All We Need is Love. Right?

 

I’ve spent an afternoon going through my WIP, (work in progress), after a long hiatus and honestly? I’m sick of looking at it. And it’s a good story. I like it. I just need to finish it. Yet there’s a couple of finicky storyline aspects I need to fix and the final ten chapters need penning. I know how it ends.   A handful of the remaining chapters will be set in present day, revolving around a blossoming romance. I just…haven’t felt in the mood for romance.   I’m obsessing over tiny details. What will she wear? What will the temperature be? Will they hold hands? Will they wear mittens or gloves? How long should the kiss last? Will he wear cologne? Will it be spicy or more aromatic and woodsy?

I’m killing the mood by being fussy like this. More importantly, I’m wasting time.

There’s been a bit of a life change happening for me recently, that REALLY has put a temporary stopper in my work. I’ve spent too much time scrolling through various forms of social media. I’ve been unable to avoid reading snippets of news articles about dreadful things happening in the world.

The politics of power and manipulation grow stronger. At the end of the day, if people want to view something a certain way, they will.   Cold hard facts could come and smack them in the face like large dead fish and they’d still insist they felt nothing. Industry shoves compassion aside and egos loom like indestructible death stars, determined to subdue the masses with smoke and shadows.

War is an industry. Health and beauty are an industry. Food is an industry. Sex is an industry.

Love is not.

Likely a lot of us realise this as we scroll through whatever form of social media, searching for something to identify with. Some way to connect either for work or friendship purposes.   I find myself growing numb to all of it. How odd, to seek connection by being alone.   It won’t be long before all the paths that lead to understanding will be destroyed.   Then, we’ll be forced to be live like cheap plastic pieces on a shelf. Alone, maybe even next to one another yet with no means to reach out and touch someone (cue vague memories of some 1980s phone advert).  Our moments of pleasure and happiness short lived and replaceable.

It’s a shame people don’t get greedy for love the way they do for money.

Because money can’t buy love.   It can buy weapons, food, supplies, vehicles, training, medicine, technology and influence. It can buy the services of a personal trainer, a high standard of living, organic food and high quality anti-aging toiletries. Maybe a bit of laser treatment. It can buy fashions designed to encourage sexy thoughts. A nice dinner and a fancy hotel room. It can buy people.

But not love.

Funnily enough my other WIP which I’ve shelved for the moment is partially dystopian in nature. I always disliked dystopian work. Now, reading the news, I’m feeling the pull to hurry up and finish this other so I can get going on that one.  Stories of apocalyptic, chaotic societies set in a fictional future has been ‘a thing’ for a while now, but I’m sure other authors would agree that that it’s like the news is handing stuff to creative types on a plate.

As far as reading is concerned, historical romance with an idealised, sweet smelling setting has always appealed to me. Dystopian stuff with all the survival requirements, spoiled landscapes and orphaned characters depresses the crap out of me.

Back to my own writing, how to conjure those moments of deepening love when all you want to do is stop typing and go drink excessive amounts of wine? And all because you took a break to piss about on your phone and you read a news article. Then you read an article about how it was a fake. Then you read an article about how the people who said it was fake are crazy. Then you read an article about how the folks against those who spout against ‘fake news’ are actually evil manipulators hell bent on controlling us all. Then you think it’s mean to call anyone crazy for having different beliefs. Then you can’t abide certain beliefs yourself…like that mainstream media outlets are ALL lying to us. Then you read a…you get the idea.

Maybe news outlets are full of liars determined to convince the masses of certain things that would only benefit those folks in high powerful places. That kind of thing makes for the beginnings of a decent dystopian/conspiracy theory type novel. Yet I find it depressing as hell and not conducive to the development of a romance. Then I hate myself for being so childish and self-indulgent.

I want to celebrate love and compassion while the rest of the world seems hell bent on driving folks apart. Industry. Business. ‘The man’, as it were, tossing aside non-influential folks like so much garbage, destroying the earth’s natural set up in favour of progress, I don’t like all that stuff.

I don’t think all rich and powerful people are inherently evil, and there is nothing wrong with wanting to better yourself in life. I’m well aware that money is a necessity if you want to live comfortably in most parts of the world.

I just think people who desire nothing more than riches and power…might be a bit evil.  And it saddens me that there seems to be a lot of these folks around. They vary from your wannabe celebrity taking butt selfies to your conniving propagandists convincing isolated, lonely people to sacrifice themselves in order to get ahead.

At the end of the day, you can’t manufacture intimacy. Virtual reality will always be virtual reality. Money cannot buy love.

But if it could, maybe this earth would be a better place. And the war lords, ginormous egos, kings and queens, lords and ladies, Death Stars and Saurons of the world wouldn’t feel so inclined to find sorrowful ways to push their bloody selfish agendas.

I call on myself and all #romance #writers to carry on.  Make love stories as vibrant and beautiful as ever.  Whether it’s between an eighteenth century duke and a courtesan with a heart of gold or a wayward modern cowboy and a veterinarian.   Or a disillusioned artist and a witty engineer.   A recovering alcoholic and a Wiccan.

Any creature deserves the chance to love and readers should be exposed to that way more than butt selfies and real life tyrants.

I hear myself speak and think ‘screw my mood’…the reading world needs love.  Whether I need to call on vampires, ghosts or fairies…this story is going to happen.   Let’s. Do. This.

Peace.

By jmnauthor3000

Writing, Research and the Horrors They’ve Come With.

 

 

I have spent the last year writing and researching a historical romance novel with some paranormal elements.

It hasn’t been easy.   I’ve ran into some hard to digest events.

The ‘history’ element is relevant to half of my ancestral heritage, specifically, my mother’s.

She was proud of me for working on this and was enjoying the findings that came up as I have gone through the process of trying to make the historical bits of my story accurate.

Let me put it to you this way, the people who know me personally are likely sick to death of me going on about it.

In the past twelve months, my mother passed away.

That sucked.   It was her birthday this past week. That was a rough day.

My mother was one of twelve children born into a German-Hungarian Catholic family in rural North Dakota during the 1930s. My grandfather was born in and my grandmother’s parents came from mainly German speaking villages in a part of Europe called The Banat.

Today, that is the area surrounding where Hungary, Romania and Serbia’s borders meet. Back in the day, when my ancestors still lived there in the late 1800s / very early 1900s, they referred to it as ‘Hungary’.

To say that times have changed in that part of the world since my family left is an understatement.

If you want more of the history, look up Danube Swabians.

There have been two main challenges to my research.

1) I don’t speak German, Serbian, Romanian or Hungarian. But I do know some nice people who have helped me with non-English sources.

2) Part of my story involves places, people and a culture that have been damaged by Nazis, the war they waged and the aftermath of it.

The First World War divided the Banat (the place my family once called ‘Hungary) into three different countries.   The German speaking people in villages that once all came under first Hapsburg, then Hungarian rule found themselves under three different governments.

They were mostly farming folks and craftspeople.   They got on with it and left the politics to the big boys.  So…they said, ‘Okay, we are Romanian now. Okay, we are Yugoslavian now. Okay, we are Hungarian…I guess. Can I still speak German at home? Yes? Fine then…back to my plough and the grapes in my backyard.’

Apparently there was an attempt to create a ‘Banat Republic’ ,(look that up on Wikipedia if you like too), in 1918 but it didn’t last long. They didn’t have a big voice in the grand scheme of things.

