Keep Calm and Use Your Words… Correctly.

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"Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation , words will always retain their power.  Words offer means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth."

“Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth.” ~Alan Moore

High school graduates who refuse to use proper grammar make me *guano psychotic. It’s even worse when college graduates refuse to use it.  I must admit that I struggle with correct comma usage from time to time. I don’t always hyphenate two words when I should.  I’m guilty of writing sentences that are too long. But on the day I speak or write, “I don’t know what I done…” Or “Me and her are friends, ” or even, “That’s a picture of my daughter and I,” someone please throw a grammar book at me and then kick the hell out of me repeatedly when I collapse to the floor. Keep kicking until I can correctly diagram the sentences, “If not us, who? If not now, when?”

I understand that many people refuse to learn to correctly punctuate a sentence (or to even use punctuation at all) simply because of ignorance. Perhaps they don’t understand basic punctuation or they simply lack the desire to put thought into not appearing stupid. They are not only ignorant, but lazy as well.  But how do educated people — people who bought an education and who I suspect were required to read a few books and perhaps write a few papers — justify sounding like they’ve never seen a book, much less opened one and noticed there were words written on the pages? Is it laziness? That’s a large part of it. Did they get the degree merely to make more money with no regard to refining their use of language (or, for that matter, their critical thinking abilities, ability to reason, or ability to research information and assimilate it into knowledge), or are they afraid their less-educated peers will find them “uppity” if they know when to use “who” versus “whom,” and deliberately “dumb themselves down” to meet some unspoken societal pressure?

Just as good hairdressers cringe at the sight of an eight-layer haircut or culinary experts sneer when they hear of someone cooking with mushrooms from a jar, we wordsmiths die a little inside when we see “alot” written on a page or if a co-worker exclaims in a FaceBook comment, “I seen that movie to!” We do correct you in our minds and we most certainly judge you. For us there is no excuse to speak or write with such lack of reverence for words. Words are powerful and they can instantly make or break a person’s credibility.  I’m reminded of V for Vendetta author Alan Moore who wrote, “Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth.”

I am not impressed with how much money a person makes or how many degrees he has; if he insists on communicating as if he has never read a book, then he’s lost all credibility with me. It tells me he doesn’t care about how he communicates.  I have little regard for someone who has no appreciation for speaking or writing correctly, or for words and for how they sound.  I look at words like a mathematician looks at equations  and expressions, how a logician looks at cause and effect, how a physicist looks at matter and energy, or how a cosmologist looks at planets, stars and galaxies:  I love how they look on a page, sound when they’re spoken, and how they work together to form thoughts, ideas, and stories. I’m drawn to people who have a command of the English language, regardless of their stations in life.  As an illustration, consider the word “regardless.” I had a physics teacher in high school who said “irregardless” in class one day. For the entire hour of class, I obsessed over the fact that “irregardless” is not a word, and, as a result, didn’t absorb anything else she said. It’s akin to the over-correctness of saying “This house belongs to my mother and I” or the insistence on using “whom” in every instance, even when it’s incorrect. Over-correct grammar usage is a habit that is equally egregious. If you aren’t sure, look it up and save yourself some embarrassment. That’s a short-term solution. A long- term solution is simply to start reading. If you’re feeling really bold, start writing.

Edith Sitwell said it best:  “I am patient with stupidity but not with those who are proud of it.”

*Guano psychotic:  Batshit crazy

A Touch of Class with a Side of Mullet

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My approach to food has always been more of a gourmand than a gourmet, but I nearly pushed the envelope too far Saturday night when I forced my daughter and boyfriend to eat at a questionable hamburger dive on 4th Avenue in downtown Nashville.

