Tag Archives: family

I’m a Vigilante. And Here’s Why.

“Sometimes justice is better served by those who have experienced the pain.”
― Mark W. Boyer

October 1. We all remember it, and will for years to come. The day that a lone madman decided to rain down bullets on an unsuspecting crowd of country music fans at a concert in Las Vegas, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds more. Our hearts broke for our brothers and sisters as we could only imagine what they must have been going through.

And then, as some idiots among us never fail to do these days, some decided to turn this horrid, random incident into a political one. No, not just to discuss gun rights (which is a worthy discussion that needs to be had) – but to place the blame on one “side” or the other.

Cue a local preacher rant.

I live in a small, highly conservative town in North Carolina and one man – a man of “God” – decided to post on Facebook about what happened. He posted a news link to the shooting and used the following words as his caption:

“Welcome to multiculturalism. Thank you Democrats, the media, and liberal education.”

Okay, let me give you a minute to let that sink in.

Take all the time you need.

Yes, my friends, you read that right. This PREACHER – a man of “God,” – decided to place the blame for this lone, white, unaffiliated, non-religious madman’s actions on multiculturalism (different races and religions living amongst one another), democrats (you know – most of whom want to tighten gun safety laws), the media (because um…yeah…I got nothing), and liberal education (whatever the hell he wants to claim that is – acceptance of LGBTQ? Beats me.)

So, needless to say…this pissed me right the hell off.

I screenshotted this atrocity and shared it on social media. I posted it to the church’s website (to no avail because it didn’t seem to bother them).  I contacted the preacher directly who told me, and I quote, that this was “none of my business” and that he would not “stand by and watch liberals destroy his county.”

*Ahhem.*

And then, as some would enjoy telling me over the next few weeks, I became a “vigilante.” I continued to post about it – to remind people of who this man was and what he was teaching his congregation. I continued to post on the church’s website, even though they continued to delete my posts. I even thought about posting a sign on their church to show them who their preacher was. (I decided against that one because it was blatantly obvious that the powers that be didn’t care who he was – they apparently agree with him. Or at least they don’t disagree with him enough to do anything about it.)

Eventually, I was told even by people who agree with my stance on this that “vigilante justice” was not the way to go.

Now, before we go any further, I have to just go ahead and admit that I’ve never been one to listen to anyone else when they try to tell me what to do. Whether they’re on my “side” or not, and whether they’re even “right” or not. Is it healthy for me to continue to feel this anger towards this preacher? Maybe not. Is it productive? Maybe not.

But am I going to stop? Nope. And here’s why.

You know what “vigilante justice” is? I looked it up. While it’s often accompanied by ‘destruction’ (I haven’t torn anything up…yet…) it’s basically just simply taking “justice” into your own hands….whatever that justice may be. It’s also defined as being rationalized by: “the concept that proper legal forms of criminal punishment are either nonexistent, insufficient, or inefficient.”

Okay. I can dig it.

So, basically, what everyone is saying is that since there is no “law” against what this man has done – then I’m taking the nonexistent law into my own hands and seeking some other form of “punishment.” Some other rectification.

Well, hell yeah!

That’s exactly what I’m doing.

This man is leading a congregation. He is shaping minds. Some minds are already formed and agree with what he has to say, but the ones I’m concerned with are the ones that aren’t shaped yet. The young minds. The children.

Let me tell you my story.

I have two children. I have a 19-year-old son and a 17-year-old daughter. For a large part of their childhood, I was a single mom. I was tough and I did what had to be done, but I’ll admit it: I was lonely. I was lost. I had a very religious grandmother who had a large hand in my raising who had instilled in me that it would be wrong of me not to raise my children up in a church. So, for the most part, I did just that. Now, granted, I skipped around to different churches and never really found one that suited me or my beliefs so I didn’t stay in any for very long. But I did go. And I drug my kids along with me.

My daughter? Let’s just say the church thing never really stuck with her. She has always been wise beyond her years and was always a ‘questioner.’ She was a bit like her mom – just didn’t quite “fit it” anywhere. I’m not saying she doesn’t believe in a higher power – that’s between her and her god if she chooses to believe in one. I’m just saying that she was always a questioner of the “rules,” – especially the ones that didn’t make any sense.

But my son? Now that was another story. I honestly thought (and still do sometimes) that he’d end up becoming a preacher. He has such a deep sense of belief and a black and white sense of “right” and “wrong” that leaves no room whatsoever for questioning. He knows what “is” and “isn’t” and that’s just all there is to it. Period.