Let’s be quite clear, when Hitler invaded Eastern Europe , the ‘Volksdeutsche’ as the Nazis called them, (ethnic Germans) received preferential treatment over other ethnic groups from the occupying German army.  There was Nazi propaganda, youth groups, etc. in the villages.   The ‘Volksdeutsche’ were a part of Hitler’s plan. They were to be his ‘fifth column’, particularly instrumental in overcoming the Czechs, Serbs and other Slavic peoples.

Some folks were taken with this and likely hadn’t cared for other ethnicities anyway. Some folks didn’t much care for the Nazi propaganda and interference in their daily lives. Yet if they said something they got their business ruined, were sent to jail, or far worse.

I think at this point it’s important to recall that this is before the day of iphones, computers, social media and television. This is before our convenient contemporary, history class, wiser-in- hindsight, people-were-just-all-horrible-back-then, era. There weren’t many options as far as news sources with different slants or biases were concerned.

There was no #sickofNazis hashtag. The systematic torture and murder of Jewish, homosexual, gypsy, and politically uncooperative people in concentration camps like Auschwitz was not fully understood by your average Josef living in Farmingville, Yugoslavia.

Almost like, the atrocities being carried out in and suffered by folks in places in Syria, aren’t fully appreciated by your average Joe living in Farmingville, Iowa. But Joe has a life and job to get on with. And lucky Joe, he doesn’t have soldiers with guns telling him to look the other way if he doesn’t care for what’s happening.

So, back to Josef in earlier 1940s, Banat. He did not know that one day, people would be reading detailed accounts, watching films and documentaries based on the disenfranchisement, starvation, torture and murder of an estimated six million people, Most of them Jews, also including Gypsies, Slavs, Poles, homosexuals and any who were politically uncooperative with the Nazis.

Josef, being a human being and all would have likely felt the same disgust and repulsion at the actual accounts of genocide.   If you can sit and read accounts of ethnic cleansing, the rapes and torture, children being hit in the head with rifle butts for crying for their parents, without feeling sick then there is something wrong with you.

Yet these things continued to happen in Europe AFTER the war. AFTER the Allies got together to decide how to fix the devastated continent.   AFTER the Nuremberg Trials intended to bring justice to victims of the Nazi’s abhorrent actions.  AFTER the Potsdam Agreement intended to re-organise borders, ethnic communities and nation’s standings.

Josef also didn’t ‘get’ that not many people outside the German speaking world, unless they were distant descendants of his father’s daughter in law, would know about what happened to over three million ethnic Germans after WWII, who had been living in Eastern Europe for generations.

He may or may not have known about the SS Prinz Eugen Regiment, made up of mainly Banat Germans, many of whom after the war were found to have been guilty of atrocities against civilians.

There is no clever one sided way to refer to war crimes. They are what they are. A stain. A shame. A trauma. A scar. A source of rot in our earthly condition.

He may have eventually been forcibly recruited by the German Army despite never having lived in Germany and being a citizen of Yugoslavia. Before all this war business started, Josef just wanted to get on with his farming, baking, cabinet or wine making.

He wanted to feed his family, kiss his wife, go to the pub, go to church, etc. etc. Maybe Josef’s neighbour was a particularly Anti-Semitic, racist jerk who thought all this ‘Aryan’s, aren’t we wonderful? Isn’t our culture superior to all others and aren’t we a perfect example of that?’ business was great.

If Joseph could have tweeted, perhaps he would have said #tellmewhenitsover. #neighborfromhell.

And Josef didn’t know why the Jewish shop keeper down the street had ‘mysteriously disappeared and his bastard of a neighbour now had some of the Jewish man’s possessions. Yet Josef couldn’t tweet. #thatsnotmystuff #Naziassholes

No, Josef couldn’t tweet then. Neither can most folks nowadays, living in warzones, in places occupied by ideological zealots, ever in danger of being ruthlessly bombed by ‘the enemy’.

I’ve read about a lot of Josefs. And Magdalenas. And Elisabeths. And Walters. If Josef lived in Romania perhaps he had the option of joining the Romanian military. As an ethnic German living in Yugoslavia, he likely did have to fight for Hitler’s Reich on the Eastern Front, whether he liked it or not.

Josef probably died doing so.

Or, if he didn’t, maybe he returned home to his home village in the Banat, to be with his family, imagining that life would carry on as normal after the war. The Allies had won, the German soldiers were leaving so all this business wasn’t Josef’s problem anymore.

No, surely… it wasn’t his problem anymore. And why did the fellow who ran the Nazi ‘Volksgruppe’ activities in his village suddenly decide to move to Argentina anyway? #weird

Well, Josef’s village in Yugoslavia was taken over by Russia’s Red Army, and eventually Tito’s communist partisans. Josef, alongside his racist neighbour, and other ethnic German male villagers were forcibly marched to the middle of a field where they all dug a huge ditch. They were told to strip and get in the ditch.

Josef’s story ends there. His wife’s, children’s and parents’ doesn’t though.

Josef’s wife was sent into forced labour, to work in conditions where she would be lucky to survive.   Josef’s young children perhaps died of malnutrition in an internment camp alongside their grandparents.

Because, they had to pay for what the Nazis did.

Maybe they got lucky. Maybe they made a break for it, got over the border into Hungary, eventually into Austria where there were overflowing displaced person’s camps. Perhaps even to Germany, where there were also, displaced person’s camps.  Germany and Austria were so devastated by the the war, they didn’t have much room or time for Josef’s starving, destitute wife, elderly parents or wailing, traumatised children.

Maybe they eventually were successful in emigrating to America, Canada or Australia, where they could live, work, go to school, eat real food, drink clean water. All whilst not living in a messed up warzone, forced to subscribe to a hateful ideology lest they face violence and hate themselves.

Despite the fact that they never subscribed to the ideology. Or that they were eight. Or eighty and hard of hearing.   Or that they were like Josef and thought this whole thing is gonna blow over, and life is going to go back to normal. It’s just another damn war played out by the big boys, I don’t like it but it’s all gonna be okay eventually.

Josef was so sadly wrong.

Life did not go back to normal.

Today, there aren’t many ‘Josefs’ living in what were once, bustling communities in Eastern Europe. There are a few Romanian or Serbian folks there, but his family is long gone.

Graveyards are decaying, unkempt, even vandalised in certain parts of the Banat. Because there are no descendants of the sleeping ones left to keep them up.

Mass graves lay beneath serene fields, some with men guilty of cooperating with German occupying forces. Some filled with Josefs, who didn’t care for the whole thing and expected it all to blow over. Some filled with normal, non-military people, or with children and old people who perished of disease or starvation.

Or they are filled with people who were beaten and tortured to death for being ‘German bastards’ .

It’s difficult, you know…writing a story about a culture which doesn’t properly exist anymore in the place of its origin. Its people are scattered in different parts of the world. The folks who lived there in harmony pre Hitler have since passed on.

It’s hard to piece together the normal, daily lives of these Danube Swabians.

Because some man with delusions of grandeur and ideas of racial supremacy started exploiting and manipulating an economic and political climate.

