Despairing of Toxic Humans

He’s witnessed a lot. What would his social media status be?

Albert Einstein said, “We cannot despair of humanity, for we ourselves are human.”

Of course, Al didn’t live in the age of social media, did he?

By now, everyone has seen video of the MAGA hat-wearing Catholic kids making fun of the Native American elder who may or may not be a Vietnam veteran. And everyone has an opinion. Some say the kids are at fault, others the African American men who hurled insults at them because they were wearing MAGA hats.

Personally, I find fault with everyone involved in that situation, including myself. And I was several hundred miles away when it happened.

Just to be clear here, the kids from Covington Catholic were absolutely behaving badly. Toxically. Their parents should ground every last one of them for disrespecting their elders.

With that said, however, those kids were mirroring not only what they were seeing right then, but also, probably, what they see at home and at school. The evidence for this? The chaperones did not interfere. By not interfering, they okayed the behavior of these kids. I’m not sure why anyone is surprised by this. They are from Kentucky, the lovely state that gave us Turtle Man McConnell, the most toxic human being in government.

Add to that the horrible behavior of the other adults on the scene, and you can see what these kids are up against. And then some idiot adult edited the video to make it look like the teenagers were the only ones misbehaving and idiot adults like me were outraged and posted and reposted on social media.

The truth of what happened on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial is that everyone was behaving badly. There are no martyrs here. And I really wish the adults would own up to their bad behavior and set a better example, because condemning kids for following the super bad examples they see from adults is going to get us nothing but more toxic adults.

Of course, Einstein also reportedly said, “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity.” So maybe I shouldn’t hold my breath where humans are concerned.

Bite-size philosophy and me

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Today’s world and politics often inspire a fit of philosophy in me as I try to make sense of what is happening and how to deal with it. –photo by Michelle Garren Flye

I’m a closet philosopher. Seriously, I’ve been accused of thinking too much. The problem is, if I try to read an entire book—or even an entire essay—by a philosopher, I get bored. I find myself thinking about what’s for lunch or what my kids are doing or when I need to go grocery shopping again.

The Internet has solved that for me. When I find myself pondering a philosophical problem, I can look it up on the Internet and find bite-size nuggets of inspiration in philosophical quotes. And since I always like to check my sources, I end up reading at least a paragraph or two from the quoted philosopher. Until I started this up, I had no idea who Bertrand Russell was but now I’ve read several paragraphs from him!

Google this one if you’re likely to fall for internet hoaxes: “…it is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true.”

–Bertrand Russell

That’s how I found out Albert Camus agrees with me that today’s attitudes toward “West Coast elite” writers, actors, and artists is a bad thing. Camus would have been heartbroken by the fall of Hollywood in today’s world. Of course, Camus died in 1960, and I don’t even know if he ever saw a movie, but I found a quote that seems to support this idea of mine. Camus wrote: “Beauty, no doubt, does not make revolutions. But a day will come when revolutions will have need of beauty.”

What a wonderful thought. I pictured men on a bleak battlefield ceasing the fight while they looked for the beauty of what they were fighting for. How many wars might end if we stopped to think about what we fought for? I checked the source of the quote and found a longer section of Camus’s essay “The Rebel: An Essay on Man in Revolt.” In this section, Camus expounds on the necessity of art to make sense of history. Look, for instance, at this sentence:

“Every great reformer tries to create in history what Shakespeare, Cervantes, Moliere, and Tolstoy knew how to create: a world always ready to satisfy the hunger for freedom and dignity which every man carries in his heart.”

–Albert Camus

I dare to believe that Camus wrote, in 1951, how I’ve been feeling about the way many artists are treated today when they dare to make their feelings about the larger world known. Stephen King, Barbra Streisand, Colin Kaepernick (yes, sports can be art), J.K. Rowling—even Rob Thomas—all of these artists and many more have been slammed on Twitter and in conservative media for daring to make political opinions known in today’s highly divisive atmosphere.

To the artists I say, you have vision and you must keep seeing. Keep seeing and keep speaking out because though you are outnumbered by those who can’t see, your light shines brighter than theirs. And that’s your job.