So here I have two very different children, now almost grown adults.  One who’d end up leaning towards the conservative, Christian way of life, and the other who’d lean toward the progressive, open-minded way of life. One strict rule follower and one champion of the underdog. Very different people, to put it mildly.

And then…bam. A few years ago, my daughter announces that she’s gay.

Suddenly, momma has to put her money where her mouth is. I’d spent my life running from this religious teaching that being gay was a “sin” because I just didn’t believe it. And now, I had the chance to look all that indoctrination right in the face and decide, once and for all, what I was going to do with those heaps of spoon-fed “knowledge” I’d been given all my life.  What did I choose?

To hell with it.

This was a turning point for me. No longer would I drag my children into a place that was going to tell one of them that she was “dirty.” No longer was I going to open up a dusty old book written by men a couple thousand years ago and that told me that my child was going to burn in hell. Screw that noise.

I’m out.

But that posed a problem. I still had a son.

As of this writing, I have not seen my son in a month. We have not spoken – in person or by text – in over two weeks. He has decided (after a multitude of disagreements – not just his sister’s sexuality) to “cut ties with his liberal family.”

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I don’t care. Because I do. When I allow myself to think about it, I can’t stop the tears. But here’s the thing. I’ve spent my entire life overcoming men who have told me who and what to be and think. It has taken me years to discover who I really am and to teach my children to be who they really are. Am I going to undo all of that so my son will love me?

I can’t.

I just can’t.

So, why am I so angry at this preacher?  Why can I not leave well enough alone and let it go?

Because I’m angry at myself. I want to prevent other mothers from making the same mistake I did. I want the scared, lonely single mothers of the world who are looking for a place of refuge to know that places like the one where that man spouts off his vile hatred have the capacity to turn your children against you. I want to give them the knowledge that I didn’t have. I want to stop them from leading their child by the hand into a place that tells them that their cult-like beliefs are worth more than their own family.

I want to stop them from doing what I did.

Vigilante justice, huh? When you have a personal connection to something, you are more passionate about it. I am a Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor. When I hear of a fundraiser to raise money to help fight this disease, I’m more apt to donate to it because of my personal history with the disease. Am a “vigilante” against lymphoma? Sure. There’s no “law” against lymphoma, but you can bet your tushy that I’m going to fight it when and how I can, even if it’s just with a small donation when I can afford it.

The same goes for bigotry.

If you’re an individual who believes in everything the Bible says – if you believe that homosexuals are going to hell and “liberals” are evil – then here’s the thing: I’m just not going to like you. That’s all there is to it.  I don’t think you’re a good person and I don’t want to be your friend. Sure, you’re allowed to be who you are. Go ahead. But I don’t want to be around you and I don’t want you to be around my children. However, my children aren’t children anymore.  They are grown and they can make their own choices. My son can make his own choices and he might very well chose to have people like you as his best friend. And he can choose to shut out the people like myself and his sister.

But would he have made these choices if I hadn’t exposed him to this line of thinking?

I don’t owe anyone an explanation. But here it is nonetheless. I just can’t stand down. I can’t watch this man slowly inch his way in between more mothers and sons of the world. I can’t watch him welcome more innocent minds into his cult and not at least warn them about it before they step into his fold.

I just can’t.

Call me a vigilante if you must. But I want to stop this from happening anymore than it has to.  If I prevent just one child from being indoctrinated into that madness, then I will have done what I set out to do.

I miss my son.  And this is all I know to do.

***

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Stage Managing: Tales (and thank yous) From The Dark Side

“I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.”
– Thornton Wilder

I am an actor. I’ve been acting for as far back as my memory goes.  From my 3-year-old debut in my grandmother’s church play to my professional acting gig as Glinda at the Land of Oz, and all of the many, many community theatre performances in between, acting has always been a huge part of my life.

And now finally, after 30+ years in the theatre, I’ve done something that I have never done before.

I’ve crossed over to the ‘dark side.’

YonkersI am ashamed to say that it has taken me this long to finally see what it feels like to not be in the spotlight. I was recently offered the opportunity to be the stage manager for Ashe County Little Theatre’s upcoming performance of Lost in Yonkers by Neil Simon. Since February, we have been working on a show that will open this weekend, April 8-10, at the Ashe Civic Center and run for only three performances.