Two other charming aspects of my personality were also working against us that evening, one of which is that although I do not wear a timepiece of any kind, I am a stickler for time. I’m convinced I can “feel” what time it is and Saturday night I could just “feel” we’d be late for the Indigo Girls concert at the Ryman if we chose to stand in line for 45 minutes at any of the finer eating establishments that actually encouraged the use of flatware and cloth napkins. Also working against us was the fact that when my body decides it’s hungry, wild horses can’t keep me from food.  I suddenly had a one track mind and began walking several feet ahead of Wayne and Kate in search for food.  I didn’t care where we ate, nor did I care what we ate. I never altered my pace, but only looked behind me on occasion to see Kate’s red head as she struggled to keep up and Wayne’s 6’4” frame as he waved above the crowd on the sidewalk to indicate he could still see me.

Time was of the essence and our choices were limited. We could wait in line for a table at a real restaurant and miss part of the show or forgo eating.  I doubt Kate would have been allowed in any of the bars although I felt compelled to risk it. I was getting grumpy.  There was no way I was sitting through a three hour concert having had no dinner.  And then I saw it.  It was like an oasis in the desert:  Paradise Park Trailer Resort.  The restaurant portion of the establishment offered little in the way of ambience, which only added to its charm–unless you consider lawn chairs and paper plates ambience in the trailer park sense of the word. In fact, had I not been on a mission for food, I doubt I would have noticed the place at all. I placed our order with a very patient, sweet girl who gave me my receipt with the number “46” written and circled at the top.  Our order number would appear on an LED screen near the grill with a staff in full view that wore T-shirts with the phrase “Best Mullet in Town” emblazoned across the front.  Fifteen minutes later I was eating the most amazing bacon cheeseburger ever!  I’m not a beer drinker but, since I was already out of my element, I agreed to try a Sweet Water Blue Ale—it was fabulous!

The place had class—not high class, but class none the less.  I found myself singing every word of every Honky Tonk song that emanated from the bar and Wayne and I were both lulled by the siren sound of the steel guitar aficionado.  I have still not purged the lyrics to the Hank Williams, Jr. cover of “Family Tradition” from my brain pan.

Then the ultimate decision: To use or not to use the bathroom.  I decided to chance it when Kate offered to go with me.  So, with our purses clutched tightly to us, we made our way through the crowd.  On the way, I spotted a girl with her head down on one of the tables, apparently asleep; her bleach blond hair splayed on the table.  She was either an employee possibly working a double or a patron who had already had too much to drink.  Either way, I found myself thinking, “Bless her heart…”

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What the restaurant lacked in cozy ambience, it totally made up for in art décor outside the women’s bathroom.  Velvet Elvis paintings, velvet paintings of lions and tigers, and rudimentary landscape paintings hung in random places on the wall.  My favorite was the painting of Satan himself on the throne that hung in a place of honor beside the ladies’ restroom.  Kate and I entered and her expression mirrored mine: gape-mouthed and wide-eyed. We had, in fact, walked into Hell’s bathroom. Graffiti covered every square inch of the walls, ceiling, and bathroom stall doors.

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Kate and I being readers, we couldn’t help but peruse the walls looking for any sign of a clever anecdote or poem.  Kate, finding none and being a budding writer herself, decided to leave her mark on the bathroom wall of the Paradise Park Trailer Resort.  Although I was too busy wondering if a murder had been committed in there to leave my own words of wisdom, I still took the time to encourage her juvenile delinquency by taking a photo as she defaced the only remaining blank space on the wall.

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Feeling sullied and unusual, we finally left our little patch of redneck heaven.  I am not convinced I did not do my daughter a favor by safely exposing her to a side of redneck I hope she’ll never have to revisit. Wayne and I, however, are planning to come back and sample more of the 38 beers they have on tap and perhaps enjoy a fried Spam and cheese sandwich and a Moon Pie.

She used the date they became an 8th grade item; how adorable

She used the date they became an 8th grade item; how adorable

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I Don’t Always Question a Person’s Belief System, But When I do, I Blog About it.