You’ve been to history class, you’ve watched films and documentaries….you know the evil and vile acts on a mass scale that ensued.  And no, to compare the genocide of the Holocaust with that of the ethnic Germans in Eastern Europe is not helpful.   Because, as far as numbers go and the systemised organisation of it all, it’s quite ignorant to say that one was on the same scale as the other.

They were connected. The first was a concocted plan of ethnic cleansing, ridding the supposedly glorious German world of what the Nazi’s thought was dirty blood and disloyal people. The second was a result of the acceptance of collective guilt, reparations, and removing ‘enemies of the state’ from countries previously oppressed by Nazi occupiers.   Revenge killings and rapes abounded.   They both involved large numbers (though not comparably so) of innocent civilians. Children, women and the elderly.

One time, when I searched up the term coined by Nazis, ‘Volksdeutsche’ I found a rather upsetting blog of a person trying to say that the Holocaust wasn’t real, but the genocide of ethnic Germans was.

What a load of vile, unhelpful nonsense.

I’ve read about Germans in the Reich and ethnic Germans in Eastern Europe giving bread to starving Jewish children, unable to accept that this was somehow okay.

I’ve read about Romanian, Hungarian people assisting and aiding the ethnic Germans, after the war.  At great personal risk to themselves.  Despite many of their fellow citizens insisting on the collective guilt of all Germans.

I’ve read about a German who stepped in to stop the Nazis executing Serbian men in his village.

I’ve read about Russian military officials stepping in to prevent unnecessarily harsh treatment of prisoners by local partisans.

Granted, we need to understand the horrors, much as we need to see that despite so much evil, there is still good in the world….

Perhaps you didn’t know about ‘Josef’.  I certainly didn’t until I began this research.

My mother’s Danube Swabian family left Europe to homestead in America in the early 1900s, the story of the Danube Swabians and what happened to them after WWII gets to me in a very personal way.

It has been difficult to portray not only a bygone era, but to picture the world and environment of my characters that existed before WWI.   There is a layer of horror in between that era and the one in which I live.

I started out imagining these charming Old World villages in my contemporary, comfy Anglo-American mind. A green, fertile land where love, amongst varying other agricultural goods could grow and blossom.   The Banat, the ‘Bread Basket’ of Europe. *

The land where half of my ancestors lived and loved for generations.

Then I had to talk to folks, I had to read, I had to sift through other eras. I had to find out about the mass graves.   I haven’t been able, in any good conscience, to gloss over them and pretend they didn’t happen.  I haven’t, in my Anglo-American raised conscience been able to think ‘yeah, well they deserved it.’ At no point have I thought ‘oh gee, this sort of thing has ONLY happened to an ethnic group I am connected to…no one else.  How unjust.’

No.  I’m fully aware that our human history is riddled with atrocities and sickening crimes, in every corner of our world.

I have no tolerance for zealotry in any form.   Digesting the knowledge of other people’s nightmares has made me feel sick at times.

But I’m still writing a love story.   Love and compassion are forces far more powerful than opportunism, greed, bigotry and cruelty. I shall continue to believe that.

I am lucky. There is no soldier with a gun telling me what to believe, there is no mad man powerful enough to enforce his ideology upon myself and my community.   My heart and intellect are free.

There are still many people in the world who are not so fortunate. They live in a place, where love and tolerance, kindness and compassion do not come easy.   They live in a place, where to subscribe to a most vile mind-set and course of action is a constant temptation.

If you are interested in learning more about the events in Eastern Europe after World War II involving ethnic Germans, here is a suggested reading list.

Alfred DeZayas’: A Terrible Revenge

Ali Botien-Furrevig: Last Waltz on the Danube the Ethnic German Genocide in History and Memory 1944-1948

Nick Tullius: My Journey from the Banat to Canada

Katherine Hoeger Flotz: A Pebble in My Shoe

Elizabeth B. Walter: Barefoot in the Rubble

Raymond Lohne: The Great Chicago Refugee Rescue

Dr. J. Steigerwald: Reflections of the Danube Swabians in America.

From the Banat to North Dakota: David Dreyer and Josette S. Hatter

Herta Muller: The Hunger Angel

(note: Herta Muller is a Romanian born German, Nobel Prize winning novelist, whose work is criticized by some as representing Danube Swabian communities in a negative light. Personally I think her poetic descriptions of ugliness, starvation and cruelty still have a place in examining life during this time.)

The DVHH website (DanubeSwabian Village Helping Hands site is a page dedicated to the preservation of Danube Swabian history and culture).

 

*There were large communities of ethnic Germans living in regions of what is today Russia, Poland,   Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Serbia. The ‘Danube Swabians’ lived mainly in what is today Hungary, Romania and Serbia.   They had lived there for generations, likely at the time of the Second World War, had no ties to Germany save for a common language (albeit varying dialects), and similarities in culture and ethnicity.

*The territory of the Banat was re-claimed by the Hapsburgs from the Ottoman Turks after years and years of battles and shifting boundaries. It would perhaps fair to say that this was a war torn place when the Danube Swabians arrived, invited by the Hapsburgs from other German speaking regions of Europe.

 

 

 

 

By jmnauthor3000

The Victors

 

Friday, January 20th is the release of Ashes to Sunrise.  Yet another charity anthology arranged by talented, crafty Mia Darien.    All the stories have a sci-fi or fantasy feel.  My short story in the collection is called The Victors.  All author profits will benefit The American Civil Liberties Union.  An organisation designed to help people who feel they lack a voice in mainstream society.  People who, on more than one occasion, have been told to shut up and accept their lot in life.

With a certain event that is happening on Friday, I think it’s important to remember that a lot of people are feeling a lot of very different things.  There will be an abundance of emotions swarming around.  Some joy, some relief, some sorrow.  Some anger.

Anger is the one that concerns me most.  I may have written a short story with sci-fi and fantasy elements.  However, I am not shouting about how we now live in a dystopian, apocalyptic madhouse and ‘those people’ are responsible.   There are no ‘those people’.  Please let’s stop doing that.

I don’t believe in immediately dismissing anyone’s views based on their lifestyle, career, faith, gender, orientation or ethnicity.   I believe in the right to disagree as much as I believe in being a reasonable, kind person.

I also don’t believe in telling infuriated people that they are stupid and wrong.   That generally causes less reason and more anger.  Then where are we?  Well…

I felt that on this, the eve of this…of this….I wanted to examine anger, the right to disagree and ….beliefs.

There is nothing wrong with being angry.  You are not a bad person for experiencing a sense of injustice.  You have a right to disagree with others.

It is impossible in this world to agree on everything.  We cannot all become clones, not even with and perhaps especially due to our information overload, computerised, era.

Our very human, very personal frailties and passions are bound to be ignited by the words and images that call out to us every day.

And we are not robots who see the same thing.

The things we see, touch, hear and do every day vary even within the same household.  Let alone the differences between towns, regions and countries.    It’s no great shock that we, as human beings seek out common bonds.

It’s also no shock that we reject those common bonds, fearful that we might understand someone who is drastically different from us.   Horrified that we might actually understand someone who made us so angry.

Information can be manipulated, in order to suit the desires of angry people.  It is possible to conveniently ignore proven facts.   Lies are ever available.   Truth is subjective.

Angry people are often those who feel they have been left out by the rest of the world.  That, the rest of the population is uncaring and arrogant.

