Today, there are three separate funding streams supporting these programs…” (Sex Ed in the “Sunshine State”, page 2, report collated by Sexuality and Information Council of the United States.) “Along with these funding streams, the federal government developed an eight-point definition of ‘abstinence education’.” (Same report, same page.) The full eight point definition of the government’s abstinence education are as follows:

  1. has as its exclusive purpose teaching the social, psychological, and health gains to be realized by abstaining from sexual activity;
  2. teaches abstinence from sexual activity outside marriage as the expected standard for all school-age children;
  3. teaches that abstinence from sexual activity is the only certain way to avoid out-of wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and other associated health problems;
  4. teaches that a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in the context of marriage is the expected standard of sexual activity;
  5. teaches that sexual activity outside of the context of marriage is likely to harmful psychological and physical effects;
  6. teaches that bearing children out-of-wedlock is likely to have harmful consequences for the child, the child’s parents, and society;
  7. teaches young people how to reject sexual advances and how alcohol and drug use increase vulnerability to sexual advances; and
  8. teaches the importance of attaining self-sufficiency before engaging in sexual activity.

On the face of it, these values don’t seem so awful. We would like our children to be aware of what sort of negative effects they could expect if they got pregnant as a teenager. And we would also like them to be aware of that abstinence is pretty damn effective at keeping our kids from having kids. However, these programs just don’t work. Just as a parent, I can tell you why it’s not going to work. Whenever I tell my son not to do something, he’s more likely to do it. As a child, I had this same contrary gene (and still do) whenever I was told not to try something or not to do something. So, by making sex into some by mystery to teenagers who are rampant with emotions and hormones that they don’t understand, we’re just asking for trouble. And I’m not making this shit up, either.

A direct quote from the report I’ve been taking information from, “Several studies have evaluated the effectiveness of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. In April 2007, a congressionally commissioned evaluation of Title V-funded abstinence-only-until-marriage programs showed that they were ineffective in changing the sexual behavior of teens. The report… found no evidence that abstinence-only-until-marriage programs increased rates of sexual abstinence. Students in the abstinence-only programs had a similar number of sexual partners and a similar age of first sex as their peers not in the programs. Out of 700 programs, the four programs studied weren’t selected randomly—they were hand-picked because they were thought to be the most promising and, yet, they still failed.”

However, even though we are rapidly moving away from the abstinence-only-until-marriage viewpoint for sexual education in this country, there are still states that are mandating it. (Again, I point vociferously toward Tennessee’s new mandate about these types of programs.) Florida, our darling and delightful Sunshine State, is no different in this point-of-view. Another direct quote from this beautiful report about Florida’s sexual education, “the state of Florida continues to participate in the Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage program. Even more troubling is that the state’s contribution to keeping these failed programs in operation has exceeded what the federal government itself requires as a condition for participating in the program. In fact, the state has squandered over $15 million of taxpayer money since Fiscal Year 2003.”

While this information is now nearly ten years out of date, as of 2007, the University of Florida reported that sexual education in most Florida classrooms were either so varied or merited little to no class time, meaning that children in desperate need of valuable information (or any information) are missing out entirely. According to this article as of 2009, Florida was sixth in the nation for teenage pregnancies. And that article goes on to say that money earmarked for comprehensive contraceptive and abstinence education sources was refused over a “squabble” with the federal government about whether or not the money should be used toward abstinence only sexual education programs or not. The article goes on to say that there is no uniformity in regards to how sexual education happens, from county to county. “The state policy requires schools to ‘teach abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage as the expected standard for all school-age students.’ However, each district interprets that statute differently. For example, Manatee County has incorporated more comprehensive sex education curriculum, while Baker County has decided to adopt a very rigid abstinence-only sex education policy.”

So, just based on this information alone, we can assume that the poor fourteen-year-old’s story that began this entry had little access to proper sexual education and contraceptive resources. Just for funsies, I went back to the super fucking awesome article I was quoting about Florida being a douche about their sex education to see what the county the girl happens to reside in has to say or do about sex education. “Polk County School District includes two videos produced by The Medical Institute on its approved video list for health education. The two videos are Thought You Ought to Know and Sex Is Not a Game. The Medical Institute (formerly the Medical Institute for Sexual Health) describes itself as a ‘medical, educational, and research organization’ founded ‘to confront the global epidemics of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).’ It is a national organization that provides assistance to abstinence-only-until-marriage educators and providers.” I did a general Google search for the first video mentioned in my quote and this came up. I think my favorite part about that is this, “What I love about the video is that the message is a 180-degree turn from the ‘safe sex’ teachings that threaten to turn this country into Condom Nation.” Of course, the book I’m quoting from is called God’s Design for the Highly Healthy Teen.