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photo(7)My friends and family should understand by now that anything they say, post, or otherwise assert can be considered excellent fodder for my religious relativism in this age of facebook pontification and subsequent bludgeoning blog postings.

I saw this question in my newsfeed this morning as I drank my first cup of coffee:

“How many of you would shave time off the years of your life if it meant you could give those years to a loved one? I know I would.”

Little did I know the questioner didn’t want a discussion or even an answer, but merely validation and recognition for claiming to do what she felt would be selfless and noble.  I’ve logged onto faceBook now for six years and the increasing number of redundant, banal, and thoughtless posts have made me somewhat of a troll, I guess. I find myself vacillating between deactivating my account in disgust and challenging another’s entire belief system. I chose the latter today. I couldn’t help myself.  I felt an overwhelming urge to really see what someone is thinking, but come to find out, it was nothing, really. The individual just wanted to post a thoughtless, random comment.  But my reply sent up some sort of Christian bat-signal from among the person’s friends list. Down like vultures they came, ready to rebuke me in the name of Jesus for even daring to challenge their belief system.

My issue with the question is this:  What the person asked was abstract when in all likelihood none of us will ever be called upon to actually shorten our lives for another.  It instantly renders the question meaningless, as it is impossible. Now, had she asked specific questions, such as, “Would you give up a kidney? Would you give up all your money or possessions?” then one could honestly answer.

But her question requires us to measure our love for another—a bizarre request, I think. To answer in the affirmative, “Oh, I would,” then places the respondent in a position of false superiority (or dare I say, false piety, if he makes such a claim in any sort of religious context). One can say “Yes” because he or she isn’t really being tested, as the question is purely hypothetical and impossible, making it easy to take a “feel good” stance over…whom? Those who choose not to measure true love in such abstract terms? If one answers “No,” then does no love exist? Or is that love somehow lessened; measured, thus rendering the question as purely self-serving, as well as impossible?  Would I shorten my life, for example, to prolong the life of my aging, dying aunt whom I adore, leaving my own little girl motherless? No, I would not.  Would I shorten it to save my daughter, again leaving her motherless? I honestly don’t know. I’d like to believe I could end her suffering or prolong her life by ending mine. But what immense grief am I leaving behind?  If a gunman entered my home and told me to choose between fatally shooting her or me, what would I say?   That’s honestly hard to say.  For her to witness that sort of tragedy, to then be left alone with said murderer, is possibly not a better alternative.  I have no idea what I would be leaving behind.

The manner in which the question was phrased would have me answering “no.”  And what about leaving behind a grieving spouse, not to mention motherless children? Suddenly what she intended as an act of self-sacrifice has become self-serving, and less than noble.

Many who brought down the fire and brimstone on my line of questioning were Christians who follow the “Let go and Let God” and “God has a plan” reasoning.  The former is merely a way of letting us off the hook when it comes to being responsible or taking action with our lives and decisions and the latter is an insensitive, yet handy way to deal with most tragedies. If god were the one asking a believer to do so, then he or she then worships a god who would ask him to possibly leave behind children, a grieving spouse, and friends in order to do his whimsical bidding.  The request is nothing short of cruel. Has the believer considered the lives she changed because of her doing something so noble? But if one not acting on god’s authority (and as Christians, you must assume none of us are), then offered to give her life, is she not then interfering with his god’s plan?  She can’t possibly know what that plan is, nor can she be certain if her god even has a plan.  It’s a big no-no in the Christian community to interfere with god’s “plans,” by the way.  The post was a feel-good post to get immediate validation and thoughtless affirmative answers with the real objective being one of superficial, self-imposed moral superiority.  I don’t think in abstract terms and I jumped at an opportunity for discussion.