Anger should never be dismissed as an absurd thing.  Telling an angry person that they are stupid and wrong is unwise.  Unless of course the desired result, of informing the angry one of their stupidity, is a fight.  Some folks simply enjoy a good fight.   Wisdom and reason have nothing to do with it.

One thing most of us could agree on is that it isn’t pleasant to feel mocked, neglected or ignored.  As though you are ridiculous and you don’t matter.

Even well-adjusted, privileged members of society struggle with those feelings.

Even well-adjusted, privileged members of society do not like being labelled.

To swallow a label, rashly thrown at you by a stranger is a bitter experience.   It could cause the more temperamental or sensitive individual to behave foolishly.

It could cause a powerful individual to use their position to punish those who would disagree with them.   To punish anyone who made them feel angry.

Our somewhat elite yet very mortal realm of rulers and world leaders is and has always been an often flawed and disappointing place.

Now, on the brink of a new beginning,   I feel it’s important to remind myself of a few things:

That standing up for what is right, without expectation of glory or gain whether in this life or the next, is a sign of enlightenment.

That standing up for what is right, despite fear of punishment whether in this life or the next,  is a sign of enlightenment.

That the powers that be above and below know this.

That I have a long way to go before enlightenment.

That the downfall of others should never be a source of joy.

That it is wrong to manipulate people into believing exactly as I do.

That it is wrong to harshly judge others unless I have had the personal experience of living their day to day life in all its varying eras, ages, ups and downs.

That love is better than hate.

That kindness is better than cruelty.

That these rules do not only apply to the people I disagree with.

 

 

By jmnauthor3000

Charities, Love, Sci-Fi, Fantasy and History. And Turkeys…

 

Mia Darien has been in touch again.  The romance anthology Amor Vincit Omnia is going to be re-released.  There will be a Facebook party for the re-release between December 12-13th.  So, bring your beverage of choice, (mine is made from grapes), some glitter, a party hat and get ready to celebrate noble characters, hidden beauty and love conquering all.

https://www.facebook.com/events/346359732386799/

Another item for update is that Mia is arranging a new short story anthology.  Guess what! It’s for charity, namely ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union).  The genres of the stories will be sci-fi, fantasy or dystopian.  It’s looking like a January release for this project.  However an exact date is yet to be set in stone.

Regarding my historical romance with a paranormal twist manuscript.  Yeah…that one.

I am nearly finished with the second draft.  I say nearly because…this is historical and I’ve got to sort something before typing ‘The End’.  It’s set in roughly four different historical periods and two different countries (actually, three if you are counting changing national borders).  And the timing of things I have right towards the end needs altering a little bit.

There will be charming Old World villages, there will be immigrants, there will be vast American prairies, there will be love.  And more.  I do have wonderful relatives and other author friends who are beta reading for me.  Their response has been positive so I’m excited about this project.

The community of folks who hold the knowledge of the relevant group portrayed in this tale has been particularly supportive.  I hope something comes of this work, but even if it doesn’t, I am so honored and thankful to have been able to learn from them.

I’ve still to go back and tweak my earlier chapters, write one chapter about young love at a festival in old Austria-Hungary and then I am just about ready to go bug Mia for some serious editing.

Then you can read it.  Yes, it’s taken a while.  I’m not Philippa Gregory okay?

How long before it’s available for all?   I am honesty scared to predict. Let’s hope nothing happens in the next few weeks that means endless cooking and kids being home and shopping and preparations and possibly travel.  Oh. Crap.  I’m not going to lie.  It might not be this year.  But it is going to surface before the buds fully bloom in temperate climates.

If I get a moment before the big holidays hit I will compose a history article for the next blog post regarding some of my research.  I love history.  It’s become like a companion to me over the last couple of years.

But let’s look to the future and hope that 2017 will be a wonderful year for all.  Happy Thanksgiving all 🙂

By jmnauthor3000

Sparing No One. Not Even Myself.

 

I’m trying to write my novel but with November 8th nearing I am starting to lose focus.  I know we all feel the same way.  It’s maddening.  I just want to crawl into a hole with a bottle of white wine and stay there until this all blows over.

Am I going to vote?  Yes.  Am I going to rant right now regarding why I’m voting for who I’m voting for and why everyone who is voting for the other person is an idiot? No. I’m not.  I won’t rant.

At this point, we have all made up our mind.  Telling people they are stupid for believing a certain way only makes them belligerent.  It makes them hostile and stubborn.  It causes them to search for incredibly biased yet well worded or craftily filmed sources of information so that they can self-soothe and bask in self-righteousness.  I include myself in this by the way.

I have been guilty of it when feeling wound up after reading a political Facebook post I whole heartedly disagree with.   I’ve honestly thought, ‘are they crazy?  They cannot be serious!!!’ Then I’ve thought ‘Do we really need this on Facebook?  Is this necessary?’  Then I’ve thought…‘Well…people do have a right to their opinions.  But still…’   Like I said, it’s maddening.

Words spoken or nowadays, ‘shared’ in the heat of passion are dangerous.  Yet political propaganda has wormed its way into our communal online photo and status sharing.  And oh boy are we eager little fish.  Again, I include myself in this.

Propaganda is dreadfully powerful thing.  Its purpose is to incite intense emotions.

Like telling people that an entire ethnic group or faith or people of a different sexual orientation are all out to get them and destroy their way of life incites great fear.

Example?  Like telling them that all Christian Americans are racist idiots.  What good does that do?   Who does that comment help?  Answer?  Your ego.  Admit it, it feels good.  When you’ve had a few bad experiences with evangelical types who have been a bit pushy with their beliefs.  Again, I include myself in this.  But they have a right to find solace in their faith.  Jesus loved and loves everyone.  Everyone.  So should we round up all the Christians and put them away?  No.  Should we emotionally bully them into believing that their faith is completely wrong?  No.

Example?  Like telling folks that all transgender people want to go into public toilets and abuse your children.  Who does that comment help?  Answer?  Your ego.  Because you really don’t understand the concept of someone being born a gender they do not identify with.   You automatically associate it with the worst sort of sexual perversion.  It’s a concept that I struggled with when I was first made aware of it.  I was born female and even though I am not entirely ‘girly’ I cannot imagine wanting to have a medical procedure that would make me male.  But do I assume they want to abuse my kids?  No.  Do I think they pose a danger to myself or my family?  No.  Should we round them all up and put them away?  Or bully them into denying who they are? No.

Are there reasons to fear other human beings?  Yes.  Of course.  Some people are really not okay.   Evil does not discriminate when it chooses the ones who would do its bidding.  Though it knows how to play the hate card very, very well.  It knows how to play the religion and politics card.  How perfect – to use the very institutions that were put in place to encourage morality and togetherness.  Target them and use them as powerful tools to drive people apart.  Take sensitive issues and commence with intense imagery and aggressive wording.

Distribute the propaganda and hey presto!

You have hatred and dissent, even amongst families.

These days, I’m a fan of the following sentiment,  ‘An it harm none, do what ye will.’  That is incredibly difficult to live by.  We can cause harm and hurt so very easily.  We can be swallowed by dangerous mindsets before we even fully comprehend what we’ve subscribed to.  We are all a bit more emotionally delicate than we would like to admit.  I know I am.  It really gets to me when someone tells me I’m stupid and wrong.

It almost makes me want to scour the internet for clever articles and images that will make me feel better.  Oh the blind self-righteousness…drink it in.