In case you were wondering, Camus would have agreed with me about this. In that same essay, he said something which I can only take as a message to me and to all like me who see the world as oppressive and who want to make it freer and more beautiful and welcoming to all:

“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”

–Albert Camus

And that is how I will seek to live my life.

Poem: Magnum Opus

“If people knew how hard I worked to achieve my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful after all.”

–Michelangelo

 

Magnum Opus

By Michelle Garren Flye

 

Is that your masterpiece?

Your legacy and estate?

 

When you look at it,

Do you know it’s finished?

Or do you want to wipe it clean?

 

Completion is nothing.

Finality is all that counts.

You could dot the last “I”—

Then black it all out.

 

The creator’s Hand decides.

Or maybe it’s accidental?

In the end, it won’t matter.

 

Shake the Etch-a-Sketch

And start over again.

 

Author’s Note: As the year draws to a close, I’m looking hard at where I am and where I want to be. I’m making plans for changes. Watch this space.

But don’t worry. I still have plenty of romance left. I’m not erasing the Etch-a-Sketch. I’m adding another one.

Baby, it’s cold at Christmas-time these days

Have a holly, jolly holiday and be very careful to maintain your politically correct language if you want to continue to hand out your bona fide liberal card. Because there’s a very thin line liberals must walk these days. And for this blog entry, I’m going to wobble off it a bit.

Please understand, I’m a Democrat. I’m liberal. I have a woman card and I voted for Hillary Clinton, and not just because she was running against the worst human being on the planet, either. I honestly believed she would do the best job. With all that said, I’m getting really tired of the liberal war on Christmas this year.

abstract blur bright christmas

Photo by Meve R. on Pexels.com

You can’t watch Charlie Brown because the kids yell “Merry Christmas” and read about Jesus’s birth from the Bible. You can’t listen to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” because it’s a trigger for some people who have been date raped (I know. It’s creepy. But just don’t listen, maybe?). You can’t watch “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” because Santa (and most everyone else at the North Pole) is kind of a dick. (Please note I realized this when I was a kid but I was—and still am—more bothered by the fact that the dolly on the Island of Misfit Toys had NOTHING AT ALL wrong with her.)

It reminds me of some recent feedback I’ve received on Becoming Magic. Readers are not all happy I took on a #metoo storyline with this one. And some are not happy that (slight spoiler here) I didn’t have my character report her assault from the beginning. I’m not saying these readers are wrong…completely. Maybe I should have written this story from the POV of a strong woman who reports her assault and brings her attacker to justice.

But is that the only way to write a story from a strong woman’s POV? Isn’t it possible that you can be a strong woman who is attacked and is so shocked by the fact that you were attacked that you don’t immediately report it? Isn’t it possible that you can employ all your strength into rebuilding your life and moving on after the attack?

Isn’t it possible that every survivor has a right to their story the way they wish to live it—not just the way liberals tell us is the correct way?

And by that same token, maybe you need to stop and think about Rudolph. Rudolph is a freaking survivor if ever there was one. He is bullied by everyone from Santa to his own father, and he still battles the yeti and saves his friends and Christmas. And I got all this when I was about eight years old, so I’m thinking  there’s nothing wrong with the way the story is told.

That doll still bugs me, though. She’s too perfect. I’m thinking she’s a spy.

Ownership without the joy of the hunt

I’m heavily reliant on my playlist during my writing times. These days, that actually means Apple Music. Want to listen to a particular artist or song? Type it in the search bar and Boom. You’re listening to Rob Thomas or Beethoven or Florida Georgia Line, depending on your taste. (Right now I’m listening to O.A.R.)

Music has come a long way, though. Remember the days when you would hear a song on the radio and listen as it worked its way into your soul and as soon as it ended you could barely wait to hear it again? Remember switching from one radio station to the next in the hopes of catching “Careless Whisper” playing? (Okay, maybe it was something different for you…)

I think Sylvia’s “Nobody” was the first song that I bought in a music store. I heard it on the radio and could barely wait to get to the record store to buy it. We had one record store in my little hometown. Austin’s Art Shop, I believe the name was. One wall was lined with 45s, and that’s where I spent my allowance more often than not. I still remember the thrill of searching the carefully alphabetical 45s for the one I wanted—and the absolute joy of finding the one I wanted, knowing this song was mine now, and I no longer had to wait for the fickle disc jockeys to decide I should hear it.