Facebook has done a lot to cheapen religion, which for many is sacred, precious, and valuable, reducing it to judgmental, condescending one-liners and bumper sticker philosophies.  Has facebook theology become the new wonder drug?  If one is feeling low, should he simply get in touch with his facebook Jesus, post a random bible verse or profession of faith, and watch as his popularity soars as his facebook friends witness his public display of religious devotion?  One could actually pray privately, go to church, or  practice the teachings of Christ in any number of anonymous ways, but that is so…1995! We are busy in the new millennium. Besides, no one will see it.

Instead of a meaningless promise of the impossible or creating a painful chain of events—instead of saying, “I’d die for you,” why not say “I’ll be the best mother, daughter, friend, spouse I can possibly be for you”?  Those are real promises we can actually keep.

I am a Runner

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When I began running my goal was to make it to the stop sign at the end of my street–.04 of a mile and I thought I was going to die. I was and still am 100 pounds lighter thamy first running shoesn when I had my daughter and had walked the weight off; walking miles and miles a day, as well as eating right. I had quit smoking prior to losing weight, as well. Youth was the only thing that had kept me, an obese smoker, from dying of a heart attack or suffering any number of preventable diseases.

At my heaviest and most miserable, I decided I would have no more excuses or reasons not to take control of my health and once I started, I never looked back.  I had been walking for years when I decided to run last year. With all my success at achieving a healthier lifestyle, I still never knew how difficult running would be. I swore I never would. I was convinced I would get injured or that I would hate it. For that entire year first year, I did hate running.  I suffered sore ankles (buying the correct shoes remedied this), stiff muscles, and fatigue. I was even attacked by a dog—I still have the scars!  Running hurt and exhausted me, but I stuck with it.  I remember being able to only run two miles…then three…then four.  After I consistently run a certain mileage for a while I tell myself, “One. More. Mile.” And I just do it. A month ago, something clicked and I increased my distance and learned to “disappear” into the run. I fully understand the “runner’s high” now. I sleep well, look better, and am mentally and physically stronger than I was before.  I’m up to seven miles without stopping—I have amazed myself! But next week seven miles will not be good enough for me.

I will run my first race in two days, a 10K run.  It is a small step, but one I never thought I would do, or even be able to do.  I am stronger. I am healthier. I am a runner.  People who don’t run don’t understand what it means to be a runner and exhaust your body and force it to do something it does not want to do.  It really is more than putting one foot in front of the other, more than weight loss—it is my own determination and will to succeed, to push myself beyond what I believe I am capable of doing.  It is as much mental as it is physical.  Physically, I want to stop two miles in. But my mind won’t allow it. I have to make myself keep going after my body decides to quit. I am scared of racing Saturday; of falling out, of not being able to run an unfamiliar course with a bunch of strangers.  A small voice in my head keeps telling me I can’t do it. I have to keep telling it to shut up. I won’t win Saturday or even place in my age division, but I will finish having run the best I can.  And if running can be any sort of metaphor for life, then that’s all that matters. I will not quit.