Now, this idea of working for months on something that people will only see for a few hours is not new to me. As an actor, I’ve done this many times. But I always knew that it would culminate with all that ‘thunderous’ applause as I humbly bowed to my adoring audience. You know – the icing on that well-earned cake. A successful show, a stroked ego, and then off to work on the next one. Everybody wins!

But the thing I am certain that I didn’t notice – didn’t appreciate – was the group of people sitting in the dark while I basked in all this post-show limelight.

Until now. Until I became one of them.

My husband is the sound tech for our theatre. One time, during the run of one of our shows, he said something to me that really resonated.

“If I’m doing my job right, you won’t notice me.”

At the time that he said that – back in my oblivious actor days – I thought that sounded ridiculous. Why would you pour your heart and soul (not to mention time and energy) into something that you hope no one even notices? Why on Earth would you want to be the background music (literally)? What is the point?

Ah. Now I get it.

There is so much more to what happens in a theatrical show than what you, as the audience, sees. I have developed a level of appreciation for what happens back here on the dark side, an appreciation I would have never known had it not been for this experience. And what a shame it took me so many years to be able to say this.

crew

Cast and crew (but missing a few) of Lost in Yonkers, ACLT Spring 2016

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the actors don’t work hard, too. They do. Really. But as the stage manager for this show, I have been able to see the show in a new perspective. Rather than focusing on my particular role in the process, as I did as an actor, I have the ability to now see the show as a whole. I see all the working parts that make it come alive and realize how lost we would be without even the tiniest of them.

In other words, I now have the ability to see the things that my loving husband pointed out that “shouldn’t” be seen. And once your eyes are open to something like that, you can’t go back.

So with that said, I hope you’ll join me as I take the time to give a little appreciation to all of the pieces of this little puzzle we’ve created together.

First, there’s the director, Jim. Jim has taught me so much through this process. My job was supposed to be to help him, but he has definitely been the one to help me instead. Taking a chance on a self-absorbed actor to be your right-hand man was a pretty big risk if you ask me. But I’m glad he took it. Thank you for believing in me and casting such a fantastic show. The lessons I’ve learned are invaluable.

Then, there’s the producer and costumer, Rebecca. Rebecca has a constant helpful nature. She is always working behind the scenes during these shows to be sure each character looks their best. As the person who was always putting the costumes on, I never got the chance to actually see what they looked like. As I step outside the confining the walls of the stage itself, I can now see the beautiful portrait these costumes paint. There is such a precision with choosing what we wear, and I really had no idea. One of our stage moms noted, “I love watching the Bella character grow up through her costumes.” And once she said that, I see how right she is. Each character’s costume in each scene tells a subtle story, and I’m glad my eyes were opened to that fact during this run.  Rebecca also made sure to take care of us during show week as well. One night this week she brought in pizza for everyone, exclaiming that her mother always taught her that “the way you show people that you love them, is to feed them.” So, thank you, Rebecca. We love you too!

And our “booth crew:” the sound technician, Richard (my hubby – you may have heard me mention him before), the spotlight operator Kelly (my daughter…and I may have mentioned her a time or two before as well), and the lighting technician, Jeremy. These three are the lucky peeps who get to listen to me on headset trying to tell them what to do and when to do it. All three of them have very similar personalities – calm, organized, chill. And thank God for it! My first night on headset, I was a nervous wreck…and yet they calmly did what they were supposed to do (whether I remembered to tell them to or not) and told me I did a great job (even when I was certain I didn’t). The people like these three are the true heroes of a show, believe me.

And then there’s Ken and Judi. Ken designed and built our set (together with many helpers: Doug, John, Jim, Bobbi Jo, and Richard to name a few…I know there were more) and Judi spent lots of time painting and “sprucing it up” (the set is a Grandma’s apartment so Judi added all the small, Grandma-ish touches that, like Richard pointed out, you’d hardly notice…unless they weren’t there.)  Once that was done, Ken and Judi jumped in to help backstage throughout the run of the show, Judi helping with the many costume changes and Ken helping me with the set changes between scenes. More unsung heroes right there, that’s for sure.

And then there’s the makeup ladies, Charna and Cynthia. Spending all that time working on making others look good, with no applause for their efforts. Consider this your applause, ladies. You are appreciated, needed, and loved. I hope you know that. (They even had the added bonus of using makeup to cover some tattoos in this show…and they’ve done it fabulously!)

And a special thank you to Linda who designed our show poster and programs. Another small, yet huge, addition to the puzzle. What would a show be without advertisement and information? Thank you, Linda.