I think we can assume that the girl got shit for sex ed.

So, based on that alone, we can almost clearly see that this tragedy was going to happen. If it wasn’t for that girl, then it could have been for someone else. However, even with shitty sexual education to blame, we must also look and see if the girl had any other recourse of action after discovering that she was pregnant. As much as conservative politicians don’t like the idea, we still have the ability to get the morning-after pill and obtain abortions. However, nowadays, we can clearly see a trend in restricting access to the people who need it most – teenagers and women in dire straights. Be that as it may, we should at least consider that the girl had other options available to her just in case she really is a crazed murderer.

In looking up the morning after pill in Florida, I stumbled on this gem of a resource. This talks about the Medical Conscience Clauses that have recently been put into play in various states in the United States. These clauses pretty much allow a pharmacist or doctor to refuse some form of medical advice, medication dispensation, or medical procedure based solely upon the doctor’s or the pharmacist’s moral or religious stance in regards to things. So, going back to my first link about the gem of an article I accidentally found, a direct quote about the conscience clause relating to the state of Florida, “Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maine and Tennessee have broad refusal clauses that do not specifically mention pharmacists.” (Emphasis mine.) So, just based on this article, which was last updated in May of this year, even if the girl could find money enough to purchase some Plan B from her neighborhood pharmacy, or even go to one further from home if the circumstances lined up, there was absolutely no sure-fire way to ensure that she would get the pill in the first place since, apparently, in Florida, you can refuse to do anything you want because you have morals!

Well, we do still have the Big A as an option, right?

As of June of last year, Florida made law some shit about parental consent. As quoted from the article, “In addition to revising the definition of constructive notice required if actual notice of a parent is not possible, the bill also affects the ability of a minor to obtain a court waiver from the parental notification law.” Based on this information, we see that Florida is a parental consent law state. I’ve mentioned and read before that most teens aren’t aware that they can get a waiver. With the new bill put into law, though, I can’t quite figure out if the three-day ruling period would negatively impact the court ruling or not… (On the one hand, I would think that mandating that they give a response in three days could mean more “fuck you; tell your parent” moments but on the other hand, it also makes the court move more swiftly in case an abortion can be obtained by a waiver… and I have read instances where the courts have sat on a response until after an abortion could no longer be legally obtained, by the way.)

Be that as it may, the point in this is that at fourteen years of age, this girl could not have legally obtained an abortion easy or swiftly. And I’m sorry, but when you make a major decision like that, as soon as possible is really the safest and best option for all parties involved.

So, with my long huge rambling rant and sources, I have to tell you that the tragedy here isn’t merely that a little girl got pregnant when she decided to experiment with sex (or even just have sex for the hell of it). The real tragedy isn’t just simply that she ended up murdering her infant for fear and because she didn’t know what to do. The real motherfucking tragedy here is the fact that she had no outlets easily accessible to her.

And instead of punishing the state for failing her by enacting laws and putting procedures into play that restrict her access to sexual education, the morning after pill, and abortion, they’re going to penalize her and any other family member or friend (adult, really) who may or may not have known about the pregnancy. The point here, ladies and gentleman, isn’t the fact that they want to punish someone for a needless death, but that they don’t want to punish themselves for failing this poor child. It’s better to lay the blame at somebody else’s door, am I right?

The Itch is Back.

I haven’t felt this itch in a while. It came in fits and spurts the last few months, so to feel it in this overwhelming way… It’s just so intense. I wish I could just shrug it off. I wish I could just ignore it. I have the mundane to answer for. I have a life to lead. I have things to do…

But, I keep coming over to my computer and stroking the keyboard softly. I keep staring longingly at my laptop and thinking, I need to write now. I sign in to this and I keep saying to myself, Now. It’s time to write this right now. But I don’t know what to write. I find myself sitting in front of the glowing screen in confusion because I don’t know what it is that I’m supposed to be getting out now. I have an idea that’s niggling, but I’m saving it for later on when I sign up for NaNoWriMo. I don’t want to use that little gem up before it’s time… so what the hell?

Is it just because Stephen King’s stories are my life right now?

Or is it just really time to sit down, cut the crap, and get this shit over with?

The life and ramblings of a part-time writer.