I’m a Pro-Choice Pro-Lifer and Let Me Tell You Why That’s Not A Contradiction

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EggRoe v. Wade was decided a year after I was born, so I grew up with parents who had the freedom to teach me the sanctity of life not for fear of legal consequences should I ever decide to have one, but because they firmly believed it was the right thing to do in compliance with their Catholic faith.  They grew up with enough humility and religious conviction to fear damnation, but also with enough compassion and intelligence to know that all life is sacred. To this day I still follow those beliefs and teach my daughter the same.  Her moral edification by her father and me is a direct result of the fact we are free to teach her what we truly believe, not because we are compelled to for fear of imprisonment or damnation. I teach her also that women have had to fight—and continue to fight—for fundamental freedoms we already possess by law. I teach her that all women must be allowed the right to not only teach (or not teach) their children the sanctity of life at all its stages, but also to make decisions regarding her own body based on what she is taught, not by what an out of touch politician (whose only concern is attaining power) forces her to do.  We teach her to value her life first with the hope that she will never be faced with making such a difficult decision. Just because it’s a difficult one it should not be assumed she’ll be too inept to make it. And heaven forbid a pregnancy occurs against her will, but if it does she will have a strong support network to help her make what is ultimately her decision, regardless of what she decides. To add to her mental anguish a possibility she may be forced to then give birth as a result of such a violent act because someone in 2012 just wanted to get elected is purely vile. I look at her now, at 12, and wonder what her world is going to be like at 20, 30, 60 years of age. I ache knowing the basic right to her body rests in the hands of charismatic, power hungry politicians salivating for votes.  We won’t have the right taken away; more likely we will merely give it up of our own volition by choosing to vote incorrectly. And if we forfeit the basic fundamental right to our own bodies, surely they will find something else to take away, otherwise they have no platform on which to run.  That’s what politics seems to be in this election anyway, right?  Platforms are established on the idea someone must lose a right to choose something personal, whether it’s to terminate a pregnancy or to marry the person he or she loves. The feigned collective anger and outrage exhibited by conservative legislators as a direct result of another individual’s personal choice is baffling, to say the least. This should infuriate every intelligent voting person—pandering politicians who take delight in preying on and attempting to manipulate our emotions in order to get elected.

Years ago I worked as a substitute teacher at the 11th Street Alternative School here in Bowling Green—it was the last stop for students before expulsion. I taught a girl who had been molested by her step father; I talked to her and knew her as much as she would allow, which was hardly at all.  She was not a trouble maker.  She was not loud or attention seeking.  She did her best to hide in a class room of disturbed, angry students. At 14, she had already dropped out of life; her stay at the school was due to excessive truancy at her home school. She was in a bad place no matter where she was.  What was already happening to her against her will was bad enough and yet many who will never know her or girls like her are adamant about adding more anguish to a girl already pushed over the edge.  Why are so many so eager to value life inside the womb, but degrade it and abuse it once the child is born?  I doubt many equated the sanctity of life and this child; funny how we forget to do so when the act becomes too bothersome or difficult.

Parents must teach their children and teachers must educate their students to value themselves and others, as well as to value life at all ages. Give them the tools, but allow them to decide.  We are further isolated as individuals if we give away our ability to make moral decisions based on our own intelligence and personal discussions and replace it with forms of legislated “morality” that result in not only dependency on government to ineffectively run our lives, but that also threaten our very freedom if we disobey those laws.  I find it ironic there are many who believe that is acceptable to criticize those receiving government assistance in any form—whether it’s student loans, a G.I. Bill, housing, food, unemployment benefits, social security, or health care—as being “dependent” on the government.  It is the hypocrite who criticizes said recipients, but depends on that same government to make basic personal decisions regarding one’s health or body. Many Conservatives believe that those collecting any form of benefits results in the recipients being unable to ever be self-sufficient, but wouldn’t a government shackled with the responsibility of making my personal and moral decisions lead me to in essence, “forget” how to even make personal decisions? Would I not then be rendered incapable? Conservatives who believe those receiving any sort of aid or benefits are too unmotivated to be anything but dependent on the state, are in turn, too inept to make a moral decision on their own. Dependency exists in both instances, just in different forms.  If you give up the right to choose, you automatically give up your right to teach your own children; to instill in them the tools they require to function in life and to make decisions that are best for them. Forfeiting my right to teach is just as dire as giving up my right to choose.