And then there are the parents and spouses of all of the people involved (too many to list here) who have sacrificed their time with their loved ones while we spent so many hours bring this show to life. We thank you, from the bottom of our hearts for your patience and your support. Your sacrifice is just as much a part of this show as any of the other working parts, and we appreciate you.

And last, but most certainly not least, our actors. Yes, you get to applaud them as the show ends, but those are just the characters. I want to tell you a little about how special each of the real people are behind those “masks.”

First, there’s Mason and Olivia. These two kids have family in the show and have willingly volunteered to serve as extras for a few of our scenes. And when they’re not onstage, they are helping backstage – Mason helping his brother Levi with costume changes and Olivia bringing her dad a glass of water between scenes. The work you two do is noticed and the enthusiasm you show while doing it is contagious. Thank you kiddos. 🙂

Then there’s Bobbi Jo. Bobbi Jo is a warrior, let me tell you. She’s my friend so I know the sacrifice she’s had to make to be in this show. Between a working hubby and having to bring her little ones to the theatre with her, having more than her share of car trouble, and even losing her father during the months of rehearsal, she has not missed a beat. (In fact, just before one rehearsal when she realized her car wouldn’t start, I found all 100-pounds of her walking on the road headed to rehearsal when I came to pick her up. That little thing was so dedicated to the show, she was going to walk the 3+ miles to rehearsal and hope she got there before her appearance in the second act. Now, that is some serious dedication, folks.)  So, Bobbi Jo, thank you for the love you bring to this show. It is noticed and appreciated.

stage managingNext, there’s Baron. Baron and I have worked in a few shows together now. He brings something to every show that would be missing if he wasn’t there – and that something is fun. Baron is always there with a snicker or an inside joke and makes sure we keep laughing through all the work we are putting in to this thing. People like this are a joy to be around, and I hope he knows that. Thank you, Baron. (“Gooooper, honey….”) [See? Inside jokes…]

And then there’s Ike. This is only my second time working with Ike and he brings an experience to the stage that can’t be overlooked. This dude can act. And the first role he was cast in with our theatre? A small role as an aide in an insane asylum. With the vast experience and knowledge that he has of the theatre, he was still happily willing to play a small role in order to be a part of the show. He is the living example of the saying, “There are no small roles, only small actors.” This, my friends, is no small actor. And if you get to see this show, I promise you’re in for a treat when you see this guy walk out onto the stage. (And I’m not just saying that because he strips down to his boxers in one scene…) 😉

Then, there’s Sharon. Sharon plays the Grandma in this show and, like her character, she brings a wisdom to the show, both on and off stage. A veteran of the theatre, Sharon knows her stuff and has had excellent ideas throughout the show’s run. Thank you for putting up with this family of misfits, Sharon!

Then, there’s Abby. Abby is new to our theatre and what a welcome gift she is. Abby has single-handedly shown me what an actress should be. She is full of energy and life and will bring you a performance that will put chills down your spine. And then, once she steps off the stage, she is thanking everyone. She has more than once thanked me for the work I’ve put in as the stage manager. I know I will be a better actress after this experience, and Abby is part of the reason for that. Thank you, Abby, for teaching by example.

boys2

Photo by Cassondra Greer

Ah, and then there are our boys, Rowan and Levi. These two kids are the focal point of the show, on and off the stage. These kids are phenomenal! Their talent goes well beyond what you’d expect from kids this young. And what professionals! Learning their lines from the get-go and carrying many scenes alone – I’m not sure they realize what a huge undertaking that is for young people. There are so many kids who’d be mortified to get up in front of people, and these two steal the show in scenes where there isn’t an adult in sight. They are going to go far…long after the memories of this show have faded. I just know it. You two are fabulous and I am honored to be sharing in this experience with you. I’m so proud of you!

 

Whew…tired of my list yet?  Are you still with me?

And see, here’s the thing – even after listing all of these names and roles they played in bringing a performance to you, I’d be willing to bet that I’ve left someone out. (And if that’s you – I’m so sorry! You are appreciated too. I promise.) The list goes on and on. The amount of effort that goes into something like this is astronomical.

So, in closing, here is what I’d like to ask of you. The next time you go to see a show, I want you to do me a favor. I want you to notice things.  Yes, yes, I know my husband said you’re not supposed to notice people like him…but don’t listen to him. Listen to me. 😉 Seriously…read your program. Read the bios of the actors you are about to see. Read about the director.  And then, don’t forget to flip to the last page of that program, and run your finger down the list of all of those behind-the-scenes names, won’t you? Behind each of those names is a heart for the theatre. A heart that has sacrificed weeks of their time to bring you two hours of entertainment. Give them all a little silent thank you in your mind, won’t you?