And I am not even getting into violence and wars fueled by propaganda.  This is where conflict starts.  With hurt feelings and insecurity.  It’s shocking how terrified some people are of being wrong.

I love my family and friends even though I don’t always agree with their politics. I still love them. Even after the Facebook posts.  I always will.  And I know they feel the same about me.

God Bless.  And God Bless the Chicago Cubs.  Amen.  Blessed Be.  Namaste.

By jmnauthor3000

The Vampire Story I Haven’t Written Yet

 

When I was a little girl, I watched a film that introduced me to vampires.  It was the 80s,  the film was a bit on the cheeky side, and I probably should have just gone to bed.  Yet I was allowed to stay awake and watch.  I have no recollection of the title of the film or who starred in it.  I just know that it introduced me to vampires.  To the myth itself.  The concept of the vampire was way more exciting to me than the film.

I fell asleep in my bed with my covers pulled right up to my neck.  I kept my rosary near.  When I woke in the middle of the night, realizing that my neck was cold and the covers had fallen down to my abdomen I was terrified.  What if a vampire found me?   What if they watched people, while they slept, waiting for the sleeping person’s throat to be exposed.  Turned at just the right angle so as to be irresistible to a creature who survives off of blood.

I also discovered my writing ability when I was a little girl.  Back in the good old 80s.  Yet the vampire story wasn’t something I even thought about penning until recently.

The combination of death and seductiveness really works for some people.  A lot of people actually.  Yet the reality behind the myth is gruesome at the very least.

Remaining physically fit, with superhuman strength and being immortal is pretty appealing.  Despite it meaning being immortal unless someone cuts off your head, drives a stake through your heart and burns you.  Then you’re not immortal anymore.

Let’s break down the history of why people may have believed in vampires.  Basic superstitions.  Believing that those who were horrible in life might continue to be so in death.  So, if diseases or tragedies came about in a village, a recently deceased jerk might have been thought to be the culprit.  Burial customs that might have meant accidentally interring some alive, thus finding claw marks on the inside of coffins near graves where people reported heard noises.  Horrid.   Exhuming bodies thought to be vampires and finding they hadn’t decomposed as much as expected.  The body may have made a noise when touched.  Natural gases could have caused this.  The process of decomposition after death wasn’t completely understood some time ago.

And of course, serial killers.  Real life monsters with deranged minds obsessed with blood.

Most people know Vlad the Impaler is the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  In Bram Stoker’s Dracula he is portrayed as a frightening yet enticing character.  To some folks in Romania, Vlad The Impaler isn’t seen as a murderer, rather as a national hero who defended his territory using brutal methods.  Some believe that he kept order through the use of torture.  That he used ‘necessarily harsh’ ways of punishment and establishing authority.  Like impaling Turkish envoys.  And soldiers.  And women and children.  And boiling people alive.  History can be very subjective.

As for the Hungarian Countess Elisabeth Bathory…she has been portrayed in some popular culture as a bit on the sexy side.  A sultry, powerful woman.  Personally I don’t have much time for depicting her as some sort of wicked seductress.  Wicked seductresses are cool.  I like them.  Disturbed women who liked to torture little girls I don’t like.  That’s not being a wicked seductress.  Her nickname ‘The Blood Countess’ came after it was discovered that she believed the blood of young, virginal girls made her skin softer and smoother.  And that she enjoyed tormenting children by sticking needles beneath their nails.   The Countess was one for brutal ways of punishment too.  She had a thief sewed alive inside a horse.  This might not shock you but Erzsebet, (the Hungarian version of Elisabeth), suffered from severe mental instability.

Tales of graphically torturing the innocent are not my preferred form of entertainment.  However, there have been books that have used Bathory’s ‘legend’ that have been well done.

Linda Lafferty’s House of Bathory is an example.  Taking into account the humanity and identity of the poor young ladies who found themselves employed by the Blood Countess.  Poor village girls whose murders long went unacknowledged due to the powerful status of the Bathory name.  Also acknowledging Erzsebet’s tragic mental state.

There are a host of other murderers who were into very unfortunate ways of ending people’s lives…involving blood drinking.  But….let’s leave that there.  You get the idea.  *goes to wash hands*

One vampire legend ‘adaptation’ I really enjoyed was Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire.  New Orleans is a wonderful, gothic setting for a vampire story.  It’s rife with paranormal history and legends.  Including vampiric ones.  I think part of this could be because of the area’s history.  Deep in the slave holding south, where all manner of decadence and cruelty resided.  For me, I’ll leave the New Orleans scene to native folks.  I think people who have lived in and/or extensively visited AND studied a place are the ones best to write about it.  Still, it doesn’t stop people who know bugger all about something from writing about it.  Fiction…is unbelievably subjective.

Anyway…

Twilight..*cringe*…*groan*…*hiss*…say the haters.  I’ve heard people say that Twilight insulted the vampire genre by its very existence with its sparkly, vegetarian vampires and metaphor for chastity.  I comprehend the sentiment.  I get it.  However, let me just say now….I enjoyed the movies…and the books afterwards.   Bored housewife desperate to escape back into her loved up youth comments aside, I wouldn’t say they were the ‘best’ out of the vampire genre and representative of it as a whole.   But they were enjoyable.  For me.  A bored housewife,  (*cough* writer), desperate to escape back into her youth.  And like…millions of others of fans of different ages.

How old are you?  

35

How long have you been 35? 

A while…..

I would have perhaps liked something a bit darker.  Not involving teenage characters and perhaps a love story between an innocent young woman and a powerful, intensely attractive man with a taste for dark things…I suppose it would almost be like fan fiction…oh…oh wait…no?  No?  Has that been done?  And people hated it for condoning abusive controlling relationships?  Yet others loved it for it’s ‘edgy’ theme and it was a huge best seller despite being poorly written and blatantly feeding off of the atmosphere of obsessive love and sexual tension in Twilight?  Damn.

I’m joking.  The practice of BDSM could be viewed as a ‘dark’ and ‘mysterious’ world that you could compare to (and in fact, combine with) the lore of vampirism.  And this has and is being done in many popular ‘steamy’ paranormal romance books.  Personally, like New Orleans…I think I will leave it to people who actually know a thing or to about it.

Whether you like it or not, sex, murder and the abuse of power are inevitable things that a writer will have to deal with if they want to write about vampires.

The whole romance thing just makes it all a bit more bearable.  And I freaking love romance.  And no, I am not into the fluffy, sunny, romantic comedy type stuff.  I need a bit of darkness or I just get damned bored.

Like the wine swilling, bourgeois, tiny brained woman that I am.

I currently have two other large manuscripts requiring my attention.  One a dystopian story I came up with the concept of when pondering how A-list celebrities are like a modern aristocracy of sorts.   The other, a historical romance beginning in early 1900s Austria-Hungary.  Winding up in modern day North Dakota.   I’m focusing more on the historical romance at the moment…rather determined to get it right before I head back to the dystopian.  My Mom read a draft and said she liked it.  So there.

Yet there is a vampire story waiting in the background.  Patiently.  Maybe watching me sleep at night.  Wearing a cape or period dress of some description.

Or maybe it’s the one with heavy footsteps across the floorboards chasing me in my dreams, having come from some dark, dark place.  To do very bad, bad things.  The one that finds me hiding in the attic.  The one that scares the sh*# out of me.