We’ve lost that sense of ownership, I think, in our world of ready music. The same threatens to happen to the world of books. I think this was happening long before ebooks, though, with the world of mass market paperbacks. Easy enough to pick up a cheap paperback, and leave it on an airplane or in a hotel room, right? Or stick it in a box to donate to Goodwill, the Salvation Army or your local library. Who needs to own a book once it’s read? If anything, I actually think ebooks might reverse this trend. It costs nothing to leave an ebook in your Kindle library.

Hopefully, the thrill of ownership for both music and books will return. Because like a painting proudly displayed on your wall, artists crafted the books and songs that exist in your ether. Remember them. Bring them out from time to time to admire. Own them—even without the joy of the hunt.

No apologies: I write what I write.

close up of tree against sky

Romance is a window on the reader’s soul, not the writer’s. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It’s a truth for most romance writers, I think. Our friends and family are almost afraid to read our books. As if they might find out something more about us than what they want.

Why don’t you write something else? I have this great idea for a book you could write.

It could be funny.

I could almost laugh.

Why am I amused? The reason is simple. Any good writing lays your soul bare because you do tell secrets about yourself. It’s the only real way to make your writing read true to another person’s soul. The trick is to write it so no one knows what is true and what is fiction. And I can guarantee you, even those who know me best don’t know what’s true and what’s fiction in my books.

I always say I’m never in my books. And it’s true. I’m not a character in my books. But I am in there. I’m in every word and phrase I write. When you hold my book, you are holding a part of my soul. Is it a window onto my everyday wants and desires and loves? No. Like all writing, and especially fiction, my words are filtered through the reader’s experiences and is more likely to reveal something about them than me.

I guess that’s why I say, no apologies. I write what I write. If you  have the courage to read it, that’s great. If not, please understand when I chuckle a little when you suggest I write something different. I love you, but my visceral answer to such a suggestion is an unequivocal “no.”

In other news…

I’m on Book Reviews by Jasmine today promoting Becoming Magic by talking about what I’d do on my day off if I worked in show business in Hollywood. As you might expect, it’s magical!

And on Smashwords and its affiliates, Close Up MagicBook 1 in the Sleight of Hand series, is FREE just in time for the holidays! Read it if you dare!

Fear Waits By My Computer

grayscale photography of human skull

Photo by ahmed adly on Pexels.com

I get up. I send the kids off to school. I grab a cup of coffee. I go to my office.

I say good morning to Fear.

Fear waits for me by my desk every morning.

Good morning, he says. Are you ready?

I am. I sit down behind my computer and push Fear away. He’ll breathe down my neck if I don’t. 

And I type, ferociously and as unbrokenly as I can manage because if I stop, Fear is waiting.

Fear is patient.

Are you sure that’s the right way to put that? He lingers at my shoulder. Then he shrugs. Never mind. Nobody reads your stuff, anyway.

You should’ve started writing novels earlier instead of that short story crap. Ten years earlier and you’d have an agent and been able to sell your stuff instead of messing around with this self-publishing thing. It’s just vanity press by a different name.

You should really get an agent, but agents don’t like what you write, do they?

Fear has a grip on me now, so he is confident enough to walk away a little. He looks back at me and shakes his head. Why did you quit your day job? Oh yeah, to be a mom. But you could get a real job now. Maybe you should. 

And now Fear has a little friend. Self-Doubt holds his hand, and is somehow more frightening than Fear himself. 

What’s the problem? Fear says. Are you afraid if you stop writing you’ll be just another regular Joe?

Maybe you already are, whispers Self-Doubt. Maybe you always have been.

Note: So far this month, I have defeated both Fear and Self-Doubt. I’m at 48,254 words of the National Novel Writing Month book. Take THAT Fear and Self-Doubt!