You Must Not Come Lightly to the Blank Page.

The above is a quote from Stephen King, in On Writing.

I go through phases where I want to become a published writer. The phases in between this desire tend to coalesce in the feeling that the story ideas in my head just aren’t that good enough. I put those ideas away like the clothes at the back of the chest of drawers that I swear I’ll fit back into one day. I probably won’t actually fit into those clothes and similarly, I probably won’t actually get to the publishing stage. It’s not because my stories aren’t good. And it’s not because what I have in my head can’t come out, although sometimes that muse block is a bit of an issue, but because I just don’t see how I can ever get to that point. I don’t dream small and hope for something published, once. If that were the case, I would have been satisfied with the few poems published in books when I was a teenager. (I have three or four published poems in compilation books. No, I won’t tell you the books’ names.) I think of days where I can be like Anne Rice or Stephen King, the two most prolific authors in my life, and I dream of those days, dripping in ink and blood and words and wish terribly that I could get that good.

I’m re-reading The Mist by Stephen King. I go through phases where I love his stuff and I go through phases where I’m sick of his stuff. I’m in an off phase with Anne Rice, too. I still dream of the day where I can be like them, where my words are everywhere and I’m on lists and I can say on my tax returns that I am a “writer.” But those days haven’t shown up and those days are either too far in the future or not made for this life or maybe, just a goal that I’ll never achieve at all.

I started writing about vampires because I love them. I’ve always loved them. I remember taking out The Last Vampire series by Christopher Pike in my local library just about once a month. I would read and re-read them over and over again. I loved his version of vampires. I loved everything about those types of creatures he wrote about and was sorely disappointed with the series’ ending. (I won’t spoil.) But that love affair took me to ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King, The Season of Passage by Christopher Pike, and The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice from start to finish. I watched and read and did research and read some more. All of my childhood was absorbed in horror stories – I think I read Pet Sematary for the first time when I was nine or so – but I always went back to vampires. I knew them. I had good ideas on how to create them. None of this sunshine bullshit. None of this fang bullshit. None of this horse manure that was so popular in the stories that soaked my childhood. I would head back to the innovative ideas that Christopher Pike began forming in my head with his vampire series and revamp them (hurr, hurr) to something that I felt was more functional.

I went back to the old stories about vampires, you know. When I talk about the research, I went back to the old myths, the old beliefs. I went back as far as I could and hand-selected the pieces that I thought were the most interesting. For example, did you know that to keep a vampire occupied, back in the day, they would throw seeds or nails on the ground? It would keep the vampire occupied because they all suffered from OCD – they had to count all of the seeds, nails, or what have you on the floor at their feet without fail. I loved this little piece of vampire history. I wanted to add it to my novels, but I never figured out how.

So, here I am. I’m re-reading The Mist, like I said. And I can feel the terror rising in my belly as I read all about the horrible things in that artificial, white mist. And I’m wondering why I can’t get shit out like Stephen King, Anne Rice, Christopher Pike, MaryJanice Davidson, Patricia Briggs, and Charlaine Harris. You’ll see that I have horror authors in that list, but I also have the paranormal romance authors that are so prolific today. I want to write about vampires. I want to write about horror, but I want to keep it in the framework that those ladies have set up for me: a little romance, a little sex, a little something to keep the readers coming… and not just because there are blood and guts everywhere.

But then I head back to my dreams as a child. No one could write as wonderfully, to me, as Stephen King. It didn’t matter what it was that he was writing about, but it scared me nonetheless. My favorite frightening stories are in the anthology, Night Shift. I would re-read Jerusalem’s Lot (not to my confused with his stab at vampires) and fall asleep with the lights on. I would re-read The Boogeyman and make sure my closet door was shut, my hands and feet were not near the edge of the bed, and again, that my light was on into the wee hours. There was no way I could stay awake if my eyes were heavy enough, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t have a security blanket of sorts to protect me from the horrific imagery Stephen King can easily invoke.

I had a rabbit named Professor and a doll named Emily who did their duties well.

I want to write about fears. I always have. I just have to figure out what those fears are and how to write them… without sounding too much like an idolizing fruitcake.

A Fabulous Animal Resembling a Horse with One Horn.

The above title is a quote from The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle.