At any rate, I don’t doubt that the vampire story I haven’t written yet will come to me.  This is how it all starts, isn’t it?  Most authors would agree.  A story lurks in your head.  People start to come alive.  You can see the way they move.  You know what their childhood was like.  You’ve watched them sleep.

And, like a vampire it starts to pull you from your human life.  You find sunlight and living people tiresome.  They keep bothering you with mundane, every day life problems.  They want to eat normal food and stuff.

When all you want to do is go into the shadows and see what the damn vampire wants.

When you wake up and the covers have fallen down to your waist.  And your head has been turned just the right way.  Your throat has been exposed for so long your skin is cold.  You sit up and it’s there on the other side of the glass.   The vampire.  Do you let it in?

One side of me says yes.

The other says no, don’t do it Jessica.  Write about mermaids.  You used to like mermaids in the 80s too.

All the cruelties of Vlad Tepes and Elizabeth Bathory and all their coverage and adaptations disintegrate into the background.

The agonized screams of soldiers and children fade away into the night.

It’s just me and the vampire.  And the story I haven’t written yet.

By jmnauthor3000

My Halloween Obsession

 

Hello.  My name is Jessica and I am obsessed with Halloween.  I love pumpkins.  I love witch’s hats.  I love skulls.  I love candles.   I love dressing up in a manner completely unfit for the other 364 days of the year.  As a child I adored trick or treating as much as Christmas morning.

But Halloween meant something more to me from an early age.  It spoke to me on a level that went beyond candy, pumpkins and cool costumes.

I love the concept of opening one’s self up to a wider and wiser world.  The thought of being able to step outside of your immediate experience and surroundings.  The idea that, just for one or two nights, our limitations can be removed.  And the great beyond can reach through to touch us.

Not in a weird way though.  Also, general eeriness and spookiness I dig.  But sadistic cruelty, not so much.  This I don’t like.

I love Halloween.  Not horror movies.  No offense intended to those who are a fan of the genre.  I am not a fan of gory, violent slasher flicks depicting demented, cruel ways of ending life.  THAT side of things I don’t like to cast my eyes over during this sacred time. Know why?

Because there are dark, violent forces out there in the greater universe.  They mainly go by the names of fear, greed and hatred…but these demons have many other forms.  They can and have brought horror movies to life.  For example, the Holocaust and other acts of genocide.  The slave trade.  Modern human trafficking.  Terrorism.  Hate crimes against those of different sexual orientations or races or faiths.  War.

Hate=bad.  Love=good.  Yet this is a concept folks struggle with….

As our world ages, evil takes different forms.  It’s clever.  It even understands the value of subtlety.   It knows how to disguise itself and play tricks.  A true knowledge of what is genuinely ‘of the dark side’ and what is not is a challenge for us all.

Seeing behind masks of righteousness, hearing beyond charmed words, feeling beyond the anger within our heart,(a very difficult task indeed), are skills that take effort to hone. To taste sugar-coated bitterness and know it’s far better not to ingest it.  You get the idea, sniffing out evil’s tricks that would lead us to a path, unfit for a loving, caring person.

I believe in the other side.  I believe there are good and bad energies that we can encourage depending on what resides within us.  Yeah…I’m into all that.

So, the whole notion of the autumnal time of year being when the veil between the living and the dead or rather between our mortal world and the world of the beyond is temporarily lifted, I find quite beautiful.

It proves something in my heart every year.  We are not limited by what mean-spirited people would say about us because they have a twisted view of how we live our life.  We aren’t limited to the sorrows of our time.  We aren’t owned by grief.   We aren’t alone.

For me it’s about accepting the world beyond myself, my past and current situation.

Accepting the world beyond this one in which we draw breath.

I am a limited, terribly flawed person.  But I know in my heart that in the great beyond I’m loved.  Out there beyond the veil.  It comforts me and I’m not ashamed of that.

What I’m saying is this, that you shouldn’t be afraid of something just because it’s from outside your realm.

But you should be wary of what’s hurtful and dangerous.  Hate, fear and anger don’t manifest unless they are invited.  And keeping your heart closed to them is a formidable challenge.

The veil fades soon.  Don’t invite them.  Their true forms are terrifying.

Happy Halloween.

By jmnauthor3000

Urban Fantasy Short Stories Meets Kindness Promotion.

 

Ten authors have given their time and talent to write an #UrbanFantasy short story for the Good Things anthology.

The multi-genre loving Mia Darien has chosen the writers well, (completely disregarding myself).  The contributors’ back catalogues involve, fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal, mythology and romance stories (both short and novel length).

She also chose the Random Acts of Kindness organization to be the charity receiving all author profits.

The Good Things anthology is not official merchandise of the charity, however they were very gracious in accepting our form of donation.

Here is a list of each story’s blurb, title and author.  It will be available for Kindle ereader as well as paperback via Amazon.  My story’s blurb is last.

If you wish to know my inspiration and the background behind my story you can keep reading.  If not?  Just have a little peek at the following blurbs and ignore my ramblings afterwards.

Here are the blurbs, followed by their titles and authors:

When a century-old treaty with a rival pack is broken for the sake of forbidden love, the alpha heir of the Wesley pack, Kane, is deposed and his unwilling cousin, Xavier, ascends in his place. But when Roman Diallo, the king of the werewolves, makes mention of the rising danger to all lycans, Xavier must quickly take control of his destiny for the survival of his entire kind.

“Alpha Ascension” (A Wesley Werewolves Story) by A. Star

The deal you made with Death was clear: Your memory of me in exchange for my life. But Death is never so kind, and what we had was not enough.

“For You” (The Letters #2) by Angela B. Chrysler

If it’s not easy being a telepathic, it’s even harder to give away the bride when that bride is your ex. But the things we do for love can go above and beyond what anyone would ask for.

“What We Do for Love” by J. Kim McLean

Broken dreams, an ancient enigma tainted by the past, a mystical bond beyond time and space.

“Outreach: Part One” (An Orlosian Warriors Story) by Dariel Raye 

When the key witness in a high profile trial needs protection, “human taser” Special Agent Serafina Torres is put on protective detail. But when said witness is a vampire and those in the spotlight are anti-preternatural activists, how could it possibly go smoothly?

“Personal Responsibility” (An Adelheid Story) by Mia Darien

Quinn Carson’s unique ability lands her in a heap of trouble when she overhears something she shouldn’t. Enter Daniel Cain and his unusual special forces team of telepaths, hell bent on bringing down the supernatural trafficking ring she stumbled upon. Drawn to Cain despite her better judgement, Quinn decides to help, risking her own life–yet again. But will this become a case of no good deed goes unpunished?

“Psyched” (A Legendary Consultants Story) by Abigail Owen

Kamry is keeping a low profile in her new life, keeping the old one as far behind her as possible, but nothing ever goes as expected. She gets help in an unexpected place to learn how to keep her past at bay, while also getting a step up into her future.

“Kamry’s Hope” by Crystal G. Smith

When Jesse’s husband is injured and in a coma following a car crash, she will stop at nothing to bring him back to her. Even Odin himself won’t stand in her way as she confronts the very gods to save the man she loves.

“An Act of Love” by Kat Jameson

How does a Lakota young woman find her way back to the reservation? With the help of a new friend, and some very ancient spirits.