I know I will.

Oh, and one more name I forgot to add to the list: you.

That’s right – you’re important too. The theatre is a family. And as you walk into it, you become a part of the family as well. That’s when you step into your role as the audience. Without you, why would any of us be here? You add your touch to the show as well – your laughter, your sniffles, your smiles, and your presence.

You place that final piece into the puzzle that makes it complete.

And we thank you.

Yonkers cast

***
“Theatre was my first love. I can’t take the theatre out of me. And I wouldn’t want to. To me, it’s home.”
– Jim Parsons

Silly Kid Quotes #12

“Children are remarkable for their intelligence and ardour, for their curiosity, their intolerance of shames, the clarity and ruthlessness of their vision.”
– Aldous Huxley

Funny kiddo time again.

This is a precious brother/sister moment from my son’s exploratory surgery last year. Gets ya right in the feels, man.

sillykidquotes12

Silly Kid Quotes #11

“It takes a long time to grow young.”
– Pablo Picasso

It’s that time again.  Another healthy dose of kiddo giggles.

Quote #11 is yet another gem from my teenage daughter, Kelly. This was actually something she had as her Facebook status once.  Cracked me up, man.

But seriously…any takers?  Just trying to help a girl out here.

kelbel

This is Today: Life Lessons from a Sullen Teenager

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

A few weeks ago, I had a really bad day.

Now that some time has passed, I honestly can’t remember what seemed so bad that day (do we ever, really?) but I know it must have been super bad because I was majorly grumpy. It was just one of those days where I was stressed to the limit and if things could go wrong, they did. You know those days…we all have them.

Somehow, though, I managed to survive said Day O’Crap. I went to bed fully expecting all to be well when I woke up.

But nope.

Morning arrived and I was still grumpy. Usually that doesn’t happen – usually a good night’s sleep tends to solve every problem I have ever had. But for some reason, it didn’t work this time.

I grudgingly got up and stumbled my way to the kitchen.

I grudgingly fed the cats (stupid needy cats…), I grabbed a Coke from the fridge (stupid Coke addiction…I’m a fat slob), I slammed the fridge door shut (stupid dirty fridge…someone needs to clean that thing. And by someone, I mean me because who else is going to do anything around here??), and turned around to see my non-morning-person teenage daughter standing there watching me.

“Why are you so grumpy?” she asked.

Oh, boy. Here we go. A typical morning fight with my ever-sullen teenage daughter, just what I need to pep up the ole spirit.

“Because yesterday sucked, that’s why.” (That was my mature parent answer….like it?)

And then, as is often the case these days, that redheaded daughter of mine surprised me.  In her typical, no-nonsense manner, she replied, “Well, mom, that was yesterday. This is today.”

This is today.

Her words stopped me in my tracks. Such a simple statement, yet such a powerful punch that little booger packed.

She was absolutely right. What was my problem?

All of that crap (whatever it was) was yesterday. Did it really matter today?  Was it really going to follow me into the future and change the course of history as I know it?

(Uh, no.  Obviously not. I don’t even remember now what all the fuss was about.)

I composed myself, put that calorie-bearing Coke back into the fridge [That’s a total lie, I didn’t do that. I drank it. Every poison-filled drop.], took a deep breath and headed to the stairs to send up an apology to that precious cherub who had retreated to her room.

“Sorry I was being so grumpy!”

My tear-filled, heartfelt apology was met with a muffled “whatever” from behind her closed door.

Ah. She of all the hidden earthly wisdom had returned to her natural state.

Regardless, that momentary display of wisdom that broke through the teenage veneer of disgust with all things non-boy band managed to resonate with me. And I’ve thought of it many times since.

Crap is gonna happen, man. It just is. So, do we dwell in it? Or do we just move on and let it go? I think maybe I should start going with the sullen teenager philosophy.

That was yesterday.

This is today.

Just thought I’d send this wisdom out into the interweb world as a short little reminder in case you may have needed it like I did.

Teenagers, man. Give them a chance to survive their teenage years and they may just end up surprising you.

***

kellyparents

The Great Divider

“Yes! Truth, truth! What’s so awful about it? I like it.”
– Maggie, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

I haven’t been writing for a while. Why? Well, that’s a good question. I’m a very opinioned person so current events are usually the fodder for many of my blog entries…and there has definitely been no shortage of those these days. The Kentucky court clerk, the upcoming presidential election, the transgender boy who wanted to use the girls’ bathroom at his school – I’m telling ya, it’s a blogger’s smorgasbord out there.