A weak argument exists if we apply the same logic of instilling the sanctity of life to hopefully prohibit one from terminating a pregnancy to that of murder probably needs to be addressed.  First of all, it’s not the same because there exists too many who believe a fetus does not share the same rights as an individual outside the womb.  To argue viability of a fetus or “when life occurs” is pointless and will only result in an argument reduced to insults ending in someone being compared to Hitler. And while we teach our children to respect one another, we really don’t have to come right out and tell them not to murder someone; it’s an innate understanding that we just don’t murder for the hell of it.  Rarely do we make a conscious decision not to commit murder, weighing the pros and cons and relying on something our parents taught us along the way.  (Although I may feel less strongly about this on any given day at my job; sometimes it is a conscious effort).  We are all in agreement that murder out of malice or the random killing of one or more individuals is and should be punishable by law.  Abortion and euthanasia are the gray areas; the areas where there exists only about 1000 factors that must be considered both morally and within the scope of the abilities of those burdened with the responsibility of making the decision. For some who believe in the absolute sanctity of life as I do, the decision is not a difficult one, but for others it may be. Like I said before, difficulty in making a decision should not hold us exempt from the responsibility of doing so, as the decisions of abortion or euthanasia are rarely made out of malice or without discussion and thought.  We live in a world of instant gratification and the insatiable desire to be happy every minute of the day (rather than be content, which is quite different than being happy.  Happiness is a mood and regardless of how fleeting it can be, we make vain attempts at being so constantly. Contentment is more a way of life, a choice).  Having to make the hard decisions may leave us feeling “unhappy” and rather than work through unhappiness, we want to avoid it.  Many want to avoid making their own decisions in order to avoid being unhappy for any period of time, but in doing so, we also lose the ability to choose contentment.

The death penalty, which is legal in 33 states with over half of Americans in support of it in cases of murder, is another one of those “gray areas.” This does beg the question:  If the right to terminate a pregnancy should remain with the individual, should the decision to administer the death penalty be left to victim’s families? 43 executions were performed in 2011, all by lethal injection; if the decision were left up to the victims’ families as to whether a murderer should die, would there have been more?  It might be easy to assume that yes, there would be if over half the population supports the death penalty.  But that percentage is also relying on a jury to decide.  Rarely if ever are the victims’ families consulted on the decision of life imprisonment or the death penalty.  It is possible that there would be even fewer sentenced with capital punishment if the difficult decision had to be made by the family of the victim(s).

Roe v. Wade sparked a debate in 1973 that has pitted politician against politician and has severed more than one friendship, but what it did besides give women the right to choose and learn from their mistakes was that it gave women the freedom, opportunity, and responsibility to teach our girls to value their bodies and instill in them the tools to make the correct decision on their own—the correct decision for themselves.  Women must be trusted to make that decision for themselves (sounds odd to even have to say that) if she is alone or privately with her family and allowed the ramifications of making the wrong decisions, regardless of what those decisions are.  In short, we must be allowed to fail and succeed based on what we are taught at home, from parents, churches, or teachers–not through fear and intimidation of a detached and controlling government. And although I am pro-life, I shudder at even the idea, no matter how remote, of living in a world where a woman no longer has the right to choose to terminate a pregnancy.  Because what follows may be worse.

Finding Irish Grace

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Writing a book is like eating an elephant—you do it one bite at a time.

Write what you know.  Write what you KNOW. Writewhatyouknow.  A successful writer must have a grasp of words and language. A good writer must have a vivid imagination. A good writer must have a keen sense of observation. A good writer must write each day.  A good writer must write what she knows.  Of course she has to write what she knows!  What else would she write?  In order to write what one knows, one must be honest.  It has taken me a couple of years, but I think I have reached the level of honesty and knowledge it will take to actually write more than seven paragraphs in the form of a one-sided blog.  I have decided to write a book—the book; the book that has been living inside me since I was a child.

I couldn’t have begun writing a book in my teens or 20’s; I had no real experience from which to draw. Many of the experiences I did have in early adulthood were tragic or awkward. Many were magnificent and a few, although not magnificent or tragic, were moments created just for me, by me, in my endeavor to establish confidence in myself. Sometimes I achieved a place where I thought I might belong for a time, or something I could call my own.  The moments, the hours, the days were just that, however—tragic, awkward, amazing, or even mundane at times.  I did not see them for what they actually were—pivotal moments of devastating disappointment or positive recognition.  I always wanted to write, but I could not process the experiences as good fodder for a book.  So, while I did not actually lack true experience, what I did lack was honesty in interpreting life changing events as they occurred.  Allow me to put it another way–I believe an artist can look at the ugly and find the beautiful, but the writer must look past the beautiful and find the ugly.  I attempted this in several soul-searching blogs, but I simply was not ready to do it fully til now.