“Windsong” by Christi Rigby

A soldier keeps vigil in front of a city center church. Nyx, the primordial goddess of night, stalks the shadows of the same town, craving worship. And a beautiful young woman uncovers the truth behind the powerful mother she never knew.

“The Will of Nyx” by Jessica Nicholls

Here is a link to ‘Good Things’ on Amazon.  It will be available for kindle as well as paperback after August 18th.

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Good-Things-Urban-Fantasy-Anthology/dp/1535202564/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1471377847&sr=8-2&keywords=Good+Things+Mia+Darien

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Good-Things-Urban-Fantasy-Anthology-ebook/dp/B01HYA2XI0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1471377847&sr=8-1&keywords=Good+Things+Mia+Darien#nav-subnav

The world in The Will of Nyx is taken from another story I wrote, entitled Into the Arms of Morpheus.  It’s set in Manchester, England.  As far as cities go, Manchester is the one I know best. I went to university there, and lived in the greater Manchester area for ten years.   I still go back and visit due to having family and friends in the region.

Nyx, (The goddess of night) and Morpheus (The god of dreams), are two of the Greek deities taking part in the story.   Most folks into mythology would agree that greek gods and goddesses can be a little on the selfish side.  It isn’t in their nature to exhibit ‘kindness’.   They are forceful beings looking for pleasure and/or yet more influence.

When Into The Arms of Morpheus was released Nyx, in particular, was described as ‘arrogant’ and ‘fierce’.  She has a bit of an ego problem.  What with the obsessive desire to be worshipped and all.  I hope you find my version of her interesting.

As far as the mortal characters are concerned, all too often, bad things happen to good people.  Simple, innocent folks who just want their own small slice of happiness.  Then the likes of Nyx and Morpheus come along and take an interest in them.  Awww…

I do my best to write what I would fancy reading.  I’m a sucker for tales of decent people who find themselves at the mercy of far more powerful and volatile forces.

All in good fun of course.

I hope you enjoy my story.  If not, there are nine others by some quality writers.  At any rate, it’s for a good cause.

Happy reading everyone!

By jmnauthor3000

Good Things….

 

Brace yourself.  This is the nasty side of me speaking.  The lousy, self-absorbed side.

And I am going to talk about *eyes rolling*…#kindness.  Yes, I just hash tagged #kindness.  Like a pretentious, self-congratulatory jerk.

Because it’s so freaking easy to be nice.

Random Acts of Kindness Charity was co-founded by one of the actors starring in the show, Supernatural.

I’d heard of the show.  I don’t like television.  Most of it I find mediocre at best.  Full of people who might be on the attractive and quirky side but who generally deliver substandard self-indulgent crap.  Granted part of that is the fault of the writers, but I like to be mean to good looking people who want to be successful and famous.

I don’t like shows about people dying in hospitals, or being murdered, or laughing about the every day things we don’t realize are so funny (Apparently.  I mean I’m not convinced). I’m not hugely into sports.  Reality television disgusts me on a level I can’t quite describe.  The news is usually biased or frustrating or sad.

I haven’t designated any dedicated viewing time to a TV show since the BBC put out Desperate Romantics back in 2009.

Before that I’d say it was when there was a remake of Dark Shadows going on in the early 1990s.  Yes I have since had a look at the original 1960s series but my eleven year old self thought Ben Cross did a fine job.

The other eleven year old girls I screamed at to leave me alone so I could watch it at a slumber party in 1991 didn’t share my enthusiasm.

I took my obsessions seriously.   None of your bubble gum crap.

At any rate, I would like to thank Mia Darien for introducing me to the joys of Supernatural.

Thank you Mia.  Um, and while we are at it…thank you for asking me to participate in another one of your anthologies, as well as all the editing and cover art work you do.

I wanted to come up with a post that would amount to something along the lines of…

’look at how negative the world is, people are always being awful to each other, how about we try being kind to one another?’ 

Bla bla bla.

You know, like that.  Only without being so utterly predictable and saccharine.    But I’m struggling.  Just like I’m struggling to be *wave of nausea approaching * #kind and generally #positive.

Sometimes it feels good to be a bit negative. Sometimes the pull to be unkind, to do the wrong thing is enticing. Or at the very least, it’s easier.  To be selfish and not care about other people.

Take right now for example.  I want to wrap myself up in a big fleecy, black blanket and play with the imaginary friends in my head.

I like being alone.  Or drunk.  Or asleep.  Whatever.  As long as I don’t have to face anything bothersome.

Like life or the real world.

Sometimes I want everyone to bugger off who doesn’t care for shows like Supernatural so that I can binge watch, without judgement or interference,  to my self-centered little heart’s content.

However the credits will eventually role or I will wake or sober up.

Damn.

There’s the real world with its bad news and unfortunate people.  There is that empty, empty feeling inside of me again.

The one that is only filled with….*cringe*…love and interaction and stuff.  The void inside that is only satisfied by connecting with other human souls.  The void that calls us to contribute something positive and good to the world.  Ugh.

I’d rather read about ghosts.

*Sigh*

Fortunately, it is actually possible to merge paranormal fantasy related entertainment and being a kind, loving person.  It….*swallowing nervously*…*feeling uncomfortable*…. actually is.

I dare you to have a look at The Random Acts website.  I…*eye roll* experienced this foreign warmth and emotion upon reading some of the sweet, kindhearted actions random folks thought of doing for others.

Really.

It made me realize I’m not alone when I feel all gloomy.  When I want to shut everyone and everything out.   I’m not the only one who wants to do that from time to time.

Which surprised me because isn’t that the whole point of being a selfish jerk?  My nasty side’s general idea that everyone else is either sickeningly happy or…not as good as me….or well…evil.

It came as a bit of a shock that I’m not alone in feeling horrible.  Huh…how about that. Other folks have to fight their nasty sides.  Other people have problems.  Wow.

At any rate, if you are like me and you like reading about vampires, wolves, ghosts, gods and magic, or basically #UrbanFantasy then…

It will be possible to purchase Good Things for your e-reader as well as order a paperback on August 18th, 2016 via Amazon.

Lousy me, or in fact any of the nasty sides of the other authors won’t earn a single penny.

Random Acts of Kindness will.

Because, it’s okay to want to do good things. 

An impartial ear.  A non judgmental hug.  A brief reprieve from loneliness.  A compliment.  A cookie.

Because whether you’re a pretentious self congratulatory jerk, a greek goddess, a vampire or you know, just a nice person…

A good thing is a good thing.

Link to Good Things on Amazon (out August 18th).

https://www.amazon.com/Good-Things-Urban-Fantasy-Anthology-ebook/dp/B01HYA2XI0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1468353217&sr=8-1&keywords=Good+Things+Mia+Darien

Link to Random Acts of Kindness site.

https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-ideas

Other charity anthologies I’ve been involved in:   I’m not all bad.  Not really.  Actually if you’ve been kind enough to read my blog post this far, I should tell you at this point that I’m actually a nice person and it’s cool if you dig other television shows or even reality tv.

I don’t think other people are evil.

And those girls from 1991 still talk to me.

Here Kitty Kitty (The Exotic Feline Rescue Center),

Reaching Out (The American Red Cross),

Bellator (Wounded Warrior Project),

Amor Vincit Omnia (Breast Cancer Charity).