But yet, there I sat. Silent.

Until now.

Now, maybe “silent” isn’t exactly the right word. (I mean, silence is not exactly something I ‘do.’) I’ve had a few things to say here and there…shared some articles and memes on Facebook…that kind of thing. But when it came to sitting down and writing my thoughts out in a blog, there just seemed to be too many. There’s just so much going on out there, where would I start? Should I blog about each issue individually? No, somehow that just didn’t seem to be the right answer. Deep down, I knew that there was an underlying theme to all that was going on in the world…all that was going on in my head and in my heart…and I couldn’t sit down and write about it until I figured out what that theme was.

And now, here it is.

Two specific events happened this week that put all of this into perspective for me.

As I said, I’ve been sharing a few memes and articles on Facebook with regard to current events. I’ve also ventured to comment on others’ posts as well. One such post was one about the Missouri teen Lila Perry, a transgender teen who, though born with male genitalia, fundamentally feels female and lives his life as such. But when he attempted to use the girls’ locker room at school, that didn’t go over so well. Cue the media.

lila perry

Lila Perry

Now, although I do feel strongly about certain aspects of this whole situation, I do completely see both sides of the coin. So, rather than venture into sharing or posting about this particular situation, I opted to just keep quiet and observe. Until one commenter really pissed me off. He referred to this child as “it.” Not “he,” not “she.” IT. That really got my blood boiling.

Like homosexuality, being transgender is something you’re born with. Argue with me all you want to, you’re not going to change my mind. It’s not a choice…it’s a truth. So, when this man called this child an “it,” it suddenly became clear to me what monsters some of us can be. Okay, let’s jump on the “choice” bandwagon for a second. Let’s assume that the kid was not born with a scientific disposition that made him feel female. Let’s assume that he is, in fact, choosing to live his life wearing a wig and dresses and that he actually ‘enjoys’ the ridicule and the, I’d venture to guess, thrashings he has received because of it. Ask yourself this, if you were truly in your right mind, could you choose a life like that?  I’m thinking not. So, if It Man is right and this child did actually choose this, then I guess it would be safe to say that he’s not in his right mind, right? That he is a “freak” and that he is “mental” as some of the other commenters have called him. Okay, so we’re agreed?  So, with that being the case…are you now going to call mentally retarded children “it”?  How about kids with down syndrome? How about anyone with clinical depression? Hey, those are all mental impairments, right? Are we all “its”?

I’m going somewhere with this, I promise. Bear with me.

Moving on to Incident #2 of the week.

Now, anyone who knows me know that I am not a fan of The Donald. It’s pretty safe to say that I despise Donald Trump. I hate everything that comes out of that billionaire bully’s mouth. So, being the outspoken liberal that I am, I occasionally share these thoughts in the form of memes or articles on Facebook. In the process of doing so, I have had the unfortunate occasion to find out that many of my friends and family are actually supporters of that blowhard. How do I feel about that?

Eh.

I mean, I wish they weren’t, don’t get me wrong. But I’m not going to change their minds anymore than they’re going to change mine. Is knowing that people I love disagree with me going to stop me from speaking my mind? Heck no. Who I am says nothing against who they are. I’m just me and this is how I feel. My own father and I have the most varying political stand points you’ve ever seen in two people. He’s Republican all the way, I’m Democrat all the way. How do we handle that? We mostly avoid the topic and when it does come up, we just condescendingly grin at each other’s ignorance and end the day with an “I love you” and move on with our lives. That’s how it should work. To quote my Aunt Rebecca’s Facebook status the other day:

A very wise woman once passed on a quote, from another wise woman, that stuck with me. “If two people agree on everything all the time, then one of them is not necessary.” Sometimes, we need the “sandpaper” of other’s opinions to “smooth out” our own perspectives.

We disagree and life goes on.

LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 28: Chairman and President of the Trump Organization Donald Trump yells 'you're fired' after speaking to several GOP women's group at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino April 28, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Trump has been testing the waters with stops across the nation in recent weeks and has created media waves by questioning whether President Barack Obama was born in the United States. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

But this week, that philosophy didn’t apply to a few of my family members. Because of my standpoint on certain things, and one of my family member’s disagreeing with those standpoints, she “blocked” me on Facebook. Now, I know that sounds silly. (The “I unfriend you” commercial comes to mind…) But silly as it may be, it’s actually pretty hurtful. In this day and age, social media like Facebook is a way that we keep in touch with people we don’t see every day. So someone “blocking” you is a way of saying “I no longer want you in my life.” And to have that coming from a respected, beloved aunt that you’ve adored all your life?  Well, let’s just say it doesn’t feel too swell.