One thing I have always possessed, however, was love of observing people.  I don’t remember a time I did not enjoy watching people and guessing what their life story was.  I always assumed it was tragic, however. If I spotted a married couple in a restaurant having a serious discussion that I could not hear, I knew they were probably talking about their children, but not the extra-marital affair he was having. Perhaps he was having it with the server who just brought their drinks.

I also liked to hear life stories; the experiences of a person’s life that made him who he was; to explain to me why, perhaps, he behaved the way he did. I like thinking of people who cross my path and then writing their stories in my head.  I was eager to write a few years ago, as the people I thought about seemed, to me, to want to have their stories told.  They merely became characters—overlapping in experiences and with such interest to me that I wanted to write everyone’s story, embellishing the tragic, of course, because for whatever reason, the tragedy in normal people’s lives intrigues me. Not in a voyeuristic manner, but in a way that I wanted to understand how they survived or grew because I wanted to understand and overcome my own tragedies and failures.  I did not want to be alone in my own disappointments, feelings of abandonment, or inadequacies.

I started blogging three years ago, but I could not grasp the element of honesty required to write with what I felt was integrity or believability. I knew nothing. I tried to write about current events or politics, but I lacked any real conviction or knowledge of the subject.  I would publish, cringe, and feel stupid.  I also have such a pluralistic view of politics that most days I don’t know what I believe. I don’t have the time or inclination to devote to filtering or interpreting that sort of information to the point I can write a cogent analysis of anything of a political nature, but I certainly tried.  I wanted to write and this seemed safe.

I tried to be funny.  I’m not. I can be funny for about five seconds at a time, but what I cannot do is be funny for 5-7 paragraphs and if I want to write a book, I know I can’t be funny for 300 pages.  My observations of life are rarely all that funny; they are generally tragic (except for child rearing and with that you have to maintain a sense of humor).  I don’t want it to be that way, but it is how I see the world and if I plan to be successful, I must interpret what I see both inside and outside my head as I honestly do; my trying to be a comedian simply screams failure. I have decided to leave the humorous observations of life to the comedians who get book deals.  My observations on life are rarely funny; they are mostly…tragic.

Sixty blogs later with MaryMind and I still had not found my voice, my niche, my style.  I was giving up because I still knew nothing. Then I began another website and contributed only short stories, but this too, proved to be a pointless endeavor.  Except for the ability to practice writing, to exercise the writing muscle, and to realize what I did not want to write about, both were proving pointless, as my ultimate goal was a book.  Then I found her.  Short story #19 was where I found Irish Grace.  Suddenly all the faces of all the people whose stories I wanted to tell became clear to me and Irish Grace was at the forefront.  She has been inside me for years, but I never could give her a voice til now.  I’m nearly 40 years old and Irish has been waiting all my life to have me tell her story and I believe I am ready.  Irish is damaged and angelic; beautiful and ugly. Irish Grace will have a lot of me in her. After all, she came from me.

The Difference Between Being Sexual and being Sexy is an Understanding of Intimacy and Self-worth.

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Demanding to be watched and adored is never sexy

Ah, Facebook you once again provide me fodder for which to proffer my unsolicited opinion in the form of a narcissistic blog! For days, I have read post after post from some of my female friends losing their minds over Matthew McConaughey’s portrayal of a male stripper–a 42-year-old stripper, for that matter, which is just sad. It doesn’t matter the age of his character, he still looks like a 42-year-old stripper.