By jmnauthor3000

‘I’m not a woman anymore. I’m a Mom.’

 

There was an article in the New York Times about ‘Mom Hair’ and how to avoid it.  The New York Times!!  Really???

I just have to do this.  I’m a Mom, I have been for a while now.   And frankly, when I watched comedy skits about ‘Mom jeans’ or even ‘Mom hair’ aka ‘The Cut’…I’ve giggled a bit.  I do find Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to be very very funny women.

But alongside my giggles at the ‘Mom Jeans’ skit, alongside the little glimmer of hope that at least these lady comedians are acknowledging the ridiculousness of such things, I also sunk a little inside.

Because I thought that ‘wait a minute…I’m a Mom.  I have been for a few years.  And now I’ve got to be careful that I don’t have any personal style reflecting this?’

Don’t get me wrong.  I love SNL.

It didn’t escape me that there were lines like ‘I’m not a woman anymore, I’m a Mom.’  It’s funny.

It made a point.

But sadly not everyone will grasp the undertone of the joke that says ‘isn’t this ridiculous?’

Yes, SNL, and all you gifted comedians it is ridiculous.  And no it shouldn’t even matter.  Surely you must realize that you are solidifying a term, a phrase that not everyone recognizes as absurd or insulting.  Some people, even yes writers for the New York Times think that ‘Mom Hair’ is a shameful thing and it’s to be avoided.

It’s heartbreaking that the line ‘I’m not a woman anymore, I’m a Mom’ is part of the joke.  It was slipped in there between the laughs and the funny ladies posing and pretending that they don’t realize their ‘Mom look’ isn’t flattering.

The fact that it’s been given a name says something.

Wanna know what it says?  ‘Oh please please don’t look like this.  It means you are a Mom.  It means your body has done things that deplete it.  It means you have to care about other people very often…much more than yourself.  You don’t have time to be ‘hot’.  It takes great care and time to be a ‘Yummy Mummy’ or a…well you know the other stupid crude term coined in the film American Pie. But even then…you are a Mom.  You are completely and utterly defined by the fact that you care for smaller, younger people.’

Wanna know what I say?

‘*EXPLETIVE SAVAGELY THOUGHT BUT UNTYPED* YOU!!!!’

Yes thank you I know I’m a mother.   I remember sitting on a rainy day in a hospital, feeling like a ton of bricks just crashed down on me. I remember realizing that things would never QUITE be the same for me after this.  And no I wasn’t entirely positive.  What I didn’t think about was that I should now be mindful of my hairstyle and the cut of my jeans.

It doesn’t mean I don’t love my children.  But it does mean that yes, I got it.  I got that a demanding role was now to be expected of me.  I could screw it up if I chose, and contribute two horrid people to the world by neglecting or abusing them.  Or I could be an okay human being and encourage them to be good people.

It’s called being a parent.

It isn’t easy for mothers OR fathers.  I’m not going to rant about the disgusting double standards of appearance expectations for women and men because do you know what I think the standard is?

I’ll tell you…

FEMALE expectation:  ‘Don’t get wrinkled. Don’t be fat.  Be pretty.  Keep your tummy flat.  Small or big chests are okay depending on the taste of the person looking at you.  And they are looking at you.  Assessing your standard of beauty.  Rating you.  Constantly.  For GOODNESS SAKE don’t look like a Mom because that’s just gross.  But hey, there are multiple articles, beauty treatments and salons that are there to help you.  Go spend some money.  If you are poor and not necessarily that attractive, it’s recommended you lower your standards.  A LOT.  Because of course you want some sort of approval.  All women need approval.’

MALE expectation:  ‘Be exceptionally manly.  Have impressive abs and biceps.  Because that way, even if you are starting to get a bit older that’s okay.  It’s nice when men look distinguished.  But don’t look so old you can’t hook up with a hot younger person.  But if you are a wealthy man, there are websites that would help you with that sort of thing.  If you are willing to be a bastard with no soul.’

That’s a thing, btw.  That’s a successful business that exists.  Because apparently, ‘love is a concept invented by poor people.’  Someone said that.  That’s a thing.  That’s a business.

I recognize that it isn’t easy for men when they realize they have gained weight.  When the hairline is receding.   It hurts to be told that the older we get, the less likely it is we will be considered ‘hot’ or ‘attractive’.  It shouldn’t hurt.  But it does.  Because they want it to.

I can think of one skit where a very buff, topless Patrick Swayze dances next to a very overweight Chris Farley on SNL.  It had nothing to do with Dads and it was classed as controversial and mean spirited by some.  It was.  No offense meant to the dearly departed actors who performed in it.

People who live with a weight and general looks struggle do not deserve ridicule.  Looking after your health is a good thing.  We should all do it.  We should all make the effort.

Not because it’s important to be a ‘Hot Dad’ or a ‘Yummy Mummy’ or *cringe*…whatever.  But because of this:

We WANT to get older.  We are blessed to get older.  Not everyone gets the privilege.  But when you get there you want to be happy.  Not struggling with health issues that contribute to a miserable existence of endless doctor appointments, inability to travel, inability to be active, constantly dealing with all manner of pain and discomfort.

You don’t want to be struggling with a media filled with messages saying how inadequate you are.  Now, yes we can turn off the television and cell phones, computers, ipads, stop getting the paper, etc.  Yes.  We can.

BUT why should their insulting content be allowed to continue without a bit of hitting back?  Yes okay, they were technically referring to the cut of a pair of jeans and a hair style.    But there was another message there.

‘I’m not a woman anymore…I’m a Mom.’   

I laughed.  But my heart sank…because they wouldn’t have said it if there wasn’t some little grain of truth in it.  They wouldn’t have said it if it wasn’t funny.

But let’s be even more fair.  Perhaps the articles suggesting remedies to ‘Mom Hair’ are ‘kind’ reminders to women not to ‘let themselves go’.   Okay, let’s look at it that way.  Sure, because that’s fine, right?  It’s basically wealthy, attractive, successful people reminding poorer, insecure people to take more care of how they look.

*EXPLETIVE VIOLENTLY THOUGHT BUT UNTYPED* YOU!!!

If by using the concept of one’s sex appeal is the best and most effective way to encourage parents to generally care for themselves better….well….

….then what the ‘I’m not a woman anymore, I’m a Mom’ is wrong with us?

‘Mom Hair’…’Mom Jeans’…’Dad Bods’…gimme a break.

Go drink a smoothie and see your highly qualified, extremely expensive personal trainer, wealthy entertainment industry, relatively well known media news type people.

And God bless you and keep you.

But if you try and get my interest or make me laugh by using the above terms again?

I am going to actually type my anger words.

Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to go for a run.  Because I like it.  It makes me feel good.  It gives me a sense of escapist joy that has positive side effects.  But I also want the continued use of my knees so I do very basic yoga (via free online videos).  It calms me down when I feel enraged.   I am going to try not to drink excessively or eat too much cheese.

Because I WANT to get older. Because I want the privilege of smiling, crying, breathing for many years to come.  I want to enjoy my old age.  I want to enjoy being a woman.  BECAUSE I AM ONE!!

I want to enjoy being a mother.

DON’T YOU DARE *EXPLETIVE VIOLENTLY THOUGHT BUT UNTYPED* TELL ME NOT TO LOOK LIKE ONE EVER EVER AGAIN!!!

By jmnauthor3000