Now, as things like this tend to do, this family division spread like wildfire. Sides were taken – I was accused of disrespecting my aunt. (I still for the life of me can’t figure out what I supposedly did – I haven’t had one direct conversation with the woman about anything, political or otherwise, in months.) I can only assume that my outspoken political and social opinions went against hers and that she took them as a personal attack on her character. I hate that. I truly do. In fact, I spent a good part of that evening crying my eyes out. Knowing that this woman I have always adored and that half of my cousins (though not as a big of a loss, truthfully) all decided that I’m some kind of monster and ganged up against me over some mysterious offense is a pretty tough blow to take. I wanted to defend myself…and I did for a while. As is always the case, I covered up my hurt with anger and responded accordingly which, as is also always the case, got me nowhere. I considered deleting my entire Facebook account (the typical cowardly way out). I considered contacting the family individually and begging them to show me my transgressions so I’d at least know what it was I was supposed to be defending. I considered so many things but what I finally settled on was this: sleep.

That’s right. I went to bed. I stopped crying, got a good night’s sleep, and then woke up with a clearer mind and vision. And I also woke up with the answer to my non-writing conundrum. Just like that, the tie that binds all of these events together was staring me right in the face.

TRUTH.

That’s what is happening here. Truth. You had the middle ages, the ice age, etc. And here is what we’re in now. The Truth Age.

Suddenly, people are no longer afraid to be who they are. Somewhere, somehow a switch has been flipped. Be it political progress (or regress, depending which side you’re on), or be it the social media craze that has swept our nation…people are now speaking up and letting the world know who they really are. Lila Perry is no longer living as a girl trapped inside a boy’s skin. She is now a girl. Gay couples are no longer living their lives behind closed doors as if they are some kind of dirty secret. Non-Christians are no long adhering to laws and customs that go against what they don’t believe. And I, little nobody Melissa in Nowheresville, am no longer afraid to publicly state my opinion on all of the above. And not only am I not afraid to do it, I now have a platform to use for it – Facebook. A blog site. Social media.

Remember that famous movie line from A Few Good Men? “You can’t handle the truth!” Well, there you have it. Some of us can’t handle the truth. We just can’t. Hiding our heads in the sand and pretending it doesn’t exist has just been so easy for so long. And now, suddenly, truth has descended upon us like a hawk who has finally located its prey. Truth is EVERYWHERE. It’s in the eyes of Lila Perry. It’s in the two men’s hands that are clasped in matrimony. It’s in the stubborn refusal to change that exists behind Kim Davis’ words and actions. It’s in the picture of a three-year old Syrian refugee boy’s body washed up on shore. It’s in the hatred behind the word “it” as some random man typed it onto a social media site as the description of a child.

It’s truth. Sometimes it’s ugly. Sometimes it’s scary. Sometimes it’s beautiful. And sometimes it’s all of those things all at once.

But it’s real. And it’s here. We can cast blame all we want to. Blame our President. Blame the Christians. Blame the media. Blame out-spoken redheads like me who won’t shut up. Blame, blame, blame. That’s what we do. But the only thing we have to blame is the fact that truth always rises to the surface.

“Three things shine before the world and cannot be hidden. They are the moon, the sun, and the truth…”
– Buddha

The truth is here, folks. What are you going to do with it? Hide from it? Let it divide your friends and family? Try to stop it?

Accept it?

The choice is yours.

But as for me? I welcome it with open arms. And I am more than willing to accept the consequences.

***

truth

Romance: Confessions of a Girly Girl

“The longer you have to wait for something, the more you will appreciate it when it finally arrives. The harder you have to fight for something, the more priceless it will become once you achieve it. And the more pain you have to endure on your journey, the sweeter the arrival at your destination. All good things are worth waiting for and worth fighting for.”
– Susan Gale
Okay, so I have a confession to make.

I’m a girl.

Yep, it’s true. A big ole girly girl. That’s me. Now, I try to be rational – keep my head out of the clouds and all that jazz. But deep down, I’m still a girl. I still believe in girly stuff…romance, love, heart flutters…all that silliness.