Last night, after a particularly long and heavy time spent reading the Song of Ice and Fire series (A Game of Thrones books), I took myself a little nap. I haven’t been sleeping well lately. I’m lucky if I get anywhere between four to six hours of sleep. Whenever I contemplate putting the book I’m reading down, I ignore that desire and end up reading for another hour, two hours, three… So, I decided that my heavy-lidded eyes needed to close and I needed some peace and quiet. I slept for about an hour on the couch (TS informed me I was a “brat” because I had knocked him off the couch at one point, apparently – whoops). When I woke up, my fingers were itching because a muse had chosen me. I didn’t quite understand what the muse wanted, but I had the distinct desire to write about unicorns

Now, anyone who knows me should quite remember my unsung passion for the horned beasts. I say that it is unsung because I never really discussed it that I can recall. I do remember pretending that a herd of unicorns would follow me everywhere when I was very young. One of my favorite movies as a child (and still is) The Last Unicorn. I collected statuary of a unicorn nature as a teen. Whenever I saw one that took my fancy, and I had the money, I purchased it. Some were gifts from ex-boyfriends or family members and others were ones that I had purchased myself. I sat them proudly on the shelves in our home in Easthampton, I remember. They battled for supremacy with the Dachshund statues MEH’s mother bought for me over time. (The unicorns always won that one.) I had an image that a grandmother had stitched for me as a child that I loved more than anything: a unicorn with a castle in the moonlit background. Unfortunately, this image is gone (MEH destroyed it when he went back for his things before I could beg BFMA to hide it with her things) and the statues have broken throughout the myriad of moves. I have a thick, glass horse my mother bought me at a party (and my first horse related statue), an egg-shaped shell with a small unicorn within that dances to music, another partially broken statue, and maybe one or two little ones left. I can’t wait to begin to collect them again.

Anyway.

I’ve had the feeling of unicorns periodically, throughout my life. When the fever to write about them came upon me last night, I thought back to all the times in my life when they played a prominent part in my life. I think it was when I was the most lonely and the most upset that I turned to the beauty of a unicorn. I’m not sure. I don’t recall that imaginary herd of unicorns following me around before my father died. I don’t think I began to seriously collect the statues until after I was raped the first time. I think… in a way… by turning towards them, I was searching for an innocence that I had lost. Isn’t that what unicorns are supposed to represent? Innocence. Purity. What is it that Molly Grue says in The Last Unicorn? “And where were you twenty years ago? Ten years ago? Where were you when I was new? When I was one of those innocent young maidens you always come to? How dare you! How dare you come to me now, when I am this!” I think that in turning to them, I was always hoping to regain a lost part of my innocence.

But, last night, when the fevered fire of the muse overtook my aching fingers, I pulled out my little notebook that I carry with me (for when the muse hits me unawares) and began to write. I didn’t write about a fabulous beast, all in white. I didn’t write about it in the standard sense. There was no golden horn. There was no shimmery purity. There was only the blackness that is best seen in obsidian and jet. Those two stones, actually, are the very stones that I likened the beast I had been creating to, actually. I didn’t know why I had to write this little bit and why my head is filled with a fantasy after a time when the Age of Iron, the Age of Bronze has passed and the Age of Spirit has filled the land, the Age of Trees, the Age Beyond Technology. (This is, actually, why I wanted to start looking into Algonquin legends and history, me thinks, besides the desire to learn if it has a part in my spiritual practice.) Methinks, I’ve been reading too much in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, but it doesn’t matter where the story came from.

It’s here.

I do wonder, though, why it is a unicorn now when it was not a unicorn before. I mean, I’ve always been writing something or another. Anyone who knows me from high school can say so. The Shaggy Ex-boyfriend, BFTX, my mother… I was always writing something or another. Those stories, or some of them at least, still follow me around today and have been saved, in part, on this very laptop. Not a single time has anything like a unicorn entered those tales. Some of them are my way of working through past hurts and past pains, such as my rape. Others are my trying to make sense of TSO’s betrayal. Some others still are the remembered moments that came after high school. And still others are all about pain. In not a single thing has there ever been anything as magnificent and perfect as a unicorn.

And honestly, if it was so important, why didn’t I take up that particular beast when I was searching for a novel to write? Instead, I chose vampires, which is something that anyone who is anyone knows how much I love and admire. I’ve been reading about them, watching their movies, and studying them for years. I have little to no knowledge about unicorns except for what I’ve read in bits and pieces, seen in images, held in my hands as I bought a new statue or was gifted one, and what lives in my gut. So, why now? What is it about this moment in time that has said, Put down the vampires and turn to the bestiary that you loved as a kid.

I don’t know. All I do know? It’s kind of neat.