I don’t understand the appeal of male strippers (or female strippers for that matter), but as a straight woman who certainly has zero hangups when it comes to another individual’s sexuality or orientation, I wondered why exactly I feel that watching men gyrate on stage dressed as a leather clad cowboy or a half dressed fireman is equivalent to watching paint dry, although actual firemen are incredibly sexy.  Absolutely nothing happens in my brain…or anywhere else. There is a difference between being “sexual” and being “sexy.” What these men (or women) do is certainly sexual, no question about that, but dancing on stage in a silly costume to loud music and begging to have money shoved into the waistband of a thong is, well, desperate. So while the dancing and gyrating and thrusting one’s pelvis into the face of a stranger is sexual, it is probably the least sexy thing a man or woman could do. Desperation is never sexy.

When I was in college and on through my late 20’s, I knew not one woman who did not, in my opinion, feign excitement at the idea of seeing an all male stripper revue.  I use the word feign because I truly believe they pretended to be excited because they thought to be otherwise made them weird.  I have always been weird, so I was quite comfortable saying I had no interest in attending. But there were times, because I was so young, I thought perhaps there was something wrong with me because I had no interest in seeing a naked man–a naked stranger–on a stage. I thought perhaps I was gay, but I quickly dismissed the thought as I had no interest in seeing a naked woman onstage either.  Then I thought I lacked libido. Dismissed that thought even more quickly. I realized it wasn’t that I was turned off by men; quite the opposite–I love them. What strippers lack and what those who truly love watching them lack is this: the ability to be intimate. The activity lacks intimacy and if one does not require intimacy in order to be sexual, then of course being a stripper or watching them is a perfect outlet. I don’t judge at all if that’s your thing. I can almost understand that watching them can be turn on–to each her own, but knowing the one you are watching is performing out of sheer desperation is beyond bizarre to me.

I also do not find the male body, in and of itself, altogether sexy.  By that I mean–whether he’s got a the body of Adonis or has never exercised a day in his life; whether he’s well endowed or not; whether he dresses like a GQ model or not (although this one is open for discussion; a man who looks like his momma dressed him would have to work awfully hard to convince me he’s sexy!) all have no bearing on whether I find a man sexy.

Don’t misunderstand–I like a guy to be attractive!  I have never had a crush on or dated a guy that wasn’t, but I remember the ones who made me laugh, the ones who made me think, the ones who challenged me, the ones who had confidence rather than arrogance, the ones who were a little quirky or different, and ones who treated me like a lady–they were the ones who exuded a magical sexiness they probably never knew they possessed. And it’s not even a matter of wanting to have sex with them. I like being in the company of men; always have. I prefer it to being in the company of women. But not to have sex with them and not just any men. To me, even a lot of my gay male friends are sexy–they are still men, after all! But even the straight ones I have chosen to have sex with must first know that true intimacy is essential and that my mind has to be stimulated before anything else can be.

Finally, I believe that men (and women) who crave being watched–who look to see if others are not only watching them, but also validating them for their physical appearance are usually the least sexy. The sexiest men I know are the ones who don’t know they are being looked at all. When I see a man hold the door open for his wife, carry the suitcases (or do any physical labor), hold his son’s hand the first day of school, push his daughter on a swing, or hold his newborn child–I see some of the sexiest men on earth; those acts of intimacy are probably the sexiest of all to witness. I used to joke with my ex-husband that my idea of foreplay was his taking out the trash! As for the man I’m dating now, he is the sexiest when he drives 14 hours straight just to arrive in the middle of the night in order to wake up with me. Sweet devotion is always sexy.

In conclusion, I do not buy that men and women strip/dance to pay their way through med school, so save it, please.  Don’t get me wrong–I don’t judge if that’s your vocation choice, but the profession draws desperate individuals who lack the ability to be intimate and who possess a stunted, immature view of sexuality and what it really takes to be sexy.  Those who are drawn to watch are much the same.

Sweet devotion is always sexy.