I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember (though it took over 30 years for me to get up the nerve to call myself that) and I can remember being 14 years old and writing my first love song. Talk about girly…sheesh! Here are some of the lyrics:

“Love, it can stand the test of time,
It can cross over any lines
No matter what people say
They would find a way
Nothing could stop those feelings inside…”

Girly, huh? Oh, you should hear the rest of it. It’s all about two young people in love who are torn apart for whatever reason and they have all these miles and years between them and yet still they hold on to each other through it all. Then she’s dying and in he walks to hold her as she takes her last breath.

*BARF!*

It’s easy now to make fun of that little 14-year-old version of me who wrote those silly little love lyrics. But, if I’m perfectly honest with myself, a part of her still exists. A pretty big part actually.

Those of you who know me or who have read my blog regularly know that my husband and I do not have your typical love story. (Read more about that here if you want.)  We didn’t see each other across a crowded room and gaze into each other’s eyes as we realized we had found the one.  Ha!  Hardly. We met, dated, ended things. Crossed paths again, dated, ended things. Got back together, got engaged, got married. Some love story, huh?

And I’m going to be honest with you – that little 14-year-old songwriter side of me has always struggled with that a bit. Isn’t it supposed to happen like it does in the movies?  Aren’t you supposed to meet and feel this sudden fluttery feeling in your stomach and just know? Now, in all honesty, it almost happened like that with me. It didn’t take long for me to decide that Richard was what I wanted.  But Richard? Notsomuch. He struggled. He was coming out of a long-term relationship and just wasn’t sure if my redheaded, loud-mouthed, starry-eyed version of romance was what he was needing in his life at the time. It took quite a while for him to come around.

And that bothered me.

During my varied insecure moments over the years, I’ve questioned him about this. “Did you just have to convince yourself to love me?” “Did you just decide to force it because it made sense?” “How do you know it’s real?” “Do you ever wonder if you made a mistake?” Etc.  (He loves these conversations, by the way.) And every time, he just tells me in his quiet, no-nonsense way that none of that matters. He loves me now. That’s all there is to it.

But I’m a girl, darn it!  I want more than that!  I want answers!

My dear lifelong friend John Michael posted something on my Facebook wall one day that he said made him think of mine and Richard’s relationship. Here it is:

romance

I told him at the time that he couldn’t know how much that meant to me. I didn’t know why or how to put it into words, but something about that quote just really struck a chord with me. I love the phrase “tidier histories.”  A tidy history is something that Richard and I definitely do not have. It’s a mess.

But maybe that’s okay?

This morning I was riding to work listening to an audio book: Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this (or haven’t seen the Netflix TV series that sprouted from it), this is a true story about the author’s one-year stint in prison. Now, you wouldn’t expect to glean a love lesson from something like that, but…leave it to me…I did.

In one part of the book, Piper’s husband had written an article for the local paper about their unconventional love story. (It was unconventional even before she went to prison.) He talked about how he didn’t know from the start that she was “the one.” He said that it took him years to decide, even after they started dating, that he might want to marry her. He said he generally takes his time to choose anything in his life – even material things – and, because of this inability to make definite decisions, he tends to keep receipts for things he buys in case he decides to take them back. Basically, it’s not that he doesn’t want these things, it’s that he’s afraid he might be making a mistake. His fear of commitment (my words, not his) masks his desire.

Hmmm.

Now I’m sure there were thousands of lessons that Piper Kerman wanted us to take from her year of incarceration, but the one I took was this one. This tiny little blip in her book about how her husband wasn’t sure he wanted to marry her from the start.  I’m sure she’d be so proud if she knew this…

Turns out, I guess some people are just careful. They take their time. They make sure something is right before they dive in. Does that mean it isn’t real? Of course not. That just means they want to know they’re making the right decision before they make it. So, should I still be offended and worried that we don’t have that “movie” kind of love? Nah. I’d say what we have is better. I wasn’t just a passing feeling of romance that overtook him instantly. I was a long, well-thought out decision that he had to make. And in the end, my careful sweetheart chose me.

Awwww.  Well, how do you like that.

Now, does this mean I’m going to stop with all those insecurity questions? Am I going to lay off for a while and give him a break and rest in the knowledge that he does indeed love me and move forward without looking back ever again?

Psssh. Heck no. As if…

Hey, I’m still a girl. 😉

merichie

 ***

“For anything worth having one must pay the price;
and the price is always work, patience, love, self-sacrifice.”

– John Burroughs